Chapter 14

December 25th, 2003

On Christmas morning, Ennis was awoken by a series of kisses on his body, travelling down his chest. He lifted the covers to see Jack's dark hair moving around, and he was heading south. Ennis smiled to himself at how Jack was always all over him; it made him feel loved and wanted. He sighed and ruffled Jack's hair. "Mornin' to you too," he said in amusement, and Jack looked up at him. His blue eyes were full of sleep but he was definitely interested in doing something this morning.

"Hey, cowboy. Kind of busy down here..." Ennis laughed quietly, his hand gently gripping Jack's hair.

"I know, but...come here..." Jack crawled up his body and Ennis pulled him in for a kiss, but Jack scrunched up his face.

"Ugh, you've got morning breath. You need to clean your teeth..." Ennis smirked and tried to pull him in again.

"Come here, Jack..." But his lover shook his head.

"No way. I'm not kissing you while you've got that. Go clean your teeth." Ennis sighed and Jack crawled off him so he could get up, slapping his ass as he rose from the bed.

A couple of minutes later, Jack could hear the shower running, and Ennis emerged from the bathroom, naked. Jack's eyes raked over his body and he was becoming aroused.

"Now that's a fine sight first thing in the morning," he mused, and Ennis held out his hands.

"You comin'?" Jack grinned and quickly joined him. They fit comfortably into the large stall and Jack looked into Ennis's eyes.

"You know...we've never done it in the shower before...you wanna change that?" he whispered, eyes glittering with lust, and Ennis found that he liked the notion.

"Hmm...maybe. C'mere..." He brought their mouths together and Jack immediately buried his hands in Ennis's curls, massaging the back of his head. He then broke his mouth away and pressed his lips to Ennis's ear.

"You wanna know the first dream I ever had about you?" They'd never actually spoken about this before; they didn't like to revisit that first month often, when things had been so shaky and uncertain. Ennis nodded, his hands dropping to Jack's ass.

"Sure..."

"Well...you remember that night when you came out of the bathroom, and I caught you with that towel around your waist?"

"Yeah..."

"Well..." Jack whispered the contents of his dream, and Ennis could feel himself becoming aroused.

"That what you want?" he said breathlessly, feeling Jack's hands running all over his skin.

Jack's teeth pulled at his earlobe. "Yeah. Fuck me in the shower, Ennis...please..." Ennis shivered all over and he pulled away to look into Jack's eyes. The look in them alone was enough to send him crazy.

"You got it." He pushed Jack back to the tiles and tried to push him upwards, but it didn't work as well as Jack had dreamt it. They compromised by Ennis picking Jack up and into his arms, where Jack wrapped his legs around Ennis's waist. They pressed back to the tiles and Ennis started to find a way into Jack from this position. He found that wonderful opening that seemed to be shaped especially for him and started to push in, hearing Jack gasp a little as they connected. He pushed further upwards until he was in all the way, and Jack grabbed onto him for dear life.

"Ennis...oh God...come on, move..." Ennis held Jack tightly and thrust slowly up into him, trying to go up as far as he could from this position. It seemed to be working, for Jack buried his face in his neck and groaned. "Uhh...Ennis..."

Ennis responded by kissing at Jack's neck, then biting softly at his skin. Jack squirmed in his arms and started shaking with pleasure. "Jack...darlin'..." Ennis was whispering as he thrust a little quicker. "Love how you feel like this..."

"Me too," Jack managed to gasp out as Ennis found his sweet spot and made full advantage of it. He groaned again and could feel himself nearing the edge. He was hard as a rock and wouldn't even need to be touched to achieve an orgasm; not with the way Ennis was pushing in deep. "Ennis...you fuck so good..."

"So do you...darlin', I..." His words were cut off when he kept touching on that special place inside Jack that made all the pain worthwhile. He relentlessly thrust into it again and again and Jack finally gave in, spilling in between their stomachs and moaning loudly. Ennis could feel Jack's legs shaking around him and he had his own release, holding desperately onto Jack and hoping that they wouldn't fall to the floor when this was over.

