SM owns all TWILIGHT characters. I merely borrow for amusement's sake.
The Twilight Twenty-Five
Prompt #: 17
Pen name: IngenueFic
Photos for prompts can be found here:
Pas de Deux
He is strong and perfect. She is lithe and beautiful. Together, they perform a duet that speaks volumes.
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A mix of Latin-styled dances where a partner is unnecessary
On the first day of rehearsals, Bella Swan stepped into the room, breathed in deeply, and walked to the barre that was set against a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. There were a few girls already there who smiled at her in a silent greeting before they went back to their stretching. As she stared out the window, Bella brought her arms up, reaching higher and higher with every breath until she could feel her muscles protest for a split second before the satisfying pull of the loosening in her limbs. Inhaling deeply, she arched her back slightly, then began leaning forward; the air left her lungs in slow intervals until she could feel the stretching at the backs of her thighs, the backs of her calves.
A pair of feet appeared to her left and a shot of annoyance pierced through her body at the close proximity. She stood back up, ready to request more room, when she saw who it was. Instead of the terse comment she was ready to make, Bella smiled. "Angela, hey."
There was a quick hug between the two girls who hadn't seen each other in almost two years. "I was so excited when I found out you got this job," Angela said as she zipped up her hoodie to keep warm while stretching. "When did you get in?"
"Last weekend?" It came out as a question at first, then Bella nodded before she repeated, "Yeah, last weekend. I've been unpacking and stuff since then."
"Where are you staying?" Angela paused mid-squat. "Please tell me you're not staying at one of the hotels."
"No," Bella said with a laugh. "I found a place, maybe, 20 minutes away? Small apartment but it'll do." She shrugged before lifting a foot to the barre. With a content groan, she leaned over her leg, dipping her head down to rest against her knee. A blast of laughter sounded from the doorway and she turned her face to see a group of guys walk in. She let out a sigh and dropped her foot back to the ground. "Hey," she called out softly to Angela who looked up from her position on the floor. "How much partnering do you think we'll be doing?"
Angela raised an eyebrow as her body unfolded to a standing position again. "Still scared of partnering?"
"No," Bella scoffed. "It's just not a preference. If it was, I would have stuck with ballroom." She was about to roll her eyes when he walked in. "You've got to be kidding me," she said softly.
"What?" Angela looked over her shoulder, and when she looked back at Bella, had an almost apologetic look on her face. "Didn't you get the e-mail with list of the entire company?"
Bella shook her head. "I haven't checked e-mail since I moved here. It's not set up, yet." She blinked rapidly, shaking her head again. "I thought he was down in Miami."
"He was," Angela replied. "But that was a while ago, when we all left Forks. He did Celine's show when it was here and he usually helps the choreographers on So You Think You Can Dance when it's Vegas Week." She shifted slightly. "Have you two talked since..."
"No." Bella's eyes followed him as he walked to a corner of the room and pulled his sweatshirt off, leaving him in black pants and a simple white t-shirt. Even from across the room, Bella could see the definition of muscles, could practically feel the way his limbs burned from stretching. His head turned slightly as though he knew he was being watched and Bella turned back to Angela. "No, we haven't."
The door opened again, this time allowing the trio of well-known choreographers into the room. Bella had worked with two of them before but had only ever seen Alice Brandon's work. The tiny dancer often worked with the music tours and had only settled in Las Vegas to choreograph the new shows popping up in the Strip hotels.
She wasted absolutely no time. "I hope you're all stretched," she said in a no-nonsense voice. "Partner up – I don't care who you choose because by the end of the day, I'll know exactly who's working with whom."
Angela turned to Bella and gave her a small smile. "See you later." Before she scurried off, Angela flinched, then gave Bella another weak smile.
"Isabella," the low voice said behind her.
She turned at the sound, tried to ignore the pounding of her blood from his presence. He looked different, more grown-up, more defined, more everything. He stared at her for a moment, waited for her to acknowledge him somehow, or for her to nod at his silent request to be her partner.
"Okay!" Alice's voice called out over the scattered couples. "This is what I want to see..."
Without a word, Bella turned to face the mirrors where Alice stood with an assistant, a boy who looked far younger than anyone else in the room. They began to move, showing the dancers what they wanted, and then Bella felt the slide of a palm over her waist.
"Edward," she breathed out his name.
He dipped his head down to her ear when he felt her body tensing. "Just dance."
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A fixing of the eyes on one spot for as long as possible while turning to avoid dizziness and to keep one's orientation
There were toddlers all around Edward, screeching and laughing in their tiny pink leotards and pink tights. One of them knocked into him and, just as she was about to cry, Edward crouched his 14-year-old form down and smiled at her.
"Are you okay?" he asked. She nodded silently but her bottom lip was still trembling. "Did you just finish dancing?" She nodded again. "Was it your first one?"
"Uh-huh," she answered softly. "I liked it."
"Well, I'm sure you did great in it." He glanced around and saw a woman walking towards them. "Is that your mom?"
"Oh!" The little girl smiled widely. "Yes." She ran off before Edward could say another word.
