August 30th, 1987
Lily sat in the chair in front of Anna's desk, waiting and thinking. She had told Ennis and Jack of her conflicting thoughts about her father, and her desire to speak to someone. They had put her in touch with Anna, and now here she was. Ennis in particular had been full of praise for the way Anna handled issues and her professionalism, citing how much she had helped him after his return from Vietnam. Jack told her that he didn't know what he might have done if Anna hadn't been around.
She had met Anna the other day and arranged today's appointment. She was very nervous about getting all of her thoughts out in the open, but she knew that she needed this. Ennis and Jack had offered to come with her, but she had politely declined, knowing that she needed to do this for herself.
After waiting for about five minutes, she heard heels clicking down the hall and the door opened behind her. She turned to see Anna entering the room. "Hi, Lily."
"Hey," she said back, smiling at her as Anna walked around the desk and sat down. Anna settled herself in her chair and sighed.
"So...I understand you're having some problems with your father?"
Lily nodded. "Yeah. He came over here, askin' to talk to me. We met in the diner in town, an' tried to talk. He was talkin' about the mistake he made by not makin' any effort to contact me, an'...he tried to apologise for sleepin' with my mama even though he knew somethin' was wrong with him."
"Do you believe him?"
She bit her lip. "He sure sounded like he was serious, but...I dunno. When I looked at him, I kinda got the feelin' that he really does regret everythin'. But...when I look at him, I can't help but remember all the bad stuff, like how he never wanted nothin' to do with me, never tried to track me down. An' I keep thinkin' that he's the reason my mama ain't here with me, especially with the weddin' comin' up. She should be here, an' he's the reason she ain't..."
Anna sighed. "Well, it's clear that you're curious, that you want to know more about him in spite of all that. At the end of the day, he's still your father, the man you've always heard about but never met. Why did you agree to meet with him?"
"Because...I wanted to meet him. I wanted to see him for myself after all the stories. I think..." She looked down at her hands. "I think a part of me wanted to find out if he could ever love me, like a father should. Ennis an' Jack have been so good to me, but...neither of them are my daddy. There was always a hole in my heart where my parents should be. Every Father's Day an' Mother's Day was agony, an' I've never got over that. A part of me wanted a daddy."
"That's understandable. You're curious; you want to know what it's like to have a parent. You're missing your mother and you're looking for something. Lily...do you want to get to know him, in spite of your anger for what he did? Do you want to try and have some kind of relationship with him, however it might be?"
Lily looked up at her and thought. She wasn't entirely sure if she could ever forgive her father for all of the pain he had caused her and her mother, but maybe she didn't have to; maybe he didn't expect her to. It was possible for her to simply leave it in the past and try to make things work between them. But she knew that this would only be possible if he was truly sorry for his actions. When he'd defended himself, saying that he had been young and stupid, not knowing what he'd wanted, she'd argued that Ennis and Jack had only been young when they'd met, but had managed to work it out. Now she could see that she had simply been trying to justify her anger. Ennis and Jack were clearly an isolated case in that respect; not everybody of that age knew what they wanted out of life, or what to do if family life was staring them in the face. Maybe she had just looked for an excuse to be angry about everything. Truth be told, she didn't know what she wanted where her father was concerned.
"I don't know," she admitted at last. "If he really is sorry, an' don't want no money or anythin', then...maybe we could..."
"Well, you have to decide for yourself if it's something you want. If you do, then only you can make the step forward. He made the first move by tracking you down; if you want more you'll have to go after it. But only you can make this decision. Okay?"
Lily nodded. "I know. Thanks, Anna. I need to do some thinkin'."
Anna smiled a little. "Alright. You go on home if you need to. If you need to make another appointment, that's fine. And good luck." Lily stood up and shook her hand before leaving the room, nodding at Rick as she passed him.
She sat in Jack's truck in the parking lot, thinking. There was one thing holding her back from pursuing a reunion with her father. If they worked something out and she welcomed him into her life, would she be betraying her mother? She knew from Jack that her mother had been distraught at the idea of not being around to see her grow up, and blamed her father for it, so she wasn't sure what to feel.
