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08 April 2008 @ 10:56 pm
Light of the Towering Dark Chapter 14  
Title: Light of the Towering Dark Chapter 14
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: Unbeta'd, but I've been editing it for two months and let's face it, you've waited long enough. It's not perfect, but what ever is? This one's for bcatjr, happy birthday, and thanks for the swift kick in the hiney! (as well as for your ever-bearing patience and wisdom, and for your trust.)
Word Count: 6633
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Chapter 14: Fishing

The city of lights was still aglow with sunset when Jack steered the RV down its main drag, though he was wishin' now he'd been less ambitious and took a side route. "The Strip," as it was called, was a mess with people already. Ennis was turning a strange shade of yellow-white, his frustrations reflecting on his face, and Jack turned to figuring the best way out of the mess he'd got them into.

The drive here had taken them through wildness landscapes at once foreign and familiar: somethin' half in between Wyoming and Texas, with snow-capped mountains bare of trees, dry grass and dead fall skirting "lakes" that were little more than wet desert-bed from the kind of flooding they got out New Mexico way. Jack knew it from his buyin' trips. But the land had been open an' empty, welcoming enough to two travelers lost to the world. The crisp, blue sky had been dotted with small, white clouds: sheep in a field. The clouds cast shadows over the golden, cold earth as they'd driven northwest in silence.

The air got cooler, too, as they drove. They'd got out for a pit stop and Jack felt that chill enough to pull on his heavy jacket. Ennis only had his old canvas thing along, but it seemed to serve him fine in all weather and he didn't put it on just now, neither. The sun was warm enough when it struck them. The wind blew dust, but not the cruel way it had in Lightnin' Flat, so Jack didn't much mind.

"Shit." Jack was jolted back to the present by the words on a sign hanging over the street, and he swung a fast left through a red light, earning him an unhappy honk from a little car. "Would you read this?" Jack handed a brochure from under his seat to Ennis, trying not to hit anything as he finished the turn. Luckily, off the damned Strip, the traffic eased into low-lying suburbs that reminded Jack of little cages. He should know, he lived in one back home. Ennis pointed out their turns until they found their place: a little RV park on the very edges of civilization out here, last stop before fuck-knows-where, Nevada.

It was cheap. It looked cheap, an' it smelled cheap. When Jack went in the office to sign papers and get their spot, it stank of something like paint or glue mixed with old, old coffee. He was glad to get back into the air, even if it assailed him with windswept grains almost immediately. He was learnin' fast an' the hard way that a windy day on the Nevada desert was not too pleasant.

They set the hookups in a silence enforced by the desert winds, Jack cursin' an' swearin' under his breath as grit stung his eyes. He bit down only to hear and feel the crunch of it between his teeth. He tried not to notice that it was gettin' worse. He just wanted ta be done.

Flashing a glance at Ennis, Jack saw Ennis's eyes squinting nearly-shut against the onslaught, but his hands worked without faltering. Soon-- not near soon enough, but at least it was done-- they were haulin' ass back inside to the quilted calm of the nauseating upholstery they'd both grown accustomed to.

"Shit," Jack cursed, running a hand thought his hair and listening to the delicate shower of grains on the couch as he did so.

"Hey now, this is our bed," Ennis chastised, brushing the sand away with wide, violent swats.

Jack sunk way down on the sofa an' leaned his head back, tired. Tired from sittin' all day, once again. No matter how many times he experienced it, he was always surprised that doing so much of nothing could take it out of a person like that. This time felt worse'n usual, though.

Ennis released a predictable sigh in solidarity before layin' his arms along the back of the couch, havin' ta squirrel one under Jack's head.

Jack watched Ennis expectantly, but nothing happened. They just sat in silence for a while, Jack lyin' his head back on Ennis's arm and turned towards Ennis. He rolled his head back to the center, eyes playin' over the ceiling tile, before he spoke. "You know, you can put your arm 'round me if you want to. No one here but you an' me, friend."

Jack felt the muscles of Ennis's arm tense under his head, but the noise Ennis made in his throat was his embarrassed-happy noise, and an arm did slide down around Jack's shoulders.

Jack made the next move, and, in under a minute, they were snorting with joy, bucking and kicking like the boys they no longer were. They couldn't go like they were still kids, though. The fun didn't last near long enough, and Jack neither of them was used to the rug burn. There'd always be more ta be had later, anyway, when they'd caught their breath and hopefully opened up the bed.

In a silence filled by heavy breathing like the steam after a summer storm, Jack wondered aloud why they'd come to Vegas when all they needed was a trailer to have a good time. Ennis ran a hand through Jack's hair, lingering at a graying temple. "Don't think a trailer's different from a tent."

