Let Me Sing You a Thing
"So we've never met but our showers are on opposite sides of the same apartment wall so sometimes we're showering at the same time and we sing duets." AU
Crazy AU prompts are so much fun to fill!
The modern age of technology has a lot to answer for.
On the one hand, it's amazing to have an entire world's worth of knowledge, entertainment and your entire social sphere accessible via a tiny box you can take with you anywhere. On the other hand, when that little box is taken away from you it's like being in purgatory.
Jack felt he coped quite admirably after the death of his phone. He wasn't completely cut off from the outside world, he still had his laptop and a somewhat steady WiFi connection pinched from the cafe two doors down, and if he was feeling adventurous, he could go outside and talk to people.
But he feels the loss the most in the bathroom, where he is most vulnerable, naked and wet. Without Spotify, he's doomed to listen to the inane voices in his brain while he showers.
"I wonder if Hiccup's noticed I use his shampoo."
"How long has that Kung Po been in the fridge?"
"My hands are huge."
"Are worms nocturnal? Wait, they don't have eyes, how would they know?"
Truly it's a miserable time.
"Why don't you just get one of those cheap radios for the shower?" Hiccup asked him after a full half hour of grousing.
"See, that's like giving a man a steak, and then taking the steak away and giving him liver for the rest of his life. Radios don't know what I want to listen to. Spotify does."
"That's….not a good analogy at all. You'll have your phone back next week."
Jack moaned loudly and buried his face in the sofa cushions.
It was by complete accident that Jack discovered the solution to his problem. Said accident was the result of a half-gallon of milk at the corner store he worked at splitting as somebody lifted it to the counter, drenching him in ice-cold dairy. He had to work the rest of his shift on the hottest day of the year as the milk slowly curdled and stank up the place. Even shift manager Ramon, cheap as he was, couldn't bear the smell anymore and sent him home an hour early.
So naturally, he made straight for the shower to wash away the stench and contemplate his existence in silence. But it wasn't silent.
It was quiet, but just loud enough for him to hear, the sound of Spotify's Showtune Central playlist. It's one he's listened to a lot, not because he's a theatre fanatic or anything but because when you can't think of anything else to listen to, a good showtune fills the gap. Ethel Merman's unmistakable belting is muted by the wall between his bathroom and the bathroom of the apartment next door, but after a moment a voice picks up where Merman's left off, belting right along with her.
"I feel a sudden urge to sing
The kind of ditty that invokes the spring
So control your desire to curse
While I crucify the verse
This verse I've started seems to me
The Tin-Pantithesis of melody
So to spare you all the pain
I'll skip the darn thing and sing the refrain"
It wasn't that unusual. The apartment complex Jack lived in was popular with theatrical types due to how close it was to most Broadway theatres. That was how the building stayed full despite the tiny rooms, creaking pipes and ridiculous design features like building bathrooms practically on top of each other to share the pipe system. So no, random singing from nowhere wasn't strange.
What was strange was that the voice singing the song lacked the desperate warbling of someone with an audition to nail and sounded relaxed, casual and almost like she was having fun with it.
"You can tell at a glance
What a swell night this is for romance
You can hear dear Mother Nature murmuring low
'Let yourself go!'"
Then there's a crash, the music abruptly stops, and he can hear a loud "Oh, for Christ's sake!" and a lot of muffled mumbling, and the singer is gone.
Long after he's gotten out of the shower, he's analysing the voice.
Foreign? That shout had a distinctive burr to it. Irish, or Welsh or something. Whatever.
Likes showtunes? Wouldn't be singing them if she didn't.
Under the age of thirty? Wouldn't be living in this building if she wasn't.
Cute? Wishful thinking.
To Jack's delight, Singing in the Shower Girl (or SITSG, pronounced Sit-seeg, for short) takes her showers at around the same time every day. Some days she's only in there for five minutes, some days about a half hour. Jack swaps his shifts at the store with that one guy nobody likes so he can time his showers to listen to her Spotify, and to a lesser extent her singing.
(Lesser extent? Who is he kidding? He's had his phone back for two weeks.)
She's making it through the entirety of Anything Goes and has finally gotten around to You're the Top, and he can't stop himself anymore. He has to sing along.
"You're the top," she sings.
"You're the Coliseum!" he sings, gently he thinks. But there's silence from the other side, even as the music keeps softly playing.
"You're the top!" she sings again, with a note of amusement, he thinks.
"You're the Louvre Museum!" he responds, and hears a snort of laughter from behind the wall.
They're off beat with the rest of the song playing on whatever device it's playing on, but they keep singing together until the song's over.
"You're a melody from a symphony by Strauss
You're a Bendel bonnet,
A Shakespeare's sonnet,
You're Mickey Mouse!
You're the Nile,
You're the Tower of Pisa,
You're the smile on the Mona Lisa!
I'm a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop,
But if, baby, I'm the bottom you're the top!"
"That's actually kind of creepy, I have to say."
Hiccup's opinion counts for nothing, Jack reasons, because the poor guy still breaks out in a cold sweat whenever he's walking Toothless in the park and a girl stops to talk to him. To Toothless, not Hiccup.
