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27 February 2008 @ 12:02 pm
Higher Education Chapter 21  
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: This is likely to be the last chapter for a little bit just because I really really really want to focus on actually posting a chapter or two of LOTTD in March. The editing there takes a lot of time. Thanks to elena_62 for helping me with a couple errors!
Word Count: 2932
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Chapter 21

"Yeah, but that's not what he said," Jack grunted up at Ennis, staring through the metal bar, as he lifted the weight. Ennis leaned forward to spot, but Jack didn't need it, not at a hundred and fifty pounds. Ennis found himself frowning. The 'little bit' Jack claimed to have worked out was clearly an underestimate. Jack didn't even seem to be exerting himself.

"He said it was a team-building year."

"Bull shit." Jack placed the bar back on its holder and looked up into Ennis's eyes. Ennis met Jack's gaze head-on. "He said he's got the best recruits."

"For team-building," Ennis muttered as he took his place lying on the bench, still warm from Jack's imprint.

Jack took up the spotter's position overhead. "He said that last year."

"You ever think maybe it takes more than one year to build a team?"

"Well shit, Ennis, this is college. The players have only got four. Sappo needs to get off his ass and build while he wins."

Ennis grunted a laugh and hefted the bar into the air, bringing it down to his chest. Jack watched him, silent for once. Five reps in, Ennis hung the bar back up. "How high are you going?" he asked Jack.

"Well, I maxed two twenty-five when I was here with Jason, so I guess maybe up to one-ninety or something."


"What?" Jack stepped closer, well into Ennis's personal space as he stood up. "Are you a weakling, don't think you can handle it?"

Ennis caught the joke with an underplayed smile. "Anyway, it isn't about lifting weights. That thing," Ennis motioned towards the laden bar, "and a moving person aren't near the same."

A wolfish grin came across Jack's face. "Is that a challenge?"

"If you want to take it as one." Ennis wiped his hands with the small towel he held and stepped back, leaving the bench open for Jack.

"In that case, maybe we better call it quits now, before I'm too tired."

"Suit yourself," Ennis shrugged. "You got the muscle but not the endurance, huh hotshot?"

Jack's only answer was a playful whip at Ennis with his own towel before he went to unrack the weights.

The two of them had been going at it nearly non-stop. Just now, they both worked mid-days in their respective labs on opposite sides of the same building. The e-mails continued, but with less frequency and urgency, and the topic was more likely meeting for lunch than anything else. They cut out early some days, came in late on others. If there were such a place as heaven, maybe it was the days they dozed under the oaks near the physics building, or the mornings they awoke to a slow and lazy fuck.

One day, only two weeks into this post-homecoming routine, they took their home-brought lunches beneath and oak tree and stretched out in the cool grass at the edge where the shade started breaking into fragments of sunlight, moving with the wind. Jack ate first and lay on his back. Ennis was trying not to look at the arc of hip bone escaping from Jack's jeans, just above their loose hang. Jack caught him, but continued on with the conversation he was effortlessly holding nonetheless. When Ennis finished eating, he lay his heated forehead down against the chill blades of the green, perfectly kept grass-- kept with the money of poor students.

Next Ennis knew, he was blinking himself awake. A heavy weight pressed onto his back, and he stirred, confused as to where he was (though he seemed to know on instinct that the weight was Jack. A breeze raised goosebumps on Ennis's exposed back, and that was the only reason he even knew that his back was exposed. Blinking up again as his eyes adjusted to the light, Ennis caught a couple drifting gazes landing on him-- landing on him and Jack. The expressions were mixed, but most people looked away either way.

Fuck! Only then did Ennis jerk abruptly to full-wakefulness and roll away from Jack. Jack had been sprawled across Ennis's back, his cheek pressed to Ennis's skin, with Ennis's shirt otherwise pulled up under his own armpits. Jack started awake when his head and body hit the grass. "Wha?"

Ennis didn't answer. He knew that Jack had so little belief in him these days, and though people had seen them, nothing seemed to have come of it. Everything had been so beautiful up until now... Ennis reined in his fear as hard as he could.

"What's going on?" Jack asked, pulling himself to sitting and shaking out an arm. Ennis figured it must be asleep.

"Uh." Ennis ran a hand through his usually unruly hair, sparing a thought for the idea of a haircut. When he'd met Jack, his head had been nearly shaved clean, though he'd had some facial hair at the time. Maybe that was something to go back to, get as far away from the mad scientist appearance as possible. Not that it could change who he was or what he studied. "Nothing," Ennis answered. "Figure we best be getting back to work."

