Chapter 10

Sunday, February 14th 2010

Dear Ennis,

I know that you won't see this letter for a while, but I wanted to write to you today. It's a special day for anyone who's in love and that's what we are. I want you to know that I still love you so much, even more than I did the last time we were together.

I can't believe it's been nearly a year since we met, since it feels like a lot less with you being away so much. But I'm coping with that because I know we'll be back together soon. I hope you can be here for our anniversary but it's okay if you can't be. We can still celebrate and I know we'll still have fun.

I hope you're getting a lot of rest, because you'll need your energy when you get back. I still want to have that little contest with you over how many times we can both come in one night, because I think it'll be a lot of fun and I can't wait to be with you. But I'm mostly looking forward to just sitting with you and talking, because you're my best friend and I love you so much.

I really hope that one day you can meet my parents. They're looking forward to meeting you and seeing for themselves the man I want to be with for the rest of my life. Who knows; one day you could be their son-in-law. But I would like them to see why I wait for you all this time for just a few days before you go off again. I'm not sure they completely understand why I'm willing to be by myself for six months to spend a week or less with you, so I want them to see why. I know they'd love you, Ennis, if they met you.

I keep thinking about the other guys on the ship and if you're doing okay with being around them. I know it's not easy for you but I really am proud of how you seem to be coping. Please make sure you're keeping your journal safe and your phone stays protected. I have to admit I was surprised when you told me what the password was; the street where I live and my birthdate. I honestly never expected that but it does make some kind of sense, since you're keeping secrets about me.

I hate that you can't be truthful about who you are. Even without that law, you have no idea how the others would react. But I think it's fair to say that a lot of them wouldn't like it. They're bound to treat you differently, or talk about you behind your back. You don't need that, Ennis. You're a good man, so much better than them. Just keep your head up and remember how much I love you. We'll be back together before you know it.

Take care, Ennis. Happy Valentine's Day.

Love, Jack xxx

Jack put his pen down and sighed; it was still early and he hadn't slept much because he was worried. He kept thinking about Ennis being surrounded by guys who could be homophobic, having no idea of what they might do if they found out who he was seeing. Jack had never wanted Ennis to get into any kind of trouble, especially not for him. He would rather have Ennis lie about him than get sacked. He wanted them to spend more time together, but not like this.

He wondered if Ennis would be able to make it back for their anniversary. He hoped that he would because Jack wanted to celebrate with him; maybe they would have a romantic dinner again or go on a date. But Jack knew deep down that it wouldn't matter in the long run; their anniversary would still happen even if they were apart and they would still make it past that milestone. That was something to think about.

He got up when he heard his phone ringing and saw it was Lureen. "Hey."

"Hi. I was just wondering if you felt like having a movie night tonight at my place. I'm single and you're pining; we shouldn't spend this whole day alone. It's not right."

Jack smiled. "That sounds great. I'll get popcorn and you can buy the wine."

"Sounds like a plan. Have you heard from Ennis yet?" she asked, and he sighed.

"No, but he could be busy. He said he'll call me when he gets the chance."

"Good. Hope you two can be together for your anniversary."

"So do I. Being apart on our birthdays and Christmas is one thing, but that date? It's horrible to think we might not be together for it."

"I know. So I think a cheesy rom-com is exactly what we both need tonight. Anyway, I've got some stuff to do so I'll see you later. Maybe you could come by about six?"

"Yeah, that's fine. See you then." He clicked off and smiled to himself; she sure knew how to cheer him up when he was missing Ennis. Maybe today wouldn't be a complete mess after all.

He wondered what Ennis was doing right now and if he was working or just in his cabin. He wished he could send Ennis something bigger than a letter, like some kind of present for this day. But that just wasn't possible right now with the circumstances.

Jack folded the letter and put it into the envelope, writing on the address and making sure it was with his keys for the next time he went out. He figured he might go for a walk in the park and sit on the bench he'd once shared with Ennis. That would be good. Either way, Jack knew that soon enough his lover would be back and he would be able to tell him what he wanted to; that Ennis was the love of his life and that would never change.

After breakfast, Jack decided to head out as he'd planned. He figured he'd take a walk in the park and try to distract himself from his loneliness. Seeing other couples outside wasn't going to be easy today, but at least he would speak with Ennis at some point and spend time with Lureen. He didn't have to be completely alone.

