July 10th, 1964
It was now Becky's birthday and as they'd told Kate, Ennis and Jack had a gathering of friends planned for today. They would work as normal until five and then their neighbours and friends would arrive. The hands were welcome too.
Jack had told Ennis that he thought he'd seen Pete in town at the 4th July celebrations but wasn't sure. James had been in touch and told them that whoever had set the fire had been wearing gloves, so no fingerprints were found on the match. This frustrated them, as the person had snuck onto their property and damaged it. They hoped that they would get to the bottom of this.
Another thing that the pair of them would be thinking about today was five years ago. They remembered their conversation here, not long after they'd arrived. Jack had told Ennis that on this day, in 1959, when he was 15, he saw a shooting star and wished for someone who would understand him, love him unconditionally for who he was. Ennis had replied that he'd seen a shooting star too that night, and wished that for once his life would go right, and that he could be happy for a change. They'd realised that they may very well have seen the same shooting star on that same night, and had cherished that connection; one that had been forged even before they'd met.
At the moment, it was still early morning, and Ennis was leaning against the counter in the kitchen, Jack in his arms and pressed against him. They were kissing slowly and deeply, sucking at each others' tongues and pressing closer, hands around necks and waists. It was just the two of them in their own private world and they were oblivious to anything else.
"Mmm..." sighed Jack as he pulled away. "Love you. Love ya somethin' fierce."
Ennis gave a lopsided smile. "Me too, darlin'. C'mere..." He pulled Jack close again and nuzzled into his neck.
"Mornin', guys," said Becky as she passed them, not even blinking. They pulled apart, blushing and straightening out their clothes.
"Mornin', Becky. Happy birthday." Ennis gave her the same greeting.
"Thanks, guys," she said with a smile. Ennis covered up his embarrassment by getting breakfast ready.
"Here ya go," said Jack, handing over two boxes, neatly wrapped. "From me an' Ennis. Hope you like 'em."
"Oh, thanks, you two. You didn't hafta."
"We wanted to," replied Jack as Ennis dished out the bacon and eggs. He then sat next to Jack opposite Becky.
She unwrapped Jack's present first, revealing the charm bracelet. There was the horseshoe charm, a lucky rabbit's foot charm, a four-leaf clover charm and a heart charm, all in beautiful silver.
"Oh, thank you Jack, it's beautiful," she said, leaning across to kiss his cheek. She then turned to the other box; opening up to find the horseshoe charm necklace Ennis had given her. She thanked him in the same way and promptly put on her new pieces of jewellery.
"Thanks, you two."
They smiled at her. "No problem."
Unfortunately, it was still a weekday, so the three of them still had to work, but they had things planned, things that Becky didn't know about. Her presence in the office in the afternoon would ensure that they could start putting things together without her realising.
"Brokeback Ranch, Becky speakin'," Becky answered as the phone rang that afternoon.
"Hi Becky, it's Rose."
"Hey, Rose. Did you get that picture I sent?"
"I sure did. It's...it's beautiful ain't it?" Rose sounded wistful and Becky felt her throat close.
"Sure is. Listen, Ennis an' Jack...you know they're comin' up to Wyomin' next month. It'll be just after my 18-week scan. You want me to send a picture up with them?"
"I'd like that. I'd sure like to see how it develops. They didn't have those when I was expectin'."
"Well...I'd best get back to what I was doin'. Just wanted to wish you happy birthday."
"Thank you...bye, Rose."
Becky sighed as she hung up. In an attempt to cheer herself up, she dug into her pocket and pulled out the picture of her scan; she carried it with her always, treasuring it. She couldn't help but smile when she laid eyes on the tiny figure. She lightly traced a finger along the shape, marvelling at how well developed it already was. It was the most precious thing she'd ever seen and when she'd first seen it up on the screen that was the moment she knew she'd made the right decision. She was fiercely protective of this fragile life that was so dependent on her. And in turn, she knew she could depend on Ennis and Jack.
At five, she cleared up in the office and headed for the house, frowning when she saw the lights were off. Surely Jack would be making dinner?
She entered the dark kitchen and fumbled for the light switch, completely unprepared for what awaited her.