"You're here early." Kate Garrison was one of the best dance instructors in all of Seattle and she had taken Edward into her teachings from the moment he had done his first jétè. "Any reason?"
He shook his head. "Mom had to do some extra work today so she dropped me off early. Is it okay if I watch some of the beginners' classes?"
"From above," Kate agreed. "A lot of them are shy, especially the girls, so I don't think they'd appreciate someone watching them."
Minutes later, he was in one of the observation rooms on the second floor of the building. Below him, a group of dancers stood at the barre, girls at one end, boys at the other. He watched as they went through the basic warm-ups. Most of them really were at a beginner's level. Even from where he was sitting, he could see the minute details that kept their bodies from performing a plié correctly.
And then he saw her.
She stood at the very end of the barre in tights and a slightly oversized sweatshirt that hung off of a shoulder. He was mesmerized by the strength that seemed to exude from her body. In precise timing with the soft music Edward could hear playing in the rehearsal room, she bent her knees into a demi plié, then a grande plié, her arms crooked at perfect angles.
"Her name is Isabella Swan." Kate stood next to him now in the observation room. Every now and then, she would watch the classes that took place in her studio, and had heard about the girl from Forks.
"She's very good." Though he was in awe of her movements, there was also a hint of wariness and uncertainty in Edward's voice.
Kate nodded. "She'll most likely be moved up to a higher level. She's taken classes before but insisted on doing this one first." There was a pause. "She's the best I've seen since you arrived, Edward."
Edward said nothing, instead opting to stare at the girl with her hair in a tight bun, and he wondered what her presence might mean for him.
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A movement involving the tightening of a particular group of muscles with the aid of inhalation and exhalation
Bella stared unblinkingly at Alice, who was standing directly in front of her, by the mirrors. When the choreographer had told her and Edward the other day that she wanted a session for just the two of them, Bella never thought it would be for this.
The music started, a soft melody with the artist's voice floating over her, and she took small steps forward. Next to Alice, Jane marked the steps with Bella, making sure every count was done correctly. From the corner of her right eye, Bella could see Edward facing the windows behind her, his face turned towards her. She shivered slightly at the look in his eyes. He once stared at her with light eyes and love. Now, he practically stared through her.
The numbers in her head marked her cue and as soon as she counted off the first set of eight, Bella's body moved to the strums of a guitar. She barely thought of what she was doing, letting her memory guide her body. Her mind was focused on the music, on the weight she pressed down over her left foot, on the rise of her right leg into an arabesque. Her arms stretched into perfect lines from her shoulders until she spun to her right before dropping her upper body, lifting it slowly.
Edward's body heat was suddenly at her back. His hands ghosted over her shoulders for a split-second and then they were back-to-back, two statues defying each other. Once again staring directly at Alice, she saw the choreographer's eyebrows draw together in what could only be annoyance, but ignored it when she felt Edward's hand slide down her arm to lace their fingers together.
They turned towards each other.
"Stop." The music cut off immediately and Alice blinked at the couple. "Alec, Jane," she called to the assistants. "Center of the room. Edward, Bella, up here by me." The two couples changed places and Alice nodded at the couple on the floor. "I want you to do the sequence." She nodded at Edward and Bella. "You two – watch closely."
It was the third time today this had happened. Bella watched the two young dancers and shook her head, half in anger and half in confusion, when she still couldn't understand what she was doing wrong, what Edward was doing wrong. The steps matched and the counts aligned.
Alice stopped the music again, only a few counts after the opening movements and turned to Bella and Edward. "Well?"
Edward said nothing but it was obvious – to Bella, at least – that he was just as frustrated as she felt. She spoke up, "Alice, I'm sorry, but that's what we're doing. What are we missing?"
She pursed her lips together and stared at them again. "Again," she said as she pointed to the center of the floor. "This time, I want you to watch yourselves in the mirror."
Keeping her temper in check, Bella moved back to her first position and waited for Edward to do the same. The music began and when Bella walked forward, she watched herself in the mirror, making sure her back was straight. Her gaze moved to Edward whose face was turned to her, his jaw tense with aggravation. As her body turned into the diagonal, so did her head, but Alice called out to her.
Immediately, she turned her face back to the mirror. Her body felt odd with the new position of her neck but she tried to focus on what she was seeing. Having the new direction caused a slight wobble to her steps but, for once, Alice didn't yell at her for it. Bella watched as Edward walked around her dancing form. His eyes were on her like he was watching.
But he wasn't.
It clicked, then, in Bella's mind what was so wrong with the way they were dancing. She continued, turning farther away from Edward, dipping her body, and when she lifted up again, she could see the vacant expression in Edward's eyes as he stood behind her and lifted his hands to her shoulders. Her stomach muscles clenched tightly when they stood facing away from each other again. Edward's hand reached back to the crook of her elbow and, as Bella watched his palm slide down to her hand, she could see the tension in the joints of his fingers.
The music stopped as soon as their hands laced together.
Bella's mouth fell slightly open. The air moved in and out, in and out, until Edward let go of her hand and stood next to her, waiting. Alice, once again, stared at them and her face relaxed when she saw the understanding in Bella's eyes.