"It ain't so different from a house, either," Jack added, a sharp edge to his voice that he couldn't hold back. "Some people live in their trailers crossin' the country."

"Yeah, an' on what money?"

"That ain't the point."

Ennis didn't respond, though Jack suspected he desperately wanted to put in a last word on the little debate. Problem was, Ennis was great with words, and this was a minefield he was walkin' on, so he must've decided to keep his limbs and lose the chase.

At length, they got up, showered, and dressed before unhitching the truck and heading to out to eat-- Jack especially insisted, knowin' it was one of the things that made this nothing like being in a tent.

They'd passed a place on their way in, not three miles from the park, that promised one a the cheapest buffets in Las Vegas. Although, Jack'd noticed drivin' through, seemed like everyplace was keen on offerin' one a the cheapest buffets in Las Vegas. Still an' all, it looked hometown, quiet, but filled with common folk. They pulled Ennis's truck into the parkin' lot, Jack driving, and found there wasn't any kind of wait, but there were still an awful lot of people just... there.

They ate in silence, though Jack was feelin' gassy. He told Ennis so, not something he would have told a woman, not Lureen. Wouldn't have told Randall either, especially not over dinner, but Ennis wasn't them.

"Mmmm. Musta been somethin' you ate. This is pretty good food though," Ennis piled macaroni and cheese onto a spoon, "wouldn't be surprised if that's me tomorrow."

Jack chuckled. Ennis lit the space under his eyes with those fine smile lines that Jack loved so bad, and they finished their meals quickly to head on back. Despite the desert sand, today had been a real good day, and it was far from over if Jack had any say.

At night, a gentle breeze rocked the trailer. The air here was mild, flirtin' with both fall n' spring, warmer'n Childress even. Jack took it in-- along with other things that were also rockin' the trailer before the lights went out.

In the mornin' they both awoke and got right down to breakfast. Ennis fixed biscuits and gravy with eggs. Jack wasn't feelin' too great, so he pushed his around mostly, thought he ate some.

"Somethin' wrong?" Ennis was squintin' up at him.

Jack shook his head. "Think I ate somethin' bad. Or could be the water."

Ennis nodded. "Drinkin' strange water can sure mess ya up."

"And you have experience with this?" A smile played over Jack's lips.

"Mmm hmm. On roundups, we don't just stop in at restaurants an' order water. Damn... salesman probably thinks we got that, one a them water coolers..."

Jack laughed. Ennis laughed back. When their joviality wore into silence, Ennis asked, "So what was you thinkin' of doin' 'round here?"

Jack shrugged. "You're mister brochure now, you tell me."

Ennis shook his head. "Guess we could do more shooting, maybe go riding again."

Jack squinted hard across the table back at Ennis.

"Whut?" Ennis frowned.

"Ennis del Mar, you ain't stuck in a rut, you are a rut."

"That so." It wasn't a question.

Jack sighed and waved Ennis's frustration off, sitting back to ease the tension. "Yeah, those things are fine."

"It's been a while since we went ridin'. Warmer here, so could be nice to do it again."

Jack nodded and looked down at his hands hugging a mug of black coffee. He wasn't sure whether to speak or hold his tongue, felt like it was one a those moments where you had to shit or get off the pot. "I got a--" He cleared his throat. "I know a man who owns a ranch 'round these parts. Bet he would let us take his horses." Jack didn't look up as he spoke. When his words were finished, they seemed ta be stuck in the air. Jack waited for the storm to break from the little cloud of words.

It came just as he expected. "You know a man."

Jack blinked up from under his lashes. He raised his coffee mug to his lip and sipped, but it had finally turned cold, and there was so little left it was bitter as sin. He dropped it back to the table and pushed it away.

"Jack..."

"Know a lot a men, Ennis," Jack started solemnly. "I've worked in the farm and ranch machinery business for a long time. I go on a lot of trips, 'specially 'round these parts: trade shows, buyin' trips, sellin' trips." Jack swept his tongue across his bottom lip and knocked on the table, nervous energy lookin' for an outlet. "Sometimes I was not tradin' farm machinery."

Ennis's face grew fiery red.

"But we already had these conversations, Ennis," Jack sighed, his calm finally breakin' in favor of frustration, his hands waving as if they could add meaning to his words. "If we talk about every damn way you could ever be jealous, an' I sit here an' tell you I love you an' want you most of all, is there a possibility we could call up my friend and get a cheap ride? Or are you wantin' ta pay a hundred dollars to be led around by some teenage girl just because you can't get over yourself? 'Cause if there is a way for you to get over this, I'd sure like to skip straight to the end part, but if there's not, I won't waste my time. Goddamn shit. How many fuckin' times do we gotta have this conversation?"

