A/N: A three-shot piece I'm in the middle of writing. This is part one, which I finished a couple of months ago. I was going to leave it as a one-shot, but I found some lyrics to finish it into a three shot. I hope you guys like the ficlet! Comments are always appreciated.

Disclaimer: I do not own the lyrics to the song, Better Than Me. They are from the band Hinder, I just abused them a bit for my fic. I also do not own anything Instant Star Related. Thank You for not suing in advance.

Better Than Me

"So, this is it." She told me, looking excited. I nodded as I ejected the final mix of Jude Harrison's last album. Her three year contract with G Records had ended and she didn't have any intentions of renewing it.

"Yeah, this is it." I said, not quite sure how to feel about it. She beamed at me and I couldn't help but smile back. This album…it's the best she's ever done. I was proud of my girl. She's come a long way since the day she stepped into the studio for the first time to the last.

I handed her a copy of the finished recordings, not bothering to tease her with it like I had in the past. It was…tradition, but I wasn't in the mood for playful banter. I wasn't sure why, but something felt almost wrong about this. She took the disk from me and looked at it and then back at me.

"OK, so this one's blank or something right?" She asked and I shook my head no.

"Legit bootleg." I informed her, sticking a more official disk that had the G Major Logo on it into the drive and hitting record once again. I watched the computer show the progress, not wanting to look into her eyes because I knew what I'd see there and I didn't want to deal with this.

"OK, what gives?" She asked, and I glanced at her, her hands on her hips, disk in her right hand fanned away from her body. Her blonde hair was loose and falling into her face but she didn't let it get in her way.

"Nothing." I told her as I glanced at the disk and willed the computer to burn faster. The faster the burn, the faster I had an excuse to get away and the longer I could avoid the inevitable.

"Right…" She said as she looked at the disk in her hand and then back at me. "So, what's in your plans now?" She asked me casually. I looked up at her, wondering how she could be so damn casual about the whole thing.

"I don't know." I said honestly.

"It's just…well, I know you and Darius don't get along all that well and…"

"Jude, I'm not tied down here. I'm here because I want to be." I told her, not looking away from the computer. 20 done. G Major now has the latest technology and the damn thing is slower than molasses draining through a filter.

"I was just wondering. I mean, I…"

"I know what you're referring to Jude." I snapped, not really meaning to. Jude knows my history with Darius Mills and she's right. We don't always see eye-to-eye and I was only staying here because SHE was here. Do I admit that to anyone but myself? No. Why not? I don't know, but it seems like the thing to do.

"OK, sorry." She said, looking away from me and down at the floor. 25. Great, now I made her feel bad.

"Jude, I didn't mean"

"I'm fine." She said, not sounding fine. I sighed. An awkward silence fell over us and I fidgeted in my seat.

"So, where are you going again?" I asked her, briefly remembering her mention some kind of trip once the album was wrapping. At the time, I wasn't too keen on listening. It was the same day she informed me she wasn't going to renew her contract with G Major. I still don't know why it bothers me so much, but it does. The fact that she's walking out of my life bothers the hell out me.

She got this big grin and her face lit up at the question.

"Just…anywhere. I'm going to go and just…go." She informed me, bouncing on the balls of her feet. I raised an eyebrow. What she said made no logical sense and somehow, I still managed to understand what she meant.

"That's cool." I told her and she nodded excitedly.

"I just…need to go, ya know? I want to go and see the world…well, maybe not the whole world, but just…pick a place and go and keep going." She said, her voice full of passion. I nodded in understanding.

I'd done the same thing when I left Boyz Attack and got Frozen, well, frozen. I needed to reinvent myself…think about what I wanted. And while I was drinking my sorrows away in Prague, Georgia called me with a favor to produce for her because her main producer decided to up and leave. Georgia was like an Aunt that I never had and I got on a plane to Toronto 5 years ago and never left…even though I tried.

"When are you leaving?" I asked and she shrugged.

"I'm not sure yet. Probably in a week or two." She answered and I felt my heart sink. A week or two and Jude Harrison would be out of my life. Possibly forever. "You should come with me. Ya know, keep me company, translate the foreign languages so I don't look like an ass." She said casually and I smirked.

Jude was terrible at other languages. She told me she knew some French but she even butchers "Bonjour". I don't want to know what she'd do in a native country.