"You are two of the most talented dancers I've ever worked with," she said simply. She held up a hand when Edward opened his mouth to give his thanks. "But unless you can tell me a story with your body, with your expressions, with your emotions, all the talent in the world won't make this dance perfect."
Bella's head lowered until she could only see her toes flexing against the floor. She swallowed the lump in her throat. Missing marks, being off-balance, twisting the wrong way a fraction of an inch – those were the things she could handle messing up because they could be fixed. She could work on them and have it corrected easily.
Learning how to dance with Edward again, finding the natural ebb and flow with him, connecting with him on a level more dangerous than the perfection of dance – those were the things Bella wasn't sure she could accomplish.
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A by-product of turpentine in powdered form that dancers use on their shoes to prevent slipping
They started dating when Bella was 16 and Edward was 17. It was a slow relationship, a careful meeting between two teenagers who could find understanding and comfort in each other. The need for more became apparent after weeks, after months, and then they weren't so careful because they knew what was happening.
It was a Saturday night, a night when most of Edward's friends were out partying, but that wasn't his scene, wasn't what he wanted to do. Instead, he was in his room, lying on his bed with Bella curled into his side. His parents were home but asleep; they trusted both of them, probably more than Edward thought they should but he wasn't going to complain.
"Hey," he said quietly because he wasn't sure if she was asleep. Her body shifted against his and she looked up at him. "Your shoulder still hurt from earlier?"
"'S okay," she responded quietly. "It should be fine in the morning."
Edward slid his arm out from beneath Bella's neck, rolling his eyes when she protested, but he sat up and lifted her with him. A noise of protest left the back of her throat and Edward shushed her, pressing his fingertips into her skin where her neck curved into her shoulder.
"Ouch." She couldn't help the complaint.
"Sorry, sorry," he whispered. He drew small circles on her skin until the whimpers stopped. "Better?" he asked.
"Mmm," was the only thing she could say in response to his question. Her body fell against his, her back against his chest, and Edward's arms slid beneath her arms so they curved up to hold her shoulders against him. She shifted her shoulders and he eased his hold until she leaned to one side and tilted her head to look at him.
The meeting of their lips wasn't gentle. It wasn't hard or rough either. It was a simple press of mouths, a taste of tongues, a sharing of breaths. It was a promise for more, for later, for when there was time.
Edward pulled away first, smiling when Bella moaned at the kiss ending, but he moved her to his side and slid down so he was lying down. She followed him and her leg wrapped around one of his in a small tangle that locked them together for the night. Inching closer to him, her breath hitched when she felt the hardness of his body and he shrugged at her with a small smile on his face.
"Edward," she said softly, coyly, with hope in her voice.
The skin of her waist was soft and warm beneath his palm. His eyes stayed on her face while his hand moved up, beneath the cotton of her shirt, and his fingers brushed against the small curves of her breast. She said his name again, this time in a low moan, and he couldn't help but grin widely now. A thumb made movements over her skin, circles that tightened with each rotation until Bella's back arched, pushing their bodies closer together.
"Soon," Edward promised, not wanting to cause more aches in her body than necessary.
"Now," she argued.
"Now," she repeated. She said it again and again until Edward couldn't deny what they both wanted.
His body was heated against hers. It wasn't long before there was no more fabric between them and then they moved against each other, each slide of skin making Bella more impatient but Edward wanted more than just a night of body against body, moan matching pants.
It was necessary that she know what he wanted, know that she was important, that she meant the world to him. He paused when she brought her knees up to flank his hips.
"Edward." Her eyes were shining up at him and perfect teeth bit into her lower lip. "Why are we waiting?"
"Just..." He took a deep breath and said the only thing he knew how to say. "Dancing is like breathing to me. It's what I love, it's what I do, it's everything."
Bella blinked up at him in confusion. "I know, Edward. It's like that for me too."
He transferred all his weight on one hand and trailed his other down the side of her face, over her collarbone, down past the curve of her breast, across her ribs. Bella tensed beneath him when his hand slid between them. He watched her face as he moved inside of her body and when her eyes shut tightly, he trailed his hand back up to rest beneath the pillow where her head lay.
"Bella," he said her name in a reverent whisper. Her eyes opened with the light sheen of tears that grabbed at Edward's heart. Leaning down, he brushed kisses at the corners of her eyes before he said lowly into her ear, "I'm dancing for you. Every time."
She gasped out his name. Later, when Edward felt himself spiraling out of control, he felt Bella's body around his, grounding him in a way only she could.
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Shifting weight from one foot to the other
His body was hard beneath her touch. Strong hands supported her – one at the small of her back, the other beneath her thigh as her leg curved over his waist. Her hands curved over his shoulders from the back, her arms hooked beneath his arms, as she rested a cheek on his shoulder.
The thrum of sensuality laced around them once the music began. Bella dragged her hands down his back, straightened her leg so that it was perpendicular to the ground. His hand ran down the length of her thigh until a beat in the song told him to crook her leg and then she spun away from him, one hand reaching out toward him, the other palm-out with her nails settled on her cheek.
