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fic - rhythm emotion part 1 [misc] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
fic - rhythm emotion part 1 [misc]
Title:  Rhythm Emotion
Part:  1
Summary:  Duo learns to dance to the beat of his own heart.
Note:  Written for Moments of Rapture 2012.  Special thanks to Sharon, for being Sharon.
Additional Notes:  Ha, see the turnip totally procrastinate on writing/posting anything because I knew I'd eventually have this old thing to whip out. -_-'

Rhythm Emotion
Part 1

Day -363

Duo didn't consider himself a vain man, nor an especially prideful man.  But he did like to think of himself as an honest man, and in his more honest moments, he admitted to a competitive spirit, and perhaps a smidge of a temper.

When they'd called the other man's name, it hadn't stung over-much.  He'd wanted it, known he was good enough to get it, but rejection was something a professional dancer had to get used to.  There would always be someone better out there.  The best a guy could hope for was that those better people weren't trying out for the same positions he was.  All he could do was be the best he could be.

He punched his pillow a few times and rolled over onto his back.  He knew staring at the clock was hardly the way to fall asleep, but he couldn't resist the urge to turn his head and look blearily at the digital display.  Not quite as late as he'd expected, but time passed slowly in these circumstances.  He shut his eyes again and tried to relax, tried to tell himself it was fortunate he didn't have rehearsals to get to in the morning, but the reason for it kept echoing through his brain.

It hadn't been his intention to overhear the two members of the selection panel discussing the decision after the fact, but overhear it he had.  His technique had been on par with their eventual choice, his partnering superior.  No, that was nothing to lose sleep over.  It was that they'd both agreed that there had been something missing from his performance, a strange inability to connect with his audience, a subtle lack of expression, emotion, honesty.

They all three agreed with that, actually, except Duo hadn't been able to put that 'off' feeling he'd had into words.  He wasn't quite certain when it had started, how long it'd been creeping up on him.  At least a year.  Less than three, since he'd been unfettered when that regional critic had marked him a rising star in the dance world, a force to keep an eye on.  He remembered the performance that had inspired the words.  Now that, that was what dance was meant to be.  The joy, the passion, working through the choreography like it wasn't even there, the moves flowing through him like the truest expression of his self in that moment.

To dance any less than that was a travesty.

Day -240

He accepted the praise of his fellow dancers with a modest nod, and returned the praise in kind.  The energy had been high tonight.  It usually was on opening night.  Being around the holidays, even more so.

Everyone danced well tonight.  The program had been alternately touching and uplifting.  Duo felt he'd gotten into the spirit of things.  He liked the holidays, they'd put together a set with sophistication and only a whiff of seasonal cheesiness offered up by a trio of junior members, and a healthy synergy always built up around dancing with others equally skilled and enthusiastic about their craft.

He carefully put away all thoughts of the skilled and enthusiastic dancers he wasn't performing with, the routines he wasn't dancing, the venue he wasn't in.  It wasn't jealousy, really, nor resentment.  Just motivation for him to get his head sorted out.  But not right now.  Right now, he owed his current engagement his full and undivided attention.

Day -200

With some difficulty, he got his class settled down and ready to begin the day's lesson.  The girls were usually cooperative, and fortunately, there were a lot more of them than their male counterparts.  The girls wanted this chance to rise above the drabness around them and prove they could be beautiful, too.

The boys were officially present under protest.  It wasn't easy for a boy to admit he wanted to dance.  Hip hop, maybe.  B-boying, that was cool, too.  Contemporary?  Not so much, but it helped that their only other choice at the moment was tap, and that Duo was pretty good at putting a positive spin on things for them.  He had plenty of personal experience from which to draw on that matter.

Day -185

He always thought better on his feet.  Eyes closed, iPod on, he moved through the music with the choreography he'd gotten last week, sometimes altering it here and there.  He did it over and over until he was satisfied with the flow of the routine from beginning to end.  He probably would have done it even if the choreographer hadn't declared that she was open to alterations, but at least now, he didn't have to lock horns with anyone just to be comfortable with the piece.

He was glad for her openness.  This way, he couldn't blame his disconnect on bad choreography.  He'd had his moments, off and on in the last few months, when he'd had to resist falling into that trap.  It was so easy to believe it was someone else's fault, but he remembered the words of one of his teachers.  It didn't matter how bad his partners were, how awkward the choreography was.  That was never an excuse for doing a poor job.  The true artist works with what he is given, and produces something beautiful from it.

