So I'm back. I'd like to thank a reviewer of mine who asked the same question that kept me from updating. "Where is this story going?" Now I've looked over this thing and I'm trying to streamline and get it back on track. Thanks to all of you who kept checking up on this story! You don't have to reread, but I feel it seems more thought out and contains a bit more detail.

Disclaimer: I'm going to buy Sailor moon! Money? Umm… (digs around in pockets) I have a dead moth and a piece of lint! You mean that's not enough? I guess I'll never own sailor Moon or Strictly Ballroom.

Can't Stop the Music

Chapter 1

Keep Dancing!

(Chapter revised: 12/27/06)

Somewhere far away, or not very far at all, people were having fun. They were happy; they were completely carefree. For them dancing was about freedom and the sensual movement of bodies in sync with music. For them it was about the fun not the execution of the moves.

But that's not what this story is about.

Where a certain ebony-haired male was located execution could either make or break you. In the glitter and glamour of his world there was no time for friendliness, or to be laid back. The competition was cut-throat, each couple was a finely tuned instrument of movement, the audience a see of nameless faces, the judges held your destiny stretched thin waiting the cut it like the fates themselves. The dancing was pretty hard too! It was time for partners to take the floor and show how hard they had worked for this moment. It was time to dance or die.

Ok, so maybe it wasn't that serious.

Now try approaching the nervous wreck in the corner. No, not the one throwing up in her partners lap, Darien Shields! Ask him if this is a game to him. I'm sure he'll give you a very civilized answer. Just don't forget this helmet. No, of course there's nothing to worry about! I just recommend you where it in the event of an injury. You know…

Just in case.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the 30th Annual Copacabana Ballroom Contest! Partners please take your place for the waltz!"

"I can't do this. My face is too pale, I think my breathing is shallow, and my heartbeat is faint. Could I be dying? Does it look like I'm dying to you?"

Darien paced while impatiently looking at his wrist which was, unfortunately, devoid of any watch. Small beads of perspiration made his outfit cling uncomfortably to his back and his hair was rumpled from the numerous rough strokes of his hand. His best friend, or worst enemy depending on the time of day, was watching amusedly a safe distance away from the turmoil. The blond considered making cocky comment at that moment, but he valued his limbs in place and all of his pearly whites accounted for.

"Just relax, Darien. You're scaring the children." Andrew cast his arm about as if to point out the fact that children were running for the doors in fright. Had Darien not been wearing a hole into the freshly buffed floors of the lobby they were currently standing in he probably would have sent a glare in Andrew's direction. Andrew's green eyes danced with enjoying the fear rolling off of his friend in waves.

On the floor many partners had moved into their starting positions of perfect frames and serene smiles while the audience looked on in appreciation.

The atmosphere seemed relaxed and quiet with the slow classical filtering around the room. Even Andrew, who would usually rather chew off his foot while watching Dr. Phil, was enjoying watching the couples move and twirl. The only thing on Darien's mind was Raye lying at home sick engulfed by millions of crumpled tissues watching her soaps and if her replacement was done crawling around on the recently buffed floor looking for her lost contact. He heard and crashed coming from somewhere in her vicinity and felt the walls were slowly closing in around him.

"I know I should have confidence in my partner, but look that-that poor rhythm lacking soul!" a tense hand gestured in the girl's direction.

Curious eyes focused on the replacement that was now stretching nervously in the corner. Her short hair bounced flew in every direction as she bent, as if it had a mind of its own. Her freckled complexion was wishy-washy and she looked close to keeling over any minute. Andrew's mind wandered over plans should the girl not be able to come through, or die of fright, in the end. The idea hit so hard he thought he saw stars. Blond brows rose as he leveled a Darien with a look that clearly said, 'I've got an idea that's so good if I tell you your brain would explode from sheer genius it contains'.

"Darien, call me hero 'cause I just saved your butt!"

Darien lifted his brow in question, "Go on."

