Chapter 2

Sunday, May 3rd 2009

Dear Jack,

Sorry it's taken me so long to write to you. Been kind of hectic on here lately ever since we set off. Always gets like that after shore leave and takes some time to get back to normal.

We're partway across the Atlantic now, heading for Alexandria in Egypt. Never been there before, but the captain says he's got some business there with their Navy. Not sure what; he never goes into much detail, to be honest. Even if he did, I wouldn't be able to tell you. We have to keep things a secret from all civilians, unfortunately.

It's a beautiful day, with the sun shining down. I'm in my cabin right now, though. I share it with another guy but he's up on deck. He's easy to get on with, I guess. But he's always talking about his wife, which makes me pissed off for two reasons. One is that I know he's got a girl in Europe somewhere. The other is that I can't talk about you in the same way, and I really want to. It's harder than I thought it would be, but I'll cope. I think about you all the time and look forward to coming back.

I'll send you some photos when we get there, but it'll be a while before we do. Should arrive there by August, since we don't go very fast on this ship and we don't go very far at night because we all need to sleep. We're not even past Puerto Rico yet. But I'm looking forward to going there and I wish I could share it with you, bud.

I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed meeting you in the city. I hadn't expected to meet anyone during my time there but I don't regret it. Even though it was just a few days, I had fun walking around with you and spending time with you. I know it's completely crazy, thinking about how little we really know each other, but it just feels right to me.

I don't really know what's gonna happen when I come back, but I do know that I wanna spend more time with you. I would like to take things further, but it's okay if you're not ready for that. I won't ever take advantage of you, Jack.

I haven't told my parents about you yet, mainly because I haven't had the chance. I don't know if you want me to, considering that it's early days for us. Maybe we should just focus on that for now.

Anyway, I'm gonna wrap this up now. I think I'll head up on deck for a while and enjoy the weather while we can. I miss you a lot already but I'm looking forward to seeing you again, can't wait for it. Even just to hold you and kiss you again...that would make me happy right now.

Take care of yourself, Jack. I'll see you someday.

Ennis

He put his pen down and read over the letter, looking for anything that he might want to add to it. It said everything that he wanted and he knew that Jack would appreciate the effort he was making, even in this digital age where he could just text Jack if he wanted to. This seemed more romantic to him. If he was going to spend months away from Jack, he might as well try to keep their fledging relationship above surface.

He had Jack's own address and Jack had the one that would enable his letters to reach the ship when he replied. He knew that his parents had done the same thing when his father had been in Vietnam, and that they had kept all of their letters from each other. Maybe one day, he and Jack would be doing the same. That was the kind of thing that gave him hope; maybe he and Jack had a future together.

He had been thinking about when he would quit the navy, more so now that he had met Jack. It all depended on how hard it became to be without him, and Ennis was sure that it wouldn't take long. But he also knew that Jack wouldn't want him to quit just so that they could be together; Jack would want him to put his career first. He was surprised to realise how much he knew Jack despite the little amount of time they had spent together.

Ennis looked over at the journal that Jack had given him; he'd written in it every night since his departure. His cabin-mate didn't bother him too much when they were alone, so he felt safe to write about Jack when the other guy was distracted or asleep. He liked his privacy anyway so he was grateful to share the cabin with someone who respected that. It was just easier.

He could take the letter to the mailing room later on so that it could be delivered to Jack; surely nobody would think twice about him sending a letter to a male friend? Ennis wondered if the law would ever change, so that he could be open about who he was and who he wanted to be with. Same-sex marriage was legal in Iowa and the thought had occurred to him, for the future if he and Jack worked things out. But that was years away and nothing was certain.

He stood up and stretched, picking up his phone so that he could look at the photo Jack had sent him. They were allowed to jerk off in the bathroom and he knew that the other guys did it, so maybe he could too now that he had someone to do it over. It would have to keep him sated until he saw Jack again; to make him feel a little less lonely if nothing else. He had no idea what was going to happen, but he was looking forward to seeing Jack again.


Ennis left his cabin and immediately spotted some of his friends talking in the corridor. He sighed inwardly, wishing he could be more open about himself like they were. He so wanted to talk about Jack and he wondered how they would react if he did. Surely they would accept him and not grass him up, like he feared? All that really mattered was that he was their friend, surely? But he was aware of how they could easily turn on him, even though he hadn't changed from when they had first met.

"Hey, Ennis!" called one of them, whose name was Robert. "Over here, bud." He went over, feeling slightly weary of hiding so much about himself.