At the time, he'd considered the words a bit high-handed, but he'd learned the truth of it over the years.

His thoughts strayed to his other gig.  He'd never really wanted to teach, but it helped pay the bills, gave him something constructive to do, and afforded him round-the-clock access to this nice studio space.

He thought about his students.  He hoped things clicked for at least one of them.  Maybe not in this class, a novice class, but maybe farther on down in the series, when dance became more fun, more natural, and not so much about trying to impress the members of the opposite sex while pretending not to care at all.  At least they were old enough to be over the idea of cooties, and young enough that there was minimal leering and flirting.  Preening and posturing, he could deal with.

He tried to remember when he'd been that young.  It really hadn't been all that long ago.  But he didn't remember trying to show off to the girls that much.  He remembered blushing a little when he'd had to put his hands on a girl.  Holds were innocent enough to begin with, but things got more adventurous from there pretty quickly.  He'd been nervous about accidentally groping her in an entirely inappropriate way, about dropping her, about whether he was strong enough, about her figuring out he was nervous.

And then one day, it all just clicked, and oh what a day that had been.

He missed that click.  Not the hold click, but that click he'd gotten when dance became more than just a series of moves.  He'd thought it was like the proverbial riding of a bike, but apparently he was mistaken.  It came and it went, but an inconsistent dancer wasn't worth much.  Had he taken it for granted?  Was it just taking him longer to get in the zone?

He glanced involuntarily at the calendar on the wall.  He could understand a delay of a few weeks maybe.  It took time to learn steps and settle into a routine.  But this went way, way beyond a few weeks, and well into the realm of absurdity.

With a sigh, he headed over to the chair where he'd parked his stuff and got ready to leave the studio for the night.  He still had half a year left.  It wasn't quite panic time yet.  Frustration time, maybe.  But no one could get into the zone if they were frustrated.  He wasn't sure how he'd manage to un-frustrate himself, the closer he got to his self-imposed deadline, but...

Well.  He still had a good six more months to figure it out.  It was time to go home for the night.

Day -178

"Thanks for helping Rob out today."

Duo waved his hand in dismissal as he sipped at his water bottle.  "No prob.  He's a good kid."

Hilde nodded amiably.  "Too bad puberty seems to have gotten the best of him."

He laughed.  "His balance will catch up with the rest of him.  Nah, I had fun today.  It's good to get out of your style once in a while, yanno?"  Out of his style, and out of his head.  Tap was a dance he still had to think about, and while that was entirely not what he wanted to do with his own native style, getting an outside perspective could be useful sometimes.  With the tap class just a half-hour after his, it was a handy convenience he took advantage of now and again.  In exchange, Hilde lent him a hand in his class once in a while as well.

"Whoa, hey, you've been holding out on me," he joked as Hilde pulled a tupperware of cookies out of her duffle bag.

She pulled the container close to her.  "Hands off.  These aren't for you."

"Well, they aren't for your class, since they're all gone now."

"They're for the guy upstairs."

"What guy upstairs?"

"You know."  She wiggled her fingers in the direction of the ceiling.  "Oh, that's right.  You weren't here when he was moving in.  We have a new upstairs neighbor.  I ran into him the other day.  Told him I'd get him an office-warming present."

"Wow, he must be really hot or something."

Hilde pulled her hoodie out of her bag and shrugged it on with a coy smirk.  "Well, yes, as a matter of fact he is.  Hot, and about our age, and apparently successful.  But I'd be neighborly either way."

"If you say so.  Can I have a cookie?"

"I just told you, these aren't for you!"

"Oh, come on.  He's not gonna notice if one is missing."

"Tell you what.  You come with me to say hello, and if you're lucky, he'll offer you one."

He contemplated that for a moment before heaving a dramatic sigh.  "Fine.  They better be good cookies.  Hey, they're not like vegan cookies, are they?  You know guys don't really do vegan, right?"

Day -175

Through the window in their front door, he caught sight of their new neighbor as the man walked down the hall toward the stairs up to his office.  Duo pondered him as he continued to count out a rhythm for his class.  He'd seemed a perfectly pleasant man, but Duo just hadn't taken to him.  He wasn't sure why.  Maybe it was just too many roosters in the hen house.

