The rest of the two-month tour passed in a blur. Shows almost every night. Interviews. George videos. Meet and greets. Long hours on the bus. Standout moments on the tour for Braelyn, other than getting to sing in front people every night, included a hike in Yosemite, running around the streets of Chicago in the wee hours of the morning, visiting Niagara Falls, and a particularly insane night somewhere in the Virginian countryside.
They ended with a three-night run in New York City. The last night, Braelyn walked out onstage to a roar from the audience. She looked to the noise and saw the same group of ten or so teenagers that had been in the front row for the last two-nights. During her set, she couldn’t help but smile when she noticed that they were not only singing along to the songs that were posted on the internet, but they had learned the words to all her songs. When she finished, she gave her heartfelt thanks to the crowd before stumbling off stage to give out her final set of hugs to the boys. She barely made it through Disenchanted with the boys without crying. Braelyn stood next to Chelsea and watched the last songs of the tour, arm in arm.
Before the last song, Gerard called everyone out on stage, Braelyn, Chelsea, Topher, all the support staff and crew. Everyone bowed and the band began to play them out with Helena. The song ended. As the curtains closed, Mikey wrapped an arm around Braelyn’s waist and kissed her. Braelyn hugged him, laughing with tears running down her face. Then she was swept up in embraces from the others.
Later, in some empty dingy bar, they all gathered, raising a glass, cheersing a successful tour. Someone asked how Braelyn felt now that her first tour was over.
“Sad. Relieved? Incredibly lucky,” she finished, decidedly.
“She didn’t even mention exhausted,” Ray added, slumped on the table. Braelyn nodded enthusiastically in agreement.
They only spent an hour or so in the bar before heading back to the hotel where Braelyn and Stacy were staying. The boys had all decided to go back to Jersey, even though it was three in the morning, looking forward to being in their own homes. Chelsea was flying back to Nashville in the morning, and Braelyn was spending the next day in the city before she flew back to Dallas the day after that. Braelyn spent a long time hugging each boy goodbye, saving Mikey for last.
Braelyn was crying by the time Mikey wrapped his arms around her.
“Mikey,” Gerard said, sleep in his voice. “Why aren’t you staying? What do you have to do tomorrow?”
“Nothing,” Mikey replied, realization dawning on his face. He pushed Braelyn away from him a little bit so he could see her face. “You want me to stay?” She nodded. He wiped her tears. “Ok.”
“We’re gonna go,” Topher’s voice came.
Braelyn released her hold on Mikey and she and Chelsea gave another round of hugs, saying goodbye again.
“Bye, sugar. Don’t be a stranger ok?” Gerard said, holding her tightly.
Words weren’t working for Braelyn, so she just nodded in reply.
It was Topher’s turn. “You’ll be hearing from me soon. Trust me, kid, they won’t leave a talent like yours alone for long. It was great having you out with us.”
She threw her arms around him and managed to whisper, “Thanks for everything.”
Ray just picked her up in a silent embrace. She kissed his cheek as he set her down.
Then Frankie crushed her in the tightest hug Braelyn has ever had the privilege of participating in. “I’m going to come see you. All the time. Ok?”
“Love you too.”
It took a stern-ish word from Topher about the time for Frankie to let go of her after several minutes. Braelyn took a step back and Mikey’s arm was instantly around her waist. She laid her head on his shoulder as she watched the people she had spent twenty-four hours a day seven days a week with for the last two months walk out the door.
Chelsea, Mikey, and Braelyn stood there staring at the now closed door. Chelsea stirred first, wiping the tears from her face. She came over to Mikey and kissed his cheek before kissing Braelyn on the forehead saying goodnight and promising to wake them before the car came to get her in the morning.
Mikey pulled Braelyn toward her bedroom, she followed, clinging onto his hand. They fell into bed without turning on the lights, without changing, without turning on the television, without even getting under the covers. In his arms, Braelyn stretched up to kiss him lightly before they were almost instantaneously asleep.
The next morning Braelyn and Mikey stood on the sidewalk as Chelsea’s car pulled away. Braelyn waved until she couldn’t see the car anymore.
“She did promise to see you soon,” Mikey said, comfortingly, slinging an arm around her shoulder.
“I know.” She leaned into him. She yawned.
“Come on. Let’s get a couple more hours of sleep. Then we can do whatever you want.”
“I haven’t ever been to New York before,” Braelyn mumbled as Mikey steered her back inside.
They woke up again about noon. Braelyn said as they were getting ready, “I know it isn’t ‘cool,’ but I want to see all the touristy things.”
“So, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center…”
“And 5th Avenue, Times Square, Central Park, and I really really really want to see St. Patrick’s cathedral.”
“That’s a lot of things, babe. Plus the Statue and Empire State Building tours take forever.”
“Then what do you suggest, good sir?”
“Let’s just walk around Midtown. We can see Times Square, Central Park, 5th Avenue and even the cathedral. Sound good?” She nodded and stood on her toes to kiss him. “Let’s go then.”
They spent the rest of the day wandering around Midtown, spending a while laying in the summer sun on the rocks in Central Park, window shopping, and people watching. Then Mikey took her to Brooklyn for his ‘favorite pizza ever.’ They returned to the hotel and spent their last night just like they spent every other night for the past two months, Braelyn curled up next to Mikey on a hotel bed watching terrible television.
The next morning they rode to Newark airport in the car that Topher or someone had hired. The car ride was pretty quiet. Braelyn was managing to not cry, but it was a close thing. Mikey had an arm around her.
At the airport, much to Braelyn’s surprise, Gerard, Ray, and Frankie were there waiting. Braelyn ran into Frankie’s arms.
“We wouldn’t miss saying goodbye,” he murmured.
Braelyn got her ticket, checked her bag, and returned to the group who was now receiving a few stares from passersby. The boys walked her to the security entrance. She hugged all of them goodbye again.
“We’ll be seeing you soon, ok?” Mikey said into her hair, hanging on to her tightly.
“Promise?” Her voice was small.
She managed a smile and kissed him. With a last wave to them, Braelyn turned and got in line.
“Oh wait,” Gerard called from behind her. Braelyn turned to see him digging in the obscenely pink backpack Frankie was mysteriously wearing. “We wanted you to have him.”
He pulled out George and held him out to her. Braelyn accepted him with a grin.
“Take good care of him.”
Braelyn nodded, tears gathering. She gave them a small reassuring smile before continuing to her flight.
She was putting her shoes back on when she heard Frankie shout. “Hey Braelyn!” She looked back. He shouted again, “I’ll miss you, Brae!”
She laughed, a few tears escaping, before yelling back, “I’ll miss you, too!” She blew them kisses and made a heart with her hands before waving again and walking toward her gate.
A/N: Aren't goodbyes awful? Anyway, hope you like. REVIEW!! hearts, Corri