Chapter 5

July 1st, 1987

Lily approached the grave and dismounted from her horse, Firefly. Ennis and Jack had given the mare to her for her eighteenth birthday, and she was a good horse. She could remember Jack talking about a bay mare that he'd had to endure during his and Ennis's summer together when they'd met, and how hard it had been for him to get her under control. He'd said that she'd even thrown him once, but that it wasn't much different from being thrown from a bull. Whenever they talked about their summer on Brokeback Mountain, they always had a glazed, faraway look in their eyes, and she knew just how special that time had been to them. It wasn't just about sex to them; it was about forging their bond.

Sighing to herself, she tied Firefly to the old willow tree and extracted the flowers from her saddlebag, walking over to the headstone and sitting in front of it. She traced her fingers along the grass where it had grown over the years since being dug up, knowing that her mother was near. She looked up at the headstone. "Hey, mama," she said softly. "I know it's been a while since I was last here, but...been busy. I know you're always with me, probably know about the weddin'. Ben's a wonderful man, an' I know we'll be happy. You don't gotta worry about me none."

She picked twigs from the marble, brushing it as clean as she could and then laying the flowers down. Looking out past it, she could see Ennis and Jack's hill to the right, and the buildings of Sandersville to the left in the distance. It was quiet and peaceful out here, and she was happy that they had chosen this spot to bury her mother. "I miss you, mama. Had a dress fittin' the other shoulda been there with us. I love grandma, an' Ennis an' Jack, but...I wish you was here. Sometimes I don't even feel like I know you at all...I've seen pictures of you, an' they've told me everythin' there is to know, but...there's somethin' missin'. I sure would like to hear your voice."

As she spoke, she fiddled with a loose thread on her jeans, thinking. "Just wanna know you. Jack feels guilty for not bein' able to do more, wasn't his fault. If it was...meant to happen that way, then...there wasn't nothin' that anyone could do, I reckon. We're tryin' to get through it, one day at a time. But I know we'll be alright...we've got each other. Ennis an' Jack have done a real good job bringin' me up, I reckon. They love me an' they'd do anythin' for' I'm real grateful. Dunno what I woulda done all those years without you if I didn't have them. All those...Mother's Days that I had to get through. They was real great an' made me feel better when I was upset."

Lily wiped her eyes, smiling a little. "Sure hope you ain't in pain no more, mama. An'...that you're watchin' over us." She bit her lip. "Mama...there's somethin' I'm confused about. I keep thinkin' about my dad. I know what he did, an' what he didn't do, but...I can't decide if I wanna know him or not. He's the reason you ain't here, but...he's also the reason that I am dunno what to think. Even if he turned up, he'd never get to give me away. That's Ennis an' Jack's job. He ain't got no claims to me, not after everythin'. Never helped you out, never paid child support...he never wanted nothin' to do with either of us. Everythin's goin' in circles, mama...I dunno what to do..."

She trailed off, not hearing the approach of hooves and then footsteps. She jumped slightly when she felt a hand on her shoulder, and looked up into Jack's sympathetic eyes. "Honey, you okay? I saw you headin' out here..."

Lily shrugged, turning back to the headstone. "I dunno. Just...felt like I needed to get some things out. Always helps to come out here, like she's really here..." Jack sat down beside her and put an arm around her shoulders.

"Just before she died, she said that she would always be with I reckon she is. I don't know nothin' about what happens after we die, but...I gotta believe that there's somethin'."

"So you an' Ennis can be together afterwards?" she asked with a watery smile, and he grinned a little.

"Mostly, yeah. But I'd sure like to see yer mama again, an' let her know that I love her. I always saw her as a sister anyway, so..." He trailed off. "Listen...I know yer confused about what you'd do if yer daddy ever came around,'d do the right thing for you. I reckon that if you were to see him, you'd know straight off how you feel about him. Whether you want him around or not, you'd know if you saw him."

