Michael’s well aware that there are parts of the Internet dedicated to his habit of breaking into song at the drop of a hat (he’s not sure it could really be classed as a habit, but that’s how his fans view it, and to be honest, there are worse things they could – and occasionally do – fixate on).
He doesn’t think he necessarily has the best voice ever, but he’s happy enough to indulge people’s requests when they ask, and as he doesn’t break glassware when he hums a tune, he figures his voice is at least average, if not better.
James, however…well, let’s just say that Michael’s counting it as a minor miracle that all the bar’s windows haven’t shattered into a million pieces.
James does not have enclaves of the World Wide Web dedicated to his singing ability, because James cannot sing.
“Whoa, we’re halfway there…whoa, livin’ on a prayer…”
Michael wouldn’t have thought it was possible to mangle a Bon Jovi song quite as thoroughly as James is doing right now. It’s not like it’s a particularly melodic arrangement, or an especially sophisticated vocal ability is required. And yet James is managing to sound less like a human singing a song and more like a howler monkey shrieking in the rainforest canopy.
Of course, because this is James, the crowd are laughing and cheering – and in some cases, singing along – instead of pressing their hands over their ears and cringing away.
And of course, James is completely oblivious to the quality of the noise coming out of his mouth, grinning at his adoring audience as he screeches into the microphone.
Although that obliviousness night also have something to do with the amount of alcohol he’s consumed, Michael figures.
His eyes search out Kevin across the crowded bar, and he glares at him as James’ voice hits a particularly excruciating note. But Kevin merely grins unrepentantly back at him and gives him a thumbs up before turning towards the stage and directing a whoop of encouragement towards James.
Michael decides right then and there that no death is too slow and painful for the man.
Not that it’s actually James’ singing that’s giving Michael homicidal thoughts. After all, it’s not James’ fault that he has a terrible voice. Nor is it his fault that he’s up there on the stage, subjecting them all to said voice. Not really.
No, it’s Kevin’s. Kevin, who knows that James really can’t hold his drink. Kevin, who knows exactly what James gets like when he’s had a few too many.
Friendly, flirty, and utterly convinced he’s amazing at everything.
Which means that when James wakes up tomorrow morning, he’s going to be hungover, and ridiculously, agonisingly embarrassed. Embarrassed enough that he’s going to want to hide in his room for at least a week, and when he does come out, it’s going to take him about another week to look anyone in the eye. And from someone who’s normally so outgoing, so extroverted, that kind of behaviour is painful to see.
It’s painful for Michael to see, and he hates witnessing it almost as much as he suspects James hates living it. Because James should never be embarrassed. He should never be ashamed of himself. He has no reason to be ashamed of himself.
But he will be, and it will be all Kevin’s fault.
The crowd break into cheers and applause suddenly, and Michael realises the song is over. He looks towards the stage, trying to identify the quickest route to it so that he can remove James from the vicinity of the karaoke machine before he digs himself any deeper.
Unfortunately, in the process he catches James’ eye, and the expression that immediately slides on to James’s face is one Michael really doesn’t like.
“So, folks,” James says into the microphone he’s still got clutched in his hand. “I have a question for you.”
The crowd roars – even in his drunken, over-excited state, James has them all eating out of the palm of his hand.
“How do you feel about duets?”
Michael literally feels his heart sink. He would swear he hears the plop as it drops right down into his shoes.
More cheers from the crowd, and James grins. “I’m very glad you said that,” he tells them, “because I have a friend over there who has an amazing voice, and I think it would be a great pity if you didn’t get to hear it.”
He points straight at Michael, and it’s as if Michael’s been spotlighted, the number of eyes that swing towards him. Somewhere over the noise he thinks he hears Kevin laughing, and his murderous ideas suddenly acquire a lot more detail.
He tries to demur, waving a hand at everyone as he shrugs and gives them a self-deprecating smile. But James isn’t taking no for an answer, it seems.
“Oh, come on, Michael,” he says. “All these good people want to hear you. You wouldn’t want to disappoint your adoring fans, would you?” He’s mock-pouting slightly now, fixing Michael with a wide, beseeching stare, the blue of the those eyes still devastating even in the dim light of the bar.
The crowd have started a chant now too, calling “Duet, duet, duet,” over and over again.
