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It Takes Two to Tango but Three to Swing

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Lucy tapped her foot nervously against the floor, an old nervous habit. Where was her sister!? They were supposed to take the stage at any moment.

“Sorry, sorry!” Amy whispered, sliding into place next to her. “You all good?”

“We’re on in sixty seconds,” Lucy whispered back. “No, I’m not good. This idea is insane.”

“Well, it’s too late. I did it. I talked to the judges and the crew, they’ve swapped out the song.”

Lucy took a few deep breaths. “Mom’s going to kill us.”

“She’s going to learn that she needs to bring her dances into the 21st Century.”

“No, she’s going to kill us.”

The couple on stage finished and took their bows, and the announcer bellowed, “Lucy and Amy Preston!”

Shit. Here went nothing.

Lucy let Amy take her hand and lead her out onto the smooth square dance floor in the middle of the room. Her heart was pounding. She agreed that their routine to Christina Aguilera’s “Candyman” had gotten old. She agreed that Mom needed to update her dance choreography. She agreed with everything that Amy was saying.

But did they have to make their objections known this way?

She got into position, counting in her head to calm herself down. Counting out the beats—one two three four, or one two three, or whatever the count for that particular dance happened to be—helped her.

Lucy didn’t dare look Carol Preston’s way as the music started up, and instead of Tarzan and Jane were swingin’ on a vine, there was the ding of a bell and…

Dance apocalyptic, bands they make her dance apocalyptic now,

Bands they make her dance apocalyptic,

Bands they make her dance apocalyptic now,

Bands they make her dance apocalyptic…

They held still for that intro, and then Amy led Lucy into their first step, and away they went.

Here was the thing: she really liked dancing to this song. She really, really liked dancing to it. And all of their secret late-night practices were paying off, as she moved into the movements spurred by Amy’s hands, or feet, or hips. She knew they looked good, dirty blonde and thick, dark brunette, spinning around on the dance floor, almost of the same height.

But was it going to be good enough to finally get them the points they needed?

If it wasn’t good enough, and they didn’t get better points, and Mom was mad at them for nothing—

But I need to know—if the world says it’s time to go, tell me will you freak out?

Smash, smash! Bang, bang! Don’t stop! Chalang-alang-alang!

Lucy refocused, smiling bright and wide for the judges, shoulders back, hand out with flair, ankles, knees, calves, all of it lining up.

Did the judges look like they liked it? What were they scribbling down? Fuck, they’d been so close to first place so many times, and they’d stagnated, they knew it, everyone knew it except for Mom, somehow, and Lucy was determined, she wanted that goddamn trophy—

Amy tugged on her a little more firmly and Lucy focused again. The steps were automatic by now, but automatic wasn’t good enough. She had to be in the moment.

You gotta life, but the zombie’s in the front yard,

Take a bath, but nothing gets the funk off,

You’re on TV,

Rockin’ and a rollin’

‘Cause the dead just love to rock n’ roll…

She couldn’t see Mom’s face, which was a good thing. Carol would be absolutely livid, and Amy seemed to be feeding off it. Lucy could feel the fierce joy in her sister and couldn’t help but feel it catch onto herself a little, like a flame jumping from one burning building onto another. She imitated Amy’s movements, the two of them mirroring each other, and then Amy grabbed her and pulled her in, spinning her out, and Lucy’s feet made quick work across the dance floor.

There ain’t no order in this courtroom!

Amy turned her in their most complicated spin, and Lucy made sure to get her arm into the right position, hardly daring to breathe until it was done.

She struck her final pose as Amy intentionally, continuing the bit, mouthed along to the final words of the song: What’s the matter? Your chicken tastes like pork? You had triplets instead of twins? Does your food taste plastic?

The crowd cheered, and Lucy thought they might have been cheering more loudly than necessary, but the crowd always cheered and so she couldn’t be sure. Maybe they were just being polite, maybe…

Amy tugged her into their bows, and then they hurried off stage to where Mom was waiting.

Shit, she looked like she was a volcano about to blow her top. “What exactly did you two think you were doing?”

“We were doing our routine to a song that would actually get us to the podium,” Amy replied.

Lucy’s heart pounded in her throat. She knew she should probably speak up, but she couldn’t seem to find the words.

“You went against the suggestions and order of your coach, is what you did, how can I possibly trust you?” Carol replied, using that patented I’m disappointed voice that always made Lucy’s stomach sink.

“They’re going to put us up on that podium,” Amy insisted. “And it’s going to be because we did something new and daring, instead of the same old things—”

“The things that work, the moves that are proven to—”

“If your traditional shit is working so well then why haven’t we gotten first place!?” Amy snapped.

Carol’s nostrils flared. “I ought to throw you off the team for this you rebellious—”

“You don’t have to throw me off,” Amy replied, her face blazing. “I quit.”

Lucy’s head snapped around to stare at her sister. “You—you what?”

The announcer began to list the winners.

“I’m not putting up with her anymore,” Amy said, staring at Carol even as she addressed Lucy, the two women staring each other down, so similar in face but so wildly different in temperament. “And you shouldn’t either.”

“—and in second place,” the announcer said, “Lucy and Amy Preston.”

Amy pointed up towards the ceiling in triumph as Carol snapped, “You would’ve gotten first place if you had just—”

“We never would’ve gotten on the podium if we had—”

Lucy wanted to clap her hands over her ears. Amy had already chosen to quit, what was the point in continuing to argue about it? She grabbed Amy’s wrist and tugged her away instead. “One moment, Mom.”

She turned to her sister. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Are you crazy?”

“No, you’re crazy if you stick with her!” Amy replied, finally lowering her voice a little. “You’re better than what she wants for you, and so am I. It’s time we performed what we want. Didn’t you like performing that?”

“Of course I did, I helped you pick out the song!”

“Then go after it! I’m not putting up with her anymore, if she can’t see what we did and appreciate it, then I’m not standing for it anymore. And neither should you.”

She did stand for it.

She stood for it, because Lucy wasn’t like Amy. She wasn’t—she knew Carol had been the best in her day, and she couldn’t choreograph on her own, and—and she wasn’t—she wasn’t brave like Amy was.

And so she stayed.

Amy didn’t… Amy was too kind, Amy was too loving, Amy never said a word against her for it. Never judged her. Or if she did judge her, she did it in the privacy of her own home, away from where Lucy could see it or hear about it.

Carol complained about Amy, about Lucy, about everything, but she had been complaining about everything that her daughters did for the last three decades so Lucy was used to that.

After a week of complaining, Carol brought on Lucy’s new partner: Wyatt Logan.

Wyatt was… he fit the type. Lucy wasn’t surprised that Carol had picked him. He had that all-American slightly old-fashioned good boy look that Carol favored, like he’d stepped out of a World War II campaign poster.

Lucy liked him, though. Liked him a bit too much. He cracked sly jokes while they were doing their warm ups, followed instructions, and rolled his eyes conspiratorially when Carol’s back was turned.

With Amy gone, with no friends, of course she latched onto her new dance partner. And she knew—she knew—that dancing created a false sense of intimacy, she had been dancing since she was five. The physical connection, the fact that you were staring into your partner’s eyes a lot depending on the dance, she got it, really. But she had been dancing almost exclusively with Amy for years, competing, and so she’d kind of… forgotten. She knew, intellectually, but she hadn’t really… yeah.

The best part, the most fun part: Wyatt was married.

Yeah.

Nothing happened. She wouldn’t do that. Wyatt and Jess were struggling, and his being away from home on the dance circuit clearly didn’t help, but Jess sounded lovely. Lucy said hi to her a few times on Skype, and once, she and Wyatt had gone out with a few other dancers and he got a little tipsy and told the story of how he proposed to Jess by opening the ring box upside down, and Lucy’d thought her heart would explode with how damn cute it was. She wasn’t going to do that to someone, anyone, but especially not someone who seemed as good as Jess.

But she wanted something to happen. Imagined, what if? And that—that was almost as bad as doing it.

The worst time was when they stayed up late, practicing their swing, because there was this one lift that Carol wanted them to do as a showstopper and Wyatt was struggling with it, and the both of them were so frustrated, and Lucy felt like she might actually beat her fists against the walls of the dance studio until either the walls broke down or her knuckles were bloodied down to the bone, or both, and she hated her mother so much in that moment and Wyatt mistook it for her being mad at him and she took his face in her hands and said no, I need you, and that was when she ran straight to Amy’s apartment.

Amy poured her a cup of coffee and ignored her concerns about the late hour. “I just got back from the club, anyway.”

Amy was trying her hand at DJing when she wasn’t working on some more modern dance choreography.

“I need to quit, don’t I?” Lucy asked.

“Mom is a lot of things, including manipulative, but I really do not see her hiring a hot married guy specifically to torture you,” Amy replied. “Besides, she wanted you to marry a doctor or something, remember Noah?”

“Please do not remind me of my past romantic mistakes,” Lucy moaned, burying her face in her hands on the table.

“I have to remind you, we’re both invited to his wedding to Dave in two months.” Amy winked at her and then passed her the milk and sugar. “And I like Dave. He's much better for Noah than you were. But really, Lucy, I think—I think yeah. I think a break would be good for you. It’s been good for me.”

“He’s a good person.”

“I know.”

“I haven’t done anything.”

“I know.”

“Mom would be so angry—”

“I know.” Amy stared at her, her expression gentle but unyielding, and Lucy stirred her coffee, wondering why she was half speculating about sipping it right now while it would burn her throat, why she wanted that. “Lucy, you’re burnt out. When was the last time you went out with friends? Of course you’re falling for the guy, he’s the only one you talk to besides Mom. When was the last time you did anything besides dance?”

She reached out and took Lucy’s hand. “Take a break.”

Lucy sank back into her chair. “Mom will kill me.”

“But you might actually start enjoying what you’re doing again.”

Lucy’s phone buzzed. She pulled it out, finding a text from Wyatt.

I told Carol I quit—I need to go back home and fix things with Jess.

Lucy didn’t know what the look on her face what, but judging by Amy’s concerned, “What?” a moment later, it must’ve been pretty bad.

“Wyatt’s quitting.” She set her phone down. Amy picked it up and read it, because Amy had never understood what ‘privacy’ meant.

“After tonight, I’d be pissed at him if he didn’t.”

Lucy buried her face in her hands again. “Fuck. When did my life become so fucked up?”

“You fell for the wrong guy, it’s fine, it happens. He’s going to go fix things with Jess, you’re going to take a break and get your groove back. Like Stella.” Amy grinned.

“I’m not going to Jamaica.”

“You should do something, Lucy. Take some time for yourself. Then come back, find a partner that Mom didn’t pick for you, find a coach or, hell, coach yourself!” Amy pushed the coffee back towards Lucy. “Get a new start. Mine is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Lucy sighed and began to sip her coffee as Amy took her phone and began scrolling through it.

“Wow,” Amy said after a moment. “Is that Jess? How the hell did that man leave his wife alone for months, look at her arms…”

“Please stop looking through my texts with Wyatt.” A new start. Taking a break. Finding a new partner.

She could do that, right? She was in her thirties, for crying out loud, she could be an independent adult for once in her life, away from Mom, right?

…right.

Chapter Text

One Year Later

           

Flynn glared at his phone as it rang. And rang. And rang.

Unfortunately, he knew the caller, and he knew she wasn’t going to let up. He answered. “Flynn speaking.”

“You’re coming tonight.”

“No, Denise, I am not.”

“Tell him he’s coming!” Michelle yelled from the background.

Very few people in the professional ballroom world knew that Michelle Jamison and Denise Christopher were married. Flynn had found out entirely by accident when the taciturn Denise had let slip that it was her anniversary the same day that Michelle told Flynn the same thing—and Flynn had needed to sit down and re-evaluate his entire knowledge of the universe because the warm, funny, darling wife that the over-sharing Michelle was always describing was nothing like the terrifyingly stern ballroom dance judge that Flynn knew as Denise Christopher.

“What part of ‘I’m retired’ does nobody understand?”

“You need to get back out there,” Denise replied, ruthless as ever. “You can’t just hide out and drink yourself to death, Flynn. Dance was your life.”

“Dance was her life, too.” It hadn’t been Iris’s life, not yet, but it would’ve been. She’d loved trying to dance along to her parents’ routines, and Flynn could still remember her standing on his feet, her hands securely caught up in his, as he’d carefully led her through some steps. Iris had smiled up at him, giggling…

“She wouldn’t want to see you like this,” Denise said, her voice… not gentling so much as getting calmer. “She would want you to find joy again. And you always found that in your art. I know that we…”

Denise took a breath, and it sounded like this was hard for her to say. Flynn’s relationship with her was based on snark. They weren’t really the heart to heart type. “I know that we complain about dance. I know that we call it a sport, because it is. But it’s also art. And you were, you are, an artist. You’ve been taking shit care of yourself on every level and you and I both know it but especially your soul, Flynn. Just come tonight, Flynn. Watch some dancers. No judging, it’s a showcase.” She paused again. “Please.”

Flynn could count on one hand the number of times he’d heard Denise Christopher say ‘please’ over the years he’d known her.

“Fine,” he said. “But I’m not going to like it.”

 


 

Lucy took a few deep, careful breaths as she waited for her name to be called.

She hadn’t flown all the way to Brazil for an exhibition just because she’d thought it would be fun. She had begged Michelle Jamison for the chance, begged for her to get Garcia Flynn here, promised Michelle that Lucy would make it worth everyone’s while.

“I’m calling in a massive favor,” Michelle had told her.

“I know,” Lucy had replied. “I know, and I’ll make it worth it, I promise, I won’t let you down.”

Now she had to prove herself. Prove that her words weren’t empty.

When she had gone through possible new partners with Amy, Amy had been the one who’d pushed for Flynn. “You always admired his work, you loved his and Lorena’s dances.”

“Lorena died, Amy.” She hadn’t seen that it was… the dance world had been shocked when Lorena and Iris Flynn had died in a car crash. They’d been on their way home from a showcase, drunk driver, slick roads, it happened—Lucy knew all too well how easily it could happen. Garcia Flynn had retired after that and basically had been a ghost, but rumor had it that he still attended showcases from time to time, and that Michelle Jamison knew when and where.

“You can’t just ask a person whose wife and partner just died if they want to pair with you,” Lucy had explained.

Amy had been undeterred, though, and Amy always got her way.

And if there was a part of Lucy that wanted this to work, that wanted Amy to be right, that wanted to get to dance with one of the people whose work she’d admired from the sidelines for years at competitions…

Well, she could ignore that part until she got through this dance.

“And now, Miss Lucy Preston!”

She hadn’t danced alone in over a decade.

Lucy walked out into the middle of the floor and tried not to search the crowd. It was terrifying, somehow, in a way that none of her other dances for competitions had been. She was auditioning for someone, but nobody knew it. This was her choreography, her song choice. No coach, no mother to back her up and take the blame or the praise.

If she succeeded, though… she’d have a partner that could possibly, finally, take her from good to great.

If only she didn’t have just one shot. If only she could do it over and over, rewind, until she got it right.

Lucy reached the middle of the floor, and the music started.

Showtime.

 


 

Flynn didn’t want to be impressed by anyone who performed.

He didn’t want to be drawn back in, had gotten used to his ennui.

Especially because Michelle had grabbed him the moment he’d entered the dance hall and all but dragged him to a particular area. “I’m trying to remain incognito,” he’d mentioned casually. “You know, so that I’m not bombarded?”

People had been respectful of his loss for the first year, but after that, they’d started to ask if he was open to returning to dance with a new partner. After a year of this, he’d gotten sick of it, and he’d stopped letting people find him—except for the few people he trusted, like Denise and Michelle. It had been nearly four years since Lorena and Iris had died, four years since he’d danced or competed, and yet, he couldn’t trust that people wouldn’t recognize him and try to chat him up.

“You’ll be fine,” Michelle had replied. “I want you to see this one woman. Her coach took her as far as she could but now she’s striking out on her own and I think she’s got real potential to be great.”

“You considering coaching her and want my opinion?”

Michelle had just hummed in response, and Flynn had gotten suspicious, but now the dancing was starting and he had to quiet down to be polite.

The first couple of dancers he prayed weren’t the woman that Michelle mentioned. But the third one who came out—

She was wearing a sort of jumpsuit that shimmered in the light, the sort of outfit that looked all right on its own but was made for movement, made to show off when the person danced. Flynn could tell as the woman took her spot that the woman had chosen it specifically for that purpose, and that the so-so outfit would wow the crowd once she started dancing. It was an outfit meant for freedom of movement, as well, big movement.

Lucy Preston, the announcer said, and he knew her. He’d seen her perform a couple of times, after he and Lorena were finished and were wandering around the area, checking out the other dances. She’s got potential, Lorena had said. It’s a pity her dances are boring.

Lucy took up her position in the middle of the dance floor, and turned her head towards him in the process, staring up at the ceiling like she was gazing at distant stars. Flynn’s heart did a stupid little flip that he shoved aside. Lucy Preston was beautiful. Great. He’d seen plenty of beautiful people before. No need to get excited.

The music started up, and Flynn didn’t recognize it.

Hydrogen in our veins, it cannot hold itself, our blood is burning.

And the pressure in our bodies that echoes above it is exploding.

Love described on a sub-atomic level. Boiling emotion and science down to the very essence and finding it indescribable.

Something about that tugged at him.

Lucy’s body moved like each part of her was isolated, her palms going up, her feet sliding, her back arching. It was modern dance, not ballroom, but Flynn could see an absolute, one hundred percent control of every inch of her body, one that she’d need if she was in ballroom dance. He watched the turn of her ankles, the way her feet moved, and he could see ballet and waltz both as the base for this dance.

Feel it on me, love, feel it on me, love, feel it on me, love…

Strangeness and charm…

The pre-chorus started up and Lucy shifted, moving from isolation into cohesion, turning, spinning, like she was trying to blur the world around her—and there was when the outfit came into play. Sure enough, it caught the lights, and became prismatic. Strangeness and charm.

Flynn found himself counting her spins subconsciously. Salsa and other Latin dances had a lot of spins in them—in fact it was standard going to a Latin dance club for the follows to inform the leads how many turns in a row they could handle so that nobody got spun too much and threw up. Lucy was doing three, four, five at once.

The second half of the pre-chorus was different and Lucy’s spins shifted, slowed down, her hips swinging, rolling.

And atom to atom, oh can you feel it on me love?

And a pattern to pattern oh can you see it on me love?

Atom to atom, oh what’s the matter with me love?

Lucy shifted again, moving like she was dancing with an invisible partner, mirroring them. Flynn found himself watching her legs, seeing how she could rotate them, already trying to picture how she’d move them if someone else was moving with her.

Lucy’s face, though. That concerned him. She looked like she was acting the part she’d chosen to play for this song, lost in someone else, lost in love, but she looked a little too lost. Like it wasn’t just an act. Like she really wasn’t sure about herself, about her dance, about what she was doing.

The static of your arms, it is the catalyst

Oh the chemical it burns, there is nothing like this.

It’s the purest element, but it’s so volatile,

An equation heaven sent, a drug for angels.

The song shifted into the bridge and Lucy looked around, at the crowd, like she was searching for someone, like she’d been abandoned. That—that felt real. Flynn could taste the sincerity in it. If she could find a way to put that into the rest of her dance and get her presence to match her technical skills—

Dammit, no, he was not thinking like this, he wasn’t going to think like a choreographer, like a coach. He’d said he was finished and he’d meant it.

Lucy ran forward as if grabbing the hand of someone, pulling them in, dancing desperately like trying to hold onto water sliding through her fingers. Flynn’s heart did that odd flip again and he scowled.

Feel it on me, love, feel it on me, love, feel it on me, love.

Strangeness and charm.

See it on me, love, see it on me, love, see it on me, love.

Lucy whirled again, like she was out of control, spinning, spinning—as the outro began and as the singer gave one last cry, Lucy slammed to a stop, like she’d been smacked into a brick wall. They were facing each other.

Her chest was heaving, her palms up like she was pressed to a glass door, her eyes wide, her dark hair starting to come out of her updo, and she looked, somehow, like a volcano that was forcing itself not to erupt, like she was shoving so much down inside of her. I have no mouth, and I must scream.

He found himself wondering what would happen if she stopped forcing it all down. If she did let go. What would her dancing look like?

Lucy stepped back, her eyes sliding away from him, and he wasn’t even sure if she’d really seen him because of the blinding lights or if she had just looked like she had, by coincidence. She bowed, waved, smiled, and walked off. The next dancer was announced.

“That was her,” Michelle said, and Flynn nearly jumped in surprise. He’d forgotten she was there. “She’s good, isn’t she?”

He hadn't wanted to be impressed by anyone who performed. And yet.

“Yes,” he replied. “I’m going outside.” He needed some air.

 


 

Flynn wasn’t there afterwards, but Michelle hugged her when she found her. “You were brilliant, honey, that was the best I’ve seen from you in a long time.”

“I spent a year on it, I hope it’s good,” Lucy replied. She’d gone back to basics, taken ballet classes again, and had started taking modern dance just to try and give herself something new, a different way for her body to move. “Did he…?”

“He liked it but he hates to admit it,” Michelle said with an amused smile. “He slipped out, but if you wanted to go and track him down, I think you could persuade him. My wife says he misses dance more than he wants to tell people.”

“Someday I’m going to meet this wife of yours,” Lucy said, laughing. “But if you really think—are you sure I won’t be bothering him?”

“He looked at you the way I haven’t seen him look at any other dancer. If he wasn’t plotting choreography for you in his head I’ll hang up my judges’ hat.”

“Judges don’t have hats.”

“Semantics.” Michelle nudged her towards the door. “Go get him.”

The bar that Flynn apparently frequented was one of those swing bars where there was an area for people to dance and then a bar proper where you could sit in booths. Flynn was towards the back, in the half-dark, clearly a regular spot judging by the way the bartender handed him a drink and nodded at him.

Lucy took a deep breath. She felt like she was about to jump off an extremely high diving board. Or throw up.

Then she marched across the bar. “Hi, Garcia Flynn?”

She wasn’t sure if he’d recognize her just in her dark red summer dress, her hair down and makeup scrubbed off, rather than all done up like she’d been for her dance.

Flynn barely glanced at her. “Nao falo Ingles,” he lied.

Lucy sat next to him. “I know you speak English. I’ve been watching you perform since I was twenty.”

Flynn turned and looked at her.

“Lorena was my favorite though,” Lucy admitted. It just felt like the right thing to say. “Maybe it’s because I’m also a follow.”

A small smile curled up the corner of his mouth, and then he glanced away, his mouth smoothing out like he was wrestling that bit of humanity down. “I quit.”

“I know. When you’ve danced with the best you don’t want to settle for anything less, and that’s even without… I danced with my sister my whole life. Dancing without her feels—wrong.”

Flynn arched an eyebrow, still watching the dancers rather than looking at her. “And you think you’re the best?”

“No. But you are. And I want to be. And I think—I think that you miss dance. I’ve read up on you, dance was your whole life, I mean, your parents—”

Flynn drained his glass and set it down. “Be careful not to talk like you know me, Lucy Preston.”

“So you were there. You did see me.” She felt a surge of triumph rise up in her chest.

“I did. You have excellent training, good control. You know what you’re doing.” Flynn held up a finger signaling another drink, which was placed in front of him immediately. Yup, definitely a regular. “Doesn’t tell me how well you dance with a partner, though. How well you follow.”

“Then dance with me.” The words flew out of her.

Flynn looked at her directly again, and Lucy’s blood went hot. He had a way of looking at her that made her feel like he was rummaging through the drawers of her heart, the ones she tried to keep locked up. “You’re not giving up, are you?”

Lucy shook her head. “If you’re really happy here, cutting yourself off from dance, from all of it, if you like just sitting here and wasting away, then go ahead and do it. But I saw you dance. You looked ten times more alive back then than you do now. And I didn’t—I didn’t know Lorena well but if anything about what I saw of her in interviews was real then she wouldn’t want you doing this, either, she’d want you to do what made you happy. She’d say you deserved to keep being happy. If you don’t want to dance, all right.” She shrugged. “But I think you do. So I’ll be out there.” She nodded at the dance floor. “You just let me know.”

She got up and started walking towards the dance floor, her heart pounding. For a few moments, she heard nothing behind her, and she thought—she was wrong. She was wrong, and she’d blown her chance, said the wrong things—

Flynn walked past her, then pivoted, holding out his hand. “We’ll see if you can keep up.”

Lucy struggled to hide both her smirk and her giddy laugh of relief. “I should be telling you that,” she replied, sliding her hand into his. Out of the two of them, it hadn’t been Amy who’d nearly twisted an ankle trying to Charleston as fast as possible. Lucy had always pushed herself.

When you came in, the air went out.

Flynn pulled her in, his hand turning in hers to clasp it properly, his other hand coming around to press to the small of her back.

And every shadow filled up with doubt.

Lucy had gotten so used to dancing with Amy, then with Wyatt, that she’d known what they were going to do before they did it. They’d telegraphed their movements. But Flynn—he moved, and Lucy found herself leaning into the press of his hand, only realizing she was moving as well after she’d done it.

He was starting them with Latin, testing her, seeing if she could make it match to the odd beat of the song. Well, fine. She could handle that. Hips didn’t lie, and all that.

I don’t know who you think you are but before the night is through…

Flynn spun her out and Lucy neatly brought her arm and head along with it, striking a pose and then glancing back at him, a smirk curling up the corner of her mouth. He’d have to do better than that to trip her up.

I wanna do bad things with you.

Flynn pulled her back in and shifted, moving into a triple step. Lucy felt his hand sliding across her lower back and knew what was coming, prepared to open herself up as he pushed her forward and she turned around, facing him for a brief moment before she was pulled back into his chest. Yeah, she could swing dance too, as many turns as he wanted.

I’m the kind to sit up in his room,

Heart sick and eyes filled up with blue.

Flynn turned her again, again, again, and she kept pace with it, a smile sliding across her face before she could stop it. He raised an eyebrow at her and pulled her into a close hold, pressing them against each other from ankle to chest, somehow making a goddamn waltz work with this song.

I don’t know what you’ve done to me, but I know this much is true:

He shifted her into the foxtrot and Lucy shifted rhythm and steps smoothly. “You’re not going to trip me up,” she noted.

I wanna do bad things with you.

“You sure about that?” Flynn asked. He turned, angling his hips but planting his feet, forcing Lucy not to move her feet either, bending her over in a dip. A dip was a matter of trusting your partner and holding yourself properly, true, but that couldn’t be what he was planning.

Flynn pulled her back up to standing, his hand firm at the middle of her back, spreading warmth through her, and then he turned, his heel pivoting, and Lucy felt the movement up through his body and oh, she knew what he was trying to do.

She followed his feet as he stepped and turned, pivoting, feet moving, trying to see if she would trip over his feet or hers as she stepped over and around his legs, turning her hips when she had to, keeping her upper body completely still. You’re a duck, Mom used to say. All calm from the waist up, above the water, no matter how frantically you’re moving underneath it.

Lucy kept herself calm, waist up, her shoulders back and arms in perfect position even as her feet moved in double time, faster than the song required, like they were moving in between the beats instead of with them.

When you came in the air went out. And all those shadows there, didn’t leave any doubt.

Flynn moved her into a tango, leaning back so that she had to lean onto him, trust him with her balance.

I don’t know what you’ve done to me but I know this one thing is true:

I wanna do bad things with you.

He swung her around a final time and Lucy knew that the trick here was to trust, trust completely and one hundred percent, let your partner move you instead of trying to move yourself or guess what they were doing. If she didn’t trust him and let him move her, the dip wouldn’t work and he’d drop her.

I wanna do real bad things with you.

Flynn slowly pulled her up out of the dip, his arm firmly around her waist, until she was back on her feet and both of his hands slid down to grasp her hips. Lucy’s hands were on his chest and she found that she was breathing hard, and that she really, really didn’t want the song to end. This was what it was like to dance with someone who knew what he was doing, who knew how to lead, who did it without thought because his intention was so clear he didn’t need to plan or telegraph his movements to her. She’d followed every single step without thought, just somehow knowing.

Flynn stared at her, looking a little bit like he’d been hit over the head. “You’re good.”

“I told you I was.”

Neither of them moved.

“You need to work on your sense of being in the moment,” Flynn added. “Your technique is nearly perfect but I could see your nerves while you were dancing. The judges shouldn’t see you thinking.”

“That’s why I want you to help me,” she replied, instead of saying I wasn’t thinking while I was dancing with you.

Flynn kept staring at her like he wasn’t quite sure what to do with her, and this was a really, really bad time to remember that he and Lorena had been responsible for her complete bi crisis at age twenty when she’d first seen them dance, and Lucy really wasn’t sure where all the oxygen in the room went, but she couldn’t breathe.

Ask me to dance some more, she thought. Ask me to dance more, ask me to dance more, ask me to dance—

Another couple bumped into them and Flynn startled, his hands flexing around her hips before he slid them up to her waist and neatly lifted her, pivoting and then setting her down to the side, his body now blocking her from the rest of the dancers. “I can’t be your partner.”

Lucy swallowed down the disappointment that threatened to choke her. “Oh.”

Flynn was still holding onto her. She was still holding onto him. She should let go, but her fingers weren’t getting the memo. “We have to think about how we present to the judges. There’s too much of a height difference, we need to find you a partner closer to your height.”

That sounded like a rather thin excuse, but at least he wasn’t saying she wasn’t good enough. Flynn seemed the type to tell her if that were the case. Why was he blaming it on height differences then? Sure, she was 5’5” and he was 6’4” but it wasn’t insurmountable.

Unless he wasn’t comfortable getting out onto the dance floor in front of everyone again, in front of judges.

“If I find a partner,” Lucy bargained, “will you be my choreographer then? Will you coach me? I—I want to be the best. And you are the best, you can help me be the best. If you don’t want to—but will you do that? If I get a partner?”

Flynn’s tongue swept across his bottom lip as he thought, and Lucy felt hot all over. “All right,” he said. His hands finally dropped away from her waist and she let go of him, still feeling the press of his hands all over her, everywhere he’d touched her, like a brand. “If you find a partner, I’ll help you.”

She didn’t hug him, but it was a near thing. “I won’t let you down.”

Flynn gave her an odd little smile. “That’s not what I’m worried about,” he replied.

She was going to be the best, she was going to show Mom, she was going to get first place. With Flynn on her side, she could win. She just knew it.

Chapter Text

The last thing Wyatt had expected was for Lucy Preston to call him and ask if he wanted to be her dance partner again.

He’d been… an asshole, just leaving her a text to tell her he was quitting just hours after he’d had a breakdown and they’d nearly kissed. He’d owed her more than that.

Things hadn’t gone well, really. His entire life. Dad had never been much of anything except a drunk and an asshole, and he’d made Wyatt’s life a living hell once he found out that Gramps had been teaching Wyatt how to dance. Like a fairy still rang in Wyatt’s ears sometimes.

Then Dad had died, and then Gramps had died, and dance was the only way to hold onto Gramps and the best way to throw a middle finger at Dad, but in doing dance, he’d started to lose Jess.

Jess, who watched him as he listened to Lucy on the phone. “Take the job.”

“Shh.” They were newly divorced and she still kept trying to tell him what to do. Although she was usually right. “No, Lucy, not you, Jess.”

Jess plucked the phone from him. “Of course he’s going to be your partner, Lucy,” she said into the phone. “He’d be an idiot not to be.”

“You’ve spent the last year calling me an idiot.”

“And I will spend many more years doing so,” Jess replied primly. “Yes, Lucy, we’re still here, yes, he’s going to be your partner, are you doing the choreo? Oh, really?” Jess got a sly grin on her face that Wyatt didn’t like in the least. “Well isn’t that lovely. Oh, Wyatt will love that.”

“Wyatt will love what.”

Jess waved him off. “You know, I think it’s a real shame we haven’t ever met in person, Lucy, you seem like such a darling from what Wyatt tells me.”

