January 12th, 1966
It was the day for the basic training to begin. This would last for six weeks, during which time Ennis was aware that Cecilia and Tom's third child would be born. He was saddened by the fact that he wouldn't be around for the first few years of his niece's or nephew's life. This would be his life for the foreseeable future, and it was a bleak prospect by all accounts.
They were taught how to handle their new rifles, how to load and unload them as quickly as possible for when they were in the thick of combat. It was very meticulous work but Ennis tried to get through it as quickly as possible, hoping that impressing his superiors would help him have an easier time of it. The sergeant was constantly barking at them to work faster and he was soon grinding his teeth his annoyance.
He had to admit that he wasn't too keen on the uniforms. He was a cowboy through and through, and this getup felt very strange to him. He had the oddest feeling that Jack would find it quite appealing. And he hated looking at his left hand, seeing the band of flesh where his wedding ring should be, his tie to Jack. Ever since they'd put their rings on he'd liked the idea of being bound to Jack, because Jack had given him everything he'd ever wanted. It felt good to be tied to someone he loved so much, like they could never be parted. He'd never lost the hope that one day they could make their union legal, but this suited him just fine for now.
They learnt how to take care of their uniforms, such as darning. He'd seen Rose and Becky knit numerous times and wished he'd paid more attention. He was wishing for a lot of things today where his family were concerned.
They were told the basics of what would happen when the real training started, and while it seemed straightforward enough, Ennis was still apprehensive of what it might be like out there, and judging by the looks on the faces of the other soldiers, they were too.
At night, Ennis thought of Jack. While being away from Jack did make him feel like he'd lost a limb, it gave him the opportunity to think about him and their relationship without any distractions. Sometimes he could get so caught up in Jack's body and the sex they'd had together that he rarely got the chance to step back and reflect on exactly what they had. He knew that they were very lucky to have found each other, especially given the circumstances. Jack had been unlike anyone else he'd ever met, had completely knocked him sideways and given him a new way of looking at life. Over their time together, he'd learnt that he didn't always have to accept what life had picked out for him, such as a marriage to a woman he didn't love. He could discover what he wanted out of life, and he had done so upon meeting Jack. He'd learnt to take opportunities as they came along, and he had also done this.
He sincerely hoped that he would be able to return to Jack one day, hopefully soon because he knew that this separation was driving them both crazy. He found it difficult to even function without Jack around, like he was a zombie just concentrating on his orders. He knew that Adam noticed but he suspected that his comrade might be going through the same thing. It was weird; they had only been away from home a couple of days but they were already yearning to return, missing that other half of themselves.
That afternoon, he was lying on his bed when he noticed Adam walk in. The rest of the bunker was empty.
"Hey," Adam greeted, flopping onto his bed and removing his boots.
"Hey, how's it goin' out there?"
"I hate it," Adam muttered, rubbing his stiff neck. "Hate that sergeant, hate the orders, hate not bein' able to talk 'bout the man I love."
"Know what ya mean," Ennis said quietly, biting at a hangnail absent-mindedly. "I sure do miss Jack."
"Yeah...hell, Ennis, if we get outta this mess, I swear I ain't never leavin' his side again. If I gotta chain myself to him I will."
"Huh. Might try that myself. Jack would probably like it," he mused, staring up at the ceiling. Adam snorted in amusement.
"What, you two? You do that stuff?"
Ennis went red. "Uh..." He was normally uncomfortable about sharing details of his intimate relationship with Jack, but at least Adam would understand what it meant to love a man.
"Well?" Adam prompted, looking intrigued and sly all at the same time.
Ennis sighed, trapped by his own slip-up. "Yeah. Once or twice."
"Well I'll be...didn't know ya had it in ya, Ennis Del Mar," said Adam, now obviously cheered up by the conversation. "I mean...you don't seem the type, ya know? No offense..."
Ennis shrugged. Truth was, if he had married Alma, they probably wouldn't be engaging in the kinds of things that he and Jack did. That blue-eyed rodeo cowboy had liberated him in so many ways. "Guess Jack had an influence on me...just...when I'm with him..."
