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Shut Up And Dance

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The neighborhood dance studio is all polished wooden floors and walls of mirrored panes. Sapphire's been dancing here for as long as she can remember. These walls have seen the merciless sores of learning to dance on point, and the graceless echoing tumbles of pirouetting too fast and eager. While ballet is her favorite, the studio hosts so much more than that. Sapphire has stayed to watch the other classes before, albeit idly. Other styles simply don’t have the hook that ballet does. Nothing quite matches the lithe strength of spinning oneself like a top. In ballet grace and tension exist simultaneously. There is a balance. Sapphire loves that, strives for it.

Today, though. Today, Sapphire watches a particular breakdancer in the late afternoon sun peeking through the blinds of the west facing window. They have a baseball cap winched down over their dark curls, and they just—flip over and kip themselves to their feet. They're laughing at a friend's joke as their doing it—sure, this is no big deal—but Sapphire's gaze is drawn to the flash of brown skin and well defined abdominals. It's not like they're making much of a secret of it, honestly. Their shirt is wide open on the sides.

Their sports bra is black.

Sapphire’s pulse jumps.

They're wearing sweatpants over red shorts, and the former are baggy and dragging down just slightly. They never move as if this is a hindrance. Sapphire's seen them practice before; their legs twist and kick with such beautifully controlled power, and they have the reflexes of a startled cat.

Ruby. Sapphire tells herself. I know their name, I'm allowed to use it.

There are several different dance groups utilizing the neighborhood studio, and they all more or less know each other. There aren't any turf wars over studio usage—everyone has equal time slots, no exceptions—and while there are no rivals, necessarily, there isn't as much cross-pollination as you'd think.

Well, fuck it.

Sapphire drains the water from her canteen, snaps the red sweatband around her right wrist, adjusts the dark beanie atop her mane of long blonde hair, and approaches the breakdancing team.

“Hey,” she says. It honestly surprises her, how level and collected her voice sounds. She lets it ride anyway. It’s good that she doesn’t sound like her heart is pounding in her throat.

She looks right at Ruby as she says, “Want to try a fusion?”

The breakdancing team is about as in sync as her own clique (and why wouldn’t they be? They’ve been dancing together for about as long), so it’s not really that surprising when they all exchange looks. Since Ruby is the one being asked, though, it seems it is up to them to make the final call.

Ruby shrugs. It’s a smooth, rolling motion of half-bared shoulders and skin pulling taught over the collarbone Sapphire can just see under the hem of their shirt.

“Yeah, okay,” they say, and while their tone is perfectly amiable the breakdancer is giving her a vaguely questioning look. Why now, of all times?

Sapphire and Ruby have known of each other for—oh, it’s been years now. Breakdancing always takes over the studio after ballet lets out. They know each other’s names and faces, and maybe they’ve seen the other perform once or twice. There are a couple of instances where they’ve greeted each other in passing, offered a quip or two about a mutual friend or the weather, but that’s about it.

Why is Sapphire approaching now? Honestly, even she doesn’t know. It just feels like the thing to do today.

Sapphire’s eye is drawn to how the muscles in their arms flex when they gesture to one of their friends to set a song playing on the surround sound speakers. There is a powder blue sweatband around their left wrist.

After a lot of dedicated fundraising by the dancing community, the sound system in the neighborhood dance studio has finally been updated. It’s top notch now, completely capable of being manipulated from a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone. A petite woman with an oddly triangular haircut is quick to tap into another song selection.

The music that starts bumping through the speakers is nothing like Sapphire’s used to—too electric, too much bass. To be fair, though, it’s far more contained than the hip hop Ruby was just dancing to. It is, actually, an entirely fair cross between their drastically different genres.

She and Ruby, who have actually been standing about five feet apart, move closer now. Neither of them hesitate—they’re dancers, they’re used to sharing personal space—but even as Sapphire drapes her arms over Ruby’s shoulders and feels Ruby cup her hips she has to admit, she doesn’t quite know what a fusion between ballet and breakdancing is going to be like.

Maybe this was a stupid idea.