"We ain't had this convers--"

"Not 'bout this particular person, no, but we have had this conversation, Ennis. We've had it all across the damned country! We've had it at nearly every fuckin' stop. At some point you need ta either decide you ain't never gonna forgive me, or else you need to get on with it already, 'cause I am sick as hell of begging every goddamn week for the same damn thing." Jack stood and walked away, his adrenaline running a mile a minute. He didn't think Ennis had understood a word he'd said, an' that made him want to hit the man. Only thing he could do was walk away. He left the trailer, lettin' the wind slam the door shut behind him.

Standing' outside in the warm sunlight calmed Jack down more than a little. Still, he was nervous, didn't know if he'd handled that right. His thumbs hooked on his pockets, fingers tapping on jeans. He ran his tongue inside his upper lip and clamped it between both lips, suddenly more'n aware that he wanted, needed, felt like might die without, a cigarette.

"No, I don't think so! Did you check the closet?" The woman in the neighboring trailer closed the door before she waited for the answer to her question and set down a glass pitcher of tea in the sand-colored dry grass by the door.

"Morning," she nodded at Jack. She wasn't young, easily in her seventies, but neither did she look frail. She had wide hips set on squat legs, but her back had the curve of a woman of her years. Her voice was deep and gravelly with an accent Jack couldn't place.

"Mornin'," he answered.

She paused and pulled a pack of cigarettes from her loose denim pants, taking out one and lighting it. Jack imagined he'd been watchin' with something akin to lust, 'cause she caught his eye an' offered the pack and lighter.

"You don't mind?" Jack was reaching for it even as he asked the question, not willin' ta wait for an answer.

"Naw," she said, exhaling in a long line of smoke. She seemed to be watchin' him closely as he lit up. After a moment of awkward silence, she started in on him. "You're new here."

Jack pulled the cig away from his lips and laughed. "It's an RV park. Just passin' through, same as anyone else."

She didn't smile back. "Yeah, but me an' Mort, my husband, we come and stay all winter. We can afford to do that now that we's retired. Lot of these folks do the same."

"That right?" Jack eyed the park, noticing for maybe the first time that a lot a the RVs did have some permanent look about them, chairs set outside on one, a windsock on another, a string of lights hanging from an awning on a third.

"Yeah. Mort gets a good retirement plan. He used to be a policeman you know. He could a got disability but he never did go to see a doctor."

Jack forced a smile and nodded, silently wondering if she would just shut the hell up. He hadn't asked for her life's story and he just wanted to smoke in silence. Still, she'd given him the cigarette-- lord knew Ennis never would, not noticin' that all Jack'd been through gave him the right to a smoke-- so he figured he was being less than fair. Truth was, he didn't really give a damn if he was less than fair, but since he either had to listen to her or eat crow to Ennis, it was good enough justification for him to stay and listen.

"My oldest, T.J., he's a mechanic out in California. He's the only one moved so far away."

"Yeah? Where are you from?" Jack asked detachedly, flicking his ash and watchin' it fall to the dead grass, but the vision reminded him... He'd told Lureen he wanted to be cremated. Jack mustered a cagey smile as he recalled that he used to tell her how he wanted his ashes scattered up on Brokeback. He'd stopped sayin' it in recent years. He wasn't sure if he'd stopped wantin' it, too. He hadn't got that far, not far enough to really know. Just then, the woman hacked a bit and it brought Jack's attention 'round full-fold. She'd been talking. "I'm sorry, I was thinkin' a something. What was that?"

"Just said we was from Virginia is all. Up in the mountains." Jack nodded like he knew what she meant, but he'd never been out that way and didn't have a clue. Least now he knew what her accent was.

"My other three," she continued, "stayed closer to me mostly. There's Aaron, Amanda, and Sammy-- that's short for Samantha. And then my youngest, Charlie, he died in Viet Nam."

Jack nodded, frowning, even listening, now.

"Aaron is into some computer stuff. He makes real good money. He helped us with comin' out here for the summer. My bones're gettin' old and I can't handle the winter no more. I'll tell you something, though, my mother, when she was my age, she was still going full-time even though her husband was long passed, and she just ignored the cold. I guess I don't got to do that, though." She nodded as if approving her own decision.

"Can I ask you something?" Jack let a cloud of smoke drift from his nose and mouth as he steeled his nerves.

"What's that?"

"How," Jack flicked his cigarette, "How did it feel for your son to die?"