"It feels right," Adam finished for him, nodding as he understood. "I know exactly what ya mean. Don't feel so weird when you're doin' stuff like that with someone you love, does it?"
Ennis shook his head. "No, it don't. Feels right, all the time. Sure do miss him a lot."
Adam looked at him sympathetically. "Well...I guess that we'll hafta do what I said, chain ourselves to 'em."
"Yep. Don't ever wanna leave Jack again," Ennis replied, his heart feeling sure. If he got through this alive, he was never going to leave Jack's side, legislation be damned. His place was with his husband and his family, and he never wanted to leave them again.
Jack was throwing himself into ranch work, in a bid to distract himself. He'd made himself a promise to carry on as best he could in the circumstances, and he would try his hardest to see it through.
Their calves from last year were adults now, and they were being prepared for breeding later in the spring. Star was pregnant again by Signal and their other colt was doing well, almost an adult himself. Life was going well on the ranch, and Jack had to admit that he was proud of all that they had achieved together. They had come such a long way since Brokeback; he hardly recognised Ennis as the man he had once been, so shy and closed up, unwilling to share anything. Now he was, according to Jack, the perfect partner. He was looking forward to them renewing their vows. He knew that he had to remain confident that Ennis would return, or else he would go crazy with worry, and he knew that Ennis wouldn't want him worrying about him, despite the fact that as his lover and husband, he always would until he returned.
Their first night apart had been pretty bad for him. Ennis's phone call had been wonderful, but then it was swiftly back to reality as the night closed in. He had lain in their empty bed by himself, wishing for Ennis's warm body to curl around his in that loving embrace he was so good at. He wished for Ennis's sweet kisses and the flutter of breath in his ear as he spoke softly to him in the darkness. How he missed that man. He'd ended up shuffling over to Ennis's side of the bed, breathing in whatever familiar scent he could find there to try and help him sleep. He figured he probably needed help if he couldn't sleep without Ennis there, but Ennis had confessed to the same thing when he'd been in hospital back in Texas, so he guessed it was just a result of being so in love with someone.
Becky was due to go out with Sam tomorrow night, and he hoped that a new boyfriend could take her mind off Andy. When she'd gone out with James, it was now clear to Jack that it had been too soon, that she hadn't been in a good mental state to start a new relationship. But maybe now she could, find that happiness she'd always wanted. Even if it meant her getting married and moving away from the ranch, Lily was still the first in line to inherit it, although it was likely she would have descendants of her own by then. Either way, it would be passed to a member of the family, who could keep it alive.
He was currently in the office, looking over the books when the phone rang. It was a bit overly optimistic of him to expect another call from Ennis so soon, so he didn't get too excited.
"Brokeback Ranch, Jack speakin'."
"Hey, Jack. It's Pete."
Jack sat back in his chair. "Oh, hey. Everythin' alright?"
"Yeah, I guess. Just...ya know..."
"Missin' the other half of yer entire bein'? Know exactly what ya mean," Jack said, picking at a loose thread on his jeans. "Feelin' that way myself."
"Just feels wrong, not havin' him around. I miss him so much..."
"Mmm, me too. But...it's like my mama keeps sayin', we just gotta get on with stuff. We both got businesses to run. An' yeah, you know I miss Ennis an' wish he was here, but...they wouldn't want us to let things fall apart while we're busy pinin', ya know?"
"I know, they'd want us to keep things goin'. Give them a home to come back to. But...don't it feel weird to you? Showin' that you can cope on yer own? I know what Ennis is like fer feelin' insecure, you sure he won't start thinkin' that ya don't need him?"
Jack had extracted Ennis's wedding ring from underneath his shirt; it was now on a chain that Kate had given him to keep it safe. He ran a finger along it. "No...he knows it ain't like that. I've told him more than once how we keep this place goin' together, that there ain't no way I could do it without him. He knows how much I appreciate all he does."