He didn't have a thing for Hilde.  They got along great, but their interest in each other didn't seem to go past good friendship.  So it didn't bother him, per se, that Hilde had flirted a little with the man upstairs.  Had, in fact, cheerfully ogled the man's backside as he reached underneath his desk to plug something in to the power strip there.  Was he vindicated at all that the man hadn't responded?

Maybe it was just an alpha male thing.  Despite the fact that their new neighbor had presented himself as quite mild-mannered and completely unthreatening.  Hilde was his, in a pack sort of way.  They both taught classes here.  They were both members of the local dance scene.  Duo himself wasn't an especially aggressive guy, but he'd developed fraternal, protective instincts after all those formative years of being one of the few guys in a flock of girls.

Maybe he was just being snooty.  The guy was a freelance programmer of some sort.  Mild-mannered, completely unthreatening, and undoubtedly lacking a creative bone in his body.  That sort of thing didn't seem contagious, but it never hurt to play things on the safe side.

Well, whyever the guy put him on edge, Duo resolved to be just as pleasant and unthreatening back to him, otherwise Hilde would catch wind of it and never feed him a cookie again.  Not even a vegan one.

Day -168

His class ran a little bit late, and Hilde showed up a bit early.  She noticed a morose look about him immediately.  "Is something the matter, Duo?"

He held an internal debate on the finer points of telling her, and eventually decided he'd better man up and confess.  "Oh, nothing," he answered airily.  "Except the guy upstairs probably thinks I'm out of my mind, and that I may think he's a stalker."

"Wait, what?  You think he's a stalker?"

"No, but I'm sure he thinks I think he's a stalker."

"Um.  Do I even want to know why?"

"I was here last night, doing my thing, and then I look over and see him watching me through the window."

"Oh, creepy!"

"No!  It totally wasn't!  I mean, I think I just looked over there at exactly the right moment, when he happened to be looking in, and then I saw him!  I don't think he was stalker-watching me.  But I think my first reaction was like, 'oh creepy!' because I don't think I recognized him and I think it showed, and it woulda been kinda creepy if I'd been a girl, but luckily I'm not, so... I kinda ran after him.  I shoulda left good enough alone.  He didn't seem to think it was awkward or anything.  He just kinda waved and then walked away, but I didn't really register that at the time.  I just thought I should go apologize for that look on my face, so I caught him before he walked out, and then..."

"And then... what?"

He smacked his forehead with the palm of his hand.  "And then I kinda babbled on a bit about how, don't worry, I don't think you're a stalker, which probably had the complete opposite effect of what I was going for.  And he kinda did that thing, had that tone of voice you get when you're humoring the weirdo in front of you?  Yeah, that.  He apologized and left."

Hilde laughed.  And when Duo protested that it wasn't funny, she laughed some more.  "Wow, Duo.  I didn't take you for the babbling type."

"Yeah, me neither!  I spent most of the night wondering what the hell possessed me to act like a complete basketcase.  Now I'm gonna have to play the avoidance game with him."

She rolled her eyes.  "Oh, yeah, that's real mature.  Why don't you just go upstairs and apologize for being such a weirdo?"

"Are you kidding me?  What if I make things worse?"

"You think you can get worse than 'basketcase'?"

"Well, now that you've jinxed me by asking that, yes, I probably can!"

"Oh, come on.  I have no intentions of avoiding him in the hall, and I'd prefer not to be known as that girl that works with the crazy guy.  Go upstairs and talk to him."

"It's the middle of his workday.  I'm sure he's quite busy."

"He's a freelancer, Duo.  He makes his own hours.  And, I dunno, just how long do you think it'll take to convince him you're not crazy?"

"I'm sure the longer it takes, the crazier I'll sound."

"Exactly.  And it'll be even weirder if you wait a month before bringing it up.  So just go up and say a few words to him.  No, don't ask me what.  I'm sure you'll come up with something."  They heard the building door open, and a couple of her students chatting as they entered.  She smirked at him.  "Do you need me to walk you up there?  No?  Then go on.  Shoo."

He consented, but only because he felt it was better to put himself out of his misery.  He took the stairs up slowly, trying to decide whether he should just wing it or compose something instead.  He figured he'd probably sound like an idiot either way.

He knocked tentatively on the nondescript door, and distracted himself during the subsequent wait by staring at the suite sign.  Suite 201, Yuy Software Solutions.  A bit ostentatious really, not that that was Yuy's fault.  They were provided by the building, and if management wanted to call the modest office space a suite, well, that was their prerogative.  There was only one more office space up there, and it was empty at the moment, so Yuy Software Solutions could take up the entire second floor, for all that it mattered.

