Disclaimer: See all the others; status unchanged.

This is a sequel to 'Barbs and Broods'
Rating: R
865 words
Warnings: Shounen Ai, Alcohol abuse, some angst, Heero POV

AN: Part #41 of the 'Road to Recovery' microseries. Written for [ gw500 ] challenge #94 - 'a little more action'.

Ear For Music
by kebzero

I didn't hear her approach. I wasn't aware she was back until she put a hand on my shoulder, jolting me. I glared at her grin as I took off the headphones. I was clearly losing my touch; I was trained better than to sit with my back to a door.

"Didn't mean to scare you," she said, before glancing down at the pile of datasticks before me. "Heero, what are you doing?"

I looked at the mess at the floor, reached for the eject button of the home entertainment system, popping out the datastick compilation I'd been listening to. I scanned the label, noted the band name; Nirvana. I couldn't quite place them in the larger history of music, but I decided to check later. I put the stick down aside from the rest.

All in all, this was archaic technology. Everything is on holocrystals these days. The system was of old manufacture too, of course. I suspected it was once salvage - hammered, glued and soldered into shape. The sound was still good, but the image on the main screen was a bit choppy. The readout screens were fine.

I hadn't expected them back so soon, though. I reasoned she'd left the auction early, leaving the rest of the potential bidding in Duo's capable hands. "I'll put it all back when I'm done - I'll even sort it, somehow."

She knew as well as I the pile of datasticks was a pile even before I deposited them at the floor. In contrast, her smaller collection was neatly organized at the far end of the rack. "That's not what I meant. What are you up to?"

I picked up a stick at random, pretending to read the label. "I saw them this morning, and it dawned on me I didn't know Duo's taste in music. I wanted to find out." I sighed and dropped the stick back in the heap. "Not that I'm making much progress. There's a lot of weird stuff here - all very eclectic. This afternoon, I've listened from the dawn of music to the contemporary. Gregorian chants, Bach's cantatas and symphonies by Beethoven, Sousa marches, The Beatles and their rock, Madonna's pop music, Nwabudike Morgan's commercial hits and even some of Lhasha's colonial-ethnic works!" I mentioned the latter with a bit of exasperation; I wasn't fond of her style, albeit she'd been all the rage four decades prior.

I realized my mistake when she frowned defensively. "I happen to like Lhasha's songs," she offered curtly. "Who do you think gave Duo his copy?"

"Sorry..." I quickly retorted, meaning it. "Still," I sighed, rummaging through the pile one-handed. "What the hell does he actually like? Most of these came with the system, didn't they?"

"Something like that. We've built up our collections over the years. You get the sticks for pennies at flea markets these days." She grinned. "We might have to go to an antique dealer next time."

I tugged at a smile, but couldn't keep it.

"What was at the top of the pile when you pulled it off the shelf?" she asked. "I'd bet that would be his favorite pick."

I looked at her, half frowning at myself for not grasping that obvious fact sooner. The trouble was, I had mixed Duo's system by an order of magnitude by now. Hesitantly, I grabbed one. "I think this was close..." I scanned the label and shrugged. I vaguely recalled the name of the artist and roughly when in time he belonged, but not much more than that. It kept puzzling me why artists from that time period couldn't get by without some sort of nickname. I had already listened to a Prince that didn't want to be one, an enigmatic and charismatic Boss and now a long gone King.

"Go on, plug it in."

I did, and browsed the music tracks at random.

Hilde flipped the speakers on and started fumbling with the smaller display, skimming artist data, photos and video clips.I focused on the sound. The intro of my pick ended and a firm male voice began singing at us.

A little less conversation, a little more action, please... all this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me...

Snickering, she punched a couple of buttons and brought up an image of the guy on the big screen. "Sounds like you've found yourself a theme song, Heero. Maybe you should dress up and sing this to Duo?"

Don't procrastinate, don't articulate...

From the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of the picture she'd put up - some guy in a tight, white dress dotted with colored and sparkly specks, thick boots under the loose pants legs. He had greasy hair and sideburns, and he wore square dark sunglasses. I shot Hilde a lopsided smile. If I thought that would have done more than give Duo a damn good laugh, I might have.

Bottom line, no chance in hell that I would.

Satisfy me, baby...

It was a short song, but a good one. I figured I'd listen to a bit more of this Elvis guy - and maybe let Duo listen, too.

Whatever it took to give him ideas.


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