June 27th, 1975
When Ennis got home on Friday afternoon, he looked more than a little distracted. Jack wondered what was on his mind, but he knew by now that if Ennis wanted to talk, he would do so under his own steam. Ennis would come to him on his own, when he was ready. If Jack had learned anything from twelve years of knowing the man, it was that.
After dinner and when the kids were watching TV in the living room, Ennis approached Jack as they were washing up. "Jack?"
"Yeah? I know you've been a little side-tracked since you got home...was waitin' for you to tell me what's up." He turned to Ennis and raised his eyebrows. "Everythin' okay?"
"Just...was talkin' to some of the guys at the ranch today. They was askin' me about Alma an' how the girls are doin'."
"Well...that ain't a bad thing, right? They're your friends, they was just askin'."
"Um...well...they said that their wives are askin' if...they can fix me up with their friends. Gave me some numbers."
Jack tried not to panic. Ennis had told him just a few days ago that he loved him, and with all that they were building together he knew that Ennis wouldn't be calling any of these women, not even for appearances.
"Oh...what are you gonna do?"
"Burned 'em with my lighter on the way home," Ennis told him, knowing that Jack was worrying. "It's alright, Jack...I never had no thoughts of callin' any of 'em." He stepped forward. "Darlin'..."
Jack smiled and allowed Ennis to hug him. "Sorry, cowboy...I didn't really doubt you, not after everythin'...but I..." He swallowed. "I just don't wanna lose you."
"You ain't gonna," Ennis told him firmly, squeezing him tightly.
"Gotta admit...it'd be easier to hook up with a woman. Ain't gotta worry about people findin' out..."
"Probably. But I don't want no woman, Jack. Just want you." He kissed Jack's temple and pulled back, stroking his cheek. "I love you, bud." The words were getting easier to say, and he loved the look on Jack's face when he said them. The face that told him he was doing something right. He was determined to tell Jack the words at least once a day; not only did he know that Jack needed to hear it, he liked saying it. He couldn't ever remember saying the words to Alma, and the reason wasn't lost on him. He simply hadn't had the feeling behind the words, so hadn't said them.
But he felt it now, as he looked into Jack's eyes. He was in love, and was finally truly happy.
"I love you too, Ennis," Jack said softly as he nuzzled their noses together. "So much. You've made me a lot happier than I ever thought I could be. I know I'm gonna be okay so long as I've got you."
"Me too, bud." Ennis leaned in to kiss him, tongue sliding in smoothly and arms pulling Jack close again. He knew that it probably would be easier to get remarried and be with a woman, but he didn't want that. He'd already done that and it had failed, because he'd been in love with someone else; someone who he never thought he could have. Now he did, and he didn't want to do anything to jeopardise it. Jack meant everything to him and he wanted to keep things as they were. If they were careful, they wouldn't have to put their relationship at risk just to stop people from talking about them.
They pulled apart again and smiled at each other, their bond strengthening. It seemed that no matter what obstacle was standing in their way, they kept on going and found a way to deal with it together. Jack knew the biggest test would come if someone should find out about them. He didn't think that Ennis would leave him out of fear, but his resolve would be tested. Jack knew that Ennis was a lot braver than he thought.
"Come on, bud," he said, taking his partner's hand. "Let's go sit with our kids." They headed into the living room and sat on the sofa, seeing that the kids were amusing themselves. Junior was reading and occasionally glancing up at the TV, where Jenny and Bobby were watching a movie. Ennis and Jack smiled at each other and settled down, hands still linked.
A commercial break came on and Jack cleared his throat. "You kids decided what you wanna do this weekend?"
"There's a fair in town this weekend," Junior informed them. "Could we go to that?"
Ennis and Jack looked at each other and nodded. "Yeah, guess we could. You all up for that? We could buy you ice cream an' hotdogs," Jack told them, which Ennis knew would be a selling point for the other two.
