‘Uhm, hello?’ questioned the female voice that answered the phone.
‘Oh, hey,’ answered Chester.
‘Chester, hey,’ replied the girl sitting up in her bed and turning on the lamp.
Chester looked at his watch, it was 9pm here in the states but he wasn’t sure what time it was there. ‘What time is it? I didn’t wake you up did I?’
‘It’s 2am, so yeah, you kinda did wake me.’
‘Oh, Niki, I am so sorry, I’ll call back if you want,’ Chester felt guilty for waking her, he didn’t know he had done.
‘If it was anyone else, I would have hung up by now,’ Niki replied, waking up a little. ‘we can talk, I’m awake now.’
‘I’m sorry, you’re the best Nik,’ Chester told her.
‘So you guys keep telling me,’ Nik laughed slightly.
‘What?’ Chaz was confused.
‘Brad called me earlier, when I was AWAKE. To ask me to get him this limited edition Britney Spears CD that you can only get in the UK. He’s gonna pay me back for it when I see you guys in 2 weeks. I just hope that no one sees me buying it, I have a reputation to uphold.’ Nik laughed again, Chester did the same in spite of himself.
‘I just wanted to hear a friendly voice. The guys aren’t exactly the people I want to turn to right now,’ there was conviction in his voice as he explained his reasons for calling.
‘You’re bound to feel down, Chaz. You’re going through a divorce, they’re tough, I should know. I watched my parents go through it, I helped my sister through hers and if Ben and I had got married, I’d have gone through one too.’ Niki explained to Chester. She hated knowing he was in pain, she just wanted to be with him.
‘It’s really getting to me, you know? My wife has moved out of my house and filed for DIVORCE! I can’t handle it, she doesn’t love me anymore,’ tears could be heard in his voice.
‘Of course she still loves you Chester, she just can’t handle the life style anymore. She doesn’t know who or what your doing, I expect that really drove her crazy. She does love you,’ Nik meant what she was saying.
‘I don’t know, I don’t know……’ he was really depressed by this.
‘You know, your lucky you’re not home,’ Nik stated mater-of-factly.
‘How the hell can I be lucky?!’
‘You don’t have to watch her leave you. I watched Ben clear himself out of my life and our home. For three years my life had been nothing but Ben and now it was over. Watching him leave was heartbreaking, we’d been together 5 years and living together for 3 of them. The night after he left I slept alone in the bed we’d shared for so long. I was close to breaking point doing that. Plus we didn’t have a court to sort out who got what, we had to do that ourselves, I think that’s the reason we never stayed friends,’ Nik regretted that about her’s and Ben’s break up, she missed him as a friend even after a year.
‘Yeah but it’s still not going to be easy! She’s my WIFE and she’s leaving me,’ Chester was in tears.
‘I never said it was easy, it’s hard. But the wounds will heal, these things take time. Look at me now, you saw me when Ben left, I was a wreck. But now I have my own life, my own apartment and a job that allows me to travel around anywhere I want and still work as long as I have a laptop and a cell phone. You will find it hard, especially when you have to return home from tour to an empty house but things will eventually get better,’ she had personal experience in what she was saying.
‘I know, I’m just scared that’s all. I don’t think I’ll be able to handle the courts and having my life dictated by a judge ’ Chester explained, his tears drying up.
‘Yeah, I know. The thing you need to realise though is that with your job, money will be an issue with the courts,’ it was true, his rock star status made money a big thing.
‘Yeah, well, I’ll make sure she gets enough but not too much. If she wants loads at least I’ll know the truth of why she stayed with me all these years.’
‘Don’t be stupid Chester! The woman married you before you had any money! Didn’t you work in a coffee shop when you married Sam?’ Nik hated it when people thought stuff like that.
‘I guess you’re right… Anyway, I best let you get back to sleep,’ Chester obviously had got what he wanted from the call.
‘Yeah, let me return to my beauty sleep, lord knows I need it,’ Nik replied, giggling.
‘Not true, you’re beautiful enough. I’ll see you in 2 weeks?’ asked Chester.
*If only you really thought that of me* Nik thought, replacing the phone back in its cradle.
Nik stood in the airport, getting giddier by the second. *Stop it, you're acting like a little teenager!* she scolded herself. But, then again, how often did your best friends and your favourite band all come into town at the same time?!
She stood waiting patiently, watching the arrivals for the men to walk through. In her bag she had things they’d all asked her for. Brad’s Britney CD, Phoenix had asked for some Marks and Spencer’s juice stuff for some reason, Chester had asked for some Boddingtons-he liked this beer, he said it was good, Rob had asked for some men’s body spray stuff you could only get in the UK, Mike had asked for some Skittles cos he preferred the UK’s black-current flavoured purple ones and Joe had asked for, in his words:
‘Nik’s good, fine self as it was the only good thing the UK had on offer’.