“Jess…”

“I’d love to come up with him and see you! Mmmhmmm… I mean, the divorce was just finalized—we’re divorced did you know that? But we’re still friends so I don’t mind spending time with him. Right, great! We’ll see you then! Aww, it’s nice to talk to you, too. Bye!”

Jess hung up.

Wyatt pointed at her. “You just threw me right into the fire.”

Jess smiled. “Baby boy, you have no idea.”

 


 

When Wyatt got to the dance studio, he could already hear music. Despite Jess’s threats to come with him (and she had), she was letting him go to see Lucy for the first time in a year by himself.

The dance studio was on the second floor, above the gym on the first floor, both run by the same people. Lucy had assured Wyatt she’d rented it out for the entire night and had a standing relationship with the owner so not to worry and to just come on in whenever.

As he walked up the stairs, the music got louder, and he could start to identify words. He winced.

It’s been a long night here, and a long night there, and these long long legs are damn near everywhere…

Yeah, this song hit a little too close to home.

He opened the door to the studio just a crack, just enough, and saw Lucy dancing the cha-cha with… oh, fuck. Garcia Flynn.

That had been why Jess was laughing.

Garcia Flynn was the amazingly talented, amazingly tall, amazingly annoying dancer that Wyatt had been—not admiring, just—look, Flynn’s parents had swept the circuit in their day. Nobody was as good as Asher and Maria Flynn. There was a reason everyone called the guy by his last name alone. And Flynn was just as good, and he knew it. And it drove Wyatt nuts, watching the guy dance and wanting to be that good and knowing he wasn’t and…

Hold up now—you look good, I will not lie, but if you ask where I’m staying tonight…

Flynn put his hand on Lucy’s shoulder and turned her just enough that she quickly whipped her head underneath his arm as she spun, grinning. They weren’t practicing a routine, Wyatt realized as the pre-chorus started. They were just goofing off.

Flynn took Lucy’s hand and turned her so that her back was to him, facing the wall of mirrors, and they copied each other’s movements, swiveling their hips. Damn, they looked good like that, two brunettes who were both fit as fuck.

I gotta be like aw, baby, naw, baby, you got me all wrong, baby,

My baby’s already got all of my love.

Lucy whipped around and both she and Flynn struck goofy, exaggerated poses. Lucy laughed, her head falling back. Wyatt remembered being able to make her smile, and laugh softly, but he’d never made her laugh that hard. His heart clenched.

So no, no, honey, I’m good.

I could have another, but I prob’ly should not.

I’ve got somebody at home,

And if I stay I might not leave alone.

Lucy’s feet moved fast and in complete precision as she segued into her next steps, and Wyatt blinked. He hadn’t even seen Flynn give her a signal to do that. Shit. He’d seen Flynn be that good, but with Lorena, his wife and dance partner. Wyatt had assumed that, well, it was because they’d danced together for so long and had practiced their routines but now it looked like Flynn was just that good of a lead.

No, honey, I’m good.

I could have another but I prob’ly should not.

I’ve gotta bid you adieu,

To another I will stay true.

Flynn pulled Lucy in and turned her, putting them into an open hold, and they turned back and forth, Lucy grinning wildly. Flynn wasn’t grinning, exactly, but he had this odd sort of soft look on his face whenever Lucy wasn’t looking at him.

They kept turning around each other, striking poses each time, clearly trying to out-do each other on being dramatic. Flynn had always looked so serious in his dancing, Wyatt hadn’t thought the guy was capable of having fun, but yet, here he was.

Oh, I’m sure, yeah I’m sure, that you’ll make somebody’s night.

Oh, but it sure, yeah it sure, yeah it sure as hell’s not mine.

They parted, and Lucy took a few deliberate steps away from him—then turned and ran at him in a move that was definitely not cha-cha, not particularly anything that Wyatt knew, and jumped.

Flynn caught her and spun her once, then neatly flipped her over so that Lucy landed solidly on her feet on his opposite side.

Holy shit. Wyatt felt his mouth drop over. Move over, Dirty Dancing.

No, honey I’m good.

I could have another but I prob’ly should not.

I’ve gotta bid you adieu,

To another I will stay true.

I will stay true.

Lucy laughed, breathless, and grabbed onto Flynn’s arms. Flynn was… not quite smiling down at her, but something close to it.

The song was ending, and Wyatt felt like if he stood there any longer he’d be officially creepy, so he stepped in, knocking on the door as he did so. “Hey.”

Lucy froze and turned to look at him, eyes a little wide and guarded. Not exactly what he’d been hoping for, and an abrupt change from the free, relaxed, laughing woman of a moment ago.

Wyatt waved, feeling sheepish.

Flynn walked over to the speaker and turned the music off. “Wyatt Logan.” He walked over. “Lucy explained how I’m going to be your coach for this?”

“Yeah,” he said, because he couldn’t exactly say, technically Lucy explained it to my wife, who didn’t tell me it was you because she knows I hate your guts for no particular reason other than my own insecurities and she wanted me to have the shock of my life as payback for abandoning our marriage past the point of repair.

Flynn folded his arms, tucking his hands under his armpits. He had a wide stance, Wyatt noted, and then he wondered why he had noted that. “I’ve seen you dance at a few competitions and I watched videos of you with Lucy. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, so I want to go back to basics with you.”

“Back to basics!?” What kind of amateur did Flynn think Wyatt was? “Look, pal, I get that you’re a trophy winner or whatever but…”

“Lucy’s problem is that she can’t be present in the moment while she dances, which is why we’re working on being fun and spontaneous,” Flynn went on, as if Wyatt hadn’t spoken. “Your problem is simpler, but larger: you’re a boring lead.”

“I’m boring!? My job is to show off my partner and make them look good, not to add all the flair myself.”

“Your job isn’t to be the human version of a brick wall, either, which is what you’ve been doing a remarkably good job of pretending to be so far.”

“And you think you’re the person to fix that? You really think you’re that good?” Wyatt could feel his face heating up with embarrassment.

“Hi, Lucy,” Lucy commented. “Great to see you, Lucy.”

Fuck. “Yes, hi, Lucy, I’m so sorry.” He glared at Flynn and then walked over to her.

Lucy, to his surprise, hugged him. Wyatt hugged her back, trying not to hold on too tightly or for too long. Fuck, she still smelled like sandalwood and vanilla. He never wanted to let her go.

Well, that sure solved the question of whether or not he was still in love with her.

He pulled away. “I’m sorry that I just… left. That was shitty. I told you through a text. I’m—I was messed up. I’m sorry.”

“I appreciate the apology.” Lucy’s smile was small and wary, but it was there. “You’re my best bet for a partner, though, so I hope we can… put that behind us.”

“Yeah, sure.” He didn’t want to put what had almost been behind them. He wanted to be with her, now that he could. But that wasn’t something to talk about right now. Especially not in front of Flynn.

“To answer your question,” Flynn said, as if he’d heard Wyatt’s thoughts, “I am that good. I’m the best.”

Wyatt, feeling raw and on edge from Lucy, turned around. “Oh, you’re that good?” Looks didn’t get you everywhere, asshole, just because he looked good doing whatever dance he did wasn’t reason to call himself the best. “Here, then.”

He walked over to the speaker, with the phone next to it. “Password?”

“Amy’s birthday,” Lucy replied.

Of course it was Lucy’s phone. Wyatt tapped in the six digits and then scrolled through her music. Ah-ha.

He set the phone down as the music started up, then turned and walked back to Flynn. “See if you can lead this,” he said.

Take that.

 


 

Flynn knew exactly what Wyatt Logan was doing.

For one thing, the song he’d chosen was “Objection (Tango)” by Shakira, a song that literally talked about three being a crowd. For another, he’d seen that scared, challenging look in plenty of other inferior lead dancers over the years, the ones who thought they had leading down pat and didn’t need Flynn’s advice. For a third, Wyatt had chosen a song that fit the Argentine Tango, one of the hardest, and most intimate, dances to do.

Well, Flynn could easily work with that.

Flynn grabbed Wyatt and pulled him into an abrazo cerrado, a position that had their chest touching but their hips apart. Wyatt looked a little startled, like he hadn’t expected Flynn to just go for it, but he went easily enough, glaring up at Flynn.

Okay. Wyatt wouldn’t be used to following, so Flynn started with basic steps—steps only used for teaching, never in an actual performance. Wyatt glared even more intensely, probably feeling insulted.

All right, then.

The base dropped, and Flynn moved them into salidas instead.

Wyatt’s eyes widened a little but he kept up, following Flynn through the salidas, until Flynn evolved into cross steps. He usually only liked dancing tango with someone he felt… well. He was aware that dancing was a very physical thing to do with someone else, and that it could be seen as extremely intimate. Normally he didn’t care, but when it came to the tango, he only did it with someone he felt intimate with. It was sort of… his one trip-up.

So he couldn’t help but be aware of the heat, the line, of Wyatt’s body against his. The way Wyatt’s face got a little pink with embarrassment as he managed to make it through the cross-steps. Flynn was a damn good lead, he knew what he was doing, and Wyatt was well-trained enough to know tango steps. Wyatt was probably shocked he was able to follow and do things from the other side this well, and Flynn had to hold in a smirk, hold in his instinctive see, I know what I’m doing.

It’s not her fault that she’s so irresistible.

But all the damage she’s caused isn’t fixable.

Flynn didn’t have to glance down at Wyatt’s feet to know that his technique was probably not competition-ready but then, Wyatt wasn’t used to following. He’d forgive him just this once. Besides, this wasn’t about Wyatt—this was about Flynn showing the damn stubborn ass that Flynn could get Wyatt to be as good of a lead as he was. That Flynn was, in fact, the best, dammit.

Objection!

I don’t wanna be the exception

To get a bit of your attention.

I love you for free, and I’m not your mother.

But you don’t even bother.

Objection!

I’m tired of this triangle.

Got dizzy dancing tango.

I’m falling apart in your hands again…

No way, I’ve got to get away!

Flynn led Wyatt into the ochos and that was when Wyatt got bratty.

Wyatt relaxed into a non-pivot position—doing his ochos without torso and hip pivoting to go with the foot movement. This was also known as a ‘lazy ocho’, and for a damn reason.

Hell no.

Flynn yanked Wyatt closer and pushed him back, starting cross steps, forcing Wyatt to do the same but backwards. Wyatt scowled but just managed to keep up. Flynn really did smirk that time.

This is pathetic and sardonic,

It’s sadistic and psychotic,

Tango is not for three, was never meant to be.

He kept Wyatt close and in line, directing him completely now, forcing Wyatt to have to do all the pivots. Flynn wasn’t going to permit Wyatt, or Lucy for that matter, or any student of his to be lazy—not even in practice. Practice made permanent, and what you did in rehearsal showed up on the competition floor.

But you can try it, rehearse it, or train like a horse,

But don’t you count on me, oh don’t you count on me, boy!

Flynn already knew how he was going to end this dance. Just to mess with Wyatt a little.

“You’re a shit follow,” he noted, “but you’re doing pretty well right now. Because I know what I’m doing.”

“Oh, is that why?” Wyatt shot back, not wanting to give any ground yet.

Objection!

I don’t wanna be the exception

To get a bit of your attention.

I love you for free, and I’m not your mother.

But you don’t even bother.

“Yes. And if you do what I tell you…” Flynn moved him back into ochos, and this time Wyatt did the right thing and pivoted properly. “You’ll be able to lead any follow, no matter how crappy, and we’ll actually be getting somewhere with this.”

Objection!

I’m tired of this triangle.

Got dizzy dancing tango.

I’m falling apart in your hands again…

No way, I’ve got to get away!

Get away… get away… get away…

Flynn led Wyatt into the last few steps as the song ended, and then turned him at the last second into a final pivot, getting a firm grip around Wyatt’s back and dipping him.

Wyatt looked like you could fry an egg on his face. Flynn grinned.

Then he slowly let Wyatt come up to standing. “So,” he asked, “do I pass muster?”

Get away.

Chapter Text

Practicing was… not going well.

Wyatt and Flynn were constantly butting heads. Wyatt was willing to admit that Flynn knew what he was doing when he was leading, but he wasn’t willing to admit that meant that Flynn knew what he was doing when telling Wyatt how to lead.

That, and Wyatt just hated to admit when he was wrong.

Lucy remembered that from last year, and Wyatt was certainly better about acquiescing to her expertise, but he wasn’t willing to extend the same graciousness to Flynn.

Lucy wasn’t sure if she wanted to lock them in the dance studio until they figured it out or if she wanted to banish them both for a week instead. Either way, she was frustrated.

That day she walked in to find Flynn there first, as usual. No matter how early she got there, Flynn was already there, stretching, warming up, because despite being their coach and technically not doing any dancing with them, he would usually dance with them at some point to show them how they should be doing it.

“You want to try out the other song?” Flynn asked.

They were struggling to pick songs to dance to for their competitions, and they were running out of time to submit their paperwork to the organizations.

Lucy nodded. It was a bit of a pointed song, sure, but she was trying to work with the whole… feeling emotion and being present while she danced, thing, and she had definitely listened to this song a few too many times over the last year. To the point where Amy had rolled her eyes and told her to stop having break up music over something that wasn’t even a relationship to break up, Lucy.

Amy was harsh but she said what nobody else would say, what Lucy needed to hear for her own sanity even if it annoyed her in the moment.

She’d felt something listening to that song, so she was going to try it for their dance.

Wyatt arrived a few minutes later, avoiding Flynn’s gaze as he dropped his gym bag and started into his warmups. Ah, so it was one of those days where Wyatt pretended Flynn didn’t exist.

After warm-ups were finished, Flynn went over to the stereo and set up the song. “Wyatt, Lucy wanted to try this one with the routine we’ve been practicing, but I’m going to need you to…”

“…stop trying to lead or thinking about leading and actually just dance, yeah, got it,” Wyatt grumbled.

Lucy walked over to the middle of the floor, her back to Wyatt, and heard him do the same a moment later. Flynn adjusted Wyatt’s stance, muttering something about Wyatt’s shoulders, and Lucy didn’t have to look to notice that Wyatt was probably blushing with embarrassment.

The music started up, and Lucy took a deep breath.

I’m gonna make it, bend and break

(It sent you to me without wings)

Say a prayer, but let the good times roll.

Lucy mouthed the next words along with the song.

In case God doesn’t show.

Wyatt snorted, and she knew that he had figured out why she’d chosen this song.

And I want these words to make things right,

But it’s the wrongs that make the words come to light.

Who does he think he is?

If that’s the worst you’ve got, better put your fingers back to the keys.

As ‘keys’ ended, Lucy started to move, knowing that Wyatt was going to be moving at the same moment, reaching behind himself to grab her hand and pull her to him then across from him, putting her in front of him to start the rest of the dance.

Wyatt had a look on his face as if to say what do you want from me, but for once, she felt a strong emotion going through her, like she actually had a message she was trying to get across in the dance, a story, and she wanted to hold onto that.

One night and one more time,

Thanks for the memories, even though they weren’t so great.

She turned out, shooting her hand up for a pose, then turned back in. The song had a harsh beat and she had to move quickly, more quickly than they’d been moving to these steps with the other songs they’d tried, each move purposefully jolting and aggressive. Wyatt was leading her, technically, but it felt more like she was water slipping through his fingers, something he could try to hold but would ultimately always fail at.

And maybe it was wrong of her to unleash anger at him after it had been a year and he was trying to do better, and he was doing better, but damn it, he’d still left her with a bruised heart.

They say I only think, in the form of crunching numbers,

In hotel rooms, collecting page six lovers.

Wyatt pulled her back into a close hold and she stared right into his eyes, challenging him. She never really looked into her partner’s eyes while she was dancing, she realized. Not even Flynn. Not even Amy.

What was she scared of seeing? What was she scared of showing them?

But now she stared, right into Wyatt’s eyes. Daring him. Daring him to contradict anything that the song was saying, to contradict anything she was feeling.

Wyatt stared back at her, and she saw anger and shame in his gaze, and she found she wasn’t scared of it. Let him be angry at her. Let him be angry at himself. She could take it. She wanted this all out in the open, she wanted to purge it between them.

One night and one more time.

Thanks for the memories even though they weren’t so great,

He tastes like you only sweeter,

One night, yeah, and one more time.

Thanks for the memories (thanks for the memories)

See, he tastes like you only sweeter.

It wasn’t their best, but she felt something, she felt something, she felt like she was finally getting to scream all the things at Wyatt that she’d always wanted to scream, only she didn’t have to even say a word.

Wyatt yanked her in a little more aggressively than usual, so that she slammed against him and nearly lost her balance, wrapping her arm around his shoulders to keep herself from overbalancing and sending them both to the floor. She managed to get her leg up and around the way she was supposed to, Wyatt’s hand on her thigh to keep it up, their foreheads pressed together.

A year ago, this kind of final hold would’ve had her hot all over, would’ve had her imagining all sorts of sinful things to do next. And it wasn’t that she didn’t feel anything now. But none of that heat was as important as staring Wyatt down, staring him in the eyes, and starting with that. Starting with that the way that she should have the first time. Getting on the same page. Communicating.

Wyatt stared right back at her, and for a long moment, neither of them blinked.

Then something in his eyes softened, and Lucy felt like her anger wasn’t—gone, exactly, but it was at last understood and seen.

She slid down, putting both legs on the ground, as Flynn shut off the music. “That was a lot better, Lucy. Wyatt, when your follow is getting aggressive, the response is not to get more aggressive.”

Wyatt tore his eyes away from Lucy to look at Flynn, and Lucy sighed inwardly. Great, Wyatt and Flynn were going to be… Wyatt and Flynn, again.

“I’m going to go to the bathroom,” she said, instead of saying should I leave you two alone for a moment? because Wyatt wasn’t exactly a rednecked conservative asshole but he got weirdly squirrely the moment someone even hinted at him having a sexuality other than straight.

Wyatt turned back to look at her. “Good song choice, Lucy.”

She paused, looking at him over her shoulder. “I don’t think we should perform to it. But I wanted us to try it. See how it felt.”

“It felt good.”

Lucy smiled. “You still owe me a formal apology.”

Wyatt nodded. “Will do, ma’am.”

“We’re the same age, Wyatt, how many times do I have to tell you?”

“One more time, at least, ma’am.”

Lucy turned around so he wouldn’t see her smile and headed out. Hopefully the two men would’ve fought it out by the time she got back.

That or fucked it out, but if it was the latter, she wanted to be there to witness that.

 


 

Wyatt gestured at Flynn. “Go ahead. Tell me how I sucked.”

Flynn ran a hand through his hair, his tongue sliding across his bottom lip in thought. Wyatt swallowed and looked away. He hated the strange hot feeling in his stomach when he looked at Flynn. He’d thought it was jealousy, and maybe it was, but he wasn’t sure now, and he hated that he wasn’t sure.

“All right. Here’s what we’re going to do. You remember when we tangoed last time?”

The time that Flynn had his hands all over Wyatt and then dipped him and had that smarmy smirk and—yeah, yeah he remembered.

“We’re going to tango again, and we’re going to do the same things I led you in before. You remember how you were able to follow me even though you haven’t followed in years and probably haven’t tangoed that much in general?”

“Yeah, because you won’t let me forget it.”

Flynn selected another song. “Look, Wyatt, shocking though it might seem, I’m not trying to be your adversary. We’re the same.”

“We are not the same. You make me do barre work every morning. You’re a sociopath.”

“You need to take ballet, I’m still surprised you didn’t take it as a kid—”

“Because I couldn’t afford classes and my grandfather didn’t know that’s what I’d need to be a professional dancer because he didn’t know I was going to be a professional dancer and even if he had known all of that, he couldn’t have taught me jack shit because he didn’t know ballet, he knew how to dance in Texan salsa clubs and to a big swing band on the Air Force base in World War II.” Wyatt realized that he was shouting and he cleared his throat, lowering his voice.

Flynn stared at him. Wyatt’s face, his chest, everything, felt hot. “I’m not the son of award-winning dancers, I didn’t grow up with anyone encouraging my dancing, or professional classes—Carol Preston asking me to partner with Lucy was the best thing for my career that ever happened to me, and then I screwed it up, and I screwed my marriage up, and I just want a second chance, okay?”

Flynn set the phone and speaker down and walked over to him. “I think that was the most honest you’ve ever been,” he noted.

Like a river, like a river…

The heavy beat thrummed through the floorboards, up through Wyatt’s legs.

Flynn took Wyatt by the elbow and pulled him in, much more gently than he had the last time they’d done this. “You’re going to lead this time,” he said, his voice low. “But I’m going to be showing you how to do it. You remember the steps?”

Wyatt nodded.

How do you fall in love?

Harder than a bullet could hit ya?

Wyatt pressed them up against each other, not sure how to handle a follow who was actually taller than he was. But he could make this work.

“You need to move your hips more, lead with those instead of your hands.” Flynn’s own hands moved down to Wyatt’s hips, guiding him.

How do you fall apart?

Faster than a hairpin trigger?

“The problem,” Flynn went on, his voice still low and intimate—Wyatt couldn’t even say how it was intimate, it just made him—it just, nothing. Nothing, it was nothing. “The problem is that you’re trying to prove that you can lead, instead of just leading. Like how Lucy thinks too hard about the judges looking at her and how many points she’s racking up instead of just being in the moment.”

Don’t you say it, don’t you say it.

Don’t say it, don’t you say it.

One breath, it’ll just break it.

So shut your mouth, and run me like a river.

Why the fuck had Flynn chosen a song about sex? Couldn’t he have chosen something else, something that didn’t have a beat and a rhythm that felt precisely like the way hips rolled and thrust during—

“Like that,” Flynn said, his hands still on Wyatt’s hips for some goddamn reason. “She can feel your body because it’s all pressed against hers, like this, so there’s no reason for you to telegraph it with your arms and hands. So long as you know for sure where you’re going, she’ll know.”

Shut your mouth, baby, stand and deliver!

Holy hands gonna make me a sinner!

Like a river, like a river,

Shut your mouth and run me like a river.

“Better,” Flynn murmured, and Wyatt shivered and then hated himself for it.

Flynn’s hands moved up back to the follow position, thank God, but then he moved them to Wyatt’s wrists.

“Um, do you still want me to—” This was where Flynn had pulled him into that closer hold the last time.

“Yes,” Flynn confirmed, and Wyatt pulled him into the hold. “I know they tell you not to be afraid to hold your follow firmly, but you don’t need to be quite that firm. Hold them like you care about them, not like you think they’re going to run away. That’s what my father always said, anyway.”

They were pressed together all over and Wyatt really, really hated what that was doing to his body, fucking hell.

Tales of an endless heart, cursed is the fool who’s willing.

Can’t change the way we are,

One kiss away from killing.

“Feel how I do it,” Flynn said, switching their arm positions so that he was leading, guiding Wyatt through cross steps. “Feel that?”

Wyatt nodded. He didn’t trust himself to speak.

Don’t you say it, don’t you say it.

Don’t say it, don’t you say it.

One breath, it’ll just break it.

So shut your mouth and run me like a river.

They switched back to Wyatt leading, and he focused on just—doing what he was supposed to do, just doing the fucking ochos and holding Flynn properly the whole time.

“Good,” Flynn murmured. Their foreheads were almost pressed together. “You’ve had to prove a lot, Wyatt. But you don’t have to prove to your follow that you can lead. Just lead. Proof’s in the pudding.”

Shut your mouth, baby, stand and deliver!

Holy hands gonna make me a sinner!

He had danced with a lot of people over the years. He had only felt like this when dancing with two other people: Jess at their senior prom, and Lucy, all last year. It was like he was gonna combust.

Like a river, like a river.

Shut your mouth and run me like a river.

The bass was thrumming through him, it was the rhythm, the song, that was all, it was nothing—he didn’t want—but he did want, in that moment, he wanted to roll his hips just that little bit more and turn this from tango into something dirtier, cross that gossamer thread.

Like a river, like a river.

Shut your mouth and run me like a river.

“I’m not gonna dip you,” Wyatt murmured.

“That’s okay,” Flynn replied. “I’ll let it slide.”

Shut your mouth, baby, stand and deliver!

Holy hands gonna make me a sinner!

Flynn took the lead with a neat pivot and cross step, and then leaned back so that Wyatt was putting his weight all on Flynn, his leg hooked over Flynn’s, his pelvis—oh fuck think of dead puppies think of dead puppies…

Like a river, like a river.

Shut your mouth and run me like a river.

The song ended but they were frozen, still tangled. “We’ll keep at it.”

A small noise came from the doorway and Wyatt jumped, nearly falling over as he skittered back away from Flynn. Lucy was staring at them, looking oddly hungry. Was it time for lunch?

“I think I need to use that bathroom, too,” Wyatt managed, and then fled.

He was not doing this. He was not doing this, he wasn’t into men, his whole life he had fought against the stereotype that his dad had shoved onto him that just because he danced he had to obviously be a—be a—

Turned out he did need the bathroom after all, because he nearly threw up.

 


 

Lucy could barely stand by the time that dance was finished, holy shit. If she’d thought the two men were hot the last time that they tangoed together, it was nothing on this. She wanted to watch them do that—and do more than that. She wanted to see if Wyatt would so easily follow Flynn’s instructions, move fluidly and easily under Flynn’s hands, in another, more intimate scenario.

She was so royally fucked.

Chapter Text

“Hey.” Lucy grinned as she saw Wyatt through the crowd, waving.

Wyatt grinned back, nodding and walking over to join her. With him was a lovely blonde woman that Lucy recognized from pictures. “Lucy, this is Jess.”

“In the flesh, finally,” Jess said, surprising Lucy by hugging her.

Lucy hugged her back. Jess was a good person, and she deserved better than how Wyatt had treated her. “It’s good to meet you.”

“I’m not sure I should be here,” Wyatt admitted. “I don’t think Amy would be, uh, too happy if I showed up.”

“Amy will get over it, and there are other performers. I want you to watch some of the leads who will be doing partner dances here tonight.” Lucy craned her head around to see if she could find anyone else she knew. “Ah, crap, Denise is here.”

“Denise is here!?” Wyatt ducked like someone was lobbing a grenade at him. Denise Christopher was a notoriously tough judge and she’d brought the hammer down on Wyatt a few times.

“So tell me,” Jess said to Lucy, eyes gleaming, “how’s practice going? Wyatt’s been… unusually silent about the process.”

“Just because I don’t tell you everything…” Wyatt mumbled.

“You really wanna go there?” Jess asked, raising an eyebrow at him.

Wyatt flushed. “I’m gonna go talk to Dave.”

“You do that.”

“Tell him we’re excited for the wedding!” Lucy called.

“Pretty sure that’s all anyone is talking to him about but yeah sure no problem.” Wyatt winked at her and then went off through the crowd.

Jess looked back at Lucy. “How are things going, honestly. Is he behaving?”

“He and Flynn are… being themselves. They’re clashing a lot. Wyatt—he feels he has a lot to prove. He feels like who he is isn’t enough, and it’s making him lash out at Flynn because he’s not seeing that… Flynn just wants to help him. And Flynn’s a sassy jackass so God forbid he wear kid gloves.”

“Wyatt doesn’t deserve kid gloves, he needs sense knocked into him.” Jess sighed as the announcer called out the next performer. “It’s good for him. This. Dancing. I just wish he’d fully embrace that instead of… still feeling a bit ashamed of it and of who he is.”

“I think Flynn is getting through to him. Bit by bit.” Lucy paused. She wasn’t sure if she should ask this. It wasn’t her business. But at the same time the image of Wyatt pressed up against Flynn, his face flushed and eyes dark and wide, was burned into her mind. “Jess, has Wyatt ever…”

“Amy Preston!” the announcer said, and Lucy’s head snapped around to watch her sister.

As always, Amy was going to put on a hell of a show. She walked on stage in what looked like a trench coat, her hair done up, sporting sunglasses and carrying a sparkly purse on her arm like she was about to pose for the paps.

“Oh Lord,” Lucy muttered.

“That’s your sister?” Jess asked, sounding odd.

La la la, la la la, la la, la la la, la la la, la la…

“Oh no,” Lucy groaned. Of course Amy had chosen this goddamn song, she’d sung it at the top of her lungs when the song had first been released in 2009, just to drive Mom to the brink of insanity with the lyrics.

Amy mouthed the words along with the song, a favorite habit of hers that was far more welcome in modern dance than ballroom.

Oh baby, baby, have you seen Amy tonight?

Is she in the bathroom? Is she smoking up outside? Oh!

“…her name is Amy,” Jess murmured. “Oh my God.”

“That’s… that’s my sister all over.”

Amy started to ditch her accessories as she began to move to the music, almost like she was a puppet with someone pulling her strings.

Oh baby, baby, does she take a piece of lime

For the drink that I’mma buy her?

Do you know just what she likes? Oh!

Amy shed the trench coat, revealing a tight, short club dress, and flung off the sunglasses, showing smeared mascara like the next morning after a hard night out. She moved like she was fighting against the puppetry, fighting her way out.

Lucy was pretty sure she got the message. Mom isn’t controlling me anymore, I’m getting free.

Love me, hate me, say what you want about me,

But all of the boys, and all of the girls,

Are begging to—if you seek Amy.

Love me, hate me, but can’t you see what I see?

All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to—

If you seek Amy.

Lucy knew those lyrics well. Jess was bobbing her head next to her. “Your sister’s good.”

“She’s very good.”

“She’s also throwing a middle finger up at someone, unless I’m mistaken.”

“Yeah. Our mother.” Lucy wasn’t even sure if Carol was here, but videos were going to be up on YouTube within hours, Lucy was sure of it, and Carol was definitely going to see those.

“Ah.” Jess paused. “Wyatt told me a bit about Carol.”

“She’s… something.”

Oh, oh.

Tell me have you seen her ‘cause I’m so, oh!

I can’t get her off of my brain.

I just wanna go, to the party she gon’ go,

Can somebody take me home?

Ha ha, hee hee, ha ha, ho…

Amy was moving freely now, moving her way through an invisible club with invisible cameras, creating a whole world with just her body, and Lucy found herself suddenly in awe of her sister. Amy had always been goofing off in practice, pretending they were interacting with the crowd, inviting the viewer into the scenario they created with the dance, so to speak, but that had just been… just been how Amy was. It hadn’t occurred to her that Amy could harness that and use it to elevate her dance.

Carol really had been holding Amy back. It made Lucy wonder if she had been held back as well, in other ways. If Amy really had been right this whole time.

The bridge happened and Amy segued into slower, more balletic movements, looking vulnerable, revealing a softer side.

So tell me if you see her,

(Let me know what she was wearing and what she was like)

‘Cause I’ve been waiting here forever,

(Let me know where she was going, I don’t mind)

Oh baby, baby, if you seek Amy tonight (Oh!)

Oh baby, baby, we’ll do whatever you like.

Amy’s body slumped down, and then began to build itself back up, each part in isolation, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, until at last she was standing again, and dancing—fiercer than ever. As she did so, she did something to the club dress and it fell away, revealing she was wearing bright pink skintight shorts and a tank top underneath, like she was relaxing at home or going to the gym. She looked like an absolute mess, her heels off, her hair down, her makeup smeared, but she was grinning wildly and clearly not giving a fuck.

Love me, hate me, say what you want about me,

But all of the boys, and all of the girls,

Are begging to—if you seek Amy.

Love me, hate me, but can’t you see what I see?

All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to—

If you seek Amy.

Amy’s movements were joyous now, free, free of the puppeteer, of the expectations, and telling anyone who saw it differently to go and fuck themselves.

All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to—

If you seek Amy.

Amy ended the song posing sarcastically, as if someone had just told her to smile for the camera.

Lucy applauded. “That was amazing.”

“That was hot,” Jess said, and then looked like she was going to smack herself for saying that out loud.

Jess helped her push through the crowd to get to Amy, who flew at her and hugged her tightly. “You came!”

“Of course I did.” Lucy hugged her back. “That was amazing.”

