127 Chp 117 : The Beginning Pt. 2

Here we go, enjoy!

~~~

After 4 hours of flight time from LA to New York City, they were finally landed safely at LaGuardia Airport.

It was only the two of them who decided to go. Robin had invited Ione to join them but she flatly rejected her offer because she wanted to spend New Year's Eve with her mother.

They were immediately picked up by a black Benz the moment they disembarked the plane. He was startled to see this expensive car right the moment where the aircraft door opened.

Al still couldn't comprehend how rich Robin was. If someone wanted to see a vampire princess, this girl who was giving him a smug smile was the one that everyone should be looking for.

The winter in New York was so different in LA. The cold winter wind blew hard in an open field of the apron, penetrated the coldness deep into their spine. Robin rubbed both of her hands while an old man who told him that he was their appointed driver guided them to the Benz. Robin was warm to this old man and seemed familiar with him.

"I can't believe I said this but I miss California, it's so fucking cold," Robin said and covered her mouth with her hands to prevent cold striking her face.

"Hey don't be a stranger, I hate cold too. We are in luck that the snow is not falling yet." He pointed out. Then he looked at her hand and his face broke into a smile, "Hey, you wore those gloves I gave you!"

"Best gifts a friend could ask for. How about my present? Do you like it?"

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"Like it? I love it! Who in their right mind gives their friend an expensive piece of craft! I feel that I owe you, Roby."

"The best kind of friend someone has and you owe me nothing ED, well, maybe you can pay it by singing some songs you wrote before to me."

"Deal!" They fake spit to their hands and had a firm handshake before they broke their serious face and laughing at each other.

"Young miss," The driver opened the door for both of them and they left the airport like a boss.

They drove through the downtown of New York City in the winter and they could say that they didn't really like the scenery very much. The downtown was still looked like a slum area, walls and objects vandalized by graffitis, homeless people were sleeping with months ago newspapers, the crowd of thugs hanging out by the stairs of their home, trash were scattered everywhere, etc.

It reminded both of them of the movies they re-watched together, <Taxi Driver> by Martin Scorsese.

New York City, besides the elite neighborhood part, still kept its charm as the city of crime, the 'Fear City'. Murders, robberies, rapes, organized crimes such as the mafia and other gangsters were at their highest before the beginning of the new century.

Robin opened the window and let her head out of the car. She took a deep breath and said "Ahh, the smell of suffering and desperation." She paused for a while before she added, "And a bit smell of piss."

"You are perfectly correct young miss." The driver chuckled. "But soon, this city will get better." He said in a happy tone.

"Is it because of that Mafia Commission trial? How's the result?" Al asked him.

"It's not out yet but people in the street said it might be a good sign. They said it will be the end of the organized crime era in New York." He said.

Al tried so hard not to scoff. It would be sooner to see the third world war rather than the end of the mafia or any criminal gangs' rules in New York.

The scenery changed once they crossed the bridge that led to the upper side of Manhattan.

"A closed road again?" She asked after seeing the blockage path.

"Yes, young miss. It's not surprising, tomorrow is the Times Square Ball Drop." Said the driver.

"Hey, ED, let's put our bag first before you begin the lovey-dovey journey with your fuck buddy. Don't worry, I have covered you a room for the nights." Robin mocked.

"Sound good to me." He answered her with a smile. He already knew her japes and it took him a scenery of Robin holding an ax before he got offended by her.

After half an hour of extra time searching for the alternative road, they finally arrived at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, one of the, or maybe the most expensive and prestigious hotels in New York City.

How ridiculous it was when he knew they were spending the night in a penthouse suite with at least 4 rooms, that could probably cost 20 grand a night.

Al squinted his eyes again at Robin's ridiculous way of spending money but she shrugged at him. "Hey, it's not me who arranged it. I just told them I want to go to New York with my friend and they prepared everything for me."

"I don't know Robin, it might not be a good idea if I stayed here with you. I can open room on the floor below us if you don't mind."

"No! It's not like we live in the same room. Look, we have 4 empty rooms here. It's not like we've never slept together. We almost did it every day in London." She elbowed his arm. "I'm a lesbian remember, so you worried for nothing. And do you want to leave me alone in this big scary room?"

Al then sighed and gave up, "Whatever you said, princess." She immediately punched his arm.

Didn't want to waste the time anymore, they went to the place where Gwen was staying at.

