Chapter 5

June 23rd, 1975

On Monday, Jack did as he promised and took care of the kids while Ennis went back to work. He knew it was important for Ennis to carry on working right now, and he was happy to do whatever he could. He himself was willing to wait until they had they own ranch before he started working again, and he wanted to spend time with the kids anyway.

He ended up pushing them on the swings outside the apartment and feeding them hotdogs for lunch, and while he didn't get anything done, he had a great day with them. The girls were becoming more comfortable around them, and he could see that Bobby was doing well. When Ennis got home and kissed him on the cheek in the kitchen, Jack couldn't help but smile.

"Hey, cowboy. Good day?"

"Yeah, pretty good. Where are the kids?"

"In the girls' room, readin'. They've been fine today. Got 'em on the swings downstairs an' they had hotdogs for lunch."

Ennis smiled. "Sounds great."

Jack hesitated. "Ennis...I gotta talk to you about somethin'. Nothin' bad, but...just wanna talk."

"Sure." They moved to the kitchen table and linked hands, Jack steeling himself for what he was about to say.

"Well...I was thinkin' about money. I'm fine with you workin' while we figure things out, an' until we move. But...there's somethin' I didn't tell you."

"What is it?"

"When Lureen died, an' I was left to raise Bobby on my own...L.D. came up to me an' gave me a check. Said I was to use it for Bobby, to give him whatever he needs. Buyin' a house, whatever. He said it didn't matter so long as I took care of him."

"Guess he ain't a complete asshole, then," Ennis commented, and Jack snorted.

"Always was to me. Kept shuttin' me out of my own son's life as much as he could. But I gotta hand it to him...he does care 'bout Bobby."

"Sure he does...Bobby's all that's left of his girl, right? Bet he misses Lureen."

Jack nodded. "Yeah...probably why he didn't put up a fuss when I told him I was movin' up here. Just said he wanted to see Bobby when I'm settled down again. An' I'll take him down there when I get the chance."

"Okay. So...he gave you a check?"

"Yeah." Jack took a deep breath. "I cashed it before I left. It's for...hundred thousand."

Ennis's eyes widened. He'd never had anything close to that in his life. "Woah...guess he does care about Bobby."

"Yeah. Anyway...I want you to know...we don't never have to worry 'bout money. If...the ranch fails or somethin'. We'll be okay."

"Jack...that's your money. He wanted you to use it for Bobby," Ennis argued, uncomfortable with touching the money despite Jack's offer.

"An' Bobby is part of our life together," Jack told him firmly. "Think about it, Ennis. Makes sense for me to use it for us. All of us. Yer my partner an' we're tryin' to build a life with our kids. I wanna use it for that." He covered Ennis's hand with his own. "Look...I'm happy for you to work until we move. An' then we'll be workin' on a ranch of our own. I ain't sayin' we gotta live off the money once we're workin', but...it's there if we need it."

"But, Jack..." Ennis was trying not to get angry; he wasn't used to living off other people like that.

"Ennis," Jack said sternly. "Remember the last time we argued about money? Back on Brokeback, when we had to leave an' I offered you a loan?"

Ennis lowered his head in shame; he hadn't handled that one well at all, had even punched the man he loved because he didn't know how to say what he was feeling. Now that he and Jack were together and happy, he was better at voicing his feelings. But he would never forgive himself for the way he'd treated Jack that day.

"Sorry," he said quietly, recognising that Jack was just trying to help. They were partners now, and they had to try and find a way to deal with things together. "Didn't mean to just..."

"I know," Jack replied, squeezing his hand. "You ain't never lived off anyone, an' yer willin' to go without if it means the girls can have what they need." He leaned in close, tilting Ennis's chin up to face him. "You grew up hungry, bud. You never had anythin' you wanted, an' barely anythin' you needed. I hate thinkin' about how you had so little. An' I think you deserve better than that. The kids, too."

Ennis's eyes were a little watery, and he gulped. "Jack...you never had much, either..."

"Maybe not, but...we both deserve more. Okay, we've made mistakes in our lives, but...we're good people. We didn't do right by our wives, but we're tryin' to do the right thing for our kids. An' that's all that matters. I don't want the kids to grow up as hungry as we did, cowboy. An' I don't ever wanna see you go hungry again. So...this money is for us, for our family an' our future. An' I don't want you fightin' with me over this, okay?"

