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29 September 2007 @ 11:18 pm
Light of the Towering Dark Chapter 13  
Title: Light of the Towering Dark Chapter 13
Fandom: BBM
Rating: R
Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me and I make no money off of them.
Summary: Cancer surgery behind him, the open road ahead...
Warnings: Character Illness, Cursing. If you need to know more about the fate of Jack and Ennis in this story before you are willing to read, visit my white text spoilers, but please read the black text first.
AN: Thanks as always to marakeshsparrow, for making time in a busy schedule to beta. Anyone who has trouble reading white on black can try clicking here. I made a commitment to attempt to update this frequently and regularly, and that starts... NOW. Ack. Hello, Saturday nights. Also, a hearty shout-out to my Brokie friends who drove me up the PCH two weeks ago, thus helping me finish my research on the chapter. This one's for you.
Word Count: 5562
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Chapter 13: Whiskey Lyin' Down

They packed up after an early breakfast, but that was about as far as they got 'fore a disagreement arose. Their next stop was Los Angeles, and Ennis'd figured out the shortest route. Jack didn't want to seem like he didn't appreciate it, but he'd been plannin' on driving down that road on the ocean, and the shortest way took 'em a good ways inland. A man didn't come this far ta part with the ocean.

Jack had some time convincing Ennis of that, sayin', with this bein' a road trip and all, it was the journey that was most important. In the end, Ennis grumbled, "You do what you want. 'S your trip." Jack knew he'd hurt Ennis's pride, and felt bad about that, but he was glad to get his way, all the same.

Ennis's declaration hurt Jack some, too. Somewhere here in his head it'd become their trip. A hurt man was likely to deal hurt back, though, so Jack tried not ta think too much on it, callin' it even before he got behind the wheel for the first leg of what promised to be a long trip.

The exchange had put Ennis in a bad mood, but he didn't stay there long. Soon as they were leaving the city behind, Ennis settled back, the muscles of his face easing a bit to Jack's practiced eye. "Wish we could come back here someday when we got more time. Nice place."

Jack heard all the things Ennis was saying, and likely didn't even realize he was saying, with those innocent words.

When they got on the road proper-- the Pacific Coast Highway-- parts reminded Jack of that road from watching Looney Tunes with Bobby. This was where all the animated characters got pitched off inta the ocean. Jack was used to drivin' on windin' roads, though. Usually there wasn't a cliff on one side, no, but sometimes there was. This was the first time he'd driven something big as an RV on roads like this, but it didn't handle so bad, and he knew the vehicle by now. Ennis was lookin' nervous, though, starin' out the passenger window, knuckles turnin' white on the arm rests. Ennis liked ta be in control. He'd probably be ok if he was drivin', but Jack was already in that chair. Luckily, the road flattened out and passed through a series a seaside towns at times, giving Ennis a chance to recover.

Not long inta the trip, though, Jack noticed the cars behind him ridin' awful close on his bumper. Likely they weren't satisfied with this speed, which wasn't near slow to begin with. But with Ennis lookin' so nervous, Jack decided those followers could mind their own damn bumpers. He didn't give a fuck what speed they wanted ta go. There were other roads.

The sky, the road, the ocean, the coast-- everything was crystal clear as they slipped south on the eighteenth of December. On their right, the beaches were were empty of everything 'cept soft, white foam-- looked like snow brought in by the water instead of the clouds. The foam wasn't stickin' much either, but still chasin' them down like the snow had on Brokeback. On their left, rolling farmlands were a welcome reminder of home, and a heavy one of what there was to go back to. The fields here were worked even in this season, but the men who worked them had nothing ta look forward to except a clean shower, a nice meal, and sheets to bring them dreams 'til the next day's work. Maybe a sweet little gal to get between the legs of at night. Jack guessed that was the kind of life Ennis was livin', minus the gal now that the waitress was out of the picture. Jack didn't see the point to that life. Sayin' so would only make Ennis mad, though.

It was a long-ass drive to where they were goin'. They switched drivers off an' on, watching the ocean on the one side, the fields on the other. When they finally hit signs towards Los Angeles, Ennis drivin', it was full night.

"You plan on stayin' in the city again?" The way Ennis said it was bitter, and that answered the question Jack hadn't yet gotten around ta asking. So far this trip'd been mostly cities. Jack thought about all those movie stars he used to idolize in his boyhood, and how he'd thought one day he'd see Hollywood. Well, here he was and he didn't want one part of it.

Jack popped open the glove compartment and shuffled through some brochures he'd got at a rest stop a while back. Silently, he passed one across the cab and laid it on Ennis's knee. Ennis's relieved, content smile was all the reward Jack wanted or needed.

A couple hours later, the RV climbed the altitudes of Palomar Mountain, a good eighty or so miles south of Los Angeles and nearly to San Diego. They wound around on the roads back to the northern side of the mountain until they found their way into Cleveland National Forest, where the RV lots were first-come, first-served, even if they lacked hook-ups and had paid showers. It was worth the frustration, simply because the campsites here promised privacy. They were few and far between, nestled under a tall, coniferous canopy. Above, those trees, there was only stars an' black sky.

