Chapter 10

November 13th, 2003

Today was Lureen's birthday, and they knocked on her door that morning so they could take her out. She had stayed up late the night before and was a little groggy, so they took her to the diner for coffee and breakfast.

They sat in their favourite booth together, yawning and waiting for the breakfast. Ennis and Jack had been quite enthusiastic last night, so they were particularly tired. The diner was pretty much empty, so Jack felt content to rest his head on Ennis's shoulder for a minute, closing his eyes and sighing. Ennis let him be; he was unwilling to deny Jack anything lately.

He often thought of the night when Jack had told him that he loved him, and the memory of Jack saying the words still warmed his heart. He just couldn't believe his luck; this wonderful person that he loved with all his heart was in love with him, and wanted to be with him. He longed to be able to say the words back, but every time he tried he was overcome with emotion, and was unable to do it. Jack had reassured him that it was okay, and that he understood that it was harder for him, but he could still kick himself for being so weak. Ennis knew that Jack didn't hold it against him, but he wished that he was a little braver.

Still, as he sat there with Jack's head on his shoulder, he knew that it would all be okay. Jack telling him how he felt gave Ennis some sense of worth; that he mattered and that he deserved to be loved and happy. Ennis knew that Jack cared about him, and he had sought comfort in Jack's arms a number of times after failed attempts to reach his father. He knew that they would be alright.

His thoughts were interrupted by Debbie coming over with their breakfast. "Here you go, kids." Ennis gently shook Jack.

"Bud, the food's here. Come on." Jack opened his eyes and looked around.

"Oh, right..." He rubbed his eyes and sat up, clearing his throat as he reached for his food. The three of them started eating and Lureen looked between them.

"How come you're so tired?" she asked, looking at Jack. The pair of them glanced at each other.

"Um...kind of busy last night," Jack murmured, going red. Lureen nodded and smirked.

"I see. Well, uh...good for you." Ennis rolled his eyes in amusement and they resumed eating.

When they were done, Ennis and Jack brought out the presents they had bought for Lureen, smiling at her surprised look. "Happy birthday, Lu," Jack said, taking Ennis's hand under the table and squeezing. She smiled and opened up Jack's present first; it was a beautiful silver necklace with a horseshoe, very delicate and intricately made. She grinned up at him and leaned across the table, kissing his cheek.

"Thanks, Jack. I love it." She then turned her attention to Ennis's gift. It turned out to be a bottle of her favourite perfume; Jack had told him what she liked. Her eyes lit up and Ennis went red. "Oh, Ennis..." She kissed his cheek too and grinned at them both. "Thanks, you guys." They nodded back at her and smiled.

"So...what are we doin' today?" she asked them.

"Well..." said Jack, exchanging a glance with Ennis. "Since all three of us have today off, I was looking around for something we could do. And I found..." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a flyer. "There's another rodeo over in Lancaster. Starts at two if you wanna go. We've got plenty of time to drive over there."

Lureen smiled widely and nodded. "That sounds great. I'd love to." This decided, the three of them chose to take a walk into town, exploring the shops. Lureen picked up a few things for herself for her birthday, and the other two were happy to let her. They so badly wanted to hold hands as they walked, but Jack could sense that Ennis wasn't yet feeling brave enough to do that. He didn't care; he still knew that Ennis loved him, and had told him in his own way. That was enough for now.

They left Amherst a couple of hours later and drove towards Lancaster in Jack's car. The rodeo grounds were already almost full by the time they got there, and Jack offered to get them food while Ennis and Lureen found some seats. The two of them sat down and looked out.

"Been a while since we was here last, don't it?" Lureen said, looking over towards the barrel racers, just outside the grounds. She loved taking part in it herself and was itching to get back up there, but she hadn't trained since the summer.

"Yeah. Things have changed a lot, ain't they?" Ennis replied, smiling at her. She grinned.

"I'll say. You're really great together, you know that?"

Ennis went red and looked down. "Well...I dunno." Lureen laid a hand on his arm.

