The next day was passing as normal; Ennis working in the fields with the hands, Jack in the office and Becky in the house, the places where they were most comfortable. It was just after ten in the morning and it was a pretty quiet day.
Thankfully, Ennis and Jack hadn't heard from nor seen Fred Kane since their encounter just over three weeks before, but they were aware that this could change at any point and had warned Becky about him; they sure didn't want her to be on the receiving end of one of his drunken tirades.
But in all, things were going pretty good, and they were all happy. Becky had not yet asked them to be godfathers to her baby; she wanted to wait until her twelve-week scan and surprise them.
Ennis, meanwhile, was busy with plans and ideas of his own. In just two days, it would be officially a year since he met Jack, and lately he'd caught Jack staring at him or into space more than usual with a dreamy look on his face; he suspected that Jack was also aware of the forthcoming anniversary. He had no special plans for this date, but he sure was planning for next month: the anniversary of their first night together. He had something special in mind, something that Jack would hopefully like, and he needed Becky's help to get it set up.
He couldn't believe it; it had been a year already. Time had just flown by in a current of love and bliss. Things had happened so fast but it all felt right, like it was meant to be. He was still so much in love with Jack and knew in his heart that Jack was still very much in love with him. He could acknowledge now that he'd been wrong: it wasn't a one-shot thing happening here. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, that elusive thing they talked about in movies and love songs, when you just knew you were meant to be with someone, and had been all along. It had been hard work, but well worth it in the end.
Of course he felt sorry for Alma; this wasn't her fault. She's just stood no chance against Jack Twist. Ennis thought that if he'd never met Jack (a concept he didn't like to think about), he would have gone through life not realising that he was gay.
He'd thought back to that one year of high school he'd had. He remembered guys talking about the girls that passed them in the hallway, showing off, attracting their attention like guys did, and...he'd never got it. Never understood what the big deal was. At the time, he'd figured it might have had something to do with his Methodist upbringing, where sex was not something to be considered lightly, and only once a ring was on your finger. But since he'd been able to face up to his sexuality, he'd thought that maybe it was that; that he'd never got it because girls didn't do anything for him. If he had permitted himself to look at Alma that way, and consider whether or not he was sexually attracted to her, what might he have found? He didn't like to think about that if he could help it. He had himself a loving partner whom he was very much attracted to, and whom he knew was attracted to him. His life was good; he didn't need to dwell on what might have been.
He was mucking out the stalls as he thought about all this, when a familiar hand cupped the back of his neck, making him jump.
"Can ya call fer a break?" a husky voice whispered in his ear.
"Um...guess so...how long?"
"Fifteen. In ten minutes call fer a fifteen minute break. Meet me in the office, an' come alone," the voice breathed, hot breath tickling his ear and sending volts down to his groin. How did he do that?
He could hardly think straight after that, and when he called for a break he managed to get to the office on trembling legs. He knocked.
"Come on in, then."
Ennis slowly opened the door and his mouth fell open. Jack had cleared the desk, and was sitting on the edge of it, facing the door, buck naked except, for some strange reason, for his cowboy hat and boots. His legs were splayed out, proudly displaying himself. He had a sweet smile on his face.
"Hey there, cowboy. Cat got yer tongue?"
Ennis snapped back to his senses and closed the door behind him, taking in the image before him. He didn't know why Jack was still wearing his boots and hat, but somehow he found it quite arousing, and his nether regions agreed.
He moved to stand in front of Jack, who wordlessly unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it off and onto the floor. Ennis undid his jeans and slid them down. He didn't want to take off his boots so let his jeans sit there around his ankles. He left his hat on.
Jack peered up into his face and pulled it close for a kiss, slow and deep. He pulled Ennis towards him to lean over him as he grabbed a tube from the drawer and handed it to Ennis, who suspected Jack had put it there for such occurrences. He quickly prepared himself, and for easier access in this position, grabbed Jack's legs and slid them over his shoulders, where Jack locked his ankles together and leaned back to lie on the desk, breathing getting heavier.
