Suggested playlist: "Something Inside," from 'August Rush,' "Say Something," covered by Pentatonix, and "Hearing Damage," by Thom Yorke.
It took some serious badgering on Lyla's part, but once they'd reached her apartment, he settled in and pulled out his guitar. His concentration was entirely on his instrument as he quickly tuned it with the ease of one who was long-practiced. After receiving a gentle but encouraging smile from Lyla, he quickly strummed through a few chord progressions to warm up his fingers. The calluses on his fingers were still relatively new, but the sting felt strangely good. It all felt so... right.
"Anyt'ing in particular you'd like t'hear?" He asked, his nerves creeping into his voice.
"Something you wrote." She answered without hesitation, eyes sparkling. He spared her a brief grin and rubbed the back of his neck.
"I've written a fair few, love."
"Something recent, then." She amended, lightly tapping his foot with her own.
"Okay," He ducked his head a little as he said it, focusing his attention on the guitar to distract himself from her beautifully blushing cheeks and wide eyes. "I wrote this a couple o' weeks ago, I t'ink? It's uh... I wrote it for you." Louis glanced up at her to find that she was blushing even more visibly now, already feeling wooed by his long-lasting attentions. With that, he began to softly play the guitar and sink into the song.
"When the one thing you're looking for is nowhere to be found..."
Lyla's entire body seemed to warm at the first sound of his smoky voice, shivering at the delicate falsetto of the occasional high note that she guessed he usually belted out full-voiced. The emotion in every line was threatening to break through with the intimacy of the setting and their situation, and the words stirred something in her that she was hard-pressed to identify. The moment they were sharing was far more personal than she had imagined it would be, though it really shouldn't have surprised her; as a musician herself, she knew that the only real way to play music was to expose your soul in its entirety.
"Cause if you hadn't found me, I would have found you…"
Her eyes and nose began to sting with the threat of incoming tears, but she couldn't bring herself to move on the off-chance that it could ruin the moment. Her living room seemed to fade away as she listened to his song, and she could feel him singing to her. Despite having only heard him sing once before, she felt like she knew his voice better than any in the world. Lyla felt like she'd heard him sing thousands of times, but that the novelty hadn't worn off. His voice was more familiar and comforting to her than anyone else, and while that should have frightened her, at first it… didn't.
They'd known each other less than a week, and Lyla still felt like she knew him better than she knew Lizzie, and that he knew her better than anyone as well. Maybe they didn't know each other's favorite colors or all of their childhood stories, but they seemed to understand each other on a metaphysical level.
And when the song ended and Louis finally looked up at her with those startling blue eyes, looking completely exposed and vulnerable, Lyla realized that she was in love with his gentle soul.
It was terrifying.
She tried to mask the love and fear, but his probing, soul-searching eyes made quick work of demolishing the pitiful wall she had haphazardly built in her own mind. Her eyes welled with tears, and immediately his guitar was set on the coffee table in front of them and his hands were on her face.
"Come here, love. It's alright." Trembling, she allowed him to pull her into his arms. Though he whispered soothingly in her ear, and though his arms gently caressed her back in a way he meant to be calming, she felt more wound up than ever. Her trembling increased to something akin to vibrating, and her teeth began to chatter with the force of the unwanted movement. Her muscles were tensing all over her body, relaxing in short fits and seizing her breath - distantly, she realized that she was having a panic attack. Something - perhaps the pipes? - was making a high-pitched, whining noise, interspersed with the occasional moan and almost hiccupped hiss. Was there an earthquake happening?
"Come on, love, breathe." His voice sounded very far away to her, and her hands kept clenching and unclenching in tandem with the whining pipes. "You're okay, lass, you're safe." He rubbed her back in slow circles, and a fog seemed to clear a bit in her mind; it wasn't the pipes making that god-awful noise, it was her. Suddenly, as if someone had clapped her soundly on the back, she found herself gasping for air as her muscles relaxed all at once. With the return of her breath, however, came the emotions she'd been trying to hide from; with those emotions, she found herself overwhelmed and sobbing. Louis hummed "Moondance" quietly in her hair, pressing kisses to her wild, golden curls, and she wrapped her arms tightly around his middle.
It took ages for the crying to stop, but when it was over, he gently helped her sit up and left the couch. She felt a bit numb and worn out, like a damp cloth that had had all of the moisture wrung out of it. Louis returned to the couch with a wet towel and ran it over her face, wiping away her tears with a tenderness she had not experienced from anyone else since her childhood. Louis left the couch once again to retrieve some tissues, which he then held to her nose and simply said, "Blow." She flushed a bit at his instruction, but when he raised an eyebrow, she obeyed. "Wha' happened, me darling girl?" He asked softly.
"It's silly." She tried to brush it off, but he stared expectantly at her until she shrugged uncomfortably. "I – I just," She pushed out a breath and rubbed at her eyes. "It was a little bit of everything, really."
