Chapter 17 – The Old and the New

The first person Kahoko saw when she reached the lobby was Tsukimori. He was leaning against a pillar and seemed to be lost in his thoughts. His luggage and violin was nowhere in sight, a fact that Kahoko noted even while she juggled her own overnight bag, violin and music file.

Humph, Rude Mr. Rich there probably had his chauffeur take his stuff to the car already, while I have to carry my things myself. Granted, its not like I actually have much to carry, but he doesn't have to pose there like a bloody handsome prince waiting for his underlings to carry out his orders! She recalled the scene in his room barely 15 minutes earlier and her irritation and anger towards Tsukimori grew. If he can't take the time to tell me what's happening, then I suppose I won't wait around for him to remember about telling me!

Mustering her resolve together, she made a courageous attempt at ignoring Tsukimori while marching right past him. She almost succeeded too, if it wasn't for the long arm that reached out and firmly grasped her wrist just before she got out of range.

"Where do you think you're going?" Tsukimori sounded amused as he attempted to turn Kahoko around to face him. Kahoko resisted, prompting a pause from Tsukimori.

"Kahoko, what's wrong?" Tsukimori sounded concerned now, but Kahoko anger was still rather fresh, so she refused to meet his gaze.

"Are you… angry, Kahoko? What about?" Tsukimori haplessly inquired.

Something inside Kahoko snapped at that moment from utter ignorance that Tsukimori displayed. When it was all his fault too!! She whirled around to face him, eyes flashing. Her fearsome expression made Tsukimori back up a step purely in reflex and self-preservation.

"What ABOUT?" Kahoko shrieked in indignation. "Why, you in… Mmph!!" Kahoko's intended tirade was cut short when Tsukimori, reacting instantly to the curious looks cast their way as a result of Kahoko's outburst, promptly clapped a hand over her mouth. Tsukimori drew the struggling Kahoko closer, backing towards the pillar.

"Shhh, everyone's looking. Calm down." Tsukimori tried unsuccessfully to make the struggling Kahoko quiet down. Tsukimori sighed, "For whatever I did to make you angry, I'm sorry." Kahoko paused in her struggles to break his grip to give Tsukimori a doubtful stare.

Tsukimori moved closer, "I don't know exactly what I did to make you this angry but truly, gomen nasai."

Having Tsukimori's face so close to hers brought to mind a certain memory from the previous day. Oh my god, is he going to kiss me again? Despite her anger, Kahoko felt an odd little thrill at that.

"Mommy, why are that onee-san and onii-san fighting?" A child's innocent voice piped up. Both Kahoko and Tsukimori looked down in surprise to see a small boy holding his mother's hand and staring curiously at them.

The child's mother looked a little embarrassed and tugged on her son's hand. "Come on Shinichi, let's not disturb onee-san and onii-san alright?"

Shinichi allowed his mother to lead him away, but turned after a while to call back. "Bye bye onee-san, onii-san. Don't fight anymore." He smiled a grin that lacked a front tooth and waved his chubby hand at them.

Charmed by the sweet, albeit a little nosy, boy, both Kahoko and Tsukimori waved back amusedly. When the little boy and his mother were gone, they turned to each other and shared a grin, Kahoko momentarily forgetting that she was supposed to be pissed at Tsukimori.

It was then that they realized that they were still standing in very close proximity to each other, and that Tsukimori still had a hand draped on Kahoko's shoulder after he removed it from her mouth. Both musicians blushed and looked away, taking the opportunity to step away from the other.

"So Kahoko… I'll take your things to the car while you check out, alright?" The flustered Tsukimori said.

"Yeah… I'll be there soon. Arigato."

"No problem." Tsukimori easily picked up Kahoko's things and headed out of the main lobby.

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When Kahoko slipped into the car waiting outside the main entrance to the hotel, the sight that greeted her was a ton of music scores everywhere. Tsukimori had scores on his lap, on the seat beside him, on the car floor and in his hand. When she entered the car, he looked up from the score he was perusing to nod and give her a small, hesitant smile. He was obviously still a little afraid that Kahoko was angry at him for whatever unfathomable reason.