"Yeah?"

"We're trying to decide who's gonna win the next football match. What d'you think?"

He shrugged. "No idea. Don't follow it, to be honest."

They stared at him, as if the very idea was completely alien. "You don't follow the football?"

"No...not interested."

"What, are you queer or something?" asked one of the guys, and they all laughed as if it was ludicrous. He smiled a little, albeit painfully and shook his head. He couldn't deny it, because that would be like denying Jack. He couldn't do that to him.

"He can't be," added someone else. "I know he was in the city the morning we left, seeing someone he'd met. He hooked up with a girl during shore leave, didn't you?"

"Um...well..." Ennis seriously contemplated telling them the truth. He could handle himself in a fight if he had to, but what then? He could get kicked out for telling the truth and his father would be ashamed. He wouldn't be able to go back home; that was for sure. Maybe he could stay with Jack and just hide away from it all.

"So what's her name?" someone asked, and he felt his cheeks reddening. He was just glad that they didn't know about the letter in his pocket.

"Um...Jackie," he invented, silently apologising to his friend for doing that. "She's called Jackie."

"Huh. Like Jackie Kennedy, then. You got a photo?"

Ennis shook his head. "No, sorry. She, um...she's got black hair and blue eyes. Good-looking, you know?"

They nodded their approval and he breathed a sigh of relief. At least they weren't too suspicious. He stood with them for a while talking about things while conscious of the letter he had to deliver, wondering if he should have just told the truth.

He managed to excuse himself eventually and headed down to the mailing room, sending off the letter to Jack and wondering when he might get it. They were allowed to have their phones on while off duty, so he decided to send a quick text to Jack.

Just mailed off first letter. Hope you get it soon xxx

Ennis walked slowly down the corridor, clearing out old messages but keeping the ones he'd had from Jack. They were special and he didn't want to delete them, at least not right now.

At last, he got a reply. He knew that Jack was working today and didn't want to disturb him with a phone call. This would have to do, no matter how much he wanted to hear Jack's voice again.

Can't wait to read it xxx

Ennis smiled and carried on walking, eventually finding some more of his friends in a side room playing a card game.

"Hey, Ennis," one of them greeted him. "Take a seat." They weren't as rowdy as the ones he'd met with earlier, which suited him just fine. He had his suspicions about some of the other guys but even if he was right, they might be too scared to come out because of the law. He hated how they couldn't be honest about themselves without fearing the consequences. He knew that it was the Captain's decision over what was done if one of them was found out, and he had no idea what the man thought about the whole thing. He'd never spoken out against being gay, but Ennis didn't want to take the risk.

He watched as the other guys played and even joined in for a while, liking how they didn't ask uncomfortable questions that forced him to lie about Jack. He hated making Jack out to be a woman and would apologise for it when they met again.

Ennis was starting to realise that his thoughts never strayed far from Jack. No matter what he was thinking of, it always came back to the man he'd met and the short time they'd spent together. He'd heard from some of the older ones that shore leave could last for a couple of weeks if they were lucky, and he hoped that he would get that too. Two whole weeks with Jack...that would be amazing and they could do whatever they wanted. He just couldn't stop thinking about those blue eyes and dimples, not to mention the dark hair and the mole just above his lips...

Ennis mentally shook himself; it wouldn't look good for him to have a boner in front of his male friends. Even if they were gay, they might get the wrong impression. He excused himself after the game and headed into the nearest bathroom. He needed space to breathe before someone figured it out.

He splashed water on his face and took deep breaths; what was happening to him? How could he have such strong feelings for someone that he barely knew? Why was he thinking about sex when he and Jack had only kissed a few times? He had it bad for Jack and that was a good thing, but it was distracting him too much right now.

He looked at the photo on his phone and then around the room; all of the cubicles were empty. He had to do something soon, before it became too much. He locked himself in a cubicle and allowed his head to fill with thoughts of Jack.


May 10th, 2009

By Sunday, it had been almost four weeks since he had met Jack. It had felt like a lot longer and he missed his friend a lot. His dreams were always about Jack, which didn't really help. Sometimes they were sexual, but some were just about him and Jack living together and being domestic. It was a notion that appealed to him very much and he hoped that one day it could be a reality. It would be great to live with Jack, even though he wasn't sure how it would happen. He lived in a different state, which meant that one of them would have to move. He didn't know if he could ask Jack to do that for him.

