Chapter 19

August 10th, 1966

That morning, Ennis and Jack were having an early breakfast by themselves. Ennis had had another nightmare the night before, quite close to dawn, so they decided to get down here early, while it was still quiet.

Jack was nervous. There was just over a week to go until their wedding anniversary, but he wasn't sure what might happen. They still hadn't had sex yet, or even made out for a prolonged amount of time. There was a little passion between them in their intimate moments, but not much. That wasn't because they didn't want to, but because Jack knew Ennis wasn't yet ready for it, and he respected that. He'd had to jerk off a number of times in the shower, and that was okay. He was willing to wait until Ennis was ready.

But as for now, he wasn't sure about their anniversary. A romantic dinner wasn't out of the question, but that would probably be it. He tried to swallow down his disappointment and remind himself that he was putting Ennis's needs before his own, and that was a good thing.

"Hey, Ennis?" he said, looking up at him across the table as they ate. Ennis looked up.

"Yeah?"

Jack grew even more nervous. "Uh...you know it's our weddin' anniversary in just over a week, right?"

Ennis's eyes lowered. "Right...um...you wanna do somethin'?"

"Well...if you don't wanna, it ain't the end of the world..."

To his surprise, Ennis covered his hand with his own. "It's okay, Jack. We could do somethin'. Thought I was gonna miss it altogether when I was out there, so...now I'm here, I wanna do somethin'. Don't want ya missin' out. Special day fer us, right?"

Jack smiled and laced their fingers together. "Sure is. Uh...you wanna have dinner or somethin'? I'll cook ya somethin' real nice."

Ennis nodded. "That'd be good. Um...could we go camp up on our hill after?"

"Yeah, okay. Whatever ya want, sweetheart. We can do that." He smiled warmly at him. "We don't gotta do nothin' that you ain't ready for, but...if you wanna do all that, I ain't got no problem with it."

He saw Ennis smiling back at him and his heart filled with love. Little by little, they were getting back on track. They could still have a good anniversary, even without sex. Their relationship transcended far beyond that anyway, so it wasn't a complete loss. Jack had a suspicion that when they did have sex again, it would be very special and meaningful. It was something for him to look forward to, and he was.

"So, uh...anythin' you want fer dinner that night? I ain't such a bad cook these days," he said with a grin.

Ennis smiled. "Long as it ain't beans. You're still pretty good with a can opener, ain't ya?" Jack couldn't help but laugh.

"I guess. You want a load of beans, just say the word. But since it's our anniversary, I would hope that you'd want more than that. What about a steak or somethin'? Well done, just how ya like it."

"Sounds good, bud." He squeezed Jack's hand. "Just wanna say thanks, Jack. For everythin'. Those nightmares really shook me up an'...you been so great. Don't know what I woulda done if you hadn't been there."

Jack brought their free hands together across the table. "Don't worry 'bout it, cowboy. I promised I would look after ya while you needed me to, so that's what I'm tryin' to do. An' don't worry 'bout hittin' me while yer in a nightmare. It's okay. I know you don't do it on purpose, an' that's okay. Just...don't go feelin' guilty fer things, okay? None of this is yer fault, an' all we want is for ya to get better. We love ya an' want the best for ya, alright?"

Ennis nodded and looked at their joined hands. "I know, Jack. I'm tryin' to get my head screwed on properly, an'...I'm real glad yer here to help me. So long as I got you...I think I'll be okay."

"You will, baby. I'll make sure of it. Gonna look after ya the best I can. You know I love you, so much...more than anythin' else. All I want is to make sure yer happy an' safe." He leaned up out of his chair and kissed Ennis on the mouth, feeling Ennis free his hands and bring them around the back of his head. They kissed for a few minutes, until they heard footsteps.

"Oh," came Becky's voice, full of surprise. "Mornin', guys." They broke apart and Jack grinned sheepishly at her.

"Hey, Becky. Just havin' a moment." He looked back at Ennis, who was going red as he sat back down. Jack cleared his throat. "We woke up early, so..."

"I see," she replied, grinning as she went to the fridge. "Well, I'm glad to see you doin' okay, Ennis."

