Chapter 8

The pair of them spent the rest of the day together, and Jack noticed that Ennis was growing tired more easily. He knew that the end was coming soon, but he would be right there to help his friend through it. He would never leave Ennis to deal with this by himself.

They were sitting on the bed together, holding each other close and occasionally kissing. Both of them wanted to do more, but knew they wouldn't have long to wait. On the other side, they could do whatever they wanted and they would have forever. That was something to think about.

"How you feelin'?" Jack asked, nudging him. Ennis shrugged.

"I'm tired. Don't have much energy, to be honest..." Jack nodded; he'd expected that.

"I know, bud. Look...if you wanna ask me anythin' about dyin', I don't mind. Anythin'?"

Ennis thought for a moment. "Does it really hurt?"

"It did for me, but then I was attacked. You're dyin' of somethin' else so it might not hurt as much, you know?"

"Jack...was you hurtin' for long?" Ennis asked him, eyes full of concern for him. Jack smiled a little. It didn't pain him to talk about it now; it had been a long enough time ago.

"Not too long. It hurt while they was doin' it, but then...they left me alone an'...I could feel myself slippin' away an' eventually it didn't hurt no more."

Ennis squeezed his hand. "If I'd known...I woulda hunted every one of 'em until they paid for what they did to you." He rested his head on Jack's shoulder, feeling a strange kind of warmth even though Jack was so cold. He liked it, for some reason.

Jack kissed the top of his head. "That's sweet, Ennis. But that mighta landed you in trouble, or gotten you hurt. I don't want that, never did."

After a while, Ennis thought of something he'd wanted to ask Jack ever since he'd turned up. "Jack? Um...when did you...fall in love with me?" Jack smiled and thought about it.

"Well...I was attracted to you right from that day by Aguirre's trailer. There was just somethin' about you that I liked. An' I enjoyed spendin' time with you over the summer. Then that day by the fire when we was talkin' about our remember?"

"Yeah, I do," Ennis replied, smiling back at him. "An' you started jumpin' around like you was ridin' a bull."

"Yep. That was when I started feelin' somethin' deeper, you know? That's when I fell in love."

Ennis thought about it, and realised that the same could be said for him. "Me too, Jack. I remember our first night well enough. Did I hurt you too much?"

Jack shook his head. "No, you didn't. It hurt, but I still liked bein' with you. But the second night was somethin' else. Remember our first kiss?"

"Yeah...I'll never forget that. God, I was so scared. But you were there for me, helpin' me through it."

"An' I'll be there for you in a couple of days," Jack promised him, kissing his cheek. "So you're sure that there's nothin' else you wanna do? You won't get no chance after today. What about yer brother an' sister?"

Ennis shook his head. "No...haven't spoken to 'em for years. Don't have a number for either of 'em, no idea where they are."

Jack got up and found the phone book that Ennis kept but hardly looked in. "They might be in here. Are you sure? You could just leave 'em a message an' then we'll unplug the phone so they won't disturb us over the next few days."

Ennis relented and waved him back over with the book; Jack grabbed the phone along the way. "Worth a shot, I guess." Jack sat back down next to him and they flicked through it until they spotted K.E. Del Mar.

"Well, look at that. You wanna give it a try?" Ennis nodded and took the phone. There was no answer when he dialled the number, but he left a message as Jack had instructed. There wasn't much to say, given how little time they had spent together as adults, but Ennis simply said that there were no hard feelings for the past and that he wished him all the best.

They found his sister's number too, remembering to look for her married name, and Ennis had more to say in his message to her. He thanked her for taking care of him after their parents had died, despite how the odds had always been against them. He wished her well and he had to admit that he felt better afterwards.

"How d'you feel now?" Jack asked him, smiling. Ennis nodded.

"Good. Better than I did, actually. Feels like...everythin's been sorted now."

"'s a good idea for you to clear everythin' up before you die. I wish I'd done the same with Lureen an' Bobby but I didn't get the chance an' now I never will." He shrugged. "Never mind. I'm where I wanna be now an' that's all that matters. They'll all be just fine."

He kissed Ennis's cheek again and laid the book and phone down on the bed. "I love you."

Ennis smiled back at him; the words were easy to say now but he wished he could have said them sooner, when Jack was alive. "Love you too, bud." He felt Jack's lips upon his; it tingled a little but he was used to it by now.

When they broke apart, Jack pulled Ennis's head back to his shoulder. "It'll be okay, Ennis. It's gonna hurt when it happens, but then it'll soon be over. An' I'm gonna be here for all of it until you're ready to cross over with me."

Ennis felt very apprehensive about what was going to happen, but he trusted Jack to look after him. He would be spending his final days with the love of his life and that soothed him. Everything was going to be okay.