She looked at him hopefully. "I would?" He nodded, smiling slightly at her. She looked just as she did when she was a little girl and in need of their protection and reassurance. He and Ennis would always look after her, no matter how old she got.

"Yeah. You can't go predictin' stuff until it happens, so..." He kissed her forehead. "It's up to you what to do, an' we can't make that decision for you. But whether you want him around or not, me an' Ennis are always gonna be on your side. An' yer grandma'll always have us, no matter what." She leaned into him and looked back at the grave, seeing how his words made sense and feeling touched by how much he cared.

"Thanks, Uncle Jack." They just sat there in silence for a while, thinking of Becky and the forthcoming wedding, wishing that she was here, and resigning themselves to the fact that they would have to go through this without her.

On Independence Day, the four of them went into town for the celebrations. They had attended most of these events over the years, except when they hadn't been in the mood. The town put on a good parade and there was usually a gathering of stalls, full of handmade items from various parts of the country. Ennis and Jack particularly liked to stroll amongst these and pick out new belts or wallets. Kate usually put up a stall of her wares, despite now having a shop, and Lily had been talking about buying something for Maria's birthday.

They arrived just in time for the parade, watching the veterans march by. There were Vietnam survivors present, and Jack recalled the phone call the first summer after his return, where they had asked Ennis if he wanted to attend.

"They want me to join in the parade with the other veterans, if I want to," Ennis mumbled, biting at a hangnail. "Got a couple weeks to decide."

Jack leaned against the counter, wondering what to say. "What are you gonna do?" Ennis looked at him helplessly.

"I dunno. Never thought I'd have to deal with this shit again..." He folded his arms defensively. "Ain't sure what to do, Jack..." Another helpless glance and Jack was pulling him close, running his hands up and down Ennis's back.

"I know, baby. It's only been just over a year since you got back, an' I know you ain't healed properly from all that stuff."

"I don't blame myself for what happened to Adam no more, but...I ain't sure I wanna get mixed up in that stuff yet."

"Ennis...if you think it's too soon, that's alright. I ain't gonna force you if you can't do it. If you just wanna go an' watch, that's fine. It's completely up to you, cowboy. What do you wanna do?"

He was quiet while Ennis decided, just holding him close until he spoke again. "I can't do it, Jack. Don't think I could..." His throat was working and Jack understood how hard this was for him.

"It's okay, Ennis. I understand. You know I'd never force you into anythin' you don't wanna do. You just wanna go watch? I know Lily would like it..."

"Yeah, okay. Thanks, Jack," he murmured gratefully, and Jack kissed the side of his face, glad that Ennis wasn't taking it as badly as he could have done.

"No problem, cowboy."

Even as the years passed, Ennis kept declining their offer to march with the other veterans. He just never felt comfortable with getting involved in that part of his life again. It had been the darkest time of his life, and thinking about it just brought up the bad memories, and all of the bad feelings; being away from Jack, worrying about Becky, and then the agony of trying to get over Adam's death and his guilt for it. He generally tended to avoid delving back into those memories if he could help it.

After the parade, the four of them split off into two groups to explore the stalls. Ennis and Jack strolled along, occasionally pausing when they saw something that caught their eye. Ennis was eyeing up a new leather belt, and he turned to Jack. "What do you think of this?"

Jack glanced around to make sure that nobody was watching, and he leaned in. "Don't matter either way to me. I'd still be pullin' it through yer belt loops to shove yer pants down." He grinned when he saw Ennis going red, and pulled away. Ennis shook his head; it seemed to him that Jack was frequently thinking about sex. It humbled him to know that even after all their years together, Jack still wanted him as much as he wanted Jack.

"Dammit, Jack. Don't go gettin' me riled up. Ain't the place to be goin' at it..."

"I know, just like teasin' ya. If you want, when we get back, we can go up to our room an' get up to somethin'," Jack replied in a low voice, loving how he could have this effect on Ennis. Just a few words and he could get the cowboy's blood pressure up.

