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07 February 2008 @ 08:06 pm
Higher Education: Chapter 16  
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. 100% hot off the press, don't burn yourselves-- or me, 'cause I didn't even proofread it. No smex in this chapter, but there'll be something in the next, promise.
Word Count: 2601
View All Chapters

Chapter 16

That wasn't when things got bad. Ennis got through his programming error and careened straight through the beginning of his classes without any worries. Greg put him on a new project with Johann and Liz, and it was new and interesting for Ennis to work as a part of a group. He'd never liked teamwork, but he'd never been part of a team where he was the dead weight dragging them down. He wasn't trying to be, he was just trying to learn, and Liz and Johann had plenty of patience with him. He didn't mind the group work much when it was with a real smart group.

The real problems started about a week into that project, when his daily e-mail from Jack wasn't how it usually was. Jack normally sent good news or casual whining that made Ennis feel like he was at home. Ennis liked to imagine they were sitting at the kitchen table just talking about their day. Well, Ennis talked about his day. Jack usually bitched about his own, mostly.

This one was different, though.

ennis,

I been doing a lot of thinking. You know, Teng and I were talking a few weeks ago, and since then I been making new friends in my new classes, and i also got the old ones. Teng was like, what are you going to do be a secret with Ennis forever? Well what are we going to do, ennis? You propared to tell all your friends that you aren't who they think, that you really like to go home and sleep with a guy, that you're all gay and... shit, i don't know. I don't know what to do. I've been trying not to panic about this, but it's like I need to talk to someone about it. Teng is a good friend, but he's not like he's about to give me any advice. If anything sometimes I feel like he gets amusement out of seeing me uneasy about all this, but i think he's a good guy.

What i'm trying to ask is, how long are we a secret? Forever?

there's this group on campus here for people like us, for gay people I mean. When I first thought of that word weeks ago and myself, I thought they didn't go together and never would, but i've been trying to use it more to myself, used it a couple times to Teng. You think i could? I think i could. I mean, i've got friends who i think are real friends, and i wanna go to these meetings and see if they can give me some advice.

Don't mean to be going through all of this when you are not here. i don't know, maybe you have been ging through something in germany too. We dno't talk about it.

i don't know what to do.

jack


The first thing Ennis noticed about the e-mail was that it was the first in several weeks in which Jack hadn't said something, anything, to encourage Ennis-- something about love or being together or waiting for him to get home, anything. Ennis felt a headache blossoming at the base of his skull.

The next thing he thought of was what the e-mail didn't say, but danced around. Jack had all but said he was ready to be publicly gay, and the thought made Ennis's stomach clench violently. He couldn't say why. Here in Germany people knew, but not in Wyoming. Here in Germany it seemed like most people thought it was okay, but that was for sure not the case in Wyoming. For a moment he felt he was in a free fall, because if Jack did anything publicly, Ennis would be caught in the repercussions. He felt anger start to snake up from his belly.

He probably should have waited until it had dissipated before hitting the reply button. He probably should have just called instead. But Ennis had come up under his older brother, been taught to swing hard and fast and get it over with, so before he knew what he was doing, he had hit the send button. He stormed away from his computer, hungry and in search of dinner, hoping it wasn't meatloaf night once again.

~~~~~
Jack sat the computer. He didn't quite know what to do, having never been in this situation before. He wondered for a moment if he could reach back in time and swipe his last e-mail from its flow, but he also knew he wouldn't if he could. If he couldn't share the things that troubled him with his boyfriend, who the hell was he supposed to share them with.

Whatever his emotions were, they must have shown on his face, 'cause Teng walked through the room to get something off the coffee table but paused by Jack. "You ok?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah. No problem," Jack lied.

Teng nodded and went back to his room. Jack watched him carry a book under his arm. Homework, that's what he should be doing. He didn't know how he was supposed to concentrate on that shit now, though.

He turned back to the screen and reread the e-mail, hoping maybe it would say something different this time, but it didn't.

Jack,

If you want what you do to be known in Wyoming, you're asking for trouble. People know here in Germany, but this is a different place. You go ahead and jump off that cliff, but if you do, you should know I won't be coming with you. You can be gay in your own apartment, but it won't be in mine.

Let me know if I need to find someone else to sublet to.

Ennis del Mar


Jack stared forever, until the screen had burned a white square onto his eyes. That didn't really matter, though, because the words were burned in deeper already. Jack wasn't going to cry, he wasn't, he wasn't.

The shower started up and Jack knew he was alone. He lasted about thirty seconds before the sob-- proving itself more powerful than his will-- escaped on its own with a hot sprinkling of tears. What could have caused this, how they could be here-- the sense of it defied him. How was he supposed to answer this e-mail? How could he answer?

Jack got up and kicked the edge of the sofa, hissing in pain when the hard wooden frame kicked back. he bee-lined it to the fridge to grab a cold beer, and sought his bed after that. Tonight he was just going to try and sleep the e-mail away. Tomorrow could fucking deal with its own fucking self, and Ennis del Mar with it.