Michael has no choice but to give in, the thought occurring that at least if he does this, it might lessen some of James’ embarrassment tomorrow, if everyone has someone else to pin their amusement on.
He slides down off his stool and pushes his way to the stage amid whoops and catcalls. James tosses him a second microphone as he mounts the stairs, and as Michael catches it he wonders at James’ coordination and whether he’s really as drunk as he looks, after all.
But close up he can see the flush on James’ skin and the giddy look in his eyes, and he realises that yes, James has consumed just as much alcohol as Kevin has seen fit to ply him with. Which is quite a lot, apparently.
“James, are you sure this is a good idea?” he asks, making a last ditch attempt to get them both out of this. He holds the microphone away from his mouth so the audience can’t hear him, but James doesn’t follow suit.
“It’s a great idea!” he proclaims, his words echoing across the bar and making the crowd cheer and start chanting again.
No escape, then.
“So what are we singing, anyway?” Michael says, hoping it’s at least something he knows.
James waves a hand at the screen in front of them, and Michael reads the words ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen’ hovering there, waiting for someone to press the start button.
“That’s not a duet, James.”
“So? Doesn’t mean we can’t sing it together.”
And before Michael can say anything else, he leans over and pushes the button. Then he reaches out and grabs Michael’s wrist, pulling him in so they’re standing side by side.
There’s no need for them to be so close together – they’re not sharing a microphone, after all – and for a few seconds Michael can’t process anything other than the feeling of James’ warmth all down his side, and the fact that James’ arm has snuck around his waist, keeping Michael anchored against him.
He’s so busy processing, in fact, that he doesn’t realise that James’ has started singing again, James’ raucous voice ringing out alone for the first couple of lines, until James gives him a playful nudge, and rolls his eyes at the audience as Michael’s own eyes finally focus on the words flashing up in front of him.
“…I ain’t ready…crazy little thing called love.”
For a moment, Michael’s voice sounds almost as bad as James’, as he struggles to find the correct pitch. The audience laughs at the pair of them, and James laughs too, in amongst the lyrics. Michael mentally shrugs, and throws himself into it. If you can’t beat ‘em, as the saying goes…
“I kinda like it…crazy little thing called love.”
Michael chances a quick look at James about halfway through the second verse – dangerous, as he’s not at all sure of the words without looking at the screen, but suddenly necessary.
He almost forgets to look away again.
James is grinning like a maniac, blue eyes sparkling with glee as he belts out the song, performing to the crowd like he is Freddie Mercury. He looks like he’s having the time of his life.
Michael just wishes it hadn’t taken far too many cocktails to get him to this point.
Of course, James chooses the same moment to glance round at Michael, and graces Michael with an even wider grin, a flirty wink, and another nudge that makes him abruptly start paying attention to the song again.
Suddenly, he never wants this duet to end.
It does, of course, and the crowd break into another round of applause as James bows flamboyantly, pulling Michael down with him.
“Encore, encore!” everyone is shouting, and despite the fact he might just have actually had fun, Michael can’t help but wonder whether the entire audience is tone deaf, just like James. It’s the only explanation for their demand, surely?
But, “Sorry, folks,” James is saying. “I think there are some other people who want their turn.” He’s right – a gaggle of girls are waiting near the stage, obviously getting ready to sing ‘I Will Survive’, or something equally clichéd, and Michael follows James’ lead in placing his microphone back in its bracket, and follows James off the stage amidst a certain amount of booing and further calls of “Encore!”
“James!” Kevin is waiting for them by the bar. “That was brilliant! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a performance quite like it! Let me buy you another drink!”
“No.” Michael speaks before James can, suddenly more annoyed with Kevin than ever. “I think he’s had enough.”
“Don’t be such a party pooper.” Kevin sticks his tongue out at him. “I thought you were having fun too. You certainly looked like you were up there.”
“It was fun!” James exclaims. “You know what, we should sing another one later!” He looks up at Michael, using those eyes to devastating effect again, and Michael almost wants to say yes. He can still feel the phantom warmth of James’ body all down the side of his own, and he would swear the small of his back is still tingling where James’ hand had rested against it.
Them he remembers how embarrassed James is going to be by all this tomorrow. It’s bad enough that he hasn’t put a stop to it already – he’s not going to make things worse.
“I don’t think so, James,” he says. “In fact, I think it’s about time we got you home.”
