Thanks for the reviews, guys. :) It makes me really happy to see other Black Swan fans, haha. I will indeed continue this. Here is Chapter 2.
THE EVENING BEFORE
"Alright, let's end ten minutes early," Thomas sighed, shaking his head in defeat. As he ran his fingers through his hair with a disapproving grunt, every member of the company tightened uncomfortably – except for Lily, who just looked bored. "I don't know what went wrong today, but tomorrow, I expect you all to be perfect. The show opens tomorrow, people, but you're still dancing like it's weeks away!"
There was a long, tense silence. Veronica broke it with a haughty snort. "All of us are doing fine. Nina's the only one who wasn't on top of it." Nina grimaced, but the shot didn't hurt as much as it would have a few weeks ago. She was just too tired and drained to care anymore. There was a black swan inside of her, but she couldn't get to it… Maybe Veronica really did deserve the part after all. Or Lily.
Nina threw a glance over in her direction. Among all of the other dancers' rigid bodies, attentively and obediently internalizing Thomas's every word, Lily slumped against the wall. She was zoning out, chewing her gum inconspiciously (which was not allowed in the building, but who would tell Lily not to?), completely oblivious to Nina's staring. She flicked her attractively disheveled hair over her shoulder with a yawn, and re-positioned herself against the wall. Does she style it to look that good, Nina pondered to herself, or is it really naturally like that?
"Nina!" Thomas barked. Nina flicked her gaze back to Thomas. "Nina, are you even listening to me?"
"Yes," she replied meekly. Thomas didn't actually hear her response, but he saw her lips move, and he knew Nina wouldn't respond in any more of a rebellious way. That was the problem. He sighed again. "I have no more advice to give you, Nina," he said with exasperation. "Tomorrow is going to take a miracle. You're all dismissed. Get a good night's sleep, all of you. I don't need my dancers falling asleep on stage." With that, he stomped off.
Once he left the room, the dancers loosened. Nina sat against the wall a few feet from the door. She felt their unfriendly stares as they trickled out of the room, but Nina just diverted her eyes. She pulled out her phone, pretending to be busy until all of the people were gone from the room. Flipping open her contact list, she scrolled through the small list of people again and again. She should probably call her mother, let her know she's coming home… Instead, she flicked the lid down with a satisfying fwip. She'll come home when she comes home. Though it wasn't like she had anywhere else to go but home…
Nina started to stand up, but jumped a little when she saw Lily in front of her. Nina surveyed the room quickly. They were alone. Why was she waiting?
"Hey…" she said weakly, shouldering her bag. Lily smiled sympathetically in return. Nina felt a twinge of annoyance. Why wasn't she ever the strong one? In any situation?
"Hey," Lily said, and Nina's breath caught in her throat. Her voice was so textured when there were no other sounds to distract. "Nina – you're going to be great tomorrow."
That isn't true, and you know it, Nina wanted to say, but instead, she just said, "Thanks."
"I'm serious, Nina," Lily insisted. "You're going to kick some serious ass. You're gonna be brilliant."
Nina swallowed and offered her a small smile - only partially forced. Nina knew as well as the next ballerina did that she would be awful tomorrow, but it felt nice to know Lily was trying to convince her otherwise.
Nina realized it was her turn to speak. "Um…" she mumbled. "Thanks, I hope you're right. I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
"Yeah, see you tomorrow," Lily said with a smile. Her eyes sparkled, and she headed for the door. A few seconds later, she turned around again. "Oh, and Nina?"
Lily took a couple steps towards her again. She looked at the floor, and then back at Nina. "Look, I should really apologize for the other night. I shouldn't have forced you out with me, and I'm sorry I got some crazy stuff involved…"
Nina swallowed. She didn't want Lily to apologize. She just wanted Lily to take her out again.
"Anyway, I hope that didn't make things weird between us. Just thought you could use a little dose of fun. It won't happen again, k? I promise."
Nina's heart sank. "Oh…okay, thanks."
"Alright." She grinned, and then winked. "Sleep tight!"
And then she was alone. Closing her eyes, she sank back down to the ground and sat in silence.
Nina sighed and shut the door. "Only by a little bit, Mom."
Erica paced over and stared at her daughter with stone-cold eyes. Nina refused to drop her gaze. With a an angry exhale, she grabbed the house keys from her daughter and hung them up beside the door. "You were supposed to be home an hour ago, Nina."
