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30 October 2007 @ 02:56 pm
Higher Education: Chapter 14  
Title: Higher Education
Fandom: BBM
Rating: NC-17
Summary: This is an AU!AU featuring Jack and Ennis in the higher education setting. Happy ending.
Disclaimer: Not my characters, and I make no money from them.
AN: Unbeta'd.
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Chapter 14

Ennis dreamt that he was somewhere warm and safe, wonderful. A door opened and people were coming and going, but he was too wrapped up in Jack to notice. Someone was smoking something, but his nose simply buried itself more deeply into Jack's scent to edge away from the other sharp smell. A light went on, then got darker, but he hid his eyes in Jack's skin to block it out, to turn it the shade of golden-red that light exudes through skin. Whatever place it was, it was a place where he felt wonderful.

Ennis woke up as soon as the alarm buzzer sounded at seven in the morning. He didn't immediately know where he was, but he knew Jack was there with him, so he gripped more tightly to the warm body.

Jack made a groan in his throat. "Turn off that goddamn noise."

Ennis smiled and released Jack, twisting out of a tangle of blankets to move towards the alarm. That's right, they were in a hotel room at the AAS, and--

"Fuck!" Ennis hissed, jumping out of bed, before realizing he was stark naked and pulling some covers up over him. Yusef was passed out across his own bed, fully-dressed, along with three other people: two guys and one chick. They were all sleeping soundly. The girl was curled up in a little ball, clutching the pillow under her head. Her short, dark hair stood out against the whiteness of the sheets. A few beer bottles and some bottles of harder liquors stood proudly on the bedside table. Littered between the bottles, the stubs of a couple joints left ashen lines on the marble. Ennis slammed the alarm off and covered himself with a pillow as he ran for the bathroom, not the least bit surprised that the alarm hadn't woken Yusef and his friends.

Ennis leaned heavily against the door to catch his breath before gulping hasty mouthfuls of water. He wasn't sure what bothered him the most: their lack of decorum at a scientific conference, the fact that Yusef hadn't asked him if it was alright to bring people back here, or the fact that all of those people had been privy to the view of Jack and Ennis naked and together in bed. They'd been under the blankets, but the meaning of their post-coital embrace couldn't be mistaken, not even under the haze of pot and drink, Ennis was sure. He knew that ought to bother him most of all.

But somehow it didn't. I did bother him, but his real anger wasn't from his shame, but from the fact that no one had asked him if it'd be ok to have a party here. They'd put up a sign, hadn't they? Yusef didn't seem to care. He should a had the common fucking decency to care when a man wanted some time alone, or not alone, as the case may be. Though Ennis had to admit, Yusef did have a right to come back to his own room at the end of the night. But drunk and high and carting a group of people? Though Ennis would be a shitload more embarrassed if Yusef had come home alone and sober, maybe. At least this way they'd both made some mistakes last night, one way or another.

Ennis took the opportunity of being naked in the bathroom to shower. He wrapped himself in a towel and retrieved his clothes quickly and self-consciously from a room full of still-sleeping forms. Once dressed, he roused Jack. Jack mumbled and blinked at the party in the other bed, but didn't say anything, preparing himself for the day with a grogginess Ennis couldn't share in, Ennis's own adrenaline racing through his system with the power of a thousand cups of coffee. He was remembering his dream in snippets and undercurrents, understanding slowly that it was not a dream, but a half-awake memory of the party that had happened here last night while he and Jack had curled sexually around each other in a room full of people they were going to want to work with for the rest of their careers. Sickness lurched up from his stomach, late and unexpected.

Eventually Jack finished dressing and Ennis pushed him into the hall. "Jack..." But it was plain to see they couldn't talk there, in that openness.

"What?" Jack was looking up at him with clouded, innocent eyes.

Ennis shook his head and walked away, tucking his black polo shirt into his khaki pants.

"You know they didn't see anything, Ennis." Jack shoved his own hands deep into the pockets of his own khakis. He was wearing a green sweater with a white shirt underneath, and the color combination made him look like the outside, the wild land Ennis had known as a little boy, and not these stuffy hotel hallway and science lectures. Ennis suddenly felt he couldn't breath.

"They saw enough."

Jack shrugged and made no more of it as they walked to the elevators. The clock was ticking on their work day.

Once in the glass enclosure, a thought occurred to Ennis. "Think we should have woken them up?"

"Shit no. They need to sleep that off."

"They got to go to the talks, though."

"No one's taking roll."

Ennis nodded. He would have liked to sleep in some morning, himself. He didn't think he should; his advisor had paid good money for him to come all the way out here to talk hard science, and wasting that money by sleepin' in bed wasn't right.

