September 9th, 1987
Ennis and Jack were almost at Cecilia's house. They'd caught a flight that morning from Atlanta and had taken a cab from the airport here. Jack kept glancing at Ennis; he looked nervous about what might be discovered in his mother's diary. He placed his hand over Ennis's as they sat in the back of the cab, squeezing a little. Ennis tried to smile, but he was struggling.
They arrived and got out of the cab; Jack paid the driver and joined Ennis as he looked at the house. Cecilia and Tom were living at the same house as they always had, ever since Ennis had first brought Jack here, so many years ago. They'd been back a few times, usually on Thanksgiving, and had always enjoyed spending time here.
When they knocked on the door, Cecilia greeted them, a wide smile on her face. "Ennis, Jack...good to see you. K.E.'s here, Tom's at work. Come on in." They followed her in and they saw K.E. stand up. Over the years, he'd seen for himself how good Jack was for his brother, and had come to accept them. He and Jack were somewhat friends by now.
"Hey you two. Glad you could make it." They shook hands and sat down together. Cecilia came in from her bedroom, carrying the box. Jack saw Ennis looking at it nervously, and took his hand firmly. Ennis gripped back, needing the support.
"Here it is," Cecilia said, sitting in a chair opposite them. "Like I said, Lily can have the jewellery if she wants it. There's some other stuff too..."
They looked through the contents of the box. There was a series of letters addressed to their mother from her brother while he'd been away in World War Two. There were some faded photographs of family members, including one of their parents' wedding day. None of them had ever seen this picture before. They also found pictures of the three of them as children. Jack grinned when he saw the image of Ennis as a baby; he liked seeing this part of Ennis's life that he hadn't known too well. He wondered if his mother still had the pictures of him as a baby, or of Becky. He would have to ask her when they returned.
Ennis and Jack took the jewellery and put it away so they could give it to Lily. There were some beautiful pieces and they knew that she would like them. The three Del Mars decided between themselves which of their heirlooms and photographs each of them would keep. Soon enough, the only item left was the diary. Cecilia decided to read it out to them, as her voice was the most like their mother's. The other three settled back and listened.
Their mother had started the diary shortly after her wedding day, as she talked about the honeymoon in Denver. It was clear that both she and their father had enjoyed themselves.
As they listened to their mother's description of their father, Ennis and K.E. kept wondering what had happened to him; he certainly didn't sound like the man they knew. Even Jack was puzzled. Unlike his own father, it sounded like Ennis's didn't have any particular reason for the change that had occurred in him. Maybe their hard life that they had had to endure took its toll on him. He kept running his thumb over Ennis's hand as he held it.
Cecilia read through their mother's account of her family life, including the births of the children. She had to pause when she came to the part where their mother had wondered what their father had done in 1953. She'd described the change in Ennis's behaviour and how he seemed to have become scared of his father. Jack squeezed Ennis's hand tighter.
Soon enough, Cecilia came to the last entry, but she froze. "Oh my God..."
They all looked up. "What is it?"
She cleared her throat. "February 17th, 1957. Keith and I are heading to the hospital tomorrow. It's been twelve weeks now, and things are going well. This will be our fourth child and I can't wait." Jack felt Ennis tense up next to him, so put an arm around him. "We haven't told the children yet, we want to wait and surprise them when the bump starts to grow. I can't wait for Ennis to be a big brother; it might make him happy again. He's been so miserable these last few years. I've only ever wanted my children to be happy, and they will be. So we're heading for a check-up tomorrow. It's still icy out; I hope it's safe to drive, especially on that Dead Horse Road. It's known for accidents. Keith's a good driver, so we should be fine. Anyway, I'm going to bed now, and I'm going to dream about our new baby."
At this, Cecilia looked up. "That's the last entry. Our mama was pregnant when they died. I can't believe it..."
By this point, Jack had pulled Ennis close into his arms, feeling Ennis burrow close in spite of their audience. He didn't care right now; he needed Jack. None of them knew what to say, but Cecilia and K.E. went into the kitchen to give them some privacy, and to find their own. They embraced in the kitchen while Jack comforted Ennis.