"We went overtime. The show is tomorrow so-"
"No you did not go overtime, I called Suzie in the office and she said you ended at the regular time today."
"Fine, then we didn't go overtime."
"So where were you?" Erica hissed.
Nina began walking towards her room. "I'm tired. I'm going to get some rest-"
Erica grabbed Nina's arm and yanked her back. "You do not ignore me, Nina Sayers, I asked you a question, where have you been for the past hour-"
"I was talking to someone, get off of me!" Nina yelled as she ripped her arm from her mother's grasp.
"Who were you talking to?"
"Someone." Nina gritted her teeth. Her head was pounding; she just wanted to lie down and have her mother go away completely.
"You don't have any other friends, Nina." That's it. I'm done with this.
"Who was it? Was it Thomas? I knew you two were up to no good-"
"I wasn't talking to Thomas."
"Who, then? That boy, the prince?"
Erica grabbed Nina again. From somewhere within, Nina felt a surge of rippling anger, and she threw her mother back at the wall. She hit it with a heavy thump and slid to the ground. Erica was silent with shock, staring at her daughter with wide eyes. Nina felt, from the same place within, some semblance of satisfaction. She took a step towards Erica and hovered over her. When she spoke again, her voice was soft, but with an air of authority.
"I have my own life now, Mom," Nina said, and she raised her chin. "You aren't controlling me anymore." She looked at her mother, waiting for a response. Tears were forming in Erica's eyes, but she didn't respond. "I'll say it again: I'm tired, and I'm going to go get some rest. So good night."
She made her way down the hall, into her room, to the light switch – and when she hit it, she gasped.
Her entire room had been turned upside down. The content of her drawers were strewn all over the floor, the things on her desk tossed aside. Her closet, her bedsheets, her shelves – everything was everywhere.
Footsteps. And then, her mother was behind her again. Nina turned around, shaking with fury. "What…what the hell did you-"
"You're not well, Nina." Erica's voice was calm again, the tears in her eyes gone.
"What did you do…"
"Ever since you got this role, you've been different," she continued. "You haven't been acting like my sweet girl."
"That's because I'm not," Nina hissed between her teeth. She felt anger pulse through her veins. The control she had felt a moment ago slipped away like a feather in a sandstorm. "What have you done to my room?"
"I was searching for something that would let me know what's going on…a journal, a phone number, a bottle, a condom-"
Nina swallowed and took a deep breath. She surveyed the room quickly, plotted in her head, and then she burst into her room. She picked up the bag in her corner. She threw in a few items of the clothing on the floor. She threw in the money she found on the dresser. She threw in her toothbrush. And then, she rushed out of the room again.
"I'm moving out." She headed for the door.
"You're what?!" Erica shrieked. Nina spun on her heel to face her, and Erica nearly ran into her.
"I'm moving out, Mom," she shouted, loud enough for probably every resident in the apartment to hear. "I'm moving out because I can't do this anymore, I just can't. I can't be controlled by you, I can't follow every single order you give me."
"No…no, I love you, my sweet girl…"
"But you don't. You don't love me. You just love the life you wish you could lead. And I can't do that for you anymore, Mom. I can't live your life for you. I need to be on my own. I can't be around you." She began to open the door, but Erica slammed it shut again.
"No, you listen to me, Nina." Erica's gaze was steely, but Nina didn't blink. "You're not moving out-"
"Yes, actually, I am-"
"-because I'm kicking you out."
Erica seethed. "You ungrateful little whore. I've given everything for you – everything! I gave up dancing, I gave up love, I gave up 25 years of my life, and this is how you re-pay me? Never come back here. You don't want to be under mommy's wing anymore? Fine. Try to fly on your own. But don't come back home crying for me. You aren't welcome here, Nina. This is the home for me and my sweet little girl… but she isn't you."
Erica opened the door. Nina gave her decision another thought. If she left now, she'd be leaving for good. Am I sure this is what I want?
Yes…yes, it is, another voice in her head replied.
So Nina stepped over the threshold.
THE NEXT MORNING
Nina came back to reality from the dreamworld and bolted upright just as the door to her dressing room opened. Lily walked in, eying the Black Swan costume with admiration.