"Oh. Huh. Yeah." Jack sighed and stood with marked lack of enthusiasm about this idea. Still, Ennis had stuff to do, a meeting with his boss the day after tomorrow, so Jack could wait. It wasn't as if they wouldn't see each other later. Without thinking or realizing what he was doing, Ennis leaned over and dropped a quick kiss on Jack's cheek before he hurried into the building. He was halfway up the stairs before he realized he'd done that in front of the whole goddamn world.

"Uh uh. No no no. What?"

"Swear it," Dawn nodded and poked at her takeout container from the dining hall with her plastic fork.

"And you wanted me to get advice from this guy?"

Sara sighed. "Chris and Landon have been together for a while." She shrugged.

"Not long enough, I guess," Jack answered, leaning over to turn on his PlayStation. Sara gestured for a controller. Dawn waved Jack off, content with her food.

They talked about the Spectrum picnic while they played a first-person shooter. Sara explained her lofty plans at the same time that Jack tried to think of any way he could to make them more... base.

"I was going to order a chocolate cake."

"Probably save... work to just... make one. Have a guy pop out of it. Oh! Shit! There, where the hell are you?"

Sara laughed. "And what about for the girls?"

"That's why... fuck!... why we've got you."

Sara chuckled again.

"You're getting better at this," Jack hissed.

"Sara, he's coming from the right. See your map?"

"I see!" Sara squealed at Dawn.

"Alright, just help--"

The rest of Dawn's sentence was cut off by the door to the apartment swinging open. Ennis's told Jack he was going to work a little late today since he had an early morning meeting with the advisor-dude. He was back well before Jack had expected him. Jack paused the game and dropped his controller onto the coffee table, jumping to his feet.

"Uh, Ennis. This is Sara and Dawn, you 'member I told you about them?"

Ennis seemed to pause inside the doorway, and Jack could guess he wasn't so happy at being surprised like this in his own place, but Jack hadn't expected him back yet... and really, he wasn't planning on throwing the girls out regardless just for Ennis.

"You... you gals don't go home for the summer?" It was a hell of a stupid welcome, and Jack glared at Ennis as if to tell him so.

Dawn plopped her food down on the coffee table and turned to sit on her knees on the couch, resting her chin on her hands on the sofa-back. Her large eyes surveyed Ennis. Sara only half-turned, looking-- surprisingly-- far more threatened than Dawn did by Ennis's less-than-charming question. Dawn blinked widely, expressionless in the way Jack already knew to be the shy girl's hidden trickster shining through. Only when she was in a playful mood did Dawn cover up that she was in any mood at all.

Dawn finally answered, although Jack got the impression it was more because she was eager to see Ennis's reaction. "My dads live in Laramie."

Ennis jerked back a little.

"And my boyfriend has an apartment here. I'm staying with him this summer," Sara answered.

Ennis nodded. The room seemed unnaturally quiet to Jack. "Well," Ennis offered a hand, "I'm Jack's roommate, Ennis."

Sara giggled. "Right."

Dawn turned back to her food before Ennis got to offer her a hand in greeting. Nonchalant, she lifted her fork towards the TV. "We know who you are, Ennis." She turned her head upside-down to see him. "Nice to meet you, though. Jack talks about you non-stop."

"Hey, that is an exaggeration, I do not--"

"No," Sara answered, "Jack talks about naked guys and booze and PlayStation non-stop."

Even Ennis laughed at this, Jack was glad to see.

"Yeah, but," said Dawn, "that's all a cover because he doesn't want us to know how mushy-wushy in love he is. Which is pointless anyway 'cause we already know." She popped a bite of what looked like it might have been lasagna into her mouth.

"Jack," Sara called back over her shoulder, "are we going to finish this game, or are you just going to admit I'm awesome and you suck?"

"Mmm, I like these girls," Ennis laughed over at Jack.

"Haha," flat and sarcastic, Jack made a mockery of the fact that everyone was laughing at him.

Ennis more quietly told Jack that he was headed for the shower, and Jack stretched back out on the loveseat to finish losing to Sara at a very masculine video game. He thought he should feel insecure and torn down, but it had been too fun, and he had been through enough by now to know that it wasn't winning or losing a video game that made you a man or a woman.

"A picnic?" Ennis squinted up across take-out Chinese.

"They have it every year. Come on, no one will think it's strange that you're there."

"I don't know, Jack." Ennis shook his head and focused on the table in front of him.

"Yeah, I get it," Jack sighed.

They finished their meal in silence.