"Okay, did you all see that?" The music cut off and Jasper Whitlock nodded at Bella and Demetri. "Did you see the way they moved together, the way they flowed into each other, right before the snap?" He didn't wait for anyone to respond. "That is what I want from all of you. I don't care how well you know the choreography – and you better know it like the back of your hand – but I want to feel the passion between the couples, want to know what you're arguing about during this number, when you forgive each other." He snapped his fingers. "I want to see the emotions on your faces, in every part of your bodies. Places!"
Bella went back to her original position against Demetri. She wasn't even supposed to be in this number but one of the dancers had an accident and she was the only one not in the dance that knew ballroom. Though it was admittedly helpful to have a partner in Demetri, she couldn't help but shake the feeling that something was going to happen, something bad.
They worked for four hours on the same number. During breaks, Demetri made her laugh, regaling her with stories of the time between their first meeting and the present day. Bella's heart tugged inside her chest at his happiness, wished that she could give him the same type of stories.
When they danced, it felt natural, like she belonged in his arms, at least for the four minutes of song. Both Jasper and Tanya kept pointing them out as an example when something in particular caused them to stop the music. By the end of the rehearsal, Bella was dripping with sweat and she just wanted to shower and fall asleep.
"It was lovely dancing with you again, Bella," Demetri said to her with a smile as they gathered their things and walked out of the room. "It's been a while."
Bella's smile was wide and happy. "Well, I'm here until Irina's back on her feet." She paused before shrugging. "Literally, even." Before she could continue or nudge Demetri away for laughing at her, a voice cut into their conversation.
"Isabella, a word?"
Turning her head, Bella caught the gaze Edward was giving her, and nodded. She said a quick good-bye to Demetri and walked over to Edward. Their communication had been spotty, at best, with most of their interactions happening just in the rehearsal room.
"I was... watching the ballroom rehearsal."
"Oh?" He began walking and Bella shuffled to keep up with him. When he didn't continue, Bella stopped before they could reach the parking lot and grabbed his arm. "What?"
His face was serious when he looked at her again but Bella saw something more. In his eyes, she saw a lost pain. "Why is it so easy with him?" he asked quietly.
"It's always been easy with him for you," Edward continued. "Why? What does he have that I don't?"
And Bella remembered. "It was never what he had, Edward." His mouth dropped open a bit in a questioning silence. Bella swallowed the pain his question brought her. "It was what he was willing to give me."
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A playful and sensual dance of an incomparable experience
She was here.
After seven months of being on his own in Miami, Edward stood at the airport, and scanned the crowds for Bella's familiar face. Twenty minutes after he arrived, she broke through a family with three kids and ran toward him, flinging her arms around his neck when she got to him.
"Oh my God, I've missed you," she said while they hugged. Edward breathed in her scent. Beneath the staleness of plane air, she was everything he remembered from home. She pulled away and pecked his mouth quickly with her own. "Hi."
"Hey," he replied with a smile. They waited for her suitcase, side by side, with their arms wrapped around each other's backs. Bella's head still fit perfectly against his chest and she felt the rumble beneath her ear as Edward told her about the Company and what life had been like since he left the Northwest.
She lifted her head suddenly. "Oh! That's mine!" She tried to reach for the bag – so did Edward – but it passed by. "Oops."
"Here, I got it," a voice said. A young man grabbed it and dragged it over to where the couple stood. "I hate when that happens."
Bella thanked him and grabbed the handle of her suitcase. Her eyes narrowed. "You were on the plane with that huge group," she said. Her eyes lit up. "I talked to one of you about dancing!"
He smiled. "You're a dancer?"
"Yes. We both are." Bella tilted her head up so she could look at Edward.
The other man held out a hand. "Demetri Afanasi," he introduced.
Bella gasped. "Oh my God, you're the dancer everyone's been talking about in Seattle!" Demetri's mouth curled up into a shy smile. "I've heard so much about you." She shook her head in disbelief. "I'm Bella. This is –"
"Her boyfriend," Edward cut in smoothly, causing Bella to nudge him in the ribs.
"Well, hello Bella and Bella's boyfriend." Demetri's name was called and he turned to see a group of people waving him over to them. "That's my group. It was nice meeting you both." He gave a final wave and left.
Once he was gone, Bella bumped her hip into Edward's. "Possessive, much?"
Edward took the suitcase from her hand and began rolling it behind him as he led her out of the airport. He kissed the side of her head just as the Florida heat hit them. "Can you blame me?"
They walked out to the car that Edward borrowed from his roommate. With the top down and the wind turning Bella's hair into a mussed-up nest of brown, they laughed and held hands over the gearshift.
That night, that Thursday, was the last time they really spend time together.
Edward had rehearsal and classes all day on Friday. Bella knew about it so she was more than happy to spend the morning and afternoon sunning on the hot sands of the beach just a few minutes from Edward's apartment. In the afternoon, she slid into a simple black dress and took a cab to the theater where Edward was performing in a student exhibition.
He was beautiful and stood out, at least to Bella, who couldn't keep her eyes off of his tall, lithe frame for the entirety of his number. After, she hugged him and kissed him and he promptly fell asleep from exhaustion.
