Chapter 24

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Dear Jack,

We're still in Rota at the moment, which is proving to be an enjoyable place. The weather is always great, but I still miss the rain back home. We could do with some of that here, since it's so warm.

I'm looking forward to coming back and having you in my arms again. I miss you every moment of every day, even though we'll be together again soon. I hold your shirt close to help me sleep, and it seems to work. It's almost as good as having you here with me.

It's going great on the ship now that Mike isn't around. Turns out that he loves to harass people. There are a couple of guys whose families come from Jamaica and Africa, so you can imagine how Mike reacted to them. He wasn't pleasant towards anyone who he thought of as different, so I wasn't the only one suffering. The atmosphere is a lot better now that he isn't around, so I've got to be grateful for that. It's interesting how a single person can affect an entire ship so much, but we're all glad that he's gone and won't be bothering us again.

My parents got in touch yesterday; my mom spoke to the vet who's looking for an assistant and he's happy to give me an interview when I get back up there. He even said he'll hire a student for the summer and then give the job to me if it all goes well. I hope you can find something too; it would be great if we could both get a job in the pipeline for when we move up there.

Anyway, I also want you to know that I spoke to my landlord over the phone and explained that you would be moving in with me. He said he'll be happy to draw up a new contract with both of our names on it, which I thought you might want to know. Everything seems to be coming together for us now, which does make things easier because we won't have to deal with it later on. It'd be great if we could just settle in normally and have a smooth transition.

If you also want to make any changes to the apartment when you move in, that would be fine with me. It'll be your home too and I want you to feel that it is. We'll be sharing everything equally, so it's only right that you feel comfortable where you live.

I'm really looking forward to us being partners; I know we use the word now but it'll be really true when we're living together. I want you to remember how much I love you, and how I want to make you happy. We'll be okay, Jack.

Take care of yourself, bud. I'll be home very soon and then we can have our new life together.

I love you very much, and take care.

Love, Ennis xxx

He smiled as he finished the letter, knowing that Jack liked to hear from him. Their correspondence was always treasured and he hoped one day to see Jack's journal entries. Once they were living together, it wouldn't be as painful to see Jack's thoughts during this time. It would all be over by then and they could look back on it without being sad.

He was just putting it into the envelope when he heard a knock on his door; to his surprise it was the captain. "Sir," he greeted, saluting. The captain waved a hand and Ennis relaxed. Although they were friends, he was still very respectful of the authority that the captain still held.

"Ennis, how come you're here and not in the city?" he asked, looking puzzled. Everybody else was out exploring as far as he knew; they never passed up the opportunity to see a new place.

"I was just writing a letter to Jack," Ennis informed him, indicating the envelope on his desk. "I figured I could mail it from town this time."

"Alright. How's it going with you two? He's moving into your place, right?"

"Yep. In fact, I...I've actually been thinking about proposing to him when I get back," Ennis admitted, still not too sure if he should or not. The captain looked at him in surprise. Ennis realised that only Richard and Lureen knew about this idea; not even his parents were aware of it. He would tell them if Jack accepted.

"Really? That's great, Ennis. I sure hope he accepts..."

"Well, I haven't decided yet. I asked his friend Lureen if she knew what he thinks of marriage, but she wasn't too sure. Maybe it's too soon, since we haven't actually spent that much time together. I don't wanna scare him off, after all."

"That's true. But you have to have a good think about your relationship. Only you can decide if it would be a good time to do it or not. It was a good idea to ask his friend, but if she isn't sure...maybe you could get her to ask him outright?"

Ennis nodded. "Yeah, that's a thought. I don't know yet; I really don't want to do anything that causes me to lose him. If I ask, and he says do we recover from that?"

"I don't know what to tell you, Ennis. But Jack clearly loves you and wants to be with you, so it will probably be alright. You just have to have a little faith; that's all. Now, I want you to go out into the city and enjoy your day. Stop worrying so much, alright? Just mail that letter and try to relax."

"Yeah, I know. Anyway..." He picked up the envelope and nodded to the captain. "I'll get going, then."

"Good. See you later." The captain left the room and Ennis soon followed suit, knowing that he did indeed have to stop worrying. Everything was going to be alright and he knew that.

Ennis did as he was told, leaving the base and heading through the streets of the city. He soon saw that the crew were not the only tourists here; there were clearly plenty of people here on vacation and he could see why. The sun was beating down on the stone under his feet and he could hear the sea nearby; this was an ideal place for relaxing.