Summer was fully-arrived and the warm sun was streaming down from the sky when Jack, too proud to care what Ennis had to say about this event, showed up at the little park on the north-eastern bank of the Laramie River. He hauled two heavy-laden grocery bags of soda out of the back of Teng's car, bribed and borrowed again. Jack was going to have to think of something to do for Teng in return for all that Teng had done-- was doing-- for him. He was also probably going to have to consider getting a car of his own, or maybe he and Ennis could split one. A family car. The idea was both terrifying and heartwarming.

He wrapped the plastic grocery bags around his wrists and hefted a watermelon in his hands before kicking the door shut and lumbering down the paved path towards the picnic tables. The plastic cut into his wrists, but overall he was ok with the weight. It made him feel good, made him feel more masculine and less... less gay to work on his muscles. Jack shoved the thought aside to worry about or not some other day.

"Heeey! Man!" Chris came up and slipped the watermelon away.

A girl named Mandy started unburdening Jack of his sodas. Her girlfriend, Serene, was helping Mandy put all the food out.

"Isn't Ennis coming?' Jack turned to see Paul at his elbow.

"Huh? Oh no, he can't make it," Jack brushed off the question. He was worried that folks would think less of him if Ennis didn't want to meet them, wasn't as open as all of them were. It was a big enough deal to Jack that he'd managed to come here today without causing a fight. Paul nodded and went off talking about something else. Abortion laws were a big deal right now, with some grumblings in the state government, but Jack had never been interested. Wasn't like it had the least to do with him. Eventually, though, a couple more people joined in the conversation and it steered around to the World Cup. Jack had never liked soccer, and no one here did either except a couple of the gals, but the discussion got heated when they came to the old soccer versus football debate and why the rest of the world would give a damn about kicking some ball around. Serene loudly protested that football was barbaric and foolish, and she lost instant credibility among the guys. About that time the hot dogs and burgers were ready, sufficiently distracting them all from the argument. Afterwards, Jack and the guys and one girl-- Melissa-- hit the court for some four-on-four.

Game concluded, Jack was walked off the court joshing with Chris about how Chris's team-- skins (mostly because it wasn't the team Melissa was on)-- had got their asses handed to them on a platter by a team with a girl on it. Melissa spun around, her long black braid flying behind her. "You better shut up, Jack. I can kick your ass in basketball, or out."

"She's totally on the women's team, yo," Chris jutted his nose up in the air. "I wouldn't expect to beat her."

"Don't say yo like that; you sound gay," Jack shot back.

Chris laughed sharp and pretended to hump the air in front of him, grunting and calling, "You have no idea!"

"Jesus," Jack muttered. He sat down at the picnic table to rest, Dawn leaning close up beside him to hand him a bottle of water before sitting opposite him. He thanked her and drank deep.

That was one thing he noticed about being around Spectrum folks. The guys were no more or less physical with each other than guys in classes, than guys every day, but the girls-- They were always brushing, touching, leaning, hugging the guys. The physics and astronomy chicks Jack was friends with wouldn't do anything like that. Was it something peculiar about physics girls, or was it the Spectrum girls? Jack didn't know enough other girls to compare. Well, back in his single days he'd met plenty of girls who were brushing and leaning, but they'd clearly had motives. Obviously all the guys here were off the girls' market, so none of the touching could be for that same reason. Maybe it was just because the guys weren't on the market. Jack did notice that girls tended to hug each other and stuff. Maybe they liked to touch people, and this was the only place where they could include guys in that without the fear of being goosed. Jack smiled around the lip of his water bottle, imagining goosing these girls just for fun, to keep them on their toes.

Everyone was splitting the chocolate cake Sara had spent too much club money on, in Jack's opinion, when Dawn's eyes darted up and opened wide-- a hard gesture to miss, big as they were. A hush floated over the table, though it was mostly Dawn's side. Sara turned and smiled her brightest smile, one Jack had come to think of as her 'real' smile among all the others she gave, and chirped, "Hi Ennis."

The remaining conversations stopped abruptly, and all eyes turned to the place behind Jack. He spun around.

"I, uh, brought these. Hope... hope there's still room in your all's stomachs." Ennis was giving the chocolate cake a confrontational stare as he set down a bag of popsicles on the picnic table.

"Where'd you come from?" Jack asked, still shocked.

"Sage," Ennis answered matter-of-factly. "You gonna... can I sit down?"

A bunch of murmurings ran around the table as people scooted specifically so Ennis could have a spot next to Jack. Jack hoped Ennis saw that this was the kind of subtle thing that would only happen with this group, that it was the main difference between this group and any other, and nothing else.

Chris laughed. "I thought you made him up!" Sara giggled. Someone cut Ennis a piece of cake and slid it to him, and a cup of lemonade magically appeared in his hand.