"Surprise!" The loud greeting knocked her back, and she broke out into a shocked gasp at the sight.
All her friends here were there. Their neighbours Bill and Mary, Rick and Kate, all the hands and Dave, the vet Paul and even Greg. She could also see James the sheriff there, who had grown on her.
Ennis and Jack came forward and hugged her. "Happy birthday, honey," Jack whispered in her ear.
"Oh you guys..." she said, blushing and hugging them tight.
For the next few hours, the group chatted, laughed and ate enthusiastically. There were a few who didn't know all of Becky's background and her childhood growing up with Jack, and she was happy to tell them. And of course, Mary and Kate were eager to talk babies.
They'd all bought her presents. Bill and Mary had given her a pampering set for the bathroom, Rick had bought her some soothing lavender products, knowing that soon she might find it hard to get to sleep. Kate had made her a pair of horseshoe earrings to set off Ennis and Jack's gifts, the hands and Dave all gave her flowers and chocolates, and Paul and Greg both gave her more bath sets.
She would look around the room and notice something. She'd never had so many friends in her life until now. And all because of the two cowboys who had surreptitiously slipped outside onto the back porch, probably to carry on where they'd left off that morning.
Unfortunately, their high spirits were dampened the next day. They went out into town, Ennis and Jack treating Becky to a lavish meal at their favourite diner. The night had been filled with laughter and happiness, and in Jack's case, occasionally running a foot up Ennis's leg and rubbing it against his crotch. Ennis had trouble concentrating on what Becky was saying to him.
Becky was definitely eating for two now and it showed. She appeared to be having a particular craving for red meat, which was ironic considering she lived on a cattle ranch. Yet their meat wasn't available yet, not even for themselves, so they had to get it elsewhere for now. Ennis and Jack couldn't quite finish their own steaks, so gave them to Becky who polished them off nicely.
"I wanna thank you guys again, fer yesterday. You know, everybody bein' there," said Becky, smiling.
Jack clapped a hand to her shoulder. "Ain't no trouble. We was glad to do it. Don't worry 'bout it."
"Sure am glad I got you guys." They fell into comfortable silence, enjoying the breeze coming through the window. It was very warm down here in the summer, yet Becky was concerned it might make her uncomfortable at night, unable to settle.
When they were finished, they paid and left, heading towards the truck and yawning. It was starting to get dark now.
Out of the shadows that crossed their path emerged a figure. One they knew all too well. His cold grey eyes could be seen even in the dark.
Fred, they all thought at the same time. Ennis and Jack stood in front of Becky.
"What the hell do you want?" asked Jack defensively.
Kane spat at his feet. "Fuckin' queers, havin' me arrested an' hauled in to be questioned fer somethin' I didn't do."
Jack's nostrils flared. "Well, we ain't got no reason to believe it wasn't you. Hate our guts, doncha?"
"Damn right I do. Don't mean I wanna be anywhere near yer filthy queer ranch."
Ennis folded his arms, eyes narrowed to slits. "Whether it was you or not, we don't wanna be dealin' with this now. Get out the goddamn way an' let us get to our truck."
Kane ignored him and looked past them to Becky. His eyes dropped to her visible bump, and he sneered. "Well lookit that. One of ya finally got some balls then? Or did you knock her up to try an' make people believe you ain't what you are?"
"You little -" Jack drew back his arm but Ennis grabbed it.
"Don't," he whispered urgently. "He ain't worth it, Jack." Jack lowered his arm and promptly strode around Kane to get to the truck. Ennis followed but Becky walked up close to the hated figure, stepped right into his personal space.
"First," she hissed at him. "Neither of them did this. It ain't none of yer business who did, but you got no right sayin' that to them. I've had enough of yer poison an' if you say one more thing to me or them, you'll be havin' yer ass hauled off fer harassment. Leave them alone." She said the last three words firmly, promising dire consequences if he didn't adhere to them. She walked around him and joined her companions, looks of awe and amusement on their faces. She didn't really need protecting, they figured. She could handle herself.
Still, when they got home, Ennis could tell that Jack hadn't yet shaken off the effect of the unexpected verbal assault on them. When they entered their room, they brushed their teeth side by side, not speaking, before climbing wearily into bed.
