2014-03-26 - Composed
There's piano music echoing through the empty afternoon. Neither the pianist nor the audience could possibly expect what happens when Mamoru hears Zoe Palissandre play.
Ohtori Academy's piano room!
| OOC - IC Date:|
Dec 21, 2013, Part 2 - 3/26/14
Mid-afternoon in the winter is a cold thing, the light from the distant sun white instead of gold, even if there's not a cloud in the cutting and brittle sky. There's no snow, but the wind is like icy knives, reddening faces and making those without scarves sniffle.
Mamoru Chiba wears, of course, a scarf.
It's warm indoors, though, and the light that filters through Ohtori's tall windows is softened somewhat by the colours inside and the cut of the old glass. Most students aren't about in the lecture halls or classrooms, and footsteps echo down the airy corridors when one does pass by.
The eleventh-grader'd been taking a warm shortcut to the library from off campus-- today's as good a day as any to try again to get into the restricted stacks--
--but the faint sound of a piano playing gives him pause. Of course it's audible in the empty stillness. With no people around, it's almost like a dream. The piece the pianist is playing lends itself well to that feeling.
Heart seized by a sudden longing, an ache of lonely nostalgia for something he knows he doesn't remember (thanks, Anthy), Mamoru's steps become decisive. Detour. Music room. He has to know where the hell Miki learned that song. It's only ever been Miki when he passed by, despite rumors; why should this time be any different?
It's so quietly he opens the door, leans in halfway--
--and then stops, staring.
Some girl he thinks he saw on the first day of school this year.
Clearly not Miki.
There's no way on this blue crystal ball of an Earth he's interrupting, so Mamoru just leans in the doorframe, arms crossed, eyes closed, listening.
It's not Miki.
It may never be Miki again.
But it /is/ beautiful, possessed of an artfulness and an expressivity many -- perhaps most -- music students never achieve; such depth of feeling cannot be taught. The girl's tapered fingers work the ivories as though they were born to it. Perhaps they were. But--
Abruptly, the music stops.
It's an ungraceful caesura, harsh and a little stumbling; just the sort of thing to pitch a sleeper out of their dream. Any hope that it was a misstep, that the music will resume and let Mamoru drift back off, is dashed by what comes next: She looks up, tucks a stray copper curl behind the delicate shell of her ear, and glances the intruder's way...
And then she sees him, really /sees/ Mamoru, and her dewy lips part ever so slightly; thick lashes flutter in a startled blink.
Inside, Zoisite feels rather like a hand has taken his heart and squeezed it the way one might squeeze an overripe tomato. It's an unpleasantly squelchy sort of sensation -- though what's worse is the growing certainty this squished-heart feeling is actually a trend, instead of the once-off emotional heartburn he'd previously put it down to.
Unfortunately for Mamoru, all this internal conflict makes Zoisite dreadfully, desperately uncomfortable -- and there's really only one way he deals with discomfort:
"What do you want?" the pianist snaps, brandishing a poisonous green glare.
He takes it out on someone else.
Someone who plays like that doesn't misstep. Not that badly, if ever. Mamoru's eyes open even as the playing crashes to a trainwreck of a halt, and he pushes off the doorframe, school bag in one hand, managing to rock even the ugly Ohtori high school uniform.
He stands there a second, watching Zoe's parade of reactions, and then steps inside the room, closing the door behind him when she uses words like piano strings to garotte the mood the music set.
The unfairly tall black-haired youth walks over as he answers, going from the shadows by the door into the light of the ceiling-high arched windows. "Where did you learn that piece?"
No preamble, no pardons: only a direct question, delivered in the voice that matches the face, as unidentifiable and tomato-heart-squelching as it is. More rude still, his blue eyes are meeting hers, and the intensity of his gaze is weighted by presence. He keeps approaching, though his carriage is easy, his body language affable. Intentionally unthreatening.
Where did she learn it? "I didn't," Zoë replies, her voice suddenly quiet. Dark lashes lower, curtaining away from Mamoru the conflict she feels, and there's a soft note as she lifts a manicured hand away from the keys. Her fingers flex, curl, brush against her creamy throat.
It's happening again, this dreadful sick feeling -- like ice crystals sprouting in his stomach and spidering up into his throat, strangling him from the inside. Zoisite's felt it before, but never as strongly -- as insistently -- as this.
There's something...something he...what is he forgetting...?
"It's extemporaneous. I make it up as I go." She's planted her hand on the fall, away from the keys. Mamoru will find his gaze met, now, with renewed fervour: the girl's emerald irises blaze as though a pair of watchfires set to keep wolves at bay. "Not that it's any concern of yours."
Like him, she wears the Ohtori uniform with a poise and self-possession that turns its hideous colour combination into something approaching fashionable. Perhaps it's her sunlit mane of curls that really does the trick; they wreathe her head like a seraph's halo, tinted naturally -- naturally! -- with hues that would inflame fire itself with envy. A few strands even descend from her messy ponytail to frame her face.
