When Ennis and Jack woke up the next morning, neither of them could keep the grins from their faces. While the kids were still asleep, they snuck into the bathroom together and took a shower. Ennis had Jack pressed up to the tiles and was kissing his neck, fondling his partner and drawing a moan out of him.
After he came, Jack spun Ennis around to the tiles and sank to his knees, a familiar wicked look in his eyes. When they were finally done, and had towelled each other off, they went back into their room and dressed, Jack retrieving some fresh clothes from his suitcase. He intended to unpack his and Bobby's things today, now that they were settling in. Ennis watched him dress and smiled to himself, a warmth in his stomach at the notion of being with Jack all the time, like up on Brokeback.
The two of them moved into the kitchen and got started on breakfast. Once they were cooking, they took it in turns to roust their kids and get them up, feeling more and more like a family all the time. Jack noticed that Bobby was looking a little better.
"How are you feelin', buddy?" he asked as he helped Bobby through his sleeves. "You sleep okay?"
"Yeah," his son replied, nodding. "Been okay. What's for breakfast?"
"We're makin' bacon an' eggs," Jack told him, knowing it was a favourite. "Ennis is gonna get the girls ready an' then we'll eat, okay?" Bobby nodded and headed for the bathroom to clean his teeth. Jack went back into the kitchen and exchanged a quick kiss with Ennis as they passed each other. Bobby came in and looked around unsurely, wondering where to sit. "Go on, buddy," Jack told him. "Sit wherever you want." Bobby did so and waited patiently, as he always did.
Ten minutes later, Ennis came back in trailed by the girls, who also sat down and started to talk while their fathers were occupied. It felt a little strange to both of them, to be doing something so domesticated, but they were enjoying it all the same.
"You gonna go to school here, Bobby?" Jenny asked, always the more talkative of the two. Bobby shrugged.
"I think so. Daddy never said..."
"We don't gotta worry 'bout that yet," Jack called from the kitchen as he and Ennis dished the food onto plates. "Got some time to figure things out."
"Right," added Ennis, heading to the table to give the kids their breakfast while Jack poured orange juice and coffee. "Need to get Jack an' Bobby settled in first, remember? They've got all that luggage in the hall."
"Daddy says you an' him are sharin' a room," Jenny pointed out to Jack, who glanced at his partner. She didn't sound disgusted, simply curious. Ennis nodded at him in encouragement.
"That's right, Jenny. We are. He told me that he talked to you two."
"How come yer sharin' a room with Ennis, Daddy?" Bobby asked.
"Um...you remember how I loved yer mama, an' shared a room with her?" Bobby nodded. "Well...it's the same thing with Ennis."
"Are you gonna get married?" he asked, and the two men looked at each other. Jack couldn't deny that the idea appealed to him, but he knew in his heart that it might never be possible for them. He would love to marry Ennis, but it wasn't legal and probably never would be.
"We ain't gonna get married, son. Remember when I told you about the law, an' how it decides what people can an' can't do? Well...it says two guys can't get married. Just how it is. But...we're together, and we're gonna try to be a family, okay?"
The kids nodded and everybody started to eat. The room was soon filled with chatter, and it was a welcome relief for both men as they watched. Their kids were getting on a lot better than they had expected, and both of them silently agreed that this just might work after all.
"So what do you kids wanna do today? I ain't goin' back to work 'til next week," Ennis told them. He wanted to stay at home a little longer while they settled into this new life, and he knew that Jack would be happy to cover expenses for now. They would have to talk about that sometime.
"Can we go to the park?" Junior asked, and they looked at each other. Were they ready to go out together so soon? Ennis wasn't sure, but he thought that if they had the kids with them it would look less suspicious.
"Sure, I guess," he replied, seeing the sparkle in Jack's eyes. He knew he would have to be brave about this, or it would never work. The girls started to tell Bobby about the park and everything they could do there, while Jack nodded his approval to Ennis.
After breakfast, the kids went to get ready while Ennis and Jack cleaned up. "Surprised you agreed to that," Jack told his partner, nudging him gently. "Goin' out together."
