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The Chance to Come Through

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Derek decides early on that if they embarrass themselves, he's going to blame the whole thing on Laura, because it was her idea. Derek often comes to this conclusion when Laura has talked him into some bullshit scheme, which is how Laura can actually get him to do these things.

Her latest scheme has them standing in line outside a theater in Oakland in the very early morning hours, surrounded by other dancers. Derek doesn't really like crowds, and he particularly dislikes the crowds of dancers he encounters at open calls. This open call, for a televised dance competition, makes all the bad parts even worse as his fellow dancers mug for the camera and try to express something they call "personality." There's a jokester about twenty people behind them, whose buddy must be the dancer with an actual chance of making it because surely no one could make such terrible jokes and be so generally graceless and actually be a dancer of any talent, but the giraffe-like host eats it up.

"Stop scowling," Laura says.

Derek rolls his eyes. "This is so dumb," he says. "They hardly ever take ballet dancers anyway."

Okay, fine, so Derek has been glued to every single episode of So You Think You Can Dance since it aired the summer he turned 12; so what? It's still true.

"They certainly won't if those ballet dancers are acting like they're too cool for school," Laura replies.

He sighs, but also tries to have a better attitude if only so Laura will leave him alone.

The cameras do find them eventually, because they're twins and yeah, they're both pretty good-looking, which isn't something Derek thinks about too much but he supposes every little bit helps. He puts on his ingratiating smile and hopes they don't turn his dancing with his sister into some creepy Flowers in the Attic thing.

Nigel seems to like the look of them, anyway, and they dance to a song Laura found about beekeepers and sleep and Prometheus. The story their piece is telling is less about any of that and more about two people working together to stay alive, which is something they know a lot about, unfortunately. There's a lot of showy spins and leaps, nothing like the kind of piece he'd do for a ballet company audition, but it's good emotional stuff.

When Nigel tells them they're going straight to Vegas, they do not jump up and down like idiots, but nod their thanks and take their tickets because they have some goddamned dignity even if they are going to be on television.

They don't leave immediately, but stick around to watch the other dancers since they don't really have plans for the rest of the day anyway. The jokester's friend gets up and does a charming Broadway-style tap routine to a peppy piano song and sells it with a big grin, so it's no surprise when he gets through.

The jokester—and Derek notices that he's actually rather tall and broad-shouldered, now that he's not wearing five shirts—gets up and tells jokes, naturally, and gets Nigel laughing about how surprising it is that he's a hip-hopper. He even flails around a bit, like he did in line, and Derek sinks down into his seat because seriously.

And then the music starts.

There are tricks aplenty, yes—spins and stops and all of that—but his limbs look almost liquid as they flow from one position to the next as quickly as the rapper spits out phrases. His hips thrust along with the high trumpet riff and his feet move faster than Derek can actually watch. As if all that wasn't enough, his face is just as animated as it was when he was telling jokes, going from intimidated to intimidating in a second, and when he winks all the contemporary girls sitting up front go into hysterics.

Lil C strings together several words that Derek can't make sense of but make the kid jump up and down, Mia says she wants to eat him on a cracker, and Nigel says something about his musicality, whatever. He's even had a few years of training, so the choreography in Vegas isn't going to be an issue. This kid is not only going through but his audition is probably going to be featured on the show and give him a fan base big enough to at least get on the tour.

Derek wants to be angry about this, but he's just ... not.

"Kid's good," Laura says, and Derek nods.