Title: Unchained Melody
By: Damerel
Pairing: nonexplicit John/Dean
Rating: AO
Summary: A conversation about Jensen Ackles playing piano in 'Dark Angel' led to a reference to The Fabulous Baker Boys which led, in turn, to this cracked premise.


At last I am free again, liberated from the taint of ignorant men's hands running greedily over my body as they search for clues. I am free to sing, and in so doing hold captive my audience. I don't know who my partner will be tonight, after recent events, but it does not concern me. They know, the menials who run this place, that I am their star. Providing me with a less than exquisite partner is inconceivable.

When the house lights go down, it is a stranger who approaches me. I know a sudden sense of deep unease ... this is not an artist, he is a man of a different type. His beard, shot through here and there with silver, is a little unkempt, his face is marred by a scar on his cheek, and while his suit may be well-cut it is desperately crumpled, with things in the pockets if the way it is hanging is anything to go by.

He seats himself beside me, and my trepidation grows. This man may move with an unexpected grace, but he is uncomfortable in his suit. When his warm fingers rest on me, they confirm my worst fear ... there are calluses on his finger tips, but they are the wrong sort, rough and harsh from the elements and from hard work. There is a hesitancy to his touch and I know he is but a rank amateur who will make even me ... me! ... sound ordinary. And for the first few bars, I am proved unhappily right. His fingers stumble, he snatches at my keys, and although I know I am in exquisite shape, I sound sadly flat.

But as he carries on, something changes. I can feel the strength in his fingers ... not the usual sort that I feel from other partners, but it is, nonetheless, there ... and his touch becomes more sure as he explores me further. It is almost as though he has not done this for a long time and his fingers are slowly remembering. Or perhaps not so slowly. They learn quickly how to play me, to respect and coax me until beautiful sounds flow from me, and as he realises this, as he relaxes, his dark eyes grow soft as he gazes on my beauty and listens to my song filling the room.

The applause afterwards is loud, the room fuller than usual. The menials who wheeled me into my rightful place, centre-stage, when the others had finished making me dirty with their dusting for fingerprints, had said that the death would bring out the crowds. I would prefer to think it the beauty of my last performance that brings them rather than the talk of the blood pool on my polished top. And their reward for coming is the beauty of my voice, the glory that keeps growing and knows no limit, partnered by this scruffy yet beautiful man, whose fingers move with a grace and certainty that I have not known since Him.

There is more applause, and then a whispering starts in the audience and I realise that we are now no longer alone on the stage. This man too looks as though he does not belong here. He has no jacket, no tie, just a white shirt open at the neck and rolled up at the sleeves, with suspenders, and black pants. I wait for the menials to escort him out for daring to come here so dressed ... but then he steps up to the microphone, and at the first sound of his voice, nothing else matters. His voice is beauty almost sufficient to rival my own, and he controls it in the same way, a soft, husky tone that glides over every last polished part of me. I feel the quiver in my partner's fingers on me, and know the voice touches him in the same way. His eyes are no longer only for me but look instead to the man behind the microphone. That man's woeful dress sense ... he is wearing boots! ... make him look as though he would be more at home in one of those places where beer is spilled and pianofortes are not respected. He is nothing, insignificant in the spotlight, but that voice fills the room with a warmth that is counterpoint to my clarity, and I know that together we can be as I was with Him.

He seems embarrassed by the reaction he gets from the audience ... because of course he thinks it is all for him, not me - and makes a business of unhooking the microphone from the stand and walking over to us. His movements remind me somehow of the man whose fingers have been bringing my voice to life tonight ... there is an awareness and a grace that reminds me a little of that horrid furry creature who once wound itself around my legs, leaving hairs on my beautiful shiny surfaces while making rusty little noises that made my strings vibrate.

"Told you this was a freaking stupid idea," he mutters, and his speaking voice holds only a hint of the beauty of his singing.

My partner's fingers run over me again and we sing a soft, atmospheric arpeggio together, but his eyes stay on the other one. "Dean," he says, and it is enough, the steel in his voice underpinned by the sudden staccato of his touch.

This Dean shakes his head as though he is unhappy, but then pushes himself up to ... He is sitting on me! This horrible, scruffy-looking, bow-legged boot-wearing menial dares to sit on me! I should have known this was coming from the fact they didn't open my lid this evening, but this creature? It is insupportable! He crosses his legs in a parody of all those cheap sluts who have tried this before, as they try to take the attention that is mine by right, and smoothes the black material of his pants.

"Just call me Michelle," he says, before he brings the microphone to his mouth and his voice fills the room again. His voice is like the very best beeswax, applied with just the right pressure as it eases so softly across my gleaming mahogany and into every last seam. I feel the shiver that goes through my partner, the tremor in his touch almost a vibrato as Dean leans in towards him and his voice wraps around us both as though we three are the only ones in the world.

And then the moment is gone, and Dean is uncrossing his legs, turning so that he sits with a foot - a booted foot! - on me, his knee up and he's leaning on it as he sings to the audience once more. This time when he stops, the applause is deafening. He slowly slides down off me, which causes more appreciation from the audience ... although they love his voice, they know that it really is not proper for him to have assumed that place ... and then he is singing again, sometimes to my partner, sometimes to the audience, and for one long, glorious moment, to me. He stands behind me, one hand stroking my mahogany, his eyes ... so beautiful! ... moving over me as though he wants to devour every inch of me before the night is through. And I shiver, and give up my secret to the room ... I let my true voice free, and now it is the multiplicity of voices that I have gained over the years, the basses and the tenors and all the other beautiful, beautiful voices I have absorbed.

