Chapter 14

September 17th, 1987

Ennis and Jack settled back into the ranch soon enough. They had missed the others and Jack had a feeling that Ennis missed the horses too. They would always have a special place in his heart.

The first morning after their return, they had gone to see James to find out if he had any leads. Pete was still missing, and he hadn't been seen in town. Their only lead was that someone was sneaking around on their land, but couldn't be caught.

They did have one idea. One of the hands on night duty had seen the mysterious figure approaching from the main road, and that was the direction they always disappeared in when they were spotted. As a result, they decided to invest in security cameras, putting them on either side of the house and outside the barn and stables. It was the only thing they could think of to try and identify the intruder. It wasn't normally available for home use, but James had managed to pull some strings and have them installed on the ranch.

Ennis had a deep feeling that he knew why Pete had looked at Jack in a certain way, but he didn't want to say it out loud. He and Jack had agreed that it was likely that Pete had some kind of obsession with Jack, given the way he had been behaving. Ennis knew that Jack would never cheat on him, and had no interest in Pete anyway; Jack hated him for everything he'd done to them. So if Jack wasn't going to do anything, but Pete was determined to do something, that could mean only one thing. He didn't like the possibility of Pete attacking Jack, so he was extra careful to keep an eye on Jack when they were outside, and he'd admitted to Jack that he didn't want him leaving the ranch on his own, at least not until things had cleared up. Jack had seen the fear in Ennis's eyes and agreed not to go anywhere without him for now. He didn't want Ennis to worry too much.

As they ate breakfast one morning, Jack could see that Lily was quiet. He exchanged a glance with Ennis and cleared his throat. "Lily, you okay?"

She looked up and sighed. "Well...I've been thinkin' on somethin'. I've been talkin' to Anna a bit about my father, an'...after that call I've decided on somethin'. I wanna go down to Childress an' spend some time with him."

Ennis and Jack looked at each other in surprise. "Oh...okay. Guess yer gonna give him a chance, then?"

"Yeah. I mean...I ain't sayin' that I can ever forgive him, 'cos I don't think I can. But...I'm gonna try to move past it. He's makin' an effort an' he seems genuine, so...I'm gonna try."

They nodded, thinking about Ennis's father. Ennis and his siblings would likely never forgive their father for what he'd done, but that didn't mean that they wouldn't have tried to build bridges with him if he'd lived, provided that he'd showed remorse.

"When are you goin'?" Jack asked.

"Couple days, I guess. This is his week off. I wanna be back for Ennis's birthday. Spend a few days down there. Go to a rodeo or somethin'." They nodded and returned to their food.

After breakfast, Jack took Lily aside to talk to her. Ennis could hear from where he was putting on his boots.

"I just want you to know...I think yer doin' the right thing."

She was surprised. "Really? I thought you hated him."

"I do, but..." He bit his lip. "Listen...he came here lookin' for you, an' he seems to genuinely want to get to know you. He said he's sorry for what he did, right? My dad never did that. He never apologised to me for beatin' on me, or puttin' me down all the time. An' I know he never apologised to yer mama for hittin' her when she was a baby. She died never hearin' a kind word from him, an' with no attempt from him to build bridges. When I die, it'll be the same thing. I've never heard a good word from him either. So...if yer father is willin' to do what he says, to try an' make an effort with you, I say you've gotta take it."

Lily's eyes were prickling with tears. "Jack...I know I didn't trust him at first, an' I know I'll never really forgive him for what happened, but...if there's a way I can have him in my life an' work things out, leave the past where it belongs, then...I'm gonna try." She sniffed. "If yer dad was still alive, an' he wanted to work things out, would you be able to?"

He thought about this, but the answer wasn't clear. "I dunno. Maybe. I'd sure like to try. Everybody wants their parents to love 'em, so...I'd like to believe that there'd be a chance for us. But we'll never know."

"Would Ennis? Could he ever forgive his father for what he did?"

