Chapter 12

The next morning, Ennis and Jack decided to go fishing at the lake near the cabin, both of them wanting to get the most out of this experience. While the notion of staying in bed all day and staining the sheets was very appealing, they both wanted to see the area around them. The landscape reminded Jack of his parents' house in West Virginia, and he could remember when he'd taken Ennis there for Christmas the first time. They'd been back a few times over the last six years, and he knew that Ennis liked being there.

It was a beautiful summer's day, with the sun shining down on them and glistening on the water, and it was very quiet. There were a few tourists on the opposite side, but nobody was giving them funny looks and they felt very peaceful.

"This is great," Jack sighed as he looked up into the deep blue sky; it was completely cloudless and they could hear birds singing. "Shame neither of us are too good at fishing."

"Mmm...don't have much experience, do we? An'...we live near a whole lot of water," Ennis mused, the irony of it not lost on him. "We should go fishin' more often."

"I think I have more luck with your pole," Jack told him, smirking. Ennis rolled his eyes and decided not to respond. Jack's sexual compliments had never made him uncomfortable, but he was often unsure of how to respond. He wanted to tell Jack what he liked about his body, but still struggled with getting the words out. Maybe Jack could help him with that sometime.

As they waited for a response, Jack leaned against Ennis and thought about the following day. It would be their anniversary, a reminiscence of the day they made their commitment to one another. The fact that their union was legal made it even sweeter to him. It wasn't likely that there would be a change in the law that negated their marriage, not for Massachusetts. He knew about Proposition 8 in California, and that had concerned them when planning their wedding. But they had decided to go for it anyway and he was glad that they had.

Ennis was thinking about the following day, too. The flowers would be delivered early as arranged, so that he could truly surprise Jack and start the day off perfectly. Part of him wondered if it was too much, or if Jack wouldn't like it because he was a man, but he'd spoken to Amy about it and she had reassured him that Jack would love it.

"I love you," he said softly to Jack, making him open his eyes. Jack looked up at him with a smile.

"I love you too...where'd that come from?"

"Just thinkin' about some things planned an' I hope you like it." Jack squeezed his free hand.

"I'm sure I will, Ennis. You know I love it when you get all romantic. I can remember that shy cowboy who nearly kissed me in the locker room and couldn't even admit to it at first. The one who had trouble saying that he loved me. You're not that man anymore, Ennis. You're still you, but so much more. Our time together has done us both good. We were unhappy with our lives when we met. I was out but lonely...and you had problems at home that made you miserable. Maybe this is a cliché, but...I think we were supposed to be together. Like...fate."

Ennis nodded; he'd often felt like that when he examined the early days of their relationship. There was no other way to explain how they had just found each other at that point in their lives, when they'd had nothing else really going for them. Two souls had met and merged into one. "I think we were, darlin'." He leaned in and they kissed, completely blocking out the world around them. Nothing else mattered right now; they were here to celebrate their anniversary and to spend some alone time together. Already, they could feel themselves rediscovering their deep love for one another. Jack felt as if they'd lost sight of it when Junior had arrived. It wasn't her fault, but it had been very difficult for them to cope. But now...they were finding it again.

When they broke apart, Ennis nuzzled their noses together and smiled. Whatever he'd been about to say next died in his throat as he felt something tugging at his line. "Oh, hang on. I think we've got one!"

Jack grinned and crouched behind Ennis, getting ready to help if needed. "Come on, can do it!" With an almighty tug from both of them, the fish came flying out of the water and onto the land. Jack had pulled Ennis backwards, and they were now a tangle of arms and legs, full of laughter. "That went well."

"Yep." They killed the fish with identical grimaces and put it into the bucket; it was more than sufficient for their evening meal. "That was kinda fun," Ennis added as they started gathering up the gear. This had been their first joint fishing experience and it had added one more precious memory to their lives.