Ruby’s a little bit taller than her, about two inches worth. There is perspiration beaded on their forehead and upper lip, and their hair is shaggy despite its curl. It sticks to their cheeks ever so slightly. Sapphire doesn’t quite have to tilt her chin to look them in the eye, but she’s close.

Just because the music is strange doesn’t mean Sapphire can’t feel its charm. She moves her feet, experiments with her hips—this isn’t ballet, remember? You’re doing something impulsive, something new.

The look Ruby is giving her is strong enough to get the callouses on her toes to tingle. From this proximity, she can see that their eyes are the richest shade of brown, bottomless and warm despite the intensity of their expression. They also have the thickest, prettiest eyelashes she’s ever known. Enviable, really, since Ruby really doesn’t seem like the type to indulge in the likes of makeup.

The palms on her hips are broad and steady and hot. Sapphire feels them like brands, and she smiles.

Ruby isn’t smiling. Not really. They’re looking at her like they don’t really understand just what the hell she’s trying to do, but they want to. They’re looking right through her, trying to see everything.

That’s all the warning Sapphire gets before she is tossed into the air like a ragdoll. She flies up high enough to leave her stomach behind. It takes every ounce of her self control to keep from screeching, but it’s exhilarating too. In ballet the lifts are so much more controlled than this.

She’s caught, sinking into hot hands and strong arms. She looks at Ruby—a scathing remark about giving your partner some warning sitting on the tip of her tongue—but the words never come when, in their brief moment of eye contact, Ruby’s eyes flash and they blow her a kiss.

Of all things, a kiss.

Ballet isn’t really about twining yourself around another person to prove how flexible you are—but breakdancing isn’t much about throwing people in the air, either, so Sapphire supposes the fact she’s just propped her calf up on Ruby’s shoulder is acceptable on some level.

She still doesn’t expect Ruby to take that as an invitation to lift her up and flip her clear over their shoulder. They’ve done this before, Sapphire realizes as her long hair hisses over the polished wooden floor of the studio—and then suddenly the world is inverted once more, and her feet are touching back down again. These don’t feel like bullshitted maneuvers (literally flipping your partner 360 degrees is certainly not something you should try if you have not had the proper training), it feels like Ruby’s done this before, and often. For all that Sapphire is surprised, she never feels unsafe in their hands.

Ruby’s breath catches audibly when Sapphire sidles in so close their lips practically touch, fingers curled around the taller dancer’s neck, but it all comes out in a startled laugh when she whirls them about in a jitterbug-style spin. Their reflexes are quick to kick in when the footwork becomes unfamiliar, and even though their sweatpants are baggy they never stumble.

Sapphire is trained to move with grace when she dances, each action seguing into the next. Smooth, rolling hills—that’s ballet, to her.

Ruby, though. They move like jagged mountain peaks plunging into wide, fertile valleys. Everything they do is strong, confident, fluid—but, ultimately, unpredictable.

Sapphire loses track of how she is hefted up and swung about like a prop on a Broadway stage, but she never once loses her faith in Ruby’s hands. They don’t shake, don’t flounder. She isn’t dropped once—and, whenever she punctuates those fancy acrobatics with something as interesting as sliding down Ruby’s torso closer than she strictly has to when she’s being lowered (or as silly as dipping them like this is some kind of waltz), Ruby is a good sport about rolling with the punches, so to speak.

This isn’t breakdancing anymore, and it certainly isn’t ballet. This is something else entirely. What do they call it? Honestly, Sapphire couldn’t say. Being Goofy To Unorthodox Music, perhaps. Goading A Sexy Breakdancer Into Touching You, maybe.

By the time the song is over, Sapphire’s fingers are tangled in the curls at the base of Ruby’s skull, the tips of their noses are grazing, and they’re both panting. They’re both grinning, too. This time, the warm chocolate of Ruby’s eyes is being highlighted by the golden sun. It sparks new depth in them, and tiny speckles of gold Sapphire never noticed before.

Sapphire grins a little bigger. She thinks she could get used to unorthodox dance fusions.