Chapter 1

May 7th, 1963

"Another one?" Jack asked, and Ennis shook his head. He was still on his first beer, not being used to the stuff; Jack had had two bottles already.

Ennis wasn't sure about Jack. He was a lot different than anybody else he'd ever met so far, and he was slightly intimidated by the other man's confidence. Jack was a very nice guy, and maybe they could be friends while working together. That would certainly make things run smoothly during their summer job up on the mountain. They had already talked a little about where they were from and their families, and he had borrowed Jack's lighter. When their fingers had touched, he thought he could feel a slight tingle of something. He brushed it off as not yet being used to Jack and thought no more of it.

Jack ordered another beer and Ennis wondered if he was trying to get drunk already. They had no money for the motel and Aguirre hadn't said anything about where they would be staying tonight. Maybe they could sleep in Jack's truck, if Jack allowed him to.

"Um...wanted to ask you somethin'," he mumbled, and Jack turned those bright blue eyes on him. "Aguirre didn't say nothin' about where we're sleepin', did he?"

Jack shook his head. "No, he didn't...tell you what, though. You can sleep in the truck if you want."

"Ain't it only one seat?" Ennis asked unsurely; he didn't know how he felt about sleeping so close to someone he barely knew. Jack shrugged.

"Still plenty of room for both of us. I ain't gonna rob you, ya know," he added with a grin. Ennis looked away; he couldn't meet Jack's piercing gaze for very long.

Jack's grin faded slightly; he was only trying to be friendly. Ennis was certainly a very difficult person to talk to, but he wasn't deterred. He reminded himself that they could only be friends; there couldn't be a repeat of last year's mistakes. Still, it would be nice to have a friend up there even if they never became anything more.

He saw Ennis picking at the label on his solitary bottle and wondered why he hadn't drunk any more. Maybe Ennis was from the kind of family where drinking was a sin or something; he used to sneak his father's whiskey until he got the job last year and could afford it himself. There was a bottle in the truck that he was planning to take up with him; maybe after a few mouthfuls even Ennis would be able to talk more.

"So, um...where you livin' right now?" he asked, remembering that Ennis's family's ranch had been taken back by the bank.

"Was livin' in the bunkhouse of the ranch I was workin' on," Ennis replied. "Down in Sage. That's where my folks' ranch was."

Jack nodded. "I live with my folks, up in Lightnin' Flat. Ever been around there?"

"No...what's it like?"

"Ain't much to look at," Jack admitted. "Kinda barren. Always wanted to get outta there when I was a kid. From my room, I can see the path that leads away from the house an' the ranch. Used to be that I'd sit by the window an' wonder what was out there. Started bull ridin' when I turned eighteen, did it mostly in the spring. Then I did my first summer on Brokeback last year...then worked on my old man's ranch until now. Hopin' to get enough money so that I won't have to live there much longer, you know?"

Ennis nodded, taking it all in. For some reason, he liked how much Jack talked. Everybody he knew was quiet and reserved, especially Alma. At first he'd thought it was perfect for him because he was so quiet, but now he wished he had more people like Jack around him. Perhaps they could be friends, even after this summer.

They spent the day in the bar, Ennis eventually having more than one beer as they talked. He didn't have much to offer by way of conversation, but he liked listening to Jack. He had a feeling that this job would be far more enjoyable than any other he'd ever had, and he couldn't wait for them to get started the next morning.

It was dark when they left, and a glance at the watch Aguirre had given him told Ennis that it was almost eleven at night. Jack led him back to the truck and they got inside, Ennis keeping his distance from Jack. What if they moved around in the night, and ended up a lot closer? He would be mortified and Jack would be sure to kick him out. Ennis thought about Earl and why he'd been killed; he just couldn't run the risk of that happening to him.

Jack took his jacket off and put it behind his head, glancing over at Ennis curiously. His new colleague was very quiet and shy, but Jack liked how they could still talk. Maybe he would be able to draw Ennis out a little as time went on, but he still had to remind himself that they could only be friends. For all he knew, Ennis could have a girl back in Sage.

Ennis was soon asleep, but Jack was restless. The familiar feeling of attraction was flaring up inside him again; he'd felt it earlier that day when he'd first seen Ennis, and now it was back. He bit his lip and tried to make himself sleep, but it wasn't working. He slowly reached out with a trembling hand, as if to touch Ennis's curls near his ear, but then drew it back for fear of detection. Ennis would surely not respond to any such advances, and he had to keep his distance. He shook his head and closed his eyes, trying to ignore the feelings in his stomach. Why did they have to pair him with somebody who it was so very easy to fall for?