After sitting there for a while, she decided to go home, to her family. Even if they couldn't help her decide what to do, they could make her feel better. That would have to be enough while she wrestled with the thoughts in her head.
Back at the ranch, Ennis and Jack were brushing the horses and talking about Lily. They had been surprised to learn that she was having conflicting thoughts about her father, and that she might want to have contact with him. Jack personally felt that he didn't deserve any of Lily's time for what he'd done, and he knew that Ennis felt the same, but they had to keep their personal feelings about him to themselves. It was Lily's choice whether or not to build bridges with him, and they had promised her that they would stand by her no matter what. They respected the fact that she was old enough to make her own decisions, so that was it.
As they brushed the horses, they occasionally passed each other and touched. Ennis would place his hand flat on Jack's cheek, stroking a little and gazing down at him, eyes full of love. Jack would smile at him and quickly give him a peck on the lips before moving away. It was just one of those little interactions that kept the work interesting and made Jack happy.
When they were done, Ennis took Jack's hand and led him over to a hay bale, sitting down on it with him and pulling him close. Jack was surprised but happy to go along with it. He loved it when Ennis would take the initiative like this.
Ennis ran his fingers through Jack's thick hair and rested his head on top of Jack's, looking out of the door at the light rain that was falling. It was a quiet sort of day; the kind that they liked. Jack rested his hand on Ennis's thigh and smiled.
"This is real nice, cowboy. Sure am glad we don't gotta deal with nothin' today. Keep thinkin' about Lily an' how she's getting' on..."
"I know, rodeo. Anna knows what she's doin', an' it'll be fine. Wonder what she's gonna decide about her dad."
Jack shrugged. "I dunno, Ennis." He paused for a long moment, thinking about what had been on his mind ever since Becky had been diagnosed. He'd thought about it now and then over the last twenty or so years, but had managed to put it aside. He wanted to ask Ennis, but he wasn't sure what Ennis might say. He didn't want to hear a negative response.
Ennis could sense Jack's quiet, and he looked down at him. "Bud, you okay? What's up?" When Jack didn't answer, Ennis pulled away and brought Jack's face to his. "Jack, what's wrong?"
They looked at each other, Jack licking his lower lip nervously. He just had to ask. "Ennis...there's somethin' I've been thinkin' of now an' then, ever since Becky was diagnosed. I wanted to ask you, but...I dunno what you'd say..."
"Darlin'...you can tell me anythin'. You know that..." Ennis touched Jack's cheek. "What is it?"
"Well...I remember that when Rick told her what she had, an' how she got it, Becky was all torn up. I know she never forgave that guy for it, an' I dunno if Lily ever will. Just got me thinkin' on somethin'..."
Jack looked into his eyes, taking deep breaths. "Ennis...I gotta ask...if I caught somethin', HIV or whatever, an' I didn't know...an' we had sex an' you caught it from me, would you be able to forgive me?"
Ennis's eyes widened a little at Jack's question. He and Jack had never had to deal with this; the only time that Jack had had sex with someone else was before they'd met, and before HIV had even come along. He had even been tested and it had come back negative, so they'd never had to worry. They were always careful when dealing with sharp objects and blood on the ranch. Jack's question surprised him, but the answer was easy enough.
"Oh...I guess it depends."
"On what?" Jack asked, looking worried. Ennis sighed.
"Well...on how you caught it. If you was...attacked..." He inwardly winced at the thought, but carried on. "An' it wasn't your fault, an' you really didn't know you'd caught somethin', then yeah. It would be easy to forgive you if it wasn't your fault."
Jack nodded. "What if...?"
Ennis met his eyes. "If you'd messed around behind my back...an' caught it that way, then...it ain't so easy. I'd still love you, an' I'd still wanna be with ya. It'd hurt like hell, but...I'd get past it. If you gave me somethin' that way...it wouldn't be as easy to forgive you, but I probably still could, eventually. We'd get there in the end, 'cos I love you." He stroked Jack's face. "You been worryin' about that all this time?" Jack nodded, his eyes lowered. "Oh, Jack..." He pulled Jack close, rubbing his back. "Ain't no need to worry. I ain't mad. I know you'd never mess around behind my back, so we don't gotta worry about that. It's okay..."
