London Rain


Nothing heals me like you do

London rain. 

In all honesty, there was nothing in the world quite like it.  When it rained in London, the whole black and white world turned an amazing shade of gray, and suddenly everyone was a tiny speck on the pavement, and everything was damp and so much more alive.  He could see the lightning from outside of his window, hear the thunder as it rattled the shutters against the brick of the five-star hotel.  But, of course, the darn window wouldn't open, so he couldn't feel the rain.

He couldn't feel it, and she wasn't there to see it.

He pried his gaze from the window long enough to glance at the phone and the bedside clock before determining that it was too late to call her.  She would've just gotten back on the bus, and there was no way he was going to wake her up when he knew that she barely got any sleep anyway.

It didn't matter if he wanted her sleeping next to him, because she was miles and miles away.

With a heavy sigh, he moved away from the window and slid onto the bed, where his empty notebook had been lying all afternoon.  They were due in the studio shortly after the tour was over, and he wanted to present some material this time.  He didn't want his voice to be the only that wasn't heard.  He'd written a few useless love songs after he'd spent hours gazing at her picture, but they didn't hold any substance, and he knew it.  

He closed his eyes in pain when he realized that it had been a week since he'd said that he loved her.

He really did, but their schedules always seemed to get in the way.  When he had a free moment and it was a decent hour, he'd call her only to get her manager, who would inform him that she was busy at the moment and would have to get back to him.  He'd get her message later, in which she was apologizing for the lack of time they'd gotten to spend together.

Yeah, well, he was sorry too.

He shook his head in amazement.  For once, he was the one in the relationship who needed more attention.  He needed to feel like she cared.  He knew that she did, of course, but he couldn't stand to miss her as much as he did.  He couldn't stand the silence, because it only served as a chance to hear her voice over and over in his head.  Of course, he'd turn on the radio to escape the onslaught, and her song would be playing.

He couldn't escape it.  He couldn't escape her.

Not that he really wanted to, of course.  He loved her.  He wanted to hold her, talk to her, see her.  He wanted to write a song with her.

He shifted his gaze back to the empty notebook on the bed.

For now, though, he'd settle for filling a page that he could send to her.

I've been staring at the page for what seems like days
I guess I put this one off for awhile
Did I see a tear fall from your eyes?
Or did you laugh so hard you cried
When I served my secrets on a silver tray to you?
Hey now, I guess the night's just bringing me down

He stared in amazement at the words he'd written, shocked by his own sarcasm and bittersweet heartache.  He hadn't even known that he'd felt that way, but it certainly made sense.  He was tired of playing Prince Charming to a nonexistent Cinderella.  It seemed that the clock had struck midnight long ago, and he was still running around aimlessly with the pieces of her memory clutched in his hands as he fought to rebuild his own dream.

He cringed when he realized that he wasn't sure if she was even a part of that dream anymore.

He wanted to hate her for the distance, to hate her for the lack of effort on her part, but he knew her schedule like the back of his hand, and he knew that she didn't have the time to talk.  He wanted to hate her for the messages that she left on his machine because of the way her voice made his heart constrict for the few minutes that she spoke, even if she had just called to say "hi".  He wanted to hate her for the sweet things she would say in the latest interview, or the huge smile that blossomed whenever anyone mentioned his name to her.  He wanted to hate her for the smile that he found himself sporting whenever her name was mentioned to him.

He loved her, and he hated it, because loving her meant missing her until loving her wasn't fun anymore.

Come to think of it, loving her hadn't been fun for a long time.

There's no love, there's no hate
I left them there for you to take
But know that every word was a piece of my heart

He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to picture the way she had looked when he had first met her.  He had known that day that he'd fall in love with her.  She wasn't beautiful or exotic, but she was genuine.  He hadn't ever seen anyone who could see along to the radio with so much passion.  He hadn't known who she was at the time.

He couldn't help but think that, at the time, he would've been naive enough to think that who she was didn't really matter.

He knew better now.

They'd been friends long before they were anything more.  She had been someone that he could call on the road when he needed to talk to someone who understood.  When they'd been in the same city, they had spent the night in the same room watching movies until they fell asleep.  She'd been one of the few women to make him laugh, and one of the few to see him cry.  She knew everything about him because he'd eventually told her, and not because she'd read it out of some magazine with his face on the cover.  Likewise, she'd told him all about her in the hours after dark, while they had clung to each other for some sort of stability in their chaotic lives.  She had been stable for the longest time.  He could call her at any hour, and she wouldn't hesitate to talk to him until he felt comfortable in his own shoes again.  Of course, she had made her own share of phone calls at three am in the middle of a Ben & Jerry's pity-party, and he'd been happy to help her out of the pits of despair and back on track.  They had been the best of friends.

He missed it now.  He wasn't sure that he could remember a time when he hadn't loved her, but he missed knowing that he had a friend.  Over the past few months, he had come to the realization that he didn't really need a lover.

Of course, it was too late to tell her that now.

