A/N: Okay, okay. So I didn't manage to write them all before Christmas. I got sick and stuff. BUT! it's still winter, so I'll finish writing all 7 stories still. Yay for me.
Story for Blau.
"Do you hear that?"
Near watched as Linda turned from her place at her canvas to look at him curiously.
"Hear what?" she asked, puzzled. "I can hear Anastasia and Iris arguing down the hall, but that's nothing new..."
"No," Near said, looking at her. "Not that. The music. Can you hear it?"
Linda's eyebrows rose, and Near's heart sank.
"Are you feeling okay, Near?" she asked, concerned. "There's no music anywhere... do you have a fever?" She reached out a hand to feel his forehead, but Near shied away.
"I'm fine, thank you," he said tonelessly, watching her hand warily. "It's just... I can hear music. I wondered if anyone else could, too."
Linda started to say something, but Near paid her no attention as he left the room. He paused, silent, his ears straining. One ear twitched slightly, as a faint sound tickled at his mind.
The music was louder out here.
Moving down the hall in the direction the sound seemed to be coming from, Near listened. It was so qui9et, Near thought, a melody that was barely there, so faint and soft. Yet, Near was sure it was there, and wasn't just some distorted ringing of his ears. It was almost as if... he could feel the music, somehow.
Shaking these thoughts out of his head, Near turned and opened the next door in the hall. Three boys inside turned to look at him, staring, and Near's hope fell. The music was quieter in here.
"Near." Near looked up to see one of the boys looking at him curiously. Near recognized him as Iago, one who Mello often got into fights with over trivial matters.
"What's wrong, Near?" the one called Iago asked. "Are you looking for someone?"
"...not exactly," Near said finally, loathe to admit anything to them. He regarded each of them carefully in turn, meeting their eyes, evaluating, looking for something in them. "It's just... do any of you hear anything?"
Iago blinked and looked at the other two.
"Not really..." he said, uneasy. "Not unless you mean the girls arguing, but everyone can hear that..."
"No," Near said, disappointed. "That's not what I meant. But thank you anyway." He turned to leave.
"What do you hear?" one of the others asked, curious. Near paused in the doorways, casting a glance back at them, considering.
"...music," he said finally, quiet. "A piano, I think."
Near waited just long enough to see the expressions of increduloulity form on their faces before departing, leaving them to wonder and discuss where someone could possibly hide a piano in the school.
Near continued down the hall, listening. The music had switched melodies, and this one was louder, though not by much. Ignoring the sock on the outside of the next door, Near opened it, interrupting a couple locked in a tight embrace. Ignoring the dirty looks both of the older children shot him, he spoke.
"Do either of you hear that?"
The boy scowled, but the girl looked intrigued.
"Hear what?" she asked, while the boy muttered something about hearing Near say his prayers. Near ignored him.
"That music, Near told the girl, his eyes meeting hers, something like hope flickering in them. "Can you hear it at all?"
The girl tilted her head and listened, before shaking her head in response. Near felt a trickle of frustration at everyone's apparent obliviousness pulse through him before suppressing it, shoving it down inside. Aggravation wouldn't make finding the mysterious musician any easier, he knew.
"I'm surprised you can hear anything at all," the boy sneered, malicious. "As quiet as you always are, I'd figured all your auditory nerves were shot."
"Just because I don't speak doesn't mean I don't listen," Near said tonelessly, his eyes cold as they fixed on him. "If anything, my silence enhances the sense."
Deeming these two useless for any further information, Near left, reclosing the door behind him. He paused in the hallway once more, listening.
He could hear it. It was certain. Someone was playing the piano, and Near could hear it, without a doubt. Ignoring the part of his mind that whispered to him that it was irrational of him to search for the player of the song so, Near opened the last door in the hall, abruptly cutting off the argument between the two bickering girls.
"What, Near?" Iris said curtly. Near's eyes widened imperceptibly in the quiet. Without their fighting, the tune was louder now.
"Can either of you hear that?" he asked, his tone nearly pleading. "Can you? Do you?"
Near watched as Anastasia paused to listen, a tremor of excitement spreading through him as she slowly nodded her head.
"That music, right?" she asked, listening hard. "It sounds like a piano..."
Iris turned to blink at her companion, her ire temporarily forgotten. "A piano?" she wondered. "I heard Roger telling that maid Kiki about some grand piano in the formal parlor needing dusting, once. But no one's every played it before..."
Near's eyes sparked.
