Author: Mi
Pairings: 1+2, 3+4
Rating: G
Warnings: AU. Some shounen-ai
Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is not mine, but this story is.

Spotlight + Part 15

Duo picked up another record and turned it over--Andreas Schmidt? Timothy Farrell? Kathleen Battle? Setting his teeth he read the notes on the back cover, hoping for a clue as to whether or not he should buy the record, but they weren't very helpful.

He had been making a slow round of the solitary booth containing all the "Classical" music in this record shop for the past half hour. On his first pass he had merely flipped through random CDs, trying to look as if he was just browsing. The "Classical" section was at the back of the store, and apparently none of the staff thought that the music back there was worth stealing, because not a single salesclerk had approached him, even though it was 10:07AM on a Sunday and he was the only one in the store.

Not that Duo would have admitted to needing help. He knew next to nothing about "Classical" music--or music in general--and he was not ashamed to admit it, but he felt just a tiny bit guilty poring over these records, trying to choose the right Requiem. Because the fact was that he had spent an extra $2.00 to take the bus all the way across town to go to this record store, where he was pretty sure he wouldn't run into anyone he knew, so that he could buy a record that might help him learn more about a boy that he was pretty sure he didn't like. And he didn't want to admit to anyone that he wanted to know more about Heero Yuy.

If he was honest with himself, he still felt uneasy around Heero. It was just that in addition to feeling uneasy, Duo now felt curious. It was as if he had been reading a very boring book that had suddenly taken a dramatic and unexpected plot twist; he didn't really want to keep reading but now he had to, just to find out what would happen. Heero was not just annoying now, he was suddenly interesting, and Duo wanted to know more about him--without asking, of course.

Which was what had brought him to this small record store, where he stood turning over album after album trying to figure out which one to buy. He had thought that buying a copy of the Fauré Requiem would be like buying any record--you get the name of the record and the name of the artist, you look in the stacks and boom!, you buy it. But when he had gotten to the back of the record store and taken a look at the "Classical" section he had gotten a bit of a shock. For one thing, the albums weren't all organized according to artist; some were organized according to conductor, some were organized according to performer, and there was even a section of Opera, organized alphabetically. And for such a small shop it had quite a lot of variety--he had already found three separate recordings of the Requiem he was looking for, each one with extra 'bonus' material. You couldn't buy just a recording of the Fauré Requiem, you had to buy the Requiem and Pelleas and Melisande or the Requiem and Pavane, or the Fauré Requiem and someone else's Requiem. Which was why Duo had been wandering around the back of this shop for the better part of an hour.

"Excuse me sir, can I help you?"

Duo started a bit; he had been reading the back of a recording by the Ensemble Musique Oblique. He looked up at the clerk and quickly put the record he had been examining back on the rack.

"Sir?"

"Uh, I'm," Duo stammered as if he'd been caught out doing something illicit. The clerk looked at him, unfazed. He probably got this all the time from fumbling teenaged shoplifters. "I'm looking for a recording," he finished, lamely. The salesclerk took the album Duo had just put down, pushed his thin-framed glasses up the bridge of his nose, and looked at the cover.

"Fauré Requiem?" He looked enquiringly at Duo. Duo shiftily muttered an affirmative under his breath; it came out sounding like 'yrshs' but the clerk seemed to understand anyway. "Well I wouldn't get this one." the salesclerk told him briskly, putting the Ensemble Musique recording back. "I recommend either this one, or this one, or maybe this one, even," he said, walking confidently around the booth and pulling records out, seemingly at random. He handed them to Duo, who looked through them, half embarrassed, half grateful. "The Giulini recording isn't bad; you can't really go wrong with Deutsche Grammaphon," the clerk continued, "but personally I prefer the Dutoit. It's cleaner."

The clerk stood back politely to give Duo time to look over the albums. After several minutes of silence, during which Duo shuffled the records in his hands a few times and tried to look at if he was making some serious decisions, the clerk cleared his throat gently and Duo looked up.