They responded enthusiastically and Jack smiled at him. "See? They're easy enough to please." Ennis shook his head in amusement and they settled down to watch TV, Jack lazily playing with his fingers. He ran his own along them and seemed to be examining Ennis's hand closely. Ennis noticed how Jack lovingly rubbed his own hand against his, and he felt nothing short of bliss. This was how a relationship should be; intimacy and loving gestures. Not just during sex, but outside the bedroom as well. They only necked when the kids weren't around, which was acceptable, but they did give little touches.
He put his arm around Jack and squeezed him, seeing Jack turn his head to look into his eyes. They weren't full of lust, but something else. Something deeper and softer. He knew immediately what it was; love. The way Jack looked at him now was sending waves of happiness through him, and he hoped that Jack knew just how strongly he felt. He promised himself silently to do his best; to show Jack every day what he meant to him, and that as long as they stayed together, he could handle anything.
After the kids went to bed, the two men laid back on the sofa together, Jack resting on Ennis's chest. They looked forward to this time of day; when they could relax together before going to bed. Although they knew that they were going to make love when they got there, they also appreciated this time beforehand. It was winding down after a busy day that appealed to them.
Ennis gently stroked Jack's back and stared up at the ceiling, thinking. He was expecting Amy to get in touch soon; she loved the girls and was their aunt, after all. It wasn't something he was looking forward to, and he knew he had to warn Jack about her. Now was as good a time as any; they might see her at the fair tomorrow.
"Bud?" he asked quietly, and Jack stirred, looking down at him.
"Just wanted to talk to you 'bout somethin'. Alma's sister."
Jack nodded. "Right. Figured that was gonna come up."
"When we was at the park last time, I saw her in the café. I dunno if she saw us, but..."
"I thought so. You looked really distracted, Ennis. I figured you saw someone you didn't wanna..."
Ennis sighed. "Yeah. Anyway...she don't exactly like me, Jack. Never did."
"Was that before I turned up in '67? Before Alma became miserable?"
"It was before I even met you, Jack. She just never liked me. There was one time...before you sent that postcard...when I was lookin' after the girls an' Alma was at work. My boss called, said all the heifers was calvin' an' they needed help. I took the girls to the store an' just...dumped them on her. I knew she was workin' an' I did it anyway. Never really thought about her job, just about mine. Was pretty selfish..."
Jack stroked his cheek. "It's okay. You was miserable, too. 'Cos we weren't together. I know things wasn't easy for you."
"Still shouldn't have done it," Ennis protested. "What kinda husband does it make me?"
"You're bein' a good one now, to me," Jack whispered. It was the first time they had ever used that word in context with each other, and that fact hit them at the same time. Ennis wished it were possible for them to get married.
"Guess so," he said back, smiling a little. "Anyway...just wanted to warn you. She wouldn't like this."
"Could she do anythin'? Like with the courts or somethin'?"
"Don't know. Guess if she wanted to, she could report us. But...I don't think she's gonna." Ennis had a smirk on his face and Jack wondered what he was plotting.
"What makes you say that?"
"Well...there's this rumour goin' around that one of Amy's kids ain't her husband's." Ennis's smirk grew wider, and Jack realised what he was planning.
"You don't say. So...yer gonna blackmail her?" he asked, surprised that Ennis would do something like that.
"Only if she threatens to tell people. If her husband found out, he'd hit the roof."
"So it's true?"
"Reckon so. Heard Alma on the phone to her once, an' from what she said I think it's true."
Jack laughed. "I can't believe you'd do that. I mean, it's a good idea to protect ourselves, but...never pegged you as the type for that. Thought you was innocent."
Ennis grabbed Jack's ass and kissed him hard. "Ain't so innocent since I met you, rodeo." They laughed into each other's mouths as they kissed, hands roaming and copping a feel wherever they could. They weren't averse to having sex on the sofa, but they had to be mindful of the kids.
Instead, they slowly rose up and headed down the hall to their bedroom, lips glued together. Ennis managed to lock the door behind them and they sank onto the bed, hard and ready for each other. Clothes came flying off and they got under the covers, still kissing heavily. If plotting and scheming got Ennis aroused like this, then Jack was content for them to do it more often.
