February 20th, 1988
With the wedding exactly two weeks away, people from further away had decided to select this day to travel down to Georgia. The first guests due to arrive were Cecilia, Tom, K.E. and Sarah. They would arrive by plane and stay in a local hotel. Their children and grandchildren would be driving down, as the younger ones wanted to do some sightseeing. Ennis and Jack were looking forward to seeing them all again. Now and then, Jack felt a little sad that Ennis had all these relatives, whereas Lily and his mother were the only blood relatives he had. Whenever he'd confessed these feelings to Ennis, his cowboy had held him close and told him that it didn't matter; they had built a family together, united into one. Cecilia and K.E. had told Jack themselves that they considered him family through his relationship with Ennis; he was their brother-in-law now. And Lily considered Ennis her uncle just as much as Jack.
Ennis and Jack had agreed to wait at the ranch while their first guests made their way south. The four of them would settle into their rooms and then drive their rental car to the ranch to see everybody; since they would be spending most of their time here together, they had decided to simply rent one car for all of them.
At the moment, the two of them were relaxing on the sofa together, Jack's head on Ennis's shoulder and their hands entwined. Jack was playing with Ennis's fingers as they talked, wondering whereabouts their first guests were by now.
"What we was sayin' a few days ago...about if we could ever get married legally..."
"Just want ya to know...if we ever can...I'd do it in a heartbeat." Ennis smiled at this.
"Me too, darlin'. An' you know what? I'd make the weddin' night real good for ya."
Jack laughed. "I'm sure you would, cowboy."
They suddenly heard the sound of tires on the driveway, and the sound of four car doors shutting. They looked at each other and got up, Jack peering out of the window. "They're here, all of 'em." He looked back at Ennis. "You let 'em in, I'll tell the others." They exchanged a quick kiss and Jack went into the kitchen while Ennis approached the front door.
When he opened it up, his face split into a grin at the sight of his brother and sister, their spouses right with them. "Hey!"
"Ennis!" Cecilia called to him, grinning. The four of them came up the steps, and he was soon enveloped in hugs, a look of surprise on his face. When they finally let him breathe, he gestured to the house.
"You wanna come in, then? Everybody's waitin'." They all nodded and Ennis led them inside. Jack came out of the kitchen, all smiles.
"Hey, guys." Jack was soon engulfed in hugs too, exchanging a look of amusement with Ennis across the room. When he could breathe again, he led them into the kitchen.
The next few minutes were spent with their guests congratulating Lily and Ben, and then they finally all sat down to talk. In her foresight, Rose had prepared sandwiches and pitchers of juice for everybody, as well as coffee.
"So," said Jack as they started to eat. "Anythin' new up in Wyomin'?"
"Not really. We talk to the kids a lot; they're really lookin' forward to the weddin'. You know they see you as their cousin, Lily."
Lily smiled. "The feelin's mutual. How's Amy?"
"She's great. We didn't wanna leave her, but she insisted. She's got her husband lookin' after her. She's due to give birth any day now, so he said he'd call if she did, an' whether or not they can make it. Thing is, they'd have to drive. Ain't a good idea to fly with a newborn. So if she don't give birth before the first of March, there ain't really gonna be much time."
"That's okay. I understand. I'll call her an' see how she's doin'," Lily replied. Jack felt a surge of pride.
"So, how are things goin' with that Pete Dawson?" asked Cecilia, looking at Jack. They had been kept informed of what was happening, and had expressed their disgust at what Pete had tried to do to Jack.
"He's still at the station. The trial's a couple days after the weddin'. So we're just tryin' to focus on this first. Greg says he's got a good chance of goin' away for a long time."
"Well, that's somethin'. I just can't believe that he's been holdin' onto them feelin's for so long, especially since he hated himself for havin' them."
"I know. But he blamed me for all of it, thought I'd turned him gay or somethin'." Jack shook his head. "I reckon that everybody in this room knows by now that it don't work like that."