"Reckon nobody'll look twice if we've got the kids," Ennis replied, and Jack nodded. "But...I do wanna do it, Jack. Gotta learn to stop bein' so scared..."
"Hey," Jack said softly, bringing a hand to his shoulder. "You've got every reason to be scared, after what you've seen. Christ...you was just Bobby's age when you saw that. I can't imagine him goin' through somethin' like that...seein' his mama was bad enough."
Ennis nodded and took a deep breath. "Gonna do right by all of you. An' you was right, Jack...last night. We're gonna be okay, ain't we?" Jack pulled him into a hug and kissed the side of his face.
"We sure are, bud."
Junior crept away from the other side of the doorframe, heading back to her room. Her father had told her that he'd loved her mother, and now he loved Jack. But she had never seen him be so affectionate with her mother; not like how he was with Jack. And he seemed a lot happier. She didn't understand it all, but she knew that if Jack made her daddy happy, then that was all she could ask for.
Ennis and Jack eventually got themselves and the kids ready for their first day as a family, and managed to shepherd them out of the door. The park was a short drive away, so they all hopped into Jack's truck (as it had the most room) and headed for their destination.
They both glanced in the rear-view mirror now and then, seeing their children chatter away together about what they were going to do first. The girls had always loved the park, and Jack had taken Bobby to the park back in Childress numerous times. He was very thankful to the girls for making Bobby feel so welcome. It was good for his son and he knew that Bobby would be alright.
When they reached the park, they let the kids out and watched them tear off for the swings, Bobby following the girls eagerly. Ennis and Jack slowly walked over and sat down on a nearby bench, careful not to sit too close.
"Sure is a nice day," Jack commented, looking up and around.
"Yeah. Reckon the kids are enjoyin' themselves." Ennis couldn't help but smile as the three children played, clearly bonding and having fun. He had never expected to have this, especially with Jack, and he knew he would count his blessings every day from now on. He would never take this for granted, and would try to make his family happy.
Eventually, the kids tired of the swings and headed for the monkey bars. The girls were confident enough, having used them before, but Bobby had never been on them; the park back in Childress hadn't had them. Jack saw the slight fear in his son's eyes and got up. "Reckon he needs a little help..." He walked over, followed by Ennis, and placed his hands on his son's shoulders. "You okay?"
"Um..." Bobby looked up at the bars; they were pretty high and he was only eight, after all. He wasn't sure about this. Jack took his cue and helped his son over to the end, helping him into position so he could grab the bars. Ennis moved underneath and waited for Bobby to move his feet, so that Bobby knew he would be there to catch him if he fell.
"It's okay, bud," he told the young boy, nodding in encouragement. He'd always had a way with calming spooked animals, and he figured the same tactic would work with Bobby.
Growing in confidence, and knowing that his father and Ennis were there, Bobby took his feet off the bars and started moving along, heading for the girls at the other end. He made it across and Jack grinned at Ennis.
"We make pretty damn good parents, bud," he said, eyes sparkling. Ennis nodded, wishing he could kiss Jack right there. That would have to wait until they were alone.
The kids played for another hour and then informed their fathers that they were hungry, so they headed for the small café across the road and settled themselves into a booth.
"What do you want, kids?" Jack asked, looking over a menu. Ennis had a feeling he knew what was coming.
"Fries!" they chorused in unison, and Ennis smirked to himself. He'd been right. They decided to get three portions of fries between the five of them and some milkshakes. When their order was taken, the kids started talking about what else they wanted to do while they were here, and Ennis and Jack leaned back into their seat to talk quietly.
"First day's goin' well," Jack said softly, brushing his leg against Ennis's. "The kids are gettin' on real well."
"Sure are." Ennis looked at Jack and felt his heart aching for more. He couldn't wait until tonight. They had considered doing it that morning in the shower, but both had agreed that they wanted their first time as a real couple to be in bed, where it would be more comfortable and romantic. "Can't wait 'til tonight..."