~~~~~~
"Party?" Ennis frowned.

"Just a little going away party," Johann clarified as if it made some kind of difference in Ennis's mind.

"Who's going away?" He frowned deeper, smelling a skunk here.

"Sam."

"Who's that?"

"Another student here. You don't know him," Yusef added, feeling a need to involve himself in any conversation, even though he was working quietly on the other side of the room.

"If I don't know him, why should I go?"

"Oh man, that's lame," Yusef answered, as if it explained everything.

"Lots of people going don't know him," Liz offered. "That's not the point. It's a party. You're expected to come."

Her statement made no sense to Ennis, and that fact must have been written plainly on his face, because Liz sighed in exasperation. "Look, if you're going to stay anywhere near astronomy in your work, you've got to relax and go to parties."

"Yeah," Yusef laughed, "astronomers are like the jocks of physics."

Ennis turned to glower at Yusef, remembering their time in D.C. He didn't doubt that Yusef, at least, believed himself the captain of some invisible football team.

"What he means," Johann's soothing accent busted in, "is that astronomy is a small community and a lot of business is accomplished in social settings. You're always on a job interview, and many people will think more highly of you if you fit in with the crowd and are social." With a pointed look at Yusef, he added, "But not too much so."

Ennis had to bite down on a laugh, even in his present gloomy disposition.

"So you're coming?" Liz asked.

Ennis just shrugged, seeing by now that he was cornered and wasn't going to be given a choice.

~~~~~
Jack slipped into the back of the room a good ten minutes after the meeting started. His intent to come here had been fueled by Ennis's bigoted and heartless reaction rather than squashed, as Ennis would have hoped. Still, he felt like a thief, looking carefully in all directions before stealing into the back of the room, head ducked. A woman was up front talking about the group budget like it was any other student group. Her eyes briefly flashed to him as he came in, but, almost as if she sensed that he didn't want to be seen, she avoided glancing in his direction for the rest of her accounting of the group's funds before she sat back down.

"Alright," another woman spoke up, but didn't stand, when the first woman sat. "We have seven hundred dollars this semester. What do we want to do with it?"

Jack watched, nearly mesmerized by the normalcy of it all. They talked about maybe going bowling, or having a party. There seemed to be a lot of support for that last 'cause these kids felt like they couldn't go to normal college parties and be themselves with their boyfriends and girlfriends. Jack saw the point. If everyone else got to get drunk and suck face all night in some trashed living room, why not him too? There was only about twenty people there, but that would sure enough be a good small party, and maybe some of them had people, like Jack had, who didn't come. He was glad about what he saw. He'd been worried it'd be a kind of place for people to hook up.

After they talked about the social stuff, they talked about other activities. One girl knew about an AIDS walk in Denver and was wondering if they could get a van to go down there and participate. She seemed real firm and chocked up about the idea, and for the first time Jack sat back and realized that AIDS existed and was in his world. He didn't think he or Ennis had much to worry about, but Jack hadn't known Ennis's past that first time. The thought was sobering as he listened to the girl talking about where they could stay, maybe they could camp. She had such emotion in her voice that he knew AIDS was more real in her world than it was in his. He wondered about her. Madeline was her name, and she had close-cropped black hair that wove itself into tight curls, looking like an Afro, but on a white girl, 'cause she was a white as a sheet of paper.

They must have decided something about the trip while Jack was distracted, 'cause now the woman who seemed to be in charge-- the one who had been sitting earlier-- was bringing out something.

Jack thought he was too lucky when he first saw what it was, but a second glance proved he was not mistaken-- food! There was a plate of finger sandwiches, one of cookies, and a couple two-liters with cups. He hadn't realized he was in for free dinner when he'd come, confused and mostly worried about what he would find. But these kids were just like any other kids on campus, and he was ashamed that he'd ever thought differently. This was the first time Jack had ever been even slightly active in any student group, so when people started wandering up to the food, he went ahead and invited himself to do the same.

~~~~~
Ennis groaned and slumped down in the chilly late-winter air. He leaned hard against the stair railing of the brick townhouse, knowing that once again he'd drunk too much. It wasn't a hobby, just something he did when he was in emotional distress, and it seemed like he'd spent most of his time in Germany in some form of emotional distress.

