Pairing: Luke/Moose, Others/Moose
Warnings: Swearing, Violence, Non-con (Hinted at in this chapter, more explicit later), Dancing and Hip-Hop Music
Disclaimer: They are clearly not mine. Probably better that way.
Notes: In this chapter I'm mostly just retelling the beginning of the movie with a few little twists and changes to make my idea work. After this chapter things will get a little more freestyle, but I will try to keep true to the movie mostly. Tell me what you think. Don't hold back.
Notes(2): Title shamelessly stolen from Kanye West's song 'Stronger'.
When he slowly, weakly peels open his eyes, the world is so bright he can't see a thing except for an amorphous white light. For a moment he wonders if he has died and these are his first glimpses of heaven. If this is heaven, then he doesn't think he likes it very much.
There is a steady beeping sound somewhere to his left and that doesn't seem quite right. He wonders about that, trying to make some kind of sense of it, but his mind is so foggy he couldn't see his own hand if it was right in front of his face. Then, like it's been stuck a few instants back in time and is just now catching up with him, pain starts to seep into his consciousness.
At first it's just a slow ache in his bones, vague and detached, but it doesn't stay that way for long. Before he can even fully register it, the pain has turned into the jackhammer beat of the worst fucking song he can imagine. He tries desperately to remember what happened to him, where the hell he is, but all that he encounters is blankness. When he tries to move he finds that he can't.
The panic slides into his lungs, hot and cold at once, choking him, bubbling up into his throat, forcing its way out and suddenly he's screaming.
The beeping noise to his left goes wild and he thinks that he just might be losing his mind.
The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the trees are green and the birds are chirp-chirpy-chirping their songs.
Today life is good.
Because he's finally made it to New York City, the place where all kinds of dreams come true and all he can think about right now is that personal little piece of freedom that's waiting here for him.
A new start, a new game. Something he's been wishing for desperately ever since that day almost a year ago when he woke up in the hospital with no memories of what had happened to him or how he'd gotten there.
Moose pushes away the threads of anxiety that want to mess up his mood and takes a deep breath, straightens his t-shirt and sets his cap right. This is going to be it, he just knows it. He and Camille together in NYCU, rocking the place upside down. Just like they've been going on about for the better part of last year. He's been waiting to get as far away from Maryland as humanly possible and that's pretty much the only thing that's kept him sane after everything.
Now all he has to do is to get rid of his parents.
Which is a lot harder than it should be, but he's pretty much expected that. Actually he's still kind of surprised that they agreed to let him go at all. Both of them, especially his mom, have reached a whole new level of clingy and overprotective. In the first few months after he'd gotten out of the hospital, they hadn't even let him leave the house alone. They still refuse to tell him what happened after The Streets that night that messed him up so bad. Although they probably don't know much more than what the doctor told them; 7 ribs bruised, 3 broken, a broken nose and cracked jawbone, fractured left wrist and sprained ankle, a multitude of nasty scrapes, bruises and contusions. It had taken ages for him to look normal again, let alone move.
When his mom hugs him goodbye she won't let him go until he practically forces her to. The group of freshmen straggling up to take the campus tour is getting bigger. He mentally pleads with his mom: please be cool.
"I'm ok. Everything's going to be fine." He reassures her, but not just her. Himself as well. Moose tries to shake all thoughts but the good ones as he waves goodbye to his mom and dad.
I'm glad you finally decided to quit dancing. His father's words stay with him, circling in his mind. It's not like he had much of a choice. It's not like they would have let him continue.
Camille gives him one of her half smiles and looks at him as though she knows exactly what he's thinking again, and she probably does. He can't help but smile back despite himself. She's here with him and he is so endlessly glad for it. He really doesn't know what he'd be doing without her. Moose is pretty damn sure wouldn't be here right now. She's the best friend he's ever had and the one person who has really gotten him through everything. And now they're here and it's time to get things going.
They start walking after their group again, when a guy brushes past him and then, all of a sudden, there's this silver-green flash right in front of him, like some kind of revelation and he can't take his eyes off it.
"Those are the limited edition Gun Metal Nike Dunks." He can't fucking believe it. Those shoes have got to be one of the single coolest things he's ever seen. A rush of excitement that he hasn't felt in far too long blasts through his system and he knows he has no other choice.
