Ennis and Jack settled themselves on the end of the bed, sitting so that they could look into each other's eyes. This moment had been building up for a long time, things needed to be said, about their relationship and about themselves.
Ennis sighed. "Who's goin' first?"
Jack held his hand. "I will." He took a deep breath.
"When I came to Signal this summer...I wasn't lookin' for just work. I was all mixed up inside after last summer, and then this spring."
"I...I knew, after that night with Joel, that I was attracted to guys. But...I still didn't know what I wanted, or what it meant. I tried to figure it out that winter, but I couldn't. That's when I decided to come here to Texas. I told my parents I was comin' fer the rodeo, an' to see Becky. That was true, I guess...but I know now I was lookin' fer somethin' else."
"What was it?" Ennis asked softly.
Jack met his eyes. The answer was clear as day. "I made that pass at Jimbo...cos I was confused. I knew I liked guys an' I was messed up. Talked to Becky about it, told her it felt like I was lookin' fer somethin'...but I couldn't figure it out. So I went back home."
"I dunno why I decided to go back to Brokeback this May...maybe I thought if I went back to the place where it all changed I could figure it out. You remember how I looked at ya outside Aguirre's trailer?"
Ennis nodded. "Thought there was somethin' about ya."
"I think...I think I thought...you might be able to help me, ya know? But at the same time, I wanted to keep my distance cos of the thing with Joel, 'specially once you said you was engaged. I wanted ya to help...but I didn't wanna mess ya up. But then I started havin' feelin's for ya...weren't no good after that." He smiled.
"So...what were ya lookin' for?" Ennis murmured, stroking Jack's hand with his thumb.
Jack met his eyes. "Love. I know it now. What I wanted. Didn't know much about love back then, couldn't figure it out. An' I didn't figure it out here. It was only when they put me up on Brokeback with a quiet, shy ranch hand that I figured it out." He said happily, gazing into Ennis's eyes with love. "Now I know I wanted love...with a guy. Didn't know it till I got it. That's what I was tryin' to tell ya the other night, when I showed ya the shirts. I messed about cos I was tryin' to figure it out. Now I get it."
He stroked Ennis's cheek tenderly. "I love you. An' I promise, from here it's just you an' me, okay?"
Ennis nodded. "Okay, darlin'. I'm sorry I didn't let ya say it before. Makes a lot of sense."
Jack shook his head. "S'alright. I'm just glad it didn't split us up."
"Yeah..." Ennis sighed. "So...is that everythin' you wanted to say?"
Jack nodded. "Your turn..."
Ennis took a deep breath. "That evenin' after our first night...I said I wasn't queer cos I thought I wasn't. I had Alma, thought I loved her. You turned everythin' upside down, an' I'm glad ya did. That whole summer up there...I still thought I wasn't."
"I know we ain't talked 'bout it since we got together...truth is, I didn't wanna, cos of Earl an' Rich. I thought if I said I'm queer...the same would happen to me...or worse, you." He said softly, gripping Jack's hand. "Scares the hell outta me to think I could lose ya. So when you got hurt...that was the push I needed."
Ennis met his gaze squarely. "I thought that if I was gonna figure it out, I hadta look at girls an' other guys, see how I reacted. Jack, I...I looked at Becky."
"You did?" Jack asked, surprised.
"Yeah, but I swear, it was just to see if girls did anythin' fer me. I had a plan goin'. But it's okay. Didn't feel nothin'." He replied sincerely.
Jack let out a sigh. "That's somethin' then. So...what about other guys?" he asked apprehensively. He could hardly get mad at Ennis if he'd taken a second glance at another guy, he wasn't exactly as pure as the driven snow either.
Ennis shook his head. "Didn't look. Thought about it, but...I didn't wanna. Felt like I'd be cheatin' on ya. An' it don't matter, Jack. Yer a guy, an' I'm in love with ya, an' I wanna spend the rest of my life with ya. That probably makes me queer, huh?" he smirked a little.
"An', uh...this whole thing 'bout me wantin' you on top...it's like...puttin' a capper on it, ya know? Lettin' another man...do that...probably about as queer as ya can get. That's why I ain't been ready to let ya, cos I thought I wasn't queer. I just couldn't let ya do it, no matter how much I love ya. But now I know I am...I'm ready."