You've been the blood in my veins
The only one who knows my middle name
And the smiles, they came easy `cause of you
You know that I love you, but I hate you
`Cause I know I can never escape you
So let the choir sing for tonight, I'm an easy mark
Hey now, am I acting just a little too proud?

He loved her, really.  He figured that he had always loved her, even before he knew that he did.  But, at the same time, there was a part of him that reasoned that loving her and missing her was worse that being alone.

After all, if he was going to be lonely, he'd rather be lonely alone.

It never occurred to him to call her and pretend that she was his best friend again.  It never occurred to him that she might be feeling the very same things he was feeling as she dialed her voice mail again and realized that he had yet to leave her a message.  It never occurred to him that she might be just as lonely as he was.

It never occurred to either of them that they could work it out.

There's no love, there's no hate
I left them there for you to take
But know that every word was a piece of my heart

She stared at the tiny phone in her hand with a detached indifference.  She wanted to cry, wanted to scream at him for not calling her back so that she could hear his voice, but she didn't have the strength to release any pain.  She didn't want to hurt him.  In spite of everything they'd endured, she really did love him.  She just didn't think that she could live with the unanswered phone calls, the distant conversations, and the occasional smiles that the rest of the world watched alongside her.

She thought about calling him again to tell him hello, but she didn't.  She thought about calling to tell him that she needed a new message to play in her ear until she fell asleep, that she needed a new reason to hold on when loving him was tearing her apart, but she couldn't.  There was too much to be said, and too little will to say it all.

Funny how, only months before, she had been willing to tell him anything.

Have I said too much?
Maybe I haven't said enough
But know that every word was a piece of my heart

She wanted to say that she understood, because understanding had never been a problem before.  She wanted to blame all of their problems on the business and the fact that neither of them had any time for the other.  She wanted to blame it all on the fact that her manager was strict and her schedule was tight and her head was a throbbing mass on her shoulders every night after a show, but she knew that it would be unfair to blame it on everything but her own cowardice.  Truth to tell, she was frightened of what he'd say if he knew that she needed him that badly.  When they had been friends, things had been different.  Friends were allowed to make phone calls at midnight, but significant others were not.  

She wasn't sure exactly when she'd decided on that rule, but she didn't like it anymore.

She was tired of leaving little pointless messages, tired of the pointless messages that he'd leave in return, tired of his single on the radio and tired of the love songs that she couldn't seem to sing anymore.  She glanced nervously at the phone and set her pencil down with a sigh.

She'd never been much good at following rules anyway.

Hush me darling, maybe I've lost my touch
Maybe I've lost my guts
There, is that true enough?

He almost slapped himself when he realized that he was staring at the phone again.  He couldn't remember a time when things had been so complicated, which only served to baffle him further.  They were closer than they had ever been, but he'd never missed her quite as much as he did at that moment.  He sighed, set the pen atop the pad, and shuffled over to the mini-bar to see what his own guilty pleasure would be that night.  He almost smiled when his mind's eye saw her sitting on the couch in her pajamas, gripping a carton of Ben & Jerry's like her lifeline.  Truth to tell, she'd been kind enough to share it with him on several occasions, but it didn't work quite the same way that a glass of Jack did.

Ice cream couldn't make you numb the way whiskey could.  

He wasn't sure exactly why he needed to feel numb, he just knew that he didn't want to hurt anymore.  He poured the glass with shaky hands, taking a slow, steady sip and letting the liquid burn down his throat before sitting back against the pillows and attempting to write again.  He glanced beside him, silently wishing that she'd be there for him to wrap his arm around.  Instead, he caught sight of his watch and frowned.

They were in the same city that day.

With a slow smile, he realized that he could deliver her letter.

You know these love letters mix with whiskey
Just don't light a match when you kiss me
Though I'll blow away, you know I'll be back soon
Hey now, am I talking just a little too loud?

She nearly jumped a mile when the phone rang in her hands.  Still trembling with shock, she answered it.



She gasped quietly at the thickened, raspy voice on the other end.  His voice had more of a rough edge than the last time she'd heard from him, but it didn't matter. None of it really mattered anymore.  She couldn't believe that she was finally getting to talk to him.


His only answer was a petulant sigh.  "I'm lonely."

She smiled with relief upon hearing the confession and settled back into the covers with her pint of ice cream.  "Believe it or not, I am too," she admitted, pushing the spoon into the soft material.

He sounded like a child when he answered, and she almost laughed.  "Really?"


There's no love, there's no hate
I left them there for you to take
But know that every word was a piece of my heart

He frowned on the bed and set the glass down on the night table, realizing suddenly that he didn't need it anymore.  He slid carefully off the bed and began trudging towards the closet, searching for something decent to wear.  "Nessa?"

"Yes, Nick?"  He could hear the amusement in her voice, and he felt himself smiling with her.  

He sighed heavily and pulled a pair of jeans and a hooded sweatshirt out of his suitcase.  "Why do you think it took us so long to say that?"

