Author's notes

Hey guys. Here's the epilogue of Love Transcends All, hope you enjoy.

This story marks the end of the series that started with Love Will Find A Way. It's been an absolute pleasure to write this series for the fandom, and I've really enjoyed it. But I think it's time for me to move on and write new BBM stories. I may return to this universe in the future, but for now I'm finished with it.

From tomorrow, I will be posting a series of twenty vignettes in this universe. They will take place during the years between Hearts Intertwined and this story, when Lily was growing up. Look for them as a separate entry on the site.

Also, in a couple of days I will be starting a new story, called Living In The Now. This will be an AU/AU set in modern times, but I can't say too much about it. Ennis and Jack will meet in a coffee shop in San Francisco, and a secret of Jack's will shape the relationship they attempt to build together.

So, that's what's coming up in the next few months. I hope you enjoyed this story and the series, and that you look forward to more of my work.

Thank you all very much,

Kathryn

xxx


Epilogue

After the wedding, life settled down for the residents of Brokeback ranch. The first thing that happened afterwards was Pete's trial. When his recent crimes were taken into account, as well as his previous conviction for harassment, the judge saw fit to put him away for a minimum of another twenty years in Atlanta. There would also be a restraining order in place for if and when he was released. Ennis and Jack hoped that this would be enough to keep Pete away from them for good.

Lily and Ben stayed at the ranch for a while after the wedding while Ben found work in town. When he'd saved up enough, they moved to Savannah to start a family, around a year and a half after the wedding. Their first child was Rebecca, named after Lily's mother, born in June 1990. She was joined by Adam, named after Ennis and Jack's friend from Ohio, born in February 1993. They lived in Savannah for as long as the children were young. When they both left home, Lily and Ben moved to Tennessee where they had met at college, and remained there from then on.

Over in Wyoming, Cecilia and K.E.'s families continued on as ever, bringing more children and grandchildren to the fold. Some remained in the state, some travelled further afield. One or two even left America to settle down in other countries. But the entire family made a point of getting together once a year to catch up. They would all rent a hall in Georgia where Ennis and Jack still lived and celebrate what they had built.

In October 1998, something happened to cause Ennis and Jack to feel ashamed of their home state. A young man named Matthew Shepard, who lived in Wyoming, was lured into a car under the guise of a ride home by two other men. Instead of taking him home, they stopped by the side of a road, tied him to a fence and tortured him before killing him and leaving him there. He died of his wounds many hours later in a Colorado hospital. The men who did it were not convicted, as there was no hate crime legislation in the state.

"That's terrible," Jack commented as they sat on the sofa in shock, watching the news report. "He was just a kid..." It hadn't escaped his notice that Ennis was holding him a little tighter than usual. Ennis had never quite let go of his fear that something would happen to Jack. It no longer gave him nightmares, but he still felt uneasy about the fact that it could happen. Fortunately, going to bed with Jack every night and making love with him was a sure-fire way of putting a halt on his fears. When he had Jack in his arms, he knew that both of them would be just fine.

The two killers were later incarcerated, but there was no chance for the victim now. From December onwards, Ennis and Jack regularly donated to the Matthew Shepard foundation; they felt as if it was the least they could do. When LGBT movements started all over the country, they did whatever they could to help, including taking part in AIDs walks and fundraising for charities catering to gay people. Even Ennis, who had once denied being gay, felt a surge of pride whenever he saw a victory in the gay community. He knew that even though there were different kinds of gay people, they were still a family, united against homophobia and those who endorsed it. Whenever he and Jack met young gay men who had been disowned or were struggling with who they were, the two of them would share their story in the hope of inspiring others. They were living proof that being gay didn't have to be a blockade on one's life; that they could still be happy as long as they kept going and believed in themselves.

In spite of the tragedy, or maybe because of it, they watched the world slowly become more accepting of homosexuality. The number of hate crimes, at least those reported, seemed to lessen as time went on. TV shows were made about the lives of gay men and women, and Jack coaxed Ennis into watching them with him. If nothing else, the graphic sex scenes gave them some ideas. And the storylines were good, highlighting the issues that gay people were going through, especially when it came to equal rights. This gave them hope that maybe one day, people would understand them better. They started to hold hands around town in public. Most people knew that they were together, but they still felt as if they had taken a huge step.

