Chapter 43

June 1982

It had been nineteen years since Brokeback, particularly since their first night together, but neither Ennis nor Jack felt much like celebrating. Jack felt guilty about what he got up to when they were apart, and Ennis was left wondering what was going through his mind. They hadn't been the best at communicating, but now they could barely talk at all about their feelings. Both knew how the other felt, but they just couldn't go down that road.

Jack was facing away from Ennis in the tent, wishing that Ennis would take hold of him and re-enact that first night as he often did. He could do with a good fuck right now to take his mind off things, and who better to do it than the man he loved?

Does he even know how much I love him? he wondered, thinking about his lover who he thought was asleep. Does he realise how I would give up everythin' I have for him? The house, the don't matter. Lureen probably wouldn't care, an' it don't mean I can never see Bobby again. Reckon he'd be better off if I was happy; maybe then I could be a good father instead of missin' Ennis all the time.

He sighed to himself and curled up, trying to ignore the pain in his heart. But it was very difficult when all he could think of was how it might be if they were together. He wanted that more than anything, and he wished that he could tell Ennis how he felt.

Ennis, meanwhile, was becoming aware that Jack was awake. Wondering if Jack would say anything, he decided to show some affection; something told him that Jack needed it. Slowly so as not to spook him, Ennis shuffled closer and gently laid a hand on Jack's side. "Bud?"

Jack jumped a little; he'd thought that Ennis was asleep and now was very unsure of himself. "Thought you was asleep," he murmured, liking the feeling of Ennis's warm hand on his side. He did appreciate the comfort Ennis was trying to offer him; Ennis had come a long way in the last nineteen years.

"I was...but I woke up an' I can see somethin's wrong. You okay?" To Ennis's mind, Jack had been acting strangely ever since 1976, after the rejection following his divorce. Ennis no longer believed Jack when he said that it wasn't the cause of his behaviour, but Jack was offering no other explanation. As a result, he had to try and let it go.

"I'm fine," Jack whispered, unwilling to face Ennis right now. If he did, he thought he might lose control and just break down in Ennis's arms. He was so frustrated and constantly yearning to be with Ennis for longer than a week, and he often wondered if Ennis felt the same. A part of his heart thought that Ennis was satisfied with these trips; that he didn't want things to go any further. Doubt had begun to eat at him and he was questioning everything at the moment.

"If you say so," Ennis relented, rubbing Jack's smooth skin. Jack closed his eyes and let out a soft sigh, enjoying what Ennis was doing.

"That feels good," he said softly, and Ennis smiled a little. "Like it when you touch' not just when we're doin' it."

"Hmm." Ennis ran his hand up Jack's back, keeping the touch light yet firm, and ran it over Jack's shoulder in a one-handed massage. Jack sighed, finally feeling some of the tension escaping him. "This good?"

"Uh huh," Jack replied as Ennis slowly caressed him, very grateful that Ennis was trying to do something for him to make him feel better. Even if he could never tell Ennis what was going on, he knew he could count on his cowboy to make it all go away for a few moments. He knew that if they were together, it would be amazing and they could be very happy. But they were stuck in this vicious circle with no way out, so he had to put up with it. "Sure does..."

Ennis continued to rub his back until he couldn't go any further, and then wrapped an arm around Jack's waist. "You feel better now?" he asked gently in Jack's ear, and Jack smiled widely, feeling loved and cared for.

"I sure do. You always know how to do that, cowboy. Thanks..."

"Ain't no trouble, darlin'," Ennis replied, now rubbing his stomach. If anything was going to help Jack fall asleep, it was this. "You know about you," he managed to say, and Jack's eyes flew open. It was the closest Ennis had ever come to saying those three words, and his heart was filled with love. While it pained him to hear these words, it also made him happy.

"I care about you too," he whispered back, holding onto Ennis's arm where it held him. "You know I do. An' I know it wasn't easy for you to say that, so...thank you."

"Wanted to say it," Ennis admitted. Wish I could say more than that, bud...but this is the best I can do. Hope it's enough to let you know what I really wanna say. I love you, Jack...

Jack smiled, thinking back to when Ennis had told him that he loved him. He'd feigned sleep at the time, but he'd heard the words and would never forget them. He would carry these precious moments with him for the rest of his life, even if he didn't spend it with Ennis. This was the man who he saw every night in his dreams, who he thought of for almost every moment of the day. Even if they never got together, Jack knew he would always love Ennis and nothing could change that. Maybe one day, they would meet up elsewhere in some kind of afterlife and be together. Nobody could hurt them there and they would finally be where they belonged.