He started off by walking along the beach to observe the water and feel the sand on his bare feet; he would love to know what Jack might think of a place like this and decided that he definitely wanted to bring Jack here one day. It did seem quite romantic.

As he walked through the streets and plazas, full of people, he did see many of his friends walking around. It was decided that they would all meet up for lunch at a café that someone had noticed, so for now he carried on walking and thought about getting a present for Jack; he loved bringing things home for his partner and knew that Jack would appreciate the gesture.

He settled on a seashell bracelet with white shells, that he figured would look good against Jack's tanned skin. Living in Florida for all his life had given Jack a wonderful tan that Ennis just loved, especially when Jack was naked and he could see all of it. He'd soon realised that Jack had obviously been sunbathing naked at some point, and had asked him about it.

"There's this nudist colony who come here in the summer," Jack told him. "And they don't care about people sunbathing naked nearby, so that's what I do when I want a tan all over. It's the best time to get one."

Ennis smiled as he fondly remembered this conversation, picturing in his mind what it might have looked like. There was something about a naked Jack that appealed to him very much, probably because of how he was so attracted to the man. He mentally shook himself and went to pay for the bracelet before he became too distracted; it wouldn't do for him to leave the shop sporting wood, after all.

Afterwards, he found his way to Castillo de Luna-Moon, a castle not far from the base. He threw a coin into the fountain in the courtyard for luck and walked around, looking at the beautiful architecture around him and wishing more than ever that Jack could be sharing this with him. He would simply have to bring Jack here one day.

When he met up with his friends for lunch, they immediately noticed the bag in his hand. "Is that something for Jack?" one of them asked, and he nodded.

"Yep. A seashell bracelet. I think he'll like it," he replied, showing it to them. Richard nodded.

"That's really nice. Looks like you two are really becoming a proper couple, huh? Moving in and everything..."

"Yeah...I can't wait for that. I just know that it's gonna be great and we can make each other happy. It's all sorted out and we're looking for jobs. But I think I might wait a bit until I can be available. There's no point applying if I'm not gonna be there."

"Right. But it's always a good idea to be prepared. Then by the time you move back in, you and Jack can just settle down and get on with things."

"That's true. I know it won't be easy all the time, despite how much we love each other, but I do know that I want this. Maybe it's completely crazy, but...I know I wanna spend the rest of my life with him. And I know he wants that too."

"I guess there's no rules to this," Richard told him. "You just have to do what feels right to you. And if you're sure that Jack wants the same things as you, then I say go for it."

Ennis nodded and knew that they were right; he should take chances because he was certain that Jack would always love him. But he couldn't deny that he was wary of asking Jack to marry him after so little time spent together. What if it just backfired and became too hard for them to recover from? He would never forgive himself.

After lunch, he excused himself and decided to go for another walk on the beach. He knew that he had a lot of thinking to do about what he was going to do when he returned to Jack. Part of him wanted to propose, but he was just so scared of losing Jack if he was turned down. What he needed to do was, as the captain had suggested, get Lureen to ask Jack if he might be ready. Surely she could make it out to be in a hypothetical sense, so that Jack wouldn't be suspicious. It might just work if he planned it properly, so he would need to talk to her at some point if he wanted her help.

He sat down on the sand and watched the waves for a while, letting the relaxing sounds wash over him and thinking about Jack back home. Ennis wondered what he might be doing right now, and checked his watch; it would only be around eight in the morning back there. Jack wouldn't be up at that time on a Sunday, so Ennis decided to leave him be. They could talk later at a more decent time that wouldn't involve a groggy Jack who couldn't hold a sentence together. Ennis did love it when Jack was sleepy, because he found it endearing and remembered the mornings when they had woken up together. When he returned in October, he would have that every morning. Maybe they could even have breakfast in bed sometime.

He smiled and looked at the bracelet he'd bought for Jack; he was so looking forward to going back home, whatever that might involve for them and their future.

July 15th, 2011

On Friday, they were finally leaving Spain. To Ennis, this meant that he was on his way home to Jack at long last, and for good. They were going to be together every single day from that point, and although he wasn't sure what to expect from this because he wasn't used to it, he was certainly looking forward to the notion.

He was going to speak to Lureen today, now that he was on his way home. He needed her to find out what Jack thought of marriage and if he wanted it, so this was the only way. He was still unaware of the plan that Jack had hatched with Lureen to make him think it would be a good idea.