"I don't know. When we was at the graveyard an' they was talkin'...I got the feelin' that Ennis feels the same as me. He might never forgive his father, but I bet that even just a little of the remorse that yer father is showin' would be enough to convince him to try. If our dads had made the effort like yours is, then maybe we might be able to work things out with them. We'll never get the chance to now, so...I do know that neither of us would want you to die, or yer father to die, without you knowin' for sure if yer dad loved you, or if he wanted you in his life. All you can do is give it a shot."

Lily nodded and hugged him, thankful for his words. "Thanks, Jack. I'm gonna go an' call him to tell him I'm comin'."

"Okay." He released her and stepped outside to see Ennis. They looked at each other, and Ennis just smiled at him. No words were needed.

That afternoon, Jack went into town with mother to buy a birthday gift for Ennis. He wasn't scared about going out on his own, but he'd promised Ennis that he wouldn't until they were sure there was no threat to either of them. He knew that Ennis's worst fear was losing him, especially to death, so he wasn't willing to do anything that might make Ennis worry. He figured that he would be safe as long as his mother was with him. Pete wasn't likely to try anything with her around.

The pair of them walked down the high street, wondering what to get Ennis. On the drive over, Jack had been thinking. Ennis had told him to get something that he wanted him to have, not necessarily something he needed. Jack had thought it over and he had an idea in mind, if he could find what he was looking for.

In a shop on the high street, they looked through a range of items, and Jack finally settled on something. It was a brown leather wallet with a horseshoe pattern embroidered onto it. He picked it up and smiled to himself. He could just see Ennis's eyes lighting up when he saw it on his birthday, and he knew that this was the right choice.

Jack felt a hand on his shoulder, and he turned to see his mother smiling softly at him. "I think he'll like it, sweetheart. It's real nice. You gonna get that?"

He nodded at her. "Yeah, think I will. You see anythin' you wanna get, mama?" She looked around.

"I was thinkin' maybe a new belt or somethin'. Or is there somethin' he wants?"

Jack shrugged. "He told me to get somethin' I want him to have, that it don't have to be somethin' he needs. There somethin' you want him to have, mama?"

"Hmm...I'll look around some more. Remember, you'd better not go outside alone. Don't want Ennis worryin' about you."

He nodded. "I know, mama. I'll be right here." She walked off and he stayed where he was, thinking about Ennis. He was a little frustrated that Ennis didn't want him outside on his own, but he understood it; Ennis was simply doing it because he loved him and didn't want him to get hurt. If it were him, Jack wouldn't want to put Ennis at risk, either.

His mother found Ennis a new pair of leather gloves that would clearly make him happy, and they were set. When they got back to the ranch, Lily was making lunch; she had decided to buy Ennis something in Childress while she was over there. They exchanged greetings and Jack looked around. "You know where Ennis is?"

"He's in the stables. He went for a ride an' I think he's brushin' down Lightnin'." Jack nodded and headed out the back door, looking for his cowboy.

Ennis was brushing down his horse, trying not to worry about Jack. He knew that he would be perfectly safe with his mother, but Ennis couldn't shake off his nerves that something might happen when they least expected it. He was terrified that Jack would get hurt when he wasn't around, but it wasn't as if he could tell Jack to stay by his side all of the time, or cooped up in the house. That was no way to treat Jack, and he knew that. The last thing he wanted was for Jack to resent him because he couldn't leave the ranch. They had left the ranch numerous times over the years and had made friends in town; they were well-known and Ennis knew that Jack wouldn't want to hide away now. Truth be told, he didn't either.

He was so lost in his thoughts that he never heard Jack creeping up behind him, and he jumped when he felt Jack's hands slide around his stomach. "Jesus, Jack. You scared the life outta me."

Jack's lips started nibbling at the back of his neck and then moved up to his ear. "Sorry, cowboy. Just came lookin' for ya an' I saw you here. Wanted to get my hands on ya. Missed you this mornin'..."

Ennis smiled, enjoying Jack's warmth behind him. "Mmm...missed you too, darlin'. Everythin' okay in town?"

