4am
Shirley Holmes Lyrics Challenge

by Rachel
July 2000         1,450 words

He couldn't sleep.

For crying out loud, why couldn't he just get some sleep? He needed to sleep. He wanted to sleep. He *longed* to sleep. But well, he just couldn't. Sleep didn't come.

Grumbling, Bo sat up from the bed and turned on the light. 4 a.m. Great. He wasn't about to get more sleep today.

How long had it been? More than a year already. Ukraine was exactly what he'd expected and more. He wanted to study more about his heritage and in here, he was doing exactly that. This was the culture his parents had sacrificed to preserve. Also, studying abroad made him grow faster, enable him to open his eyes to the world. Plus, he could even speak natural Ukrainian! (His pronunciation sucked but he could speak it nonetheless.) His parents missed him of course, but they were ecstatic about the prospect of Bo finishing off his high school years here. His father was especially very proud of him.

But, darn it, why was he still here really?

Learning and experience were good. But more and more, he realized that he didn't belong here, that it wasn't his place to be. He'd thought that he should give it some time and he'd get used to this place, but he hadn't. It wasn't that he didn't enjoy being here. He did. It was just this growing awareness that something wasn't right, that he'd made some sort of fatal mistake. But he just couldn't figure out what. So here he was, just walking around in his room, not thinking but just sinking into this hole...

Ah, get a grip, Sawchuck.

Okay, maybe he should read a book or something. That had to put him to sleep, right? Bo went over to the desk in his small bedroom and opened the drawers, to see if there was anything sleepy to read. Just looking at the messy drawers made him realize he really should clean out his room more often. Chuckling to himself, Bo tried to find The Aeneid, which he'd put deep inside the drawer. That book *had* to put him into sleep. It was massive. But the only thing he found was a piece of memory he'd been trying to hide.

A diary. Shirley's.

Oh, that was a memory all right. They hadn't talked in ages. It had been his fault actually. In the beginning, he'd called her in sleepless nights and she'd let him on things that'd been happening in Redington. She'd sent emails everyday, updating him on her latest cases, the cases without him. That was just it. She was doing fine *without* him. She didn't need him. She'd changed. So he'd stopped calling her or writing to her. They'd grown apart.

She'd changed.

The phone on the table beside his bed looked more than just tempting now. He could call her. They were still friends, right? They'd been best friends for years, so calling her wouldn't be an earth-shattering event. Just call her and ask how she was doing casually. Besides, he really was curious how she was doing with her mysteries and all. Just call her and listen to her no-nonsense voice.

Decided, he picked up the receiver and pressed the numbers he knew so well. As the phone started to ring, he was suddenly stricken by panic. This may not be such a good idea. She might be rightfully angry with him for not calling back. She could be really pissed. But his contemplation was cut short as the voice he remembered all so clearly picked up the phone from the other side.

"Holmes residence."

He should really say something at this point. He should, really. He could just say hello, Shirl. How are ya? Sorry I've been such a jerk for a while, but hey, since we've been such good friends, let's just forget about it and become the bests of friends again, what about that?

Oh, hell.

"Hello?"

Bo realized that he hadn't lost his Shirley touch yet. For instant, now he could plainly read the curiosity in her voice. He smiled. He wanted to hear her voice and he'd heard it. And that was enough. He was about to hang up when her voice spoke up softly.

"Bo, it's about four a.m. in Ukraine. You should be sleeping."

He sighed. He should've known she'd know who this was. "No fun. Couldn't even mess around with phone calls with you, Miss Detective."

"It has nothing to do with my detective skills, Bo," her voice was soft and gentle, "I just knew because it was you."

He sat down on the bed, suddenly feeling his knees weakening. What was he supposed to say now? What was the best approach to this situation? Jokes. Yeah, he should go for humour. "So, Shirl. Aren't you going to ask why I called? Wait, you must've figured that out already. Right, right. What was I thinking?"

Drat. He really could've done better than that.

He could sense hesitation in her voice when she spoke, "I should be your friend first before detective, Bo."

"Shirley," he felt a lump in his throat, "You were always a good friend to me. You know that."

"Was I really...?" Shirley stopped abruptly, which was odd. Shirley never stopped asking questions or speaking up her minds. But this time, she just changed the topic. "Mr. Sawchuck said you're staying in Ukraine for two more years."

"Eh, well, yeah. It's interesting here." Interesting? Interesting? Then why was he getting this horrible feeling at the prospect of staying for two more years? And darn it, he could tell her the truth. He always (okay, most of the time) told her the truth. "Okay, that's not completely true. I...well, I just don't think I belong here."

But she knew him too well. "But your father thinks you do and you just don't want to disappoint him."

"Yeah." Bo sighed. He was never the one to follow his parents' directions, but after realizing just how much his parents had sacrificed for their country, he felt the need to show them his appreciation. He just needed to.

"Are you...are you coming back?" She asked quietly.

That really set it off. He found himself blurting out all of a sudden, the long-repressed emotions overwhelming him, "I didn't come here just because of my dad. It was me trying to prove something to myself. But now, I just want to go back to the time when only thing we did was to solve mysteries. I...miss you."

The crack in his voice was becoming too apparent. He coughed and continued, "But everything has changed, Shirley. I didn't call you back because...because now you have different life. I've changed so much, I can't even recognize myself in the mirror anymore. I can't go back to being your friend. I don't think I can make it."

"Bo--"

He cut her off, "Just more thing before I forget." He took a deep breath, "If I don't make it, just know that I've loved you all along, okay?" There, he said it. Oh, wasn't this embarrassing... "You know, just so that I won't regret not telling you in case I get into an accident or something tomorrow."

God, was this really his idea of confession?

For a while, he didn't speak and neither did Shirley. She was just there, quietly listening. Bo could hear her breathe. He was sweating and his heart was pounding like crazy.

Finally, Shirley broke the suffocating silence. "Do you know how I knew it was you?" Shirley asked.

His voice was almost inaudible, "No. How?"

"You used to call me just before I went to bed. It was 4 a.m. in your time, but you called me everyday for some time in the beginning. It's a habit for me, Bo. Even after you stopped calling, I just waited for your phone call around this time. So I knew it was you."

That was why he felt that he needed to wake up at this hour, he realized. Subconscious was a frightening thing.

She continued gently, "We can't stop the changes, Bo. But something just doesn't change. You, for instant, always have your place here with me. I'll always wait for you. And I'm *still* waiting to get my diary back." She paused, but soon added, "But I accept it only if you deliver it back to me."

He closed his eyes. He'd been so wrong. So wrong. She was the same.

She was still his Shirley.

He opened his eyes, already planning to get the next plane ticket to Canada. "I'm coming home, Shirley."

He smiled himself as he listened to her last words before he hung up.

"I'll wait."

THE END

4am

by Our Lady Peace
submitted by Leslie

I walked around my good intentions
And found that there were none
I blame my father for the wasted years
We hardly talked
I never thought I would forget this hate
Then a phone call made me realize I'm wrong

And if I don't make it, know that
I've loved you all along
Just like sunny days that we ignore because
We're all dumb and jaded
And I hope to God I figure out what's wrong

I walked around my room not thinking
Just sinking in this box
I blame myself for being too much like
Somebody else
I never thought I would just bend this way
Then a phone call made me realize I'm wrong

And if I don't make it, know that
I've loved you all along
Just like sunny days that we ignore because
We're all dumb and jaded
And I hope to God I figure out what's wrong