Camille gets that exasperated look. "Oh no. I know what you're thinking!"
"I promise I'll catch up to you right away! I just need to check this out. Cover for me, please?" He can't even peel his eyes away long enough to look at her while he speaks.
She sighs, but lets him go anyway.
So he leaves Camille to the tour and follows those shoes, because he just has to find the guy whose feet they're on.
And before he knows it, he's stumbled into some kind of dance competition right in the middle of Central Park. People are all around him, cheering and laughing and betting money on who's gonna win.
Moose can't help but stop and watch. More like gawk. That kid dressed all in black is pulling some pretty sick moves. The beat blasting out of the boom box next to him fills Moose up and it feels fucking amazing.
He really has no intention on joining in, but when someone accidentally shoves him forwards he's suddenly right in the middle of it all. His promise comes to mind, the words his mother made him swear when she was finally allowed to take him home from the hospital.
"I'll never dance again."
But that kid is starring straight at him like Moose is a piece of gum under his shoe and pulls some kind of swanky show right in front of Moose and what the hell, Moose's never been one to back down from a challenge so he just goes for it.
And boy does he go for it.
There's a short moment of hesitation, but then he starts to dance and all awkwardness is gone in a flash. He hasn't felt this free in ages. Has almost forgotten what dancing feels like until his body takes over just like that and bam, there it is again. The beat of the music floods him like a fever and he just moves without thinking. It's as if he's never really stopped.
He jumps around on picnic tables, messes up some guy's sales booth and bursts bubbles to the melody of the song. God, he hadn't even known how much he'd really missed this. He jumps off of a stone bench backwards, right into a giant net filled up with colorful balloons. The net opens and the balloons float towards the clouds just as the song ends.
And then, all of a sudden, that sales guy is all over him for letting his stupid balloons loose and the rent-a-cops are running toward him. Reality kicks right back in.
Some guy with a video camera grabs his arm and starts pulling him away. When Moose looks down, he sees the silver Gun Metal Nike Dunks gleaming up at him.
"Come on man, they're after you!"
So before he really knows what's happening, he's running after the guy. Right through the park, nearly colliding with a bunch of skaters and fuck, those wannabe cops are still after him. And he can't fucking do this shit. He has to get back to Camille and that college tour, back to what he came here for. Away from the trouble he swore he wouldn't get himself into.
But the guy won't listen to him and then the crazy fucker pulls that stunt where he just fucking jumps right over a hot dog stand's grill and Moose doesn't really have a choice but to follow him.
"Jump first, fear later." My ass.
By the time the guy finally slows down in front of some back alley's gate and starts unlocking it Moose is whipped. Damn, that guy is fast.
Finally, when Moose gets a chance to catch his breath the guy introduces himself as Luke.
Moose just does what he always does when he's nervous – he talks about a mile a minute. Something about Luke's easy self-assured confidence gets to Moose though and it calms him down slowly. Luke acts like they've known each other for ages, even if it's been just a few minutes, really.
Luke starts to talk about how Moose is the type of person that was born to dance and New York is just the city for it. What does he call him? A 'Befab'? 'Born from a Boom Box'? That is pretty much the strangest thing Moose has heard in a while. Then Luke starts going on about the guys in the park, this giant battle called the 'World Jam' and how Moose should be in it. It's all kind of crazy, really, but for some weird reason, when Luke asks him to jump into his car, he just does.
And then the neon ocean that is New York City's Times Square flows past him, a bright blinking rainbow against the darkening night sky and it's like nothing he's ever seen before. There's that feeling again, that taste of freedom, of how things could be out here and he knows that he's being stupid and crazy, but he doesn't think he ever wants to stop. It just feels very chill, sitting next to Luke, who's a complete stranger, trusting him just like that and smiling with him like it's the most natural thing in the world.
When they cross the river with the two parallel illuminated bridges flying over the pitch black water, the sight takes his breath away.
After what feels like hours, Luke finally pulls his car to a stop in some deserted, dirty alley in the outskirts of Brooklyn' bay area. They left the safe-looking parts of town behind a while ago and Moose slowly but surely begins to wonder if he has really made such a good decision.