“Party pooper,” says James, echoing Kevin’s words, and promptly tumbles off the barstool he’s perched himself on.
“I’m fine!” James is, in fact, giggling, as if ending up in a tangled heap on the floor is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to him.
“Are you sure?”
“Perfectly.” James flails around for a moment, trying to get up – a feat not easily accomplished by someone in his state – until both Michael and Kevin reach down to haul him to his feet, Michael gratified to see that Kevin is actually looking faintly guilty now.
“Definitely time to go, I think,” Michael repeats.
James frowns sulkily, but doesn’t resist when Michael starts herding him towards the door, hands firmly on his shoulders in an effort to keep him upright.
“I’ll say goodnight to your adoring audience for you, shall I?” Kevin calls after them. Michael merely flips him the finger and keeps going, all his attention on keeping James in front of him.
James is singing again by the time Michael’s managed to get them as far as his front door, loudly enough that Michael suspects James’ neighbours aren’t going to be impressed, even though it’s still only 10:30pm.
“I kinda like it…crazy little thing called love.”
Then, as James continues singing, getting louder with every word, he says “Shush” automatically, only just resisting the urge to clap a hand over James’ mouth, and then, realising what they need, “Keys, James. Where are your keys?”
Michael is staying in yet another hotel while they’re filming in LA, but James had declared himself sick of hotels long before they’d made it as far as this filming block, and instead rented a small house near the beach (if it wasn’t for James squawking in his ear, Michael knows he would be able to hear the sound of the waves) to live in for the duration of their stay. Hence the need for keys, and hence Michael’s worries about the neighbours.
“James,” he asks again, “keys.”
James pauses in his second Freddie Mercury impersonation of the night long enough to tell him breathlessly, “Right pocket. Hopefully.” Then, when he feels Michael’s fingers searching as instructed, he snickers and tuts at Michael. “Liberties,” he admonishes.
Michael grimaces, and then sighs in relief as he locates the keys in the indicated pocket and slides them free. He ignores James’ continuing sniggers and unlocks the door, and they both all but fall into the foyer.
Luckily, Michael has been here before – he and James are friends, after all, and they’ve spent plenty of time in each other’s temporary homes throughout the months of filming – and so he knows where James’ bedroom is. Hauling James up the stairs is an accomplishment in itself, James still too drunk to be much help, and apparently much more interested in humming a tune that is no longer Queen, and which Michael isn’t surprised he doesn’t recognise. Although humming is an improvement in outright singing, he supposes.
They make it as far as the bedroom door before James appears to remember again that Michael is there, and that he’s not remaining upright all on his own. Michael’s hand is on the doorknob when James suddenly swings around (with more coordination that Michael would have thought him capable of right now), his other arm joining the one that Michael’s already got slung round his neck to support James.
And then James is looking up at him, pouting slightly, and asking, “What, no goodnight kiss?”
And before Michael can formulate any kind of response, James leans in and kisses him.
He mostly misses Michael’s mouth, catching only a corner of it along with a patch of Michael’s cheek, but it’s enough to make Michael freeze, the only two words in his head Why now?
He collects himself just in time to stop James having a second go, and places a hand on James’ chest to stop him leaning in again.
“You’ve had too much to drink, James,” he says, his voice hoarse, and tinged with maybe a tiny bit of longing. “Which means you’re either not going to remember this, or utterly regret it, in the morning. And neither of those outcomes really works for me.”
He finally manages to get the bedroom door open, and steers James through it and towards the bed, very definitely not allowing James any further opportunities to molest him.
“Take your clothes off,” he says, and only realises that that might not have been the best choice of words when James snickers again. “Oh, you know what I mean,” he clarifies tiredly, although he’s not at all sure that James does. “I’ll be back in a minute.” And, without waiting to see if James is obeying his instruction, he flees towards the bathroom.
In there, he stares at his reflection in the mirror, seeing a Michael staring back at him that is equal parts tired, regretful and a little sad.
“Fuck,” he tells the reflection sincerely, and then scrubs a hand across his face and through his hair before filling a glass with water and carrying it back into the bedroom.
Then he stops, in the doorway, because James has flopped down on to the bed, still fully dressed – and is fast asleep.