Ennis looked at Jack sadly. He hated it when his Jack got down like this. He wanted to see him happy, always.
"Jack?" he whispered. Jack looked at him questioningly.
Ennis smiled. "C'mere, darlin'." Those words never failed to arouse Jack, and with a slight grin he shuffled over to Ennis, eyes alight with interest. Ennis drew him into his arms, into a warm embrace. He kissed Jack softly yet deeply, coaxing his tongue out to play with his.
"Tell me how I can make ya feel better," Ennis whispered, gazing into Jack's eyes. "Anythin' you want."
Jack thought for a moment, then took Ennis's hands and brought them down to his ass. Ennis got the message and squeezed gently at the cheeks, nodding at Jack who rolled himself onto his back, eyes wide and trusting, inviting Ennis into his body.
Ennis slicked himself up and crawled on top of Jack, getting into position. He gently slid Jack's legs over his shoulders, sensing that Jack might not have the strength to keep his legs in the air on his own. Ennis slowly slid into Jack, warm and welcoming. Jack's head fell back and he sighed.
Ennis leaned in close to Jack's face. "Just relax, darlin'. Close yer eyes. Let me do all the work," he whispered. Jack nodded with a small smile and did so. Ennis kissed his mouth before beginning to move slowly.
It didn't take them long to find their rhythm and soon Jack was meeting his lover's thrusts, moaning softly. Ennis had his face buried in Jack's neck as he thrust into him, sucking on his neck at the point where he could feel Jack's pulse. Jack sought Ennis's fingers and laced them with his own, squeezing them. Ennis pulled up and Jack finally opened his eyes, gracing Ennis with the deep blue of the sky or the sea. Their mouths met as they headed for the brink.
"Ennis..." Jack whispered, face full of bliss.
"Oh, Jack..." Ennis whispered back, kissing Jack all over his face. They slipped over the edge together, shuddering as they rode it out silently, seeing stars as they finished.
Jack sighed as Ennis reluctantly pulled out and rolled off him to the side, pulling him back into his arms, wrapping him up. Jack kissed his sweaty chest and settled down, Ennis swiftly following.
A couple of days later, the three of them were eating breakfast when the phone rang. Ennis, being closest to the phone, answered it.
"Brokeback Ranch, Ennis speakin'."
"Oh, hey K.E.," said Ennis in surprise. Jack's head came up and looked at him questioningly. "Uh, how can I help ya?"
"Well, I just wanted to tell ya Sarah gave birth a little while back. Had a boy, named him Keith, after dad."
"Well, congratulations, then. How's Sarah doin'?"
"She's fine. Been real busy, just got 'round to tellin' folks. How's Becky?"
"She's doin' real good, just had her twelve-week scan. Little one's doin' good."
"That's great. So, uh...how're you an' Jack?" K.E. was still a bit shaky in his attempts to assimilate himself to the idea that his brother was gay and in a relationship with another man, but he had improved after his and Cecilia's visit earlier that year. He was at least trying.
"We're doin' real well. Real happy with him," Ennis replied, looking into Jack's eyes. Jack gave a small smile and returned to the paper.
"Good. Oh, there's somethin' you might wanna know, seein' as yer comin' up here soon."
"Well, it was in the paper the other day. You remember old Aguirre?"
K.E. snorted in amusement at his brother's comment. "Well, when you an' Jack was workin' for him, did he give you some rules or somethin'? Somethin' 'bout fires an' stayin' with sheep?"
"Yeah, he did. It was against Forest Service rules but he did it anyway. Jack used to moan 'bout it 'til I offered to switch with him." Jack gave him an indignant look and Becky smirked at him.
"Well, turns out the Forest Service found out about it an' called him out on it. Banned him from usin' that area for sheep herdin'. He'll be arrested if he ignores them. An' anyway, the Forest Service ain't usin' Brokeback no more. Dunno why. They still own it, but it's gonna be deserted when you guys get here. Just thought you oughta know."
"Well, thanks K.E. Thanks fer lettin' us know."
"Yeah, but Ennis...you know what Aguirre's like. It's likely he'll be blamin' you, just 'cos he can. You oughta know how he feels 'bout you two."