They rode it out together, and Ennis could feel Jack sagging in his arms, as if his bones had disappeared. Jack's legs slid from around Ennis's waist and he stood there, still holding onto him. After a few moments, their sense returned to them and they pulled away to look into each other's eyes. Jack had a dreamy smile on his face.

"You like that, darlin'?" Ennis asked softly, brushing a few strands of hair away from Jack's forehead affectionately, and Jack nodded, letting his head drop back to Ennis's shoulder. Their encounter had exhausted him, but he was happy and satisfied.

"Mmm...sure did. Merry Christmas, Ennis," he said tiredly, and Ennis rubbed his back, feeling how relaxed he was now after their escapades in here.

"You too, Jack. But we can't stay in here forever." Jack nodded against his shoulder but didn't move, so Ennis turned the water off and lifted Jack back into his arms, carrying him out of the stall and drying him off with a towel. A quick blast of water to Jack's face woke him up again, and he finally responded.

"Okay, I'm awake." Ennis laughed and kissed him.

"Come on, let's get outta here." They got dressed and headed downstairs, their minds turning to the day ahead and the presents they had for each other.


Downstairs, the entire family gathered in the living room, in front of a huge Christmas tree from their own property. There were easily thirty people in here, Ennis could see, and he truly felt like one of the family now. This was the biggest room in the house, full of cosy corners and comfortable sofas. He was very grateful to Jack for bringing him here and he hoped that his secret present for Jack would be enough to pay him back for it.

The family split off into groups, dividing by their individual family groups. Ennis sat with Jack, his parents and his siblings. They happily watched Karen and Richard exchange jewellery and a watch, and they saw the looks of delight on Becky and Katie as they opened their dolls and craft sets. James and his girlfriend Emily exchanged gifts with smiles on their faces and the boys took note of how happy they were after a few years together.

It was then time for Ennis and Jack to exchange their first gifts; the ones that they felt comfortable sharing in front of the family. They faced each other and swapped presents, smiling nervously and being watched by the others. They unwrapped the gifts and both of them fell silent.

Jack's gift to Ennis was something that had been done a little while ago. They had gotten Lureen to take their picture a couple of weeks after getting together, and until now had been in Jack's nightstand. Now it was in a beautiful mahogany frame that was perfect for the nightstand. Ennis lifted his head to thank Jack, but Jack was distracted by his gift. Ennis had given him a plaque with a poem about love:

Your lips speak soft sweetness

Your touch a cool caress

I am lost in your magic

My heart beats within your chest.

I think of you each morning

And dream of you each night

I think of your arms being around me

And cannot express my delight.

Never have I fallen

But I am quickly on my way

You hold a heart in your hands

That has never before been given away.

Jack was utterly speechless as he stared at the plaque, and he looked up into Ennis's eyes. "Ennis..." He didn't know what to say. "I..."

Ennis bit at a hangnail. "Just...was wanderin' around town a little while ago while you was in class, an' I saw it...thought it was perfect for you." Jack nodded, still speechless.

"Thank you...it's beautiful." He leaned across and wrapped one arm around Ennis, hugging him tightly and feeling like his heart would burst with happiness. Ennis squeezed him and boldly kissed his cheek.

"Thanks for the picture, Jack," he whispered in his ear. Jack nodded against him and they pulled apart, smiling a little shakily at each other. Jack's parents smiled at each other. Jack eagerly showed them the plaque, and they could see how happy he was, thanks to Ennis. He gazed down at the wonderful words that Ennis had given him, knowing that every single one was meant. He thought of his private gift for Ennis and how much he loved him. He hoped that his present for Ennis would make him happy.

When all of the presents had been exchanged and unwrapped, the whole family set their presents aside and decided to split off for the day. Jack's parents took the younger children to the stables and his aunt and uncles all went off outside to spend some private time together. Ennis and Jack were alone in the house and opted to go back to bed for some afternoon delight. They rolled around on their bed fully clothed and kissed passionately, enjoying the feeling of being here together. After a few minutes, Jack pulled away.