"What if I was to "accidentally" cause most of the lights in this place to go off? You never know with the weather nowadays and it is pouring outside. Then, with all of the confusion one of the emergency exits could surprisingly spring open! Everyone would be panicking in the dark and you know how that goes. Old women prudishly hide their jewelry from the waiters and their less-than-saintly husbands cop a feel and the young dancers trying to get off of the dance floor. That would leave time for you to, casually of course, do a runner!"

Even though Andrew was patting himself on the back Darien was trying to keep himself from wrapping two strong hands around his neck the blonde. Worried blue eyes traveled back to his partner and Andrew stopped his metal victory dance to follow with his own eyes. Sure the girl was a bit on the spacey side, but she couldn't be a total lost cause. Right?

"She's...pretty good, Dare. I've seen her dance and so have you." He knew that was the understatement of the century. This girl looked like a jellyfish receiving electro-shock therapy, repeatedly. He paused from his thoughts to look her over once more. "Besides she looks loyal, good with people, and easy to train. What's not to like?"

"She's a girl, not a dog Andrew." Darien deadpanned.

Andrew feigned surprise clutching a hand over his heart. "They're not the same? Then my whole life has been a lie!" The dark-haired male didn't appreciate the attempt at a joke when he felt his life was going to the dogs. He friend gave a cheerful pat on the back, deftly ignoring his angry silence. "Well at least things can't get any worse, buddy."

As if on cue, a loud crash called their attention to where the girl was last standing-

-to find her face down in some old man's lap. The senior was grinning with the obviously wrong sized dentures slipping every once in a while. "Well look what just dropped in. If you wanted to do the horizontal tango you just had to ask, honey."

Many of the younger women looked o aghast while the older looked on in disgust. He poked the mortified girl in the ribs and grabbed her in a few more unmentionable places. She let out a mortified whimper as two men in black suits escorted the teary-eyed girl to a chair not to far from the dirty old coot.

Darien wondered briefly if this was really hell.

Andrew let out an awkward chuckle and nervously rubbed the back of his wavy locks. The audience that had surrounded them quickly dispersed when the scary dark-haired male let off wave after dark, angry wave. Slightly fearful green orbs turned towards Darien speaking loudly over the replacements loud blubbering. "Did I say it couldn't get any worse?"

A muscle twitched by Darien's eye and his jaw clenched as Andrew scooted closer to the door. It wasn't the glare sent his way or even the promise of death in that escaped his lips. It would take more than that to send him running like a girl.

But it was the blood-chilling roar that echoed through the walls as Darien chased Andrew out into the halls.

When he returned, Darien wore the smile of the cat that had gotten the cream. Andrew was sufficiently disposed of and some a certain best friend had been outlet for a lot of his anger. With one problem solved he scanned the room for his partner. He briefly noticed the gleaming chandeliers dangling from high ceilings as he swept his gaze looking for her familiar face. His shoes made soft scuffing sounds across the rugs only to be drowned out by the music and the dull roar of his heart beat in his ears.

He wandered about the audiences tables set with candles to give off a more intimate setting. He let his mind wonder if she had run and left him to endure the embarrassment himself when he felt an urgent tug on the cuff of his soft shirt. He looked around and saw no one at first until the sound of a throat clearing drew his attention downward. An elderly woman's round face smile gently up at him.

"Excuse me young man but-

He amusingly tried to count the wrinkles on her face wondering if the tight bun she wore was holding some of them out of sight. Her white gloves weren't the only thing he noticed sagging and he made a disgusted sound in his head hoping it didn't show on his face.

-"looks a little ill, but she said she'll be fine."

Darien's attention snapped back to the women and not her body's fight with gravity. "I'm sorry what was that?" The old woman looked a bit perturbed at having to repeat herself when she thought he was listening the fist time. "I said, if you're looking for your lady friend she's over by the bar. She looks a little-"

Darien immediately found her right where the old woman said he would. "That silly girl almost gave me a heart attack," he said while accidentally almost running the woman over the get to her. The woman harrumphed indignantly before returning to her seat cursing youth these days and their lack of manners.