He shuffled closer to Jack, and linked their fingers together. "I didn't feel love till they put me up on a mountain with a blue-eyed rodeo cowboy that lassoed my heart fer good. I love ya so much, Jack. I wanna spend the rest of my life tryin' to show ya."
Ennis's entire speech had been heart-warming to hear, but it was this last statement that made Jack's lip tremble, and they wrapped their arms around each other. Ennis was kissing his hair and he was burying his face in Ennis's neck, hearts beating in unison.
"Thank you..." Jack said in a muffled voice.
"It's okay...glad I can say it now."
"Uh huh." Jack broke away with a watery smile. "So is that everythin' you wanted to say?"
They looked at each other for a few beats, and when they locked eyes there was something new there. These last barriers had been broken down between them; everything was laid out there in the open for the other to see.
Ennis cleared his throat. "So..." he started, gesturing towards the rest of the bed, a hopeful look in his eyes. He was undeniably apprehensive but he trusted Jack completely.
Jack smiled. "Yeah."
Ennis swallowed. "I, uh...I gotta use the bathroom first..."
"Sure." Jack whispered. They stood up and faced each other, hands linked. Jack stroked Ennis's cheek. "I'll be on the bed. Take yer time. Come on out whenever yer ready."
Ennis stood facing himself in the mirror, contemplating what was about to happen. He very much wanted to do this, but he couldn't deny that he was extremely nervous. He trusted Jack with all his heart and knew that Jack would do whatever he could to make him comfortable. He'd been building up to this for a while, and now it was crunch time.
He took several deep breaths and steeled himself, switching off the light and going back out into the bedroom. He stopped in his tracks when he saw the captivating vision on the bed.
Jack was lying there naked, clearly thinking about tonight and what he would have to do to get Ennis to relax and make the pain minimal for both of them. Ennis was irresistibly reminded of their second night in the tent when Jack had been lying there in a similar way, waiting for him. Like that night, he would totally need Jack's lead tonight.
He stood there staring at Jack's beautiful body, and Jack sat up and rose from the bed, smiling softly. He walked up to Ennis and took his hands.
"Hey..." he whispered. "You okay?"
Ennis nodded. "Yeah...just nervous, I guess."
Jack stroked his cheek. "I know." He leaned in and kissed Ennis gently on the lips, feeling Ennis respond with quiet enthusiasm. "You ready?" he asked. Ennis nodded, gazing into Jack's eyes with a mixture of desire and fear.
Jack took his hands again and led him over to the bed, sitting them both down in the middle, Ennis nearer the head where he would eventually lie back.
Jack touched the top button of Ennis's shirt. "Is it okay?"
Jack kissed him again, distracting him as he slowly popped open the buttons, gradually moving down. He deftly slipped the material from Ennis's shoulders and tossed it to the floor. He held Ennis's face in his hands, feeling Ennis's hands on his own hips.
Jack looked deeply into Ennis's eyes, both of them aware of the final barrier between how they were now and how they hoped to be. Jack gave a small smile and pressed his hand to Ennis's chest.
"You wanna lie back?" he murmured, staring into the deep brown eyes before him. Ennis bit his lip, still nervous, but did so, slowly lowering himself back, head on the pillow and breathing deeply.
Jack followed at his own careful pace, mindful of his ribs and at the same time, not wanting to spook Ennis by clambering all over him. He kissed Ennis all over his face, at his cheeks and forehead, then finding his lips, covering him in loving kisses, trying to get him relaxed and comfortable. It was certainly working; Ennis was starting to feel his fear slowly melt away, fully trusting Jack.
Jack planted a row of kisses down his chest, stroking the fine layer of hair until he reached the belt. He glanced up at Ennis, who was watching him, both in apprehension and encouragement. He opened the buckle and slowly pulled the zipper down. Jack took hold of the jeans at the hip, ready to pull them down. He looked up again.
Ennis nodded. "Do it, Jack..."
Jack nodded and pulled the jeans down, seeing to his relief that Ennis was definitely excited, a clear sign he truly wanted this. Ennis raised his hips a little to help, and soon the jeans were on the floor. Jack crawled back up his body and kissed him full on the mouth once more.
