Who would have known
Friday of Strange Updates, #7
Summary: So many things had changed. And yet - here they were. Who would have known. OneShot.
Warning: OneShot, massive spoilers for the movie. OneShot. Established as a final epilogue. OneShot.
(This means there won't be a sequel to this story nor will I ever write another one for this movie.)
Set: Ten years after the movie "Raise Your Voice"
Disclaimer: Standards apply.
Dedicated to: Alex, who actually read something I wrote! Not that she ever will again, but still...
The spotlights' heat burns down on her mercilessly.
Terry is standing on the stage, the hall beyond her filled to the last possible extent with people. The cheering and screaming is deafening and hadn't she had a microphone one wouldn't be able to hear her voice. But, of course, the moment her band starts the next intro and the audience recognizes it, the screaming is replaced with thousands of voices singing along with the melody. She still isn't completely used to the sound of her voice filling an entire hall, of hearing her own echo return to her. The heat, the screams, the music, the beat and the warm, sweaty microphone in her hand add to the feeling of exhilaration, to the sensation of standing on a stage. A stage. Who would have known?
Terry! Terry! Terry!
The crowd chants her name like a prayer, men and women alike. She loves the way her music seems to be able to reach many different groups, many different human beings. For this reason she tries to satisfy all their wishes, writing and singing for different everyone but always, always keeping her own style. Many producers and managers have tried to persuade her to write and perform songs preferred by the greater mass. But even if she's not as rich and famous as other colleagues of hers, she is happy with the way her life turned out to be.
And that is what matters, isn't it?
Smiling brightly, she receives her audiences' applause and gives back their respect and love. At her sign, her band strikes the chords of her encore and she grips her microphone tighter, walking back to the edge of the stage and letting the roar of the people recede minimally until she starts her last song. It is a new one and the people listen intently. After the first chorus, they have learned the melody and join her in the second chorus. She holds the final notes for a few seconds and they linger in the sudden silence, only to be broken by a shattering cheer and applause. Bowing, smiling, waving, she leaves the stage the last time, this time not to return.
"Brilliant, brilliant, Terry, well done!"
Her manager awaits her in her lounge and offers her tea which she gladly takes.
"So this was our last concert in the US! We're off for Europe on Friday, have you finished packing?"
Terry grinned and shook her head.
"I'm still trying to decide what to take."
"Don't wait too long, otherwise Chris'll have to do the packing and you won't look as appealing as you normally do on stage, darling!"
"I'll have my luggage ready, don't worry. As well as my stylists."
"Good. Now, as you requested, there are no events tonight. May I ask what you want to do?"
A grin crossed her features. Her manager leaned back, her eyes widening fractionally.
"No", she sighed. "I don't think I want to hear it."
Terry's grin grew even wider.
"If you don't want to hear, don't ask."
Her manager looked at her concerned.
"You'll be careful, will you? We don't need a scandal. We don't want a scandal. Not now."
"It's nothing like that", Terry assured her and got up, walking in direction of her bath-room. "Don't worry, I'll be fine. I'm just meeting some old friends."
"This better be worth it", her manager mumbled.
A few hours later, Terry walked down the street towards Los Angeles Central Station. It was December and a cold wind swept the streets. Still, people were on their way, keeping their hands hidden deeply in their pockets and their faces in their scarves.
The cold gave her the perfect excuse to disguise herself with a long coat and a scarf, as well.
As a musician, Terry was quite popular with the people and even though her fame didn't rival those of Madonna and Lady Gaga she had a neat group of fans throughout the US and Europe. Leaving her house without being recognized had proved to be more and more impossible these days and there had been times when she had felt like she never would be left alone in her entire life again. But at least she still was able to slip away unnoticed once in a while, when wearing clothes like this coat that disguised her figure and either sunglasses or a shawl like this one to hide her face.
(Maybe this was why they met in winter?)
Another thing was her hair. If she let it down, most people recognized her as Terry Fletcher, the singer. When she put her hair up and fixed it in a tight bun, she looked older and stricter and less like herself. She took care not to use this neat trick often in order to keep it a secret.