Another traffic and bustle from the New Yorker made them decided to just walk to the location of the apartment that Vanaheim Records leased near Central Park.

When they were ready to go out of the condo, the hotel manager came to their room and told Robin shocking news.

"What! Mom and Dad will come over here tomorrow?" Robin said with her lower jaw hanging wide open.

"Yes, ma'am, Mr. Graham called us to inform you and make sure to get everything young miss needs. If you need anything else, you can call us anytime miss."

After he informed her, the hotel manager just left in hurry, like he was scared of something or someone.

"Damn, Roby, it looks like your parents OWN this hotel."

"They might be," She smiled sheepishly, but next her expression turned bitter. "But what are we going to do now. I don't want to meet them. The last time we met was when Christmas, even then they just went away the next day to London. How about we found another hotel or will Gwen accept a roommate for a while?"

"No, you will meet them, and don't worry, I am always here for you. Did you give them a Christmas present?"

This time she smiled, "Yes, they both like it."

"That's a start, and you'll be fine. They really love you."

"Well, after we resolve my problem, let's get to yours. How would they know if their daughter were sleeping in one room with a boy."

His face immediately lost its colors, "Maybe the boys need a roommate."

"Oh no you don't, you are staying in this hotel with me!" She laughed and left him in shock. After he recovered from the shock, he was then chasing after her and it led them into the game of tags and stretched their schedule into another half hour.

When they reached the apartment by walking, the exhausted-looking Al and Robin immediately went up to Gwen's room.

The door opened and there he saw the one and only the CEO and record producer of Vanaheim Records, Sylvia Massy appeared at the door and giving him a teasing smirk. "You are here early, lover boy." She said and came to hug him. "Gwen was in the bathroom. Hello there Robin."

"Geez, nice to see you too, Sylvie," Al said without surprise. After the stunt that Gwen pulled to be in the same room as the boys, Al immediately called Sylvia to change the arrangement which Sylvia also found stupid. A girl, alone with 3 boys in the same apartment? Yeah right. sounds very fishy to everyone.

So she put her in a different room and to make sure Gwen was okay, Sylvia came to accompany her. Then a loud shriek came behind her and Gwen pounced him with only her bathrobe. He could feel her wet hair and skin touched his body. A wonderful womanly scent overriding his sense of smell, making him drunk in arousal.

"You came!" She said and kissed him many times in his face and mouth, "You came!" She repeated.

"Of course, Gwendolyn. I'll always come for you."

Her scream also alerted the other apartment tenant and the door beside their room opened, revealing three curious heads of the No Doubt band members who were hanging by the door entrance. Al greeted them and they greeted him back with an eager tone, except for one person who kept his expression flat.

He got along with Tom Dumont and Adrian Young. Though he couldn't get why he can't get along with Tony Kanal, he seemed he didn't like that Al was coming here.

The weather was cloudy and a bit gloomy since afternoon and in a few minutes, the artificial lights would brighten the city night. Sylvia offered all of them to call a pizza and let them caught up with everything that has happened on their few days in New York.

"Ugh, they were all so arrogant and cold-hearted!" Complained Gwen and the rest of the band nodded in agreement. "They shoved our rehearsal time till a few hours to midnight, didn't give us any changing room, we must buy the bottled water for ourselves, and so many more infuriating things! It's not fair, I know we are just an amateur band but it's getting annoying."

"Can you do anything about it, Sylvia?"

Sylvia made a wry smile, "We can, but do you want to get more problems than we have? We have bypassed some of the unwritten rules to be here."

"Wait, how can we get this chance in the first place?"

"Well, you should give some thanks to your friend in here, everyone called her Wall Street Queen by the way."

"Nancy pulled the string? Wait, how did she know you by the way?"

"She called our office and just said that she was one of your friends. Then she told me she got us a space to perform in Times Square Ball Drop because one of the guest performers was unable to fill their promise to the organizers. Of course, I jumped at the chance."

"How about the RHCP?"

"We might have a tiny winy bit problem with them."

Al sighed, "Let's discuss them later when we back to LA."

Then Al asked about their preparation for tomorrow night and Al sensed they were a bit troubled by the stress. All of them confessed they were having cold feet and were unsure that they could perform tomorrow.

Al suggested that they should have another rehearsal.

"We had it yesterday and tomorrow morning but I don't think it can help," Tony said.

"Not that rehearsal. How about a street rehearsal. Let's hit the street!" Everyone was looking at him in confusion before they realized what was he meant.