"Baby, are you okay?"
"I dunno, Jack...I...I was gonna be a big brother. But the next day..."
Jack stroked his hair. "I know...it's okay. You don't need to talk right now, cowboy. Just stay right here..." Ennis closed his eyes and melted into Jack, taking the comfort his partner was offering. All Jack could do was hold him until he was ready; maybe Ennis was now experiencing the pain he'd felt when they'd found out that Becky had been his sister. Ennis had done his best to ease the pain, so Jack felt that it was his duty to return the favour. It was all he could do.
That night, everybody finally went to bed. Since the children had left home, Cecilia and Tom had converted their room into a guest room, so K.E. stayed in there. When Tom got home, everything was explained to him and he comforted his wife. Ennis and Jack spent most of the remainder of the day in the room where they used to stay during their visits here. Ennis's brother and sister understood that the loss would hit him the hardest, for he'd never got the chance to be a big brother. As the youngest, the loss of their parents had been worse for him, and they knew that the latest revelation would bring back all of the pain he'd felt.
While lying on the bed during the day, Ennis had talked to Jack about the moment when he'd found out that he was an orphan. He'd been barely into his teens and had to adjust overnight, so that was why he'd seemed older than his years when they'd met. Jack had wondered from time to time why Ennis had seemed like that up on Brokeback, and had only really understood when Ennis had mentioned his parents' deaths.
When the pair of them did leave the bedroom, they tried to discuss the situation with the others. None of them could believe that their mother had been pregnant, but there it was. They wondered if it had been a boy or a girl, but it might have been too early to tell. Still, they wanted to know as much as they could. Cecilia had ultimately decided that they would go to the hospital tomorrow and try to ask about medical records, if there were any. With this agreed, she sent everybody to bed to get some rest.
Neither Jack nor Ennis spoke as they undressed and got into bed. Jack sensed that Ennis was feeling vulnerable right now, and he knew that his partner might not be quite ready to have sex yet. That was okay; he just wanted to be here for Ennis.
They got settled under the covers and Jack waited for Ennis to speak or move. After a couple of minutes, he felt Ennis pressing close to him. It wasn't a sexual advance, but a cry for comfort. Jack turned to look at him and saw the need for closeness in his eyes. He turned onto his side and stroked Ennis's face. "Are you okay?"
Ennis was quiet. "No...I just...can you hold me for a bit?"
"Sure..." Jack opened his arms and pulled Ennis into them, kissing his forehead. "Shh...it's okay. You wanna talk about it?"
As he felt Jack rubbing his back, Ennis closed his eyes. Jack's naturally calming nature was seeping through to him, making him feel loved. "Just...I still can't believe all this. She was pregnant...an' we was never told. I don't get why...Cecilia was over eighteen when they died, so...they should've told her, right?"
"You'd think...but I dunno. We was just kids back then, Ennis; we didn't know how things were done. Maybe they figured you already knew. Twelve weeks...maybe she miscarried in the crash, but...there should've been...you know...a foetus. I dunno, bud..."
They were silent for a moment, and then Ennis spoke again. "I hope we can find out some things tomorrow."
"Yeah. Don't worry about the ranch, either. We can take all the time you need up here." Jack kissed Ennis's forehead again. "Jack...can you, um..."
"Want me to take care of ya, sweetheart?" Jack asked softly, and Ennis pulled his face away to look at Jack.
"If you don't mind..." Jack pressed their lips together lightly.
"Course I don't. How'd you want it?"
"Um...on our sides, I think. You behind me..." Jack nodded.
"Okay, turn over." Ennis did so and Jack grabbed the lube, coating himself and then scooting up behind his lover. He shifted into position and laid a hand on Ennis's hip. "Just relax, baby...I'm right here..." He saw Ennis nod and began to push in slowly, knowing that Ennis needed the care tonight.