"Ennis, I've got an idea..." He kissed Ennis again and saw him raise his eyebrows in interest.

"Yeah, darlin'?" Jack shuffled a little and played with Ennis's curls.

"Well...what if we pulled the quilt off the bed, put it in front of the fire, and...?" He looked at Ennis meaningfully, and he got the message.

"Sounds good to me, Jack. Let's do it." He caught the look on Jack's face and grinned. "You know what I mean." They got up off the bed and pulled the quilt off, placing it in front of the fire and smiling at each other. Jack stepped around to Ennis and took his hands.

"Come on, cowboy." He pulled Ennis down to the quilt and they got themselves comfortable, glancing at the flames and feeling warm. "Mmm..." Jack sighed, and he turned to face Ennis. Their bodies were buried in the quilt and they tangled their legs together. They lay on their sides and Jack touched Ennis's cheek.

"You have a good Christmas, Ennis?" he asked softly, and Ennis nodded, kissing Jack's fingers.

"Yeah, Jack. I gotta say...best Christmas I've ever had. Thanks again." Jack just smiled.

"You're welcome, sweetheart. Love you."

"Love you too." They leaned in and kissed gently, smiling softly at each other when they pulled apart. Ennis then pressed a kiss to Jack's cheek. "I've got an idea...could you turn onto your other side?"

Jack looked at him and smiled. "Sure." He did as he was asked and Ennis spooned up behind him, shuffling upwards so he could still see the fire from behind Jack. He slipped an arm around Jack and hugged him.

"Ain't this nice?" Ennis whispered, his breath tickling Jack's hair. He heard Jack sigh happily.

"Sure is. You always get good ideas, Ennis." He shuffled backwards into Ennis and closed his eyes. He loved having sex with Ennis, but he also loved it when they just held each other and relaxed. It was a sign of how their feelings for each other went far beyond sex, and Jack loved it. He then remembered his present for Ennis.

"Hey, bud?" he asked softly, and Ennis kissed the back of his neck.

"Yeah?"

"I, um...I've got another present for you, but...I wanted to give it to you when we're alone. Could we do that later?"

"Sure. I, uh...I've got another present for you too. We can swap those later, if you want. Thanks again for that frame."

Jack smiled to himself. "Thanks for that plaque, cowboy. Really nice of you."

"Just 'cos I love ya," Ennis whispered into his ear, and they fell silent, just watching the flames.


Later, after a large Christmas dinner with the family and plenty of snowball fights with the kids, the family decided to call it a day and go upstairs. Ennis had thoroughly enjoyed this day, and he had never had so much fun before. He found himself wishing that he could live here permanently, but he just didn't know how to go about asking Jack, and he was scared that Jack's parents would say no.

Still, as he looked around at the others during dinner, he felt sure that he was included and welcomed into this family now, and he wished that he could introduce Jack to his parents and have him welcomed in Wyoming, but that wasn't likely to happen now. He tried not to let it get to him too much, but he knew that Jack could tell how miserable it made him.

During the evening, they had all gone back to the large living room and settled into cosy chairs and sofas. He and Jack had been curled up together in a loveseat in the corner, drinking wine and talking softly. Even though the family had been in the room at the time, the lights had been low and they had felt like they were the only ones in there. It had been very romantic to sit together and watch the crackling fire, and Ennis hoped that maybe one day they could do the same thing in a home of their own. Maybe it would happen one day.

When the evening wound down and everybody started going upstairs, Ennis pulled Jack up off the sofa and touched his face gently. "You wanna go up, bud?"

Jack nodded, his face leaning into Ennis's hand and a soft smile on his face. "Sure. Let's just get these glasses away and go on up, okay?" They disposed of their glasses and headed up the stairs, hand in hand. They reached their room and Jack locked it behind them. Their eyes met and Ennis smiled, opening up his arms. Jack moved into them and was wrapped up securely, Ennis's mouth planting itself on his. They kissed for a few seconds and Jack slid his hands up Ennis's chest. Remembering that they had another gift for each other, he prised his mouth away.