"Yep, just fine. Didn't even see Pete. Had a good time with my mama. Found ya somethin' real nice." He tugged at Ennis's ear with his teeth, making him smile even wider.

"Great. Lemme turn around." Jack did so and their eyes met, both of them smiling. They kissed deeply, arms around each other and bodies pressed together. Both of them melted as they relaxed against each other.

When they finally broke apart, Jack led Ennis to the bench and leaned his head on Ennis's shoulder. "How've things been here?"

"Lily called her dad about goin' to Childress. She said he's lookin' forward to seein' her. She sure seemed like she's happy about goin'. I told her that I heard what you said to her, an' she agreed that she might never forgive him, but that it might be possible to move past it an' try to get along. She said she wants to give him a chance."

Jack twined their fingers together on his thigh. "Sounds fair. ya think I was right with what I said? About our dads?"

"I reckon so. Maybe if they'd shown any kinda remorse for what they did, things mighta been different. An' we won't never know now. Becky died not knowin'. Wouldn't wish that on no-one, especially not Lily."

"I know." Jack lifted his head and smiled at Ennis, his eyes sparkling at Ennis a little. "I love you, cowboy. You're a good man, Ennis. Hope you know that."

Ennis went a little red. "You are too, ya know." He leaned down and kissed Jack lightly, feeling Jack's lips smile against his. He didn't ever want to lose Jack; it would feel like he was losing a vital part of who he was.

September 20th, 1987

Lily landed in Childress and saw him waiting for her. He'd called her that morning to tell her that he would be picking her up at the gate, which she figured was a good start. She had a feeling that he was trying to prove to her he was making an effort.

"Hey," she said nervously, and he smiled a little.

"Hey yourself, Lily. You ready to go to baggage claim?" She nodded and they headed off. He told her that she could stay in his house, in the guest room. She asked him if he'd had any other children.

"Yeah, I did. Got married too, but divorced now. Wife left me about five years ago, she'd had enough. Got a couple of boys with her, but they're away at college an' live with her anyway."

"Right. Do they, they know about me?"

He looked at her sadly. "I'm sorry, Lily...I couldn't tell 'em. I didn't want 'em findin' out what I did. I'll tell 'em if you want me to."

She bit her lip. "I just wanna see how things go with us first. Like I said before, I ain't makin' no promises."

"I know." They'd reached baggage claim by now and Lily grabbed her luggage. Jay stuck his hand out. "You want me to take somethin'?"

"Oh, okay..." She handed him her on-flight bag and he slung it over his shoulder. They left the airport and he directed her to his truck. It was fairly nice, and she wondered how these few days might go.

His house was of a fair size, and Lily felt hope creeping into her heart. Maybe he really wasn't after money from her, and that he was genuinely interested in having some kind of relationship with her.

He showed her to the guest room and they looked at each other nervously. "So, um...did you wanna do somethin', or you just wanna rest up here for tonight?"

"Um...think I'll stay here tonight. Maybe we could watch a movie?"

"Okay. I'll go set up an' order a pizza." She smiled a little and he left her to it. At least he was trying.

They sat in front of the TV watching a western. She'd told him that she'd grown up watching films like this, thanks to Ennis and Jack. They shared a pizza equally and when the movie was over it was time to head up. At the top of the stairs, they stood awkwardly.

"Um...night then," he said, shifting his feet around. She nodded.

"Yep, night." She rose up a little and kissed his cheek, feeling unsure of herself. He smiled and they parted ways.

Over the next few days, they spent time together. They went to a rodeo and he went with her while she bought a birthday present for Ennis. In spite of her initial reservations, she found herself enjoying their time together. He took her to dinner a couple of times and even managed to make her laugh. When he saw a friend of his, he introduced her as his daughter, and she felt happiness bubbling in her stomach.

On her last night, they sat on the sofa; he'd said that he'd wanted them to have a proper talk. She faced him and he took a deep breath.