There they were, coming through the gate. Nik couldn’t hide her excitement, she stood smiling watching them come over.
‘NIK!!!’ shouted Mike, running at her. She almost moved out of his way but she took his hug instead. The rest of the band caught up and hugged her. Chester’s hug lingered a little longer than the rest, as if he founded comfort in her arms.
‘I come bearing gifts,’ Nik smiled, opening her bag. ‘Brad, your CD, luckily no one saw me buy that… Phoenix, your drinks. Rob, your drinks. Mike, your
Skittles. Chester, here you go, some Boddingtons….’
‘WOOHOO! BEEEEEEEEEERRRRR!’ he shouted, taking it off her.
Nik laughed at him. ‘And for Joe, ME’ she smiled and went to stand next to him. ‘Ready?’
‘Yep, let’s go!’
Nik laid across Chester’s bed in his hotel room waiting for him to get ready. They had all decided to go out for something to eat and to catch up.
Before they went out all the guys wanted to change as they’d had a very long journey. The bathroom door opened and Chester emerged wearing just a towel.
Nik had to grab hold of her jaw to stop it hitting the floor. He looked amazing, she’d never seen him like this.
‘I’ll just be a sec,’ Chester told her, pulling some trousers and a top out of his bag.
Nik nodded in acknowledgement, hey eyes never leaving Chaz’s form. She watched him pull on his trousers and pull the top of his head. He rubbed his towel over his shaved head and threw it on the bed. Nik loved watching guys dress, she liked to see them transform from gorgeous Adonis’s to the clothed people you see walking around, it was at times like this Nik believed clothes should be illegal. Chester was lucky he didn’t have any hair to do.
She remembered when she used to watch Ben do his hair, he had orange hair that he would spend ages styling to make it look like it had just naturally messed itself up. God, she missed him.
‘You OK?’ Nik asked Chester, getting off the bed and going over to him.
‘No, I, umm, I’m scared that’s all,’ Nik hugged Chester, pulling him close.
‘It’s OK. It’s understandable that you be scared, you're getting a divorce, it’s not going to be easy,’ Nik rubbed his back trying to comfort him.
‘I went to court three days ago, I have to back in another six. She wants way too much money, maybe that’s why she stayed married to me?’ Chester held on to Nik tightly.
‘Don’t be stupid Chester, when she married you, you worked in a coffee shop for god’s sakes! She loves you! She married you cos she loves you! She’s divorcing you because she can’t live that way!’ Chester silenced and Nik could feel her shoulder getting damp as his tears soaked into her top.
‘Oh fuck!’ Chaz said suddenly. ‘We gotta get downstairs to the others.’ Nik took his hand and led him to the lobby. The rest of the band were stood waiting for them.
‘Take your good sweet time, why don’t you?!’ Mike said as soon as they arrived
‘Will do,’ replied Chester.
‘It’s not like you even had to do your hair!’ Mike was obviously in an annoyed mood.
‘Why what do you have to do to yours? Crimp it, curl it, dry it, style it? And then change your mind and just shove your fingers through it?’ Nik mocked Mike’s hair. He gave her an upset look and turned away.
‘Hey, excuse me, you will find that this is mine!’ Jo took hold of Nik’s hand and pulled her away from Chester. Nik giggled and then they set off.
Their night out was a blast. They all had fun, drank loads, and caught up. Chester seemed to be having fun to, which was good.
‘Well, I really should go home,’ Nik told the guys.
‘Actually, I was gonna ask you to stay with me tonight, if that’s OK?’ Chester asked her.
‘Yeah, sure,’ Nik smiled, taking his hand and going with him to his room.
Nik splashed water on her face and looked in the mirror. She had just agreed to sleep with Chester tonight and she was now wearing his T-shirt as a nightie. *Weird* she thought to herself, opening the door.
‘All yours,’ she told him, moving out of his way.
‘Thanks, I won’t be long,’ with that he went into the bathroom.
Nik climbed into the bed and made herself comfy, waiting for Chester to return.
He came out of the bathroom in just his boxers and Nik could have died. He looked amazing. She watched him get into the bed and felt the warmth coming off his body.
‘You OK?’ Nik asked him again, putting her hand on his cheek.
‘Yeah, I’m OK, just getting used to it, that’s all,’ he pulled Nik towards him and hugged her. The two of them then fell asleep in each others' arms.