While the world changed around them, life at the ranch continued as normal. In 2005, at the age of 82, Rose died on a quiet summer evening. Jack was heartbroken at losing his beloved mother, and it was all Ennis could do to hold him close and comfort him. Ever since bringing Ennis to Lightning Flat in 1963, Jack felt as though he had renewed his relationship with his mother, bringing them closer. And to have had her living with them on their ranch made him happy. At least she would be with her daughter now; that much was certain. Rose was buried next to Becky at the ranch, and even though Jack had now lost most of his close blood relatives, he knew that he would always have Ennis.

"Gonna be okay, darlin'," Ennis murmured as he put his arm around Jack. His partner nodded.

"I know, cowboy." They stood there, looking over the two graves of the women they'd known and loved.

Around this time, a few states started to change their laws, legalising gay marriage. This was something that Ennis and Jack had always wanted to see, but had never thought they would. But they would have to be residents of a particular state for it to happen. All they could do was hope that Georgia would follow suit. They had everything else that married couples normally had, but they still longed for equal recognition.

When they hit their sixties, they started to think about retiring. Brokeback Ranch was a well-known brand and they were quite famous, but they wanted to enjoy their later years. They retired in 2008 at 65 and handed the ranch to Becky Slater, Lily and Ben's daughter. She was only 18, but had married her high school sweetheart and was happy to take over the ranch for them. For the first few years, Ennis and Jack stayed close by until the new owners felt confident enough by themselves.

When Ennis and Jack were satisfied that the ranch was in good hands, they finally bid farewell to Georgia and moved down to Florida for their retirement. They enjoyed sitting on the beach and sipping tropical drinks, content to watch people playing in the sea and reminisce about their youth. In 2013, when they had been together for fifty years, they took off an around-the-world cruise together, something they had always wanted to do. A couple of years later, Florida was the next state to change its law, allowing them to marry. In front of their family and friends, at the age of 73, they were legally married and finally accomplished what they had always longed for. And in spite of their age, their lust and passion for each other was a flame that never dimmed, always burned brightly.

One lazy afternoon out on the beach, Jack glanced over at his partner and smiled. Ennis had his eyes closed and was half-dozing in the sun. His skin was brown after all this time, and he still got freckly. His hair was mainly a soft grey, but he still had streaks of blonde. Jack, meanwhile, was also tanned, but his hair was completely grey, no sign of black anywhere. This had bothered him at first, thinking that he was losing his looks to old age. But when he'd confessed this fear to Ennis, his cowboy had reassured him as much as he could.

"Don't matter to me, rodeo. Yer still the most beautiful sight I ever saw. An' even though we're gettin' on in years, you know somethin'?"

"What?" Jack asked, covering Ennis's arms where they encircled his chest. Ennis nuzzled his neck.

"Lookin' at us in the mirror like this...reminds me of how long we've been together. We've grown old together, Jack, just like we always wanted. We've been in love for over forty years, an' we've shared a lifetime. That means more to me than grey hair an' achin' joints. I reckon it's just a sign of everythin' we've shared." Jack turned himself in Ennis's arms and smiled.

"I love you, cowboy."

"Love you too, darlin'," Ennis replied, leaning in.

Jack smiled to himself as he remembered that day and he reached over, taking Ennis's hand. His cowboy's eye opened up a crack, and he smiled at Jack before closing it again. They didn't say anything; they didn't need to after all this time.

They lived out the next ten years of their lives in Florida, and after a while could no longer make it to Wyoming to spend the summer on Brokeback. But they had taken a photo of the mountain on one of their trips, and took it to be blown up and put into a glass frame. They had done that while still living at the ranch, and took it with them when they moved. It was a constant reminder of the place where all of this had started, and they would never forget it.