"Ask me again when we're alone," Ennis murmured, looking around and lowering his voice. "Then we can talk about teasin'." Jack smirked and nudged him.

"You gonna get that, then? Seriously, it's real nice."

"Yeah, I will," Ennis replied, pulling out his wallet and attracting the attention of the stall owner. He paid for the belt and put it in the paper bag that Rose had given to them. They carried on walking, admiring the other wares. Jack bought himself a new wallet and they ended up buying a bucket of Buffalo wings to share between them. Ennis tried not to stare whenever Jack licked his fingers of the sauce, wishing that he could lick it off for him.

They met up with Lily and Rose for a late lunch at the restaurant, now and then running into their friends from town. It had been a good day, but ever since their conversation, Ennis's mind had been elsewhere. He was unable to think about anything else but getting Jack home and into their bed.

When he and Jack were finally back in their room, he shut the door and pulled Jack close by his hips, kissing him hard. "Damn tease," he breathed between kisses. "Talkin' about pullin' my pants down an' lickin' that sauce off yer fingers. Drivin' me crazy..."

"Maybe you should teach me a lesson," Jack murmured, his hands wandering south to cup Ennis's erection. "Give it to me hard so I know who's boss..." He loved it when Ennis got forceful with him; he knew that Ennis loved him and would never take it too far.

" want it hard, Jack fuckin' Twist?"

"Hell yeah..." There was no more talking, but Ennis yanked his lover closer and they fell onto the bed, intending to make their own fireworks.

Soon enough, they were under the covers and wrapped around each other from head to toe, kissing hard. They'd already come once from just rubbing together in their impatience, and neither of them would have cared if they'd become glued to each other. Ennis was on top and Jack had his ass in two handfuls as they ground against each other, groins locked tight. Both of them loved the moments when they could be slow and romantic, revelling in their love, but they also loved it in these moments. It was rough and lustful and frantic, them bursting with their need for each other. Without preamble, Ennis slipped one hand from Jack's waist and pushed a finger into him, making him buck and pull his mouth away in a gasp.

"Oh fuck...keep doin' that..." Ennis obliged him, pushing it further in and poking around, looking for the sweet spot that made Jack crazy every time he found it. In response, Jack started poking around too, slipping his own finger between Ennis's cheeks and moving it around. They continued to kiss as they fingered each other, and soon Jack was yearning for more. "Ennis...wanna feel you in my mouth..."

Ennis broke away and nodded, eyes dark with lust. He made to pull away from Jack and onto his back, but Jack stopped him. "Hang on, wanna do it another way. Just..." He sat back on his side of the bed, half-lying, and coaxed Ennis to him. "Lean over me, like yer gonna fuck me, an' put yer hands above the bed." Ennis soon figured it out and was in position, hands bracing on the wall and seeing Jack eyeing his erection like a feast for a starving man.

"You gonna get to it, or you gonna just stare at it?" he asked, looking down at Jack. His blue-eyed devil looked up at him, mind no doubt full of wicked thoughts, and Jack's hands were soon back to his ass, pulling him closer. Ennis's eyes fell shut when he felt Jack's warm mouth on him, taking him all the way in and slowly sucking like a calf to its mother. Jack was going for it, licking and working him over like there was no tomorrow, while jerking himself off at the same time. He felt Jack humming in his throat and bucked, unable to hold back his thrusting. He felt Jack shoot upwards onto his chest, and when he felt Jack's finger inside him again, that was it. He shot into Jack's mouth with a loud groan and felt himself going weak in the knees. When he was done, he managed to move away and flop onto his side of the bed, flat on his back. "Damn, Jack...that was somethin'..."

Jack smiled and snuggled in closer, lying on his side so he could look at Ennis's face. "Glad you liked it, cowboy." He absentmindedly ran his fingers over Ennis's sticky stomach, covered in his come. "Looks like I kinda branded ya..."