As he made his way over to his partner, who now looked only slightly green around the gills, the disembodied voice of the announcer filled the room. He heard him announced that the Latin dances were about to commence and they would announce the dancers to take the floor shortly. He quickly took hold of his partners hand ignoring her desperate cries of protests of 'I should have just gone to law school like my mother told me toooooooo!'.

He turned his head to try and console her only to be stopped by something roughly bumping into him and sending his already hysterical partner to get acquainted with the floor for the second time that day. A scowl marred his face as he looked for the culprit of his delay.

"Well if it isn't Darien Shields."

That voice was as familiar as his own. Every year he heard it and every year the owner gloated with that disgustingly annoying voice . Platinum blond hair was the first thing to come into Darien's field of vision. The height difference was apparent with the blond male being shorter than average. "Diamond," The ebony locked man leveled a cool gaze full of distaste and the man is his way. No last name. Just Diamond. Like Madonna or Prince.

Except lacking the talent.

"What do you want?"

He didn't have time for his games of intimidation or sleazy partners. Diamond just put on a smirk that Darien longed to wipe off with his fist. "You know, just sizing up the competition only to realize there is none. Same no talent little boys and girls that lose to me every year are back again to lose to me this year." Darien's muscles tensed and his eyes darkened as he listened to him openly insult the other dancers as well as himself. Fighting was a major offense and could get the man disqualified if he were to throw the first or last punch.

Diamond walked away without another word as his and his partners' numbers were called. No way was that prick Diamond going to walk away with the win again this year. With or without his regular partner he had to either pull a miracle out of his ear or lose the prize. His partner stumbled as he pulled them onto the floor when their numbers were announced ad he wished more than ever Raye wasn't so sick. The flu was nothing a little dancing couldn't cure!

While he dealt with his partner, who had the emotions of a pregnant woman, he would have to overcompensate and make both of them look good. She grabbed his hands to put around her waist and blushed when he had to pull her closer to get into their starting pose. The music started and couples broke into the rolling hips and quick feet of the salsa. To Darien to world was the music as every vein in his body pumped in time with the beat. He spun his partner away and in tight circles as she tried her best to move her hips in a quick flare.

He let everything but the feeling of the moves hold his attention. His arms were fluid and masculine as he dipped her and stepped into another pose before quickly going back into the routine. He saw a flash of platinum blond and his concentration wavered.

Had Diamond introduced his partner?

He hadn't seen her beside him and had only seen a glimpse of black hair before they were on the floor. Leave it to him to forget to see what partner had Diamond so cocky about his win this year also. Making up his mind he twirled them around the floor looking for any sign of his annoying hair. I wasn't hard to find him. The hair and slim form of his partner was right ahead of him. The dress was of a deep purple looking plain until the occasional clear sequin made it shine in the light.

Why did that dress seem like it was from so long ago?

He flipped his slightly dampened bangs out of his face before whipping his partner back out for another complex twirl and hip movement. A moment later his blue-eyed gaze locked back on the mysterious partner of his enemy. Long dark hair cascaded down her back as he struggled to see her face. Her moves were smooth, but something seemed off. She moved like she didn't want to be seen. When Darien caught Diamond's gaze he smirked and executed a spin that had her face to face with me. The challenge in his eyes was obvious as he him to take a look at the woman dancing so close in his arms. His gaze turned suspicious but continued down to gaze into big violet eyes.


"1-2 cha cha cha! Good, now cross body lead! 3-4 cha cha cha! Serena, your hip movements should be relaxed. Make it subtle, and please try to stay with the beat," The sound of the teachers cane bounced off the walls as she tapped it on the floor in time with the music. Serena's blond hair struggled to shine under the weight of the evil salty substance known as sweat. It fell limp under the weight collapsing tiredly into her eyes as if begging for a break from the strain.

The blond herself struggled to catch her breath and keep her frame while standing upright. "Yes, Mrs. Morales."