He pulled back and they looked at each other, the impending act before them registering in their minds. Jack reared up on his knees and took the lubricant from the bedside table. Ennis rested his hands on Jack's thighs, his tongue poking out at the side of his mouth.
Jack slicked himself up and put the tub back. "Okay..." he muttered, looking down at Ennis's body, figuring out what to do. He'd never been inside someone else face to face, so all he could do was draw from his experiences of what he did when Ennis was inside him. "Lift yer legs, sweetheart."
Ennis did so and Jack saw his target. He gulped with nerves and grabbed Ennis's legs, placing them around his waist, where they were wrapped tightly around him. So far, he wasn't feeling any pain. In that grip he could practically feel Ennis's nerves. He moved forward until he was just almost at his target.
"Okay? Last chance to back out if you wanna. I ain't gonna judge ya if you've changed yer mind."
Ennis shook his head, a smile on his lips. "It's okay, Jack. I wanna do this. I need you..."
Jack's heart melted at those words, and he took Ennis's hands, lacing their fingers together, Ennis bracing his elbows on the bed so Jack could lean on his hands, hopefully avoiding the possibility that he would painfully collapse when it was over.
Jack, very slowly and cautiously, pressed forward, biting his lip, unwilling to cause Ennis pain but knowing it was inescapable if they were going to do this. Ennis braced himself, feeling the pain shoot through him but knowing the pleasure would soon come; it would all be worth it in the end. Jack could see the pain on his face.
"I'm so sorry..." he whispered, hating the fact it had to hurt.
"It's okay...keep goin', Jack...please don't stop." He responded, eyes pleading with Jack not to stop.
With more slow movement, Jack finally pushed through, and they sighed in unison, eyes watering with both pain and pleasure.
With an encouraging look from Ennis, Jack started to slowly move out, then slowly back in again, always watching his lover's face for signs that the pain was becoming too much.
But they didn't come. Jack continued to watch as he picked up the pace ever so slightly, and Ennis closed his eyes, head falling back onto the pillow. Jack was mesmerised by the look on his face, what could only be described as bliss. Jack leaned down and caught his lips, a little surprised when Ennis deliberately pushed his willing tongue into his mouth. He hadn't expected such an enthusiastic response. Ennis was in some pain, not being used to this, but pleasure was drifting over him.
They broke apart and Ennis opened his eyes, they were dark with desire. "Jack, I..."
"What? What is it?" Jack asked in concern, afraid that he wanted to stop.
Instead Ennis smiled. "I love you."
Jack couldn't stop the grin spreading over his face. "Love you too, cowboy." He kept going at the same pace, not wanting to go too fast, which might hurt both of them.
Ennis's head fell back onto the pillow once more. Jack had wondered how it might feel to be inside Ennis, but nothing he could have imagined about it measured up to how it really felt. It was indescribable.
Instead of moaning and gasping as they usually did during sex, this slow, tender approach caused them to sigh instead. Their bodies pressed closer together with each smooth thrust Jack gave into his lover. Ennis lifted his head and attacked Jack's mouth with hunger.
"Oh, Jack..." he whispered blissfully. Jack ducked his head to kiss his neck, then his face, covering him in wet, loving kisses. With a few more thrusts, Jack finally found the sweet spot and pressed in. Ennis's eyes flew open. "Jack!"
With a yell, and practically crushing Jack's fingers with his own, he finally crossed the finish line, shooting over both of them. The feeling was enough to send Jack over the edge as he finally filled Ennis, finally completed him. His ribs were quite sore but he wasn't even noticing, he was completely lost in the moment.
He grabbed at Ennis's hands tighter to avoid collapsing onto his chest, which would hurt. Instead, he managed to roll off Ennis and collapse on his side of the bed, flat on his back.
Neither of them spoke, but did plenty of thinking. Ennis felt liberated at having finally achieved what he'd been so scared of, and found that he had absolutely loved this experience. It had hurt a fair bit, but the pleasure had washed over him, and that was all he could register. Sex with Jack had always been good, but this was unbelievable.
Jack meanwhile, was on cloud nine about what he had just experienced. He had finally made love to Ennis, something he'd wanted to do for ages. If it were possible, he felt even more in love with the man beside him. Something had changed between them that night, something that would change them for the better.
