A/N: Hey-la, readers! This story is a very much edited re-post of a story that's been off of the site for almost three years, and I've been working on it for almost four. When I originally published the first few chapters in August of 2008 (I very much underestimated how much work it would be to finish), there were no post-London Calling stories at all set more than a few days after the finale. So, at the risk of sounding like a super-hipster, I had this idea before it was cool :P
I have put so much time into this story, and it actually feels a bit weird to be finally putting it up again. It's my first long fic, and it's the way I've kept my love of Instant Star alive since it ended. I truly hope you enjoy it. I've enjoyed writing it.
Disclaimer: Of course, none of the stuff from Instant Star belongs to me, even if I wish it did.
"Hi little sis, this is Sadie!" The familiar voice of her sister came out of the little speaker on the cell phone. "Just wishing you a happy 21st birthday! Sorry I couldn't come to see you. Big meeting at G major and Darius said he wants me there. I sent your gift early enough that I think it should be there today or tomorrow. Light a pink candle for me." A voice could be heard in the background, and Sadie shouted back. "One minute! I'm calling Jude! Sorry about that. I have to go. D says happy birthday too. I love you, Jude! Have an amazing day. Bye!" the message ended. Jude deleted it, put her cell in her pocket, and sighed. Her older sister Sadie was always at G Major. It had been over a year and a half now that Jude had been living and working in London, and Sadie had only visited three times. She had stayed for a week to help Jude move into her apartment, had come for two days when Jude turned twenty, and, six months later, she'd been in London for something involving G Major. Jude had barely seen her that time, as she spent most of her time working on business (and "business") with Darius. Jude shuddered. She tried not to think too much about the relationship between her former boss and her sister.
Jude ran her fingers through her hair. So far, her birthday had been surprisingly boring, especially considering everything that had happened the day before. The record label was throwing her a party, but it wasn't until the day after, as they'd already scheduled a release party for another artist the night of her actual birthday. Her friends had given her presents the night before at a smaller party she'd had, and her family had shipped theirs.
So far she had received a new cell phone, several gift cards to various expensive restaurants, a silver charm bracelet with diamond guitar and J charms, a new star ring to replace the one that had broken, an early copy of her first CD from Darius, along with the platinum record she'd been nagging him about, plane ticket vouchers to travel to New York with her dad, and a new journal for her songs.
She had filled almost nine journals now, throughout her songwriting career. She kept them on a shelf here in her music room, arranged in chronological order.
She walked over and looked at the collection of her work, from the battered composition notebook she'd used in grade seven to the beautiful leather-bound book she'd just been given by her mother.
Jude reached and pulled out one of the journals. She opened it to the first page, lightly tracing her fingers over the words written in a familiar handwriting. "Most of us go to the grave with our music still inside us." She smiled. It was the journal Tommy had given her after the release of her second album. It seemed like an eternity ago.
Tommy. God, she had missed him like crazy for a while. A long while. Her new boss had actually threatened to release her from the record label if she could only bring herself to write sad songs.
Jude had talked to Tommy once after her move. It had been at the release party for her first album with Bermondsey (which she'd finished in an astonishing three months after moving by working nearly every day and many nights, working on her music being the only thing she could stand to do most of the time). It felt wrong to be doing it without him, and she'd broken down and called him (his number was buried in her contacts under the name "Jazzy Hands"). He had sounded shocked to hear from her. She could barely remember what they'd talked about, just that they'd talked, and it had been a relief to hear his voice somewhere besides inside her head. She'd started crying after a minute and forced herself to hang up before she could start begging him to come to London to be with her.
But she'd come a long way since then. Now she rarely thought about him at all, and her songs practically never involved him.
Well, that wasn't entirely true. Occasionally she thought about him… More than occasionally, really…
The doorbell rang, quickly snapping her out of her reverie. Jude shut the book and placed it back on the shelf. "Got it!" she shouted in the general direction of the door. She quickly ran her fingers through her hair. It was a mess. Oh well.
Her bare feet slapped on the hardwood floor. When she got to the door, she didn't bother looking through the peephole, just turned the knob.
And her jaw dropped. Because, standing there, in her doorway, was none other than Tom Quincy.
"T-Tommy?" Jude stuttered. It was impossible that he could be here. Impossible. Her brain couldn't quite seem to compute it.
"Hey, Jude. Nice to see you again." He smiled, and her heart leapt.
"Oh my God, Tommy!" She shouted, throwing her arms around his neck and hugging him hard.
He laughed in her ear and returned the hug like he'd wanted to do for so long. "Happy birthday, girl."
He felt so real in her arms, but she couldn't believe he could really be there, couldn't believe that she was really holding him again. She felt strange, dizzy, almost giddy.