Michael just stares at him for a few moments, slightly nonplussed by the sudden contrast between the bouncy, hyperactive, inebriated James he was expecting to return to, and this quiet, sleeping, calm James he’s found.
He knows he should really wake James up again – make him drink at least one glass of water, and make him get undressed so he’ll be more comfortable. But he can’t bring himself to. James looks peaceful, lying there, and Michael is unwilling to disturb the little bit of peace that James is entitled to before he wakes up tomorrow morning and starts remembering tonight.
So instead, Michael sets down the water on the beside cabinet – within easy reach in case James does wake in the night and wants it – and fetches a spare blanket out of the closet to lay over James so he won’t get cold (a ridiculous impulse – James is still dressed, after all, and even in Autumn California isn’t exactly chilly – but one he’s utterly incapable of resisting).
Then he leaves James to his slumber, walks down the hall to the spare room, strips off most of his own clothes and slides into bed himself.
Sleep is a long time coming.
It takes Michael several seconds to realise that the noise of a cat being strangled is not actually part of his dreams. It takes him another few seconds to realise that it is in fact also not the sound of a cat being strangled.
He groans, rolls over, and grabs his watch, peering blearily at it.
9:56am. He doesn’t normally sleep so late, but he supposes he can be forgiven the hour, considering how long he’d lain awake last night, chasing his thoughts around his head until he wanted to scream with frustration.
The noise hasn’t stopped, despite Michael’s best efforts to ignore it, and he groans again as he drags himself out of bed and over to the window.
James can’t possibly still be drunk, can he? He’d consumed a lot of alcohol last night, true, but even so…
Then again, that’s the only explanation for the caterwauling, surely? Why else would James think it’s a good idea to be singing under Michael’s window at ten o’clock in the morning?
He opens the window and sticks his head out. James spots him instantly, of course, but doesn’t stop singing, seemingly determined to get to the end of the verse, or chorus, or whatever, of whichever song it is he’s singing.
“You’ll let me hold your hand…I want to hold your hand.”
“James,” Michael calls down, when James finally falls silent, “what are you doing?”
“I would have thought that was obvious,” James calls back.
“Not to us simple folk, clearly. Please, do enlighten me.”
“I’m serenading you.”
“James, are you still drunk?” Michael asks after a moment, because that seems like the most pertinent response to that declaration right now.
James scrunches up his face, considering. “Maybe a little bit,” he says. “Not much, though. I think the headache I had when I woke up earlier precludes me being that drunk still.”
Michael has to believe him. No one who can use the words ‘precludes’ correctly in a sentence can be that inebriated.
“James,” Michael says, asking the next most relevant question, “why are you serenading me?”
“It seemed like a good idea at the time?”
“And you were singing…?” Michael lets the pause dangle significantly.
“Oi!” James protests. “How can you not recognise the Beatles? Only one of the greatest bands ever formed!”
Michael wisely decides not to comment – on either point. And in any case, he’s not sure he’d be heard, James having broken momentarily into song again.
“Yeah, you got that something, I think you'll understand…When I say that something, I want to hold your hand…”
“James!” Michael yells, and James shuts up quickly enough. “I repeat,” he continues tiredly, the surrealism of the whole situation starting to get to him, “why are you serenading me?”
“I told you, it seemed…”
“…like a good idea at the time – yes, I know. But why did you have the idea in first place? Why did you feel it was necessary to serenade me?”
James’ face falls, completely and visibly, and there’s the embarrassment Michael belatedly realises has been absent thus far. James is looking everywhere but up at him now, and Michael only just catches the words when he mutters, “Well, why do people normally serenade other people?”
“Oh.” Michael blinks. It abruptly occurs to him that he’s being a total and utter arse. And an oblivious one at that.
“James, get back in here right now. We need to talk.”
“Okay.” James still isn’t looking at him, but he does start to move away from his spot under Michael’s window, and that’s good enough for the moment.
Michael ducks back into the bedroom, throws on his jeans and shirt from last night, and hurries barefoot down the stairs to find James.
They almost collide in the kitchen, as James comes round the corner just as Michael barrels in through the door.
“Look, I’m really sorry I woke you up,” James starts, before Michael can even get his breath back to speak. “It can’t have been much fun dealing with me last night, and disturbing your rest isn’t the greatest way to say thank you.”