Jack rested his head on Ennis's shoulder, feeling a weight lift from him. "Thanks, Ennis. I've been worried about you sayin' no, that you couldn't forgive me either way. I shoulda had more faith in ya."
"Shh, rodeo. Don't worry none, okay? We don't gotta worry about this, 'cos it ain't happenin'. We're both clean, we're faithful, we're careful with needles an' stuff...the only way we could catch somethin' is...you know. So...if it ever happened, it wouldn't be our fault. Just...don't worry, Jack." He rubbed Jack's back and felt him relax.
"Thanks, cowboy. I needed that. Love you..."
Ennis kissed Jack's temple. "I love you too, darlin'." He closed his eyes and swayed them both a little, hearing Jack purr softly against him in contentment. He felt a little guilty that Jack had been carrying this around for so long in fear of his reaction, and he hoped that one day Jack would fully understand that he could ask him anything, no matter what it might be. He had to make Jack see that nothing was about to scare him away, not after everything they'd been through. He loved Jack with all his heart and would do anything for him.
September 3rd, 1987
Lily sat on the sofa, staring at the phone on the side table. After another talk with Anna, she had ultimately decided to try and call her father. When she looked into her heart, she realised that she wanted to at least try to have some kind of relationship with him. She would never be able to forgive him for the past, but was willing to give him a try, provided that he was sincere about wanting to know her. She just hoped that he didn't have dollar signs in his eyes when he looked at her and the ranch.
At her request, Ennis and Jack were standing silently in the doorway, watching. She had asked them to stay nearby just in case it became too much for her and she broke down. They were willing to do whatever she needed them to.
Ennis was leaning against the door frame and was holding Jack comfortably in his arms, Jack's back against his chest. Jack's arms were covering Ennis's where they encircled his stomach. Ennis also had his head on Jack's shoulder, occasionally pressing his lips to his partner's cheek or neck. They glanced at Lily now and then, wondering how this phone call might go. They had reminded her that they were here for her no matter what.
"Think she'll be okay?" Jack murmured, and Ennis shrugged.
"Dunno, darlin'. Hope so."
Lily shook herself out of her reverie and picked up the phone, dialling the number that Maria had given her. She hoped that she would be able to get through this.
"Is that Jay Brookes?" she asked, and bit her lip.
"Yeah, it is. Who's this?"
"It's Lily," she answered, and this made Ennis and Jack look over, their fingers lacing together over Jack's stomach.
"Oh...hey. Was wonderin' if you was gonna call."
"I dunno why I am, I just...I keep thinkin' on you. I've been talkin' to a counsellor about this whole thing, an'...I realised that I wanna talk to you, maybe try an' give you a chance. So..."
"Wow...Lily, I...I dunno what to say. I thought you hated me, to be honest."
She sighed. "I thought I did. A lot of me still does, I guess. After everythin' that's happened...you were never there for me."
"I know. But it's like I said, I was young an' stupid, wasn't prepared for a family. It was just one night of fun; I never wanted nothin' else that night. I'm sorry, but it's true."
"I kinda figured that out. An' I know I said that Ennis an' Jack could do it even though they was young, but...that's rare. I get that it don't always work out that way."
"Right. So...what happens now?"
She closed her eyes for a second. "I...I wanna see you. I dunno when or where, but...I do. I wanna talk to you."
Jack moved his head so that he could look back at Ennis and share a surprised look with him. Ennis squeezed him a little.
"Oh. Well, um...I think that would be okay. I'd like to see ya again. I'm busy at work right now, but...I've got some time off in a couple weeks. Maybe you could come to Childress? Or I'll come over there?"
Lily considered this. "I guess. Maybe I'll come to Childress. We could...go to a rodeo or somethin'."
"Sounds great." He did sound like he was sincere about wanting to spend time with her. Lily hoped that he was genuine; she didn't think that she could take it otherwise.