~~~

"You think this is okay?" Asked the "Doubtful" Gwen

"Of course, else you might change the band name into Full of Doubt." He joked and earned laughs from some of them. "Okay, are you ready? I'll be watching you from the back and be an overwatch in case some officers came to kick us from here, good luck, honey." He kissed her forehead before retreating.

The No Doubt personnel were all standing with their acoustic musical instrument on the south side of Central Park. Although it was getting darker and the air was getting colder, hundreds of visitors were still coming here and bringing the spirits of the New Year holiday with them.

Some passerby walked over them, minding their own business, and some of them who were interested in whatever they were going to do were waiting and spectating them, although it was not many.

Robin and Sylvia were watching them from a distance and encouraging them by giving them the thumbs up. Tony gave his friend a signal and they started to play the melody. The melody was quite catchy and made everyone followed the beat. The only thing lacked was the lyrics, or more accurately, the sound of the singer.

Gwen was frozen stiff as if this was the first time she performed in the eyes of many spectators. The music stopped and a trace of worry appeared on their face directed at Gwen. Al came to her and put his hands on her shoulder.

"Hey, what is it this time sweetheart? This is not your first time performing with so many people watching you."

"No, Al, it's just that I suddenly remembered that I'm going to perform in millions pair of eyes and my I suddenly got cold feet." She nervously laughed.

He took an acoustic guitar from the case and told everyone to follow after him. "Gwen, remember the song I sang before, do you still remember the lyrics?"

"That song?"

"Hmm." He nodded in confirmation.

He strummed the guitar and started the song. It was <Lost Star>. Gwen really loved that song and she turned giddy when the first time he sang to her. When she asked him if the song was about both of them, Al bit his tongue and said yes. He felt a bit guilty after saying it but when he saw her turned lovey-dovey with him for the rest of the day. The happiness was at least worth the lies.

Then the music began. It grabbed the attention of all the pedestrians and before the audience could be counted by hands, now it has reached at least dozens of people.

As she was able to take the charge of the stage, Al immediately backed down and left the center of attention to her. Gwen was finally able to regain her bearings and No Doubt performed until the last minute to midnight.

He may not be a professional musician, but he could judge that they were an amazing band. He believed that this was not their extent because they were only using an acoustic music instrument, so they were not all out.

"They are amazing. You are right about signing them," Sylvia said who took a place beside Al, along with Robin. "At first, I thought you are crushing hard on this girl and make a record label to woo her."

"Maybe it was, and in turn, she exceeded my expectation." He replied.

Slyvia raised one of her eyebrows, she doubts it. "How do you know she needs this? She performed in a lot of audiences before."

"Let's just say that New York is like a foreign country to her. I think she may have overheard how different it is between East and West coast music preference from someone, so she started to doubt if she is good enough to perform in a different kind of audience."

Slyvia finally understood and nodded at him. "Also, I will shoot my film here about street music and I think I need some reference."