Nik woke up the next morning to found Chester no longer in the bed with her. She climbed out of it and walked towards the sliding doors that led to the balcony. Chaz was stood with his back to her, having a smoke whilst watching the people below. Nik walked on to the balcony, her bare feet padding across the tiled floor. Chester hadn’t noticed her so she put her arms round his waist and hugged him.
‘How you doing?’ she asked him, as he turned himself round so that he was facing her in the hug.
‘I’m doing fine, I just needed a smoke and didn’t want to wake you,’ Chaz squeezed Nik and then released her so that he could finish his smoke. ‘Can I ask you a question?’ Chester looked at Nik who was now leaning against the other side of the balcony.
‘Sure,’ she smiled at him, waiting for his question.
‘You told me you can travel anywhere in the world and still be able to work, right?’ this wasn’t exactly the type of question Nik had thought he would ask.
‘Yeah, just as long as I have my laptop and mobile,’ she frowned at him, wondering why he’d ask her something like that.
‘Well, would you be able to work and come on tour with us?’ Nik almost fell off the balcony when he asked. Chester caught in time and pulled her close.
‘Yeah! Oh my god, Chester, that’s so amazing! I’d love to come on tour with you guys,’ she hugged and couldn’t stop smiling. She was so happy! ‘I best go get dressed and then we can go to breakfast.
Nik went to the bathroom and showered. She put on her clothes from the previous day and lucky for her, she always carried her make-up bag with her.
When she was dressed, she and Chester went down to see if the guys were already at breakfast.
When they got downstairs, Brad was sat at a table, mike and Joe were busy getting food.
‘Morning,’ Brad smiled as they went over to the table.
‘Yo, I’m gonna go get food,’ Chester told them, walking off to the buffet.
‘Hey, guess what?’ Nik wanted everyone to know.
‘What?’ Brad asked.
‘I’m coming on tour with you!’
‘You are?! That’s great!’ Brad hugged Nik, and then she went to get some food for herself.
‘I hear you’re joining us on tour,’ asked Mike, walking towards her with a plate full of eggs, bacon and toast in his hand.
‘Sure am,’ Nik replied.
‘That’s cool, it’ll be a pleasure having you with us,’ Mike hugged her with his free arm and then returned to his table.
Nik got a black coffee and some fruit and toast before returning to the table. Joe was now sat down and rob had arrived, she couldn’t see Phoenix anywhere. She went to sit in the seat that was empty beside Chester but Joe wouldn’t let her.
‘I believe you should be sitting with me,’ Joe said to her, pointing at the seat beside him.
‘Yeah, OK,’ Nik giggled, she loved Joe being like this, it was kind of amusing.
‘I’m glad you’re coming on tour with us by the way,’ Joe told her, smiling.
‘Your coming on tour with us?!’ Rob exclaimed. ‘Oh yeah, we got ourselves a bitch!’
Brad smacked Rob upside the head, ‘Don’t be rude!’ he warned him.
‘Why do y’all always have to pick on me! It’s not fair,’ Rob whined.
‘Your the youngest, it’s your place in life,’ Mike told Rob.
‘No fair!’ he continued to whine.
‘No, your right, it’s mean. But, when I’m with you guys, I’m the youngest, you know,’ Nik explained.
‘Yeah, but we can’t pick on you cos you’re a lady,’ Mike told her.
‘Oh, Mike that’s so sweet, spoken like a true gentleman,’ Nik smiled at him.
‘No one’s ever called me a gentleman before, I’m always a guy or a man. I like that, thank you,’ Mike lent over and hugged Nik, he honestly did like her compliment.
‘So, when do we leave and what is happening today?’ Nik needed to know this stuff so that she could pack and get things ready.
‘We leave in two days' time. Today we gotta do a load of publicity stuff and tomorrow, we got to do a recording for ‘Top of The Pops’. We then leave in the early hours of the next morning.’ Brad explained the plan to her.
‘That’s cool, cos today I can call my employers, family and friends to tell them what I’m doing,’ Nik was satisfied with that. ‘But wait, when are you gonna see my new place?’ She wanted them to see her apartment, she’d moved since they’d last visited.
‘How about tonight? You can give us the address and then we can come over when we’ve finished at around 7ish,’ suggested Joe.
‘That’s fine by me, here, I got a pen, let me write my address on this napkin. Tell it to the taxi driver and he’ll get you there. If you like, I’ll cook something,’ Nik figured they might all as well hang out.
‘Sure that’d be good,’ they all agreed.
‘Right, I best go, things to do,’ They all exchanged goodbyes and Nik left.