“Do you know if Mom saw?”

“I think she’s got her new team performing today so she’s here somewhere. I don’t know if she saw it, though. I haven’t spoken to her.” She and Mom hadn’t really spoken much at all since Lucy had quit.

Amy turned and noticed Jess—and flushed pinker than her outfit. “Hi, I’m Amy.”

“Hi, I’m Jess. You were amazing out there, really great work.”

“Thanks, um, do you dance?”

“I mean, when someone’s leading me, I can do it, but I’m not a professional like you are. Loved the dress, by the way, you looked fantastic in it.”

The two women grinned dopily at each other. Lucy felt like smacking her head against a wall. “Right. I’m gonna…”

“Lucy.” Wyatt grabbed her wrist, appearing out of nowhere. “Mason’s new couple is dancing, we need to see them.”

Oh, fuck. Mason was the best dance coach out there—besides Flynn, if you asked Lucy, but Flynn wasn’t known as a coach, he was known as a dancer—and he had a new, younger couple that would definitely be Lucy and Wyatt’s competition. “I’m coming.”

She looked back at Amy and Jess. “Do you do mind if we…?”

“Nope,” Jess and Amy said simultaneously, still staring at each other while blushing.

Lucy wasn’t sure she liked where this was going between those two, but if she put up any kind of protest, Amy would jump Jess faster than you could say ‘please don’t fuck the ex-wife of my dance partner-slash-almost boyfriend who currently has a lot of homoerotic tension with my dance coach for whom I also have a raging crush’.

“Great, we’ll see you later, go to a bar, hang out,” Lucy said.

“Sure thing,” Jess said, right as Amy said, “so anyway I could show you some dance moves if you wanted, I’m really good at the salsa, you want me to show you how to salsa!?”

“Is my ex-wife hitting on your sister,” Wyatt asked as Lucy dragged him back through the crowd.

“Please don’t ask,” Lucy replied, getting them a spot at the front as the announcer called out the next dance for a Rufus Carlin and a Jiya Marri.

The names were vaguely familiar, but Lucy didn’t recognize the couple who walked out onto the dance floor. She did, however, recognize the older man standing across from them, watching the couple with the kind of intensity reserved only for coaches who were nervously watching their charges perform.

“I see Mason,” Lucy whispered.

“This must be his couple, then,” Wyatt whispered back. “Should we film it for Flynn?”

Flynn wasn’t going to the showcase. He wanted his return from retirement kept quiet for as long as possible, and that meant that he wasn’t going out to the dancing events in case people recognized him.

Lucy got out her phone and nodded, switching on her video recorder.

“Of fuck,” Wyatt whispered as he saw Rufus and Jiya take up their positions. “They’re doing a fucking paso doble.”

Rufus was dressed rather snazzy, if you asked Lucy, in dark brown pants with suspenders and a shirt with thin light brown stripes, sporting a dark red-brown tie and a proper fedora, not one of those trilbys that all the annoying fuckboys wore and called fedoras. The woman, Jiya, was gorgeous, with large, expressive eyes, a sharp, angular face, and wearing a red dress with a large red flower in her hair to signal her role as the red cloth.

That was the thing about the paso doble: it was the fiercest of the Latin dances, even more than the tango, because the dance was a based on the marching of Spanish soldiers and was a metaphor for bullfighting. The follow was the red cloth, and the lead was the bull. In fact, because of its competitive origins, the dance was never done socially or without a pre-choreographed routine.

Mason was clearly sending a message with his new couple. They were here to win.

They held still through the intro, but Lucy thought she could see a ghost of a smile on their lips.

Sapés comme jamain, sapés comme jamain de jamain

Sapés comme jamain, jamain

Sapés comme jamain, sapés comme jamain de jamain

Sapés comme jamain, jamain

The first verse started and the woman, Jiya, moved, starting the dance, taunting her partner.

On case ta porte, c’est la Gestapo

J’vais t’retrouver, Meugui Columbo

Ça veut vendre des tonnes à la Gustavo

Un café sans sucre, j’en ai plein sur l’dos

Lucy’s throat went dry as she watched them, moving sharply and aggressively, taking up the entire floor with their movements. They were good. Fuck, they were really good. Jiya was grinning ferociously at Rufus, looking like a dancing flame and just as destructive. Rufus had a more playful energy but was just as technically precise as Jiya in his movements.

“We are so fucking screwed,” Wyatt noted.

Haut les mains, haut les mains,

Sauf les mecs sapés en Balmain,

Balmain, Balmain,

Sarouel façon Aladdin,

Haut les mains, haut les mains,

Sauf les mecs sapés en Balmain,

Balmain, Balmain,

Sarouel façon Aladdin.

And then the two dancers froze into the first ‘highlight’ of the dance.

Every paso doble song had fixed breaks, known as ‘highlights’, in the song. Usually, dancers would srike a pose and then hold position until the end of the highlight. At the highest levels, the sort of competitive levels that they were all in, there would be three highlights.

The beginning of the chorus was clearly the first.

Jiya froze with her arms up, on her toes, like a bird about to take flight—no, like a hawk, like she was about to divebomb Rufus, daring him to try and catch her. Rufus was in a lunge, one hand outstretched, palm up, like he was trying to coax her into trusting him. Neither pose was easy to hold still in for long. The level of training and discipline it must’ve taken to get them to freeze like this had to be ridiculous.

Passe avant minuit (passe avant minuit)

Je vais t’faire vivre un dream (je vais t’faire vivre un dream)

Avance sur la piste, les yeux sont rives sur toi

Les habits qui brillent tels Les Mille Et Une Nuits

Paris est vraiment ma-ma-ma-magique

The refrain started and Rufus and Jiya burst into movement, Jiya flying towards him like she’d been shot out of a cannon, and Rufus turned nearly to counter her movement, the two of them no longer moving in opposition but together like they were testing each other’s dance skills.

“You’re right,” she said to Wyatt. “We are fucking screwed.”

Rufus and Jiya moved through the whole dance with the snap, aggression, and sharpness that the paso doble demanded. Lucy saw the story they were weaving, of Jiya, wild and untamed, slowly coming to trust Rufus and dance with him, partner with him, but still taunting him and teasing him, never letting him become complacent, keeping him on his toes.

They were the best damn partners Lucy had seen in years—since Lorena and Flynn, possibly. She and Wyatt were going to need to severely step up their game if they wanted to beat them.

Sapés comme jamais (jamais)

Sapés comme jamais (jamais)

Sapés comme jamais (jamais)

Sapés comme jamais

Loulou’ et ‘Boutin (bando)

Loulou’ et ‘Boutin (‘Boutin na ‘Boutin)

Coco na Chanel (Coco)

Coco na Chanel (Coco Chanel)

The outro started and Lucy looked at Wyatt, to find him already looking at her, anxiety shining in his eyes like beacons. Lucy didn’t even have to say anything—she already knew what he was thinking.

If they didn’t step up their game, Rufus and Jiya were going to wipe the floor with them.

Chapter Text

“I’m going to go grab Jess,” Wyatt said. “We should get out of here.”

Lucy nodded, her stomach in knots. With the two of them still disjointed, still trying to get over their issues, how could they possibly keep up with the likes of Mason’s new team? Rufus and Jiya were fantastic, they had tackled possibly the most difficult type of ballroom dance and had crushed it, and she and Wyatt were still working on whatever their issues were, and there was absolutely no way—

“Lucy!”

Lucy froze at the sound of Mom’s voice. Oh, great. Just what she wanted to hear right now.

She turned to see Mom standing there, looking poised as always. “I—I wasn’t sure you were here.”

“Well of course I’m here, darling.” Mom had that sympathetic look on her face, like she felt bad for Lucy, like Lucy was missing vital information once again and falling short. Lucy swallowed hard. “I have to debut my new team and show the competition what they need to be prepared to beat. Won’t you come watch with me?”

It wasn’t exactly the kind of invitation Lucy knew how to refuse. She glanced around to see if there was someone she could find an excuse to talk to instead, found no one, and forced a smile onto her face. “I’d love to.”

Carol kept up a stream of steady chatter as she led Lucy to a spot where they could watch the dance. “I admit I underestimated Emma Whitmore and I’m still not sure about her but she’s been doing remarkably well with Keynes.”

“Keynes!?” Lucy couldn’t stop her annoyance from leaking out. “Nicholas. Really, Mom?”

Nicholas Keynes had been the dancer that Carol had suggested replace Wyatt after Wyatt had quit, only Lucy had then told her mother she was taking a year off and not working with Carol anymore, and so here they were.

“He comes from a dancing family and has impeccable technique.”

“He’s also an asshole and stuck up,” Lucy shot back. She wasn’t sure where she was getting this courage from. Maybe it was just that she was at the end of her rope after weeks of practicing and seeing how good Mason’s team was. Maybe it was that she knew what it was to dance with Flynn, who made her heart race and made her actually laugh while dancing in a way she hadn’t in years. Maybe it was Wyatt’s genuine contriteness and the gentle way he held her when they were dancing. Maybe it was seeing her sister’s happiness at doing her own choreography, away from Carol’s influence.

Maybe it was all of it combined.

Mom sniffed. “Dancing isn’t about doing what you like, Lucy, it’s about being the best and doing what it takes to win.”

Lucy stared at her, as it dawned on her that… that had been how she was thinking, too, all this time. And it felt wrong.

“Emma Whitmore and Nicholas Keynes!” the announcer called, and Lucy hated how she jumped and turned to see the two dancers step out onto the floor.

You said I’m stubborn and I never give in.

I think you’re stubborn ‘cept you’re always softening.

Emma Whitmore was a tall redhead, the kind of woman that Lucy would’ve found herself stammering and melting around, and generally causing her to make an idiot of herself, if it wasn’t for the odd smirk on Emma’s face that annoyed Lucy.

She started out behind Nicholas, playing at getting his attentions, and Lucy realized they were doing a cha-cha. Nicholas ducked and Emma kicked her leg up and over his head, landing on that foot and swinging around as Nicholas stood up, grabbing her waist so that she could bend over backwards in a self-done dip.

You say I’m selfish, I agree with you on that.

I think you’re giving nothing, way too much in fact.

I say we’ve only known each other a year,

You say, “Pfft. I’ve known you longer, my dear.”

Emma spun and they faced each other, stepping over and around each other’s legs, doing the complicated pretzel movements that impressed judges.

You like to be so close, I like to be alone.

I like to sit on chairs, and you prefer the floor.

Walking with each other, think we’d never match at all,

But we do, but we do, but we do-do-do.

It was playful, filled with a stupid amount of flirting. Audiences enjoyed watching flirtatious relationships between partners, with exceptions for partners such as Lucy and Amy for obvious reasons.

Despite the more… banter-based nature of their movements and the song, Lucy found that she felt it was too conventional. There was nothing daring about the dance. It was safe. It was what was expected. And Lucy… Lucy wanted more than that for herself.

“Look at the turn out on her feet,” Mom noted proudly. “I fixed that.”

Lucy bit her lip to keep herself from saying something snarky like good for you. She wasn’t here to start a fight, even if her mother was determined to do that.

“I get that you’re hurt by my quitting,” Lucy whispered back, “but it wasn’t about you, it was about myself. We can move past that, right?”

I thought I knew myself, somehow you know me more,

I’ve never known this, never before.

You’re the first to make up whenever we argue,

Don’t know who I’d be if I didn’t know you.

Emma executed several well-done turns in a row and Lucy winced. Mom was right, they were technically perfect, and Lucy’s big secret weapon was her ability to do a fuck ton of spins in a row. If Emma could do that too…

You’re so provocative, I’m so conservative and

You’re so adventurous, I’m so very cautious

Combining

“How have your practices been going?” Carol asked. “Are you choreographing yourself?”

“Practices have been going great,” Lucy said, forcing cheer into her voice. “Wyatt’s really improved.”

Nicholas pulled Emma into a close hold and turned her back and forth, her legs matching his, their hips swiveling. They didn’t have the emotion of Rufus and Jiya but they had enough technical skill—right now, they could probably beat Wyatt and Lucy. And that scared her.

Favoritism ain’t my thing but

In this situation I’d be glad

Favoritism ain’t my thing but in this situation

I’d be glad to make an exception,

Woah, oh…

“I’d be happy to stop by and watch you two practice,” Mom said. “Give my professional opinion. Offer some pointers.”

Lucy wasn’t going to let Mom do that, not even if she hadn’t wanted to keep Flynn’s involvement a secret. “I think we’re fine.”

You said I’m stubborn and I never give in.

I think you’re stubborn ‘cept you’re always softening.

You say I’m selfish, I agree with you on that.

I think you’re giving nothing, way too much in fact.

I say we’ve only known each other a year,

You say, “Pfft. I’ve known you longer, my dear.”

You like to be so close, I like to be alone.

I like to sit on chairs, and you prefer the floor.

Walking with each other, think we’d never match at all,

But we do.

Emma and Nicholas finished, smiling, Emma leaning against Nicholas’s shoulder and Nicholas’s arm around her waist. Mom looked at Lucy, also smiling. “What do you think?”

Lucy smiled back. “I think Emma’s taller than Nicholas and you need to work on that.”

Mom’s face was priceless as Lucy turned and walked off, shoving her panic down into her stomach.

 


 

Flynn had never seen Lucy freak out like this before. He was just warming up, the usual, having finally picked out the song he wanted Lucy and Wyatt to dance to for the first competition, when Lucy burst into the room like a whirlwind.

Wyatt was right behind her, looking wide-eyed at Flynn as if to say help.

“And she thinks she can just parade this new couple of hers in front of me and it’s going to be fine, and—” Lucy ranted.

“Whoa, whoa, where’s the fire?” Flynn asked, walking over.

Lucy dumped her gym bag down onto the floor. “My mother was at the showcase, after Jess and Amy went to go… I don’t even know…”

“Go and do karaoke at a local bar judging by Amy’s Instagram,” Wyatt noted, looking at his phone.

“They what!?” Lucy shook her head. “Nope, no, not looking, I’m not policing my baby sister.”

“We also saw Mason’s new team. Rufus Carlin and Jiya Marri.” Wyatt took Lucy’s phone and handed it to Flynn. “They’re good, Flynn. They’re really good.”

“You two are really good,” Flynn replied, pocketing the phone to look at the video later. “Lucy…”

“My mother just has to—” Lucy raised her hands up into the air in front of her and made claws out of her fingers like she was strangling someone. “Ugh! And we can’t beat them, we’re not as good as they are, and I’m going to—if we fail after all of this—”

Wyatt looked pleadingly at Flynn, who stepped forward and took Lucy by the shoulders. “Lucy. Hey. Let me ask you just one question.”

Lucy’s chest heaved as she paused in her ranting about point systems and judging and stared at him. “What?”

“When was the last time you danced without thinking about the technique or the style of it? When was the last time you danced just for fun?”

Lucy blinked a few times, looking like he’d just told her that pigs were flying outside the window. “What?” she repeated, this time less snapping and more confused.

“Pick a song that reflects how you’re feeling,” Flynn counseled. “And we’re going to dance to it, all right? I don’t want you to think about the steps you’re doing, and how it would look to the judges, I don’t want you to think. The closest you got to that was when you were dancing with Wyatt the other day, you actually felt something, but you were still doing a routine that we decided on. I don’t want that. I just want you to… get out whatever it is that’s inside of you.”

Lucy stared at him for a moment, then an annoyed but determined look slid into her eyes and she held her hand out for her phone. Flynn handed it to her, and she marched over to the speaker.

Drifting through the halls with the sunrise

(Holding on for your call)

Climbing up the walls for that flashing light,

(I can never let go)

Flynn didn’t know this song, which was good. It was starting out slow, but in that anticipatory way that suggested that it was about to get faster and more aggressive in a moment, after the pre-chorus. Not knowing for sure, though—it meant he could just go with the flow and be improvisational, which was what he wanted for this with Lucy.

“Don’t think about the routine or the steps or how it looks or how many points, Lucy,” he said, offering out his hand. Lucy took it and Flynn had to force himself to keep staring at her instead of looking away, instead of being scared of what she’d see.

There was a reason he wasn’t dancing with her in the competitions. The last thing he needed was for the world to realize that Garcia Flynn had come back and was in love with his dance partner.

“Just feel it.”

“I can feel it,” Lucy snapped. “Stop acting like you know everything about me. You don’t, all right? You don’t.”

“I don’t know you?” Flynn replied, yanking her into position. “Then show me. Show me who you are. Make me. Correct me.”

Now the sun is up and I’m going blind

(Holding on for your call)

Another drink just to pass the time

(I can never say no)

‘Cause I’m gonna be free and I’m gonna be fine

(Holding on for your call)

‘Cause I’m gonna be free and I’m gonna be fine

(But maybe not tonight)

A heavier drumbeat started and Flynn started to move them into a slow jive, trying to step in ways that would keep Lucy on her toes, keep her guessing, keep her unable to predict what was going to happen next.

Wyatt leaned back against the wall, arms folded, watching. Flynn found he didn’t mind that—the idea of Wyatt watching them.

Flynn pulled Lucy in close, and felt her nails digging into him. She didn’t want to be close right now, all right, that was okay. He pulled back out again, turning her, and let her spin out, leading her into the next steps with just her hand in his.

It’s a different kind of danger,

And the bells are ringing out.

And I’m calling for my mother,

As I pull the pillars down.

It’s a different kind of danger,

And my feet are spinning ‘round.

Never knew I was a dancer,

‘Til Delilah showed me how.

Ah. So that was why she chose this song.

Flynn spun her out and Lucy froze, then spun her again and she posed once again, moving in time with the piano.

Too fast for freedom,

Sometimes it all falls down,

These chains never leave me,

I keep dragging them around.

Lucy kicked her leg out and Flynn matched her, keeping his eyes on her, watching as he stopped leading and began to follow. He wasn’t even sure that Lucy realized that she was taking the lead on the dance, a wild look of abandon on her face, like she might burst into tears.

Flynn glanced over at Wyatt, who was watching Lucy with the softest, fondest expression on his face that Flynn had ever seen. But it was also a broken expression, and Flynn understood why. His heart was breaking for Lucy, too, breaking as he watched her unleash the frustration and fury at her mother and at herself that she must have been holding in all this time.

Now I’m dancing with Delilah and her vision is mine,

(Holding on for your call)

A different kind of danger in the daylight

(I can never let go)

Took anything to cut you I can find

(Holding on for your call)

A different kind of danger in the daylight

(Can’t you let me know?)

Flynn took the lead again, reining Lucy in as her movements became a little too wild and uncoordinated. She trusted him and let him lead them into the next few steps, let him slow it down into a Charleston for a few verses. He’d found out, from Wyatt, who’d heard it from Amy, that Lucy used to dance that the most as a kid and found it an oddly repetitive movement that soothed her, helped her think better.

Lucy pulled Flynn in then, into a close hold, and all right, if she wanted to be held that way, he’d do it. He’d hold her.

Strung up, strung out, for your love

Hanging, hung up, it’s so rough

I’m wrung and wringing out,

Why can’t you let me know?

Lucy pulled away again, going back into the jive, and she seemed more composed, although no less fierce. More like she had decided on what to do with all the emotion raging inside of her and how to point it. Good. Flynn wanted to tell her that she could dance however she wanted, that she could unleash whatever fury she wanted on him. It was safe here, in the studio. He and Wyatt weren’t Carol. They weren’t going to demand constant control and perfection. They loved her.

Even if he and Wyatt didn’t agree on anything else, they agreed on that. They both loved Lucy.

It’s a different kind of danger,

And the bells are ringing out.

And I’m calling for my mother,

As I pull the pillars down.

It’s a different kind of danger,

And my feet are spinning ‘round.

Never knew I was a dancer,

‘Til Delilah showed me how.

Lucy spun and turned, more and more wild, like a top, until Flynn was worried she was going to throw up, but the fierce, blazing look on her face stopped him.

Too fast for freedom,

Sometimes it all falls down,

These chains never leave me,

I keep dragging them around.

Flynn pulled her in, stopped her at last, his arm around her waist, and then nearly dropped her as he realized that Lucy was crying.

She was holding onto him, though, and her chin was up, her head held high, unashamed of her tears.

Wyatt cleared his throat. “That was the best I’ve ever seen you dance, Luce,” he admitted, his voice sounding a bit raw.

Lucy stared at Flynn, who nodded. He agreed with Wyatt. “Now we’re getting somewhere.”

 


 

Amy groaned and rolled over to grab her phone as it rang. Behind her, Jess grumbled.

“Shh, it’s okay, it’s just Lucy.” Amy answered the phone as Jess rolled over to drape her arm over Amy’s waist, nuzzling at Amy’s shoulder. Amy swatted at her. “Hey, hon, what’s up?”

“Did I wake you?” Lucy sounded like she was just now realizing what time it was. “Sorry, we got out of rehearsal late, it was… it was intense.”

“Oh? Intense?”

“Get your mind out of the gutter, Amy.”

Jess’s phone rang and Jess groaned, turning over to grab it.

“…is there someone with you?” Lucy asked.

Amy paused as Jess answered her phone with a grumpy, “This better be good, Wyatt.”

“…is that…”

“Hey, Lucy,” Amy said, interrupting her sister. “What did you want to call me about?”

Jess kissed her cheek. “I’ll be right back,” she whispered, then slipped away into the bathroom, closing the door behind her.

“I’m screwed,” Lucy said.

“No, you’re not.” Amy sat up. “Lucy, you’re a brilliant dancer. Wyatt’s getting better. I think you should be dancing with Flynn but I get why he wants to be on the sidelines…”

“That’s not why I’m screwed,” Lucy said, and oh shit, she sounded like she’d been crying and was starting up again.

“Honey, what happened?”

“Oh, nothing, just that someone who’s known me for a few months has figured me out better than the woman who raised me, or even if he hasn’t, he at least treats me with more respect than she ever has. And fuck, Amy, romance is no more important than—than friendship or family so I don’t want—I don’t want to say he’s more important because he’s not, or at least not because I want to fuck him but because—Mom saw me for the first time.” Lucy inhaled deeply. “She saw me for the first time in months and she doesn’t ask how I am, she just shows me the new couple she’s working with. Because that’s all that matters to her, I guess.”

“Who’s he?” Amy asked. “Wyatt?”

“No, Flynn. Wyatt is—I mean he’s—you should’ve seen him dancing with Flynn, they’re—Jesus Christ, I think I ruined my underwear just watching them.”

“Wow, okay, fun information that I didn’t need.”

“Amy what am I supposed to do!? Wyatt—he’s trying, and he’s being really sweet, and he and Flynn just—it’s like tinder and flint and I want to see them turn into a fucking house fire, and fuck, when Flynn and I are dancing it’s—and I don’t know what to do, how am I even supposed to handle having—having a crush on two men, and they’re both my professional partners, and we can’t even—Amy if we don’t win this competition—”

“Lucy,” Amy said, making her voice firm. “Lucy, breathe. First of all. Second of all, you are going to be great in the competitions. You are brilliant, you will be brilliant on the floor, you just have to get your groove back, remember why you’re doing this. And it’s not for points, okay? It’s for fun. Have fun. And third of all, I know Wyatt’s in love with you and if Flynn isn’t, then I’ll be shocked, you just make people fall in love with you Lucy, it’s just who you are.”

Lucy gave a sort of embarrassed laugh. “You don’t mean that.”

“I do.” Amy sighed, and heard the bathroom door open. “Look, Lucy, have a good cry, drink a lot of water, and breathe, and get some sleep. You are good enough to win this, okay? You are good enough. And you’re good enough for those men. Both those men. If you want them. And who’s to stop you from getting them?”

“Professionalism.”

“Fuck professionalism.”

“Says the woman who is fucking the ex-wife of my dance partner.”

Amy felt the bed dip behind her and Jess slide back in, kissing Amy’s neck. “She okay?” Jess murmured.

“She’s fine,” Amy replied. “Aren’t you, Luce? You’re going to be okay.”

Lucy took a deep breath. “Yes. Yes I will be. Thanks, Amy.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too, Ames.”

They hung up and Amy dropped her phone to the side, rolling over. She smiled giddily up at Jess, who was staring down at her fondly, like Amy was the cutest fucking thing she’d ever seen. “How’s Wyatt?”

“Having a fucking crisis and asking me if I ever thought he might like men,” Jess replied airily.

“…what.”

“Apparently God forbid that he listen to me when I ask him, lovingly, over the years about the things he sometimes says and his weird James Bond crush, but the moment he dances one single tango with Garcia Flynn he’s throwing up in the bathroom and asking me if he’s fulfilling a stereotype if he wants to play catch.”

“…play catch?”

Jess laughed and kissed her. “I’d like to stop talking about my ex-husband. In fact, how about we stop talking at all?”

“Oh, I can definitely do that.” Amy said with a grin, pulling Jess down to her.

Here was hoping their respective beloved fools could figure themselves out.

Chapter Text

It was their first competition.

Wyatt shook out his hands and tried to keep his breathing even as he stood next to Lucy, waiting for their names to be called.

Flynn was going to be in the audience.

He was going to be here, and that meant people would see him, and that meant people were going to know who was working with them. And Flynn was going to get a lot of attention that he was probably going to loathe—no, that Wyatt knew he was going to loathe. Flynn hated attention. Wyatt had learned that about him pretty quickly. It couldn’t have been easy, he supposed, growing up with the legacy of his parents in the dance world, all eyes on him from the beginning. And now with the death of his wife and child hanging over him…

Flynn wouldn’t talk about that. Not with Wyatt, for sure, which wasn’t surprising, but not with Lucy, either, which was more surprising if you asked Wyatt, seeing as Flynn would walk on water if Lucy asked him to.

They had to do well. Wyatt wanted to do well, not just for himself but for Flynn and Lucy. This was everything that Lucy wanted, and Flynn had been dragged out of retirement for this.

Whether or not this had anything to do with any feelings he might or might not have for both of them… he wasn’t going to confirm that even in his own mind.

The announcer called their name and Wyatt nearly burst into hysterical laughter with relief. They were going first, thank fucking God. The longer they went before going, the more keyed-up Lucy got until she would be vibrating with tense anticipation. At least now they could feel suicidal watching the other couples knowing they’d already done their part and their best.

Lucy took his hand and Wyatt led her out onto the floor.

This was going to be awkward, but not in a way that anyone else knew about.

Flynn had picked this song.

Flynn had picked this song, and Wyatt had been certain that Lucy would know what he meant by it, but apparently Lucy hadn’t figured it out.

Some people stay far away from the door,

If there’s a chance of it opening up.

They were doing a rhumba to this, which was one of the slowest and most sensual dances. Yeah. That had been fun to practice with Flynn watching. And by ‘fun’ Wyatt meant ‘made him get that weird feeling in the pit of his stomach that he was, at all costs, avoiding thinking about’.

They were doing the American version of the rhumba, which had a box step as opposed to the international version. All that work with Flynn making Wyatt focus on his hip movements was coming in handy now, since there was a huge emphasis on that for rhumba. He pulled Lucy in close and they turned around, around, around, in small compact steps, no rising or falling like with waltz or other dances. Lucy wrapped her leg around Wyatt’s and then kicked back, then unwrapped it, kicking between his legs again but now going the other way, incredibly precise kicksteps over and around, showing off her technique. Technique was where Lucy was best, and so Flynn was pushing her into doing more, harder, showing the judges she’d grown in the year since she’d last performed.

Wyatt hated to admit it, but Flynn was the best thing that could’ve happened for her. He didn’t know who’d pointed Lucy in Flynn’s direction, but whoever they were, they were right.

They will not listen to anyone

So that nobody tells them a lie.

Okay, but this was the thing that he didn’t get. Flynn had chosen this song. This song. A song literally about a man who was telling his potential lover that he wouldn’t hurt them the way others had in the past.

And Lucy hadn’t gotten the fucking hint!?

Lucy swayed her hips back and forth as she stepped from side to side in front of him, a small smile on her lips as she moved with the music, before she let him pull her in again in an exaggeratedly slow movement. Rhumba was full of that—demonstrating your control over your body by doing something twice as slowly as you normally would.

I know you’re only protecting yourself,

I know you’re thinking of somebody else.

Wow, thanks Flynn. Not that Wyatt didn’t deserve that jab but still. Ouch.

Not that he was sure what else he’d expected from Flynn. Wyatt led Lucy into the first series of spins—Carol had never let Lucy do enough of those, Lucy could spin like a top until the world ended, and Flynn was making that her signature the way it should’ve been years ago.

Flynn was in love with Lucy. It was so painfully obvious. He had picked this song!

How could Lucy not know?

I’m not above doing anything

To restore your faith if I can.

Lucy seemed to be really connecting with the music better than she had before. She was moving with it, with the flow of it, not just because of the steps requiring it but because she actually seemed to feel something with the song.

Wyatt didn’t look at Flynn. Not only because he didn’t know where in the crowd Flynn was standing but because it would ruin the dance. But he wanted to find… fuck, find some way to say I get it, you can’t help it, none of us can help it with Lucy Preston.

But Lucy had to feel something back, right? That was why she was always smiling at Flynn, that was why Flynn was the only one who could make her laugh hard and loud. Why wouldn’t she want to fall in love with Flynn, the guy was cantankerous but he was coming out of retirement to help her and he was putting a fuckton of time into making sure they were the best they could be and he understood her and he was a lot more patient than—

Some people hope for a miracle cure

Some people just accept the world as it is.

But I’m not willing to lay down and die

Because I am an innocent man.

—fuck.

They ended the dance with Lucy’s back against his chest and Wyatt pulling the trick Flynn had with the tango, leaning his weight onto his back leg and Lucy falling back with him so that she could kick her leg up above her head and holding it for the final beat.

“Was that good?” Lucy whispered as she set her leg back down and curtsied for the bows.

“I thought you were great,” Wyatt replied, but his opinion didn’t mean jack shit compared to the judges.

Jess was somewhere in the crowd, he knew it, she’d come with Amy to watch, if he could just—he saw a flash of blonde hair, the exact shade and cut of it memorized years ago, and he reached out as he and Lucy ran off stage. “Jess!”

Jess let him pull her to him. “You did great!”

“Flynn. I think I’m—”

“Wyatt Logan.” Ah shit, Denise Christopher. “Lucy Preston.”

Lucy, who was being hugged by Amy, froze.

Denise turned away from them. “If you’d walk with me?”

“You think you’re what?” Jess whispered.

“Later!” Wyatt replied, as Lucy hurried after Denise.

I think Flynn’s not the only one with unrequited feelings around here.

 


 

Lucy’s heart hammered in her throat as Denise led her and Wyatt off to the side. “They’re going to call the next dancers.”

“I know.” Denise folded her arms. “Your dance was good.”

“You shouldn’t be telling us that.”

“You’re competing nationwide, everyone’s dances are good, if they weren’t you wouldn’t be competing at this level in the first place. It’s not exactly telling you your scores to admit that you didn’t trip over your own feet,” Denise replied.

Lucy swallowed and felt her face heat up, chastened. “Why do you want to speak to us?”

Wyatt looked rather like he’d been hit over the head with a hammer and stayed quiet. Probably wise of him.

“You two are dancing better than before but you’re not doing enough to stand out and I’ll tell you right now that if you don’t find a way to connect and actually look at each other while you’re dancing, my dance scores won’t be the biggest thing you have to worry about.” Denise nodded towards the crowd. “You know as well as I do how small of a world it is here. There were rumors about your relationship a year ago and if you two don’t find a way to make it look like you’re actually dancing together instead of wrapped up in your own individual worlds, tongues are going to wag.”

“We aren’t sleeping together,” Lucy protested.

“Not now you aren’t.”

“We weren’t back then!”

Wyatt put his hand on the small of her back and Lucy took a deep breath, realizing her voice was raising.

“Lucy and I never slept together,” Wyatt said, his voice remarkably calm. “Nobody ever saw us behaving inappropriately. Whatever rumors happened, we all know where they came from, and it’s because she was angry that Lucy and I both quit on her. People can say whatever they want.”