"Ennis...I know that Jack told you he loves you. He told me that he told you." Ennis nodded.

"Yeah, he did. I wanna say it back, but..." He shook his head. "I can't..."

Lureen sighed. "He don't care, Ennis. He knows how you feel anyway, trust me. He's very happy, you know." Ennis looked at her hopefully.

"Yeah?" She nodded.

"He sure is. I remember how he was last year, it was awful. He was miserable all the time, could barely get him to eat or anythin'. He couldn't be more different now if you ask me. An' he owes it all to you. So don't go worryin', alright? He loves you an' he knows you love him. That's what matters."

Ennis nodded and saw Jack making his way towards them. His heart filled up with love at the sight of him and he had to restrain himself from kissing him right there. Instead, he kept glancing at him throughout the event, marvelling at everything that had happened for them and wondering what might be coming next.

A couple of days later, Ennis and Jack were in their room and revising for their exams. They had reluctantly sat on their own beds so that they could concentrate. They knew that if they were sat together, they would be easily distracted. Jack would have liked nothing more than to walk over to Ennis's bed, pin him down and kiss the hell out of him, maybe even more. But he also knew that they had to study, or the repercussions would be very bad. Neither of them wanted to fail.

Jack read through his notes on cognitive development, currently looking at how sexuality is formed in a person. The whole thing got him thinking. What exactly was it in a person that determined their sexuality? He had pondered over this last year when he had realised that he was gay, but he hadn't come to any answer. Some said that it was part of a person's genetic makeup, and that it couldn't be influenced by any external factors. Jack saw some sense in this, and he had made up his mind that being gay wasn't something he had any control over. He had long since accepted this about himself, but he was still curious about it.

He looked over at Ennis, and wondered if he should broach the subject. He knew that Ennis wasn't likely to get angry about it; the guy just didn't have a temper, it seemed. Ennis was just very shy, and even though he was a bit more open now than he had been, Jack had a feeling that it wouldn't be easy getting him to talk about whether or not he was gay.

For now, he decided to read through his notes some more, trying to take his mind off his thoughts. But when something was planted into his mind, he found it very difficult to think about anything else. He didn't know what Ennis might say if he asked him whether or not he was gay. And he wasn't sure what he wanted to hear.

He looked at Ennis again, who was engrossed in his notes. Jack couldn't help but smile as he looked at him; he thought that Ennis was so good looking, even though he knew that Ennis didn't think that about himself. As far as Jack was concerned, Ennis was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. All that blonde, curly hair that he loved to feel between his fingers, the deep brown eyes that could make him melt, and those rough, hardworking hands that he loved to feel holding his body...Jack loved everything about Ennis and he hoped that their relationship would last.

Ennis glanced up and caught him looking at him, and he smiled hesitantly. "What?"

Jack shook his head. "Nothing, I just...there was something I wanted to run by you. Just something I've been thinking about." Ennis put his notes down and looked at him.

"Oh? You, uh...wanna come over here?" He patted the bed next to him and Jack nodded.

"Okay." He got up and willingly walked over to Ennis's bed, sitting down next to him and taking his hand automatically. Ennis smiled at him and shuffled close. They were very much in love by now and were closer than ever.

"What is it, Jack?" he asked, looking into Jack's eyes. Jack ran his free hand over their combined ones.

"Well, just a thought I had. You remember a little while ago, when I told you that I'm gay?"

Ennis nodded, remembering that conversation in the diner. It felt like another life, before they had gotten together, and he could remember feeling hopeful that Jack would return his feelings. "Yeah, I remember. What about it?"

"I, uh...what about you? We've never talked about that. I was just wondering..." A look of understanding crossed Ennis's face.

"Oh...right. I dunno, Jack. I ain't never thought about that. I just...know that I wanna be with you. Ain't never thought about...that."

Jack watched his face; he didn't appear angry or insulted, just puzzled. He knew that Ennis wasn't likely to fly off the handle, but he wanted to know his thoughts.