Jack smiled. "Me neither. The kids'll be asleep...all the lights off...except that lamp on your side. I'd like that to be on...wanna see you."
Ennis nodded. "Sounds good." They exchanged a sly look and then averted their eyes as the waitress arrived with their food. The meal was loud, but the kids were well-behaved. Both Ennis and Jack had taken their kids out enough times, and they had instilled plenty of manners in them.
When they were done, the kids all traipsed off to the bathroom and their fathers were left to talk in private. Ennis exhaled and leaned back. "This sure ain't easy..."
"I know. We're doin' a good job, cowboy. The kids seem happy enough, an' nobody's givin' us funny looks. We're just two dads out with our kids. Nobody's gotta know anythin'."
Ennis nodded. "Right. Just...I'm still real nervous. Bein' out with you in public. I ain't ashamed," he added quickly, looking at Jack. "But..."
"I know," Jack repeated, nodding back. "Takes some gettin' used to. But we're gonna be okay. As long as we're careful, we'll be fine." The kids returned and they left the café, heading back to the park. After a few more hours of chasing the kids and tiring them out, Ennis and Jack bundled them back into the truck, amused by how they all leaned together in their drowsy states. They looked like a brother and sisters, as if the connection between their fathers had somehow replicated itself in them, binding them together.
When they got back, Ennis and Jack helped their children to their respective beds, letting them rest for a while until dinner, and then collapsed onto the sofa together. Ennis pulled Jack into his arms and kissed his cheek as Jack leaned back into him.
"Mmm...could get used to this," Jack murmured, closing his own eyes. Ennis nodded.
"Me too. Happy here with you, darlin'."
"Yep." The two of them fell asleep on the sofa, not stirring at all when the kids woke up and saw them.
It was almost ten at night, the kids were asleep in bed and the lights were off, except for the lamp on the bedside table. Ennis and Jack were under the covers, kissing heavily and straining against each other, yearning to connect after so long. Hand jobs and blowjobs were good enough, but nothing compared to the real act of love.
Dinner had been strangely quiet, the kids not saying much. But Ennis and Jack put it down to the busy day they'd had, and the kids being tired. In reality, the kids had been thinking about the relationship between their fathers. None of them really understood it, being so young, but they were curious. They were all unsure of how to approach their fathers about it, but talked about it together.
Right now, they were oblivious to what was going on down the hall. Ennis nuzzled Jack's neck and made a low groan in his throat, hard and ready for what he wanted. Jack bucked his hips and bit his lip.
"Ennis...come on...ain't gonna last long..." Ennis grazed Jack's neck with his teeth. No matter how shy he tended to be elsewhere, he was unstoppable when they were alone like this, all shyness forgotten.
"What do you want, darlin'?" he breathed into Jack's ear, making him shiver all over.
"Fuck me," he replied, grabbing at Ennis's back, trying to pull him closer. "Please..." Ennis grabbed the lube and smeared it over himself, blinded by lust and love. He so wanted to tell Jack that he loved him with everything he had inside him, with all of his heart, but it was the one thing that he just couldn't seem to work past his throat. He hoped to hell that Jack knew how he felt.
Ennis nudged Jack's legs apart and started to push in, the familiar feeling overtaking him. It was everything he remembered; Jack was warm and tight and everything he loved. Jack's head fell back to the pillow and he moaned softly as Ennis filled him up, lifting his legs. Jack wrapped them around Ennis's back and locked his ankles together, ready to do this with his partner at long last.
They stared at each other for a second, the meaning of the moment hitting them both at the same time. They were a real couple now, and merging their two families into one. In the light of their recent tragedies, they had made the best of things and moved on from it. They had been brought back together, this time for good, and they knew that they would be alright. Ennis began to thrust slowly into Jack, savouring every second of it. He leaned down and planted his mouth on Jack's, pushing his tongue in where Jack immediately responded, winding his own tongue around it and pulling Ennis down deeper into him.
"Oh God, Jack..." Ennis breathed as he broke away, kissing his lover's neck. "I missed you...missed doin' this..."