"Mmm, Ennis...we got another present for each other, right?" Ennis nodded and kissed him again.

"Right. Um...let's get 'em." They broke apart from each other and went into their closets, retrieving the small packages and heading for the bed. They sat on the end and faced each other.

"You wanna go first or what?" Jack asked, turning his present nervously in his hands. Ennis shrugged.

"We could go at the same time." Jack nodded and they swapped gifts, their hands shaking a little. Ennis unwrapped the paper from his and revealed a small jewellery box in black velvet. He tried to swallow down his surprise, not least because he knew that he'd given Jack exactly the same thing.

He opened the box and his heart skipped a beat. Inside was a beautiful silver ring; a simple band with a delicate ivy pattern running along the outside. His breath caught in his throat and he honestly didn't know what to say. He looked up at Jack, but he was distracted by his gift, and Ennis remembered.

Jack too was speechless as he looked into his own box. It was a silver ring very like the one he'd given Ennis, right down to the ivy pattern. He couldn't believe it; he and Ennis had given each other matching rings without realising it. He looked up at his lover, who was also stunned. "Ennis..."

"I...we both..." They moved towards each other and kissed, knowing what these rings meant and how special they were. When they pulled away, Jack cupped Ennis's cheek.

"I can't believe it, cowboy...we both got each other the same thing..."

"I know..." Ennis looked into Jack's eyes with wonder. They reached into their boxes and pulled out their rings. It was then that they noticed a difference between the two. Jack looked at the inner part of his band and saw the inscription from Ennis.

To my darlin', love you always

Jack's eyes threatened to fill with tears as he saw the words, and he was unable to speak. Meanwhile, Ennis was examining his own ring, seeing Jack's inscription.

To my cowboy, love you forever

Their eyes met again and they kissed firmly, their tongues meeting and their lips smashing against each other. Breaking apart, they could see in each other's eyes that they'd done the right thing. Ennis swallowed.

"Jack, I...I dunno if they'll ever let guys like us get married, but...just in case they don't...I wanted you to have that." Jack nodded, nuzzling his face against Ennis's.

"I know, Ennis. I was thinking the same thing when I got yours." He pulled his face away and a thought occurred to him. "You wanna swap these?"

A smile spread across Ennis's face and he nodded. They took hold of each other's rings and slid them onto each other's ring finger, but on their right hands. With nobody back at college knowing about them, apart from Lureen, they didn't yet feel secure enough to put the rings on the correct finger, but this was good too. Maybe one day they would feel comfortable enough to swap the rings over to their left hands. They hadn't even been together for a whole year yet, but they had all of that to come.

When the rings had been placed on their fingers, their eyes met again and they leaned in for another kiss, their hands on each other's faces. They fell back onto the bed and shuffled upwards, needing to connect and feel their love once more. The night passed in a blur of passion until they were finally sated, and they lay there, stroking each other's skin.

"I love you," Jack whispered, his eyes gazing into Ennis's. His lover smiled back at him, pulling him closer.

"I love you too, darlin'."


The next morning, Jack woke up early and saw that Ennis was still asleep next to him, so he decided to stretch his legs a little. He slid out of bed and pulled on his pyjama pants and an oversized shirt, checking the bedside clock as he did so; it was almost seven, so it wasn't likely that anybody would be around just yet. He crept out of the room and down the hall to the stairs, wondering if his parents might be up yet; his father was usually up early to take care of the horses.

Down in the kitchen, he was surprised to see his mother up, making herself some juice. "Hey, ma."

She turned and smiled. "Morning, sweetie. What are you doing up so early?"

Jack shrugged and went for the juice himself, pouring himself a glass. "Just woke up early and decided to stretch my legs. Ennis is still asleep, so..."

Karen nodded and they sat at the kitchen island. "Right. Your dad's outside with the horses, and I think everybody else is still asleep." As Jack lifted his right hand to take a sip of the juice, she noticed his ring. "Jack, what's that on your finger?"

