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Anchor

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I can barely look at you. All these years you stood by my side, appreciating me, defending me, pushing me in the best possible ways. While all I did was letting you down at any given chance. We used to be so very close, right from day one. The kiddos, the least talented ones that ended up in this band out of chance. Or for the looks, hell, I don't know.
It didn't take me long to realise that we were a bit like yin and yang, like fire and water. You calmed my storms, you listened to all of my outbursts and even heard the words I did not say. And there were many of those. Because we were silly enough to keep up this charade, this little game of ours where you build up your childish walls around you because you believe that you're too grown up and too much of a man to share true feelings. Instead we simply hung around each other, talking about this and that but never getting to the core. While we enjoyed each other's company, we never really made it the subject of our conversations. Yes, we did love one another. And yes, we said so when we hugged each other but talking about what would happen if the other person would suddenly not be around anymore was way out of line.

But still it was good.
It was just what I needed.
You were my anchor. My everything.

You've always had this something about you that makes you put other people's needs and feelings first. I would say it's more than compassion and in the beginning I hadn't realised how destructive that could be. When we were still sharing hotel rooms, I sometimes watched you sleep, just because I couldn't live with the idea that somebody could ever harm you. You frowned a lot in your sleep, it was as if the whole weight of the world was resting on your shoulders. It got worse over the years, you began to lie awake at night, unable to find the sleep that you so desperately needed. Looking exhausted when you felt unwatched, putting on a brave Markie smile as soon as you knew that all eyes were on you. I wondered what it was all about but we didn't talk about it. I had so much mess going on in my life, I wasn't sure I could help you and I was too much of a coward to even try because silence between us would have crushed me and I was not sure I could survive it, not at that time, when the drugs and alcohol were slowly taking over control. So I just let it happen out of very selfish reasons. You, on the other hand, were always there for me. Whenever I hit bottom because I was depressed or the roof because I was high. You were like my shadow, always there.

And it was good.
It was just what I needed.
You were my anchor. My everything.

The next part of my life is like a technicolour movie on triple speed. Drugs. Booze. Fights. You deciding that you need your own space, own hotel room. Me shrugging it off. More booze. Weed. Cocaine. We're naughty. We're naughty. We're off our fucking heads. A merry-go-round spinning way too fast. Oasis. Glastonbury. My head in a toilet bowl. Wide eyes. Narrow eyes. Speed. Lying on some festival floor, facing the sky, lost in my own world.

And the crash.

And me out.

And an angry band accusing me of hurting you. And me not understanding. I should have understood. Right there and then but my head was too far in the clouds. How could I be hurting you when you were still hanging out with me, smiling? More distanced but you were still there. We still shared that one conversation until seven in the morning, eating tuna sandwiches and philosophising on life. You were still my Markie, you still gave me your special smile. And you caught me when I crashed, you held me when I was high and you were the best friend I could ask for. So how could they say those things? How was I hurting you? Why was Gary so happy to have me out of the band? Or Jason? How come you suddenly seemed so small. So boyish. Scared. For that one special moment when I walked out the door to never return to Take That again.

We didn't see each other for a few months. You tried to call at home, you phoned up my parents and had it already been the age of mobile phones, I'm sure that you would not have stopped calling me until I answered. But it wasn't - which was my luck. I could avoid you. And with that I could avoid myself. I wasn't ready to hear the words that I involuntarily said to you even without opening my mouth. It scared me how well you could read me. You were too close to home. It was not good. You were my anchor and you pulled me down.

But you never gave up. Told me that it wasn't my fault, that you understood, that you were sometimes depressed as well and that we would get through this together. I pushed you away many times but you would always return, write letters, notes and short fax messages. Saying that you would be there and that those demons were a lot less scary if I'd open up to you.

Take That was long history when I finally confided in you. I had called you up to hear how you were doing because the latest pictures I had seen of you had worried me, you looked pale and tired. I was on a high, Angels had just been released and life was treating me well - if there hadn't been that odd depression. I had invited you round to cheer you up. In the end you were holding me and for the first time since I can remember I cried honest tears in your arms. Suddenly you were full of life again, you took care of me, you were the Markie of the early days. We bonded instantly again. You stayed the night.

And it was good.
It was just what I needed.
You were my anchor. My everything.

All these years you stood by my side, appreciating me, defending me, pushing me in the best possible ways. When the band got together for the documentary and I didn't show up, you stood up for me, you explained my reasons, you were my spokesman, my defender and you were passionate about it. I still cannot thank you enough.

When you started reuniting the band and I couldn't join for so many reasons, one of them being my larger than life ego, another one the lack of the same, you listened - night in, night out I would talk to you on the phone, you never asked me to call again tomorrow because you were tired. You were the best friend I ever had and will ever have and you don't even know it because you don't love yourself in the same way you love the people you care about.

The day we got back together in the studio for real, I was shaking like a leaf - you were there, keeping up the great spirits and looking out, beady-eyed. You sensed every discomfort in the room - not just mine, also that of the other guys - and tried to be the glue to get Take That back together. Gary was doing a great job as well - but you were the heart and soul of the reunion. Because you knew that deep down inside all I had ever wanted was to come home. Though that was one of the things I had never said out loud, you knew. And when I tried to quit again, you made me see what you see in me with that special look in your eyes. You made it sound like a small step to take and not the mountain that I felt I had to climb. Reminded me of how this reunion was all I had ever dreamed of over the past few years and that you would not watch me throw it all away. You were just what I needed. My anchor.

And now.

I have finally found happiness. I have come to terms with my life, I know what I want and I've overcome my depression for the first time in ages. The fear has vanished for now, I feel like I've been embraced with open arms and feel secure. Not alone. I made it. I'm proud. I couldn't have done it without you. You were there every single step of my way - if not always present but in my mind, you were always there just the way that I was always there with you.

The others have just left the studio to call it a day and so have I. You've decided to stay a bit longer and work on that song you've just written. I've returned because you were so awfully quiet today - have been for a few weeks now.
And that's where I find you. Huddled on the sofa. An empty bottle in your hand.
You're broken.
You look at me with shame and guilt and I realise that I have seen this all before - in my own reflection.
You need help. My help.

All these years you've been strong for me, you've given your last to save me.
I can barely look at you. But the coward in me won't win this time.
Because you are my everything. And I'll be your anchor.