He was leaning against the railings on the deck, looking out over the city and remembering his vow to bring Jack here one day. If they did get married, maybe they could come here for the honeymoon; that sounded very romantic to him.

He sighed as he realised that this also meant saying goodbye to his friends. They were going to stick around for a bit once they landed back in the port, so that he could say goodbye properly and introduce them to Jack. He knew that the captain also wanted to meet Jack, so this would be the only time. He had enjoyed this last trip, since Mike wasn't around anymore and his equally nasty friends were keeping their distance. But it was time to draw a line underneath it all and move on. He would build a new life with Jack and become someone else; different from who he was here. He would find a new purpose with a new career.

He felt his phone buzzing in his pocket and was surprised to see Lureen's name. "Lureen?" he asked, feeling puzzled.

"Hey, Ennis. How's it going?" she asked, and he didn't know that she had been given instructions from Jack to do this.

"Um, fine. We're leaving Spain today, so we're on our way home."

"That's great! Listen, um...I have some information for you, if you're interested. About the marriage thing..."

"Oh, okay...what is it?"

"Well, I was talking to Jack about you, and...I asked him about the future. I asked if he would ever consider marrying you, since you're moving to a state where it's legal. And...he said that he would love that."

"He did?" Ennis asked, now in shock. "I mean...he really wants to? What about the time thing? We haven't spent much together..."

"He knows that, but he's still sure of what he wants. He loves you, Ennis...and he wants to be with you forever. So I guess that's a good sign, right?"

"Yeah,'s amazing. I can't believe it...he really wants to?"

"Yeah, he does. So...are you going to?"

"I was hesitant before, but...if I can be sure that he'll accept because he wants to, then...yeah, I think I will. But I don't have a ring and I don't have time to get one..."

"I'm sure that won't matter," she reassured him. "You can have rings specially made for the wedding in due time. If you really want engagement rings, you can have those done too for now. Don't stress yourself out now, okay? It'll be fine."

"You're right. Thanks, Lureen, I...that really helps. I can make a decision now."

"Glad to help, Ennis. Have a safe trip back."

"Yep, bye." He clicked off and stared at his phone, a grin unfurling on his face. Jack wanted to marry him, and would accept if he asked; surely this was some kind of sign?

He had barely wrapped his head around the idea when his phone rang again; this time it was Jack and he remained unaware that the pair of them were in the same room. "Jack?"

"Hey, baby. How're you doing?"

"Well, I'm on my way home. We're leaving Spain today," he informed Jack, his mind full of the fact that Jack wanted to be married to him. He couldn't stop smiling at this.

"Really? That's great! So when will you be back?"

"About October, I reckon. Probably before your birthday."

"Okay. So then you'll be staying with me until we move, right?" Jack asked, and if Ennis had known about the plan then he would be marvelling at Jack's acting skills.

"Yeah, that's what we agreed.'re coming down to the docks, right? When I land?"

"Of course I am. I wanna be right there when you come off the ship, and I don't care who's watching because the law's being changed. They say it'll be repealed in September, so nobody can do anything about it."

"Thank God for that," Ennis replied, sighing. "I'm glad that my friends won't have to hide anymore. It was bad enough for us and I couldn't go through that again."

"I know. But at least it's nearly over for us; you'll be back before we know it."

"Wish I could be there sooner, Jack. I'd swim if it got me there quicker, and if it were safe."

Jack sighed. "I'd rather have you here in one piece, Ennis. I want you to be safe since you're nearly home. After all this...I couldn't take it if something happened now. We're so close to that life together..."

"I know...and every day brings me closer to you," Ennis agreed, smiling wistfully. "I...I love you, Jack. Wanna spend the rest of my life with you and there's no two ways about that. It's gonna be great..."

"It really is, bud. Now you make sure to get plenty of sleep, because we're gonna be celebrating all night when you get back. I'll make you see stars," Jack purred down the phone, making him blush.

"Um...well, that sounds promising. Listen, I think they're calling us in now for the departure, so I'll speak to you soon, okay?"

"Yep. Love you too, Ennis. Bye bud."

Ennis bid him goodbye and was pretty much decided by now. Upon his return, he was going to propose to Jack.

