Chapter 7

May 28th, 1963

Ennis seemed to be coping fairly well at being out with the sheep on his own, and Jack was very grateful to get a warm night's sleep. Of course, this did nothing to prevent them from dreaming about each other, and Jack was still wondering if anything was going to happen.

He was busy preparing breakfast whilst keeping his ears peeled for the sound of hooves on the ground. Ennis would be back at any moment and Jack couldn't wait to see him; he didn't like them spending time apart. How was he supposed to figure out Ennis's feelings if they barely saw each other?

As he worked, he tried to think of ways in which he could gauge how Ennis might feel about him without making it obvious. If he were to discover that Ennis felt the same, then he would make a move and see how things went. If Ennis didn't, then Jack resigned himself to the fact that nothing could happen.

I just wanna show him that it's okay to feel like that, he thought to himself as he poked at the fire to boil the water. Just 'cos some people don't like it...that don't mean it can't happen. Nobody's gotta know but us. He was just thinking of this summer and no further; he didn't want to think about being parted from Ennis, especially since his feelings were growing deeper by the day. He was just trying to figure out where they were right now.

At last, he heard the sound of Ennis approaching the campsite and grinned to himself; he'd been looking forward to this all morning.

"Hey," he called as Ennis dismounted and walked over to him.

"Hey, bud," Ennis replied, making Jack blink in surprise. This was the first time that Ennis had made any indication of them being friends, and he didn't know what to make of it. Was this a sign that Ennis was interested?

"Um...just makin' some breakfast here. Got some beans for ya." Ennis nodded his thanks. He then took off his hat and stretched, not seeing how Jack was observing his blonde curls. Ennis sighed and removed his jacket, intending to wash before eating. When he started removing his boots, Jack gulped.

"Shot a coyote up there," Ennis was saying as he stripped his shirt off. He pulled off his vest to reveal a tanned, muscled chest that made Jack's jeans uncomfortably tight. He didn't know if Ennis was sending him signals right now, but he sure hoped so. "Big son of a bitch; balls on him the size of apples."

Bet yours ain't nothin' to sneeze at, Jack thought when he saw that Ennis only had his jeans to remove. He hoped that Ennis couldn't see the hungry look in his eyes, and he turned away to try and open the beans. "You got some hot water?" Ennis asked. He was going to strip off and wash nearby, and all Jack could think about was the image of Ennis naked.

He fumbled with the can and spilt them, muttering to himself. Ennis surely thought he was an idiot now. "It's all yours," he replied irritably, putting them down so he could clean himself up.

Ennis watched him licking his fingers dry, and had a very strange thought. What would it be like for him to lick them clean? He mentally shook himself and got up, grabbing the water and soap. He just couldn't allow those thoughts to take root in his mind; it would ruin everything if he acted on them. Not only for himself and Alma, but what if Jack didn't reciprocate these feelings? It would be very embarrassing for him to make a move and be rebuffed.

He had tried to dream of Alma, the girl he was about to marry, but she always turned into Jack and his dreams were not the type he would repeat to anybody. He had felt Jack's body in his dreams and found himself wondering about the real thing. They were two lonely young men up in the mountains with no women to meet their needs; surely that was all it was? If something did happen between them, then surely it would only be because they had no other option?

He stood a little way behind Jack as he stepped out of his jeans, keeping his hat on. Part of him wanted Jack to turn around and he contemplated asking Jack for his assistance. What was happening to him?

Jack knew that Ennis was moving the soap over his body, probably washing in between his legs, and he so wished that he could look. But if Ennis caught him...that would be it. He would probably punch him and Jack would feel as if he'd deserved it. Just because Ennis had stripped off near him didn't mean a thing. He might just be comfortable about doing that.

It was a relief for Jack when he heard Ennis zipping his jeans back up, clearly finished. Ennis came back into his view fully dressed, and he slowly felt his arousal go down. He considered himself very lucky that Ennis hadn't seen it. If things had gone on for much longer, Jack would have needed to disappear for a few minutes to take care of it, and he couldn't risk Ennis finding out about it, or why.

Ennis noticed Jack's strange silence through breakfast, even though Jack was eating something he liked for once. As far as he could see, there was nothing to warrant such odd behaviour from someone so talkative.

His only guess was that he'd made Jack uncomfortable by removing his clothes so near to him, and by washing just feet away. He had simply felt as if it was convenient, and it wasn't as if Jack had seen anything. Maybe Jack didn't like it anyway, and now he'd lost the other man's friendship. The worst thought was that nothing might happen between them now; Jack didn't return his feelings.