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One last chance

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WELCOME LADIES, GENTLEMEN AND ALL YOU BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE. WE HOPE YOU HAVE A FANTASTIC TIME AT THE ONE AND ONLY POWERLINE PERFORMANCE. PLEASE PROCEED TO THE TICKET COLLECTOR BOOTH TO ACCESS ENTRY INTO THE BUILDING AND USHERED IN

 

“EMMA CALM DOWN! oh my god” Right at the entrance of the large concert hall and in front of the ticket collector booth over a long line of excited babbling fans, one red headed babbling fan reigned supreme as she giddily bumped the huffing girl next to her.

 

Two distinctly different laughs erupted behind them and the redhead joined in much to the annoyance of the huffing girl who adjusted her glasses gingerly.

 

“Lighten up Gilda!” The emerald eyed girl threw her arms around her and grinned as the man behind the booth ushered the small group into the large hall.

 

“This is the first time we get to witness him live you know!” Gilda sighed and gave a small smile “Well yes, I know you're excit-” She glanced at the bright beaming face “Elated because you’ve been waiting for this for a while but you should really keep your energy in check before you get out of control.”

 

Emma pouted and gave a loud exaggerated sigh “You’re right but I can’t help myself”

 

“Oi Gilda! we’re seeing Powerline tonight there’s no need to be so collected. Do you hear that?” the collective sounds of a large crowd cheering erupted as the dj turned up the sound system from the concert auditorium down the large busy hallway. “This is the night we’re allowed to let loose- it's our first weekend in college for crying out loud!”

 

“Right?!” Emma high-fived the boy enthusiastically and Gilda simply raised a brow at both. “I wouldn’t be concerned if the two of you weren't prone to acting...less than stellar in situations like this” The two looked at the lime haired girl in confusion and a soft chuckle came up behind them.

 

“It’ll be fine as long as we stick together, really Gilda you’re worrying too much” The soft spoken blonde took both girls by the arm and led them towards the large array of booths and stores filled with food, drinks and merchandise spread across the large structure. “Whatever you say, Anna” Gilda sighed and allowed herself to be led towards the excited crowd as Don and Emma enthusiastically followed.

 

...

 

“Shit, we almost got caught- again” A dark haired boy walked quickly through the entrance of the large auditorium, pulling his snowy haired companion by the arm behind him and completely ignoring the person at the ticket booth who attempted to usher both boys through.

 

The white haired boy laughed as he watched his darker-haired friend fret aggressively

 

“Oi Norman, what the hell are you laughing about??”

 

“Ah, it's nothing- it just never gets old watching you freak out like that.”

 

“You-” the dark haired boy ruffled Norman’s hair violently, pulling even louder chuckles from the snowy-haired boy.

 

“You're lucky I actually give a shit about you, you know- I don’t even like that guy” He lifted his chin towards a large poster of Powerline-the main artiste of the concert- hanging taunt from the ceiling as they both weaved their way through the various booths.

 

“I know, but thanks anyway Ray” Norman glanced at a group of excited friends laughing boisterously with a slight solemn look to his eyes.

 

“I was getting tired of that man always scheduling meetings when he knows I have somewhere else to be- and I’m even more tired of my dad always going along with it”

 

He absent mindedly ran his hand through the soft fluffy strands on his head “I’ve wanted to see Powerline forever but whenever I try to go for a concert, something always conveniently ‘pops up and now this is the last chance I’d ever get to see him- I wish I could tell what goes through that man’s head. Whenever I think I have him figured out, he does something that throws me off completely”

 

Ray grimaced at the thought of his friend’s serious Uncle. Norman belonged to an extremely wealthy family with an even bigger multi-million business he was expected to inherit from his father once the time came.

 

Both boys had met in an elite boarding school when they were just 11 years old. Ray had gained admission through taking competitive tests for a scholarship and Norman had gotten in through his genius and family name.

 

The two boys didn't have the best impressions of each other the first time they met, Ray had thought Norman to be a cold and reclusive snob who always seemed to force himself to go with the flow of things and Norman hadn't cared much about Ray beyond acknowledging him as one of the smartest boys in school who could compete with him in terms of sheer intellect.

 

Despite their rocky views, they had respected each other, and that respect gave way to friendship when they were both thrust into a tight situation that could have landed both of them in serious trouble.

 

Ray smirked as he remembered that day. Despite how panicked both of them had been at the time, looking back, it was actually a really fun memory.

 

“Who cares about that geezer anyway, we’re here right?- You'll definitely get into trouble for this later but, eh, at least we managed to come this far”

 

Ray playfully bumped into the snowy haired boy and Norman tried to stifle a small smile at the boy’s words “It wouldn't be the first time so it's not like I would regret the consequences later, besides-” Norman’s eyes gleamed as they fell upon a Powerline phone chain “It’s worth it, and I have you here with me so it’s fine”

 

Ray smiled as he stared at his best friend. Norman had always been under immense pressure from his family, teachers, classmates and even random people that knew him. Everyone seemed to either put him on a pedestal or try to bring him down. His relationship with his ‘friends’ and classmates had always seemed laced with ingenuity; having everyone suck up to him for several shallow reasons and him entertaining it all with a collected smile.