They got more bagels and browsed more posters. Ennis envied Jack's ease in talking to the professors. He could always waltz right up and ask them about their research. Ennis edged close enough to tell that Jack's current conversation, on whether brown dwarfs could be dark matter, was not in the least simplistic. Jack might not get the best grades, but damn! Ennis's jaw dropped and he beamed with pride at how smart Jack was at the same time he blushed with shame over not having realized it before.

"Think you'd still be able to detect some percentage. I mean, say they're real cool, they should still emit in the infrared," Jack was saying.

"What if they're real cool?" said a tall professor with gangly arms, a tuft of blond hair, and smiling eyes.

"Still, there'd be some distribution around impossibly-cool, yeah? So you'd see some percentage as being warm enough to see, and that distribution would be a Gaussian so you'd know how many there are..." Jack shrugged, his eyes wide with insecurity, ready to be shot down. Ennis's heart ached.

The professor grinned. "Yeah, and it's just not enough, though most brown dwarfs aren't found that way. Kelu-1 was found in a wide-field survey like that..." the professor pointed back towards his poster, and Ennis found himself stepping closer to see what was being pointed to.

The professor looked up when Ennis's shadow fell on him. "Hi there." The older man smiled politely, but went back to explaining his poster to Jack as if Jack were the important one here. Ennis hadn't ever thought about it, but in scientific settings, he was used to being addressed, Jack watching him. This was different, backwards.

Jack asked questions. The professor answered, addressing them both, but it was Jack's questions he was answering, and Ennis didn't even understand the questions well, let alone the answers. Jack was asking about finding planets around other stars, as best as Ennis could understand, using interferometry or coronagraphs versus searching the spectra of stars for blueshifts and redshifts from the orbit of a hot, big planet. He was using words like "hot Jupiter" and "extinction." Ennis's eyes glazed over.

His mind snapped back to when he heard Jack's next question. "So, uh, you work back at the University of Wyoming? I'm a student there. So is Ennis here."

"Yeah? In astronomy?"

"Yeah. And physics. Ennis is just in physics." Jack nodded his head towards Ennis, and the way it was said made Ennis feel inadequate. "Though he researches astronomy-related things," Jack amended. "GR, mostly."

"What do you research?" The professor couldn't give a crap what the silent boy who hadn't given a shit about his poster researched.

"Uh, I don't... I just work in the dining hall." Jack smiled like an idiot.

The professor lit up with a genuine grin and grabbed a card out of his breast pocket. "Why don't you send me an e-mail when we get back. I have some new data coming in and I'm sure there's an undergrad project hiding in there somewhere."

Jack beamed. "Thanks."

"No problem."

Jack nodded and walked away with a spring in his step. Ennis couldn't help but smile in pride. He'd watched the performance and the best part was, there hadn't been one. Jack had been really interested in what the prof had to say. If he did research for that man, no doubt he'd be happy doing it.

"Well," Ennis smiled over at Jack.

Jack smiled back. "Yeah. Hell yeah!"

"It'll pay better than the dining hall."

"Get me into grad school, too. Hey, look at this! The Belief Structures of Physics and Astronomy Majors. What the hell. They studied what people believe? Why?"

Luckily the owner of the poster wasn't around. Ennis shrugged and stepped closer, skimming the poster. "Says the same kind of people are likely to be physics majors, not that bein' in physics makes 'em that way."

"Yeah, well."

"You n' me couldn't be more different."

Jack laughed. "Maybe they meant that everyone in physics is, you know..."


"Alright, alright. Do you have any sessions you wanted to see? Maybe we can learn to compromise so I don't have to sit through your boring stuff."

Ennis thought of protesting, of insisting that he'd come here to learn about his field more and he should be doing that, but he though of Yusef hungover in bed and figured that he couldn't be in more trouble than Yusef if his advisor found out. Besides, he'd been thinking of Jack as just his guest, but Jack had just shown Ennis that he had just as much right to be here. Ennis was ashamed that he hadn't seen that before, but now he did, so he would do better.

"Yeah, let me see. Which ones do you want to go to?" They hovered over the same program, pointing to sessions, until they'd made a decision of which to go to together. Their second day was even more enjoyable than their first together.

The rest of the week flew in a dizzy blur: posters, sessions, conversations, questions, invited speakers. They managed to grab dinner together each time, though in the end they never wandered from the sports bar. It was convenient and cheap and good enough. When Ennis had his poster session, Jack flitted about reading the others, checking back now and then to see how Ennis was doing. Ennis seemed to have plenty of questions, though he looked uncomfortable as fuck fielding them. That put him on par with about half the scientists there, scientists not having an extreme tendency to be social butterflies and all. They skipped the ball; to expensive, and neither had the clothes for it anyway. Yusef went, and they used the time to deepen their intimacy beyond the half hour they'd been getting here-and-there for a couple days. Ennis's per diem stretched to accommodate Jack, though Jack was pretty sure there was something illegal about doing that. He wasn't about to complain, since the alternative was not eating at all.

