Dance For Me Ch. 08bybrightlyiburn©
Chapter Eight: Quarterfinal
Even in the dead of winter, the Florida sun could be brutal. Alastair stepped under the hot spray of the shower to wash a thick layer of sunscreen from his skin; he absolutely reeked of it. That's much better, he thought, washing away a residue of chlorine from his hair. His parents had gotten rooms at a nice hotel with an indoor swimming pool. They'd even paid for a room for Sada. The room adjoining mine, Alastair thought, scowling. I really hope Mom doesn't think she's being crafty.
He finished his shower quickly and stepped out to towel himself dry. They still had a couple hours until their round of the Quarterfinal began. Alastair went over his hair with the towel, then pulled it back. He pulled on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt; they'd change at the stadium. He'd just finished dressing when a soft knock on the inner door caught his attention. Alastair pulled it open to find Sada standing in the doorway, dressed much as he was, smelling sweetly of lilacs. Her hair had been blow-dried.
"I'm so nervous," Sada whimpered.
Alastair chuckled. "Don't worry, little Sada. Everything will be fine. We've practiced too much for it to not be fine."
"I know," Sada said. "I...I can't help it, though. Whenever I'm getting ready to go on stage I...I remember that time..."
Alastair felt a pang of sympathy for her. He'd never been anything but confident on the stage; he loved attention and usually craved it. Acting on impulse, he pulled her into his arms and held her close. Sada sighed softly, leaning her wait against him. Idiot, he chided himself. You're letting yourself care about her too much. She had an odd effect on him. Alastair found he wanted to protect her from things like this; sort of like how he always wanted to protect his sister, but different in many ways.
My sister doesn't give me a hard on, he thought, groaning inwardly. Thank god. Sada smelled good. She was soft and warm, and fit against him nicely. He inhaled deeply, drawing in the scent of lilacs. Alastair gently pushed her away and sat her down on the edge of the bed. He knelt in front of her, forcing her to look at him.
"We'll be fine," Alastair assured her. "I promise. Nothing bad will happen, Sada...I believe you can do this."
"Thanks," Sada said, smiling faintly. "You're right. We can do this together."
"That's my girl," Alastair said, grinning at her. "Let's start getting our things together, little dancer."
Sada stood in front of the mirror, inspecting herself. A bubble of nerves was growing in her stomach. She had not been able to enjoy any of her trip in the least; even the breath-taking Florida sunsets could not take her mind off the upcoming competition. She and Alastair were one of the last few couples performing...right after Melissa and Andre, naturally. Just what I need, Sada thought, rolling her eyes. Dancing right after my old crush and Alastair's old girlfriend.
When she'd been choosing costumes Sada had tried to keep with their current theme of alternative music. She'd found another skirt, this one black mesh over red panne. The sides were slit and chains, three glittering, thin silver ones at each slit, were hooked into grommets set in the fabric at the waist. She'd also found a sleeveless red mesh shirt with a tattered hemline that hung just about below her ribs. Fingerless red fishnet gloves, an array of black rubber bracelets, and a pair of red fishnet stockings completed her outfit. I look like Hot Topic threw up on me, Sada thought, giggling.
She'd wondered if this sort of thing was too extreme, but Alastair had assured her that it fit in perfectly with his plan. When she'd asked what exactly that was, he'd smiled mysteriously at her and remained silent. Sada shook her hair from her face, gave her make-up one last check, then headed out of the changing room, holding onto her number. They were couple number eighty-one this time. Alastair was waiting for her in the room reserved for the couples dancing tonight.
Oh my, Sada thought, biting her lip. He was wearing his leather pants again, and she had wondered how she was ever going to convince him to dance in anything else. A red mesh vest hung open casually, baring his chest and stomach. She could see the vine-like tattoos that crept over his shoulders and around his upper-arms. Sada had even managed to convince him to wear a pair of gloves like hers, although he hadn't been happy about it. He had let her use a spray and some chunking tools to put red streaks in his dark hair that would wash out afterwards.
"See," Sada said quietly as she approached. "I told you we have to match."
Alastair peered down at her. "I'm glad I don't have to wear exactly the same thing you do."
"Oh, hush," Sada grumped, scowling.
Alastair turned fully to face her. He was holding his number too, and he handed it to her. Scowling still, she pinned it to the back of his vest, then shoved her number into his hand and turned around. She felt his breath hot against her ear, making her shiver.
"I shouldn't have to say it," Alastair murmured. "But you look fantastic."
Sada felt her face heat. "Oh...you don't think it's too much?"
"Oh, it's too much," Alastair said. "However, I truly doubt my definition of "too much" is the same as yours, little dancer."
She shivered again at another brush of his warm breath against her neck. His lips touched her earlobe, followed by the faint pressure of his teeth. Sada's eyes widened, and she pulled away from him, whirling to face him. Alastair grinned crookedly at her. She pressed her hands to her cheeks, which were bright red. I hope he doesn't do this sort of thing the whole time we're waiting, she thought, chewing her lower lip. What's gotten into him lately?
