Song is "Everything Changes" by Staind. I've been wracking my brain (and mauling penguins), searching for an idea for a fic to use this song with. I finally found this plot-bunny cowering in its hole, dragged it out by the ears, and threw it at my computer until this fic came out.

Generic disclaimer that applies to each of the following fics.

- Everything Changes I -

I stood there, watching as the truck pulled out and rounded the corner; stood there long after it had disappeared through the trees. Slowly, I walked to my own truck, climbed inside, sat there gripping the sides of the steering wheel with both hands, my knuckles white; then I lashed out, slamming my fist against the center of the wheel. The horn sounded, and I hit it again, and again, and again…screaming and cursing, though the honking drowned it out. I finally stopped and dropped my head down onto the wheel, my eyes closed tightly, the echo of the last honk fading away into the lonely landscape.

If you just walked away
What could I really say?
Would it matter anyway?
Would it change how you feel?

"Damn you, Ennis," I whispered, furiously wiping tears from the corners of my eyes. "Damn you…"

I couldn't stand this anymore. Couldn't stand just seeing him once or twice a year, and just for a week at a time… "I'm not you. I can't make it on a couple of high-altitude fucks once or twice a year." He made me so angry sometimes…and I hadn't been able to control it anymore. All my anger from the past twenty years had come spewing out, and I'd managed to choose the words that would hurt the most. For the first time in twenty years, I'd decided to be a little selfish, to take something for myself…and somehow Ennis had managed to twist everything around, so that I was the one to comfort him, to hold him while he cried…while inside I wanted nothing more than to punch him as hard as I could for what he was doing to me. I hated him as much as I loved him.

I am the mess you chose
The closet you cannot close
The devil in you I suppose
'Cause the wounds never heal

I had to do something, and there were only two things I could think of to do. Either I had to end this thing we had…sever all ties, never see him again…or I'd have to figure out some way to keep him close, so we could work this out…so we could be together… If getting rid of Ennis was the only way to move on with my life, then I would do it. It would break my heart, and I'd hate myself for it the rest of my life…but I would do it. I couldn't keep "living" like I was. Something had to change.

I pushed myself up in my seat, and reached up to pinch the bridge of my nose, my eyes squeezed tightly shut—a habit I'd picked up from Lureen. Something has to change… I needed Ennis, needed him more than I needed to breathe. Ennis was life itself. Without him, I would die—slowly, but surely. Ennis fucking Del Mar made my world stop.

As calmly as I could, I reached out and started the ignition, and drove off in the direction Ennis had gone. He'd be heading for his house, I knew, and I'd confront him there. I drove slow enough, stopped often enough, so that I was never too close behind him, so that he couldn't see and recognize my truck. It was dark when I finally pulled onto the road outside his house; I could see his truck parked there, looking more beat-up than ever in the poor lighting from the single bulb on the porch. I looked around for Ennis outside, but there was no sign of him; then a light came to life inside the house, and I saw Ennis's dim silhouette lower itself down into a chair. Taking a deep breath, I got out of the truck and marched purposefully up to the front door, knocking twice and then stepping back to wait with my hands on my hips. I'd managed to work up a good anger on the drive here, and my jaw was clenched, my breathing ragged; I could only hope my eyes were burning with fury.

But everything changes
If I could
Turn back the years
If you could
Learn to forgive me
Then I could learn to feel

The door was yanked open, and Ennis stood there; I gave him the briefest moment to register surprise, and then I grabbed onto his shirt with both hands and propelled him into the room, slamming him against the first solid surface I could find—the refrigerator and, though it was not the wall I'd hoped for, it would do.

"You listen to me, Ennis Del Mar," I snarled, my face inches away from his. "I ain't gonna put up with this bullshit no more." Shit—that was all I'd gotten planned out. I'd have to wing it… "We've both gotten in a few shots now, an' we said some pretty awful things. You hurt me, an' I hurt you—ain't nothin' gonna change that. But there is no fucking way I am goin' to let it end like that. Now you sit your ass down, and we are gonna talk." I pulled him away from the fridge and shoved him towards a chair; he was too shocked to do anything but what I'd told him to do, and sat down with his hands between his knees, like a naughty child. I grabbed a chair, dragged it over next to him, slammed it down on the floor for emphasis, and sat down, glaring at him. He blinked back at me, still in shock. Obviously, I was going to have to start. "You are a fuckin' ignorant old cowboy." Good start—now what? "An' sometimes you make me so angry I wanna kill you—bash your head in till you're dead." And now for the closure… "But I still love you, Ennis Del Mar. Love you more'n I could ever love anyone else—more'n I'd ever want to love anyone else. And I ain't gonna let you get away from me no more."

