Author's notes

Hey guys! This is the last chapter of the story, hope you all enjoyed it despite its nature. I have decided what I'm going to write for the one shot that I asked you all to make suggestions for, and that will be posted tomorrow. Then on Sunday, I will be posting the first chapter of my brand new story, the sequel to Living In The Now. It will be called Always A Silver Lining, and look out on my livejournal for a recap of the original story to refresh your memories before the new one starts.

Happy reading!


Chapter 28

August 19th, 1963

It was time to leave. They had reached the bottom of the mountain and were now waiting for the sheep to be counted before Aguirre would pay them. Both of them knew that there would be a cut considering they had been cheated out of a month, but that wasn't registering on their minds right now. Both of them were thinking of the intimate moments they had experienced together, and not just sex. They were close, and knew that they loved each other. So both of them hated how it just couldn't happen.

As they waited, Ennis could hear his mind screaming at him to say something to Jack; to tell him that he didn't want to be without him. But how could he now expect Jack to stay with him after that punch? He didn't deserve Jack's love after that and thought that Jack would be better off without him. His temper was known to flare up at any moment and he didn't want to hurt Jack again.

Meanwhile, Jack was trying to figure out what he could say to reassure Ennis that there were no hard feelings. He understood why Ennis had hit him; it had simply been out of frustration. But it didn't make the bruise hurt any less, and he knew that his mother would be wondering how he'd got it. He could never keep secrets from her anyway and didn't want to; he needed to talk to someone about this.

"Half of these didn't go up there with you," Aguirre told them, clearly not happy with the result. "Count ain't what I'd hoped for, neither." He turned to them, shaking his head a little. "You ranch ain't never no good." He walked away to his car, leaving them to contemplate the end of their job in silence.

Eventually, the pair of them moved and were taken back to Aguirre's office. He paid them with a few more sneering words and then told them to leave. Both of them knew that they had received quite a cut, but said nothing. He had shotguns, after all. Jack headed over to his truck and inspected the bonnet; he knew he would need to get it going again if he was going to reach Lightning Flat.

He bit his lip. "Ennis?" he called to his friend, who was rifling through his bag. "Could me get this goin'?" he asked nervously, and Ennis nodded. Jack got into the truck and started the engine, hearing it cough and splutter.

Ennis knew a few things about trucks, and he set about trying to get the engine fixed so that Jack could get it going. He hated this; he didn't want Jack to go and was yearning to tell him, so why couldn't he get the words out?

It took a few tries, but eventually it was cleared and the truck started going. Jack grinned in spite of himself and got out, remembering what was about to happen.

"Left my damn shirt up there," Ennis muttered, and Jack decided not to tell him. He needed it.

"Yeah?" After a pause, he asked, "You gonna do this again next summer?" He knew that he sounded hopeful, and he remembered Ennis talking about them working here again.

"Maybe I said, me an' Alma's gettin' married in November, so, uh...try an' get somethin' on a ranch, I guess." Jack nodded, feeling his heart sink in his chest. He was still going to marry Alma despite what had happened between them. Had it meant so little to Ennis? Had it just been a one-shot thing after all? "You?"

"I'm gonna head up to my daddy's place," Jack replied, wishing that he had a place of his own. Maybe then he would have something to offer Ennis. "Give him a hand through the winter. I might be back...if the army don't get me." That was always a possibility; Vietnam was still going on and he could get drafted. That wouldn't be the worst thing; there was nothing for him here.

Ennis tried not to imagine Jack in a life-threatening situation; the prospect made him want to pull Jack close and never let go. He didn't want Jack to get hurt. But as usual, he couldn't express what he felt.

"Guess I'll see you around, huh?" he said, squinting at Jack in the sunlight and trying to memorise his face. He would be seeing those blue eyes in his dreams for a long time to come.

"Right," Jack replied, wanting to grab Ennis for one last kiss. But there were too many prying eyes here and he knew he would regret trying. He looked up to see Ennis moving away and got into the truck, driving past his friend and the love of his life into an unknown future.

He glanced at Ennis in the rear-view mirror, wondering how on earth they had managed to find each other in a world like this. He knew he couldn't give up, not on something that he knew was meant to be. He didn't want anybody to get hurt, but he knew deep down that Ennis loved him even if he couldn't say so.

He recalled the nights in the tent, when they had held each other close and kissed and made love, and he felt sure that they were meant to be together. He just couldn't give up on this no matter how hard he tried.

Jack smiled to himself as he drove on. I'll see you again one day, Ennis Del Mar. I love you too much to let you ain't gettin' rid of me that easy.

Ennis stared after the truck, wishing that Jack would turn around for him because he didn't have the strength to go after Jack. He hoped to see Jack again one day, and even through the pain he felt when he staggered into the alleyway he felt his love for Jack blazing in his heart. Nothing could stop a force of nature.