Still, he was happy with the way things were. He did have strong feelings for Jack and couldn't wait to see him again, even though it would be another five months before he did so. He would just have to concentrate on his job and hope that it would distract him sufficiently to make the time pass quicker.

He was walking up towards the deck to get some fresh air. He couldn't really say that he wanted to see the view, because they were still out on the sea and there was no land around anywhere. But he did like being outside instead of being cooped up all day. When they were off-duty it could get slightly boring, so they often made their own entertainment. A lot of them tended to watch TV all day, which he found boring. Maybe if he was with Jack, curled up on the sofa...

There he was again, thinking of Jack with no conscious effort. He still didn't understand that one, but he was starting to accept it and had stopped questioning why. Deep down, he knew the cause of this even though he hardly knew Jack. Was it possible that he was in love already? Surely not, given how little he knew Jack. They'd only kissed; had never been very intimate with each other, let alone had sex. Maybe it wasn't yet love, but strong attraction? He didn't know for sure, but he knew what he had felt when they had first kissed.

"I like you a lot," Jack's voice echoed in his mind. Ennis smiled at the memory.

"I like you too, bud."

It was memories like this which kept him going, and reminded him of what would be waiting.

He reached the deck and breathed in the sea air, feeling a slight breeze around him. There were some other workers on deck, playing games or soaking up the sun which was beating down on them. He did like this life, despite how hard it could sometimes be. He just wished he could share it with Jack.

He sat down in a chair close to where the rowdy men from the other day were sat. He didn't mind them as long as they didn't pry into his business, which was unfortunately something they liked doing with everyone.

"Hey, Ennis," said one of them, and he distinctly felt as if a pack of hyenas were watching him. "You heard from your girlfriend?"

"Um...not yet," he lied; he didn't want them sneaking looks at his phone behind his back. Maybe he could create a password for it. "Sent a letter, though."

They murmured to themselves at this. "A letter? That's kinda outdated, don't you think?"

He shrugged. "Thought it was more romantic." He knew that Jack would like the romantic notion; he did seem the type.

One of them stared at him. "Romantic? Shit...ain't you fucked her yet? What the hell was you doin' all that time?"

"Getting to know her," he replied; at least that was somewhat true. "It's not all about sex."

"Who said? When was the last time you got laid, boy?"

He decided not to answer that; they were being too crude for his liking. He did want to have sex with Jack, possible during his next visit, but they were talking about having sex just for the sake of getting off. He didn't want that; he wanted it to mean something and he knew it would with Jack. It would certainly be passionate and maybe a little rough, but the emotion would be there underneath.

At his silence, they decided to leave him alone and they soon started talking about an actor who had just come out as gay to the public.

"Can't believe it. To think that he's queer...God knows where he's been."

"Hope there's none of them on this boat. I mean, we could be sharing cabins with them. They're probably thinking of attacking us in our sleep. Best to sleep on your back and not your front, eh?"

Ennis tried to keep his breathing steady, but it was hard when he was so angry. How could they say something like that? Even if one of them was sharing a cabin with a gay man, so what? The man in question might already be seeing someone like he was. They seemed to think that gay men didn't believe in commitment, and that they would go after anything male and breathing. He hated the homophobia that plighted this life, but he had been aware of it by the time he'd signed up. He'd thought that he could handle it but now that he was in love with someone it was a lot harder. They weren't just insulting him; they were insulting all gay men and that included Jack.

"What do you think, Ennis?" asked one of them, turning to find that his chair had been vacated. Ennis had stood up while they were talking and was now on the other side of the deck, where the quieter guys were sitting around. He leaned on the side and looked out across the sea, in the direction where he was sure America stood. Jack was there somewhere, hopefully thinking of him and what they had to come.


That night, Ennis was trying to get to sleep in his bunk. It was around ten and his cabin-mate was already asleep. Ennis slept in the bottom bunk, since he had joined later than the other guy and he'd gotten first pick.

Ennis was trying to drop off, but his head was so full of thoughts about Jack that it wasn't easy. Not for the first time, he wished that Jack could be here with him and that they could share this together. But that probably wouldn't work; he'd want to spend all of his time with Jack, not to mention share a bed with him. That just wouldn't be possible and he knew it.

Still, he did enjoy thinking about Jack and wondering what he was doing at that time. He pictured Jack working at the bookstore, maybe having his lunch at the small café where they had gone during their time together. Maybe one day, they might go for a romantic meal together if they had the time. All of that was to come.

