Love for the Unloved - 2010 Contest Entry

Title: Duette

Your pen name(s): ICMezzo
Featured 'B-list' Character(s): Kate and Garrett
If you would like to see all the stories that are a part of this contest visit the Love for the Unloved 2010 C2 Community:

Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns everything you recognize.
Rated M. Full song texts and translations can be found at the end of the story.

Many thanks and hugs to TwilightMundi for betaing, and to Bookjunkie1975 and PerfectlyPersuasive for pre-reading.

The applause thundered around me as I headed off-stage, my pianist, Edward, closely at my heels. I had but a moment before I had to return to the bright lights for the final set of my concert, barely enough to time for a few deep breaths and a quick drink of water. And then, of course, there was one more chore I had to attend to before heading back out on stage, because this time, I had to bring him out with me.

I put down my water bottle and looked around backstage as the residual applause died down. He was next to me in an instant. Garrett was always beside me.

"Beautiful," he breathed.

"Thanks," I whispered. And I meant it. He'd been listening from backstage and it was nice to know I wasn't sucking in front of several hundred friends, family members, faculty members, and other concert-goers.

"Ready?" I asked him. The finale to the program was a set of four duets by Brahms, and I'd invited him to perform them with me. The two of us would sing them together, as opposed to the rest of the program, which consisted of my solo art songs and arias.

"Ready," he confirmed, smoothing his tux a final time.

I looked at Edward, eyebrow raised. He nodded in response, also ready.

Garrett and then Edward would follow me out, Garrett to his place a few steps to my right, and Edward to the piano, where he would work his magic for the final set. Edward was a brilliant musician—it was somewhat of an honor to work with him—and also a good friend. I trusted him implicitly. He was rock-solid support on and off-stage.

Garrett was also a talented musician, a rich baritone veritably made for the stage, tall with gorgeous and striking features, a strong jaw, and long, sandy brown hair. He was my best friend, my dream, as well as my worst nightmare.

But tonight we would make music together. It was in our blood to do nothing less.

"Alright," I confirmed, nodding to myself. "Let's do this."

The conclusion of my recital had arrived, and it would be my last before leaving the college where I studied. I had to enjoy every moment of it. I squared my shoulders, found my smile, and braced for the rush of nerves that would greet me as I stepped back on stage for the final time that day.

When I walked out from the edge of the curtain, time stood still. It always did. There was nothing but whiteness and silence. Technically, I knew the applause roared in the background, but all I could hear was the click of my heels on the hardwood floor, and all I could see was the blinding glare of the stage lights, though I knew that just beyond them was a full auditorium.

For me, it was a high, an absolute rush unlike any other, the knowledge that, done correctly, I had the power to command the attention of every person in the room simply by opening my mouth. I used it to tell a story or teach, to bring joy and sometimes tears. The lights and the stage combined with months of practice and years of study was the recipe for...well, for magic.

After basking for a brief moment in the applause that greeted my entrance, I bowed in gratitude, knowing Garrett and Edward would follow my lead and do the same.

And then, it was time to begin. I hardened my face, turned my body slightly away from Garrett's, knowing he adopted a similarly rigid, cold position for the first song in the set.

There was absolute silence until Edward pulled the opening melancholy chords out of thin air. It was Die Nonne und der Ritter, The nun and the knight.

That was us, all right. Garrett lived the role of the gallant knight, the adventurer who caught every damsel's eye and often more than that. Meanwhile he fiercely protected my virtue, sending every potential suitor packing. Why, I had no idea, because clearly he didn't want me for himself.

And then it was my voice, up from the ether, supported by the mournful piano, and sent out and above and into the world, telling Brahms' story that was also my own.

As the world goes to rest,
my yearning awakens with the stars;
I must listen in the cool
as the waves roar below!

There was no need to think about notes or rhythms or correct pronunciation of the foreign tongue. Those were firmly solidified thanks to countless hours spent in the practice rooms. Now it was about owning every word. In this set, it was as easy as breathing, a habit learned from years of yearning.