"Oh, a musical film is it? Don't forget our label to record the song will ya?"

"Don't worry, I have written 10 songs enough to make an album and this song will appear in my film."

Sylvia got excited, "Can I see them? Please!" She suddenly get embarrassed after losing her composure and cleared her throat, Changing back to business lady persona, "As your music producer, I need to see it first and correct your mistake!"

Al chuckled, "Relax, I'll show it to you when we are going back. I got it in my bag and I wanted to show it to you before this thing would happen."

Gwen crashing him with a hug as soon as they packed up their instrument.

"How is it? Is t good? Are we making some mistakes? Do you like it?" She asked the questions rapidly because of the excitement.

"I think you are ready for tomorrow, just remember to stay calm and took a deep breath whenever you get the cold feet. And Gwendolyn, I'm very proud of you."

"Thank you, Al." She stood on her tiptoe and gave him a passionate kiss.

Then came the unity of people clearing their throat that ended their kiss prematurely. They decided to call it a night because they had one more rehearsal tomorrow morning and they parted ways.

"Hey, Sylvie, do you want to swap with me? I got this luxury room at the penthouse that this daddy gave for his little princess."

"Oh no, you don't! Gwen will need rest and I don't want any activity that disturbs her rest, especially from you." Sylvia retorted.

"Shit dude, you live together with that chick!? Awesome!" Tom said loudly.

"Are you okay with that, Gwen? Isn't that inappropriate?" Tony butted in.

"Don't worry, I trust my man." She winked at Al. Well, she was a few people that knew Robin swing in a different way.

"Relax my dear, we are not sleeping in the same room and you want to see how big her condo is." He winked back.