The guys were set to be arriving any time soon. Nik had spent the day calling people to tell them she would be out of the country for a while and she’d also started packing her stuff. She had food cooking in the oven - just pasta, breads and salad - nothing special. Her apartment was tidy and all she needed now was Linkin Park.
There was a buzzing noise as someone pressed the button to get in.
‘Hello?’ asked Nik.
‘Hey, it’s Mike. Let me in please, they’re after me!’ Mike squealed down the intercom.
‘Come on up,’ Nik clicked the button and heard the door downstairs open. There was furious knocking on her door as Mike arrived.
‘What is the matter with you?’ Nik laughed at Mike who handed her some beers he’d brought.
‘The guys were taking the piss so I ran off,’ Mike told her. ‘Great place by the way.’
‘Thanks, I try. You guys can be so damn childish.’
‘it’s in our nature, we’re guys, we don’t grow up,’ Mike laughed.
There was another buzz, the rest of them must have arrived.
‘Yeah?’ Nik said to who ever was at the other end.
‘Have you seen Mike? He ran off, he had the add but we dunno if he got here?’ Brad told her.
‘Yeah, he’s here. He’s looking at - Mike no! stop doing that, the guys are here, there’s a time and place for that!’ Mike looked at Nik, he was stood at the other side of the room to her, he didn’t get what she was - oh, now he understood.
‘Are we interrupting something?’ asked brad.
‘HEY, get your hands off my woman Mike!’ Joe shouted from the background.
‘Come on, get your asses up here,’ Nik pressed the button and then grabbed hold of Mike. She opened the door slightly and then pushed her back against the wall. ‘Come here,’ Nik pulled Mike to her, wrapping her leg around him.
They both giggled as Mike leaned his face closer to hers.
‘Told you we were interrupting something!’ Brad cried, as he entered the apartment.
‘No, we were just finishing,’ Nik grinned at the guys.
‘Hey!’ Joe ran at Mike, and tackled him to the ground. ‘I told you to keep your hands off her!’ the two lay on the floor laughing their heads off.
Granted they were juvenile, but god, it was funny!
Nik showed the guys round her apartment and she took the stuff they’d brought for her. They all sat around eating, talking, drinking and laughing for the rest of the night. When the guys were set to go, Nik got hold of Chester.
‘You wanna stay here tonight?’ he’s been kinda quiet compared too usual and she wanted to make sure he was OK.
‘Sure,’ he accepted the invitation and the two of them waved off the rest of the band.
Chester helped her clear up the apartment and then the two of them sat and talked for a while about Chester’s feelings towards his divorce and life. He was scared, upset and angry. He didn’t want to lose his wife but he accepted that she was leaving whether he liked it or not, he just wanted it to be on good terms, which is was turning out not to be. They finally decided to go to bed, they shared Nik’s bed and slept much like the previous night, in each other’s arms.
The following morning Nik woke up to find Chester had left. He’d left her note:
Thanks so much for last night, I need to get it all out. I’m sorry for just leaving but I had to be out early and didn’t want to wake you. I’ve arranged for a car to pick you at 2 so that you can come and see us do the Top of the Pops thing. Make sure you're looking good (you always do anyway but I’m just making sure) cos I want you on the front row so you’ll be on TV.
See you there, love always
WOOHOO! Nik started dancing around her flat. She was gonna be at Top of The Pops on the front row while Linkin Park played! How cool was that?! She noticed the clock, it was 11, she had 3 hours. She decided it was best to go find something to wear. *This is gonna be cool! I love watching these guys live, and I’m gonna be on the front row YEY!* she thought as she ran around her apartment.
‘Hello?’ Nik lent against the wall as she answered the buzzer. It had taken her ages to decide what to wear but she had finally decided on some black baggies and a tight tee that said ‘This Bitch Bites’.
‘Hi, I have a car for a Miss Niki Taylor?’ asked a male voice.
‘I’ll be down in a sec,’ with that she ran down the stairs to go get in the car.
When she got outside the building, the driver opened the door and then drove her to the studio. She was so excited, it had been ages since she’d seen the guys live and she’d NEVER been on the front row.
The car pulled into the lot behind the studios and Nik could see Chester sat in the doorway with a smoke in his hand. She got out of the car and walked towards him.
‘You look great!’ Chester smiled weakly and hugged her.
‘I try,’ Nik laughed, her eyes searching Chester’s face.
‘Smoke?’ Chaz offered her the packet.
‘Thanks,’ she removed one from the packet and he lit it for her. He then resumed his sitting position in the doorway and Nik joined him.
They sat in silence for a while, just smoking and watching everything going on around them.
Chester finally spoke, ‘I’m dreading court next week.’
‘It’ll be fine, hun. The worst that could happen is you’ll have to pay her too much money. Everything’ll be OK, trust me.’