K.E. sighed. "Gotta admit, guys...there was a time I thought like that. When I saw you guys, an' heard that you was runnin' off together...I thought you'd turned Ennis. But...gettin' to know you, an' seein' what you've got together...I figured out a long time ago that...maybe he was gay all along. Just didn't let those feelin's out until you was together."
Ennis smiled at his brother, happy that they had repaired their relationship. "Thanks, K.E. Means a lot that we could fix things. I always was like this, I reckon. But yer right...it wasn't until I met Jack that I started realisin' things." He looked at his partner, taking his hand without hesitation. "He makes me happy, an' I love him. That's all that matters now."
Jack went a little red and looked down, a smile playing around his mouth. Sweet words like this fell from Ennis's mouth effortlessly these days, but they always warmed his heart whenever he heard them.
Everybody else smiled at them and returned to the food, thinking about the family that had been created by Ennis and Jack's union, and how grateful they were for it.
A little later, everybody was going about the day as normal. K.E. and Tom had offered to help with ranch work, while Cecilia and Sarah had gone shopping with Rose. The only person in the house was Lily, as she was once more going over wedding plans.
She had told Ennis and Jack that she wanted to invite her father to the wedding, and while they were surprised, they accepted that it was her decision, and they promised that they would support it no matter what. Things had changed a lot in the last few months where fathers were concerned for all of them, and since all three of them were starting to make peace with their fathers, they figured that it was as good a time as any to move on from the past. Even Jack was getting better at not feeling so angry whenever he thought of his own father.
At the moment, he and Ennis were taking a break from work, hidden away in the tack room of the stables. He had his arms up around Ennis's neck, and they were kissing deeply, tongues sliding together as Ennis massaged his ass. They pulled their lips apart to breathe and Jack smiled up at Ennis.
"We should get back to work soon, cowboy. Chores ain't gonna do themselves."
"I know..." Ennis simply leaned in again, capturing Jack's lips once more. Jack laughed into his mouth. They could joke about it, but sometimes they just couldn't resist each other. He kissed Ennis back a few times and pulled his mouth away.
"Seriously, we gotta get movin'. Tell you what, I'll give ya a special treat tonight."
Ennis's eyebrows lifted. "Oh?" Jack twirled a curl around his finger.
"Yep. Got some whipped cream in the fridge. When everybody else is upstairs, I'll swipe it an' bring it up. How's that?" Judging by the feeling of something pressing into his leg, Jack figured that Ennis liked the idea. His cowboy's brown eyes were dark with lust.
"Sounds...pretty good, bud." He squeezed Jack's ass and finally let him go, smiling a little. Jack prised himself away and walked off, making sure that his ass moved more than it should while walking. Ennis muttered about him being a tease and went back to his work.
Up at the house, Lily was going over the music list when the phone rang, making her jump. Her father had already called this week, so she didn't think it was him. She got up and picked up the receiver.
"Brokeback Ranch, Lily speakin'."
"Hi, Lily. It's Sam, Amy's husband."
"Oh! Hey, how's it goin'? Somethin' happen?"
"Yep. She gave birth about an hour ago. Got us a little boy we called Tommy. She wanted to name him after her dad."
Lily smiled. "Oh, that's wonderful! Tell her congratulations from all of us. How are they doin'?"
"They're both fine. Listen, me an' Amy was talkin', an' she says that she wants to try an' make it down there, all three of us. Tommy ain't much of a crier so it should be alright."
"Well, I was gonna call anyway today. It really ain't a big deal if you can't make it. I understand. But if you think you can, then yer more than welcome."
"I'm at the house right now, packin' some bags for the trip. Amy said we should get goin' in a few days. We should be there by the first I reckon."
"Alright. I'll tell the others, an' I hope things work out. Speak soon, then?"
"Yep. Amy said she'd call before we set off. You should hear from her in a few days."
"Okay. Bye, Sam."
"Bye." They hung up and Lily sighed to herself, thinking about the woman she considered her cousin and the beautiful baby boy she had just had. She smiled to herself and headed out the back door, searching for the first person she came across.