On Saturday, Edward received a phone call that required him to be an impromptu rehearsal. When he hung up the call, he stared down at Bella, at the way her lashes lay against her cheeks, the way her chest rose and fell with each breath. He left her in his bed, pressing a kiss to her cheek and leaving a note taped on the bathroom mirror.
The rehearsal lasted longer than he expected. Dread bubbled in his stomach at the thought of Bella angry at him for leaving her to fend for herself in a city she didn't know. Their time was limited too; she'd be leaving tomorrow afternoon and he had barely seen her.
Later, when the sun was beginning a slow descent, he sent Bella a text message and groaned when he realized she was on the other side of town. He managed to grab a cab and, after paying more than he wanted to, got out and stood in front of a lively restaurant. It was crowded and the familiar staccato beats of Latin music poured through the open doors and windows. He held the gym bag that held his dance essentials tightly in his hand.
She was there, near the edge of the small dance floor, laughing with the dancer they'd met at the airport – Demetri. Their hips moved to the beat of the music and Bella threw her head back and laughed. Edward knew it was impossible with the volume but he imagined he could hear the melody of her laughter. Demetri leaned down and said something to her; she nodded in response after a moment of hesitation, then his hands grasped her waist and pulled her in closer to his body. His vision clouded at the comfortable way the two of them moved. Making his way over to them quickly, he called out Bella's name. She turned at the sound of his voice with a wide smile.
"You made it!" she said happily, stepping away from Demetri and throwing her arms around Edward's neck. He just stood there and she frowned. "What's wrong?"
"You ready to go?" he asked stiffly.
She blinked up at him. "What? You just got here." She reached out and grabbed his hand to tug him closer. "Come dance with me."
Edward glanced over at Demetri who looked uncomfortable. "Hey, Bella, I'm gonna go back to my table." He gave her a smile. "Think about what I said, okay?"
"Yeah, sure." She gave him a parting smile before she turned her attention back to Edward. His body practically vibrated in anger. "What's wrong with you?" she asked again.
"What he said? What are you thinking about?"
Her eyes narrowed. "He told me about some Latin dance instructors he knew in Seattle and I really don't appreciate the accusing tone right now."
With a sigh, Edward lifted a hand and pushed his hair back away from his face. "I'm sorry... I just... I'm tired and I want to spend time with you and seeing the two of you..."
Bella cut him off by covering his mouth with her hand. "You should know better than to say something like that." Edward's eyes calmed and he nodded so she could remove her hand. "Come on – just one dance," she requested.
"I've been dancing all day," he reminded her in a complaint.
"Yeah but not with me." She said it softly.
A tremor of annoyance shivered down Edward's spine. "You weren't dancing with me, either, or have you forgotten your new partner?"
His emotions ricocheted off of her. "Well, that wasn't exactly my choice, was it? It's not like you were around."
Her words were sharp but even Edward could hear the hurt that lay beneath. Though he wanted to apologize, he couldn't help but feel the sting of her words. This was his life. She should know what that was like more than anyone else.
"Well, that wasn't exactly my choice either, was it?" he shot back. He ran a hand through his hair for a second time. "Jesus, Bella, you know what rehearsals and classes are like. I can't just drop everything when you're here."
She let out a sound of disbelief. "We planned this weekend, Edward. You didn't have anything scheduled."
They were causing a ruckus in the small restaurant and bar. A crowd began to gather around them in a circle. From the corner of his eye, Edward saw Demetri watching them with a frown on his face.
"Things come up," he said tightly. "You know that."
"And this is the first time I've seen you in seven months."
Anger at himself and annoyance at the way she called him out bubbled beneath his skin. "So what?" The words were coming out of his mouth fast, like he couldn't stop his thoughts from emerging. "You want me to choose between seeing you and my career? My life?"
"What?" she asked incredulously before shaking her head. "You can't be serious right now." Bella glanced around and noticed the crowd's attention. "Forget it, let's just go, Edward."
She made her way through the crowd, not bothering to check if Edward was following, but the hand that grabbed her arm once she was back outside was warm and familiar. "Bella, stop, wait." She stopped walking but didn't turn around. A soft thud sounded when Edward dropped his bag onto the sidewalk and his arms pulled her back against his chest. "I'm sorry. I'm just... It's different now."
Bella hung her head and stared at their feet, his larger ones just slightly behind hers.
Yes. Everything was different.
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A turning step, usually done in a series, in which the working leg whips out to the side in and then into the knee as the dancer turns on the supporting leg, rising onto the point at each revolution
The weeks passed. Opening night was approaching fast and Bella wanted nothing more than to soak in a tub of ice to help her aching muscles and bruises. In addition to the normal rehearsals, she and Edward had worked on their partner piece for fear that Alice would pull them at the last minute.
It would be unusual but, according to dancers who had worked with the choreographer in the past, it wasn't unheard of.
She had gone out to dinner with Edward. She had invited him to join her for lunch at her apartment one Sunday and he had taken her to breakfast after a morning rehearsal. In her mind, Bella believed she was spending time with him because they needed to find a connection, one that would make the audiences believe their emotions and pain while dancing. Her heart, however, kept screaming at her, kept telling her that she would have her heart broken again.