She sighed with him, and suddenly she didn't sound so amused anymore.  "I don't know.  I really wish I did, though.  It seems kind of silly now.  There's no reason to be lonely."

He frowned as he locked the door behind him.  "There isn't?  I thought you missed me!"

She chuckled.  "I do, but that hardly seems like a reason to be lonely, you know?  I mean, I'm surrounded by people every day, and they're people that I love and trust.  You'd think that I'd be grateful enough to feel like I have them there."  She paused, frowning.  "Does that make sense?"
He nodded vigorously as he pulled his hood over his head, walked through the lobby, and hailed a taxi.  "Much more sense than you know.  But I still think we're allowed to be lonely.  I mean, hell Vanessa, I haven't seen you in six months."

Her voice was soft.  "Yeah, I know.  Believe me, it's not something that I like to remember, but I know."

He nodded, pointing the cabbie in the right direction before turning his attention back to the conversation.  "Answer me one thing, Vanessa."

Her voice was weary and uncertain.  "What, Nick?"

He swallowed hard, trying to fight back the ridiculous tears that were threatening to surface all of a sudden.  "Did we try?"

He heard her scoff on the other end, and he almost smiled.  Instead, he bit his lips as he waited for her onslaught.

"Did you honestly just ask me that question?  Nick, have you seen your schedule?  Both of our schedules are nuts.  We aren't Nick Lachey and freaking Jessica Simpson, so it's not like we can pack up after our tours and go get married, nor is it like we can stop what we're doing and try to make excuses to be together.  But we've definitely tried.  We've left messages, we've made phone calls, we've left notes with managers..."  Her voice trailed off when she realized how trivial their efforts seemed.  "Okay, so we haven't tried.  But we're talking about it, which has to mean one thing."

Nick smiled as he paid the cab fare and began his way through the hotel.  "Oh?  What's that?"

She smiled against the phone at the soft tone in his voice and found herself wondering where he was at that exact moment.  "We're trying now."

Have I said too much?
Maybe I haven't said enough
But know that every word was a piece of my heart

He grinned.  "So, while we're trying, why don't you tell me where you are right now?"

She chuckled.  "Well, I'm in London, sitting in the Hyatt Hotel, watching the rain fall and wishing that you were here to see this.  It looks really, really nice from where I'm sitting."

He nodded.  "And where are you sitting?"

"Fifth floor, room 520."  She paused.  "Do you remember that one summer afternoon that we spent playing in the rain on the beach?"

He laughed, remembering the scene vividly.  She had looked beautiful running in the wind while the rain beat against her and her brown hair unfurled behind her.  The water had been warm that day, and he had been more than happy to toss her in the ocean before carrying her inside.  "Yeah, we played all day and then went in and watched movies until we fell asleep."

She smiled and closed her eyes, leaning back against the headboard.  "You know, in my mind, that's where I am right now."

Her dreams were interrupted by a knock on the hotel door, and she frowned heavily.  "Nick, hold on a second."  With an irritated sigh, she heaved off the bed and padded to the door to the suite, preparing to lecture whomever had chosen to bother her on her one day off.  When she finally did swing the door open, however, she didn't have a chance to breathe before she was enveloped in a strong embrace smelling strangely of her boyfriend's cologne and London rain.  When he finally pulled back, she couldn't conceal her smile for anything.  

"What are you doing here?"

He shrugged.  "We were in town, we have the day off, I was bored, I was miserable, I was lonely, and...hell, it doesn't matter."  He shook his head until the water droplets from his hair were clinging to her eyelashes and smiled down at her.  "I love you, Nessa."
She smiled and leaned against his chest, feeling complete for the first time in six months.  "I love you too, Nick."

He suddenly snuck his index finger under her chin and tilted her head up to look at him.  His eyes were a stormy blue as they looked imploringly into her hazel pools.

"What is it, Nick?"

He shook his head slightly.  "I think I missed you more than I realized."

She smiled.  "Yeah, I was thinking the same thing."

His expression suddenly grew serious.  "Ness, can we please start trying from now on?  `Cause, between you and me, I don't ever want to hurt like I did about fifteen minutes ago."

She closed her eyes and allowed him to pull her close again.  When she spoke, her voice was soft and loving.  

"Yes, Nick, we can start trying from now on."

With a smile, he pulled a wrinkled piece of notebook paper from his back pocket.  "I wrote you something."

Her muffled voice registered surprise.  "Really?"

He nodded.  "Yeah, I wrote you a song."


He smiled.  "Because I love you."

Hey now, am I talking just a little too proud?
Hey now, the night's just bringing me down

She smiled in return.  "I love you too."

His brow furrowed in curiosity.  "Nessa, why do you have your eyes closed?  I'm right here."

She chuckled lightly.  "Yeah, but when I close my eyes, I can pretend we're playing in the rain."

Instead, he carried her to the bed and crawled up next to her, where they proceeded to watch movies until they fell asleep.

"Every Word Was A Piece Of My Heart"
lyrics and music by Jon Bon Jovi
*title credit to Heather Nova for her song "London Rain"