"Such as…?" He pushed.
"I'm so overwhelmed." She admitted. "I spent 11 years, 2 months and 15 days believing that my son was dead. I come to find that he is alive and has been searching for me, that he's everything I imagined and more. I'm happy – more than happy, really. I'm ecstatic. I'm overjoyed. I'm – I'm – there's just no word that can fully describe how this all feels." She paused, trying to figure out how to explain herself. "It's surreal. This whole thing is entirely surreal. I've been operating on the hope that I would find him for months, focused solely on getting him back. I didn't take time to focus on anything but him and finding him, and now… now I don't know what to do now that I've found him." She admitted. "And then… there's you."
Louis stiffened, as though waiting for waiting for a dismissal or a rejection. Lyla reached out her hand to place it over his comfortingly.
"It feels impossible that you're here. I thought that I would never see you again, and after August… I…" Her hand tightened over his. "I didn't think you'd want to see me anyways."
"What?" He looked genuinely confused.
"I felt like a failure. I knew it was my fault that my son had died -"
"But he's not dead, and it wasn't your fault -"
"Except that it was!" She burst out, shaking. Silence. Lyla pulled her hand away and started to curl in on herself. "I was careless. I was foolish and reckless, and I ran out into the street without looking. It wasn't the fault of a drunk driver or someone running a red light, it was me. Me. I did this. If I had been more careful, I would have carried August to term, and I would have been awake to see that he was alive. My father wouldn't have signed the adoption papers. Maybe I would have even found you in time. But because I caused this… I couldn't bear to face you."
"T' face me?" Comprehension was slowly dawning in his eyes, and she hated the pity she saw there. "You t'ought I'd be blaming you." It wasn't a question. She looked away. "You t'ought I'd be angry wit' you."
"I thought you might hate me." She whispered.
"Never." A hand lightly touched her face. "Look at me, lass." Lyla looked up through her eyelashes. His face was pained, eyes bright with unshed tears. "It was an accident – no, don' look away now. I could never blame you. It wasn' your fault." He brushed the hair out of her face with his fingers. "Is tha' why you never looked for me?" She nodded hesitantly. "Oh, lass…" He whispered, idly curling a lock of her hair around his pointer finger. Her lower lip began trembling again, and he traced it briefly with his other hand. With slow, easy movements, he removed his jacket and shoes, and moved to do the same with her. She let him divest her of her outermost layers as well, and then carefully pulled her against him so that they were both lying down on the couch. Draped over him the way that she was, she could feel as well as hear his heartbeat against her ear. It was steady and comforting, and gradually she felt herself relax. He stroked her hair and back with careful fingers, gentle around the knots that came with hair as wild and unruly as hers was.
She knew he deserved a bigger explanation than she had given him, that she hadn't even delved into the fact that she was hopelessly in love with a man that she barely knew, but felt silly enough at how emotional she'd been in the last 15 minutes. Lyla could afford to keep that to herself for a little while longer.
Maxwell 'Wizard' Wallace walked the streets with an uneven, awkward gait. He moseyed through the streets of New York City in a way that seemed both directionless and purposeful at the same time. He heard the call of the music everywhere, but no matter where he wandered, it was always just out of his reach, taunting him with every elusive note. To be so detached, so close and yet so far from the one thing that made him feel whole was… well, it made him feel quite ill. The loss of August was unbearable.
He'd pushed him too hard, he knew that; he'd been selfish, but really, who could blame him? The kid was a guaranteed gold-mine, and his trusting naivety left him so vulnerable that you couldn't very well not expect a businessman like himself to take advantage. At least August had found his way to Wizard and not to some pervert, some devil that would destroy the soul of a child sent from heaven. Wizard had thought August was sent from above to be his salvation, his reward for finding purpose and a home for all of those lost, lonely children. Children he'd saved from the fate he himself had suffered from until he'd run away from his foster home.
A memory shot through his body like he'd touched a live-wire, and he twitched hard for a moment. Grimacing, he did his best to shut the memories down, to shove them back behind the wall he'd created in his own mind. There were always cracks the memories slipped through, and with every hole he patched up, another one formed to let another one loose when he least expected it.
The most whole he'd ever been had been in the presence of that odd little boy, and he'd be damned if he lost himself to the darkness once again. He would find him again, and this time, he'd take him so far away that nothing, not even the music, could lead him back to Julliard. They'd both disappear – he was called Wizard, after all.
A/N: Hello, my lovelies. Look, I did a thing.
...Do I have any excuses for how long it took to update? Not really. Nothing but writer's block and a loss of interest in the story. Honestly, it was your reviews and private messages that spurred me back into writing, and another viewing of "August Rush" definitely helped with the inspiration.
I'm hoping to finish the story. Yes, seriously. Don't have a timeline for it, but I'm seriously going to give it a go!
Thank you all for your continued interest in "Somehow Familiar," and I really hope that I can deliver something that you'll all love.