The weather was quite warm despite the month and the leaves were growing on the trees again after the winter. He would love to walk through here with Ennis again at some point, and maybe they would get time for that when he returned. There was still so much he wanted to do with Ennis and he knew that the feeling was mutual; he was always trying to come up with new ideas for them to enjoy each other.

As he walked, he spotted the bench where he and Ennis had sat the last time and smiled to himself, remembering that wonderful day. It had felt good to be outside with Ennis for a change even if they had to be careful because of Ennis's co-workers. Jack honestly didn't think that any of them would have been walking in the park anyway but he respected Ennis's need to keep things private when they were around other people.

Jack sometimes wondered if Ennis felt guilty about how they couldn't be affectionate in public, and it was something that he had tried to clear up during one of their phone calls.

"I hope you know I'm not ashamed of you," Ennis told him, clearly worried that Jack did think this. Jack smiled to himself.

"Of course I don't think that, Ennis," he reassured him. "I know you like keeping your love life private, not least because of how they might react if you told them. Let me ask you something; if you weren't in the Navy, if you were just living around here and we were seeing each other, how would you be in public then?"

"Jack...if that were the case of course things would be different. I'd hold your hand and kiss you and let everyone know how happy I am..."

"Then that's all I need to know. You only keep things platonic in public because you're scared of being seen by someone you know. I completely understand that and I don't hold it against you. Far from it, bud. I know how scary it is to think that someone could see you and report you, and that you might get the sack for it."

"So you really know I'm not ashamed?" Ennis asked, sounding hopeful. Jack wished he could hug him right now.

"I know, baby. I really do. You don't have to worry about that because I know that's not how things are. I know you love me...and you sure make up for it when we're alone anyway. You can't seem to keep your hands off me," he said playfully. Ennis laughed.

"That's 'cos you're so damn attractive," he replied, clearly in a better mood now. "Thanks, Jack."

"No problem, bud."

Jack smiled at the memory; he really did understand why Ennis kept a slight distance when they were out together; he was simply afraid. Jack wished that Ennis had nothing to fear but unfortunately that wasn't going to happen. Even if the law was changed so that he could come out, Jack knew very well how Ennis's co-workers might react. A change in the law would not stop them from being homophobic and Jack hated knowing that truth. He shuddered at the thought of Ennis becoming a target for bullying just because of who he was.

He remembered when he was in high school, fully aware that he was into guys. There was a guy in his class who he knew was gay, and had also come out. Jack recalled the daily bullying that he was subjected to and was very glad that he himself wasn't out then. He didn't want Ennis to go through the same thing even though he very well might.

There was only one solution, even though he didn't like it; Ennis would have to continue lying and sneaking around so that he wasn't caught out by the others. Jack wished that Ennis could come out to at least one person who would understand; at least then he would have someone to talk to and that was important to Jack. He had Lureen and even his parents to speak to; Ennis got on well with his own parents but simply didn't talk to them much because he was so busy.

Jack thought of his idea to give Ennis a key to his apartment for their anniversary and he knew it would mean a lot to his lover. They would kind of be living together when Ennis was here and Jack figured it might be good practice for when Ennis left the Navy. He had no idea where they were going to live or when exactly Ennis would come home for good, but that was way into the future and he didn't have to worry about that right now. All he knew was that he loved Ennis and didn't want to lose him; that wouldn't happen as long as things went on going so well for them. Despite the long distance nature of their relationship, and the fear of Ennis being caught, they were happy together and he knew they had to remember that if they were going to get through this.

He sighed and looked around where he was sat; there were a few couples walking around, which made him slightly envious but mostly sad. He didn't know when he and Ennis were going to spend this day together, maybe a few years away yet. But Jack knew he didn't have the right to complain; he had known full well what he was getting himself into, and if he'd thought for a moment that he couldn't do this, then he wouldn't be doing it right now.

February 20th, 2010

On Saturday, Jack was at home watching TV. The last week had gone by quickly and he knew that in just over a month, Ennis would be coming back at last. He was looking forward to it more and more every day because each one brought Ennis closer to him. To say that he was looking forward to Ennis's first night back was an understatement; he couldn't wait to have Ennis in his bed again after so long.

He had more or less decided what he wanted them to do, depending on how much time they had. He knew he wanted them to take a bath together because he figured it would be very romantic with candles and wine, and he would like them to have a romantic dinner together too. They were the main things he wanted from this visit and he figured that Ennis would also want to do something in particular, possibly a date to the cinema where it was dark and nobody would see them making out at the back.

