Notes: Ok, some musical background (yes, it is pretty necessary). Rodeo is a ballet by Aaron Copland, and it's supposed to be about America. Actually, I think it's supposed to be about the Appalachians, which are in New England, but Ohtori doesn't know that, I guess. Hoe-Down is the last movement of Rodeo, and at least in my recording, it's 3 minutes and 23 seconds long. Stanford is a college in California. I have no idea if they have a good tennis team, but they probably do. It's Stanford. Oh, and Ohtori's CD doesn't exist as far as I know, but it's a compilation of three ballets: Copland's Rodeo, Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.

Finally, this ficlet is the direct result of my own college angst and playing Hoe-Down in orchestra. It's a kick-ass piece. Go listen to a recording of it. =)

by Belladonna

Ohtori had been listening to Copland's Rodeo on loop for the past three hours, and he was still no closer to understanding America than he was when he first dug out his CD player and a CD that had, for reasons he didn't quite get, the music to Swan Lake and The Rite of Spring as well Rodeo. He wouldn't really care about understanding America under normal circumstances, had only really thought of it as a place on the other side of the Pacific where people were generally taller and blonder, until Shishido-san came to him the other day and explained, in a quiet voice, about America and California and Stanford and a scholarship that he really, really wanted to accept. They'd been doubles partners and roommates since Ohtori moved up to high school and rejoined Shishido-san, and he hadn't even known his senpai had applied to Stanford. Since then, he'd been doing a lot of thinking about America and California and Stanford. He didn't know anything about Stanford except that it was in California, and all he knew about California was that people there surfed a lot and made sappy girl movies that Oshitari-senpai liked but made Shishido-san gag.

Which didn't exactly explain why he'd been listening to Rodeo for three hours, except that when he'd played it in orchestra, back before he came to Hyotei and met Shishido-san, he remembered that the conductor had said Rodeo was about America. And Ohtori wanted to understand America, because Shishido-san was going to go away to America and Ohtori was... worried. Or maybe a better word would be scared. Because he didn't want Shishido-san to go away and change and maybe never come back. Ohtori liked the way things were, and if Shishido-san left, they would change. Shishido-san wouldn't be around to cook and stomp around their dorm room and yell at Ohtori to stop worrying about his homework and come eat, and Ohtori wouldn't be there to give Shishido-san puppy eyes until he ate his vegetables and clean up the bedroom and sometimes, when Shishido-san was really tired and fell asleep on his cram school books, carry him to bed.

Rodeo wasn't helping. Ohtori put down his CD player and got out his violin, and started noodling out the theme to Hoe-Down. Maybe you had to play it to understand America. He could only play the first violin part, but he could hear the other parts in his head. It sounded pretty much like the recording. No sudden moments of revelation.

"Hey, what're you playing?" Shishido-san was standing in the doorway, smiling at him. "I haven't heard it before. Is it new?"

Ohtori blushed, because even after three years he was still a little embarrassed when his senpai paid attention to him. "Ah, no. I haven't played it in a long time." He took a deep breath, and offered, "I have it in my CD player, if you want to listen to the whole thing. It's supposed to have a lot more parts."

Shishido-san shrugged, and sat down on Ohtori's bed. Ohtori put down his violin and handed Shishido-san the CD player, first switching the repeat option off. Shishido-san put the earbuds in and listened, concentrating on it the way he didn't really concentrate on anything besides tennis, and sometimes, very rarely, Ohtori. Ohtori waited out the three minutes and twenty-three seconds anxiously, twisting his hands together in his lap because if he didn't have anything else to stare at he would be watching Shishido-san.

About three and a half minutes later, Shishido-san tapped him on the shoulder, offering his the CD player back. Ohtori looked up at his senpai cautiously from beneath thick silver lashes. Shishido smiled, and shrugged. "It's okay. I guess I like it better when you're playing it."

The little ball of anxiety that had wound itself up in Ohtori's stomach when Shishido-san told him about Stanford and America loosened a little, and as he smiled shyly back at Shishido-san, he thought that maybe, even if he never understood America, everything might be okay.

The End

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