"Hey, you okay man?" Ennis looked over and, once the world stopped spinning, he saw Yusef's head hanging above him. "You don't look so good." Before Ennis answered, though in truth he never planned to answer, Yusef had disappeared back inside the door.

By the time it opened again, the fresh air had had a positive effect already. He gazed over towards the door, expecting to find Yusef again, or someone he didn't know simply leaving the party, but instead there was Liz, her wool coat pulled close around her. She frowned down at him for a while before actually sitting on the step next to him.

"Are you okay?" Her voice was soft and worried.

Ennis grunted.

"I'm sorry if we dragged you to this party when you didn't want to come."

He shook his head. "Didn't no one drag me."

She nodded and seemed to disappear further into her jacket, shivering.

Ennis wasn't sure where it came from, just lonely he guessed, but he suddenly became conscious of the six or seven inches between himself and Liz. He moved closer and draper an arm around her. She smiled up and thanked him with a wavering smile, but her gaze soon returned to the empty street in front of the house. Her thoughts were elsewhere, even Ennis could tell. She looked like she was in pain. It was by pure instinct that he leaned over and touched his lips to her hairline to leave something between a murmur and a kiss.

The ramifications were immediate, though. Liz froze and pulled away. The look she gave him as she looked up at him seemed to see right through him. Her mouth opened as if she were groping for words. It was a few moments before she found them.

"Ennis... Ennis, first of all, you're gay, unless you've forgotten!? Second of all, you're taken, and if Yusef's story is to be trusted, you're not just a little bit taken."

Ennis looked away and flushed bright red. He hadn't thought that whatever happened in D.C. would become the talk of the department, but in retrospect, a day never went by without rumors wafting through the room, so he should have realized... But if he had realized, likely he would never... And then he would have missed out on... Missed out that... time.

Ennis's eyes stung and his gut clenched. It wasn't just a friendly kiss he'd lain on Liz, and she'd known it. There was something more behind it, a neediness that Liz would not have been able to help. He didn't even know when the tears started falling, but he tried to clamp his fingers over his eyes to stop them, gasping for breath.

"Oh, shit. Honey..." Liz rubbed circles on his back. He wasn't even wearing a coat and he only now noticed the cold. "You must be really drunk, huh?" Her voice was full of pity, and she sounded like she was talking to a child, but for whatever reason it only made his tears fall faster. "Something wrong back home?" The only response he could muster was a gulp of air. "Oh man. Come on. Let's go back inside and get you some water."
 
 
Current Location: St. Paul, MN
Current Mood: productiveproductive
 
 
 
judy_blue_catjudy_blue_cat on February 8th, 2008 02:19 am (UTC)
Still reading, still enjoying. Did you get my "let me count the ways" feedback on that pink website, or did I post it in the wrong place?
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on February 9th, 2008 12:30 am (UTC)
I got it! Some of them were orphaned, but I found them :) Thank you.
★Mella★: BBM - Ennis lostschlopki on February 8th, 2008 02:29 am (UTC)
:(
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on February 9th, 2008 12:31 am (UTC)
Not to worry *hugs*
initwithu on February 8th, 2008 02:40 am (UTC)
Break my heart! Poor Jack, but also poor Ennis not knowing how to deal! I hope they talk very very soon.
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on February 9th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
Yeah, they are both in pain and confused, they just show it in very different ways. But it is a happy ending fic!
(no subject) - initwithu on February 9th, 2008 03:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
camillarcamillar on February 8th, 2008 02:42 am (UTC)
Oh man! Well at least Liz didn't reciprocate the kiss so that's something. But that email, god Ennis! Well, I know you've said this has a happy ending so I'll just hang on for that. I am so very glad you are updating this story! I absolutely love it!!!
Camilla
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on February 9th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
*blush* Thanks for reading & taking the time to comment!
adahleah: stormadahleah on February 8th, 2008 03:01 am (UTC)
Wow, That was some email. I hope they get to talk, or at least they get to talk to someone that can help them clarify their feelings. Good update!
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on February 9th, 2008 12:35 am (UTC)
Thank you! Another will be soon I hope.
bbmgirlfanbbmgirlfan on February 8th, 2008 03:22 am (UTC)
Thank god it was Liz and not Alma!

And both the email and the crying later seemed typically "Ennis". I'm glad Jack went to the meeting anyway. Good for him!

Great chapter!