He grinned at this thought, not paying much attention to the TV. There was just something about Ennis that made Jack want to kiss him every time he was within sight, and he couldn't put his finger on what it was. He could only surmise that it was simply a case of how much he loved Ennis, which wasn't the hardest thing in the world to do. He'd found that it was very easy to love Ennis and that was just fine with him.

Jack wondered if they would have time for Ennis to meet his parents; as soon as Ennis could give him the date of his arrival and how long he had he would be able to figure it out; hopefully it could happen during this visit because Jack really did think his parents would like Ennis a lot. His lover could also prove to them that he was serious about Jack and that they were willing to go through this long-distance relationship for as long as they had to.

He remembered the night of Valentine's Day, and how he'd spoken to Ennis on the phone. He smiled when he thought about the words they had spoken to each other after he'd returned from Lureen's place; he would never forget hearing Ennis's voice in his ear, so soft and gentle.

"Wish you could've been here. I thought about you all day and wanted to kiss you so much. I hoped that if I wished for it hard enough you would just appear.

"I know, Jack. I'll hate having to go to bed tonight without you there to be with. Not just for the sex, but just to hold you and kiss you. I love holding you in my arms..."

Jack smiled fondly. "I love being in them. You make me feel safe, Ennis. Like nothing could ever hurt me as long as you're there. It's a great feeling, you know? Maybe one day I could hold you like that and you'll understand what I mean."

"Yeah, maybe. Anyway, I'd better get going. Gonna be dreaming of you tonight, Jack."

"I can live with that. See you soon, bud. Love you." Jack was still smiling, but his heart ached for Ennis every time he heard his voice.

"Love you too." Ennis clicked off and Jack sighed, wishing more than ever that they could be together right now.

Jack got up and shook his head; he couldn't handle being here alone when Ennis was so far away and they couldn't spend this day together. Why did it have to be so hard for them? Why couldn't they have it easy like other couples? He wasn't thinking about the long distance, but more about how Ennis couldn't be honest about himself. Other couples took that for granted.

As he looked around, he decided to go and get his apartment key duplicated for Ennis; he didn't have any other way of spending his time today and he didn't want to be cooped up in the apartment all day. He switched the TV off and headed out, needing to get some fresh air and to distract himself from his loneliness.

He thought about Ennis's upcoming visit and how he might react to his gift, and deep down Jack knew it would mean a lot to him. Ennis had told him that he'd never expected to fall in love during his shore leave, and that was exactly what had happened. Jack knew that it wasn't easy for him to be working in the Navy anyway, not least because of the backlash he would face if he came out.

Jack reached the key cutting place and approached the girl working there, asking for her to duplicate his apartment key. She set to work and he sat down, reading a magazine and hoping that this wouldn't take long.

He flicked through, glancing at articles but mostly thinking about Ennis and their next reunion. He could tell that Ennis needed a break from the ship, considering how difficult it had been lately with people trying to pry into his business. Jack still hoped that Ennis could make at least one friend whom he could be honest with about their relationship; that would be great for him. Even if someone else on the ship was gay, as was likely, Jack trusted Ennis completely to stay faithful to him; Ennis had sworn that he would never break his heart and Jack believed him.

The key was eventually done and Jack paid the girl, and then left the shop with the new key in his pocket. He couldn't wait to see Ennis's face when he handed it over, because he knew how much this would mean to him. It would say a lot about their relationship if they took this huge step together, and that thought made him happy. It was okay for them to move forward like this now, because they were going to end up together.

That night, Jack was getting ready for bed and possibly another dream of Ennis. He dreamed of his lover most nights and he always loved doing that; it helped him to feel less lonely.

Jack sometimes wondered how on earth they could cope so well with being apart like this; he'd heard that long-distance relationships didn't usually work out, often because one of the people involved cheated on the other due to loneliness. But he had no desire to do this to Ennis or himself, and he knew that Ennis didn't want that either. Jack didn't feel jealous at the thought of Ennis making friends with other gay men, if he ever did on that ship, because he knew that Ennis only wanted to be with him.

He often thought about how well their relationship was going and how fast it was moving when they were together. But he'd always had the reasoning that if they had spent every day of the last year together, they would be in the same place that they were in right now. With that thinking, he wasn't so scared by how fast they were moving forward.