Afterwards, they decided to lie on the grass together and just stare up into the sky; they had always liked doing that together. Jack tucked himself under Ennis's arm and sighed. "I enjoyed that, Ennis. I mean...I love kissing you and having sex with you...but that's not all I like about being with you. Sometimes we just need to do stuff together, even if it's just fishing."

"That's probably 'cos we was friends first," Ennis reminded him. "An' I get what you mean, Jack. A marriage oughta be more than sex. You're my best friend, darlin'..."

Jack rolled himself over and looked down into his husband's eyes. "And you're mine, too." He leaned down and kissed the man he loved, heart fit to burst with happiness and love. This was where they were supposed to be.

Ennis offered to make dinner that evening, so Jack sat out on the back porch for a while to enjoy the crisp air. Once again, he was filled with a sense of peace and tranquillity.

This sure is something, he thought to himself as he stretched in the wicker chair, sniffing with interest at the aroma drifting through the back doors. They'd had a great day today and there was plenty more to come. Their anniversary was tomorrow and he couldn't wait to wake up next to his husband on that day. He knew that Ennis was just as much looking forward to it, too.

"Jack?" Ennis called, poking his head through the doors. "Dinner's nearly ready, bud."

"Okay." Jack got up and followed him back inside, smiling when he saw the table. Ennis had set it with a candle in the middle, which was glowing softly. There was also a bottle of wine and a pair of glasses there, and Jack was touched by how it looked. "Ennis..."

"Wanted it to be romantic," Ennis replied, shrugging and hoping that Jack liked it. "This okay?" Jack smiled at him.

"It's great, I love it." They kissed a couple of times before Ennis turned his attention to the fish they'd caught earlier. He just wanted this entire trip to be perfect and to make Jack happy; the look in Jack's eyes as he sat down was a good indication that he'd done the right thing. Ennis knew that Jack was watching him as he cooked, and he thought about his surprise for Jack tomorrow. Everything was good to go and he hoped that it wouldn't be too much. Jack had told him many times that he liked it when they were romantic with each other.

"What're you thinking about over there?" Jack asked him, sounding curious. He could see from Ennis's face that his cowboy was thinking something over. Ennis turned to look at him.

"Just...about tomorrow. Big day for' I've got some things planned." Jack nodded.

"Me too. It's gonna be a great day, Ennis.'s gonna be a great night, too." He smiled widely at Ennis, who turned slightly red and nodded. He still didn't know how Jack managed to do that to him.

He divided the food up onto their plates and then brought the meal over to the table, Jack looking at it with approval. "Sure looks good."

"Thanks, bud. Hope it tastes good."

"I'm sure it will. You're a great cook, know that." Ennis saw in Jack's eyes that he meant it, and all he could do was smile back at him.

When they were seated, the wine was poured and they settled into their meal. They shared glances over the table and thought about the following day. Both of them knew it would be something to remember.

Afterwards, Jack helped Ennis to clean up and then they brought the rest of the wine over to the sofa, listening to the crackle of the fire.

"Ennis?" Jack asked softly, looking up at him. Ennis met his gaze and rubbed his arm.

"What, darlin'?"

"I wanted to thank you...for everything you've done for me." Jack looked as if he'd been preparing this speech for a while.

"What d'you mean?"

" know I was unhappy when we met. Lureen was the only real friend I had, and I never thought I'd love someone who could love me back. And when we became friends...I never thought anything would happen. Especially when you told me that you'd broken up with a girl."

"Yeah," Ennis sighed, pulling him closer. "I know that hurt you, an' I'm sorry..." Jack shook his head.

"It's alright; you didn't know I had a crush on you. The point is, Ennis...I wanna thank you for making me happy. Never thought I would" He smiled up at the man holding him and felt so grateful that they were together. "I love you."

"Right back at you, darlin'," Ennis replied, kissing his forehead. "Guess I oughta thank you too...for bein' there for me when I needed a friend. I had all them troubles at home, was all messed' you helped me."

Jack rested his head against Ennis's arm, taking his hand. "It's okay. I thought that even if we were just gonna be friends and nothing more...that would be okay. If we weren't gay, or if it was just me, I'd be happy to be your friend."