That night, Ennis was once more unable to sleep. Now that he had made a decision, he kept going over in his head how it was going to happen. He knew that he wanted to do it upon his return to the States, but he still wanted to plan it out. Because of the circumstances, there were things he would need to say to Jack in order to ensure that he didn't frighten him. But Lureen's words to him had made him fairly certain that this wasn't going to happen. Jack wanted a proposal and Ennis wanted to give him one; so it was perfect.

He smiled as he watched the water from the railings; they had made a start on the journey home and he was very much looking forward to going back. He couldn't wait to see Jack's face when he asked the question, because he knew it would make Jack happy.

One thing he wanted to do was talk to Jack's parents about it, just to make sure that they would be okay with it. The fact that he and Jack were gay didn't mean there couldn't be some tradition to it; he wanted everything to be done properly.

He wondered what their wedding would be like; he knew that he wanted his friends to be there if it were possible; if he spoke to the captain it might be possible for them to time the shore leave so that his friends could be there, depending on when the wedding would be. He wanted to share the special occasion with the people who had been there for him while he'd been missing Jack.

Ennis looked out over the dark water and thought about the moment when he'd met Jack. He'd never expected to meet someone so perfect for him, and yet he had. Jack was simply his other half and there was no denying that. He didn't like to think how things might be for him now if he'd never met Jack; he would still be very lonely and might even probably be looking to sign a new contract. Fortunately, he had new plans now and they were all about Jack. He couldn't wait for them to live together.

He was decided now that he was definitely going to propose when he got back, and he was sure that Jack would be happy to accept it when he did.

"You're amazing," Jack sighed one night after a round of lovemaking. He was lying on Ennis's chest and purring softly. Ennis kissed the top of his head.

"Because of you," he replied, nuzzling Jack's dark hair. "You bring out the best of me, bud."

Jack rose up a little, looking at him in surprise. "You mean that?" he asked, sounding touched. Ennis nodded.

"I really do, Jack. I love you so much..." Jack grinned at him, kissing him firmly on the mouth.

"You're sweet, Ennis. I know you keep saying that you're not much good with words,'re wrong about that. Everything you do say to me is more than enough; you always show me how much you love me. Every single moment we spend's always something special. I just...I can't wait until we're spending every day together. We'll make great partners."

"Yeah, we will," Ennis agreed, hugging him tightly. Jack kissed his neck and settled down, and Ennis knew he was happy.

He smiled fondly at the memory, hoping that they were going to have many more of them. He wanted to experience so much with Jack, and he knew that he was going to have that soon.

He got into bed a little later and soon fell asleep, thanks to Jack's shirt in his arms. The familiar scent wafted around him and he had a smile on his face as he slept.

"Morning," he said happily, wrapping his arms around Jack from behind. His fiancé grinned as he stood at the oven.

"Morning, bud. Making you some pancakes; I know they're your favourite. It's nearly ready."

"Mmm, smells good. But then so do you..." Ennis murmured in his ear, squeezing him. "I love you...and I can't wait to marry you..."

Jack turned his head to kiss him. "Me neither. We're gonna be really happy. Even more than we are now, if that's possible."

"Hmm, we'll have to work even harder then," Ennis pointed out, making Jack laugh. "It'll be such a chore..." he sighed, chin resting on Jack's shoulder as he watched Jack cooking.

"Definitely. That means lots of kisses and hugs and talking and sex...sounds awful," he said lightly, still grinning.

"Oh well; I'm sure we'll manage to get through it." Ennis kissed the back of Jack's neck and finally let him go, setting the table. It was an idyllic life and they were happier than ever. Nothing could possibly come between them now.

Ennis woke up with a smile still on his face. This faded when he realised that it had been just a dream, but he was still pretty happy. Maybe it was an insight as to what life would be like when he and Jack were living together and engaged; if this was the case then he was looking forward to it more than ever. He knew that they were going to be happy; he couldn't see any reason why they wouldn't be, since they would be getting what they both wanted. Surely there was no reason to worry about the future. They simply had to get through Mike's trial, but then that would be it. Afterwards, they could focus on each other.

He turned over and curled up again, sniffing Jack's shirt and picturing his lover's face before him. It didn't take long for him to drop off in a different kind of dream involving Jack; one that ended in stained sheets and a blissful feeling. It was all he could do to try and stave off the loneliness, after all. And he would be home soon; that was driving him on.

July 30th, 2011

On Saturday, Ennis decided to call Jack's parents and hopefully get their blessing for him to propose. He hadn't yet told his friends that he was definitely going to do it, so that would happen after he'd spoken to his potential in-laws. He couldn't see them refusing; they knew how much he loved Jack and that he would be good to him. But it was still nerve-wracking and he hoped that it would go well.

