A/N: This is the first of a series of chapters I've written following different stages throughout 2D and Noodle's relationship, beginning with friendship and ending in a possible pairing. I do not hold moral to the support of pairing these two whilest in Phases 1 and 2, however I believe that their relationship grows from there. Each chapter is based off of my own P.O.V's and opinions, but also closely follows the actual progression and phases of Gorillaz. If you do not support 2DXNoodle, then please do not read.
Make note that some of the translations I have offered from Japanese to English may not be completely accurate. However, I did my best.
[I do not own any of these characters. They belong to their rightful brilliant creators; Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn. Their music labels; Parlophone, Virgin, and EMI. And the amazing people behind Zombie Flesh Eaters.]
Please enjoy reading!
It is said that even the smallest of pieces, despite the distance from which each are strung, can in time accumulate and grow into a solid whole. The small pieces make up a larger image, unclear in the beginning, but slowly gaining clarity given the proper stretch.
Sometimes it is the most important things in life that start out small.
November 23rd, 2001
Lightening. Continuous… The brewing storms were rampant this time of year. Like clockwork they began around 8:43 each night and pummeled the world until dawn. Kong Studios was already an unpleasant place to live without adding nature's fury attacking the walls. In all sincerity, a man could go mad living under these conditions, a young Stuart Pot, now known better as 2D, came to realize. He never gave much thought to the weather, but even he found himself having trouble sleeping at night with all the ruckus going on outside.
Despite the bitter surroundings, 2D was happy to be back on familiar grounds. Gorillaz had just returned a couple weeks prior from band promotion, recording of music videos, and traveling about Europe doing interviews and cavorting with the media about their ground-breaking debut album. Needless to say they were all exhausted and deserved a break, so they were spending the holiday season at Kong.
Oh yes, it was good to be back in his own room, no matter how disturbing everything else beyond his little cocoon of a boodwar was. On these eerily stormy nights, he spent the young hours of the morn tooling away at his keyboards, scribbling down lyrics and forming tunes with his melodica. Despite the half-watt mind Murdoc seemed to dub him, 2D had brains enough to hold rights to some composer skills. After all, Muds wasn't the only one who worked on the foundation for the first album, whether anyone knew that or not.
Oh well, it mattered little what the Satanist bass player thought at the moment. 2D was lost in his own world, digging away at the crevices of his intellect for the perfect collaboration of melody and lyric. The scribbled piece he'd been working on for a night or two was nothing more than a couple words on a ripped notebook page with a coffee stain splattered across some of the ink. The vocabulary didn't make enough sense to be a complete verse, but at least he had the makings of a semi-decent introduction. Working on this held very little purpose to him except to pass the time while he couldn't sleep, but upon starting to write the few nights before, 2D felt the striving urge to finish what he had started. This particular night was no exception, and while the raging storm shook Kong's frame, 2D sat on the floor of his room adrift in creative thought.
It wasn't until he heard a few beeping noises from one of his retro computers sounding off 3:00 a.m. that he noticed the familiar pang of a fresh headache brewing in his temple. It had come to pass that the recent nightly storms hadn't been the only culprit in the theft of his sleep. Stu had regularly suffered from sever headaches since childhood, made worse thanks to Murdoc and the two sever vehicular assaults. For these reasons, he always kept bottle upon bottle of pain-killers on hand.
He reached for a nearby dosage, only to find it empty. He heaved a sigh and let the container slide out of his fingers. He knew it wouldn't have mattered if he had a few more pills lying around or not, they never seemed to work as well as they were supposed to. A cure for his migraines, or even a source of relief, had yet to be discovered. He dealt with them as best he could, most of the time simply by ignoring the pain.
F#, A, G, F#, E, D, A….. He played some notes on his keyboard. The tune was cheerful, but the lyrics would be forlorn and delicate. He couldn't quite place it, but he knew he wanted the words to be geared towards something or someone else, reminiscent of their presence.