Ennis said nothing, but they both knew that Jack wasn't telling the complete truth. It was clear that his crush on Ennis had been so strong that he never would have been satisfied with just friendship. It would have hurt him to see Ennis with someone else and that would have ruined any friendship they might have formed. This was better for both of them.

Afterwards, they lay in bed together and Ennis stared up at Jack, who was moving slowly inside him and whispering sweet words to him. He liked this quiet time when all they were aware of was each other. Jack linked their fingers together on the bed, smiling softly down at Ennis and making him feel incredible.

"Jack," he sighed, tilting his head to one side so that Jack could access his neck. Jack planted a few kisses there and then one on his lips, seeing how much his lover was enjoying this. "Feels good..."

"Sure husband," he whispered in Ennis's ear, drawing a breathless grin out of him.

"Yeah...husband," he echoed quietly, the word floating around his body and into his heart, settling there like a butterfly. The word belonged to them and it felt right; they were married in the eyes of the law, at least for the state they lived in. Maybe it was as far as they could go, because of what other states thought of them and how they lived, but neither cared. All that mattered was the rights they enjoyed at home and how much they loved each other.

August 12th, 2009

When Jack woke up that morning, he found himself alone in bed. Just as he was wondering where Ennis had got to, he spied a red rose petal on the floor by the bed. "What the...?" Sitting up, he could see a trail of them leading out of the bedroom door and towards the kitchen area. He grinned and got out of bed, pulling on his jeans and following the trail.

They led him to the kitchen table, where he found a dozen red roses sitting there. "Ennis..." he sighed to himself, seeing that this had been Ennis's surprise for him. He picked up the card and saw the simple yet heartfelt message.

Happy anniversary, Jack xxx

Jack felt a pair of familiar arms encircle his waist and his smile widened. "Ennis...I..." Ennis kissed the back of his neck, hoping that Jack liked his surprise.

"Mornin', bud. You like it?" Jack turned in his arms and met his lover's gaze.

"I love it, thank you." He leaned in and they kissed deeply, arms around each other. Jack just didn't know what to say to this gesture, so this was all he could do. Ennis had never done this for him before.

When they pulled apart, Ennis held Jack's face in his hands, seeing the look of pure happiness in Jack's eyes. "Darlin'..."

"Ennis...I dunno what to say. This is just..." He laughed slightly. "Happy anniversary to you too." He hugged Ennis close to him, already enjoying the day. "So what are we doing today?"

"Well, I thought that after breakfast we could go for a walk," Ennis suggested as they pulled back to look at each other. "Maybe down to the lake and just sit down, or maybe lie down in the grass." He knew that Jack liked doing that with him.

Jack nodded. "That sounds perfect, Ennis. And this evening, we could curl up in front of the fire or the TV and have some more wine. I've got a surprise for tonight." With this agreed, Ennis went to start breakfast while Jack got showered and dressed. Ennis saw him take the roses from the table with him and into the bedroom, and smiled to himself. At first, he'd thought that it was too weird for him to give Jack flowers, given that he was a man. But Jack hadn't seemed to care; he'd understood the gesture anyway. Ennis realised that it didn't matter if they were both guys; romance was applicable to all good marriages.

As he was finishing their breakfast, Jack came out and kissed him on the cheek. "Mmm...kiss the cook, huh?" Ennis grinned., feeling relieved that it had worked.

"Yeah, guess so. I'm glad you liked that with the roses...thought it might be too weird or somethin'..."

"It's really not," Jack told him, squeezing him tightly. "I love it...and I love you." He prised himself away and they settled down to their breakfast, looking forward to a relaxing day together out here in paradise. Neither of them could think of a better way to spend their anniversary.

When they were done and had cleaned up, they left the cabin and set off walking along the trail that led to the lake. Ennis reached out and took Jack's hand, lacing their fingers together and making them both smile. To Jack's mind, Ennis looked a little shy; he found it so endearing and he squeezed Ennis's fingers gently.

