Epilogue - Karaoke with the Cullens
I've taken a few liberties with this one, so you may find some slightly out of character moments. OK, who am I kidding…the whole thing is pretyy much out of character. Like they'd actually go to a karaoke bar? Well, maybe Alice and Emmett would.
Disclaimer: all characters belong to Stephenie Meyer
Bella and Edward have been married a couple of years now, and the whole family lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Bella is well past her year mark as a vampire, and as part of her reintroduction to society Alice is employing exposure therapy via a night at the Karaoke bar. Carlisle and Esme do not join the 'kids' on these little outings.
"Karaoke, Alice? Again?" Rosalie huffed as we filed into Renfield's, our favorite haunt.
"Shut it, Rose. You know you love being the center of attention up on that stage." I snapped.
Emmett snickered and hurried ahead, clearing a path to our usual table in the front corner near the stage, snagging a song book off another table as we passed it. "What's the theme tonight?" he asked brightly.
"I think it's Edward's turn to choose." I answered. Everyone but Bella groaned. Edward always picked eighties music - she just hadn't been with us long enough to get sick of it yet.
"Fine," he scowled, "I'll make it more interesting tonight."
"Really? No eighties?" Jasper sounded hopeful.
"Oh, no – it will be eighties music alright…but I'll think of a twist for it."
I laughed at the visions flipping through my mind as he tried to decide on a way to make the song choices more interesting for us. He noticed my closed eyes and barked, "No peeking! You know that's against the rules." We had made karaoke night into a game of sorts between us. We took turns choosing a theme – usually it was genre or era, but sometimes we got creative and used word association, subject matter, or even names as part of the selection process. Bella was fond of having us sing show tunes and Disney songs…at least Edward's fixation on eighties music was better than that.
"Okay, the rules for tonight are: 1. It must be from the 1980s; 2. The first song has to be a one hit wonder; 3. The second song has to be rock, preferably glam rock - screaming guitars and band members with long hair are requirements; 4. No two songs from the same band or singer." Edward announced with a smirk. There was a brief skirmish over the song book, which Emmett finally won by holding it above his head because neither Jasper nor Edward would resort to jumping up after it. Each couple took a turn studying the choices, then we all piled our little slips of paper face down and Rosalie carried them to the DJ. We liked to make our choices a surprise to the extent possible, but between Edward's mind reading and my psychic visions…well, surprises of any kind are difficult in our family.
Bella leaned across the table and shouted to me over the rather bad rendition of American Pie that a skinny red-headed boy was belting out. "You know Alice, some people would call this cruel and unusual punishment."
"It's not punishment, it's therapy. You need exposure to – er – crowds, and don't try to tell me you're too shy to get on stage. We all know you have a good voice so just relax and enjoy yourself. You know you always end up having fun with this anyway." I snorted. "I don't think anyone will soon forget your version of The Colors Of the Wind."
That shut her up and earned me a nasty glare from Edward. He had not been at all amused by her singing about wolves crying to a blue corn moon. The Opie look-a-like finished American Pie and was replaced by a heavy-set strawberry blonde who tortured us by butchering Delta Dawn. Edward cringed and I'm sure it was all he could do not to put his fingers in his ears. The only thing he hated more than country music itself was badly done karaoke country music. She was followed by a mousy looking fellow who did a decent job with Rocky Top, which had Emmett whooping and stomping his feet. Rosalie just rolled her eyes and scooted her chair a little farther away from him.
"Our first family of karaoke is here tonight, and up next is Rosalie!" The DJ, Steve, had to yell over the crowd noise even with his microphone. Yeah, we're regulars, and the crowd always likes us. They especially like Rose. My buxom sister sashayed to the stage and took her place behind the teleprompter. Steve handed over the mike and started her music, announcing loudly that she would be singing Bow Wow Wow's I Want Candy. Round One, the one hit wonders, had officially begun.
Emmett wolf-whistled his way through his wife's performance. When done, she blew him a kiss and gave a coy little curtsy towards the audience before giving the mike back to Steve. Without missing a beat he started the next song and yelled, "Alice Cullen! Get your little pixie butt up here and sing Mickey for us!" I jumped out of my chair and ran laughing to the stage, skidding past Steve and making it to the prompter only to realize that he still had the microphone. He lobbed it across the stage to me and I caught it just as the words began. Everyone clapped along to the infectious beat and several tables were on their feet and dancing while I sang.
When I finished, the crowd stomped and clapped their approval as I danced back to Steve. He called the next singer – an older man, a lounge lizard by the look of him, who would assault our ears with a very bad attempt at Hound Dog – and caught my wrist as I handed the mike off. "One hit wonders of the eighties, huh?" Steve asked with a twinkle in his eye.