"Okay," Ennis said shakily, smiling a little. "Never did like fightin' with you anyway. Waste of time when I could be tellin' you...I feel real strong on you." He took Jack's hands and looked down. "You gotta know how I feel 'bout you, Jack."

"I do," Jack said softly, leaning over and kissing him lightly on the lips. "I really do. It don't matter if you can't say it yet. You show me, every day. That means a lot to me, Ennis." He smiled and they embraced, breathing in each other's scent. Ennis longed to tell Jack he loved him, and he vowed to work up the courage. He was humbled that Jack was offering to use the money for them, and was determined to do his part; to be a good partner like Jack deserved.


That evening after dinner, they all sat down in front of the TV for a while. Ennis and Jack had their legs up on the sofa so that the kids could lean against it, and they were sat fairly close together with their hands linked between them. Jack liked the gentle pressure of Ennis's fingers against his, and he thought that he'd never been so happy in his life.

"Jack?" asked Junior, still a little timid around him. She did like him, but was still getting used to all of this.

"What's up, Junior?" he answered as she turned to face them.

"Bobby says you used to be a bull rider, in the rodeo. That true?"

Ennis braced himself for an exaggerated tale of Jack's rodeo days; the man did like to talk about it even though he hadn't been the best at it. Jack had loved bull riding and Ennis knew it.

"I sure was, Junior. That's how I met his mama. Used to be pretty good at it."

"Did you ever go watch him, Daddy?" Jenny asked, turning and fixing her eyes on Ennis. The two men exchanged an uncomfortable glance and Ennis shook his head.

"No, I didn't. He was down in Texas, an'...I was real busy up here with you girls an' yer mama." He squeezed Jack's fingers, silently apologising for those four years they spent apart. Jack nodded his understanding.

The kids turned back to the TV and Jack, not caring about appearances and knowing Ennis needed a little reassurance, leaned over and rested his head on Ennis's shoulder. The fact that they'd had to spend any time apart in the first place was nobody's fault; just the way things had been. Ennis had, after all, made his promises to Alma and was terrified of what would happen if he went off with Jack.

Jack knew all of this, and while he didn't like it he had learned to accept it. All they could do now was move forward together; to try and make up for those twelve miserable years that they had yearned to be together all the time. They had it now, and were determined to make the most of it.

The movie finished and they got their children into bed, looking forward to some alone time. Evening was soon becoming their favourite time of day; when they could be together and do everything they wanted to. When the kids were in bed, the two men returned to the sofa and this time, Ennis lay back and pulled Jack down with him, into his arms. He rested his head on the arm and smiled up at his partner, running his fingers through the dark hair.

"Been lookin' forward to this all day," he murmured, eyes roaming over Jack's face. Jack settled himself on Ennis's chest and rose in time to his lover's breaths. He felt as if he could fall asleep right here, he was so comfortable. He was pleased to see how peaceful Ennis looked; he hadn't seen that for a while.

"Me too. I love bein' with the kids, but...this is my favourite part of us bein' together. Just you an' me...nobody else."

"Yeah..." Ennis willingly parted his lips as Jack planted his own on them, pushing his tongue in and finding Ennis's within seconds. They kissed slowly and deeply, lips moving together and saliva forming between them. Kisses like these were Jack's favourite; they were messy and had a raw quality to them. He had a real man here with him, and he couldn't deny that it aroused him.

When they pulled apart, both were breathing a little heavily. Every time they made out, they were left breathless and hopelessly turned on. They always seemed to have that effect on each other, and they were glad for it. As long as they loved each other and were attracted to each other, they would be okay.

"Love kissin' you," Jack murmured, nuzzling his nose against Ennis's throat. Ennis ran his hands up and down Jack's back, pulling the shirt out and feeling the warm skin. He loved Jack's muscles, and remembered the first time he'd felt him; during their second night together up on Brokeback.

"Me too...missed you so much when we weren't together. Not just sex, but...other stuff..."