They pulled into a site and grabbed a snack out of the fridge: some leftover gas station sandwiches, and newly-purchased beer just for this occasion. They were in the middle of nowhere on the campground. No children's' voices or dogs' barks echoed in the night. The soft mattress of pine needles underfoot silenced their footfalls as they sat at their picnic across from each other and ate in silence. No fires were allowed here, but that was maybe for the best, 'cause without them Jack could see more stars than he could ever remember seein' in Texas, an' even more than in Wyoming, just because there was no light at all. Except he did recall the stars he used to see when he was sheep-herder up on Brokeback. There was no equal to those, but these here were givin' 'em a run for their money, sure enough.

Their food settled comfortable in their stomachs. It'd been a weary, silent day of drivin', a lot of pretty scenery behind them on the highway somewhere, never to be seen again.

The trees swayed overhead. Jack watched them out a the corner of his eyes. They made him feel drowsy an' tranced. He finished off his beer, setting his empty on the picnic table with a clunk. "Nice night," Jack breathed, lying back onto the picnic bench to watch the trees, and the stars between them, more fully.

Ennis's beer was already empty, an' he slid back to lie down on his side of the table. "Yup."

It wasn't warm out here in Southern California, but it wasn't cold, neither, an' Jack felt pretty comfortable. They'd polished off plenty of beer between them.

"Gonna go in and grab me the last beer. You want anything?," Jack asked.

"Just drank the last beer," Ennis mumbled.

"The hell you did. I only had five."

"Well, I wasn't counting," Ennis shot back, soundin' maybe affronted, though Jack guessed that was his way of coverin' up being embarrassed.

"...That's alright. I got a way you can make it up to me."

"Yeah, well, don't count on it," Ennis ribbed.

"Naw, that's for later. I meant I got a bottle of whiskey and little dope in a shoebox in the rear compartment."

Ennis turned his head, an' Jack did likewise, meetin' Ennis's eyes under the picnic table.

"You took my beer," Jack reminded him.

When Ennis still didn't move, Jack hit below the belt. "I see. You want me, who's dyin' a cancer, to get up and wait on you after you drank my beer. Real classy."

Ennis was already climbin' to his feet, muttering a string of curses. Jack's subtle chuckling followed Ennis all the way back to the RV.

"Yeah, you go 'head an' laugh, you dumbass," Ennis called back, at least satisfying Jack that Ennis could take a joke about cancer. Maybe Ennis wasn't scared pissless anymore. It could be a good sign.

Ennis returned with a joint and a bottle of Old Rose. He flopped back onto the bench, handing the bottle off to Jack while he lit the joint with his own lighter.

Jack took a swig while lying down. He knew it was as good a way to drown as any, but he'd been a drunk enough to know how to do it. He remembered back up in the mountains when he'd told Ennis 'bout his cancer, the way he'd choked on whiskey sitting straight up.

"We oughtta be drinkin' tequila, this close ta Mexico," Jack laughed.

Ennis passed the joint under the table, blowin' out a plume of smoke. Their fingers touched just a little bit. "Probably shouldn't be smokin' that," Ennis uttered under his breath.

"I don't got lung cancer."

Ennis sighed and shook his head, grunting. The sound was angry. Jack heard all kinds of words in Ennis's sound, and suddenly had a strong need to say to Ennis just what all a this meant. "Hey." Jack shuffled the joint to his right hand so he could reach out his left under the table. "Hey."

Ennis turned to him, an' Jack didn't miss the glint of somethin' like agony in Ennis's eyes.

"Ennis. It's only a place. Just desert. Just a place like anywhere else. You hearin' me?"

Ennis nodded, but the wetness in his eyes was tellin' a different story.

"No, Ennis. It's just..." But Jack didn't have the words to say what all the things he'd done in his life meant or didn't mean. In a hard, dry time, he would pay for what he thought he needed. In his old rodeo days, before he's known what he needed, he'd'a let people pay him for it, too, with whatever they had. He just couldn't muster any shame about that. But he did feel regret for the wetness it was putting in Ennis's eyes where there didn't need to be any on that account. Whatever Jack thought he needed, what he really, truly needed was this man right here, an' whatever Jack did with his body didn't matter a good goddamn to him, when his soul was packed up an' already living near a thousand miles away. "Ennis, look at me."

Ennis didn't look, but he let his right hand wander up to meet Jack's and Jack held it there like it was his last lifeline. He squeezed it an' Ennis didn't pull away. For once, Ennis was letting Jack comfort him over the hurts Jack had caused. In a earlier time, Jack might've been expecting a dirty punch about now, but Ennis held on, and so did Jack, until he gave Ennis's hand a little shake and answered a question that wasn't never, ever asked but always there no matter what. "It's gonna be alright Ennis. Always is." Jack moved his hand away to reach for the whiskey because it wasn't like he was goin' anywhere, an' took a puff of the joint. He passed it back to Ennis.