"We sure do. But he don't know where we are, does he? He ain't gonna find us, right?"
"Probably not, but I thought I oughta warn ya."
"Thanks, K.E. I appreciate it."
"Sure 'nough. We all still on fer Thanksgivin'?"
"Yeah, you bet. I'd sure like to meet my nephew," Ennis said with a smile.
"Yeah, we'll all come. You spoken to Cecilia lately?"
"Yeah, called her the other day. Everyone's okay over there."
"Good. Well...I best be gettin' ready fer work."
"Yeah. Speak soon?"
"Yep, bye Ennis."
"See ya." Ennis put the phone down. It wasn't as taxing to talk to K.E. as it used to be. But still, there was a long way to go before those wounds could be closed.
"Everythin' alright, cowboy?" asked Jack when Ennis came back to his seat.
"Yeah. Sarah's had a boy, named him Keith after our dad."
"Aw, that's great. What was all that 'bout them rules up on Brokeback?"
"The Forest Service found out about 'em. Banned Aguirre from usin' them fer sheep. If he ignores 'em, they'll lock him up."
"I say lock him up anyway. That bastard tried to get us killed," Jack said, a dark look on his face at the memory. He would never forgive Aguirre, his father and Alma's father for what they had tried to do to him and Ennis.
Ennis put a hand over Jack's. "Don't worry none, rodeo. It'll be fine. Point is, Brokeback's gonna be deserted when we get up there. We'll have the place to ourselves."
Jack's face lit up at this. "Sounds good. Lookin' forward to it."
"Yeah, me too. So, um...we best get ready then. Start gettin' to work."
"Yep." The pair of them went to pull on their boots while Becky gathered the breakfast dishes. Jack had nearly freaked out when he'd seen her leaning over and stretching herself, but she told him about the protective sac in her womb that held the baby, and that it could withstand mild to moderate exertion. She was touched that he cared so much, and had to reassure him she would be fine.
Ennis and Jack were reluctantly parting ways outside the office, kissing softly.
"I gotta go..." murmured Ennis as Jack pulled him close again.
"Yeah, I know..." whispered Jack, kissing him again.
Ennis chuckled into his mouth and pulled away. "C'mon, Jack. We gotta get some work done." He dropped a quick kiss onto Jack's mouth.
Jack sighed and pouted. "Promise we'll finish this later?"
"You bet," whispered Ennis as he stroked his cheek. Jack smiled and could finally tear himself away, stealing just one more kiss as he broke away.
Like Becky, Star's pregnancy was proceeding nicely and Ennis could tell how proud she and Signal were of themselves. They wanted to stay close together and he let them when Signal wasn't being used. He knew exactly how it felt to want to stay close to the one you loved. The ranch was pretty quiet and routine most days, and this was how Ennis liked it best. Not too demanding, just nice and simple and easy to deal with. He was actually quite surprised at how quickly everything had come together. Around eight months ago they'd arrived here, and now...it was working well. He and Jack were able to work well together. They'd always worked well together on Brokeback but this felt different. This was their place and their business. It was their life and Ennis knew it was a life built on love and trust. He had never envisioned himself having such a life, yet here it was. He felt incredibly lucky to have Jack and couldn't wait until next month, when he could hopefully show Jack everything he felt.
Rose sighed to herself as she looked out of the window at the desolate landscape. Her head was full of thoughts. Thoughts about Jack and Ennis, down there in Georgia. She was so proud of them for how well they seemed to be doing for themselves. She was grateful to Ennis for making her son happy and giving him some hope for life, which John had tried to squash down. She had loved the ranch when she'd been to visit and couldn't wait until Thanksgiving when she would go back. She would be seeing Becky for the first time in years, and she would be meeting her extended family: Ennis's brother and sister and their families. Such a family she could never have expected to have, but here it was.
Her thoughts turned to Becky. She couldn't have been more surprised when Jack told her that Becky was pregnant. Of course she was happy for her, but she still felt a twinge of sadness and longing within herself. She hoped that Becky would be comfortable with her being in the baby's life as she longed to be. She wasn't sure what to expect when she did see Becky again, since it had been so long. She knew that there was no way she would bring John down there, even if he wanted to. She knew he was not welcome in Ennis and Jack's home, and she would not hurt them for the world. It would be a bad idea to dredge up all the bad feelings between Jack, Becky and her husband. She didn't want any fights starting and knew that that kind of stress was the last thing Becky needed.
