by Shi Lin

Choutarou, he knew, liked music. For his part, he'd dropped further perusal of the subject on finding out that his junior had a yen for Western classical pieces. As he told Choutarou, he didn't need to complicate his life by listening to dead composers with unpronounceable names.

"But 'Bach' is only two syllables long, Shishido-san."

"Well -"

"And I do listen to living composers! Not all classical music's played by dead men!"

"...Whatever, ok?"

It was evidence of the weird effect Choutarou had on him that he picked up the former's Discman one day, a slim silver circle in a plain grey pouch (so different from Atobe's leopard-print-Sony-original MP3 player, or Mukahi's neon maroon MD walkman, he observed with an involuntary grin), and found himself assailed by the impulse to investigate its playlist. On went the headphones, on went the small green LED display, and Shishido idly pressed the Play button without a second thought.

A chorus of brass instruments crashed into his ears like a plane ramming Mount Fuji.

After he'd sworn and lowered the volume by half, he let his ringing eardrums acclimatise to the music, not without a touch of grumpiness. The first track, he thought, was nothing much - the piano interval was boring and too long.

Flipping forward at random on the playlist produced better results. He let himself be pulled along the rolling cadences of what sounded like woodwind and strings, their harmonies and rhythms alternatively lively and delicate, and conceded, grudgingly, that it wasn't all that boring. He wouldn't become a fan anytime soon, but it was all right. And maybe, he thought, watching the strings of small green romanji scrolling back and forth across the LED display, he just didn't know enough about music to understand why Choutarou liked the classics so much. Hell, Choutarou was good at music - he played the violin and piano and was a regular standby for the Hyoutei chamber ensemble. Maybe -

Silence replaced the trill of a violin with stunning abruptness.

He blinked, and Choutarou, back from his errand, was sitting beside him on the bench, holding the player in his palm with an expression that was - oddly, for him - unreadable.

"Sorry about that," he said at last. "I -" Wanted to know. About you. (But of course he would not say it; he could not. It was beyond embarrassing.)

A small smile touched his junior's mouth. "What did you think?"

"It's not all that bad," he said honestly, relieved that Choutarou wasn't offended. It was all too easy to forget that he had a temper; too easy to take his easygoing nature for granted. "I still don't know what you see in it, though."

"That's okay, Shishido-san." The smile widened slightly. "Which tracks did you like?"

He listened to the other boy explain names and instrumental arrangements with only half an ear. Choutarou's brown eyes were bright, the sun touching the silver highlights in his hair as it filtered through the leaves of the tree overhead, and the clear warmth of his voice had a cadence that was, to Shishido's mind, every bit as satisfactory as that of any piece of music. Maybe better. And he realised, suddenly, that he was happy.

The End

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