Ennis rolled on top of Jack and stared down at him, lube in hand. Jack bit his lower lip seductively and widened his legs, pure lust in his eyes. He so badly wanted to feel Ennis inside him, and he felt that even though they did this every night and occasionally in their morning shower, it would never be enough. They would always need this; to connect and love each other in the best way possible.
When he was ready, Ennis worked his way between Jack's legs, slowly entering him with their eyes fixed together. As good as the other ways were, on all fours or on their sides, nothing was as good as face to face. He liked seeing Jack and knowing that it was him who was making him look like that. Jack's expression during these moments were like nothing else.
"Oh God..." Jack breathed as he was filled up, eyes falling shut. Ennis sank down onto him and started to thrust, feeling Jack wrap his legs around him and lock his ankles together. They held each other tightly as they made love, kissing and whispering to each other the kind of words that they had never spoken to anyone else; the kind that they only said during these precious and intimate moments.
"I love you," Ennis whispered into Jack's ear, stroking him in time to his thrusts. Jack bucked upwards and could feel himself starting to come. "Love you so much..."
"Love you too," Jack replied, holding back a loud moan. Ennis stroked him a few more times and he came, groaning as he rode it out and felt Ennis exploding into him. They collapsed together and sighed in unison, Ennis slipping out and rolling off to the side. As they stared up at the ceiling and panted for breath, neither of them were inclined to move at all. But before they drifted off, Ennis reached for Jack's hand and squeezed it, and he held onto it the whole night as they slept.
June 28th - 29th, 1975
Over the weekend, Ennis and Jack took their kids to the fair as agreed, and they were pleased to see the looks of happiness on their children's faces. They allowed the kids to go off on their own as long as they stuck together, and Ennis pointed out that Junior was more than capable of looking after the other two. He and Jack walked around, trying not to let their eyes linger too long whenever they looked at each other. As much as they were in love, they had to keep things discreet in public.
Both of them hated the fact that they couldn't even hold hands, despite being a couple. It seemed very unfair to both of them that their relationship would be treated as something disgusting, because of a government who didn't know them, and because of a book that was thousands of years old. Since their first summer together, Ennis had never liked going to church. They always spat their fire and brimstone sermons and it was the last thing he'd needed to hear. If Jack hadn't come back into his life when he did, Ennis thought he might have ended up believing what they preached. As it was, he knew that Jack had saved him from that. Even if what they were doing was a sin, he was starting not to care. Jack made him happy, and their kids were happy. That was all that mattered to him.
He thought about this as he walked around with his partner, viewing the many sideshows and attractions. He wished he could show affection here, in front of everybody, but the possible consequences terrified him.
"Penny for yer thoughts, bud," Jack broke in, bringing him back to reality. "You okay?"
"Oh...yeah. Was just thinkin' on somethin'." At Jack's inquisitive look, he glanced around and lowered his voice. "I keep feelin'...that I wanna hold yer hand or somethin'. Just to show people what I got an' that I ain't ashamed of it."
Jack smiled. "Ennis...you don't gotta feel bad about that. So we can't do all that couple stuff in public. We make up for that at home. We can relax around our kids, an' God knows you show me how you feel when we're in bed."
Ennis nodded. "Yeah. Still can't help it. I did that with Alma, at first. Thought I should 'cos she was my wife. But after a couple years, I just...couldn't. I knew I was in love with you, so..." He shrugged and they carried on walking. Jack didn't think that Ennis would ever forgive himself for the misery he'd caused Alma, but at least he was trying to focus on their future. That was something.
They caught up with their kids and bought them some cotton candy, bringing back some fond memories for Jack.
"So I told him not to," he said to Ennis as the kids ran off again. "But he was six an' they never listen at that age. Got it all in his hair an' had to have it buzzed off. Couldn't get it out."