"I know what you mean," Jack replied, kissing his neck. "Sometimes, I even missed the times when we was just talkin'. Like...after we were done an' were fallin' asleep. Remember how we used to talk? Sometimes we used to do that for hours, right through the night."

"Yeah, I remember." It was true; sometimes when they were spent and unable to move, they would get to talking. They never mentioned their wives; they tried to keep their guilty thoughts locked away. But they talked about their kids and work. When they were teenagers up on Brokeback, they used to talk about their childhood dreams; what they'd wanted to be when they were younger.

They also talked about their parents. Ennis didn't like talking about his father, but he had enough praise for his mother. He could remember what a wonderful woman she'd been. Jack was the same; he loved his mother but never liked talking about his father.

Ennis thought about it, and realised that Jack had barely mentioned his father. Whenever he did, it was as though he was skimming over details, trying to hide something. Ennis wondered what had been so bad about Jack's childhood that he didn't like talking about it. Jack had never really said how his father had been when he was younger.

Jack knew that one day, probably soon, he would have to tell Ennis the truth about his childhood abuse; he'd never told anyone before. He'd especially never told anyone how it could have easily ruined his relationship with Bobby. They were partners now, and Ennis deserved to know the truth. It would be very difficult, but he could count on one thing; if he were to get upset as he remembered everything that happened, Ennis would be there for him.


June 25th, 1975

On Wednesday when Ennis got home, he and Jack had a talk. It had been almost two weeks since the phone call, the pivotal change in their relationship, and they were wondering how the kids were doing. They seemed okay, but Jack felt it was their duty as fathers to make sure of that. And they also knew that the kids might have questions about what was going on.

As a result, they gathered the kids in the living room after dinner and sat on the sofa, facing them.

"Okay, kids," Jack started, looking at them. "Me an' Ennis have been talkin', an'...we reckon it's time we all had a talk."

"Tomorrow, it'll be two weeks since I asked Jack up here," Ennis continued. "An'...we know it ain't been easy for any of you. We was just wonderin'...how you're all copin'."

The kids looked at each other and Junior spoke up. "We're okay, Daddy. We talk all the time. An'...we know you two are happy."

"We don't really understand it, though," Jenny cut in. "I mean...you said you was best friends. But we don't know much. Where'd you meet?"

At this, Ennis and Jack told their children the story of their summer herding sheep, glossing over the more graphic details of their sexual relationship.

"So then, when we got back to Signal, that's the last time we saw each other for four years. I was marryin' yer mama, an'..."

"Why couldn't you be together then?" Junior asked, and they looked at each other.

"The thing is...there's a lot of people out there who think that us lovin' each other is...wrong. An' we believed that back then. So..."

"Would people hurt you for it?" Jenny asked fearfully, and Ennis couldn't help but grow angry about the injustice of it all. His daughter shouldn't have to worry about things like that at her age, but because people said his relationship with Jack was wrong, here she was. People would hurt him and Jack for being together, and that was a reality he had to get used to. He wished that they could protect their children from all of that, but it wasn't likely.

"They would," Jack said gently. "But we're grown men. We can look after ourselves, an' you three. We'll be alright."

"What about school?" Bobby asked. "What if they ask us 'bout our parents?"

Now came the tricky part. The two of them had discussed their cover story, and while they didn't like to cast slander on their mothers' names, it was necessary.

"Well...we've been talkin' bout that," Jack replied. "We was thinkin'...that when we move, we tell people we're half-brothers. Different dads, so it explains why we have different last names. So you girls would tell people that Bobby's yer cousin. Same for you, son."

"Sorry we gotta make you lie," Ennis told them. "But it's all we could think of. If they ask about yer mamas, you can tell the truth."

"Daddy?" Jenny asked, looking timid.

"Yeah?"

"We've been wonderin'...you said you an' Jack love each other like you loved our mamas. But...we don't really get it. We've seen you...laughin', an' sittin' close together on the sofa. We saw you kissin' Jack on the cheek once. Me an' Junior never saw you like that with mama. An' Bobby says Jack wasn't like that with his mama."