Ennis closed his eyes and sighed as he felt Jack inside him. He needed this more than anything else right now, and Jack knew it. When they were connected, Jack's arm came around Ennis's waist and held him tightly, while he straddled Ennis's lower leg. He slowly started to thrust into him, taking it as gently as he could. He could hear Ennis's sharp intakes of breath and knew that he was doing exactly what Ennis needed. "Jack..."
"It's okay, Ennis...I'm right here...just forget about everythin' for now..."
They moved slowly together, Ennis taking the comfort that Jack was offering him and relaxing under his touch. Jack was doing everything he could to get Ennis to relax and feel good, at least for a little while. When they finally came, Jack heard Ennis sigh.
"Jack...thank you..." He felt Jack pull out of him and then turn him over. They looked into each other's eyes and kissed, feeling sleep creeping up on them. Jack ran his fingers through Ennis's damp curls.
"No problem, cowboy. You know I'd do anythin' to help you. You need me, so I'm here. If there's anythin' you need, just tell me. I'm always gonna be here."
Ennis smiled at him, truly grateful that Jack was in his life. "Thanks, bud. Think I'm gonna try an' get some sleep."
Jack nodded and kissed him again. "Okay. Just curl up into me, bud. I'm right here." Ennis burrowed close and shut his eyes, feeling Jack wrap him up. He felt warm and protected, and he knew that Jack would take care of him, which was exactly what he needed right now.
After Ennis fell asleep, Jack remained awake for a while, thinking. He knew how Ennis must be feeling right now. He'd lost a sibling, but had never been aware of it until now. Jack had felt the same after losing Becky, but at least he'd known her before she'd died. Ennis had never known his younger sibling.
He sighed inwardly and closed his eyes, hoping that this wouldn't affect Ennis too much. He wasn't sure what might happen if it did.
The next day, Ennis, K.E. and Cecilia headed to the hospital. Jack stayed behind for two reasons; he wanted to call home and see how things were, and he felt as if he should step back for this. It was a private family matter and as much as he and Ennis loved each other, he knew that Ennis needed to do this for himself.
The three of them reached the hospital and asked to see the Chief of Staff. They were taken to his office and sat down, lost in their own thoughts. They wondered if there might be any information he could give them in addition to what their mother had written.
After a few minutes of waiting, he finally walked in. They recognised him from all those years ago; he had been the Chief of Staff back then too. He was the one who'd had to tell them that they were now orphans. He smiled at them. "Hey, you three. Been a long time." He sat down at the desk and looked over them. "You've grown so much...Ennis, you were just a kid. Look at you now. How are you all doin'?" They all looked at each other.
"Well...I've got three kids an' some grandkids. My husband works on a ranch," replied Cecilia.
"I work on a different ranch, got three kids an' grandkids with my wife," said K.E. They both looked at Ennis; he bit his lip.
"I ain't got no kids. Live down in Georgia with my partner," he said evenly, looking the doctor directly in the eye. "We live with his niece an' his mama on our ranch."
The doctor nodded, understanding what Ennis meant. "I see. Well...I hope they treat you right down there, Ennis."
"Yeah, pretty much. We've run into trouble now an' then, but...we're mostly okay."
"Good. So, what can I do for you?"
"Well...we recently found our mama's diary. The last entry before they died...she wrote that she was twelve weeks pregnant. She said that she wanted to surprise us, so she never told us. We were wonderin' if you could confirm it."
A look passed over his eyes. "Well...we don't keep records for so long after a person dies, especially not thirty years. But I remember the accident. Cecilia, you were barely an adult. But...I remember the case. An' yes...she was pregnant."
Ennis felt his heart twinge; he was going to be a big brother, but now it would never happen. He was starting to understand how Jack had felt to lose Becky.
"Oh..." Cecilia wiped her eyes. "What about the baby? Shouldn't there have been a foetus or somethin'?"
He shook his head. "Unfortunately, no. At twelve weeks, it wasn't fully formed. So...when she was dyin' an' losin' blood..." He didn't need to go into further details; they understood what he was saying. As she had lain dying of blood loss, the baby had been lost too. There was no physical trace of the baby she had lost, so that was why there hadn't been a body.