"How the hell I know what it felt like? I wasn't there." She answered with more grump than Jack had expected, and he wondered if he better not lay off. She wasn't the soft an' feely type. Likely she hadn't missed the meaning of his question, just wanted to evade it. He wondered if Lureen would turn into a woman like this, but clearly this lady was not so well educated.

Jack simply nodded back, and they both pretended he hadn't brought it up. It was probably the best solution.

"Well, I've got to go back in and make sure Mort hasn't killed himself."

"Sure. Say, didn't catch your name." Jack stepped forward and tried to give her a real fake smile, a salesman's smile.

She must a seen it for what it was 'cause it didn't warm her up at all. "Geri's fine," she answered before her door slammed behind her.

Jack shook it off and stubbed his cigarette out on the dry grass just as the door behind him creaked open. He imagined Ennis lookin' around to see if the coast was clear, and the image was amusing to be sure. Jack turned his head when Ennis stepped out onto the ground. Jack held off saying a thing, and for a full five minutes, the only sounds were feet-shuffling, Ennis coughing, and the steady sighing wind that pervaded this place like the sand.

Ennis shoved his hands down deep into his jeans' pockets right as he began speaking. "You got a understand, Jack, what you're... what you want me ta do here. Meet someone ya... know."

"Just let me know before we continue this conversation," Jack asked quietly, "which bothers you more, that he and I have been together, or that he knows that you and I are together?" Jack didn't lift his gaze from his feet.

Ennis cleared his throat and didn't answer, and Jack had just decided he wasn't even going to, when Ennis surprised him. "I said it already, didn't I?" There was a little edge to his voice, impatience.

"Ok." Jack gathered his thoughts for a breath. "Well, I do think... You got a figure, what I'm askin' you to do ain't much compared ta what I'm askin' him to do."

"Lend us a couple horses?" Ennis asked in shocked disbelief.

"No, Ennis. You just don't fucking get it. How can you not understand after all this time and all we've said on this trip?" Jack scratched his stubble, hadn't shaved yesterday or this morning. "Christ."

"Well if I ain't gettin' it maybe you better explain it then." Ennis sounded more than a little pissed. He was insecure, hurt. Hell, he probably had a right to be, the way Jack was talkin' down to him, but Jack was still too pissed to reign that in.

"Ennis. We're together. You an' me. I don't give a fuck if we don't never live close together and if you can't never see it, Ennis, but we've been together a fuckin' long time, and we been through... If we're... Jesus Christ, no man ever stood a chance, not a chance, an' even I didn't see that before. Now I gotta be rubbin' it in to this guy. He and I didn't ever have, I mean, we weren't... but still, it ain't nice to come around imposin' on him and..." Jack waved an arm as if it finished his sentence.

"Doesn't make it any better," Ennis nearly whispered.

"Maybe not for you, but it makes it different, Ennis. You got no reason ta be afraid that I'll--"

Just like that, Ennis's jaw snapped tight, skin drawin' taught over his face in his angry look. He leaned close to Jack, close enough that spittle landed on Jack's cheek, to say, "I ain't fuckin' afraid. He makes me sick. You make me sick. Can't stand bein' forced to think a that."

Ennis was turning, probably to sulk back inside, when the door from the neighboring RV shuttered open and Geri stepped down. Ennis backed away from Jack, flushing red.

"Just come to check my tea," she said, not looking up at them. Jack watched her, wondered what she's heard, tried to remember what he'd said and how loud he'd said it. Too loud, he was sure. Maybe Ennis did have some points about Jack bein' more careful.

The door stuttered closed behind Jack. He hadn't even noticed Ennis move to leave, but in the time Geri had taken a look at the tea and gone back inside, Ennis had split as well.

Jack looked down into the strip of grass that marked them as neighbors with Geri and Mort and turned to go inside. He had some cleanin' up to do with regards to Ennis. He'd certainly heard what Ennis said, but he wasn't angry 'cause this time he knew what Ennis meant, too.

Inside, the temperature was pleasant but the air seemed stuffy compared to the mild desert breeze. Jack pushed open a window, not without effort. It was stuck like it hadn't been opened in its lifetime, but the fresh air that blew in was reward enough for his efforts.

Meantime, Ennis was standing in the kitchen. cleaning up from breakfast. Jack sat on the bed that Ennis had folded back into a couch already to watch the performance, 'cause Ennis kept at it long after there was anything ta do in the kitchenette. He was opening and closing cabinets like he was looking for something. He dumped out the grounds and made another pot of coffee. He stared at their remaining food for a long while, like he was memorizing the stores.

"Ennis!"

Ennis didn't answer, but he did jump a bit.

"Can you just stop pretending to be busy and sit here for a second?"

