Disclaimer: Again, it is not mine.
Spoilers: I'm just going to say see the film and be done with it.
Warning: I know very little about hockey or any professional sport, so bear with me. There are also a few mild curse words and crude boy humor.
Dedication: I usually don't dedicate my work, but I'm making an exception with this one. It came about because X5-452 and 494 read my story "Brother of the Pussy Ballerina" and suggested to me that I write a story on how Tommy's hockey friends reacted to his new ballerina status. Consequently my phoenix muse rose again and produced this story. Thank you X5-452 and 494. This story is for you.
Made To Dance
Tommy Anderson had been my best friend for as long as I could remember. I'm talking pre sandbox time.
We did everything together. We even got sick together. Our parents knew that when one of us felt ill, they might as well put the other one to bed as soon as possible because chances were, he'd drop soon enough. Not that we got sick very often. People used to say we moved too fast for germs to catch us. They were probably right.
I remember this one time when we were about nine. We were racing down the street of our respectful Boston neighborhood at breakneck speed. It was a long, flat, and straight strip of road. Perfect for running on. Anyway, we were running so fast, we didn't see old lady Holcomb until it was too late. One minute she was bent over, smelling her roses, the next, she was face down in the dirt smelling her fertilizer.
I guess it was then that our parents banded together and decided to enroll us at the nearest gym for hockey lessons. It was the best thing they could have done for us. Tommy and I quickly became the best hockey players in the league. People called us "The Undefeated Duo" and they were right. We never lost a game.
Every night we went to sleep dreaming of hockey and every morning we woke up to play it. It was the perfect life.
Every summer our parents shipped us off to hockey camp. They said they did it for us, but we both knew they really did it for two whole months of hockey free conversation. (Of course once Tommy's little brother, Bobby, picked up our enthusiasm, Tommy's parents didn't even get those months off. To say my parents were relieved that they only had me is most likely an understatement.) Not that we weren't happy to go. Far from it. We'd start the hockey camp countdown in January.
Part of the camp's morning schedule was always an hour of mandatory ballet class. They claimed it was to strengthen our ankles and improve our posture. Most of the campers thought that was a load of crap. They'd grumble that all the counselors were perverts who got off seeing us in tights. They'd also insult the teacher after class, calling her the DIT (Dragon In Tights) or Madame Tip Toes. They'd say they came to play hockey, not become a prima ballerina. When the DIT heard that, she told them they didn't have to worry since they were in greater danger of becoming ballarhinos than ballerinas.
I'd be lying if I didn't tell you I was one of those grumbling campers. In fact, the only one of us who didn't think taking ballet was a waste of time that was better-spent playing hockey was Tommy. It was the one thing we disagreed on.
People used to tease Tommy about it. They'd call him "The Ballerina Of The Crotch Cup" or "The Amazing Ballarhino" in honor of the DIT's pronouncement. In my defense, I never joined in.
However only off court did they call Tommy names. No one would dare insult Tommy Anderson with a stick in his hand. He might always have taken the jibes with a smile, but every man is bound to crack sometime and it was best if he weren't armed when he finally did.
One time the DIT overheard the boys calling Tommy names in the locker room. She burst in, apparently oblivious to the cries of alarm and hasty covering of all exposed privates. She boldly declared that they were all just jealous because Tommy had more natural grace and form in his little finger than the lot of them ever would have put together. I think that was the first time I ever saw Tommy embarrassed, although if it were because of what she said or the fact that he was half naked in front of her, I'll never know. Anyway, after that, the boys stopped teasing him.
I suppose I should have known then that hockey may not be the only thing Tommy was made to do, but that realization wouldn't come for a long time.
In our senior year of high school, we were both offered full ride hockey scholarships to NYU. Not that this was a surprise considering we were both all-state hockey champs three years in a row and the first freshman ever to have made the varsity hockey team. We accepted, though if I were honest with myself, I'd have to admit that Tommy might not have been as totally psyched about it as I was. Sure, he was jumping around and all, but I'd been around him long enough to see that his smile didn't light up his eyes like it normally would have given the circumstances.
We had a great time at NYU. We were arguably the most popular people on the campus and spent our days in an ubber-happy athletic haze. Or at least I did.