"Up on a lonesome hill, there's an imitation tree….. Where I don't want to be…" He read some of his jots out loud, chewing on the eraser of his pencil. "Watching the day pass by, lost in a dream….Hmm."
The process of writing lyrics took a lot of pre-meditated contemplation. One had to be able to mingle the right atmosphere with tune and language. If even the slightest element was unbalanced, the whole song would fall apart.
He tried singing the words along with his notes….
"Up on a lonesome hill, there's an imitation tree…..
Where I don't want to be…
Watching the day pass by, lost in a drea- Daah, its gettin' all jumbled!"
His headache was now throbbing as he erased some of the lyrics in frustration. He leaned back and lay on the floor, staring at the ceiling. "There's gotta be some IB 'round here somewhere….I can't hardly hear myself think."
The quiet of the room settled in on him. He breathed in and out and felt his hallow eyes grow heavy. Perhaps tonight wasn't the best night for writing shabby lyrics to a shabby song that will surely sit in his drawer for all of shabby eternity. Just as he felt his eyelids ceil shut, thunder rolled in from outside and made the walls creek. He sat up and placed a hand over his eyes, rubbing his temples. "…Who am I kiddin', I ain't gettin a wink of sleep with all that sodding racket."
As he mumbled this, a duet of thunder and a knock at his door made him jump.
He stared over at his bedroom door, listening carefully. A few seconds passed before another couple light knocks were heard. Who on earth could be coming to his room at this hour? Whoever it was, he knew it couldn't be Muds. The drunkard would have just barged in, paying no heed to knocking.
2D crawled over to the door and reached for the handle. "Who is it?"
Now he felt uneasy. Perhaps it was Murdoc after all, this felt like a trick being conjured. It could have even been Russel! Hell, both of them could have been at it, trying to scare the shit out of him.
"C'mon fellas, knock it off. It's way too late for this."
He waited a few more seconds. Just as he was about to give up and return to his keyboard, thunder bellowed again, this time in a massive roar. Almost immediately, several more desperate knocks were heard on his door.
Exasperated, he opened it. "Fine. I'll play yeh dumb game, bunch of-" He was stopped mid-sentence by the sight of a very vacant-looking corridor outside his room. He looked left and right, puzzled. There appeared to be no one there, until a small "Um.." was heard.
"Eh?" 2D looked down to see a small, trembling girl, her eyes fixed on the ground. Standing at a mere 4'0 ft, he had barley noticed she was there.
"Noodle? What are yeh doin' here?"
She peeked up at him through her dark bangs. "2D-san…."
"You should be in bed, yeah? It's well past 3am! Yeh need some water or somethin'?"
"2D-san…onegai.." (Translation: "2D….please.")
He blinked. "Huh?"
Thunder crashed once more and Noodle pushed her way into his room quickly, having no more patience in waiting for an invitation.
2D looked baffled.
Young Noodle tugged and twisted the side of her night gown, keeping her eyes to the floor. "Gomen-nasai….demo…" (Translation: "I'm so sorry…but…")
2D stood there awkwardly. "Are yeh scared of the storm? Never seemed to bother yeh before."
Noodle didn't respond. She seemed to look a bit embarrassed. He noticed this and scratched his chin, trying to think of what to say. "It's alright, everyone's got stuff they're scared'a sometimes."
He struggled to think of more to say. "Reckon yeh was just pretendin' not to be scared during all the other storms?"
She raised her head now, giving him a look that seemed to say, "Please don't tell anyone!"
He grinned slightly. "No worries, yeh secret's safe with me!"
It was difficult to communicate with the Japanese child. 2D and the rest of the band members tried to pick up on phrases she often said, and vise versa. But when it came down to having a full conversation, they were all fairly stumped…2D especially, who already had enough trouble sometimes understanding himself.
He continued to feel the throbbing headache in his temple and sighed, occasionally glancing away from Noodle to look about the room for any random bottle of pain killers.