“They will,” Denise agreed. “But don’t make it harder on yourselves. I want to grade you two well. I want to give you good scores. But you two have to dance like you actually are a unit. Not two people who happen to be sharing a dance floor.”

She walked off, back towards her seat to judge the next dance, and Lucy felt her vision blurring. “Wyatt…”

“Face this way.” Wyatt took her by the shoulders and turned her so that she was facing away from the crowd, so nobody could see her red eyes. “Denise stuck her neck out warning us, that’s good, we know what we can do better for next time.”

Lucy wiped at her eyes. “You’re so good when I’m in a crisis, why can’t you be good the rest of the time?”

Wyatt’s face flushed and he looked over her shoulder. “Rufus and Jiya are performing.”

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded,

Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.

“We should go and watch them,” Wyatt murmured.

“You didn’t answer my question,” Lucy replied.

Everybody knows, the war is over,

Everybody knows, the good guys lost.

Wyatt put his hands on his hips. “Probably because I don’t want you to be unhappy and when the people I care about are in crisis it’s the only time I’m not overthinking.” He nodded towards the dance floor. “We need to go watch them. And I need to find Jess.”

He held his hand out, and Lucy accepted it, letting him lead her back to watch Rufus and Jiya do an international rhumba.

The big difference between international rhumba and American rhumba was that in the former, there was no box step, and the dances moved on the 2, 3, and 4 of the beats rather than the 1, 3, and 4 of American.

Jiya was wearing a dark purple outfit, something reminiscent of those late 19th century saloon girl dresses, her hair all done up, while Rufus was in a matching suit. They really did make a good dance couple. Not just because they looked good together but because—she watched as Rufus wrapped his arm around Jiya’s waist while she faced away from him and lifted her up, one armed, with Jiya making a movement like a bird beating her wings slowly against a windowpane—they were connected. Jiya kept looking back over her shoulder at Rufus and smiling like she couldn’t stop herself from it, and Rufus had this yearning look on his face as he stared at her, like he needed to reach her or he’d die.

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking,

Everybody knows that the captain lied.

Everybody got this broken feeling,

Like their father or their dog just died.

Rufus kept Jiya held up and she literally did the steps as if she was walking on air, Rufus dancing backwards, until—

“Oh fuck me,” Wyatt said, interrupting whatever he was saying hurriedly and quietly to Jess as they all gaped.

Rufus had just gotten his other arm under Jiya’s leg and carried her up and over his head in a smooth, stunning loop, setting her back on the ground.

“I know someone who could fuck you,” Jess muttered.

“One more joke about that and I’ll tell Amy about the time you forgot to take your tampon out before—”

“Low blow, Wyatt,” Jess hissed.

Rufus and Jiya danced with their foreheads pressed together, staring each other in the eye, and that was definitely the kind of thing that Denise was talking about—the kind of connection that she and Wyatt weren’t utilizing.

Everybody knows that you love me baby,

Everybody knows that you really do,

Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful,

Well, give or take a night or two.

She needed to be able to look at Wyatt the way that Rufus and Jiya were looking at each other right now, and she couldn’t. Not… not yet.

But she wanted to. She missed feeling connected to her partner. She missed truly enjoying dancing with them. The way that she felt with Amy, the way she had once felt with Wyatt, the way she currently felt with…

Where was Flynn, anyway?

Rufus and Jiya’s dance didn’t up in tempo, but it did go up in intensity, staying slow, sensual, but somehow becoming aggressive in tone with the song lyrics. They weren’t looking at each other anymore, Lucy realized, but out at the audience, challenging the audience, but they were still connected, their movements in sync.

Everybody knows that it’s now or never,

Everybody knows that it’s me or you.

Everybody knows that you live forever,

When you’ve done a line or two.

Wyatt and Jess were still whispering furiously about whatever it was. Lucy watched him from the corner of her eyes. “I want you to stop thinking,” she blurted out.

Wyatt turned and looked at her. “What?”

“If you’re at your best when you stop thinking, then stop thinking. I like you the way you are.”

The song was building, building, the beat getting harder and vibrating through Rufus and Jiya’s bodies.

Everybody knows the deal is rotten.

Old Black Joe’s still picking cotton

For your ribbons and bows!

Everybody knows!

“Mason really isn’t kidding around with this one,” Amy noted, arriving with two drinks, one of which she handed to Jess.

Wyatt kept staring at Lucy. Lucy stared right back. “Just be yourself, Wyatt, for the love of God.”

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming,

Everybody knows that it’s moving fast.

Rufus spun Jiya around and around, crossing her from one side of his body to the other, then pulled her in and held her, like they were the only two people left in an apocalypse.

“This isn’t the time, or the place,” Wyatt replied.

“When will it be?”

“I don’t know, how about when I stop wondering who the hell I even am? I’m thirty-four and I’m having a crisis because I’m just now realizing I like men!” Wyatt hissed.

Everybody knows the scene is dead,

But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed,

That will disclose

What everybody knows.

Lucy stared at him. She could well remember when she’d come out to Amy, and so she knew that it wasn’t the proper response to say ‘and it only took you two tangos with Flynn’ but oh, how she was tempted.

“That’s… quite a lot to handle,” she said instead.

Rufus and Jiya were tearing up the dance floor—in a manner of speaking—moving together in a large loop around it, their legs crossing around and over each other.

And everybody knows that you’re in trouble,

Everybody knows what you’ve been through,

From the bloody cross on top of Calvary,

To the beach of Malibu.

Wyatt looked at her the way he had that last night, when he’d broken down and told her he couldn’t do this, that he was lost. “Yeah. Yeah it’s… been a lot.”

“It’s…” She hoped that she wasn’t overstepping. “It’s Flynn, isn’t it?”

Wyatt swallowed hard. “It’s Flynn for you, isn’t it?”

Everybody knows it’s coming apart,

Take one last look at this Sacred Heart,

Before it blows…

“Since that first dance,” Lucy admitted.

Wyatt nodded and looked back at Rufus and Jiya, who was sinking down, down, down, staring up at Rufus like he was about to be torn away from her.

…everybody knows.

 


 

Flynn watched from the far end of the dance floor by the shadow of one of the podiums as Rufus and Jiya finished their dance. Jiya sprung to her feet and nuzzled her nose against Rufus’s, grinning wildly. Rufus stared at her, looking stunned, as Jiya turned away to bow.

He winced as the next set of names were called. Nicholas Keynes and Emma Whitmore. Carol’s new couple.

“I thought you’d be hiding somewhere,” Michelle noted as she sidled up to him.

“Oh, please, Michelle, I do not hide. I lurk.”

“What do you think?”

“They’re not dating but Jiya sure wants them to be.”

“I meant about Lucy and Wyatt, not about whatever gossip observations you’ve made.”

Flynn sighed. “They danced better than they have in weeks.”

“But it’s not good enough.”

Flynn ran a hand through his hair, then nodded. Over on stage, Nicholas and Emma were dancing a foxtrot. The foxtrot was just a slow quickstep…

…and a very lovely dance where the dancers looked like they were floating if it was done properly, ahem. Flynn glanced up at the ceiling, knowing that if Lorena ever heard him disparaging the foxtrot she’d come down from Heaven just to smite him personally. God only knew why she’d loved that dance so damn much.

There’s a moon over Bourbon Street tonight…

I see faces as they pass beneath the pale lamplight.

I’ve no choice but to follow their call,

The bright lights,

The people,

And the moon and all.

“They danced well,” Michelle admitted. “But they need to do more to stand out. Look at these two, they’re technically perfect.”

“They’re boring.”

“But they’re doing a foxtrot and they look like they’ve come straight out of a Rogers and Astaire show, Flynn. And Rufus and Jiya—”

“I know.”

“Figure out whatever it is that’s keeping Wyatt and Lucy from connecting and fix it.” Michelle paused. “I’d suggest you replace Wyatt as her partner but they’ve started competing, that ship’s already sailed.”

“I can’t be her partner.”

“And why not? You’re still the best, Flynn, don’t pull any ‘I’m rusty’ crap with me.”

Flynn gestured vaguely and then folded his arms.

Oh you’ll never see my shade,

Or hear the sound of my feet,

While there’s a moon over Bourbon Street.

Michelle sighed. “Garcia. Wyatt’s good, but he’s not as good as you. The smart thing if you wanted Lucy to have the best chance would be for you to dance with her. Why didn’t you? Why just be a coach? You love dancing and you love performing.”

It was many years ago,

That I became what I am.

I was trapped in this life,

Like an innocent lamb.

Flynn kept his arms folded. “I didn’t want to… make it about me.”

Michelle put her hand on his elbow. “Flynn. It’s not your fault.”

She walks every day,

Through the streets of New Orleans.

She’s innocent and young,

From a family of means.

“I insisted on staying, I knew Iris had to get to bed but I insisted on staying and Lorena drove home—I should’ve been driving, Michelle. I should’ve been driving the car, they hit the driver’s side—”

“You didn’t kill them, Garcia,” Michelle said, her voice firmer than Flynn had ever heard it. “The man who drank too much and got behind the wheel killed them. You wanting to stay and join in the free dance was—”

“It was selfish, Michelle.”

“So you wanted to stay and dance! For once! That doesn’t erase all the times you—you took care of Iris while she was sick, all the times you made dinner for Lorena, all the times you were there! You’re human, you wanted to stay and dance, and there isn’t anything wrong with that.”

How can I be this way

When I pray to God above?

I must love what I destroy,

And destroy the thing I love!

Flynn felt like the whole ballroom was too crowded and tight. Nicholas and Emma were still floating across the dance floor, showing up Lucy and Wyatt, showing up the two people that were broken and trying their fucking best and it made Flynn so unexpectedly sick he wanted to walk out onto the floor and knock their heads together.

“You didn’t do anything wrong,” Michelle repeated. “The only difference if you’d been driving is I would’ve lost two friends instead of one.”

Oh you’ll never see my shade,

Or hear the sound of my feet,

While there’s a moon,

Over Bourbon

Street.

Michelle squeezed his biceps. “Flynn. Go find your dancers. They need you. They’re still here, and they need you.”

The echoes of the song’s dying notes lingered in his ears like a ghost. “Right. I’ll… go find them.”

He could feel Michelle’s eyes at his back the entire time he walked across the ballroom.

Chapter Text

Lucy woke up to a text from Flynn.

We’re taking the day off. Meet me at the studio. Wear something you’d want to go out in.

What?

“You’re wearing that red swing outfit!” Amy announced when Lucy told her.

“I haven’t worn that since the murder mystery party.”

Amy threw the aforementioned items out of the closet, smacking Lucy in the face with them. “It was 1930s themed, the outfit will be perfect.”

“I don’t know where we’re even going.”

“I do.” Amy grinned, putting Lucy’s red beret on her head and striking a pose.

“And I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me?”

Amy winked and expertly threw the beret like it was a frisbee, so that it landed right on Lucy’s head. “Nope!”

…great.

 


 

Wyatt waved at Lucy as she walked up. “Any idea what we’re doing?” he asked.

Lucy shook her head.

Great. He had no idea either.

Lucy glanced at him as they waited outside the studio. “Wyatt…”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“You said—”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“I’m bi, too.”

“And I don’t want to talk about it.” Saying something to Lucy had been a—a spur of the moment kind of thing. One that he regretted. He was hardly able to process it himself, to say it to himself, how could he possibly handle someone else knowing? And Lucy was going to want to talk about it and he couldn’t—he didn’t know how to talk about it. And if she—if she wanted to be with Flynn, and he also wanted to be—fuck, it was also so messed up and jumbled in his head.

Flynn walked up, and Wyatt jumped to his feet, his stomach flipping. “Holy shit.”

Flynn raised an eyebrow at him. “What?”

He was in a hot as hell suit with a dark red tie at his throat, looking dapper as fuck, and Wyatt—Wyatt was going to die. He was going to die right here, right now.

“You got dressed up,” he croaked.

“I said wear something you’d want to go out in,” Flynn replied. He glanced at Lucy and did a literal double take.

Yeah, Lucy in a gorgeous dark red dress with a beret and her hair and makeup all done up was a sight to behold.

“We’re going to a jazz club,” Flynn said, still staring at Lucy. “Um, Lucy, you look… you look good.”

Lucy just smiled.

“A jazz club?” Wyatt said, surprised. “But…” They’d just finished a competition and another one would be up soon, there could be other professionals there who would recognize Flynn. “You could be spotted.”

Flynn nodded, as if to himself. “I… a friend was pointing out to me that… anyway. I should get back into dancing. And you two need to get used to dancing together, not just the same dance over and over for a competition but just dancing. In general. Partnering. So we’re going to forget about being competition perfect, we’re going to forget about technique, and we’re going to just go and dance and remember why we do this shit in the first place. Sound good?”

Lucy looked at Wyatt. Wyatt looked at Lucy. If she’d do it he’d do it, but he wasn’t going to push. Why can’t you be good the rest of the time?

“I’m okay with that,” Lucy said. She gave Wyatt a soft look he wasn’t sure he deserved.

Wyatt nodded. “If Lucy’s in, I’m in.”

Flynn smirked. “Then follow me.”

Flynn insisted on driving rather than letting Wyatt do it and just giving him directions—“When we’re on the run from the police, I’ll let you drive, Wyatt,”—and took them to an alley behind a sandwich deli.

“How’d you find out about this place?” Wyatt asked as Flynn led them down the alley to a door that just had a red glowing symbol above it that looked a bit like an eye.

“You’re not going to believe this,” Flynn said, opening the door for them and grinning, “but this is Connor Mason’s place.”

Lucy walked in, Wyatt right behind her, and the wave of sound that hit him was like a tangible blow but in the best kind of way.

“It’s not a Texan salsa club,” Flynn murmured, standing next to him and just a little behind him, enough that Wyatt could feel the heat of him, “but I hope it’ll do.”

Wyatt grinned at him, unable to stop himself. This was definitely more his kind of scene. “It’ll do.”

“Hey! Wouldja look who it is!” Jiya Marri swooped in from somewhere, grabbing Lucy. “C’mon, Preston, your sister tells me I can’t lead for shit, let’s show her wrong.”

Lucy laughed, caught off guard, and then Jiya was dragging her into the crowd on the dance floor, leading her neatly into a triple step, then pushing her forward so that Lucy turned on the rock step, leading to an open hold.

“Looks like a good lead to me,” Flynn observed.

“Unlike me, right?” Wyatt asked. He didn’t mean to sound bitter, it just sort of… came out that way.

Flynn sighed. “You’re a good lead, Wyatt, and you’re getting better. But you’re never going to be a great lead because it’s not what you’re good at.”

“And what’s that?”

“A follow.” Flynn’s eyes were on Lucy but Wyatt felt hot anyway. “Lucy could lead, if she wanted to. She takes it back from me without even thinking about it when we’re dancing for fun. But it’s like you’re—like you’re fighting against your own instincts and you can’t do that. It’s holding you back from your full potential because you could be—you could be really great, if you wanted to be, if you just switched which position you were in.”

Wyatt looked out on the dance floor, where Lucy and Jiya were looping themselves over and under and around each other’s arms so fast it was dizzying. He could see Mason bobbing his head along to the band on stage while Rufus was standing next to him, eyes on Jiya. Wyatt knew that look—he knew it was how he looked at Lucy, and he was starting to fear it was how he looked at Flynn.

“Ah, c’mon, stop looking like I kicked your puppy.” Flynn grabbed Wyatt’s wrist and pulled on him. Wyatt froze. Flynn arched an eyebrow at him. “Seriously, Wyatt, if you’d take the stick out of your ass for two seconds you’d see you like following better.”

“What’s it matter when we already started the competition? We can’t switch Lucy’s partner now.”

“You think I care if you two win?” Flynn looked like he might laugh. “Wyatt, I care that you two are actually enjoying dance again. If you win along the way—yeah, I’m going to do everything that I can to get you there. To get you that trophy. But I stopped trying to coach you two for competition ages ago.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s what Carol Preston did and it fucked you both up.” Flynn’s hold tightened on his wrist and he tugged lightly. “C’mere. Relax, Wyatt. Nobody’s watching. Nobody cares. Do what you enjoy and screw the rest.”

Wyatt let himself be tugged onto the dance floor. “If I don’t enjoy this, I’m suing you.”

“Go right ahead.”

Adam Ant’s “Goody Two Shoes” with its upbeat guitar plucking faded out and the brass section started up, bringing that big band sound that Wyatt loved. He pointed at Flynn. “Did you know—”

“Nope. Mason’s got a thing for blues, I did not expect him to go ska swing.”

“This is ska—”

“Shut up, Wyatt.” Flynn pulled him in. “And actually rock your feet like you know how to do this.”

Who’s that whispering in the trees,

It’s two sailors and they’re on leave,

Hats and chains and swinging hands,

Who’s your Daddy? Yes I am.

“You know this song is about the race riots in Los Angeles in the ‘40s?” Flynn said, turning Wyatt out and then pulling him back in so fast that Wyatt got dizzy—in a good way, though. This was obviously why Lucy liked spinning so much.

“I thought it was about sex,” Wyatt replied.

Flynn turned him again so that Wyatt’s arms were crossed in front of him, his back pressed to Flynn’s chest. “Seriously?”

“The lyrics are literally asking who your Daddy is what the fuck was I supposed to—” Flynn spun him out again, and then again, and again, until Wyatt couldn’t tell which way was up and he was depending only on Flynn’s hands, Flynn’s body, to keep him oriented and stop him from falling over.

Fat cat came to play, now,

You can’t run fast enough.

You better stay away,

When the pushers come to shove.

Okay, so now that he wasn’t following Flynn’s lead in order to try and prove something to Flynn or to try and hear Flynn’s instructions so that he could lead, Wyatt could admit this was fun. He didn’t have to—to think. Which was apparently the time he was good, at his best, according to Lucy, anyway.

A whipped-up jitterbuggin’ brown eyed man,

A stray cat frontin’ up an eight-piece band,

Cut me Sammy and you’ll understand,

In my veins hot music ran.

“Is this the kind of place your grandfather would go?” Flynn asked, pulling Wyatt in so that they were in a close hold, chest to chest, giving Wyatt a second to get his breath back from the spins.

“Hell yeah.” Wyatt grinned. “He had to sneak off base sometimes but he didn’t give a damn.”

Flynn grinned at him, but didn’t say anything, and that just left them staring at each other, almost nose to nose, grinning. Wyatt’s stomach did another flip.

You got me in a sway and

I want to swing you down.

Now you sailors know

Where your women come for love!

Flynn stepped back and with just a press from the heel of his hand he was sending Wyatt’s next step out away from him, turning him, and Wyatt, caught off guard, found himself laughing as he kicked out, following Flynn’s own kicks, knowing he probably looked a little ridiculous but for possibly the first time in his life not caring.

He caught a flash of distinctive brown hair and turned his head just enough to catch Lucy grinning at him as she and Amy released each other’s hands to stand next to each other, mirroring each other, kicking out, out, out, and then lifting their legs up over their heads like Rockettes before Amy grabbed Lucy’s outstretched hand again and pulled her back in.

Zoot suit riot

Throw back a bottle of beer

Flynn pulled him back in and across, raising his arm and tucking Wyatt underneath and through it so that Wyatt was now facing him on the other side.

Zoot suit riot

Pull a comb through your cool black hair

Wyatt was spun again, and he saw Flynn grinning at him, like he genuinely liked Wyatt, like he was genuinely happy that Wyatt was happy, like they actually had a connection.

“See?” Flynn slowed them down a bit for the scat breakdown, giving Wyatt a chance to breathe and recover. “Told you.”

“You don’t have to be right all the time y’know.” Wyatt wasn’t sure why his voice was quiet, given how loud the room was.

Flynn evidently heard him anyway. “I’m not right all the time. Just when it comes to you.”

“You think you’ve got my number, huh?”

“Would it be such a bad thing if I did?”

Wyatt let Flynn do a half-turn that allowed them to switch hands and get them back into a close hold. “You know you’re allowed to enjoy this, too.”

For the first time he had ever seen since meeting him, and since even before that watching Flynn perform, Wyatt saw Flynn almost—almost, but not quite—stumble on a step.

“I don’t know what you’re punishing yourself for,” Wyatt pressed on, “but I—I like to punish myself. I push people away to make myself miserable. I like to tell myself it’s easier than waiting for them to realize I’m a fuck up and leave on their own. So I—I recognize it. In you.”

“You shouldn’t be punishing yourself either,” Flynn said. “You’re a good person, Wyatt.”

You got me in a sway and

I want to swing you down.

Now you sailors know

Where your women come for love!

Flynn turned him again, and again, and okay, so maybe following was a lot more fun, a lot more natural, to him than leading, and maybe Flynn was right and Wyatt was having a better time at this than he ever had as a lead.

“If you dip me…” he warned.

“In public? I’d never,” Flynn replied, but he was smiling slyly, and Wyatt wouldn’t have minded being dipped at all.

Flynn didn’t dip him. He just pulled Wyatt in and Wyatt dropped his arm over Flynn’s shoulder, pressing them up together, their foreheads pressed against each other’s, both of them breathing hard.

I think I’m about ready to sing it.

Wyatt had only wanted to kiss someone this badly just once. It had been Jess, and he had. Lucy was a close second, when she’d taken his face in her hands, but he’d been so messed up he had been torn between ten different options, all of which he’d wanted equally. But the other time, it had been Jess, and he’d felt like if he didn’t kiss her, he’d die.

He felt like if he didn’t kiss Flynn, he’d die.

Flynn’s hold shifted—the song was changing, becoming something a lot more suited to sensuality, and Flynn wasn’t—wasn’t letting him go.

Flynn’s tongue slid across his bottom lip, and Wyatt felt his entire throat go dry. His heart was hammering wildly in his chest, and he felt like he was on fire inside.

Flynn’s hold loosened and he stepped back. “I’m going to… go talk to Mason.”

Wyatt nodded, letting Flynn vanish into the crowd.

Lucy walked by him and he grabbed her. “Hey, let’s try—let’s try you leading. I know not for the competition but just for right now.”

Lucy gave him a soft, surprised smile. “Well all right, then.”

Mercifully, she didn’t try to talk to him about Flynn.

 


 

Flynn nearly crashed into Mason, moving too quickly, trying to get away, put distance. “You look like there’s a whole police squad on your tail,” Mason noted.

“Thanks.” Flynn leaned back against the stage with him. He nodded at Rufus and Jiya, who were starting to dance together.

Dot King was whittled from the bone of Cain,

With a little drop of poison in the red, red blood

She need a way to turn around the bend,

She said, “I wanna walk away and start all over again.”

Rufus was jokingly improvisational dancing along, moving his body goofily, as Jiya laughed, finally pulling him in by the front of his shirt. Rufus evidently surprised her, because she gave a little cry as Rufus swept her up and pulled her into a slowfox.

If the foxtrot was the slow quickstep, then the slowfox was the quickstep on weed. But when done properly, it was the kind of dancing you expected Disney princesses to do.

There are things I’ve done I can’t erase.

I wanna look in the mirror, see another face.

I said never would I do it again.

I want to walk away, start all over again.

“They’re your best yet,” Flynn noted.

“You were better,” Mason replied. “Your father and I used to throw shit at each other all the time and I told him—I told him one day I’d have a protégé who could beat you. But we both knew that was bloody nonsense.”

Flynn hummed.

Rufus and Jiya pulled apart and began to mirror each other, snapping their fingers, swaying back and forth, knees purposefully knocking together like they were Broadway dancers, doing the jazz hands and everything.

No more rain,

No more roses.

On my way,

Shake my thirst in a cool, cool pond

There’s a winner in every place.

There’s a heart that’s beating in every page.

The beginning of it starts at the end,

When it’s time to walk away and start all over again.

Rufus pulled Jiya back into the slowfox, snobby looks on their faces for about thirty seconds before they both gave in and started laughing—but even their laughter didn’t mess up their footwork or their arms, held up high, their heads properly back, torsos angled away from each other, feet crossing over one another.

“You like him,” Mason noted. “Wyatt Logan. I saw you dancing earlier.”

Flynn swallowed. “Maybe.”

Mason hummed. “Don’t get me wrong. I hope that your team loses. But I hope that it’s because my team won fair and square. Not because you’re still beating yourself up. Or feeling guilty for moving on.”

Weather is murder at a hundred and three

William Ray shot Corabell Lee

A yellow dog knows when he has sinned:

You wanna walk away and start all over again.

“You did it,” Flynn noted. “You were in the industrial world. Silicon Valley, the tech startups. They said you could’ve been bigger than Bezos or Gates. You worked with Jobs. You had it all. But you broke it all up and walked away. How… how did you do that?”

“I met Rufus,” Mason replied. “He doesn’t want to do dance forever. He wants to study quantum physics. Fascinating. And good for him, I say. But he was the one who… reminded me that the more money I had, the less soul I had. So I tried to figure out what I liked besides technology that wouldn’t make me money. I treated it rather like being an alcoholic. I couldn’t go into something that would make me a fortune, or I would make a fortune, and I’d lose myself again. So… dance.” Mason paused. “My mother loved dance. It was… the one thing I could really remember about her. Before she died.”

Rufus twirled Jiya, who looked incandescent. Flynn found himself smiling at them. He used to look like that when he danced.

“So. Dance.” Mason shrugged. “What about you, hmm? What’s stopping you from starting over?”

Cooper told Molly the whole block’s gone.

They’re dying for jewelry, money, and clothes.

I always get out of the trouble that I’m in,

When it’s time to walk away and start all over again.

“I’m starting to be okay with living… without them,” Flynn admitted. “And a part of me hates myself for it. Feels like… like I shouldn’t move on. Like it’s unfair to them.”

“Mr. Logan looked at you like you could fly,” Mason observed. “It’s not selfish to let yourself be loved again, Flynn. Closing yourself off to it is only going to make all three of you miserable.”

I left my bible by the side of the road,

Carved my initials in an old oak tree.

I’m going away but I’m gonna be back when,

It’s time to walk away and start all over again.

Rufus and Jiya finished and Flynn, distracted, took a moment to realize what Mason had said. “Wait. All three—”

Mason was already patting Flynn’s shoulder and walking away. “Give my name at the bar, you’ll get a free drink!”

Flynn stared after him, then looked over at Lucy and Wyatt, who were just finished up whatever dance they’d been doing, and he wondered if he could’ve possibly understood Mason correctly.

 


 

Wyatt collapsed at the bar next to Rufus. “Dude. That was amazing. You guys are really good.”

Jiya and Amy were trying to show Jess how to quickstep. “I feel like I’m running,” Jess groused.

“But you look sexy,” Amy replied, and Jess flushed.

Wyatt was happy for her. He hadn’t seen Jess look this relaxed in… well, in years, and he knew that was his fault.

“Thanks,” Rufus said, grabbing a glass of water and turning around to sit next to Wyatt, facing the dance floor. “How’s it dancing with Garcia Flynn?”

“Amazing,” Wyatt blurted out. “He’s—he’s the best.”

“Yeah, he looks it.” Rufus shook his head. “No offense, man, but I’m glad I’m competing against you and Lucy and not him. He was spinning you out and kicking like it was nothing.”

“Yeah.” Wyatt grinned. “You, uh, you and Jiya though, you’re really great together.”

Rufus nodded and took another sip of his water. “Yeah, she’s—you wouldn’t believe the kind of audition process Connor put her through, to see if she was good enough. She is good enough and then some.”

Wyatt got his own drink and started to sip it, when Rufus said, “So how long have you three been, you know, together? Seeing each other?”

Wyatt choked and nearly spat his drink everywhere. “I’m sorry, I—what?”

“Sorry, sorry. I just—that was out of line. I just thought—y’know, the way you and Flynn were dancing—and you and Lucy were an item back—”

“We were never an item.” Wyatt set his drink down. “Carol Preston spread that rumor to save face when both Lucy and I quit at the same time. She didn’t want people to blame her, right after Amy had quit, so she made up that rumor to cover her ass, said it was that we had an affair and I had to go home and deal with my marriage, blah fucking blah. Lucy and I have never… we almost, once, but we never crossed that line.”

“Well that’s bullshit,” Rufus announced matter-of-factly. “Carol Preston’s always been a piece of work. But you and Flynn…?”

Flynn and Lucy were dancing now, staring at each other like—like nobody else in the world even existed. Smiling softly, warmly, their eyes locked. Yeah, no wonder Rufus thought the two of them were dating.

And he supposed his own crush was far too obvious. Everyone probably saw it.

“I…” Say it. Say it, get it out. Rufus is a good guy. He’s not gonna hurt you. “I’m… bi. I like… women. And men. Y’know. But Flynn… well.” He nodded towards the dancing couple.

Rufus nodded. “You don’t want to fuck up what you’ve got.”

“Basically.”

“Same here,” Rufus admitted. He took another sip of water. “Jiya… if I say something, and she’s not on the same page, it’s going to be… it’ll fuck up our dances. So…”

“I can’t ruin this for Lucy,” Wyatt said. “She wants to win, she deserves to win. I want to give her the win. If I fuck it up by telling her—or by telling Flynn—yeah.”

Rufus nodded. “Here’s to just hopelessly pining then, huh?”

Wyatt clinked their glasses together. “You gonna tell her after the finals?”

Rufus snorted. “Maybe. Maybe not. You?”

Wyatt took a sip. “I’m not that stupid.”

Rufus, for some reason, laughed.

Chapter Text

Lucy liked leading with Wyatt. She felt—all right, so usually the lead was the taller person, a holdover from back when the lead was always male and the follow was always female—so it was a shift to lead someone who was taller than she was. But Wyatt wasn’t taller by much, and he was a much better follow than a lead, she had to admit. It felt like they were finally relaxing.

Of course, there were expectations in competitions. Wyatt would still have to lead her there. But the rest of the time… maybe this could be another step to finding their way back to each other, the right way this time.

She flagged down Flynn, who had been talking to Mason. “Hey, you!” She grinned. “Don’t think I didn’t see you tapping and bobbing your head along to the music there.”

“Mason knows how to pick a good band.”

A new song started up, this one starting slow but then picking up, getting a peppy tune. Off to her right, Lucy saw Amy and Jiya trying to teach Jess the quickstep, of all dances.

“You want to show ‘em how it’s done?” Lucy teased, gesturing at those three.

Flynn snorted, hands in his pockets. “Ah…”

“Come on.” She held out her hands. “Dance with me, Flynn.” She felt buoyant, free, happy. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt like that. And she wanted nothing more in the world than for Flynn to dance with her.

Flynn stared at her for a moment, then held his hand out. Lucy took it in both of hers and led him onto the floor.

“You know… I owe you an apology.”

“Mmm?”

Flynn took his other hand out of his pocket and turned to face her fully. “When I first met you, at the bar, I assumed I knew you. That I knew everything about you. And you’ve been proving me wrong ever since. But I’ve enjoyed… I’ve enjoyed getting to know you.”

Lucy opened her mouth to reply, but then Flynn swept her up and she gasped as he switched them around, pulling her into a hold and twirling them around then sending them sailing back in a dramatic glide.

“Oh my God, fuck you two,” Amy moaned.

Lucy grinned, looking up at Flynn, who was winking at the three other women, smarmy as ever.

Well I know that I should know better,

Instead of sitting here by the phone, waiting like a fool.

My mailbox never got those letters,

That you promised would be coming my way soon.

…oh shit. Lucy didn’t know this song, but the lyrics sure were hitting kind of close to home.

Flynn was clearly determined to show off to Jess, Amy, and Jiya. “Wow, I wonder how you won all those trophies, you’re not competitive at all,” Lucy noted as Flynn led her into the quick-quick-slow, bouncing kicks and steps that were the signature of the quickstep.

“I’m no more competitive than you are,” Flynn replied, smiling down at her, and Lucy’s heart felt like it wasn’t even in her chest anymore.

Oh well it’s a strange concept,

With all the tears I’ve wept,

That I would still accept

If you asked me.