"Hey, you gonna share that whiskey?," Ennis grumped.

"Dunno," Jack laughed.

"The hell's that supposed ta mean?"

"Hey Ennis, was you really a virgin when we went up on Brokeback?"

"Why, you think I was lyin?"

"Just hard to believe, is all."

"Yeah, an' how many girls you done it with before that?"

"Three. All from high school. I reckon that's what high school was best for," Jack joked.

Ennis shook his head. "Didn't want to do wrong by no girl."

Jack decided not to point out the irony in that, instead taking a big ol' swig of whiskey. Lyin' down or not, he was goin' a need it for where he was goin'. "An' you never... thought about guys before that?" Jack turned his head under the table, no longer watching the waving trees, but waiting for Ennis's response, preparing himself for whatever it might be. Jack was hoping, above everything else, that it would be the truth.

Ennis turned under the table too. What he said, he said so quiet, like his throat was tight. "Not since then, neither."

"No shit. You're not jokin'."

Ennis shook his head a tiny bit, his jaw tense. "Don't really... don't want you ta take this the wrong way, bud--"

"Go 'head, I won't."

"Don't really... see the appeal in... men. I mean, men together... 's kind a... unnatural an'..." Ennis shook his head again.

"You don't see the appeal?" Jack couldn't a been more surprised if Ennis said he had a second head growing out of his asshole that Jack never knew about.

Ennis groaned. "Never mind."

"What in hell you mean, you don't see the appeal?" But even as Jack challenged Ennis's words, his hands worked his own fly. Bringing himself into the night air, Jack was clearly seein' some appeal. And the way Ennis was watching the show, eyes open as saucers, said that maybe Ennis was seein' somethin'. If it wasn't appeal, Jack was very curious to know just what it was.

"Sorry, guess I got carried away. You want me to pack this up?," Jack teased.

Ennis swallowed hard, but when his eyes shifted to meet Jack's, Jack saw anger there. Jack's hand on himself slowed when he saw it, and he knew he'd gone a step too far. He wasn't sure if it was the alcohol that'd made his temper so fast, or the pot that'd made this seem like a joke, but he'd wanted the truth and he'd got it and he couldn't deal with it. He was just as bad as Ennis. Jack pulled up his zip fly with care around his still-hard dick. "I'm sorry," he said. "You really... you really feel that way? I mean, you think it's unnatural?"

Ennis shook his head and watched the trees. Jack turned back to the sky as well. They stayed that way for a couple minutes.

When Ennis started talking, Jack soaked in the voice like it was comin' from the night sky an' the swayin' trees above, like an old, old lullaby-- the truths his lover hadn't ever told anyone, let alone him:

"I see guys on the street, wonder if this happens. To them, I mean. But if I think about it, about them together, I don't... don't like that. Just makes me feel... like I'm alone. I never wanted to be this way, Jack."

"I know, Ennis. But maybe--"

"Goddammit, let me finish. It's just that... thoughts of other men... that only makes me miss you more. 'Cause they ain't you, and it's you I'm lookin' for. An' I wonder why I'm not good enough that other men do it for you."

"Shit," Jack hissed. "Fuckit, Ennis, that ain't it at all. Didn't you ever think maybe I just have a better imagination than you do?"

"The hell?"

"I'm with another man, you think I don't close my eyes and pretend they're you? It helps, just for a minute, maybe not even a minute, but they're just... they're just like actors. Christ. I had to ask Randall to stop talking during sex because I could not handle that shit. He's a good guy, but that's not why I slept with him." Jack swallowed three deep mouthfuls of whiskey in quick succession and finally passed the bottle on to Ennis. "Hell, even in Mexico, I--" Jack stopped talkin' realizin' he'd probably gone a step too far.

"You what?" Ennis's words sounded dangerous, but Jack guessed not answering him would only make him angrier.

Jack said it quietly so that the night wind was speakin' louder than he was. "Always looked for men with your build, if I could fine 'em. If I couldn't have you..."

Ennis took a long, hard gulp of the whiskey, a little dribblin' down his cheek, but he caught it and wiped it away with a fisted hand. "You ever... you know, with men, before Brokeback?," he asked, starting Jack with the forwardness of his question, his ability to skate right on by Mexico.

Jack hesitated a good, long while before he answered, watchin' Ennis as Ennis watched the stars peekin' out here n' there among the pines. "No way, Ennis."

"No?"

"Why's it sound like you don't believe me?"

"Just... got a different impression."

"Well, I didn't say I didn't think about it. You didn't ask that," Jack pointed out. "In fact... yeah, I guess if I'd'a been thinking with my head I knew I was queer about when I was thirteen, fourteen. Hell, I hung up this one movie star next to my bed. Told my folks I wanted to move to Hollywood someday and be rich like him. Well, here I am in Hollywood. But what I really want to do is get fucked shitless by a man."Jack laughed, though it wasn't a happy sound.

"You sayin' you hung that picture there for--"

"You bet."