"Jude!" A male voice called from somewhere inside the apartment. "Who's that?"
Jude started at the sound of his voice. She quickly dropped her arms and pulled away from Tommy. "Um… Just a friend!" She called back, suddenly nervous.
Tommy looked at her curiously, shocked at her abrupt change in demeanor. "I'm sorry. Is this a bad–"
At that moment a tall, blonde man turned the corner. "Um… hello…" He said.
Jude took a step back and stood next to the man, looking uncomfortable. "Um… Alexander, this is Tommy." she said slowly, "You know, he was my producer, back at G Major. I think I've told you about him…"
The man smiled, though there was something strange in his expression. "Sure. Tom Quincy. Good to finally be able to say I've met the producer extraordinaire."
They shook hands briefly. Tommy looked confused, unable to reconcile this man in Jude's apartment with the way he'd imagined their reunion.
"And Tom, this is Alexander. He's–" Jude took a deep breath and bit her lip. How could she tell him? She looked into his face and decided to just blurt it out. Like ripping off a band-aid. "He's my fiancé." She held out her left hand to show him the sparkling engagement ring.
Tommy stood, paralyzed for a few seconds, staring at the ring. He felt as if he'd been punched in the stomach. Jude was looking anxiously up at him, as if waiting for him to start shouting. All he managed was a somewhat choked "Wow." It wasn't quite sinking in.
"Yeah." The man- Alexander- put his arms around Jude and kissed her on the temple. Jude kept looking at Tommy, waiting for his reaction.
Tommy snapped himself out of the shock and pain and forced himself to give his best stage smile. "Well, congratulations girl. Come here."
Relief spread over Jude's features and she stepped into his arms, hugging him, albeit a much less exuberant hug than before.
After a couple seconds, the smell of her hair was starting to make Tommy lightheaded, so he let her go. "Well. This is a… surprise. Sadie didn't… tell me you were–" He gestured vaguely at the two of them, his voice somehow getting stuck on the word 'engaged.'
"You talked to Sadie about me?" Jude asked.
"Um… yeah. That's how I got your address… nice apartment by the way."
"Oh!" Jude seemed to realize that he was still standing in the doorway. "Come in! Sorry."
"Jude, I really can't–" He protested feebly.
"Nonsense" Alexander said, smiling brightly. They began to walk further into the apartment. Alexander continued, apparently oblivious to Tommy's discomfort. "Jude always used to talk about how you were the one that made her the musician she is today. I couldn't get her to stop sometimes."
Tommy raised his eyebrows, and thought he saw Jude wince. "Want some coffee? Tea?" she asked in a slightly higher voice than normal. He shook his head.
"Sit, then." She said, gesturing to an armchair. He did, though the tension in the atmosphere was practically tangible.
Alexander sat in the chair opposite him and pulled Jude into his lap, wrapping his arms around her. She smiled at him sweetly, if a little distractedly. There was a strange hollow feeling in Tommy's chest as he watched them. He turned his head and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Are you okay Tommy?" Jude asked, sounding concerned.
"Me? Yeah. I just have a headache." He responded. The effort to be polite was starting to drive him insane, and the desire to run was building. "You know what? I think I should go, maybe we can do this another time, or something." A hint of sarcasm had crept into his tone on the last part, as hard as he had tried to keep it out. He had no desire to spend time with the two of them. He stood, wanting to get out of there as fast as he could.
"I'll drive you." Jude offered.
"I can take a cab."
"Whatever." He said, trying not to sound as irritated as he felt. He just wanted to get away. He was kicking himself for having come at all. He fought to keep his steps slow as he headed for the door.
"Don't look at me like that Alexander." Jude said from behind him. "Just to his hotel."
She laughed. "What? Half an hour. I just want to make sure he's ok. Catch up. I haven't seen him in forever. Why? You jealous?" her voice was teasing.
Alexander's reply was dead serious. "Should I be?"
Tommy turned around just in time to see her roll her eyes and stand on her toes to kiss the man deeply, her fingers in his hair. He felt slightly nauseous at the way she smiled as she did it, the way they fit together. He clenched his fists more tightly.
"No." Jude said firmly when she'd broken away. "I love you Alex."
Alexander had no choice but to give in, stroking her hair and saying "I love you more." in a slightly breathless voice.
The pounding in Tommy's head got worse. He put his hands up to rub his temples.
"Let's go." Jude jingled her keys next to him.
"Feel better, mate." Alexander said. "Nice to meet you." The man was smiling, but his eyes were tight.
They shook hands a little harder then was probably strictly necessary.
"You too man." Tommy said halfheartedly, and followed Jude out of her apartment.
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