He got into bed and curled up, facing the side that Ennis slept in. He gently touched the pillow and wished that his lover's scent could still be there; it comforted him and Jack was convinced that it helped him get to sleep. But he did wish that he could have something to hold onto during the night that would make him think of Ennis.

Jack sighed and closed his eyes, hoping to see his lover in his dreams.

He was sitting on the sofa with Ennis, kissing him deeply. Ennis had his arms around him and Jack felt so safe and loved; there was nothing else like this. "Mmm..."

"I love holding you," Ennis murmured in his ear, kissing his cheek. "I swear, Jack...I've never felt like this about anyone before."

"Me neither. I love you so much...and I wish you didn't have to go away again."

"So do I...but I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. I want to spend more time with you but it's not possible right now. So I've been thinking about when I'm going to quit the Navy."

"I thought you had a contract?" Jack asked, staring at him.

"Yeah, which runs out in six months. I have a choice to either carry on or leave. And I would be an idiot to stay on instead of being with you."

Jack couldn't believe what he was hearing. "You're really gonna leave?"

"Yep. After this next trip, I'm done. I'll come home to you and we'll start building a life together. How does that sound?"

Jack kissed him firmly on the mouth. "That sounds wonderful, Ennis. But I have to ask...where are we gonna live? You've got that place in Knoxville that your parents are minding, I live here and my parents are fairly close by. What do we do?"

"I haven't thought about that much. But we've got time for that, right? Maybe we could both move to somewhere between the two, you know?"

Jack shrugged. "That sounds fair. But it doesn't really matter to me where we live, as long as we're together." He smiled and felt Ennis's hand wandering down between their bodies. "You want something?" he mumbled into Ennis's mouth.

"Mmm...maybe," came Ennis's muffled reply. Jack started to push Ennis backwards, down onto the sofa beneath them.

"Two can play at that game," he grinned, eyes glittering. Ennis smirked.

"You reckon?" Jack attacked his neck and he groaned. "Okay, you win..." He grinned when Jack started undoing his buttons and before he was fully aware of it, they were both naked and Jack was moving against him. "Jack..." he whispered, exploring Jack's muscles with his hands and making his lover squirm. "Oh, darlin' feel good..."

"So do you," Jack told him, nuzzling his neck. "Ennis...I wanna be inside you..." The words sent shivers down Ennis's spine and he nodded. He wanted to feel Jack inside him, to be part of him.

"Sounds good to me." A bottle of lube appeared as if from nowhere and Jack reared up onto his knees, smiling down at the sight underneath him.

"'re beautiful," he said softly, trailing a hand down the muscular chest and making Ennis smile. "I hope you know that..."

"I do now," Ennis replied, watching hungrily as Jack smoothed the lube over himself and started pushing between his legs. Ennis held on tightly as Jack moved inside him, trying to get into a comfortable position for both of them. "Oh, Jack...that feels good..."

"Gonna fuck you so hard you'll be walking funny for a week," Jack breathed in his ear, making Ennis even harder.

"Do it," he whispered, eyes fixed on Jack's. "Fuck me." Jack leaned down and kissed him, ready to make good on his promise.

There was a clap of thunder and Jack jerked awake, blinking around in the darkness around him. He groaned when he realised that he was hard as a result of his dream; he hated waking up when he was so aroused. A glance at the clock told him it was almost two in the morning; there was no way he was going to get any sleep in this state, so there was only one solution. He was unable to get up so decided to do it here; he could easily change the sheets tomorrow.

With a picture of Ennis in his mind, he closed his eyes again and took hold of himself, imagining what the rest of his dream might have been like. He pictured himself moving inside Ennis and claiming him as his own, kissing as they moved together and whispering to him.

He finally relieved himself and curled up again, smiling with satisfaction as he thought of how soon Ennis would be back. The days were passing slowly but each one brought Ennis closer; that was something to be happy about.

March 12th, 2010

On Friday, Jack was just getting home from work when he became aware of his phone ringing. He closed the door behind him and looked at the screen; with a leap of his heart he saw that it was Ennis calling. "Hey bud," he said, heading to sit down. He'd already got the mail from downstairs and wanted to look through it as they talked.

"Hey, Jack. You sound a bit flustered; this a bad time?"

