100 Love Letters
I think I've figured out how I'll know you're you. I may only be eighteen, but I'm not stupid. Everyone says you'll "just know" when the one for you is in your life. And sure, maybe so, but that's so insanely vague! I suppose I'll know you're you when you keep coming back to me. In my dreams, in my life, in my thoughts.
And not just me being obsessed and infatuated, oh no. When I daydream about my future, my distant future when I'm old and grey, and the person that's with me is you. When, after we argue and yell, all I want to do is come back to you and have you hold me. When we go through the worst life has to offer, through death and despair and anger and hate and everything else, the one person at the end of the day that I want nothing more to see is you.
And you know how I'll know?
When you say the same thing about me.
Christmas Day was wonderful. Amy managed to forget Nikita and everything while she spent time with her family. She called her friends to wish them a happy holiday, and she met up with Darryl on Boxing Day to catch up.
It wasn't until she came home from after Christmas shopping with her mother, on December 29th, that she remembered the letter she'd stuffed in her coat pocket. She was doing so well with forgetting that she hadn't dealt with Nikita's bombshell. She was determined not to play that game again, the one where she let him dominate her thoughts. Against her better judgment, she took the envelope. She ran her fingers over the sealed flap, wondering if it was wise to read it.
Especially considering he was going to give it to Angel. Amy sighed and ripped open the envelope. There was a single sheet of lined paper, ripped out of a notebook. One edge still had the little fringe from the spiral. She recognized Nikita's handwriting immediately, and with trepidation, she began to read.
I don't know who I should address this to. I guess that's kind of the point, right?
Yesterday, I met a girl. That's nothing new, as I meet girls all the time. I ran into her after she threw away a box of the most remarkable letters I've ever read. Ninety-nine letters, written to someone who remains a mystery to her. Why did she throw them away? I feel like I know her, I really do. I'll never see her again, our first meeting was strange enough. But I have her letters, and I can't bring myself to throw them away either.
I've never thought much about marriage, or true love or anything like that. My thoughts and energy have been devoted to my music and my band. I never thought that people do think about these things, for years. At first, I was a bit weirded out by the letters, but as I read, I came to realize that it wasn't really obsession. It was hope.
I haven't had a lot of hope in my life, so I'm going to give myself some.
I don't know who's reading this, and I don't know if anyone ever will. Maybe I'm just writing this to myself, and that's okay. I just pray that the girl I marry will understand this letter, and how much this means that I'm even writing it. Whoever you are, don't give up on an ol' singer like me.
The people that matter the most in my life seem to come back again and again, you see. I couldn't get rid of Alan Ives if I tried. My mother is the same way. As much as she drives me nuts, she was there, always. I can't forget Molly, or Justin. Always there. The first people I think about when something goes wrong.
We all need a little hope in our lives. This letter symbolizes the hope I have for my future. Maybe it can be the same thing for you.
I refuse to go all mushy in this thing. And I'm not going to fill a shoebox with thoughts. I'll just let my music do the talking, all right?
But just know that one day in November of 2010, Nikita Otto thought of you.
The news broke about the engagement ending. Amy's own broken engagement had been bad enough, and she didn't even have every tabloid, gossip mag, or celebrity blog discussing and spreading rumors about it. As she'd predicted, there were various camps determined to demonize either side. A few were wonderfully neutral, but no one was really interested in the real story. Nikita and Angel had asked for privacy, but they sure as hell didn't get it.
PR spokespeople explained time and time again that no one had cheated, it was mutual (not that it was, but it seemed the best way to avoid nasty surprises), and that Angel was seeking help for reasons other than any problems in her relationship.
The last being key, as Amy had been surprised to see so many people, even those who considered themselves fans of Knightley, to be ripping on Nikita for breaking Angel's heart and causing her to fall into despair. It had to be hard for everyone involved, and Amy wasn't sure it would be let go unless Angel made a public announcement.
It was New Year's Eve, and Amy was still in Chicago with her family. She had planned on spending the evening with her family and their friends for a fancy party, but she just wasn't up to it. The day was grey and threatening more snow, and she was content to curl up on her old bed on her laptop and wile the day away.