"Tempting." I told her as I glanced at the monitor once again. 45 complete.

"Come on Quincy." She said, looking disappointed.

"I don't know Jude. I don't even know what I'm going to do yet." It's true, but I still wasn't sure if she was joking that I come with her.

"I know, I know…it's just a thought." She said with a shrug.

I didn't say anything more about the subject and she looked mildly disappointed but said nothing. Does she really want me to go? I wondered.

Her cell rang and she picked it up and flipped it open. I sighed as she chatted away to…someone.

Here's the deal. I love Jude. I know that. I'm pretty certain she loves me and not even the age difference is stopping me anymore. But every time I see her with that innocent face, her bubbling happiness, I know that if she got mixed up with me and my issues…that would all be gone. She wouldn't be innocent anymore and I would still love her but I'd break her without meaning to and then I'd be guiltier than sin. She doesn't know I have an alcohol problem…well, had. I've been sober for 2 years but it doesn't make the craving any easier.

Jude snapped her phone shut and the sound snapped me out of my thoughts. She looked at me, her eyes apologetic.

"I gatta go." She informed me. I waved her out.

"It's fine." I told her, and she sighed.

"Look, I…I want to see you before I leave." She said, her voice hesitant and cautious. I nodded and she beamed happily. "I'll call ya!" She said, bouncing out of the studio office and leaving me alone.

83 complete.

I sighed and sat down in the chair. You should come with me, She told me. I shook my head. No, I shouldn't. Besides, she was joking. She didn't really WANT me to go. It would defeat the purpose of going off and figuring out her life. Doing what she wanted. I sighed and stared blankly at the screen and let my mind wander, thinking about what's next for me. I knew leaving G Major was probably in the future. But after that…I don't know. I had offers for years that I turned down to other, bigger, studios. Maybe I should get a change of scenery. Go somewhere new, get away from all of this. Away from her constant memory. Or maybe I should pull a Jude and just…go. Get some perspective on my life and then decide what's next on the agenda of life for Tom Quincy.

I pulled out a pad of paper and started writing. I had to get my thoughts in order and a song was usually the best way to do it. I wasn't consciously aware of what I wrote, I just wrote, the pen scratching furiously across the pages. I stopped when the computer proclaimed 100 complete and ejected the disk. I pulled it out of the drive, saved the track order and shut down the computer. I labeled the disk and set it on Darius's desk. I went back to the office to clear up the rest of my mess when my eyes fell on the notebook I had been writing in. I picked it up and read over the lyrics, not remembering what I had wrote.

I made some lyric adjustments and mentally assigned the right beats to it. I went into Studio A, knowing this late in the evening it would be empty, and set up shop.

I stepped into the sound booth and picked up my acoustic and tuned it a bit. I hadn't played it in months, Jude preferring to play her own beats and got surprisingly good at it. Lately, I just played around on the keyboard when we wrote together instead of doing guitar chords with her.

I sat down on the stool and began to strum a bit, correcting myself and trying to find a beat that matched what my mind had already calculated out. Finding the right rhythm, I started the chord combination over and tried out the lyrics, my mind flashing back as I did so.

"I think you can do much better than me"

A thought that I had kept in mind over all the years. A fact that I knew was true. She could do better than me. Has done better than me.

"After all the lies that I made you believe"

The time of her 16th birthday when I kissed her and told her to forget it. I panicked. I got caught up in a moment and kissed her. I was scared to face what I had done by doing this and I told her it meant nothing; to forget it.

"Guilt kicks in and I start to see"

The worst mistake I ever did and I have made lots of mistakes in the past. Keep making more and more mistakes. And that's the one regret that stands out in my mind. Lying to Jude about that night and not confessing that I loved her.

"The edge of the bed where your nightgown used to be"

And now she was leaving…possibly for good. And I don't know what to think about that. I don't know what to do with myself. I want her to go, to get on with her life. And at the same time, I want her to stay here and record another album.

"I told myself I won't miss you"

I tell myself that. That if she leaves, I'll be ok. I won't miss her. I'll continue my life and I'll be fine.

"But I remembered"

I always remember. When I finally get myself to believe that it doesn't matter that she's leaving, I remember something…anything and everything about her.