Jeanine
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on February 9th, 2008 12:37 am (UTC)
Hi Jeanine!! Yeah! I wonder whether Jack would have gone if Ennis hadn't sent him the nasty e-mail, I don't think so. But he does need to learn a few things about what being who he is means-- and to find out it doesn't mean much. He already is who he is. Thanks for commenting, always.
Teritmn1966 on February 8th, 2008 03:32 am (UTC)
At least someone was using their head in Germany, and that was Liz.

Ennis needs to think before he acts. Poor Jack. I hope he doesn't do anything out of being hurt so bad. Couldn't really blame him though. Ennis pretty much told him they had to be a secret or he wasn't going to be in any relationship with Jack.

Thanks for the quick update.

Teri
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on February 9th, 2008 12:41 am (UTC)
Ennis runs full out on all roads, it doesn't give him much time to think things through ^^ Hopefully I can keep the quick updates coming. Thanks for reading.
(Deleted comment)
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on February 9th, 2008 12:47 am (UTC)
I think Jack will get some reassurance from the group :) Thanks for reading.
bbmbeliever on February 8th, 2008 03:50 am (UTC)
"Something wrong back home?" - the response should have been, "yeah, I'm an asshole." thanks for the update. angst for sure, but still so good.
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on February 9th, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)
LOL~! You're welcome :)
jt_dominguez on February 8th, 2008 04:21 am (UTC)
So apparently the sprint went well for you?

I haven't read the rest of Higher Education, but now I am intrigued to. It would probably make this even better, right? :-P
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on February 9th, 2008 12:52 am (UTC)
Heheee! Hi! Ack, this is by far not my best story. I posted it in between sprints, even ^^ But yes, I got 2000+ words out last night. The problem is that now I feel like I can slack, and before you know it I'm only writing by sprints :(

That's so awesome that you stopped by! I'll try to get back to your journal and return the favor.
samtyr: roadsamtyr on February 8th, 2008 04:22 am (UTC)
Oh good grief! It never fails to amaze me how *dumb* people can be at times. I can only hope that they will find a way to work around this and straighten things out again.
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on February 9th, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)
Hehe, I know how you feel. Thanks for reading!
sam_cdnjess_d_10 on February 8th, 2008 04:26 am (UTC)
Oh man, what a treat! And so soon after the last update! Plus, the hope of smex in the next chapter ... you spoil us!

"But Ennis had come up under his older brother, been taught to swing hard and fast and get it over with, so before he knew what he was doing, he had hit the send button. he stormed away from his computer, hungry and in search of dinner, hoping it wasn't meatloaf night once again."

Wow, so perfectly Ennis. Poor Jack. But it looks like he's beginning to feel some regret, so I'm hoping this leads so some reconciliation. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: you know your characters like you know yourself, and THIS is what keeps people reading, what makes you such a great writer. Your stories are gripping because your characters are complex and fully-realized.
And Jack attending a LGBT meeting interested me; I'll be looking forward to seeing where that goes.

-Sam
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on February 9th, 2008 12:56 am (UTC)
Yes, I'm trying to get a lot of writing done on this this month! Oh man, thanks for such high praise. Although I'm pretty sure I might know my characters better than I know myself, lol. Thank you so much.
bbmjack324 on February 8th, 2008 04:31 am (UTC)
No! This is awful. Poor Jack was trying to share his feeings and Ennis is so harsh: Let me know if I need to find someone else to sublet to.
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on February 9th, 2008 12:57 am (UTC)
Oh yeah, I know :( Silly Ennis. Thanks for reading!
my_lil_darlin: country cabinmy_lil_darlin on February 8th, 2008 04:50 am (UTC)
Angst! 2601 words of angst! I fuckin' LOVE angst! Squeeeee!

That email that Ennis sent to Jack? Holy crap, that was harsh. Wow. Poor Jack, he didn't deserve that. I was soooo happy he went to the GLBT meeting and found out he was a normal kid after all! Yayy!

And now Ennis drunk and crying and lonely and.... angst!!

More soon, I hope hope hope?? Loved this.
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on February 9th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC)
You know it! Thanks for the enthusiastic comment!!
bbm_lover on February 8th, 2008 05:47 am (UTC)
Oh my what was Ennis thinking. He is fearful of anyone knowing and his first reaction to hit back. Poor Jack, he didn't deserve that from Ennis. Glad to see Ennis is already regretting his actions from his reaction to Liz's question. Happy to see Jack going to the meeting to get the support he needs. Great update. Cant wait for the next one. Thanks for writing.
Jess
Bloody Jack Flint: InuYasha Startled Hushrhye on February 11th, 2008 01:32 am (UTC)
You're welcome, I hope the next one lived up to your expectations.