Chapter 23

March 1975

On a beautiful spring day up in the mountains, Ennis and Jack were for once doing the thing they claimed to be; fishing. Jack had reasoned that since they had hauled their gear all the way here, they might as well use it.

Ennis didn't know about the note on his rod from Alma, and since Jack had brought two fishing rods with him it was decided that they would use them. They decided to catch some fish and eat them for supper; it would make a nice change from the food they usually had on these trips.

"Figured it was about time we did what we say we do," Jack commented as he cast his line out into the water. "An' I do like fish anyway..."

"Yep. Good enough way to pass the time, huh?" Ennis replied, looking out around them. They were sat on the edge of the river on a large rock, and everything was peaceful here. He could honestly say that he was completely content right now, and that part of it was due to the man sat beside him. Jack's presence just seemed to calm him no matter what else was going on.

They sat there for a little while, just talking and occasionally drinking their beer that Ennis had brought with him. Everything was right with the world now that they were here, together. Ennis often wished that he could split himself into two people; one that could stay with Alma and the girls to be the man they needed, and the other to just stay with Jack and follow his heart. Things would be so much easier if he didn't have to choose.

"You okay?" Jack asked when Ennis was unusually silent, even for him. Ennis shrugged.

" a lot on my mind. Ain't no big deal." He tried to smile but Jack was suspicious. Ennis seemed to do that a lot these days; start thinking deeply about things and then pretend that everything was fine. Jack knew him very well, and he could tell when something was eating at him.

Truth be told, Ennis was thinking about how long this could go on for. While he would happily meet up with Jack now and then for the rest of his life, even if they couldn't be properly together, he wondered if it was possible. Every time they met up, they enjoyed themselves so much that it made the separation even harder.

"Okay," he said quietly, wishing that Ennis could talk to him. He'd tried to tell Ennis that he could tell him anything, but he wasn't sure if Ennis believed that. If they were a real couple, then they would be able to talk about whatever was on their minds. He was here for Ennis as his friend as well as his lover, and they should be able to talk about things. "I'm here if you wanna get it off yer chest, you know."

"I know." Ennis was truly grateful that Jack was offering, but he wasn't sure how to verbalise what he was feeling and thinking. He longed to be able to talk at length with Jack, and maybe it could happen if they lived together and grew closer every day, but he didn't see how it could ever happen for them. He loved Jack so much and all he wanted was to live with him. "Thanks, bud."

Jack gently nudged him with his shoulder and then his attention was grabbed by something pulling at the line. "Hey, I think I got one!" He tugged and felt Ennis's hands come around him, pulling with him to help. Together, they managed to get the line out and Jack grinned at the large salmon they'd caught. "Hey, lookit that."

"Not bad, bud," Ennis told him, feeling proud of Jack's accomplishment. He kissed the side of Jack's face and disentangled himself, thinking about how he could give Jack a special reward for that.

They decided to leave it at that and Ennis started cleaning the fish as Jack got the fire ready. It was almost time for supper anyway so they figured they could do this and then go to bed; that sounded like a good plan to both of them.

When supper was ready, they leaned against the log to eat their meal and talk about the day they'd had. Each day together passed too quickly for their liking, because each day brought them closer to separating until the next time. Neither of them really knew what to do about that, but they knew that they were happy when together.

Afterwards, Jack rested his head against Ennis's shoulder and sighed contentedly. "This was a real nice day, huh?" he said softly. Ennis put an arm around him and nodded, looking up at the many stars above them. It was kind of romantic, and he wondered if they might possibly make love out here tonight.

"Sure was. Jack...can I ask you somethin'? Can it out here tonight?"

Jack looked up at him. " really wanna?" He was surprised; Ennis would only usually do it inside the tent.

"Yeah...just felt like doin' it out here. With the stars an' all...thought it might be good." Ennis shrugged and looked down, but Jack lifted his chin and looked into his eyes.

"I think it sounds great. We can sleep out here too; it's warm enough. Tell you clean up an' I'll bring the bedroll out. An' I won't forget the lube," he added with a wink, making Ennis blush a little.

He did as he was asked and then helped Jack bring the bedroll out onto the ground. They decided to stay near the fire, especially since they were going to be naked. Ennis knew in his heart that this was where he belonged, and he could only hope that one day they would be together. He just hoped that Jack was willing it wait it out a little longer; he would pluck up the courage some day.