Chapter 6

March 1969

The weather was warmer by now as spring was well underway. Both men had somehow managed to make it through Christmas without each other, and they had been looking forward to this trip for the past few months.

Ennis had been the first to arrive, as usual, and he was setting up the tent when he heard Jack's truck arriving. He smiled to himself and could just see Jack's face in his mind; it was the image he always kept with himself when they were apart.

The tires stopped and he heard someone getting out of the truck, the door shutting. "Ennis!"

He turned to see the face that he would never tire of seeing. After months apart, Jack was here and grinning at him in the way he did. "Hey, bud." They went straight for each other, taking the distance in long strides until their bodies finally collided.

They melted into each other's arms and felt life pouring back into them, like they were finally receiving air after being underwater. They needed this more than anything, and were happy to be back together.

After several long moments, Jack pulled his face away and smiled. "I missed you..."

" too..." Both leaned in and their lips met, moulding together and exploring each other's mouths. They did this every time they separated and reunited; to remember each other and what they felt like. In their hearts, they both knew that they would never get enough of this.

Jack pulled his mouth away and sighed. "Now we've done that, we can unpack." They could joke about it, but the truth was that they always did this first before anything else. Both of them just felt the need to connect right away.

"Right." Ennis reluctantly let go of Jack and turned back to the tent, wanting it to be right when they went in there later. He got a shiver down his spine at the thought. "What food did you bring?"

"Same stuff as usual, campin' food," Jack called over his shoulder as he walked back to the truck for the cooler, "Got some whiskey too."

Ennis remembered the first time they'd gotten drunk together up on Brokeback, and what it had led to. Maybe if he had enough of the stuff, he'd be brave enough to say yes to a sweet life together. Or maybe that was just wishful thinking.

He shook his head. No matter how much he might want to live with Jack, it was still so very dangerous. People could find out, and if anything happened to Jack because he'd been brave enough to say yes, Ennis knew he'd never forgive himself.

He heard Jack moving around the camp and finished with the tent, nodding to himself. It looked pretty good, and he guessed it didn't matter too much anyway; they would only care about being together. He wondered if they might try something else sometime, like a cabin maybe. They could have a real bed and a kitchen; it would be wonderful. He would have to suggest it sometime.

"What are you thinkin' about over here?" asked Jack, creeping up behind Ennis and wrapping his arms around him. He kissed Ennis's cheek and heard him give a contented sigh.

"Nothin'. Just...glad we're here." He turned in Jack's arms and they kissed again; it felt warm and familiar, and they felt as if they were home.

When they had sated their desire (at least until later), they walked over to the fire and Jack took out some sausages and bacon. "You want some?"

"Yeah, thanks," Ennis replied, looking forward to some food. He couldn't really contribute much in that way, given how little money he had, but he tried to help wherever he could. He knew that Jack enjoyed riding the horse he brought, and didn't have one of his own in Childress. So at least he could do something for Jack.

As the food cooked, Jack took Ennis's hand in his own, inspecting it closely. "Did you get caught on wire or somethin'? You've got marks..."

"Oh, yeah. Other week on the ranch. Couldn't find my gloves, so..."

Jack shook his head. "Shouldn't do ranch stuff without yer gloves. You'll hurt yourself, Ennis..." He turned his deep blue eyes to his lover's face. "Next time, make sure you keep 'em close by. Okay?"

Ennis was touched by his concern, and he knew that Jack cared about him. "Alright, bud. I can try." Jack gently ran his fingers over the sores, hating them because they had marked this body he loved so much.

"Do they hurt?" he asked softly, and Ennis shook his head.

"Not now...did at first."

"Hmm...I could kiss 'em better," Jack suggested, and Ennis smirked.

"Well...they might sting a bit, I reckon," he replied, playing along. Jack smiled widely and kissed his hand a few times, and then the other just for good measure. "Feels good..."

"Good." Jack held Ennis's hands in his and looked up into his face, feeling the love in his heart and wishing they could have more than this. If they'd been together on a ranch of their own, he would have made sure that Ennis had his gloves, and he would have kissed them better there and then if Ennis had hurt himself. But he didn't want to say that; the whole subject was very delicate for them and he hated to break the peace.

Soon enough, the food was ready and they were eating side by side, just enjoying each other's company after such a long time apart. As much as they loved having sex, they loved this aspect too. Both loved talking to each other, and even Ennis had something to say when he was with Jack. The man just brought it out in him, and Ennis was very glad for it.

Jack would never stop hoping that they would be together, but for now he was happy to meet Ennis out in the wild. They were safe here.