And, like that, all too soon, the conference was coming to a close. The lobby was filled with scientists chatting and checking out, talking about conferences and meetings where they would see each other next, inviting each other to give talks or joking about some mutual acquaintances they were likely to run into.

Jack and Ennis both sat silently, stark contrast to the buzz of voices, on a bench in the lobby. Their bags were packed and in front of them, the intimate goodbyes they could steal already exchanged. They'd checked out and killed time, but Jack's plane was leaving first and he couldn't put off his departure any more if he had any hope of wanting to get home. Truthfully, he would have stayed in D.C. if it meant he could stay with Ennis, but it didn't. Ennis was leaving in five hours anyway, and Jack did not have the money to move his flight for such a small reason.

"Four more months. Damn," Jack breathed.

"Yeah." Ennis sounded as breathlessly blue as Jack felt. That helped a bit.

"Well. Maybe we can do this again next year," Jack smiled.

Ennis tried his best, a warm flicker spreading across his lips. "Maybe."

Jack stood and grabbed his bad, checked that his wallet was on him, sighed. "See you in May, I guess."

Ennis stood and nodded, but he seemed to be shielding his eyes from the room. He didn't want anyone to see the sadness delineated there, Jack guessed. He understood all too well.

But there was nothing left to do, so he grabbed his bag and walked, one foot in front of the other, into the chilly afternoon air. He was on his way home.
Current Location: Minneapolis, MN
Current Music: Stabbing Westward - So Wrong
joetheonejoetheone on October 30th, 2007 08:35 pm (UTC)
I'm sad
4 months apart how can they survive it I guess will power is the way. I liked how Ennis sort of forgot that Jack was smart also and knowledgeable in his own area of interest. It is good to keep up with things like this with your partner sometimes we take them for granted for the great people they are. Joe
gres1 on October 30th, 2007 09:30 pm (UTC)
This is too hard to do it, keeping a relatioship under these circumstances and seeing each other every four or five or more months but when there is love everything is possible i guess. I have been there myself in my personal life and the relationship survived and i'm happy that i tried and we made it cus otherwise i wouldn't and couldn't be as happy as i'm right now sharing my life with the person i felt and still feel to be the one for me.
jennastsjennasts on October 30th, 2007 10:34 pm (UTC)
Hi! I haven't read this chapter yet, I'll do that this evening, but just wanted to say how very, very happy I am that you are continuing with Higher Education. Thanks so much!

By the way, I read a part of Friends and Lovers the other day and turned green with envy over some of your phrasing. Your writing just gets better and better....
crackcoffeecrackcoffee on October 31st, 2007 12:00 am (UTC)
I'm happy to see a new HE chapter. Thank you.
And I'm impressed by your knowledge about astronomy and physics, I don't understand anything about that stuff.
sam_cdnjess_d_10 on October 31st, 2007 12:08 am (UTC)
I started reading this fic on ff.net and I can't remember if I ever left comments. Anyways, I just want to let you know, I think this is one of very few really successful BBM AU!AUs, and that I have been thoroughly enjoying it from the beginning. You've weaved narrative points from the canon in seamlessly, and you've stayed true to Jack's and Ennis's characters. Though their educations have made their lives very different from in canon, I feel you've stayed very close to the childhoods and characters from the canon.

Four months away from each other sounds very long, but maybe you'll find a way to bring them together again before that time is up ... right? Either way, I'll keep reading. Looking forward to the next installment.

sweetjesweetje on October 31st, 2007 12:15 am (UTC)
It was a great trip for Jack and Ennis, though it ended too soon. And with the exception of their privacy being interrupted with Yusef's little party, they were happy to be together for that brief time.

I love reading this story. I'm looking forward to your next update already. : )
bbmbeliever on October 31st, 2007 12:58 am (UTC)
wah!! thanks for the update though. i cant wait until may. hope story may comes sooner in real time.
coffeecat33 on October 31st, 2007 01:52 am (UTC)
Thanks for the update. You know I always enjoy reading this story.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket L.
jennydcfjennydcf on October 31st, 2007 02:56 am (UTC)
I really like this
Ennis is seeing Jack in a completely different light--not struggling, but able to impress a professor and in command of his subject. He's not just a guest or a freeloader. (But Ennis is feeding him, even if "no more sports bar" didn't quite work.:-)) And he's had a foretaste of living with Jack in an equal relationship, I think.

I'm not really sure what effect being seen has had on him. He's worried and ashamed, but it doesn't seem that Yusef made much of it or that it really shadowed the rest of his week. I want to think that he's realized, as he did when the other students in Berlin found out he was gay, that it didn't result in catastrophe--but I'm not sure.

