Author's Note: for the express purposes of this fiction, Bridget does not exist; nor does the Robbie/Kim affair. Don't get me wrong, Robbie and Kim are oddly adorable, but for this story to work, they can't exist. This fic is situated a few episodes after Travis and Audrey break up. Enjoy!
The halls of Roscoe High were teaming with students socialising before homeroom, and the persistent voice of Kim Carlisle echoed down from the speakers. Lily and Robbie ignored Kim and the other students as they spoke animatedly near Lily's open locker. As Travis and Ray approached from different directions, they both viewed Lily and Robbie with suspicion.
"Hey guys, what's going on?" Ray asked, attempting to be nonchalant.
"Yeah, you look like you've got a good secret," Travis said, eyes searching first Robbie then Lily for a response. The two stared at each other for a moment, grinning, before Lily cracked.
"Alright! I'll tell you." Lily said dramatically. "I'm attending a debutante ball, at my mother's request, and Robbie here has just agreed to go with me. It's going to be great." Lily sighed happily.
"A debutante ball? What is that?" Ray furrowed his brows. Travis sighed at Ray's seemingly unending ignorance, and Lily rolled her eyes.
"It's a social occasion, Ray. Young women of a suitable age make their debut into polite society. And the girl has to ask the guy to go with her." Lily smirked. "So I asked Robbie!"
"And I so graciously accepted," Robbie grinned and bowed mockingly, his eyes stealing a glance at Travis. Travis saw Robbie's eyes flash to him and away, and frowned slightly before rallying his thoughts.
"A ball; don't people have to dance at a ball?" Travis asked, a smirk beginning to form. Robbie's smile fell from his face – he could only dance like a pop star, not like a member of polite society.
"Of course. Don't worry, I can teach him how to dance! It's not like it's difficult." Lily said confidently as the bell rang.
"Good luck with that," Travis said dryly as Lily closed her locker. Robbie had been consumed by dread; as he walked away from the three he waved sadly. Travis shook his head, amusingly concerned by Robbie's show of melancholy.
Travis had parted ways with the other three members of RFR between school and the show, and as he approached the station he could hear laughter and Lily's cries of outrage. Entering the station Travis saw an embarrassed but amused Robbie enduring a tirade from Lily.
"How is it possible to be so bad at this?" Lily cried. "I've seen you dance to Justin Timberlake; I know your brain and feet are connected."
Robbie looked at Travis and blushed. Travis almost did a double take as Ray laughed from the sofa.
"Come on, Lily." Travis said, attempting to broker peace. "Some people just can't get into the right headspace."
"I should have laid bets on this one," Ray lamented, sarcastically wiping his eyes.
"Robbie, watch my feet," Travis said suddenly, stepping closer to Lily and holding her in the 'waltz' position.
"Travis you can waltz?" Lily asked, pleasantly surprised.
"I learnt at my old school," Travis explained, a little embarrassed. "Watch closely, Robbie. One, two three, one, two three," Travis counted as he led Lily smoothly through a few steps. He was oddly graceful, gently but more than competently making Lily a better dancer. As Travis and Lily turned he saw Robbie staring at him, a half smile on his face. Travis couldn't help but maintain eye contact until the steps of the dance tore him away. All Ray could see was someone else holding on to his Lily, and he watched jealously until Travis pulled away.
"It's just a simple count, Robbie. Move your feet as you count." Travis explained lamely, looking up to find Robbie staring at him. His hands felt sweaty and Robbie's gaze, with that shy smile, would not let him go. "Can you do that?" Travis said finally.
At last Robbie looked down for a brief second. "I can try."
"Please try, Robbie. Please. I do not want to look like an idiot at my debutante ball!" Lily wailed.
"If you'd just asked me, there wouldn't be a problem. I can dance!" Ray said with a ridiculous smile plastered across his face. Lily rolled her eyes, and Travis suspected why she hadn't asked Ray instead; she didn't want to encourage, or discourage, neither Travis nor Ray's affections. Travis felt a pang of guilt. He had not meant for that near kiss with Lily to have such ramifications.
Shaking his head, Robbie attempted to get down to business. "Come on guys, we have a show to do."
Throughout the show Travis felt his eyes returning to Robbie, puzzled as to why Robbie was doing the same thing to him. Travis wondered, with half a mind, why he noticed that Robbie had washed his hair that morning. Or why he remembered that the last time Robbie had worn that shirt it was a Monday.
The show ended without incident, and shortly afterwards Ray and Lily left to study. The sound of their squabbling eventually faded as the two walked home, leaving Robbie and Travis in a surprisingly awkward silence.
Since when has this been awkward? Travis asked himself, ostensibly tidying up his booth.
"So you're pretty good at this waltzing thing," Robbie said, appearing in the doorway of Smog's tiny booth. He folded his arms across his chest, smiling in that same shy way at Travis.
"You, however, need serious help." Travis said unthinkingly.
"You read my mind," Robbie said with a laugh. "Help me out with this dance thing?"
Is it me, or is he – nervous? Travis tilted his head and gave Robbie a half-smile. "You're asking for my help?"
"Begging," Robbie said, obviously relieved. "Lily – or her mother – will kill me if I make her look stupid at this dance."
Travis almost chuckled. "Alright, I'll help you." As the words left his mouth, Travis almost regretted them. His hands began to sweat once again as he stood up – a bad thing in a dancing partner. "You'll have to dance the male part, but I'll lead anyway to show you how it's done." Travis said as he walked to the clearest space in the station. With a tenseness he could not explain, Travis waited for Robbie to stand opposite him. Hesitantly they adopted the 'waltz' stance, Travis nearly sick with newfound nerves as Robbie's hand lay gently on his waist.
"Your steps have to follow mine. As I step back on my left foot, your right foot has to go forward." Travis took a small step back, gently pulling Robbie with him. Robbie successfully followed Travis's foot. "Now I'll step back again, and your foot has to follow mine again. Ok? Here we go." Travis smiled as he attempted to get enough saliva together to swallow – his mouth was paper dry. He stepped back and again Robbie followed smoothly.
"That's basically all there is to it," Travis said, meeting Robbie's eyes.
"You are a good dancer," Robbie said kindly.
"Thanks." Travis smiled.
Robbie had gone straight home after the show. He climbed the short staircase to his room, and attempted to focus on anything that wasn't the last hour at the station. An hour of this futility passed before Robbie decided he was hungry. Trying to concentrate but wanting to daydream at the same time, Robbie missed the top step and promptly fell down the stairs. He landed on his back on the floor at the bottom, and made the decision to just lie there for a while, laughing at himself.
Later that evening, Travis finally gave up on his homework and went to have a shower. For some reason, his thoughts would not stay fixed on any one thing that wasn't a memory of the afternoon. He turned on the taps and stepped under the falling water, completely forgetting to remove his clothes.