Garrett, the knight, replied to my longing, his voice taking over where mine left off:

I am brought here from far away by waves
that beat so mournfully against the land,
beneath the bars of your window.
Lady, do you still know this Knight?

He was daring me to look at him with this entreaty, but I would not. He would break me.

I held strong, and so our voices soon overlapped, each telling our story, swelling out of each other, each raised higher by the other, tied to the earth only by the gravity of Edward's piano accompaniment.

And then, again, suddenly, Garrett's voice was gone, pulled out from under me. And it was just me, alone, unsupported.

And for the first time in the recital that had been until now a solo effort, I felt the loneliness, the devastation of having to convey my message alone. As always, I'd been better, stronger, challenged by him to be more. He'd brought me higher than I'd realized possible, only to disappear. Some things never change.

Deeply lost and desperately alone, I uttered the final words of the song:

False night, you bewilder the mind!
Farewell, world! May God protect
those who wander madly in darkness!

I had to be mad indeed. I wondered at what point I'd turned over the control of my sanity to Garrett, at what point I'd allowed him to make me so?

After the final note echoed throughout at the auditorium, the audience took a collective breath. There was no clapping between sets, a classical music ritual. There was only a moment to breath for audience and performer alike to open their mind to the next piece of music.

Far more playful, though no less true, this next one: Vor der Tür, or At the door.

Quite simply, it wove the tale of he who wanted in, and she, who for her own sanity, said no fucking way.

Well, that's a rough translation. But my ability to say no to Garrett was the only form of control I had over our relationship, and I held onto it desperately. Of course, he had yet to say yes, rendering my no unnecessary. But still I had it in my arsenal, and so we would play, would flirt with the concept in front of the audience.

We took our position, he a step back, begging to come forward, while I crossed my arms and adopted a smirk.

Ask me, Garrett. Beg for me, in front of everyone we know, I dared him.

He did.

"Pull the bolt back from the door, how gladly I would come in to kiss you," he suggested in a light tone, tapping my shoulder.

"I won't let you in. Creep away home," I denied him with a tease and a smile.

"But stand up and let me in. This I do ask of you. O maiden, let your lad come in!" he begged.

I stood firm in my denial through the dance of our voices, repeating our pleas and rebuffs aided by Edward's own flirtation with his Steinway.

Though at the end of the piece, the music suggested what I knew in my heart; if Garrett were to ever seriously plead for my heart, I'd never deny him. And so, as the last chord sounded, I peeked over my shoulder at Garrett, and offered him a wink, a nod, and a grin, at which point he stepped forward and spun me around for a feigned kiss.

His touch made my skin electric. Even on stage with a million sensations and duties demanding my attention, there were sparks. But as much as we touched and teased and shared in our lives, there was never a kiss, nor would there be one here. It was pretense, for show, as our lips approached but never collided in front of the audience.

The audience gasped and giggled at the ending, which we expected. It was hard to deny our chemistry, even to those who had no knowledge of our real life pull toward each other.

We straightened, grinning quickly at each other, before turning to the audience to share our honest smiles.

And then, it was time to prepare for the next piece. Without watching Garrett, I was unable to tell when his smile faltered as he thought to what was ahead. I wondered if it occurred simultaneously with the change in my own face.

Es rauschet das Wasser, The Water Rushes, was next in the set. For it, Garrett stepped beside me, we would sing these words to each other as much as to those in attendance.

I watched Garret when Edward's gentle playing began the song, then turned away only the slightest bit to sing my verse.

The water rushes and will not stay still;
The stars pass merrily in the sky,
The clouds advance merrily in the sky,
And so Love rushes and wanders there.

I was unaccusing, merely stating a fact. Garrett's love was fickle as the clouds, coming and going unpredictably if it was there at all. He might claim love, but then would be dating some sophomore the next week. Little wonder love wouldn't flourish under such conditions.

But Garret also had his say in the song. According to his lines, he would have me believe that his love was as constant as the stars, if sometimes hidden.