"Me too...God, I love you..." Jack reached down to grab Ennis's ass in two handfuls, pulling him in deeper. "Oh, fuck..."
Ennis changed his angle and found what he was looking for; the sweet spot. He pushed at it, knowing it would drive Jack crazy and guessing right. Jack was trying not to moan too loudly, but it wasn't easy when Ennis was doing that to him. Ennis saw how he was struggling to keep quiet and kissed him again to shut him up. He picked up the pace and soon felt Jack moaning into his mouth, accompanied by a warm, sticky feeling on his stomach. Jack screwed his eyes shut as he came, muscles tightening and then relaxing, shaking as he felt Ennis come inside him.
They collapsed together and lay there, panting. Neither cared about being sticky; never had. Jack had always looked at it as a symbol of their connection; a physical indicator of what they meant to each other. He felt strangely proud of having his come all over Ennis's chest, but knew what he really wanted. He longed to have it inside Ennis; to make love to him and show him how good it would feel. He knew that Ennis would like it too, if only he could be brave enough to ask. But he was willing to wait until Ennis was ready for it; he knew that Ennis would let him know.
"That was good," Jack breathed, running his hands up and down Ennis's back. He felt Ennis pull out of him with a satisfied sigh.
"Sure was." He nuzzled Jack's neck and relaxed against his lover, having thoroughly enjoyed connecting with him again. "Missed you so much..."
"Missed you too, cowboy. Never ever thought...you'd want this..."
"I always did, Jack...just didn't know how to tell you. Thought I'd have to choose between you an' the girls. I'm sorry if you felt I didn't care 'bout you..." He had long feared this; that because he'd chosen to stay, Jack felt he didn't care about him, and that he didn't want to live with him. He especially feared that Jack didn't think he loved him.
"It's okay," Jack soothed him, kissing his damp curls. "I never thought that. An' I didn't mean to make you feel like you had to choose. I know you love yer girls...an' when I first asked you to live with me, back in '67, I never said you hadta choose. I figured we could live together but you could still see yer girls. Same with me an' Bobby. Just glad we can have both now..."
"Me too. Happy here with you, Jack." He rolled off him and they moved in close, wrapping their arms around each other and closing their eyes, looking forward to another day with their family. They didn't have everything figured out yet, were just taking one day at a time, but they knew they were happy. Their kids were coping well enough with the change in their lives, and the two of them were closer than ever now they were together. That made everything worthwhile.
The next day, the five of them stayed inside away from the rain that had been falling since the early hours. Ennis and Jack had thoroughly enjoyed snuggling close together under the quilt, their legs rubbing together for warmth as they murmured soft words to each other. They had missed being together like this, when they weren't having sex but just relaxing together. Every morning of their fishing trips had been like this, and they were looking forward to having it on a more permanent basis.
They made breakfast and noticed that the kids were a little more awake than the evening before, and were asking them what they wanted to do.
"Got lots of colourin' stuff, if you wanna do that," Ennis offered, more for Bobby's benefit than anything. He was getting used to having a mini-Jack around the place, and hoped that one day, Bobby would be more comfortable around him. Things were still so new right now.
"I wanna do some readin'," Junior broke in, twirling her fork. She had loved colouring as a young child, but was growing up now. After all, she would turn eleven in a few months. "Got some books from a yard sale a while back, an'..." She hesitated, remembering that she had been with her mother at the time. "I wanna read 'em."
Ennis nodded and then looked at Jack. "Guess we can always watch a movie or somethin', bud." Jack made an affirmative sound in his throat and carried on eating, minding what his mother had always told him about not talking with his mouth full.
After breakfast, the kids went into their rooms and the two men settled on the sofa. Jack reasoned that it would be okay for them to get comfortable; the kids knew they were together and he wasn't afraid of answering curious questions. As long as he and Ennis kept their hands to themselves, they would avoid any awkwardness.