The door opened partway, and they blinked in surprise at each other for a couple of seconds before Duo kicked his mouth into gear.  "Hi!  Uh... Heero, yeah?  Look, I just wanted to apologize for last night.  I... don't know what came over me.  I'm sorry if I... weirded you out."

Heero blinked a few more times before opening the door a bit wider.  He didn't seem like he was expecting guests, judging by his clothes.  Well, no, the clothes were fine -- unbuttoned shirt layered over a t-shirt with jeans.  Casual, but neat.  It was the mustard yellow house slippers that didn't fit the image.  "No, not at... all," he responded with a slightest hesitation.  The tone was friendly enough, but the pause implied that no, actually it had been a little bit weird, and he wasn't the kind of person to indulge too heavily in sweet social lies.  "Don't worry about it."

"I just... uh..."  No! Duo's inner voice screamed.  Stop while you're ahead!  But too late, he'd already started, and really, he felt like he could offer a better explanation than that.  "Sorry, I just didn't recognize you at first, so you... surprised me a bit, that's all."

"That's understandable."  There was the faintest hint of a smile to go with that amiable statement.

"And then... sometimes when I dance, I get into the zone, yanno?  And so I saw you and had no idea how long you'd been there, so... Uh, yeah.  Threw me off.  For more than just those few seconds, apparently, judging by the way I went after you to 'explain' and... totally failed."

"I'm sorry.  I'm told I have that effect on people."

"Able to unnerve people in a single glance?"


"...Hell of a super power."

"Thank you."

He wasn't quite sure whether or not he liked it that the other man seemed to be laughing silently at him, but it seemed a very warm, affable laugh, like this was going to become a pleasant inside joke rather than a reason to laugh behind someone's back.  It agreed with him, so he let it slide.  "Oh, and, uh, sorry about bothering you while you're working."

"It's not a problem.  It's good to take a break once in a while."

"Yeah.  Well.  I guess I'll let you get back to it.  Hope you don't think too poorly of me."

Heero shrugged with some level of bemusement.  "You're a dancer.  You don't like being thrown off-balance, I assume."

It took Duo a moment to get the pun, but he chuckled when he did.  "Next time, I'll be prepared for the sudden appearance of a strange face at my window."

"Maybe we should talk some more, then.  So our faces won't be so strange to each other anymore."  He opened his door all the way in implicit invitation.

Oh.  Well.  Duo didn't have anywhere else to be right at the moment, and he couldn't really come up with a polite way to excuse himself, if he had been so inclined.  He took a few steps forward, not doing much more than crossing the threshold, and looked at the arrangement of equipment inside.  "Hey, all settled in now, eh?"

"More or less," Heero answered easily, leaving the door open to settle into his workstation chair.

"Do you really need, what, five monitors, and three computers?"

"And two laptops?  Yes.  One of the advantages to getting myself an office."

"Oh?  Yeah, you're a freelancer.  Why don't you just work at home?"

"Well, the tax implications of a home office are a pain to work out, and..."

Duo slept a lot better that night.

Day -130

Duo was on his way out when he ran into Heero in the hall.  He took in the other man's attire with a bit of a blink.  "Going for a run?"

"Yeah."  Heero crouched to tighten his shoelace.  "It's a nice day today, and it's good to take a break in the afternoon, get the blood flowing."

"Oh."  He'd noticed that Heero cut a fairly trim figure before, but he hadn't really expected a desk jockey to actually be fit.  "I guess it's just like a coffee break.  But better for you."

Standing, Heero quirked his lips slightly at the somewhat inane observation.  "It's good for my work, too.  Gives me time to think.  I've come up with good, creative ideas while running before."

"Creative?  I didn't know there was much creativity involved in programming."

"Sure, why not?  Programming's all about problem solving.  There are smart ways to do things, and stupid ways.  Brute-force ways and elegant ways.  Tried-and-true ways and innovative ways.  And the people I work for don't typically come to me asking for something they could get an intern to write."

"Oh, well... I'm not sure I would have called 'problem solving' 'creativity'..."

Heero smiled tolerantly.  "Do you only believe in creativity for creativity's sake?  When you dance, when you have a piece of choreography, isn't it choreographed in a way to express something specific?  It's an interpretation of the music, or meant to evoke some emotion, paint some picture, represent some idea.  Couldn't you say, in a sense, that the choreography that comes out of the process is a solution to the problem of how to express whatever it is you're trying to express?"