"Where the heck is this place?" He asks, but Luke just says "Come on." and disappears through the rusty door of something that looks like an old warehouse, so Moose follows him. Because really, what other choice does he have? He's sure as hell not staying out here in this stupid dark and filthy alley alone.
"Welcome to my house. The house of the Pirates." Luke says, like it's the coolest thing ever and pulls open the door to an old freight elevator.
"Nice place." Moose looks around dubiously. "It's a little small to live in."
Luke grins at him and starts the elevator. "This used to be a warehouse, but my parents converted this place years ago. We all live and train upstairs. It's like our secret hideout. And there's a club in the basement."
Moose has no answer to that. He thinks this might be starting to freak him out a bit.
Then they reach the top level and with the words "We call this the vault." Luke slides open the heavy steel doors of the elevator.
What Moose sees when he steps out of the lift is just fucking amazing. It really is like walking into some kind of secret hide out, only one that has been designed after stealing the secret fantasies out of a horde of young dancer's heads.
It's one giant room with a metal staircase that leads to a second floor; there are tents and loft beds, piled in twos and threes, areas on the floor and wall are covered with soft colorful patches, all kinds of other awesome stuff. Kids, some his age, some older, are jumping around all over the place, dancing to the beat that's blasting through the room.
Luke gives him the tour. He tells Moose about how he picked up all of those kids from the streets, crazy talent but with no place to go, and gave them a place they could call home for a while. They eat and sleep and train here together for all kinds of battles and apparently the World Jam is their next goal. Together, they're all some kind of surrogate family, their number one rule is 'fuck all rules' as long as everybody can be themselves.
Moose is half aware of the fact that his mouth is probably hanging open throughout the entire tour, but he doesn't really care. He can't remember having seen anything this sick ever. This has to be every teenage dancer's dream come true.
And then Luke starts introducing him around. The taller boy points at two guys approaching them whom Moose can only tell apart by the different colored sweater jackets they're wearing. Aside from that they look one hundred percent identical.
"Thing one and thing two over there, those are the Santiago twins."
Two seconds later they are all over Moose, talking so fast he briefly wonders how they manage to breathe in between sentences. Moose would swear he could only understand half of what they're saying. But he thinks he gets something about him dancing in the park earlier. And before he knows it, they are off again. He feels a bit dizzy.
A black guy in a blue and orange sweater with a bunch of papers in his hands approaches Luke and walks right past Moose, but Luke introduces him as Jacob and they shake hands. Jacob has a strange accent, but he's very polite.
"This guy's the captain of the ship." Luke says and smiles brightly.
Jacob gins back calmly. "More like the first mate." Then he turns to Moose. "I heard you did some impressive moves in the park today."
"How does everybody know that?" Moose asks confusedly.
"News travel fast when you beat someone like Kid Darkness." Jacob answers and then turns back to Luke. "I need to borrow you for a moment."
Moose is even more confused now than he was before. He really has no idea what he's gotten himself into here.
"Can't that wait? I gotta show him around." Luke claps Moose's shoulder amicably.
Right at that moment three black boys about Moose's age show up in front of them, all bouncy excitement and happy chatter. One of them has a huge afro, another is wearing blue-rimmed glasses and the third one's running around in flap trousers and colorfully striped socks.
"We can show him around!"
Luke looks at them dubiously. "I don't know about that."
"Come on Luke, please! What would Jesus do?"
That one has Moose laughing.
"All right." Luke gives in. "Don't hurt him!"
Luke just about has enough time to turn toward him once more and tell him "Those are the Ticks. Good luck." And then the three of them are all over Moose, grabbing his arms and shoulders overexcitedly and he really doesn't have the slightest chance to protest while they drag him away.
He sees Luke talking to Jacob, making pretty serious faces, for another second, but then he's standing at the huge dining table, surrounded by a bunch of kids asking him all kinds of questions all at once and he has no idea where to start. So he does the only thing he can think of right now and starts showing them some of his dance moves.
Everyone's laughing and clapping and the vibe is so catching that he can't help but laugh along.
Then one of them gets out their mobile and shows a clip of Moose dancing in the park. All of them get excited and they start talking at once again.