She seemed to calm down after a moment, which relieved the tall vocalist. He gave up on his pill search to continue speaking with her.
"So…yeh need an escort back to yeh room?" He pointed towards the door.
Noodle now took a step backward. Whatever her blue-haired band mate was saying, the motion towards the doorway wasn't a good sign."….Watashi wa todo matte moi ka?" (Translation: "Can I stay?")
2D seemed to catch the hint. He rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. "I know these storms can get pretty freaky, blud. But I think it'd be best if yeh went back to yeh own room. Turn on some music or somethin', how about puttin' on some'a them headphones Russ gave yeh?"
Noodle lowered her head. Language barrier or not, what he was trying to say was clear enough to her. She knew herself that it was strange showing up at his door…. she struggled to remember why she ended up there in the first place. She peeked up to watch as he slunk down and sat on the floor beside her, his lanky knees bending upward.
He looked over at her. She scooted backwards a bit further from him, and then hesitantly nestled her legs beneath her and sat geisha style.
For a few minutes things were quiet, except for the pounding of the heavy rain outside.
Despite the humbling silence, 2D's headache was quickly turning into a migraine. He tried to ignore it.
"Tell yeh what; yeh can stay with me for a lil while…But then its back to bed with yeh." He proposed.
Noods stared at her hands in her lap and then nodded. Whatever he had said sounded like something she could agree to.
As to not allow anymore uncomfortable stillness to settle in, 2D began fumbling around where he had been working, gathering his chicken-scratched lyrics and keeping an eye out for his pain killers.
Noodle studied him from her spot on the floor, watching as he bundled a huge wad of papers, plus his melodica, all between his arms and attempted to transport it all to a new location. Suddenly he tripped over a cord protruding from one of his multi-plugs, which killed one of the lights on the other side of the room, causing him to topple over. Everything in his arms scattered everywhere.
Noodle felt her lips curve into a grin, trying to hold back a chuckle. Something about the singer's spill reminded her why she had come to his room in the first place: His ability to lighten any mood was unparalleled.
2D noticed her perking up as he peeled himself off the floor. "I meant to do that." The gap between his two front teeth shone as he smiled.
Noodle felt she was idling and decided to assist him in collecting the scattered papers. Upon picking up a few documents she couldn't read, beneath one of her feet appeared a lyric + cord sheet. She picked it up and read the music to herself, imagining the tune. She hadn't heard it before.
2D examined the floor. Where on earth had his lyrics gone to? And why couldn't he find just one bottle of pills?
When he noticed that Noodle had found his lyrics, he felt slightly panicked. No one else had seen them except him. He hadn't really planned on showing the in-progress peice to anyone, whether he finished it or not. Perhaps she couldn't read English, but she was fluent in music!
Noods peered up at him and pointed at the paper, questioning in silence why she had never heard it before.
2D plucked it out of her grasp and stared down at it. She saw his cheeks flush a bit. "This is…this is nothin' important! Just nonsense, really."
Noodle cocked her head. "Naii Gorillaz ja no ta shikashi, 2D-san no utaka tabun kei saku ka? (Translation: "Not a Gorillaz song, but a 2D-san song? Perhaps a masterpiece?")
He stared at her with narrow eyes, wishing like hell that he could understand even an ounce of what she was saying. He heard his name in the foreign sentence…that must have meant she was aware that he had written the music. He also heard 'Gorillaz.'
"….Yes, uhhh… it's my song. Mmm, not rightfully sure if it'll ever amount to anythin' worth recording. Not really the sound Gorillaz are going for, is it?"
Noodle gave a small smile, before reaching forward and taking the sheet of lyrics back. After she sat silently studying the music for a few minutes, she began to hum the tune out loud.
2D let out a quick breath as she did this.
Right as she was approaching the second set of notes, thunder rolled in like a brawling giant across the mountainside, cutting Noodle off. She yelped and dropped the paper to the ground.