Ennis went on. "I...I've only ever looked at girls like that before you, so...I never thought about myself like that. Never expected this to happen," he admitted, looking into Jack's eyes. Jack nodded and let him continue. "I still don't wanna go lookin' at other guys like's just you, Jack."

Jack smiled a little and nodded. "Alright. I guess it doesn't really matter. We know how we feel about each other, and that's what's important, right?" He leaned in and gently kissed Ennis on the lips, bringing his free hand to the back of his neck. They kissed for several moments and then Jack pulled away, smiling widely.

"I'd really like to keep doing this, but...we agreed we'd keep on studying for another hour at least," he half-whispered, wanting so badly to lie down with his lover and concentrate on something else, but knowing that he'd regret procrastinating.

Ennis nodded and touched his cheek. "I know. How about we do another hour, then you come back over here an'...we'll do somethin' else?" A look in Jack's eyes told him exactly what that something else would be. Jack grinned and squeezed Ennis's hand before getting up.

"Sounds good to me." The next hour passed excruciatingly slowly, and Jack was sure that time had slowed down just to frustrate them.

At last, the hour passed and they could hold it in no longer. Jack went back over to Ennis, who grabbed him and pulled him on top of him until they were lying down. They kissed widely, needing to feel each other right away. Within record time, they were naked and going at it. It was quick and rough, unlike how it normally was, but they enjoyed it.

When they were done, they held each other as they cooled off, staring off into space.

"I like this studyin' thing," Ennis breathed into Jack's ear, and he grinned.

"Me too, cowboy."

November 18th, 2003

One night, Ennis and Jack were lying in bed and slowly kissing, not needing to hurry things along. They were under the covers, warm and wrapped around each other, and Jack felt safe and happy in Ennis's arms. He was more in love with the shy cowboy than ever and he hoped with all his heart that Ennis knew how much he cared about him.

There was something else weighing on Jack's mind; Lureen had shown him something in the newspaper earlier about the Supreme Judicial Court; they had decided that the state's current ban on same-sex marriage needed to be changed, and had given the state around six months to change this. It was certainly a step towards equality for them.

When Jack had realised that he was gay, marriage had never crossed his mind. He had assumed that since he was what they called 'different', it would never happen for him. He'd thought that it was a small price to pay for being free to love who he wanted, but the latest news had made him think. His relationship with Ennis was improving all the time, and they were very happy. Now that the law was set to change, Jack couldn't help but wonder what it might be like if they got married. The more he thought about it, the more he wanted it.

They kissed again, Jack's tongue working its way around Ennis's mouth thoroughly and his hands gently gripping his curls. He was leaning over Ennis, who was running a hand along his back; feeling his strong muscles and warm skin. He stopped just before reaching Jack's ass, which was driving him crazy.

Jack kept trying to concentrate on making out with his boyfriend, but the latest news was still on his mind. He broke free and gazed down at Ennis, who smiled dozily up at him, looking utterly content. Jack cupped his cheek, stroking with his fingers.

"Love you," he whispered, looking into Ennis's eyes. He saw Ennis gulp and open his mouth shakily.

" too, Jack," he breathed. It wasn't a direct declaration, but it was good enough for Jack. He kissed Ennis again, hearing him moan into his mouth. They broke apart again and Jack bit his lip.

"Ennis...there was something I wanted to talk to you about," he started, taking a breath and wondering what Ennis might say about this. Ennis looked up at him in interest.

"What?" he asked, lacing their fingers together. Jack smiled and squeezed his fingers.

"Well...earlier, Lureen showed me this thing in the paper that she thought would interest us. You ever heard of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts?"

Ennis was surprised by the question, but nodded. "Yeah, I think so. Why?"

"Um...well...there's this know how gay people aren't allowed to get married here?" Ennis nodded, and Jack could swear that he saw a flicker of sadness there. "Well...the Court's been saying...that it's...what's the word...unconstitutional. So...they've been saying it needs to change. They've given the state about six months to change it."