 

It was all so fake and Norman had hated it. Ray could tell.

 

But had looked down on him for still entertaining it all despite being fully aware. To him, Norman had been nothing more than one of those several high society kids who bought into the fakeness in order to further his own image.

 

He chuckled at his own distant memories. Now that they both finally landed in the same college, there was little his Uncle could do to permanently separate them. Quietly escaping so they could hang out together had become routine at this point, and he gladly helped sneak him to the final concert of his favourite musician despite his slight distaste for the artiste because he knew how much Norman loved his music. He’d do anything to make his best friend happy.

 

“Hey Norman- how about we go get a drink first?” Ray pointed to a small bar not too far from where they stood. “That Powerline guy won’t come out for at least an hour and I’m tired from all that sneaking around”

 

Norman raised a brow in amusement “But all you did is drive-” Ray put the boy in a loose headlock and led him towards the bar “Well yeah, but dodging those goons your crazy uncle probably set out to tail as wasn't easy and even if it was, I’m still goddamn parched” Norman grinned and wrapped an arm around the dark-haired boy’s waist as Ray let go and casually threw his arms over his shoulders.

 

“Lead the way then”

 

....

 

The entire building buzzed with a fervent energy that was almost dizzying and Emma was at her wits end trying to contain the excitement in her that threatened to burst out and engulf everything within her immediate radius.

 

“Emma? Are you...okay?”

 

The redhead was brought back by a gentle voice and she turned, giving a bright smile.

 

“Yep! Why do you ask?”

 

“Umm well it’s just that you’re kinda jumpy- also your hair keeps twitching”

 

Emma blushed in embarrassment as she touched the small strand of red hair which comically stuck up like an antennae from her bright locks “I can’t help it! I’m too antsy”

 

“Come on, let her be excited” Don placed his hands behind his head as he swaggered next to the girls “It’s not like there’ll ever be an opportunity to see him again after tonigh-”

 

Gilda elbowed him in the side and Anna gave a warning look but the damage had already been done.

 

Emma felt a cloud of despair descend upon her as she was reminded once again of the thing that had kept her down for a while now.

 

This was his last ever performance before he retired from music.

 

She had tried not to think about it too much and had been ecstatic when she found out the last performance was being held nearby only to fall into depression once she found out tickets had been sold out.

 

She had been down for days- so much so that everyone had noticed and began to worry about her. It had been difficult keeping an upbeat persona during this period and she was only able to recover once Anna surprised them with 4 tickets she managed to get from a website reselling tickets from fans.

 

Still, she couldn't help being sad about the whole thing- she had loved Powerline’s music for forever. If she could only meet him face to face just once in her life...

 

Gilda sighed as Anna gave a soft smile “Don’t listen to Don, just try to calm down- with the way you are now, if you don’t you just might explode”

 

Emma took in a deep breath. Anna was right, she had wanted to see Powerline live for so long but it was no use making herself so anxious over the whole thing.

 

“You’re right, I’m calm no-”

 

“EMMA!!”

 

Whatever semblance of composure she had left her in an instant as an energetic looking blonde dressed from head to toe in merch screamed out from the large crowd and made a bee-line towards the small group.

 

Emma squealed loudly as she gave the girl a fierce hug “GILLIAN!”

 

“Oh boy” Gilda sighed dejectedly but couldn't help holding back a small giggle as she watched the two girls jump about excitedly.

 

“I didn’t know you were coming tonight!” Emma gave a boisterous laugh “I didn't know either! I wish we weren't in different universities, did you come alo-”

 

A familiar boy in a brown hat suddenly appeared behind Gillian holding several gift bags and panting loudly. “Ah! Nigel, sorry about that” Gillian giggled as she took a few bags from the boy “I got a bit too excited there”

 

“At least warn me first before dashing off!” Nigel tried to straighten up his posture but felt a heavy smack against his back “Ay Nigel! Long time no see” He smiled lightly and gave the boy before him a slick high-five before turning to the girls with him “Hey Don. Gilda, Anna, Emma- what’s good?”

 

Anna beamed along with Emma as Gilda gave a pleased smile “Hi Nigel”

 

“So, what were you guys doing just now”

 

Emma looked about her, all four friends had been wandering aimlessly through the stores.“Nothing, we were just killing time before the show starts”

 

“I see, how about we go have a drink then? There’s a small bar around here somewhere”

 

Don’s ears perked up at Gilian’s words “A drink huh- OUCH! What was that for?!”

 

“Don’t even think about it” Gilda let go of Don’s ears, leaving behind a small red mark from the pinch “Not even for a minute”

 

Don scoffed proudly then pouted “I’m old enough to”

 

“Yes you are but you aren’t exactly easy to handle when you’re drunk”

 

“I can do whatever the hell I want!”

 

“Let’s hear you say that again when you wake up in a ditch next morning!”

 

Gillian laughed as the two bickered, leading everyone towards the drink bar “How haven't those two gotten together yet”

 

Emma and Anna looked at each other almost instinctively “We’ve been wondering for 8 years”

 

The sextet strolled through the crowded building towards their location; Music from the main auditorium boomed all around the large crowd and distinct sounds of cheering occasionally erupted in loud bursts, giving the entire structure a frenzied vitality.