Sadly, it's also very much like one a those fishing trips--never enough time, and having to go their different ways at the end. I like the references to their first parting, the parting after the reunion, and the parting after the divorce.

Jack's life is certainly going to change, what with a new job. Will there also be new temptations, I wonder?
my_lil_darlin: leaves and rainmy_lil_darlin on October 31st, 2007 04:36 am (UTC)
I've missed this story and was psyched to see this new chapter go up. I love Ennis's pride in Jack, and how they encouraged each other to use their week wisely, making contacts and learning stuff. Way cool. But the good-bye was sooooo sad. Long distance relationship SUCK, but I have high hopes for this one.
MadBottomsmadbottoms on October 31st, 2007 06:32 am (UTC)
Oh god another 4 months apart. Poor guys.

Look forward to catching up with the guys again in the next part.

caij on October 31st, 2007 09:21 am (UTC)
Thanks for another update of HE.Great read,thank you.Can't wait for more of it.But I will :-))

Liefs Carolien
★Mella★: BBM - tight hug *love*schlopki on October 31st, 2007 11:15 am (UTC)
*aw* *sobs*

i'm so happy for them though, what a wonderful time they had ♥ and i love how ennis looks differently on jack now (not sure if that's a right english sentence)..all proud =)

4 more months apart :( it's breaking my heart..and i guess there will be some more angst?

i love this and i'm so happy when you update =)
camillarcamillar on October 31st, 2007 12:06 pm (UTC)
Yea! So glad this updated! I love this story! Thank you so much!
ramona4jakeramona4jake on October 31st, 2007 03:26 pm (UTC)
It must be hard to leave again...but this kind of things makes a relation stronger ! And Ennis needs to loosen up a little, but I'm sure that his love for Jack will prevail !
Thank you for up-date !
lolitaraylolitaray on November 1st, 2007 01:39 am (UTC)
This was beautifully written, and i love Ennis's journey that he is making along the path.

And it's going to be a long four months but at least he knows that Jack feels the same way and it's going to continue.

bbmgirlfanbbmgirlfan on November 1st, 2007 03:45 am (UTC)
Awww! That ending was so sad.

I liked the "dream" that turned out to be real. So often, you wake up to realize it didn't happen.

I worry that it could become a problem that Yusef's friends saw them.

How cool that Ennis was able to see Jack's intelligence and that Jack could end up with a much better job working with the professor.

Great chapter!

landofthedragonlandofthedragon on November 1st, 2007 11:14 am (UTC)
I've really missed this story so nice to see an update. Jack and Ennis caught in bed together, Ennis almost taking it in his stride. Just as well Yusef didn't seem to mind, guess they both broke the rules though. Jack really seemed to shine at the conference with his natural blue eyed charm, but instead of Ennis feeling jealous or threatened all he felt was proud, how noble of him a true definition of his love for Jack. The science stuff I know absolutely nothing about You're obviously very knowledgeable no-one could fail to be impressed. Hope their 4 mth long separation isn't too hard on them.
Great writing as always.L
rosietrosiet on November 1st, 2007 11:24 am (UTC)
I'm late commenting, but I loved seeing this new chapter up. It's such a shame they didn't get too much privacy, but at least they were together. It was good for Ennis to remember Jack is clever too, and it was great for Jack's confidence to recieve that interest from the professor.I hope he does well, while Ennis is away.

Awww...four months. How sad.
shieldmaid1 on November 1st, 2007 05:21 pm (UTC)
Brilliant--I love this story and have really missed it. Thanks.
sytle on November 3rd, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC)

Thank you I love this story,these two are just made for each other.
Thank you

eandjeandj on November 3rd, 2007 03:03 pm (UTC)
One of my favorite stories.
Yay for updating.
Loved this: "but damn! Ennis's jaw dropped and he beamed with pride at how smart Jack was at the same time he blushed with shame over not having realized it before."
Thank you
gr lewisgrlewis on November 5th, 2007 10:09 pm (UTC)
wow, it was great to see jack in his element. and with ennis, if only for a week. looking forward to ennis' homecoming.....and just looking forward to more developments. gr
Gina: awakejakeslover1221 on December 30th, 2007 08:19 pm (UTC)
this is deff one of my fav AU of the boys, i havent been back to the whole broke fandom...went on to greener pastures lol but i saw that you arent going to be writing anymore. thats so sad i really enjoyed this. hope you had a wonderfull holiday and happy new yr 80)

whitelily59 on April 10th, 2008 01:18 pm (UTC)
This Yusef character, he is a student who originally came from ??
An Arabic country no less...

Thanks Jess,