Checking her watch, she swore softly and rushed forward into the station. She was seven minutes too late, something she blamed on a few fans who had been waiting at the front door of her hotel and had forced her to leave through the back door. Now, she made her way through the crowds of travelers and businesspeople who were returning to their homes after a long day of work. Ducking underneath a dangerously low, dangling neon sign for pizza, she reached the great waiting hall and immediately heard the sound of music from the other side.
A violin. A piano. A guitar. Drums.
"Excuse me, excuse me…"
Muttering her apologies, she finally managed to fight her way through the bystanders and was able to see the musicians. Her heart-pace quickened even more.
Because there they were.
They were seemingly rehearsing an old, well-known song in a nice, leisurely way and already now people had stopped and were standing there, listening transfixed.
So many things had changed.
Denise and Sloane were famous musicians now, Kiwi even had his own production studios. Terry had become a famous singer and Jay had followed his dreams: he played his music in the streets of Los Angeles, as well as working as a teacher in their former school. Terry's gaze wandered over her oldest friends and she smiled. Her eyes lingered on Jay's face: he looked concentrated, like he always had when he was playing his music. A tiny smile lingered in the corner of his mouth. His fingers danced over the strings as he coaxed the most beautiful sounds from his guitar. His eyes travelled over the audience until they came to rest on her. His smile widened and she smiled back, stepping into the little circle her friends had formed and pulled down her scarf. There were no gasps of surprise from the audience, which was good. She smiled at Denise, Kiwi and Sloane in turn and received similar smiles (except from Sloane, but the frown on her forehead showed her the rather unexpressive artist had seen her and was equally happy to see her again as well). They finished their rehearsal and Jay handed her a few pages. Taking them, her hand brushed his lightly and she shuddered, but she didn't have the time to think about it for long: Kiwi stuck the first few chords, using the drum sticks, and Jay, Denise and Sloane joined in for the song. Looking down on the pages, Terry realized they had chosen a song they had first sung years ago at the academy, and smiled. Denise nodded at her and she joined in.
The world keeps spinning around me
I have no time to stop and think
So many people in the streets
But no one notices me standing on the sidewalk
The people who had been listening before seemed surprised by the sudden change of atmosphere. Though the lyrics seemed melancholic and thoughtful, the melody was quick and passionate and more and more people stopped to listen. An old man, almost deaf, walked by and threw them a dirty look. Used to such treatment, they ignored him and smiled at each other.
The summer sun shines brightly
Casting a glow of life on the world
People enter my life and leave again
And I am left to mend the broken bonds
Kiwi went into a wild storm of drums while Sloane accompanied him with her keyboard. Jay waited until they made room and threw her a questioning look and when she nodded her consent, he sent them both into the wild, beautiful chorus.
But that's the way it is
This is my life, this is my world
I'm not just waiting, I'm not afraid
Cause I'll learn to fly, I'll learn to sing
I'll learn to live with every day
With every day you're by my side.
The audience cheered while Denise delivered her solo with fervor and Terry, too, listened in awe. Every time she heard her friend play her violin she was stuck silent. It was like listening to celestial music – mixed something that was uniquely Denise. It was… Amazing.
The audience thought so, too. Coins and notes rained into the violin case they had placed on the pavement in front of them. It had been Jay's idea, one year ago, when they had met again after ten years. It had been Jay, too, who had organized the class reunion at the academy. Denise had come up with the public performance (aka training) and Sloane had proposed to donate the money. Finally, Kiwi had let them swear to meet again the next year and Terry had been waiting for twelve months to meet her friends again. Each of them had a life, now. But it felt so good to see them again.