 

Emma felt her patience wane the more she thought about the upcoming performance. What if they didn't get a good view? What if they accidentally missed? The truth was she was too anxious to simply sit back until the show started; she wanted to go straight to the auditorium and join the manic crowd.

 

Her friends clearly had something different in mind though. She didn't want to ruin that.

 

The redhead sighed dejectedly as she absentmindedly kicked a stray can.Then came to an abrupt stop as she noticed something.

 

On the far left of the building was a door with a curious label on it.

 

BACKSTAGE

 

Emma felt her heart race as she took in the words along with a clear warning beneath it. She could hardly acknowledge them though. Her mind was already racing.

 

Looking back at her friends who were already a good deal ahead of her, she began to muse before steeling herself and heading towards the door- making sure to look around for security or any staff who might deem her suspicious.

 

She casually leaned against a pillar close to the backstage door and began to search for an opportunity to sneak in.

 

That’s when she felt fingers clasp around her arm.

 

Emma felt her heart hammer in her chest as she slowly turned and readied herself with a convincing performance.

 

“Sneaking off are we?” A wave of immense relief washed over her as she came face to face with Gillian, a curious smirk on the blonde girls face.

 

“Gillian! I was just...umm how did you know I was here?”

 

“I noticed you going off on your own but I didn't want to draw the attention of the other’s since I figured you were up to something. So I told them I saw you going to the bathroom and I wanted to pee too” Gillian let go of Emma’s arm and cocked her head questioningly “Your turn”

 

Emma shifted on her feet nervously “I know this might sound crazy but I’m trying to get backstage… so I can meet Powerline”

 

Gillian blinked in surprise as she stared at the redhead before her “You’re CRAZY how-”

 

Emma covered the blonde’s mouth with one palm and motioned her to quiet down “Look I know it’s stupid but this might be my only chance to meet him- ever

 

Gillian took Emma’s hand in hers and lowered it with a sigh “They are going to kick you out the moment they find you”

 

“Worth it!” Gillian stared straight into the vibrant green eyes in disbelief, then chuckled “You really are crazy huh?”

 

Emma grinned as she hugged the older girl “Please don’t let Gilda know, she’ll freak out and I’ll never hear the end of it”

 

Gillian hugged Emma back and laughed “Alright alright, guess I’m gonna have to tell them you’re constipated or something”

 

Emma let go with a bright smile as Gillian began to walk back towards the group.

 

“If you’re going to do something this stupid the least you can do is succeed, you hear?!”

 

The ginger simply smirked in response “You can count on it!”

 

...

 

The lights of the sizable drinking lounge were warm and soft, gently illuminated against the contrast of the otherwise dark room. Glasses clinked and clunked against wooden tables while the sound of drinks sloshing about as the mixologist impressively tossed and tumbled small mixing glasses filled the room, giving the entire lounge a light smell of alcohol that was barely disguised under the heavy scent of kebabs roasting in the corner.

 

Norman fiddled with his glass, it was a light cocktail- nothing strong, then casually observed the entire room.

 

He felt a light nudge at his side and turned to find Ray looking at him with a small smirk and a glass in his hands.

 

“Oi Norman, you sure you don’t want anything else?” Norman tapped his glass introspectively and looked away “Like what?”

 

“I don’t know- something a little stronger” Norman chuckled and turned to look at the dark haired boy ”You’re just trying to get me drunk- you know how bad I am with alcohol”

 

Ray grinned and threw an arm around his white haired companion, taking a long shot in the process then raising the glass to Norman’s lips “Just trying to get you to loosen up a bit more- you have no idea how fucking fun you are when you’re a drunk”

 

“I bet” Norman smirked and took a small sip out of the tumbler glass then pushed it away “But I prefer staying completely sober tonight, not falling for that today”

 

Ray shrugged and downed the rest of the drink just as two girls approached their table. “Hi!” One of the girls called out in an enthusiastic tone “Can we sit here?” Both boys simultaneously glanced at each other but the girls were already seated before either of them could get a word out.

 

“We couldn't help but notice you two from afar so we thought we’d come over to say hi”

 

Ray groaned and Norman nudged him quietly.

 

“It’s nice to meet you bu-”

 

“Ah! Is that a Powerline charm?” Norman blinked in confusion then looked at the small phone charm he had bought earlier at one of the merch shacks.

 

“Umm yeah”

 

“That’s so cute! You must be a big fan”

 

“Well I don’t believe I’d be here if I wasn't a fan would I?” Norman uttered with a soft laugh and Ray couldn’t help snickering at his friend’s passive aggressive politeness.

 

The girl seemed to take no notice of their hints and continued babbling cheerfully whiles her friend sat, quietly texting on her phone seemingly unbothered.

 

Ray tapped Norman on the shoulder and got up, leaning slightly into his ear and whispering “Looks like you can handle this on your own- I’ll be at the bar if you need me kay?”

 

“What? Wait Ray no-” Ray was already away and on his way to the bartender- flashing him a small smirk in the process.

 

Norman groaned underneath his breath then looked at the girl with a soft smile that unintentionally made her blush. He cursed himself again- he didn't want to be rude but he didn't want to lead her on in any way; Ray was the one who was good with blunt shoot-downs but that idiot just had to leave at the worst moment.

