Title: The Forecast

Author: coolbyrne

Rating: G

Disclaimer: The characters of Tony Hill and Carol Jordan belong to Val McDermid. I write them because I love them, not because I'm making money from them.

A/N: Meant to be a complement to "Out of Season", except from Carol's POV. I thought it would be much longer, but it seemed to run out of steam early, so I left it as it was.

Summary: Carol misses things that made England home.


I miss the rain, Tony.

I say it out loud, but low enough that the only person who might think I've gone round the bend is me. I lean forward and pick up a simple black picture frame that holds what appears to be a generic Christmas office party photo. There's Kevin with a wry grin and a toast for the camera. Paula, her own drink held aloft. I am sitting forward, with my elbows on the table, seemingly less than thrilled at the picture taker. (I wonder who it was?) And you, sitting back, arm draped lazily across the top of my chair, looking more at ease than I have ever seen you. (I wonder how much you had to drink?) To the casual observer, it is nothing more than a snapshot of a moment between four co-workers, perhaps friends. But what a snapshot doesn't capture are the little moments before and after the lens clicked open and shut. The tickle of your breath on my neck as you leaned over to whisper "Happy Christmas" into my ear. The warmth of your hand that stayed a little too long on my back. The joke about the mistletoe…

I jerk my head away from the photo and look out the window of my fourth floor office. I try to ignore the boxes caught in my peripheral view, damning evidence that six months into the job, I still haven't settled. A job that I couldn't seem to accept fast enough. No, instead of acknowledging the charge, I focus on the view outside and am rewarded by a graveyard of buildings, set like dominoes, each with small rectangles of glass instead of pips. The sun nearly blinds me in the reflections and forces me to squint fiercely, but I refuse to turn away.

The sun. A dull yellow that does little to cheer me and in fact is the reason for my initial lament. The rain, or lack of it, I suppose. In the month I left, London had as much rain as Johannesburg has given me in six months combined. It's autumn for my internal calendar, and my stubborn clock refuses to believe October is the early stages of summer.

I glance back down to the photo in my hand. "Who would have thought I'd miss the rain, eh?" I ask the deep blue eyes gazing back at me. A lesson in things taken for granted, you might tell me, and as always, you'd be right. I took for granted its knack for being bloody annoying but also its ability to be oddly comforting. It could show up at the most inopportune of times, but also give me a good reason to take the day off and stay inside with a good book. An agitator and a friend. My hollow laugh mocks my use of clichés. Purple prose. I chastise myself by tossing the frame onto my desk and swivelling my chair around to the window to defiantly face the sun. Not a cloud in the sky.

I miss my rain.