"Then why'd you do it with girls?"

"That's a stupid question, isn't it?," Jack chuckled, surprised that this conversation, for all the truths it had exposed, had gone so smoothly.

Ennis smiled. The smile reached his eyes, Jack saw, as they locked gazes once again under the picnic table. "Guess so," Ennis answered. "I do like doin' it with women, you know."

"Yeah. It ain't half bad. I mean, if you got a handsome cowboy to be thinking of," Jack winked.

"Well then, why'd you lie to me up on Brokeback?"

"What's that?"

"When you said you wasn't queer."

Jack swiped the whiskey back from Ennis. "What would you have done if I'd'a told you I was queerer'n a three dollar bill? Think you woulda been up for what we did?," he asked.

Ennis was still smiling when he answered, "Reckon not."

"Sides, don't think I really knew, you know? Some things are true even long 'fore you admit them to yourself."

Ennis grunted.

Jack lay back and watched the sky. After all this talk of imagining and other men, there didn't seem much left to hold back. Jack took one last gulp of whiskey, and whispered into the cool night air, "I love you too, Ennis."

"What's that?"

"You said that to me once, on our last camping trip. Figured I owed you an answer."

Ennis didn't say anything, but Jack knew he'd heard. "Now, you wanna go inside and see some more of that thing that doesn't appeal to you?"

"Mmmm, sounds good."

Jack stood and Ennis followed him inside, and though what happened there was nothing new, it felt less veiled, more naked in every sense, in the afterglow of secrets long-kept and deeply-shared.

After sex, sleep didn't claim them easily or lightly. Jack found himself thinkin' over all the things Ennis'd said, wanting to ask more questions, get at more truths. Finding out those kind of things was addictive to him, and the chance didn't come along too often. But he had a feeling that asking for any more would be pushing his luck just now, so he kept his trap shut. They shared whiskey and smokes until the early morning light, not too long off by then. At the blue glint through the trailer's windows, they pulled the blankets close, 'cause even though California was supposed to be warm, during winter up here in the mountaintops it wasn't really. They curled close to each other, and Jack fell into one a those sleeps you never quite want to fall out of again.

He did, though. Wasn't sure what time it was when he woke up, but Ennis's naked, lean body was movin' away from his own, letting the cold air hit his skin.

"You want breakfast?," Ennis asked.

"No thanks. Think maybe I drank too much whiskey," Jack groaned.

"Didn't drink so much," Ennis shrugged, moving about in the kitchen. "You have somethin' you wanted ta do out here?"

Jack climbed out a bed, naked as the day he was born. There was Ennis, startin' some eggs, similarly naked. Jack smiled and scratched at the dryness in his public hair. "Somethin'." He felt his eyes open wide, as wanting as every other part of him, as he took in Ennis.

Ennis tried real hard not to notice and went back to working on his eggs. Didn't take a genius to tell Ennis was noticing, though, or that Jack was noticing Ennis's noticing. Not fifteen minutes after they'd left the bed, they found themselves back in it.

When the sun had finally climbed too high for Ennis to lay around any more, they got up and got movin'. But Jack had no real plans. He'd intended to do L.A. things: see movie stars and visit famous places, but he didn't really feel like doing anything like that, and from here was a good drive into that city, anyway.

"Well?," asked Ennis, pullin' from a cigarette as they both stepped outside and took in the fresh mountain air. Smelled different from Wyoming by a long shot, but not worse.

Jack shrugged.

"You wanna see Hollywood, or what?"

Jack shrugged again. "Seems like this place is pretty enough. Whatta they got here? You pick up a brochure or something?," Jack teased.

Ennis grunted, but sure enough he went inside and came back out with a park map, which he handed over to Jack without a glance.

Jack read the back of the map for a while, seein' what activities they had. "Too bad we don't have California fishing licenses. They've got what looks like a good fishing spot."

Ennis glared over at him. "Never knew you liked fishing."

Jack shrugged, opting not to say that it was a sport he'd picked up from Randall down on Lake Kemp. He an' Randall'd actually done some fishing in between whatever else they were up to.

"Well, we don't got 'em." Ennis sounded angry, almost like he was readin' Jack's thoughts.

"Damn," Jack hissed.

"Huh," Ennis grunted.

"They got recreational shooting. You know how long it's been since I got to properly fire off a gun?"

"That why you so trigger happy all the time?," Ennis asked.

"What the hell are you talkin' about?"

"Pulling out your gun on a damned black bear," Ennis shook his head.

Jack shrugged, not remembering the incident Ennis was talkin' about, but believin' Ennis all the same. Ennis had a long memory.

"'Sides, you shot a gun plenty a times. It ain't nothin' special."

"When I was a kid," Jack countered. "Don't get to shoot a lot selling farm equipment. Though some days I sure wish I could. We got some clients, I'm tellin' you, they think the sun comes up just ta hear them crow," Jack laughed deep an' true.

Ennis tried to hide his answering laugh but was not so successful. Or maybe Jack was just well-practiced at hearin' between the grunts.