The two of them relaxed on the sofa and Jack switched the TV on, flicking through the few channels to try and find something. Eventually finding an old Western that he loved, he settled against Ennis and felt a familiar arm snake around his back, pulling him closer.
"Turnin' out to be a perfect day, bud. You an' me...just like this...the kids occupied..."
"Yeah." Ennis rubbed Jack's back and boldly planted a kiss on his cheek. "Real nice."
About an hour into the movie, they heard a bedroom door open and footsteps coming down the hall. Jack didn't move, and Ennis didn't remove his arm. They both wanted to show the kids that it was okay for them to be like this. Both of them had agreed that if the kids saw them acting like a couple, they would get used to it and eventually see it as normal.
Junior appeared in the doorway and hesitated as they looked over. "Hey, Junior," said Ennis, waving her over with his free hand. "What's up?"
"Daddy...I wanna ask you an' Jack somethin'," she replied as she walked over, stopping when she reached them. "If it's okay..."
"Sure, darlin'," he told her, patting the seat next to them. She sat down and looked at them before speaking. Jack noticed how she had Ennis's nervous habits when it came to talking.
"Um...I was thinkin'...there's a lot of us here now. An' the apartment ain't that big. We've got a lot of stuff, an'..." She trailed off, and they understood. They hadn't really discussed their long-term plans, but knew they would have to.
"Well...I guess...we can't stay here forever," Ennis admitted, glancing at Jack.
"Right," Jack cut in, trying to help. "Maybe someday, we could move. Like to a house, or..."
"A ranch," Ennis said softly, looking at him. They both remembered Jack's proposal of 1967; to live on a ranch together. Now that they were together and building a future, it seemed like the next logical step.
"Yeah, we could do that," Jack replied, smiling back at him. Junior saw the meaningful look between them and smiled a little. It was crystal clear that they were happy being together, and she knew that everything would be alright. Her new family wasn't about to fall apart.
"So I guess...we should start lookin' at that," Ennis said finally, smiling down at his daughter. "Me an' Jack are gonna sort that out. I reckon we can stay here for a while, since you ain't in school right now. An' we'll move when we've found a place. That alright?"
Junior nodded and leaned up to kiss her father on the cheek. "Sure, Daddy." She got up and, to Jack's surprise, also kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks, Jack." When she'd disappeared back to her room, Ennis and Jack looked at each other, slight grins on their faces.
"Didn't see that one comin'," Ennis admitted, taking Jack's hand. Jack nodded.
"Me neither. But...if at least one of 'em is warmin' to me...that's a good sign, right?"
"Sure is." Ennis pulled Jack close to him again and they returned to the movie, happy that things were going so well. When the movie was over, they sat and talked about their plans; it was decided that they would look at moving to Colorado. It was far enough between Wyoming and Texas so that they wouldn't have to deal with meddlesome relatives, especially L.D., but not too far if the kids should want to visit their mothers' graves.
"Guess we're decided then, bud," Ennis said as he ran his hand along Jack's arm. "When are we gonna move?"
"Dunno. Couple of months, maybe. Gotta give the kids time to adjust, you know. Junior seems okay, but I'm worried for Bobby. He's still kinda shy..."
"He'll be okay, bud," Ennis reassured him. "We'll keep an eye on him." Jack nodded and they fell silent, thinking about everything they had and what they hoped to have one day. Now that their plans were set and they had a goal to work towards, they felt as if their life together was truly starting.
June 21st, 1975
On Saturday the weather was particularly warm, so Ennis and Jack decided to get the kids out of the stuffy apartment and back to the park, intending to buy them some ice cream while they were out. It had now been over a week since Ennis had called Jack and asked him up to Wyoming, and neither of them could quite believe it. The week had just flown by, and now they had the rest of their lives to spend together.
When they reached the park, they let the kids go off and settled on the same bench, Jack stretching and observing how Bobby seemed a lot less shy than he had been the last time. He hoped that his son was adjusting to these changes in his life, and that the transition would be smooth. Jack loved Ennis and wanted this to work out, with all three children here with them.