The waters are rushing, the clouds dissolving;
Yet the stars remain: they wander and drift.
And so it happens as well with true love,
It sways and stirs but changes not.

The same concept, from two different points of view. But neither of us is willing to give in to the understanding of the other, and the duet allowed us to restate our case, interrupting, speaking over each other, a gentle poetic argument of sorts. It seems that the only thing we agree on is the fact that the water is rushing by and time is passing. Love was up for dispute.

In this piece, Garrett has the last word, and he uses it to reaffirm that his love is steady and true. I watched him sing the final lines as I am now left mute, no longer able to disagree in song. But now that I've set my own argument aside, I find myself wondering whether there could possibly be truth behind his final words. I listen as Garrett finishes them, and then still longer, while Edward carries the piece to its soft conclusion.

As the final notes of the piano die away, I recognize reality again for what it is. It was dangerous for me to place such hope on Garrett, even for just a moment. I'd only end up crushed.

And then we arrive at the final song in the set: Der Jäger und sein Liebchen, or The Hunter and his Love.

It is a hectic tug of war, a lover's conflict, a struggle for power, all sung in laughter and light tones, but with a message beneath. This song was easy for us. Garrett and I fought with the best of them, and enjoyed doing so. I found my high horse and he his, and we were off.

He told me to stay home and watch out the window until he came home from hunting late that night:

Maiden, the sky is blue -
stay at the window and look.
Until night,
late at night,
I will return home from the hunt.

I told him to fuck off; I had other plans, namely to go out dancing:

"But I planned differently -
I want to dance tonight.
You'll stay outside the door,
late, outside the door
if you will not dance with me!"

I, Kate, would wait for no man.

Except that was a blatant lie. I'd been waiting for Garret for years.

The song was energetic, and just getting through it required every last ounce of my strength, especially as exhausted as I was by this point in my program. It demanded my all, and afterward, I'd have nothing left.

In this song too, Brahms once again gave Garrett the last words of the song and the set. "Maiden, I will return to you," he sang for a final time. Somehow I resisted the urge to mutter "bullshit." I'd accidentally done it once in rehearsal. Good thing only Edward had overheard.

It was Edward who then brought the song to its conclusion just a moment later.

And suddenly, shockingly, it was over.

Everything I had, everything I was, had been laid bare for all to see. My moment on stage, my chance to tell my story, was complete. Months, years of preparation had gone into this hour, and it was over. It was stunning to consider.

My audience, luckily, had a different reaction than shock regarding the conclusion of the program. They loudly thanked me with cheers and applause and shouts in poor Italian, Encore and Bravo! I thanked them in return, with my grateful bows, acknowledging Edward, who had played brilliantly throughout, and Garrett, as well.

I headed off-stage before the applause died down, luxuriating in the sound.

The next hour was nothing but chaos in the form of congratulations and hugs and flowers and receptions.

And when I was certain I could no longer stand on my own two high-heeled feet a moment longer, I was held up still longer by Garrett and Edward who alternated in standing behind me providing strength. Finally, the last of the crowds died away, and I was free to collapse.

I fell into the nearest chair, more than a little determined to go to sleep there for at least a week. However, Garrett pulled me to my feet.

"I'll get her home," he told Edward, who nodded in response.

I gave Edward one last hug, thanking him again for his beautiful playing and the energy he too had poured into the program.

"My pleasure, Kate," he whispered in my ear. "And... give him a chance?"

I groaned. Edward thought Garrett and I had something special and was always wishing we would stop dancing around it and instead just give in. Sometimes I wished he'd just keep his mouth shut and play the damn piano. I was quite certain no one could possibly understand the full complexity of our relationship besides us. Edward's vision of us suddenly declaring ourselves to each other and then running off into the sunset was an impossibility.

I sighed, and let Edward go, envying his black and white understanding of life and love.

Garrett swooped me up in his arms, with reckless disregard for the future of my gown and the inordinate number of bobby pins stuck in my hair creating an elaborate updo. I giggled despite myself.

"Alright, Princess, do you want to go out and celebrate or...?" he asked.

I shook my head. "Home, please."