Over the four years we spent playing hockey in college, Tommy's disenchantment with the sport seemed to grow more and more evident. I attempted to deny it, but eventually even I couldn't.
One look in his eyes when we were offered the chance to play hockey professionally after college told me he wasn't going to take it.
When I asked him what he was going to do instead, he said he didn't know but was thinking about ballet. I'm not ashamed to say I laughed right in his face. True, he'd always been the best at camp, but he was competing with a load of dunderheads whose only exhibit of grace was on a hockey court and even that was limited. There he'd been a big fish in a small pond. Out in the real world he'd just be a big fish in a giant ocean. What made him think he'd be able to do it professionally?
For some reason, my words had no effect. He said he was tired of getting injured and would rather go out on his own terms than somebody else's.
As much as I didn't want to admit it, I knew he was right. As the best player on the team -- barring me of course -- he was always the first one the other team went after. He'd racked up more broken limbs and concussions than most members of any professional team. It was only a matter of time before he ended up in the hospital permanently, either in the ward reserved for coma victims or the morgue. I was his best friend. It was my duty to stand by his every decision.
And so, despite the fact that I still doubted his chances of becoming a real professional "ballarhino", when the NHL called again, only I picked up the phone. It was time for the undefeated duo to divide and go their own individual way for the first time.
We kept in touch. Every month or so I'd get a long email detailing how he'd gotten into the American Dance Academy or how he'd finally mastered the complicated lift technique for holding a girl above your head. Even though I didn't really understand most of what he said, I'd send him a response teasing him for being worried about a certain step or congratulating him for finally getting his hands on a woman. You know, guy stuff.
Occasionally one of us would call the other and we'd watch a game on TV, separately of course since I was always on the road and he was in New York. On those rare occasions, it almost felt like we'd never parted.
Once I came to New York on an away game. He took me to a jazzy club. From our emails and telephone conversations, I knew he was friends with the owner and had an "arrangement" with one of the waitresses.
I'd gotten the sense that there was more going on between that waitress (Kate, I think her name was) and him than just the dance partnership Tommy claimed. When I saw her pull him out to the floor and challenge him to a dance, I was almost sure I was right. And when I saw them dance, I knew I was right. They were just so in-synch. Besides that, the chemistry between them was so thick that it was practically sending out cancer-causing rays.
I wasn't the only one to notice. A blond chick with a posse I'd seen with Tommy earlier took one look at the dancing couple and left with a sour expression.
That night was the first time I'd seen Tommy dance anything since college. He'd definitely improved. If his ballet dancing was even half as good as his hip-hop, he'd made a good choice for his next career.
I made a mental note to see one of his performances ASAP.
I got my chance several months later. Tommy had gotten the lead in a production of "The Glass Slipper", whatever that was. Opening night happened to be just a few days before my team had to be in New York for another away game. I left the team in Cleveland a little early just to make sure I would make it.
To say it was worth flying there on my own dime would be wrong.
It was worth so much more than that.
It was worth all the months I'd secretly spent wishing Tommy hadn't given up hockey. It was worth sitting next to ballet snobs who thought they were better than everybody else just because they had season passes to the theater. It was worth standing in line for two city blocks just to get in. It was worth it all.
As Tommy danced with the girl I recognized as Kate from the club, I could literally feel my heart exploding with emotion. It was probably the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. Tears were flowing down my face, and I never cry. Even a puck to the balls doesn't make me cry, but Tommy's dancing did. He seemed more at home up there on the stage than he ever had on the hockey court.
It was then that the realization that should have come to me back so long ago at hockey camp finally came to me. Tommy was made for more than just playing hockey: he was made to dance.
A/N: I considered having him meet up with Suzanne backstage and making her realize that Kate had been the right choice, but I decided against it. As much as I don't like how abruptly Suzanne changes her mind, they did an okay job explaining it with her watching the show and I couldn't figure out a way to get him backstage. Besides, this story is about his and Tommy's relationship not Suzanne. Pity though because I do kind of feel sorry for her. Kate gets Tommy, but whom does she get? Wouldn't it be sweet if she and Tommy's best friend fell in love? I suppose that will have to be another story. Anyone want the idea? Going once, going twice. Anyway, I hope you're happy X5-452 and 494. Thank you again for the prompt.