"Wow...you guys really are tight, huh? I hope Adam knows how much I appreciate him." Pete sounded concerned now, like he doubted himself.
"I bet he knows, Pete. He's still with ya, ain't he? Nobody's gonna stick with someone who don't want 'em there. Ennis knows that I love him an' want him around for a real long time. Love that man to bits."
"Yer right, Jack. He does probably know. Still, no harm in tellin' him the next time he calls, right?"
"Yep. Part of bein' in a relationship, makin' sure that you know where ya stand. Never hurts to tell 'em that ya love 'em. Even if you know someone loves you, it's still pretty damn good to hear. When Ennis said it the first time...God, it was just somethin' else. Never felt like that before."
"Know what ya mean. Makes all the crap we hafta go through worthwhile, don't it?"
"Sure does. At the end of the day, you still have each other," Jack agreed.
"Yep. Hey, Jack, I gotta go. Got bar work to be dealin' with. I'll call again sometime soon, that alright?"
"Yeah, that's fine. Call whenever ya need to talk. See ya, Pete."
"Bye, Jack." He hung up, leaving Jack to his thoughts. How he wished for Ennis to walk through that door, sweep him up in his arms with a knockout kiss, and just devour him there and then. He would be in heaven. But no; he was here in reality, where Ennis was a number of miles away with restricted contact, and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it.
January 14th, 1966
Ennis and Adam were busy in training, learning how to shoot their rifles properly on the firing range. They couldn't talk about Jack or Pete here, but their thoughts were pretty similar. They were constantly wondering what their other halves might be doing back home, and if things were okay. They trusted them to look after things but they hoped that they would be able to cope with running their respective businesses alone.
Ennis had been away from Jack for three nights and now four days, and every single night he had taken Jack's picture with him to the bathroom to jerk off to memories of him. He'd been very frustrated by the lack of actual sex but there wasn't much else he could do. He would never cheat on Jack. Even if he were single, it would be unwise for him to proposition one of the others in this environment. Not that he would anyway; he was no good at approaching people even for platonic matters, let alone other kinds. He could only approach Jack in that way because he knew that Jack would always want it, because he wanted them to make that earth-moving connection.
He was doing okay, he figured. He kept his head down and never kicked up a fuss, and for the most part he was left alone. Some of the others kept trying to get him to talk more, since most of them were from this side of the country and wanted to know what the West was like, but they weren't getting anywhere so they'd soon given up and left him alone. He only really talked to Adam and James, only freely when it was just himself and Adam. They had to be extra careful around others when talking about home. He was scared that he'd be lost in a dream of Jack one night and somebody would hear him moaning his lover's name; then the cat would be out of the bag for sure.
He was getting good shots, almost always perfect, and the sergeant seemed pretty impressed by his shooting skills, making him feel sorry for Jack, who was not known for such talents and would thus have a hard time with this. Another reason to be glad that Jack wasn't here; if he was and people started putting him down and making fun of him, he knew he wouldn't be able to keep his temper in check.
The sergeant called for a five minute break, and they wearily dropped onto the ground, glad for a rest. It was nonstop here and they savoured these breaks.
"Goddamn," Adam muttered again, rubbing his arm. "This sure does take it outta ya."
"Yeah," Ennis agreed, taking a sip of water. "Hope this don't last too long."
"What, the firin' practice or the whole thing?" Adam said under his breath so that the sergeant wouldn't hear him.
"I was talkin' 'bout the practice, but...now ya mention it..." Ennis had to smirk. "Sure wish this whole thing ends soon. Get back home to my better half."
"Yeah..." Adam looked around; everybody else was busy talking. "Jerked off every damn night I been away."
"Yep. Couldn't help it. Just...got so frustrated, wanted to be home in our bed. Hate this," Ennis muttered. "Shouldn't be here."
"No...but we ain't got no choice," Adam lamented, looking miserable. "Gotta keep goin' 'til they tell us we can go, an' God knows when that'll be."