"Your wish is my command," he replied carrying me out to his car.

A short ride later and he pulled up in front of my tiny off-campus studio apartment. "Come up?" I asked.

"Of course," he replied. This was nothing unusual. He was my best friend, and spent many a day and night at my place. Sometimes he stayed over, but for us, a sleepover meant actual sleep and nothing more.

We headed up the stairs and I unlocked the door to let us in. He immediately toed off his shoes, removed his suit jacket, untucked his shirt, and pulled off his tie, tossing the items over a nearby chair.

"Unzip?" I asked, presenting him with my back.

He did and, without my asking him, he headed out to the kitchenette to gather a few items for a quick snack. It also provided me with a shred of privacy to change in the small space.

As quickly as possible, I stepped out of my intricate gown and the complicated infrastructure otherwise known as pantyhose and a pushup bra and into shorts and a tank top. By the time Garrett turned back to me, I'd hung up my dress, and was starting to pull the pins out of my long hair. I'd largely refused hairspray, so it was manageable, but barely. I went to dig in the bathroom for a hair tie, figuring I deserved to have it off my neck after all that I'd done that day. I returned to find Garrett sitting on the floor, leaning against my bed, munching on slices of a peeled and divided orange. Two mugs of tea and honey sat nearby, singers' elixir, as well as two chocolate chip cookies he'd swiped from the earlier reception.

I collapsed next to him and claimed a slice of the orange before he devoured it all.

He fed me a second slice, which I accepted gratefully. The sweet juice felt wonderful in my throat.

"You chose the set on purpose," he commented after we'd sat in silence for a few moments, referring to the duets we'd performed.

"Of course," I agreed. Every piece of music was selected with absolute care. Any lie to that end would be futile.

"It's interesting what you think of me, of us," he mused.

"It's not what I think, it's what Brahms composed," I said somewhat uncomfortably. "You know I love Brahms," I added defensively.

"Kate, you chose the music for a reason. It's not just what Brahms thinks, it's what you think and you know it," he replied.

I looked at the ground. "Maybe a little. But it isn't what I think, it's what I know."

"You don't know anything," he muttered, a little angry.

I barely resisted the urge to snort. I knew. After all these years, I knew all right. We'd been joined at the hip but not the lip for the past three years. In moments of weakness, I admit to myself that it wasn't all that I desired, but he'd never wanted to attempt anything more. So he'd dated and slept with others while his only meaningful relationship was with me. Sometimes I was certain I saw through him, and caught glimpses of hunger in his eyes as he watched me. I'd called him on it, and he hadn't denied it. But we weren't together.

I couldn't walk away. He was my best friend, and I didn't want to. I made do with what he could give, taking it gratefully. And even though his one-night stands shared a part of him I couldn't, I still preferred my own role. They knew him physically, and while imagining what that would be like practically made me drool, I chose knowing him as a person. If platonic love was all he would give, that was fine.

I took a sip of my tea.

"Well, I thought I had a pretty good idea. If I'm wrong, you'd better fill me in," I finally replied in a mildly snarky tone.

"I just wonder why you feel I'm not good enough," he said calmly.

I looked up from the carpet I'd been picking at. "What are you talking about?"

"Well, think about what we sang. In the first piece, you would rather have remained a nun instead of choosing me. In the second, it was pretty blatant that no matter how I beg, I wasn't good enough for you to let me in. In the third, you announce that my feelings are as insubstantial as some fog or some smog or something, and then in the end, you seem pretty adamant that I'm not worth your attention, choosing to be so independent that, at the end of the day, you won't even let me in the door. I just wonder how you could think those things."

I gaped at him. "What the hell were you singing?"

"The same songs as you, I'm pretty sure. You should know, you picked them," he said somewhat coldly.

"You obviously need to work on your German translation," I countered. "That's not what the songs said at all."

"There's nothing wrong with my German" he said. "Aber du würdest es nicht verstehen, wie man liebt, egal in welcher Sprache."

I glared at him, having studied French and Italian, but not German enough to understand that last bit.