He'd been affectionate, or at least, as close to it as he could get. Sada wasn't certain if the little nips and nuzzles he gave her were affection, not when they were followed by a flirting comment or sexual innuendo. She knew a lot of it was teasing; he gave her such a hard time for being so innocent at her age. Still...It's confusing, Sada thought. I can't tell if he means any of it or not.
"So, Melissa and Andre are couple eighty, huh?" Alastair said, at once casual and relaxed. He leaned against the wall and stared up at the monitor. "Wow, look at that...ouch!"
Sada peered up at the monitor in time to see a petite blonde pick herself up from the floor. Oh boy, she thought, feeling her heart thump painfully. I'd die if that were me. She watched the rest of the routine, but the blonde never seemed to get back her momentum. Sada found herself wishing that this was Melissa and Andre, and not some unnamed couple that was no threat to her and Alastair.
Speak of the unspeakable evil, Sada thought, catching a glimpse of Melissa from the corner of her eye. Once again she was wearing a dress; chiffon, tea length, and rosy pink. Andre wore a pink dress shirt, and maybe it was her imagination, but she thought he didn't look happy about it. Sada nudged Alastair and pointed in the direction of Melissa and Andre.
"Nice," Alastair said loudly, his voice carrying across the room. "See, Sada, now why didn't you think of that? I always wanted to look like a little girl's bedroom."
Melissa turned to glare at them. Alastair smiled sweetly and waved. Sada sighed, giving him a reproachful look, but he just grinned brightly at her. I'm not fooled, she thought as he turned his attention back to the monitor. You're just trying to look tough. Melissa had really hurt him; Sada wished she knew what had happened, so she could help him somehow. Of course, when he was acting like this he wasn't going to take her help, anyway.
Alastair had never been patient. He'd spent much of their wait making disparaging comments about Andre's costume and Melissa's hair (which had been done up in ridiculous sausage curls). At least, he had until Sada had grown impatient with him and told him off. Truthfully, he didn't know what to do with himself. For some reason, something about Sada and Melissa being in close proximity to each other was bothering him. Alastair certainly had no feelings for Melissa anymore, aside from anger and bitterness, but for some reason he was uncomfortable seeing her.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, they had been called into the wings, along with the other couples eighty through ninety. They only had to wait through one couple to dance, and that was Melissa and Andre. Alastair settled behind Sada and rested his hands on her shoulders, as he had before. Her hair smelled so good that he rested his head atop hers, startling her.
"Just in case I drift off," Alastair murmured.
Sada chuckled. "I am not your pillow, Alastair Wolfe."
"No?" Alastair pouted. "Aw, but you're so comfy."
"Behave!" Sada scolded, trying to sound sharp, but he caught a hint of laughter in her voice.
Melissa and Andre did another slow, classical piece. Alastair was torn between drifting off from boredom, or gagging at the music ("My Heart Will Go On", by Celine Dion). Sada seemed just as bored and disgusted as he was. She eventually shook him off of her to begin stretching out on the bar. Alastair stretched out a little himself, but he had done so earlier, too.
Finally, at long last, Melissa and Andre's performance ended. Alastair grabbed hold of Sada's wrist and pulled her out of the wings, not even glancing at Melissa and Andre as they passed. He stopped in the middle of the stage and crouched, holding his hands out. Sada took up a position a few feet away from him, raising her hands above her head and staring up at the lights above the stage.
"Couple number eighty-one, Alastair Wolfe and Sadira Scarlett."
The music started up slow. For the first verse Alastair merely stood with his head bowed, as Sada dance. She made her way slowly over to him with the flow of the music, eventually lifting one foot and setting it in his cupped hands.
The music jumped suddenly to a faster beat. He felt her weight lift as she pushed off of her other leg, and Alastair lifted his hands, giving Sada the air she needed to perform a back flip. The crowd gasped and cheered as she landed perfectly on her feet. Catching hold of her, Alastair finally joined in the actually dancing.
"But we sing, if we're going nowhere...yeah we sing, if it's not enough...and we sing, sing without a reason...to ever fall in love..."
Alastair loved this song. As it dropped back to a slightly slower beat, Sada let herself drop backwards with the boneless grace of a catch. He caught her just before she hit the floor, drawing another gasp of amazement from the crowd. She may not have realized just how much she was beginning to trust him, to agree to that move; it took a lot of trust and cooperation between dance partners. Especially when one considered that he then pulled her up and tossed her lightly into the air as the music sped up again.
This time Alastair caught her. He noticed, when he caught a quick glimpse of her face, that she was grinning. The dance he'd put together was a lot of fun; he could hear people in the crowd cheering and hooting. There weren't any other truly daring moves in the rest of the piece, but there was a lot of synchronization and some big leaps.
The song was one that faded out slowly. Alastair dropped back to his knees as the music softened, and Sada sidled up in front of him. He rested his head lightly against her stomach and she closed her arms around him, bowing her head. The music drifted off completely, leaving only the cheering and applause of the crowd. Sada took a step back and helped him to his feet, and they left the stage together.