"Anyway, we don't have a gun, so shooting's out a the question regardless."

Ennis shrugged. "Speak for yourself. Goddamn salesmen, never prepared."

Jack eyed him, eyebrows arched high. "You sayin' you got one?"

"Sure. Some of us gotta work for our livin'. I keep one in the truck."

Jack smiled wide and appreciatively. He surveyed the ground, dense with needles, speckled with sunlight fighting through the mass of branches overhead. "Well, let's go shooting, then."

"Alright," Ennis nodded.

In silence they cleaned up from their half-forgotten eggs, unhitched Ennis's truck, and drove out to the shooting range. They found that they were not alone. A man was teaching some young kid how to fire a rifle. For a moment, Jack worried that Ennis would spook, want ta go somewhere where no one was. Instead, though, Ennis gestured to the man. "You ever teach Bobby to shoot a rifle?"

Jack laughed. "Think Lureen would a shot me if I tried! L.D. seen to it, though."

"'S good. Somethin' a boy should know."

Jack watched Ennis as Ennis loaded the seven-round clip. Seemed Ennis had put some thought into how a son should be raised. Jack nodded, and Ennis handed him the gun first.

"Shit, you know I'm out a practice."

"Can't hardly be worse than when you was in practice."

Jack too his first shot, missing by a mile, but in truth he wasn't aimin' real hard so much as gettin' used to the feel of the gun. "What is this?"

"Three oh eight."

Jack nodded and hefted it to his shoulder again, takin' a second shot. He clipped the outside edge of one solid black circle, but landing all on the white. Ennis made a noise in his throat, and Jack hefted the gun once more. This time he shot wide by a mile, but he knew he hadn't taken his time aiming and hadn't quite sighted in yet. He just wanted to shoot the goddamn target. He took one deep, hard breath, brought the rifle up to bear, and shot a fourth time. This time he hit square in the center of the upper-left target.

"Good shot," a man bellowed from behind them. Jack jumped at the unexpected interruption.

"Thank you." Jack made the last word boom with pride as he nodded and handed the rifle back to its proper owner. He shot a smile up at the man and favored the gawky pre-teen girl standing next to him with a show-stopping grin as well. "Jack Twist."

"Paul Thomas. Good to meet you. And this is my niece, Lisa." Paul and Jack pumped hands.

Awkward silence crept around the group until Paul jutted a hand out at Ennis. "And you, sir?"

Ennis moved his mouth like he was chewin' around somethin'. "Ennis."

Paul nodded and stepped quickly out of Ennis's personal space. "Well. Just teaching my niece here how to shoot."

Ennis's eyes darted up at that, his expression unreadable even to Jack.

"Saw that good shot of yours. Since we're the only ones out here today, though I should say hi."

"Appreciate it," Jack smiled.

Paul smiled back before asking Ennis about his rifle. Ennis relaxed a bit as they talked guns, found out Paul and Lisa were from way up north, someplace called Fresno area, in California.

"Don't think her momma'd be too happy with the idea of me teaching her to shoot," Paul laughed, smiling fondly at the gangly blonde.

"She'd shit bricks," Lisa proudly exclaimed.

Paul laughed in embarrassment of his niece's uninhibited words. "Well, I dunno about that..."

Jack chuckled. "Think I know the type."

"Well, luckily I'm still allowed to take her camping. One day all she's gonna want to do is sit around with her girlfriends and talk about boys."

It was Ennis's turn to nod knowingly at that.

"Nice ta meet you." Paul once again shook their hands before leading Lisa on to their vehicle. Ennis watched them for a while. But Jack was watching' Ennis.

"What?," Jack asked.

"Huh?"

"You keep starin' at him like that, an' I'm bound to get jealous."

That earned Jack the acidic look he'd hoped for, shakin' Ennis from his thoughts. "Just don't know that it's right ta teach a girl to shoot."

Jack shrugged.

"Well, why would she need it, huh?"

"I dunno," Jack offered, squinting against the sun to see the mixed-up look on Ennis's face.

"Well, she don't, that's the answer."

Jack made a noise in his throat and stared down at the ground.

"Whut?," Ennis bit out sharply.

"Nothin'."

"Like hell."

Jack pulled Ennis's gun back and emptied the clip into the targets, hitting sometimes, missing sometimes. Turning back, he asked, "I never need to use a gun. That make me a girl?"

"I never said that," Ennis groaned. "An' besides, you did used to need to use one."

"Used to."

"But you're a man. That's different."

Jack nodded. "That's right. I got a dick. That makes me entitled, is that right?"

"Hmph." It was all Ennis could say in reply.

"Plenty a people with dicks work in office buildings and never seen a rifle, and plenty a young blonde girls live in the country an' need 'em, Ennis."