"But there's somethin' you should know. I ain't sure that I can ever forgive you for what's happened, but I'd like to...I dunno, build bridges, I guess. Maybe we can leave things in the past. But I might never forgive you for my mama dyin'."
"I understand. To be honest, I don't expect you to. But you gotta know I'm real sorry about that. I never wanted that for her."
"I know. We're only human, I guess. We make mistakes. It's gonna be weird, especially at first. I can't guarantee that we can have any kind of relationship. But I wanna see you, wanna give you a chance."
"Thank you, Lily. I promise, I'm gonna try. So...can I call you sometime? Make plans?"
"Yeah, okay. Um...I'm gonna go now. Talk to you soon."
"Yep, bye." They hung up and Lily sat back, biting at a hangnail. Ennis and Jack separated and came over to her, sitting with her.
"You okay, honey?" Jack asked softly, and she shrugged.
"I dunno. You think I did the right thing?"
"Probably. I know it ain't easy for you to make the effort, given all he's done, but...you were right. Everybody makes mistakes."
"An' it's true what you said about us," Ennis replied. "That even though we managed to work things out, it's rare for that to happen. I mean...it worked out for us, an' for my brother an' sister, but...it don't happen every day. An'...yeah, we worked it out, but it wasn't always easy. We're just fine now, but we've argued plenty of times in the past, an' we've had troubles. Wasn't always easy."
"But you guys love each other," she reasoned, looking between them. "No matter what, that always pulled you through. He never loved my mama, it was just...sex."
"We know," Jack said, his arm coming around her and squeezing. "But if he really is sorry about everythin', maybe it's worth takin' a chance. An'...if it all goes bad, me an' Ennis are here for you. Yer Grandma too. We love you an' we'll help you get over it." He kissed her forehead and she leaned against him. She took Ennis's hand in one of hers so that all three of them were connected. Ennis and Jack looked into each other's eyes and smiled. They knew that Lily would make the right choice where her father was concerned; she had the good sense and knew herself well. They had raised her well and knew that she would be okay.
That night, Ennis and Jack were on either side of their bed and stripping off, giving each other lustful looks as their bodies were exposed. They sometimes liked to go upstairs without touching, to postpone the moment when they would connect. It made the experience all the more sweeter when they prolonged it. Ennis could see Jack making eyes at him and knew that he was doing the same.
They got under the covers and lay down, on their sides and facing each other, leaning on their elbows. Jack reached out and trailed a finger along Ennis's bicep.
"Wonder how Lily's gonna get on with her dad?" he said in a low voice. Ennis stroked his cheek.
"Dunno, darlin'. We raised her well enough, I reckon. She'll be fine, Jack." He lowered his hand to Jack's neck. "But...I don't wanna talk about that right now."
Jack's eyes sparkled. "What do you want then, cowboy?"
Ennis leaned in and kissed him, pushing his tongue into Jack's mouth. He heard Jack moan a little and pull him closer. Ennis pulled Jack on top of him and held him close. "Jack..." he whispered in between kisses. "I wanna be in ya..."
This made Jack grin with lust. "Oh yeah? Want me to ride ya? Go up an' down like I used to on a bull?"
"Yeah..." Jack reached over for the lube and coated Ennis with it, making his lover buck a little at his touch. He grinned.
"Steady on, cowboy. Wait 'til yer inside me." He threw the lube aside and shifted into position, spreading his cheeks apart and lowering himself onto Ennis, seeing the cowboy's face go slack with desire.
"Oh, Jack..." He started breathing heavily as he completed Jack, making them one. Jack leaned down and moved into his arms, pressing himself close. Ennis wrapped his arms around Jack as he began to thrust upwards, taking his lover in smooth, steady strokes and feeling him sigh into his neck. They moved together quickly and Jack was soon moaning. He felt Ennis take hold of him and start to jerk him off, so he responded by moving one of his hands down and slipping a finger into Ennis, making him buck again. "Jack!"