Ennis leaned back warily, peeking at Jack around the cabinetry. Jack saw Ennis's features contorted into cautious confusion, but he also heard the cupboard shut. The sink ran for a moment, and Ennis walked over still wipin' his hands on the thighs of his jeans. "Whut?" He sounded a little P.O.'d.

Jack bit his tongue until he could find the right words, though he was more than a little surprised when he realized what they were. "I'm... sorry. I know... I know this has got to be tearing you apart, and if I had been thinkin' of that, thinkin' that you would ever find out or be in this situation..." Jack shook his head. Things seemed different now than they had been before. The decisions he'd made with regards to men, he'd always made without regret. But he hadn't been thinkin' of how it would affect Ennis. Why would he? Ennis didn't want to be affected... "Truth, I wish this subject never came up. Not here, an' not back in March."

Ennis stood in front of Jack still, only now he put his hands on his hips and shuffled his feet a little bit. Jack could see he was chewin' on his lip. "I jus'..."

Jack shook his head. "Forget it. I can't undo any of it, an' I'm not sure I would, but there's no need for you ta be thinkin' on it."

"I just..." Ennis sunk onto the couch next to Jack in one solid motion that seemed to sway the trailer. He dropped his head into his hands and rubbed his face before sayin', "It's just, I can see it, an' I feel like I'm gonna throw up."

Jack turned towards Ennis, frowning hard. "What do you mean, you can see it?"

"I mean," Ennis hissed with some frustration, "it's all like some goddamn movie playin' over in my head an' I got a watch, ever' time you mention..." His words were speeding out of his mouth, but it seemed his thoughts had spun faster than his tongue could follow, 'cause he suddenly fell silent.

Ennis sat stonily, and Jack watched his chest heave. A quick shift in wind caused a creak from of the RV and Jack spoke at last. "Well, what the hell do you do that for?"

"Whut?"

"Go imaginin' something like that?"

"I don't go doin' it on purpose." Ennis turned his head to spit the words in Jack's general direction.

"The hell you don't."

Ennis blinked rapidly. "Why would I--"

"Fuck all if I know. That's what I asked you first."

Ennis got up and stormed back in the direction of the kitchenette. He picked up the sponge and started cleaning the stove. Jack was sure now he had problems, 'cause he couldn't remember Ennis ever doin' something like that.

"Well, it probably wasn't like you imagined it anyway." Jack stood, defying Ennis's recalcitrant silence.

"Yeah, you want a tell me how it was now?" Ennis sounded like he had trouble even getting the words out 'round his clenched jaw. "I can't talk 'bout this no more, Jack." The desperation in Ennis's voice was clear as day.

"Alright," Jack sighed. "But you just got a remember, if you are imagining one night, Dan would have to quit his job and sit at home full-time to imagine up what we got, and he still wouldn't get it right. I'm just tryin' a tell you it ain't anywhere close, Ennis."

Ennis made some sort of growling, throat-clearing noise before he poured himself a fresh cup of coffee and peaked out the window at the day. Ennis shot him a sideways look.

"Well?" Jack asked.

Ennis turned to lean on the counter and took a sip of coffee. He held it in his mouth a moment before he swallowed. "Didn' you say something 'bout fishing?"

It wasn't horseback riding, but it was a more-than-welcomed change of topic.

Jack smiled and walked to the table where a little pile a brochures was waiting. He pulled one out an' waved it like a flag. "Lake Mead, up by Hoover Dam. Supposed ta have some a the best fishing." Jack opened the brochure and held it up, knowing Ennis could see it better from where he was standing than from up close. "Lookit," Jack turned the brochure back to himself, "they say it's famous for its bass."

Ennis squinted up at Jack. "You go bass fishing?"

Jack hesitated, but barreled on ahead. "Yeah, uh, down in Texas, there's this place on Lake Kemp... got a lot a nice bass down there."

Jack didn't need to read minds to know that Ennis could see right through his words, but the rail could hold the tension, apparently, 'cause Ennis didn't say anything. It was an uncomfortable moment, though, and Jack wondered why everything came back around to other men when he was here with Ennis. When he was anywhere else, though, everything came back around to Ennis, so.

Ennis eventually did push past Jack towards the bathroom, muttering only, "Bass's good." Jack was left to helplessly watch Ennis close the door a little too hard behind himself.