She hated to be called out in class. The snickers were low but not impossible to hear from her fellow classmates. She hated anyone to think she was slacking just because she learned slower than others. She tried to mimic the moves but could not grasp going one way instead of the other or spinning when flare of different moves could be used. There must be something wrong with her body since no one else had a problem with the moves. No matter how hard she tried the moves never came out like they should or at least how she wanted them to.

It didn't help that that fire breathing dragon of a teacher was always on her back. The stress was killing her causing her concentration to waver and disastrous results to occur. Her heart stopped its steady beat as she faltered in an important step and ended up bumping into the student beside her. Just when she almost had the steps!

"Step on the ball of your foot first Serena! This is a classroom of ballroom dance, not your pathetic excuse of a dateless prom!"

Her vision blurred and a few students even looked on her in pity. No one spoke up for dance was important to them to and this was the only dance studio not 3 hours from town. Serena kept her mouth shut wishing it was Mrs. Morales' big feet she was stepping on with the balls of her feet. If she wanted perfection she wasn't going to get it from Serena anytime soon. Her hair flapped slowly around her asking in it's own way to be put out to pasture to die a dance-free death.

She couldn't agree more.

Is this what Cinderella felt like before she blew off her ugly step family for the handsome prince? Serena this, Serena that. More, Serena. FASTER, Serena! A laugh that sounded alarmingly close to n ails on a chalkboard sounded behind her.

"Ay Dios Mio! Look at that graceless attempt to dance!" The sneer in her voice was painfully obvious and the blonde practically choked on her hair in rage. She didn't have to turn around to know who it was. Mrs. Morales's infamous star pupil had been the bane of her existence since she opened her pug-faced trap.

There was no doubt. Cicita Adriana Rowena Valentina was a wicked witch. "Move it nena and let me show you how it's done." Her balance was with an elbow to her ribs that was sure to leave a bruise the next day. Serena clutched her side wile trying to level a glare at the Latino girl. The desire to either cry or push the girl back was overwhelming, but she would give her the satisfaction of seeing her cry.

"I'm so sorry. Am I in your way, senorita snotty?" She froze in her tracks and Serena saw her back stiffen with rage. Serena loved getting the last word and ruffling Little Cicita's peacock-like vanity. She had to stifle a giggle that was threatening to escape with a very unladylike snort. She kept her face void of emotion as the girl marched up to stare her in the face..

This was a different side of Serena because ordinarily a situation like this would not have been funny. It would be quite the opposite. Maybe Cicita would have looked less like a hissing kitten that just been kicked and like more of a threat if she was on the same height level. Not only was she almost a halt a head shorter than my own five feet four inches, but her doe-like brown eyes, make-up drowned features, and innocent façade did nothing to scare me.

"You got something to say to me you two-bit, no class, bitch?" Serena raised a fine blond brow at the language directed at her. The glare she received she shrugged off having gotten used to it these past few months. She may have been shy and quiet, but now was not the time to back down. No, if Serena ever wanted respect she had to fight her battles with her head held high.

She squared my shoulders and looked her straight in the eyes forgetting about dance or Mrs. Morales still tapping out that maddening beat on the abused floor. To tower over her gave Serena an unfamiliar feeling of power adding to the threat in her gaze. Fiery brown eyes clashed with cerulean hued eyes that were quickly darkening to almost black. A dark place she never knew she had swept up meek Serena who was feebly protesting to replace her briefly with hard-ass Serena incarnate!

"Big talk for someone so small. I think you secretly are afraid of me." Serena noticed as she approached Little Miss Perfect took several steps back. "What will you do when the teacher here isn't here to protect you? Now I know you kiss her big butt so you can say whatever you want and not have to worry about the consequences." A small part of her felt bad for being so mean. She tried to treat others as she would like to be treated, but even she could bite when provoked.

"Now, if this conversation is over I have a class to take." I turned around and the hair that had once been so limp managed to slap her in the face with a triumphant 'ha!'.

She would have given anything to see the look on her face.

Done! I hope there aren't too many typos. When I first read this chapter I felt like I was going to cry from the lack of me I felt in it. I hope to get the next chapter back and revised within the next two days. Thank you all for your encouragement!