"What it feels like beside you"

All the hugs, the goofing off in the studio, the way she makes me feel alive just by being in the same room as me. The way I feel when I'm with her and that hurts the most - that I'll never feel that way again.

"I really miss your hair in my face"

The way that she hugs me and all I can see of her is her red/blonde locks. The way it clouds everything I see.

I closed my eyes as I continued to strum and sing the next few lines, memories overpowering my mind, but I was able to continue.

"And the way your innocence tastes"

The taste of her strawberry lip gloss when we kissed, her velvety lips soft and glossy and all that more kissable.

"And I think you should know this"

Something she should know. Something she should remember when she thinks about me…if she thinks about me.

"You deserve much better than me"

Someone who'd treat her right; someone who would love her without breaking her. Someone who knew what love was.

"While looking through your old box of notes"

I bet she didn't know that I kept all the little notes she wrote me. Everything from her random blurbs she stuck on my desk or on the soundboard to things she confessed and songs that went unrecorded.

"I found those pictures I took"

Once in the studio, I had set up a camera to take a picture of us together. I had the intention on framing it for her birthday, having no clue what do get her.

"That you were looking for"

She bugged me for weeks for a copy of the picture and I ended up giving it to her early and came up with another idea for her birthday instead.

I heard the studio door open and I didn't have to glance up to see who it was. I knew the presence and I continued anyway, not bothering to acknowledge.

"If there's one memory I don't want to lose"

I thought back to the first time I felt close to her. The first time I realized I had some form of feelings for her.

"That time at the mall…"

when she sang 24 Hours for the first time

"…You and me in the dressing room"

The place we had our heart to heart about friends changing because of our careers. The moment I realized I could help her cope with fame. Maybe even help her not sacrifice herself along the way.

I failed in that goal. She did sacrifice herself. She gave into Darius's demands at my request. I shouldn't have let her do it, but I was run down and too tired to help her fight. I was too busy trying to keep our jobs secure to worry about her life.

"I told myself I won't miss you"

That I don't need her.

"But I remembered"

Like always, memories haunt my mind. Always memories of us.

"What it feels like beside you"

That comfortable feeling. The feeling of being whole and complete. A feeling I never felt with anyone else before her.

"I really miss your hair in my face"

Her soft locks.

"And the way your innocence tastes"

"And I think you should know this"

Should know and keep in mind. Should remember when you think about me and should keep in mind when you insist about loving me.

"You deserve much better than me"

And she does. Always has and always will.

"The bed I'm lying in is getting colder"

Just the thought of her leaving…it kills me. It makes me dead inside.

"Wish I never would've said it's over"

Never told her to forget. Never told her that we couldn't be. That she didn't matter all that much to me when she's my world. My constant.

"And I can't pretend that I won't think about you when I'm older"

Because she'll always be on my mind. I'll always think about her. Wonder if things could be different. Could have been different. As much as I'd love for it to change, the fact still remains that we can't be together.

"Cause we never really had our closure"

We never got to see where things would go. And now…it's too late. Her last album was finished. She was leaving…quite possibly for good.

I strummed a bit on the guitar, the sad chords becoming rougher and faster as I sang the next part.

"This can't be the end"

After everything we've been through. After all the obstacles, the lies, the deceit thrown at both of us, and now we're over. Done with. Maybe fate really does deal against me. It seems every time I find happiness, it's torn away from me.

"I really miss your hair in my face"

I opened my eyes again but didn't look through the glass at the person I knew was there watching and listening. I knew who was there, and that person knew who I was singing about.

"And the way your innocence tastes"

"And I think you should know this"

I had a fleeting thought about the lyrics. Maybe it wasn't her I was trying to convince. Maybe it was myself.

"You deserve much better than me"

I lie. I cheat. I drink too much, partied too hard, the favorite subject of Tabloid Reporters, and I'm terrified of commitment.

"I really miss your hair in my face"

Her soft blonde hair. Her overwhelming presence.

"And the way your innocence tastes"


"And I think you should know this"

I continued strumming and I looked up into the glass. Looked straight into her sad blue eyes and my hands faltered across the chords for a moment. Her look killed me. Cut straight through me and made me want to take her sadness away.

As I finished the last lyrics, not looking away from her eyes, my voice softening as I sang the last words. Not what I originally had planned, but her presence changes everything. Changes me.

"You deserve much better than me"