Ennis shook his head but didn't argue, mumblin' only, "Guess so," with an angry edge. Jack knew it was acquiescence just ta end the argument, but he wasn't wanting to argue, either. Jack reloaded the rifle and hefted it up to Ennis. "Your turn, bud." Ennis accepted with a nod, smile, and "Thank you," and the air between them returned to its clear self as quickly as a shiver of dust, brought up on a windless day, settles back to the desert floor.

They spent the rest of the week up there in the mountain air, running inta other people sometimes, mostly not, but the point was they weren't runnin' from them, either.

On December 20th, though windy and chill, they drove down to the shore. They didn't pull off of the road until they found a lonely, private little cove of rock, sand, n' water. They had to walk down a long set of wooden stairs to get to the beach, where the call a the gulls and the splash of the incoming waves were the only sounds besides their own overcome breathlessness. Jack wondered if a man ever got used to seein' the ocean.

Ennis sat down on a large rock. The bottom of it was only just kissed by the water, but he made sure to stay dry himself.

Jack immediately set to work freein' his feet from his boots. They were Dan Post and not cheap-- no way he was gonna let 'em touch water. He balled his socks and shoved 'em down in the boots before bunching up his denim pant legs, pulling the cuffs up over his calves, pale but darkened by course black hair, untanned. Jack had only ever owned one pair of shorts, after all, and never even worn those. Jack wandered ankle-deep into the ocean, wondering why he'd never told Ennis that story. When he spoke, he had to yell to be heard over the rush of waves.

"Bet shorts'd be good for this. You ever own a pair?"

When he didn't get an immediate answer, Jack turned. Ennis was trying to light a cigarette, having some frustrations on account of the wind.

"Huh?," Jack asked.

Ennis grunted in the negative.

"Lureen bought me a pair."

Ennis stopped playing with his lighter to watch Jack, who was busy pretending like he wasn't watching Ennis out of the corner of his eye, wasn't noticing how intently Ennis was keyed in on him when he was off on some fool's tale. This was an old thing between them, but the days of pretending were rapidly drawing to a close.

"Athletic shorts. She was on some thing about us gettin' in shape, summer of last year. Swear, she brought these things home, an' they didn't leave nothin'-- but nothin'!-- ta the imagination." Jack shook his head with laughter. "Wanted me to jog with her, wearing them. You believe that shit?"

"You do it?" Ennis sounded almost angry.

"Hell no! Did get some use out a them, though."

"What's that?," Ennis growled.

"Used 'em to wash my truck. Made a good rag. Think it's on account of bein' made out of the same type a stuff-- towel cloth, know what I mean?"

Ennis didn't answer, but set back to work lighting his cigarette. Jack watched him without shame. The wind, coming from the north, blew Ennis's hair up around his head. Wasn't golden an' curly any more, but flat with tones of gray-blond, needing a cut, but Ennis had never let go of his Marlboro-good looks. The man in question smoked on in peaceful silence, and Jack was surprised that watching wasn't giving him a craving. Not of the cigarette kind, anyway. The other cravings Ennis gave him couldn't be cured, and he'd refuse the cure if it were offered to him.

"Get on over here," Jack whispered, barely audible above the sound of waves. The tide seemed to be comin' in. The water was calm enough now, but with the wind whippin' up and the water rising, it wouldn't be a nice place to be after sunset.

Ennis shook his head, but was already taking deep inhalations of his smoke, pullin' it down to the filter. He pressed the ashen tip to the rock and let the butt fall into the Southern California sand.

Jack tried to hide his amusement as Ennis struggled, sometimes hopping on one foot, to take his boots off. He wore no socks, Jack noticed. Ennis rolled his jeans meticulously before stepping out to meet Jack, where the water touched the shore and made the sand melt out from under their toes. Neither had experienced the sensation before. Jack watched his feet bury themselves in the surf and silt.

"Little cold, huh?," Jack asked by way of making conversation.

"Yup," Ennis answered, though his lack of expression said that he, like Jack, felt it was damn near tropical compared to ice melt streams at altitude in the early season. Jack oftentimes could not believe he'd swum in those, as cold as they were, but he'd felt it with his own skin. The memory of cold was hard to erase.

They'd arrived at the beach spot in the late afternoon, and by now the sun was sinking into the unbroken water. They both stood on the shore in reverent silence, watching the sun as it sank into the sea. Even if it was supposed ta be dangerous to look at, Jack didn't give a damn. Not too fuckin' likely they'd get this chance again, after all.

The next day, on the shortest day of the year, they lit out for Las Vegas. It was a city of lights and all kind of sins. The sun was bright, but not warm enough to soak into Jack's skin. Nevertheless, he rolled down the window and stood the chill of desert air raising his goose flesh. He tried not to think about how close the sunset was to the sunrise, how they were being gypped out of time on their trip, instead keeping his mind on happier matters. Wasn't easy though, descending into winter as they were.
 
