Author's notes

Hey guys :) As you may have guessed, this is the last entry to the story. I apologise for any tears this causes.

My next story is The Choices We Make, the sequel to Lessons In Love, and the first chapter will be posted on the 4th March.

If you want a recap of Lessons In Love, check out my livejournal - I posted a recap on February 26th if you want to take a look and refresh your memory of that universe.

So that's all for now, hope you enjoyed this story.

Bye for now,

Kathryn xxx

Chapter 45

May 1983

Jack stood by his truck, staring down the road as Ennis drove away. The past half an hour was running through his head and had given him plenty to think about.

He didn't know why he'd snapped, but guessed it was due to frustration at them not being together more often. He'd just had enough of missing Ennis so much when they were apart, and kept thinking that Ennis didn't care. What had happened today proved that he'd been wrong about that. Ennis did care, and Jack knew now how much his cowboy had been suffering.

At least some things were out in the open now; how he'd been to Mexico and that he'd only done it because he'd missed Ennis. He thought he'd made a good point; that it wasn't fair of Ennis to get angry about it when it was pretty much his fault. Jack figured that while he understood how scared Ennis still was, he didn't have to let his fears rule him anymore. Being together was no guarantee that something bad would happen.

"I just can't stand this anymore, Jack," Ennis mumbled into his coat. Jack held onto him and was in shock at how Ennis had just broken down. He'd never seen Ennis like this.

Jack sighed and kept watching the now empty road, a grim expression on his face. He wasn't too sure what might happen now. But the conversation after Ennis's breakdown had given him hope.

"Ennis," Jack said softly after his lover's sobbing had subsided. "It's alright...come on, calm down..."

He drew away a little to look into Ennis's face. The eyes were bloodshot and Ennis looked completely miserable. Jack sighed and knelt down with him, taking his hands.

"It's okay...I didn't mean to hurt you or nothin'," he said gently, and Ennis started taking deep, gulping breaths. "Sorry..."

"You was right," Ennis replied, staring at their hands. "It is my fault that you...did that. I kept pushin' you away, tellin' you we couldn't be together. No wonder you..." He swallowed. "I'm the one who oughta be sorry. An' I am, Jack..." He raised his head to look into Jack's eyes. "I'm sorry, too."

"Ennis..." Jack said, and then hesitated. He just had to say it now, regardless of the consequences. Ennis needed to know how he felt, and that he didn't hate him. "There's somethin' I gotta tell you. I reckon you already know what it is, an' I know we agreed not to say it, but I've gotta." He stared into Ennis's eyes, hoping that his nerve wouldn't fail him. "I love you," he said clearly, and he saw fresh tears gathering in Ennis's eyes. "I've loved you since Brokeback, even when you was pissin' me off or sendin' me away after yer divorce. It never changed."

Ennis nodded, unable to speak. Jack had loved him all this time, regardless of what they'd done to each other. Even when Jack had been with someone else, he'd loved Ennis.

"Jack, I..."

"You don't have to say it back," Jack said quietly, squeezing his hands. "I know it ain't easy for you. But just answer you feel the same? You can just nod if you want." Ennis looked at him and nodded, and Jack heard the confirmation all the same.

Jack tore his eyes away from the road and turned back to his truck, remembering that moment. They had confirmed their love for each other at last, after avoiding the subject for so long. He felt a lot lighter now that it was out in the open, and he was glad he'd initiated it. The moment had been worthwhile.

He knew why he'd been so angry about their next trip not being until November. It was six months away, instead of three like August, and the wait was almost unbearable. Six months without Ennis was like torture to him, and he just hadn't been able to help it. At least Ennis understood why he'd reacted like that; so much was out there now for them to work on.

Jack smiled and cupped Ennis's cheeks, wiping the tears from them. "I knew you did, even if you could never say it. But I'm glad we can get it out now. I've wanted to say it for twenty years, an' I know why you've been so scared." He paused before continuing, wondering what Ennis would say to his next speech. "Look...we don't have to be scared. Maybe now...we could finally talk about...livin' together?"

Ennis bit his lip before replying. "I...I ain't never gonna stop bein' scared, Jack. But...yeah, maybe. Can't go on like this, bud...I miss you too much an'...look what it's doin'..."

"I know." Jack kissed him on the mouth, trying to give him some comfort and understanding. Right now, all he wanted to do was to hold Ennis and tell him that everything was going to be okay. "We'll work it out. I'll come an' meet you in November, like you said. Wherever you want. An' when I do, we can talk this out. Figure out what we're gonna do. Do you want us to be together?"

"Yeah," Ennis admitted, nodding. "Always did...just didn't know how we could..."

"It ain't too late," Jack told him, caressing his face. "We can work this out, cowboy." They embraced and held each other close, finally ready to move forward after twenty years.

Jack smiled a little as he fondly recalled the conversation. They had pretty much agreed that they were getting together, as a real couple. November was a long time away, but it would give them chance to calm down and figure things out. There was a lot to consider, but he knew they could handle it.

He didn't foresee the tragedy waiting for him on a lonely road down in Texas, where he would meet his end. But Ennis would be on his mind as life slipped away from him and Jack would know that nothing could truly tear them apart. Nothing could stop a force of nature.