Ennis didn't come out for a good ten minutes, but Jack had already decided that Ennis needed cheering and reminding in some serious ways. So, when Ennis did emerge an' try to move quickly past the couch towards God-knows-where (probably to the kitchen to sort forks or something), Jack moved quickly to catch Ennis's belt loop. Ennis paused long enough to look down in annoyance, but Jack didn't let that stop him. In a mirror image of a night Jack barely remembered-- just the two of them and the cold folding in to move them together-- Jack pulled Ennis near despite the tension and resistance Jack felt in that lean body, then kept him there as Jack rose up just enough to undo his own belt buckle with one hand. The sound of metal on metal proceeded the lust growin' behind Ennis's eyes. Yeah, that was better. That single glance from Ennis made Jack know an' understand all those things Ennis couldn't find words for. Jack tugged harder on Ennis.

By now, though, Ennis didn't need the invitation. He was frozen in place with need, not fear. When Jack pulled his pants and underwear down, it was like a rubber band snapped in Ennis. "C'mere," Ennis said through a tight throat, even as he was moving on top of Jack an' wrestling with his own clothes.

It was a rough ride, but maybe that was what they were needing. It sure felt good to Jack, though he didn't think there was really a wrong thing to want 'tween him n' Ennis since it all felt good and he needed it all, in all the ways he got it.

They layed on the couch, barely fitting in the small space even tangled up as they were. Ennis reached over Jack and tried to get to his own jeans, probably lookin' for a smoke, Jack guessed. Jack cried out in startled pain.

"What's 'at?" Ennis pulled back empty-handed at Jack's noise. "I hit your, uh, your..."

"No, I think you just got me with your elbow or somethin'."

"Mmm." Ennis readjusted his position so all his pointy parts were well clear of Jack and leaned over again.

Jack groaned. This time, Ennis came up with the cigarettes and lighter, his eyes questioning Jack even though his mouth didn't.

"Sorry. Guess it's that stomach thing still."

Ennis lit up, his expression withdrawn in thought.

"Well, now that the real business of the day is done, how about some bass fishin' before it gets dark?" It wasn't even noon, but Jack felt they were wasting daylight layin' here, and he knew that if he felt that, Ennis must be itching like a naked dog to get out of the RV.

Ennis steadied the cig in his right hand and nodded once, mind made up. They both struggled to their feet, pulled on their clothes, and hit the road.

First stop after the drive up to Lake Mead was a bait and tackle shop. They needed Nevada licenses, but not poles, 'cause Ennis, God bless him, was worried about goin' anywhere with his fishin' buddy without fishin' poles lest someone notice, so he'd thrown some gear into his truck before they'd left Riverton. It'd sat in there forgot, like so much fishing gear over so many years, until this moment. Jack wandered into the cooler section to buy a six pack and a couple pre-made sandwiches.

Once they were out in the open air, Jack stopped an' looked around like he was hearin' something.

"Whut?" asked Ennis

"Ya' know, friend," a wind had whipped up and Jack had to raise his voice to be heard over it, "we ain't gonna catch no bass this time a year without renting a boat, goin' out in the channel or somethin'."

"Huh?"

"It's the middle of the goddamn winter!" More quietly, he added, "Fish got more sense'n us."

Jack hadn't intended it as a joke, rather a complaint about the weather and the general state of affairs that seemed to always drive him n' Ennis together in the coldest seasons, even though it wasn't too cold here in Nevada, but out of nowhere Ennis cracked a big smile and started laughing, laughing like he was nineteen again. Jack saw an' watched an' drank it in like it was fine whiskey you didn't want to shoot. Before long, Jack couldn't help himself and he started laughing as well.

"You think you're a comedian, outta go on a tour," Ennis started walkin' towards the truck again, but he was shakin' his head.

"Yeah, I'll go on tour, just soon's you agree ta be my groupie." Jack was talkin' low now and they were back to the truck. Ennis went around to the driver's side, but not before he shot Jack a warning look. Jack saw it an' grinned, knowing Ennis had caught his meaning.

Inside the truck, sunlight filtered through the window and heated the bench seat like summer. Jack rolled down the window and asked, "So, how about that boat?"

"Mmmm," Ennis started the truck and hesitated in answering. Jack instinctively knew Ennis was trying to find the words to say no. "Seem's awful expensive, bud."

"Well, I got that covered. I'm not asking you for the money, just whether you want to do it."

Ennis wiggled in his seat a little bit like a kid pinned down by Aunt Edna at Christmas. "'S not that I don't, but I don't feel right you payin' for everythin--" He sounded angry.

"Consider it a loan, then."

Ennis raised his voice to continue over Jack's interruption, "An' it seems like there might be other things you'll be needin' your money for. This whole trip..."

They sat in utter silence then, the engine idling as Jack grappled with Ennis's meaning. Ennis sat frozen. Jack couldn't understand... "What the hell are you talkin' about?"

