Title: Music of the Heart
Challenge: Prompt Bingo on LJ
Prompt: Noise
Summary: [Heart, Gowland / Alice] Music is a gift to the soul... a curse to the ears... and a product of the heart.
Rating: PG-13
Author's Notes: Here I was looking back through some of the fics I've written and I realized I hadn't done a proper Gowland ficlet yet. O.o I rectified the problem. This would probably fit in somewhere post-ball on his route.

. o . o . o . o . o . o .

The piano keys were different from what she was used to. Too many whites and not enough blacks for a spread that numbered three more than she knew what to do with. Middle C was actually somewhere a bit left of center. And, it seemed that no amount of tuning would make the notes struck by the hammers hit the proper pitches.

But, despite her best efforts to the contrary, Alice found herself becoming refamiliarized with the instrument she'd abandoned so long ago. If only to save her own ears from a violent, shrieking death.

"Amazing!" Gowland watched her fingers move over the keys, positively enraptured. Leaning slightly up against the side of the oddly shaped grand piano, he reached forward to tilt the sheet music back in his direction. Trying to find where she was in the score as he beamed proudly. "I still can't believe you'd keep quiet about having such an amazing musical gift!"

"Ahh, wait, Gowland! Don't move the music while I'm still trying to read it!" Alice protested. Her fingers stumbled over a handful of eighth notes only to land on a sharp so out of tune it made her wince. "I won't be able to play if you do that."

"Sorry!" Hurriedly setting the papers back into place, he gave her a bashful grin. "My bad."

"Besides." She added softly, hunching further over the keyboard. "It's not all that amazing because I'm really not all that good."

"Oh, but you are good, Alice." He insisted, frowning that she would suggest otherwise. "You play better than anyone I've ever heard! Heck, you're much better than I am."

That, Alice twitched at the thought, wasn't exactly a compliment.

Still.

"Anyone can play children's hymns." She pointed out bluntly. Stepping just a touch more forcefully on the pedal than was needed, she shook her head. "That's not really a talent."

"Anyone can play," he allowed. One hand moved to rub the stubble at his chin thoughtfully. "But there's a difference between playing and making music."

"What do you mean?" Alice's fingers slowed as she tried, and failed, to work out the logic of his statement. "They're the same thing aren't they?"

"They're not."

She scowled. Her playing stopped altogether as she pulled back from the keys to shoot him a confused frown.

Seeing her expression, Gowland gave a good natured chuckle. Stepping away from the side of the piano, the Amusement Park owner moved to join her on the tiny bench. Legs stretched out casually in front of him, he adjusted his glasses and glanced sidelong at the girl.

"Playing comes from up here." He pointed a finger towards his temple in explanation. "But music, now that comes from in here."

Leaning over, he tapped Alice lightly on the chest to indicate the oddity that was her beating heart, a small smile falling into place on his lips. He gave another soft snort of laughter. One brow arched up teasingly.

"So I suppose it only makes sense that the music you play is beautiful, hm?"

"Gowland, you..." Unable to come up with a proper response, Alice blushed. A low, affectionate sigh escaping her lips, she shook her head lightly. "Idiot."

"What?" He blinked. "Hey, wait! Why am I an idiot? Alice-"

He cut off with a sharp, decidedly unmanly squeak as, after a quick bit of determined scooting Alice usurped his position on the bench. Her skirts riding up in an equally unladylike fashion as she twisted around to throw her legs over the back of the seat, straddling him with with a mischievous grin. She tugged playful on his braid.

"If that's the case," she told him wryly. "Then your music is more beautiful than anything I could play."

Because, for all his tone deafness, Gowland threw more heart into his violin than any other musician she'd ever seen. Even if the resulting racket made her want to cut off her own ears.

"Er..." He cleared his throat. His hands held awkwardly over the girl in his lap as a light pink flush dusted his cheeks. "I am rather good on the violin; but, on the path to mastery, I'd have to say I'm still a just beginner really-"

Gowland ground to a halt. Inhaling sharply as she stretched up, her hands pressing lightly against his chest, to brush a kiss over his adam's apple.

"Much more beautiful." She insisted, planting a second kiss at the corner of his mouth before grinning impishly up at him. A teasing glint lit her eyes and she continued airily. "I mean, why listen to me play at all? We may as well just listen to you."

A third kiss was left hovering, tauntingly, just out of reach over his own lips as Gowland's control held a beat or two longer, then broke.

Lips crashing into hers, he made low, incoherent sound. The bench jostled, screeching against the tile floor, as he bent the girl over his arm in an exaggerated fashion until she bumped lightly into the piano keyboard.

Pulling back at the discordant clash of notes, he looked down at Alice, a crooked grin twisting into place on his lips as he chuckled. His eyebrows gave a suggestive wiggle.

"Really Alice, if you want to hear me play that badly, we could always just make it a duet."