"Nobody's ever smoked Kid Darkness AND gotten it on tape!"
"That was seriously sick shit, man!"
"You think the Samurai are just gonna let you go like that?" A daunting Latino guy with black hair slicked back in a ponytail, a stylishly shaved beard and a heavy accent, who had been introduced as 'Carlos', steps forward. "They'll find you and they'll battle you again."
"The Samu-Who?" Moose looks around confusedly.
"The house of the Samurai." Someone offers, like it's the most obvious thing in the world.
"They're the toughest house in the city." One of the Santiago twins chimes in. "They're our fiercest rival."
"What do you mean they're going to find me?" Ok, so this might be getting a bit scary.
"They have technology out there, you know. Like the bears with GPS inside?" One of the ticks says and then all of them are laughing again.
Thankfully that's when Luke makes his appearance again. He steps up behind Moose, throws an arm across Moose's shoulders and casually claps his chest once.
"Come on. That's enough." Luke tells the others. "Don't let them freak you out, man. You're with us now."
"And nobody messes with us. Not even the Samurai." Jacob adds kindly.
"Not unless you wanna get roasted!"
And just like that, with Luke's arm around his shoulders, and his back laxly touching Luke's chest it's ok again.
The Santiago twins say something weird that nobody really gets and over the confusion it seems that they've already forgotten all about it. Moose doesn't quite know what to make of these kids, but he thinks he kind of likes them. It's hard not to, really.
Luke gets distracted though and before Moose knows it he's slipped away to the opposite wall where, apparently, there are some monitors for the surveillance cameras down in the club, placed conveniently next to the refrigerator.
Luke talks to Jacob for a moment and points at something on one of the screens, but Moose can't hear what they're saying. Then Luke turns around again and invites him down for a tour of the club with a grin on his face. That pretty much sounds like an offer Moose can't refuse, so he leaves the rest of the kids and follows Luke back to the elevator.
The club is just crazy. Fancy neon lights against cold concrete mixed with searchlight beams sliding and flickering over the ground, solid rusty mesh walls pulled up to the ceiling and bulky columns growing out of the dance floors. There are people everywhere, breaking to the beat of the music that thrums right through Moose's bones, and going crazy showing off their moves.
He follows Luke through the crowd and stops at a circle of people built around some guy doing backflips on the graffiti-painted dance floor.
"Crazy, isn't it? Hang out, look around. I'll be back in a second." Luke gives him another friendly clap on the shoulder and then disappears into the crowed, but Moose hardly pays attention to him, he's so focused on the stuff going on in front of him. That shit is sick!
The only thing that can eventually pull Moose away from the crowd is his bladder telling him if he doesn't find a toilet within the next ten minutes or so, things are gonna get ugly. He looks around the club until he stumbles upon a door with bright orange neon letters on it, spelling the word 'HEAD'.
Nice, he thinks and pulls it open to reveal a darkish hallway where the walls are striped with fancy bars of blue neon light. Moose steps inside and lets the door fall closed behind him.
For a moment he thinks he hears quiet steps behind him so he turns around, but aside from himself there's no one there. He puts it down to nerves, shakes his head at himself and walks into the men's room.
It's kind of filthy and rundown and lit much brighter than the club itself, which doesn't really compliment it. There's a row of sinks in the middle of the room separating the toilet stalls on the right wall from the urinals lining the left wall. Moose picks one of the urinals and gives his bladder some much needed relief.
He's barely finished zipping up his pants when a bulky black guy walks into the room and tears off bits of cloth from his jacket, revealing 4 miniature boxes integrated into the piece of clothing and stares him down threateningly. If Moose had the time he'd wonder about how fucking weird that is.
"Nobody battles the Samurai just once." The dark guy say, lifts the wrist with the far too big golden watch on it and when he presses a button there, music starts to blast from the speakers in his jacket.
He walks toward Moose, moving to the beat, backing him up first into the corner then towards the toilet stalls. Another guy, dressed all in black as well, appears, holding a cellphone and recording the whole thing. He jumps onto the chest high wall in the middle of the sinks to get a better angle. A third dude jumps out of one of the stalls, nearly knocking Moose down with the door.
"What? Now you're scared?"
