"Dance lessons?" The two boys, Sigurd and Hervey, questioned in genuine surprise.
"That's right, you two." Lady Kika nodded firmly. "It's another form of training, and it's mandatory to complete."
As always, Hervey was the first to drawl a complaint, "But none of the OTHER pirates hafta-"
"It's a new thing. Dance is - as you'll find out - very similar to battle." Kika lazily sat in her chair, while Hervey and Sigurd stood dumbfounded before her.
Carefully, Sigurd enunciated his opinions, "Forgive me, but... why us?"
An eyebrow was raised, and a voice was lowered. "You'd rather disobey me, then?"
All arguments ceased then and there, as the partners quickly added, "When and where are these dance classes, ma'am?"
"This is so stupid. I've never done this before in my life, why should I learn now? And with Sigurd?"
"At least I know how to dance." The pirate Sigurd shuffled his feet around, attempting to fit his foot into his shoe. "And stop complaining. This actually isn't as bad as I thought it'd be."
Hervey straightened himself; a posture that did not suit his facial expression. "Tch, yeah, the only reason you're happy is 'cuz you actually get to own me at somethin'."
"Which NEVER happens, right?"
"...Shut up. And wipe that stupid smirk off your face."
Ready as can be, Sigurd turned to the sulking Hervey. "Just follow my lead. Ready?"
"No, no, that's ridiculous!" The pirate boy spat, as he retreated from the offender.
"Come on, Hervey, don't be so-"
"What makes you so eager to do this, anyway?" Switching from "afraid beginner" to "cocky showoff", Hervey smirked. "You probably just eager to get your hands on me! You're such a perv!"
Heaving an agitated sigh, Sigurd ignored such a comment, then commenced with his dancing instructions. After all, the sooner they finished lessons, the quicker they could leave. "First, you need to hold your partner close. You'll play the female dancer, since I'm going to lead you."
"Wh-why do I need 'ta-?"
"Because it's actually pretty difficult to dance with someone at arm's length." Impatiently, Sigurd shifted an all-knowing glance towards his inexperienced partner.
"Tch... Whatever... This is freakin' wrong, you stupid..." As the rolling words grew more meaningless, Sigurd decided against even paying attention.
"Second, I have to hold your back with my right hand firmly to lead you." Having said that, the taller man reached for the back of Hervey's shoulder blade, pulling him in.
Such an action earned him a squeak of disapproval; an unexpected noise that almost caused Sigurd to laugh.
"The next thing to do is... Oh yeah, an important thing to know about ballroom dancing is that you shouldn't think of it as stepping from side to side. It's more or less stepping AROUND your partner."
Hervey was paying little attention. His shoulders slouched, his head lowered, and he obviously dreaded this new training program.
While Sigurd grew less and less tolerant, he decided upon waking his zombie-of-a-partner. Tightly grasping Hervey's muscular shoulders, he called, "Hervey, you listening to me?"
Wild eyes scanned the face of his friend, then upon meeting the eyes of the other, a pink hue crossed Hervey's slight features. "Wh-wh-wha huh?"
"Posture is important, you know." But lectures were cut shorter than anticipated, and Sigurd's strictness unexpectedly wavered. What's melting this anger of mine? That Hervey... "I know you're not into this, but this shouldn't take too long, okay?"
"Whatever." Despite his carefree words, Hervey's shoulders stiffened upright. At least it's an attempt...
"Let's try the box step. It's the easiest and most basic. Let's get started."
The next few moments were noticeably quiet to both men; less nagging on Sigurd's part, and less complaints on Hervey's part. Though the pace was slow and did not yet have a sweet flow, both boys remained patient.
Perhaps they were making good progress...?
"Why'd you stop?"
"The next part is... well, I guess I'll just have to show you. Put your leg there."
"There? That's just - No! No way!" With full force, Hervey retreated, shoving Sigurd away from him. The red on his face matching that of his hair, the boy had seemed to have reached his limit.
More concerned rather than upset, Sigurd approached again. "Hervey! Hervey, what's wrong? It's okay-"
"No, no, no, it's not okay! This is degrading! This is annoying! YOU'RE annoying!" In another sudden fit, the boy forced himself towards the doorway. Momentarily, he hesitated, merely in a thoughtful linger.
Why the sudden shyness? "I don't understand, Hervey."
"Bein' with you like this..." Hervey started, not bothering to turn towards his confused listener, "Having to hold your hands, 'n stay close to you, 'n stuff... It just doesn't feel right!"
"I know it's odd at first, but I still don't-"
"It ain't right! I... I dunno!" Fed up at last, the boy stepped through the door, readying to shut it behind him.
Hervey would have left him that night, if it wasn't for Sigurd's unexpected leap to fate.
"Wait, Hervey! Stop!" The taller man bolted across the room, slamming the door open once more; despite the redhead's opposing attempts.
In a fit of frustration, Hervey growled and slid down the doorway, carefully hiding his face from his friend.
The sight bewildered and frightened Sigurd. Hervey in a sullen heap on the floor, shielding his eyes. His confidence was shattered, and feelings that Sigurd had never seen exhibited from Hervey before rushed out.
Sigurd then softened his tones when speaking, "What in the world has gotten into you?"
A sniff was the first response, followed by a squeaking mumble, "I dunno..."
"Hey, are you okay? Why are you so upset?" What should I do? I'm not used to consoling people, let alone "Hervey the Furious." But my heart's really going out to him for some reason. I hope he doesn't think ill of me...
Sharing in Hervey's moment of weakness, Sigurd knelt down beside him, and wrapped strong arms across the other's shoulders.
A gasp, a tremble, and a pair of frightened eyes darted upwards towards Sigurd's face. Voiceless pleads sprung from those eyes: leave me alone.
Without intention or thinking things through, Sigurd continued softly, "I think... I know what you're feeling, Hervey."
"No, no you don't. You don't." As Hervey shook his head slowly from side-to-side, Sigurd noticed how the boy was sluggishly melting into his shoulders. Perhaps I'm making good progress...?
"You're frustrated that you can't get it right? I know it's your first time and everything, but give it some time and-"
"Really, you don't get it. It's not about dancing. It's not about you beating me at something. ...Well, maybe it is." Hervey added with a cold chuckle.
"Then, what's going on? Are you scared?"
After lazily rubbing the back of his neck with his hand, the redhead nodded slowly.
"I don't really want to keep guessing. I want to help you feel better, but if you're going to be like this, maybe I should leave."
With his shaking hands, Hervey embraced Sigurd with his whole heart, and whispered, "No, Sigurd, I think better NOW than ever. I think I should tell you." Hervey's fear was gone now, and he grinned like a moron up in his friend's face, as he readied himself for an awaited confession.
"Tell me...?" Oh, I think I get it now.
Meanwhile - and unbeknownst to the boys - two pairs of watchful eyes gazed upon the drama. But of course, it was Lady Kika and Dario, who were both monitoring the pirate partners.
Dario whistled softly in awe. "Wow. I'm impressed."
"Told you. Works every time." A smirk played along the lady's lips.