As my voice dies softly away, the room is silent ... awestruck from knowing they have witnessed something so very, very special ... and then the stamping and the cheering begins. Dean and my partner retreat, giving me space to take the credit that is mine, but I know this mood, I know the audience will not let them leave without at least one more performance, and I confess that I too am ready for it. So much so that I do not mind this time when Dean pushes himself up onto me. He turns round, with the grace that reminded me of that ghastly little furry cat earlier, and he is ... oh, Haydn, Chopin and all the Composers! ... he is lying on me. Even the fact that he is wearing boots - boots! ...does not cause the distress it should, because he is singing, again, and moving. For the first time ever, my top C is a little shrill ... but maybe that is because of the way my partner hit it overly hard. His eyes are fixed on Dean, on the way that Dean is moving over me, every inch of his body at some point or another in contact, moving slowly, and, oh glory be to Bach, his hips are moving against me.

It is not only my top C that is a little off now, but I don't believe anyone else notices ... his voice has spun a spell of intimacy and warmth and sex for each person in that place, each one for whom he sings to them and them alone. He ends the song lying on his back, his right leg bent and his head back, eyes closed as his last word slowly fades from the atmosphere, and then the room erupts. For once I don't mind sharing the applause as he sits up and then slips down to stand next to my partner and acknowledge the portion that is his due.

The heavy velvet curtains finally close, and the muffled sounds of a far inferior performance starting are just audible from the stage at the other end of the room. The second stage, I might add; this is the main one, where the real stars belong.

"We gonna torch this sucker?"

No, his speaking voice really is no match for the beauty when he sings.

"We still don't know for sure."

"I think we do, Dad. My EMF meter went crazy earlier."

"I didn't hear anything."

He smiles then, and it reminds me of him singing. "I had it set to vibrate."

My partner looks at Dean as though he has inexplicably played a note out of sequence. "You have a vibrate ... no, never mind." He sighs. "What was happening when it went off? Anyone else close to you, anything else it might be?"

"I was stroking it," he says. Then adds, "The piano." From him, I will forgive the insult of shortening my title. For now.

"Hmmmn." I have heard that sound before from pianoforte tuners. They make it when they are close, so very close to the exquisite precision of tone, but not quite there. It is anticipation, and enjoyment, and challenge.

"You know, if all the others were doing your Michelle Pfeiffer thing on top of it before the curtains shut, what do you think they were doing the minute they did close?"

And there is that walk again, the predatory one, as he steps closer to Dean, close into him, pushing him back against me. I don't really mind.

"Uh, Dad? I don't really think - " But it sounds unconvincing, and I can feel the way his breathing quickens as my partner moves close against him, murmuring something against Dean's ear. I don't know what it is he says, but Dean's breath catches and when my partner eases off the pressure enough so that he can turn Dean around, Dean doesn't resist. Dean's hips are now pressed against me, pushed into me by the pressure against him. I'm jealous for an instant, because those warm, strong, knowing fingers are no longer for me alone but instead are moving over Dean, hooking under one suspender strap and slowly peeling it down over his arm, and then the other, and all the while his mouth is close against Dean's ear, maybe saying something, or maybe just breathing. Either way, Dean likes it. I can feel clear evidence against me of how much he likes it, and for a moment I wish he were lying on top of me again, like he did before, hips moving against me.

I almost get my wish, because the next thing I know, my partner's leg has pushed Dean's legs further apart and he's pushing Dean down onto me so Dean's cotton shirt slides so softly against me, his right cheek presses warmly to me, and his breath leaves little clouds of moisture on my gleaming mahogany. My partner's bending down over him, lips on his neck, his ear, and then I can feel those strong fingers squeezing between me and Dean.

"Is that an EMF meter ..."

"No, I'm just real ..." but then Dean breaks off, and he's making all these little sounds against me. They may not be whole words, but they are as beautiful as those he sang earlier, an aria of his need and his desire. His pitch is perfection incarnate as he whispers snatches - sound that should be sung forever more. Will be sung forever more, because a voice so beautiful cannot be allowed to coarsen and then crack with age; Dean's voice should be heard three hundred years from now, along with all those other beautiful voices from years past.

I join my partner in caressing him, revelling in the sounds he makes as I draw him against me, ready to ensure he joins me for all time. He's so beautiful; the sounds he's making are desperate now, but each one as perfect as before, as much to be treasured and heard.

But something is wrong, there's a dissonance in the air. I can feel it. And then I can see it too ... my partner has gouged an iron knife through my beautiful surface. I let go of Dean to battle for him. But this man ... this scruffy, bearded menial - gives me no chance: he has opened me and leaned in and is cutting my wires. I do not give up without a fight ... he has blood on his face and his hands when Dean pulls him back, takes his tool and completes the murder of my voice. My beautiful, beautiful sounds are gone. And with my wires cut, I have no weapon.

No weapon as the heathens pour salt inside me ... do they not care how that will corrode me? No voice as they shake liquid over me. And nothing at all when Dean ... my beautiful, perfidious Dean ... sets me alight.

As the fire alarms sound their shrill cacophony and I hear people on the other side of the curtains running from the room ... deserting me ... I feel it start. Feel those beautiful voices I have collected over the years start to leave me, alone, unthanked, except for Him. My first one, who gave me my most beautiful voice. And then even He is leaving, and I hear one last, dying cadence from Him. "Thank you."

I know it is me he is thanking, for preserving his voice long after age would have stolen it. Dean, as before, takes credit that is not his to take. "You're welcome."

Then he's laughing. "I don't fucking believe it ... a cursed piano? What the hell next, dude?"

It's pianoforte, I want to tell him ... but the flames are devouring me.

He doesn't know what he's done. Without me, his voice will one day fall silent forever. Without me, he is nothing. Nothing.