"Okay...do you know if it was a boy or a girl?"
"No. Back then we didn't have the technology. I'm sorry, you three. I lost an unborn sibling myself a long time ago; it's hard enough when your parents are alive. You guys lost everythin'. There isn't much else I can tell you..."
They nodded. "Thanks anyway, doctor." After a few more words, they left the room and the hospital. They sat in the waiting room, needing to gather their thoughts. Ennis and K.E. sat on either side of their sister, and she put her arms around them both. They had sat this way thirty years ago when waiting for the news about whether or not their parents could be saved. It didn't matter how old they were now, they still needed to pull together. More than anything, Ennis felt like he needed to be in Jack's arms right now.
He called Jack from the hospital and told him that they were thinking of going out for dinner. He agreed to meet them and was informed of the spare set of keys he could use to lock up behind him.
Jack met them at a local diner. He could see the anguish in Ennis's eyes, so told him to meet him in the bathroom. They stood in there together and Jack was rubbing Ennis's back.
"I'm so sorry, baby...you shouldn't have had to deal with that. Are you gonna be okay?"
"I dunno, Jack...how the hell am I supposed to deal with this? I was gonna be a big brother, an' now..."
"Shh...it's okay, cowboy. I'm right here. Let's just get through this dinner, an' we can go back to the house. We can go straight to bed if you want. I'll hold you an' make you feel better."
Ennis pulled away and sniffed. "Thanks, Jack. Dunno what I'd do without ya."
Jack cupped his cheeks. "You don't gotta worry about that, Ennis. I ain't goin' nowhere, I promise." He kissed Ennis gently and tried to make him relax. "Now come on, let's just get through this." Ennis nodded and they headed back into the dining area.
The meal was good, but none of them were able to eat much. Even K.E. looked withdrawn and distracted. Jack couldn't wait for the meal to end so that they could go back and he could hold Ennis without prying eyes watching them. Ennis clearly needed comfort from him right now and it killed him that he couldn't give it to Ennis here. All he wanted was to make Ennis feel better. It was his duty as Ennis's partner to hold him up when it was needed, and he was willing to do that whenever he could. He loved Ennis so much and all he'd ever wanted was for Ennis to be happy. He privately vowed to make sure that Ennis would get through this, and that he would be there for Ennis when he came through this.
While the other three had been out, Jack called the ranch to see how things were going. He already missed his mother and niece, and while he was happy to be here for Ennis, he couldn't wait for them to be home. Ennis hadn't slept well the night before, but Jack had just held him and rubbed his stomach until he'd dropped off again. He knew that Ennis would sleep a lot better in their own bed and their own home.
He sat on the sofa and dialled their home number, remembering the times when he and Ennis had sat here calling his mother. It felt like a lifetime ago.
"Brokeback Ranch, Lily speakin'."
"Hey, honey, it's me."
"Hey, Uncle Jack. How's it goin'? Where's Ennis?"
"Well...there's somethin' you gotta know. That box that was given to Cecilia...there was some things in it. There's some jewellery for you, if you want it. The three of them found some heirlooms that they're splittin' between them. An' then they found their mama's diary. Cecilia read it out; there was some real nice stuff about when they were younger. But the last entry..."
"What is it, Uncle Jack?"
"Um...there ain't no easy way to say this. Ennis's mama was pregnant when she an' their dad died. She was about twelve weeks gone, an' she lost all that blood from the accident. She miscarried."
At the ranch, Lily was holding her hand to her mouth. This was the last thing she'd expected to hear. "Oh my God...that's just...how did Ennis take it?"
"He was real torn up, honey. All I could do was hold him an' tell him everythin' was okay. I told him that I'm here for him...did my best to make him feel better, but..."
"Oh...is he gonna be okay? Where is he now?"
"He went with his brother an' sister to the hospital...they're gonna try an' find out as much as they can about it. I think they're hopin' for confirmation about it. He's gonna be a mess when they get back, I reckon."
"I bet. Well...tell him that me an' Grandma love him an' we're thinkin' on you both. Hope everythin' goes okay."
