The streets were fairly empty at this time of day because everyone was going home for a late dinner. Ivan didn't, since he wasn't hungry and didn't have a place to go home to. There was noise coming from the open windows of houses nearby, the nights still warm in New Orleans.

There was a different sound as he turned the corner, a tune and melodious beat. Someone was playing a trumpet down the street. Ivan went to hear, the sound intriguing him. It was almost as if the music had hypnotized him; leading him to it's creator.

There stood the boy, presumably younger than the Russian. All alone, playing the lifting and falling song.

Still blissfully unaware of the Russian man standing off to the side, the blond American let his soul breathe though his trumpeting. The music continued to rise in volume as he let out a piercing note before following a decrescendo back to a reasonable volume for this time of evening. For Alfred, as long as he was playing his trumpet he didn't care about anything else. Not even the few crumpled dollar bills in his case deterred his bright tone.

Not wanting to disturb him, Ivan stayed back a few paces. How could anyone play that beautifully without being taken away by angels to play for them? He couldn't take his eyes off, so entranced as he was by not only the music, but the musician.

The American's eyes slipped shut as he reached the ending of his piece, wanting to milk the notes for their full value. Ballads were usually one of his favourite things to play at night when his lips had become sore. With the last note hanging in the humid air, Alfred opened his eyes and smiled as he took his trumpet from his lips. When he saw the tall, sandy haired man his grin grew wider. "I guess I got's an audience, huh? For a few ones I'll keep playin'. You're choice even, if I know the tune."

Opening his mouth, Ivan closed it again, realizing he had nothing to say. Quickly he searched in his pockets, the spell broken. But he wanted more, anything would do, and this man had said that if he payed, he would play again. Did he have anything? That sound deserved no less than gold, but he knew he didn't have much. In fact, there was no money on him at all tonight. But... he needed to hear more...

"'T's all good if you ain't got nothin', long as ya don't mind me practicin' more than bein' all fancy." Alfred winked as he brought his trumpet back up. "This one's called Rachael." With that, the strong notes of the beginning bled through the southern air.

So not only did he have the talent of an angel, but the kindness of one as well! Ivan quieted his breathing so he could better hear him, wished he could do the same with his pounding heart. He had never heard anything like it before, wanting to bottle it up and keep it for himself. But this couldn't be captured, it had to be free, which was why it was outside.

Seeing the enrapture in his strange audience's eyes, Alfred used it to fuel his own playing. He was sure he had missed a few notes here and there, and there were also a couple notes he could have stretched, but hopefully no one would notice. Speaking of nobody noticing, he hoped that he wouldn't get yelled at to stop playing.

The song continued as it reached a fast, lively segment before flowing naturally to its previous tempo. Without thinking, Alfred had started to move his body along with the song; swaying to and fro as the crystal clear notes swept around him.

His breath caught, watching the music take this beauty, moving with the notes and rhythm. There came a tightening in Ivan's chest as it came to an end, the last high note seeming to leave him on the edge of a cliff. He found himself leaning forward, all his consciousness on the music which was now fading into the night. He looked to see the boy smile, dazzling the tall immigrant even more.

Curious now, Alfred walked away from the wall he was standing against and reached out with his hand that wasn't still holding his instrument. "Name's Alfred. What'cha go by, big guy?"

The name was perfect for the boy, somehow. "Ivan." He said simply, looking at the hand. He wanted to shake? But what if his hand got crushed, what if the person shaking his hand wanted to steal that talent from the world? Ivan kept his hands at his side, for fear of perhaps gripping too hard and damaging those angel sent hands.

Laughing, Alfred put his hand down. "Alright, nice ta meet ya Ivan. What has ya walkin' the streets of New Orleans all by your lonesome?" It seemed like the man was quite the enigma, only uttering a single word so far. Oh well, it made him more interesting than the normal people who walked past him every day.

"You." The word was out of his mouth before he could stop it. After the spell being cast upon him, he no longer cared for his original reason for going for a walk. How could he have any other reason than to listen to that haunting music?

Alfred's tan skin was dusted pink as he rubbed the back on his neck awkwardly, a smile still on his face. "I guess I'm kinda loud, huh?" Giving an embarrassed chuckle he leaned down to put his trumpet in its case after placing the money in the breast pocket of his worn suit vest. "Still, wouldn't be good ol' New Orleans if there ain't no trumpet blarin' up and down the streets."

Snapping the case shut, he flipped it and sat down with his hands on his knees. "So Ivan, ya from Russia per chance? Not only ya name, but ya nose too. I reckon ya could cut down a tree with it." Laughing again, he shook his head. "Only kiddin', ya know that right? Ya just seem so quiet."

Ivan watched as the pink of the sunset reflected off of Alfred's glasses, making him look for a second unreal, inhuman, because how could a human be this perfect? "Da, yes, Russian." He knew himself that his accent was still very thick, and hard for most to understand, but he didn't want this angel -for surely that was what he was- to know of his own imperfections.

"Ya have a reason fer comin' down to the U S of A Ivan?" Alfred asked, wanting to know more about this interesting man. He just seemed so... Intrigued with him that it was hard for the American to not want to know why. "From what I gather, Russia ain't that bad a place now."

Ah, the sound of the word Russia on his lips, simply perfect. Not sure what to say, since he was not completely sure himself why he had come here, Ivan let his large shoulders lift and lower in a shrugging motion he had so often seen since moving here. "Exploring."

Letting loose a peal of laughter, Alfred bent forward as his body shook before righting himself. "Sorry 'bout that. Ya just so funny, speakin' in one word sentences and such. Explorin'. Best answer I've got from anyone 'round here." Wiping a tear from under his glasses, he continued to grin widely. "Ya seem like a nice fella."