"Don't matter," Ennis assured him in a lazy voice, smiling at him and entwining their fingers together. It amazed Jack how Ennis had never headed straight for the shower after sex, or even grabbed a towel. He preferred to talk before moving, no matter what he was covered with. Jack liked how neither of them seemed to care about that; maybe it was because they were men, but he preferred to think it was because of their love for each other. They didn't care about getting messy, because it was just a symbol of their lovemaking.

He sighed a little. "Ennis?" His lover looked at him.


"I was just thinkin''ll be our weddin' anniversary soon. Twenty-three years...what do you wanna do?"

Ennis looked at him, thinking. They usually went back to Brokeback for their anniversary, but he was getting the feeling that Jack might want to do something different. "Dunno, Jack. I know we usually go back to Brokeback, but...if you wanna do somethin' different..."

Jack shrugged. "I was thinkin' on it. We could always go to Brokeback for Valentine's next year. Have a break just before the weddin'. I was thinkin' we could go get some sun for a change."

"Yeah? Where?"

"Well...we've been to Florida, but we never got to the beach, so we could do that. But I was thinkin' on somethin' else. In California, I've heard that they're real open about guys like us...even got places for guys like us. Bars an' stuff. An' we could go lie on the beach, if you want. Just a thought..."

Ennis watched him. Over the years, he had gotten better at being around other people, and at showing Jack affection in front of others. If what Jack said was true, that California was full of gay couples, maybe it wouldn't be so weird. But there was one thing holding him back.

" remember that I've been to L.A., so..." Understanding passed between them; he had been there while waiting to be taken to Vietnam, so many years ago. Jack nodded and cupped his cheek, knowing how sensitive Ennis was about that.

"I remember. We don't gotta go there if you don't wanna. Maybe San Francisco, if you want. Or just stay near the beach. If you can survive Vegas, I think you can survive anythin'," he added with a smile. "Or we could do somethin' completely different if you want. We've got some time to decide. Just thought it might be good to try somethin' new. Ain't really done that since Vegas. It's up to you, cowboy." Jack leaned in close and pressed a soft kiss to Ennis's lips, indicating that he was interested in something else besides talking right now. Ennis understood and kissed back, pulling him close.

Within just a few moments, Ennis was pinning Jack down and nibbling at his neck. " wanna go somewhere special, rodeo? They say that fuckin's always better on you'd better start prayin' fer mercy." Jack just grinned and pulled him in close.

July 7th, 1987

Lily sat on the sofa, flicking through the newspaper. Her grandmother was in town, Ben was sending a postcard to his grandparents and she wasn't sure where Ennis and Jack were. She knew that Jack might be in the office, and she also knew that he and Ennis liked to spend private time in there several times a day, so it wasn't probably the best idea to go looking for them.

As she rifled through the pages, something caught her eye. The week before, Ennis and Jack had paid for an engagement announcement for her and Ben. It consisted a simple picture of her and Ben, smiling and happy with the ring on show, with a brief summary of who they were. The ranch was mentioned, and they knew that this would get some attention; they were quite famous in this state and the surrounding area, so it might draw some interest. She smiled when she saw the picture and scanned her eyes over the writing, happy about the forthcoming wedding and their future.

She wasn't paying much attention as she carried on reading, but then a full page attracted her attention. It was an advert for a rodeo in Childress, Texas. The event was taking place from the 12th until the 14th, with the barrel racing on the last day. She'd done some barrel racing around the ranch, and Jack had sworn that it was in her blood. But she had never taken part in an actual event; she either hadn't had time or hadn't felt like it. But with her wedding approaching and children on the horizon, she might not get another chance. And she wanted to follow in her mother's footsteps at least once.

"Lily?" she heard Jack call when he and Ennis came into the kitchen for dinner.

"In here!" she called back, and stood up with the paper folded back to the advert for the rodeo. She walked into the kitchen in time to see them pull apart, clearly having just kissed. "Hey, guys."