 

“Sorry but i have to err- go to the bathroom, it’s been great meeting you but I’m afraid I have to say goodbye”

 

“Oh! Well can I at least get you num-”

 

Norman was already striding out of the bar and down the hallway at a fast pace, cautiously gliding through the crowd and not stopping until he was a good deal away from the lounge- next to a small pillar.

 

He turned to find the girl had exited the lounge and seemed to be searching the crowd. He cursed and without thinking, shot straight through a nearby door and continued walking until he was sure he had gotten away then sighed.

 

“Why wasn't I just straightforward from the get go?” He sighed again and reached into his pocket, eyes widening when his hands came out empty. He had forgotten to grab his phone.

 

“Shi-” A short woman with a headpiece on bumped into him, followed by an entourage of busy-looking people.

 

“WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING!!” The lady pushed him aside aggressively then began muttering under her breath “These goddamn interns have no idea what they’re doing half the time”

 

Norman blinked in confusion but everything clicked in an instant when he processed the earlier interaction and looked about him.

 

He had gotten backstage.

 

“Tonight just isn’t my night is it” He muttered, walking back quickly towards the door from which he came through earlier. The last thing he wanted was to get lost and miss the whole concert and he was pretty sure he would definitely get kicked out if lurking security or a staff member found him- a fan- wandering around in a restricted area. Besides, He had to get back to Ray.

 

Lost in thought, he had no time to react when a flash of red hair appeared from a corner and suddenly he was down- his back colliding with a bunch of fake disco lights and lighters. Something yelped from atop of him, instantly shooting up Norman’s caution level.

 

He groaned underneath the weight and heard a faint string of light curses then opened his eyes slowly.

 

A girl with red hair lay against his chest rubbing her head softly. A little strand of hair that stuck out tickled his nose; she was dressed in shorts coupled with a Powerline t-shirt and seemed to have taken no notice of the boy underneath her just yet.

 

Norman felt his guard lower as he stared at the spectacle before him then gave a nervous laugh “Are you okay?”

 

 

Emma jumped as deep smooth voice came to her. Raising her head slowly, she found herself face to face with a handsome stranger with snowy white hair and lovely blue-purple eyes.Their noses were practically touching, a soft embarrassed smile illuminating his expression.

 

For a moment she was entranced- she had never quite met such an ethereal-looking person before and she couldn’t help but stare absently before awareness quickly dawned on her and she scrambled to her feet.

 

“Oh god! Are you okay??” She reached for his hands and helped him to his feet. Norman was surprised by how strong she was despite looking fairly petite and watched in bewilderment and slight amusement as she strung a chain of apologies before suddenly taking his hands in hers and clasping them together.

 

“Please don’t kick me out!” The stranger stared at her with a confused expression.

 

“Kick you... out? Ah, Actually I don’t work here I just stumbled here by mistake”

 

Emma felt a wave of relief come crashing down as she placed her palm over her heart and gave a long exaggerated sigh. Suddenly her shoulders began to heave violently and she burst into what sounded like a laugh of relief “Oh god I thought I was a goner for sure!”

 

Norman looked at the girl in awe and began to speak when they heard a voice coming from the side of the small hallway “I think it came from here…”

 

Norman made to turn towards the girl but felt a hand swiftly take his and before he knew it he was running down the hallway in one minute and shoved into a small closet in the next.

 

The girl was right next to him and peering into the hallway through a small peephole.

 

“How the hell did these fall over?”

 

“Looks like someone hasn’t been doing their job right, where the hell is Frank? Wasn’t he supposed to be in charge of these?’

 

“Whatever, we don’t have time for this- the show will be starting soon enough let’s just get these out of here”

 

The voices soon grew quieter and quieter until they disappeared and Emma finally let out the breath she was holding.

 

“Haha sorry about that! I just didn’t want us getting caught”

 

Norman just stared blankly, still unsure of what just transpired before muttering absently “You’re pretty fast- I could have sworn we had been standing in the hallway 10 seconds ago”

 

Emma giggled as she pulled a piece of lint from her hair “My reflexes never fail”

 

“I’m glad they didn’t because I’m pretty we would have been in a lot of trouble back there”

 

The girl grinned vibrantly and peered through the peephole again-probably to check if the coast was clear- leaving Norman even more baffled.

 

How did she seem so carefree about the situation? Not just carefree but also slightly...giddy?

 

It was almost like the encounter fueled some sort of anticipation instead of making her concerned.

 

He watched as she slowly turned the door knob and signaled him to follow. There was definitely something strangely impulsive about this girl- he’d have to be a little more wary.

 

She tentatively stepped into the hallway and threw her hands up in a stretch.

 

Norman watched her carefully before deciding to speak up “Why are you back here anyway if you don’t work here?”

 

Emma looked taken aback then laughed nervously as she rubbed her head “Would you believe me if I said I got lost?”