They'd been dreading this. One day they would have to tell the kids the complete truth; that they hadn't loved their mothers the way they loved each other. They had tried their best, but it simply hadn't been the same because their hearts had belonged to each other since Brokeback. But it was too soon for that now; the kids weren't likely to understand and they were unwilling to cause more pain.

"Honey...that ain't somethin' we're proud of. Me an' yer mama was havin' troubles before she died. Jack too. We did a lot of arguin' with 'em, an'...we wasn't really in love by the time yer mamas died. I know that don't sound good, but..."

"What if you an' Jack start arguin'? An' you don't love each other no more? Are you gonna break up?" Junior asked, fearful of her new family being torn apart.

In a bold move, Jack took Ennis's hand and squeezed it. "That ain't never gonna happen, Junior. Me an' yer daddy love each other a lot. We're gonna be okay."

The kids nodded and Ennis spoke up. "So when we move, an' yer at school...you gotta tell people we're half-brothers, an' that yer cousins. You can't tell no-one the truth, okay? It's gotta stay between us."

"Okay, Daddy," Jenny and Junior replied.

"Okay, Ennis," said Bobby. The three kids got up and sat on their fathers' other sides, moving in close. Ennis and Jack put their free arms around their children and leaned back, feeling more like a family. They would tell the kids more details when they were old enough to understand, and one day they would know the truth about certain things, but this was enough for now. Their kids at least understood that they loved each other, and that they were going to look after them.

Eventually, they got the kids into bed and collapsed back on the sofa together, worn out from their talk.

"That went well," Jack commented, stretching. Ennis nodded.

"Yeah, better than I thought it would. Didn't know that they've seen us kissin', though. An' the girls remember that I wasn't like that with Alma. Kinda wish they didn't pick up on that."

"We'll hafta tell 'em everythin' one day," Jack replied. "It's only fair. Sooner or later, they're gonna be havin' relationships of their own, an' they'll wanna come to us for advice. So I think that bein' honest with 'em is the best thing."

"Yeah, maybe. Anyway...you ready to go to bed?" Ennis looked at him, and Jack caught the gleam in his eyes. He grinned, knowing exactly what Ennis had in mind.

"You bet, bud."


Ennis was flat on his back in bed, eyes closed in ecstasy as Jack kissed his stomach, moving further down under the quilt. His destination was obvious, and when his warm, moist mouth took Ennis in, he was rewarded with a low groan that he felt more than heard.

"Oh...darlin'..."

"You like that?" Jack asked wickedly as he came up for air. Ennis nodded and bucked into his mouth, gripping the headboard behind him. It had always amazed him how Jack just seemed to know what would make him crazy, and he was determined to pay him back in kind when he was done.

A thought popped into his head. Over the past few weeks, he'd been having more and more thought of letting Jack top him. He couldn't deny that he was curious about how it felt, and he knew that Jack would make it good for him. He just wished he could be brave enough to ask. Jack had never seemed fazed by the whole concept, and Ennis had to acknowledge how brave Jack was. They'd both been told from a young age that it was wrong, but that hadn't stopped Jack from going after what he'd wanted.

Then again, he had been brave enough to ask Jack up here in the first place. Maybe he could ask for this, too.

His thoughts were wiped clean when Jack's administrations sent him over the edge, making him moan and buck hard into Jack's mouth. Jack finished swallowing and reappeared from under the covers.

"You feel good there?" he murmured, and Ennis nodded, smiling.

"Yeah. Jack, I...I've been thinkin'..."

"Always a dangerous sign," Jack quipped, smirking, and Ennis smacked his ass.

"Asshole. Wanna hear it or not?"

Jack smiled and kissed him lightly. "Sure I do. What's up?"

"Um...you know how...when we're doin' it, an'...that's it's always...me?"

"Always on top? Yeah...why?" Jack had a feeling that he knew what Ennis was about to say, but kept it to himself. If he was right, he wanted Ennis to ask him under his own steam. He knew it was a big deal for Ennis.

"Been thinkin'...that maybe...one day...you could..." His throat worked and he kept trying to get it out, but was struggling. Jack took pity on him and cupped his cheek.

"That maybe I could be on top?" he asked softly. "That I could...fuck you?" Ennis nodded, relieved that Jack had helped him past that.