She pulled out from her pocket the scan picture Becky had sent her. She had to admit it was beautiful. These hadn't been available when she'd been expecting, as she'd told Becky, and it was surreal to see something that was still inside a person. She wondered vaguely how big Becky's bump might be by the time November came around. It would be a late date of the pregnancy, after all.
She wanted to see Becky again. She wanted to see Jack and Ennis again. She'd missed all three of them and was grateful to her son and the man she considered her son-in-law for helping Becky and setting her back on her feet. She was angry at her brother-in-law for throwing Becky out and had called him to chew him out on it. He said that Becky had no place in their family and Rose had put the phone down. He had no right saying such things in her opinion.
She put the photo away as she heard John's boots on the steps. She was glad that Jack was away from here; it was no way for a young man with dreams and hopes to live. Ennis Del Mar had walked into his life one day and swept him away to someplace where his happiness could grow and thrive. He'd gotten Jack away from all this, had maybe even saved his life, for who knew what might have happened if Jack had been stuck here for too long?
She remembered her visit earlier that year. Jack had driven all the way to Lightning Flat himself to pick her up, and later to bring her back. She could clearly remember that day.
She was waiting on the front steps, and the sound of a vehicle drew her attention. It was a blue model, very nice as far as trucks went. John was out in the field, not wanting any part of this.
The man who stepped out...she recognised him as her son, but he seemed a completely different person. His eyes shone and his beloved dimpled grin was splitting his face.
"Hey there, mama!" he greeted, striding over and sweeping her into his arms.
"Hey, Jacky. Good to see you, sweetheart." She hugged him back, and then pulled away to get a look at his face. "My, you sure look good. Happy." His face was practically glowing and his eyes were sparkling, the likes of which she'd never really seen before.
Jack smiled. "I am real happy, mama."
The drive to Georgia was pleasant. They talked about the ranch and how things were going. Jack told her about Lucky, and that he'd been a gift from Ennis. He told her about their horses and their hands and the friends they were starting to make. She soaked it all up. She didn't think she'd heard so much from him in all his life. He was practically gushing about everything Ennis was doing, and she loved how close they seemed to be, and how happy Jack clearly was now. It made such a nice change from his miserable upbringing.
She told him how not much had changed up here in Wyoming, and she'd seen him look guilty, probably about his gushing about how much better his life was now, and that she was still stuck here. She told him he had no reason to feel guilty, because she knew how miserable he'd been and that he deserved to be happy.
She enjoyed her time with them, and loved the ranch. They took her into Sandersville one evening for a meal at what they said was their favourite restaurant. They introduced her to their neighbours, Bill and Mary, and she was happy that her son had a good life now.
She had been sad to leave the ranch and come back to Wyoming, but she could at least leave her baby in Ennis's care and know he would be safe and loved. As she'd told Ennis on that terrible night when they'd had to flee, she'd looked after Jack for nearly twenty years, and now it was his job. He'd promised her that he would, and when she'd visited she'd seen for herself that he'd been true to his word. Jack was happy, and loved, and safe, and she had Ennis's love for him to thank.
Becky couldn't sleep. Her back was killing her and since that was the only position she could really sleep in, she had a real problem. She normally slept on her side but that wasn't an option anymore. She threw the sheets down in frustration, sighing. She needed to stretch her legs and decided she could use some fresh air. There were some comfortable wicker chairs on the back porch and she figured she'd sit there for a while. She'd always loved sitting outside at night when the world was asleep.
This decided, she put on her dressing gown and tiptoed downstairs. She got herself some water in the kitchen and slipped outside. The night air was cool and fresh, and she got herself comfortable in a chair. She sipped her water, staring out onto the land, lost in her thoughts. Most of her thoughts were about her baby, about how well things were going and what being a mother might be like. She wondered if she would be having a boy or a girl. She knew she would love it no matter what but it would be nice to know; it would help with planning. She still had no idea what she might want to name it. But there was plenty of time for that.
