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Rodney stood at the mirror in the dressing room, fidgeting with his hair while he waited for the test to start. There were several other men in the room, each somewhere in the process of getting dressed in various outfits, from the plain and functional to the fabulous and flamboyant. But this was his first test, and he was only doing low level dances, so, at his instructor's advice, he had purposefully kept his outfit simple: black trousers, black button down shirt. He looked all right. He'd lost a decent amount of weight in all this, so much that he'd had to buy this outfit new, and it actually fit him pretty well, showing off what was good about his body, hiding what wasn't. Running a nervous hand through his hair, he met his own eyes, and decided that he looked ready, but he felt far from.
It's not like he didn't try after that incident with John. He'd kept up with the dancing, switching to one of the female coaches, but it wasn't the same. It's like the dance had gone out of him, along with the heart, and although he could do the steps far better than he did back when he started, he'd lost what made all of this into dance. After he got this test done, he was seriously thinking about quitting. Or maybe not. He'd kept going with all this half in the hope of seeing John at the studio, but he hadn't seen John since that day in the coffee shop. He knew that John was avoiding him, but hell, it's not like that wasn't mutual – he pretty much knew what times John was at the studio, and it's not like he'd gone out of his way to find the man, more like he'd just kept hoping… well, he guessed he hoped John would seek him out. But he hadn't. Maybe they were both stubborn bastards. Damn. It was just as much his fault as John's.
Maybe he'd overreacted, back in the coffee shop. Or maybe not. He'd gone from thrilled to angry to sad in, like, zero to sixty, and it'd left him shell shocked. Now he wasn't sure what he was feeling. Loss, maybe. Hurt.
God, if he hadn't already signed up and paid for this test, back when he was still dancing with John, he would not be doing this. But without a doctor's note, the money was gone, so here he was.
Glancing at the clock on the wall – his instructor had told him to leave off his watch – he realised that he had only about fifteen minutes before it would be his turn. Standing, he gave a final tug to his shirt, then turned and pushed through the door.
Music immediately surrounded him, and he walked to where the other dancers were milling in the hallway. He could see his teacher's blonde hair, piled high on her head, about mid-way through the crowd. Past them, he caught a glimpse of the pair testing… he thought it was a Paso Doble… in the main studio. He wasn't sure which dancers were performing, as he couldn't see more than the tops of their heads and the occasional upward reaching hand.
As the music ended with a flourish and the crowd clapped – one person giving a loud whistle – Rodney heard his name, along with the others in his warm-up group, being called. Closing his eyes, he murmured a soft prayer.
When he opened his eyes, John was standing in front of him.
"John," he exhaled, blinking rapidly.
"Rodney," John replied, expression flickering from composed to something far from it. He wiped the sweat from his brow, and Rodney realised that it was he who'd done that Paso Doble. He looked down to where John had just grabbed both of his hands in his own. He should have recognised those hands.
"We should talk," John said softly.
Rodney knew he should pull away, but he couldn't bring himself to do so. "They just called my warm up."
"All right," John said, pulling him by one hand and tugging him forward through the crowd.
Rodney followed because he was too shocked to do anything else. When he passed his teacher, she caught his eye and gave him a knowing smile.
How the hell many people knew about him and John? Or was that "he and John?" He lost that train of thought as John pulled him into position and they began the first dance he'd be testing, a waltz.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," John said, his words in time to the music surrounding them. "I should have told you, but our choreographer is in New York, and believe me, I don't want to go, now that, I mean, but I have to, and…" He stumbled over the worlds. "God, Rodney, please," he said, a break in the rhythm, his eyes showing his desperation.
Rodney felt like a deer caught in the headlights, his feet moving mechanically, ONE two three while he listened to what John was saying, or trying to say.
"I want to spend time with you until then, and when I get back, too." John gave a tight half smile. "Or even better, if you could go with me… I know it's ridiculous, and it's premature, and it's probably impossible, but I have to take the chance and ask, because I'd be seriously kicking myself if I did not. So will you at least think about giving this, I mean me, a chance?" He squeezed Rodney's hand tightly.
It was probably the single longest speech Rodney had ever heard John give.
And he thought John had just asked him to go to New York with him.
Which he could do, he thought in surprise, because he was a tenured professor on sabbatical, and if he wanted to extend his damn sabbatical, he could. Or maybe take on some of those distance learning classes that none of the other professors seemed to want to teach. So if he and John started dating, and it worked out, he could… He actually could.
The music switched to the rumba, and they shifted position, moving to the music.
Heart in his throat, Rodney asked, "Are you sure?"
John smiled, and it lit up his eyes. "I've never been surer of anything in my life."
"All right, then," Rodney said, amusement in his tone, although his heart was beating a mad rhythm. "Under one condition." He gave a passionate flick to his hips.
John leaned forward and whispered in his ear, "Name it."
Breaking position, Rodney pulled John in close. Giving his best, evil smile, he said, "I get to lead."
And this time, he was the one who did the kissing.
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