I found it extremely unsettling to know we'd come to such vastly different understandings of the same music, the same words. It made me wonder if that wasn't the only thing we viewed differently.

"Just curious, what did you think the lyrics meant?" he asked after a moment.

"Well, not that," I replied, suddenly very self-conscious of my interpretations. It had taken enough guts to communicate what I'd thought in song. If I could have spit it out during a conversation I would have done it long ago.

But he was as obstinate as I was.

"Tell me," he said quietly.

I shook my head.

He reached over and touched my chin, urging me to look at him. "Kate, I think this may be important."

I swallowed, overwhelmed. "Fine. Why do you always treat me as untouchable? And it's not like you ever begged for me. Why would you? And you like to claim you love me but then you date all those other girls... and... and..." I couldn't even finish, tears that threatened when I started my mini-rant had now spilled over and I was quickly becoming a red-faced snotty mess. "Look, it's been a really long day, I can't do this. I'm exhausted."

I turned away and tried to gather the energy to get up and grab a tissue when Garrett handed me a napkin. I sniffled and accepted it gratefully, tucking myself under his outstretched arm. He lightly kissed the top of my head.

"You know that I love you, don't you? At least tell me you know that," he said in a low voice.

"Sure," I hiccuped and blew my nose. "Like a sister."

He groaned. "Tell me you're joking? God, Kate. If you think I love you like that, it's only because you won't let me care about you any other way. I mean, just tell me, why am I not good enough? And what am I supposed to do? If you don't love me, you don't. But god, does that mean I shouldn't date anyone else either? That's not fair."

"Are you kidding me? Hi pot, meet kettle. You're black already! You won't let anyone near me, but you don't want me either. And that's crazy that you think you aren't good for me. How on earth could you think that after all this time?" I was getting angry now, my tears turning to something resembling rage. I was emotionally drained already and he was pushing me too far with his "I love you" bullshit.

"Kate, for god's sake, that's not why guys stay away," he said.

"Fuck you! Get out!" I cried, twisting myself from him and scrambling across the room. How could he say such a hurtful thing? My head hurt and I was exhausted and he was choosing now to pick a fight and rip me to shreds.

"No, let me finish," he demanded, standing up and crossing the room toward me.

"Get out!" I repeated. "Get out, get out, GET OUT!"

"Kate, please," he said quietly. "Just listen—"

"Get. Out. Of. My. Life," I growled.

"Don't do this," he pleaded, ignoring my demand and instead walking closer to me until he reached out and grabbed my arms. "Kate, I love you."

"You don't. You don't! Stop saying that. Quit toying with me," I snarled, pulling my arms free and pushing him away.

"Kate, people stay away because they know that it is supposed to be you and I. Everyone knows it. Why won't you love me?" he asked.

He had to be kidding me. Of course I loved him. But hell if I was going to let him know that. He was screwing with me. Again. Just like always. I choked back a sob.

"I love you. I'm not toying with you. Why won't you believe that?" he pleaded.

"You don't, stop saying it. Please," I turned away and walked to the chair where he'd set his things. I moved to hand him his coat. "You need to go."

"God. Just... Let me in. Please. I love you," he took his coat but just dropped it back on the chair. "This? This is me begging."

I glanced up at him. He looked almost in tears himself. Good. Serves him right. But then suddenly his expression changed. "Don't you love me?" he asked, his voice suddenly stone cold. "I always thought you just had trouble saying it. But if you really don't, then I'll go."

"Fuck you," I whispered. Of course I loved him. How could he not know that? Why was he making me say it?

"Kate, please. Yes or no?" he asked firmly.

I hedged before finally giving in. Had I no sense of self-preservation?

"Fine. Yes, of course I fucking love you. There," I spit out.

"Fine. And I love you. So why do we do this to each other?" he asked, looking rather bewildered.

"Because I don't believe you," I answered.

"That's because you're crazy," he said with a soft smile. "Do you realize you've never told me that you love me before?"