He looked into Ennis's eyes, gauging his reaction. "Oh..." he said quietly. "That's...really somethin', huh?" Ennis looked up at him, understanding what he was saying.

"I'm not know," Jack stammered, not wanting to put any pressure on Ennis. "If it does get changed, I'm not saying we have to...I just..."

Ennis put a hand over his mouth. "Jack...I never said we couldn't. Gotta admit, never saw myself as the marryin' kind before now. But...bein' with you has changed a lot for me..." Jack nodded, not trusting himself to speak just yet. Ennis sighed a little. "I know what yer askin', Jack. I dunno what to say..."

Jack finally cleared his throat. "I'm not saying we have to do it right away, or even at all. It was just...something I was thinking about. To have the same rights as straight couples...wouldn't that be something?"

"Sure would. An'...I gotta admit, I'm real happy with you. You know that. I guess..." He squeezed Jack's hand. "I guess it ain't totally out of the question. If things change, an' we can do it...wouldn't be the worst thing, right?" He looked into Jack's eyes. "Maybe..."

Jack smiled a little. "If it does change, we could at least think about it, right? We don't know what's gonna happen in the future. I...I think we're gonna be together for a long time, cowboy. So...maybe one day we could..."

Ennis was nodding. "Yeah, maybe. I'd like that, Jack. But...for now, I'm happy with how we are."

"I know, Ennis. I'm not saying we have to run off to the nearest registry office right away, or wherever they do them, day maybe. When we've graduated and got jobs, maybe even a place together..." Jack ran a finger along Ennis's cheek. "Sure would like to spend my life with you," he whispered, and Ennis smiled.

"I'd like that too. So...not right now, but one day. We ain't rulin' it out, right?" Jack nodded and leaned in to kiss him again, feeling elated. They had just made a promise to stay together, and one day maybe get married if they could. Jack had never been happier, and he could see his joy reflected in Ennis's face.

He straddled Ennis and their kisses became more passionate, pressing closer to each other and needing to make physical contact. Jack moved into Ennis's arms and Ennis rolled them both over so that he was straddling Jack. He used their trusty tube to slick Jack up and was soon riding him like he rode a horse, feeling Jack stretching him and filling him up. They laced their fingers together and rocked slowly, finding their perfect rhythm and falling silent as they made love. Jack was still on cloud nine after hearing Ennis confirm that marriage could be in their future, and all he could think about was the notion of settling down with the love of his life and spending the rest of his days with him.

Two days later, Ennis and Jack were in class and Lureen was in her room catching up on some sleep. They were looking forward to the Christmas holidays, even though their plans were still sketchy. Lureen was going home to Texas, but Ennis and Jack hadn't made any concrete plans yet. Jack wondered from time to time what they might do. He wanted to go home to West Virginia, but he wasn't sure if Ennis wanted to go back to Wyoming, since he was currently on bad terms with his father. But there was still a little time left for them to decide.

Lureen was happy with the way things were going with her friends. She could remember how bad it was for Jack last year, with his ill-fated crush on his old roommate, and how miserable he'd been. She had honestly thought that he would descend into depression or something, and she had been very glad that this hadn't happened.

She looked at Jack these days and saw a different person in some ways. He was a lot happier now and she knew that it was down to Ennis. He had made Jack feel loved and happy, and things were much better for him now. She knew that they were in love and were making some plans for their future, and she had a good feeling that they would be together for a long time. She hoped that they would be.

At noon, she received a text from Jack saying that he and Ennis were heading for the diner to get some lunch, and inviting her to join them. She sent one back to say that she was on her way and left her room.

Out in the hall, she spied a young woman with short brown hair wandering along. She was dragging a suitcase with her and checking the door numbers. Lureen frowned as she didn't recognise her; who was she and why was she here? She saw her stop in front of Ennis and Jack's door and start knocking.

With a bit of suspicion planted in her mind, Lureen moved forward. "Hey, uh...can I help ya?" she asked nervously, getting a strange vibe from this newcomer.