But it worked.
Jane and Alec no longer had to perform the routine two times in the middle of a rehearsal for them. Alice actually smiled and nodded, though Bella thought maybe it was just a grimace and an exasperated tilt of the chin. The tension between them dissipated slowly, like tendrils of smoke being released from a cigarette.
They were remembering how to dance together.
Bella stared at him, one night, after a grueling rehearsal. Her feet hurt and she flexed her big toe when she felt a small blister on its side. The tightening and release of her skin around it helped her focus but then Edward had straightened up after searching through his bag for a sweatshirt and she lost all sense of thought.
He had always been fit, had always had the lines of muscle down and across his back, but the years had been good to him, more than they would have been to other men. She watched him stretch his arms up above his head, followed the tight cords up to where his fingers laced, and let out a shaky breath.
"You okay?" He didn't turn to look at her when he asked. When no answer was given, Edward turned with furrowed brows. "You're not cooling down?"
She gave him a small smile. "I'm gonna stay for a bit," she said. "Maybe do the routine a couple more times before I head home."
Edward frowned as he lifted his foot backwards, bending his leg at the knee to stretch out his muscles. "You want me to stay and do it with you again?" Everyone else had left 45 minutes earlier but the two of them had stayed to work on the more intricate jumps and lifts of the numbers. Part of it was because Bella had a slight fear that Edward would drop her; she thought it was most likely a psychological issue.
"No," she shook her head with her response. "No, don't worry about it. I won't be long anyway."
"You sure?" he prodded as he switched legs. "I don't mind. We can get some food after if you want."
It was tempting but Bella wanted to be alone. There were times she felt the need to just be and now was one of those times. With the first technical rehearsal happening that upcoming weekend, she needed to force herself to focus some more.
"I'll be okay. Thanks, though."
Edward nodded and pulled on his sweatshirt. The nights were starting to become cooler and he didn't want to get sick right before a show. "Give me a call if you need me, okay?"
Bella nodded and walked slowly to the center of the room. She stood there with her eyes closed and breathed in and out, in and out, until her mind slowly emptied itself of worries and useless thoughts. Just as she was about to slip into what she liked to call her "dance zone," Edward's hands were on her shoulders. Her eyes shot open.
"I still haven't said this since we started rehearsals, but..."
She tilted her head. While she wanted to know what he was talking about, she also just wanted to lose herself in the silence of the room.
The pain was evident in his apology and she turned to look up at him. "For what?" she asked, thoroughly confused.
His hands slid up to cup her face but it wasn't as intimate as Bella would have thought, would have wanted. "For Miami," he explained quietly. "I know that weekend was..."
"Don't," she stopped him. "Please don't."
"Edward," she said his name firmly and waited until their eyes met. "It was a long time ago. Things have changed and... these past few weeks have been great." She gave a small laugh. "I don't hate you anymore, okay?"
A thumb brushed over her bottom lip and there was the intimacy that Bella had secretly craved for two weeks now.
"I never hated you, Isabella," he told her. He stepped away and gave her a smile. "Gimme a call if you want to do dinner when you're done."
She opened and closed her mouth a few times. "I don't... I don't know how long I'll be."
"I'll wait." He gave her one last wave before leaving the studio.
With Edward gone and his apology still on her mind, Bella suddenly found the silence of the studio unbearable. She wanted the solitude, needed to embrace the sense of being alone, but it was too much for her now. A minute or two fiddling with the sound system in the corner and the room was filled with the familiar song of her partnering routine with Edward. She should have been sick of it by now but it soothed her.
She moved to the center of the room and marked the steps. Her body screamed at her to stop but she pushed herself just that little bit more. She needed the stretch and pull, needed the familiarity of everything she did, even if her partner was missing. Hopping lightly on the balls of her feet, she imagined Edward's hands grabbing her as she jumped, saving her from a potential fall.
On and on she went, sliding against the floor, lifting her arms up, extending a leg though Edward wasn't there to lift her into the air. She wished she had asked him to stay. From memory, she recalled the way they had always moved against each other as though they were extensions of each other, a fluid wave of precision and emotion.
The song changed but she kept going, repeating the dance even when it no longer matched the music. She wanted it ingrained in her mind, in her body. Beads of sweat formed at her hairline to create tracks down the side of her face as the minutes passed. Still, she continued.
Her eyes fell shut but her body kept moving. She didn't need to see herself in the mirror; she would only pick out the mistakes, the imperfections of the moves and her own body. The songs kept changing and still she went.
The sudden clamping of hands on her arms shocked her. Her eyes flew open again and Edward was there, staring at her while she breathed heavily. They didn't speak but his hand moved to her neck where his fingers slid against her slick skin. He said her name quietly, almost another apology, and she shut her eyes.
They stood there, together, unmoving. At some point, tears mixed in with Bella's sweat, but with Edward's forehead against her, she wasn't sure who was crying.