He smiled up at her. "Thanks. Glad I got Jack here."

"Know what ya mean," she said, bringing over a glass of juice and stealing a piece of toast from Jack's plate. "You've been so great, Jack. Pullin' us all together the way you have been. You've stopped yer mama from worryin' too much 'bout me an' Ennis."

Jack looked slightly embarrassed by all the praise. "Well, uh...I just...you guys are my family. My job to look after ya when ya need it, so...that's what I'm gonna do. You need me, so I'm here." He looked between them. "You don't ever need to worry, okay?"

They both smiled at him. "Thanks, Jack."

Rose heard the whole thing from the stairs, and she smiled to herself at the conversation. She loved all of them very much and had long hoped that they could come through this. She was doing her best to take care of them, and she knew that she could count on Jack to do his part where she couldn't. He could hold Ennis when he had nightmares and send him back to sleep. That was the absolute best that a loving partner could do, and she was proud of Jack for standing up and doing right by his family. As long as Jack was around, she knew that everything would be alright.


That night, after an uneventful day, Jack went into the shower alone before going to bed. Ennis was already asleep, holding the shirts close to him, as had become a habit. They certainly seemed to be having an effect; he seemed to sleep more peacefully with them. Jack was happy that he'd managed to find a way to help Ennis even in his sleep.

He stood in the shower, soaping himself and letting his mind wander. Ennis had barely been back home for a month and Jack already felt drained with everything they'd had to deal with. He knew that it was his duty to look after Ennis as needed, and he was happy to do it, but he had to admit he was feeling lonely. He'd jerked off a number of times over the last few months, but it could never compare to the real thing. Not that he would ever cheat on Ennis, not even for a swift relief, but he missed his lover a whole lot.

Becky was still as ill as ever, alternating between good days and bad days, but now with more bad days. She spent a lot of the day in bed, only leaving her room to rush to the bathroom. Rose spent a lot of time with her, sitting with her, Lily in her arms. Jack could see that it hurt Becky not to be able to look after her daughter. She was still only very young and Becky wanted to look after her; she'd sworn to do that upon finding herself pregnant, but now she couldn't. She could barely leave her bed, much less take care of an infant.

He sighed to himself as he started to wash, letting his hands wander further down. He felt a little guilty, fantasising about Ennis while he was in this kind of state, but he didn't have much choice. He started to grow hard as images filled his mind.

Ennis lying in bed, waiting for him, clearly naked under the covers. He shivered a little at the thought of what lay beneath those sheets.

Ennis looking up at him with those shy brown eyes, laced with desire. "You wanna join me?" he whispered, looking over his body. He got closer to the bed and knelt on the end.

"You want me to?" he whispered back, glancing down at the sheets. He reached out a hand and slowly peeled them back from Ennis's stomach, slowly revealing the rest.

He was getting a good rhythm now, eyes closed and holding onto the bar with his free hand. "Uhh..."

"If you want..." Ennis took his hand and pulled him nearer, onto his side of the bed. All of a sudden, he himself was naked and being pushed down onto his back. Ennis leaned over him and kissed his way down his neck.

"Ennis..." Jack breathed. "God..."

"You want me inside ya?" came the soft murmur. Jack nodded, unable to speak.

"Mmhmm."

Jack was starting to breathe heavily, head hanging forward as he kept stroking.

"You got it." Ennis was ready in a flash, preparing himself and pushing Jack's legs up and over his shoulders, running his hands along them.

"You ready, darlin'?" he whispered, leaning low over Jack's body. Jack opened his eyes and gazed up at him.

"Yeah...do it, Ennis...come on..."

"You sure?" he teased, grazing his teeth over Jack's skin, lightly nipping at it. Jack bucked upwards and made contact. He nearly shot right there.

Jack stroked faster and faster, unable to stop himself. He was so close and way too gone to stop now.

"Please, Ennis...please..." His neck arched and his moans were silenced by Ennis's lips on his.

"Say it," Ennis whispered, brushing his groin against Jack's ass, making him moan again.

"Please...fuck me..." Jack groaned. "Please..."

Ennis slid into him almost immediately, making him gasp and then sigh in relief. "Oh God..."

