Chapter 2

May 8th, 1963

Ennis noticed that Jack was unusually quiet on the way to the drop-off point the next morning. He wondered if it the effect of too many beers the night before; he wasn't feeling particularly awake either.

In reality, Jack was thinking about the night before and how he had almost caressed Ennis's curls. He couldn't allow that to happen again, especially if Ennis caught him at it. He had to keep his feelings to himself.

When they reached the drop-off point, they saw that some Chilean shepherds were counting the sheep and preparing the horses for the summer. Jack headed over to the horses and started looking over them, trying to decide which one to take. Ennis went over to the sheep and looked over at them, wondering how on earth they were supposed to control so many.

He vaguely listened as the Basque told him about not ordering soup and mumbled something about how he didn't eat soup. Then he stood up and noticed Jack on top of a mare, trying to get himself settled. She was clearly very temperamental and he had a feeling that she would buck Jack off at some point.

"You wanna watch it there," he called over to Jack. "That horse has got a low startle point." Jack turned her to face Ennis, a look of stubborn determination on his face.

"Doubt there's a filly that can throw me," he shot back, trying to keep her still. "Let's get unless you wanna sit around tyin' knots all day." Ennis turned away as Jack continued to wrestle against the mare's attempts to buck him off. He still wasn't sure about his new colleague.

Eventually, they managed to get the sheep and horses ready for the journey up the mountain. Jack had taken to the blue heelers that were with them and Ennis wondered if he'd ever had a dog as a kid. Their family had never had pets; his father had thought that animals should be working or else they were useless. Any dogs on their old ranch had never been allowed in the house.

The weather was beautiful and the scenery was certainly interesting. Ennis was fascinated, being used to flat areas where everything was the same, and he was slightly envious of Jack who had seen this before.

They reached a river and the sheep were very reluctant to cross; Jack ended up dismounting and helping them across, one sheep splayed around his shoulders as he waded through the water. Ennis stayed to the back of the group, whistling to the dogs for their help and eventually they managed to cross the river, though Ennis could hear Jack muttering about the sheep under his breath. They continued to head up the mountain with little trouble, and Ennis found himself looking around with interest; he had a feeling that he would like working here. He did feel sorry for Jack, who as herder had to sleep out with the sheep away from camp.

When they finally reached their first camp, they saw to it that the sheep were settled in before preparing the campsite. While taking a break, Ennis sat with the dogs and watched Jack clipping the hooves of one of the lambs. He wondered why Jack was being so quiet today; surely the hangover had worn off by now? But Jack still seemed to be keeping his distance and Ennis wasn't about to initiate conversation.

"You alright?" he called over to his colleague, who looked up at him.

"Yeah, sure," Jack replied, nodding and looking puzzled. He knew that he'd been quieter than usual today, and this was because he didn't want Ennis to guess how he was feeling right now. If Ennis figured it out, he would either leave the mountain or punch his lights out. They could never be friends if Ennis found out that Jack was attracted to him.

After a short while, they started making camp together. They chopped the wood and Jack gathered water from the nearby stream, both of them silent as they worked. In spite of himself, Jack couldn't help but look at Ennis; both of them had removed their jackets by now and Ennis had rolled his sleeves up, exposing strong muscled arms. Jack swallowed and looked away, trying to act as normal as possible.

They spent the day lying around the campsite, eating and smoking as the day wore on. Jack had decided to go back to the sheep when the sun started to set, wanting to enjoy the comforts of camp as much as he could.

"See you in the mornin' then," he said to Ennis as he mounted the mare, hoping that he wouldn't get bucked off. Ennis nodded and watched him go, feeling lonely now without another person there. He did like Jack and part of him hoped that they could be friends.

Jack rode in silence, hating how he had to do this. He didn't care about how it might help Aguirre save money; this was against the rules and it meant a cold, lonely night in a tent that he despised the smell of. He wanted to be back in camp with Ennis, perhaps even in the tent with him where it was warm...

Stop it, he scolded himself, pressing the mare forward. You can't let yourself think like that. You can be friends with him, but that's it. No more.

He reached the sheep and put the tent up with a scowl on his face, hating every minute of this. When he was at least satisfied with it, he sat down and lit another smoke, staring out at the hundreds of sheep before him. He looked across the valley, where he could see the firelight of the main camp. He wondered what Ennis was doing right now, if he was thinking of him. Maybe they could really be friends without him screwing everything up, like last year. Jack shook his head and looked away, trying not to think about that head of blonde curls or those deep brown eyes.