Ah well, I'm not that petty, and he's already apologized so I guess I can forgive him. Kahoko flashed him a bright smile in return. "Where did you get all this from?" She motioned towards the mountains of scores piled around the car. The car started off on their journey home.

"Oh this is the parcel that my chauffeur meant to give to me this morning when you encountered him. I asked my mother to specially send these to me."

"Wow, your mother isn't just a beautiful woman who plays the piano amazingly well, but she's so nice as well! My mom would kill me if I asked her to send scores to me." Kahoko giggled, flipping through some.

"Ah well, I am an only child after all… Sometimes I think that my mother is so nice to me because she feels that she spends too little time with me due to her busy performance schedule." Len continued to go through the scores with studied nonchalance.

Kahoko paused. "You mean, you think she feels like she owes you family time? Does she?"

Len glanced at her, then sighed. "I don't know. All I know was that my childhood was definitely not usual. I spent all my time improving myself to live up to the expectations of both my parents and others, even though my parents were rarely even present to witness my effort and improvement. I know that my parents had to do their jobs, travel around the world and perform, but all that leaves no space for me as a son."

"Oh Len, I'm sure that your parents didn't mean for you to feel this way…" Kahoko placed a comforting hand on his arm.

"Of course they didn't. But… what am I talking about? This is a horrible conversation topic. We were supposed to use this time to decide the piece for the second round, not to revisit my childhood." Tsukimori shook his head and picked up the next score in his stack.

"Len…"

Tsukimori resolutely angled his head away and appeared absolutely riveted with the score at hand. Seeing that Tsukimori was determined to avoid revealing even more about his childhood, Kahoko decided not to push him until he decided to broach the topic with her again. However, what he had said earlier revealed that Tsukimori was not as uncaring a person as he liked to portray to others. The criticism that he must have received as a child by people who liked to compare him to his parents must have hurt him. He probably wants to make people think that he is above petty comments like that, but he is only human after all. What child wouldn't be affected?

"This is a very good piece!" Kahoko got distracted by Tsukimori's sudden words.

"Huh? What is?" Kahoko could only blankly ask, her mind a little confused by the sudden change in topic.

"This piece! Bach's Concerto for Two Violins! It would fit the theme of communication perfectly, since it is contrapuntal in style. It could almost be like the two violins are having a conversation."

"Really, what an interesting piece! Let me see it." Kahoko took the score from Tsukimori and opened the second solo violin part.

"Erm… Len? All I see are semiquavers. Are you sure I will be able to match up with you for this piece? I'm not even sure of the rhythm." The rhythm in the score was something that Kahoko had never seen, a blended mixture of semiquavers and quavers that just paraded across the staves. "Ugh, just looking at the score gives me a headache." Kahoko grimaced.

Tsukimori winced. "Oh I forgot your lack of experience. You're more accustomed to melodious pieces that have simpler rhythm. Don't worry, this piece might look daunting but is actually not as difficult as it seems. The trick is just to count in quaver beats, so the semiquavers feel like quavers instead. It'll help you figure out the rhythm with less difficulty."

"I'll... try." Kahoko took a deep breath and looked at the score again, but still couldn't understand the method that Tsukimori mentioned.

"Gomen Len, could you explain it to me again?"

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Chapter 17 done! I didn't mean for the story to turn into a minor Len reminiscence about his childhood and the like, it just… turned out that way. Anyway I like to think of reasons for Len to be the tsundere guy that we all adore! The only logical reason why he turned out to be a rather expressionless, emotionless youth was because of his family and childhood right? Well, its logical to me. =P

Well, its kinda obvious what piece they are about play for the second round now. I really like that concerto! It sounds so neat, bright and happy; always brings a smile to my face whenever I play it XD Unfortunately, I'm drawing a blank for the piece that Sara and Takari should play. Suggestions, anyone? Should be something completely different from the Bach Concerto, yet still bring across 'Communication'!

Don't forget to review! =)