Ennis laughed. "Thank God the girls never did that. Don't think they'd like havin' their hair taken off."
"I know. Don't think Lureen would've, either. With all the stuff she used to put in it..." Ennis caught his smile.
"You miss her, don't ya?" he asked softly. He felt a small twinge of jealousy that Jack missed his dead wife, although it was understandable. Jack looked at him.
"I know what yer thinkin', Ennis. I never loved her the way she deserved from her husband. An' I never shoulda married her when I didn't love her. But she got pregnant an' her daddy insisted we get married before Bobby was born. If nothin' else, she was my friend. We woulda been better off stayin' friends rather than gettin' married. Bet there was a lot of guys on the circuit that liked her...they probably woulda treated her better."
Ennis nodded. "It's okay if you miss her, bud. Now an' then I miss Alma. But like you said...we didn't love 'em like we shoulda, but...they had our kids."
"I know. An' no matter how much we love each other...we've still kinda got a bond with 'em. That's okay...ain't like you an' me are gonna have kids, right?"
"Guess not. Wish we could, though. Somethin' that was just you an' me..." Ennis smiled at him and nudged his shoulder.
"Would be good," Jack said softly. "A little Del Mar-Twist runnin' around." Ennis nodded and they caught sight of their kids, looking apprehensively at the haunted house attraction. Jack knew it well; they wanted to go on but not without a parent. "Guess we oughta help 'em out."
They went in with their kids, who it turned out got a real thrill from things that made them jump. Jack was very glad that there wasn't any fake blood anywhere; he didn't know if Bobby would be able to deal with it.
Afterwards, they went to the hall of mirrors where the kids made faces and laughed at their distorted bodies. As the kids were distracted, Jack whispered in Ennis's ear that he wouldn't mind a mirror that enlarged their crotches. But he had to admit that Ennis didn't need any help in that department.
"Jesus, Jack," Ennis replied, shaking his head. "That all you can think about?"
"When I'm near you...pretty much," Jack replied with an innocent grin. "Can't help it, cowboy. You drive me crazy."
"Thought you already was," Ennis said, also grinning. Jack gave a mock glare and headed after the kids, knowing that Ennis was laughing to himself.
The fair continued the next day, and they brought the kids back so they could have some more fun. Neither of them had had a particularly fun childhood, and they wanted their own children to enjoy growing up without having to go through what they did. They were trying to be the best fathers they could, and were succeeding because they had each other.
On Sunday night, they got the kids into bed and collapsed on their own bed, exhausted. They had loved spending this weekend with their kids, and felt more like a family.
Despite how happy he was, there was something on Jack's mind. He knew he had to tell Ennis the truth about their four years apart; what he'd done after Brokeback and before meeting Lureen. He wasn't proud of it, but Ennis deserved to know the truth. Jack thought that Ennis might suspect something anyway, and it would eat away at both of them if they didn't discuss it.
He looked over at Ennis, who was staring at the ceiling, and cleared his throat. "Ennis?"
"I, uh...I gotta tell you somethin'. An' it ain't gonna be easy..." He sat up and turned to face Ennis, who was looking at him in concern.
"What is it?"
"Well...remember at the Siesta Motel, in '67? You asked me if...I ever did it with other guys when we was apart. An' I said no, but..." He bit his lip. "I lied about that."
Ennis felt a twinge of sadness, but he swallowed it down. He had suspected as much, and he sat up, too. "Jack..." He rubbed his forehead. "Just tell me."
"It was just a thing on the circuit. Everybody knew about it, but...nobody said anythin'. It was all on the quiet, you know?" He gulped. "One minute, yer at the bar, an' this guy sits next to you...the next...yer in the back of a truck or in a motel room..." Jack felt shame creeping into him, and not for the first time. He could barely look at Ennis, knowing what he had done. But if he had learned anything from it, it was that his heart had always belonged to Ennis. He'd never felt anything for those other guys that even came close to what he felt for Ennis.