I live my life in the shadows
Not knowing what is right or wrong
I look at people all around me
But the last decision is mine to make
There is no way I'm always right
And I know I've got much to learn
But I'll go on living, go on trying
I believe in hearts meeting again and again
People left, others joined. Terry smiled at an old woman and the woman smiled back, slowly and with a strain that made Terry think she hadn't smiled in ages. But she did now, and that was what mattered. Sloane delivered a short solo, as well, and as it had been with Denise, she was amazed by the beauty of her play. She saw Kiwi throw a proud look at her and Sloane – smirked. She actually did. Wow! Terry never would have believed to see her friend show any other expression than her usual expressionlessness, but here she was, smirking.
Who would have known.
And everything will be alright
As long as you are by my side
As long as the world keeps turning
I'll go on into the world and find my heart
I'll find you
This is my life, this is my world
I'm not just waiting, I'm not afraid
Cause I'll learn to fly, I'll learn to sing
I'll learn to live with every day
With every day you're by my side.
Every song came to an end eventually, and so did theirs. The applause was huge. The five musicians bowed, smiled and thanked and then Sloane began their next song. Jay joined in, Kiwi gave the rhythm and Denise played along. Terry sang. It was magic. The people stopped and listened and left again. And Terry liked to believe that every time another person left, he or she did so with a smile on his or her lips.
Suddenly, there was a scream, high-pitched and breathless.
"Oh my God! Terry Fletcher!"
Denise, Sloane and Kiwi exchanged knowing glances, while Terry and Jay looked confused. But when a teenager started to shove her way through the crowd, she realized what was happening.
"What should we do?" She whispered to Jay, who was closest. Without breaking his tact, he lifted his shoulders questioningly. The chorus ended as the teenage girl had reached the front.
"Wow", she whispered in a voice that carried through the entire hall. "It's her." Then, louder: "It's her! It's Terry Fletcher!"
Grasping for her i-phone, she started typing like crazy. The audience, having noticed the commotion, began to shift. The rumor increased exponentially. More and more people stopped to look at the scene – it wouldn't need much until this escalated, Terry realized and started to back away from her friends.
"I'll meet you later?" She asked. The others nodded, not once breaking in their performance. Smiling once more, Terry pulled her scarf over her face and started to run.
They cornered her at the South Entrance of the Station, waving CD-covers, T-Shirts and pens. How on earth could it be that so many people were able to react to one single Facebook comment? Impossible as it seemed, half Los Angeles seemed to be trying to squash her to death, screaming her name and pressing her farther and farther into the wall.
A loud voice suddenly caught her attention, and someone shouldered his way through the crowd. A few girls went down screaming. Normally Terry would have been angry with the brutal man but now she could only think about how she would get out. The man stopped in front of her and with a jolt she recognized Jay. She heaved a huge sigh of relief as he grabbed her, put an arm around her and started to shoulder their way out towards the exit.
"Give them the autographs", he whispered as he led her to the doors.
He was right. She had to stay calm and friendly. Smiling, she signed a few CDs, shook a few hands and in the meantime, Jay brought her closer and closer to the exit. Finally, she reached the exit and immediately got caught in a throng of commoners returning from work.
"You're famous!" Jay shouted into her ear. "Why are you famous?"
Giggling, she followed him through the crowd and nearly lost him as three businessmen with dark suits crossed their way.
"Come on", he said and grabbed her hand. Familiar warmth shot through her hand, up her arm and spread through her entire body. His hand was warm and firm. And familiar.
He didn't let go of her until they reached a Borders and he pulled her through the open doors. Books and people enveloped them, but not as bad as it had been in Central Station. Leading her to the café on the other side, he bought her coffee and sat down in front of her. Thankful, she sipped the hot liquid. His eyes sparkled.
"Now, that was exciting. We should meet more often. It would make my life infinitely more interesting."
"What – you don't think your life as a teacher isn't interesting enough?"
"It's interesting alright", he conceded happily. "I've never regretted taking the position. What about you?"
"It's hard being famous", she said and took another sip of her drink. "But I wouldn't exchange it for anything."
Silence fell between them, both embarrassing and strange. They hadn't seen each other for a year and most of what had been between them had been lost even before. They had been children, young and foolish, and…
"So… What are you planning this year?"