"You don't buy much Classical music, do you?" Duo gave him a half-smile and shrugged his shoulders.

"Not really." He admitted, looking at the CDs and then back up at the clerk. "I just want to listen to the music." The clerk pushed his glasses up his nose.

"Well here's what I would do. The Giuluni recording," he picked the album from Duo's hands, "is going to be the most expensive, because of the label." He held up the record and pointed to the ornate yellow scrolling at the top of the album cover. "And honestly, I don't think it's worth it." He put the album in question back on the rack and took another record from Duo's hands. "This one is cheapest, but unless you especially like Fischer-Dieskau I wouldn't get this one either. It's not one of his better performances, anyway." He put it back, leaving Duo with a single album in his hands. "Get that one. It's a good recording and it's not too expensive." He gave Duo a small smile.

"Thanks," Duo said, and smiled back. The clerk nodded politely, and then made his way off to help a woman who was browsing the World music a few booths over while Duo went up front to pay for his CD.

"$16.25," said the lady at the counter, absently scanning his purchase and dropping it into a plastic bag without looking at him. Duo handed her a $20 and waited excitedly for his change. He wasn't sure why, but he felt a little thrill when she handed him the plastic bag.

+

When Trowa came home the lights were off and low music was drifting out of Duo's bedroom. He put his foot out expertly as he opened the door, stopping Andy just as he made a mad dash for the hallway.

"Not today," He told the little orange cat and gently pushed it back inside the apartment with his foot. Andy looked crossly at Trowa for a few seconds and then leapt up onto the table to join his brother, who gave him an I-told-you-it-wouldn't-work sort of look.

"Duo" Trowa called from the kitchen as he took groceries out of a large brown paper bag. "Are you awake? I bought peppers. Orange and green" Trowa put the peppers in the vegetable crisper and then moved on to the pantry items. He heard hasty rustling, a soft thud, and the music coming from Duo's room stopped.

"Thanks Trowa," came Duo's voice, followed seconds later by the man himself, coming to stand jauntily in the kitchen doorway. "The orange ones are my favorite."

"I know," Trowa replied, closing the pantry door and turning to Duo. "Have a good morning?"

"Yeah, it was okay," said Duo, still standing in the doorway, smiling very broadly. "How about you?" Trowa raised one eyebrow.

"I went grocery shopping." Trowa gestured to the brown paper bags.

"Right," said Duo, and shifted his weight from his right foot to his left. "Have a good time? I was going to go myself this afternoon--how much do I owe you? Oh--I saw in the circular they were having a sale on canned soup, the good kind, did you get any?"

"I did," replied Trowa, taking several large cans of soup out of one of the bags and waving one at Duo. "$1 apiece." After he had put each can in the cabinet he reached into his pocket and pulled out a receipt, handing it to Duo. "About $25, I think."

Duo scanned the receipt--$26.51--before handing it back to Trowa. "Gimme a sec, I'll get my wallet."

"It's fine." Trowa said, putting away the last of the groceries. "Why don't you just add it to your half of the rent for tomorrow?"

Duo shrugged but said, "Okay, if you want."

Duo had learned in two months of living with Trowa that his roommate had an aversion to handling cash. It wasn't that Trowa refused to use cash--he bought groceries, for example--it was just that whenever possible he would barter, or try to establish some sort of credit system. This had initially been hard for Duo, who liked to square away all his debts as soon as possible and kept a detailed register of his income and expenses on his laptop. However they had developed a system that seemed to satisfy Trowa without driving Duo crazy--Duo would keep track of how much money he owed Trowa and when the rent came due he would subtract that amount from his half; Trowa would do the same and so far they had always come out even. This way Duo could square his debt every two weeks or so and no cash ever had to pass between them.

That didn't mean, however, that Duo didn't try and pay Trowa back whenever he could--it was just the way he was, and so whenever Trowa bought anything they went through the whole 'How much do I owe you' routine.

"You hungry?" Duo asked, mentally adding $26.51 to his half of the rent for that period, "I'm starving. I'll cook--what do you want?"