Jack pulled himself up and grinned. "You like that, baby?" He nodded and Jack pulled Ennis close, rolling off to the side and bringing Ennis with him until Ennis was on top. They shifted a little and Jack looked up into Ennis's darkened eyes. Their hair was dark with sweat and their faces were mere inches away from each other. Jack was unable to look away from his lover's eyes as Ennis thrust slowly into him. He moved his finger around until he found the sweet spot and Ennis claimed his lips again in response, kissing him hard. Ennis pushed in deeper with every thrust and Jack pulled his mouth away in a gasp. "Oh God, Ennis...fuck me..."
"You got it, rodeo," Ennis breathed, biting and sucking at his collarbone. They knew where to leave hickeys so that they were hidden under their shirts. He felt Jack doing the same to him, and he quickened the pace. He started to thrust hard and fast, and could feel Jack's legs shaking around him.
They were both gasping for breath as they tried to reach the peak together, hoping to get there at the same time. They grabbed at each other and their mouths met just as they exploded together, unable to move while they rode it out. Ennis collapsed onto Jack and their chests heaved together. Jack weaved his arms around Ennis.
"Cowboy...that was amazin'. You're amazin'..."
"Mmm...only 'cos of you," Ennis murmured, nuzzling into Jack's chest hair. "You bring it out in me, darlin'..."
Jack smiled. "That so? You sayin' that I make you a wild man in bed?"
"Mmmhmm. I just...I love bein' with ya like that. Hell, you oughta know that by now. Feels better than anythin' else. Love it when we do it..."
"I do too, cowboy. You're real good, even if you don't know it. Make me feel like a million bucks." Ennis pulled himself up and looked down into Jack's eyes, a smile forming on his lips as he threaded his fingers through Jack's dark hair. It was still damp with sweat.
"Good to know, 'cos you do the same to me. I love you so much, Jack..."
Jack smiled peacefully and pulled his face close. "I love you too." They kissed slowly and sensuously, just being here together. They weren't ready to go again yet, but this was good for them. Sometimes all they needed was to kiss and hold each other close.
When they pulled apart, Ennis pulled himself out of Jack and then rolled off him to the side, pulling Jack close. He felt Jack curl up against him, head against his chest, and smiled. Jack felt Ennis's arms go around him and felt safe and protected. He loved it when he was in Ennis's arms.
"I just want you to know...I've really enjoyed our time together so far. I loved you twenty years ago an' I love you now. Can't wait to see how much more I love you in another twenty years."
"I know, me neither. You've made me real happy, Jack. More than I'll ever be able to tell you."
"It's okay, Ennis," Jack said softly. "Just the fact that you can't describe what you feel tells me everythin' I need to know. Shows me how deep yer feelin's are."
Ennis smiled, running a hand along Jack's back. "If I ever do find the words that say what I feel, I'll let you know. I promise."
"Good. You know I love you too. Got all I need right here...always did, ever since Brokeback. Like you said before, went up with nothin', came down with everythin'." He yawned and Ennis kissed the top of his head.
"Go to sleep, rodeo. I'm right here."
"Mmm. Night, Ennis."
September 7th, 1987
Ennis and Jack were in the kitchen preparing dinner when the phone call came. They had been talking about a recent meeting with a potential client and voicing their confidence that it would go well. Jack was talking about travelling further afield and seeing if they could attract more customers from across the country. Since they were doing some of everything, he figured that it would pique peoples' interest.
He was putting the meatloaf in the oven and feeling Ennis's eyes on his ass when the phone rang. "You better get that before you start bendin' me over the table, cowboy. Put yer eyes back in an' go answer it." Ennis sighed.
"Alright..." He goosed Jack before moving away, making him jump and curse under his breath. "Brokeback Ranch, Ennis speakin'."
"Ennis, it's Cecilia."
"Oh, hey. What's goin' on?"
"Listen, um...somethin's happened. It's quite big."
"What? Somethin' happen with Amy?" he asked, fear in his voice. Jack straightened up and turned around, frowning. He knew that Ennis's niece was far from her due date yet, so any problems at this point were dangerous.
"No, nothin' like that. It's just...it's somethin' to do with our old ranch. You know, down in Sage."
