Eileen was on deck as William slowly approached from behind her. He paused before continuing, his movements awkward. Looking back the way he came, William saw Trevor poke his head from around the corner. Without a word, Trevor motioned him forward with his hands before ducking back out of sight. William took a deep breath, and moved the last few steps.
"Hello again, Eileen."
Eileen nearly jumped. "How did you know I was thinking about..." She stopped herself when she realized he didn't know what she was talking about, her face embarrassed as if she had been caught doing something wrong. William gave her a confused look.
Eileen continued. "Sorry, never mind." Her icy demeanor returned in full as her cheeks flushed. She kept darting quick glances at him, but she continued to look out over the ocean.
William was too nervous himself to even notice. He grabbed the railing before them like a life line. "I just... well. I wanted to apologize for my rude departure last night. Believe me, it wasn't you. There were just some things that have been on my mind that Trevor helped me to work out."
Hidden from sight, Trevor listened to their conversation, a smile on his face. He whispered to himself. "OK, hang in there William. Not the lines we worked on, but you're doing fine."
Looking at William, Eileen felt dizzy because he stood so close. She could feel the longing within her, the sudden urge to wrap her arms around his neck and kiss him. But she looked away instead, embarrassed he would see it in her eyes. She had to end this conversation before she humiliated herself.
"There are no reasons for an apology, good sir. For that matter, I've already forgotten the entire... I'm sorry. What was your name again?"
From where Trevor listened, he winced softly. "Shake it off, William. Just a flesh wound. You're still in the game. Just stick to your lines..."
William looked surprised. He couldn't hide the slight bit of hurt in his eyes. "I'm--I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be so forward. I'm William. Do you remember me? We spoke last night."
"Ah, now I do remember. Speaking is a bit of an exaggeration isn't it? You were that strange fellow who ran off and left me."
"Yes. Well, I didn't mean to."
Eileen was becoming defensive. More than she should have been. "Perhaps I should apologize to you. You obviously didn't find me very good company."
"That's not true, I-"
"Perhaps you saw someone else who interested you more? I know how men's eyes can wander ever. Much Ado About Nothing. Shakespeare was right."
William looked at her, his tone certain. "My eyes didn't wander from you once all last night. Neither did my thoughts. You... captivated me. I could think of no one else."
Trevor whispered again, even though he knew William couldn't hear him. "Not so fast, William. Slow down. You'll scare her off..."
Eileen's heart pounded faster than she would have thought possible. This was getting out of control. Why was he saying these things? She felt herself panic and decided to end the conversation. "Well sir, you've made your apologies. No need to overstate it. I perfectly understand. But I'm afraid I must be going now. Surely you should realize how more pressing matters can suddenly come up."
Eileen turned and began to walk away, thankful to leave his side before she melted completely. William called after her.
She paused, but didn't turn. William continued, almost falling over his own words.
"I was hoping you would have dinner with me..."
Somehow, Eileen kept her balance. It was definitely time to leave. "I don't think so, Mr... well, William then. If your flightiness is any indication, I'm not sure I could trust you to show up." She turned and sped away as Trevor stepped out of his hiding place.
"What happened?" he asked. "You didn't recite a single line we worked on."
William barely noticed Trevor as he watched Eileen leave. He was still trying to make some sense out of what had just happened. "I don't understand. She didn't seem to believe that I was sincere in my invitation to dinner."
Trevor watched her too. "I wouldn't go that far. Let's let her chew on the idea for a while while we think of your next move. Maybe she believed you, maybe she didn't. Either way, I still have a good feeling this is leading to some good feelings. Just a minor setback. We'll find something else. Don't worry. I'm pretty good at these things. Been doing it for a long time. This one's going to work."
William seemed distracted, thinking of Eileen. Trevor steered him below decks to continue planning.
They had found a quiet corner in the third class smoking room. Trevor sat on a piano bench across from William. As they huddled together, a few people moved through the quiet room. Most were up on deck enjoying the afternoon sunshine. Trevor continued with the plans they had been making.
