Chapter 44

December 1982

It was a cold morning, and Jack was busy making breakfast for the two of them as he waited for Ennis to wake up. He liked doing the cooking; he was better at it these days and he enjoyed putting a smile on Ennis's face by giving him a cooked meal. Jack knew that Ennis had grown up hungry and still didn't eat properly, so he wanted to at least give Ennis something good to eat.

Jack often thought about what it might be like if they lived together. Would he be the cook, or would they take it in turns? How would they divide chores? What colour would their bedroom be? All of these were things that people just took for granted in opposite-sex relationships, and were things that he often wondered about. He knew he wanted to be with Ennis and that it could still be a sweet life in spite of everything that had happened.

He thought back on the last nineteen years, Next May, it would be twenty years since they had met, and he thought that it was high time for a few changes. Jack knew he couldn't go on living like this; he didn't love Lureen and he was getting sick of sneaking around with someone he didn't want to be with anyway. He was passing the time in between trips, and would gladly give all of it up if Ennis accepted his offer. Maybe it was time they had a talk.

His musings were interrupted by the sound of movement by the tent; Ennis had awoken and was stirring. Jack couldn't help but smile as he pictured Ennis first thing in the morning; blonde hair in disarray, brown eyes full of sleep and his movements fairly slow. Jack loved how endearing Ennis could be, even now, and knew that he loved everything about this man.

Ennis exited the tent and saw Jack cooking breakfast, a smile spreading across his face. He made his way over to Jack and sat down beside him. "Mornin'."

"Mornin', cowboy," Jack replied, leaning over to kiss him but then recoiling. "You've got mornin' breath...I ain't kissin' you like that."

Ennis nudged him, leaning closer just to wind him up. "C'mon, Jack...ain't that bad."

"Go brush yer teeth," Jack told him, moving away. Ennis sighed and relented, leaving Jack with an affectionate smile on his face. He really did love Ennis and wished that things could be different.

Maybe they can be, he thought as the food became ready to eat. Maybe all we gotta do is talk things' I can make him see how it's the best thing for both of us. God knows I love him, an' he loves me. Maybe if we said it out loud, it would change everythin'.

It was worth a try, he knew. At least if they lived together, Ennis could be sure of his safety and would be able to protect him. Jack didn't see how Ennis could be so convinced that it was better for them to be apart. Nobody knew about them right now, it was true, and people would figure it out if they lived together.

But that didn't have to be a bad thing. They could make friends and have people around to support them if things turned bad. The world was changing and not just in the cities, so it wasn't out of the question for them to make friends. If only Ennis could see beyond the less-than-tolerant environment of Riverton. They could get out of there, live in a quiet place where nobody knew them. The kids could visit and everybody would be better off.

He watched Ennis finish with his teeth and sighed to himself, wondering what went through Ennis's mind. Did he even want to try anymore, to have more than this? When they were younger, Ennis had been quite distraught over how miserable they were and he'd vocalised his wish that they could be together, but that was years ago. He'd been divorced from Alma and he still hadn't budged on his answer to Jack's offer. There was truly nothing holding them back but his fear, and Jack wondered if he could work on that. If they were together, he could help Ennis to see that not everybody was like his father.

"There, done," Ennis told him as he came back over and resumed his seat. "Now are you gonna kiss me?" Jack smiled and touched his face.

"That's better," he replied as he leaned over, planting his lips on Ennis's and kissing him a few times. He still enjoyed kissing Ennis as much as ever, and he did like how Ennis sometimes stroked his moustache after kissing him. To him, it was evidence that Ennis didn't mind the fact that he was kissing another man, at least not as much as he would have before. He also knew that Ennis enjoyed it when he was giving him oral and the moustache would tickle him. Jack had thought that Ennis was going to scream out of ecstasy when he was tickled down there, and he had to bite back a grin at the thought.

"What's with you?" Ennis asked, catching the smirk on Jack's face. Jack whispered in his ear what he was thinking of and Ennis's cheeks reddened. "Oh..."

"Don't gotta be embarrassed, cowboy," Jack told him as he handed over the food. "I like seein' you like that. You shot so much I thought I was gonna choke."

Ennis shrugged. "Well..." He started eating, still squirming at the memory of how it had felt that first time after Jack had grown the moustache. It certainly had been good, and he'd enjoyed it very much. Maybe it wasn't such a bad thing after all that he was seeing another man; this man meant a lot to him and Ennis knew that his resolve was weakening. With every trip, his reluctance to leave everything he knew in favour of Jack was slipping away.