"Remember the first time we held hands in public?" Jack asked, and Ennis nodded.

"Yep. It was about March...just before spring break. It was real scary, Jack...but I'm glad we did it." It was probably the bravest he'd ever been, and he was glad that he'd seen it through. And Jack hadn't pushed him for it; he'd let Ennis get there in his own time.

"Me too. And you were the one who suggested it. We'd swapped our rings over to our left hands and I told you that people were figuring it out. And you said that we should just go with it anyway since they already kind of knew."

"Yeah...I can remember them starin' an' whisperin' about' a couple of 'em tryin' to give us a hard time."

"That all stopped by the end of the year," Jack reminded him, and they looked at each other. It had stopped because of Ennis's temporary disappearance and that the other students had realised that they were in love. But neither of them liked to talk about that day; it didn't do them any good and it was all in the past now. "Anyway...doesn't matter now."

"Right." They reached the lake and sat down on the grass together, watching the sunlight sparkle on the water before them. Jack leaned against Ennis, letting out a contented sigh.

"This is good," he murmured, and Ennis took his hand again.

"Yeah. Jack, I...I just want you to know that I'm real happy with you. I try every day to show you what you mean to me, an'...I hope I'm doin' somethin' right. Can't always find the words..." Jack sighed and squeezed his fingers.

"You keep saying that, and I keep saying you're do know the words, Ennis. And the ones you've said to me have always been wonderful. But as for showing me...that's always great, too. You care about me, you take care of make me laugh're always there." He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "I know how much you love me...I can see it in your eyes when we're together like this. It's all in there plain as day."

"Hmm." Ennis kissed Jack's temple and smiled; Jack understood his gestures of love and had some idea of what he was feeling. That was enough for him. Ennis didn't think that there were words for what he felt, but there was nothing he could do about that. All he could do was love Jack and let him know that he would always be there.

When they returned to the cabin, they spent most of the day on the sofa together. Jack lay on top of Ennis as they kissed deeply, heart fit to burst with the love he felt. Their first year of marriage hadn't been perfect, but they were doing well now. Jack had the feeling that soon he would be ready to sign those papers and get the adoption process going, but he didn't want to say anything to Ennis just yet.

Still, this was far from his mind as he released Ennis's mouth and moved down to his neck, softly biting at the skin and hearing a quiet moan. "Jack..."

"Like that, baby?" Jack murmured in his ear, trailing a hand down between Ennis's legs and squeezing. Ennis let out a gasp as Jack stroked him, biting his lip. "Jesus..."

"Hmm..." Jack let go of him and rose up onto his knees, looking down at Ennis's flushed face. "Reckon I ought to let you breathe," he said, lacing their fingers together. Ennis smiled up at him.

"Darlin'...I never thought we'd be here, celebratin' our anniversary. When we first met, I mean. Never thought I'd end up marryin' another guy."

Jack nodded. "I know. To be honest, I didn't know for sure I would, either. I knew I was gay, but...never dared to hope that I'd be happy. And when I started having feelings for you, I never thought you'd return them. I thought I'd have to get over you and just be friends." He sighed. "Sure am glad that wasn't the case."

"Me too. Now we're together I can't...imagine it bein' any different. Can't picture you an' me just bein' friends," Ennis admitted, gazing up into Jack's eyes. "Can't imagine us...knowin' each other an' not...kissin' or...havin' sex..." He shrugged. "I know that if that had been the case, we wouldn't know any different anyway, but...still..."

"I know what you mean, bud. I can't imagine all that I'm glad that things worked out this way." He leaned down again and they kissed, softer this time. "Love you so much, baby."

"Love you too..." Ennis released Jack's hands and grabbed his shoulders, pulling Jack down back onto him and into his arms. They lay there for a while, just embracing and talking softly until they started getting hungry.