She heard the screen door open and shut and turned her head to see Jack making his own way outside, carrying his own glass of water. He smiled when he saw her.
"Hey," he whispered, easing himself into one of the other chairs. "What're you doin' out here at this time?"
Becky shook her head. "Couldn't sleep. Back's hurtin'."
Jack looked sorry for her. "Oh. You gonna be okay?"
"Sure. Just wish there was a comfortable position to sleep in. How come you're up?"
Jack's eyes lowered. "Nightmare." He met her eyes and she read in them what his nightmare had been about.
"Memory?" She knew how bad his childhood had been.
Jack's face scrunched up. "The stairs." He fingered a faint scar on his knee as he said this.
Becky sighed. "You get bad dreams often?"
"Now an' then. I like it when Ennis is there to...to hold me an' make me feel better, but...I hate to put it all on him. He's got bad memories of his own. He has nightmares too."
"Jack...that's what bein' in a relationship's about. Takin' on each others' pain an' helpin' each other through it. I think Ennis don't mind you bringin' all yer pain to him. He brings his to you, right?"
Jack nodded. "Yeah. I can tell it ain't easy fer him, talkin' 'bout what he's seen, but...he does it anyway."
"Because he wants you to hold him and make him feel better."
Jack smiled. She had a point. But then he remembered his dream. "He don't know 'bout the stairs incident." He looked ashamed of himself. "I ain't really told him much. He knows 'bout the bathroom thing, an' that my daddy beat me, but...that's pretty much it. He don't know 'bout the really serious stuff."
"Maybe you should tell him," Becky suggested.
"I dunno if I can," Jack whispered. "I wanna, but...I dunno if I got the guts to dredge up all that stuff."
I know what you mean, thought Becky.
"Well...maybe you could give it a shot, huh? I'm sure he'd wanna know."
"Mmm. I guess...I guess I'll think on it. Anyway..." He sighed and got up. "I'm gonna go back to bed. Gettin' cold out here. Don't stay out too long, okay?"
"Yeah. Night, Jack." She ended up sitting there for a long time.
"Night." Jack crept back upstairs and into their room. The sight of Ennis sleeping naked sent volts down to his groin, and he grinned. He pulled off his boxers and slipped back into bed facing Ennis, sliding one arm around him.
Ennis stirred. "Jack?" he mumbled.
Jack didn't reply, just leaned over and kissed Ennis softly, running a hand down his back. He felt Ennis smile against his lips.
"What's with you, rodeo?" whispered Ennis, a drowsy look on his face.
"Well," Jack breathed, stroking Ennis's curls. "I was awake an' saw ya sleepin' naked, so peaceful. See...I got a problem."
Ennis frowned. "What kinda problem?"
Jack smirked and brought one of Ennis's hands down to his swelling erection. "That," he whispered. "I got some swellin'. Think ya can take care of it fer me?"
Ennis's dark eyes fully opened and he smiled, squeezing at Jack. "Maybe. Get on yer back, an' I'll see what I can do. An' spread yer legs."
Jack willingly did as he was told and lay there, watching Ennis clamber over him and start kissing him. He responded eagerly enough and soon Ennis was sliding down the bed. Jack was painfully hard by now and wanted some attention; some contact with that warm, wet mouth that could drive him crazy.
Ennis took him in his mouth, sucking gently. Jack moaned softly and his head fell back onto the pillow. One of Ennis's hands came around his waist and down into the cleft between his butt cheeks, finding what he was looking for and massaging in a rhythm to match his oral efforts.
Jack was powerless under Ennis's touch and writhed on the bed, feeling that his head might be about to explode. Ennis's mouth and finger were all he was aware of. Ennis's free hand slid up his stomach to caress his chest. Jack was breathing heavily and wouldn't last much longer.
Finally, Jack could stand it no more and let loose, back arched. Ennis held him steadily as he took it all, removing his finger and holding Jack by his waist. Jack collapsed onto the bed and Ennis crawled up him, kissing him with breath that Jack recognised as himself. Their eyes met in the darkness and Ennis rolled off him, pulling him close. Jack fell asleep after a few moments. He knew he wouldn't be having any nightmares tonight.