"I don't know," Melissa continued speaking to Prashant, Matty's flavor-of-the-month. "We don't hang with the guys much, but I've heard it's going to be another team-building season."

"Bull shit," Jack shot back. "Team-building is keyword for 'we don't expect to do crap this year'."

Melissa shrugged. "I mean, it's fine... but I thought last year was a team-building season..."

"It was," Ennis mumbled around a bite of cake.

"At some point you've got to stop team-building and start team-playing," Prashant nodded.

"There you go," Jack waved at Prashant. "That's what I've been trying to say all along."

"Well," Melissa smiled up from regarding her cup of soda, "maybe this year's the year, then."

"I'll drink to that." Jack raised his water bottle and she her plastic cup. The clapped them together, Ennis and Prashant scrambling behind to be included.

"Be nice to see a championship," Ennis nodded.

"Maybe someone forgot to tell you, Ennis," Dawn answered in her deadpan humor, "but we're a football school."
Current Location: University of Minnesota
Current Mood: lonelylonely
★Mella★: BBM - loveschlopki on February 27th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC)
this was a very lovely chapter. they are back together, living ♥ that so nice. and ennis came to the picknick ♥ i'm glad he did and bet he is glad too =)

that's a good end to take a break now LOL

i cant wait for whatever comes next =)
Bloody Jack Flint: Luke and Leia Mangarhye on March 5th, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading :)
Teritmn1966 on February 27th, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad Ennis came to the picnic. I loved everyone's reaction to it. Ennis is trying for Jack and that's what matters.

I'm not going to complain about more LOTTD coming up. I love ALL your stuff so I'll take whatever you're going to give us!

Thanks for leaving this resting in a good place though.

Bloody Jack Flintrhye on January 4th, 2011 07:47 am (UTC)
Late comment is late, but thanks for reading and thanks for the comment as well ♥
bmshirtsbmshirts on February 27th, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC)
Higher Education Chapter 21
Well, surprise, surprise! Old turtle Ennis actually showed up at the Spectrum picnic! Hell has definitely frozen over! If Ennis doesn't get over his 'I'm not Gay' routine, he's going to lose Jack to someone else and it will serve him right! Thanks. Carole
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on January 4th, 2011 07:48 am (UTC)
Re: Higher Education Chapter 21
Late comment is late, but thanks for reading and thanks for the comment as well ♥
thelastaeriethelastaerie on February 27th, 2008 07:34 pm (UTC)
Aww... love that they fell asleep under the oak tree... so sweet. And Ennis trying not to freak out. He's slowly making progress unconsciously. I think the domestic bliss they are enjoying is helping.

you made a pretty observation of girls being around gay men. it's the same reason why sometimes straight girls like to go to gay bars, they know they'll have a good time among themselves without being hit on by unwelcome males! And once sex is taken out of the equation, people can relax and just be themselves.
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on January 4th, 2011 07:48 am (UTC)
Late comment is late, but thanks for reading and thanks for the comment as well ♥
(Deleted comment)
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on January 4th, 2011 07:48 am (UTC)
Late comment is late, but thanks for reading and thanks for the comment as well ♥
midget_sizemidget_size on February 27th, 2008 08:42 pm (UTC)
So, SO many things to love in this chapter.
1. Buff!Jack. Oh, how I love that.
2. Ennis managing not to freak when people saw them.
3. The boys being lovey and happy together.
And most of all...
4. Ennis showing up to the picnic!
Just wonderful!
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on January 4th, 2011 07:48 am (UTC)
Late comment is late, but thanks for reading and thanks for the comment as well ♥
acquaaltaacquaalta on February 27th, 2008 09:12 pm (UTC)
Your speed at the moment is incredible ... wow. And such a lovely chapter, too.
Them living together, spending everyday life with each other, lunch breaks, falling asleep under the tree ... and then Ennis coming to the picnic ... yeay. He is making progress, though the sweetest thing was that little kiss.
Thank you for the new chapter,
Best wishes, B.
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on January 4th, 2011 07:49 am (UTC)
Late comment is late, but thanks for reading and thanks for the comment as well ♥

LOL I bet no one is touting my speed any more :P
samtyr: roadsamtyr on February 27th, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
I was glad to see that Ennis has grown a lot -- openly kissing Jack and coming to the picnic. Small steps but significant ones all the same. I'm looking forward to reading more.
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on January 4th, 2011 07:49 am (UTC)
Late comment is late, but thanks for reading and thanks for the comment as well ♥
elena_62elena_62 on February 27th, 2008 11:17 pm (UTC)
Nice chapter!