Realising what she was asking about, Jack went bright red. "Oh, um...Ennis gave me it last night, in our room after we came up. I happened to give him one too, just like this." He smiled, looking down at the ring. "We got each other the same thing without realising it."

His mother smiled at this, seeing in Jack's eyes how happy he was. "Oh, Jack...that's wonderful. And that's a real nice ring." Jack smiled back and took it off, handing it to her so she could see the inscription. She read it and smiled even further. "This is beautiful, Jack. What about the one you gave Ennis? Does that have an inscription?"

Jack nodded as he took the ring back and put it back on his finger. "Yeah, it does. I'm sure he'd show it to you if you asked him." She smiled and then looked thoughtful.

"How come it's on your right hand? I thought those kinds of rings had to be on your left hand."

"Um, well...thing is, we talked about that. Back at college, Lureen's the only one who knows about us, and we're not ready yet to tell other people. So...we just don't want to deal with a load of questions yet. We're happy with the way things are, so...we don't want to make too many big steps, you know?"

Karen nodded, seeing the logic in this. "That makes sense. I know that things are still kind of new for you guys, so...it's important not to do too much at once. And...it may be that other students won't be so friendly when they find out. Even though they're your friends now, if they found out that you two are gay...they could change their opinions of you very quickly. Things like that just happen." She put a hand on his arm. "But I'm sure it'll be fine, Jack. You two can look after yourselves, right?"

"Yeah, we can. We'll be alright, ma." Jack smiled at her. "I'm really glad we've got you guys supporting us."

"We will always support you, Jack, and anybody who you choose to live your life with. We can see that Ennis is good to you, so he gets our blessing." She bit her lip. "Listen, Jack...there was something your father and I wanted to talk to you about."

"Yeah?" he asked, sipping his juice.

"Well...since you and Ennis are pretty serious, and since he...doesn't really have anywhere else to go during the holidays, we'd like to make him an offer."

Jack raised his eyebrows. "What, ma?"

She clasped her hands together on the island. "Well...if he wants to...we'd like to offer him this place as his new home."

Jack's mouth opened slightly in shock. "What do you mean, ma?" She smiled at him.

"If he wants, he can come and live here with us during Christmas and the summer. He can stay in your room with you, like he is now. And he can live here for free, but your dad wants him to help with the horses. I figured that it'd be okay, since Ennis loves the horses anyway. What do you think?"

Jack was silent for a few moments, but then got up and went around the island, hugging his mother tightly. She hugged back and smiled.

"Mama, that's...that's great. Thank you." She squeezed him and he kissed the top of her head.

"It's okay, Jack. I just said that we'd support you in any way we could. And he's a wonderful person...he sure treats you well and I know you're happy. We'd be proud to have him as part of our family."

Jack pulled away and smiled at her. "Thank you, mama. I'll ask him. Maybe not just yet, though...he's still kind of torn up about his dad disowning him. So...I'll give it some time. But I will ask him, I promise."

She nodded. "Alright. Are you going back to bed or getting up?" Jack looked at the clock; it was now half past seven.

"I think I'll go and see if Ennis is up. If he's awake...we'll be down in about an hour." He gave a sheepish grin and she smiled.

"Okay, sweetie. See you later then." He kissed her cheek and drained his glass before leaving the room and heading upstairs. He stripped again and slipped into bed, sliding an arm around Ennis from behind and hearing him make a low noise. Jack kissed the back of his neck and felt him come to life. Ennis rolled over and blearily opened his eyes, and they were soon kissing dozily, holding each other and tangling their legs together underneath the sheets. Jack was happy to have Ennis here with him, and he hoped that Ennis would say yes to staying here permanently. That would make his life complete.


That evening, the whole family was back in the large living room, drinking mulled wine and listening to carols on the radio in the corner. Ennis and Jack were curled up on the loveseat together, Jack's head resting on Ennis's shoulder. He was slightly sleepy and very comfortable here, and Ennis felt completely at peace with the familiar weight leaning on him. He slipped his right arm around Jack and touched his hand, their rings clinking softly and glimmering in the firelight.

