Tired. The word reverberates against the inside walls of her skull, because she
is and he is and there's only one more week left and it's not enough to hope anymore. It's not enough to eagerly anticipate
his arrival anymore because she's been anticipating for twelve months and now she's tired.
As if on a perfectly imperfect
cue, the phone rings, and she stares at it with disgust. For the first night since his tryst with a nameless lover, she doesn't
want to answer his call. Answering will only make her miss him more, and right now, missing him is the last thing she needs
Lord knows she's done enough of it to last her a lifetime.
Finally, obligation wins out over willpower
and she lifts the black box to her ear.
His voice is soft, low, and slightly gravely in her ear.
yourself. You sound less than thrilled to hear from me."
She sighs. "Not that. It's just...long day."
is hollow. "I know the feeling, believe me."
"Did you have a show tonight?"
frowns, relaxing into the rhythm of conversation despite how painful the sound of his voice is. "Unfortunately? That's a new
"Yeah, well, let's just say that the immune system took a pre-holiday vacation and left me with the cold that's
been going around the crew lately."
"Yeah, that about sums it up. The crowd was awesome tonight, but
I just wanted to go to sleep. My head is splitting open."
The frown quickly becomes sympathetic. "I can imagine."
laughs again, genuinely this time. "I'm sure you can. You don't sound all that great either."
A single, solitary eyebrow
makes the climb up the mountain of frown lines. "That sounds suspiciously like an insult."
"Sorry. I think I might
be too tired to sound sympathetic." He pauses for a moment, listening to her breathing as it quickens its pace. "What's going
on down there, though? Everything okay?"
She sighs and begins to trace the squares on the bedspread. "Yeah. Fine."
"Maybe. But it's for your own good."
His eyebrow arches, glad to have a turn in the game of skepticism.
"It's not feeling so good."
"What? Your head, or the whole lying thing?"
"Both. Want to tell me why
you sound like I'm interrupting a funeral?"
Another sigh. "I miss you."
He closes his eyes against the tears
he can hear in her voice, because the knowledge that she's as lonely as he feels is too much for him right here, right now.
"No, really, Nick. It's been too long. I know it's just one more week...really, I do. It just...being
alone for so long kinda gets to me, okay?"
"But I call you every night..."
His tone is defensive, but she's
too exasperated to take notice. "I know, Nick. I appreciate it. It's just not the same."
Defense gives way to resignation.
"So you understand, then. This 'being away from each other' thing? It sucks. Majorly."
He bites his
bottom lip to keep from laughing. "You sound like Aaron."
"Does he miss you as much as I do?"
He shrugs. "Maybe.
Probably more. Remember, he has to travel with my mother. Aaron misses anyone that even remotely suggests the presence of
Her voice is expectant. "You love your mother."
"Not enough to live with her."
"Of course, even
if you did, you probably wouldn't have time to live with her..."
His amusement quickly fades to anger at the
accusation in her voice. "Come on, Sam, you know that's not fair. This is my life."
"You've made it mine, too, Nick."
"Because I love you! I love you, and this is the price I have to pay for it. I have to be lonely eleven months
out of the year in order to hold onto the man I love."
He groans. "I still don't get how this is my fault. I mean,
it's not like I made you love me."
She laughs bitterly in return. "Like hell you didn't! Have you looked
at yourself in the mirror lately, kid? Have you listened to your voice or watched footage of the faces you make when no one's
His eyes narrow suspiciously towards the phone. "Is this one of those backhanded compliments?"
Even when I'm pissed at you, you find a way to be cute! How am I not supposed to fall in love with that?"
slowly. "Sam, I need some help over here. I'm not sure whether you're stroking my ego or trying to kill it."
Both. I don't know."
"You must know something, because you're not the type to get pissed off at nothing."
want you back."
He groans again, loudly enough for her to hear it this time. "Please tell me you're not going to start
quoting *NSYNC songs to me. I can't take it right now, Sam. My head hurts enough already."
"Argh! You are so freaking
He shrugs. "So sue me. Justin's hair gives me nightmares, okay?"
She glares, and he is convinced
that he can hear the steam coming out of her ears. "I hate you."
"I thought you loved me!"
"I do! But, dammit,
Nick, that's not enough! I want you back in this bed. I want your head on the pillow next to mine. I want to start finding
your glasses in random places again because you never remember to put them back in their case. I want to get up in the morning
and trip over your flip-flops. I want to fall asleep to the sound of your voice again, dammit!" She pauses to take a breath,
but his voice interrupts her before she can continue her tirade.
"Baby, I want all of that too. Believe me, I do. I'm
counting the days, okay?"
"Maybe you're counting the days. I'm counting the freaking hours. That's how much I miss
"Oh, Sam...stop, or you're going to make me cry..."
She folds her arms in irritation. "You don't cry."
he agrees. "But if I did, I'd be knee-deep in saltwater right now."
She sighs. "I'm sorry, it's just...the end is always
the hardest part, you know?"
He nods in agreement. "It's never over fast enough."
is hoarse but tentative. "Can I do anything to pass the hours more quickly?"
She laughs sadly. "I should ask you the
same question. You're the one who's sick."
"Yeah, but I know you'll take care of me when I get home."
He smiles softly. "Tell home I'll catch up with it once I give my girl some of the love she deserves.
I've missed home, but I've missed her a hell of a lot more."
"She misses you too, you know."
"Yeah, I know."
And then, softly... "but which part does she miss the most?"
"Aside from your arms around her? Listening to you sing
lullabies at night."
He closes his eyes, knowing that her voice is all the lullaby he needs. "Oh, baby...I'd sing to
you, but I'm not sure I've got enough voice left."
She sighs. "I know. But it's the thought that counts, right?"
she speaks again, her voice is reluctant. "I should let you get some sleep so you can get better, though."
He pauses for a moment. "I love you, Sam."
"I love you too, Nick." And she laughs quietly. "One more week, right?"
smiles. "We can do it. Hey, we've gotten this far, haven't we?"
"Yeah. Yeah, we have."