SITSG is proving difficult to catch. Jack's hours at the store are at odds with whatever SITSG does with her days, and the weird layout of the building means that the entrance to her apartment is on the other side of the building so he can't even look out the window to see if he can catch her coming home.
This is why he has Yelp, Foursquare and Facebook all open at once and is combing through the local businesses to find a girl with a West European surname. Hiccup thinks this is not just creepy, but ridiculous.
"What if she doesn't have Facebook?" he asks as Jack clicks away.
"Of course she has Facebook. How would she comment on Buzzfeed articles without it?"
"Maybe she doesn't comment on Buzzfeed articles?"
Jack stares at him until he goes away.
After almost a full day of light cyber-stalking, Jack has narrowed down the candidates to a Hennessy, a MacBride, a Dunbroch, a Cadwallader and a Doherty. All girls in their late teens to early twenties, all frequenting businesses within a five block radius of the apartment building. He checks out their internet trail one by one, but Dunbroch is the one that leaps out at him. It's one Yelp review that does it.
"The tea here tastes like sorrow fermented in donkey piss."
He tracks her down on Facebook (ha! Take that, Hiccup!) She doesn't update often but she's tagged in a bunch of her friend's selfies. Almost all at auditions where her friend (blonde and smiley) looks like she's vibrating with excitement and she herself looks bored and sleepy. She's cute, he's delighted to note, squishy little moon face with a truly spectacular head of red curls. He really hopes she's SITSG. He scrolls down to her last status update.
Three days to learn all the songs from Anything Goes. FML.
Now that he has the information, he has no idea what to do with it. He can't just wait outside her building and spring out at her.
"Hey, I'm that guy from the shower next door, we sang naked together, also I looked at all of your pictures on facebook, can we date now?"
So despite his better judgement, he continues stalking her on facebook and dueting with her in the shower. Anything Goes is finished now, and A Chorus Line is next. He feels uncommonly soulful belting out What I Did For Love, filled with yearning. So much so that she goes quiet on the other side, and claps when he's done.
Auditions are running downtown on Thursday. It's clear what he has to do.
He takes and prints a cheap headshot, rattles up a fake resume and soaks up Hiccup's incredulity before getting in line with a whole bunch of Broadway wannabes, all preening and practicing their high notes. SITSG is near the front with her blonde friend, who is practicing earnestly and leafing through her script. SITSG has ear buds in, probably memorizing the lines of the songs, but other than that looks pretty tuned out. He likes her nonchalance.
They all get to watch each other's auditions, and she goes before blonde girl. The stage producer asks her name.
"Merida Dunbroch," she drawls, and oh that accent sends a shiver down his spine. It's definitely her.
"Love the accent, sweetie," the producer cooes. "Whenever you're ready."
She botches it. He knows she can sing better than she does on stage, but she seems limp and uncaring. The producer is confused, too. He thanks her, says he'll be in touch, and she just rolls her eyes and saunters off the stage as though she hadn't just queued for two hours to get there. She fist bumps her blonde friend, who's up next.
When Jack's turn comes up, he knows this will be his one and only chance to get her attention. So he pours his heart and soul into the song.
"Kiss today goodbye,
The sweetness and the sorrow.
Wish me luck, the same to you.
But I can't regret
What I did for love, what I did for love."
He looks right at her as he sings. Her eyes widen, she points at him open-mouthed. Her friend looks confused as hell.
"Look my eyes are dry.
The gift was ours to borrow.
It's as if we always knew,
And I won't forget what I did for love,
What I did for love."
He's never sung in public before, and doesn't care. As far as he's concerned, there's only one person watching him.
Love is never gone.
As we travel on,
Love's what we'll remember.
Kiss today goodbye,
And point me t'ward tomorrow.
We did what we had to do.
Won't forget, can't regret
What I did for
He finishes, and sheepishly stands there smiling at her. He doesn't even notice when the producer tells him it was a spectacular performance, or when the other auditionees applaud him.
They go out for lunch after she's shooed away her blonde friend and Jack has turned down the part he's been offered, to the dismay of the producer.
"You were lucky you got away in one piece," she laughs. "I've seen them cut people for less."
"I'm not meant for Broadway," he groans. "Singing in the shower is all I can handle, that was terrifying. I don't know how you do it."
"Oh, I only go to the auditions because Rapunzel can't go on her own. I couldn't give a monkey's about the stage."
He could listen to her say aboot all day. Wait, what?
"You try out for these things because your friend can't do it by herself?"
She nods and shrugs.
"She's got terrible stage fright. It's a shame 'cos she's got a gorgeous voice but she freezes if she has to follow someone really good. So I go with her, I go first, muck it up and she goes after me and she can't do any worse."
He liked her before, really liked her. Now he thinks he's in love with her, at least a little.
"But you're a real dark horse," she tells him. "Was that really your first audition?"
"First and last," he says. "That was legit terrifying."
"There has to be an easier way of tracking someone down," she laughs.
He laughs too, and wonders if he'll ever tell her about the cyber-stalking.