"It's Edward's night again." I explained.
"I figured. A couple of these songs you guys picked should be pretty entertaining." He laughed, looking at his list.
"Don't tell me! It's part of our rules – the song selections are a secret until you announce them."
"You have rules? I knew you picked your songs by themes, but I didn't know there were other rules to the game." He looked genuinely interested. I didn't want to explain that after fifty years or more together you had to start getting creative on ways to amuse yourselves, so I dodged the comment with a giggle and made my way back to our table. Edward arched an eyebrow at me as I sat down. "Toni Basil?"
"Don't start with me. You're the one who picked the theme and set the rules. Besides," I sniffed, "I would have been an excellent cheerleader."
That got everyone laughing so hard that we almost missed Steve calling Emmett to the stage. "Emmett! Do you hear me, big guy? I've got Soft Cell all cued up for you!"
We laughed even harder when we heard what Emmett would be singing. He just gave us one of his famous goofy grins and vaulted onto the stage without bothering to use the steps. He launched into Tainted Love with all the Emmett enthusiasm he could muster, jumping around and dancing like he was being electrocuted.
Whistles and applause rewarded Emmett's performance. He was almost as popular here as Rosalie. "Edward! You're up next!" Steve yelled when Emmett hopped off of the stage. "Modern English, I Melt With You, coming your way!"
Edward kissed Bella quickly, then – not to be outdone by Emmett – vaulted onto the stage. Of course he didn't need the prompter what with being the eighties nut that he is, plus that whole vampire perfect memory thing, so instead of standing behind it he sat on the edge of the stage to sing directly to Bella. Cheeseball. I accused him with my thoughts. He flashed me a crooked grin just as the lyrics began.
Edward has a beautiful singing voice, but none of us could enjoy it for the sappy puppy-dog faces he and Bella were making at each other through the entire song. It was cute the first dozen or so times, but now it was just obnoxious. We had gotten to the point that whenever Rose, Emmett, Jasper, or I got to set the rules Edward and Bella were forbidden from choosing ballads or love songs. Unfortunately that was not the case tonight, so we were forced to endure their little public display of affection. At least we'd had the sense to make 'no taking another person on stage with you unless they are singing too' a standing ground rule after the infamous Unchained Melody incident.
Upon returning to his chair, Edward immediately pulled Bella onto his lap and their faces disappeared in an embarrassingly intense make-out session. The rest of us tried to ignore them and watch the younger girl currently making a fair attempt at Bring Me To Life. She was followed by a drunk who fumbled his way through Somebody to Love. Freddy Mercury would have been mortified. While the drunk swayed and staggered behind the prompter, Rosalie leaned toward me and cast a withering glare at the still lip-locked Edward and Bella. "Do you think they'll stay this…clingy…forever?"
"I hope not." I answered at the same time a muffled "maybe" and a giggle came from the Edward-Bella tangle. Steve saved the day by calling Bella to the stage for Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians' What I Am.
Emmett reached over and bumped Edward's shoulder with his fist. "It's a good thing neither of you require oxygen anymore."
"Yes, I suppose it is." Edward chuckled.
"Do you think you and Bella could turn it down just a notch?" Jasper growled at Edward. "I'm already in the middle of a crowd of people in varying degrees of intoxication and all that that entails. I would appreciate it if my own family could avoid piling on."
"Are you okay?" I studied my husband's face for signs of thirst even though we had all hunted earlier that day.
"I'm fine," he said, "the emotions are just running a little high in here tonight." He pointed from Edward to Bella and added, "Those two aren't helping any."
"I'm sorry, Jasper." Edward apologized. "We'll tone it down a bit."
Bella bounced back to our table amid appreciative applause from the audience. She started to sit on Edward's lap again but he was quick to pull her chair out for her with a meaningful glance in Jasper's direction. "Oh!" she said, giggling and dropping into the offered seat.
Edward took her hand and gazed into her face for a long moment before asking, "How are you holding up?" Bella was still getting used to being in large crowds of people again, though so far she had fared better than anyone expected. Emmett had won he and Jasper's first-year bet easily.
"I'm all right." She answered quickly, then wrinkled her nose. "All the alcohol makes them smell much less appetizing."
"It does, doesn't it?" Edward agreed as he reached up to brush her cheek gently with his free hand.
"Ahem." Jasper had leaned over Bella's shoulder so that he cleared his throat loudly right in her ear. She jumped and if she were still capable I'm sure she would have been blushing.