"Yeah. I ain't really ready yet, but...maybe one day..."

Jack smiled. "Sounds like a good idea to me, bud. You sure?"

"Yeah. Started thinkin' on it a few weeks ago, before we got together for real." He shrugged. "I dunno, Jack...with everythin' that's happenin', an' us bein' together...just made me think. Yer my partner now, an'...just makes sense to me, that's all. Besides, I...I wanna know what it's like." These last few words were whispered, and Jack knew that while Ennis wasn't ashamed of them, he was still struggling a little to adjust. He figured it would simply take time, which they now had in abundance.

"Okay, bud," he replied, nuzzling their noses together. "Gotta admit...I've thought 'bout it, too. Didn't really know how to ask you..."

Ennis pulled Jack's face close to his, kissing him deeply and arousing him all over again. He moved and rolled Jack off him and onto his back, ready to return the favour. Jack's eyes widened when he realised where Ennis was going. It wasn't often that Ennis went down on him, but when he did the feeling was unlike anything else.

"God, Ennis..." he breathed, reaching up to grab the headboard. He remembered the first time Ennis had done this. It had been up on Brokeback during their summer herding sheep. It had been so unexpected and so amazing that Jack had ended up grabbing the tent pole and accidentally pulling on it, causing the tent to collapse on them both. But that hadn't stopped Ennis; he'd just kept on going and then they'd disentangled themselves from the tent, full of laughter.

Now, he watched in wonder as Ennis disappeared under the covers and took him in his mouth, an expert despite his infrequent displays. Jack had found that Ennis was a natural at this, and he counted himself very lucky to have such an amazing lover. They were best friends and could talk about anything and everything, and the sex was incredible. Jack felt that he was falling more and more in love with Ennis every day, and he hoped that they would be this strong as they grew older and raised their kids.

He bit his lip and tried not to moan too loudly when he felt Ennis's finger penetrate him. It was a trick Ennis had thought up by himself, and had swiftly learned that it drove Jack crazy when he did it during oral sex. Jack felt his prostate being touched and he exploded, head pushing deep into the pillow and chest heaving. When Ennis had licked him dry he came back up and settled onto Jack's chest, looking pleased with himself. No matter how shy Ennis could be out there in the world, Jack knew the real him. The one who took care of him and made him feel like a million bucks. The one who could make his toes curl and send shockwaves through him with just the right touch. Jack didn't care if Ennis would never be able to show a great deal of affection in front of others, aside from their children; Ennis more than made up for it when they were alone.

"Damn," he breathed, opening his eyes to meet Ennis's. They kissed softly and Ennis rolled off him, mindful that his muscles could get sore after being beaten up in bull riding. Jack turned onto his side and Ennis spooned up behind him, kissing the back of his neck.

"Night, darlin'," he whispered, rubbing Jack's stomach. Jack smiled and leaned back into him.

"Night, cowboy." He closed his eyes and started to drift off, feeling warm and secure here in his lover's arms.


A few hours later, Jack woke up to the sound of a quiet whimpering nearby. He rolled over and looked at Ennis, but he was sound asleep. Confused, Jack sat up and realised who it was.

"Shit..." He slid out of bed, pulled his pyjama bottoms on and headed out of the door for Bobby's room. Sure enough, his son was tossing and turning in bed, a look of distress on his face. "Bobby..."

He walked over and sat on the bed, gently placing his hands on his son's shoulders. "Bobby, wake up...come on..." He shook Bobby awake and a pair of blue eyes looked up at him. "Hey...you okay?"

"Daddy?" Bobby sat up and Jack pulled him into a hug. "Keep seein' mama...all covered in blood. An' I keep thinkin' 'bout that crash."

"You keep picturin' it?" Jack asked, heart breaking for his son. Bobby sniffed and nodded, face buried in Jack's chest. Jack rubbed his son's back, unaware that Ennis was watching from the doorway. He'd sensed Jack leaving the bed and had discreetly followed him. Now he was looking on with a slight smile on his face. Jack was a wonderful father, despite his doubts, and Ennis could see it right now.