"I will. How's everythin' back home?"
"Well...someone was seen sneakin' around the ranch again last night. The guys on duty didn't catch 'em, but they said it was definitely a guy. I talked to James, he's doin' the best he can to figure out what's goin' on. He said he tried to talk to that Pete, but he says the old house is empty. Nobody knows where he is, so he can't bring him in."
"Maybe he's livin' outside town," Jack suggested. "Hell, he could be livin' in a truck for all we know. Maybe he's just gotta wait until he sees him, right?"
"I guess. Anyway...ain't today the anniversary of yer dad dyin'?"
Jack's eyes lowered. It was indeed twenty-three years since his father had died in Lightning Flat, and he hadn't forgotten. He was just trying not to think about it. Ennis needed his full attention and comfort. There was no way that Jack could go feeling sorry for himself while Ennis was suffering. They took it in turns to comfort each other when it was needed.
They talked for a little while and then hung up. Jack soon heard tires outside the house and stood up. The other three walked in and had identical looks of weariness on their faces. "Hey, how'd it go?"
"The Chief of Staff was there, he remembered the case about our parents. He confirmed it...she really was pregnant when they died."
Jack's heart sank as he looked at Ennis. "Bud, are you okay?" Ennis shook his head and walked through the room. He briefly laid a hand on Jack's shoulder and walked towards the bedrooms, but otherwise ignored him. Jack watched him in confusion. "Ennis...?"
Cecilia stepped forward. "Don't take it personal, Jack. He's been like this since the drive back. I think he's still in shock. You know he loves you." Jack nodded and followed Ennis, hoping to get through to him.
He found Ennis on the bed they were sharing here, sat facing away from the door. Jack climbed on the bed behind him and tried to put his arms around him, but Ennis shook him off. "Leave me alone, Jack."
"Come on, Ennis...don't shut me out...talk to me..." Ennis continued to squirm away from him.
"Jack...I don't wanna talk. I love you, but...I need to be on my own for a little bit. Just...give me an hour or so, okay? I need to think."
Jack tried to swallow down his hurt, but it wasn't easy. "Ennis...if you need me..."
"Not right now, Jack. I can't. You just..."
"I'm tryin' to help..."
Ennis stood up and faced him; Jack was dismayed to see a defensive look on his features. "You can't right now, I gotta think. You don't know what it's like..."
Jack's temper flared, and he stood up too. "I don't know what it's like? The hell I don't. Let's think about this. You've just found out that you had a sibling that you didn't know about, an' you only found out after it was too late. Are you tellin' me I don't know what that feels like? Fuck you, Ennis. You know damn well that I know how it feels. I lost my little sister, remember? I know yer feelin' depressed about this, an' I'm doin' my best to make ya feel better." He sighed. "Ennis...I'll love you until the day I die, but...yer pissin' me off right now. I'll give you some time alone, but...I ain't happy with this."
He shook his head and briefly kissed Ennis on the cheek to show he wasn't too angry, and then left the room. Ennis stared after him, feeling lost and alone. He knew he'd reacted the wrong way to Jack's offer of comfort, and that he'd hurt Jack, but he didn't know what to do right now.
The pair of them spent the remainder of the day not speaking. Jack was still hurt that Ennis had said he didn't know how it felt to lose a sibling, which they both knew wasn't true, and Ennis was ashamed of himself for what he'd said. Thoughts had been swirling in his head ever since they'd left the hospital, and he simply hadn't been ready for Jack to overwhelm him like that. He hadn't meant what he'd said.
Cecilia, K.E. and Tom could see the strain between them, but said nothing. They knew by now that when Ennis and Jack had issues, it was best to leave them alone until they worked it out. They weren't afraid of them splitting up; they had been together for so long and their love was so solid.
After an awkward dinner, they finally went to bed. Jack was finishing cleaning his teeth when Ennis came up behind him, looking nervous. "Jack..."
Jack put his toothbrush back and turned to face Ennis, folding his arms. "You know I was real hurt by what you said before. You know damn well that I know how it feels to lose a sibling," he said quietly.