He looked at Ennis, who was staring at the ceiling. "Ennis...you okay?"
Ennis looked at him, eyes full of love. "Yeah...you?"
"I'm fine." They couldn't say much more right now, didn't have the energy. With one last loving smile, they squeezed each other's fingers before letting sleep claim them.
Ennis woke up the next morning feeling like a million dollars. He couldn't believe that they'd finally achieved...that wonderful thing. It had been quite painful, especially at first, he couldn't deny that. But he had been well aware of the possibility, and he had so wanted to do it so they had to take the pain with the pleasure.
He turned and looked at Jack, who was lying on his side facing him, dark hair falling over his face, making Ennis's stomach do strange things. Ennis turned onto his side and just lay there, watching Jack breathe in and out.
He hadn't thought he could love Jack any more than he already did, but last night had proved him wrong. He felt more in love than ever.
There are people, he thought to himself, who probably go through life never findin' their soulmate. How lucky would you hafta be to find them before yer even twenty? Surely the odds were one in a million. But here he was, lying in bed next to his, all barriers between them finally broken down.
Jack had told him that it didn't bother him that he was always on top, said he liked it that way, and he understood and accepted that he'd been too scared to let Jack lead, for his own reasons. But he couldn't deny he'd felt guilty as time had gone on. Something had changed. Now it felt different, like they were equals in the relationship. He liked this change.
What if Jack hadn't seen him duck into the alleyway? They wouldn't have got together, and he might never have seen him again. It had been too close. And he would never know how it would feel to give himself over to Jack, completely be open to him.
He couldn't think about that now. He wouldn't gain anything from it; he had what he truly wanted. He had who he truly wanted, and it looked like they would be together for good. He couldn't wait for them to get started properly on their new life.
He couldn't just lie there and let Jack sleep. He wanted to interact, thank him for the night before. He shuffled forward and buried his face in Jack's neck, kissing and sucking at the skin gently.
A smile spread across Jack's face. "Well, mornin' to you too."
Ennis pulled back and Jack opened his eyes. Their wide smiles spoke volumes about their feelings right then.
"You okay?" Jack whispered. "You hurtin' any?"
"No, I'm fine," Ennis murmured back, stroking Jack's hair. "What about you? How're yer ribs?"
"Little sore, but fine."
"Good." Ennis leaned over and planted a soft kiss on Jack's beautiful lips. Jack's eyes sparkled with happiness, he felt like his heart would burst with the love he felt.
"Yer feelin' it too, ain't you?" Ennis asked. "Somethin's changed."
"I think...I think it's like...I've always been on top till last night an'...it felt like it was all one sided, ya know? Didn't feel fair, even though you said you don't mind."
"I don't." Jack replied sincerely. "I like it, an' I know you've been scared, an' I know why. I understand."
Ennis smiled in gratitude. "Yeah...well...now it feels like...we're equal, ya know? It ain't one sided no more, an' I like it. Felt real good, lettin' ya...take over."
Jack's eyes turned sorrowful. "It hurt though didn't it?"
Ennis sighed. "Yeah...a fair bit, to tell ya the truth."
"I'm sorry." Jack breathed. Ennis wrapped his arm around Jack's back.
"It don't matter. Yeah it hurt, but...it felt so good that I didn't notice after a while. Barely felt it after you got goin'." He blushed a little at his own description of Jack's thrusting.
Jack got a smile back on his face. "Really?" he asked hopefully.
"Yeah...I, uh..." he looked away, fidgeting with the pillowcase. "Maybe, uh...sometime...we could do it again...like that?" he looked at Jack shyly. He had to admit he loved feeling Jack inside him, completing him. He wouldn't mind experiencing that again, and he figured that if they did it that way as regularly as the other way, he would get used to it, and maybe the pain would lessen over time.
"Really? You wanna do it again like that sometime?" Jack asked, surprised. Ennis had told him he'd enjoyed the night before, but a small part of him had feared that while he'd liked it, once was enough and he wanted to keep doing it with him inside Jack. He felt somewhat selfish for wanting a little control over their sexual activities, but he couldn't deny he would certainly like to do that again.
Ennis nodded. "Yeah...sure wouldn't mind feelin' like that again. Not fer a bit yet...but maybe in a couple days?" he asked hopefully.