"OK, I know someone who works in the ship's galley. One of the first class cooks was in steerage last night during the party and I pointed him at this wonderful... well, let's just say they both owe me a favor. He promised me he'd sneak the two of you into the first class dinning room. So don't worry. The romantic dinner part is covered. You'll get the hoity and the toity. She'll be very impressed."
William's eyebrow came up. "Jumping a bit ahead, aren't you? EIleen hasn't even agreed to anything yet. She didn't seem to be about too, either."
Trevor wasn't dissuaded. "Convincing her is just a detail, like preaching to the choir. From my point of view, she's already gone to dinner with you, she just doesn't know it yet. Anyway, I think I've convinced Claire to help us. Actually, since she's not speaking to me, she'll do whatever the hell she wants and I'll just take the credit. Right now what we need is a catalyst. Something to sweep her past her fears." Trevor smiled at William. "You know how fear can sometimes get in the way, don't you?"
William chuckled. "You might look into a course on subtlety."
Trevor brightened. "Thank You."
"No, I meant you need to take one. But I think I do have an idea. She really seemed to enjoy it when you played the piano Wednesday night. Don't you remember? When the ship was anchored off of Cherebourgh? And if I may say so, you played quite well. Eileen was very fond of it."
Trevor blinked, not following. "Excuse me? I did what Wednesday night?"
"Played the piano. You gave quite an accomplished performance. Everyone in steerage has been wondering when you would play again, actually."
Trevor stuttered nervously. "I--I--Don't think that-- You, you must have confused me with--I did what?"
"Mr. Hale, everyone saw you. You were the most entertaining part of the evening."
Trevor shook his head. "Couldn't have been. That was before we passed out so it wasn't me. I've never been very good with music or instruments. I set Apollo up on a blind date with a medusa that went bad once, and he's still kind of holding a grudge-"
William prodded. "But last Wednesday-"
"Maybe I just got lucky and hit the right keys, what can I tell you. I don't really know how to play..."
William looked over at the piano just behind Trevor. "Well, there is one way to find out. Why not have a go at it and we'll know for certain."
Trevor stared at him, hearing the challenge in William's voice. he answered reluctantly ."Alright... Just remember, no matter how bad it sounds, you asked for it."
Trevor swivelled on the bench and faced the piano. His hands hovered over the keys, fingers outstretched. Then, as they were darting downward he pulled back, leaving the keys untouched.
"Wait a second," Trevor said. "I don't know any of your music."
"Then play something you do know. Something from this future of yours. Something romantic and heartfelt. Something... that makes you think of Claire."
Trevor felt an uncontrolled twinge of embarrassment at that assertion until he remembered that here at least they were considered husband and wife.
William smiled. "If music be the food of love, play on."
Trevor thought about it. "Let me see, something that makes me think of Claire..." Trevor curled his fingers and dropped his hands onto the keyboard, intentionally hitting several adjacent keys at once. He smiled. "Perfect."
William covered his ears. The harsh, dissonant sound echoed off the walls.
"Lovely," William cautiously removed his hands from over his ears. "Try something a little more romantic if possible. If you expect honesty about my feelings for Eileen, I expect no less from you about Claire. Don't hide behind a dissonance. Play me something about how you feel about her. By the way. Did I mention we all admired your singing voice?"
Trevor sighed. "When did we end up switching jobs? Fine. Something with vocals. I never realized being Cupid could be such a pain in the arse. Let's see..." Trevor was silent for several seconds. Then, without thinking about it too much, he picked a song.
Trevor's hands dropped onto the keyboard. No one was more surprised than him when an actual chord came out. He paused, blinking. Beside him, William waited patiently.
Trevor continued. He could feel the notes under his fingertips, almost like an instinct. His hands danced over the keyboard, going from one chord to the next, precisely the way he heard the music in his head. Trevor smiled, enjoying it. He remembered the first time he had heard the song he played. Someone had put it on the jukebox at Taggerty's. As it had played, Trevor had caught himself watching Claire from behind the bar. She had been seated at one of the tables, wrapped up in reading some book or something as rays of afternoon light flowed in through the windows, outlining her form. Trevor hadn't been able to take his eyes off of her. He covered for it when she had caught him by sticking out his tongue at her. But he still remembered the image... and the song. Trevor decided that since he had come this far, he might as well try singing the lyrics too. He started again from the beginning and began to sing.