"He's lookin' a lot better than before," Ennis pointed out, as if he'd been thinking of the same thing. Jack nodded.
"Yeah, he is. He ain't had no nightmares since we came up here. Wonder if it's 'cos...this is where we belong..." He smiled at Ennis, who shyly returned it. Jack had always loved Ennis's shy smile, and could remember that day by the campfire up on Brokeback, when they had first felt a connection to each other. Jack often wondered if Ennis had been flirting with him, but simply hadn't been aware of it. Either way, he was glad he had his man now.
"Reckon it is, darlin'," Ennis said in a low voice, nodding. "Want you here...always did." They watched the kids for a while, laughing when Bobby started chasing a shrieking Jenny with a fistful of mud, as boys did to their sisters. Both of them were glad to see their children starting to bond.
"Bobby!" Jack called, trying to sound stern and failing spectacularly. "Leave the poor girl alone." His son relented and headed for the slide instead. The girls soon joined him and the three of them coerced their fathers into a game of Hide and Seek in the trees nearby.
The two men chased the kids for a while and then lured them away with the promise of ice cream. When they were back in the café across the road, Ennis and Jack were glad for a chance to rest their legs. They watched as the kids devoured their ice creams while they shared a sundae, and listened to the happy banter between the children.
As they ate, Ennis's eyes drifted across the room, and they landed on the corner, where he saw Alma's sister with her children. He felt his heartbeat quicken a little and he tried not to panic. Surely she would have her suspicions about Jack, and he was in no mood to talk to her right now. He just wanted to get through as many days as he could before an inevitable confrontation; to give Jack a warning about her if nothing else.
Ennis tried to keep his attention on his partner and children, and not on the woman who could cause them trouble. As much as he knew that the girls would need her, being a female influence, he hoped that she wouldn't make things difficult for them. Maybe if they talked, he could make her see that his relationship with Jack wasn't a bad thing; that their love would benefit the kids by giving them a loving and stable home life.
"You okay?" Jack asked, looking at him curiously. Ennis nodded and smiled, tearing his attention back to the table.
"Yeah, I'm fine." He carried on eating, and Jack kept shooting him suspicious glances. Ennis had clearly seen someone here that he hadn't wanted to.
Maybe it's that sister-in-law of his, he thought to himself. Hope she don't make no trouble for us...
When they were done with their food, everybody left the café and headed back to the park, Ennis praying that Amy hadn't seen him. He didn't want to talk to her right now; he and Jack needed this time to figure things out for themselves without anybody snooping and making judgements. As the kids resumed playing, the two men sat back down and lit up, Ennis in particular needing something to relax him. Jack was normally very good at distracting him, but they were in public; it would have to wait until later.
"So you goin' back to work on Monday?" Jack asked, looking over at him. Ennis nodded.
"Yeah. It'll give me somethin' to do. Might even get a bonus or somethin'." He looked back at Jack. "Bud...with you lookin' after the kids...you ain't gonna feel like...a wife or nothin', are ya?"
Jack smiled and shook his head. "No, I won't. Promise." He nudged Ennis's shoulder gently. "I'd love to help out with the girls, get to know 'em better. An' I wanna keep an eye on Bobby, make sure he's okay."
"Sounds good. An'...I'm happy that yer here, Jack. I want us to be a family...all of us. Reckon we can make it work?"
Jack nodded, heart full of confidence that they would be okay. "Yeah, I do. We love each other, an' our kids...they get on real well. We're gonna look into a ranch...an' everythin's gonna be fine."
Ennis couldn't help but smile warmly at him, at the wonderful man he'd finally ended up with. Jack was right; they had a lot that they'd never expected to, and he knew deep down that everything was going to be okay.
What he didn't know was that Amy was a few feet away watching her own children, and that she had seen Ennis and his new family. She looked at the other man, who must be Ennis's friend that he'd told her about, and saw how they were with each other. They were a lot closer than friends should be, and she wondered what was going on between Ennis and his friend. Whatever it was, she knew that she had to investigate it deeper, for her sister's sake.