Ennis slid forward into him and linked their fingers together. It was odd that they would have sex in such silence, but for some reason they felt no need for words. It was a secret rendezvous in the middle of the working day, and there seemed to be no need to talk. He rocked back and forth into Jack, kissing him all over his face as he thrust into his lover. He then took Jack's hands and held them over his head on the desk, trapping them there so he couldn't move. He could feel Jack's legs shaking with impending climax as his erection rubbed between them. With a bit of luck, Ennis managed to lean over far enough to take him into his mouth for a few strokes, and Jack began to jerk violently, trembling all over and starting to groan.
He released into Ennis's mouth and then felt Ennis empty himself into him just after. Ennis collapsed onto Jack as they caught their breaths. He released Jack's hands and kissed him firmly. He pulled back and nuzzled their noses together before standing up straight and starting to get dressed, Jack doing the same with an ill-hidden grin on his face. Jack kissed Ennis on the cheek and Ennis went back outside just as quietly as he entered. They never spoke about these erotic silent encounters; they just were. Their actions could speak louder than words.
After lunch, Becky took over in the office while Jack went out into the fields to work with Ennis and the hands. They were keeping a close eye on Pete and making sure he and Michael weren't kept in the same space for too long; the last thing they needed was a bust-up. Michael was a good worker and seemed grateful for this opportunity, and Ennis and Jack were keen to help people like him.
Becky was in the office going over the books and checking things were up-to-date when the phone rang.
"Brokeback Ranch, Becky speakin'."
"Hey, can I speak to either Jack or Ennis?" an unfamiliar voice asked.
"May I ask who's callin'?"
"It's Adam Wilson, I'm Tom's cousin."
"He's married to Ennis's sister, Cecilia."
"Oh!" Recognition dawned on her. "Ennis an' Jack told me 'bout you, an' yer partner. I'm Becky Twist, Jack's cousin."
"Well hey there, small world. They told us 'bout you too. But I thought you was in Texas?"
"I was, moved here a few days ago, family troubles."
"I know all 'bout them," Adam said wryly. "Least we got people who care 'bout us."
"Sure do. So Adam, what can I do fer ya? Ennis an' Jack are out on the land."
"Well, I was just callin' 'bout a visit. We come to see 'em in January an' we said we'd get together again soon, maybe this month."
"I see. When was ya thinkin'?"
"We thought maybe Monday, the 11th? We know they work all week but we thought maybe we'd give 'em a hand, we both got time off."
"I think that'd be fine. I'm sure they'd like to see ya. How about I tell 'em an' one of 'em can call ya back?"
"That's fine, Miss Twist, thanks."
"None of that, yer family, right? Call me Becky."
"Sure thing, Becky. Hope to see ya soon."
She hung up and left the office, bound for the stables. She felt a pang in her heart as the smell of horses filled her nostrils. She loved riding, but Rick had told her to keep away from all livestock. She missed racing as fast as she could on a horse, as fast as it would go. Still, she didn't want her baby to come to any harm, so she had grudgingly agreed to follow the rules. Not that Ennis and Jack would let her near the horses anyway in her condition. She stood in the doorway and tried to spot at least one of them, but perhaps they were out.
"Jack? Ennis?" she called out. They came from around the corner, and she bit back a giggle. Their hair was sticking up all over the place like hands had been run through it, they were both red in the face, their lips were a little swollen and their shirts were a mess. It was clear they'd been engaged in a little recreational activity.
"What's up, Becky?" asked Jack as they both tucked their shirts in. Ennis was unable to meet her eyes.
"Tom's cousin Adam was on the phone, wanted to ask about a visit, maybe on Monday?"
"Oh! Okay, I'll call later. Thanks." He smiled nervously, knowing that she knew full well what they'd been up to. She smirked and left.
Jack turned to Ennis. "Sorry 'bout that. You wanna carry on where we left off?" he asked mischievously.
Ennis grinned and pulled him close, planting a kiss in his hair. "Later. We got work to do, rodeo."
Jack sighed dramatically. "Promise?" he said, batting his eyelashes at him. He knew Ennis was a sucker for that.
"Promise," replied Ennis with another kiss. He could never resist Jack when he did that, but they did have work to do, and he would make up for it later.