Sometimes the things I say
In moments of disarray
Succumbing to the games we play
To make sure that it's real

He stared at me, his eyes wide, mouth open a little bit; I wasn't sure if he was breathing anymore, and I leaned in closer, tilting my head a little to one side. "Ennis?" I asked softly.

A single, small tear slipped from the corner of one of his eyes, and I could see that he was about to fall. I lunged forward and caught him, landing hard on my knees but ignoring the pain as I held him tightly against me—for the second time that day—holding his head against my shoulder and rocking him back and forth a little. His hands grabbed at the back of my jacket, holding on like he thought I would disappear at any moment, and his shoulders shook violently. I ran my free hand up and down his back, murmuring comforting things against the top of his head, throwing in the occasional, "I love you, Ennis," just so I could be sure he wouldn't forget. It was so easy to say it, now that it was out…

But everything changes
If I could
Turn back the years
If you could
Learn to forgive me
Then I could learn to feel

"Jack," he whispered, "Jack…I'm sorry…"

"'S'alright, bud," I said softly, placing a gentle kiss on the top of his head. "Come on now…we still got more talkin' to do." I nearly dragged him up to his feet, and deposited him on the couch, sitting down next to him but turning to capture his eyes again. "Now, Ennis…I need t' hear from you how you feel 'bout me."

He blinked blearily at me. "Huh?"

"Do you love me, Ennis?"

He looked down at the floor, but nodded slowly.

"Then tell me," I urged, reaching out to take one of his hands in mine. His eyes glanced over to our clasped hands, flickered up to my face, and quickly turned back to the ground. He mumbled something that I wouldn't have been able to hear if I'd had my ear against his mouth. "Can't hear ya, Ennis."

"I…you, Jack," he muttered.

"Didn't quite catch that middle part."

He looked up at me finally, anger flickering in his eyes. "I said I love you, damnit!"

I smiled, and said softly, "I thought that's what I heard." And I reached up to wrap one of my hands around the back of his neck, and pulled his face towards mine, and kissed him gently.

When it's just me and you
Who knows what we could do
If we can just make it through
The toughest part of the day

I pulled my mouth away slowly, leaving him with closed eyes and half-opened lips—he'd been expecting a lot more than one little kiss. When he realized there wasn't anything else coming, he opened his eyes and closed his mouth, looking at me with no little confusion. "We still got more talkin' t' do, cowboy," I said. "Told you, I ain't gonna let it end like this—ain't gonna let it end at all. We gotta work somethin' out—either you come with me, I stay here with you, or we run off to the mountains an' live under a rock."

He smiled a little, and I encouragingly rubbed the back of his neck. "I ain't gonna let you go again, Ennis. It's too damn hard livin' without you, an' I can't take it no more. I ain't gonna go nowhere unless it's with you." He started to open his mouth to protest, but I glared and cut him off. "You've had twenty years of bein' afraid of what might happen if we was livin' together—it's only fair that I get twenty to prove to you that it won't be near as bad as you make it sound. I ain't gonna take no for an answer," I added. "You can argue all you like, but it ain't gonna do you a bit a good."

And argue he did, long into the night. I just sat there and calmly refused all of his attempts at negotiation. I was going to get my way, and that was all there was to it. Finally, he slumped his shoulders, defeated, and said grudgingly, "Fine. But—" Something occurred to him. "—what about Lureen?"

I shrugged, unconcerned. "Told ya already, we could do our marriage over the phone. It's more like friendship than anythin' else. An' I ain't doin' much around her daddy's business anyway these days—he won't let me, old son of a bitch. Keeps me doin' paperwork, says I'm geetin' too old t' be as active as I used t' be, an' you know I ain't good with numbers. He'll be happy to see me gone, an' I don't think Lureen'll be all that disappointed, neither. Yeah, she'll be sad a while, but only 'cause I'm such a catch."

This brought a startled bark of laughter from Ennis, and I grinned. Then, to my surprise, he reached out and pulled me against him, and kissed me. "Yeah, Jack fuckin' Twist, you sure are a catch."

But everything changes
If I could
Turn back the years
If you could
Learn to forgive me
Then I could
Learn how to feel
Then we could
Stay here together
And we could
Conquer the world
If we could
Say that forever
Is more than just a word

"It's late," he said, looking up at the clock.

"It's early," I corrected—very early in the morning.

"Well, it's still night, an' I ain't had no sleep. I'm tired. We'll finish talkin' tomorrow."

"An' don't you forget it. I ain't gonna let this drop."

He sighed tiredly, and rolled his eyes a little. "I know." He pushed himself up and walked towards the bedroom door; he stopped there, turned, raised an eyebrow at me. "You comin'?" I grinned, and followed him into the dark room.

If you just walked away
What could I really say?
And would it matter anyway?
It wouldn't change how you feel