A/N: Thanks to everyone who has submitted reviews for my first 2 Nashville stories. It's really helpful, particularly since I'm still getting my bearings writing for these two. When starting out with a new show, I usually start out with one-shots, to test the waters, see how it feels, before moving on to longer works (if they're in me). This one was inspired by a song (printed below) by Dessa.
I play a little fast and loose with the time frame of Rayna & Deacon not speaking after she fires him in season 1 (when this fic takes place). Anyway, that's enough from me!
Hello, it's only me
I know it's late,
Hoped to catch you still awake.
And maybe I was wrong to call,
Guess tonight broke my resolve.
I've been having that dream again—
It seems I always will.
I don't know what the thing means except
It sends me to the telephone.
And, still I know that love is never free,
It bows your head, and bends your knees.
But, there's no sword without an edge
And I sleep uneasily when you're not in my bed.
Cause I didn't come to play it safe,
I came to win or lose with you.
I only live alone awake,
Cause every night, yeah, you pass through.
Yeah, you pass through.
-It's Only Me, by Dessa
Rayna Jaymes rolled out of bed, careful not to wake the man sleeping beside her. Clutching her cell phone tightly in her right hand, she tiptoed into the closet, and pressed the door shut. She sat down on the floor, and unlocked her phone, a sheen of sweat forming on her face, illuminated by the soft blue glow.
Her hair fell in her face, and she pushed it away quickly, scrolling through her contacts. It didn't take her long to get to the name she was looking for—it stared back at her, and she knew she shouldn't dial it, not with Teddy asleep in the next room, not when she could still feel the weight of her wedding band.
She stared at the name, swiped her finger over it softly—if it were a penny, she would have rubbed it raw by now, from all the late night calls, all the times she needed to talk through something, all the songwriting sessions.
They were friends. She'd tell herself, and anyone who would listen. They'd always been friends. They'd always be friends, she'd say, and she said it so much for so long that it eventually became clear that she was only trying to convince herself. If anyone noticed the way her lip curled on the word friends, the way she nearly choked it out, her eyes faraway whenever she said it, they didn't let on.
But it had been three months since she'd talked to him, since she'd fired him because her husband had made her. It's the longest she'd gone in at least a decade without speaking to him. She looked at his name again, and before she could second guess herself again, she was pressing it, the weight under her thumb enormous, she heard it start to ring, and brought it to her ear, trying to will the quiet of the closet to overtake the clamor of her heart, the butterflies in her stomach.
Jesus Christ, Rayna. Her inner voice laughed at her, and she quieted that down too, until she was only left with the thoughts in her head—please answer—and the ringing of the phone, nearly deafening.
She was about to hang up, when she heard it—
A muffled voice, gruff and groggy, swallowed the first syllable of the only word she'd heard from him in months: "-lo?"
She cleared her throat, "Hey." She said into the phone, her voice rough from sleep, "It's me."
She heard rustling on the other end of the phone, imagined him sitting up in bed. He'd probably not looked at the caller ID.
"You can only fire me once, Rayna." He said, his voice heavy and dark—from sleep, definitely; from life, maybe.
She pressed her eyes shut. She deserved that. "Did I wake you?"
He laughed then, the sound short and loud, but not unpleasant. "It's 2am, Ray. So, yeah, you woke me."
"Sorry." She sighed, "I was hoping you were up—I know you like to burn the midnight oil."
He chuckled, "These days I only burn the 10pm oil, and that's if I'm lucky. Not as young as I used to be."
She smiled, "Well, none of us are."
Silence fell over the line, and Rayna pressed her lips together—had she forgotten how to talk to him? She felt nervous, and awkward, and she felt like she was just now realizing that hearing his voice nearly every day for 20 years is what had kept her sane.
"It's good to hear your voice."
He sighed, a heavy sound coming through the phone, that traveled down into her stomach and nestled there, a sense of uneasiness spreading through her. She shouldn't have said that.
"Yours, too." He said finally, after a long pause—pregnant , she'd have called it, if her mind could go anywhere near that word right now.
She sighed, too, but it was lighter than his, less full of exasperation—"I shouldn't have called. I didn't mean to." Her voice trailed off. She'd lost count of how many times she had tried not to call him, and succeeded.
"Thanks." His tone was dry.
"That's not what I…" She trailed off, "I didn't mean…" Frustrated, she tried again. "I… had that dream again. For the third night in a row."
She heard him still over the phone, the rustling stopped, his breathing hitched. She didn't have to explain to him what dream she was talking about. She'd started having it the first time they broke up, after a particularly bad bender on his part, and she'd had it off and on ever since. The first time she'd told him about it, she hadn't been able to stop crying, there were some parts of it he still didn't understand because the crying had distorted her words too much, and he couldn't bear to ask her to repeat herself.
I just felt so bereft, she kept saying. She said the word over and over again—bereft—until it lost its meaning. Then she was quiet for a minute, until she sobbed it over and over again—bereft—until the meaning came back, and even though they were broken up, he'd held her head against his chest and smoothed his hand over her hair.
Shhhh, he whispered, I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere. She'd looked up at him again with watery eyes, promise? She'd asked. And he had. He had promised her, and the promise kept him sober for 8 months that time.
Sometimes, after they'd gotten back together, she'd wake up in the middle of the night unable to breathe, eyes wide with terror, and he'd wrap his arms around her, murmuring in her ear—it's okay, baby. It's okay. I'm here. He'd take her hand and place it on his heart, pressing it flat so she could feel it beating in his chest. I'm here. He'd say again, he'd keep saying it until she breathed normally, until she slipped her hand from his chest and buried it in his hair, her forehead pressed tightly against his own.
I hate that dream. She'd whisper.
"I hate that dream," She whispered into the phone, "I hate that dream." Her voice was thick, trying to keep the tears out.
"I'm here." He said, and then she heard a rustling, and small thud, and she knew without seeing that the phone was over his heart. She couldn't hear it beating, but she heard him whisper "I'm here," as he brought the phone back up to his mouth, and a weight lifted from her shoulders, tight with worry, dread, and an unspeakable fear.
"Are you lonely?" Her question was sudden, and the sound of it coming out of her mouth surprised her because she hadn't meant to ask it—not truly.
"Only when I'm awake." She hadn't expected him to answer, and what he said next stole her breath, "I dream about you too, Ray. Happier dreams, though." He paused, "Sometimes sexier dreams." He chuckled.
She thought back to her dream three months ago—to her dream two weeks ago—and she blushed.
"Shit," He breathed, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that."
She smiled, "It's okay," her face felt hot, "It's only me."
There was a shift between them, then, she could feel it, and his voice was sad when he finally spoke again. "Yeah," his laugh was sad, too, "I think that's my problem, darlin'." His meaning was clear.
She didn't know what to say—she never knew what to say when they talked like this, because the only things she wanted to say were the things she couldn't say.
He knew. "Night, Ray."
She spoke on the inhale, so her voice didn't betray her tears, "Goodnight, Deacon."
The wall felt cold on her back, so she slipped down further until she was lying on the floor, curled up on her side, the hardwood pressing itself into her hip bone—she fell asleep like that, clutching her phone, her face flush against the floor.