That evening after dinner, Jack called Adam from the kitchen while Ennis and Becky were watching TV. Becky's cravings appeared to be starting, and despite the hearty dinner they'd had she was still peckish, so had claimed an entire bowlful of potato chips. Ennis watched watched her with amusement. And he thought Jack could eat like a horse.
"That sounds fine, Adam. Obviously there's been some livin' changes 'round here but we can still put ya both up. And we'd appreciate the help." He told Adam about their hand Pete, and noted the irony that it was the same name as Adam's partner. He warned him that while he was civil towards him and Ennis, this may have been because they were his employers and he needed the money. They had hired a few more hands lately, bringing their total to seven, plus Dave. As long as their workers kept negative comments to themselves they could handle it.
An arrival time arranged for Monday, Jack hung up and went back into the living room, curling up on the sofa next to Ennis. He briefly thought about asking Becky for a chip, but the last time he'd done that she'd given him a death glare, and he'd swiftly made himself scarce. She'd warned them that her hormones would be all over the place. But curling up next to Ennis wasn't so bad. Their hands would often drift and lock together. Ennis was fine with that, but he was hesitant to go further with Becky in the room. He knew she supported their relationship, but he wanted to keep the intimacy between him and Jack private. It wasn't exactly polite to make out on the sofa with someone while someone else, a woman no less, was in the room. He sure made up for it upstairs.
Late that night, Ennis was kissing his way down Jack's chest and stroking the hair. They were under the covers and Jack was grabbing the headboard behind his head. His head had fallen back against the pillow as Ennis travelled lower down.
"Christ, Ennis," he breathed as his groin ached for proper contact. Ennis looked up at him with a smile and moved lower down, head disappearing under the sheets and rendering Jack incapable of further speech or thought.
May 7th, 1964
So here it was; the anniversary of the day they'd met. Ennis was first to awake, as usual, but Jack hadn't been far behind and now they were kissing slowly and leisurely in bed, not needing to go any further.
Ennis couldn't believe what a difference a year could make. This time last year, probably about this time, he'd been standing outside Aguirre's old trailer, waiting for his future employer to show, and thinking about his forthcoming wedding with, he could see in retrospect, not much enthusiasm.
Of course, Aguirre hadn't been the first to show, had he? The man who had appeared first...well. There were no words needed. That man had turned his life upside down in the best possible way; brought him a life of love and happiness. The man in his arms who was kissing him back and moaning softly into his mouth. His Jack. His life. He had never thought that he could be so happy.
When Jack had been in the hospital in Texas last year, Ennis had told him that he'd grown up with practically nothing, so as a result figured he didn't need anything and didn't deserve anything. That had changed since he'd committed himself to Jack last August. He'd slowly come to see that he did deserve some happiness, that he did need something. And now he had it; it was his life with Jack.
Jack pulled back and smiled sleepily at Ennis. "Happy anniversary to you too," he whispered.
Ennis went slightly red. "Can't believe it's been a year already. About this time last year I didn't even know ya. Now look at us..."
"I know. Ain't all been easy, but...been well worth it."
"Sure has, darlin'." There were no more words as Jack pulled Ennis over to lie on top of him and straddle him. Ennis was enjoying the feel of Jack's open mouth, wet tongue curling around his own, running around his mouth, exploring it. His own tongue was busy exploring Jack's mouth and he ran his thumb over the mole above Jack's mouth, that damn mole that drove him nuts just like those dimples and bright blue eyes.
He slowly rocked his hips from side to side, his groin locked with Jack's and his hands now in Jack's hair. Jack's arms were up around his neck, suspended in mid-air as Ennis kissed him and rubbed against him. They were both hard but felt no need to rush; all in good time. Jack enjoyed making love with Ennis early in the morning like this, all whispers and sighs and warmth and love. It certainly felt more romantic and intimate than their energetic couplings, enjoyable though they were. The dawn was just starting to peek through the curtains from the horizon, and a dim glow was growing in the room.