 

Norman only shook his head “You didn’t sound like someone who was lost back there, in fact it was almost like you knew what you were doing and was trying hard not to draw attention to yourself”

 

Emma looked stunned and fluttered her eyes in surprise “Wow, you’re pretty perceptive”

 

“I get that a lot”

 

The redhead pursed her lips then looked away, rocking slowly on the balls of her feet “This might- actually this will sound insane but… I snuck in here to try to meet Powerline”

 

Norman merely blinked before his eyes widened in bewilderment. Did she just say-

 

“You’re crazy”

 

“I get that a lot”

 

Norman placed a palm against his face then run it backwards through his fluffy locks.What was he even supposed to say?

 

Emma watched quietly as the boy frustratingly ruffled his hair. There was a small coil of hair against the side of his head that peeked out shyly against the snowy locks.

 

Good job, now he probably thinks I’m some manic fan Emma continued to grin nervously I mean I snuck in here so I probably am but I don’t want him to know that! She watched as he continued to sigh- she could almost tell exactly what he was thinking; he was most definitely pondering what to say next.

 

Emma fumbled with her fingers as an awkward silence befell the duo then her eyes began to twinkle.

 

She had an idea.

 

She looked at the boy and began to think. She had already come this far, it would be a waste to simply get out at this point- she was going to have to persuade him.

 

“I know it’s a crazy idea but don’t you think it’s possible?”

 

Norman looked baffled “Crazy? It’s also downright foolish- you’re going to get thrown out the moment they find a fan within an inch of him”

 

“We can just pretend to be interns who also happen to be fans when we get close enough” Emma shrugged “I’m sure they don’t allow workers to ask for autographs but I’m fine with just talking to him face to face”

 

Norman gazed at the girl “We?

 

Emma began sauntering around him with a strangely relaxed confidence “Don’t you want to meet him too?”

 

“Well yes but-”

 

“Then what’s keeping you?”

 

“This is a bad idea”

 

Emma smiled to herself and began walking towards him slowly. Norman watched as the petite girl gently approached him- her red curls danced softly about her and her emerald eyes gave off a vibrant gleam.

 

Norman stared in disbelief and swallowed quietly. There was a certain spirited fire to the girl that couldn't help but draw him in.

 

“I never said it wasn't”

 

“Then why…?”

 

Emma gave a mischievous grin as she cocked her head to the side “Don’t you ever crave something you know is risky but would go for anyway because you know this is absolutely the one and only chance you’d ever get to have it?”

 

Norman stayed silent but his mind instinctively traveled to his uncle and how he had ditched what could be an important meeting to attend the final performance of his favorite singer.

 

“Yeah I know it’s stupid, and I know the consequences for getting caught- I’m more than aware of everything but we’ll never get to see him perform live again- and since he never signs autographs or does meetups with fans, this might be my only opportunity to actually meet him”

 

Emma stepped even closer and looked straight into his eyes “I’d rather live with consequences than with regrets”

 

Norman’s eyes widened as he gazed at the girl. What could he possibly say to that? This girl was definitely reckless but she was also so unbelievably honest and straightforward that it couldn’t help but awe him.

 

“You’re crazy”

 

The words came out slightly breathy and Emma simply grinned as she gazed up at him in anticipation.Yes, this girl was definitely reckless.

 

But he liked it.

 

...

 

Several busy workers rushed back and forth the hallway; some carrying props, others with costumes, others holding laptops and sound systems.

 

The duo watched quietly from the shadows, avidly looking for an opportunity to leave unseen.The large cheering from the crowd in the auditorium echoed through the hallway only getting louder and louder as the area cleared up.

 

“There” Emma whispered as she pointed towards a door not far from their hiding spot “That’s his dressing room”

 

Norman whistled softly as he glanced at the giant security man guarding the room “How are we supposed to get past him?”

 

“We’ll rush em’!” Norman gave the emerald eyed girl a comical look that made her snicker then shook his head “You might have a very very very minuscule chance but I’d get stomped with just a tap- believe it or not I’m not exactly strong”

 

Emma smiled then looked towards the guard again, examining him carefully “You could always try to flirt our way in, you’re super handsome and have a charming aura- It might work!”

 

Norman felt his entire face heat up at her words as she giggled at his reaction, looking away with a palm barely covering his face.

 

She was teasing him! He wouldn’t say he didn’t like it but the words had definitely caught him off guard.

 

He calmed himself before looking towards the ceiling thoughtfully “I have an idea”

 

He grabbed a small prop nearby and signaled Emma to follow his lead as he tip-toed towards the door- making sure neither of them was visible as they did.

 

As soon as he got as close to the door as he could while remaining hidden,he gently rolled the prop towards a bunch of other props, making sure to do it as quietly as possible behind the security’s back.

 

The prop collided with the others across the room causing the pile to tumble down with a loud echo.

 

The guard instantly perked up and moved across the room towards the noise.

 

Not wasting any time, Norman grabbed Emma’s hand and silently dashed towards the door, making sure to open it gently before closing it silently behind them.

 

Emma let out an excited breath and looked at Norman, impressed “Has anyone ever told you you’re really smart?”

 

Norman laughed then grinned “A few”

 

Emma made to speak but then got struck with a sudden realization as to where she was

 

“We-” She muffled a scream as she gazed at a large poster of Powerline hanging from the wall then began to shake uncontrollably as she recognized his signature jacket.

 

She walked carefully towards it, as though approaching a wild animal, then touched it softly and gave Norman an absolutely elated look.

