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Departures and Arrivals

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"…Goodbye, wicked…little town…"

Tommy Gnosis sang the notes of a melancholy tune, a tune he no longer claimed as his own.  Only the words. As the sound of his guitar faded out, he could hear the cheers at Hedwig's concert. Their roles had been reversed. The large venues where he once played were now where she played, him being left to the smaller ones as his popularity dwindled, the public turning on him for stealing the songs that the two of them had written together. Maybe it was wrong for him not to give her credit, but they were his songs as well as hers.

Tommy looked at the small audience. They didn't even fill half the seats.

"I don't know why you guys still like me," he said into the microphone. "But for whatever reason it is, I hope you do realize that everything Hedwig has said is true. I'm the one who lied. I hope you're here because you can forgive me for my mistakes. It's more than I can do."

Tommy turned to his drummer, telling him which song they'd play next. The drummer was his only band member who hadn't left him.

"Now I'm going to perform a song I'm sure you already know, but I'm going to sing it the way it was meant to be sung…before I…ruined it…The way she'd want you to hear it." He nodded to the drummer before playing the opening notes on his guitar; the same guitar Hedwig had decorated for him.

With only his voice, his guitar and the drums, the sound of the song was shallow, but Tommy still poured his emotions into each note - all the pain he knew he had caused for Hedwig and himself. He had to correct his mistakes if it was possible.

"And Osiris and the gods of the Nile gathered up a big storm..."

He sang and sang, exhausted by the time he reached the end of the song.

At the end of the concert, he bid his remaining fans goodbye before heading backstage to pack up. He was heading back to his hometown of Junction City. While he may not have had the best home life, he thought it might be the best place to start over. He needed to start somewhere familiar.

"That's the last of it," Yitzhak said as he closed his suitcase. He paused as he looked at Hedwig, who was standing on the other side of it. "I'm sorry it didn't work out."

"I know," Hedwig said after a moment, before picking up one of the bags to take it to the car. At the end of the band's short recent tour they had come back to Junction City to prepare Yitzhak for his trip to Polynesia. Hedwig had decided to let him go. She had realized how much he had gone through for her. The least she could do was let him have his dream. He loved Rent.

Together, they walked through the airport to Departures. When they got to the security line, they knew it was time to part ways.

Yitzhak faced Hedwig and placed a hand on her shoulder. They stood in silence, not needing words. They knew it was goodbye, but not whether or not it was goodbye forever.

"Maybe you can write sometime," Hedwig murmured. Yitzhak nodded before taking his bags and moving through the line.

With a sigh, Hedwig turned to slowly walk back through the airport.

She wasn't sure what made her notice him as she neared Arrivals. Perhaps she still recognized his gait and maybe it was because she still, secretly, waited and looked for him. Whatever it was, she looked over to see Tommy.

With his guitar case in one hand and the other pulling his rolling suitcase, he seemed almost lost in the crowd. A few months ago, he would have never walked by unnoticed. As was reflected by the number of belongings he now carried, he no longer had much. His days of popularity were over.

It seemed fitting for them to meet in Junction City where it all began. Just like it had started, Hedwig noticed him and then he noticed her.

Moments after she had looked at him, Tommy caught her gaze and they looked at each other, neither of them moving before Tommy timidly approached her.

Much like the last time they had seen each other, they were both at a loss for words. Hedwig looked into the blue pools that were Tommy's eyes, reminded of what had captured her attention all that time ago.

"I'm sorry," Tommy said, finally breaking the silence. "I was foolish and I did things without understanding what I was doing. I took so much from you."

This was true. They both knew it.

"Y-you look good…" Tommy said. Big rock and roll fame and he still had an awkwardness about him. He may have grown up, but he still wasn't completely through with being a boy. The corners of Hedwig's mouth turned up slightly, reminded of the strange charm that she had seen in Tommy.

"Can't say the same about yourself," Hedwig joked, patting Tommy on the shoulder. Playfully, Tommy hit her back, starting to smile with that boyish grin of his. They laughed together for a moment before quieting down again.

"So what is rock icon Tommy Gnosis doing here, by himself, in Junction City?"

"Haven't you heard?" Tommy replied with a self-deprecating tone and a shrug. "I'm all washed up."

They went quiet again.

"I brought it on myself," Tommy murmured. "I deserve it." He looked down at the floor.

"Well, maybe you do," Hedwig said. It hurt Tommy to hear it straight from her, but he knew she was right. "But part of me never let go of you, so the least I can do is give you one small favour. You've gotten skinny. How about I take you home for some dinner? What do you say?"

Tommy looked at Hedwig. He was surprised, but grateful.

They left the Arrivals area of the airport and went back to Hedwig's place. They both knew they wouldn't be able to go back to the way things were before, but they were willing to go from there in some new direction.

"What were you doing at the airport?" Tommy asked once they had sat down. "I thought you'd rather be performing somewhere more interesting than this town."

"Well," Hedwig began. "I was sending my backup singer off. He got another job and I was saying my goodbyes."

"How are you going to perform without him?" Tommy asked, surprised at the risk Hedwig was taking.

"I'll start looking for a replacement. I'll need one soon, since I'll be starting another tour."

Tommy thought about playing with Hedwig again, joining the band as a backup singer. But he knew it wouldn't work, not after what had happened between them. They couldn't act like it had never happened.

When he finished eating, Tommy looked up again.

"Say…" he said hesitantly. "Before I go, maybe we could jam some?"

Hedwig looked at him. Leaving the dinner dishes on the table, she got up and led him into another room. Tommy took his guitar out of the case, the gold paint still shining like the day Hedwig had given it to him along with his now infamous name. He ran his fingers over the jagged letters. Who was Tommy Gnosis, really? He thought that when it came down to it, Tommy Gnosis was just a coward.

Tommy slipped his guitar strap over his shoulder and started played "Tear Me Down." He let Hedwig begin before joining in at the chorus.

"Enemies and adversaries…they try and tear me down…"

They sang on and on, their voices getting more intense as they continued. By the time they had stopped, Tommy knew it was too late to impose onto his family, so Hedwig let him stay the night, though it seemed strange.

Tommy left the next morning, but on good terms this time.

"We should do this again," Tommy said as he carried his things to the door.

"I never forgot you, Hedwig," he added, facing her one last time.

"And I never forgot you," Hedwig replied.

Tommy smiled and turned to leave.

Albeit with a bit more frequency than either of them expected, Tommy did come around now and then, and the two of them would play.

Tommy fell into obscurity, playing for small bands, always credited as Tommy Speck. But one day, he and Hedwig played a one-night concert; "Hedwig and the Angry Inch – with special guest Tommy Gnosis."

The crowd cheered as the two of them sang.

They were very happy.