"Oh, that was fun!" Sada laughed, gripping Alastair's arm as they headed into the backstage area.
Alastair grinned. "Who was it who was so nervous earlier?"
"Oh, I was until you calmed me down," Sada told him, smiling brightly. "But you made it easier to deal with my nerves."
Alastair smiled down at her. He slid his arm around her shoulders and gazed down into her bright green eyes. Her cheeks heated beneath his gaze, and he chuckled and released her. He led her to a bench beneath the monitor and pushed her gently down onto it. Sada let out a heavy sigh, and he could tell she was exhausted. She wore herself out, getting so nervous and worked up before they danced.
They waited nearly ten minutes before receiving their scores; high, but unfortunately not higher than Andre and Melissa's. The judges can see that we aren't as cohesive as some couples, Alastair thought, frowning. He was pretty certain they would move on to the Semifinals, of course, but he couldn't help being a bit nervous. He sat down next to Sada and leaned against her, resting his head on her shoulder as they waited.
Sada finished pulling her hair back into French braided pig tails, then dropped her brush into her bag and zipped it up. She smoothed the black, off-the-shoulder peasant top she was wearing, feeling oddly nervous. The night was over, and they were moving on to the Semifinals, but her stomach was in knots. It's her, she thought, scowling. Melissa had looked so pretty, as she always did. And Alastair had been insulting Andre all night, it seemed. I can't compare to a pretty blonde who also used to be his girlfriend, Sada thought as she shouldered her bag.
Really, why should it matter? Alastair teased her, sure, but he couldn't possibly be seriously interested in her. Lately, though, she'd noticed herself wishing he was serious. Not that she hadn't always been attracted to him, because she had. But then he had to go and show me how sweet he can actually be, Sada thought, scowling. Their trip to the skating rink had been nice, but it was Christmas that had done her in. And he hasn't been as much of an arrogant jerk lately, either.
"I don't want to talk to you."
Sada paused in the hallway. Just around the corner someone was standing, and she had a feeling she knew who it was. Alastair, definitely, because she recognized his voice, but she would be that Melissa was there, too. Flattening herself against the wall, she held as still as she could and listened.
"This will only take a few minutes," came Melissa's voice.
"Speak fast," Alastair growled.
"I just don't get it, Alastair," Melissa said, her voice petulant. "You're so talented. Whatever are you doing with that half-trained klutz?"
Half-trained klutz? Sada thought furiously. Her hands clenched into fists and she had to bite her lip to keep from jumping out at Melissa. Who does she think she is? she thought, scowling. Just because she is blonde and petite and pretty and...damnit. She stifled a sigh and pushed her back firmly against the wall.
"I would appreciate if you wouldn't talk about my partner like that," Alastair said stiffly.
"Oh, come on," Melissa laughed. "That girl is a joke! Why don't you get away from her while you still can?"
"What is that supposed to mean?" Alastair demanded.
Yeah, Sada thought, what is that supposed to mean? She had never liked Melissa, and she was liking her less and less by the second. That snobby tone of voice grated on her nerves. And she is so spoiled, too, Sada thought, feeling furious. I doubt she would ever appreciate a gift like a stuffed animal...she's the type who likes expensive jewelry. Why did he ever date someone like her, anyway?
"All it would take is a word from my father," Melissa cooed. "Couples aren't supposed to change partners in the middle of the competition, but I could finagle it."
Why that...that... Sada thought, shaking with rage. She was just about to step around the corner and tell Melissa exactly what she thought of her, but she never got the chance. Movement at the corner of her eye caught her attention. She saw Quinn glide past her, glancing at her briefly, then turn the corner. There was a soft gasp, which must have been Melissa. Sada wished then, passionately, that she could see her face.
"Hello, Melissa," Quinn said quietly.
"Hello," Melissa responded. Her voice sounded choked and nervous.
"Did I hear correctly?" Quinn asked, his voice dangerously quiet. "I never want to hear you speak like that about Sada again. She is worth so much more than you are."
"I...I...you...I didn't..." Melissa stammered.
"You make me sick," Quinn growled. "After what you did...you have a lot of nerve even looking at my brother. And for you to speak like that about Sada...she's far more talented than you will ever be."
"But I...I...there is...you see..." Melissa couldn't seem to get anything out of her mouth properly.
"Go," Quinn said.
I think that's the most I've ever heard him speak, Sada thought, grinning broadly. She heard the sound of footsteps moving quickly away, and turned the corner to find Alastair and Quinn regarded each other warily. Sada didn't really notice that, thought. She paused in front of them, unable to fight her smile.
"That was brilliant!" Sada crowed.
She stood on her toes and gave Quinn a quick peck on the cheek. Sada then started off down the hall, calling for them to follow. She didn't see the look of astonishment Alastair gave her, or the look of smug satisfaction that Quinn sent his brother's way. She never saw the tension between the two, or the anger in Alastair's eyes. After all, Sada, in all her enthusiasm and naiveté, wouldn't have thought either of them would take her friendly kiss as anything but.