The night ended and they parted way, he didn't forget to give the music sheets to the curious Sylvia, and this night, she did not sleep at all.

~~~

08.00 PM, 31st December.

"Whoa!? I've never been into a crowd this big before." Robin bewilderedly looking at the passerby who sometimes bumped into her. Both Robin and Al were one of the many people who were stuck in the sea of people at Times Square.

"We should do this often then if you really love this."

"Who said I love this! If you are not here, I would have been nauseous from the moment we stepped out of the hotel."

Both of them walked with the crowd. It was silence over the commotion.

"Sorry about your parents." He started.

"Nah, that's okay. I used to."

Robin's parents did not come this morning because they had some unfinished business in London, according to her call with her parents. Instead, they told her that they would arrive after the New Year and told her to wait for them because they really wanted to spend their time with their daughter.

Al patted her head, "Come on dear little Emily, we got a backstage pass for both of us."

She elbowed him hard and bit her teeth, "Never use my middle name got it," But in a minute she smiled, showing her white teeth hidden by the black lipstick she wore. "Did we got VIP access to watch the performance?"

He laughed smugly, "Of course, I own the music label. As the owner, I have a right to get the backstage pass."

"Prick, let's hurry up, the punk princess is waiting for you." She ran leaving him behind.

"Roby, I don't want to play tags again and we are almost late, Gwen will perform in another minute!" He screamed.

As they were passing through the crowd of people to the backstage of where the concert was located. No Doubt was already preparing their musical instrument and soon they would perform on stage.

"Gwen!" Robin screamed and it grabbed everyone's attention.

"Robin! Al! You made it." Gwen came over and hugged them both.

"I wouldn't miss it,"

"You almost did," Robin interrupted him.

"Behave Em-ugh." His words cut short from the light jab Robin delivered to his ribs.

Gwen laughed at them, If she didn't know that Robin was a lesbian, she would have played the jealous-girlfriend-who-her-boyfriend-her-rival-was-just-a-friend part.

No Doubt finally appeared on the national stage and unlike the previous No Doubt who was still confused about their music genre, Sylvia's recommendation to choose ska-punk and the ska-pop genre was a gift that fell from the sky for them.

Their performance was a hit and the closing song was called "Just a Girl". It should be a song that would have been created in at least a few years of their music experience but now it was coming a few years earlier.

The audience was screaming relentlessly, not so bad for the new band that everyone else didn't know.

Before he went back, Sylvia suddenly appeared in front of him and looked like she finishing a 10K marathon. "Al, I have a request for you. A big one."

At first, Al wanted to joke with her but looking at her serious expression, he canceled it, "Okay, what is it?"

A few moments later...

"I swear this is a bad idea." He whined.

"Stop being a whiny teenager... oh yeah, you are. Sometimes I forgot how old are you." Sylvia murmured.

He ignored her murmur, "I swear this is a bad idea. I think I regret when I said I agreed with you." He complained, again.

"Al, you can't back down now, not right after you agreed. They agreed with everything I threw at them. Please think about our record label, this is the best way to promote it. I have seen the songs you have written and all of them are of top-notch quality. I can't believe there was a talented person like you, wait! Are you even a human?" She was then looking at him in wonder.

From everything that Sylvia had told him a few moments ago, one of the performers was having a personal problem and they walked out the moment their performance would begin. He wondered if there was a God of chilceness there who ruled over the cliche situations.

Sylvia overheard their problem and came to them with a solution.

She told the event organizer that she was the CEO under a record label that Alphonse Brandt owned and after they heard his name, it immediately piqued their interest. Then she told them again that he was here and she could convince him to fill the void schedule. She then told Al how many benefits that they could get if he agreed to substitute the walked-out performer.

Seeing the begging look Sylvia gave to him, Al pondered for a while and agreed with her, the benefit was as high as kite and he was interested in it. He then ordered Sylvia to squeeze another benefit they could get as much as possible from them.

Here he was, thinking again that what he did maybe wasn't very wise. He was too greedy plus he saw Slyvia's enthusiasm made him blind and maybe now he regretted it.

"Al, please, I want to see my boyfriend performed live for the first time. Remember I only saw you on telly when the First Aid concert." Gwen said in support of Sylvia.

He looked over Robin for support and instead she gave him a shit-eating grin looked that made his eyebrows twitched uncontrollably.

"Fine, let's get on with it." He gave in.

"Oh, by the way, to make you feeling better, you are the first on their list in the guess performer but they were unable to invite you because your agent told them that you only accept movie contracts.

"Thanks? But I think it was far from it to make me feel better."

Al strapped the acoustic guitar that he borrowed from one of the background musicians. He checked out the time and showed it was 10 minutes past 11. In another 50 minutes, the year 1986 would be shadowed by 1987.