She found Jack walking out of the stables, straightening his clothes and looking around furtively. Lily smirked and walked across the lawn to him. "Jack!"
"Oh, hey. What's up?" he asked, seeming nonchalant. She knew exactly what he'd been doing in there, and that Ennis was likely to still be in there. Her suspicions were confirmed when she caught sight of him brushing down Firefly.
"Um, Sam was on the phone just now. You know, Amy's fella."
Jack's eyes widened. "Oh? What's goin' on?"
"Amy gave birth about an hour ago. She had a little boy that they named Tommy after her dad." Lily smiled. "He said that they'd be settin' off in a couple days, an' that they're gonna make it to the weddin'."
Jack smiled. "Aw, that's great. Tom's up with the cows; he an' K.E. are feedin' 'em for us. You wanna go tell him? His first grandkid, after all." Lily nodded and headed off. Jack turned and walked back into the stables to tell Ennis the good news.
When the women returned, Lily told Cecilia about her new grandson and she and Tom immediately called their daughter's house, giving Sam their congratulations and asking him to tell Amy they loved her and couldn't wait to see her.
Out on the back porch after dinner, Ennis and Jack were sat in the same wicker chair, curled up together as they watched the darkness closing in across their land. Jack was rubbing Ennis's arms where they encircled his waist and smiling as he felt Ennis's lips in his hair or on his neck.
"Another member of the family, cowboy," he murmured as he heard Cecilia's voice drifting through the window, talking about the new baby.
"Yeah." Ennis looked down at Jack. "Our family, darlin'," he said softly in his ear. "Yours an' mine. You're my family too, Jack. Just as much as them. A family ain't just the people who share yer blood; they're also the people you love. We put our two families together when we was just nineteen, an' look at us now."
Jack nodded, relaxing further into Ennis's embrace. "Yeah. A family."
A week later, Lily was sat by the phone in the living room, staring at it. She had decided that now was the time to call her father and tell him that she wanted him at the wedding. It would give him and her brothers enough time to get a flight. She hoped that her brothers would want to come; she wanted to get to know them better.
Amy and her husband Sam were to be setting off today from Wyoming, with their new baby in tow. They had called last night to tell them that they would be arriving soon, hopefully around the first. She could see that the older relatives were looking forward to seeing the new baby, especially Ennis and Jack. Having never had children of their own, they both did everything they could for each new baby that blessed their family, starting with her.
Deciding that she could put it off no longer, she picked up the phone and started dialling. Unbeknownst to her, Ennis and Jack were sat at the kitchen table, keeping still and silent as they listened.
When the ringing was finally cut off by her father's voice, she took a deep breath. "It's me."
"Oh, hey Lily. Guess it ain't long 'til the weddin' now, huh? Only a week away." There it was again; the unspoken question and the unmistakeable yearning.
"Yeah, things are pretty busy here. Listen, um...I wanna talk to you about somethin'. An' it ain't gonna be easy."
"I'm right here, Lily. Whatever it is, you can say it."
She felt a pang in her heart at his words; she knew she was making the right decision. Her heart was hammering in her chest with nerves. "Okay. Thing is...I...I wanna invite ya to the weddin'. If ya wanna come."
He didn't speak for a few beats, but she knew he was still there. When he finally spoke, his voice was a little shaky. "You mean that?"
"I do. For the past few months you've been doin' so much to make things up to me as much as you can. An' even though I didn't trust you at first, you never gave up. You kept on tryin', an'...it worked. I can't ever forgive you for what you did to my mama, an' for not bein' there while I was growin' up, but...I can put it behind me."
"Lily...I dunno what to say. You really want me there?" He sounded like he couldn't quite believe it, and she couldn't really blame him for that. She knew he'd wanted to come, but had had the decency to step back and leave it to her, so that she could ask him on her own terms.
"Yeah. Ennis an' Jack are still givin' me away, as planned, but...I'd like to have you there. An'...if Bill an' Darren wanna come, I'd like that too. I wanna get to know 'em."