Flynn twirled her over and over, knowing how much she loved that, and Lucy grinned as the world spun and became a blur of color. She’d used to spin so much as a child, until she was so sick she felt like she might throw up.

They weren’t doing the proper quickstep anymore, at least not from the waist up, as Flynn pulled her back in—or perhaps she reached for him—and tried a series of quick cross steps. Lucy met him nicely. “You’re trying to trip me up again.”

“Maybe just a little.”

“You always going to keep me on my toes? Should I lead?”

“If you wanted to lead,” Flynn said, suddenly serious, “I’d follow.”

You show up when you want romancing,

And I’m the perfect one to play the part.

Ha! Well I might be in your arms, dancing,

But I’m not the only one inside your heart.

Lucy couldn’t help herself, glancing over at Wyatt, who was at the bar with Rufus Carlin. Wyatt, who she’d always felt so soft for—and Flynn, she’d seen them dancing together just now and she had felt like she might scream from how much she wanted to join in but she wasn’t sure—how did one just get over losing a wife and child? And what if she and Wyatt had too many false starts, what if—

“Lucy,” Flynn murmured, shifting them into Lindy Hop, which required less thinking on Lucy’s part and less of a chance that she’d trip over one of Flynn’s feet. “Hey, head in the game, where’d you go?”

Flynn had once told her that if she looked into her dance partner’s eyes and saw the back of their head, that was when she knew she had a problem. Lucy looked back up at him, and he was staring at her with this… with this…

Oh, I know you’re not all mine,

‘Cause I’ve seen your wandering eyes,

Still, I would not decline,

If you asked me.

Flynn moved them back into quickstep and Lucy found herself smiling up at him, although she couldn’t have even said why. “Thank you, by the way.”

“For what?”

“Believing in me. God knows I haven’t believed in myself so far and I practically dragged you into this mess.”

And everybody sees that love has made me blind,

Oh, and everybody knows,

That I have lost my mind

And it may be true,

My heart may be askew.

This love may be a ruse,

I’ve got everything to lose,

But, how could I refuse,

If you asked me?

Flynn twirled her, his arm up over her head, hoisting her hand high, and Lucy’s skirt flared out a bit. “You didn’t drag me into anything. I was… lost. Drowning. If anything, you pulled me out of that. I kept…” He pulled her back in, and as the musical interlude went on, for a moment, they both stopped moving properly, just swaying on the spot. “You know the night that Denise Christopher called me and told me to come and see you perform… I had been praying to God for answers. I don’t—do well with praying. I don’t take to it easily. But I was praying that night, desperately. And I asked Him to give me some answer on what to do with my life. And then Denise called. And there was you.”

Lucy didn’t know what to say to that. What could anyone possibly say to that? “Maybe He led you to me.”

They really should move. They were in the middle of the dance floor, just standing there. They needed to move.

My love I can’t repress,

So boy I must confess,

Well I wish you would request,

And I ain’t gonna make you guess,

So put me out of my distress,

With or without you, I’m a mess,

And boy I would say…

Yes…

Flynn flicked his gaze over to the three women. “You want to really show off for them?”

Lucy nodded, and Flynn let go of her, backing away so that there was a few feet of space between them. Then he nodded at her.

They’d done this a few times, just for fun while waiting for Wyatt, pushing themselves to do crazy flips. Lucy shook her hands out as the music paused—and then did the quickstep run at Flynn (or, well, not a run, but it sure looked like it) as the music started up again.

Flynn used her momentum to flip her up and over his shoulder, landing on her feet on his other side, but with her hand still caught in his so that he could spin her back around to be chest to chest with him again.

“I’m going to go hang myself,” Amy announced. “I hate you.”

If you asked me.

Come on ask me!

Flynn led her through a few final steps as the band kicked up and then died away, dipping her right in front of the three women.

Jiya flipped them off.

Lucy grinned at her, and then Flynn raised her back up onto her feet. “Ta-da.”

“No offense,” Jiya said, “but I’m glad I’m not competing against you, Flynn.”

“That’s what everyone says,” Flynn replied with a shrug.

“I think it’s his modesty that wins him so many friends,” Jess noted.

Lucy held onto his jacket as Flynn tried to move away. “Flynn?”

“Yes?” He looked back at her, his eyes dark and serious.

If he asked her, she’d say yes. The way he looked at her—but what if she was wrong? She’d almost—with Wyatt, and that would’ve been a disaster. What if this was—like that? What if she messed it up? But saying… saying that…

Wait.

“I didn’t tell Denise—I told Michelle, I asked her, if she could get you to come and see my performance,” Lucy said. “Why was Denise the one who told you?”

Flynn got a panicked look on his face. “Uh…”

Lucy tightened her hold on him. “Garcia Flynn.”

Flynn ran a hand through his hair. “So. Funny story. You know that loving, doting wife Michelle’s always going on about?”

“…no.” Lucy stared at him. “No, they—really? But—what!?”

Flynn shrugged as if to say what are you asking me for?

Lucy started to drag him towards the bar. “I want details.”

She wasn’t going to make the same mistake that she had with Wyatt last year. She wanted to win this competition, and she was going to do it by focusing, not by ruining things because she got too involved with her coach, or her dance partner, or both, and things blew up in her face. She was going to do this right.

She was going to win.

Chapter Text

It was their second competition, and Lucy was feeling… more confident than she had about their first competition, at any rate.

Flynn had chosen a song for them that would allow Lucy to slip in a bit of the leading, since they could play it off as fitting the ‘story’ of the song lyrics. That was going to help. Lucy didn’t care either way, leading or following, but Wyatt was so much more comfortable following and it had definitely taken his dancing to another level.

If only she could get him and Flynn to stop circling each other like wolves, maybe they’d get somewhere.

But whatever had happened during their time at Mason’s swing club, it must’ve been big, because neither man seemed to want to go near the other now.

She’d tried talking to them about it. “Did Wyatt say something stupid?” she’d asked Flynn.

“No, no, I just felt it was important that we remember I’m the coach and he’s the dancer, and so I should maintain some… professional distance,” Flynn had replied.

They had been doing this while Lucy was doing her barre work and Flynn was correcting her feet. “Right. Because we’re maintaining such a professional distance.”

Flynn had flushed and stormed off and Lucy hadn’t been all that sure that she hadn’t just somehow ruined something else by insinuating that she and Flynn—oh fuck it.

Lucy wrenched herself back into the present. “Would it have killed you to thank Flynn or even look at him or something?”

“Yeah, Lucy, it might have,” Wyatt shot back. “Look, I—I am not fucking this up by—and if I spend any time around him he’s gonna know, he’s gonna figure it out, and then—I fucked up with you and I’m trying to fix that, I’d like to not fuck up with him. He’s our coach first, our… I don’t even know, second.”

“I—”

“Lucy Preston and Wyatt Logan!”

Crap. No time to deal with it now. Lucy walked out onto the floor with Wyatt.

The crowd was full of dance people, which inevitably meant a damn fair share of theatre people, and the moment the trumpets came in, everyone started screaming, recognizing the song. Yeah, Flynn picked a good one.

Hey little girl with the cash to burn,

Well I’m selling something you won’t return.

Lucy whipped around, rock stepping back, curling her finger at Wyatt, who was laughing because apparently Lucy was, according to Amy, ‘delightful’ during this dance.

They danced without touching but mirroring each other, sashaying, flirting with each other.

Hey little girl, take me off the shelf,

‘Cause it’s hard having fun playing with yourself.

Lucy made a gesture with her fingers on that line that wasn’t exactly PG. She heard a whoop from the audience that could’ve been from Jess or Amy, or maybe even someone else. But probably Jess or Amy.

Once you browse through the whole selection,

Shake those hips in my direction!

Wyatt held out his hand and Lucy took it, letting him spin her in, across him, around, and then they were both kicking their legs out, and back, going hard and fast, far wilder than Mom had ever let her be. Mom had always focused on it looking pretty, on it being technically perfect. But Flynn was letting them cut loose.

A prettier package you never did see,

Take me home and then unwrap me!

Shop around, little darlin’ I’ve got to be,

The ladies’ choice.

The song was a playful reference to the ‘ladies choice’ dance where the women got to ask the men to dance instead of the other way around—and as that lyric was sung out, Lucy whipped around under Wyatt’s arm, flipping them and taking the lead, twisting and turning them, the world a spinning blur of color, and fuck yes, this was why she loved East Coast Swing.

Hey little girl looking for a sale,

Test drive this American male!

Wyatt grinned and slid his hands down his torso like he was showing himself off, and Lucy burst out laughing—they hadn’t planned that, and she suspected someone by the name of Flynn had told Wyatt to do that to amuse her.

It’s gonna take cash to fill my tank, Lucy mouthed along with the lyrics, twisting her hips, so let’s crack open your piggy bank!

They mirrored each other, kicking out and then moving back on the rock step, using that as a base to launch themselves forward and cross again, turning to face the audience. Interacting with the audience was something else that Mom never would’ve let her do.

Hey little girl, you’re into shopping?

I got something traffic stopping!

Lucy curled her finger at the audience, shaking her hips, bringing them in, then did a ‘stop’ motion and jumped forward.

Wyatt grabbed her hand and then whirled her and they were off again.

Hey little girl on a spending spree,

I don’t come cheap but the kisses come free!

On closer inspection, I’m sure that you’ll agree,

I’m the ladies’ choice!

The musical interlude part of the song started, and Lucy took the lead again, pulling away from Wyatt, dancing for the audience, teasing him, teasing them, letting Wyatt get close and then shoving him away, laughing, and this—this was fun, this was so much better than before, thank God Flynn had choregraphed this for them.

And then came the fun part.

For the recording that Flynn had chosen, from the movie soundtrack, the singer did a prolonged ‘wow’ into the microphone right before launching into the final verse. Lucy and Wyatt made sure to dance apart, giving each other more space, and then Wyatt took a running start—

And right as that ‘wow’ started, Wyatt fell to his knees, kneepads conveniently concealed underneath his pants, and slid down the floor right between Lucy’s legs as she playfully flipped up her skirt.

Wyatt looked so damn happy when the crowd responded to that, Lucy’s heart melted. She grabbed him, yanking him to his feet, and then they did a Roman handshake, hands on each other’s elbows, and Wyatt swung her down between his legs before righting her up onto her feet again for the final segment.

Hey little girl on a spending spree,

I don’t come cheap but the kisses come free!

On closer inspection I’m sure that you’ll agree—

Oh hey little girl, listen to my plea,

I come with a lifetime guarantee,

One day maybe, we’ll find that baby makes three!

It’s the ladies’ choice!

Wyatt spun her around and around, and Lucy knew, she just knew that this was so much better than their last dance. They were finding their rhythm.

I’m the ladies’ choice!

She hoped that it would still be enough to get them through, get them the points.

I’m the ladies’ choice, choice, choice,

I’m the ladies’ choice!

Wyatt dipped her all the way down until her hair was brushing against the floor, one armed, and Lucy playfully saluted the audience while upside-down.

Judging by the small smile Flynn sent them from his spot in the crowd (next to Amy and Jess, who were waving madly), they hadn’t done too badly. Maybe they’d even done pretty damn well.

 


 

Flynn nearly jumped as Mason clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Shouldn’t you be bothering your couple?”

“Did your parents ever tell you how they met?”

Flynn groaned. On the dance floor, Nicholas and Emma were walking out onto the stage. “Not this story again, for the love of God…”

Mason cleared this throat. “It was during a dance held by NASA where I was attending as a donor and consultant. I saw a very lovely young woman who was watching everything with this rather sad smile…”

“…and my father saw you dancing with her, asked if he could cut in, and you introduced them. They cut up the floor for hours, and you kept egging him on to do his best moves to prove he was a better partner than you are, he impressed my mom, managed to get a date with her. The rest is history.” Flynn sighed. “Why are you telling me—”

Baby, baby, it looks like it’s gonna hail,

Baby, baby, it looks like it’s gonna hail,

You better come inside, let me teach you how to jive an’ wail.

“Oh come on,” Flynn groaned. “I’m going to murder Carol Preston—”

“Join the club,” Mason said darkly. “In any case, I’m telling you because I told your father that I’d make a wager with him: if he could get a date with Maria Tompkins, I’d foot the bill at the nicest restaurant in town. If he failed, he had to tell me what the actual purpose of his diplomatic mission was at NASA. And your father just looked at me and said that he wasn’t going to bet on a woman like she was an object but if I wanted the damn treaty details so bad I’d have them on my desk in the morning. So.” Mason shrugged. “That’s why I’m giving you this piece of advice. Take it or leave it, but now the restless spirit of Asher Flynn can stop haunting me at night.”

“My father’s ghost is not haunting you, Ebenezer Scrooge.”

“Mmm, whatever you say,” Mason said in a tone that he probably thought was mysterious.

Papa’s in the icebox looking for a can of ale,

Papa’s in the icebox looking for a can of ale,

Mama’s in the backyard learning how to jive an’ wail.

Nicholas and Emma were doing a fair job, Flynn had to admit, but if he were judging… well, he wasn’t judging. But if he had been, compared to Wyatt and Lucy, Nicholas and Emma just didn’t have that same spark of fun and life in them. Emma seemed to have potential, but that wasn’t Flynn’s business.

“My point is, I shouldn’t be telling you this because it’ll make your team better dancers and make it harder for my team to win, but. You three need to dance together.”

Flynn turned to stare at him, ignoring the couple on the dance floor. “What?”

“Have you three danced as a trio? Try it.” Mason gave him one of those sly smiles that only curled up one half of his mouth. “You’re not a unit yet. You need to be a unit.”

“Oh, so you’ve danced as part of a trio with Rufus and Jiya?”

Mason snorted. “Don’t get cute with me. Rufus is my protégé, so is Jiya at this point. That’s how we work as a unit. But how do you three work? What are you to Wyatt? What are you to Lucy? What are they to you? I guarantee you, you don’t know that yet.”

A woman is a woman but a man ain’t nothing but a male.

A woman is a woman but a man ain’t nothing but a male.

One good thing about him:

He knows how to jive an’ wail.

Nothing that Nicholas and Emma were doing was more daring than what Wyatt and Lucy had done, that ought to earn them some points…

“Flynn!” Mason snapped his fingers.

Flynn rolled his eyes and looked back at Mason.

“You need to figure out what you are to each other. Then you can actually work together in a way that will make you great. So. Dance together.”

Jack and Jill went uphill to get a pail.

Jack and Jill went uphill to get a pail.

Jill stayed up, she wanna learn how to jive an’ wail.

Yeah, Wyatt and Lucy weren’t back to… wherever they had been last year, but at least they could flirt while dancing, something Nicholas and Emma had yet to achieve. Flynn was starting to like their chances.

“I’ll think about it,” he told Mason.

Mason sighed. “That’s all I can ask for, I suppose.”

If only dancing with Wyatt and Lucy didn’t come with the possibility of doing something extremely stupid. Like kissing one or both of them.

 


 

Wyatt caught Lucy as she leapt at him after the dance, spinning her around. “That was great! We did great! Did you feel that!?”

“Yeah, I felt it, Luce, we were good.” Wyatt set her down before he did the stupid thing which would be hugging her to him and not letting her go.

A high-pitched shriek heralded Amy divebombing them, and Wyatt stepped back out of the way so he wouldn’t get hit as the younger Preston sister launched herself at Lucy. “Great work!”

“Thank me,” Jess said, walking up.

“Um, thank you? For what?”

“I stopped her from making a gigantic sign that said ‘Go Lucy and Wyatt’ in glitter.”

“Thank you,” Wyatt said with complete sincerity. He really did not want a sign cheering them on, thanks.

Jess winked at him.

A catchy beat started up and Amy squealed. “I fucking love this song!” She raced to be at the front of the crowd.

“Five bucks says this is Rufus and Jiya’s song,” Jess noted.

“I’m not a sucker,” Wyatt replied. “I know when not to take a bet.”

“Do you think we did good enough to beat Nicholas and Emma?” Lucy whispered.

“I think so,” Wyatt whispered back. “But your mom’s going to come back hard if we get more points than them this round.”

On the dance floor, Rufus walked on, sans Jiya, as the music started, and he counted off on his fingers.

One, two, three four five,

Everybody in the car, so c’mon let’s ride

To the

Liquor store around the corner, the boys

Say they want some gin and juice,

But I really don’t wanna.

Jiya appeared, behind Rufus, and started mirroring his movements as he began jiving.

Beer bust, like I had last week,

I must stay deep, ‘cause talk is cheap.

Rufus pointed out at the crowd, interacting with them, just like Lucy and Wyatt had, waving and winking, pointing them out.

I like Angela, Pamela, Sandra, and Rita,

And as I continue, you know they’re getting sweeter.

Jiya, behind Rufus, pouted like she was upset, then danced up and past him, flipping him around so that she was now in front, flirting with the girls instead. Wyatt looked across the room and caught sight of Flynn talking with Mason. Looked like a pretty serious discussion, from what he could tell. He wanted to ask if everything was okay…

Flynn glanced up towards him and Wyatt quickly looked away. He’d nearly given himself up the other day at The Lifeboat, which was apparently the name for Mason’s club. He couldn’t afford that. Flynn didn’t like men, as far as Wyatt knew, and Flynn was in love with Lucy, so it was a moot point anyway.

“Why don’t you just go for it?” he asked Lucy in a moment of recklessness. “Why don’t you just… say something?”

Rufus grabbed Jiya and the two of them began to whirl around on stage.

A little bit of Monica in my life,

A little bit of Erica by my side,

A little bit of Rita’s all I need,

A little bit of Tina’s what I see.

Lucy glanced across the room towards Flynn. “If you’re talking about what I think you’re talking about… first off, I could ask you the same thing. Second—last time I nearly gave into an impulse like that—”

“Flynn’s not married.”

“No, he’s widowed. I missed out on an entire season of competition because we nearly did something, Wyatt, I’m not screwing up Flynn’s return to dance. Or your return. Or mine. I’m not.”

He supposed she had a point.

Rufus flipped Jiya over his arm and oh hey, that was so not fair.

“She’s getting you back for Flynn flipping you at the club,” Wyatt noted.

“God dammit,” Lucy yelled.

Rufus and Jiya began to follow the dance instructions in the song, somehow making it cute, making it work.

Jump up and down, and move it all around,

Shake your head to the sound, put your hands on the ground!

Take one step left, and one step right,

One to the front, and one to the side.

Clap your hands once, clap your hands twice,

And if it looks like this then you’re doing it right.

On that last line, Jiya started completely improvising. Rufus did a double take—a planned one—and then grabbed her again like he was course-correcting her and putting her back on track for the actual dance steps.

Okay, that was funny, Wyatt had to admit.

“Anyway if we’re talking about confessing feelings why don’t you just go up and tell him about yours, hmm?” Lucy shot back.

“I screwed things up for you once,” Wyatt replied, in complete honesty. “I’m not going to do that for you again.”

Lucy turned and looked at him. Wyatt held up a hand to stop her from whatever she was going to say. “I was selfish. I hurt you and Jess. I want to—I want to make it right. You want to win, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to help you win, Lucy. I mean that. Anything you need.”

Lucy leaned her head on his shoulder. “I’m still working on forgiving you.”

“I know. I know it’ll take time.”

“Good.” She paused. “Asshole. I never said that. I should have. You’re an asshole.”

“You’re right. Did that help you feel better?”

I do all to

Fall in love with a girl like you.

Lucy smiled. “Yeah. It did.”

You and me gonna touch the sky.

Rufus grabbed Jiya and literally lifted her up so that her hands were on his shoulders and her legs were up in the air, and then set her back down. Wyatt sighed. “We’re still screwed.”

Lucy nodded. “Yeah. Probably.”

Mambo number five!

Wyatt and Lucy flipped Rufus and Jiya off as they did their bows. Rufus and Jiya just waved back and laughed.

Chapter Text

Lucy stretched, her fingers wrapping around the ends of her toes. Amy had never been able to touch her toes no matter how much stretching she did, something she and Mom had argued over for years until finally Lucy produced several studies that showed that some people simply couldn’t manage it, and that got Mom off Amy’s back. About the stretching, at least.

“Lucy?”

“Hmm?” She glanced up to look at Flynn, who was putting up sticky notes on the mirror with stick figures drawn on them. That was how Flynn choreographed. Lucy always wrote in a journal, like Mom.

“What would you say if I had a… an odd idea for today?”

“You tend to have odd ideas in general,” Lucy quipped.

The corner of Flynn’s mouth flickered up in a brief smile. Lucy’s heart flipped.

“Mason suggested something and I think he had a point. He said that he and Rufus and Jiya all know what they are to each other. But that you, and Wyatt, and I don’t know what we are to each other. He suggested we… dance together to figure it out.”

“Dance as relationship therapy?” Lucy winced as she said the words. That made it sound like she and Flynn and Wyatt were in a relationship.

“If you’d like to call it that.” Flynn paused. “I’ve never been… good with words. Lorena and I were dance partners for over a year before I got up the courage to ask her out. Wyatt doesn’t seem all the good with words either. Sometimes I think the only time I get through to that guy is when we’re dancing. So perhaps it’s worth it that we all just… dance is the one language we all speak. The one thing we’re all fluent in. We’ve had a lot of frustrations along the way, so why don’t we give this a shot?”

“I feel like my frustrations are more with… with myself than with Wyatt,” Lucy admitted. “I… I want to win, Garcia I want to win. I want to prove to my mom that I’m fine without her, that I’m my own person, I—my whole life I’ve felt like I should follow in my mother’s footsteps but I’m not sure if that’s what I really want, if that’s what’s really right, and I love dance and I just want to be my own person and I’m realizing I don’t know who that person is.”

Flynn walked over and sat across from her, getting into the butterfly position. Lucy moved her legs to do the same. “My parents were amazing dancers. Two of the best. And I always loved dance. But I struggled as a teenager trying to figure out if this was what I really wanted, or if I just wanted this because I thought it was expected. Things got… tough, at times. Especially after my father died and I enlisted in the war. Lied about my age. My mother was… far from happy about it. I know what it’s like, to know not who you are. And it might take some time. And you might have made some mistakes along the way trying to figure it out. But you’re talented and hardworking and a genius, Lucy, nobody knows technique like you do. I haven’t seen anyone do spins like you do. It’s okay if this is what you want. It’s not being complacent or doing what your mother wanted. So you’re getting something good out of the stuff she pushed on you. I think that’s… it’s lemonade out of lemons. Screw how you got here. You get to make it your own, now. I think you know who you are. And you’re scared to be that person. And you shouldn’t be, because that person is amazing just the way she is.”

Lucy felt her face heating up and she ducked her head down. “And here you just said you’re not good with words.”

Flynn chuckled.

“It’s funny,” she admitted, “but somehow, you’re the easiest person to talk to.”

Flynn shrugged. “Well, it takes a genius to know a genius…”

“Oh, very funny.”

He smiled at her, smiled in a soft way that she never would have expected from him when she’d first met him, that brooding man in the bar who was just as much ready to fight as dance. Flynn had a smile like sunshine. “So, what do you say, should we give Mason’s idea a whirl?”

Lucy nodded. “On one condition.”

“Name it.”

“I get to pick the song.”

Flynn rolled his eyes, but he looked fond while he did it. “Why do I have the feeling I’m going to regret this?”

“Because you know me?”

She didn’t think about the call back to their conversation at the swing bar, not until she saw the soft look in Flynn’s eyes and hope, like a determined moth, began to flutter towards the light of her heart once again. “Maybe,” Flynn said, his voice a low, welcoming rumble.

Lucy smiled.

 


 

Flynn nodded at Wyatt as the other man entered the dance studio. Wyatt had been avoiding him since The Lifeboat, and Flynn didn’t blame him. He’d crossed a line with Wyatt during their dance. It was a line that he and Lucy were dancing over, one that Flynn was starting to feel almost certain he could cross, but with Wyatt…

Wyatt hadn’t said much about it, but Flynn knew that just like with other occupations that society had deemed ‘naturally feminine’, there was a lot of stereotyping. A lot of saying that to do something like ballroom dance, especially with all the flair involved at the professional, competitive level, the men had to be gay. Or at least fall somewhere under the umbrella of queer. Wyatt had probably endured a lot of that. He basically screamed don’t talk to me about my sexuality.

And Flynn had as good as mauled him when they’d been dancing. He’d had his hands all over Wyatt and sure, part of it could be excused with the dance itself but not all of it. He’d wanted his hands on Wyatt, wanted to give into that heady pull that he got whenever Wyatt stopped being a brat and let himself be soft and pliant, let Lucy or Flynn take charge and actually listened to them.

God, the way that Wyatt had gotten—his face had been open and relaxed, his eyes shining. He’d been so happy, and Flynn… Flynn had started off being annoyed as fuck with Wyatt Logan but now he found that Wyatt wasn’t a bad person. Just a desperately unhappy person. And he found… he wanted Wyatt to be happy.

For a second, there, he’d thought that perhaps Wyatt… but then at the end, when he’d almost kissed him—right in front of everyone like a complete idiot—Wyatt had gotten this look of panic on his face and Flynn had realized what he was doing.

Ever since then, Wyatt had kept his distance. Flynn tried to do the same. Tried to be respectful.

“What are we doing today?” Wyatt asked, setting his bag down and going into his stretches. That was the one thing about Wyatt that Flynn could never fault—he did care about dance, and he always did his stretches and warm-ups properly.

“Mason had an idea and I agree it could be a good one,” Flynn said. “We’re going to dance, all three of us.”

Wyatt’s face went pink. Flynn’s stomach knotted.

“What sort of dance?” Wyatt asked, trying to sound casual and failing. Wyatt’s emotions were painted across his face in bright, bold colors.

“Foxtrot,” Flynn announced.

Lucy groaned. “Flynn. That is possibly the hardest dance to do as a threesome.”

Flynn felt his face heat up a little at her choice of words, but he ignored that. “Exactly. We need to start to work together as a unit. What better way than this?”

“If we’re doing a foxtrot,” Lucy announced, getting up and walking over to the speaker, “then I get to pick the song.”

Flynn gestured at her, bowing slightly. “By all means.”

Lucy scrolled through her phone, her face completely serious, and then selected a song.

The heavy guitar thrum started and Flynn closed his eyes, shaking his head slowly. When he opened them, Lucy was smirking like she’d been holding that expression back before.

“Really,” Wyatt said.

“He said I could pick the song.” Lucy started to walk across the floor, or rather sashay, swinging her hips and snapping along with the beat, starting to do the steps on her own, sans partner.

Well I had me a boy, turned him into a man,

I showed him all the things that he didn’t understand,

Whoa… and then I let him go.

Lucy grabbed Wyatt’s hands and put them on her from behind.

Now there’s one in California who’s been cursing my name,

‘Cause I found me a better lover in the U.K.,

Hey,

‘Til I made my getaway.

Lucy crooked her finger at Flynn, and he really could never have resisted her when she did that. Even if he’d wanted to. But he’d meant it when he’d said to her that if she led, he’d follow. Wherever that lead might take him.

Flynn ignored Wyatt’s bright pink cheeks and how his eyes were steadily gazing at the ground, and instead put his hands on Lucy, taking up the lead position so that she was now in the middle.

One, two, three, they gonna run back to me,

‘Cause I’m the best baby that they never got to keep.

One, two, three, they gonna run back to me.

They always wanna come, but they never wanna leave.

Flynn took a deep breath, and started to move, his heart hammering the whole time over the stupid, pointed lyrics.

Exes, and the oh, oh, ohs, they haunt me,

Like gho-o-osts they want me,

To make ‘em oh, oh, oh,

They won’t let go!

Exes and ohs!

He didn’t know if Lucy was just being funny, or cute, or if she was trying to make a point here. And if she was, was the point to him or to Wyatt or to both of them? He didn’t know, and he could admit that he was a brave man in many ways but not when it came to love. He was a coward, or at the very least a fool. He had never known how to say what was in his heart.

There were a fuckton of turns in foxtrot, which was why it was so damn difficult with three people. But he’d chosen that for a reason. They weren’t going to get anywhere by being easy on themselves. They needed to be the best to help Lucy succeed. They nearly tripped a few times, and Flynn kept them to more simple moves as a result, and he wasn’t going to get after Wyatt for his shoulders and posture not being perfect. This was about the three of them moving together, and listening to each other without speaking.

I had a summer lover down in New Orleans,

Kept him warm in the winter, left him frozen in the spring,

My, my!

How the seasons go by!

Having his fingers overlapping with Wyatt’s, having Lucy’s body warm and right up against his, was definitely not helping with his concentration.

I get high and I love to get low,

So the hearts keep breaking and the heads just roll,

You know,

That’s how the story goes.

The look on Lucy’s face during ‘I love to get low’ assured Flynn that she was definitely thinking about the double entendre in there and enjoying it. Flynn made himself look up and forward and focus on the steps. This was about concentrating on the steps. On his partners. Learning to work and move together, figuring out their shit so that somehow, they could win this without killing each other.

Wyatt nearly tripped on a turn and Lucy laughed, turning it into a spin for herself, hoisting the clasped hands of the men up and twirling underneath, completely breaking the foxtrot and making Flynn stumble back a little.

Lucy just smirked and took their hands back down, putting them on her hips, moving her feet like a salsa, making her hips move up and down. Flynn swallowed and gave her a deadpan look to get over the feeling of her hips underneath his hands, his fingers tangled with Wyatt’s. “This isn’t the foxtrot, Lucy.”

“My mistake,” Lucy replied, grinning up at him.

It was things like this that made him wonder if she would be… open to him admitting how he felt about her. If he told her I love you… would she welcome it? Or would she politely, kindly, step back, and step away?

One, two, three, they gonna run back to me,

Climbing over mountains and a-sailin’ over seas.

One, two, three, they gonna run back to me.

They always wanna come but they never wanna leave!

Flynn pulled Lucy, and therefore Wyatt, back into the foxtrot. He had to adjust Wyatt’s hands to do it and Wyatt glanced up at Flynn through his lashes for a second before looking away again, and Flynn’s heart felt like it did an entire tap dance in that moment.

As a choreographer, it wasn’t just his job to see what a dancer could do in that moment. It was his job to see the ‘what if’, to see what else they might be capable of if they pushed themselves a little. He looked at Wyatt, and he saw so much of what Wyatt could be, and he wanted—fuck, it was stupid, but he wanted to help Wyatt get there. He was sure that he could help get him there, if only Wyatt would let him—

The song ended with the fierce guitar, and Flynn stopped moving. Lucy, concentrating on getting her turns right, bumped into him, and Wyatt’s grip tightened on them both to keep from stepping on Lucy’s heels.

They all stood there, staring at each other, silence louder than the music had been.

“Did that teach you anything?” Wyatt asked, sounding tense, irritable, scared.

Lucy didn’t look at Wyatt. Instead she cocked her head at Flynn. “You know what I think?”

“I have the feeling that I’m not going to like what it is you’re thinking.”

“I think you should get back out on the dance floor.” Lucy still had her hand on his shoulder. “I don’t think that just one dance is good enough for you, Flynn. Or for us to figure out… what was it you said? What we are to each other.”

“What are you saying.” She still wasn’t moving away.

“There’s an exhibition coming up, before the next competition. We should perform at it. The three of us. Do a comeback, Flynn. Make it official that you’re back.” Lucy’s face faltered, her confident mask slipping. She was trying so hard to be a leader but she was still unsure underneath, and every time he saw evidence of that, Flynn wanted to strangle Carol Preston all over again. “If you want to, that is.”

Flynn made himself step away. He needed to think, and he couldn’t do that if he had—if he was—with Lucy and Wyatt touching him. It was bad enough with them looking at him like that.

He’d loved to dance, Michelle had said. It wasn’t his fault, he was allowed to be happy.

God, he had so loved to dance. Not just in the studio or in a club, although he did love that. Whatever he lacked in words he could make up for when he had someone he cared about in his arms and he had a beat to dance to, to move them to, he could say everything with that. He could communicate with a crowd that way. He would never be a public speaker but he had no fear in front of a crowd if there was music.