The woman turned; she had light hazel eyes and looked rather meek, according to Lureen. Her face broke into a polite smile. "Hey there. I'm lookin' for someone. Ennis Del Mar, you know him?"

Lureen nodded, wondering what she wanted with Ennis. "Yeah, I know him. He's a friend. Um...he ain't here right now, though. Him an' his roommate are both in class. Could I maybe take a message?"

"Sure," she replied. "The name's Alma Beers. I'm Ennis's girlfriend."

Shock overtook Lureen as she heard that word. Girlfriend? But he an' Jack...

"Uh...really? I mean...I ain't never heard him talk about you before..." Then it hit her; at the party last month, Ennis had told Jack that he'd broken up with a girl prior to starting here. She recalled Jack being upset about the whole thing, but that was all in the past now. The pair of them were very happy together. The presence of an ex-girlfriend would put a strain on things. Especially one that was under the impression that they were still together; this could be very bad for him and Jack.

Alma raised her eyebrows. "Oh...he hasn't? He ain't much of a talker, is he?"

"Well, he wasn't at first, but he's better than he was, I guess. But I remember him sayin' he'd broken up with a girl just before comin' here...are you guys still together?" Panic rose up in her; what would this mean for her friends? If it was true that Ennis and this girl were technically still together, Jack would be crushed. It would be like last year all over again.

"Yeah, we are. I mean, things were a little shaky back home, but he told me that we'd work things out when he came home at Christmas. So...we're still together. Did he tell you we've broken up?" she asked, looking put out.

Lureen rubbed the back of her neck. "Well...that's the feelin' I got when he told us about you. I, uh...I never pegged him as the type to lie..." Her heart sank as she thought of Jack and how he might react to this. Ennis had been lying to him all along by telling him that he was single.

Alma shrugged. "Oh well. To clear things up, we are still together. Anyway, do you know what time he'll be back?"

Now it was Lureen's turn to lie; she felt that it was her duty to warn her friends before Alma could get to them. She owed them that much. "Um...sorry, no idea. But I can get a message to him. Where can he find you?"

"The hotel on Russell Street. I'm in room 203, an' he can come on over whenever he wants. Semester's finished for me over in Laramie, so I decided to come out here an' surprise him."

He'll be surprised, alright. "Okay. I'll let him know as soon as I can. Um...bye, then." Alma raised a hand in farewell and headed back to the elevator, leaving Lureen to stand there and digest what she had heard. Ennis hadn't broken up with a girl; they were still together. And he'd lied to Jack about being single when they'd gotten together. Also, he had cheated on her a lot over the last month, which Lureen didn't really approve of.

Still, this was fixable. If Ennis was honest with Alma about himself and Jack, then that would be it. She just hoped that it wouldn't jeopardise his relationship with Jack. Things were going so well for them lately.

Lureen sighed and headed off down the hall, knowing that she had to deliver this bad news, and that Ennis would have to shoulder some responsibility for his actions. It wasn't too late, and she knew in her heart that everything would probably be okay.

Lureen hurried as fast as she could to the diner, hoping to catch her friends before Alma did. She knew that Jack would feel betrayed when he found out that Ennis had not technically broken up with her, and she hoped that they would get through it.

She walked into the diner and spotted them in their favourite booth in the corner, chatting happily and laughing. She sighed and made her way over to them. She took her seat opposite them and fixed Ennis with a look.

"Oh, there you are, Lu. What kept you?" Jack asked with a grin. Lureen looked between them.

"I was in the dorm buildin'. Met someone up there that you know, Ennis." He raised his eyebrows.

"Oh? Who?"

She stared directly at him. "A young woman our age. Said her name was Alma Beers, sound familiar?"

Ennis's face went white and Lureen knew that it was true; he and Alma were technically still together. Jack looked at him thoughtfully.

"Didn't you say that was the name of your ex?" he asked him, looking confused. Ennis couldn't look at him.