"Uh, well...they're actually here right now, at my place. You want me to ask 'em?"
"Sure, go ahead." She waited for a few minutes while Jay left, presumably talking to her half-brothers. When he came back, he sounded less shaky than before.
"They said they'd love to. They wanna see where you live, an' that they wanna be a part of your life as much as I do. They ain't got no other sisters."
Lily let out a deep breath. "Well, that's that then. The three of you are welcome to come here for the weddin'."
"Thank you, Lily. It means a lot to me. Um...if you could give me the details..."
"Right. Well, it's here at the ranch. It's at two in the afternoon on the fifth. We'd like it if people could be here no later than half past one."
"Got it. So...we'll see you soon, then. Gotta get my tux out, I guess."
Lily smiled. "Yeah. So...see you soon. An'...Jay?"
"I'm lookin' forward to seein' you. All of you. Have a safe trip, okay? An' call when yer settin' off."
"Will do. See ya, Lily."
"Bye." She hung up and rubbed her hands over her eyes. Just then, Ennis and Jack got up and walked into the living room. Jack put his hand on her shoulder, and she looked up at them. "How long have you guys been listenin'?" she asked in amusement.
They walked around the sofa to sit with her. "We eavesdrop 'cos we care, honey," Jack replied matter-of-factly. "How'd it go?"
She smiled. "Pretty good. His sons were already there, an' he asked 'em if they wanted to come. They said they do, so...they're all comin'."
Ennis and Jack looked at each other and settled on either side of her, both of them putting an arm around her. "Well...I reckon you did the right thing," Jack said, and Ennis was nodding. "I know this whole thing has been weighin' on yer mind for months, not knowin' what to do about him."
"Yeah. But now...I reckon we're gonna be okay. I'm learnin' to come to terms with it all. An' he's been tryin' his best to make things up to me. Even though I didn't trust him at first, he never gave up on me. So...it's only right that I do my bit. An' I want him there at the weddin'. I want him to be part of my life." She sighed. "I want my kids to know him, too."
Jack smiled at Ennis, and knew that his cowboy was feeling just as proud of her as he was. When they had first been given custody of her, so many years ago, he'd occasionally had doubts about his abilities as a father figure, but to see Lily as she was now, he knew that he and Ennis had done a stand-up job in raising her. And now they were sending her off into creating a family of her own; he felt a little sad that they were having to let her go, but he knew that she would be alright.
A little later, Ennis and Jack decided to go for a ride up to their hill together, wanting to be alone. Lily's conversation with her father had made them think about their own fathers, and this prompted them to want to spend some alone time together. That was usually the way when something happened to trigger their emotions and deepest thoughts.
As they rode, Jack reached across and took Ennis's gloved hand in his own, squeezing it. Ennis smiled at him and pulled him closer. Their horses were well used to this by now. Ennis interlaced their fingers and let their hands swing between them as they rode.
When they reached the bottom of the hill, Jack took out a blanket for them and let Ennis lead him up to the top. He spread out the blanket and they both lay down, staring up at the sky and embracing. Jack shifted closer and put his head on Ennis's chest, tangling their legs together. Ennis smiled and closed his eyes, running his hand over Jack's back in comfort.
Neither of them spoke for a while, and Ennis thought that Jack was asleep until he cleared his throat. "Ennis?"
"If...if we could get married legally, like we was talkin' 'bout before...you think..." His throat worked and Ennis understood what he was trying to say. After all these years, he could read Jack like a book.
"That our dads would've wanted to come?" He saw Jack nod. "I dunno. Somethin' tells me they wouldn't, considerin' what they was like when they was alive. Like when my dad took me an' K.E. to see Earl's body..."