“You were very drunk last night, James,” Michael says without thinking, and then wants to bite his own tongue off.
“I know,” James replies in a small voice. “But I do remember that you looked after me and brought me home. So, well, thank you.”
“As if I was going to leave you to Kevin’s tender mercies any longer,” Michael says. And then, “You know I’ll always look after you, right? I’ll always help you when you need it.”
“I know,” James says again. His mouth quirks in something that could charitably be called a smile, but he doesn’t look up at Michael. “You’re a good friend.”
“James,” Michael says tentatively. “If you remember that I brought you home, do you remember what else happened last night? After we got back here, I mean.”
James flushes a dull red, and ducks his head even further. “Of course I do. And I’m sorry about that. But I do also remember that you pushed me away,” he adds hurriedly. “That you didn’t take advantage of me because I was drunk.”
“I’d never do that, James.”
“I know you wouldn’t. But, well, that was what this morning was about.”
“I wanted to show you that you wouldn’t have been taking advantage of me. That I didn’t try to kiss you just because I was drunk.”
“Well, it was a bit because I was drunk,” James amends then, obviously in the interest of being completely truthful. “But only because it appears that was the only way I could pluck up the courage. But then when I woke up this morning I realised that you wouldn’t take advantage of me in that state, of course you wouldn’t, so I wanted to prove that my feelings weren’t actually just alcohol-fuelled.”
“Your feelings?” Michael’s already (albeit belatedly) figured out that there must be feelings involved somewhere, but it’s still a little like a punch to the gut to hear James admit to them, so easily now.
“Yes…feelings. But it doesn’t matter, really. Obviously I completely misjudged the situation, and, well, sorry again for waking you up like that. You can go back to bed now if you want – that is, if you still need more sleep after last night. You can use the spare room for as long as you want, obviously. Don’t mind me, I’ll just – well, I’ll be quiet. You won’t even know I’m here. I’ll…”
“James,” Michael says, somewhere in the middle of that flow of words. But James doesn’t stop, so instead Michael reaches out and places his hand over James’ own where it’s resting on one of the counter-tops, gripping the edge as if James still needs assistance to remain upright.
That makes James trail off abruptly, and Michael decides to press his advantage, carefully detaching James’ hand from the counter and lifting it so he can lace his fingers through James’.
“I believe you said something about wanting to hold my hand?” he says softly.
“Oh, so you did recognise the song, then!” James replies, and then his eyes finally lift to Michael’s, widening in almost comical surprise.
Michael stares at him for a moment, and then laughs. “Not quite the response I was aiming for, you know,” he tells James.
“Sorry!” James laughs a little bit too, and then his gaze drops once more, this time to their linked hands. “Really?” he asks.
“Really,” Michael confirms, and then tugs a little, because as far as he’s concerned, holding James’ hand isn’t enough.
James comes to him with a combination of eagerness and hesitancy, as if he’s not able to believe he’s finally getting the thing he really wants, but he does make it into Michael’s arms nonetheless, where he fits pretty much perfectly.
Someone sighs happily, and Michael’s not entirely sure which of them it is. Then he decides it doesn’t really matter.
“So, do you want to give me that goodnight kiss now?” he asks.
James frowns a tiny bit. “It’s not night, you know,” he points out. “So it would really be more of a good morning kiss. Or a hello kiss. Or a…”
“Oh, James…” Michael sighs, and kisses him.
James goes gratifyingly silent very quickly, and Michael finds himself thinking that it already seems to be a feature of their relationship that he’s having to find unusual ways to shut James up.
Not that James really seems to mind, and Michael decides then that this isn’t really a moment for thinking. So he stops.
A little while later, his brain switches itself back on, and he realises that he’s manoeuvred them so that he has James pinned against the counter, James all but perched on the edge of it with Michael standing between his thighs.
“Oh,” he observes articulately.
“Yes, oh,” James says. Then grins, and continues, “Really, I’m all for being ravished on the kitchen counters, but do you think we could at least start in a bed?”
“Funny, James. You know, some of us were in bed until someone else decided to wake us up.”
“I am sorry about that.”
“I know you are. But really, we could have had the conversation without the serenading beforehand. You could have just knocked on the bedroom door, come in, and announced that you still wanted to kiss me even though you weren’t drunk any more. I would have got the message pretty quickly.”