Jack was stunned and relieved that the experience hadn't scared Ennis. Maybe they could really be equal in terms of sexual power after all. That would be very healthy for their relationship; it would allow it and even themselves to grow.
"Uh...sure cowboy. Whenever ya want." He nodded in surprise. They smiled at each other again, and Jack started to raise himself up, intending to get up, but Ennis pulled him back down and gently into his arms, turning Jack onto his back.
"Ennis...?" asked Jack, wondering why Ennis was acting so protective.
"Let's just stay like this fer a bit, rodeo," Ennis breathed into his ear. "Ain't goin' nowhere, right? You need yer rest."
Jack had to smile at the thinly veiled excuse. He had a feeling why Ennis wanted to hold him. He occasionally needed reassurance that Jack was really here, that this was all truly happening, and it wasn't just a dream to torment him as he prepared for his wedding back in Sage. Jack placed his own arms over Ennis's where they lay across his stomach, not so tightly as to hurt him, but tight enough to let Jack know he was feeling a little vulnerable and that he needed him. All Jack could do was love him and try to let him know that it would be like this, just like this, always. It was all he had to give.
Sometime later, the two of them had showered and eaten some breakfast, before crawling back into the warm bed. After huddling close together, Jack picked up the phone and dialled his home number. Or at least, home as in the place where he was born and raised. Home as in the place he wanted to be, to live...that was with Ennis, wherever they decided to settle.
Jack put the phone between them so Ennis could hear the conversation, and they put their heads together.
"Hey ma, it's me."
"Jack! Thank goodness! Ennis told me what happened, are you alright?"
"I'm fine," he replied reassuringly. "Just a little sore is all. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. Everythin's normal here. Yer Uncle Harold ain't though. Pneumonia's back. He's back in hospital. It don't look good, Jack."
"Oh..." Jack's face screwed up in sympathy. "There any chance he's gonna beat it again?"
"It's doubtful. It looks like he ain't got long."
"Well...give him my best, okay?"
"Will do. So what are you two plannin'?"
"Uh, well...we was gonna leave Texas yesterday, but with me gettin' hurt I need to rest, so we can't really go far at the moment, ya know? I'm just glad I got Ennis." Jack smiled at Ennis as he said this, blue eyes alight with happiness. Ennis took his hand where it rested on his thigh and squeezed it.
"I am too. I'm sure glad you got someone to take care of you."
"Yeah. Hey, ma? Can I ask ya somethin'?" he twisted the phone cord awkwardly.
"Well...Ennis told me that when he called you, he mentioned Becky an' you went all quiet. We asked Becky why you mighta done that an' she went all quiet too. I don't get it. You both say you always liked each other when she was livin' up there, so..."
Rose was silent for a few moments. Again with all the silence, Ennis mused. What the hell's goin' on?
"Uh...Jack...I did always like her. I just don't remember her all too well. I'm gettin' on now, I can't remember everyone I ever meet, sweetheart."
"She's my cousin. You gotta remember family." Jack reasoned, an expression of great confusion on his face.
"Uh, Jack? I think yer daddy's about to come in, I can hear his boots on the steps. I'll talk to you later, okay?"
Jack was slightly taken aback. Texas was an hour ahead of Wyoming, and even though his father usually came in for lunch, it was still only nine in the morning up there. He should still be out in the fields. Neither he nor Ennis were convinced by this story, but there wasn't much he could say except goodbye and tell her he'd call her some other time.
He put the phone back and turned to look at Ennis, face still full of confusion. "What...?"
Ennis sighed. "I dunno..."
Jack ran a hand through his hair in exasperation and started to get out of bed. As his legs folded up to his stomach he felt a shooting pain in his ribs. He gasped out loud and bent over double, tears stinging in his eyes.
"Jack?" Ennis looked at him in alarm. "You okay?" he asked, shuffling close and trying to look at his face.
"Ribs..." Jack choked out, feeling like they were on fire.
"Okay, lie back," said Ennis, trying not to panic as he lowered Jack back onto the bed slowly. "I'll get yer painkillers." He scrambled out of bed to the bathroom, leaving Jack breathing deeply. He got two tablets and a glass of water, bringing them around to Jack's side of the bed and sitting down on the edge next to him. He popped the pills into Jack's mouth and cupped the back of his head, raising it off the pillow as he helped Jack take some of the water. Jack swallowed and let his head collapse back onto the pillow.