Hadn't I? I shook my head in an attempt to think clearly. I must have said so. Or at least, I indicated as much in every word and action I'd made in the last three years. He had to have known... But that was beside the point. "I'm not crazy. If you actually loved me you'd kiss me and stop dating those other girls," I argued.

"Done," he said, walking quickly over to me. "Kate..." he breathed, wiping a tear from the corner of my eye before placing his lips lightly on mine in a soft, sweet kiss. I pulled back, mostly in disbelief.

"Why'd you wait so long if you...if you felt that way?" I sniffed, still unable to say it, believe it.

"I didn't think you wanted me to," he said.

"And you called me crazy," I shook my head in wonder.

And then he kissed me again, harder this time.

After a moment, I pushed him away. "I'm a mess. I'm covered in snot and way too much makeup from the concert and I know I look like a raccoon at this point. Let me go wash my face, okay?"

"No, stay," he pleaded.

"I'm covered in glitter. I'm getting it all over you," I frowned, removing a piece off his cheek. I'd worn it so I'd glisten under the stage lights.

"So we'll both sparkle, I don't care. You're beautiful all red-faced and snotty," he countered.

"Stop, you're always teasing me," I pouted a bit.

"I'm not teasing. I mean, I am, a little bit. But it's true. You're beautiful," he explained.

I tried to push him away. He kissed me a third time.

"Why won't you believe I'm attracted to you?" he asked, grabbing my hand. "Here, now do you believe me?" he stared into my eyes as he pressed my hand against his chest, and then ran it down until I felt him, unmistakably hard beneath my hand.

I blinked. "Me?" How was it possible that my snotty, raccoon-eyed self made him hard?

He groaned. "Always you. Have you seriously never noticed?"

I shook my head. I tried to avoid looking at him there. It was dangerous for me.

He removed his hand from mine, but I left my hand pressed against him, and this time I turned my mouth up to meet his, parting my lips. I unconsciously pressed against him harder when my tongue met his, earning me a slight moan from Garrett.

I felt his hands on my ass as we kissed, but he slowly moved them upwards, until he ran them along my back beneath my tank top. Eventually, I released him and took a step back so that I could breathe for a moment.

I watched him unbutton his dress shirt and toss it onto the chair with his jacket. But it wasn't enough, so I reached for him, and pulled his undershirt up until I couldn't reach any higher. He finished pulling it over his head.

God, he was beautiful. And he was motioning for me to do the same, to remove my own tank top. I took a deep breath and lifted my arms in the air, allowing him to pull the shirt over my head himself.

When he finished and had tossed it to the floor, I pressed up against him to move from his glare.

"Kate, you're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen," he said with something akin to awe in his voice.

"Sure, now you tell me," I grumbled, and reached my arms around his neck and tilted my head up to kiss him.

His pulled me to him, and I was dragged along as he started stepping backward until he hit the bed. He sat and then backed up on the bed, pulling me on top of him. I laughed and started to roll off him, but he held me in place over him. His lips kissed down my neck and along my shoulder, and he slowly pressed his open mouth along my collarbone. I sighed at the feeling of his lips on my body, my imaginings made real.

Finally, I succeeded in pushing off him, and I rolled onto my back. He stood quickly, and pulled off his dress pants while I watched. He then knelt on the bed between my bent legs and leaned over me, his hands experimentally touching my breasts for the first time. And when he pressed his lips to my chest, I found myself unable to hold back the moan that escaped my throat. The whole thing, it was so surreal. My mind simply couldn't process that after so many years, Garrett, Garrett had his lips on my nipples. What else could I do but run my hands through his long hair and press him against me.

After a time, I urged him back up to me, craving again his mouth on mine. It was somehow the only part of this that felt real. As we kissed, I felt his hand move to the waistband of my shorts. He stopped kissing me to look into my eyes, seeking approval for what he was about to do next.

I recalled that a few hours earlier, I was singing my heart out about my ability to say no to Garrett, to refuse him. The thought was laughable now. I couldn't remember why I would ever want to.

So I nodded. And he watched my face as he moved his hand beneath my shorts and underwear until he pressed his hand against me, feeling my desire for him. I grabbed his other hand as he did so, pulling it to my chest.