"That good, rodeo?" came the low rumble above him.

"You know it...come on, move..."

His lover did as he was asked, moving inside him in a steady rhythm and gripping his hips. Jack held onto him and moved with him, eyes closed and mouth open.

"Ennis...don't stop...don't ever stop..." he whispered, feeling Ennis inside him and all around him.

Jack was starting to shake as he neared his release, gasping out loud and gritting his teeth.

Ennis thrust faster and faster into him, making the bed squeak. "Come on, darlin'...come on..."

"Uhh..." Jack murmured dizzily, bucking upwards against Ennis and feeling the end grow closer. Ennis pressed their mouths together, pushing his tongue deep into Jack's mouth, where it was warmly welcomed.

After several more thrusts, Ennis shot deep into him, groaning loudly and holding onto him for dear life. Jack wasn't far behind, shooting between them and giving a yell.

As Jack reached his dream-climax, he reached his real one. He moaned aloud as he shot at the tiles, gripping the bar as his knees buckled. He leaned against the wall, panting for breath and waiting for his heart rate to return to normal. That had been good, despite the reality of his life right now. He had plenty of memories of Ennis to do the job, but that hadn't even been a memory. That had been a completely made-up vision in his head. Still, it was just like his memories, full of love and lust between him and his lover.

He sighed and washed himself properly, before turning off the shower and pulling on his pyjama bottoms. He switched the bathroom light off and crept into bed, hoping not to disturb Ennis. He didn't stir, so Jack was able to slip in and get comfortable. Ennis was facing his side, so Jack turned to face him as he slept. He looked so peaceful and free of worry as he held the shirts, and Jack hoped that one day he could look like that while awake. It would take some time, but Jack had to keep his faith that it would happen. It was all he had.


August 19th, 1966

It was their anniversary, and Jack was busy in the kitchen putting the finishing touches to their steaks before washing up. Ennis was upstairs in their room taking a shower and the girls were all upstairs in their rooms. It was a warm evening and he'd placed a few candles here and there through the kitchen, making it glow with a soft light as the main light was off. He was looking forward to it, even if they couldn't do much besides eat and get some sleep. The tent was packed up by the back door, along with their supplies. They had decided that since Ennis still couldn't ride yet, they would walk up to their hill to camp out.

His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of feet behind him. "Hey."

He turned to see Ennis, looking a little shyly at him. He was wearing a plain white shirt and his best jeans. Jack was wearing a deep red shirt that he'd bought for himself last year. He smiled at the sight of his other half.

"Hey, bud. You look good. How ya feelin'?"

Ennis nodded, smiling back at him. "Alright. Smells good in here." Jack finished what he was doing and walked over to him.

"Thanks, cowboy. Ain't such a bad cook these days, huh?" He put his arms up around Ennis's neck and played with his curls. Ennis smiled fully at him.

"Nah, guess you'll do. Yer pretty good these days." He leaned down and they kissed softly, their lips gently touching. Ennis's arms came around Jack's waist and he locked his fingers together.

After a few moments, they pulled apart. Jack's eyes were sparkling up at Ennis happily and there was a heart-melting smile on his face.

"Um...better wash up," he said, a sheepish grin on his face. "Uh..." He looked over his shoulder. "Got some wine in the fridge, if you wanna...?"

Ennis nodded. "Sure." They prised themselves apart and both of them looked a little embarrassed. Ennis got the wine and poured it out while Jack washed his hands and started to get the food ready. He brought two heaping plates of food over to the table while Ennis brought the wine over, and they settled down opposite each other. Despite everything going on with their lives, Jack was very happy to be here with Ennis. He felt complete while Ennis was around.

"So, um..." Jack started, twirling his fork in his fingers as his mind cast around for a topic. "You thought 'bout callin' yer brother an' sister yet?" Ennis hadn't done so yet; he'd been too cut up over what had happened. Jack knew he felt guilty for not having called them yet, but he'd tried to tell him that they understood, and just wanted him to get better.

Ennis thought for a moment. "Yeah, I guess. Thinkin' I might be able to cope with it. Been back over a month now, probably about time."

