An Understanding

we touch our foreheads, thank you, thank you…


It's his voice.

Smooth and dark, like chocolate dripping off his words, sweet but not overly, not enough to make them gag, not enough to make them suspicious. His speech is just a little bit broken and somehow that makes it easier for them to stop and consider the words.

Because they are children who have only ever had broken toys, ugly truths and bitter choices.

"My name is, eh, Pierre Dulain."

And just like that, they're listening.

He doesn't understand that he has it easy, that a cold shoulder on the first day is nothing, not even close. That leaving him standing there, ignored and looking just the saddest bit lost, that it was them doing him a favor.

There are reasons the teachers at this school dread detention.

But Pierre comes from a world where there are certain rules. Where he comes from, dancing—ballroom dancing—is indeed like life. So, the man clasps his hands behind his back, squares his shoulders and they listen.

He tells them that dancing is about elegance and beauty, about respect.

Pierre doesn't understand, couldn't imagine, that if he were anyone else that day when he first danced with LaRhette, she would've been more likely to break his nose then let him touch her.

There are reasons that Mr. Temple skips his shifts.

LaRhette is the first. The rest follow her; if she can trust him, maybe they can too.

The only one that resists is Rock and he was never really a part of them anyway. It's just that he fits in here better then anywhere else, like a puzzle piece that's the right color but whose edges keep catching.

Pierre doesn't understand that this is an exclusive club; he doesn't understand that for some reason they've let him in.

The one thing he does know though, is that he can give them a chance to make something of their shitty lives. He can give them elegance, beauty, but it's the respect that makes them come back for more, desperate for it.

Respect and the feeling of squared shoulders and fingertips touching fingertips.

He gives them this, a choice. An easy one.

He teaches them to love without breaking.

He teaches them romance in the inches between their heaving chests, dripping sweat. He teaches them truth in the twisting of footsteps and on balanced tip-toes, teetering and trusting and when they look at him, their eyes say thank you and that is more than he needs.

Pierre gives them back all their wasted chances and they hold their heads high, like he taught them.

Because when he tells them with his dark chocolate voice that they are more then just rejects, well, they can't help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, he's right.

(He is.)