In 2025, over sixty years into their relationship, their bodies started to finally slow down, and they knew that they didn't have much time left. But they were happy; they had lived a wonderful life together, had shared everything, and they looked forward to what was yet to be for them. They believed in an afterlife; that they would be together after death.

At night, when it was just the two of them in bed, they would hold each other close and exchange soft words of love. They had stopped having sex a few years before, as their bodies simply couldn't cope with the exertion, but they had had a pretty good run where their sex life was concerned. Every night, they told each other of their love, just in case it was the last time.

"I love you, Jack, with all my heart," Ennis murmured, stroking Jack's hair. His life partner smiled up at him, a lifetime of love in his eyes.

"I love you too, Ennis, always have, always will." They kissed and held each other until they dropped off.


August 19th, 2028

Lily stopped the truck and got out, looking around. She held the box in her hands, a little shakily. She was 64 years old, but could still get about well enough. And she had promised Ennis and Jack only a few months ago that she would do this one last thing for them.

Earlier in the year, Jack had been the first to die, simply of old age. He passed away peacefully in Ennis's arms, exchanging one last kiss and a few words of love before closing his eyes for the final time. He was cremated and Ennis kept his ashes in their house in Florida. Ennis spent the next couple of months busying himself with Lily's children and grandchildren, and everybody got the sense that he was simply waiting.

At night, he saw Jack in his dreams, young and full of life as he had been on Brokeback. Jack kissed him and told him it wouldn't be long.

He died in July, and was also cremated. Following his death, and under strict instructions, Lily had found the bloodied shirts from 1963 and burned them, adding the remains to both sets of ashes. Now she held it all in her hands, ready to carry out their final wishes. She was just glad that she could do this for them.

She spied the hill that they had showed her many years before, and walked up to the top, looking over the valley. She could understand what had driven Ennis and Jack to each other up here, and how their hearts had intertwined.

Opening the box, she peered into it. She sniffed and looked up. "Ennis, Jack...I can't describe how proud I am to have known you both, and how happy you made me when I was growin' up. You were two fine men, an' I know you'll always be together now, just like you was in life. I love you both, an' what you built together will live on in me, an' my kids, an' their kids. Everybody will know you an' what you did, an' you'll never be forgotten. Take good care of each other, okay?"

Taking a deep breath, she lowered the box a little, and then raised her hands quickly, emptying the box into the air. The ashes and remains of the shirts were lifted into the wind, blowing off into the sky. Tears were shining on her cheeks and she was smiling. If she listened hard enough, she could almost hear laughter and the sound of a harmonica playing off-key.


Jack smiled and outstretched his hand, his deep blue eyes sparkling. Ennis took it and pulled Jack close, kissing him gently. They were back to where they belonged, in the place that had always been in their hearts. They were an image of their nineteen year old selves, as they were during that glorious summer. It was as if no time had passed, but they could remember everything that they had shared. It had been sixty-five years since they had met and fell in love.

"Been a long time, huh cowboy?" he said softly, gazing up into Ennis's eyes. His cowboy nodded.

"Sure has, darlin'. Sixty-five years..."

"Guess we did pretty good," Jack said as he nuzzled Ennis's neck. "Had a lot more than most."

"Yep." Ennis pulled his face away and slid his hands down to Jack's ass. "Been a while...wanna make sure we've still got it?"

Jack smiled. "Sure. Let's show 'em how it's done." He pulled Ennis's lips back to his and they sank to the ground, knowing that they would never be disturbed. This was their own private heaven, and it was sweet and warm. They could see their deceased friends and relatives whenever they wanted, but for now they were content to be alone.

This was how they had formed their bond, this was what made all the bad times bearable. It was the ultimate act of love, and it had sealed them together forever. As Ennis moved slowly inside Jack, it felt unearthly and ethereal as it never had before. This was on another spiritual plain, and it was different. But as he gazed down at his lover and the other half of his soul, Ennis knew that he had chosen the right path. Now he and Jack would never be without each other; their love had transcended everything that life had brought them, and it was a love that would last forever.