There, her lush lips twinge into a moue, pressing together until they're almost a flat line -- and yet, even grimacing, she is nothing short of flawless.
"Are you /quite/ finished, salaud? Vous m'avez interromptu. C'est inexcusable!"
Until she opens her mouth, anyway.
Mamoru's face is politely disbelieving; he invites himself over closer, crossing his arms and leaning on the piano, the side opposite where the French girl's put her hand, where she's turned.
As Zoe continues, though, his expression gets...
When she meets his gaze with blazing green fire, it falls into a blue so deep and calm
so strangely affectionate
Then he's just watching her, taking in every last motion and angle, sorting the projections from the reactions. The school around them is silent and still, and the acoustic space of the music room is a large thing, airy and open. "But I know it," he says quietly.
"I know it from somewhere." Mamoru props his chin in his hand, and his weighted gaze falls away from the redhead, toward the slender fingers on the piano; his face looks distant, like his mind's a million miles away. He doesn't seem rushed by the unkindness, nor does he take offense.
The other high-schooler looks back at Zoe, then, but the intensity's gone. There's only a strangely wistful air to him, and after a second, he says, "I didn't mean to interrupt. May I please listen to the rest?"
Mamoru's disbelief draws Zoë's coppery brows together in a deeper frown, reflecting the vigilant tension already drawing her slender frame taut as piano wire. The thought that he might think her explanation a lie offends the disguised Shitennou more deeply than expected, and what's worse is that Zoisite can't put his finger on /why/--
But the young man has moved, come closer, and the infinite oceanic blue of his eyes drowns Zoisite's thoughts, suspending all that seething negativity as though in amber.
There is a long pause, during which Zoë's dewy lips twitch in attempt after vain attempt to voice some objection to Mamoru's request.
"I...I suppose," she eventually relents, and her posture slackens an inch -- though whether out of relief or defeat cannot be said. "Just- just stay silent, alors, I don't want another interruption," she adds, the quick command brittle as frost.
She then straightens on the bench, tucks a loose curl behind her ear, and once again sets her delicate fingers to the keys. The notes come slowly at first, but it's not many measures before they're again flowing out of her like water, fountaining forth from the unknown wellspring whose source is the golden past.
It is, after all, a piece Zoisite composed for his Prince, long, long ago.
There's only a serious nod from the black-haired boy leaning on the piano, and he's still and silent. At first, his blue eyes are steady, his sharp features and shining hair motionless, touched with winter's ethereal bluish light from the enormous windows. As Zoe plays on, his eyes close again
as Zoi pours out
the phantom memory
of the impossibly distant past
a different shining glimmers on the unknowing prince's eyelashes. It aches. There's only golden joy in this music, but it's heartbreaking. There's endless fields and endless sky, life and laughter and true friendship, brotherhood, camaraderie
The very first motion Mamoru makes is still silent through sheer force of will; his head lowers, and the besleeved wrist of the hand that'd been supporting his head scrubs at his eyes. They'll be red, but he isn't thinking about it, wouldn't care if he were.
For the rest of the song, his face is hidden, because his sleeve will be damp.
He's never played it to completion before. He couldn't articulate it even if he tried, whatever it is that stills his hands and stems the flow, but whatever it is it's kept Zoisite from hearing the end of the piece he doesn't know yet knows by heart.
Now, however, compelled somehow to honour Mamoru's request, Zoisite presses on. The piano sings beneath his fingertips, sweetening the air with honeyed thunder and calling up -- almost visible -- a sense of summer sunlight shining through a canopy of birch leaves, layering every possible hue of gold against a sky as blue as-
as blue as--
The notes falter for a moment, Zoisite's fingers trembling at the memory that presses against the darkness, but he squeezes his eyes shut and stubbornly plays on. Hearing the end has become more important than whatever it takes to get there -- a feat in itself, for him.
Eventually, the music does conclude -- and on a joyful note, passing out of minor and into major for the final time with the ease of one stepping from shadow into sunlight.
What comes next may shock Mamoru out of his reverie: the scrape of brass against wood, then the clatter of sprinting feet. He's spared any embarrassment (if, indeed, he would've been at all) that might've arisen from the haughty French girl espying his unmanly tears -- she's fled, perhaps even escaped. He'll see naught but her auburn curls as they trail behind her like a pennant, if he's quick enough to catch a glimpse of her.
It's not a total wash, though: in addition to the tears that glisten on the keys, she's left her bag.
There's no one to see the blotchy damp red of his face; Mamoru'd straightened and turned reflexively, and his face is stuck in openmouthed shock for a second. Reverie's gone, completely, yes.
He stares for a long moment even after that flash of copper sunshine's disappeared from the doorway, and then
he reaches to wipe the tears from the ivory keys with his other sleeve.
Chiba Mamoru carefully takes the bag Zoe left, then looks at it without seeing it, because everything's blurry again.
His heart hurts.
Tonight is going to be a night in which an awful lot of evil gets kicked in the face really, really, really hard, and then there is a gratuitous excess of speeding around the countryside on a motorcycle.
He'll figure the rest out later.