This is crazy! They have got to be kidding him. Moose needs to get out of there and now. He swings on one of the bars atop the toilet stalls and then makes a wild leap for the doorway, but the guy with the boxes steppes in his way and Moose runs right into him. Boxes shoves him back into the room.
"We ain't lettin you go! Who said it's over yet?"
Shit, shit, shit!
Fear takes a hold of his chest and claws up into his throat, making it hard to breathe. All three of them are broader and taller than him. When it comes down to it, Moose knows that he wouldn't stand a chance.
Moose has to think quickly. He goes for distraction, doing a few spins on one of the sinks. He uses the opportunity to get a handful of water and splashes it into Boxes' face and when the guy reflexively shuts his eyes and takes a step to the side, Moose goes for the doorway again. This time he makes it.
He can hear them calling after him, but he just runs for the club and right into the crowd, frantically scanning it for faces he knows. The crowd parts for him and his followers and then he slips on the smooth dance floor and falls. He bumps his elbow painfully and loses his hat as he struggles to crawl backwards, his heart racing in his chest.
The next thing he knows two pairs of hands are grabbing his arms and shoulders and pulling him back onto his feet. Moose's relief is overwhelming, when he sees that it's Jacob and Carlos. They move in front of him right away and when Moose takes a step back, Luke is already there, back to chest.
The others were right behind him and now they're pulling off their show on the dance floor. The guy who Moose battled and won against that morning in the park – what did they call him? Kid Darkness? – makes an entrance, jumping over the backs of his team mates and hitting the floor with crazy spins and twirls like he's never gonna stop. All Moose can do is stand there with his mouth hanging open, his heart hammering against his ribs and watch.
Luke has a firm grasp on his shoulder the entire time and he tries to concentrate on that, because all of this is more frightening than it should be. Moose can feel it in his gut, something that's been smoldering in his unconscious but shies away if he tries to get a hold of it. It amplifies the fear and makes the air in his lungs seem thick and sticky, moving in and out too slowly to get the amount of oxygen to his brain that he needs to think clearly. The voices around him and the music begin to blend into one another and become some undistinguishable white noise in his ears.
Kid Darkness ends his show, all swagger and overgrown self-confidence, and steps towards Moose, but Carlos and the Santiago twins put themselves in his way, holding him back, away from Moose.
"I just want a few rounds with the kid." Kid Darkness says, pointing his finger at Moose and staring him straight in the eye. "We've got some unfinished business, you and me."
I just want a few rounds with the kid.
Those words. They trigger something inside of Moose's mind and all of a sudden his head feels like it's about to explode. He hears them again, but slightly different and this time the voice is another. It's lower, darker, so much more frightening.
What's wrong, kid? Don't you wanna go a few rounds with me?
Moose wants to yell, but his chest is so tight he can't make a sound leave his mouth. Don't panic, don't panic is what he repeats over and over in his thoughts. He tries to remember what the doctor told him before they let him leave the hospital. That his memories of what happened that night might never come back, but they probably will when his subconscious is ready to let them loose and that, when it happens they will either return as bits and pieces, certain intervals of time apart and for no apparent reason, or they might be triggered by something. The trigger could be anything, a sound, a smell, a feeling, or a certain combination of words to bring it all rushing in.
Vaguely and barely registering the words, he hears Luke say. "You wanna get to him, you gotta go through us."
And the next thing he knows the crowd switches into motion all at once, yells and shouts burst out around him as the entire club either throws itself into the fight that has just exploded in front of him or tries to get away from it. Moose gets pushed and shoved around, has no place to move and then pain begins to explode all over his body. He tries desperately to tell himself that it has to be phantom pain, injuries long since healed reliving the moment they were inflicted, but it hurts, hurts, hurts. Fire races through his wrist, his ribs, his back, stomach, everywhere.
And after all of that time trying to remember until his head pounded so hard he was ready to cut it off, all of a sudden he doesn't want to remember anymore. It's too much, too fast, too intense, more than he can take. Blurred visions start to pop up along with the pain. It accelerates into something so fierce and frightening that he thinks for a moment that he's losing his mind until something inside of him just snaps and everything is swallowed up by a tide of blessedly numbing blackness.