"Sorry, Jasper." She muttered and leaned back in her chair out of Edward's reach. Edward laughed and brought their entwined hands up to rest on his leg.
Meanwhile on stage a thin college-aged guy was wrapping up his best Prince impersonation on Little Red Corvette. "See," Edward called over his shoulder, "I'm not the only one who likes eighties music."
"I thought you considered Prince vulgar?" I laughed.
"I do," he frowned, "but the man is still an important musical icon…even after that whole changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol debacle."
"Jasper!" Steve called, "You're up next, man!" Jasper groaned and walked to the stage as Steve announced, "Jasper's going to do a little Bobby McFerrin for us, folks!"
"What? No! That's not what I picked!" Jasper was reluctant before but he was full on panicking now. Emmett was laughing so hard that he doubled over and began slapping his palm against the top of the table.
"Sorry, man. That's what is written on your slip." Steve said apologetically as the first bars of Don't Worry Be Happy came through the speakers. I was the only one at our table who was not now in danger of falling off my chair laughing.
"I might…have switched…his slip." Emmett stammered out between guffaws. Jasper stared at him from behind the prompter, absolutely livid. Another one of our rules is that once the DJ calls your song you can't change your mind. That can get tricky on nights when we choose for each other. Jasper muttered the first few lines between clenched teeth, still glaring at Emmett. Bella was clutching her sides, Rosalie had her head down on the table to hide her face, and Emmett and Edward were holding each other up while they shook with mirth. I finally couldn't help myself and started to giggle. Jasper just looked so pissed while singing about being happy…how could I not? Before he finished, Rosalie, Bella and I were huddled together laughing so hard that we would have been crying if we could.
My disgruntled husband stomped back to the table and sat stiffly down in his chair without looking at any of us. He waited until we got ourselves somewhat under control before threatening us. "I'll remember this," he growled, "and payback's a bitch." That just set us off all over again. I finally managed to stifle my giggles enough to ask him, "So what had you actually signed up to sing for your one hit wonder?"
"Come On Eileen." He replied flatly.
An old hippie with long gray hair and a ZZ Top beard climbed the stage next and rocked The Grateful Dead's Touch of Grey. An investment banker type went after him and surprised everyone with an excellent job on Nickelback's Animals. The whole place was on its feet and his departure from the stage met with thunderous applause. Only Edward did not appear to be pleased with the performance – he sat scowling in his chair.
"What's wrong with you?" Bella asked him.
"I just don't understand why lyrics now have to be so vile."
"Oh and lyrics in your beloved eighties were so much better?" I snorted.
"Come on, they were just as bad! Maybe not so literal but there was more than enough innuendo."
"Like what, for instance?"
"Case in point: Prince. Little Red Corvette is one of his tamer songs." I argued. "What about Cream?"
"That was released in 1991."
"Not the point."
"What's the matter, Alice? Can't you come up with a better argument against an entire decade of music?" he smirked.
I poked him in the chest with my finger. "Fine. Name me one song that made it big in the eighties that was not about sex or drugs."
His brow furrowed. "Um…"
"That's what I thought." I crossed my arms and leaned back in my chair.
"Cullen family, heads up! You guys are next and you are all back to back, so be ready when I call you!" Steve announced. Round two – glam rock – game on. "Edward! Bad English, When I See You Smile…up now!"
"Another love song?" Jasper groaned.
"Only Edward can find a way to turn rock into cheese." Rosalie giggled. Bella once again melted into a puddle of love-struck goo as Edward's velvet voice purred the lyrics. Emmett and Rose made gagging noises while Jasper slowly banged his forehead against the table top and I hid my face in my hands trying not to laugh. Apparently the rest of the crowd was tiring of the sappiness as well because Edward only got a smattering of applause and a few half-hearted "Woo-hoo's" when he finished.
Even Steve looked slightly nauseated. He shook his head, checked his list again and smiled. "Okay, Alice! Come rock Joan Jett and the Blackhearts for us!" I definitely woke everyone back up when I belted out I Love Rock n' Roll. Soon the crowd was on its feet dancing and shouting the chorus back to me.
"Yeah, girl! That's the way to get the energy going again!" Steve grinned at me when I gave the mike back. "Well, let's give Jasper another chance. Here he is with Motley Crue's Without You."
