Laurence is a KEYBOARDIST. he used to be a classical musician! and then he got swept up in the madness of rock'n'roll and Temeraire. =DIt's like I'll never be able to write plain ol' regular Temeraire fic ever again. :(
Laurence did not know, exactly, how he had ended up on the wrong floor. He was late enough to his dress rehearsal as it was and in his haste, he had taken a right turn too early, walked down several hallways, rode on an elevator, and before he knew it, the serene, pastel colors of the concert hall had turned into a scene of cheap, dirty whitewashed walls, almost sort of like a sinister, grungy effect. Laurence was almost sure that he wasn’t even in the same building anymore.
Resigned, he pulled out his cell phone, intending to call the director that he would be late, and that he would need directions. The little dial tones echoed softly in the empty hallway and Laurence frowned; no signal. He pocketed the phone just as the sounds of a wailing electric guitar filled the eerie silence. Startled, Laurence followed the noise, more intrigue by the soft, melodic crooning he heard after than the harsh guitar screams, which he did not really care for.
His search led him into a basement-like room, rusted pipes tracing the grey walls, and a solitary light bulb hanging from the ceiling. There were lamps too, arranged in a crude circle, and in the middle was a boy, perhaps in his late teens, Asian, looking quite respectable had it not been for his hair, styled in a faux-hawk and dyed a bright blue at the top. He was singing in a foreign language, oddly sweet and energetic for his dismal surroundings. He had his back to Laurence, facing his audience—a broken set of sad and forgotten instruments. Though old and dusty, the boy had seemed to put some of the instruments to good use; the faded upright piano had the top lifted, as if someone had been in the middle of tuning it’s strings, and the drum set in the far corner looked almost complete.
The boy’s voice cut off abruptly into a startled yelp. Laurence’s attention quickly went back to the boy, who was currently staring at him with open curiousity.
“I’m not in trouble, am I?” he asked in English, “No one was using this room or the stuff in it, so I thought it’d be alright.” He sounded a little anxious, if not wholly impertinent.
“No, I don’t believe anyone was,” Laurence agreed, opting to not be angry at the obvious trespasser. He was even mildly touched that the boy had a clear love for music. A firm believer in embracing young musicians, Laurence glanced down at the boy’s guitar, and found that it only had three strings. “Do you play?”
“I sing,” the boy said, not very modestly, “But I want to learn more instruments, eventually.” He paused, glancing at Laurence’s suit and tie. “Do you play?”
Laurence smiled, which did wonders for the boy, who visibly relaxed. “The piano mostly, some mallet percussion if there’s an emergency.” He walked over to the faded upright and hit a few keys, and was happy to hear that it wasn’t that badly out of tune.
The boy watched him for a moment. “Play a song,” he said eagerly, coming up to stand beside him. “Please?”
Laurence was about to politely decline—he still needed to go to his dress rehearsal—but the boy sounded so enthusiastic, Laurence made up his mind to play a quick minuet. He sat down carefully (the piano bench wobbled and creaked a concerning amount) and placed his hands on the keys.
“Can you play higher?” the boy asked suddenly before Laurence could finish the first stanza.
“Ah, I suppose I can play it an octave higher,” Laurence said, puzzled. Perhaps the piano was out of tune at that range, but—
“No, no,” the boy corrected, “Can you start—“ he reached over and played a chord, “here?”
Laurence thought for a moment then understood at once, “Do you mean a different key?”
The boy shrugged, “Yes, I guess so.”
“I can try.” Still bemused, Laurence started over, a little slower than what he would have normally played the song. Laurence was beginning to regret that he hadn’t picked the song for its duration, rather for its simplicity, but the boy suddenly took a breath, and started to sing in a strong tenor.
It was far from perfect, at first. It was obvious the boy didn’t know the song, but he kept on singing, sometimes going off into his own melody and making strange dissonances. But the flow of it, Laurence thought, was smooth, and when there was harmony, it sounded surprising and wonderful. Laurence found himself grinning, unexpectedly happy.
As the last note was played and sung, the boy broke off with a gleeful laugh. “That was brilliant!”
Laurence too felt like laughing, but he shook his head instead, amazed. “It was,” he said, still grinning, “but I wonder what you would have sounded like had you known the song.” He looked around the room and spotted a few old and water-stained books on the ground. “How about we play something from one of those?”
The boy immediately stopped smiling and looked sheepish. “Oh! I would like to, but I can’t… I can’t read music. I mostly make up my own stuff, or listen to the radio. Things like that.”
Laurence nearly fell out of his already wobbling chair. He searched for something to say without sounding overly shocked. “You have an incredible ear for music,” he said finally. “I’m Will Laurence, by the way.”
“I’m Xiang,” the boy said, grinning, and shook his hand, “But I’m going to change my name once I become famous.”
Laurence could not tell if Xiang had been serious or joking, maybe both, but the ambition in his tone had been genuine. “I have no doubt that you could be,” he said, smiling, “You should find a private teacher, or enroll in a music class.”
It might have been the flickering light bulb, but Laurence thought he saw Xiang’s expression shift and shoulders cringe, but Xiang seemed to avoid answering by asking, “Shall we try another impromptu song?”
Laurence absently glanced at his watch. He had been ridiculously late to begin with since he had gotten lost, but Xiang was already humming under his breath and Laurence could not help but laugh and place his hands back on the piano to play along.
AND SO IT BEGINS. Only not. Excuse me while I check mark band!AU under Reasons Why Tanya Should Not Associate Temeraire With Anything.