Duo's brow wrinkled skeptically, but he felt obliged to work his way through the analogy in the face of Heero's patient look.  "...I'm not sure I'd go quite that far.  But I could see how duct tape and bubble gum might result in some very creative solutions to a variety of problems."

"Well, there you go.  I try to avoid the duct tape and bubble gum approach in code.  It tends not to be very robust or scaleable.  But the idea's the same.  You have a certain set of tools at your disposal.  It's your job to figure out how best to utilize them to get the job done."

"Ah.  Well, sorry to interrupt you again.  Get on out there and, uh, innovate!"

Heero saluted him with a lazy smirk.  "See you around," he said as he turned to leave.

"Yeah," Duo answered faintly.

He got to wondering, as he slowly followed Heero out the door, if maybe he was dancing to the wrong tunes, or trying to express the wrong ideas, or coming up with the wrong 'solutions' to his 'problems'.

By the time he got to his car, he had thoroughly confused himself and resolved to dismiss it from his mind.

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7 comments or Leave a comment
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: September 11th, 2012 06:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
*giggles manically*


corpus_yaoi From: corpus_yaoi Date: September 13th, 2012 12:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Haaaa! I loved this piece! I can't believe I didn't peg it for your work right away, since it's got that classic total-emotional-involvment thing going on while there's nothing more racy than some kissing (er, there was a kiss, right?). I am in total envy of how you can get so comfortably into these characters heads, even when they're interacting in an AU setting. The presentation was wonderful, too. The day counts were consistent, so they caught the readers attention but it wasn't until much later that you figured out the weight they carried. And in the end, it seemed pretty arbitrary anyway XDD

Thanks for whipping 'this old thing' out, it was a fantastic read!
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: September 13th, 2012 06:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Ha, yes, there was an actual kiss in there, in the second-to-last scene, followed by some vague nonsense about two hearts beating in harmony that may or may not have implied an awesome behind-the-scenes make-out session. (probably not, but i'll allow the reader to read what she wants into it.)

I made I think four guesses about who wrote what... and only got one right. ^^'

The day counts were not arbitrary!  Though you certainly wouldn't know it.  They started out sort of arbitrary, but then my obsessive-compulsive nature kicked in and I was forced to plot out events on the time line.  I considered that the average extracurricular class like this would only last maybe 6-8 weeks, but clearly I needed him teaching long enough to keep running into Heero.  So Duo teaches a series of three classes, with maybe a month in between.  I carefully positioned them on the calendar as to make sense, e.g. they don't fall during the winter holidays, etc.  And then I only chose day numbers for the Heero/Duo interactions during time periods when I figured the class would be in session.  Though it's possible I may have accidentally hit a weekend somewhere, but I decided I wasn't going to be THAT neurotic... ^^'
corpus_yaoi From: corpus_yaoi Date: September 13th, 2012 11:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, we usually get kisses out of you :))) in my head, i add a whole cart of lemons but i, for one, think your plots and dislogue and emotional goings on are so well thought out that i dont mind having the physical aspects mostly left to myself. But for curiositys sake, have you ever written a lemon before?</p>

My comment abt the arbitrary nature of the numbers of days remaining was nit because they seemed totally random (and in fact, they were carefully plotted out) but because duo ended up achieving his goal (goals) not actually on day 0, right :DD

turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: September 14th, 2012 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)
No, I've never felt the need to write a graphic all-the-way sex scene, though I feel I've done relatively graphic foreplay before.  I don't think my skillz lie in that direction, so I'm comfortable leaving it as an exercise to the reader, whose imagination can certainly conjure up a better scene than I can with words.  I'm not morally opposed to writing one, though, if the situation calls for it.  Of course, since barely any of my characters ever even get around to sex, on camera or off, it's not an issue that's come up all that often. ^^'

Ah.  Technically, Duo's goal was only to 'figure it out', as in, identify what was wrong and/or holding him back.  He didn't specify that he had to have the issue resolved within a year, just identified, so technically, he actually did make his deadline. =)
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 23rd, 2012 12:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Stacy Williams

When I open your RSS feed it puts up a whole lot of strange characters, is the deal on my end?
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: September 23rd, 2012 04:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Stacy Williams

Perhaps?  The post certainly isn't filled with strange characters, and I can view it fine in my Google Reader feed.
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