that lonely feeling (gryles)
warnings: this isn't exactly triggering, but it is a bit reflective of how i myself feel in regards to friendship. it's that whole feel of 'everybody leaves at one point or another,'. however, unlike myself (in the hell hole called school), this has a happy ending.
summary: nick works with the radio and has been going through a particular hard time. will the reuniting of nick and an old friend change things for him?
it was a dark december night, the snow outside fell not in clumps of unorganised loathing for the street below, but with a rare kind of gentleness, in a watchful, caring way. nick admired the snow; he wished to be it so desperately.
the notion of ownership had always been a funny one to nick. he was owned, and he had no say in it at all. he was owned by the earth, the government, the people, the trees - everyone and everything but him seemed all too unaware of this. it drove him just that tad bit mad.
but there was a positive to it: he may have been owned, but he owned things as well. and it was all very simple. it had always been. he owned his apartment, his bedsheets, his car - yes, it was all his - even the english language made it adamantly clear. but he, in turn, was just a person. a person - for language seemed unsure of who exactly he belonged to.
but the hand he stared at, the one that seemed unable to quit its insistent fiddling, that was not his.
people had tried hard to make it not about ownership, but about the subject of happiness. nick found this rather ridiculous.
it was silly, but nick would waste away entire mornings considering his purpose. he always ended up in the same, consistent loop of answers: procreation, wealth, hoping to sustain something so fleeting as your very own satisfaction. you couldn't press the repeat button on a thing so fickle. when had satisfaction ever truly lasted? satisfaction for life as it was, for the weather, food, quality of a cheap bottle of wine - it wasn't satisfaction you needed to worry about - focusing on keeping the complaining from every direction from overwhelming you appeared to be more effective in the long run.
then there was that whole love thing. sex, kissing, intimacy. it was all the same to nick. it was satisfying, of course, but that only brought him back to his former point: it wasn't sustainable.
surely, if love was a thing, he would've found it by now. the pretty girls and all their accentuating skirts and thin high heels. the gorgeous boys and all their careful gazes and promising lies. inviting, yes, but not necessary.
sleep. that was necessary. but he'd had trouble with that as of late.
he wasn't as well put together as those around him may have thought. at times, he almost sought to do the unthinkable; let himself consider free will. but he came to the same conclusion a hundred times every night. it would poison him; his blood would lose its colour, running not red, but grey. being not proud to be living, but afraid. so very afraid.
nick had always done things violently, one way or another. goodbyes, he reckoned, was the worst. it ended not with painfully promising grins , but in shouting, glints of destructive behaviour and unsure movements of distress.
but he had danced across the point of caring. anyone he might have wanted to bid his farewell to escaped his grasp. not a soul had thought him good enough. he was not as graceful, not as beautiful as the snow. he was the howling wind beating down on the window. searching for vengeance on things he'd never dream of crossing paths with. he was indestructible, but in being so, he was so very weak, in every other way.
the inability to clear his vision for more than a fucking second had him shaking all over. a foggy head and a foggier train of thought was all he had to say for himself.
it was on the days that he was sober - those were the days that hurt. not only could he finish a thought, a sentence, but he had the choice of searching through the haziness riddling every inch of him for a light - for something that would lure the darkness in him out into the open. exposing that part of himself that was nothing less than dangerous. and nick was afraid of it. there was always something.
but he had ended up calling for help. and to his surprise, there had been a recipient. it was hard to distinguish between what was real and what only pretended to be so, but through it all, through the dark and cloudy night came his knight in shining armour.
well - not knight, exactly, and there was no armour, but it was close enough. for nick reckoned that harry's reputation was about as resistant and bulletproof as any armour.
and it was that day- the cold, somber one in december- that nick could recall with such vivid clarity, yet refuse to even acknowledge.
he’d seen harry a long time ago. a time where everything was easy and slow going, where nothing he said meant anything, where no action insinuated what would earn him nothing more than getting ostracised. it was the time he'd gotten addicted. hooked to the prolonged moments of shared silence, holding on for dear life to any clear distinction between days and nights, because it was all the same in nicks head when he was with harry.
and then he had left. it shouldn't have been so surprising to nick, and really, the most shocking thing about it all was that the girls and boys that trailed out of his apartment didn't remind him off harry one bit.