It was my turn to become a love-struck puddle of goo…I love this song. I especially love this song when Jasper sings it for me. He stood center stage in a military at-ease, the mike held with both hands and his head slightly inclined forward so that his messy blond hair strung down over his eyes. As much as I wanted to shut everything out but the low bell-tone of his voice, I couldn't bear to close my eyes - I enjoyed the view far too much for that. Bella elbowed me in the ribs and pointed over her shoulder at the rest of the crowd. Most were on their feet swaying slowly, and some even held burning lighters above their heads. Yep, this definitely made up for the first song.
"Wow…okay, Rosalie I hate to be you right now – you have to follow that." Steve called out when the last echoes of Jasper's voice faded. "Keep your lighters out folks; she's going to sing some Poison for us. A sweet little song called Every Rose Has Its Thorn."
"No she did not..." Bella said in disbelief.
"Oh yes, she did." Emmett answered as he climbed up on his chair to cheer his wife on, whistling and catcalling for all he was worth.
Bella leaned close to my ear, "Do you think she knows this song is about a stripper?"
"Probably." Edward answered. Bella bit her lip against a giggle.
Jasper returned just as Rose began to sing. He took my hands in his and we stood staring into each other's eyes, the spell of his song woven around us as though the melody still drifted in the air. The crowd, our siblings, the noise – everything around us ceased to exist in that moment and all we knew was each other.
It seemed like only moments later we realized the crowd was cheering and that Rosalie had finished her song. Steve was calling Emmett to the stage, and he was telling us to "watch this." Those are never encouraging words coming from Emmett.
A slow drum solo built excitement as Emmett took the mike and started pacing back and forth across the stage clapping in rhythm and getting the crowd to shout "hey!" periodically. An electric guitar wailed, a keyboard jumped in, and Emmett began to sing:
Lay your hands on me, lay your hands on me, lay your hands on me
Lay your hands on me, lay your hands on me, lay your hands on me
If you're ready, I'm willing and able What you get ain't always what you see
Help me lay my cards out on the table
You're mine and I'm yours for the taking
Right now the rules we made are meant for breaking
But satisfaction's guaranteed
They say what you give is always what you need
So if you want me to lay my hands on you…
What you get ain't always what you see
Lay your hands on me, lay your hands on me, lay your hands on me
Lay your hands on me, lay your hands on me, lay your hands on me
Bon Jovi's immortal arena anthem had the house rocking. People were standing in chairs and lighters flared all over the room. Several girls had their hands in the air, their eyes closed tight, and appeared to be having some sort of religious experience. I have to give it to Emmett, he does a damn good Bon Jovi impersonation complete with squeals and screams. The crowd sang backup on the chorus and we were all dancing in spite of ourselves. When he shouted the last line, the place erupted in cheers.
It took the DJ several minutes to get everyone settled enough that he could announce the next song, but Bella had already headed to his table since she was the only one of our group left. She took the mike and moseyed to the prompter, giving me a mischievous little wink on her way. What is that girl up to now? Usually she just picks songs she likes, but sometimes she'll use them to play little jokes. Wanting to know what trick she had going, I cheated and peeked ahead at the next few minutes. I burst out laughing at the same time the speakers crackled to life. Edward's eyes nearly bugged out of his head when he heard Steve say, "She'll be singing Great White's Once Bitten, Twice Shy."
A/N: THANK YOU to VampTrampBella and RR Joker for all their help with this entire project! RR Joker is the grammar police extraordinaire – I bow to your comma patrolling prowess and superior typo seek-and-destroy skills. VampTrampBella is one of the greatest friends ever for sitting up with me late at night on the phone laughing, going through our music collections, and generally being my sounding board for ideas. Both of you are excellent friends and I'm very lucky to have you.
Now, for anyone who might be musically challenged (or of a vintage that doesn't recognize the songs I used) here's a reference guide for this chapter:
'Soundtrack' (songs that are performed in this story, not necessarily just by the Cullens):
Song – artist
American Pie – Don McLean
Delta Dawn – Helen Reddy
Rocky Top – Osborne Brothers
I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow
Mickey – Toni Basil
Hound Dog – Elvis Presley
Tainted Love – Soft Cell
I Melt With You – Modern English
Bring Me To Life – Evanescence
Somebody to Love - Queen
What I Am – Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians
Little Red Corvette – Prince
Don't Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
Touch of Grey – The Grateful Dead
Animals – Nickelback
When I See You Smile – Bad English
I Love Rock n' Roll – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Without You – Motley Crue
Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison
Lay Your Hands On Me – Bon Jovi
Once Bitten, Twice Shy – Great White
Honorable mentions (songs otherwise referenced in the story):
The Colors of the Wind – Disney's Pocahontas Soundtrack
Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
Come On Eileen – Dexy's Midnight Runners
Cream – Prince