Jack was to cook dinner tonight, and they had agreed to swap their presents afterwards. While Jack was occupied, Ennis went into the bedroom to retrieve his gift; he'd bought Jack a new wallet, since Jack's was falling apart. It wasn't the most romantic gift ever but he knew that Jack would appreciate it nonetheless.

He sat at the table and watched Jack cooking, offering to help but being declined. Jack wanted to do this by himself. Still, Jack did come over and sit on his lap while he was waiting for the food to cook.

"Chair ain't gonna take both of us," Ennis tried to warn, hearing it groan under the strain. Jack just shrugged and kissed him.

Jack had cooked them a roast chicken with potatoes and vegetables, having learned how from his mother. Ennis had always enjoyed Jack's cooking since they'd first moved in together back in Amherst, and he appreciated the effort made.

"This is great, bud," he told him, seeing how pleased Jack looked.

"Thanks. Remember when we first got together, and how we ate all that fried chicken from the diner? How the hell did we not put on a load of weight?" he asked, grinning. Ennis thought it over.

"Well...we was gettin' plenty of exercise," he replied, making Jack laugh.

"True enough." When the meal was over, they pushed their plates to one side and brought up their gifts for each other. "You ready to swap?" Jack asked, hoping that Ennis liked his gift.

"Yep..." With their eyes fixed on each other, they slid their presents over to one another and were silent as they unwrapped them. "Jack..." Ennis held up the watch, admiring the intricate detail and smiling over at Jack, who had just revealed his brand new wallet. Both items were well-made, but it was always the thought that mattered most to them.

"Thank you, Ennis," Jack said to him, getting up and walking around the table. Ennis stood up to meet him, pulling him close for a deep kiss. Jack's eyes were shining at him and it was the sight that Ennis had always loved. He'd done it right.

"You're welcome, bud. An' thank you for this," he replied, setting the watch down. He'd thought of putting it on, but realised that he would be stripping off soon anyway. He had a feeling that they were going to have sex more than once tonight, and he couldn't wait.

They cleaned up together and headed back to the sofa for a while, knowing what was to come later tonight but not feeling rushed to get there. Jack thought of his video camera, in his suitcase and ready to go. They had already made a few tapes during their time together, safely locked away in a cabinet in their bedroom, and they liked picking one out and watching now and then, just for fun. Seeing themselves having sex tended to turn on them quite effectively, and those were always good nights. The one they made tonight would be proudly labelled as their first wedding anniversary; something to remember.

"I love you," Jack sighed, leaning against Ennis and staring at the fire. Even though they said the words to each other at least once a day, they never got tired of hearing or saying them.

"Back at you, darlin'," Ennis murmured, kissing his hair. "You, ready to...?" He tilted his head towards the bedroom, and Jack grinned.

"Sure...but just give me five minutes in there alone. Got one last surprise for you." Ennis nodded and watched him go, already feeling aroused with the thought of making love with Jack. That was another thing he would never tire of, not as long as he lived.

Ennis hovered outside the bedroom door, waiting for Jack to call him inside. He had no idea what Jack was planning but he had a feeling he would like it.

"You done in there yet?" he called, wondering what was taking so long.

"Just a sec," Jack replied, looking around at his handiwork. The candles were arranged around the room and lit, casting a romantic glow around the room as the only light source. The camera was set up on the dresser and facing the bed from the side, and all he had to do was press the record button. He even had the massage oil out, just in case. "Okay..." He opened the door and grinned at Ennis, seeing the puzzled look on his face. "We're ready..." He took Ennis's hand and led him inside, shutting the door behind them as Ennis looked around.

"Jack...this is..." Ennis's eyes fell on the video camera and he understood. "Is that the...?"

"Yep...thought we could get our anniversary on video," Jack replied, kissing his neck. "That alright?" Ennis smiled at him; it was perfect.

"That's more than alright, Jack...good idea." He leaned in and captured Jack's lips, gently pushing his tongue inside Jack's mouth and drawing a soft moan out of him.

"Mmm...Ennis..." Jack mumbled against his lips. They broke apart and his fingers lightly touched Ennis's belt buckle. "You wanna get on the bed?" he whispered, and Ennis nodded.