Ennis turned onto his side and listened to the waves around the ship; he could hear them well from the cabin as the ship didn't move when they were sleeping.

He yawned silently and closed his eyes, an image of Jack in his mind. He could see the dark hair and pink lips, just waiting to be kissed. Then there was the deep blue eyes, piercing into his soul and making him fall for the man they belonged to.

"Hey," Jack whispered to him from the bed, sitting up. "Been waiting for you..."

Ennis looked down at him, face full of lust and reverence. "You're so beautiful," he murmured, looking over Jack's soft skin and hard muscles. He wanted this man so badly, and he knew that he himself was wanted just as much. Jack reached out to him.

"Come here," he said softly, undoing Ennis's shirt buttons before he could blink. The shirt fell to the floor and Jack ran his hands up the firm muscles, hardened by a few years of toil and training. Jack grinned. "You don't look so bad yourself, you know."

Ennis's cheeks reddened when Jack trailed a hand over his zipper and belt. "Um...I've never really done this before," he admitted. "I mean...I've done stuff, but..."

Jack shook his head. "It's okay. We'll take it slowly, I promise." Jack undid Ennis's belt and then the zipper, biting his lip. "You okay?"

Ennis nodded and stepped out of his jeans, allowing Jack to pull him onto the bed. They crawled up to the pillows and Jack pressed himself down on top of Ennis. He kissed Ennis all the way up his neck to his jaw, drawing a low moan out of him. "That feel good?"

"Yeah..." Ennis let Jack take over, even though he'd expected to be in control this first time. But he did like what Jack was doing to him; it felt good. "Jack..."

Jack nuzzled his neck. "I love you, Ennis," he whispered, hand trailing down his lover's chest. "Love you so much..."

"Mmm..." Ennis smiled as Jack took hold of him. "I love you too..." He bucked slightly when Jack started moving his hand, breathing slightly more heavily. "Jack...please..."

"What d'you want?" came the whisper, Jack nuzzling his neck again. "Tell me..."

"Want you...inside me..." Ennis managed to croak, his erection starting to become painful. He needed release, and soon. "Please..."

Jack rose up and looked down at him. "Whatever you want, bud. I'm gonna make you feel good, okay? Just relax..." Ennis nodded and watched as Jack grabbed the lubricant and a rubber, love in his eyes.

Jack soon slid into him and was pushing deep, rocking his hips against Ennis's and searching for that special spot that would make the pain worthwhile. "How's this?" he asked, thrusting deep.

Ennis groaned. "God...never felt like this before. Never knew you'd be this good, Jack..."

He felt a kiss on his neck as Jack kept moving. "I'm good with you, baby." He moved his hand up and down Ennis's length, keeping it slow and light so as to tease Ennis as much as he could take.

"Jack...please..." he groaned, lifting his hips and feeling Jack push even deeper. He bit his lip as he felt his orgasm loom closer, Jack hitting that spot over and over. He was at the very brink, about to slip over-

He jolted awake when the wind howled around the ship, hopelessly aroused and alone. He took several deep breaths and looked down at himself; he had to do something about this. Luckily, the nearest bathroom was right next to the cabin. He slipped out of bed and crept out of the room to take care of himself, hoping that his cabin-mate wasn't awake.

In the bathroom, it didn't take him long to release the tension inside him. He had a clear image of a naked Jack in his mind and that was enough to do the job. He then splashed cold water on his face and looked at himself in the mirror. This was getting slightly out of hand. He definitely wanted to have sex with Jack when he returned and he hoped that Jack felt the same way; he would never cheat on him but Ennis was getting frustrated now.

I need him, he realised as he looked at his face. Not just sex, either. I need to be with him. It's crazy...I barely know him but I wanna be with him so much. Hope he feels the same way as me.

When he got back into bed, thankfully undisturbed, he was able to drop off relatively easy. He dreamed of Jack again, but this time it was a lot tamer and didn't leave him frustrated.

He didn't regret dreaming about Jack even though it distracted him so much; the thought of being with Jack made him happy no matter what they might get up to. He couldn't wait to see that face again.


May 20th, 2009

On Wednesday, Ennis had decided to call Jack since he had some more free time and was growing lonely without hearing his voice. After his dream a few nights ago he missed Jack more than ever after that because he had some notion of what it would be like for them to make love together. He was looking forward to it but needed to be certain that Jack wanted it too; he didn't want to force Jack into it no matter how horny he would be when he returned. He had more pride than that and more respect for Jack.