He missed doing dance in front of a crowd. For a competition, or exhibition, all eyes on him. He’d grown up with it. Call him a drama queen all you wanted but it was in his blood.

“Flynn?” Lucy asked. Wyatt was staring at him now too.

“I’ll… did you have something in mind?”

Lucy folded her arms, looking even more self-conscious now. “I… I had a dance that I always… um, a few years ago, I started… Amy liked it. But I never… it’s just some ideas.”

Flynn walked back over to her. “I told you. If you want to lead, I’ll follow. You want to choreograph something for the exhibition? Do it. You’d be good, Lucy. We could do it together, if you wanted. We could be a great team.”

Lucy turned and looked at Wyatt. “You good with that?”

Wyatt looked startled that he’d been called on. “Flynn had it right. I’m… I like following. You want to do a dance, sure, let’s do a dance. Yeah.” He nodded. “Yeah, let’s get, um, let’s get Flynn back on the floor. If he—” He looked at Flynn. “If you want.”

Did he want?

“Okay,” he told Lucy. “Go ahead. Let’s do this.”

He did. He wanted to dance, he wanted—he still wasn’t sure if he deserved, but he wanted.

And that was all he had to go on, really. That, and Lucy’s smile when he gave his answers.

Chapter Text

Jess craned her head around, looking to see if Amy was back. They’d gotten here early to get good seats and now one of them always had to stay there so that nobody would take them. Jess wasn’t taking any chances on being in the back of the crowd for this.

She spotted Amy and waved so that Amy wouldn’t miss her, even though Amy had already been sitting up here before she’d had to go to the bathroom and knew where Jess was.

“What’s so funny?” Jess asked as Amy walked up, a huge smile on her face.

“Nothing.” Amy sat down next to her.

“You have that grin on your face.”

“What grin?”

“The one you get when… that grin, you know, the big one.” The one that made Amy’s entire face light up and made Jess melt inside.

Amy and Wyatt would both hate the comparison, but Jess saw similarities in them. The softness in Wyatt that she’d loved, that had kept her staying for far too long in the hopes that he’d finally let it show instead of trying to hide it beneath bravado—she saw that in Amy, too. And Amy, like Wyatt, hid it beneath quips and a façade, except Amy was more lighthearted about it and willing to drop it around the right people. Unlike Wyatt, who still clung to his mask with the grip of someone trying not to drown.

“I’m just happy to see you.” Amy blushed a little, shrugging. “I like seeing your face. Go figure.”

Jess leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. “You’re very sweet underneath all those sex jokes, did you know that?”

“Don’t go spreading it around,” Amy replied, her eyes dancing. “I have a reputation to maintain.”

“I don’t kiss and tell.”

Speaking of which… she wondered how Wyatt was doing. He’d admitted that he wanted to… well, that he had a crush on Flynn. And that he’d let it slip to Lucy, as if Jess hadn’t been right there and witnessed that particular moment of insanity. But he hadn’t said anything lately. And according to Amy, who had it from Lucy, Wyatt and Flynn hadn’t been talking to each other since that night in Mason’s club. Had something happened? Jess didn’t know if Flynn felt the same way about Wyatt or if Flynn was even into men—but she also couldn’t see Wyatt making a move. No offense to her ex-husband but Wyatt had made exactly one move in their entire relationship and that had been proposing to her (and even then he’d opened the ring box upside down, the dork). She’d asked him out, and she’d initiated a lot of the rest, too. She couldn’t see him kissing Flynn or confessing his feelings or any of the rest.

So what had happened?

“Lucy’s super nervous for this,” Amy whispered as the exhibition started and a couple came out. “I remember she had the idea for this dance years ago. I told her to go for it but she never did, and now… I think she wants it to be perfect.”

“That sounds like Lucy.” Jess settled back into her seat and threaded her fingers through Amy’s. Amy squeezed her hand, betraying her own nervousness. Amy was so—so certain of who she was. It made something inside of Jess settle. Like she was more of herself when she was around Amy. But Amy—although she’d be loathe to admit it—was worried for Lucy and wanted her to succeed, and her nerves came out in the way she squeezed Jess’s hand until Jess’s bones ached.

Jess didn’t complain, though. She liked that Amy felt safe doing that with her.

And then it was Lucy’s turn.

Well, Lucy and Wyatt and—and Flynn’s. But it was Lucy’s choreography. Mostly, anyway, Flynn had helped her. Wyatt had told Jess a bit about it. “It’s good, Jess, she’s really good, you should see how they bounce ideas off each other.” He’d sounded so enamored that Jess had rolled her eyes, safe that he couldn’t see her since they’d been talking on the phone.

Jess kept letting Amy squeeze her hand. “It’s going to be good,” she whispered.

“Will Lucy think so, is my worry,” Amy whispered back.

That was when Lucy ran out on stage.

I ain’t got time for you baby,

Either you’re mine, or you’re not.

Make up your mind, sweet baby.

Right here right now’s all we got.

Wyatt followed her, and Lucy let him grab her and twirl her around so that they were starting with east coast swing, until Lucy pushed Wyatt away, dancing back, and then turned to face the audience.

Okay, a jazzy number, Jess wasn’t surprised—and then the beat dropped.

“I… was not expecting that,” Jess admitted.

Amy smirked. “Nobody else here is, either.”

Lucy spun on stage, or rather did pirouettes, showing off her number one skill: spinning until she dropped dead.

Islands, diamonds, trips around the world,

Don’t mean a thing, if I ain’t your girl.

On the last word she came to a dead stop and kicked her leg all the way up—all the way, and the crowd definitely reacted. Lucy’s smirk could be seen from space.

Wyatt was there, but this was definitely a showcase for Lucy, showing off the skills that Carol had never let her, slipping from swing (Lucy’s favorite, Amy had once told her) into modern dance and back again—until another person came onto the stage and immediately, the whispers started.

Amy’s grip on Jess’s hand tightened, which Jess hadn’t thought was possible and now made her wonder if Amy was actually succeeding in rearranging the bones in Jess’s hand.

Flynn obviously introduced himself as a new potential partner to Lucy, being very suave about it—Flynn had always been suave in his dancing, Jess recalled, something that had annoyed Wyatt to no end (no prizes for guessing why, now), which was why she’d been so surprised upon meeting him to find him the king of putting his foot in his mouth—and Flynn whirled Lucy across the floor, obviously playing the part of the new guy trying to impress her.

A little party never killed nobody,

So we gon’ dance until we drop.

A little party never killed nobody,

Right here right now’s all we got.

They began to execute various arm loops, pulling Lucy over and under Flynn’s arms, spinning her, twisting around like a pretzel, and Jess was getting dizzy just watching them—as the song built up into a frenzy and then Lucy spun and Flynn—oh holy shit.

The height difference definitely had to help as Flynn lifted Lucy up above his head and held her there, her hands braced on his shoulders, legs up and back arched, before he threw her, just the tiniest bit, catching her on the arm and swinging her down between his legs like Wyatt had in their last competition, swinging her up and shifting his arms again, letting go of her with one arm and using it to wrap around her waist, catching her as he let go of her with the other, causing Lucy to fall into a dip.

Goddamn, proclaimed the song, and fuck, yeah, goddamn indeed.

The crowd, which had been building up with whispers of, “is that Flynn? Garcia Flynn?” lost its mind and went wild.

Flynn lifted Lucy back up and she slid out into the front middle of the stage, Flynn and Wyatt flanking her behind her, imitating her movements as Lucy did the Charleston, the grapevine, shim-shammed, and basically showed off every goddamn vintage dance move she’d obviously been storing up in her head for ages.

“I think Flynn helped her with some of these, they’re both dance history geeks,” Amy whispered. “Wyatt had no idea what most of these were.”

Glad that you made it, look around,

You don’t see one person sittin’ down.

They got drinks in their hands and the room’s a bust,

At the end of the night maybe you’ll find love.

Fake chit chat ‘bout the things they got

And my stout reputation keeping it hot

At the party of the year and my master plan

Is to make you realize I’m your man.

Lucy stepped and turned, falling, and Wyatt moved forward to catch her, then propel her up to her feet so that she spun and turned again, this time falling into Flynn, each fall in perfect time with the words “live” and “moonlight” in the song.

As Flynn pushed Lucy back up to her feet, she faced the audience again, pouting, sauntering forward, hands on her hips.

Hotsy-totsy, paparazzi, hold it while I take this flick.

Several camera shutter noises went off, and Lucy managed to perfectly shift pose for every single one of them, like each one was a different camera she was posing for. Her hand went up to her chin and she smiled—her hands moved to press her palms flat against her cheeks and her mouth dropped open as if in surprise—her hands moved down to cover her heart and she gave an exaggerated wink—one hand shot up to cover her mouth in a ‘shh’ pose.

Speakeasy, rockin’ the feathers, I’m breezy.

Hope you can keep up, boys, ‘cause believe me, I’m the bee’s knees.

And then Lucy braced herself and spun.

Pirouette, pirouette, pirouette, tucking her leg under and then kicking it back out again to maintain her momentum. This was Lucy’s secret weapon.

It don’t mean a thing if I

Give you my heart,

If you

Tear it apart, no, uh, uh, uh, oh.

It don’t mean a thing if I

Ain’t in your eyes,

Papa that,

Ain’t gonna fly, no, uh, uh, uh, oh.

Lucy’s leg hit the floor and she used it to propel herself to the side, starting off into a triple step, letting Wyatt grab her again and then pushing off him, pushing off Flynn, neither of them, according to the dance, good enough for her, until the music spun and spun and came to a pause, a breath.

“Oh she’s gonna do it,” Amy hissed.

“Do what?”

“The thing from the club!”

Lucy was currently with Wyatt, across the stage from Flynn.

Just one night all we got

Just one night all we got

Lucy ran for Flynn and jumped.

What do you think?

Are you ready?

Flynn didn’t do what he’d done at the club. He didn’t flip her.

He threw her.

Flynn tossed Lucy up in a move that Jess recognized because she’d done cheerleading in high school, something Wyatt had known a lot about because he’d helped her—and the grin on Wyatt’s face when she looked at him confirmed it. He’d taught Flynn this move.

Lucy was caught neatly in Flynn’s arms and flipped over them in a somersault that had her landing on her feet right as the music started back up again, and without a pause she hit the rock step and moved back into east coast swing smooth as anything.

The crowd, understandably, went nuts.

“I’m gonna kill that little shit,” Jess said, as the audience started applauding and Flynn passed Lucy off to Wyatt one last time and Wyatt dipped her so that she was facing the audience right on the final line of the song.

Lucy blew the audience a kiss.

Wyatt hauled her back up, and they took their bows before moving off stage.

“My baby, my sweetheart,” Jess said, “mind letting go of my hand before I permanently lose circulation and you have to cut it off?”

Amy relaxed her hold. “Sorry,” she said, sheepish and blushing.

Jess kissed her again. “You’re adorable. Now let’s go find them and hug them because holy shit. Talk about choreography, Lucy’s got a future in that.”

“And a comeback for Flynn,” Amy added. “Wait, why are you going to kill Wyatt?”

Jess laughed. “He’ll kill me for telling you this, but I was a cheerleader in high school and I made Wyatt practice tossing me since I helped him practice his dancing. He taught Flynn and Lucy that catch.”

Amy laughed, which was the best sound in the world, if you asked Jess.

 


 

“What did you think?” Flynn asked, chest heaving as he walked up to Michelle and Denise.

“Hold on, first off,” Lucy said, pointing, “you two are married to each other?”

“Yes?” Denise said, like she hadn’t actively worked to keep people from finding this out.

Lucy then pointed at Flynn, which, hang on, that wasn’t very fair of her. “I did not tell her, by the way,” he said quickly. He’d just… let something slip that led to Lucy figuring it out on her own. That was all.

“How come I had to interrogate this tower of trash here who, by the way, can’t keep a secret to save his life, he’s annoyingly honest—”

“I’d like to know when this became a roast?” Flynn interjected.

“I don’t know when but I’m on board,” Wyatt said.

“You two have kids!” Lucy’s voice was starting to reach the point of no return where only dogs could hear it.

“Yes, we have children,” Denise said calmly. “Your dance was quite good, Lucy, I hear you choreographed most of it. Congratulations.”

“Don’t change the subject—” Lucy halted. “You liked it?”

“Subject successfully changed,” Wyatt noted.

Flynn stepped on Wyatt’s foot. Wyatt elbowed him.

“I did,” Denise confirmed as Michelle gave them a warm smile and a thumbs up. “But you know that wasn’t exactly ballroom, and you weren’t dancing as a pair or a threesome, really. It was a brilliant showcase but you’re still going to have some work ahead of you.”

“I know,” Wyatt cut in, because Lucy looked crestfallen. Flynn put his hand between her shoulder blades, hoping she could feel his support. “We need to be perfect in the third competition to gain enough points after we were only so-so in the first, got it. We know how this works.”

Each dance that they did they got a certain number of points from the judges. The couple with the highest number of points after the three dances won.

Denise softened a little. “Don’t think that I’m not rooting for you, but if you want my opinion then you’re going to get it and it’s going to be honest. You did well. But I know that’s not what you’re asking me.” She was looking right at Lucy. “You’re asking me if you’re doing work that will get you first place. And I’m telling you that you just did amazing individual work, but it was individual work. As a pair, you two still need to work on things, and I think you two know what those things are.”

Michelle gave an apologetic smile. “Mark and Olivia—those are our kids—they’re doing the next dance, so we need to go take our seats. We’ll see you all later.”

Lucy nodded, giving a small, tight smile. Flynn knew that smile. It was the one that Lucy gave when she was swallowing down her own feelings because of someone else. Lucy did that a lot. “Of course, I hope they each break a leg!”

Wyatt looked at Flynn. “Lucy,” he said, while still looking at Flynn. “Do you… that was really good. You shouldn’t forget that.”

Flynn nodded. “That was your first time choreographing something. And I know I… I couldn’t have picked a better dance to do to remind people I exist.”

Lucy snorted, but a real smile was on her face now. Even if her eyes were a bit wet. “Yeah, I… I don’t know. I was hoping I could show…”

“You showed the world some amazing things that you’re capable of,” Flynn cut her off before she could delve down into that hole. “Wyatt why don’t you—” He saw Amy and Jess coming towards them and knew this wouldn’t be a good moment. “Why don’t you take Lucy outside, get some fresh air, and come back in ten minutes?”

Wyatt put his arm around Lucy and guided her around, shooting Flynn a look that Flynn couldn’t quite decipher. Then he turned to face Amy and Jess. He’d handle them, and Lucy would calm down, and see that this was still a big step forward. It would be fine. Or so he told himself.

 


 

Lucy knew that Denise’s words didn’t erase how well they’d done—or at least she knew it on an intellectual level—but she still felt kind of, well, she felt kind of like shit. Mostly because she knew Denise was right.

“I just feel like we’re running into a wall, constantly, and no matter what area of the wall we run into, there’s no door or window, it’s still just a damn wall.”

Wyatt nodded. They were sitting on the front steps of the building, and Lucy was resting her head on his shoulder. Wyatt had been quiet lately. She liked it, in a way. He seemed to be thinking a lot more before he spoke and not constantly thinking about how he was being inconvenienced. But she also didn’t like it because she suspected it wasn’t just because of any growing maturity, but because Wyatt was scared.

Lucy sat there as long as she felt that she could. She didn’t want to go in, but she knew that it was… selfish of her, petty even, not to return. She’d done a good job, and she needed to see the other people performing. It was just the feeling of… good but not good enough that kept haunting her.

All right, she was being honest, she could admit that she had wanted Michelle and Denise to tell her—especially Denise—that the dance had been perfect and if they danced like that at the next competition, they’d be golden. That had been what she’d wanted. And it hadn’t happened, and it was hard for her to see the good when it felt like every method she tried wasn’t quite enough.

“How long has it been?” she asked, idly wondering if she’d crossed the line into self-pity and if so how long Wyatt was going to put up with it.

Wyatt checked his phone. “Eight minutes. Do you want to go back in?”

“No. But we should.” God only knew what Flynn was getting up to on his own. Hopefully he wasn’t getting swamped with people and burning the place down to get himself some peace and quiet.

When she found Flynn, he wasn’t actively committing arson, but he sure looked like he was considering it.

“What’s going on?” Wyatt asked. Flynn was standing with Mason and both of them looked absolutely murderous.

The two men, muttering darkly, nodded towards the dance floor. Lucy realized, belatedly, who was dancing: Nicholas and Emma.

It took her a moment to realize what had Mason and Flynn looking like they were ready to reach for the kerosene. Nicholas and Emma were dancing a quickstep, and doing a good job of it, too. Lucy suspected that Mom had been drilling them on it with a particular obsessiveness.

What’s the matter with the car I’m driving?

Can’t you tell that it’s out of style?

Should I get a set of white wall tires?

Are you gonna cruise the miracle mile?

The lyrics were definitely pointed. A song about how trends might come and go but art was still art and the singer wasn’t going to change their style just to try and keep up and be ‘cool’… Mom might as well have been flipping off her daughters with both hands, although she’d never be so ‘crass’ as to do so literally.

But then Lucy saw that Nicholas and Emma weren’t in proper quickstep position, only linked by one hand, and she realized what was going on and why Flynn and Mason were so pissed.

Mom was having them dance American Smooth style.

American Smooth was a variation on international ballroom dances that could be done with the quickstep, English waltz, international tango, foxtrot, slowfox, or the Viennese waltz. It was… well, it was basically a ‘fuck you’ to European ballroom.

Mom wasn’t just flipping off Lucy and Amy, she was pissing off the two major European ballroom dancers in the game: Flynn and Mason.

Oh, it doesn’t matter what they say in the papers

‘Cause it’s always been the same old scene.

There’s a new band in town

But you can’t get the sound

From the story in a magazine

Aimed at the average teen.

Lucy winced. Yeah. Carol Preston was using this exhibition as a chance to say fuck you to her competition and she wasn’t being all that subtle about it. If this was her mom’s way of saying she could be rebellious too, she was doing it badly.

Nicholas lifted Emma up, and yeah, that was definitely American Smooth. You were allowed two lifts when you did that style. Mason said something under his breath in French that Lucy couldn’t quite catch that made Flynn snort.

“Okay, now maybe I’m thinking it’s your turn to take a walk outside,” Wyatt noted to Flynn.

“I’m fine,” Flynn said.

“No, you’re not,” Lucy replied, walking up closer to him. “You both look like you’ll deck Mom if she gets anywhere near you. Go—go get me a glass of water.”

Flynn raised a challenging eyebrow at her, arms folded, but Lucy stood her ground. She knew her mom and she knew that Carol would never miss a chance to lord this over Mason and Flynn. She needed to derail a fight. “Flynn, please, could you get me a glass of water?”

Flynn looked at her for a moment more. Lucy stared right back at him.

With a sardonic sigh, Flynn stepped back and unfolded his arms. “What do you say, Connor, we go and get a drink?”

“Water only,” Lucy told him.

Flynn saluted her and dragged Mason away.

Wyatt sighed. “I’m going to see where Jess and Amy got to. Hopefully it’s not making out somewhere.”

“If it turns out they’re not making out, I’ll owe you five bucks,” Lucy said.

Wyatt grinned at her and then vanished into the crowd.

What’s the matter with the crowd I’m seeing?

Don’t you know that they’re out of touch?

Should I try and be a straight ‘A’ student?

If you are, then you think too much.

Lucy swallowed, watching Nicholas and Emma. She suddenly felt exposed, even though there were people all around her and she had no idea where Mom was. She still felt like far too much of her could be seen.

Everybody’s talking ‘bout the new sound,

Funny,

But it’s still rock n’ roll to me.

Nicholas and Emma took their bows, and to Lucy’s surprise, they walked over towards her.

“I saw you watching,” Emma Whitmore said. It was the first time that she and Lucy had spoken, Lucy realized. Emma was taller up close.

Nicholas muttered something about going to find Carol, and pushed his way through the crowd. Emma looked Lucy up and down. “I have to say, you’ve given us more of a run for our money than I expected.”

“My mom tends to undersell me.”

“Oh, quite the contrary,” Emma replied. She was the type of girl, Lucy thought, that she would’ve messed around with in high school not just because she was hot in a dangerous kind of way but because it would piss Mom off. “Your mother does nothing but praise you. Princess Preston. But I’d seen videos of your dances last year and… stale doesn’t even begin to cover it.”

Lucy forced a smile onto her face. “Well, at least I’m not feeling so insecure that I’m going out of my way to find my competition and try to intimidate her. Tell me, how does it feel doing Latin dances with a guy who looks like he doesn’t even know what hips are?”

“I don’t know, how does it feel dancing with the most boring dancer since they filmed Riverdance from the waist-up only?” Emma shot back.

Riverdance was a popular dance troupe that toured showcasing traditional Irish dancing. In Irish dancing, at least traditionally, only the legs moved. Waist up was completely still, including arms.

“I wouldn’t know,” Lucy replied, all of her disappointment, frustration, and self-doubt reaching a boiling point. If Emma thought she could just come up and give a few smart remarks and then leave, she had another think coming. “But how about you go and take your notes from Carol like a good girl? You’re still just an amateur, I was born into this, and I’m not going to let someone like you take it from me.”

“Oh, right, you were born into this. You and Flynn both. You think you’re going to do better than someone who crawled their way up from the bottom? You don’t even know what it is to fight for something. I’ve seen your junior ballroom videos, you were basically just handed the title because of your mother and so now you’re stagnating and you don’t know what to do.” Emma looked triumphant. “Because the fact is, you reached a plateau. You won’t get any better than this. It’s all right, it happens to all of us, especially those of us who got everything handed to them and rely on a modicum of natural talent instead of learning what hard work is.”

Lucy really couldn’t have said what came over her in that moment. Doing something like this was much more Wyatt’s thing, not hers.

But the next thing she knew, she was punching Emma Whitmore right in the face.

“Jesus Christ, Lucy!” It was Flynn, but she couldn’t see him. She could only see Emma’s shocked, outraged face, see the way her fingers bent into claws like a tiger, ready to deliver a hit of her own, before Mom—of all the moments—chose to materialize and get in between, holding onto Emma.

“What the hell is this!?” Amy yelled. “What did you do, what did you say—”

Flynn yanked Lucy back with an arm around her waist, spinning her around almost but not quite like a dance, putting himself in between her and Emma, as if daring Emma to try and retaliate. Everything had stopped, everyone was looking, and Lucy wanted to find a hole in the floor to crawl into and die.

“This is unacceptable behavior.” Denise was lecturing, and Lucy couldn’t tell if she was talking to her, or to Emma, or to both of them. “I’m going to have to give you both black cards, you’re out.”

“You can’t—” Amy and Carol both started, and then glared at each other.

“I’ll escort Lucy out,” Flynn said.

“But—” Wyatt started, but Flynn cut him off.

“Stay here.” Lucy saw Flynn put a hand on Wyatt’s arm, and Wyatt’s face went scarlet. “Watch Rufus and Jiya perform, keep Mason from having too much scotch. All right?”

Wyatt nodded.

Flynn offered Lucy his arm and she clung to it, feeling like a kite dancing in a hurricane, unsure when the hurricane had even started, sweeping in on what should’ve been a breezy spring day.

Emma was arguing in a tight, cold voice with Denise while Carol stood by and Nicholas looked flummoxed in the background like he was trying to figure out what had happened. Carol caught sight of Lucy and sighed.

“I’m so disappointed in you, Lucy,” she said quietly.

She looked like she might say more, but Flynn reared up like a wolf with its haunches raised, as Jess found herself with her hands full yanking back both Amy and Wyatt, and Denise had to raise her voice and shout, “Don’t make me kick all of you out, because I will!”

Everyone quieted.

“Figure your personal shit out,” Denise said. “Or I’ll bring the hammer down on all of you so fast, you’ll be seeing stars like you’re cartoon characters.”

Flynn disengaged his arm from Lucy and then wrapped it around her shoulders instead, tucking her into his side. “C’mon,” he murmured.

“Flynn… I can’t…” She wasn’t even sure what she was whispering. She couldn’t leave? She couldn’t keep doing this?

“I’ve got you.” He raised his voice. “I’ll see you all outside.” He nodded at Wyatt.

Flynn began to guide her out, and she let him, let him lead her until they got back outside to where it was cool and dark, and a sob was wrenched out of her, and she couldn’t even say what it was she was crying for.

“I’ve got you,” Flynn repeated, guiding her to sit back down onto the steps. “I’ve got you.”

Lucy didn’t know how to say that him catching her was the only thing she was certain of anymore.

Chapter Text

Flynn frowned when he saw the light on in the dance studio.

He’d been coming here late at night for months now, and never had the light been on before.

He pulled out his phone and texted Wyatt and Amy, separately. You talked to Lucy?

Wyatt texted back at once. Not sure I’d be able to help. I told her to call if she needed anything but I haven’t heard from her. I didn’t want to impose.

Amy texted back a minute later. Left her earlier this afternoon. She’s still quiet.

Flynn pocketed the phone and then took the steps up to the dance studio, two at a time.

Sure enough, when he unlocked the door, Lucy was lying on the floor in the middle, staring up at the ceiling. Like she’d been halfway through a dance and just collapsed. For a wild second he thought she actually had collapsed, and needed help, but then he noted her position and the look on her face and realized she wasn’t in pain, just lying there.

“What are you doing here?” Lucy asked. Her voice was hoarse.

“I come here at night a lot,” Flynn admitted. “Figure out choreography, test things.”

Lucy nodded and didn’t move.

“Amy said she left you earlier today. How long have you been here?”

“A few hours.”

“It’s midnight.”

“I know.”

Lucy stayed on the floor.

Flynn set down his bag, walked over, and lay down on the floor with her. “You had a breakdown, Lucy. It happens. You’ve been putting a lot of pressure on yourself and your mother’s going after you. Nobody’s judging you.”

“A breakdown. Is that what happened.” Lucy sounded bitter. “Maybe it’s all right for some people but… I grew up in this, Flynn. Mom had me and Amy dancing as soon as we could walk. Maybe even before that. What if Emma’s right and I have become… complacent? I’ve plateaued?”

Flynn turned his head to look at her. Lucy was staring up at the ceiling, and she wasn’t crying, but he could see that her eyes were rimmed red. “Emma could be a great dancer. I see the potential. But you don’t see me poaching her from Carol. I had quit dancing, Lucy. I wasn’t going to go back. Even though… even though I wanted to. But then you came. You got me back into this. You were good in that bar, Lucy, you were possibly the best. And I grew up dancing with my mom as my partner in our living room.”

“I’m not better than Maria Tompkins.”

“I think you could be. I think she’d say the same.”

“You would’ve come back eventually, anyway,” Lucy added.

“No. I wouldn’t have.” Flynn paused. “I… I blamed myself, and my love of dance, for the loss of my family.”

Lucy blinked up at the ceiling and went a little stiff in surprise but said nothing.

“We were at an exhibition and we’d already performed, it was over, but people were staying to free dance. I wanted to stay, but Iris was tired and Lorena wanted to go home, so we decided that she would take the car and go home with Iris, and I’d get a ride home with Michelle and Denise later. But when I—an hour later we got the call—I got the call—”

“I heard the news,” Lucy said quietly.

Flynn nodded, his throat tight.

“You know that it’s not your fault,” Lucy said, still quiet. “The man who hit them, he did that.”

“I should have been driving. Should have gone home with my family.”

“And you think you’re selfish, a… a monster of some kind for staying and dancing instead.”

“I’m starting to come to terms with the idea that I’m not,” Flynn admitted. “That I might actually be… allowed to be happy again. That it’s what they would want. If people truly love you, they want you to be happy, even if that means moving on from them.”

“Unlike my mother.” Lucy turned her head, at last, to look at him. “I know what you’re getting at here.”

“You moved on from her. That’s not to say she was bad. It’s all right to move on. Anything else is on her. She’s the one that’s making this into something.”

“But what about the rest?” Lucy whispered. “What if Emma was right and I’m…” She didn’t finish.

Flynn sat up. “I wasn’t going to come out of retirement just for anyone. I don’t think your problem is that you’ve plateaued, Lucy. I think you can still push yourself to new heights. I think it’s that… you’re not seeing the forest for the trees anymore.”

Lucy sat up as well, crossing her legs. Criss cross applesauce, Lorena would say, showing Iris how to do it as their daughter giggled.

“You asked me, or I think it was you… when was the last time I’d danced without thinking about it, doing it just for fun.” She chewed on her bottom lip. “When I danced with you and Wyatt at Mason’s place. And I can’t remember before that. Even when we met—I was thinking about it. Trying to be the best, to prove to you that I was worth taking a chance on.”

“I love dance,” Flynn admitted. “I’m not getting back into this because I want to be the best—I want to be the best version of myself, yes, but before that, comes the love. That needs to be the basis for your dancing, otherwise you’ll just be miserable.”

Lucy drew her knees up and wrapped her arms around them. She was just wearing her workout clothes, her hair pulled back into a bun, no makeup, a contrast to the fancy outfits she wore for competitions—but Flynn still found himself thinking, God, she was beautiful. “I don’t think when I’m dancing with you.”

“Oh.” He wasn’t sure what to say to that. “Would you… like to, then?”

This is dangerous, his heart hissed. Dancing with Lucy Preston late at night, alone, both of them raw. He could do something, say something, that he couldn’t take back. But beyond his own fears there was her. And he’d risk saying or doing something stupid if it meant he’d be helping her.

Lucy rested her head on her knees, tilting it to the side so that she was looking at him. “I feel like I can’t.”

“You said you don’t think with me. What better time? You’re tired, you can’t think the way you normally do. And if I’m not mistaken you’ve been up thinking all day. Unless you’d rather go and drink your problems away like I tried to.”

“Amy’s already gotten rid of all the vodka in my house.”

“A wise woman.”

“Sometimes she is.” Lucy smiled tiredly. “All right. But I pick the dance.”

“Fair enough.”

Lucy got up to her feet. “We… I was hoping we could maybe… um, tango?”

Flynn blinked up at her, watching as she scrolled through her phone for a song. “I… sure.”

“It’s just, you’ve done it twice with Wyatt now and I’m not—you know, I’m not envious or anything, you two seemed to enjoy it, I just wanted to—I don’t even know what I’m saying.”

I danced with Wyatt and nearly made out with him, do you have any idea what I would want to do to you. “I don’t really… tango. Except with Lorena.”

“Then why did you do it with Wyatt?”

“The first time was on him. The second time… It was the most intimate dance I could think of, and I needed him to feel everything so that I could teach him.”

Lucy gave him a piercing look, and Flynn made himself keep looking at her. He didn’t want to hide from her. And given the nature of her question, she probably already knew that he had—in spite of all his best efforts—developed a dangerous soft feeling for Wyatt.

“Are you all right doing it with me, then?” she asked.

More than all right. “If it’s what you want. You can go after what you want, Lucy, you can ask for what you want. It’s all right.”

Lucy snorted but selected a song and set the phone up with the speaker. “The one thing I want is to win first place and the universe seems to have taken that as a personal challenge.”

Flynn heard the music start up and couldn’t hold in a rumble of laughter. He held out his hand. “You’re taking tango literally.”

“It felt like the most appropriate song for the dance.”

Will drive you…

Will drive you…

Will drive you…

Mad!

Yeah. Appropriate. Definitely. If only she knew.

 


 

Lucy knew she was dangerously toeing the strange line between them, the line she wasn’t quite sure what to call, but she felt dangerous right now. She’d been trying to practice in the studio for hours and had eventually just given up, lying there and wondering if she should throw in the towel, give up and become a dance teacher somewhere.

How had she earned Flynn’s trust enough for him to tell her that story? To open up to her like that? And how had he known that it was the right thing to say?