Unfortunately, most of that wiling was spent reading about the break up. She understood the emotional connection fans had with the musicians, but it was really almost scary to see how personal some people took things like break ups and betrayal. Some of Angel's more prominent fans took the break up almost personally, in spite of the given reasons. According to them, Nikita could never make up for destroying their idol's life.
Nikita's fans came to the rescue, many of them repeating the PR spokesman's words. Nikita cared deeply about Angel, he hadn't broken up with her, and her problems had been a long time coming.
It was tiring just to read. Amy knew better than to pretend she didn't care. She cared too much about Nikita to let it all go. With a frown, she decided she needed a drink and a good heart to heart with Darryl. Beetle's would be busy, but Darryl was probably letting his assistant manager run the place, as he often did on New Year's. It was Darryl's one night where he could get a rest and do his own thing.
She didn't dress up this time, choosing to keep on her baggy jeans and a Ninox shirt Wayne had given her for Christmas the year before. Ninox was a new band, who'd been totally robbed at the Grammy's the year before. They were wonderful, different from Knightley in that they had an edgier sound, and their lyrics were more whimsical. Amy liked them quite a bit, though she still had her heart set on Knightley, more than she liked to admit sometimes.
With a coat, a scarf and hat, and some boots to keep her feet warm, she was ready to go. She slipped out the front door before her mother could see, and made her way towards Beetle's. She had a short wait to get in, which she wasn't used to. She was glad that Beetle's was doing well, especially after the slow night on Christmas Eve.
Once inside, she saw the club was having something of a party. Everyone wore fancy clubbing clothes, fancier than the usual laid back atmosphere, anyway. There were decorations, mostly silver and black, and a big banner on the stage that said, NEW YEAR'S EXTRAVAGANZA that made her laugh.
And Nikita Otto was sitting on a stool, playing guitar. Amy felt an old flare of excitement at seeing him. She had no idea he'd be there again so soon after his Christmas Eve performance. That excitement was cut with anxiety. Would he try to talk to again? What would she say? She'd said goodbye to him, so why was he still popping up everywhere? His songs were a bit more upbeat than last time, and he actually smiled at the crowd, but he still had the air of tragedy around him. She didn't expect to see him there again, but she wasn't entirely surprised. He probably liked playing, liked getting his mind off his broken engagement.
Amy felt out of place as she slunk towards the bar, where Julia waved in recognition. "You're the rum and coke girl who's friends with Nikita, right?"
Amy nodded. "I guess that's an apt description. I didn't realize he was playing tonight."
"It's his last show here, ever," Julia said, mixing the rum and coke without waiting to be asked. She set it down in front of Amy. "He only plays here anyway because he's not getting paid, but his contract's changing so he can't play in public like this. We'll miss him, he's such a nice guy."
"Yeah, he really is."
"Such a shame about his engagement. They were a beautiful couple." Julia looked as if she wanted to say something else, but a group of guys staggered up to the bar and the young woman whisked off to help them. She was already more confident in her role as a bartender, and for some reason Amy was glad to see it.
Amy took her drink in hand and watched Nikita play as she headed towards the back rooms. He didn't see her, not like last time, as the crowd was too large and he was too involved in his music. She smiled, and ducked into Darryl's office where her friend was sorting order invoices.
"Back so soon?" he asked with a grin. "My my, Amy, can't stay away?"
"Nikita's never playing here again?" she asked. She was unable to keep the disappointment from her voice.
"Yeah, and it's a damn shame, though the man is going to be too busy soon to really mess with the likes of us. It was nice while it lasted."
Amy nodded and sat down across from Darryl. "You know, I've realized something in the past two years."
"What's that?" Darryl asked, putting the stack of invoices down.
"I really, really suck at being a groupie."
Darryl let out a peal of laughter. "Amy, no one would ever mistake you for a groupie. You're too innocent and rebellious."
"That's a strange juxtaposition of character traits, if I do say so myself."
Darryl shook his head. "No. You're not a groupie."
"Sometimes I feel like I was, you know?"
Darryl shook his head again, more emphatically. "Call it what you will, but if you ask Nikita, he'd tell you that he never thought of you like that. And really, what normal groupie has been through what you have? Amy, you know what I realized in the past two years, watching from a distance?"
"That you deserve everything you're going to get. And in a good way." He stood up and made his way for the door. "I like that you've grown up and learned to be happy on your own terms. But don't ever forget to dream, okay? You're the best dreamer I know, and you've always held hope in your heart."