"Yeah...but...you know there ain't no rush, right? They just want ya to call when yer ready." He smiled encouragingly at him. "We all just want ya to get back on track."

"I know. An'...I will. Long as I got you." He smiled back, making Jack's heart swell with love for him. Their left hands found their way to each other and clasped together on the table. They finished their food and sat back in their chairs.

"That was real good, Jack. Outdone yerself."

Jack grinned back at him. "Thanks, cowboy. Glad you liked it. Tell you what, I'll leave these here tonight an' tackle 'em in the mornin'. Wanna go camp out now?"

"Sure. I'll get the candles." They exchanged a quick kiss and busied themselves, Jack clearing the dishes away and Ennis snuffing out the candles. In a few minutes, they were ready to go. Jack picked up the bag and the tent and turned to Ennis.

"Ready?"

"Yep." They left the kitchen and walked out into the evening. It was still a little light, so hopefully they would make it to the hill before it got too dark. They walked across the land, holding hands and talking softly.

They reached the hill and got the tent up, occasionally glancing over at the lights from the city. Jack was growing nervous again; he always did these days when the idea of sex came up. He knew that Ennis wasn't yet ready, and would let him know when he was, but he was starting to feel very lonely. Still, Ennis was here, where he should be, and he wasn't going anywhere. That was more than enough cause for celebration.

They got into the tent and stripped down to their jeans, crawling under the sheets and turned towards each other. Jack sighed a little and tried not to feel too disappointed.

"You have a good day, sweetheart?" he murmured. Ennis nodded, looking peaceful.

"Yeah. Thanks, bud." There was a moment of awkward silence as they looked at each other.

"So, um...night," Jack said softly. He leaned in and they kissed again a couple of times. He was about to settle back down when Ennis stopped him.

"Wait..." Jack looked back at him. Ennis tentatively leaned in and kissed him properly, holding the back of his head with one hand. Jack stayed still, not wanting to make a wrong move, but let himself be kissed. Ennis's tongue slowly slid into his mouth and he moaned quietly. They lay down on their sides, still kissing, and now Jack was responding, certain that Ennis knew what he was doing. His own hand came around Ennis's waist as they kissed; the most passionate they had done so since before his departure six months ago.

After several heavenly moments, they broke apart again. Ennis smiled at him, nervously, but his eyes were full of happiness. Jack smiled back and kissed him one last time.

"Night, baby," he whispered. He pulled Ennis into his arms and felt him get settled against his body.

"Night, Jack."


Four days later, things started to change. Ennis was experiencing what could only be described as mood swings. If he felt like Jack was fussing over him too much, he would snap at him, ignoring the look of hurt on his face. But before the day was over, he would have mellowed, seeking Jack out to apologise. Jack knew that he was suffering from trauma and wasn't exactly equipped to deal with it, so he had to swallow his hurt and remind himself that Ennis still loved him.

That morning, they had been eating breakfast as a family. Ennis had already had a setback in his temper two days before, losing it with Jack and telling him to fuck off. Jack had stood there with his mouth hanging open in shock; it had been a long time since Ennis had been like that with him.

As they ate breakfast, Jack noticed that both his mother and Becky were casting nervous looks at Ennis, and he honestly couldn't blame them. They hadn't experienced Ennis's temper before, but Jack knew all too well how it could be. Even though he had long since forgiven Ennis for his punch on Brokeback, he would never forget it. But since they'd moved in together, Ennis had mellowed a significant amount, not even coming close to losing his temper. He'd been attentive and loving and everything Jack wanted. So for Ennis to regress back into his old self, prone to mood swings, was a real shock for Jack.

At the moment, though, he seemed okay, so Jack took a chance. He noticed that Ennis didn't have a lot of food on his plate, so decided to try and offer him some more.

"Hey, Ennis? You want some more bacon?" he offered. Becky glanced up, eyes wide and watching.

Ennis shook his head. "Nah. Got enough, thanks."

Jack sighed, wishing Ennis would eat more and keep his strength up. "You sure? Got plenty."

Ennis snapped his head up. "I said no, Jack. Don't you listen no more or somethin'? You want it, you eat it. Don't go forcin' it on me, though."