"I'm teaching in the summer workshop, of course. Besides… I've got nothing planned, really."
"I'll be in Europe for three months. And then… I don't know."
A woman came to their table.
"Excuse me – are you…?"
"Yeah, she's Terry Fletcher", Jay said and grabbed her hand again. "It's great to meet you, but you have to excuse us. We've got something to do…"
Pulling her upright, he left her enough time to smile at the woman, shake her hand and scribble an autograph onto the napkin. Then Jay pulled her out of the store.
"Heavens!" He moaned.
"Where can I take you so we won't be disturbed again?"
"There is a place I'd like to see again", she offered.
"The roof of the academy", Jay said, impressed. "That's brilliant."
Night was falling slowly. Already, the first stars could be seen in the dark sky.
"Denise, Sloane and Kiwi will be there soon", Terry said and leaned over the railing. It was cold. Shuddering, she pulled her coat around her. Jay's hand moved forward and tugged free her hair from the bun she had forced it into before both realized what he had done. They froze.
Terry's hair came down in a silvery cascade.
"Sorry", he mumbled, his breath hanging in the frozen night air.
"It's okay", she answered, equally breathless.
Turning away, he looked over the roof. The city was slowly waking for the night. Skyscrapers and neon signs dominated the view. It was beautiful.
"You know, I always wondered what would happen once one grew up" he said, half to himself, half to her. "It seemed so… far away as long as one was a child. I'd never believed… Well, look at you… I always thought…"
His voice trailed off.
Not knowing what to say, she leaned next to him and followed his gaze.
"I know. Time has passed so fast, hasn't it?"
Another silence, this time worlds more significant than their last one. Finally, he asked:
"Do you think everything changes?"
"Everything? Like what?"
"People. Worlds. Maybe… Feelings."
Her heart beating fast, she concentrated on the building next to them.
"Maybe some things stay the same."
He gave her a cryptic look and took a deep breath.
"So if a guy meets a girl ten years after they first met, and he still thinks she is brilliant and beautiful and funny and her voice and her smile still can make him forget everything he wants to say and leave him stuttering like the last idiot, is it possible that he still is in love with her?"
"And if they didn't see each other for years but suddenly their paths crossed and they agreed to meet the next year and the guy has waited the entire year for that day to finally come, is it be possible that he still has a chance?"
He still wasn't looking at her.
Carefully, she turned to him and stared directly into his dark eyes. He lifted a hand, softly, and brushed away a strand of hair. Again, his touch alone made her shiver.
Terry stared at the skyline and felt the warmth from his hand spread through her entire body.
"I think it would be quite unfair to not give the poor guy a chance."
"Hey", he protested and strong, callused fingers stroke her cheek soft like a gust of wind. "That's unfair. You let me pour out my heart to you and you don't even give me a direct answer?"
Again, she looked at him and saw stars sparkling in his eyes. Stars, and the image of her own face.
He breathed out a sigh of relief.
"I'll be in Europe for the next three months", she reminded him softly. To his credit, he didn't hesitate a single second.
"I'll wait. Can I take you out tomorrow?"
"Nah, I'll think of something else."
He didn't try to kiss her. But his gaze alone made her shiver. It carried more than a promise – it carried a world. His hand took hers, and their fingers entwined.
"There you are!"
Denise, Kiwi and Sloane burst through the door onto the roof.
"I knew we'd find you here!"
Like children discovered with the hand in the cookie jar, they jumped apart. Kiwi whistled.
"Wow, you didn't waste time, mate!"
Denise didn't deign him a look as she strode over.
"We've gained a lot today", she told them. "And it was brilliant! Next year, same place, same time?"
The others nodded.
"And now let's get downstairs", Sloane added, practical as ever. "It's cold and we've got a dinner waiting."
Jay, Terry realized as they reached a comfortable, brightly lit classroom in which a set table and different, steaming hot terrines of delicious-smelling food were waiting, hadn't once let go of her hand.