2D chewed on his lip, looking concerned. He had never actually seen the small Japanese girl show so much fear in something. Here they were living at Kong, with all the negative energy, zombies, and eerie hauntings, not to mention Murdoc's constant Satanism letting in God knows what into the studio, and instead of all that, she's afraid of something as ordinary as thunder.
"I'm sorry no one ever came to yeh rescue, Noods. Did yeh think we'd think less'a yeh or somethin'? Yeh didn't have to do that, yeh could'a come and seen me or Russ. -Or Murdoc I guess, but I don't know why yeh'd ever want to do tha-"
Another crash of thunder and lightening came, interrupting 2D's long and unnecessary rant. Noodle shrieked, kneeling down to the floor and hugging her arms around herself.
2D was beside himself. He really wasn't the best when it came to calming people down. Usually he was the one freaking out about something. He also wasn't good with kids, or at least he thought he wasn't. He had grown up an only child and Noodle was the closest thing to a kid he'd ever really experienced. Noodle never reminded him much of a little girl, despite only being 8 when she arrived in the big Fed-Ex crate on Kong's doorstep. She was always so quiet, keeping to herself most of the time…disregarding the fact that she only spoke Japanese and lived in a house of older, English-speaking men. It would have seemed like she would have by now run a muck or broken down from lack of discipline and care. But she was so much more mature than that. She was like a miniature adult; always so responsible. Surely she could have taken care of herself if she had to. Now that he thought about it, she more or less must have been taking care of herself that whole time. Russel was there for her, but he was only 25 and had his own agenda to keep. Noodle had no real parental guidance…she had no one to really tell her what was right or wrong, to comfort her when she was afraid, or talk to her when she needed company. And yet she acted as well-mannered and established as any family-oriented, primed and proper young lady should…. give or take a few guitarist moments, Karate kicks, or excitement when the curtains rose at a gig.
Watching her tremble on the floor was 2D's first time seeing her react to something as a child would.
He struggled with his tired and aching brain to think of something to get her mind off the thunder. What had he liked as a kid? What had his mother or father done to calm him down when he was afraid of something?
He glanced down at the cord sheet now lying on the floor beneath Noodle's knees.
An idea struck him. He reached for the paper and glanced over it, peeking back at the still-shaking Noodle. She had her eyes tightly closed.
He set the cords down on a mini sheet-music stand, placed one hand down and brushed his fingertips across the keys of one of his keyboards.
A small bit of thunder rolled in the background, as if to cue the music.
All at once, he began to play the tune he had conjured. The same tune she had been humming before.
Noodle opened her eyes and peeked over at 2D, who was sitting on the floor across from her. He played his keyboard with the skill of a true pianist, quickly inventing a few opening twists to add to the simple tune he had written. Finally, he opened his mouth to sing the lyrics with his melodic voice.
"Up on a lonesome hill, there's an imitation tree…..
Where I don't want to be…
Watching the day pass by, lost in a dream…."
He glanced over at her.
Noodle was sitting, intently listening. Damn it, if only he had more of the lyrics written! It was still a work in progress, after all.
He removed his hands from the keyboard. "That's all I got so far."
"Sugoi!" (Translation: "Very good!") Noodle praised softly as she inched closer, trying to glance at the music notes pinned to the stand.
2D was glad to have received his first constructive criticism on the piece of music, whether or not he could understand it. He watched as she read over the music, tapping her chin in deep thought. It was strange to him how in-tune with music she could get herself. It was a gift, really. A gift they both shared, in all sincerity, but he sensed that she held more of the gift than he did.
His elbow accidentally hit a high-pitched note on his keyboard and the sound sent an echo through his brain. He remembered the migraine he had been trying to hide and reached up to rub his head.
Noodle watched him do so. The most prominent thing she had noticed about the singer upon meeting him was that he possessed endless amounts of bottled pills, most of which he popped daily. She discovered on her own that they were for headaches, and that he suffered from them frequently.
"Anata no ksugi oshi nataka?" (Translation: "Lost your medicine?")
