Her ears lit up at the sound. What… what is that? I’ve never heard anything like it before…
She looked up to see two seniors, a boy and girl, on pianos across from each other, as their fingers flew flawlessly across the keys. When the performance was over, she thumbed through the program. They were the last to perform. Beside their names, the piece was listed, “Brazileria from Scaramouche”. She looked up at the pair, and watched as the girl straightened the boy’s tie, before patting him on the chest and smiling. Something inside her stirred, somehow, she felt a longing sensation at the sight.
“Your assignment is to pick a duet, and perform it. Consider it a final, however, the best performers will be admitted into the duet festival, a prestigious statewide competition among all high schools.”
A murmur ran through the room.
“Your partners have been chosen by me.”
A collective groan.
“First, Mikasa Ackerman, with Eren Jaeger…”
She stopped listening after that.
Oh, god no…
She felt her cheeks burn, as she slumped down in her chair, before looking over to Eren. He seemed as nonchalant as ever; he was occupied talking with someone behind him.
“You may have the remainder of class to meet with your partners, and decide what piece you will play.”
Chairs screeched across the floor, as the students slowly left their desks to find their partners. Mikasa was about to stand up, until she noticed Eren was already standing in front of her.
“So, do you have any pieces in mind?”
She jolted her head up. “Not really…” She ran through her memory, trying to steady herself and think of a duet. Upon remembering that day, her eyes lit up, and she raced to meet his eyes. “You don’t have anything in mind, right?”
“No,” he replied, “that’s why I asked you.”
“Right…” she said quietly. “Well, there is this one,” she blushed at the thought of the couple, “It’s more of a lively one, but I don’t know if you’ve heard it. It’s called Brazileria from Scaramouche.”
“Hmm, sounds cool. Well, class is almost over. I’ll look it up when I go home, okay?”
“Alright. Sounds good.”
An awkward silence fell between them, as they stared at each other. A few seconds later, the bell rang, surprising then both.
“U-uh, see ya tomorrow.”
“Mhm, see ya.”
Being the overachiever she was, Mikasa sat at the computer, and opened up her email, having finished her homework. As if it was planned, as soon as she logged on, a message popped up.
Eren Jaeger says…
Her heart skipped a beat. It wasn’t like him to reply to her messages, much less contact her first. She clicked on the message, nervously.
Hey, I listened to the piece. It’s awesome!
Her lips curled into a smile.
But isn’t it for two pianos? I play the sax…
Oh, there’s a version for piano and sax too. I’ll send a link, and I think we’ll be able to get the sheet music soon. I’ll ask my friend to make me a copy.
I gtg, I’ll cya tmrw.
She really didn’t have to go, she was more afraid of ruining the conversation somehow, so she decided to end it with that. A blush creeped onto her cheeks.
“Thanks, Sash!”, she called after her friend. She held the sheet music in her hand. I never thought I’d be performing this myself..
“Hey, you’re here!”, his voice called out.
Surprised, she spun around.
“Oh yeah, sorry I didn’t have the music in class. You sure it’s okay to stay late? We’re just testing out the piece, after all.”
Well, at least he was. She’d been piecing together bits of music she’d found online, and had been filling in the rest by listening to recordings over and over again. She almost knew both the Primo and Secondo by heart.
“Yeah, it’s no problem. Let’s go?”
“Mhm,” she nodded, opening the door to the music room.
He followed her in. “I’ll just be a minute, I’m gonna set up real quick.”
She nodded and walked over to the piano, setting her copy of the music down. Glancing over at him, she went to get him a music stand, and placed his music on it. After testing out a few notes, he walked over to her.
“Let’s get started?”
She nodded. “In the piano and alto sax duet, the sax has the Primo part.”
“We can start a little slow, for now we’ll just go through the first section.”
He nodded, as she turned on the metronome.
Counting out the first beats, they began. She couldn’t help the smile that ran across her face, this was her dream. How long she’d waited to play this piece. Not only that, but Eren, though sight reading, was playing the notes perfectly, without falling behind her in tempo. She was amazed at how good the harmony sounded. It was as if the ending of the first section came too soon.
“Wow,” she breathed, “It’s just like I imagined.” She looked over to him. “Eren, I’ve never really heard you play, but wow, you’re really good on that.”
He chuckled. “Speak for yourself! I can’t believe you play so well!”