Jack smiled. "These look great, don't they? Really nice..."

"Mmm, sure do." Ennis planted a kiss in Jack's hair and sipped his wine. "Still can't believe we had the same idea an' didn't realise it." It was as if they had read each other's mind.

"I can believe it," Jack said softly, and Ennis looked at him. Jack moved his head to look into his eyes. "Sort of makes sense that we're so in tune with each other, right? I like it."

Ennis looked back at Jack for a few seconds, digesting his words, and then he smiled. "Yeah, you're right. Does make sense." He squeezed Jack's hand. "Love you."

Jack's eyes shone in the firelight. "I love you too." They kissed softly and settled down again, drinking their wine and watching the flames dance. Ennis once again marvelled at how such a large room full of people could still feel so intimate, like it was just him and Jack in here. He smiled to himself and drank some more wine.

After a few minutes of silence, Jack spoke up again. "Ennis?"

"Yeah?"

"Do you...do you think they'll ever let guys like us get married? Like...legally?"

Ennis thought about it. To tell the truth, he didn't know, but he sure hoped so. He would love to marry Jack one day; he wanted that more than anything. It would be incredible for them to stand up and take their vows in front of family and friends and declare to them all that this was for life, and that they weren't ashamed of who they loved. He wanted to see both of their names on a marriage certificate, stating that they were legally married and that they deserved equal treatment from their country.

But some niggling part of him thought that maybe it might not happen; there were still a lot of people out there who saw them as inferior and unworthy of something like marriage, and it would take a lot to change that. He didn't want to shoot down Jack's hope, not when he was wishing for the same thing.

"I dunno, bud," he admitted, running a hand along Jack's arm. "I sure hope so, 'cos you know I'd marry you in a heartbeat, but..." He felt Jack nod against him, and he knew that he understood what he meant.

"I know, Ennis. I'd do it too if they'd let us, but...we can't go getting our hopes up. Might not even happen..."

"Least we still have these," Ennis reminded him, clasping his hand over Jack's so that their rings touched again, and Jack smiled.

"Yeah...they're real special. Like...we can commit to each other because we want to, not because society expects us to, like with straight couples. We can do things our way."

"Right. I think that means more to us right now, don't it?" Ennis said softly, giving Jack another loving squeeze.

"Sure does, Ennis," replied Jack, snuggling in closer to Ennis's chest and smiling. "But...I promise, if they ever let us do it for real...I'm all for it."

"Me too, darlin'." Just then, a familiar Christmas song came on the radio and a few of the other couples got up to dance slowly, including Jack's parents. The boys watched them for a moment, and then looked at each other. Without saying anything, they put their glasses down and got up, moving a little away from the loveseat and towards the large window, where snow was silently falling. They looked into each other's eyes and Ennis slid one arm around Jack's waist, while Jack brought one hand to Ennis's shoulder. They pressed in close, twined their free hands together on Ennis's chest and started slowly moving to the music.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on
Our troubles will be out of sight (my Lord)

Jack rested his head on Ennis's chest as they swayed to the music, thinking about their time together so far and what the next year might bring them. Both of them were looking to the future, and they only wanted to spend it with each other.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
From now on
Our troubles will be miles away

They couldn't say that there wouldn't be tough times ahead for them, but they could promise to be there for each other. They had been through a lot already, and would probably go through a lot more, but they were ready for it. Their bond was stronger than ever now and it could withstand anything.

Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more

Ennis wondered what things might be like when they were older and had been together a long time. He hoped that they would still be as close as they were now.

Through the years
We all will be together
If the Fates allow (allow)
Hang a shining star
Upon the highest bough
And have yourself
A merry little Christmas right now

Jack looked at his ring as his hand was held, and he smiled. He knew now that he and Ennis were meant to be together, and they always would be. He no longer had any doubts about their ability to cope with whatever came their way. He pressed himself closer to Ennis and closed his eyes as they moved, feeling loved and happy. Both of them knew in that moment that everything was going to be alright.