"Lily...ever since I met you, I've regretted what I did, an' how I handled things with yer mama. The only excuse I have is that I was young an' stupid. But you were right; I should've gone to a doctor before sleepin' with anyone. I really am sorry about everythin'. I ain't askin' you to forgive me, 'cos I know you probably can't. But that's okay so long as we can move on from it. I wanna be a part of yer life, Lily, if you'll have me. These last few days have been great. I just...I hope we can have somethin'."

She tentatively took his hand. "I...I gotta admit I was nervous about this. Wasn't sure if I could trust you.'ve really proved yourself to me. I've enjoyed this time with you. An'...I'd like to spend more time with you sometime. It's been great." She smiled at him. "You did good."

He smiled back and nodded. "Well, um...I'll take you to the airport tomorrow. An' you've got the number, an' the address, right? So...we can keep in touch."

"Right. I'm gonna call home so they can pick me up from Atlanta tomorrow. You wanna watch another movie when I'm done?"

"Sure." He went to make them some food while she called home. Jack picked up.

"Hey, honey. How's it been?" he asked, happy to hear from her. He was smiling at Ennis and mouthing to him who it was.

"It wasn't easy at first, but...I can see he's tryin'. It's been okay. We had fun. I'll tell you everythin' when I get back. The flight should come in at about noon, so who's pickin' me up?"

"We both are. Ennis don't want me goin' nowhere alone, remember?" He didn't sound mad about it; he was just stating a fact. She knew that Ennis was just trying to protect him, and he had a point; things weren't safe for them right now.

"Okay. I'll see you both tomorrow. Love ya."

"Love you too."

Jay overheard her saying the last two words to Jack, and he hoped that one day she would say them to him. He wanted to be part of his daughter's life, and he was determined to make an effort with her.

That night, she lay in bed thinking. She had genuinely enjoyed herself out here, and she had to admit that she wanted to see him again. It would take a lot for her to extend a wedding invitation to him, but maybe it could happen; they were on the right track. She thought about Jack's words, and wondered what her mother might think of all this. She hoped that she wasn't betraying her mother's memory.

September 26th, 1987

It was Ennis's forty-fourth birthday, and the five of them had arranged to have dinner in their favourite restaurant. Jack had spent the morning in bed with him, lavishing attention on him and making him moan a little louder than he'd meant to. He had a thought that the others might be able to hear them, but he couldn't help it. Birthdays were to be celebrated, so he wanted to make Ennis feel good. The moans coming from his lover were a good indication that Jack was pushing all his buttons.

Over breakfast, everybody gave Ennis their presents, and thanks were given. Lily had given him a year's subscription to Hamley's Saddle Catalogue, and Ben had found him a set of very insightful books on horses, including the different breeds. Ennis was very happy to have such a loving family around him.

That afternoon, two packages arrived for him, from his brother and sister and their families. The gift from K.E. and his family was a crate of Old Rose whiskey, which he knew he would be enjoying with Jack. Cecilia and her family had sent him a box of snacks that he'd always liked, but were only available in Wyoming. He'd mentioned missing them since he'd started living in Georgia.

Throughout the day, he and Jack stayed close together. They worked a little on the ranch, but spent most of the day kissing and talking. Jack couldn't keep his hands off Ennis, kept copping a feel whenever they crossed paths. He loved to make Ennis squirm.

He was upstairs getting ready for their evening out when he felt his cowboy's arms slide around his waist, and he smirked. "Hey now, what's this?"

"Mmm..." Ennis's lips were nibbling at the back of his neck. "Couldn't help it. Walked in here an' saw ya lookin' all...ya know..."

"What?" Jack whispered, tilting his head forward to give Ennis access to more of his skin. He loved it when Ennis kissed his neck; it felt intimate and it always aroused him. The best part of their sexual relationship was when Ennis was gentle and tender with him. That made it more than just sex. It was love; real and true.

"You know..." Ennis ran his hands up and down Jack's stomach and sighed. "Sexy."

Jack grinned widely. Even though he knew that Ennis thought of him like that, it always sent shivers down his spine whenever Ennis said the words. "Oh yeah? So you just couldn't resist me?"