"No, I just got in from work. My phone was ringing as I opened the door. Good to hear your voice again." They hadn't verbally spoken for over a week and Jack missed hearing him.

"Yeah, been kinda busy but I've got time to talk now. Got some good news and bad news, if you wanna hear it."

Jack sat down on the sofa, balancing his phone on his shoulder as he looked through the mail. "What is it?"

"The good news is that I'll be back with you in three weeks," Ennis told him, and Jack grinned. That was less than a month away.

"Oh, Ennis...that's great! I can't wait to see you. But...what's the bad news?"

"Jack...I'm sorry, but we only get four days this time. I'll be there on the third and leaving again on the sixth..."

"You won't be here for our anniversary?" Jack asked, now holding the phone and feeling crestfallen. He'd wanted that so much, and now it wasn't going to happen. He'd dreamed of Ennis being here for their anniversary a number of times, wondering what it was going to be like. Not only that, but he'd also wanted Ennis to meet his parents and there simply wasn't enough time for that now. Every moment they spent together was precious and he didn't want to waste any of it when there was so little.

"I'm so sorry, Jack...I really wanted to be there. But I can't go asking them to change or extend it. Doesn't work like that. I hoped we could be together for it..."

Jack sank back against the sofa, fighting down the lump in his throat. There had now been several events that they hadn't been able to spend together. "Shit..."

"I know. But I promise we can still celebrate it when I'm there. And we'll still have been together for a year even though I'm not there on the day. We'll still have that, right?"

"Yeah..." he sighed. "It's just...I've never had an anniversary before so...I was really looking forward to it."

"Me too. I swear I'll make it up to you," Ennis promised, and Jack had to smile at how much Ennis cared about him.

"I know. I wanna have dinner with you one night, and maybe a date too if we can. Is there anything in particular you wanna do?"

"This might sound weird, but...I'd like to have a bath with you. Candles, wine...that kind of thing."

Jack smiled; that would make up for it a little bit. "That sounds romantic, Ennis. Maybe we could do that on your last night. Then you could take me to bed..." he finished, leaving the end of the sentence to Ennis's imagination.

"Sounds great. I can't wait to see you again, Jack."

"Me too. Have you had any more trouble lately?"

"No, but I've been talking to this guy, Richard. I haven't told him I'm gay but he seems nice enough. A lot better than Mike..."

Jack nodded. "Great. You ever think you'll tell him? I'd like if it there was someone you could talk to about me." He knew how scared Ennis was of someone finding out, but maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Not every straight guy was out to get them.

"I don't know yet...I don't really know him that well. But you never know...I might tell him one day. You're alright with me making friends with a guy, aren't you?"

Jack laughed a little. "Ennis...I completely trust you. I know that you love me and want to be with me. You said yourself you're not into one night stands and cheating, so I believe you. I want you to be able to talk about me, you know? I think it'd be good for you, like how I can talk to Lureen. Would you be jealous if she was a guy?"

"I don't know...maybe a little. But I trust you too, so it wouldn't be too bad. I just miss you so much..."

"I know, baby. But three weeks isn't a lot, right? You'll be back before we know it."

"That's true. I can't wait to be with you, Jack. I wanna hold you and kiss you...make love to you..." He trailed off, sounding wistful.

Jack grinned and got up to start making himself some dinner. "Ennis...that sounds perfect. I love you...and I've got a present for you."

"I bought you something in Hong Kong," Ennis informed him, sounding pleased with himself. "I think you'll like it."

"I'm sure I will. I, um...I had something made for you," Jack said, keeping it ambiguous.

"Really? That's...I don't know what to say."

"Well...I think you'll like my gift too." He cleared his throat. "Listen, I'm starving right now and I need to eat. Do you mind if I go now?"

"Not at all, Jack. You've gotta eat. Make sure you take care of yourself, you hear me?"

Jack smiled. "You're sweet, Ennis. I love you for that."

"I love you too, darlin'. I'll probably call again before we arrive, but I'll see you soon, okay?"

"Yeah, you bet. Take care, Ennis. Bye." He clicked off and put his phone in his pocket, smiling at how Ennis was always so sweet to him. It was just one of the many things he loved about Ennis.

He glanced at the calendar as he made himself dinner; just another three weeks and Ennis would be back with him. He could hold on until then, he reckoned; their daily correspondence worked wonders for both of them.