Lucy took Flynn’s offered hand and let him pull her in, right up against each other, his leg pressing up in between hers and vice versa. Thank God she’d worn close-toed shoes, she had the one moment to think, and then Flynn was twisting his hips, using the movement to guide her into a turn and then a promenade.

Roxanne

You don’t have to put on that red light.

Walk the streets for money,

You don’t care if it’s wrong or if it’s right.

Tango relied not so much on the lead’s hands to guide as it did on the lead’s hips, and with the position of the legs in between one another… there was a reason that Lucy had gotten hot under the collar watching Flynn and Wyatt tango together. And now… now, Flynn wasn’t looking ahead the way he should have, would have if this were a competition. He was staring right down at her, and Lucy couldn’t help but wonder how easy it would be to slide her hand up from his shoulder to the back of his neck.

He had said, if she wanted to lead, he would follow. Would that include in this? Was he just waiting for her to be the one to make a move? Or was she reading this all wrong?

His eyes upon your face,

His hand upon your hand,

His lips caress your skin.

In the song, of course, Christian was singing about and to his girlfriend, but right now the lyrics sounded to Lucy a hell of a lot more like someone speaking to her about Flynn.

“You’re good at this,” Lucy noted, and then felt stupid for saying it. Obviously he was good at it.

Flynn moved them into a reverse promenade, and then executed a few turns, knowing that she loved to do those. Their arms should have been extended, but instead Flynn was holding her hand close to their chests, elbows loose, and Lucy’s mind was spinning wildly with the number of things she wanted to do, wanted to have happen.

You’re free to leave me,

But just don’t deceive me,

And please believe me,

When I say, I love you.

It was really only Flynn’s leading that was keeping her going. She had no idea what steps she was doing. She could’ve been numb from the waist down and she wouldn’t have known it. It was like when she’d danced with Wyatt, “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs,” only more, she didn’t have a message she was trying to send like she had then, she was just caught up in what she felt.

Roxanne

You don’t have to put on that red light (why does my heart cry?)

Roxanne

You don’t have to wear that dress tonight (feelings I can’t fight)

Flynn turned her around, around, around, making a whirlwind of them, and Lucy felt like something was cracking open and breaking free, not a sob but something just as deep, and as Flynn slowed them down, their bodies pressed together, nearly every inch of them, she thought about how little she would’ve had to do to make it dirty—

They paused, the music still swirling around them, and he was still looking at her, what was she supposed to do with him looking at her like she was the only thing that existed?

Roxanne…

Lucy got up onto her tiptoes and at last slid her hand up from his shoulder to the back of his neck, and found that sealing their mouths together was easier than she had expected.

She didn’t know if the music stopped or carried on. She didn’t know anything about anything that wasn’t related to Flynn. He kissed differently than how she’d thought. At first she’d thought he’d kiss like a wildfire, and then she’d thought he’d kiss like a waltz, but instead he kissed like he danced—firm and gentle and a little unexpected—and Lucy thought she shouldn’t have been surprised.

Her fingers slid up from the back of his neck to his hair, fingering the soft strands, her other hand still caught up in his, fingers now interlocking. Flynn sucked on her tongue and Lucy made an involuntary noise, arching up, and it wasn’t quite grinding against his leg but it was close enough, and she tightened her hold on him for a moment—and then reality set in like a bucket of cold water and Lucy stumbled, no, shoved, no, both, somehow, got distance between them.

She raised her fingers to her lips like she was starring in some kind of period drama. “I’m sorry.” He had just talked about his family, about how he was barely figuring out how to move on, and she shouldn’t—and what about Wyatt, she’d seen the two of them dancing together, the heat between them hot enough to start an inferno—

Flynn looked like he was still trying to figure out which way was up.

“I’m sorry,” she repeated. She grabbed her bag. “I’m…”

Flynn seemed to finally get his bearings back. “Lucy—”

“I’ll, um, let you know about practice and the next competition and—yeah.” She fled out the door, Flynn looking gob smacked the entire time.

 


 

When Wyatt’s phone went off around one in the morning, he figured it was Jess with something random. He pawed for it, not even lifting his head up from the pillow. “Hello?”

“Wyatt?” It was Lucy, and she sounded wrecked. “Can I come in?”

“Lucy!?” He shot up out of bed and rushed to the front door, only realizing after he’d opened it that he was just in his boxers.

Lucy stared at him. “You sure know how to let out the welcome wagon.”

“I was asleep, Preston, what do you want from me.”

“Alcohol.” Lucy shoved past him with her shoulder, paused, turned back, patted his chest, then nodded and proceeded into his kitchen.

“…did you just feel me up!?”

“Do you still only drink that shitty beer you just pretend to like?” Lucy asked, going through his fridge and his cupboards.

“Hang on.” Wyatt closed his front door. “What are you doing here?”

“I kissed Flynn,” Lucy said, her head in the fridge.

Wyatt rubbed at his eyes. “I’m sorry, did you just say…”

“I kissed Flynn.” Lucy stood up and closed the fridge, then turned to look at him. “I… we had a talk, and we were dancing, and I kissed him. Right after he—I’m such an idiot. And I figured—why do I do this? I almost did it with you, and now—”

“Okay.” Wyatt walked over and took her by the shoulders, guiding her down to sit on his couch. “Let’s slow it down. You kissed Flynn?”

Lucy nodded.

“Did you want to? You said you—you want him, Lucy, how is that a bad thing?”

“He’s still grieving,” Lucy whispered. “He only just got back into dance.”

“Lucy…” Wyatt rubbed at his face. “Flynn is—I don’t think I’m going too out on a limb here to say that Flynn wanted you to kiss him.”

Lucy blinked rapidly, but couldn’t prevent tears from falling.

Wyatt rubbed her back. “Lucy. What do you want? What are you fighting for?”

“I don’t know, I don’t know, it’s all such a mess.” She looked at him. “What did you do when you left? And went back to Jess? How did you figure it out?”

Wyatt swallowed. “I—I had to find out what I was fighting for. If you find that out, then you can start to get it.” He took her hands. “What do you want. What are you fighting for?”

Lucy looked down at their hands. “I want—I want to be someone outside of my mother’s shadow. And I want…”

She looked up at him, and Wyatt’s breath caught. It was the same look she’d had on her face, soft and devastating, that last night when they’d nearly kissed.

“I want you and Flynn,” Lucy whispered. Her hands came up to hold his face, her thumbs stroking his cheeks. Just like last time, Wyatt thought, a bit deliriously. Only this time he wasn’t married, and this time there was a third person he wanted as well.

“I want you both, I want the way you look at him when you’re dancing.” Lucy’s words came out in a hushed rush. “I want the way that he adjusts your body when you’re holding me, I want the way you get when you let me lead, and the way he smiles, I want…” Lucy made a noise of impatience and then leaned in and kissed him.

Wyatt felt like a puzzle piece falling into place.

Lucy pulled back, smiling softly, her thumbs still stroking his face. “Is that okay, if I want that?”

Wyatt nodded. “Except… Flynn doesn’t—Flynn only just stopped hating me.”

“Mmm.” Lucy bumped his nose with hers. “I’m going to go home. Even though you are very pretty like this and I am very tempted.” She glanced down his body and Wyatt could feel his blush spreading all the way down to his chest. “You should double check what you think Flynn’s feelings are towards you.”

Lucy stood up and took a deep breath. “I’m going to be my own person. That sounds good. Right?”

“Fuck your mom,” Wyatt said, and he meant every word. “You’re good enough just as you are, babydoll.”

It was an old joke, back from when they’d done a Bonnie and Clyde style jive as one of their first dance as a couple. He hadn’t dared to say it until now, worried he’d be crossing a line and putting them right back the start, but now…

Lucy smiled, and Wyatt thought that she finally might be okay.

As for him and Flynn… he had no idea.

Chapter Text

Jess rapped on Lucy’s front door. “Shave and a haircut!”

Lucy opened it with a sigh.

“You didn’t say two bits,” Jess noted, sweeping inside.

“What’s going on?”

Jess plopped down on Lucy’s couch. “Amy’s got a big DJ gig tonight. She’s debuting a few mash-ups she’s done. She’s nervous.”

“…and I should be there,” Lucy finished.

Jess nodded. “I’m working on convincing Wyatt to come as well. Should I get Jiya or Rufus to convince Flynn?”

“Jess…”

“This silence has to end at some point, Lucy, you can’t keep just all texting each other possible choreography.” Jess raised an eyebrow, watching as Lucy paced. “You all three come to the club tonight, support Amy, and fuck in one of the bathroom stalls. Everyone wins!”

Lucy looked like she was going bug-eyed. “I’m not fucking Wyatt and Flynn in a bathroom stall!”

“Not for your first time, anyway,” Jess replied.

“Just because you and Amy—”

“Excuse me.” Jess held up a hand. “I bought her dinner first.”

“You ate her out in the restaurant bathroom.”

“After I’d paid the check!”

“You’re incorrigible.”

“Amy likes me that way.” Jess winked at her and then leaned forward, elbows on her knees. “Seriously, Lucy. Come to the show tonight, I’ll get Wyatt there, Rufus and Jiya will get Flynn there. You three are so close to being on the same page, you just need to stop playing this game of chicken.”

Lucy leaned back against the wall, arms folded. “I—okay. Okay. I will. I… we’ll see how it goes, I suppose.”

Jess smiled. At last. “Good.” Amy had wanted to be the one to come, but Jess had suspected that after growing up with her, Lucy had gotten a bit too good at tuning her sister out. Maybe now they would get somewhere with these three idiots, each of whom seemed to think it was the job of the other two to make the first official move.

Well. Tonight, they’d find out for certain.

 


 

Flynn grimaced at the loud, deafening bass that thrummed through the building and into the floor, making their bodies vibrate. “What part of ‘this really isn’t my scene’ did you not understand?” he asked.

“Buddy, I doubt this was your scene even when you were twenty,” Rufus shot back, standing beside him as they inched their way towards the dance floor so they could get a better look at Amy up in the DJ booth.

Flynn was glad to be here supporting her, although he wasn’t sure how Amy could even tell they were here given the packed crowd and the crazy club lighting, dark except for the flashes of neon that swept the floor like searchlights.

Jiya whooped, already jumping up and down, bobbing her head in time to the music. “This is insane!” She sounded thrilled.

“You and I have very different reactions to that word,” Flynn replied.

“There you are!” Jess nearly crashed into him as she fought her way through the crowd. Dragged behind her by the collar was Wyatt, who was wearing a pink button-up shirt that Jess had obviously shoved him into. “I was worried we wouldn’t be able to find you guys.”

“Amy’s doing great up there,” Flynn said.

Jess grinned, her teeth glowing a little in the weird lighting. “She’s so fucking talented. You should’ve seen her earlier, she was triple-guessing her playlist until I had to hide her equipment from her.”

“Where’s Lucy?” Rufus asked.

“Up in the booth with her! Getting a pep talk!”

“Don’t you mean giving a pep talk?” Wyatt asked.

“Did I stutter?” Jess replied.

Why would Amy be giving Lucy a pep talk? Amy was the one who was DJing.

The music shifted and the crowd all laughed and began to follow the instructions sung into the song. Flynn didn’t recognize it—probably something from after his time. He’d never been good at following the latest music hits on the radio.

“Am I the only one who feels officially old?” he asked.

“Speak for yourself!” Jiya said, doing the dance along with everyone else.

Wyatt and Rufus raised their hands in solidarity.

“There you are, how’s she doing?” Jess asked, and that was all the warning Flynn had before he was face to face with Lucy.

Lucy, who had kissed him. Lucy, who he’d been so close to ravishing in the fucking dance studio of all places like they were in an ‘80s dance movie. Lucy who had run away and had only spoken to him in texts for the last three days.

“She’s doing fine,” Lucy said. “I think it’s a good thing that we’re—it’s distracting her from worrying about her own performance.”

“I thought so.” Jess sounded pleased. Flynn wondered what the end of Lucy’s sentence had been before she’d cut it off.

Jiya was trying to show a bewildered Rufus how to do the dance along with everyone else. Rufus just looked like he was happy that Jiya was touching him and giving him her full attention.

“Oh, oh, oh, here it comes!” Jess jumped up and down.

“What comes?” Wyatt asked.

“One of Amy’s mashups, she’s been working on this for ages.”

“You just know the whole playlist by heart, don’t you?”

“And what’s it to you if I do?”

A warm hand slid into his and Flynn jumped, whipping around to see Lucy standing there, tugging on his hand with hers. He let himself properly look at her for the first time, at her dark red club dress, at her dark hair falling around her shoulders, at her lipstick like a crimson slash of blood across her mouth.

“Did you mean it?” she asked.

“Did I mean what?”

It was hard to speak over the noise of the club and the music so Lucy leaned in, her hand on his chest for balance, and Flynn just about died inside. “When you said if I led, you’d follow.”

He could smell her shampoo and see her pulse beating frantically in her neck, could feel the way that her hand trembled against his chest. The nerves underneath the bravado. “Anywhere.”

Lucy pulled back, the music shifted, and then Flynn saw her grab Wyatt. He started to move as well, confused, but Lucy gave him a stern look that clearly said stay.

Flynn stayed, and waited, and watched.

 


 

Wyatt was definitely confused as Lucy pulled him out onto the dance floor, her hands falling to his hips to guide him into a salsa.

This is how we do it down in Puerto Rico,

This is how we do it all the time:

Down in Vegas, in Miami,

Down in Paris, in Manhattan,

In Havana, down in L.A.

Lucy hooked her leg around his waist and Wyatt figured out what she wanted, sliding his arm around her lower back to twist her around over his other leg and dip her quickly before bringing her back up to standing. He couldn’t help but notice that the people around them were starting to give them room, to realize that something unusual was going on.

“What are you up to?” he asked, as Lucy pulled back and he yanked her back in, shifting into crossing their feet over and around each other similar to a quickstep, but not quite. They weren’t really following any particular style, and Wyatt was just trying to do whatever it was Lucy wanted him to.

This is how we do it in the boondocks,

In the Cadillac, in the backseat

Out here underneath the rising sun (hey)

Lucy put her hands on his hips and guided him into going backwards, foot arched, down, arched, down, arched, down, her feet going opposite his.

In the club, in the street, in the dark, in the dawn,

In the future, I want something just like this.

“We’re always best when we’re dancing together,” Lucy replied. She took his hand and Wyatt lifted it, giving her room to spin, and she ended with her back to his chest, taking his wrists and moving his hands over her body.

Wyatt definitely started to feel lightheaded.

Oh I oh I oh I oh I

Although my heart is looking at the truth,

Just picture everybody

Discovering something brand new (something just like this)

“I figured… why try and talk about it,” Lucy went on, her head falling back so that her mouth was right by his ear, her hips working, and thank God she was leading right now because Wyatt couldn’t focus for shit. “When we can just admit the… the things, the truth, the—the feelings that we’ve all been trying to fight?”

I don’t wanna choose,

I want all of the above (na na na)

I don’t wanna choose.

Lucy spun back around, her arms draped over his shoulders. “This is what we want. Let’s give into it.”

“You sure I’m talking to Lucy Preston?” Wyatt asked. “Miss Over Analyzing, Miss Double Checking? I thought Amy was the reckless one.”

“We switched places temporarily,” Lucy replied loftily.

Then she playfully shoved him away—there was definitely a circle of empty space around them now, everyone watching them—and curled her finger at Flynn. The moment he was within arm’s reach, Lucy grabbed him by the collar (he was wearing this blue shirt that was doing annoying things to Wyatt) and yanked him into her.

I don’t really care if you lie (sit down, mask off)

Manipulate my decisions,

Look me in my eye (sit down, mask off, sit down)

Flynn looked the way that Wyatt felt—awestruck and slightly concussed with a heady mix of madly turned on for good measure—as Lucy danced with him, their chest and hips pressed together as Lucy started to move him, her hand at the back of his head, fingers speared in his hair, pressing their foreheads together.

I don’t really care if you go crazy (mask off, sit down)

I don’t really care if you

Push me to the edge (sit down)

Push me to the edge (be humble)

Push me to the edge.

They were tangoing now as the music slowed down, their eyes boring into each other, Flynn’s hand on Lucy’s thigh, taking an already intimate dance into something that was making Wyatt’s throat go dry.

I knew from the start

The way that things have been

Will change, will change, will change, will change.

Lucy popped the top button on Flynn’s collar, opening his shirt just a little, and then ruffled his hair, getting him looking more casual and a bit messed up. Flynn rolled his eyes at her, but he was smiling, as Lucy pulled back and held up a hand to stop him from moving. She crooked her finger at Wyatt, then did the mirroring section of their dance from the exhibition, the part where Flynn and Wyatt had been imitating her while she danced alone.

Wyatt looked at Flynn, who shrugged, and did as he was told.

Singing to our favorite song

In the Cadillac, in the backseat

Out here underneath the rising sun,

Shining so bright in the dawn, in the dark,

In the future I want something just like this.

Lucy looked at Flynn and said something, something that Wyatt couldn’t make out. Flynn looked startled, then glanced at Wyatt, saying something in response to Lucy. Lucy shook her head. Flynn shot her a look that Wyatt couldn’t quite figure out, and then to his shock, Flynn was turning and taking him by the hand, pulling him in.

“You gotta be kidding me.” The crowd was definitely all staring at them now instead of dancing with each other and Wyatt felt like you could fry an egg on his face with how hard he was blushing.

“You thought I hated you?” Flynn asked.

“You did hate me.”

“You were an annoying stuck up shit who didn’t think I was good enough to choreograph for him,” Flynn replied. “But I never hated you.”

“I almost kissed you,” Wyatt blurted out. “After the dance. At The Lifeboat.”

Flynn got a glint in his eye that made Wyatt’s spine liquify. “Oh, good to know.”

“That’s your response!?”

“Good to know, since I almost kissed you, too.”

C’mon, c’mon, take a look in that mirror,

Don’t get comfortable.

Say it’s us, say it’s us,

If you wanted to.

Say it’s us, say it’s us and I’ll agree, baby.

Flynn moved his arm around Wyatt’s lower back and Wyatt knew what was coming. “You going to kill me if I dip you?”

“Maybe.”

“I’ll make it worth your while.”

“How?”

Just say you won’t let go.

Flynn dipped him—and kissed him in the same moment, distracting Wyatt completely. Wyatt kissed back, holding on, every part of him on fire, and by the time Flynn pulled back and Wyatt could inhale again, he was back on his feet. He stared up at Flynn, who winked, and Wyatt was about two seconds away from lunging in and kissing him again, everything else be damned.

“Don’t hog him,” Lucy said, playfully moving Flynn back and hooking her leg over, sliding in the middle, and it was like the foxtrot the other day only now Lucy was practically riding Wyatt’s thigh, grinding back against Flynn, her hands all over both of them.

Yeah, Wyatt was pretty sure they were getting the answer to Mason’s question now. What are you to each other? Something not appropriate for a dance exhibition, that was certain.

Lucy grabbed the back of his neck and brought his face down to hers. “Focus, sweetheart,” she said, her grin wicked.

The face of the future, poquito a poquito

“Hey, Flynn?” Lucy turned her head back, which was a problem since to counterbalance that she had to move her hand up Wyatt’s thigh, and Wyatt was currently thanking God that it was dark enough nobody could see what that was doing to him. “Remember that circle lift that Rufus did to Jiya during the first competition?”

“Yeah?”

“Could you do it with me?”

“Lucy,” Flynn said, in a please, of course I can, what do you take me for tone.

“Wyatt? I know you don’t have your kneepads on but…”

“You want me to do the slide.”

“Mmhmm.”

“Between Flynn’s legs, I’m assuming.”

“You follow instructions so nicely,” Lucy said, and he was going to protest, but then she took his chin in her hand and kissed him as her other hand slid between his legs and—oh fuck—and before he could say anything else Lucy was pushing him back to give him room to get a running start.

You make me a believer, poquito a poquito

Wyatt struggled to get his heartbeat under control, gave up, and backed up—took the three steps to build up momentum right as Flynn got his hand under Lucy’s leg—and slid on his knees (ow, ow, ow) down and through, as Lucy was lifted and flipped.

Now they only say congratulations!

The crowd roared and Wyatt nearly fell over getting back to his feet because he’d actually forgotten other people were there for a second. Which was what happened when you were as good as grinding on the dance floor.

Flynn grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him back, and leading him in a few cross steps before passing him to Lucy, back and forth, the three of them switching it up, arms and legs moving over and around one another, and Wyatt just followed where they led and somehow, somehow, it worked out.

This is how we do it all the time:

Down in Vegas, in Miami,

Down in Paris, in Manhattan,

In Havana, down in L.A.

Wyatt caught sight of Jiya filming them while Jess and Rufus jumped up and down behind her, and he flipped them off right before he was pulled into the whirlwind again.

In the club, in the street, in the dark, in the dawn,

In the future,

Why not right now?

Lucy ended up in the middle again, smashed between them, her leg wrapped around Flynn’s waist, her arm reaching back and her hand in Wyatt’s hair, Flynn’s face inches from his.

“I’m not about to fuck you in a club bathroom,” Lucy said, “so you two better get me home right fucking now.”

“Jesus, Lucy, let a guy breathe.” His chest was heaving.

“Thank you very much!” Amy said into the microphone, up in her booth. “That was my sister, Lucy Preston, and her dance partners, who generously volunteered to showcase my mashup. It’s been a great time, y’all, thanks for having me, you can look me up if you want a party!”

Wyatt looked at Lucy, then at Flynn. “Are you serious?”

“Are you?” Flynn countered.

Wyatt thought about Dad, about the things he would say, about Jess, about nearly having Lucy and then losing her, about his failed marriage, about the struggle it had been since he’d gotten back—and about how the only time he’d ever stopped feeling like a failure was while dancing. And how the only time he’d felt right had been with them.

He leaned in, crossing the bare inch that separated them, and kissed Flynn, soft, letting Flynn pull back if he wanted. “I’m serious.”

“Then my place is closest,” Flynn said.

Lucy just laughed.

 


 

“We’re probably going viral right now,” Wyatt noted.

Flynn opened the door and Lucy shoved Wyatt inside. “Stop talking,” she ordered, ripping his shirt open and kissing him.

Wyatt made a protesting noise against her mouth, probably over the shirt, but Lucy ignored him. She had known that if she tried talking about this, with either or both of them, that they were going to get words tangled and it was going to be a mess. She didn’t know how to even think about starting the conversation.

But dance? She knew dance. And they knew dance. And she’d thought, maybe if she just said it through a song, by dancing with them… and Amy had been happy for the free publicity.

They were probably going viral though. Dammit Jiya.

“I would’ve thought you’d love that,” Flynn noted, coming up behind her, his hands sliding down her sides and around her thighs, pushing up her dress. “Your mom’s going to see it. So is Emma. You definitely haven’t plateaued.”

Lucy leaned back against him, humming. They were still standing in the goddamn living room and she didn’t care. She could still feel the heavy bass thrumming in her veins from the club. She ground her ass back into Flynn, who grunted and sank his teeth into her shoulder. “You know, I have a perfectly good bed right over that way.”

“Too far,” Lucy replied, as his fingers found the hem of her underwear and slid underneath. “Yes…”

She reached out and grabbed Wyatt, yanking him back in, his thigh right between hers, and Lucy ground down, riding it, like she had during the dance but even dirtier, more obvious. She could feel Flynn hard against her, rolling his hips, and she definitely wanted that inside of her but later, round two, because there was definitely going to be a round two but she was way too pent up right now for that.

Wyatt groaned as he thrust up against her thigh and Lucy pawed at him, raked her nails down his chest, let her head fall back so that Flynn could grab him and kiss him. Flynn’s fingers slid inside of her and she bucked up, the movement jostling all three of them, like they were one living being.

Mmm, she liked watching them kiss. Lucy rolled her hips lazily in time with Flynn’s fingers stroking inside of her. She could watch that for hours.

The men pulled back and Flynn immediately began to kiss down her neck, Wyatt using his thigh to push her up, her feet off the floor, holding her at the right height for Flynn to suck at her pulse point. Lucy dug her nails into his arms, her eyelids fluttering, vision blurring. Wyatt was grinding mindlessly against her thigh now, no finesse left between the three of them, just a tangle of limbs and a dirty imitation of dance, and maybe this had been one of the ways dance started, a rhythmic extension of what they were doing right now.

Wyatt tugged her dress down, his mouth finding her breast, and Lucy jerked a final time, head falling back onto Flynn’s shoulder as she pulsed, riding a high like a climax of a song. She opened her eyes to find Flynn and Wyatt kissing again, messier and slicker than before, as Flynn stuck his hand down Wyatt’s pants and Wyatt whimpered, shoving his hips forward in uncoordinated strokes.

Lucy reached around behind herself and grabbed Flynn by the back of the head, tilting her face up, smashing their mouths together until he couldn’t manage it anymore and could only pant into her mouth as he ground against her, over and over, his fingers tightening in her thighs as he groaned one last time and shuddered to a halt.

Lucy looked at him, at Wyatt, at herself, all three of them still mostly dressed, covered in sweat and all manner of other things, Lucy’s lipstick smeared over both Wyatt and Flynn’s mouths.

“Bed?” she whispered, looking over at Wyatt, who was staring at Flynn like he couldn’t wait to be the one to make Flynn come undone like that.

“I’m not letting you out for a week,” Flynn muttered, and Lucy just laughed, tugging on his hand, leading him and then Wyatt towards the bedroom.

She intended for this next round to take quite a few hours.

Chapter Text

Flynn woke up to find Wyatt asleep on his stomach, his head pillowed on Flynn’s arm. Flynn absently reached up to pet through Wyatt’s hair, smiling softly when Wyatt gave a little sigh of contentment.

Lucy, though, wasn’t in bed.

Soft music drifted in from the living room, and Flynn gently eased himself out from underneath Wyatt, grabbing a shirt and a pair of pajama pants to slip on before emerging from the bedroom.

Lucy was curled up on his couch, wearing one of his shirts, her underwear, and a pair of his fuzzy socks. Her hair was still a mess, and Flynn could see a shadow of a hickey just under her jaw that he vaguely recalled putting there.

“Couldn’t sleep?” he asked.

Lucy hummed. “Thinking about things.”

“What kind of things?” He joined her on the couch, his heart nearly stopping when Lucy promptly crawled into his lap. He reached up and began to gently fingercomb her hair, Lucy’s head tipping to the side to rest on his shoulder.

“Whose place we’re moving into,” Lucy replied, which was not what he’d expected. He’d supposed that she’d be thinking about the final competition.

“Yours? You’ve had it the longest. I’m not attached to this place and according to Jess, Wyatt’s still got boxes lying around his.”

Lucy hummed again. “It’s not too fast?”

“Maybe if—maybe if we had all just met, yes. But it’s been months. You and Wyatt were even longer. And I—we can give it a few weeks. To be sure. But I’m sure of you.”

Lucy kissed his jaw, and Flynn let himself relax back into the couch, let himself feel content. “Are you happy, moja ljubav?

“What does that mean?” Lucy raised her fingers up to trace his lips, like she could feel the ghost of the words on them. “And yes, I’m happy. I think for the first time in… in years. Not just because of being with you two, but… all of it. Being away from my mom. Choreographing. Seeing Amy happy. Dancing with you two.” She smiled at him. “This too, though.”

Flynn bumped their noses together. “Good. And it means…” He took a deep breath. “It means ‘my love’.”

Lucy’s smile was radiant. “Say it again.”

Moja ljubav.” Her fingers were still pressed to his lips.

Lucy got up onto her knees, careful not to dig into his thighs. “Again.”

Moja ljubav.” He said the words right into her mouth as Lucy pressed their lips together.

It had been ages since he had done this—gotten lost in time as he kissed another person, slow and deep, no rush to go anywhere, just exploring and feeling, drowning in them. Last night had been the definition of rushed the first time, grinding against each other like they were still in the club, and then the second time had been less rushed but no less intense.

Lucy pulled back just enough to brush her lips against his as he sucked in a deep breath. “Dance with me.”

Flynn glanced at the clock. “Lucy, it’s three in the morning.”

“And we’ve got jazz playing, we’re in our pajamas, Wyatt’s asleep in our bed, I love you, and I’m happy.”

Flynn stared at her. Lucy blushed. “I love you,” she whispered. “And I’m happy. And I want to dance with you in the fuzzy socks I stole from your dresser, in the living room.”

Flynn rubbed his hand up and down her back, underneath the oversized shirt she was wearing. It was big enough that it drooped over her shoulder and down her front, exposing her collarbone. He wanted to kiss it. He could, he realized.

He did.

Lucy raked her nails through his hair, sighing contentedly. “Dance with me, Garcia. Moja ljubav.

“I love you, but you mangled that horribly.”

“Well then you’ll just have to help me practice.” Lucy slid off his lap and stood up, his hands caught up in hers. “Come on, Garcia.” She pouted. “Because you love me?”

“You’re going to be shameless about that.” Flynn stood up.

“Mmm, you say that like you’ll mind it.” She led him away from the couch, into the empty space in the floor.

Never know how much I love you,

Never know how much I care.

When you put your arms around me,

I get a feeling that’s so hard to bear,

You give me fever.

Flynn pulled her into a foxtrot—which wasn’t traditionally what one would call a sexy style of dance, but he wasn’t exactly following the rules on upper body placement. He had his arm wrapped around her waist, and he went to take her hand, but Lucy reached up with her free hand instead and cupped his cheek, her thumb brushing softly back and forth.

He started to move them, his free hand at her elbow instead to support it, taking them through the steps. Lucy’s hand slid down to his neck, her thumb still moving back and forth, and all he could see was her. Her dark eyes, her angled cheekbones, her twisting, pursing, ever-moving mouth.

When you kiss me, fever when you hold me tight.

Fever, in the morning, fever all through the night.

Flynn turned her a few times, because Lucy loved it, and her smile lit up the room. He pulled her back in. “You know that I’m well aware that you just let me lead, right?”

Lucy took his hand in hers. “So long as you remember that I think we’ll do just fine.”

Flynn gave into impulse—he could give into these impulses now, he could relax into them without holding himself back or second-guessing—and raised her hand to his lips, kissing her knuckles.

Sun lights up the daytime, moon lights up the night.

I light up when you call my name and,

You know I’m gonna treat you right.

You give me fever.

Lucy sang along softly, as they whirled around the living room like they were in a Disney film, a fairytale, like Lucy should be in a ballgown instead of just in his shirt.

“Next season,” Lucy whispered, “I want you to be my partner. Or have you and Wyatt be partners. The world should see you two dancing together.”

“You just want to ogle us.”

“Maybe.” Lucy tugged her bottom lip between her teeth and Flynn had to pause in the dance to kiss her, suck that lip into his mouth.

Romeo loved Juliet, Lucy sang along to the lyrics, Juliet she felt the same.

When he puts his arms around her,

He said, “Julie, baby, you’re my flame.”

“This is a horrid abuse of Shakespearean language,” Flynn noted.

“I don’t care,” Lucy replied stoutly.

Fever, yeah, I burn, forsooth.

Flynn whirled her around a few more times, just to get that smile back on her face. “If you say so.”

“I do say so.” Lucy moved her hands over his arms, squeezing his biceps, then down to his chest.

“Are you feeling me up?”

“Funny, Wyatt asked me the same thing the other day. It’s a song about sex, Garcia, what do you expect from me?” Lucy paused, presumably at the expression on his face. “What?”

“Nothing. Just.” He shook his head. “You said my name.”

“Garcia? Well… I heard it was your name. And you are my boyfriend now, so. I presume we’re on a first name basis?”

Flynn scooped her up, their foreheads pressed together, his arm underneath her thighs, swooping her around before setting her back down again. “I suppose I can allow that.” He hadn’t been called by his first name much since Lorena’s passing.

Now you’ve listened to my story,

Here’s the point that I have made:

Chicks were born to give you fever,

Be it Fahrenheit or centigrade

They give you fever.