The host was announcing that there would be a change of the performer. No one was booing him or showing any disappointment, The aura of excitement for waiting for a new year change was far from letting them down.

"I know some of you may be disappointed with the last-minute change from the one who will perform here. But let me assure you first, the one who swap it was far better. Let's give a big welcome to... Alphonse Brandt!!!"

The crowd turned silent, they were still processing at what the host was saying some of them broke into a cheer, mad cheers.

"Wish me luck, everyone." He said while turning his attention to his girls and then he went up to the stage.

"HELLO NEW YORK!!" He screamed and they also screamed back at him, excited to see him.

"Actually, I was not supposed to be here. I was supposed to be in LA, enjoying the sunny winter and sulking at my home, and became an edgy teenager. You know, even celebrity has their own phase, but worry not my friend, turning emo I am not."

Some were laughing at his monologuing and some cheered, confessing their love for him.

"Anyway, I'm here to support someone special to me, she just performed a while ago, what? Are you curious who was it? Let's make it a race to find her then." He laughed and teased them. "I will sing two songs by the way, and I hope it ended before the ball drop. Let's not waste any time, here we go."

He strummed the guitar and the soft acoustic melody turned the tense and loud crowd into silence. "Sorry everyone but this is a new song I wrote." He said while keeping the melody on. "No singing along here but I hope you all like this."

*Songs Played: Fast Car by Tracy Chapman*

"[I got a fast car. I want a ticket to anywhere. Maybe we make a deal. Maybe together we can get somewhere. Any place is better]" His voice echoed to the crowd that had become quiet to enjoy the piece of songs he played.

The music kept giving them a serene feeling to the majority of people here who want to enjoy the music. The lyrics were both broke their hearts and then lifted them up at the same time.

"[So I remember when we were driving. Driving in my car. Speed so fast it felt like I was drunk. City lights lay out before us. And my arm felt nice wrapped round your shoulder. And I-I had a feeling that I belonged. I-I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone.]" Al unconsciously increased his voice when he reached the chorus and the audience felt pulled by his emotion.

"[Leave tonight or live and die this way.]" With the final stroke to the guitar strings, the song has ended and the crowd who had been silenced by the song was broke into cheers and applause at his performance. Those who felt they could relate their life to the song were wondering how their life should be. But soon that trance was broken by his voice.

"Okay, for next song... what?" Suddenly someone screamed from the audience place, "You want me to repeat that song? What am I? A jukebox" He smirked, "Well, wait for the singles out then." That earned him some boos by the audience and made him chuckled.

Waiting for the noise to subside, he continued, "For the next song, I call this 'Riptide', I don't know why I name it this but I assure you this song is really good, just watch out for the snails in your brain not to repeat this song." He joked.

*Songs Played: Riptide by Vance Joy*

The audience heard the tempo for this song was faster than the previous solemn song and they did not realize that their foot began to tap according to the song's rhythm.

"Well, this song should be better to be played by a ukulele but, beggar can't be a chooser."

Then he began to sing, "[I was scared of dentists and the dark. I was scared of pretty girls and starting conversations.]"

Everyone was thinking that he was right. The song was really good and it stuck on their mind and the cheerful melody yet dark lyrics was enjoyable to them. They began to raise their hands and grooved at the song.

"[Lady, running down to the riptide. Taken away to the dark side. I wanna be your left hand man.]" He was smiling ear to ear as the audience enjoyed it. "[I got a lump in my throat 'cause. You're gonna sing the words wrong.]"

As he ended the song, the audience began another round of applause and cheers. The cheering and applause were so hectic, loud, chaotic. Soon he also heard them screaming encore repeatedly, he felt funny because he might be singing another song if he did not care about the time.

"Thank you, New York and the United States! Only a few days here in New York and I gotta tell you, I fell in love with this city." He lied through his breath, to make his audience happy. "But unfortunately, I must end my performance here and I really wish I could get more time to sing."

"Encore!" The audience kept screaming.

Al smiled at the enthusiasm of the New Yorker. Ending his time on this stage with a bow to the audience, he turned his back to the audience and went backstage. What he didn't know was a girl in her teenage year escaped the security watch and ran onto the stage from the audience stand.

*AN: Sorry, borrowing Hollywood Hunter plot here.

She continued to run and evade the security guards who finally realized that one of the audiences running to the stage. Seeing the chaos caused by the girl, the audience started to cheer on her and support her to escape from the guards.

After passing two security guards with towering bodies, the girl finally got caught up to him and hugged him from behind.