Jack sighed and sat up, arms encircling his knees. "I know. But...when I was growin' up, there was always a part of me that...always tried to get his approval. I did everythin' I could think of, an'..." He turned back to Ennis. "Remember the day we met, an' we was in that bar? How I told you that nothin' could please him?" Ennis nodded. "Well, it's true. No matter how bad he treated me, I never lost sight of wantin' even just a little word that said he was proud of me. But...I never got it. That's why I got into rodeoin'; 'cos I knew he'd done it an' I thought it'd give us...somethin' in common, I guess. That buckle I had on Brokeback...that was my first real big win. I remember feelin' proud of myself, rushin' home to show him. My mama was pleased for me, but...he barely looked at it." Jack looked down and broke off a piece of grass to fiddle with. "Guess that by the time we moved in together, I just gave up tryin' to please him. Started to focus on you instead."
He turned properly and looked Ennis in the eyes, smiling a little. "You was the first person who I didn't really have to try with. I mean...with Becky, it came easy 'cos she was family. Same with my mama. But with you...when we met, there wasn't nothin' that said we had to be friends, let alone more than that. But...I did try to impress you."
Ennis sat up and stroked his cheek. "You did impress me, Jack. You wasn't like anybody else I knew, an'...I really liked that." Jack smiled and leaned into his touch, still gazing into his eyes.
"Well...when it came to makin' you happy, I found that I didn't have to try too much. Seemed like I made you happy no matter what I did." He sighed. "Ennis...what I'm tryin' to say is...you was the first person who I wasn't related to that I could just be myself with. The first person who...believed I was enough, just the way I am. Even with Becky an' my mama, I never really had that before I met you. I fell for you big time when I started to realise that. I mean...I already loved you an' we was together by then, but...when I figured out that you didn't expect more from me than what I already was...that did me in. That's when I really knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with ya."
He leaned in and kissed Ennis gently, caressing his lips with his own. Ennis's hand travelled to the back of his neck and pulled him in deeper. When their tongues met Jack moaned softly and let Ennis pull him back down. They continued to kiss as their hands wandered, pulling off clothing and desperate to get to the skin underneath.
When they were naked and ready, Jack nuzzled Ennis's face. "How you want it?" he whispered. He kissed Ennis's jaw while he waited for a response.
"I want ya inside me. From the side," Ennis murmured back, feeling Jack's hardness pressing into his leg. Jack nodded and rolled off him onto the side, pushing at his hip.
"Turn over," he breathed, kissing Ennis's neck. Ennis did so and Jack extracted the lube from his jeans, coating himself and then starting to push in, slowly and steadily. "Easy...just relax..." He waited until he felt Ennis's muscles relax around him.
Ennis let his head drop to the blanket as he felt Jack penetrating him, breathing shakily. He put his hand back onto Jack's hip as they connected, and Jack was soon in his version of paradise. They moved together slowly, Jack kissing every inch of flesh that he could reach and dipping his hand in between Ennis's legs, stroking him off in time to his thrusts. He kept at a steady rhythm until he heard Ennis moan, shooting off into the grass. Jack followed suit and started to breathe deeply, his head still spinning. He pulled out and then rolled Ennis over to face him. His cowboy looked happy and sated, and when they kissed they held each other close, basking in the warm sunlight and gentle breeze. Right now, they needed nothing but what they were holding in their arms, and all was right with the world.
March 1st, 1988
With just four days to go until the wedding, Lily was slightly on edge. She worried that there might be a small detail she'd missed somehow, despite their extensive planning. She'd tried to calm down and tell herself that her thoughts were just a natural part of getting married. She spent a fair amount of time at Becky's grave, just relaxing and listening to the birds singing.
The day before, Jay and her half-brothers had arrived, bringing flowers for her. They had been welcomed into the house and spent a while talking to Ennis and Jack about the ranch, and taking a look at the horses and stock. Bill and Darren hadn't spent a lot of time on ranches, so were quite interested in everything.
At the moment, Lily was putting her horse Firefly away and brushing her down, thinking. She'd just been for another ride to her mother's grave, and she didn't hear her half-brothers enter the barn. "Hey, Lily."
She turned and smiled. "Hey, guys. How's it goin'?" She was becoming more and more comfortable around them all the time.