They smiled at her, and Jack cleared his throat. "Um...what do you want for dinner? I can heat up somethin'..."

"As long as you don't go for the can opener," Ennis remarked, sitting down. "You ain't so good with that thing, you know. Like up on Brokeback when you spilled the beans that time."

Jack smirked back at him, remembering that day on Brokeback when they'd switched places. At first he'd thought that Ennis had offered just to stop him from bitching, but as time had passed he'd wondered if it had been because of something else. Maybe Ennis had been starting to fall for him then without realising. "That's 'cos you was gettin' naked right near me. Put me right off."

Ennis went red and Lily felt herself blushing. "Um, guys...there was somethin' I wanted to run by you..." They both looked at her in interest. Whenever there was something she asked of them, they usually felt a need to give it to her. They felt as if they owed her that much.

"What's that?" She came forward and lay the paper down on the table so they could see it.

"It's a rodeo over in Childress...three days startin' on the twelfth. I was wonderin' if...we could go over there. I wanna take part in the barrel racin'."

Ennis and Jack looked at each other, their thoughts seeming to travel kinetically between them. They both knew that she had always wanted to follow in her mother's footsteps, but things had always gotten in the way, and they also knew that she might not get another chance after the wedding. "Well...if you really wanna go, that'd be fine with us. We'll be fine."

She started fidgeting, the way that Ennis did when he was nervous about something. "Well...I was hopin' that you guys would come with me. Ben an' grandma too. I mean...I was thinkin' we'd go for a week, maybe leave tomorrow. I know it's short notice, but..."

"But nothin'," Jack said with a smile, his hand on Ennis's shoulder. "We'd be happy to go with you. Come to think of it, we could probably do with a break ourselves. So...we'd come back on the 15th?"

Lily nodded, hoping that they would agree to come with her. "It's just...I wanna ride in honour of my mama, just this once. An' I'd like to have you guys there, pay tribute to her with me."

The two cowboys looked at each other again, and then nodded in unison. "Alright. We'll pack later an' get a flight outta here," said Jack. "I'll go see what they've got when we're done in here. Have you got somethin' to wear?" She nodded and sighed in relief.

"Thanks, guys. Um...I'm gonna go wash up before dinner." They nodded and she took the paper back into the living room, passing Rose and Ben who had just walked in. She excitedly told them of the news and they carried on through to the kitchen.

Upstairs, she went into her room, the one that had belonged to her mother when she was alive. She went to the wardrobe and pulled all of her clothes along the bar on their hangers, revealing a black clothes bag; the kind that held suits. Ennis and Jack didn't know that it was in here, not to her knowledge, but it had clearly been in here for a long time. She had worked it out for herself easily enough; her mother must have put it in here when she'd moved in with them, and just forgotten about it as time had passed.

She laid the bag out on the bed and unzipped it, revealing the black and pink fabric of a distant time, including the pattern that she lightly trailed her fingers over. Taking a deep breath, she went to her nightstand and pulled out a picture of her mother that she'd put there.

"I'll do it for you, mama," she whispered.

By evening, Jack had managed to get them a last-minute flight to Childress the following morning, so they'd gone to bed early the night before. He and Ennis had still made time for each other before dropping off, though. In the morning, they had kissed and held each other close, talking about the event and Lily's desire to ride in honour of her mother.

"Guess she really wants to pay tribute to Becky," Jack murmured as Ennis threaded his fingers through his bed hair.

"Yeah...can't really blame her, though. She's been sayin' for a while now that she ain't been feelin' all that close to Becky. Maybe this is what she needs..."

"Mmm...maybe..." There were no more words, but their mouths were soon glued together, and their bodies followed suit.