Stu looked over at her, half grinning. He had a weak look on his face, as though his attempts to ignore the pain were to no avail.
Noodle's expression was full of innocent concern. He wanted to reply to her, but as always, the language barrier blocked him out.
It surprised him when she stood up and began rummaging through his room. He watched in curiosity as she picked up a prescription bottle she found in a box and examined it. It was empty. She tossed it aside and kept digging.
He was a bit taken back; she was assisting him in the retrieval of antidote for his migraine. Strange, he had never noticed before just how maternal the little girl could be. They had been together under the same roof, recording the first album, and existing in and out of each others lives since late '98, and yet he felt like he hardly knew her.
He stood up and began searching too.
After about 8 minutes of scrounging with no success, 2D sat back down and held his head. "Forget it, Noods. It isn't happenin'. I'll just go to the pharmacy tomorrow or somethin'."
Noodle had been lifting a box to peer beneath it. She glanced over at the English man and tossed the empty cardboard to the floor. "Gomen nai." (Translation: "Sorry.")
2D grinned for a moment and then commenced staring at the ground, trying to think of something to get his mind off the ache.
Noodle rocked back and forth on her heels, before moving closer to the agonized singer.
2D hadn't notice her nearing presence.
Just as he was about to give up on his thoughts and let the pain engulf him as it always did, he felt a hand lay down on his shoulder. He turned and looked beside him to find Noodle there with a concerned, but calm expression. "Daijoubu." (Translation: "It's ok.")
2D peered up at her. When he sat on the floor as he did, legs criss-crossed, he and Noodle were just about the same height. She appeared taller at that moment, though.
It was then that he randomly noticed something odd; His pain had decreased substantially.
Perplexed, he turned away from her, running his hand through his azul hair.
Assuming that he was still in pain, Noodle sat down beside him, continuing to rest her hand on his lofty shoulder above her head now.
For the first time in ages, 2D's mind felt clear and nearly pain-free.
Had he taken a pill earlier and just forgot about it?
He peeked over at Noodle again, who was patiently supporting him.
No, there were no drugs in his system.
Perhaps he was going mad, but could it have been because of Noodle? Was she some sort of natural antidote?
He sat, contemplating this.
Just then, thunder shook the room and Noods quickly grabbed her legs up to her chin again and curled herself into a ball.
2D sighed. The storm still hadn't passed. "Yeh know Noods, this weather might not be goin' anywhere for a while. I know yeh don't want to, but maybe yeh should head back to yeh room? I promise yeh'll be alright, blud!" He motioned towards the door.
Noodle immediately hugged her legs tighter, shaking her head. "Dame desu!" (Translation: "No!")
He knew he wouldn't be able to get her back to her own room easily. She was just as resilient as she was afraid of this storm. Sometimes her stubbornness reminded him of Murdoc. But only slightly.
However, watching her plant herself there on his floor tenaciously gave him notions. ….
All of a sudden, as if one second made all the difference, ideas came flowing to 2D like an avalanche. "Yeh know what?….Hold on a moment." He reached for his lyric sheet, still placed on the music stand, and began scribbling with a pencil. He changed some things around; erasing and replacing notes and lyrics.
Noodle scooted back and watched him write. She could hear a rattle of thunder in the background, and even though she still felt afraid, watching 2D work so diligently reminded her to stay calm and not disturb him.
Long stretches of time passed. The room remained quiet except for 2D's pencil moving across the paper.
The storm had seemed to die down outside, no thunder had been heard for a while. Noodle continued to watch as he worked.
He leaned back to take a look, then turned his head towards her. "Sorry, some great ideas came to me right then!" As he said this, he noticed the fatigue on her face.
"Yeh lookin tired there, love. How's about headin back to yeh room? Sounds like the storm's died down."
Noodle had almost entirely forgotten about the howling wind and thunder. She had enjoyed the peace that fell over her while watching 2D write. But as the clock struck 3:50 a.m., she knew the importance of heading back to her own room, despite not wanting to.