"Thank you," he told them quickly before leaving, continuing down the hall, moving with a purpose now.
Near listened as he walked through the corridors, his pace almost urgent. That music... the chords echoed through him, resonating, and it was almost as if he could feel it, like he could feel the tune trying to talk to him.
Taking a turn down a mostly-unused hallway, one that led to the stiff, formal rooms that the adults commonly used, Near's excitement grew as the music grew louder. It was close by, he knew, as he moved quicker yet. It was here, somewhere. It had to be.
His eyes catching on a barely-cracked door, Near paused. His heart stopped for a moment, skipping a beat, before he tentatively pushed open the door, timid.
The room was plush and decadent, Near noticed, observing the velvet chairs and thick rugs. This was most likely the room where Roger would greet the occasional long-lost relative of a student come to check-up on them or talk to the investors about the orphanage's success. The meaningless details of the room registered dully in the back of his mind as Near turned, his eyes and heart stopping at the figure he saw seated at the grand piano at the left of the room.
It was Matt.
But it wasn't a Matt he knew.
As opposed to being generally apathetic and uncaring, dismissive of the world, this Matt was seated in from of the piano with his back straight, his posture perfect and proper as his hands danced over the keys. His eyes were closed, and there was a soft smile playing about his lips, and Near wondered how Matt could play like that, without looking, as if the music was an extension of himself.
A strange, almost foreign feeling swelled in Near's throat as he stood there silently in the doorway, just listening, motionless as the notes spoke to him wordlessly.
The song finished slowly, with a few soft chords, and while Matt's fingers finally paused on the ivory keys, the last notes resonating, touching, echoing in the room, and Matt's expression was that of one at peace, content.
Near clapped quietly, moving into the room, shutting the door behind him, and Matt jerked at the sound, his eyes darting to Near, flashing, uncertain.
"Ah... Near..." Matt scratched his head sheepishly, looking at the younger boy. "Heh... I was just messing around... I guess you heard me..."
"That wasn't messing around," Near said quietly, moving closer to stand at the piano's side. "That was amazing. I've never heard anything like that before."
Matt blinked, flushing faintly.
"Thanks," he said. He looked at Near, slightly embarrassed. "I don't usually play the piano, you know. Rarely, really, just on occasion..."
"You're brilliant at it," Near told him, his eyes showing a faint flicker of something as he looked at Matt. "It was like you were playing from part of you, like the song came from inside... what was that song?" he asked.
A ghost of a smile touched Matt's lips as he relaxed, reassured.
"It's called 'Angel Eyes'," he told him, "by Jim Brickman. I twas one of the first pieces I ever learned to play."
Near looked at Matt, on hand absently stroking the top of the piano, almost reverently.
"I- I could feel it," Near admitted, looking down. "It- it was like some sort of wordless language, but I could understand..."
"Ah- music'll do that to you..." Matt looked back to the keys, smiling softly, as if revisiting old friends. "Music's supposed to be played from the heart, y'know, straight from your emotions..."
"It was beautiful," Near told him honestly. "Play another. Will you, Matt?"
Matt looked up at Near, slightly startled by the sudden request. He looked at him for a minutes, as if searching for something, before slowly, ever so slowly, letting his hands drift back to the keyboard, softly starting to play.
Near closed his eyes, listening. Soft notes tinkled from the instrument, gentle, relaxing, soothing, and Near could almost hear the intent behind it, making him think of how an affectionate mother would be to her child.
Almost without realizing it, Near opened his mouth, starting to sing along.
Matt looked up at him, startled, before slowly relaxing, a soft smile resting on his lips as he continued to play. Near's eyes stayed holding his as his voice joined the music, weaving and winding through the notes, forming a beautiful, soft, unintentional melody.
There weren't any words. Those would clutter the sound. There wasn't any though behind it. That would stifle the feel. There was only music. Completely independently of himself, Near sand along, the feeling from within him flowing out through his throat as Matt's fingers danced across the keys.
All too soon, the song came to an end, and Matt looked up to Near, smiling, who offered him his own shy smile in return.
Outside, through the frosted window panes, the world watched as the piano started again, a soft, melodic voice joining and dancing with it, creating a wordless tune, the music faint through the glass. Snow continued to fall as they did, soft, gently piling up around the house unobtrusively, surrounding them, almost as if further immersing the two into a world all of their own.
I love how music can make you feel. So, what did you think? Like it? Hate it? Please, review and let me know!