"Thanks..." he breathed.
"No problem, darlin'." Ennis replied, the shock and panic wearing off. Jack opened his eyes.
"Didn't mean to scare ya." He whispered, smiling slightly.
Ennis shook his head and linked their fingers together. "As long as yer alright, that's all that matters."
"Could ya...could ya get back into bed an' uh...hold me?" Jack whispered, a little shyly.
"Don't need to ask twice." Ennis got up and went around to his side, doing as Jack requested. He tucked his arm around Jack's lower stomach, avoiding the ribs, and shuffled close, snaking his other arm under Jack's neck and across his shoulders, then linking his fingers together. He tucked his head into Jack's shoulder as Jack wrapped his arms around the one over his stomach.
They lay there in silence, listening to each other breathe and thanking their lucky stars that they had each other.
"Thank you, Ennis..." Jack murmured, turning his head to bump noses with his lover. "An' I don't just mean fer this."
Ennis smiled and kissed him softly. "I know. I wanna thank you too, an' not just fer last night." Jack nuzzled their noses together, feeling warm and happy, relishing the feeling of being in this man's strong arms.
Well, my man's strong arms, I guess, he thought to himself. This brought to his attention that he didn't really know how to describe their relationship. They thought of themselves as lovers and partners, that was true, but...it irked him that they couldn't get married and call each other things like "husband". The word struck him as odd. Surely they were too young to be referred to by such a term? But then again, Ennis had been planning to marry Alma, and he would have only recently turned twenty. Ennis's birthday was in just over a week, the 26th of September, and his wedding had been planned for November. Alma was still only nineteen. Surely that was too young to get married?
But then again, they came from a rural background, and it was expected of them to marry young, have children young and work until you no longer could. Once they got their own ranch they probably would work until they no longer could, but they sure couldn't get married, at least not legally, and they sure as hell weren't going to have any kids.
I guess life don't always turn out how you expect it to, he thought to himself.
The pair of them drifted off again soon after, dreaming of ranches and stock and the sweet life they were hoping to build together. Their nap was soon interrupted by a loud knocking on the door.
"Jack! Ennis! It's Becky!" her voice sounded urgent and a little panicky.
Ennis sat up in disorientation, blinking and staring at the door. Jack tried to sit up too but Ennis immediately stopped him, putting a hand on his chest.
"You stay here; I'll see what's up."
Jack relented and settled himself back. Ennis crawled out of bed and tugged his jeans on, staggering to the door and opening it.
Becky stood there, alone, an expression of distress on her face.
"Becky? What's wrong?" Ennis asked, confused and a little worried.
"Ennis, I..." she stopped when she noticed he was half naked, and that Jack was clearly naked under the sheets. Her face coloured. "Oh...I ain't interruptin' am I?"
Ennis's face went a colour to rival hers. "Oh, no, we was just sleepin'." He stammered, looking a little embarrassed.
"S'alright, Becky," Jack called from the bed. "I just can't get up cos my ribs have been hurtin'. You can come in if you wanna."
Ennis stood back to let her in and she stood in the doorway, becoming immediately aware of a dinstinctive scent in the air, near the bed. She was embarrassed at intruding their privacy like this.
"Guys, you gotta get outta Childress." She said abruptly.
"What?" said Jack, leaning on his elbows and looking at her with a puzzled expression.
"Whaddaya mean?" asked Ennis.
She sighed. "When me an' Andy were at the bar last night, he went into the bathroom an' heard some guys talkin' 'bout what happened to you." She said to Jack. "They was angry that even though you got put in hospital, you survived." She looked at Ennis. "An' they're after the guy who dragged them off him, cos it's his doin' they didn't finish the job."
"They was tryin' to kill me?" Jack asked. "I thought they just wanted to hurt me some."
"Well, that's what it sounded like when I overheard 'em the night before," Becky agreed. "Sure didn't sound like they were after killin' ya."
Ennis and Jack looked at each other, and Ennis could see in Jack's eyes the shadow of his fright when Rose had told them about their father planning to bring Alma's father up to Lightning Flat to kill them. He had to get them out of here, before the fear took over again. But with Jack still being injured, they couldn't go far.