Lily jumped, nearly dropping the outfit. "Oh…hey!" Nina ran a hand through her tangled hair and looked at the swan costume in Lily's hands. "Sorry, I…I called but didn't hear a response…" Lily glanced around the room, and then back at Nina and the makeshift bed on the counter. "Um, did you…"
"Yeah," Nina replied curtly and hopped off of the counter, tossing the blanket to one side. She walked towards Lily, still in her clothing from the day before, and took the Black Swan outfit from her. "Thanks for dropping this off."
"Yeah, no problem…" Nina turned around and put the outfit on the counter. She looked at the reflection of Lily in the mirror. She was still standing there.
"Is there something else?" Nina asked.
Lily shook her head and shifted her weight to her other leg. "Um, are you…is everything alright, Nina?" Nina turned around and looked at her carefully. Was the flicker in her eye genuine concern? Or was she just asking because that's what normal people do?
Nina tried to form words in her mouth, but couldn't. She sighed and tried again. "Well…um…well, no," Nina confessed. "I guess I'm not."
Lily still looked genuinely concerned, but uncomfortable. Is this one of the rare occurrences where she doesn't know what to say? Nina thought to herself.
"I'm…I'm sorry," she finally said. "What happened?"
"My mom and I got in a fight. I moved out. So I slept here," she summarized, providing as few details as she possibly could.
"That's rough…do you want to talk about it?"
"Yeah yeah, I know," Lily mumbled, more to herself than to Nina.
A flare of annoyance. "What's that supposed to mean?" she said, narrowing her eyes.
"I wasn't suggesting anything. You're quiet, that's all."
"How observant," Nina commented dryly. Lily's mouth pulled into a small smile. Lily's gaze met hers, and Nina suddenly couldn't breathe. They stood looking at each other for a few heartbeats. When Nina couldn't take it anymore, she looked away.
"Listen…" Lily sauntered forward towards Nina. "I'm here if you ever want to talk, okay?"
Nina nodded. "Thanks."
"Really, Nina." Lily lifted Nina's face lightly with a finger so they were looking at each other again. Nina's brain and heart were going into overdrive with their faces so close to each other's. "I am here for you."
Nina wanted to respond but couldn't. She fought the tears that threatened to come. Does she care?
"I, um…" Nina wished she could say something. Wished she could tell her what was going on, how she felt… but no, that was crazy. She was Lily, her rival, wasn't she…?
"Yeah?" Lily prompted. She touched Nina's neck before resting her hand on her shoulder. The contact drove Nina crazy. Nina wanted to be able to talk to her…to touch her. To have a friendship, or maybe something more. But more than anything specific, she just wanted Lily to care.
"I…" Nina gazed into her eyes, beautiful pools of vitality and depth… And she felt trust. A trust she had never felt with anyone else before. She swallowed, and tried to let her in.
"I'm just really overwhelmed right now," she whispered.
Lily brushed Nina's cheek with her thumb and held her gaze. She didn't say anything, but Nina saw in her eyes an understanding. And a concern. Genuine care.
Lily took a step forward, completing the gap between them, and wrapped Nina into a tender but powerful embrace. Nina's arms slipped around Lily's waist comfortably, and she let her head rest on Lily's shoulder. She was warm. Warm, and soft. And she smelled so damn good. Nina felt herself spinning and spinning, and she knew she needed to pull herself away, but instead, she pulled Lily closer. With a gentle touch, Lily slightly massaged Nina's back. Nina released the breath she hadn't realized she had been holding. Lily's hands felt so much better on her back than her own nails… With a magnetic pull from somewhere within, Nina moved her hands a bit lower, to the place where Lily's shirt didn't quite cover her. Nina's whole body felt a rush as her hands met the sliver of exposed skin… and she could have sworn Lily rubbed against her ever so slightly.
Nina sighed, but it was a sigh of relief. She closed her eyes and savored the moment. She had found home.
When they finally let go, Nina felt like she was breathing new air.
Lily reached forward for her hand and gave it an encouraging squeeze. "I'll see you at practice, right?" Lily asked, her voice still soft.
"Yeah…" Nina squeezed back. Lily let go and made her way towards the door again.
"Lily?" Lily turned around.
"Thanks." It was the same word she had spoken before, but this time, it was sincere.
Lily smiled. She felt a surge of happiness when Nina smiled, too.
Review if you have a spare 30 seconds Sorry that Lily has been a little scarce so far – there will be way more Lily as this goes on. Lily/Mila Kunis = THE BEST