A/N: Edited version up as of 23 July, 2009
Second Dance, Second Chance
Michael watched as Billy extended his leg behind him and balanced on the very tip-toe of his black canvas shoes. His body was suspended parallel to the dance floor, then he pushed his leg higher and his back bowed and stretched.
"That's really brilliant, you know."
"It better be. Fuckin' arabesque took me long enough to get right."
"I've never seen anyone who could move like you can." Michael sighed. "Jesus, if I could, I'd be out of Everington so fast..." He trailed off when he saw Billy starting to look uncomfortable.
"You working in the mine?" Billy asked quietly. It was the sort of question they had been avoiding.
"Yeah," said Michael. "Not much else here for a bloke like me." He couldn't look at Billy, but he could feel his friend's eyes.
"You alright with that, then?"
"I hate it." Michael made a sound that was supposed to be a laugh. "Soon as I've got more than a hundred quid to my name I'm headin' straight back to London." Back to the East End and the clubs that were his haunts two years ago, before he'd gone broke and went crawling back to his father, the hypocritical arse who was ashamed to have a fairy for a son. "I'll get to come see you dance again," he added as an optimistic afterthought.
Billy had been mindlessly stretching as he listened to his friend. "Come here," he said finally.
"I want you to dance with me."
Michael's move across the wooden floor of the Everington Boys' Club was a sort of graceful, timid dance itself. It was evening and the Club was closed -- just like the last time, the first time Billy had shown him how to dance. But this time Billy was more intimidating.
Billy motioned him over to the barre. "Rest your left hand here," he said, guiding Michael's fingers so that they rested lightly upon the polished lumber. "Now, let your right arm hang kinda loose and then raise it and curve it a bit ... but don't let it get tight," he rushed on, his hand pressing lightly from underneath on the upper part of Michael's arm. His hand followed the line on Michael's arm down to the fingers. "Bend the middle one in just a little. There. First position."
Michael could hear his heart pounding in his head. He had to keep reminding himself that Billy didn't swing that way. He had to keep imagining that he was in a cold shower. He had to break the tension. He turned his face to look over his shoulder at his friend.
"Why're you here, Billy?"
"Got tired of playin' telephone tag."
"No, really," Michael pushed. "Why'd you come back to Everington?"
"It's only for a short while. I've rehearsals starting up again in a few weeks and then I'm going back to London." Billy used his chin to point Michael's head forward again. "Look ahead. Put your feet at shoulders' width and point your toes out. That's second position for your feet."
"I feel like a right prat."
Michael felt Billy's smile against his cheek. "You're fine. Keep your back straight; bend your knees." Billy's hands moved down Michael's torso. "Back straight." Billy's hips were cradling his, guiding him down.
"Back straight? Can't even keep my thoughts straight." Billy laughed but Michael wasn't joking. He was painfully aware of the well toned muscles Billy certainly hadn't had the last time they talked face to face.
"Look forward; bend your knees a little more. It's called a demi-plié." Billy hands rested on the upper part of Michael's arms. "Keep your shoulders square. Don't let 'em roll forward." Hands made light, tickling lines down Michael's back and put gentle pressure on his ribs, leading him back to standing upright. "You're a natural."
Michael wasn't sure how to put what he wanted to say. He turned around letting Billy's fingers brush across his stomach as they hovered in place. "You can't do this to me," he finally said.
"I've enough trouble here without havin' the piss taken by a fantasy from when I was ten years old."
Billy's mouth twitched. "A fantasy, huh?"
"That's what I'm talkin' about!"
Billy looked at Michael for a very long time. Michael felt Billy's fingers caressing circles on his sides and his stomach flipped inside out. "What makes you so sure I'm takin' the piss?"
"Last I heard you and Debbie had something going on, and with a body like yours, I'm sure there's no shortage of birds for you in London..." His voice trailed off for a moment before he rushed on. "And what happened to dancers not bein' poofs?"
Billy let his forehead rest against Michael's, and Michael half expected to feel himself pull back, but he didn't. Instead he raised his chin a little and bumped his nose against his friend's. Their lips touched. There was a sense of déjà vu about the almost-kiss. He remembered saying good-bye to Billy -- and that one brief, confused kiss, which at the time was all he needed to consider his wildest dream fulfilled. Now their lips were just barely touching and all he wanted was for them to be a little closer -- but he didn't move, because he didn't quite understand what was happening.
It wasn't Michael, but Billy who was the first to pull back. "I said dancers weren't all poofs," Billy said. "I didn't say that none were." He turned and started to walk away, dropping a key on the floor as he made his way to the side entrance. "You can stay here awhile if you like, but Mrs Wilkinson would appreciate it if you'd lock up when you leave. Just give the key to Debbie when you get a chance." Billy stopped just short of the door and looked over his shoulder, not enough to see Michael behind him, just enough to seem more personal when he said, "Look me up when you get to London, mate. I don't want to go this long without seein' you again."