"Sure...but first thing's first." He led Jack around the bed and switched on the record button as they passed. "Better make sure to get all of this," he said as they crawled onto the bed together.

"Good point." Jack lay himself down on top of Ennis, kissing as they started to undress. They got distracted when their shirts were removed, unable to resist the glowing skin in the candlelight. Ennis rolled them both over until he had Jack underneath him, both of them trying to kick off their jeans. "'re going for it tonight," Jack observed, his jeans now halfway down his legs even with Ennis straddling him. "Reckon it was that wine..."

"Maybe..." Ennis moved down the bed and yanked Jack's jeans off in one motion, throwing them to the floor and making Jack grin. "Wanna be inside you, darlin'," he murmured, and Jack nodded.

"You got it." When they were both naked, they decided to forgo the massage oil and just skip to the main event; they were too far gone for anything else now. Jack could feel Ennis's legs sliding against his, prising them apart to reach his goal. Ennis was kissing his chest and tangling his hands in the dark locks, and arousal was swirling around his body. "Ennis...won't last long if you keep doing that..."

Ennis rose up onto his knees and gazed down at him lovingly. "You want it?" he breathed, trailing a finger down Jack's chest and stopping just before his sensitive lower stomach. Jack wanted Ennis inside him and to touch him at the same time.

"Yeah," he replied, and Ennis needed no further encouragement. Turned on by the fact that it was all being filmed, he grabbed the lube and smoothed it over himself, watching Jack's face. The truth was right there in his eyes; Jack wanted him. He always had since they were young students trying to find themselves, and now they were a married couple. This wasn't the way he'd expected his life to turn out, but here it was and he loved it.

Jack lifted his legs and wrapped them around Ennis's waist, locking his ankles together when Ennis leaned down and started to push in. He bit his lip and tried to help, lifting his hips and guiding Ennis inside him.

When they were tightly connected and looking into each other's eyes, Ennis stroked Jack's face. "Happy anniversary, darlin'," he whispered, and Jack smiled up at him.

"Back to you, cowboy." He closed his eyes as Ennis started moving, warmth flowing through him as Ennis kissed him. He wrapped his arms around Ennis's neck and sighed. "God...I love doing this with always know..."

"Mmm..." Ennis released his lips and buried his face in Jack's neck instead, rocking steadily into him and taking hold of Jack's swelling erection. He knew that Jack liked to be touched when they were in this position, and he always wanted to give Jack as much pleasure as he could. Ennis loved knowing that he could make Jack this happy. "Come for me, Jack," he breathed in his lover's ear, and Jack moaned.

"Oh God..." He bucked a few times and shot between them, unable to withstand Ennis's stroking anymore. Ennis felt the warm, sticky fluid hit his stomach and felt branded, but not unpleasantly so at all. He thrust a few more times until he was coming inside Jack, gritting his teeth until it was over.

They sank down to the bed together, breathing heavily and caressing each other. "Baby," Jack whispered, running his hands through Ennis's damp hair. "I love you so much..." He kissed Ennis's cheek and looked over at the camera. "And that's how it's done," he said with a breathless grin. Ennis laughed, shaking against Jack and rising up.

"You're' I love you for it." He pulled out and managed to stand up, switching off the camera before making it back to bed. They stretched out on their respective sides, and Jack curled up against him.

"Mmm...that was good. Ennis...I can't wait for the rest of our anniversaries. Especially the milestone ones. Which one's first?"

"I think it's silver...twenty-five years," Ennis replied. "We'd be just over fifty..."

"Can you imagine that? Me and you...old men..." Jack asked, wondering what it would be like. "Would we even be able to...?"

"Yeah, don't see why not," Ennis replied, stroking his cheek. "Can you imagine bein' married to me in another twenty-four years?"

Jack smiled widely; he didn't even have to consider his answer. "Yeah, I do." He found Ennis's hand and squeezed it, looking forward to what the future held for them.