Trowa closed the cupboard door and turned to face him. "How about," he acted as though he was thinking very carefully, "soup?"

Duo laughed as Trowa made his way around Duo to the bathroom. "Coming right up!" He called over his shoulder, as he reached up to grab a large copper-bottomed pot.

+

They ate their soup--plain tomato with some parsley and rice Duo had added--on the floor, which was where they ate most of their meals. Andy and Melee rolled around in front of them, fighting over a cloth mouse and occasionally bumping against their legs. It was an altogether very pleasant way to eat, and Duo was feeling very comfortable and relaxed, so he didn't really think about it when the question rolled off his tongue and out of his mouth.

"How did you and Heero meet?" As soon as the words were out he regretted saying them. To cover his anxiety he drank quite a lot of soup, swallowed too fast, and burned his throat. His eyes watered and Trowa looked at him over the rim of his bowl, but didn't say anything right away.

"Never mind," Duo gasped, once he had finished swallowing. "It's none of my business." It felt like his cheeks were on fire. The last thing he had indented to do when he had gotten up this morning was admit to Trowa that he might be developing an interest in his best friend. Between them Melee succeeded at getting the mouse out of his brother's grip and Andy was looking sourly at him.

"It's okay." Said Trowa calmly, blowing on his soup. "We met in junior high school."

"Oh." Duo was slightly disappointed. He had been expecting something a little more…adventurous.

"Why do you ask?" Trowa was sipping his soup gently, not looking at Duo. Somehow, and Duo was never sure how he managed it, Trowa was able to eat without getting any food on his clothes. He always looked immaculate, like a magazine spread. Duo admired Trowa's pristine sweater and wondered how he kept is so clean while he thought about how to answer.

"I don't know," he responded carefully, keeping his tone perfectly even. He wasn't even sure why he was treading so carefully around this subject--it wasn't as if there was anything to be embarrassed about. "I just thought of it, just now, so I just…asked." Duo didn't sound very convincing, even to his own ears.

"I moved a lot when I was little," Trowa put down his soup bowl and looked directly at Duo. "So I didn't have many friends. When I was thirteen my family moved here and I met Heero at school. We've been friends ever since." He gently pulled Andy away from the bowl next to him as the cat tried to dip his orange paw into it.

"Oh," said Duo again, still unsure whether or not to keep this subject alive. He decided that since he'd brought it up he might as well see where it went. "So," he continued, "you must know him really well." He really wasn't on form today, he decided.

"Yes. We're best friends." It didn't sound like Trowa particularly wanted to talk about Heero either, which is a strange way made Duo feel better. After a few minutes silence, Trowa spoke again. "You know," he said carefully, in a tone that was softer, more gentle than his usual voice, "he's not really a bad person." It almost sounded like pleading.

"I know." And even though Duo had not meant to say it, he realized that it was true. He did not think that Heero Yuy was really a bad person. He didn't know why he thought so, didn't really have any evidence to support this claim, but somehow learning that Heero had a family, had feelings, had a history, had altered his perception of him. Duo smiled ruefully at Trowa, and Trowa gave him a small smile in return, and Andy succeeded in getting his paw in Trowa's soup bowl which upset all over the cat, the floor, and Trowa's pressed khakis. Duo gave in and laughed outright. "I'll get some paper towels," he said, and got up, still chuckling at the incredulous look Trowa was giving his cat.

It was surprising, he mused as he helped Trowa clean up the slippery mess of soup and rice, how much you could know about a person without really knowing anything at all.

++

Note: In case you're interested in getting a copy of the Fauré Requiem, I stand by what the clerk at the record store says--get the recording conducted by Charles Dutoit with the Montréal Symphony Orchestra. Kiri Te Kanawa is on it, along with Sherill Milnes, who does a great "Libera Me." I know some people thing this recording is a little flat, but I think it really gets at the heart of the music. Also, this is the version I listen to when I write Spotlight, if you want to hear what I'm hearing ^.~.

+

[part 14] [part 16] [back to Singles l -z]