“I know. I just felt like – well, it seemed like a some kind of grand gesture was called for, that’s all.”
“Well, it was definitely some kind of gesture,” Michael says, and then chuckles when James pulls a face at him. “Although…how did you know which window to, er, sing to? How did you even know I was still here? Have you been sneaking peeks at me while I’m asleep?”
“No, actually.” James’ annoyed expression morphs into something softer, more intimate. “I just knew – that you’d still be here. Like you said, I knew you’d look after me, and that you wouldn’t leave me while I was in that state. And I knew which room you’d be in because that was the spare room closest to mine. I just…knew.”
Michael had to kiss him again for that. “I will, James,” he murmurs. “I’ll always be here.”
“As if I’d let you go now,” James whispers back.
There’s a moment of silence, as they just breath together, and then James shifts his weight slightly – or tries to, still pinned as he is between Michael and the counter. He also tries to suppress a grimace, but Michael catches it nonetheless.
“Oh crap, is this hurting you? I’m sorry…” It’s him who shifts this time, and James nearly slithers to the floor when his support is suddenly removed. Michael flashes back briefly but vividly to the night before, and a drunk, giggling James in a heap next to the bar.
But this time James has grabbed his shoulders, and manages to remain upright – perhaps pressing a little more closely against Michael than he needs to, but Michael’s not going to complain.
“It’s not the most comfortable place I’ve ever sat,” James admits. Then he winks. “Maybe I would prefer to be ravished in a bed, after all.”
“In a minute,” Michael replies, manfully ignoring the images that have abruptly taken up residence at the front of his mind. “Are you sure you’re all right? What about your head? You said you had a headache.”
“It’s pretty much gone.”
“Really?” Michael’s sceptical. “After the amount you drank last night?”
James pouts. “Do we really have to talk about this now? I don’t really want to be reminded of last night any more. In fact, I’d like to forget it all together.”
And now he’s blushing too, and Michael belatedly remembers how much he hates to see James’ embarrassment, and how much of a mess he’s made of everything this morning so far, and how he’d very much like to stop doing that. And, in fact, take James off to bed as he’s requesting.
Why are they still in the kitchen again?
However, “Oh god,” James groans, before Michael can make a move, and Michael instantly freezes.
“What is it? What’s the matter? Are you sure you’re all right?”
“I bet it’s all on YouTube,” James says, voice muffled by the fact that he’s buried his face in Michael’s shoulder in a gesture of something like despair. “My humiliation is going to be all over the Internet, I just know it.”
“You don’t know that,” Michael tells him. “There are much weirder things for people to post on the Internet than your bad singing.”
“Thanks for that,” James mutters wryly.
“And besides,” Michael gets a finger under James chin and lifts his head so James has to look at him, “if you’re on the Internet, them I’m going to be there too. You weren’t the only one performing last night, remember?”
But that just makes James groan again. “And I dragged you into it too,” he murmurs pathetically. “I am so sorry.”
“I don’t care, James. I just wanted to make you happy. And help you out.”
“I really don’t deserve you.”
“Yes, you really do. And look,” Michael assumes a appropriately serious and reassuring expression, “ if it is on the Internet, then we’ll get it taken down. I have People, you know. People who can do that sort of thing.”
“These People have mysterious powers, do they?” James says doubtfully, but Michael can see the glimmer of the smile he’s trying to conjure, and presses on determinedly.
“Absolutely. They are People with Mysterious Powers, and they can do anything.”
“Oh, well, in that case…” James is outright grinning now. “Remind me to buy your People some flowers and chocolates to say thank you.”
“And what about me?” Michael asks, feigning upset. “Don’t I get a thank you? They are my People, after all.”
“Of course you get a thank you,” James tells him. “I was just thinking of something a little more personal, that’s all. Something involving that bed we’ve been talking about.”
“Ah. I see.” Michael starts moving again, towards the door, pulling James with him. “Well, naturally I wouldn’t want to prevent you expressing your gratitude.”
James laughs at his sudden eagerness and comes willingly, and together they tumble out of the kitchen. About halfway up the stairs, Michael realises what he’s hearing, and he smiles as he makes out the words.
“And when I touch you I feel happy inside…It’s such a feeling that my love, I can’t hide…”
James is singing again, and it’s the sweetest sound Michael’s ever heard.