Al who did not realize what occurred behind him was suddenly jerked from the crash. He thought that someone who did not like his performance came and strike him from behind. Well, it was the same thing but the difference was the attacker did not dislike him.

She then professed her love to him and cried his name out loud while hugging him from behind. The security guards finally caught up to the girl and began to pull her away from him. She still squirmed by the time she was pulled from his back.

"Al, I love you, Al!" She kept screaming with tears falling from her cheeks. Ooh, he didn't like to see a girl crying, it reminded him of his sister. Even though they sometimes use their tears to get what they wanted, but as long it wasn't harmful to him, he just let them have their way.

The security guard also had a hard time constraining her so he made the wisest choice. "Wait! You both can release her."

The security guards were caught in surprise at his statement. They both then looked at each other in doubt. Usually, celebrities hated when their fans acted like some rabid animals like this one right? They asked Al again for confirmation and when he nodded, they released her.

Her hope shone brightly when Al ordered the security guards to release her. So she did what everyone in Alphonse Brandt's fans club would do when they imagined when they meet him. She crashed her body and embraced him like this was the last day on earth.

Al was caught in surprise at the girl's courage and chuckled. He could also hear her saying thank you(s) many times while crying. He looked at the crowd who started to cheer at them and then at the backstage where Robin, Sylvia, and Gwen, yes and Gwen.

They gave him a teasing smirk and for Gwen, she smiled at him and even encouraged him to give the girl on his embrace, the time of her life.

"Hi, hello, what's your name? How old are you?" He asked in a soft tone. The girl was still crying in his arms and he waited until she has calmed down before asking the same question.

Reporters, TV cameramen, didn't want to miss this rare moment and soon all cameras focused on him. All of the big screens on Times Square and the screen of the audience at home were showing their zoomed-in figure.

"Idina, but you can call me Dee. I'm 15 this year. Al, your song helped me through this horrible year and I was glad to see you here." She said between her sobs then she told him that her parents were divorced and she felt it was her fault and blamed herself because of this. Al kept hugging her and comforted her by rubbing her back.

The audience was touched to hear this girl's misfortune and started to sympathize with her. "Then I found a strength through your songs 'I Lived' and since then, I want to be a singer just like you." She finally smiled.

"A singer? Not an actor? Because I am sure I was better at acting than singing." He joked.

She shook her head and told him that she liked singing more and acting was her second choice.

After he heard her reason, he began to wonder if the organizer would permit him if he was going to sing one more song with Dee. He then asked the host and he came with an answer from the organizer. They permitted him. They also would be glad to, but it must end at the half-hour before the new year.

He started to ponder what song would fit in this occasion and an idea struck him. He turned to Dee and asked her. "So, Dee, are you a good singer?"

"I-I don't know Al, but I got a part-time job sometimes singing in a wedding and Bar mitzvah ceremony." She said with a blush crept on her face.

"Good! At least you are not really a newbie. Do you want to sing with me?"

"Really? Can I?"

"You are already here, so why don't embrace the opportunity and sing with me."

He went over to the keyboard player and asked him if he could take over the keyboard for a while. Then the keyboard was brought more forward, near the audience stand.

"Okay, here you guys who said who wanted an encore, your wish came true." He said to the audience and they cheered in enthusiasm.

"Next, it's not my song and I might get sued by the copyright owner tomorrow." He joked, "But hey, at least this time we can sing this together and my new friend here, her name is Dee, will help me correcting my wrong notes." Dee blushed again when her name was mentioned to a lot of people.

He began to play simple piano notes from what he remembered and the audience immediately recognized the song.

*Songs played: Imagine by John Lenon*

"[Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try.]" He started. He looked at Dee and signaled her to take care of the next lyrics. Then she started to sing, '[No hell below us. Above us only sky.]"

Dang! She could sing. Everyone who heard her singing widened their eyes. They thought they were going to hear a mediocre voice and maybe give her applause for trying. Al was also part of this 'everyone'. This was a pleasant surprise! Her voice was so beautiful.

Then they began to sing together and created a harmony, "[Imagine all the people. Living for today... Aha-ah...]"

The audience in Times Square, at their house, their workplace, or even the whole United States were singing together. For a few minutes, John Lenon's dream that poured into this song was coming true at this simple annual celebration.

And so the final song that Al and Dee had brought to the audience made the New York City broke into cheers. Sweats were pouring from their heads and both Al and Dee were looking at each other in satisfaction. Giving her one last tight hug, they bowed to the audience and left them in applause, cheers, shouts, craziness, or every word that could describe a chaotic in a good way.