"Mmmm, never mind." Ennis looked into his lap, put the truck in gear, and squealed out of the parking spot he took off so fast. Maybe Ennis thought all his fears and bad feelings could be left behind if he ignored them, didn't speak their names and drove away fast enough. Maybe he thought he could lose them.

In the end, Jack didn't pay Ennis's complaints any mind. Under the auspices of just wantin' ta see how much they were, Jack had Ennis pull over at a marina they passed with every secret intention of renting a bass boat. And he did. Ennis was pissed, spat on the ground, but Jack shrugged, "I've got a boat an' I'm goin' out on it. You can stay on the shore waitin' for me if that's how you wanna spend your day."

"You ain't takin' my tackle."

"That's fine. I've got a six pack. I'll sit out there, have a real nice day."

Ennis cursed beneath his breath and helped Jack haul his crap to the little boat christened with only a number-letter combination. It hadn't been all that expensive, actually-- cheaper than he'd expected, an' he wished he could tell Ennis that-- but Jack knew better than to bring up money again today.

They sat in the sunlight on that boat all day long, Jack soon realizing that he'd made a mistake only buying the one six pack. The day was fair and the sun was bright but the air comin' off the water was cool, and Jack was chilled most of the day, though he didn't say so. They ate sandwiches when they got hungry (though Jack's stomach was still bothering him). And they fished, keeping the line in the water and hoping for the best.

Neither one of them caught a damn thing.

As Jack turned the boat back towards shore, her prow cut through the wavering liquid gold of the sunset on the water. He shook his head and grumped, "From now on if you or I want fish, I'm goin' to the damned store an' buyin' one."

"Hmph," was Ennis's only response before they went back to the RV and called it a day.

When Jack woke the next morning, he found himself alone in the bed, Ennis sitting fully dressed at the kitchen table. His hands were steepled together, his chin tucked down to his chest but movin' in silent conversation with himself.

Jack groaned as he got up, feeling unusually stiff. Ennis jumped at the sound, lookin' nervous like he thought his mind was going to be read and he didn't want anyone to know what was on it.

"Ennis?"

"Yup. I'm jus'..." He got up and moved to the kitchen, all nerves.

When Jack stood, his enthusiasm to see Ennis was more than evident in the confines of the shorts he slept in. He started to turn towards Ennis, thought better of it, opting to relieve himself instead. No one was crazy enough to challenge an angry grizzly bear.

Ennis made a small breakfast, setting down buttered bread an' coffee when Jack got out of the cramped bathroom. Jack thought it was just as well since his stomach was a little on edge and that breakfast yesterday had landed on it a little too hard. Maybe Ennis had noticed. As Jack sat down and dug into his raw toast, Ennis leaned back and drank his coffee in silence, lookin' out the window to the desert. Finally he spoke.

"Looks like a good day for ridin'."

Jack mistook it as conversation at first. He nodded through a bite and surveyed the sky through the window. It looked ta be about forty, maybe gonna get up ta fifty, and the sky was spotted with clouds. "Be better if it were sunny," Jack answered.

"Well, but it ain't."

Jack shrugged and reached for his coffee, only glancing up at Ennis in passing to see that Ennis was staring intently his way. Jack put down the bread, then the coffee. "Are you saying you want to go riding, Ennis?"

Ennis looked down, then towards the window, everywhere but at Jack. He cleared his throat but didn't answer immediately. Jack loaned him the time, and was rewarded when Ennis asked, "How far away does this friend of yours live?"

Now it was Jack's turn to sit back and watch Ennis. They stayed that way, Ennis's head down, though he sneaked glances up at Jack under his twisted brow, until Jack said, "You don't gotta do this, you know. You don't have to prove anything to me."

"I ain't doin' it to prove--"

"Well then why are you doin' it?"

"'Cause I want to go ridin'. Why don't you ever let me finish a goddamn sentence?"

"Just that? You want to go riding?"

"Yeah. That so hard to believe, Jack Twist?"

Jack shook his head and stood, storming towards the kitchen. Maybe Ennis wasn't even bein' honest with himself, but no way he just wanted to ride.

Before Jack could move far from the table, though, Ennis called out to him. "Jack?" Jack turned, Ennis sounding like such a lost child in that moment. "Can't we just go on out there an' get this over with?"

Jack was poised to fight, trying to find words to rebuke Ennis with when Ennis's words sunk all the way in and Jack realized he was lying to himself as well. Maybe he was still waiting for Ennis to prove things ta him. Maybe Ennis could see that, just like Jack could see Ennis's paranoia better than Ennis could. Ennis was desperate to get over the thing he thought divided him an' Jack, like Jack was desperate to break through what he saw tearing them apart. Jack nodded, trying to hide the tears in his eyes even as his heart revved up to 'bout seventy miles per hour. "Yeah, Ennis. Let's go riding. Not nothing else, just riding." Jack moved to put on clothes while Ennis cleaned up from breakfast.
 