She blushed. “Thank you.”
“You said this sounded just like you imagined?”
“When did you first hear this piece?”
She looked away from him, eyes downcast. “It’s kind of a long story.”
“I got time,” he said simply, walking over to her. “Mind if I sit down?”
“Sure,” she said quietly, making room for him in the bench.
“A couple years ago, my teacher enrolled me in this duet competition with a friend. We were the youngest there, but somehow managed to place third. But that isn’t why I remember it. At the end, there was this pair that performed, a boy and a girl. They did the piano duo. I hadn’t heard anything like that at the time, and man, they played it beautifully. As soon as they finished, I checked the name of the piece in the program. I thought of it all the way home. I could never get it out of my head. It’s been my dream since then to play it, not that I ever thought I would get the chance to. So… Thank you for agreeing to do this piece. It means a lot to me.”
“Of course! Glad I could.”
“We’ll go straight through?”
Class periods flew by, and before she even knew it, she was spending most of her time with Eren, practicing. Lunch, open periods, weekends, extra time in general. Each time, she heard them sound better, and each time, she fell in love with the piece (and him) even more. Days rolled into weeks, and weeks into a month. The due date grew nearer and nearer, and soon, she found that it was their last rehearsal before the final presentation. A flawless final run- through. She couldn’t have asked for more. She began to gather her music.
He nervously scratched the back of his neck. “I’ve got some time to kill, so do you wanna head to Starbucks and grab some drinks? My treat.”
She felt her heart pound in her chest. “Yeah, sure. Thanks you,” she replied meekly. They started out of the room.
“Do you mind if we walk?”
“Not at all.”
After walking for a bit, he decided to break the silence. “Mikasa?”
“What is it that you like about the piece?”
“Ah, well, I like the melody, obviously, and I like that it’s upbeat, and happy. And, well,” she pulled her scarf up over her nose, “I like what it reminds me of.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Oh? What’s that?”
“U-uh well, it’s silly, really.”
“No, you said it reminds you of something, so you have to tell what it is now.” He smirked.
She looked down, and studied the ground beneath her. “It reminds me of that couple. The people who played it. It makes me… happy…” she said, quietly.
“Oh… I see…”
A nervous air filled the classroom. It was presentation day. “Just for fun, we’ll be going in reverse order today, for presentations.”
The class froze, as many went pale with fear.
“Alright, first up…”
Pair after pair, the presentations went. Some played well, others showed a clear lack of practice. Both were to be expected, after all. “And finally, Mikasa Ackerman and Eren Jaeger, playing Brazileria from Scaramouche.”
She found his eyes, as they shared a nod, walking up to their positions.
“You may have five minutes for setup and any preparations.”
They nodded. She went to put her music on the piano, before taking a stand for Eren. After setting up his instrument, he walked over, but instantly noticed something was off. Mikasa, who was always lively and ready to play was suddenly pale, and looked sickly. He walked over to her.
“Hey, what’s wrong?”
She didn’t face him, just stared off. “Stage fright.”
Stage fright? For her? But she’s the best damn pianist here…
“Mikasa, don’t worry, it’s going to be okay. You’re an amazing pianist, and you’re going to do great. We’re in this together, okay? I believe in you.”
“Your time is up.”
He gave her shoulder a squeeze, before walking over to his music stand. He looked at her, nodded, and she nodded.
They both sucked in a deep breath and began. Her fingers shook, but Eren’s words came to her. I believe in you. Slowly, she began to ease into the song, though it didn’t take long for her to get lost in the music. Eren looked over to her, eyes closed, a blissful smile. She’s just fine.
Through highs and lows, the two played through the song. They traded the melody, and traded back, all melding together in a beautiful upbeat dance. Before they realized it, they were playing the last note, ending with a burst of energy. The class erupted into applause, including the teacher.
“Wonderful job. I have selected you two to go on and represent our school in the festival. Congratulations!”
She looked over to him, and they shared a smile before walking out to the front of the room, to take a bow. They stood shoulder to shoulder.
“I knew you could do it,” he said smiling. They bowed in unison.
“That really was the perfect duet piece, huh?”
“Nah…” he said. She looked over in despair. “It’s not the piece. It’s us,” he said, taking her hand and lacing their fingers together, “we make a perfect duet.” She beamed at him.
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