"Alright. Been talkin' to yer uncles. They sure are nice guys." Bill and Darren sat down on the bench and watched as she finished with Firefly. "Bit of a surprise, to be honest."
"Why's that?" she asked, walking over and sitting with them.
"Well...they're cowboys. You know, like...John Wayne, Clint Eastwood. That type, right? An'...in spite of that...they're gay."
She shrugged. "I don't even think of that no more. I grew up livin' with it, so...I always thought of it as normal. You said you know gay guys in college. What are they like?"
Bill shifted, unsure of whether or not to say this. "Well...um...most of 'em, you wouldn't know they're gay. But there is one guy who's kinda...obvious."
"You mean that horrible an' unrealistic stereotype that gay men are basically feminine an' not at all like men should be, accordin' to this country?" she challenged. They exchanged an uncomfortable look at having offended her.
"Look, we're sorry. You know we don't wanna offend you, or yer uncles."
She shook her head. "It's alright. I know that Ennis an' Jack ain't like the general impression of gay guys that people have. An' I know that it knocks people back when they meet 'em an' realise that they're gay."
"But that don't mean it bothers us," Darren cut in, as gently as he could. He and Bill liked having a sister and they didn't want to jeopardise what they were building with her. "We like Ennis an' Jack, an'...they seem to have done alright by you, so...it don't matter." He tentatively put a hand on her shoulder.
She smiled a little. "Good. 'Cos I'd hate to have to kick both yer asses." She nudged him and then stood up. "C'mon, let's go an' see what's for lunch. If yer lucky, Jack won't be the one cookin' today."
"Is he that bad?" Bill asked with a grin as they got up. She laughed.
"Nah. Ennis says he's better than he was when they met, but still ain't the best cook. He's better with cold stuff, really. But he is good at Thanksgivin' dinner." By now they were walking across the grass to the house. When they walked up the steps, Lily opened the door to find Ennis, Jack, Rose, Ben and Jay in the kitchen. Rose was making a large batch of soup at the stove and the others were all at the table talking. Jay looked up and felt his heart surge to see his three children walk in together. He smiled and his sons sat next to him. Lily sat next to Ben and took his hand.
A little later, Lily was on her own on the back porch when the door opened, and Jack sat down next to her on the steps. "Hey."
"Oh, hey." He put an arm around her and she rested her head on his shoulder. "What you doin' out here?"
"Can't a man sit on his own back porch with his niece?" he asked with a grin. She gave him a look. "Alright, ya got me. Just wanted to check yer okay."
She sighed. "I'm alright. Been talkin' with Bill an' Darren; they're real nice. We kinda had a joke about yer cookin' skills."
Jack smiled. "I can live with that if you guys are bondin'. How are you doin' with havin' yer dad here?"
"To be honest...I'm alright. It ain't as bad as I thought it might be. I want 'em here. An' I'm glad you an' Ennis are alright with this. I wouldn't have invited 'em if you wasn't."
"They're yer family just as much as me an' Ennis, an' yer Grandma. If you really want 'em at yer weddin', me an' Ennis was always gonna respect that. You know we'd do whatever you wanted if we thought it would be good for ya."
She smiled and then heard the back door open again. Jack turned to see who it was and smiled as Ennis sat down on her other side. "Hey, cowboy."
"Hey." He looked at them both and put an arm around Lily too, resting it on top of Jack's. "Everythin' alright?"
"Yeah," she replied softly. "Just glad I've got all my family around me."
"Yer always gonna have us, honey," Jack said to her, fiddling with her hair. "No matter what happens, an' no matter how old you get, we're always gonna be here for ya. An'...we know that Ben loves ya an' will look after ya, but if anythin' happens, like if...he dies or somethin', you've always got a home here. With us."
Lily closed her eyes and rested against Ennis, drawing comfort from both of them as she had always done. This was probably why Jay had so much respect for them; they had been the parents she'd needed while growing up. It wasn't a normal family, but she wouldn't trade it for the world.