 

Norman could barely hold in his laughter as he simply watched, charmed by her free-spiritedness. He loved how carefree and open she was- if they truly did get caught and kicked out he wouldn't mind spending the rest of the evening hanging out with her.

 

She bounced up and down as she looked around the room “I can’t believe we did it!” She hugged Norman impulsively much to his surprise then blushed- letting go as soon as she realized what she was doing.


Ah sorry! I just-” Emma felt her cheeks redden- damn her lack of awareness of personal space! They had been sneaking about for so long she almost forgot he was a complete stranger- come to think of it… she didn’t even know his name.

 

“I forgot to ask earlier but what’s your-”

 

A slightly muffled voice came from outside and the duo instantly froze. Then just ever so softly, a familiar voice came to them and both looked at each other wide eyed- eyes filled with a vibrant anticipation.

 

But then came another voice, then another; Norman recognized the third voice instantly-it sounded exactly like the woman he had ran into earlier.

 

“This performance is going to hit the billboards for sure I just know it!”

 

An unfamiliar male voice explained and both college students looked at each other in panic.

 

They had planned to introduce themselves as backstage workers sent to clean up his dressing room but the already flimsy plan would be downright impossible if what sounded like Powerline’s manager was involved.

 

The voices slowly grew louder as they approached the door and Norman and Emma began frantically looking for a place to hide.

 

Norman’s eyes fell upon a small closet and without thinking he grabbed Emma’s arm and shoved them both into the tiny enclosure just as the sound of the door handle turning clicked through the room.

 

“You’re always thinking about profit huh Max?” Powerline’s voice came loud and clear through the closet door.

 

Max laughed boisterously “Well of course”

 

Norman and Emma stood cramped in the tiny closet, A broom stuck out against Norman’s side and Emma stood squished- her arms and body twisted awkwardly against him.

 

The trio outside continued speaking but Emma squirmed uncomfortably, silently trying to get in a cosier position.

 

Norman, sensing Emma’s discomfort slipped a hand against her waist, his fingers brushing against her midriff as he turned her so she was now pressed firmly against him- her head resting against his chest, right over his heart.

 

Emma let out a tiny squeak and began to lose her balance but Norman steadied her and clasped both hands firmly against her waist.

 

“Did you hear something?”

 

“Looks like you still haven’t lain of the bong huh Susanne?”

 

“Oh be quiet! Anyway we still haven't discussed when you’re releasing the final album…”

 

The voices were loud and clear but felt strangely fuddled as Emma felt heat crawl up her face- they were way too close! And pressed together like this she could distinctly feel his toned frame against the restraints of their clothes…

 

Shoot- stop it Emma! She tried to berate herself but couldn’t help blushing even deeper as she became all too aware of his hands against her waist- a few fingers dug softly into her bare torso were the t-shirt had left it slightly exposed. She tried to hide her face hoping to god that the little light that peaked through the slightly opened door wasn’t enough to expose her.

 

Norman was a mess. He hadn’t meant for things to turn out this way- all he meant to do was ease her displeasure but now he had put them in a position that made him all too conscious.

 

The intoxicating scent of mild strawberries engulfed him as her petite frame rested snuggly against his- her chest lay against his torso as his fingers gently brushed against the bare skin of her waist.

 

Oh god he was probably making her uncomfortable but had no idea how else to turn them around without causing a ruckus.

 

“I don’t care about any of the specifics right now. All I care about is making sure I give one last flawless performance to my fans” A deep sigh echoed around the room “I’m going to make this a night they’ll never forgot”

 

From outside the closet the two others with him simply raised a brow and glanced at each other “We hope so”

 

Norman felt his entire body heat up the longer they stood cramped like that and tried to steady his breathing.

 

If only they’d leave-

 

Emma tried hard to ignore her own self consciousness as she struggled to instead focus on the conversation going on in the room but couldn’t help getting distracted by the sound of Norman’s heart beating steadily against her head.

 

The sound had a strangely calming effect over her and she fell into an almost soothing trance until she felt his heartbeat slowly pick up in pace.

 

Surprised, she tried to look up at him but found his face turned against the door, his expression hidden but the faint light subtly picked up on a light dusting of red against his ears.

 

Emma snapped her head back down as she felt her own heartbeat quicken in response, almost mirroring his in rhythm as their breaths came out in gentle pants…

 

There came a knock on the door and the sound of squeaking door handle as someone came through the dressing room door.

 

“It’s time sir- the backup dancers are already on stage we have approximately 15 minutes until we bring you out”

 

Glasses clinked against the table and there was a long breath intake before the voice boomed once again.

 

“Okay let’s get going then!”

 

There was a rustle of clothes then utter silence as the door creaked shut behind them.

 

Emma burst through the closet door with a gasp then looked cautiously about her before turning to see Norman stepping out carefully from the closet.

 

She whipped her head back around and tried to calm herself as her mind run over what had just happened.

 

It’s so stupid but i can’t even look at him- it doesn’t help that he’s a complete stranger!”

 

They both stayed quiet for a while before Norman nervously cleared his throat “I’m so sorry if I made you uncomfortable”

 

Emma shook her head but refused to look back “Ah! It’s okay you didn’t- it’s not like we had a choice anyway”

 

Norman hesitated for a bit but slowly walked towards her and took her hand in his, turning her around much to her surprise.