Breath hitching at the rich laughter, Ivan realized it wasn't the music, it was the man. He could make anything vibrate the air, attracting people and making them addicted to his very presence. How had he ever lived without hearing this? No, he hadn't. He had never lived until this very moment, alone in the dreary streets of New Orleans, with the most wondrous man in the world, who was laughing just for him, Ivan, to hear.

"So Ivan, ya wanna make the block for a bit with me? I d'kna if I'll see ya again after this and I can't help but think that's a shame." The Russian man didn't seem to be too much older than him; a year or two and at most three. It wasn't like he was expected anywhere.

Not completely sure what he was being asked, Ivan nodded. He didn't understand all of the slang yet, but it seemed as if Alfred wanted him to say yes. But... he didn't want this to be just for tonight. It couldn't be, he needed that sound, this man, to act as a secondary source of oxygen. But could he truly say what he wanted, with his language skills as flawed as they were? "Do... Do you, ah, play" He searched for the word he wanted, but unable to find it, he had to substitute, "many times here?" If he did, then Ivan could come back and listen, so he wouldn't die from depletion.

Shrugging back in imitation of Ivan, Alfred continued to smile. "Yeah, I play here of'en. Either here or in the small park thatta way. Under the large tree fer shade." He said, pointing down the road. He stood up and picked his trumpet case up as well as his tattered hat which he placed on his head. "Ya have any place ya meanin' ta be? I gots no schedule as it is."

"No." Ivan mumbled, making sure he remembered exactly where that tree was. Tomorrow, perhaps he could get a few coins, even if Alfred deserved much more. He might be able to pick up some odd jobs, they were plentiful here. But it still would not be enough.

"Perfect!" Alfred crowed, patting Ivan on the shoulder. "Ya can walk home with me, if ya wanna. Ya don't hafta if ya don't want. I'll undastand. It'd be nice to hear more o' the Russian accent of yers come out though. Mighty interestin' ta not hear people talk like me all blazing day." The American laughed quietly, looking up at all the lit windows in the twilight.

He would be able to see where he lived? How is it that Ivan was walking under such a lucky star tonight? "I will." He said, perhaps a little firmly. To see where this angel lived, perhaps a cloud descended to Earth. Was it possible for a mere mortal to witness?

It seemed like Alfred couldn't keep himself from laughing around the large Russian. "Y'know, fer a Russian, yer quite all right. Now ya just need ta learn how ta talk more so I don't feel so bad. My mouth'll go a mile a minute if ya let it." The blond started to walk off toward his house, stopping for a second to wait for Ivan to start following him.

Of course he couldn't walk beside him, that would be the place of an equal. No, Ivan was just an admirer, always a few steps behind so his eyes never had to leave their proper place. "Talk. Please." To keep hearing that voice, to keep seeing this angel. After this, to die would be all right, because his life has already been lived in these past few moments.

"Y'don't know what'cha gettin' yerself into there mistah. Talk and a please? Yu'll never get me to shuddap." Looking over his shoulder, he stopped to wait for Ivan to catch up but when he stopped as well he frowned. "Now what's this 'bout? Are ya scared to walk beside me? I asked if ya wanted ta walk with me not follow me." It was too much effort to pretend to be upset at this interesting Russian as his face once again started smiling. "D'y'I need to hold yer hand or somethin'?"

Hold... hands? No, he couldn't possibly mean that. Already he was the most fortunate man on the planet, he couldn't chance it. Instead Ivan simply walked faster, walking almost in tandem with him, but not quite.

Slapping his back, America laughed again. "Much betta. How long ya been here fer? Ya seem ta undastand me somewhat, so ya can't be too new." Shifting his case to his other hand, he decided to wait for Ivan's answer before he got too bad a case of the jabber-jaws.

He had just been touched by Angel and was still here. Was that possible? He took a few quick breaths, making sure the phenomenon beside him didn't notice. "Few months." Maybe. He hadn't been counting the days, so there was no way to be sure. It was now completely dark, the sidewalk being lit by a few dim lamps.

"S'plains it I guess. But yeah, welcome to my humble abode!" Holding his arm open, he gestured to a wooden door to a long, narrow house close to the river. "'T's not much, but it's roof ova my head." He said with a grin and a spark of joy in his eyes. Ivan was so quiet and didn't seem to mind at all that he didn't stop talking which was nice to the American. "Sorry to say, but I'll hafta see ya t'morrow Ivan. See ya by the tree?"

Getting a good look at the house, Ivan still made sure to pay attention to every detail of what the angel said and did, which is why he caught what he said. He would have to wait for tomorrow? Really? "Tree, yes." How many hours until he could see him, hear him again?

Pulling out a small key from his jeans pocket, Alfred gave Ivan a two-finger mock salute with a wink. "G'night Ivan. Nice ta meet ya." With that, he unlocked his door and slipped inside.

Waiting for a second or two at the door, Ivan then turned around and retraced their steps. Along the way, he watched the ground, searching for any loose change people may have dropped. This would be his only way of repaying the debt his ears had amounted. He could never pay it back fully, but he would try until his last breath.

Once he made it all the way back, Ivan looked up for the tree. Yes, there it was. Where Alfred would be tomorrow, where he would wait. He sat down on the concrete, waiting for his angel to bring the morning light.

Here is a link for the song Alfred played for Ivan. http ://www .youtube. com/wat ch?v=2IkxYNMyffg Just take out the spaces. So imagine that, but with only the trumpet... and better than it is here.