The other cowboy was silent, staring at Jack's turned head. He had had more than a few thoughts that Jack had been with other guys, apart from himself. It was the only explanation for how Jack seemed to be more comfortable with their sexual relationship when it had begun. Jack really was queer.
"So...back on Brokeback, when I said I wasn't queer, an' you said me neither..."
Jack nodded. "I lied, an' I'm sorry about that. The year before, I was workin' with this other guy. He was the first...an' it was only one night. It just happened, an' the next day he left 'cos he was freaked out. Then that storm hit that killed forty-two sheep. I couldn't cope on my own." He shrugged. "Guess it really was my fault." He finally turned to face Ennis. "When I met you, an' got feelin's for you...I tried to keep my distance. I really did. But what I felt for you...even then...was a lot more than I've ever felt for anyone else. Yer the only person, man or woman, that I've ever been in love with."
Ennis sighed and looked away. As much as it hurt to know that Jack had lied to him, and that he'd been with other men, he simply couldn't hate him for it. He loved Jack and wanted a future with him. "Right..."
"Are you...gonna ask me to leave? Is it over?" Jack asked, trying to keep his voice even despite his fear. Ennis looked at him.
"Hell no, Jack. I ain't gonna do that. But...could you just...give me a sec?" He shrugged awkwardly, needing some space. "Just need to think a moment..."
Jack nodded. "Sure. I'll go check on the kids..." He got up and reached the door, and then turned. "Just so you know...I only lied 'cos I didn't wanna lose you. I thought that if you knew the truth, you'd never wanna see me again. 'Cos...I know you think you ain't queer. An' you think that keepin' this between you an' me all these years, an' with no-one else, helps you believe you ain't queer. An' I know I crossed that line by bein' with other guys, but...I am queer, Ennis. Always knew it. I'm sorry for lyin', but...I ain't ashamed of who I am." He smiled a little and slid out of the door.
Ennis flopped back onto the bed, thinking. He'd known deep down that Jack had been with other guys, and it didn't surprise him to know the truth. Jack was right; by claiming that it was nobody's business but theirs, and keeping this thing just between them, Ennis had been able to maintain his claim that he wasn't gay. As he had been with no other man apart from Jack, he'd just about managed to hold onto that belief. Learning that Jack was gay and wasn't ashamed of it...it had broken that barrier around himself. He had been afraid of admitting it, because of Earl and his fear of the same happening to himself or Jack. Besides, he'd heard of gay men in the cities, and did not want to be like that. He wasn't like them.
Or am I? Just 'cos I don't dress like that an' act like that...don't mean I ain't like them. Queers love other guys, wanna be with 'em. An' that's me an' Jack. He admitted he's queer, an' he ain't ashamed. What kinda man am I, to be scared of bein' like that? It's part of him, as sure as Bobby is, so how can I be scared of somethin' that's part of Jack? It don't make sense...
There was only one possibility; he was gay, just like Jack. Maybe he didn't have much in common with the gay guys he'd heard about, but there was one fundamental similarity; he was in love with a man. He thought about Jack, down the hall and terrified that their relationship was over. He felt ashamed of himself for making Jack feel like that just because of who he was. And if he was like that, too...then that was it.
Jack watched the girls sleeping soundly, thinking about Ennis. He hoped that he hadn't ruined things by admitting the truth; he didn't think he could bear it if he had. He did not want to be packing and leaving; it would leave all of them heartbroken.
He had been truthful; he'd long since known that he was gay, and had only lied to keep Ennis in his life. Especially after hearing about Earl; he'd wanted to keep them both safe. But now that he and Ennis were together, he saw no point in lying anymore. He wasn't ashamed of who he was, and he wasn't about to censor himself in his own home. Moving to a house would mean a fresh start for all of them, and he needed to clear these things up.
Jack jumped when he felt a hand on his arm. Ennis was smiling softly at him. "Come back to bed, darlin'."
"You sure?" Jack asked, looking wary. Ennis nodded and pulled him away, down to their room. He locked the door and they sat down on the edge of the bed, Ennis taking his hand.
