Chapter 2

October 1967

It was the last full day of their second fishing trip, and Jack's birthday would be in just a few days. He didn't like having to spend it away from Ennis, but he'd promised Lureen that he would be back in time. All he wanted was to spend the day with Ennis, but he couldn't.

He woke up alone, but could smell something good cooking; Ennis was making breakfast. "Ennis?"

"Out here, bud," he replied. Things had been better this time. Jack had learned not to argue the point about living together; all it did was create arguments between them and he would rather spend his time doing other things with Ennis. It wasn't just sex; earlier in the week they had gone riding for a while. They enjoyed each other's company and found it easy to talk about anything apart from their feelings.

Jack pulled his clothes back on from where they had landed randomly last night and exited the tent, smiling when he saw what was going on. Ennis had made a large breakfast for both of them and a pot of coffee was warming up. "What's goin' on?"

Ennis looked up at him. "Well...nearly yer birthday, an' since we ain't spendin' it together...figured I could do this for ya." His deep brown eyes showed how shy he was right now, but Jack's heart melted at the sweet thought. Ennis could really surprise him sometimes, and he wished that they could spend more time together.

"Thank you," he replied, sitting down next to Ennis on the log and taking his hand. "I appreciate it." Ennis leaned over and they kissed, saying good morning in their own special way. "What are we doin' today?"

"Whatever you want, bud," Ennis responded as he went for the coffee pot, pouring it into the cups. Jack took his gratefully and looked thoughtfully at him.

"Know what? I feel like goin' for a walk," he said decisively, and Ennis looked at him. "Just you an' me, through the trees for a while. What d'you say?"

"Sounds good." Truth be told, Ennis wanted to do the same thing. He wanted them to hold hands as they walked, too. He kept trying to tell himself that he didn't have any kind of deep feelings for Jack, but he knew deep down that he did. He was in love and didn't know what to do about it, so his only response was to try and keep it inside himself. He couldn't afford to lose Jack, and he knew that he might if they lived together. It just couldn't happen, because society would never be ready for what they felt.

They ate their breakfast in a companiable silence, enjoying the crisp morning air and listening to the birds singing in the trees. It was a lovely area and Jack wanted them to stay here forever, like on Brokeback. It seemed so detached from the rest of the world, like nothing down there could ever matter up here, and he wished that this could be their life. Maybe one day, their luck would change and they would be able to be together properly.

Afterwards, they cleaned up and headed off through the trees, walking slowly and looking around at the amazing nature here. It reminded them of Brokeback, but they had silently agreed that they wouldn't be returning to the mountain itself. Apart from the possibility of the Forest Service being around, they wanted to keep that time preserved in their memories, leaving it untouched. It would feel unspoiled like nothing could damage it.

When they had been walking for a while, Jack moved a little closer and tentatively reached out with his hand, finding Ennis's and nudging it. As if on cue, Ennis's hand moved to curl around Jack's and he gave a gentle squeeze. Jack smiled and looked down, heart feeling light and very happy about doing this. He was actually holding Ennis's hand; something that he'd never thought might happen for them.

"This is good," he said softly, and Ennis nodded.

"Sure is. Wish we could spend yer birthday together, bud. Want you to know that."

"I know," Jack replied, smiling at him when Ennis met his eyes. He tried to hold in what he really wanted to say; that if they were together for real then they could spend birthdays and Christmas together. He wanted that more than anything, and he had a feeling that Ennis wanted it too, but they were stuck in this cycle. Ennis could be right; it was simply too dangerous for men like them to be together in the open, and it was too much to hope that nobody would care.

They sat down on a log together and took a break, still holding hands and looking around. It was so peaceful here and Jack felt like he could fall asleep on the grass. In Ennis's arms, of course. Jack loved it when Ennis held him close; he felt safe as if nothing could hurt him.

Why don't we? he thought to himself, and turned to his lover. " wanna lie in the grass for a while? Just...stare up at the sky or somethin'?" Ennis looked at him strangely for a moment, and then nodded.

"Okay." They got onto the ground and stretched out together, looking up at the vast sky and just enjoying each other's company. Ennis put an arm under Jack's neck and pulled him a little closer, which put a smile on his face. Jack closed his eyes and silently wished that this could be all the time, but he was happy to be here with the man he loved. He would be thinking of Ennis on his birthday and jerking off to thoughts and memories; it was all he could do with things the way they were.

They were silent as they lay there, but both of them were thinking the same thing; that up here, they could completely be who they truly were.