 

Emma tried hard to hide her embarrassment but then quickly got drawn in by the intensity of his gaze.

 

The two continued to stare at each other for what felt like an eternity until a small smile began to form at the corners of their mouths and they instantly burst into laughter.

 

All the earlier awkwardness seemed to drain away as they continued to laugh- gasping for breath and holding their sides as they tried to calm each other down.

 

“Well, that was something” Emma wiped a tear from her eye as she tried to catch her breath.

 

Norman smirked as he ran his head messily through his hair and they both stole a glance at each other and froze as they came to a sudden realisation.

 

“Did they just say-”

 

“-15 MINUTES?!”

 

They looked at each other, horrified and without saying a word or missing a beat they both dashed through the door and began running down the hallway towards the exit.

 

“HEY! YOU TWO!!”

 

Without stopping, they
turned their heads to find the large security man chasing them from behind”

 

“SHIT! We forgot about him!”

 

“Keep running don’t stop!”

 

They both dashed through the hallway at lightning speed as their pursuer valiantly followed from behind.

 

“He’s catching up!”

 

“Then let's slow him down”

 

Norman cocked his head towards a rack of clothes ahead and Emma blinked in confusion

 

Then grinned at Norman who returned with a confident smirk.

 

Emma picked up the pace and slid underneath the rack while Norman slowed down, allowing the security guard to catch up to him before making a sharp turn just as Emma pushed the rack towards them.

 

The giant man was caught off guard for just a second but it was sufficient to disorient him enough for the rack to collide- swiftly knocking him off his feet.

 

Emma beamed then rushed towards Norman- taking his hand in hers as they both burst through the exit and into the crowded hall.

 

The loud cheering of the frenzied crowd coupled with loud music radiated from the auditorium and the duo made their way there- laughing uncontrollably as they did.

 

Just before they made a turn into the large auditorium, the guard burst out of the door looking about frantically for the pair.

 

But they had already disappeared.

 

 

Loud cheers filled their eardrums and the sensation of music booming filled the room as people jumped about excitedly in anticipation of what was to come.

 

Norman and Emma panted heavily- still very much fired up from the burst of adrenaline- and beamed at each other as they both exchanged words without even opening their mouths

 

We made it!

 

Emma gave a cheerful laugh that was drowned out by the screams of the manic crowd and Norman felt himself practically shaking.

 

He had never felt so high spirited before- ever

 

The last time he felt anything close to this was when he and Ray had carried out one of their multiple temporary escapes back when they where in boarding school.

 

But even that felt nothing like this.

 

He felt almost high on happiness, adrenaline and anticipation.

 

Disobeying his uncle had never felt this good.

 

He thought back to the giddy expression on Emma’s face back when they had barely escaped detection in a small room and suddenly he understood how she felt all too well.

 

The light show began and mist from the smoke machines poured into the crowd- spurring them on even more.

 

The duo felt their heartbeats quicken with exhilaration. Emma was so dizzy from excitement she felt like her heart would burst out of her chest.

 

The lights went out

 

The music stopped

 

The crowd’s cheers hastened

 

The atmosphere, frenzied

 

Then there was a burst of light and loud roars as a familiar voice boomed through the crowd.

 

Emma could do nothing but look at Powerline in awe as she soaked up the moment, completely stunned.

 

She heard a loud cheer next to her and watched in shock as Norman shouted out in joy. She hadn’t expected Norman to be the type to lose himself in emotion and she knew he still most definitely wasn’t.

 

This must be his first time letting go in a long while and she couldn’t help but admire the sheer amount of joy in his eyes. What other frantic emotions was he hiding behind all that ethereal calmness? She wanted to see them all.

 

She wanted to know more about him.

 

Norman turned to look at her, hair messy and tousled with eyes shining brightly.

 

Emma felt her heart skip a beat and giggled as she stood on her toes and moved a piece of hair out of his eyes.

 

“I like seeing you like this”

 

Norman fluttered his eyelashes and blushed in embarrassment when he realized what she meant.

 

Emma laughed but then quickly turned red when she realized they were still holding hands.

 

Norman noticed too and both let go instantly in embarrassment which slowly turned to pleasure as they got swept up in the rest of the performance- both dancing happily to the music and cheering ever so often.

 

Suddenly a bright spotlight flashed out of nowhere and scanned the crowd until it fell on the duo.

 

Emma looked puzzled and Norman looked about in confusion “Wha-”

 

“Kiss” the crowd slowly began to chant and it only grew louder as more attention was directed towards them.

 

“Kiss kiss Kiss Kiss KISS KISS KISS!”

 

Norman looked bewildered and tried to deny the absurd request but the frenzied crowd only grew more insistent.

 

Emma boldly took a step towards him and drew closer much to Norman’s surprise.

 

“They won’t stop until it happens- do you mind?”

 

Norman couldn’t quite believe his ears “I-I don’t mind but I doubt you’d want to do it with a strange-”

 

Emma pulled him down by the shirt and softly placed her lips against his.

 

Norman was completely taken aback and unsure how to react as the crowd burst out in loud cheers around them.