2D stood up and walked her to the door. Opening it carefully, he peered out into the dark corridor. Nothing but vast open hallway and cold air.
Noodle stood, holding onto the edge of her night gown. She looked up at the singer for a moment, then bowed politely.
2D smiled awkwardly. He never understood the whole bowing thing.
Oyasumi-nasai, 2D-san." (Translation: "Goodnight, 2D.")
"Uhh….sleep well Noods!"
She grinned faintly and began to leave the room.
2D let out a sigh of relief as she disappeared, feeling like he had accomplished something.
As the door to his room began to swing shut, a sudden roar of unfriendly thunder rolled in.
The door hadn't shut all the way when Noodle's small hands could be seen pushing it back open and rushing into 2D's room.
2D frowned, watching her quiver beneath his gaze.
"Gomen-nasai…. Gomen-nasai!" (Translation" I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry!")
Noodle felt hopelessly ashamed of her behavior. She had tried so hard to be brave, tried to be like her band mates, tried to act tough and worthy of being in a band made of grown men. But she was, in all actuality, a little girl. And she couldn't pretend to be anything else at a time like this.
2D looked over at the door, and then around the room. He felt unsure what to do. He couldn't send the poor kid back to her room alone when she was so terrified; he hadn't the heart for that! And he very well couldn't go back to her room with her, how strange would that look in the morning? Muds and Russ would tease him for weeks!
He began to ponder a solution. He looked over at his bed, patiently waiting for an occupant in the late hour. He then smiled, having thought of what to do. He turned back to her and rested a hand on her head.
"It's ok, Noods. You can stay here for the night, yeah? I don't mind. I'll just floor it and yeh can sleep in my bed."
Noodle peered up through her teary eyes and tried hard to understand 2D's soft-spoken words. They sounded reassuring and warm. She watched as he walked over to his bed, took off one of the pillows and set it on the floor, then grabbed a nearby blanket, making a nest for himself. Finally, he motioned towards his now vacant divan. "There yeh go!"
Noodle lowered her head, sniffling. She understood now. He was letting her stay! Though she felt a bit uncomfortable with the situation, she was relieved as well.
She timidly approached his bed and then climbed into the sheets. 2D offered her another blanket, but she lifted her palm and shook her head. One was enough for her.
2D nodded. "Alright then, love. I'll let yeh get some sleep. Forget about that sodding storm. It can't do anythin' to hurt yeh."
Noodle relaxed against the pillow beneath her head. For the first time since she had arrived at Kong, she felt like she could let down her guard. Stuart Pot had given her a reason to feel safe, and that was something no one else had offered her in a long time.
2D turned his lamp off, but the flickering lights from all the multi-plugs illuminated bits and pieces of his eccentric room.
He laid down on his make-shift bed on the floor and shut his hallow eyes.
10 minutes or so passed before he re-opened them.
He sat up and turned a smaller work lamp on beside one of his keyboards. He looked over to see Noodle already well asleep. He heard some thunder in the background, but her peaceful expression did not alter.
He looked down at the song he had been working on. Without playing any notes on his keyboard, he sang out loud softly to the quiet room and the sleeping axe-princess.
"Up on melancholy hill, there's a plastic tree.
Are yeh here with me?
Just looking out on the day, of another dream….."
When the silence fell over him again and Noodle hadn't stirred, he picked up a pencil and started writing again. His mind was flowing with great lyrics and notes that couldn't be ignored.
Unable to sleep, he continued to scribble well into the early hours.
The words, the melody, the synch; he had finally found them all. He finished the opening verses by 5:54 a.m. Sitting back, he sang the rest almost in a whisper to himself, looking over at the sleeping Noodle as he did so.
"Well you can't get what yeh want,
But yeh can get me.
So let's sail out to sea, love…
Cause you are my medicine when you're close to me…
When you're close to me."
/Ch. 01 coming soon/