"Yer right, Becky," he said, turning to her. "We gotta go. But Jack..." he looked at the love of his life, whose blue eyes were looking more and more frightened by the minute. "We can't go far."
"Ennis...we gotta get outta here, we gotta get away from Childress." Jack said, trying to rein in his panic and think rationally.
"We ain't goin' far with yer ribs still sore." Ennis answered bluntly. "It's my job to look after ya, Jack."
"Well...maybe we could just go to the nearest town or somethin'." Jack reasoned.
"I thought about that," said Becky. "An' I got an idea. Get yerselves to Quanah. It's almost thirty miles to the southeast, ain't that far, only half an hour away. If you get movin' you can be there for noon. Get yerselves into another motel an' lay low fer a little bit. I'm pretty sure there's a motel right near a store. Nobody but me an' Andy will know yer there."
Ennis was relieved that Becky was taking control like this; he didn't know Texas and Jack knew very little.
"Okay, we'll do that," he agreed, looking at Jack who nodded. "What 'bout you? We'll wanna see you again before we leave Texas."
"I know. When you get there, call me an' tell me where you where, where yer stayin. I'll try an' get down there to see ya."
"Okay, we'll do that."
"Alright. Meet me in about half an hour or so at the gas station on the edge of town, the one with the green roof. I wanna say goodbye before ya go."
"Sure, we'll see you there."
Becky nodded and left. Ennis turned to look at Jack, who slowly sat up properly.
"Time to go huh?" he sighed in resignation.
"Yep. C'mon, darlin'." Ennis went around to Jack's side and helped him out of bed. Jack was unable to shower, so Ennis helped him get a wash and get dressed, before taking a shower himself.
Half an hour later, they were outside the gas station, watching as Becky pulled up in an unfamiliar truck, which they assumed was Andy's.
She got out and handed them a bag of chips and drinks. "For the road." She said with a smile.
"Thanks, Becky." Jack said gratefully, giving her a hug.
"Yer welcome," she replied. "Good luck, an' I'll see you soon, okay?"
"Sure." He got back in the truck, and Ennis looked at Becky.
"Look after him, okay?" she said quietly. The look in her eyes was strange, like Jack's well-being was extremely important to her, accompanied by a tone of voice that made Ennis suspect that it wasn't just because she was Jack's cousin.
"I will..." he looked at her closely. "Last chance to tell what the deal is with you an' his ma."
It ain't his mother that's the problem, her mind screamed at her.
Her gaze dropped. She could no longer deny that something was wrong, but no way was she ready to tell.
"I...I can't." She whispered. She looked back up at him, hoping he would understand that she just wasn't ready to tell. It was bad enough that since they'd arrived, she'd thought about it every single day.
He knew how it felt to want to talk about something, but not feeling ready to. He decided to let it drop out of empathy.
She nodded gratefully. "I'll see you soon, then." She managed a small smile.
"Sure enough." They departed for their separate trucks. Ennis climbed in next to Jack, who hadn't noticed anything. He smiled at Ennis when he got in.
"Ready to go?" Ennis asked, a smile on his face.
Jack put the bag down and shuffled close to him, getting comfortable. "You bet."
Becky watched them go, her heart full of longing to tell the truth, but her head telling her it was a bad idea. Jack already hated his father, she knew that all too well. This would make it much worse.
As her and Ennis had waited to see Jack in the hospital, he'd ended up telling her about Earl and Rich, and what he'd seen. She had been shell-shocked, not only at the violence he'd been exposed to, but of what it meant, and how it connected to what she knew.
I guess him an' Jack are more connected than they thought, she thought to herself. She didn't remember what had happened, she had only been a baby, only a year old. But she would never forget what her parents had told her that day last year.
Earl and Rich. Those two ranchers who connected the three of them. Deep family secrets spawned from two people who fell in love, unfortunately for them at the wrong time. That love, while undeniably precious like all love, had torn the Twist family apart. If Jack found out, it might have the power to tear him and Ennis apart, especially if Ennis found out first and didn't tell him. No matter how much it ate away at her, she had to keep this to herself. Time couldn't heal all wounds.