And then he was peeling away my shorts completely, revealing me fully to him. I tried not to squirm under his gaze.

"I think, um, I think you need to take yours off to if we're going to… um..." I trailed off, certain my face was deeply flushed if it hadn't been already.

"You want to... oh, god, Kate. Really?" he asked.

"Haven't we waited long enough?" I replied quietly.

He smiled. "I suppose we have. Let me just... uh, let me just get something." He got off the bed and went to his chair full of personal items and dug around for his wallet. He brought back a condom with him, turning out all the lights but my bedside lamp along the way.

I scootched back on the bed until my head found my pillow, and waited and watched as Garrett approached and stepped out of his boxer-briefs before lying beside me on the bed.

It was my turn to lean over him, and I ran my hand experimentally along him. He was beautiful and perfect...and, um, ample.

And then we were kissing once again, as our hands explored the parts of each other that we'd kept hidden along with our feelings.

"I want you," he murmured, sitting up.

I nodded and picked up the condom he'd set on the bed and handed it to him. "Please."

He accepted it and tore open the package as I settled on my back. "I love you," he said, once he had put it on and was kneeling between my legs.

"I know." It was true. I believed him now. God if he'd just kissed me two years ago it would have saved us both a lot of time. Thinking of this made my need to feel him quite urgent.

"Garret, please," I whispered.

He nodded, and moved over me and into me in short succession. I sucked in air and pulled him tightly against me.

It was overwhelming in the absolute best way combined with his lips, his teeth, his tongue, his hands, as they turned my body to Jell-o. Kate Jell-o. Well, as long as he found it appetizing...

He was good, Garrett was. Toe-curling good. I found myself quickly lost in him. And soon, too soon considering I wanted this to last forever, I was coming, arching beneath him as his hand ran over my body. I closed my eyes and let the sensations sweep through me.

When I was able to open my eyes again, I smiled softy at Garrett who picked up his pace. Soon he too tensed and came. I was certain I'd never seen anything more beautiful than the look he wore as he let himself go in me.

I brushed his hair out of his eyes as his breathing slowed.

All too soon, he left me and went to the bathroom. I wondered if I should have been concerned that he hadn't said a word in... well, since before we'd had sex. He just stared at me, but never uttered a word. But before I could dwell on it, he'd returned to my bed.

I curled up on my side and felt him behind me, his arm over my side, his hand on my stomach. I tried to worry about his lack of talking, but was simply too tired. But as I was dozing off, finally letting my absolute exhaustion take over, I heard Garrett whisper his love, just before he began humming. I recognized the tune immediately; it was his verse of Es rauschet das Wasser.

The waters are rushing, the clouds dissolving;
Yet the stars remain: they wander and drift.
And so it happens as well with true love,
It sways and stirs but changes not.

And I understood. Words had given us trouble; music was our language. We spoke it beautifully.

Aber du würdest es nicht verstehen, wie man liebt, egal in welcher Sprache.
But you wouldn't understand how one loves, no matter the language.

Johannes Brahms, 4 Duets, Opus 28

1.Die Nonne und der Ritter

Da die Welt zur Ruh' gegangen,
Wacht mit Sternen mein Verlangen,
In der Kühle muß ich lauschen,
Wie die Wellen unten rauschen!

"Fernher mich die Wellen tragen,
Die ans Land so traurig schlagen,
Unter deines Fensters Gitter,
Fraue, kennst du noch den Ritter?"

Ist's doch, als ob seltsam' Stimmen
Durch die lauen Lüfte schwimmen;
Wieder hat's der Wind genommen, -
Ach, mein Herz ist so beklommen!

"Drüben liegt dein Schloß verfallen,
Klagend in den öden Hallen,
Aus dem Grund der Wald mich grüßte,
's war, als ob ich sterben müßte."

Alte Klänge blühend schreiten;
Wie aus lang versunknen Zeiten
Will mich Wehmut noch bescheinen,
Und ich möcht' von Herzen weinen.