 
Current Location: St. Paul, MN
Current Music: Paul Simon - Under African Skies
 
 
 
torry28torry28 on September 30th, 2007 06:07 am (UTC)
Hi,
I have been missing this story , so glad to see this chapter.They seem to be talking more and clearing the air between them, happy that Jack told Ennis he loved him too.
Most be hard for Ennis hearing about Jacks other sex encounters.
Thank you,
Torry

Bloody Jack Flint: JackxEnnis Divorce Hushrhye on October 1st, 2007 12:22 am (UTC)
Thanks for keeping the faith that I would update again, and for reading. I can't say how close to my heart this story runs.
noreinsnoreins on September 30th, 2007 07:26 am (UTC)
Oh Jess, it's so good to see an update to this - I've been wondering how the road trip was going.

I'm so pleased they made it to the ocean and had the chance to see all that scenery. But what I'm most pleased about is that they're talking - really talking - and clearing up a few things between them. I'm sure it was hard for Ennis to hear about Jack's other encounters with men, but hopefully it was eased by the knowledge of who Jack was thinking of when he was with them.

Oh, and I really loved this passage

"I see guys on the street, wonder if this happens. To them, I mean. But if I think about it, about them together, I don't... don't like that. Just makes me feel... like I'm alone. I never wanted to be this way, Jack."

"I know, Ennis. But maybe--"

"Goddammit, let me finish. It's just that... thoughts of other men... that only makes me miss you more. 'Cause they ain't you, and it's you I'm lookin' for."


That admission from Ennis is just gorgeous. If he can say the words then maybe...just maybe...he can find a way to stop looking and be with Jack.

Thanks for this.
Bloody Jack Flint: Miroku Hushrhye on October 1st, 2007 12:25 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading and for leaving a thoughtful comment. Yes, the scenery of their relationship is opening up to the fresh air as well :)
maria47maria47 on September 30th, 2007 07:40 am (UTC)
(((((((((((( Jess ))))))))))))))))
unfortunately I have to hurry to go to church and to do my sunday chorus, but I'm so excited to know that THIS will be waiting for me this evening.

Thanks so much that you didn't abandon this story
Maria
Bloody Jack Flint: Miroku Hushrhye on October 1st, 2007 12:26 am (UTC)
Never. This story is too close to my heart for words. That's why it is so hard for me to write so often. A lot of times looking that deeply inside of yourself is very disquieting. Thank you for the hugs!
★Mella★: BBM - tight hug *love*schlopki on September 30th, 2007 07:58 am (UTC)
i'm so happy to see an update, i love this story...it's so hard to read at times and yet so wonderful...your writing is so lovely =)

i love how jack is watching ennis all the time..gives me goose bumps..it's always so intense and full of love ♥

and i love how they talked...really talked honestly, that was very nice to read =)

thank youu =)
Bloody Jack Flint: Miroku Hushrhye on October 1st, 2007 12:28 am (UTC)
Hard to write, as well. I saw Ennis watching Jack as well in the movie and it had the same effect on me. That I could translate that effect in my own writing is a real compliment, thank you. Thanks for reading and for keeping faith that I would update this again.
judy_blue_catjudy_blue_cat on September 30th, 2007 08:04 am (UTC)
Just lovely, planetgal. Although Ennis is still fooling himself, he and Jack feel the same way. Each one is looking only for the other. Ennis says he doesn't feel attracted to other men. Jack says other men don't matter because they are just substitutes for Ennis. It comes to the same thing in the end, I think. Lovely. Just lovely. Thanks for pushing yourself to get this out tonight. I hope you haven't put yourself in a bad position with work and school in order to give this to us.
Bloody Jack Flint: Miroku Hushrhye on October 1st, 2007 12:30 am (UTC)
Meh, I'm perpetually in a bad position at school-- it's one of the fallouts of being in grad school. But no, the time spent on writing was time that would otherwise be spent on surfing the web. Thanks you for the insightful comment.
sweetjesweetje on September 30th, 2007 08:22 am (UTC)
I was glad to see this update. I was missing this story.

It's good to see that Ennis and Jack are being honest with one another. It's not easy for either of them because of their fear of losing each other again, but it's a step in the right direction for their relationship.

I'm looking forward to your next chapter, and to what they're going to do in Las Vegas. : )
Debra
Bloody Jack Flint: Miroku Hushrhye on October 1st, 2007 12:31 am (UTC)
Thank you for keeping the faith that I would update this again, and I'm glad to make you glad :)
Sid401ksid401k on September 30th, 2007 08:32 am (UTC)
Descending into Winter
I was just wondering the other day when the next LotTD update would come. And lo and behold, I check out BrokebackSlash, and there you are!

Another great installment in a great story. Take all the time you need between installments, but please, please don't quit us!
Bloody Jack Flint: Miroku Hushrhye on October 1st, 2007 12:33 am (UTC)
Re: Descending into Winter
Thanks, Sid! It's hard because in order to write this I end up doing a lot of soul-searching and emotional exploration of myself, which is exhausting and turbulent. But I'll do my best to not be afraid of confronting those issues any more! Thank you for reading.
Orlandobbm_got_me_good on September 30th, 2007 08:50 am (UTC)
SQUEEEEE!!!!

Thank you!!!