Ennis pulled himself up onto his elbows, prising his mouth away from Jack's. He looked deeply into Jack's eyes, which were staring up at him like a pair of bright blue beacons. Even when it was raining he could see the clear blue sky just by looking at Jack. He was perfect to Ennis. He continued to rub against Jack slowly, and Jack just gazed up at him in silence, eyes roaming all over his face, silently communicating what they were both feeling.
A year already. I gotta tell ya, bud; best year of my life. I didn't know what livin' was 'til I met you. Ain't never been this happy before, never thought I would be. Ain't never thought I could love someone like I love you. Yer the best thing's ever happened to me, an' I'll love ya forever. Yer everythin' to me.
They were both feeling it, and could see it in each others' eyes. There was no need for words. Ennis ducked his head to kiss Jack again, hands cupping his face while Jack ran his hands through Ennis's curls, winding them around his fingers as he felt his orgasm loom closer.
He suddenly shuddered and came between their bodies, a warm kind of release that made him sigh with contentment. Ennis swiftly followed suit and leaned back over Jack to wrap him in his arms, breathing in unison with him. Nothing could compare to mornings like this. Jack held him close and kissed his hair, not caring if their come stuck them together so they could never be separated. That wouldn't be such a hardship, even if it meant they never got out of bed ever again.
But unfortunately, it was a weekday and there was work to be done. Ennis reluctantly pulled himself away with a kiss to Jack's forehead and went into the bathroom. Jack sighed contentedly again and got out of bed to gather his clothes for the new day.
In the shower, Ennis was gathering up the state of mind to attempt to put his plan into action. He would have to talk to Becky later. She was really the only person he could go to for help. He so wanted this to go right, and he definitely needed a woman's help with such a thing. He could call Rose, he guessed, just to see if she might be able to help, but he wanted it to be a surprise for her too; not to know until it was done and Jack (hopefully) called her in excitement.
He was sure he could do this. He felt ready to make a real commitment to Jack. They were probably as committed as they were going to get, at least until a few laws changed, but there was something missing, and he'd been thinking on this for a while. This was something special that he prayed with all his heart Jack would love. He felt certain he would, but he was just so nervous; it wasn't as if he was particularly good at love and romance, despite what Jack said about him having improved. Still, he would give it a damn good try, because he loved Jack and wanted to do this. Jack's love was worth it.
That afternoon, after a morning of plucking up the courage, Ennis could finally speak to Becky. She would be alone in the office and Jack was over in the fields with a few hands feeding the cows. It was the perfect opportunity.
He listened briefly at the door to check she wasn't on the phone. All he could hear was the rifling of papers. He knocked nervously.
"Come on in."
He opened the door and stuck his head in. "Becky? You got a minute?"
Becky smiled when she saw him. "Hey, Ennis. Sure, ain't doin' much."
Ennis shut the door and sat down on the other side of the desk, nervously turning his hat in his hands. Becky put the papers to one side and looked up at him.
"So, what's on yer mind?"
"Uh, well...you know today...it's been a year since I met Jack..."
She smiled. "Yeah. Jack's glowin' like he's got a light inside him."
Ennis smiled a little. "Well...thing is...next month, it...it'll have been a year since we, um..."
Becky went red, remembering their conversation almost a year ago, when they had told her how their relationship on Brokeback had developed. "Right. I gotcha."
"So, um...there's somethin' I wanna do...to celebrate it, ya know? An' then in August...it's a year since we got together fer real..."
"Hmm...so you wanna do somethin' next month, an' then in August? What you got in mind?"
Ennis swallowed. This was one of the hardest things he'd ever had to do. "Well...I know me an' him can't get married...least not legally. But...I, uh..." He looked up at her, praying she would follow his train of thought.
No such luck. She looked at him blankly. He sighed. "I wanna...I wanna give him a ring. In fact, I..." He looked down at his hands, gripping his hat as his face went red. "I wanna get us both rings, an'...make some promises," he mumbled.
Becky immediately understood what he was trying to say and smiled widely at the sentiment. "So like...you wanna get married, except without no preacher? Like a commitment ring?"
Ennis looked up, relieved that she understood. "Yeah, that's it. A commitment ring. S'the best I can offer him, least until some folks get some sense 'bout guys like us."