and perhaps that was a good thing, maybe he should have been thankful that everything wasn't screaming of his best friend.
but there were bad days, and at times it seemed easier to walk even further into the maze he'd created, than to find the way out.
the incident with his tv - that had been a scene. he'd hosted a party. people had arrived with fully masked faces, both beautiful and horrifying at the same time. perhaps beautifully horrifying. it had gotten bad, for just a moment, but it had been enough to stir up an entire avalanche of hatred for the fake smiles and bright lights.
so he had punched his tv. he'd broken three bones in his hand, and the tv gave up with a defiant flash of white. it didn't bother him too much. he never used it anyway.
but once he was at the hospital, nurses and even brighter lights making an angry appearance, nick wasn't all that mad anymore. it was up to the alcohol, he'd settled on. to the coke. to the addictive girls, boys and everything in between. he had been drunk, alright, but the effects of the high had long since worn off: the doctors had deemed him stable enough to fix up his hand right away, no anesthesia necessary.
he'd woken up with a headache and very little to say. there was always going to be people who care too much and care too little. the same day he adopted pig from a shelter, a funny-looking dog.
he loved pig right away, and the creature really was a positive addition to his life, just not a necessary one. or maybe it had been necessary. he didn't know anymore.
history repeated itself, though. and in a moment's madness, nick had reached for his phone, dialled an all too familiar number, leaving all regret and guilt he might feel for the day afterwards.
he'd been numb for a long time. and though he knew that he would miss it, miss the bad side of himself, the one that wished him pain and not fortune - he called.
the atmosphere was oppressive in the studio, somehow. yet nick knew it would never do him wrong. it choked him - the whole idea of himself, of his old self, lost out at sea. it gripped him by the throat and pressed as hard as it possibly could.
but he would never pass out. that was the catch. he would suffer, only there was no end to it. no release.
the sadness was poetry to him, and he would feel the words wrap him up, like a spider and its victim, only there was no chance of escape in nick's case. it was a marvellous sight; the accretion of webbing, the patterns ever-changing. nick would welcome it, acting with alacrity.
finally, the moment was here. bittersweet, cruel, and oh so lovely.
forest-like eyes meet his own. rose-petal cheeks and wooden skin, weeds for hair and a heart like the weather.
he was here.
nick reckoned that the glass that separated him from harry worked very well as a metaphor for it all: he was separated to harry not by something perfectly visible, but by something neither of them could render broken simply with words. not unless unwashed hands were rubbed against it in defiance, in protest. but hardly anyone tolerated such behaviour. simply for love. an act for love.
the world applauded with hands belonging not to those they were attached to, but to the earth, the government, the people, the trees.
when he sees him its all he is. a person. a boy. a kind, outspoken friend with pink lips and words to last them both decades to come.
he'd been waiting for hours- for harrys arrival, that is- and he'd planned it all out: asked in advance for a few hours off work, buy yellow-specked roses to contrast his demeanour, along with a dramatic card - all so that he could pick harry up from the airport himself. and yet, here he stood, watching him as he paused mid sentence, keeping his audience in the dark for an extended moment.
"you okay, there- uh- nick?" asked ashley - or, halsey - the pop artist he was currently interviewing. the question remained to be why harry was at the radio station. he wasn't meant to have landed yet. nick didn't care, though. he was here, and that was all that mattered.
he didn't even look back at ashley. he simply nodded. "yeah, yeah. all good. just... give me a moment, won't you?"
ashley started to protest, but nick was up and out of his seat before a word escaped her. his headphones ended up dangling off of the table, still connected to his microphone, which resembled a toppling building.
"harry. oh god - harry. thank you. thank you for coming." hugging had always been one of nick's favourite things; exchanging warmth felt a bit like a mutual understanding of sharing love, even if it only lasted, at best, for minutes.
"'course i came, nick." harry said, obviously straining his voice to keep from revealing how emotional he was getting. "you're important to me - when you're in trouble, just call me, yeah? like you did this time. i'm glad you did."
"thank you, seriously." words failed him. truly.
"you'd do the same for me." harry said, and nick knew without a second of doubt that he was right.
three hours passed, a lot like it used to have. when they were younger. and dumber. they talked for a long time, careful to avoid what had brought harry back to london to begin with. that is, until harry felt it time to bring it up.
in the car, just outside a trashy tesco, they sat with the heat on. the temperature outside was dropping rapidly, and as much as nick wanted to feel a sense of urgency to get home, he didn't. as long as he was in harry's company, he reckoned he'd most likely want to stay right where he was.