Chester rested his head on Nik’s shoulder and they both finished their smokes before going inside to find the others.
‘OH MY GOD! You look absolutely amazing!’ Joe cried as Nik walked into their dressing room.
‘Thanks,’ Nik blushed as Joe hugged her and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
The rest of the guys hugged and welcomed her and then some guy came and told them that it was time to go to the staging area.
Nik followed the guys, keeping herself close to Chester. They walked through the halls and got to the stage.
‘I hate this thing,’ Chester complained, his face falling slightly.
‘WHY? It’s Top of the fucking Pops! How can you hate it?’ Nik didn’t understand Chester. Granted, TOTP was kinda crap but it was the biggest music show in the UK.
‘Cos they don’t let you play your own music, you have to use a backing track! It sucks, that’s not us. We can do it ALL live! It pisses me off!’
Chester looked severely pissed off, he was working himself up.
‘Listen to me, boy,’ Nik took hold of each side of his face and kissed him on the forehead. ‘I know it sucks, but you can still make it work. I can remember when Nirvana showed the world only Kurt was live during their performance. People know you have the talent, you're just not allowed to use it cos these people are scared you’ll fuck up. You need to go out there, and you and Mike need to give the best damn vocal performance you can! I don’t want to hear what I heard when you guys performed Crawling. The pissed off-ness wrecked you vocals and wrecked the whole performance. Tonight, your gonna go out there and show them that you can kick ass! Now move!’
Chester giggled at Nik and hugged her.
‘LET’S KICK SOME FUCKING TOTP ASS!’ he shouted, leading the guys on stage.
They took their places and Chester showed Nik where to stand on the front row.
Nik stood and listened to Chester and Mike’s phenomenal vocals as they did the song four times over. If the rest of the band had been playing, it would have been their best performance ever. Nik suddenly realised that they were singing for her, she’d told them to give it their all and they were doing. A smile crept over her face as the guys finished their final set.
Chester held his hand out to Nik and pulled her up on to the stage. She could feel people giving her the evils from behind, they wanted to be her.
The girl who got to be with the band, the girl the band loved. Her smile still hadn’t faded when they got backstage.
‘Do we get constructive criticism for our miming of play?’ Joe asked, sliding himself between Nik and Chester.
‘Hmm, well let’s see. Brad, you kept getting the wrong chord, very disappointing. Phoenix, you seemed OK apart from the fact you seemed to be ignoring the audience. Rob, you stopped playing halfway through at one point! Now that was just stupid… Joe, you as ever were just perfect,’ Nik smiled at him as she said this.
‘See, I got me a lil support groupie here guys. Note that and get jealous!’ Joe smirked at the others as he slid his arm round Nik’s shoulders.
‘Shut up, Joe. Everyone knows you sucked, she’s just sparing your feelings,’ Mike told his friend, ignoring the evil look he received for his comment.
‘So, Nik, what about the all important vocals?’
‘Amazingly, unbelievable and on top form. I don’t think I’ve ever heard you guys sing like that before,’ Nik replied in all honesty. A noticeable grin appeared on Mike’s face after that comment.
‘Well, I sang like that cos you wanted me to,’ Chaz whispered in her ear as they entered the dressing room. Nik blushed, she loved it when Chaz said stuff like that. It gave her hope that he would return her feelings.
A knock came on the door and some pop-princess wannabe came in. she was set to interview the guys for TOTP magazine - oh how degrading! Nik sat in the room and listened to them all answer the same old stupid, pointless questions they’d been asked a thousand times. Like any of the people that bought this magazine were gonna read this interview! The guys resorted to sarcasm and piss taking for the entire thing, however, Chester remained quite silent.
‘Jesus, it’s like six o’clock! I honestly didn’t think I’d been here that long!’ Nik exclaimed after the chick had left.
‘Well, now you know how we feel. These things last for ever and they’re worth shit,’ Brad shrugged as he explained the down falls of rock stardom.
‘No rest for the rock stars,’ Nik sympathised.
‘DON’T CALL US THAT!’ Mike shouted, he hated that label, the others loved it, especially Chester.
‘hey, man, shut the fuck up! She was being sweet,’ Phoenix tapped Mike on the forehead and he calmed down.
‘Anyone up for food?’ Brad asked.
‘Hell yeah, I’m starving,’ Mike cried, jumping around a bit.
‘Hey, I know a little place, wanna go?’ Nik asked them all.
‘Sure,’ Joe came to her side, taking her hand. ‘Lead us the way!’
|TOP | Last updated 15 February 2002 19:42 (AUS EST / +1000 GMT).|