 
Current Location: St. Paul, MN
Current Mood: groggygroggy
Current Music: The Deadliest Catch
 
 
 
torry28torry28 on April 9th, 2008 07:36 am (UTC)
I'm so happy to see this chapter, Ennis and Jack still have a lot of issues to work out, I hope the trip to see someone who was in Jacks life won't break them. I know Jack is ill and Ennis is trying his best but something has to give soon so they can spend what time the have loving instead of always
hurting each other.
Thanks for this.
And what does it mean "Its better if were not friends?"
Torry
katecaton on April 9th, 2008 08:15 am (UTC)
I'm so pleased to see a new chapter, thank you for continuing with this. I am going to read it properly now, and enjoy,
Thank you planetgal,
Kate
sweetjesweetje on April 9th, 2008 09:34 am (UTC)
I think that, no matter where they go, they will run into someone Jack knew in the past, and I can only hope that they can get past that and head toward the future with each other. This is a step in the right direction with Ennis wanting to prove to Jack that he trusts him with their relationship.
Thank you for this wonderful chapter. I'm looking forward to your next update. : )
Debra
juseptwistjuseptwist on April 9th, 2008 01:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you,planetgal, for this chapter.Today has been a great day. :)
Teritmn1966 on April 9th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
I can't get over your characterizations of Ennis and Jack. I can picture them just as you've written. The humor, the friendship, the anger, the love and the heartache. It's all there and it's beautiful.

Thank you so much for this update. It was so very much worth the wait!

Teri
initwithu on April 9th, 2008 05:00 pm (UTC)
So glad to see this
I am so happy to read an update, but very worried about Jack's stomach pains.

Every chapter of yours makes me better in my own relatonship. I loved this picture of Jack showing the small things he knows about Ennis and helping him in this small way:
"Jack opened the brochure and held it up, knowing Ennis could see it better from where he was standing than from up close".
Thank you!
Jessica
midget_sizemidget_size on April 9th, 2008 07:07 pm (UTC)
Ahhh, yay! I'm so happy for this! Except that stomach pain of Jack's is starting to worry me. I love their interactions so much. You've got them just perfect. ♥
dreamy40dreamy40 on April 9th, 2008 07:56 pm (UTC)
They feel so real. I am really glad to see them back. Are we going to be seeing them regularly? Do I ask too much?
el_wingel_wing on April 9th, 2008 08:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks for updating. This has been a day for them! I about jumped out of my skin when I saw yours updated too. And it was incredible. I love how Jack just keeps at Ennis to talk to him-- that OS Jack. And Ennis. He can't get over his jealously (and yes, accepting what Jack is-- because then he'd have to accept what he is).

Thanks for the update!
shieldmaid1 on April 9th, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)
I really like this story, though it's difficult to read knowing Jack's illness and the tough time they always have communicating with each other. Thanks for updating. ;)
annabuffyannabuffy on April 9th, 2008 08:40 pm (UTC)
It's so nice to see a new chapter of this story. Jack's stomach pains are worrying. Ennis seems to be trying to move beyond Jack being with other men. Maybe he does understand that Jack loves him most. Hope to see more soon.
theothercasshopinchickcas on April 9th, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
Im so happy to see an update! Great chapter, but jacks stomach pains are worrying me. Hope we see a new update soon. Thanks for sharing
pearl_1 on April 9th, 2008 11:14 pm (UTC)
YES
Jess.... I did a happy dance when I saw this update !!!

Great chapter honey. I, like everyone else, am worried about Jack's stomach issues.
The boys still have issues to work out.
I hope Jack will be around a long, long time !!!

Karen
testa_duratesta_dura on April 9th, 2008 11:17 pm (UTC)
Some times it seems like they really have come sooo very far and other times it seems like they've only taken a few baby steps.

I never read the "spoiler" but I just know that stomach thing is Jack's cancer coming back and I'm as depressed as if he were (really) a RL friend.

Thanks for the update but now I'm on pins and needles.

Tes
acht_achtacht_acht on April 10th, 2008 12:19 am (UTC)
Gosh - I´ve been waiting so long for this story to continue, and now I´m to tired to read it tonight! Still, m happy .. Clara
camillarcamillar on April 10th, 2008 01:01 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for the update! I, like alot of other people it seems, am worried about the stomach pain. I hope Jack will be OK :(

Camilla