Amy followed him back out, his words strangely poignant. Hope. That's what Nikita had spoken of. She watched him once more as he played, his voice much more emotionally strong than it had been a week earlier. Maybe he'd found his hope again, too. He hadn't read the letter since he sealed it, most likely right after he'd written it.
It had taken her eight years and ninety-nine letters to say the same thing he'd written in one.
And he hadn't expected to see her again after their strange meeting at the charity concert, that was certain. It made it a little easier to realize his motivations and that he hadn't read her letters maliciously. It made her feel so much better that she still had feelings for him. That she could still dream about him.
That she could still find him again and again in her life.
She finished off her drink at the bar, her old companion the bar. She didn't have another one, but simply let herself close her eyes and lose herself in the beauty of Nikita's voice. For the first time in two years, she finally was at peace. She had hope, she had joy, and she had certainty.
It didn't matter what was going to happen after Nikita's set was over. It didn't matter what happened six months from now.
She knew who she was, and she liked it.
Amy didn't really notice when Nikita's live music switched over to piped in music. A Ninox song, "Vagabond Souls", stated playing but Amy didn't pay attention.
It wasn't until Nikita's voice next to her spoke that she snapped open her eyes.
"Long time no see," he said to her. He smiled then. His hair was bleached once more. She hadn't noticed when he was on stage, because she'd been so used to seeing him with white hair that it didn't occur to her that it should have been dark brown.
"You sounded great."
"You look very happy." Nikita regarded her, as if trying to figure out this new creature in front of him.
Amy nodded. "I am."
Nikita's smile softened. He searched her eyes, looking for some reason that she would be so happy.
"You know," she said, her voice barely above a whisper. Nikita had to lean in to hear her over the music. "You keep coming back to me."
"Well, maybe not in so dramatic terms. But you're always there."
"And you're never going to play here again, are you?"
Nikita shook his head. It felt like the end of an era. And Amy supposed it was. Nikita had gotten his start in this little club, he and his bandmates, and he played through the maelstrom of the past two years. He was more famous than he most likely had ever dreamed. Amy had found him here. Had danced with him here. Confronted him here. Let him go here. And now, she was meeting him again here, the two of them in new places in their lives. Amy looked at him carefully, as if seeing him for the first time. Her mother's words flitted through her mind. The strange, unasked for advice. Seize the moment. You might regret it later.
"Nikita, can you do me a favor?"
Amy hopped off her stool. She was ready to go back home, but she had one last thing to say to Nikita.
Amy took a deep breath. "In six months, if you think you're finally in the right place, come back here. No matter what you're doing, or what tour you're on, come back here. Six months, to the day. June 30th. Ten PM."
"Six months." Nikita didn't need to ask for Amy's explanation on why that amount of time. He'd waited six months after the fight with Amy that morning after her birthday to begin dating Angel. His face was carefully clear of any knowing, eager expression. They kept coming back to each other. "Yes. That's acceptable."
"Goodbye, Nikita," she said. This time, it didn't have the heavy feeling of finality to it. A temporary goodbye. It wouldn't be the last time she said it. The words filled her heart with hope. She started walking towards the door of the club, a smile firmly in place on her lips. When she was nearly to the coat check, Nikita called out her name.
"Amy!" He ran after her, caught her arm, and spun her around. In the space of half breath, he had his hands buried into her hair. He kissed her, in front of everyone in Beetle's. A chaste kiss, but one so full that Amy was breathless when he pulled away. "See you in six months."
Amy smiled and touched her lips.
"I'll be singing a song for you," he whispered in her ear.
And with that, she grabbed her coat and walked away, the song "Blackbird" on her lips the entire way home.
Author's Note: And here you are. The end. :D And before anyone asks, no, I will not be writing an epilogue. This is exactly where I wanted to end it. Also, I'm not done with this rockstar world! I'll be writing two spinoffs, one a shorter novella called Vagabond Souls, and one about everyone's favorite Jerkface Ives called All the Bitter Songs. So be on the lookout. Thanks so much to my amazing readers for giving me over 1,000 reviews! I couldn't do it without you! And thanks for my silent readers for favoriting and all that. You guys are wonderful.
soli deo gloria