When he was alone in his cabin, he dialled their house number and waited with bated breath, butterflies in his stomach.

"Hello?" asked the voice of Jack's father, and he gulped.

"Um, Mr's Ennis."

"Oh...good afternoon, Ennis. What can I do for you?" John asked in a friendly tone. Ennis was still wary of him, though, for some reason.

"Well...I've been doing a lot of thinking about me and Jack lately. With me coming back and us living together and me a lot to consider, you know?"

"Yeah, it does. I hope you're not backing out," John said suspiciously. "After all this?"

"No, far from it. I wanted to ask you something. I still wanna be with Jack," he reassured John; the very thought of leaving Jack made him shudder. He simply couldn't live with himself if he broke Jack's heart.

"Oh, okay then. Sorry to sound harsh just now...but he's my only kid. We want to make sure that whoever he ends up with, that they'll be good to him."

"I understand, and you don't need to worry about that. I wanted to ask...for your permission to marry him," Ennis said in a rush, heart pounding. "I wanna propose to him when I get back, so..."

"You want our blessing," John finished. "Well...I'm surprised that you asked first. Not many people do that these days."

"I know, but...I wanted there to be some tradition to it, even though we're both guys. So...?" he asked hopefully, not knowing what he would do if he was refused.

"Well, I know my boy is crazy about you. And you seem to make him happy. You're good for him, Ennis. So I can say, on behalf of myself and my wife, that you've got our blessing to ask him."

"Thank you," Ennis replied in relief, grinning. "Thank you so much..."

"Sure. Are you certain he'll accept?"

"Yep. I asked Lureen to ask him what he thinks about marriage and if he might be ready for it. She told me that he wants to marry me, so I figured it would be the right time."

"Really? That's great, Ennis. I hope it goes well for the two of you. Are you going to visit us again before moving up to Iowa?"

"Uh, yeah...we can do that. Thanks a lot, sir. It means a lot to me that you're agreeing to this."

"I know you'll look after him, Ennis. That's what's important to us. Good luck, then."

"Yep, thank you. Bye."

Ennis hung up and exhaled; that had been hard for him to do, but at least it was done now. He and Jack were going to get engaged when he returned, and the thought made him very happy. He'd always wanted to fall in love and settle down, even when he'd realised that he was gay, and now it was going to happen. It couldn't get any better than this.

After a while, he exited the cabin in search of his friends; he wanted to tell them the good news now that it was going to happen. He couldn't see Jack saying no if he wanted it so much.

He found them playing cards in one of the rooms, and he cleared his throat. "Guys? Have you got five minutes?"

They all looked up and greeted him. "We'll be finished in a second," Paul told him, and he nodded. He sat down as he waited, yearning to tell someone his plans. When they were finally done, they all turned to look at him. "What's going on, Ennis?"

"Well..." he started, feeling very nervous about doing this. "The thing is, I've got some news. It's not official yet, but it's gonna happen. I've given it a lot of thought, and...I've decided that when I get back in October, I'm gonna propose to Jack."

There were a few seconds of stunned silence, and then he was engulfed in a group hug from his friends, all of them giving him their congratulations and best wishes. "That's great!" Richard told him, grinning. "I knew you were thinking about it, but..."

"Yeah. I talked to his friend Lureen. She said he wants to marry me and would accept a proposal if I gave one. And I even spoke his dad just now; I've got their blessing to ask him. So I'm gonna do it, when I get back," he finished, smiling widely. "I know it's a little crazy, considering how little time we've actually spent together, feels right to me. I love him."

"We know you do," Richard replied, clapping him on the shoulder. "And I'm sure that you guys will be very happy together. I've seen how you are with him,'s clear that you're crazy about each other."

"We really are. A few weeks ago, I had this dream that we were living together and engaged. It was...really good, you know? I liked that feeling. So it really does feel right for me to ask him, since it's something we both want."

"Are we invited to the wedding?" Paul asked, and Ennis grinned.

"I think we'll set a date in either April or October next year, and I'll call the captain to ask him if the shore leave can be timed with it so that you guys can be there. I know that Jack wants to meet you guys,'ll stick around when we land, right? He'll be there."

"Of course we will," Paul replied, nodding. Ennis smiled his thanks, happy that life was going so well for him right now.