"Nope, never can." Ennis lifted one of his hands and looked at his watch; they still had half an hour before they had to leave for their dinner reservation. "You know...we've got some time before we gotta go...hate to waste good time."

"Hmm...guess yer right. Wanna make the most of it?" Ennis didn't respond, but he started pulling Jack backwards towards the bed. Jack went willingly, a grin on his face. They fell onto the bed together and clothes started coming off.

Half an hour later, they had sucked each other off, had sex, showered and dressed in time to leave. They all headed to the restaurant for dinner, Ennis and Jack lacing their fingers together on the seat of the truck between them.

The restaurant was fairly busy, but not too much; they had reserved their corner booth. When the champagne arrived, they filled their glasses and raised them.

"Well, guys," Jack started. "Here's a toast to the best man I've ever known. He's a good worker, a good friend, an' a damn good person to be around." He was smiling at Ennis. "He's the love of my life, an' I'm proud to know him. Happy Birthday Ennis Del Mar, love ya."

Rose raised her glass. "Ennis has been real good to Jack. When I first laid eyes on him, knowin' what they meant to each other, I knew it would be okay to leave Jack in Ennis's care, 'cos I knew he'd look after him. An' he has. It wasn't always easy, especially when he went to Vietnam, but no matter what he's always been there for all of us. He was real good to both Becky an' Lily when they needed him. I'll always be grateful to have him as a son-in-law. Happy Birthday, Ennis."

Lily and Ben gave their own toasts, and by the time they were finished Ennis was a deep shade of red. Jack's leg pressing against his kept him calm, and then Jack's hand found his, squeezing tightly.

They got through the meal and then headed home. Jack had decided that he wanted them to go camping up on their hill tonight; they could be as loud as they wanted up there. He kept giving Ennis sidelong glances that told him what he was thinking. Ennis saw them and he could feel his pants tighten. Jack sure did know how to raise his blood pressure.

When they arrived home and stood around in the living room, Jack turned to them all. "I was thinkin'...if Ennis wants to, maybe me an' him might go campin' tonight, on our hill. We got a tent..." Jack looked at Ennis hopefully, wanting to spend a night under the stars with him.

Ennis looked down at his feet and a smile played around his lips. "Well, uh...that'd be good. I'd like that, Jack." The other three looked at each other and smiled. They knew that sleeping under the stars was very special to Ennis and Jack, as it reminded them of Brokeback and the start of their relationship. Since it was Ennis's birthday, they would clearly want to be alone tonight.

"Okay, night then. See you tomorrow mornin'," Lily replied, taking Ben's hand. They all said goodnight to each other and Ennis waited in the kitchen while Jack found their camping gear. They met up at the back door and headed out into the night, hand in hand and looking forward to being under the deep, dark sky, littered with twinkling stars.

They reached their hill and started to set up the tent, occasionally glancing at each other and smiling. They were already looking forward to what they would be getting up to in the tent. It always reminded them of Brokeback and those hot summer nights they had spent together. They would never forget them, but it was always nice to rekindle that flame whenever they got the chance.

When the tent was finally up, they crawled in and stretched out on the bedroll, sighing a little. They turned onto their sides and looked at each other, anticipation running through them.

"You have a good day, Ennis?" Jack asked softly, and Ennis nodded.

"Sure did, darlin'. Thanks for that wallet, it's real nice."

Jack smiled and reached a hand out to stroke Ennis's curls. "Yer welcome, thought you'd like it. You ready for another present?" A light appeared in Ennis's eyes.

"Sure am..." Jack shifted closer. "You wanna unwrap it?" he asked slyly, looking up and down Ennis's body.

Ennis started to work his fingers over Jack's clothes, removing his jacket and throwing it to a corner. He then undid the buttons on Jack's shirt and slid it off, his eyes roaming over Jack's bare chest. The lust in his eyes was unmistakeable.

He moved down to pull Jack's boots off and then his jeans. Now Jack was completely naked and vulnerable. He looked up to see Jack smiling at him.