Becky nodded. "Yeah. I think it's a wonderful gesture, Ennis. I'm sure he'll love it. So how does this tie in with those two dates?"
"Uh, well..." He coughed nervously. "I wanna...next month I wanna ask him...ya know. To, uh..."
"Marry you?" she asked softly. He nodded and blushed.
"Yeah. Then, uh...in August..."
"You'll make yer promises?"
"Yeah, but uh...I don't wanna do it here, at the ranch. I, uh...I want us to go back to Brokeback."
"Yeah. I just think...we should do it there. The place we met. Just feels right to do it there."
Becky smiled. "I think it's perfect. I'm sure he'll love it. So...what do ya need me to do?"
Ennis looked up at her, chewing his lip. "I need to find us a pair of rings. I got somethin' in mind, but I dunno where to start. Need to find someone who'll make rings fer two guys. I can't do this on my own."
Becky pondered for a minute, and then an idea came to mind. "Tell you what. Next week, when you guys are busy an' you got Adam an' Pete here, I'll go into town and look around, try to find someone. Maybe I'll ask Bill an' Mary." Their neighbours had been by on Sunday at Jack's request to meet Becky and were quite taken with her; Mary had taken her under her wing and given her many tips on pregnancy and how to handle certain things.
Ennis nodded. "Sounds good. Thanks, Becky."
"I'll let you know if I find anyone," she went on.
Ennis left the office and saw Jack heading into the stables, alone. A quick look around told him that the hands were all still out with the cows. He followed Jack into the stables, where he was moving hay bales.
Jack was bent over a bale examining it for mould, and the image stirred Ennis into movement. He walked silently up to Jack and wrapped his arms around his waist just as he stood up.
Jack looked down at the familiar nicked hands and smirked. "Well now, what's all this?"
Ennis kissed him on the back of his neck softly, making him shiver. "Sure would like to throw you down on one of them an' have my way with you," he murmured in Jack's ear.
Jack wasn't entirely sure if he had ever heard Ennis talking like that before, but he wasn't about to complain. "That so? 'Fraid we can't do that; got the hands out there. Don't feel like givin' 'em a show."
"Maybe when they've gone?" Ennis breathed, the effect going straight to Jack's groin. He gulped as his jeans tightened.
"Uh...I guess..." Another feather-light kiss to his neck and Ennis was gone, leaving Jack sporting wood and slightly breathless. What a tease.
Ennis couldn't explain it, but after having admitted out loud what he wanted to do to celebrate his and Jack's anniversary, he felt one more piece of his shell being chipped away. He knew, without hesitation, that he would marry Jack legally if he could, but if this was the best he could offer Jack at this time, then so be it. They would be married in their hearts, where it truly counted.
He sometimes felt a pang in his heart that he and Jack couldn't have children, and he couldn't see them ever being allowed to adopt or something. But with Becky, they would also have the next best thing in that respect. He knew that Becky considered them her child's uncles, and that would have to do, at least for now.
He started planning for his proposal, as he supposed it was. A number of ideas came to mind, something else Becky would need to help him with. Maybe a woman's presence would help him understand romance a little better. He'd have to talk to her about that.
Ten-year-old Jack sat on his bed, curled up with his knees pressed to his chest, shaking. He could hear his father shouting at his mother downstairs and the sound terrified him, as always. From what he could gather, his mother had been distracted by something, something she had been thinking about. While her mind had been wandering, dinner had been burning. His father had walked in expecting dinner, and flown off the handle when he'd seen what had happened. Jack couldn't hear his mother's explanation, but by all accounts it only seemed to make matters worse.
Why was his father like this? He'd been like this as long as Jack could remember. His poor mother had had nobody to back her up or soothe her. He'd had Becky for as long as he could remember.
Only that wasn't so anymore. Becky and her parents had moved down to Texas last month. According to his mother, they'd been friends since they were babies and had grown up together. He and Becky had been heartbroken to say goodbye, but Jack promised her that as soon as he was big enough, he would go down to Texas himself and find her.