~~~

Gwen was humming 'Riptide' that Al had sung a few minutes ago while leaning her back on her dearest boyfriend's muscular tight broad chest. He was hugging her from behind, his arms slithered from her shoulders to her belly and his mouth was kissing her hair.

'She smelt really good.' He thought.

She then felt a warm air blowing down to her neck, giving her a shudder and also butterflies on her stomach. She forgave him this time because it felt a bit nice.

She looked at the screen at the toppest building of Times Square showing numbers 60... 59... 58... and it kept decreasing.

It was nice to see her boyfriend live performance a few moments ago, although she was a bit insecure at how the crowd and every person was looking up to him when he was singing. He comforted a stranger for god's sake and made her had the courage to come to the stage and giving gratitude directly to his face. She wondered how many lives her boyfriend might have saved with his singing or acting if what she told everyone was true.

As for Dee, well, with that kind of voice she has, it might be easy for her now to get a contract from a record label or any job that involved singing. She has to admit she was a bit jealous of her voice, but with a boyfriend like this scoundrel, it was her that everyone should be jealous of.

Sylvia gave Dee a business card and told her if she wanted to go to the professional level, don't shy away and give her a call. She also told Dee that in that way, she could also get close to her idol, Al. She blushed when Sylvia mentioned Al's name, the image was so cute that it integrated into everyone's mind, even hers. She shyly nodded and told them she wanted to ask her parents' permission first before agreeing to anything.

Then she told them her full name and where she was living. Her name was Idina Mentzel and she lived in Syosset, Long Island. Al was kind of surprised when he heard her name and when Dee asked him if he knew her from somewhere, he just told them that it was a Jewish name and asked her if she was Jewish and she said yes. He seemed happy to hear that, and when she asked why, he said it was a Jewish thing, a vague answer.

She kinda guessed that it was an inside joke that they had. Sometimes Gwen forgot that Al was Jews from his mother's side.

Robin was with Sylvia and the rest of her band members. Al was kinda kidnapped her the moment he finished performed, grabbing a random hat and sunglasses and ran away with her. Such a romantic person, isn't he?

Another warm breath followed by dirty talks broke her away from her musing and this time, she gave him a light slap to his arm. "Al, stop it!"

Al just chuckled at her reaction, "Why? Are you turned on?" He whispered and gave her goosebumps.

"Yes! And everyone could see us!" She got mad and her face turned red from anger, embarrassment, and lust?

"Everyone is minding their own business, Gwen. We can do naughty things here and no one will ever notice." He teased her.

Her red face turned scarlet and elbowed him, "Al, behave or-or, I won't give you anything tonight."

"So you are planning to give me something tonight?" He asked in expectation.

"If you behave." She smirked.

"Then I'm going to be the best gentleman you have ever meet, milady,"

This time she laughed, "No, just stay and be what you are, dear." She grabbed hugged his arm tighter.

"10... 9... 8..." The number was getting close to zero and the people who were counting down were getting louder.

"Let's join them," He suggested and she agreed with him. What is New Year if it celebrated without counting down the time?

"3... 2... 1... HAPPY NEW YEAR!!" The cheer was heard from every direction of this city. The Times Square Ball that was shaped like an apple has finally reached the ground.

Colorful fireworks painted the sky in bright colors. People were congratulating each other.

"Gwendolyn."; "Al." They said at the same time and then smiled.

"Happy New Year 1987." They said in unison.

"7 years," He mumbled.

"Hm? What was that, Al?" Gwen asked while she congratulated some people nearby.

"Nothing." He smiled. 'Another vague answer' She thought.

Seeing a suspicious look on his girlfriend's face, he became amused. So he pulled her body close to him. Then leaned her back while supporting her so she did not fall, and kissed her in the most loving way that a human could know. "Happy New Year my fair lady, Gwenivere, and I love you."

She snapped back from the daze because of the hot kiss and murmured, "I love you too, Al." And they both smiled and finished what have they started.

Without their knowledge, their passionate moment was taken by an amateur photographer and will be showcased at the biggest photo gallery in New York City because of its resemblance with the famous "V-J Day In Times Square" photo.

The End Of Volume 1

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