*off to read*

kaydee
Bloody Jack Flint: Miroku Hushrhye on October 1st, 2007 12:34 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading!
ramona4jakeramona4jake on September 30th, 2007 11:43 am (UTC)
"...but the days of pretending were rapidly drawing to a close."
I was missing your story, and this chapter is realy beautiful, much lighter than the previous ones in the way Jack and Ennis treat each other ! I like their dialogue, and especialy how Jack managed to get some answers from Ennis without being snaped away....I think he was surprised by that too, not only relieved, wright ?
Thank you, don't let it go so long before you up-date again !
Bloody Jack Flint: Miroku Hushrhye on October 1st, 2007 12:38 am (UTC)
Yeah, Jack was definitely surprised by Ennis's easiness in speaking of these subjects (though I'm sure the pot helped as well...). I will try to update much more frequently! Thanks for not giving up on the story.
thelastaeriethelastaerie on September 30th, 2007 12:13 pm (UTC)
aww... thanks for the update. Been missing this story.
maybe the near-death experience helped Jack to have the courage to ask Ennis some hard questions... and Ennis telling some truth for a change.

i am hoping the californian sun and ocean can do some healings for both of them.
Bloody Jack Flint: Miroku Hushrhye on October 1st, 2007 12:40 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading!
(Anonymous) on September 30th, 2007 12:38 pm (UTC)
fabulous
though that may be too exuberant a word for such a contemplative chapter

but I do feel uplifted that Ennis talked about love and sex and Jack finally was able to give Ennis some context for being queer and other men

Ennis crying kills me, as does Jack figuring he has nothing to lose... but it's producing such good things between them. Really, you've set it up beautifully, and this scenario is the one where even a pleaser like Jack would shoot straight and even an avoider like Ennis would take it head on. The stark differences over the attititudes toward women, and then the mutual decision not to fight.

Loved the ending scene - was holding my breath as Ennis was charmed by Jack's story and then Jack watched Ennis enthralled, Ennis came when Jack whispered to him, and they waded together and watched the sunset.

Honestly, romantic like to kill me.

Thank you!

Ellen
ellenlj on September 30th, 2007 12:41 pm (UTC)
Re: fabulous
sorry, not logged in
Re: fabulous - rhye on October 1st, 2007 12:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
neverdone39neverdone39 on September 30th, 2007 01:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this update, it has been a while.
And what a great chapter this is. I LOVED their talk at the picnic table. They finally talked truthful to each other, and didn't snap or fight over it. I love Ennis for saying this:
It's just that... thoughts of other men... that only makes me miss you more. 'Cause they ain't you, and it's you I'm lookin' for

Finally the mood between them is getting better, what a relief.

Hopefully it won't be too long before the next chapter.
Bloody Jack Flint: Ennis: Called Your Bluffrhye on October 1st, 2007 12:43 am (UTC)
I'm going to do my best to get the next chapter out in the next, say, three weeks. Which will be a great improvement, yes? Hehe. Thanks so much for reading, and I'm glad the chapter was some reprieve for you, not too angsty.
suzysue2suzysue2 on September 30th, 2007 01:42 pm (UTC)
I was only thinking yesterday that it had been a while since you posted and lo and behold a great new chapter appears! Some wishes do come true.

I'm glad Ennis is opening up a bit - but I'm sure Jack can help there. Their relationship is still very much bittersweet - I can hardly wait to see how this goes.

Keep up the good work.
Bloody Jack Flint: Ennis: Called Your Bluffrhye on October 1st, 2007 12:45 am (UTC)
Thank you! I think-- and hope even-- that their relationship will always have a bittersweet tinge. To forget the past is to deny the pain that each of them has endured the healing that may take a long time, maybe even forever. The point is they would heal best together, and I don't even think Jack understands that Ennis is the best one to heal the wounds that Ennis has dealt him. Thank you for reading and for not giving up on me when the chapter took so long!
(Anonymous) on September 30th, 2007 01:49 pm (UTC)
Wow
Jess, you know I love this story. Your writing just blows me away !!
EXCELLENT chapter.

Karen (peanut)
Bloody Jack Flint: Kagome Movie 1 B&W Hushrhye on October 1st, 2007 12:46 am (UTC)
Re: Wow
Karen, thanks so much for all your encouragement and friendship. Your prodding really helped me force myself through some of the hurdles of writing this story, although there are plenty of hurdles to come.
kazzaml on September 30th, 2007 02:39 pm (UTC)
I'm so happy that you've updated this - it's wonderful.

Of course I can't help worrying that either Jack is going to succomb to his illness, or if he doesn't they are going to return to living their seperate lives after the trip. I know that I could read the spoilers, but that would spoil the journey wouldn't it.

Looking forward to more.

Karen
Bloody Jack Flint: Kagome Movie 1 B&W Hushrhye on October 1st, 2007 12:47 am (UTC)
Yeah, life is full of fears for the future, especially for Jack and Ennis in this story, but I think they are doing their best to live in the present. Thanks for reading!