So now it was just him and his mother left to fend for themselves against his father, a bleak prospect.
Jack heard a horrible sound: his father hitting his mother. He felt his blood boil and decided enough was enough. He uncurled himself and ran down the stairs to the kitchen, where his father was towering over his mother, who had an angry red mark on her cheek. Bravely, he walked around his father and stood between them, facing up to him, protecting his mother as best he could.
"Leave my mama alone!"
"Get outta the way, boy," his father snarled, eyes narrowed.
Jack didn't move, but before he knew it his father's belt was gone from its belt loops and was being cracked across his body. His mother was screaming and all he could feel was pain.
Jack sat bolt upright in bed, shaking and white. "Fuck," he muttered, running a hand over his face. He hated these flashbacks, wished they would just go away. He'd hoped not to disturb Ennis, but no luck.
"Jack...?" said Ennis in a sleep-clogged voice as he rolled over to face him, blinking at him.
Jack looked at him sadly. "Sorry cowboy, didn't mean to wake ya."
"S'alright...what's up?" asked Ennis, rubbing sleep from his eyes.
They'd promised each other that if one of them should wake from a nightmare, regardless of whether or not they disturbed the other, they would tell each other and comfort each other. They had promised to be there for each other.
Jack sighed. "Remember when we was at Lightnin' Flat last year, an' my mama told ya about the time my dad was yellin' at her, an' I stood up to him?"
"Yeah..." said Ennis slowly, getting the picture.
"Well..." Jack trailed off.
"Oh..." Ennis was silent for a moment. "Was it...real bad?" Jack nodded, squeezing his eyes shut to stop the tears. "Aw, darlin'...c'mere." Ennis sat up and drew Jack into an embrace, rubbing his back and caressing his neck.
"Sure wish I could take all them bad memories away, rodeo," Ennis whispered.
"Right back atcha," murmured Jack, breath hitching as he got himself under control.
Ennis drew back and kissed him softly, loving Jack's soft lips. "You wanna get some more sleep?"
Jack nodded, but before they could move, they heard a gagging sound and the rush of bare feet along the hallway towards the bathroom, culminating in the horrible sound of retching. They looked at each other, then at the clock. Becky's morning sickness did seem to have a time pattern to it. They got out of bed and pulled their jeans on, before heading down the hall.
Sure enough, Becky was on the floor, leaning over the toilet, shuddering and gasping as she heaved. They had a routine for this, Ennis getting her a glass of water while Jack held back her hair with one hand and rubbed her back with the other.
A few minutes later, Becky gasped, "I'm okay now." Jack helped her up and Ennis handed her the water. She also splashed water onto her pale face.
She nodded. "Thanks, guys. I hate doin' that. Hope it don't last all the way to January."
Jack looked sympathetic. "Well, it's Saturday today anyway. You wanna have a lie in maybe?"
"Sounds good. Thanks."
They all went back to bed after that; Lucky was curled up on Becky's bed where he seemed to be keeping an eye on her. Ennis and Jack slid off their jeans and crawled back into bed.
Ennis could tell that this recent occurrence hadn't completely distracted Jack, so thought of a way to cheer him up.
"Hey," he whispered to Jack, who was staring at the ceiling. Jack turned to look at him.
"As long as we're both awake..." Ennis trailed off, shuffling slightly closer and giving Jack what he hoped to be a sexy glare.
It succeeded; Jack's mouth grew into a sly grin. "Yeah?"
"Yeah..." They both leaned in and their lips met eagerly, Jack moaning softly and swiftly growing hard, just like Ennis. He pulled Ennis over on top of him and continued to kiss him as Ennis reached for the lube. Within moments Ennis had slid into him and they were rocking together, fingers interlaced, making hardly any noise except for their small sighs and whisperings of each others' names. They loved being together like this first thing in the morning.
Ennis was busy sucking at Jack's neck, leaving his mark as Jack held on even tighter to his hands, his heels pushing Ennis further towards him as Ennis sank deep and thrust more urgently. Their climax came warm and long and deeply satisfying, Ennis collapsing onto Jack's chest and the pair of them drifting off again for a few more hours, feeling content and happy.