Jack pulled away and wiped his son's tears away. "It's okay, Bobby. I know you miss yer mama. I do, too. She was a good woman. But remember...she's always gonna be lookin' down on you. You won't never forget her. She'll always be right here." He gently prodded Bobby's chest, where his heart was. "Okay?" Bobby nodded.

"Thanks, Daddy. What are we doin' this weekend?"

"Dunno, bud. I can talk to Ennis, an' see what the girls wanna do." He smiled and ruffled Bobby's hair. "You think you can get some sleep now?" Bobby nodded and Jack kissed his forehead, pulling the covers back over him. He stood up and stretched, looking forward to some more sleep himself. When he turned around and saw Ennis standing there, he jumped. "Jesus, Ennis..."

He grinned and walked over to him. "Sorry, bud," Ennis said to him, taking his hand. "Didn't mean to scare ya. Just...felt you leavin' an' wondered where you was goin'."

"Bobby had a nightmare," Jack whispered as they left the room and shut the door. "I heard him an' I just...I had to make sure he was okay."

Ennis nodded. "You did the right thing, bud. He's yer son. I'd do the same for the girls. Did too, at first. When Alma died, they didn't have nightmares, but they had trouble sleepin'. Jenny woke up cryin' once."

Jack sighed as they entered their room and locked the door. They got back into bed and propped themselves up against the pillows, sitting up and thinking things over. Things had been going so well lately, and Jack figured they were due for a little hitch.

"Well...we're doin' our best," Jack reasoned, shrugging. "Ain't like we had a good father figure, is it?"

"Guess not," Ennis replied, nodding. "Neither of 'em was much good. We're just doin' what we think we oughta, Jack. Learnin' as we go on. Just 'cos we didn't have it when we was growin' up...don't mean we can't love our kids."

Jack was silent for a moment, thinking. He knew he had to tell Ennis this; it was very important and would help Ennis understand him a little better. He knew Ennis wouldn't judge him.

"Ennis...there's somethin' you gotta know. An' it ain't easy for me to say." Ennis looked over at him and instinctively took his hand.

"What is it, bud?" he asked gently, sensing that it really was difficult for Jack to say.

"I never wanted kids," he admitted, almost in a whisper. "I know that makes me sound bad, but...it's true." He looked away, unable to meet Ennis's eyes. "Sorry if you don't like it, but..."

"Jack...it's okay," Ennis told him, squeezing his hand. "You wanna tell me why?"

"I...I was scared of...turnin' into my old man. Thought if I had a kid, especially a boy...I'd be just like him."

"You ain't him, Jack. I know you ain't told me much about what he was like, but...from what you said...he was a lot like mine."

Jack nodded. "I guess. An'...I am gonna tell you the truth, Ennis. Promise. It's just gonna take me a while to work up the guts, that's all. I ain't never told anyone before." He finally met his partner's eyes. "But I know I can trust you. I love you."

Ennis smiled a little. "Jack...I...I love you too." It was the first time Ennis had ever uttered the words, and Jack's smile widened into a grin. He leaned over and kissed Ennis on the mouth, pulling him closer. His heart burst with happiness at the words, and he was smiling as he broke away.

"Cowboy...I've been waitin' for you to say that since '63. Can't believe it..."

"Reckon it was about time. Been wantin' to say it for a long time, especially since you came up here." He smiled and laced their fingers together. "Love you..."

Jack sighed and they shuffled down, relaxing into the bed. It was fairly comfortable, and they always seemed to sleep well now that they were together. They turned to each other and Jack smiled softly. "You know...I reckon bein' here with you is makin' me a better father. 'Cos I'm happy, an' I can focus on him better. I ain't spendin' all my time missin' you...like I was before."

"Same here, bud. Missed you a lot. Was always thinkin' about you, couldn't think about nothin' else. I know I was miserable, an' the girls saw it. Now...I'm happy an' the girls are doin' better." He sighed. "You was right all along, Jack. We're better together. We was miserable apart an' our kids suffered for it."

"Things are a lot better now," Jack replied, kissing his hand. "I know things ain't gonna be easy...but I reckon we're gonna be fine. We love each other, an' our kids, an' we're gonna figure things out."

Ennis nodded and they moved in close together, foreheads touching as they closed their eyes.