Ennis's eyes widened. He hadn't heard much about the place since they'd been forced out of it. "Oh...what about it?"
"Well...you know that the people who bought it from the bank have been there ever since. But...they sold it recently, an' the new owners have been goin' through the attic. They found a box that belonged to our mama. It's got some things of hers an' a diary. Me an' K.E. was told about it earlier today, an' I was given the box 'cos I'm the eldest. But...we ain't looked at it. We wanted you to be here when we do. So...can you come up?"
"I guess. We can fly up tomorrow or the day after."
"Okay. Ennis, I...I've got a weird feelin' about this. I never knew our mama to keep a diary. Never saw her writin' in it or nothin'. There's some nice jewellery, though. I was thinkin' that maybe Lily could have it. I know she ain't a blood relative, but you love her all the same."
"You sure? What about yer daughters, or K.E's girl?"
"We spoke to them all, they all agreed that Lily should have them. Sorta like an acknowledgement that she's part of our family. An' she is, Ennis."
"Well, um...I gotta talk to Jack, but...yeah, I can come up. Jack too, if he wants. So...I'll call ya when we've got a flight."
"Okay. See you soon, Ennis. Bye."
"Bye, sis." He hung up and put his thumbs through his belt loops, thinking. Jack came up to him.
"Ennis? What is it?"
"Cecilia says that someone recently bought our parents' ranch, over in Sage. They was goin' through the attic an' found a box that belonged to our mama. There's a diary in there an' she an' K.E. want me to come up so we can look at it."
Jack looked surprised. "Oh...that sounds interestin'. Might learn a little bit more about yer mama. What was that about her daughters an' K.E.'s girl?"
"She says there's some jewellery in there, an' the girls reckon that Lily should have it. I asked if she was sure. So...I guess I'm goin' up to Casper." He looked down at Jack. "Will ya come with me, bud?"
Jack smiled and touched his cheek. "'Course I will. I been tellin' you for over twenty years, Ennis...I'm by your side, no matter what. We're partners, we support each other." He pressed his lips to Ennis's. "Let's go an' sit down while that's cookin'." They walked into the living room, hand in hand, and sat down on the sofa. Jack leaned against the arm and pulled Ennis's back to his chest.
Neither of them spoke for a while, but then Ennis broke the silence. "Jack..."
"Yeah?" he replied softly into Ennis's ear.
"You reckon there's somethin' in that diary that...I mean..." His throat worked as he tried to voice his concern. Jack understood anyway.
"You mean like some kinda secret she had? Somethin' she never told nobody, or only yer daddy?"
"Yeah. Cecilia says she's got a weird feelin' about it, an' I'm gettin' it myself. But...wonder why it was in the attic?"
Jack was stroking Ennis's hair, digesting his words and thinking. "Dunno, bud. We don't know what happened to the place when the bank took it, or why they didn't give the box to Cecilia then. An' if it was already in the attic when yer parents died..." He shrugged. "I dunno, Ennis. I reckon nobody ever knew except yer mama. So maybe readin' her diary might give you some answers." He paused. "Ennis...remember last time that someone found somethin' in an attic? Turned out to be a big family secret that caused us a lot of grief..."
Ennis sat up and turned to face Jack. "Darlin'...that'll never happen again. Whatever this is...it won't hurt you an' me. We're too strong for that now, right?" He shuffled close again and kissed Jack softly on the lips. "We've been good for so long...it'll be fine, darlin'. But...if it does turn out that somethin' bad happened that we're gonna read about...I'd feel better about it with you there. You just...you keep me sane, you know?"
At these words, Jack smiled and pulled him close so that they were both half-lying on the sofa. "Back at you, bud. Don't worry, Ennis. I'll be right there when you need me. No matter what we might read in that diary...we'll be fine. Want me to take your mind off it for a bit?"
Ennis smirked. "What did you have in mind? Can't go upstairs with the oven on."
"Wanna make out on the sofa? My mama an' Lily won't be back for a while yet."
"Sure." Ennis turned around again and their lips met. They shuffled until they were lying down, lost in each other and their own private world.