O}-'-,- O}-'-,- O}-'-,-
The ability of a dancer to remain suspended in air during a jump; elasticity in jumping
He missed her. Months had passed since her visit and they slowly grew apart. Edward knew it was partly his fault. That weekend had been the turning point and now, he missed her phone calls, her texts, her e-mails, everything about her. Rehearsals and classes continued, the way he knew they would, but it wasn't the same. It felt like part of him was missing.
After hours, the studios were usually empty, though principal dancers who wanted to rehearse just a little bit more occupied a few of the rooms. The woman at the front desk smiled at him when he asked if there was a small rehearsal room available. She gave him a room number and he walked down the hall of the first floor, pausing briefly when he caught sight of Rosalie in one of the rooms. He smiled fondly at her; she was a brilliant dancer but her heart wasn't in it as much as it should be. It was like she was living someone else's dream.
The room was dark and Edward didn't bother to turn on the overhead lighting. He stared into the emptiness of the room, the spotless mirrors and clean floors. He relished in the quietness and the peace of the room. He took a deep breath but the room hadn't been aired out since the maintenance workers had cleaned so all he got was a lungful of cleaning smells.
He left his sneakers by the door and pulled off his socks. He wasn't dressed in his normal ballet gear and the gray fabric of loose sweats hung over his foot; it slid across the floor over his heel as he walked barefoot across the room. He wasn't sure what was in the CD player and he had forgotten his iPod in the car so he pressed play and let himself get lost.
His mind cleared slowly. For the time being, he didn't think about what his parents or Bella were doing across the country, if they were even thinking about him. He didn't care if his left foot wasn't turned the correct way or if he forgot to spot himself as he turned. The stern voices of instructors faded away along with images of dance partners who couldn't be bothered to try a new way of lifting.
In that very moment, all Edward cared about, all he felt was the beat of his heart, the steps of his feet, and the pattern of his breath. There was no set sequence of movements anymore, just free motions that made him feel free. When the song faded away, he stopped to stare at himself in the mirror, where he saw a tired and disheveled young man who had no idea what was important anymore.
Another song began, a sweet ballad that counted off in beats of four. He merely listened at first and, when the chorus began, Edward picked up his right foot and brought it to his left knee. He turned once before he let the chords stream through his veins. Every note, each beat, found a place in his body and pulled him to the right moves. Fluidity took over. His arms wrapped around himself before they became a balance to a set of ballet steps he strung together on a whim. The female voice on the song, full of melancholy, called out to him, bring each turn, each jump, each slide closer to his heart.
The song changed again and Edward eased into the more staccato movements of jazz. His feet carried him across the floor and he couldn't help but smile at how he suddenly felt like he was in a musical. His arm reached out as though there was someone waiting for him.
He wished she was still waiting for him.
Coming to a standstill, Edward dropped his head and felt the light shifting of his shirt against his skin as he breathed harshly. He stood there while the song continued playing, stood there until it changed yet again, this time to an even slower melody that consisted of a piano and a single voice. Without thought, he brought his arms up in front of him, bending his elbows at precise angles, and imagined Bella in front of him.
The song was perfect for a waltz.
He slid a foot against the floor, lowering his body slightly before rising back up when he brought his other foot to meet the first. With an invisible partner, he glided across the studio to the soft notes, losing himself more and more to the music.
This was his escape. His muscles began to ache but he welcomed the feeling, knowing that few people would understand his need for the pain that came with dancing. This was his solace, the comfort he wanted. The notes themselves danced from the speakers and entered his body, sank into his skin to grant him the grace only a select number of people could actually comprehend.
He was lucky enough to be in the company of hundreds who knew what it was like to escape the world but there was only one person, one girl, he wanted to share his solitude with. He only hoped that, one day, she would be willing to share her own world with him again.
Until then, he let himself be carried away.
O}-'-,- O}-'-,- O}-'-,-
A gliding step, which usually connects two steps
Excitement mixed in with nervousness was palpable in the air. The show was already half over and, while the audiences were more focused on the singer anyway, the dancers knew a single mistake could ruin everything.
Bella checked herself in one of the backstage mirrors. She smoothed non-existent wrinkles in the off-white dress, only looking up when she felt the familiar body of Edward stand next to her. Their eyes met in the mirror as Edward's hand hovered over her shoulder.
Things had been tense for the past two weeks. The breakdown – on both their parts – in the rehearsal studio caused an imbalance in their already precarious friendship. For an entire day following that night, Alice had berated them for the sudden lose of comfort and familiarity in dancing. They both shook themselves out of their stupor but Bella found herself wondering often if things would get better if she just told him she missed the way they were together.
"You ready?" His voice cut into her thoughts and she noticed that his hand had, once again, fallen to his side. She couldn't help but stare at the muscular expanse of his chest, silently cursing the costume designers for putting the men in black pants and nothing else. When Bella didn't respond, he cleared his throat. "We should go wait in the wings. We have one song left."
"Right," she said softly with a nod.
Together, they stood in the wings of the stage with two other couples. Though she had done well for the entire show so far, this was the dance that made her shake, made her believe she could fail tonight. As though sensing her thoughts, Edward brought a hand to her waist and squeezed. She brought her opposite hand up to cover his so that her arm crossed over her stomach. Their fingers laced together and Bella shut her eyes and took comfort in the touch.
