Chapter 6

February 7th, 1984

By Tuesday, Ennis had quit his job at the ranch. He could feel himself growing weaker with just three days left, and he had been given the last of his wages. He would give it to the girls when he saw them.

He was still asleep, and Jack was watching him silently; sensing that Ennis's life was drawing to its close. He did feel sorry for Ennis despite how it would bring them together; he wasn't looking forward to seeing Ennis in pain. He would obviously be there for Ennis when it happened, but still.

I love you so much, Jack thought as he watched Ennis sleep; it was the only time when he didn't look tired and weary. He watched Ennis carefully at night, making sure that he wasn't having nightmares or feeling any pain. Ennis hadn't stopped smoking, since he hadn't seen much point in doing so; the damage was done.

He carefully reached out and ran a hand through Ennis's hair; it wasn't quite as curly as it used to be, and it was a lot greyer than he remembered. He himself looked like he had on Brokeback, with his thick black hair that he knew Ennis had liked. Ennis would look like his younger self when this was over, and they would have a very long time together.

Ennis started stirring just as the sun was rising around five, out of habit more than anything else by now. Jack smiled when those deep brown eyes started blinking at him, full of sleep. "Mornin', bud," he said softly, still stroking Ennis's hair. Ennis smiled back.

"Mornin'. Don't you sleep?"

"Don't need to anymore," Jack replied, shrugging. "Besides, I wanna watch over you. Puts my mind at rest, you know?"

Ennis sat up and yawned, which Jack thought was completely endearing. "I guess. What are we doin' today?"

Jack sat up next to him and bumped his shoulder. "Ennis, I...I think you should go an' see yer girls today. In a couple of days you won't be able to get out of you should do it while you can."

Knowing that he was right, Ennis nodded. "You're right. I was thinkin' of goin' to see Alma too. Apologise for everythin', you know?"

Jack smiled at him. "I think that's a great idea, Ennis. If it gives you closure..." He kissed Ennis's cheek and got up, nodding to him. "You get a shower an' I'll make you some breakfast."

"Can you do that?" Ennis asked. Jack shrugged.

"Ain't like I'm gonna burn myself. An' I'm solid so I don't see why not. Worth a try, anyway." He left the bedroom and Ennis got himself ready for the day.

He was eating the breakfast that Jack made him when the phone rang; he'd installed it recently so as to remain in touch with his girls. "Hello?"

"Ennis, it's me," came Alma's voice. "I just wanted to let you know that me an' Monroe are takin' the girls to see his folks this weekend. I know you was supposed to be havin' 'em, but..."

"Alma, it's okay," he cut her off, looking at Jack. "There's somethin' I gotta tell you...I won't be here this weekend."

"You off somewhere?"

"No...the thing is...I've got cancer, Alma. The um...the doctors say I've got until Friday at the most." He didn't want to tell her it was Jack; he knew that she followed the Bible and what it said, so he didn't want to shatter her entire belief system by telling her that he and Jack wouldn't be in Hell.

"Ennis...I'm so sorry," she replied, sounding genuinely upset. "I don't know what to say..."

"You don't have to say nothin', Alma. I know I did you wrong an' I just wanna tell you that I'm sorry. I shouldn't have married you when I knew how I felt 'bout Jack."

"We was just kids, Ennis. We didn't know anythin' but what we were told by our folks. Things were just different back then an' you didn't really have a choice." He was surprised by her lack of anger for what he had done, but it did make sense now. "From the moment I saw you two kissin' on the steps I knew that I never had a chance of keepin' you anyway."

Ennis bit his lip. "I sure am sorry, an' you should know that Jack was sorry for it too. We didn't wanna hurt you or his wife, but...I'm the one who said we should have them double lives. It woulda been better if I'd gone off with him, but I was just tryin' to do right by you an' the girls."

"It might have been better for us to be apart. You would've been happier; I know that. Still...water under the bridge now. You wanna see the girls before...?"

"Yeah, I do. Reckon I won't be able to move much soon. I was thinkin' of comin' down there today, actually."

"Good timin', then. They're both here all day. Kurt an' Monroe are both workin' so you won't get disturbed. You want me here?"

"I wanna talk to each of 'em alone, if that's okay. Got different things to say to 'em."

"Sure. I'll take the boys to the park," she told him, still sounding concerned. "Um...Ennis...thank you. For tryin' anyway even if you didn't love me. We wouldn't have our girls otherwise."

"That's true. Thanks for everythin', Alma."

"Bye." She clicked off and he looked at the phone, feeling a lot better than he had in years. He was aware of Jack wrapping his arms around him from behind..

"You okay?"

"Been wantin' to clear the air for years," Ennis replied, sighing and putting the phone back. "Felt good."

Jack smiled and kissed the back of his neck. "I'm glad. So you goin' to see the girls?"

Ennis nodded. "Yeah. Will you...come with me? I know they can't see you, but..."

Jack squeezed him tightly. "Of course I will, cowboy."