Title: Fur Elise

Rating: G

The first time Alec touched a piano, he wasn't Alec at all.

He was x5-494, and he was about to embark on his first real mission.

The handlers had put him down in front of a large, smooth black device he'd never seen before, set sheets of something on the mantle of it, and, after just a day, he could play it like he'd been doing it his whole life.

It had held no joy for him then. It was simply an instrument, the same as a gun or a knife – something to be used as a means to an end. The notes that played never reached farther than his ears, never traveled down to his soul, because he didn't believe he'd had one.

The first time he'd heard Rachel Berrisford play, watched the joy in her eyes, the grace in her hands, he didn't understand. What was she hearing that he couldn't? How could simple sounds produce such an awesome effect on someone?

As time went on though, and he listened and taught her, he started to hear what she heard. The notes were no longer notes, they were something he could almost physically feel, something that gave him access to emotions he'd never had reason to feel before.

He taught her to play the piano, and she taught him that he had a soul to touch.

After…after, they wouldn't let him near a piano. He didn't even think of playing, even though his hands would sometimes itch and he could swear he could sometimes hear a stray note on the wind. He figured he would never play again, and he couldn't say he wasn't thankful, at least a little bit.

Then Manticore burned, and he was loose in the world, free to do as he pleased. He still had no wish to play, not with Rachel's locket burning cold in his jacket pocket.

He didn't expect to find one in Joshua's house, although with the random assortment of seemingly useless items, it probably shouldn't have been such a surprise.

He didn't consciously decide to play. His hands seemed to move on their own, in a familiar ritual he'd gone through at least once a day. Before he was even aware of it, he was seated, fingers absently stroking the keys, hesitantly pressing, testing for tune.

In those brief minutes of furious, passionate playing, the piano seemed to cry out the pain in his soul, pain he'd thought had been locked away long ago. In those moments, he wasn't X5-494, and he wasn't Alec; he was Rachel's Simon, who was still crying inside.

Visiting her grave, feeling the frigid air, he thought he heard the soft, lifting sound of a song he'd never played, and he imagine, for a moment, it was Rachel's goodbye.

Once again, he didn't touch the piano for months. It sat in the basement at Joshua's, and even though he lived there, he never went down to the basement.

After Joshua lost Annie, he started painting, day and night, feverishly. He wondered, if he'd still been free after Rachel, if he would have done the same – played piano day and night, pouring everything he had into something outside himself just so it wouldn't hurt as bad, if only for a minute.

After Josh had been up for the fifth straight night with no signs of sleeping, Alec crept to the basement. He eyed the piano from a distance, then stepped forward and slid into the seat.

Once again, his fingers moved of their own volition. He recognized the song from the first note, a song he'd played Rachel early one morning when her father was at work and it was just them.

It was soft, dreamy, the notes seeming to bypass his ears and lodge deep in his heart. It was happy at first, uplifting, and then abruptly went mournful, making his spine tense and his stomach clench. But as it progressed, the notes got lighter, speaking of pain that went away, leaving in its place a kind of wistful joy and cautious hope.

Alec vaguely registered the sound of Joshua's fevered footsteps pausing, but the song wasn't finished yet, so he played on. When it was over, he covered the piano in the sheet and went upstairs quietly.

Joshua was sleeping on the couch, paints on the floor beside him. Alec simply pulled the blanket over him and went into the kitchen to fix some food for them both.

Every day after that, Alec went into the basement and just played. And every night when he went upstairs, he covered Joshua in a blanket and went to bed, ready to do it all again the next night.

Rachel had given him a gift, and Alec promised her silently that he'd put it to good use.

This story has what I like to call a "working title" - meaning I don't really like this title but I can't think of another one. This is my first Dark Angel fic, but I couldn't resist after seeing some screenshots of Alec playing.