"Havin' fun there, cowboy? You gonna get naked too?" Ennis nodded and then started to undress himself, knowing that Jack was watching his every move. He crawled back up and planted his mouth on Jack's drawing his tongue out and making him moan. After several long moments, they broke apart. Ennis stroked Jack's face.

" bein' out here with you..." Jack smiled.

"How'd you want it, cowboy? You inside me, or me inside you? What way? All fours, one of us on our back? Ridin' like a horse, what?" Every few words were punctuated by kisses to Ennis's neck, making him close his eyes in bliss.

"Jack...I want ya inside me...wanna feel ya in me..." He nuzzled at Jack's face, needing to feel Jack take him over in that way. He'd once had reservations about letting Jack fuck him, but it was a long time ago and he'd come to realise that he loved it. Jack was just as strong and masculine as himself and this was very appealing to him.

He rolled onto his back, pulling Jack over him. Jack pinned him down and pressed wet kisses to his neck and stomach, wanting to make him feel good. He then extracted the lube from his jeans and smeared his fingers, manoeuvring them between Ennis's legs and sliding in. Ennis let out a soft moan and closed his eyes.

"Jack...oh God..." He was helpless under Jack's touch and yearned for more. "Come on...want more..." He bit his lip as Jack's fingers pushed further in and moved a little. Jack took mercy on him and removed them, kissing at Ennis's face.

"You want more, cowboy? Tell me what you want, birthday boy. Come on, tell me...tell me what you want..."

"Uh..." Ennis could feel Jack's fingers lightly trailing over his balls, making him buck. He was hopelessly aroused by now and needed to feel Jack inside him. "Jack, please..."

Jack leaned in and bit his earlobe. "Tell me," he whispered. "Say it..."

Ennis's chest was heaving and he gave in. "Fuck me..." he gasped out, and Jack smirked.

"You got it, cowboy." He quickly prepared himself and lifted Ennis's legs, draping them over his shoulders and looking down into his lover's face. He saw the expression that he'd first seen during their second night together. It was the face that told Jack that Ennis was completely outside of himself, free from everyday mundane things, just here in the moment with him and lost in their love. His heart blazed with love and he started to push in, seeing Ennis's face go slack as they connected. "You okay, baby?" he whispered, and Ennis nodded.

"Yeah...come on, Jack..." He opened his eyes a little. "Please..." Jack leaned down and pressed close to him, hands on Ennis's shoulders as he started to move inside him, thrusting slowly and deeply into him, seeing the pleasure he was giving Ennis.

"Open yer eyes, sweetheart...let me see you..." Ennis's deep brown eyes opened and looked up into his, and they were full of the explosive feeling of lust and love. Jack was completing him in a way that only he knew how, and he was enjoying every moment of it.

"Jack...oh..." They moved together, Jack picking up the pace and drawing out the sounds from Ennis that he'd wanted to hear all day. He was moaning loudly and bucking up against him, unable to stop himself.

"Come on, baby...come on...let me year ya yell at the moon..." Jack breathed into Ennis's ear and making him squirm.

He changed his angle and pushed in deeper, finding the sweet spot and pushing at it. Ennis grabbed him wildly and gave a yell, shooting in between them and screwing his eyes shut. Jack's own orgasm was triggered and he spilled into Ennis, groaning against his ear.

They collapsed together, their minds reeling from the encounter. Jack pulled himself out and then sank down onto Ennis again.

"You okay, cowboy?" he breathed, and Ennis nodded, arms wrapping around him.

"Sure am...that was somethin' else, Jack...thank you..." He threaded his fingers through Jack's damp hair.

Jack rose up and kissed him softly. "No problem, Ennis. Happy birthday, bud." They kissed again and Jack rolled off him but stayed tucked under Ennis's arm. They lay there for a while, talking and kissing, and then fell asleep with their legs twined together, their hands clasping on Ennis's chest. The night was cool and silent, and they could feel the magic of the mountain inside them and all around them. It would always stay with them.