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Academic

Fic: 'Prelude' (11/25)

Title: Prelude
Fandom: The Matrix
Characters: Mouse, Zephyr (OC)
Word Count: 972
Prompt: From fanfic25, 1/25: 'Fate'.

Summary: It's more than hackers who are good at working with keys.

Prelude

Oscar stows the toolbox in the cabinet behind the lighting room, and wipes his brow. An opera house as old as this one, he's always thought, ought to have more going wrong with it. He's not complaining about the lightness of his work; he never complains, and relishes the chance to go down to the pub when he knocks off early, or take a nap in one of the royalty boxes. He's just surprised, that's all.

That happens to him a lot, actually, and it happens again when he hears a few stray notes echo through the hallways backstage. He's pretty sure that nobody else is around this afternoon, and so he dusts his hands on the thighs of his paint-spattered jeans and goes to check it out. Before he's even halfway there, the music stops abruptly, and Oscar is suddenly unsure whether he's just hearing things. The ghost of some composer wandering about, or a memory of an old concert, or something even less interesting than that. Pretty sure that if someone was robbing the place, they wouldn't stop to give a concert, he takes the long way round and enters the auditorium through the main door.

The auditorium sprawls out in front of him, and up on the stage, behind the piano that took Oscar two hours to position for the orchestra's concert on Tuesday, sits a young guy, who idly plays a few more notes. Oscar is about to call up to him when the man launches into an impromptu concert, hitting the keys with an ease better suited to a computer hacker. He kind of looks like a hacker, too, Oscar thinks. Maybe not, maybe just some guy with torn jeans and an untucked shirt. He sits down in one of the seats at the back, quietly, and listens.

Despite his vaguely unkempt appearance, this guy is a master at what he does. He throws himself into the music with increasing force, so that the low notes come bursting from the instrument sounding like a storm. He's nodding his head in time with those notes, the higher pitches rattling out into the theatre, and rattling Oscar with them, too.
Beneath the brim of his winter hat, his eyes are alternately closed, his thoughts absorbed into the music, or staring blankly ahead, as he channels all his energy into making the piano sing. And that's when Oscar recognises him, as the intensity of the music starts to fade. It's Will O'Leary. The soloist has had his name plastered all over the orchestra's posters for weeks. And here he is, giving Oscar a private performance.

Will pauses, and plays the last few bars again before completely stopping.

"That was amazing," Oscar says, and Will jolts upright. He scans the auditorium, before seeing Oscar sitting in the very back row.

"Oh... thanks," Will mumbles. "It's Chopin." Suddenly remembering that he must look like he's broken into an opera house to play Chopin, he scrambles to his feet. "Sorry, I'm with the orchestra. I'm Will."

"I know." Oscar ambles down the aisle towards the stage, stopping near the orchestra pit and looking up at Will. "I just work here. Oscar. Oscar Zefferelli. You can... you can call me Zephyr, actually. Most people do."

"Oh, shit. You don't mind that I came in to play, do you? I..." Will trails off, gesturing helplessly at the piano.

"No, it's cool. Thanks for the concert. I'm just... working. You can keep practicing, if you want."

"Great. Anything you'd like to hear?"

Oscar shrugs, climbing the steps onto the side of the stage. "All I really know is 'Chopsticks'. What were you playing before?"

"It's called the 'Raindrop' Prelude," Will says. "Chopin wrote it while he was in a monastery. I've always liked it."

Oscar thinks about the storm he had to battle through to get to work that morning. He can still feel the slightly damp legs of his jeans against his calves. He's about to say something, when there's a muffled thunderclap and all the lights in the auditorium go out.

Will makes a sound of surprise, and Oscar can hear him bump into the piano stool. There's the screech of wood on wood. Remembering where he laid out the chairs for the cellists, he carefully makes his way towards Will. "Don't worry, the generator will kick in," he says, reaching out to where he assumes Will's shoulder is. Instead, he connects with the back of Will's head, and Will makes another sound of surprise.

"That's you, yeah?" he asks.

"Yeah," Oscar says. "You alright?"

"Sure," Will says. "I mean, it's good to have the guy who knows how everything works." He coughs, and Oscar is suddenly aware of how close Will is to him. He stuffs his hands in his pockets.

"Do you believe in fate?" Will is asking, as Oscar tunes back in. "I mean, I feel like with what's going on outside I was bound to be playing Chopin, because rain is on my mind. But more than that. Like you were meant to hear me, and I was meant to talk to you, and the lights were meant to go, right at that moment, so, I don't know, something... could happen? Something important? Do you believe in that sort of stuff?"

Oscar can feel the gentle movement of air around him, and knows that Will is close, somewhere, and he closes his eyes. Just like the rain on his face that morning, or on the fountain at the monastery as Chopin listens, he can feel Will, not as an object, but a force. Like a million notes washing over him, a million raindrops, a million expert fingers dancing over keyboards.

And when the lights come back on, he's looking at Will. And Will is looking right back at him.

Comments

H-o-l-y S-h-i-t, that was BEYOND good.
Glad you like it! It wound up being quite... abstract, I guess. I may need to go back and add a bit more substance, if it warrants it.