For Miro--Singin' in the Rain

It's cold wherever the hell they are, and yet Cos is still playing. His fingers are flying up and down the keyboard of the battered piano as if they can't feel the bitter chill that seeps in through all the cracks and chinks of the 'theatre' they're performing in. Some theatre; it's just a converted barn, with quilts strung up to separate the audience from the chaos of backstage. Out of the corner of his eye Don watches Cos play, and he can't help the little bit of guilt that curls in his belly; Cos always was the better musician, the one with actual talent. He should be playing in sold out concert halls, Don thinks, not crummy barns.

Cos hits the last measure of the intro and Don stops thinking about anything except performing.

"Fit as a fiddle and ready for love," they sing. And it's going great until they hit the tap-dancing bit, which is when the E-string of Cos's violin snaps, twanging loudly, flying up and leaving a long, red welt on his cheek. The audience laughs and they keep going, transposing down on the fly, because the show must go on if they want to eat.

They get booed off the stage at the end of the song, like always, but Don doesn't care this time. There's blood on Cos's collar, and they should have stopped the number.

"Don't worry, Don. I've got another E-string here somewhere. My fiddle'll be perfectly fit for tomorrow's show." Cos is rummaging around in his violin case, and nobody is paying any attention to him.

"Your fiddle?" Don isn't sure if he wants to hit Cos or hug him, right now. "Who cares about your fiddle? Let me see your face." He pulls Cos into the light and tilts his head to the side.

"Your hands are cold," Cos grumbles.

"Hold still." It's not as bad as he thought, and Don is grateful for that, but when they're this close he can see the exhaustion in Cos's eyes. He's skinnier, too, and Don can't help but wonder why he didn't see what this life was doing to Cos before this.

"Let's go to California," he says, suddenly. "To Hollywood. Come on."

"What? Tonight?"

"Why not?" It's crazy, Don knows this, but he doesn't care.

"The show--"

"Who cares?" Don grabs their things, throws Cos's coat at him. "Let's go. Right now."

Cos laughs at him, but Don knows that if he leaves Cos will follow. Because Cos always follows. He's so sure of this that he's already out the door and shivering in the night before Cos has got one arm into his coat. They have enough money for the train, Don thinks, so long as they don't mind missing a few meals.

"I always wanted to be a Hollywood composer," Cos says, and he takes his bag from Don and starts walking to the train station.

"And I will be a movie star." Don grins, even though he knows Cos can't see him. "You can write all my scores."

"Why thank you. Just don't forget about the little people when you're rich and famous."

"Don't worry, Cos, we'll always be together. And when I'm rich, I'll buy you the best damn violin there is."

Cos laughs at that. "Fit as a fiddle," he sings.

"And ready for love."