I was surprised about this line: ''He knew that Jack had so little belief in him these days''. I thought now they were all right. But I was very proud of Ennis, being able to keep his fears under control in the park.

Interesting Jack's observation about relationship between women and gay man. I noticed a parallel fact: when I go around with a lesbian girlfriend she is much less afraid than me about phisical contact with men we don't know well. We discussed this fact and we came to the conclusion that it's because she doesn't consider men as potentially ''wanting something from her'', like I do if they come too near me. Obviously this doesn't apply to male friends: with them I don't have a problem being physical.

I was hoping Ennis would show up at the picnic and he did! How sweet!

Thank you for writing!


PS: You know what: since your lj ate a long comment from me (or at least let it desappear) each time I leave you a comment I copy it before clicking on ''post comment' ;-)
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on January 4th, 2011 07:50 am (UTC)
Late comment is late, but thanks for reading and thanks for the comment as well ♥

I do that with long comments as well!
juliettehjulietteh on February 28th, 2008 12:10 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for writing! I am married to an Ennis when it comes to being sociable. When Ennis doesn't want to do stuff I feel less alone in there--cause there's no "gay" excuse thing for my husband.

I have been writing my own fic, and when I starting reading this chapter I realized that it was YOUR story that inspired me! nothing about the details. Only the "slice of life" nature of this fic that shows what it is like to truly love and truly be loved. It's only everything. I sure do hope that for everyone--especially our boyz, of course.

Bloody Jack Flintrhye on January 4th, 2011 07:50 am (UTC)
Late comment is late, but thanks for reading and thanks for the comment as well ♥

Oh, and it's great to know that you've been inspired to write something yourself! I hope that went ok :)
annabuffyannabuffy on February 28th, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)
I read a chapter of this fic a few days ago and got so hooked, I went back to chapter 1 and read the entire fic. Love it. I have a question, will you ever write more of Yellow House on the Right? I liked that fic alot.
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on January 4th, 2011 07:52 am (UTC)
Late comment is late, but thanks for reading and thanks for the comment as well ♥

Right now, I can't see myself writing any more at all int eh Brokeback fandom, but I've said that before and still come back to it. Still, it's been a while and the thrall has sort of lifted. Sorry :(
(no subject) - annabuffy on January 4th, 2011 11:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
trekfantrekfan on February 28th, 2008 03:04 am (UTC)
Nice Jess,

I love this story alot. I am so glad they are together again. I think jack has to give Ennis time to adjust. He isn't open about being gay like Jack is.

That he showed up at this picnic speaks volumes

Bloody Jack Flintrhye on January 4th, 2011 07:52 am (UTC)
Late comment is late, but thanks for reading and thanks for the comment as well ♥
lulu_kitty: jack nastylulu_kitty on February 28th, 2008 05:46 am (UTC)
I loved this chapter! It's so nice to see them back together again.
Is Jack having some insecurity issues or something? I picking that up from the constant working out and his thoughts about heavy lifting. Hmm...
Anyway, UMM-- favorite part by far was:
"I, uh, brought these. Hope... hope there's still room in your all's stomachs." Ennis was giving the chocolate cake a confrontational stare as he set down a bag of popsicles on the picnic table.

"Where'd you come from?" Jack asked, still shocked.

"Sage," Ennis answered matter-of-factly. "You gonna... can I sit down?"


That was sooooooo sweet when he showed up at the picnic and its a really big step in the right direction for him, too. Yay Ennis. He can be such a cutie when he wants to.
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on January 4th, 2011 07:52 am (UTC)
Late comment is late, but thanks for reading and thanks for the comment as well ♥
rosietrosiet on February 28th, 2008 08:07 am (UTC)
Aww...I just love that Ennis showed up at the picnic....I also loved them sleeping under the oak tree when Jack rolled onto Ennis in sleep...and Ennis kissed him unthinkingly when he left. Just a lovely chapter. Thank you!
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on January 4th, 2011 07:53 am (UTC)
Late comment is late, but thanks for reading and thanks for the comment as well ♥
sweetjesweetje on February 28th, 2008 10:01 am (UTC)
I was relieved to see that Ennis is trying to get to know Jack's friends a little. His acceptance of Sarah and Dawn at their first meeting was a big step for him, and I was really happy when he did decide, even though very late, to be with Jack at the picnic. And the fact that he actually contributed to the conversation, is a big step forward for Ennis.
Thank you for this great chapter. I'm looking forward to your next update. : )
Bloody Jack Flintrhye on January 4th, 2011 07:53 am (UTC)
Late comment is late, but thanks for reading and thanks for the comment as well ♥