Their suitcases were by the front door and their carry-ons were in their rooms, ready to go. Ennis pulled Jack into the shower and they jerked each other off as they kissed, finally ready to get moving once they were washed. It took them a little longer to get dressed than normal, given that Jack kept nibbling at Ennis's neck and squeezing his ass, but they were still right on schedule, so they weren't too panicked. When they were finally dressed, they went downstairs to find the others waiting for them. Lily had her arms folded with a look of amusement on her face.

"You two took long enough," she commented, smirking, and they both went red.

"Well...we, um..." Jack's voice failed him, and they just shifted their feet uncomfortably. The other three smiled and Rose cleared her throat.

"Come on, let's get goin'." They had decided to take Jack's truck to the airport in Atlanta and put it in a secure spot for the week while they were gone. Dave and the hands were all set to take care of the ranch, and Kate had agreed to keep an eye on the house for them.

Ennis and Jack sat in the front with their hands clasped between them on the seat, talking softly to each other while the others either read or, in Becky's case, thought about things. She had secretly been training last night while everybody else was in bed, arranging barrels in a cloverleaf pattern and maneouvring Firefly between them. She knew that she would be using a borrowed horse there, but she herself needed the practice as much as possible.

When they got to the airport, they got it secured and headed inside, dragging their suitcases and carrying their bags with them, looking around. Jack headed to the front desk with their travel documents, including their passports just in case. They'd never been required to present them before now while travelling between states, but things could change at any time. He got everything cleared and they were left to wait for a few hours. This had always been the boring part.

They mulled around, finding a small cafe where they could get some breakfast and prepare for the flight. Ennis had never particularly enjoyed flying, but he'd always managed to get through it well enough. And it would only be a short flight, after all; a couple of hours at best. At least he would be sitting next to Jack and the seats were relatively concealed; he knew that he would be gripping Jack's hand by the end of it, strangers be damned.

When it was finally time for the flight, they joined the group around the gate and Jack stretched. "Think I pulled somethin' this mornin'," he said in a low voice to Ennis, who looked at him in concern.

"You okay?"

Jack grinned. "Yep. Sure wish I could pay you back for it, though." Ennis smiled.

"Can't do that 'til we get to the hotel, Jack. Sorry, bud." Jack nodded, but then a thought occurred to him.

"Well...maybe we don't gotta wait," he started in a sly voice, ready to share with Ennis what he'd recently discovered. Ennis looked at him, a puzzled look on his face.

"What are you talkin' about?" he asked, and Jack's eyes hovered over his lips.

"Been doin' some readin', especially in those magazines that Lily gets. I was bored one day while you was out an' decided to see what the fuss was about, so...I had a flick through. Saw somethin' interestin'. You ever hear of the Mile High Club?"

Ennis shook his head. "Don't think so..." Jack leaned in closer, glancing around.

"'s what some folks do durin' flights when they get bored. One of us goes into the bathroom, then the other joins 'em, an'..." He gave Ennis a meaningful look, trying not to laugh when he saw his eyes widen.

"Oh...ain't that real risky? 'Specially with two guys?"

"We'd have to be real quiet, an' check the coast is clear before comin' out, but...could be a good way to pass the time," he murmured with a grin. "You wanna give it a try?"

Ennis could feel himself lusting for Jack and his idea, despite its risks. If they were very careful, they could probably get away with it. " know I ain't real good with flyin', Jack. But...if I'm alright when we get up there, then...I guess..." Jack smiled widely.

"Great." His satisfied look made Ennis wonder exactly what he'd agreed to.

It took them a while to get on the plane, strapped in and up in the air, but Ennis finally calmed down, his hand holding tightly onto Jack's. Ben and Lily were sat together behind them, and Rose was sat in front with a lady her age from another family. When they could finally remove their seatbelts, Jack gave Ennis that look; the one that spelt sex all over his face.

"See you in the bathroom, say five minutes?" he whispered, and Ennis gulped, his body already yearning for his lover.

"Alright." Jack pressed a quick kiss to his lips and practically bounced all the way there with happiness. Ennis wasn't sure that he'd lasted a full five minutes before he too was heading in there.