"Jack...I'm sorry. You was right; by sayin' this was just you an' me...it did give me somethin' to hold on to. So I could say I ain't queer an' believe it. But...I am."
He looked at Jack, who was looking surprised. "You are? But you've always said..."
"Always denied it," Ennis corrected him, unable to hide from the truth anymore. "I really am. I ain't got much in common with them guys in the cities, but...I got one thing. I'm in love with a man. An' if that makes me queer, then...ain't nothin' I can do 'bout that."
"But you've always been scared of somethin' happenin' to us, like Earl."
"I thought that if I admitted it...then somethin' would. Scared me shitless to think of what could happen if we lived together, but I asked you anyway. An' now I'm sayin' I'm queer."
Jack squeezed his hand, tears pricking his eyes. "Bud...I'm sorry I lied to you. I just thought that if I admitted it, you'd run. I didn't wanna scare you off 'cos I was already fallin' for ya. Sure am sorry..."
"Shh..." Ennis rubbed the back of his neck. "Jack...I'm sorry for pushin' you away. You did all that stuff on the circuit 'cos you was alone, right?"
"Yeah. I couldn't be with you...didn't know if I'd see you again. So I just..."
"It's alright, Jack. You stopped when Lureen came along, right?"
"Yeah," Jack replied firmly. "Yer the only guy I've ever been with since before I got married. An' that's the truth. An' now we're together...yer the only one I want. I ain't never gonna cheat on ya."
"I know that," Ennis told him gently. "Guess we've hurt each other, huh? But...I reckon we can move on from it. It's all over with now...we've got what we've always wanted." He smiled and leaned in, kissing Jack on the mouth. Jack kissed back eagerly, relieved that they hadn't fought and that Ennis was accepting the truth. They had both admitted who they really were, and that was a huge burden being lifted off them.
"I love you," Jack murmured as they broke apart. Ennis nuzzled his nose.
"I love you too." They kissed again and started to lie back, shuffling up the bed and going for each other's clothes. Now that they had overcome another barrier, they needed to connect and show each other how they felt. When they were naked, Jack pulled Ennis down into his arms and wound his legs around him, needing to feel this man inside him.
"Fuck me, please..." he breathed, nuzzling the curls. "I want you..." Ennis kissed his neck and reached for the lube, dizzy with love and lust. He coated himself and worked his way into Jack, filling him up and making him feel whole.
"Darlin'..." He slid in completely and sank down onto Jack's body, holding him close. It didn't matter now what Jack had done during their years apart; they were together now and where they belonged. They had each other, they had their kids...and soon they would have a real home. That was all that mattered now. Everything else was in the past, and there was nothing to be done about it. So he hadn't been the only man that Jack had ever been with. But that didn't matter now. He knew for sure that he was the only one Jack had ever loved, and that meant so much more.
They slowly moved together, Ennis going in deeper and pushing further. Jack sighed and gasped as Ennis tried to find that special place inside him. They whispered words of love and reassurance to each other, knowing that nothing could tear them apart now. This was a forever kind of thing, and they were able to withstand anything.
When they laid together afterwards, sleep creeping up on them, Ennis took Jack's hand. "We're gonna be okay, Jack. All that other stuff don't matter now. But...can we just not talk about the stuff on the circuit?" As glad as he was to get it out in the open, he didn't like thinking about it.
"I promise," Jack replied. "Now we're lookin' to the future. An'...that's all I ever wanted. An' at least we can both admit who we are. I know it ain't gonna be easy, but...we'll make it."
"Yeah, darlin'," Ennis said, leaning in for another kiss. They got under the covers and huddled together, arms around each other and legs tangling together. As they fell asleep, they both had the same thought; that even though they had hurt each other and made mistakes, it didn't matter. They had repaired their relationship and moved forward, and now could truly look to their future together. Both were looking forward to living on their own ranch, as they had always wanted, and they knew that they could make each other happy. That was all they needed to know.