Lucy slid her hands around to his ass, guiding him into moving his hips more, and this definitely was not a proper foxtrot anymore. Flynn chuckled, tugging on the bottom hem of her shirt. “It’s three a.m. Lucy, I don’t think we’re up for round three.”

Lucy scoffed, her eyes twinkling.

Fever ‘til you sizzle.

What a lovely way to burn.

Flynn dipped her until Lucy was almost to the floor, his mouth sliding down to the swell of her breasts through the fabric. Lucy’s hand slid into his hair, tightening, tugging.

Flynn slowly raised her back up—as he did so Lucy gave a small jump, wrapping her legs around his waist, and Flynn didn’t even know how to express what it meant to him that she trusted him enough to just do that jump without even asking, knowing he’d adjust and catch her.

“Hi,” Lucy whispered.

“Hi,” Flynn replied.

What a lovely way to burn.

“Are you two dancing?” Wyatt yawned, standing in the doorway. “It’s fuck o’clock in the morning.”

Lucy kissed Flynn, purring, and then turned to look at Wyatt. Flynn kept holding her. “Yes, it is, sweetheart, so why don’t you get that tight ass of yours back to bed, hmm?”

“I assume this means we’re also going to bed,” Flynn said, starting to carry her there.

“I’m too tired to fuck you,” Wyatt warned Lucy, letting her ruffle his hair.

“You can just watch while I fuck Flynn, then.”

“…I’m awake now.”

“That’s what I thought.”

Flynn noted that Lucy hadn’t turned off the music. Oh, well. He was a little busy at the moment.

It was a good thing they could sleep in tomorrow.

Chapter Text

“Okay,” Lucy said, walking into the dance studio, “game plan for the final competition. Give me ideas.”

She paused, looking around the room. “Where’s Garcia?”

Wyatt was the only one in the studio, and for the first time since they’d started this, Flynn wasn’t the first one in the room.

“He’ll be coming later.” Wyatt looked oddly nervous. “I, uh, wanted us to, um… I choreographed something. For you and me.”

“For the competition?”

Wyatt shook his head. “No. Just for us. I was talking with Flynn, and Jess, about—about how I hadn’t properly apologized to you yet. I sort of have, but not—not properly. I want to do that. So.” He held out his hand. “May I?”

“You choreographed a dance for us?” She’d never seen Wyatt choreograph, never heard of him choreographing or wanting to. His contributions to their exhibition dance had been standing where Lucy and Flynn had told him to, and teaching them how to do the cheerleading toss.

Wyatt nodded. “I wanted to… show that I’m serious. So, yeah.”

Lucy’s heart softened. “All right then.” She took his hand and let him lead her into the middle of the floor after he hit play for the speakers.

She don’t know what she wants to be,

With all the pictures in the magazines.

Holding hands when she’s mad at me,

‘Cause she don’t wanna go, don’t wanna go.

Wyatt, to Lucy’s surprise, started them on the samba. One-and-two-and, one-and-two-and… It was a shockingly easy dance to fuck up, which was surprising given that it had a seemingly simple rhythm, and ballroom versions even more so since it was so disconnected from the origins of the music and the dance that gave it its name. Club samba was next to nothing like ballroom samba.

But Wyatt was obviously wanting to challenge himself with this, probably… not to impress her, not to blow her away, more to prove to her that he wouldn’t let her down in this final dance.

I met her at anthropology,

Purple boots and her golden dreams,

Standing there like a Tennessee queen,

Singing,

“Don’t look at me, don’t look at me.”

Lucy gave a small laugh at the lyrics as Wyatt led her into the hip movements. Samba had very specific hip movements, unlike the other Latin dances, and Lucy highly suspected that Flynn had been coaching Wyatt in these. Wyatt led her with his hips, properly, not with his hands, circling his hips with hers and starting on the cross steps.

Singing,

Hey Mama, don’t want no drama, just a kiss before I leave.

Hey lady, don’t say maybe, you’re the one that I can believe.

Hey lover, don’t want no other,

Finger for my ring.

Hey Mama, hey, hey, Mama.

Hey Mama, hey, hey, Mama.

Wyatt led her under his arm, around his back, and twirled her. Lucy laughed. “You worked on this with Flynn.”

“Actually I worked on it with Rufus and Jiya,” Wyatt admitted. “Since Flynn and I kind of weren’t speaking. Jiya’s fucking ruthless, did you know?”

“That doesn’t surprise me.”

“I did show it to Flynn for a final look over.” Wyatt blushed as he pulled her in and led her into a promenade.

“…and you two fucked afterwards.”

“Remember how you found us on the couch yesterday?”

Lucy vividly remembered walking in from grocery shopping to find Wyatt on his knees in front of Flynn, Flynn’s hand in his hair, gently coaxing him and instructing him. She shivered and Wyatt’s blush got deeper, his hand sliding to her hips to push her back and then pull her in again.

I can see it in her Cherokee eyes,

Those baby browns and her golden thighs.

Whatcha doing for the rest of your life?

‘Cause you don’t wanna go, don’t wanna go.

“I’m sorry,” Wyatt said, growing serious. He spun her again, leading her down the floor. “Really. I was lost in who I was, and I know you were too, but I still let some stuff… happen. Not physically, but emotionally, and it messed with you even more and I shouldn’t have done that. I shouldn’t have let it go as far as it did. And then I came back and I was a brat to Flynn and I shouldn’t have done that either. I was struggling with how I felt about him and I took it out in the worst way possible.”

He spun her out with one hand, let go, and then grabbed her with his other hand, crossing over to her other side. “And I should’ve said it sooner. Before we became… what we are.”

“Before we all started dating and you and Flynn began moving into my house?”

“Yeah, that.” Wyatt gave her a sheepish smile. “But I am sorry, and I hope that this is a way of showing that I’m… I’m going to help you win, Lucy, we’re going to be the best. And I hope that’ll start to make up for it.”

Hey Mama, don’t want no drama, just a kiss before I leave.

Lucy moved back towards him, circling her hips the whole time, grinning. “Better than that.”

“Oh?” Wyatt cocked an eyebrow, looking a bit nervous.

Hey lady, don’t say maybe, you’re the one that I can believe.

Lucy let him lead her across the floor, step step hip swivel step step hip swivel, and then into her feet crossing back and forth over one another, smoother than he’d been on any other lead. Clearly when he had a motivation like this, instead of trying to be macho, he shone. Not as much as when he was a follow, but still, much better than he’d been doing before.

Hey lover, don’t want no other, finger for my ring.

“We’re going to samba for our final dance,” Lucy announced, grinning at him. “We can modify this choreography. Have Flynn tinker with it. What do you say?”

Hey Mama, hey, hey, Mama.

Hey Mama, hey, hey, Mama.

“I say that whatever you say goes, ma’am,” Wyatt replied.

He spun her a final time. Lucy purposefully hooked his ankle, sending him stumbling into her, and she caught him with her hands on his shoulders.

“I say you’re forgiven,” Lucy told him. “Now get Flynn on the phone, sweetheart.”

Wyatt smiled at her, soft and a little dorky, and there, that was the Wyatt she’d been hoping to find this whole time.

Hey Mama, hey, hey, Mama.

Hey Mama, hey, hey, Mama.

Chapter Text

Flynn’s heart was hammering as he stood next to Mason in the crowd. Michelle and Denise were both judging, one of the few competitions where they actually judged together. Usually they tried to alternate when they judged in an attempt to keep their personal and professional lives separate and to prevent people from finding out about their marriage.

“They’re going to be fine,” Mason said quietly.

Flynn slowly exhaled. “Easy for you to say, you’re the favorites to win.”

“I’ve seen them do this dance, Flynn, and they’re both in top form. They’re both extremely talented and hardworking dancers. It’ll be okay. They can do this.”

Flynn nodded. “I don’t even care if they win first place or not I just want them to be happy with however it turns out.” He paused. “And I want them to do better than Nicholas and Emma.”

Lucy and Wyatt were announced, and Mason said, as if the thought had only just occurred to him, “By the way, were you three actually having sex at the end of that video Jiya recorded in the club or did it just look a lot like it? Hard to tell with the tricky lighting,” and Flynn was completely distracted from his worry by yelling at Mason.

 


 

Lucy felt unusually lighthearted as she walked onto stage with Wyatt. He gave her an odd sideways look. “You okay?”

“Never better.”

Wyatt frowned. “Okay, now you’re just scaring me.”

Lucy let out a breath. “You asked me to find what I’m fighting for. And I said I wanted to step out of my mother’s shadow. And I realized—as long as I’m struggling to get first place, I’m still in her shadow. I’m trying to prove that I’m better than her, I’m trying to prove I can move on from her… all of it.” She took another deep breath as the music started. “But you and Garcia have been pushing me to stop thinking while I dance and to just feel, to do it because I love it… and so that’s what we’re doing.”

She still cared about doing well. There was still a part of her that wanted to win. She couldn’t just shut that off like flicking off a light switch, no matter what The Book of Mormon might say. But she wasn’t going to think about that. She was going to samba with her boyfriend—one of her two boyfriends—and she was going to have fun with it.

They held their poses, Lucy with one hand on her hip and one hand up in the air.

You’re so delicious

You’re so soft

Wyatt grabbed her hand and sent her whirling like a top, and they were off.

You taste like sunlight

And strawberry bubble gum.

Lucy was twisted one way, then the other way, rotating her hips the entire time, and then led forward as Wyatt moved backwards, starting the dance off with a bang when he turned her and Lucy kicked her leg up into the air, putting her weight on it when she set her foot back down on the ground, ducking down underneath Wyatt’s arm and swinging her hips around.

You bite my lip,

You spike my blood,

You make my heart

Beat

Faster…

Lucy grinned. This was the part she loved. The song sped up, and Wyatt moved backwards, letting her take center stage as she promenaded forward, her black skirt swishing back and forth, taking full advantage of the 1920s flapper-style dress she was wearing.

Own me, you own

Can rattle my bones

You turn me over, and over,

‘Til I can’t control myself

Wyatt spun her once, twice, three times, tight spins and then crossed her around behind him, until they were holding onto each other by their right hands, crossed over.

Make me a liar,

One big disaster.

You make my heart beat faster.

Lucy grinned as she moved down the dance floor, Wyatt following behind her, mirroring her footsteps. They had done the work. They’d been practicing until Lucy’s feet had bled at one point. Flynn had nearly had a stroke when she’d taken off her shoes and he’d demanded to know why she hadn’t asked that they stop. She’d made this dance as perfect as it could be. Now she needed to just relax, and feel the music, and be in the moment—she needed to enjoy dance again. She’d started doing this because she loved it. She needed to be doing it because she loved it once again.

And, well, she loved this song. Wyatt of all people had picked it. Well, she’d picked it, but she’d heard it on Wyatt’s phone when she’d asked what he was listening to and Wyatt had buried his face in his hands to try and hide his blush.

“Makes me think of Garcia,” he’d mumbled, his voice muffled from behind his palms.

Flynn thought it was hilarious. Lucy thought it was adorable. And when she listened to it… yeah. She agreed with Wyatt.

It’s the way you swell, soft,

Pushing right out of your seams.

It’s the way you smile, baby,

When you’ve got me on my knees.

They joined hands again briefly and then Lucy braced her hand on Wyatt’s shoulder, kicking her leg up again, before playfully smacking his ass. Wyatt glared at her, or tried to, his cheeks bright pink, and Lucy laughed. She hadn’t planned that, she’d just thought it would be funny.

They crisscrossed around each other, circling each other, trading places, Wyatt’s arm around her waist to swap her from one side of him to the other, Lucy spinning—feeling like she didn’t care. She didn’t care. It was the most freeing feeling. She didn’t care how she did, she was going to have fun.

‘Cause I jump, I crash, I crawl,

I beg, I steal, I follow you.

Yeah, you own me.

You make my heart beat faster,

Faster, faster,

I can’t get enough.

Wyatt’s right hand took her left wrist, his left hand taking her right wrist, and used his body to give her the momentum to jump up and then land on the floor in the splits, then lift her back up again on her feet. Lucy grinned at the noise the crowd made at that, and caught sight of Jiya flipping them off while laughing. She blew Jiya a kiss.

You own me, you own

And rattle my bones.

You turn me over, and over,

‘Til I can’t control myself.

She wasn’t rotating her hips and whipping her arm out for flair because she had to for the dance but because it was fucking fun to do it, to show off, to be dramatic and sexy. She knew this footwork, she could do it in her sleep, and she just… let it flow through her. Let it all flow through her like a river.

Make me a liar,

One big disaster

‘Cause you make my heart beat

Faster.

Lucy kicked her leg up a final time and pivoted on her foot that remained on the ground, turning and falling neatly into Wyatt as he caught her and dipped her.

Lucy shot to her feet the second the song was over, kissing Wyatt on the cheek and then taking her bows. The dance world, according to Amy and Rufus, was absolutely swirling with rumors about the three of them after Jiya’s video had hit YouTube, but Lucy was content to let people gossip—for once. Last year they had been spreading a lie created by her mother. This time, they could say whatever they wanted, because she knew the truth, and she didn’t mind it if others knew the truth, either. She was too busy being happy.

Denise’s face was its usual mask but Michelle gave them a sly wink before focusing back on her notes that she was scribbling. Lucy’s heart soared.

“Garcia!” she yelled, dragging Wyatt into the crowd with them and crashing into Flynn.

“You were perfect,” he promised her. Flynn squeezed Wyatt’s shoulder. “Seriously. Both of you.”

Lucy knew everyone around them was going to see it, but she was still riding that high and there were far worse things for people to bear witness to than her kissing her boyfriend.

So she got up onto her toes and did just that to Flynn.

 


 

Rufus tried not to fidget as he and Jiya stood on the sidelines while Nicholas and Emma did their dance. He and Jiya were going last, which was a good thing, he supposed, if you wanted to do a showstopper, but a bad thing if you had nerves. Lucy and Wyatt had gotten to go first, lucky bastards.

“You’re nervous,” Jiya whispered as they stood there.

I remember when rock was young,

Me and Susie had so much fun.

Holding hands and skimming stones.

Had an old gold Chevy and a place of my own.

“I’ve never understood songs like this,” Rufus said instead of answering her question. “I mean, maybe it’s just me, but I’m not nostalgic for high school or college or whatever. Would I sometimes like to go back in time to fix mistakes? Yeah. But I don’t want to go back to relive an earlier time. I think it’s sad if you think the best years of your life are always behind you.”

“Rufus.” Jiya shook his shoulder a little. “Focus. Mind here. Eyes here. Talk to me.”

“I want this to be perfect so I don’t let down my mentor and my amazing partner, that’s all,” Rufus replied. “No reason to be nervous at all.”

“You’re not going to drop me,” Jiya pointed out. “Or kick me. Or trip me. You’re going to be great. We’ve got this.”

Rufus looked at her. Jiya was wearing a dusky rose pink, which was an unusual color choice—he rarely saw Jiya in anything other than dark or bright colors—but it complimented her skin and her warm eyes perfectly. Fuck.

“I don’t want to mess things up,” he said.

On the dance floor, Nicholas and Emma were jiving, and Rufus couldn’t help but notice that they were doing dance moves that looked familiar.

“I think they’re trying to imitate you,” he heard Jess whisper to Lucy.

“That or they’re trying to get extra points to make up any lost ground by doing more daring moves, like lifts and dips,” Lucy replied. “It’s risky since there’s a greater chance of messing up.”

“What, like dropping her?”

“No, like—well yes that but also just landing wrong, or getting footwork off-time on the lead in or lead out of the lift, that sort of thing. There are all these little ways you can get points deducted and those can add up.”

Jiya put her hands on Rufus’s shoulders. “Listen to me,” she said. “You’re not going to mess anything up.”

Rufus had a feeling they weren’t talking just about this dance. “You’re amazing,” he blurted out. “Really, like, you blow me away. All the time. You’re the best. You deserve a trophy and I want to help give it to you. I want to, um… I don’t want to ruin your chance for that.”

Jiya nodded. Then she took his face in her hands and she kissed him.

Crocodile Rocking is something shocking,

When your feet just can’t keep still.

I never knew me a better time,

And I guess I never will.

Rufus stiffened, shocked, feeling like he’d been smacked over the head—but Jiya pressed in and he caught her around the waist, holding on as she coaxed him into kissing her back, into opening his mouth, into deepening the kiss until he couldn’t breathe and was lightheaded.

“Holy fuck!” someone, sounded like Amy, yelled, as the crowd reacted.

Rufus pulled back, thinking that Amy meant him and Jiya—but then saw Emma, her face cold and white with fury, picking herself up off the dance floor.

“I think we just missed something,” Rufus said.

Jiya took his chin in her hand and made him keep looking at her. “Rufus, a woman kisses you, she doesn’t appreciate when you immediately start staring at the mess up on the dance floor.”

“It looks like a pretty big mess up.”

“Carol was obviously pushing them to do more daring things to keep up with the competition,” Flynn was saying, sounding incredibly smug.

Jiya rolled her eyes.

“Why’d you do that?” Rufus asked.

Jiya sighed. “Because if I’d waited for you to do it, I’d still be here when the next century rolled around and I don’t have that kind of time.” She grinned at him, blazing like the sun. “So. What were you afraid of messing up?”

“Uh… our partnership if I told you I want to date the hell out of you?” Rufus managed.

“This is the best day of my life,” Amy said. “I’m going to go find Mom and lord this over her.”

“Baby, no…” Jess said, hurrying after her.

Oh, lawdy mama, those Friday nights.

When Susie wore her dresses tight and

The crocodile rocking was out of sight.

Emma was obviously trying to salvage the dance, and being rather professional about it, to her credit. Nicholas looked like the life had gone out of him. Rufus bet money that Nicholas had been the one to mess up.

“You’re not going to mess anything up by telling me you like me,” Jiya replied.

“Well obviously I know that now, but I didn’t know if you felt the same.”

“Right, so my spending every waking moment with you and touching you all the time wasn’t a clue?”

“I thought you were just friendly! I didn’t want to assume! I don’t want to be that guy!”

Jiya kissed him again. “I’m officially giving you permission to assume.”

“I kind of feel bad for her,” Lucy said.

“I don’t,” Wyatt and Flynn chorused.

Emma and Nicholas finished and took their bows. Emma kept her smile on until they started to walk off, at which point she gave Nicholas a look that made Rufus genuinely fear for the man’s life.

“It’s your turn—” Mason paused. “Ah. I see you finally got around to asking her out?”

“She asked me out,” Rufus said. He looked at Jiya. “Actually, you didn’t ask me out. You just made out with me. I feel cheap and used. Am I just your booty call?”

“Hilarious. I’m dating a comedian.” Jiya took his hand. “And we’re on.”

Rufus grinned, knowing he looked like a dopey idiot and not caring. “Lead the way.”

 


 

“I think Rufus and Jiya just made out,” Wyatt said, sounding confused as the aforementioned couple got onto the dance floor.

“What?” Lucy screamed. Flynn turned and stared.

“I was a little distracted by Nicholas dropping Emma but yeah, pretty sure they were standing here and kissing just a minute ago?”

Flynn looked over at Rufus and Jiya, who were taking up positions on the dance floor. Jiya looked absolutely radiant, like she’d just won the lottery.

It’s always been about me, myself and I,

I thought relationships were nothing but a waste of time.

I never wanted to be anybody’s other half.

I was happy saying I had a love that wouldn’t last.

That was the only way I knew ‘til I met you.

Rufus was doing excellently, as usual, and Flynn expected nothing less, but Jiya—Jiya was absolutely floating. She looked like you couldn’t pry the grin off her face for the world.

“Yup, something definitely just happened,” Flynn noted.

“I can’t believe I missed it,” Lucy said, but she still sounded gleeful.

“You got to see your hated enemy fall onto the dance floor,” Flynn replied.

“I did,” Lucy said. Her smirk was downright Machiavellian.

Flynn wondered what it said about him that he found that insanely attractive.

The couple on the dance floor moved like they were riding ocean waves, rising and falling, Jiya’s dress flaring out when she was turned, her hair whipping around her face. Mason had clearly choreographed the dance to show Jiya off and Jiya was performing at her best.

“That must have been a hell of a kiss,” Flynn said.

“Kissing doesn’t make you dance better,” Wyatt said.

Lucy was currently standing in between the two of them, but she neatly stepped back out of the way so that Flynn could pull Wyatt into his side. “You sure about that?” he asked.

He was never going to get tired of the way Wyatt’s eyes went dark and wide when Flynn lowered his voice and touched him. “Um…”

“Because I recall someone handling a dip a lot better because he was being kissed through it.”

“That—that was cheating, that was distracting me, that—”

Flynn kissed him and Wyatt shivered. Ha.

Tell me, is it only me,

Do you feel the same?

You know me well enough to know that I’m not playing games.

I promise I won’t turn around, I won’t let you down.

You can trust I’ve never felt it like I feel it now.

Flynn pulled back and Wyatt, embarrassed, ducked his head down to rest it on Flynn’s shoulder. Flynn just chuckled. If Wyatt needed to hide a little after some PDA, that was fine with him. They’d work Wyatt up to being more comfortable with it.

To Flynn’s surprise, Rufus and Jiya weren’t doing any crazy flips or turns. Their footwork was complex, but it looked like Mason had decided that for this final dance, after wowing the judges with trick moves in the last two, he was going to have his team go back to basics and focus on being technically perfect.

It was a good strategy, and one that Rufus and Jiya could afford, given how well they’d performed during the last two competitions.

Meet my family, how’s your family?

Ooh, can we be a family?

And when I’m eighty years old and I’m sitting next to you…

And we’ll remember when we said…

Rufus and Jiya paused, then Rufus did several turns with her at once, lifting Jiya up off her feet in a whirl and then setting her back down.

All right, so they had one trick up their sleeve.

I do, I do, I do, do do do do do do do,

Oh, baby, I do, I do, I do do do do do do do do.

‘Cause every time before it’s been like ‘maybe yes and maybe no’

No, I won’t live without it, I won’t let us go.

Just look at what we got ourselves into.

Flynn looked over Wyatt, who was now shyly watching Rufus and Jiya with his head still on Flynn’s shoulder, and locked eyes with Lucy.

He couldn’t see it, but he felt Lucy’s fingers catch his, intertwine, and squeeze.

You make me wanna say I do,

I do, I do, I do, I do, I do,

Love you.

 


 

Wyatt felt like he couldn’t breathe as the scoring was being announced. Had they done it? Had they gone far enough to beat everyone else? Sure, Nicholas and Emma—mostly Nicholas—had just screwed the pooch but Rufus and Jiya were heavy competition and there were other couples, all of whom had done good jobs throughout. Had it been enough?

Lucy was squeezing his and Flynn’s hands so tightly that he thought he might lose a finger.

Denise cleared her throat. “We’ll be announcing the scores for tonight’s dances in ascending order, starting with those who have the lowest score. After that, we’ll announce the third, second, and first place winners—in that order—for the overall competition based on their combined scores from the three performances. Starting with…”

She began to read off the names and scores, and there started that wild moment where Wyatt didn’t want their name to be called, prayed he wouldn’t hear it. Not until last.

“Nicholas Keynes and Emma Whitmore,” Denise announced, and Wyatt wasn’t sure how those two had avoided coming into last place completely tonight, but they were still pretty far down there.

Lucy’s hand got tighter around his and he heard Flynn hiss in pain from Lucy squeezing his hand as well.

There were only so many couples. And their name still hadn’t been called.

“In second place for tonight’s dances,” Denise said, and Wyatt genuinely stopped breathing, “Rufus Carlin and Jiya Marri, with a score of…”

That meant—but that meant—

Lucy started screaming right as Denise said, “And that means in first place tonight with a perfect score…” He didn’t even hear the rest.

Wyatt’s instincts were the only thing that kept them both from crashing to the floor as Lucy launched herself at him. He caught her, staggering, heard Amy and Jess losing their minds next to him, and then he couldn’t hear anything over the roaring in his ears as Lucy kissed him, and then yanked Flynn in and kissed him too, the three of them tangled up together.

Lucy slid down to the ground as Denise ordered everyone to cool it. “I still have to announce the overall winners,” she said, but Wyatt thought he could see the slightest uptick in the corner of her mouth. “In third place, with a combined score of…”

Third place went to Dave and his dance partner, Kate Drummond, and Wyatt applauded because Dave was genuinely the nicest guy he’d ever met.

“Second place…” Denise read off the score and that pinged nothing in Wyatt’s brain because he was shit at math, but Flynn jerked and went stiff, and then Denise finished, “…Wyatt Logan and Lucy Preston.”

“Fuck yes!” Amy screeched, and Wyatt found himself dog piled by his ex-wife, his ex-wife’s girlfriend who was also the sister of his current girlfriend, said girlfriend, and their boyfriend, nearly knocking him to the ground.

He heard Denise say something, and then he heard the names Rufus Carlin and Jiya Marri, and the screaming intensified.

“You did it, Mason,” Flynn said, shaking hands with the man in question, who was actually tearing up and proclaiming that he needed a stiff drink.

“We’re so going to beat you next year!” Lucy yelled at Jiya and Rufus, who were hugging and trying to kiss but smiling too hard to make it work, and Jiya flipped Lucy off without taking her eyes away from Rufus for a second.

“You’re okay?” Wyatt asked. “That you didn’t win?”

Lucy turned and looked at him, as Flynn started to tug at them saying something about a photographer and needing to get up to the podium. “I did what I love,” Lucy replied. “That’s what matters. The rest is just confetti.”

Wyatt grinned. Yeah, that sounded pretty all right to him.

“…but we’re gonna kick their asses next year, right?” he asked.

“Oh, definitely.” Lucy winked. “I already have ideas.”

Hell yes.

Chapter Text

One Year Further

 

It would be the first time that anyone had seen them perform, either in a combination of two of them or as a full trio, in a year. Lucy took a few steadying breaths. It was possibly a bad idea to agree to be the first performers for this exhibition, since they’d be setting the tone up for everything else, but unlike before—she wasn’t afraid of a challenge. She was good enough to meet it. She knew that now.

Behind her, Flynn was adjusting Wyatt’s clothes as Wyatt muttered that his clothes were about to get all rumpled anyway so it wasn’t a big deal. Lucy turned back towards both of them.

“It’s cute how your nervous ticks play off each other,” she noted, kissing first Wyatt, then Flynn.

“I’m not nervous,” Wyatt lied.

“Sure you’re not,” Flynn said, and Wyatt tried to glare at him but Flynn kissed him too quickly for that.

Their names were announced. It was time.

I know you’re leaving,

Leaving me behind,

I’m seeing you, darling,

For the very last time.

Lucy pranced down the stage, swinging her hips, shifting into triple step as the music kicked up and she could begin to jive. She kicked out, lifting her leg up into the air, spinning, showing off, and then fell back like she was about to faint, getting neatly caught by Flynn and Wyatt’s joined arms behind her, pushing her back up to standing as all three kicked out, rock stepped back, kicked out, rock stepped back, in an almost-but-not-quite Charleston.

Show a little tenderness,

Mama, before you go,

Please, let me feel

Your embrace once more.

She didn’t know if her mother was in the audience. Or if Emma Whitmore was in the audience either. Emma, or so the rumor mill said, was planning on competing this year with a new partner. Who that partner was, Lucy didn’t know, or care. She couldn’t give less of a crap about Emma or Mom for that matter. If Mom couldn’t be happy for her doing what was best for her career, and doing what made her happy, then that was Mom’s problem. Not Lucy’s.

It had taken her a bit to come to terms with that. She’d had quite a few late-night talks with Flynn and a couple times she’d just burst into tears while Wyatt held her. She’d had a lot of talks with Amy, too. But she had people who supported her no matter what, now, people whose love and praise weren’t conditional, and Mom would either get on board with that or she wouldn’t.

Lucy was finding a way to be happy either way.

Take me in your arms,

Rock me, rock me a little while.

Oh, with you, darling,

Rock me, rock me a little while.

The men came up to join her and Lucy spun, her wrist draped over Wyatt’s shoulder as Flynn’s hands found her hips, guiding her as they moved together, and then she spun around, relying on Wyatt to move forward and take her weight as Flynn caught her thighs and she lifted her leg up, her arms around Flynn’s neck, the two men basically doing the dancing for her as they kept her between them, until she kicked off and spun out, Wyatt grabbing her hand and lifting his arm, passing her underneath him to jive back to the middle between the two men again.

We all must feel

Heartache sometime.

Right now, right now,

I’m feeling mine.

Lucy moved around Flynn and he took her hand, turning her back to face him, and spread his legs, holding her with one arm and keeping her from falling as Lucy limbo’d all the way down between his legs, until she could reach out with her free hand and grab onto Wyatt’s waiting one, and Wyatt yanked her to standing as Flynn released her.

It had taken them ages to get the timing of that one right.

Lucy got to standing and spun around so they were all facing the same way, kicking out and jiving back before doing a quarter turn to face the audience and Lucy spun again, guided by Wyatt, who braced his arm across her lower back as she flung herself back, initiating a dip, and then was launched up to be in the middle again.

Kick back on the right, sweep the foot out, cross kick to the left, kick straight out to the side, hop and switch, repeating it back on the other leg. Lucy grinned, not even having to look behind her to know the men were in perfect sync with her, their timing nailed down thanks to having two perfectionists (Lucy and Flynn) and one eager-to-please (Wyatt) partner in the mix.

I tried my best to be strong,

But I’m not able.

Flynn grabbed her, one arm around her waist, and they kicked and jived in a circle, around and around, until Lucy kicked her leg up again and Flynn grabbed her arms, looping them up around and over, and she broke free to be in the middle in front of the men once again.

I’m losing you,

And my happiness.

My life is so dark,

I must confess.

Lucy fell back, only this time when the men caught her, she used it as a brace to flip herself up and over, her legs pinwheeling so that she did a backflip landed back on her feet on the other side of them. Wyatt grabbed her hips from behind this time, Flynn taking her hands in the front, and they toe-toe-heel-heel grapevined their way down the stage.

I’ll never, never see

Your smiling face no more.

I’ll never, never hear

Your knock upon my door.

Wyatt spun out this time and fell back into Flynn’s chest, Flynn catching him under his arms, allowing Wyatt to kick up with his left leg right before Flynn launched him forward to standing.

Before you leave me,

Leave me behind,

Please, let me feel,

Happy one more time.

Lucy spun, and spun, and spun, as the two men behind her partnered up, tearing up the dance floor, until Lucy faked like she was getting dizzy, pretended to stumble, and fell back to be caught by them a final time in a dramatic faint with a smile still on her lips.

Come on, baby,

Rock me, rock me a little while.

Oh, with you, darling,

Rock me, rock me, a little while.

Flynn and Wyatt helped her to her feet, and they bowed. Lucy quickly moved aside for Amy, who was about to do a dance to another mashup she’d made. Behind Amy was Rufus, shaking his head.

“It’s too bad they don’t allow threesomes for competitions,” he said.

“And yet we’re going to kick your ass anyway,” Lucy replied.

“Did you figure out if it’s you and Flynn or Wyatt and Flynn that’ll be competing?” Rufus asked.

Lucy grinned. “Wyatt and Garcia. I have to free up my time to be their choreographer.”

“Oh, honey, you did so well!” Michelle said, pulling Lucy into a hug.

“Thank you,” Lucy whispered. “For convincing him to come. Helping me get this all started.”

“Of course.” Michelle pulled back. “You might not believe it, but Denise was rooting for you the whole time, too.”

“You know what, I think I can believe that.”

“Lucy.” Flynn took her hand. “C’mon, we have to take our seats, Jess can’t hold them for us forever.”

“See you later!” Lucy whispered to the others, letting her boyfriends drag her away.

Lucy settled into her seat, grinning as she watched Wyatt practically melt as Flynn pet his hair. Her sister was about to perform, and judging by the nervous way Jess was shifting in her seat, her sister was also finally about to be proposed to. The new ballroom season was beginning, and she was going to create some kickass choreography for it.

She couldn’t wait.