Ennis stepped closer, hoping that Jack wouldn't stay mad at him for long. "I know you do. I'm real sorry, darlin'. You know I've never wanted to hurt you. Ever..." Jack's heart melted at the look on Ennis's face. He just needed some comfort.
"I know, Ennis." Jack sighed and moved close to him, putting his hands on Ennis's shoulders. "I'm sorry if I didn't give you enough time to get yer head on straight before getting' all over ya. I know you sometimes need space when you've had some bad news or a shock. I'm sorry too..."
They embraced warmly, holding onto each other tightly. After a while, Jack took Ennis's hand and led him into the bedroom, shutting the light off. He sat Ennis down on the edge where he'd been before, and climbed up behind him again.
"Let's try this again, cowboy," he whispered, and Ennis nodded. Jack slid his arms around Ennis's stomach and squeezed him. "Okay...tell me what yer thinkin'..."
Ennis leaned back into Jack and sighed. "Dunno what to think. I always wanted to be a big brother...figured that one day it would happen. When my dad took me an' K.E. to see Earl...for a long time I was so miserable. I figured that if I ever did have a baby brother or sister, it'd make me happy. An' when they died I felt like everythin' was fallin' apart...wasn't really happy again until I was with you up on Brokeback."
"I know, baby...how come you pulled away before? Was it just that you wasn't ready for it?"
"Yeah. I'm sorry, Jack...you know I love it when you can comfort me about stuff. I just...the whole thing hit me funny an' my head wasn't on right. I'm sorry for what I said."
"I know you are. It's okay, cowboy." Jack kissed the side of Ennis's face. "For what it's worth...you woulda made a great big brother. You know how to look after people, an' you can be real protective too...you would've been amazin' with that baby."
Ennis smiled a little. "You think so?"
"Yep. Look at Lily...I never woulda been able to raise her on my own, an' I know there were times when things got hard, an' I didn't always know what to do. I wouldn't have got through it if I hadn't had you there. Neither of us knew what to do with a kid, but we did it. We learned as we went through it. Okay, so we had my mama's help, but...she let us learn everythin' by ourselves."
"Yeah. I dunno what to feel right now, Jack...this was the last thing I was expectin'. I can't believe all this..."
Jack nuzzled their cheeks together. "I know, baby. It's okay...you wanna lie back? Want me to hold ya?" Ennis nodded and Jack pulled him backwards. They got under the covers and Jack drew Ennis into his arms, kissing his forehead.
After a little while, Ennis spoke again. "I'm real sorry about before, Jack. The last thing I wanna do is hurt you."
"Shh," Jack shushed him, rubbing his back. "Stop worryin' about it. I know you didn't mean nothin' by it. You was just all messed up inside an' I understand that. Remember when Alma came here an' was yellin' at us about you leavin' her? An' for the rest of the day I wanted to be alone, told you to leave me alone. There's always gonna be times when we need our space, an' time alone. That's okay, Ennis. It don't mean that we don't love each other, 'cos we do. We both know that. It's just part of marriage, I guess. Sometimes we need to be alone, sometimes we need to comfort each other. That's fine."
Ennis curled up into Jack, letting his lover's words wash over him. Jack was making a lot of sense and he was relieved that Jack understood. "Darlin'..."
"It's okay, Ennis. You want me to take care of ya tonight?" Ennis shook his head. He just wasn't in the mood for sex, no matter how much he loved Jack.
"Sorry, Jack...I ain't up to it right now. Don't wanna turn ya away..."
Jack kissed Ennis's forehead again. "It's okay. There was a time when I went without for months, remember? A few days ain't gonna kill me. I'm here for you, sweetheart." He rubbed Ennis's back again. "Just close your eyes..." Ennis did so and he heard Jack humming to him; he was humming the lullaby that Ennis had once hummed to him by a dying fire while holding him close. Jack smiled when he realised that Ennis was asleep, and closed his eyes too, happy that he could make Ennis feel better. It was all he'd ever wanted to achieve through their years together; to make Ennis happy.