Lureen glared at him. "That ain't quite the truth, Jack. She said that she an' Ennis are still together. That he never broke up with her, just left Wyomin' an' said he'd be back at Christmas to work things out."

Jack felt his world collapsing around him. Ennis had lied; he had never broken up with this girl, just left her and run off to college. Ennis had told him that they'd broken up, and Jack could recall his heartbreak to learn that Ennis was apparently straight. Now he was having his heart bruised all over again. He turned properly to face Ennis.

"Ennis, is this true? Did you not break up with her?" he said, trying to keep his voice steady. Ennis met his eyes, looking terrified. He just couldn't lose Jack; he was everything to him.

", not technically. I-"

Jack didn't let him finish; he was out of the booth and the diner in a flash, and Ennis was soon hot on his heels.

"Jack, wait!" he pleaded. "Let me explain!" Jack whirled around and folded his arms, hurt and heartbreak in his eyes.

"Alright. One chance to explain why you lied to me. What the hell's going on?"

Ennis took a deep breath. "I didn't actually break up with her. When my major was cancelled over in Laramie an' I decided to move over here, she was upset. But to tell ya the truth, I was relieved to get away from her. I...she wasn't what I wanted an' I wasn't happy. So I just told her I'd be back at Christmas. You gotta know she was kinda clingy, didn't want to hear that I didn't feel all that much for her."

Jack nodded. "Alright. So you just left...were you planning to get back together over Christmas?"

Ennis shook his head vigorously. "No, I swear. I just had to get outta there right away, wasn't much time to sit her down an' tell her it was over. I planned to tell her over Christmas. She's been tryin' to call me, but I'm ignorin' her calls. I didn't want her thinkin' we had a future or nothin'..."

"Remember at the party, when you told me that you'd broken up with a girl?" Jack asked quietly, and Ennis nodded. "I thought you was straight, and you've got no idea how upset I was, having this big crush on you. When we got together...I was so happy. Thought everything would be okay. And now I find out that you're still with someone else!"

"I ain't really," Ennis tried to assure him. "I'm gonna break up with her proper." Please believe me, Jack...I don't love her, I love're the only one I want. Please give me a chance to set this right...

Jack sighed. "What do we do now, Ennis? I don't wanna break up with you."

Ennis started to panic. "Please, Jack...just give me a chance to go over there an' tell her it's over. I'll tell her, I swear. An'...I'll tell her 'bout you too."

It was this above anything else that made Jack believe in Ennis's words, and made his heart melt. Ennis was prepared to come out to his soon-to-be-ex just to keep the two of them together. This proved to Jack that Ennis was serious.

"Alright, Ennis," he agreed. "Go find her and tell her it's over. You don't have to tell her about me if you can't; it's okay. Just knowing that you would if I asked you is enough. But you have to make it clear to her that it's over with her. If you can't do it, we're in big trouble." Then his face softened. "I'm going back to the room. Text me when it's over and come on up, okay?"

Ennis nodded. He was nervous at the prospect of telling Alma that he was seeing his male roommate, but this whole situation had made him terrified of losing Jack. He would do anything to keep hold of him. "I will, Jack. I'll go find her right now."

Jack nodded back, and then moved forward. After a quick glance around, he kissed Ennis's cheek. "Love you," he whispered, and then walked away. Ennis watched him go, relieved that Jack was giving him this chance.

"You too, Jack."

He found Lureen back at the diner, and she raised her eyebrows at him. "Well?"

"I'm gonna go tell her everythin'. That it's over with her, an' that I'm seein' Jack. You know where she is?"

Lureen smiled at his willingness to fix his mistake, and sighed. "She said she was at the hotel on Russell Street, room 203. Hope it goes okay, Ennis."

"It has to, Lureen," he said quietly. "I can't lose him."

He made his way to his destination, thinking about what he would say. One thing was clear; he'd made his choice to be with Jack, and there was no way that he could go back now. He didn't even want to; Jack was his whole world now, and he would never give that up for anything.