"i know it sucks to bring up the shitty things - but i need to know, nick. what... what was with that phone call?" harry's eyes passed over nick's, and then he added quickly, "i am so glad you called, it just worried me a bit, you know? you sounded..."
he let the sentence hang in the air, as though nick would know how to finish it. but the world was unfocused and happy to stay that way. and, nick realised, no amount of clarity would ever inspire him to finish a sentence no one wanted to here the end of.
"i know." he couldn't quite process harry's face expressions, nor could he analyse them. he was left feeling bereft of both response and the need to have one.
"okay, well - why don't you try explaining why you called? it was in the middle of the night, after all. even for me, and i was out of the country." harry said.
nick felt extremely childish as he shrugged in response.
"can you at least give a clue? point me in the right direction?”
tears started gathering in his eyes. “i - i think i hit rock bottom.”
harry tried to hide the sharp intake of breath. “a - are you crying, nick?”
“yes, harry. i’m crying.” he snapped. he regarded the terrified look on harry’s face with sick fascination. “and you’re not. you’re my best friend though, are you not?”
“i am. always have been.” harry said quietly. perhaps he’d realised his mistake. or maybe he remained as lost as ever.
“is that right?” shivers ran up and down his spine: anger dragged his muscles back into gear. “is that why you left? is that why you didn’t come back?”
“i perform, nick. it’s my job to travel. i - i’m sorry. i’m sorry if i hurt you.”
apprehensive looks of despair were exchanged. nick really hadn’t a clue how he’d mend this. perhaps something new and beautiful would sprout from the ugly crevice he’d split in the dirt of their friendship. or maybe their intricately sewn roots keeping their tree alive prevented it entirely.
“you need to choose, harry. stay or go.” it wasn’t fair, of course. nick couldn’t decide what a well-known celebrity could and couldn’t do. he supposed that was why he’d posed such a question. to make it easier. to relieve some of the pressure from saying goodbye for good.
“you know i can’t just -“ but nick didn’t let harry finish. he never did. interjecting seemed to be the only thing nick was good at maintaining.
"harry - don't you understand? i'm no good. i'm no good." he was close to sobbing now, and the sound of glass shattering echoed faintly from inside nick's heaving chest. “you - you know i don’t mean to sound like a complete twat, but i need to know if you care. even if i’m wrong. i need to know.”
"nick, you're the best i've ever had." harry said with quivering lips. he articulated the sentence as well as he could, but his vision was fogging up; his concentration seemed to falter just a bit.
"no one - no one's ever..." nick didn't know how to go about it all. he dared not be selfish, even now. saying what was really on his mind, what was furthering the cracks in his ribs, feeding off of his boiling insides...
"please, nick. tell me what's wrong."
"i'm too much for you. i'm too much for everyone. you think anyone would notice if i died tomorrow? no. the answer's no. it'll always be no." nick drew in a breath so caught up in his throat it defeated the purpose of breathing at all. "all the shit i've carried with me for god knows how long. you remember that party? when you danced with that girl? you didn't look at me once - and you were the one who'd dragged me out. you. it was always you.”
silence ensued. frightened; cold hearts remained buried within rattling ribcages.
"and i deserve it. i'm just that friend, that acquaintance, that screw up - no, let me finish!" harry, who had tried to take nick's hand pulled back, a mixture of horror and sadness set deeply in his face. "i know you want to get it, but you don't. christ - you're a celebrity. you're adored all over the world. no one fucking thinks of you as their second choice. i reckon i was born to be this way. maybe it's gods cruel way of making fun of me: dangling all i ever wanted just out of reach."
"i'm just -" a violent sob wracked through nick's entire body. "i'm so sad.”
admitting such a simple, intimidating thing was what declared the end of the night. at least that was how it was for nick. he could recall what happened next, just not perfectly so.
he wanted the sense of sharpness again; the thing the coke provided him with.
he hated the night for one reason, and one reason alone: harry, the only person he loved, would stop him from the only thing he loved. cocaine had always had a special way of saying nick’s name. something even harry couldn’t repeat.