"Überm Walde blitzt's von weiten,
Wo um Christi Grab sie streiten;
Dorthin will mein Schiff ich wenden,
Da wird alles, alles enden!"

Geht ein Schiff, ein Mann stand drinnen,
Falsche Nacht, verwirrst die Sinne!
Welt Ade! Gott woll' bewahren,
Die noch irr im Dunkeln fahren!

The Nun and the Knight

As the world goes to rest,
my yearning awakens with the stars;
I must listen in the cool
as the waves roar below!

"I am brought here from far away by waves
that beat so mournfully against the land,
beneath the bars of your window.
Lady, do you still know this Knight?"

It is as if strange voices
are floating through the mild air;
once again the wind has taken them away, -
alas, my heart is so anxious!

"Over there lies your ruined castle
lamenting in its desolate halls;
the way the woods greeted me,
I felt as though I must die."

Old sounds burst forth,
sunk long since in time;
melancholy falls on me once again,
and I feel like weeping from my heart.

"Over the wood lightning flashes from afar,
where they are fighting over the grave of Christ;
There will I steer my ship,
and there will everything end!"

A ship leaves with a man upon it;
false night, you bewilder the mind!
Farewell, world! May God protect
those who wander madly in darkness!

2.Vor der Tür

Tritt auf den Riegel von der Tür,
Wie gern käm ich herein,
Um dich zu küssen.

"Ich laß dich nicht herein.
Schleich immer heim ganz sacht
Auf deinen Füssen."

Wohl kann ich schleichen sacht
Wie Mondenschein,
Steh nur auf, laß mich ein:
Das will ich von dir haben.

O Mägdlein, dein'n Knaben
Laß ein!

At the Door

Pull the bolt back from the door
how gladly I would come in
to kiss you.

"I won't let you in.
Creep away home,
treading ever so softly."

I can creep as softly
as moonlight;
but stand up and let me in -
this I do ask of you.

O maiden, let your
lad come in!

3.Es rauschet das Wasser

Es rauschet das Wasser
Und bleibet nicht stehn;
Gar lustig die Sterne
Am Himmel hin gehn;
Gar lustig die Wolken
Am Himmel hin ziehn;
So rauschet die Liebe
Und fähret dahin.

Es rauschen die Wasser,
Die Wolken zergehn;
Doch bleiben die Sterne,
Sie wandeln und stehn
So auch mit der Liebe,
Der treuen, geschicht,
Sie wegt sich, sie regt sich,
Und ändert sich nicht.

The Water Rushes

The water rushes and will not stay still;
The stars pass merrily in the sky,
The clouds advance merrily in the sky,
And so Love rushes and wanders there.

The waters are rushing, the clouds dissolving;
Yet the stars remain: they wander and drift.
And so it happens as well with true love,
It sways and stirs but changes not.

4. Der Jäger und sein Liebchen

Ist nicht der Himmel so blau?
Steh am Fenster und schau!
Erst in der Nacht,
Spät in der Nacht
Komm' ich heim von der Jagd.

"Anders hab' ich gedacht,
Tanzen will ich die Nacht!
Bleib vor der Tür,
Spät vor der Tür
Willst du nicht tanzen mit mir!"

Mädchen, der Himmel ist blau,
Bleib am Fenster und schau.
Bis in der Nacht,
Spät in der Nacht,
Heim ich kehr' von der Jagd.

"Ist auch der Himmel so blau,
Steh' ich doch nimmer und schau'
Ob in der Nacht,
Spät in der Nacht
Heim du kehrst von der Jagd."

The Hunter and his Love

Isn't the sky so blue?
Stand at the window and look!
Not until night,
late at night,
will I come home from the hunt.

"But I planned differently -
I want to dance tonight.
You'll stay outside the door,
late, outside the door
if you will not dance with me!"

Maiden, the sky is blue -
stay at the window and look.
Until night,
late at night,
I will return home from the hunt.

"The sky may be blue,
but I will never stay and look,
if at night,
late at night
you return home from the hunt."