"Yeah..." The break was ended and they returned to their practice, Ennis impressing the sergeant with his flawless shooting skills.
"You got a keen eye, Del Mar," he said gruffly, like he didn't like giving out praise. "Keep it up."
Ennis grimaced. "Yes sir." He was glad that he was in their good books, but he had to wonder if that meant they would push him harder.
After another gruelling hour, they finally got a lunch break. Canned goods, mostly. He bit back a laugh when he saw a can of Bettermost Beans, irresistibly reminding him of Jack and his distaste for them. He felt a pang in his heart again as he thought of yet another thing he missed about Jack. He was even starting to miss his bitching.
"Jack hates these," he said in an undertone to Adam, who was sat opposite him.
Ennis nodded. "That summer on Brokeback, it was what we ate most of the time. He got sick of 'em an' was always bitchin' about 'em. I ended up shootin' this elk. At the time, I just thought I was keepin' him quiet so I could have some peace, but..."
"Now yer thinkin' you wanted to make him happy?" Adam asked, looking amused.
"Yeah, maybe..." he said softly, thinking back to that magical summer when things had only just been starting.
"So even then, you wanted to make him happy. God, it was meant to be with you guys, huh?"
"Guess so. I, uh...I never told him why I did it, but...you think he knows?" Ennis asked, looking up at Adam.
Adam looked thoughtful. "Maybe. He knows ya pretty well, right? I'd say he does. But...no harm in tellin' him," he reasoned.
"No, guess not. Think I'll tell him next week when I call again," Ennis said absentmindedly, thinking about it. It would be an interesting conversation, to be sure.
"Sure. Keepin' things normal might just keep ya both sane. God knows we all need that," Adam said, returning to his food and looking displeased with it.
Ennis thought about what he said. If keeping their conversations light and optimistic, talking about regular things, would keep him and Jack sane during this difficult time, then he was all for it. He would do anything to make this easier on them both. He'd offered to out himself if it became too much, but Jack had warned him against it, and it wouldn't be a good idea for him to do it anyway. But he could try other tactics.
Jack settled himself into their bed, curling up on his side and staring at the big empty space next to him. It was a sorry sight to behold, and he wished with all his heart that Ennis was there, where he should be. But he would only have his dreams for company tonight, and for the foreseeable future. They'd had plenty of mind-blowing sex in their time together for him to be able to conjure up a memory that would do the job, but it would never be like the real thing.
He sighed quietly and shuffled over to Ennis's side, wondering how long his scent would be lingering there. He knew that his mother would want to wash the sheets at some point, but he would only let her do that if and when Ennis's scent disappeared from them. Only then would he let her touch them. They hadn't been changed since before Ennis left.
He buried his face in Ennis's pillow, smelling sweat and beer and smoke all rolled into one; a very masculine scent that was unmistakeably Ennis. His most favourite smell in the world; the scent of his lover. He closed his eyes and soon drifted off.
When he opened them again, he became aware of a great weight lying on top of him. He blinked several times, and his mouth opened in surprise. Ennis was here, in their bed with him, and was kissing his chest, enveloping him with his warmth.
"Ennis, what...?" He couldn't understand; how could Ennis be here? He was supposed to be far away.
The cowboy lifted his head, smiling softly at Jack, his brown eyes sparkling at him the way they did sometimes, usually in this very room.
"Darlin'...you know I'm always with ya. Ain't never gonna leave."
Jack was overcome with emotion. Ennis was here, and while he was aware that it was a dream, he welcomed it happily.
"Ennis, I...I sure am glad to see ya."
Ennis leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the lips. "Shh, darlin'," he murmured. "Just relax. Let me take care of ya."
Jack smiled dozily, and closed his eyes, surrendering himself to Ennis, who kissed him all over his face softly. He was then leaning over him properly, on his knees. He guided Jack's legs over his shoulders, and Jack could feel that he had already slicked himself up.
"Jack," Ennis whispered, and Jack slowly opened his eyes.