 

Emma wasn’t letting go and he found himself wrapping his arms around her waist and drawing her against him as the crowd erupted into even louder cheers.

 

They were both so lost in each other’s embrace that it took a loud screech from the mike to bring them back and they both disengaged- blushing furiously.

 

Powerline winked at the pair then did something surreal.

 

He carefully took off his signature jacket and hurled it at them; the material flew over the audience and miraculously landed near Norman as everyone around them shouted in excitement. Norman was clearly caught off guard but managed to catch it just as the crowd began to go into a frenzy.

 

Before he could react Emma grabbed his hand and frantically led them through the crowd and out of the auditorium- making sure not to stop until they were out of the building and in a shadowed part of the car park.

 

“Hopefully no one followed us here”

 

“Yeah” Norman looked at the jacket in admiration and Emma mentally berated herself, thinking about what happened earlier as a deafening cheer erupted from the frantic crowd inside- breaking the silence of the dead night..

 

She had no idea what happened earlier but having the crowd spur them on had given her a strange confidence boost and before she knew it she had already grabbed his shirt and placed her lips on his.

 

She peeked at Norman through the corner of her eye.

 

She’d be lying through her teeth if she said she hadn’t liked it but the question was...did he?

 

She watched as he zipped and unzipped the jacket and couldn’t help admiring the iconic piece of material herself.

 

“You're so lucky to have caught that!”

 

“I’m also very lucky I could count on your reflexes”

 

Emma beamed proudly and Norman chuckled “Hey. Turn around for a bit okay”

 

Emma looked confused but did so anyway.

 

Norman gently took her arm and placed it in one of the sleeves. The redhead frowned in confusion “What are you-”

 

“I just want to see something” He placed her other arm in the sleeve then turned her around- zipping the jacket up all the way to the top.

 

“I knew it” Norman smiled softly as he placed a lock of hair behind her ear “It looks great on you”

 

Emma merely stared in shock then slowly lifted her arms to examine the sleeves

 

“W-Why?”

 

I saw how excited you were when you noticed the jacket back in the dressing room.

 

Emma whined in embarrassment then covered her face with both hands “That doesn’t mean you have to give it to me!”

 

“I want to give it to you” Norman smiled even more gently “Think of it as a reminiscent gift”

 

Emma made to speak but they heard loud footsteps coming towards them and both turned around abruptly.

 

Ray stood in front of them, one hand holding what looked like two smartphones and a pair of car keys and the other balanced against his hip as he panted loudly.

 

“Ray-?”

 

“You IDIOT the HELL did you run of too?? I’ve been looking everywhere for you I was having fucking HEART PALPITATIONS”

 

Ray run his hands over his face in frustration then straightened up “If I hadn’t spotted you running through the hall and out here I don’t know what I would have done- AND WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU LEAVING YOUR PHONE OUT LIKE THAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE SMART”

 

Ray bumped him on the head then sighed, looking up to find Emma staring at both of them then raising a brow.

 

“You’ve got to be kidding me- you ditched me for a random GIRL”

 

Ray shook Norman violently and Norman whimpered lightly as Emma simply stood there, slightly amused “Hold on! It’s not like that let me explain-”

 

“Fuck that. We’re getting out of here NOW that geezer’s goons finally caught up to us- I saw about 5 of them in the hallway”

 

Norman stared at his dark-haired ally in confusion then groaned. That man really never gives up-

 

Norman turned to Emma with a sad smile “Umm sorry but I have to get goi-”

 

A strange figure abruptly turned Emma from the shadows, stunning the trio.

 

“Oh my god where have you BEEN I tried calling you several times and even looked through all the bathrooms in the building but I couldn’t get to you”

 

Emma blinked, momentarily disoriented before her eyes finally focused on the agitated figure before her.

 

“Anna?”

 

The girl continued rumbling in frustration “If I hadn't found you sprinting out the building I would have gone into full panic! Didn’t you have your phone with you?!”

 

Emma reached into the pocket of her shorts and drew out her smartphone, swiftly unlocking it.

 

25 missed calls

 

Whoops-

 

“I’m sorry! I wasn’t paying attention and it was on mute”

 

Anna shook her head in disbelief and placed a hand over her forehead “Never mind that, what’s most important is that I finally found you. We have to get going- Gillian, Don and Gilda are drunk and I don’t think Nigel would be able to handle all 3 of them any longer”

 

“Wait- GIlda…?”

 

Two serious looking men in business suits suddenly exited the building and began scrutinizing the area before going back in.

 

“Shit! Enough- you can meet up with your new girlfriend some other time, let's go!”

 

“Okay but-”

 

To the surprise of the other three Ray picked Norman up and began power-walking towards his car

 

“Wha- Ray are you drunk?!”

 

“A little bit- but who cares about that right now, you’re driving anyway”

 

Norman shot Emma a parting wave over his friend’s shoulder and Emma shot one back with a sad smile as Anna dragged her inwards before gasping in realisation, then calling out.

 

“WAIT! I DIDN’T EVEN GET YOUR NAME!”

 

Norman’s eyes widened in shock and he called out just as Emma did the exact same.

 

“MY NAME IS-”

 

A loud cheer erupted from the crowd inside, drowning both their voices out as they each disappeared from sight.