Edward dipped his head and his lips grazed the lobe of her ear. "Whatever happens," he said just as the lights on stage began to dim, "I'll catch you."
She turned her head quickly, his words shocking her into a frozen state, but the lights went out and Edward pushed her out onto the stage so she was in position before the song started.
It took a few minutes but, when the lights came back up, Bella and five other girls stood in various sections of the stage. From her perch on the second level, she could see everyone else, including the performer who was taking some time to speak to the audience.
As she began singing a cover of one of Bella's favorite songs, her body thrust itself into movement, and she was highly aware that Edward had entered the stage from the side. He walked around her as her body crouched and rose with the voice. When she and Edward stood back-to-back and his hand ghosted down her arm, she felt the difference in his touch immediately. Her breath hitched and, as their fingers laced, he squeezed in acknowledgement.
She remembered how, months ago, she had found herself saddened by the empty look in Edward's eyes as they looked at one another during this dance. Now, on a large stage in front of thousands of people, his eyes were bright and shining. More importantly, they were looking at her, not through her like she once thought.
From the corner of her eye, she saw Edward turn and took a deep breath. Suddenly the words being sung – you have suffered enough – made sense and propelled Bella forward and down toward Edward and the floor. His arms caught her perfectly, one hand around her waist, the other wrapping around her left thigh as she formed a diagonal across his body. Her ankles were crossed in the air and, from where her hand was wrapped around Edward's upper thigh, Bella felt the strength that held her suspended.
She dropped a foot so that her legs formed a straight line parallel to Edward's body. As he circled while holding her, he looked down, and their eyes met again. When his back was to the audience, Edward mouthed, "I know," and Bella wanted to cry because, even without an explanation, she knew what he meant.
They finished the turn and Bella curled her body into a ball in Edward's arms. She shook with emotion and didn't want to let go of him, not now, not when it was slowly becoming clear that the years apart, the months learning each other again, brought them to this point of clarity.
Her feet touched the ground again but she was still connected to him. His hand hooked around the circle of her arms for a moment and then he was holding her waist, putting her into the next position. She stood like a posed doll, facing forward with her knees bent and her arms out in front of her. Edward slid around her body from behind and stood back up between her arms. His mouth grazed her neck as he hugged her slightly and Bella felt the slight wetness of tears as his lashed blinked against her skin.
And then they were moving together, perfectly in synch with each other. Their right arms extended out to the audience before looping around behind them in a large circle. Bella couldn't keep the smile off of her face anymore. She could feel the way Edward moved with her now. He wanted to move with her; it wasn't just choreography.
It was moving too fast, this dance that suddenly paralleled their relationship. He lifted her up and she cycled through the air. He carried her as they rocked together. His palm pressed against her back, moving up and down, and Bella remembered late nights when he held her intimately. He set her down and she fell to a crouch, keeping a hold on his ankle until he burst away, needing freedom from her. As Edward spun in the air, Bella fell backwards to the floor. It was the point in their lives when they were alone, needing each other, but alone.
The jumps and partnering came even faster. There was so much happening and Bella let herself go, trusted Edward explicitly, hoping he wouldn't let her down again. Their bodies entwined and let go in a puzzling manner on the steady drumbeats of the song. The singer's voice soared and settled on their bodies and costumes and then Bella was holding on tightly to Edward's neck. Her body dangled from his as his hands lifted into the air, holding her up beneath her arms.
Edward breathed in deeply, closing his eyes as he brought his hands down to her hair and back. It was a soft caress as he walked in a semi-circle with her. He felt her knees bend before she dropped her feet back to the ground. The end of the number had Bella pushing away from him and he felt the anguish of the dance. He circled around her again, like he did in the beginning, and lifted her chin before sliding against her back. Only the singer's voice remained – no more drums, no more guitar.
Hands met and their bodies pulled away before they met again, an arm crossed over the other's body. He moved behind her again, wrapped his arms around her neck and chest. For the final few seconds, Bella was supposed to take his arms and remove them so she could walk away as the lights dimmed. Though her hands moved to his arms and she dragged them down and away, she didn't let go and she couldn't walk away from him.
The lights faded to black and they both ran backstage, thankful that they weren't dancing in the next number. Edward held Bella's hand tightly as he weaved his way through the dancers waiting to go on, held on until they were standing in the hallway behind the stage.
"Bella," he said her name hoarsely. Like that night, he brought a hand to her neck, put his forehead against hers. There was a small smile playing on his lips like he knew a secret.
Tears began to gather at the corners of Bella's eyes. This was the culmination of love and falling apart and finding each other and aches. "Edward," she breathed his name. Her hands came up to his neck as well, her fingers finding the line of his jaw while her thumbs brushed back and forth against his cheeks. "I've missed you."
Thank you to oOza and JosieSwan for doing beta duties on this. Thanks also to Sara who was unable to beta this completely but basically held my hand during dance discussions.
The dance that Edward and Bella perform is one that was on SYTYCD Canada (I think it was Canada). You can see the dance in its entirety here: www . youtube . com/watch?v=og72_DQ4Elk