Ennis kissed his mouth again, holding his face in his hands the way he knew Jack liked. He slid himself smoothly into Jack, making his lover's head fall back onto his pillow.
"Oh, Ennis..." Jack whispered. "If this is a dream...I don't wanna wake up."
"Darlin'...you gotta wake up soon, but I'm gonna make sure you wake up right," Ennis promised, smoothing his hair back from his forehead. He slid out of Jack, and then in again, taking it as slowly and as tenderly as he could, making Jack feel loved and cherished.
Jack wound his arms around Ennis's neck and pulled him closer for more kisses, Ennis picking up the pace slightly. Jack moaned into his mouth as he felt himself near the edge.
"Ennis...Ennis..." Jack whispered over and over, feeling his lover fill him up and stretch him out, fitting him perfectly. They were a perfect match.
"Jack...I love you, darlin'..." Ennis murmured. Jack's heart swelled at the words. Ennis was usually like this when they were in bed together, but this felt even more special, a deep connection of their hearts.
"I love you too...do me right, Ennis," he gasped out. "Make me feel that yer really here..."
"Come on, Jack...let's get there together." He thrust quicker but still slowly enough to be agonizing for Jack, who desperately wanted release.
"Oh, God," he croaked. "Cowboy...yer somethin' else..."
"You are too, rodeo..." They kissed again, firmly this time so that their mouths pressed together. Ennis pushed his tongue into Jack's mouth where Jack eagerly welcomed it, sucking on it and embracing it with his own. He grabbed at Ennis even harder, trying to meld their bodies together into one. The bed was squeaking but they hardly noticed, completely wrapped up in each other.
Jack whimpered into Ennis's mouth as Ennis moved one hand down to take hold of him, stroking him in time to his thrusts the way he did so well. Ennis always knew exactly what to do to him to make him helpless and happy to be so. Even in dreams, Ennis could make him feel like a million dollars.
Their breathing became more rapid, gasping out each other's names and rocking faster together, trying to tip over the brink at the same time. Ennis buried his face in Jack's shoulder and started sucking at the skin on his collarbone and Jack grabbed at him harder.
"Ennis...Ennis..." He couldn't take much more, and when Ennis bit into his skin that was it. He cried out his lover's name and shot like a rocket between them, warmth spreading onto his stomach. He trembled as he felt Ennis let loose inside him, filling him up with everything he had to give.
They lay there, gasping for breath, and Jack knew that the dream was about to be over. He pulled Ennis's face up to his for a kiss.
"I love you," he whispered, wanting to postpone the moment as much as he could.
Ennis smiled and cupped his cheek. "I love you more."
Jack's eyes slowly and blearily opened, the bright morning light shining through a gap in the curtains. For a moment he felt disappointed that he was alone after a dream like that, but then he looked down; his stomach was covered in his own come; a result of his dream-sex with Ennis.
He smiled to himself. It had been a dream, but a damn good one. He looked at the clock; it was six-thirty and about time to be getting up. He stretched and headed for the shower, ready for a new day.
Ennis settled into his very uncomfortable bed, trying to find a position he could sleep in. Easier said than done. He craved to feel Jack's body next to him, as even he would be able to make this bed bearable. He longed for his warmth and love, surrounding him and filling him up. Whenever he'd had nightmares or been unable to sleep over their time together, Jack had always been there to make it better, to chase his demons away and rock him into sleep. He hoped that he would be able to get through this without any nightmares of Earl; that would be too much.
He tried curling up on one side; that was the position he usually slept in. It didn't feel right, but in his heart he knew that it was because when he usually slept like this, it was turned towards Jack so that the rodeo cowboy was the first thing he saw when he woke up. Now there was nothing but air. He sighed inwardly and closed his eyes, hoping to conjure up a memory of Jack to help him sleep.
They were lying on their backs in their field of heather, completely naked on a blanket and letting the sun and slight breeze caress their skin. Jack had his eyes closed with his head resting on his arms, displaying everything he had. Ennis looked over his body in appreciation. Even after a few years of seeing Jack naked most every night and day, he was still rendered speechless by the sight of Jack in all his glory. There was no other sight that could compare to this.