As soon as he was alone, he returned to his cabin and tried to get a signal; luckily it was fairly easy and he was able to get through. He knew that Jack was still on his lunch break right now so he wouldn't disturb him at work.

"Ennis?" came a hopeful, familiar voice that was like music to his ears. He had longed to hear that voice so much, especially after his dream the other night. Maybe one day he would hear Jack's voice in his ear for real.

"Jack..." he sighed, leaning back against the headboard and smiling to himself. "God, it's good to hear your voice again."

"You too," Jack replied, sounding as if he couldn't quite believe it. Ennis knew the feeling. "Where are you?"

"I'm in my cabin. Not exactly sure where on the sea we are, to be honest. Did you get my letter?"

"Yeah, I did. I loved it, Ennis. Far better than just a text, you know? I'm keeping it. I'll write to you soon, okay?" Ennis liked the sound of that; it really was romantic.

"Sure. Whenever you want."

"How are things at your end?" Jack inquired. "I know you can't tell me much but..."

"Well...there's one thing getting to me. I had to give you a false name when they asked me who I'd hooked up with. Someone saw me come to the city that morning before we left. I had to lie." He was just glad that nobody had followed him to Jack's apartment; that would ruin everything.

"What name did you give me?" Jack asked. "Come on, I wanna know."

"Um...Jackie," Ennis mumbled, hearing Jack laugh. "I hated it, Jack."

"I know," Jack replied, sighing. "But it's the way things are and we both know it. Are the guys really rowdy and crude?"

"Some of them. There's one group in particular that get on my nerves, asking me if I fucked the girl I'm seeing and when I told them I hadn't, they seemed really shocked. I told them it wasn't all about sex and it's obvious they don't get it."

"Shit..." Jack breathed. "I really am sorry for you, bud. You don't deserve that...you're so much better than those guys and I know that. You're a good man."

Ennis smiled, feeling pleased by Jack's sweet words. "Thanks, Jack. There's something else I wanted to talk to you about."

"Hmm?"

"I had a dream about you the other night. Kinda vivid..." He blushed even though Jack couldn't see him.

"Really?" Jack purred, clearly liking the sound of it. "That's interesting. I haven't had one yet about you, but I think about you all the time. Ennis, I...I have this friend, Lureen. She works with me at the store. Is it okay if I talk about you to her? She won't say anything that'll get you into trouble, I promise. She's always been one of my closest friends. And before you ask, we've never had feelings for each other or gone out or anything."

"It's fine," Ennis assured him; he knew that Jack wanted to be with him anyway even if Lureen was an ex-girlfriend of Jack's. He trusted Jack completely. "I'm glad you've got a close friend, Jack. But there's something I wanted to ask you."

"Okay."

"Um...well, I woke up from the dream before I could...you know...and I had to go to the bathroom to take care of it. Was really frustrating."

"Well, I'd never leave you hanging like that," Jack promised him, and Ennis swallowed.

"That's the thing. I'll be honest, Jack...I really want to sleep with you. I...I need it, Jack. I need to be with you when I come back and I wanted to make sure that it's okay with you. That you'll be ready by then."

"Ennis," Jack said in a soothing voice. "Stop worrying, okay? I want to be with you too when you get back and I'm looking forward to it. And don't worry about those guys you don't like. Just because we haven't had sex yet doesn't mean we won't. I've heard that sailors really know how to rattle a headboard, and that makes me look forward to it even more."

"I wouldn't be too rough with you, Jack. Don't wanna hurt you," Ennis told him.

"Well...I wouldn't say no to a hickey if you wanna give me one," Jack said in a sly voice. "And you can be a little rough with me. I'm a man; I can take it, okay?"

Ennis started to feel better about all of it now, with Jack's reassurance. "Okay. Thanks for that, Jack. I was starting to get nervous."

"Don't want that when we get into my bedroom," Jack pointed out. "We'll be fine, bud."

Ennis smiled and knew he should probably click off soon; they would be due for lunch soon. But he didn't want to say goodbye.

"Listen...I should probably go," he said, feeling reluctant.

"Sure. I'll talk to you soon, Ennis. Don't worry about anything, okay? We'll work it out. See you soon, bud."

"Yep. Bye, Jack." He clicked off and stared at his phone, wishing that the call could have gone on for longer. He missed Jack and wanted to tell him how he felt, but that would have to wait until their first night together; it would be perfect to tell Jack during his next visit.