"I ain't-" Jack tried to reign in his hurt. Ennis glared at him and his heart nearly broke.

"Just...back off, Jack. I don't want it an' I don't want ya tellin' me I need to eat more, alright?"

Jack sighed. "Fine. Don't come moanin' to me in about an hour that yer hungry, it's yer own damn fault."

Becky and Rose exchanged glances as Ennis got out of his chair and headed upstairs. Jack muttered something and stormed out, heading outside.

"Shit," Becky muttered, rubbing her forehead. "What the hell brought this on?"

"I dunno, honey...came up all sudden. Just gets these mood swings, I dunno what brings 'em on. Jack don't know how to deal with it. For a long time he wasn't like this, was kind an' lovin'. They was real happy an' all...Ennis ain't been like this since Brokeback, Jack said."

Becky sighed and looked at her daughter, who hadn't been at all fazed by the scene. "Hope it don't last too long. They need to stick together, not fight." Rose nodded and they fell into silence.

Jack sat in the office, his head in one hand. He hadn't meant to retaliate to Ennis the way he had, but it had just slipped out. He was feeling lonely, they hadn't had sex in what felt like forever, and now Ennis was getting nasty with him. He couldn't help but feel slightly resentful.

The phone ringing interrupted his thoughts; it was Mary. He spent the next few minutes telling her what was going on and how Ennis was starting to experience mood swings.

"I know what you mean, Jack. Bill was the same when he came back. Alright one minute an' snappin' the next."

"What did you do?" he asked, biting his lip.

"I just did the best I could. Tried not to make him too mad, didn't push. I gave him his space an' he was alright. He had a little bit of counsellin' an' that helped."

Jack gave this thought. Maybe Rick could put them in touch with someone to help if it became too much. "Right...but...until then, what do I do? I just wanna help him...but...I don't know how far to go before I push him too much."

"There ain't no way of tellin', Jack. Just depends on his mood an' how touchy he's feelin'. Could be at any level at any time an'...there ain't no way to know."

"Okay...you know what? I...I'm gonna go find him. Let him know I'm sorry fer snappin' back. I know he don't really mean it, that it's just somethin' goin' on in his head."

"That's right. He still loves you, Jack, no matter what. Just remember that. An' remember that he still needs you to help him with this. Don't you go givin' up on him, alright?"

Jack knew that she was right; he couldn't afford to give up on Ennis; he still needed him. "Right. Thanks, Mary, I better go."

"Bye, Jack."

He hung up and headed for the door, opening it just in time to see Ennis standing there, clearly about to knock. "Oh..."

Jack snapped back to his senses. "Hey, uh..."

"Look, Jack..."

"Ennis, I..." They both laughed a little and then apologised at the same time.

"I'm sorry, Jack. Don't mean to treat ya like shit," Ennis said, looking ashamed of himself. Jack shook his head.

"It's alright, Ennis. I know yer all messed up, an' I know you want me to help ya, an' I...I didn't mean to snap back."

"It's okay, Jack...I..."

"Ennis..." As they looked at each other, they realised that no words were needed. They were both sorry for the situation, but knew that they were stuck with it for the time being. They needed to band together now, and not fight. They couldn't promise that they wouldn't fight again, but they didn't need to dwell on it. They would deal with it and move on, focus on getting back on track. As they stood there, holding each other, they knew in their hearts that they would be alright.


The next day, Jack was waiting at the hospital to talk to Rick. He'd made an appointment yesterday after his reconciliation with Ennis. He'd realised that maybe Ennis's mental scars were too severe for them to handle on their own, and that they would need professional help. He hoped that Rick would be able to come up with something. Ennis was back at the ranch sleeping, as was Becky, and Rose was looking after Lily.

He had hoped that he would be able to look after Ennis; that his unconditional love for him would give him something to hold on to for support. But after yesterday's events, he'd been forced to admit to himself and the girls that they needed help; this was getting beyond their control.

He sat in the plastic chair, staring at the floor and wondering what Rick might be able to do for them. Maybe there was some kind of counselling they could go to.

Finally, he was called to Rick's office. He smiled wearily when he went in. "Hey, Rick."