He broke off a strand of heather and leaned over Jack on his elbow, tickling Jack's nose with it. Jack moved his hand to bat it away but didn't open his eyes. Ennis smiled and did it again. Jack opened one blue eye, squinting at him in the sun.
"Knock it off, Del Mar," he said, trying to sound irritated but not at all fooling Ennis.
"What?" he asked innocently, tickling Jack's nose again. Jack opened both eyes and before Ennis could blink, Jack had tackled him and was now pinning him down, straddling his hips and holding his wrists above his head. The feel of their naked groins making contact sent electrical volts through Ennis's body.
"I said knock it off," he repeated, eyes glittering. Ennis licked his lips.
"What are ya gonna do to me if I refuse?" he breathed, gazing up at Jack.
Jack leaned down so that their noses touched. "Gonna teach ya a lesson, Del Mar. Gonna make ya beg fer mercy."
Ennis grinned, liking the sound of that. "Go on then." Before he knew it, he was on his front, Jack leaning over his back and kissing between his shoulder blades.
"Thought you was gonna give me what for, Twist. Hurry up already."
Jack bit his ear. "Just you wait. They'll be able to hear ya back at the house." He grabbed the lube and quickly prepared himself. Tossing it aside, he snaked an arm underneath Ennis to raise him onto his knees, Ennis's head hanging low to touch his hands on the blanket.
Jack kissed his way down Ennis's back, dipping it between his butt cheeks briefly and making him squirm with the sensation.
"Oh God, Jack...do it now, come on..."
"You beggin' already?" Jack teased, twirling his fingers in the blonde hair beneath Ennis's navel, heading south.
Ennis groaned at his tantalising touch. "Come on, Jack...need ya..."
Jack kissed his back again. "You got it." He sat up on his knees and leaned over Ennis properly, prising the cheeks apart and getting himself into position. Once he was fully in, he whispered softly into Ennis's ear.
"Relax, cowboy. Just go with it. I ain't gonna hurt ya."
Ennis trembled, emotion threatening to overwhelm him. "I know, Jack. I trust ya."
Jack started to thrust into him, slowly at first to help him get used to the sensation once more. When he felt Ennis's breathing speed up, he responded in kind, making his thrusts faster.
"Oh God, Jack," Ennis groaned, moving along with him and going crazy with lust and desire. Jack nuzzled against his back and took him in hand, trying to get them there at the same time. Ennis took one hand off the blanket and covered Jack's with it, so that they were stroking him off together. Jack's other hand was on his hip, holding him steady.
They moved in a quick and perfect rhythm, the world around them ceasing to exist as their heads were filled with thoughts of each other. Jack leaned fully over Ennis, who turned his head to meet his deep kiss, tongues finding each other immediately. Ennis moaned into Jack's mouth as the thrusts and strokes became quicker, and pretty soon they were exploding simultaneously, Jack into Ennis, Ennis into Jack's hand.
They saw stars as they came down from it, shuddering and gasping for breath. Jack collapsed onto Ennis's back, and Ennis's weak knees couldn't keep him up. They fell to the blanket, Jack enveloping Ennis with his warmth. He pulled himself out slowly and fell back down again, unable to move.
Ennis turned onto his back, into Jack's embrace, and he wrapped his arms around his blue-eyed lover. He kissed at Jack's face and buried his fingers in the dark hair. Jack settled himself comfortably between Ennis's legs and they lay there, basking in the afterglow together.
When Ennis opened his eyes again, it was morning and he saw that the other soldiers were just starting to wake up too, stretching and moving about. He slowly sat up, rubbing sleep from his eyes, and immediately realised that his dream had left a very real reminder in his pants. His face coloured and he swiftly gathered the rest of his uniform so he could take a shower. It had been a good dream, and he knew he would be having a good day today, his head filled with thoughts of Jack.