She's got a way about her. I don't know what it is,
but I know that I can't live without her...
Trevor's voice was full and strong. Not quite the polished timbre of a professional, but he sang with honesty. And somehow that made it feel more real.
William leaned back as the music flowed from the piano, filling the room as Trevor continued to sing. The few passengers at the other tables all looked up as Trevor played, stopping card games, novels they were reading, pipes they were smoking, and letters they were writing. One by one they turned and listened. Trevor continued.
She's got a smile that heals me. I don't know what it is,
But I have to laugh when she reveals me...
Above them, Claire walked on the aft deck alone. She wondered where Trevor was. It was strange. Who would have ever thought that she would reach a point where the only thing around her she truly accepted as real was... Trevor Hale. She thought about him in the third class party last night. She couldn't help herself. The sight of him him moving through the crowd trying to set up couples made her smile. It felt good that at least some things didn't change. The wind blew off the ocean and into her hair as her face brightened.
Then something seemed out of place. She could hear something, faintly. Music. Rising through the deck beneath her. Someone was playing the piano, and Claire could just make out a voice. Curious she moved towards the well deck, heading below.
Trevor continued to play, his thoughts filled with various memories of Claire even as he sang. An image came to him of her coming into his apartment as he had lain sick, bringing him chicken soup. He remembered the hug she had given him in that convenience store. Remembered the two of them swing dancing together. And slow dancing in front of a tombstone. He could almost hear her voice, her laugh over the phone when he had described the abstract image on his bedroom ceiling as a 'duckie'. remembered looking up and seeing the first bead on his string slid over apart from the rest. Each memory something to be held and cherished.
She comes to me when I'm feeling down, inspires me without a sound,
She touches me, and I get turned around...
William smiled as Trevor played, feeling the warmth in his voice. He had never heard the song Trevor performed. It felt different, unlike the songs he was used to. It was simpler, but more mature... more honest. Still, he wasn't sure that was quite it. For a moment, he considered if perhaps Trevor really was from the future. He brushed the thought away, deciding instead to just enjoy the music.
As Claire came below decks, she could hear the music more clearly. It was coming from the closed door of the third class smoking room. Claire stopped in mid-step, suddenly realizing something. She recognized the song. It was Billy Joel, being played here, in 1912 onboard the Titanic. Claire smiled. Only one other passenger would even know of that song. Slowly Claire moved to the door, opening it quietly and looking in. The music flowed out to her.
She's got a light around her, and everywhere she goes,
a million dreams of love surround her... everywhere
Even though she had expected it, Claire couldn't believe her eyes. It was Trevor sitting at the piano, singing. When did he learn to sing? Or play piano? As she entered the room, Claire paused just beyond the doorway, deciding to watch from there. She felt the tenderness in Trevor's voice, the feeling in his playing. It filled the air, and looking around, she could see that everyone felt it. Claire edged up to one of the room pillars and slowly leaned her head against it. Enjoying the moment, she stayed there as Trevor continued.
William noticed something out of the corner of his eye. Turning his head, he saw Claire across the room, listening. She raised a finger to her lips, telling him to not let Trevor know she was there. William smiled as he imitated Trevor's playing in mid air and pointed towards her. Claire understood. She knew she should be upset that Trevor was playing a song like that for her. It probably crossed the doctor-patient boundary she liked to keep between them. But at the moment she didn't care. She was moved by the sentiment, and she would leave it at that.
Trevor continued to play, not seeing her. Behind him, Claire heard the song approach its cadence. She quietly moved back to the door. He still managed to surprise her. It was a sweet gesture, and she didn't want Trevor to ruin it by saying something that... Trevor would say. Opening the door, she turned and waited.
She's got a way about her, I don't know what it is,
but I know that I can't live without her... anyway.
The last few notes hovered in the air as softly, Claire closed the door behind her.