"Hey, Jack. Have a seat." Jack did so and leaned on the desk.

"So, what's up?" Rick asked, looking at him. "Somethin' wrong with Becky?"

Jack shook his head. "No, apart from what's already goin' on. She's still sick an' everythin', but...that ain't why I'm here."

"So what is it?"

Jack sighed. "It's Ennis. I thought he was gonna be fine, so long as I looked after him, but...now..."

"Go on, Jack. I'm your friend as well as your doctor. You can tell me."

"He keeps havin' these nightmares. It ain't my place to say what happened to him as a kid, but...he's already had some bad stuff happen to him. He's seen some bad stuff, an' he's had nightmares in the past 'bout me gettin' hurt. He's woken up a few times in the middle of the night and wantin' me to hold him. An'...all this, seein' Adam die like that...brought it all back for him. He has nightmares of that, an' it always comes back to nightmares of seein' me dyin' like that."

Rick looked stricken. "Oh...that's awful, Jack."

"Yeah, an'...over the past couple of days, he's been gettin' a little snappy, losin' his temper now an' then. I try not to push him, but...he's on a short fuse. I dunno what to do. He's scared all the time, he's barely left the ranch. Last time we did, he heard this truck backfire an' got this flashback of the attack." Jack looked off to the side, feeling helpless. "I dunno what to do, Rick. I tried to help him, but..." He sighed. "I don't like to just give up..."

"Jack, you wouldn't be givin' up. It takes a lot of guts to admit that you need help. As much as you love Ennis an' want to help him, he's been through a lot an' needs more help. You can do as much as you can, but he's goin' to need more on top of that."

Jack nodded. "Yeah. So, um...what can ya suggest?"

Rick thought for a moment. "Well, there are options." He got up and went to a filing cabinet, rifling through it until he found what he was looking for. He came back with a file.

"Well, um...there are several things we could try. Antidepressants, drugs to help him sleep, things like that."

Jack considered this. "That might be worth a try. If they help him sleep an' all...what else?"

"Well...there is one thing. There's this hospital up in Atlanta. They've been specialisin' in war veterans since World War Two. Those damaged by things they've seen in war, when nobody else can help 'em."

Jack's heart clenched at what Rick was suggesting. "A mental hospital?"

"Some call it that, I think it-"

"No," he said immediately. "I can't do that. I'm sorry, Rick, it can't happen."

"Jack, you just said it's becomin' too much..."

"I know, but...I can't do that to him. It ain't right." He sat up straighter. "Those places...they're just...cold. To them, he's just another patient, a record on their files. They don't know him or what he's been through. An' he won't be wantin' to tell a bunch of strangers what he's been through, I know he won't. He'd be a lot better off here, where he knows an' trusts people."

"Jack...if it becomes too much...what if he gets violent?"

"We'll deal with it," Jack said firmly. "Look, there's gotta be some way for him to get help while keepin' him here where he feels safe. Rick...I know him, he's gonna wanna stay here with me. He told me himself I know him better than anyone else. I can't send him off to one of them places. He'll never forgive me; he'll think I'm givin' up on him."

Rick sighed. "I'll try to find somethin' else, Jack, if that's how you feel. But...as your friend, I have to ask you to at least consider it."

"Rick...I just can't do it. Because of this." He held up his left hand, showing his wedding ring. "I promised him that I would stand by him no matter what, an' I plan to stick to that. I can't go breakin' my weddin' vows, Rick. It's real to us, an' that's what matters. I ain't havin' him carted off to one of them places. I'm sorry, Rick, but...I can't do that. He's gotta stay here with us, I know it."

After a moment, Rick nodded. "Alright. I see how you feel, Jack. An'...I guess you're right. Look, let me ask around an' see if there's anythin' else. I could still prescribe him some drugs, if you want. Somethin' to help take the edge off. They'll take care of the effects, but he will need somethin' else to take care of the underlyin' cause. Just...give me a couple of days to find somethin' an' I'll call you, okay?"

Jack nodded, satisfied at last. "Thanks, Rick. I appreciate it. Let me know how things go, alright?" They shook hands and Jack left, feeling certain that Ennis was going to get the help he needed.