Fish Feet

Jun 14, 2006

Chapter 1

The door was closed, but unlocked as usual. For the thousandth time he saw his reflection in the polished brass plate which read "Norma Fitzgerald, teacher of classical ballet". For the thousandth time he pushed the door handle, heard the groan of the elderly hinges, and stepped into the hallway.

But then things stopped being normal. The studio was silent. The tall, old-fashioned windows in Miss Fitzgerald's house allowed plenty of four o'clock September light in to the room, but it fell on dusty floorboards and a covered piano. The whole ground floor, he discovered when he started pushing other doors, was empty too. Nether Miss Fitzgerald nor Mr. Pope the accompanist, nor any of the other students, had turned up for his usual Monday lesson.
Bizarre. Where were they? And why was the front door open?

He stood in the middle of the studio in his jogging pants and singlet, his bag on his bare shoulder. The strap chafed his sunburn. Half his mind thought about Greece, and the flight back last night, and falling asleep in the back of the car on the motorway, and his step dad cursing at him when he didn't offer to help him with the bags. The other half wondered, a little desperately, whether Miss Fitzgerald had told him before he went on holiday that his lesson had been changed, and he'd had two weeks to forget her instructions.

The phone rang, very loudly and suddenly in the silence. He swore under his breath. The phone went on ringing. Six, seven, eight rings. He breathed deeply a couple of times, and looked out the window, and then he put his back down, went to the hall and lifted the receiver.

"Diana?" said a woman's voice.

"Er... Who's Diana?"

The caller paused. He waited, feeling uncomfortable.

"Who is this, please?" asked the voice.

"Um... my name is Michael Vaughn. I'm one of Miss Fitzgerald's students. I came for my lesson but there's no one here."

He stopped, aware that perhaps he shouldn't be telling a stranger that Miss Fitzgerald's house was empty. His parents were always warning him not to let callers know that he has home alone.

"How did you get in?" the woman asked suspiciously. "Have you got a key? Because if you have, you have to give it back."

"I haven't. The door was open like it always is."

"Oh god, that fool Diana." There was a pause as the woman thought.

"Who's Diana?" ventured Michael.

"Look." She'd made up her mind. "You sound sensible. How old are you?"

"Sixteen. Well, nearly."

"Do you think you could do a small favor for me? Mitchell was it?"

"Michael." He stopped himself himself from adding, "spelt a-e-l". It didn't seem worth explaining that he was named after a famous French ballet dancer that died the year he was bourn.

"Would you stay there until Diana arrives? I don't want the house left empty with the front door open."

"Who's Di –"

"My mother's in hospital, you see," said the woman quickly. "Diana – that's my sister – is supposed to be looking after the house, and notifying all the students. She obviously forgot to call you. She's hopeless!"

Michael didn't speak for a minuet. He was trying to take in that Miss Fitzgerald was in hospital. How could she be, when she was always, always here on Monday afternoons, with her wobbly bun and smeared lipstick and wrinkled boneless arms? He glanced at the clock. Twelve minuets past four. Right now, at this very moment, she should be nagging the girls to hurry up ant tie their shoes while he was doing his warming up exercises. She shouldn't be lying in some nameless hospital, ill.

"Your sister probably did try to get hold of me, but we weren't there," he explained, glad to stick up for the hapless Diana. "We just got back from holiday last night. What's wrong with Miss Fitzgerald?"

"Oh, my dear boy – we've had such a to-do!" her voice rose to a squeak. "She fell down the stairs last Saturday evening and lay there with a broken hip until the postman called the next morning. She couldn't get to the phone, though it was only a couple of feet away."

Michael looked at the spot on the hall floor were Miss Fitzgerald had lain all those hours.

"When will she be back?" seemed the most practical thing to ask.

"Well... look, are you very keen on ballet dancing?"

Funny question. "Quite keen."

"Better look for another teacher, then"

"But –"

"Be a good boy and wait for Diana to get there, won't you? It'll only be about twenty minuets. Thank you very much, and good luck, Michael."

Michael went back into the studio and picked up his bag. His legs felt strange. He was relieved that he wasn't going to have to dance after all. Two weeks without even a pointed toe was one thing, but the news of Miss Fitzgerald would be giving up teaching was a blow not just to his already stiff muscles but to his entire future. It was enough to make anyone's legs feel strange.

Bizarre, he thought again.

It was boiling and stuffy in the studio, because no one had drawn the blinds or opened the windows for days. Michael sat down on the window-seat and took out the much-handled, folded-back copy of The Dancing Times which lived at the bottom of his bag.

He looked at the page. He'd read it so often he could conjure it in his imagination. In math lessons, usually. But there it was for real. Those four words at the top of the page. The Royal Ballet School. He stared at the words for so long they started to jump around. Then, lower down another word, Auditions.

How could those five little words contain something so desirable yet so scary that it gave him a pain in his head to think about it? How could they fill up his world, like football filled up his friend Erick's, and computers filled up his friend

Marshal's, and being in a rock band totally taken over Marshal's brother Eddie's? Sport and computer games and electric guitars were sensible obsessions for boys, approved of by parents and teachers and other boys.

Unlike ballet dancing.

Preliminary audition, the age announced importantly, at the end of February, with the final audition a month after that. The end of February was less than six months away. Less than six months in which to convince dad that being a dancer was a good job for a man. A job that carried status and attracted admiration. Perhaps it wasn't quite as financially rewarding as becoming a businessman or a lawyer. But being in business or the law would be like serving a life sentence.
Less than six months, god that was too soon. The Royal Ballet School was the hardest ballet school to get into in the country. Boys would come from all over the world to take part in the audition. Boys who had been to ballet class everyday since they could walk. Boys who were the sons of professional dancers (well, he had some claim on that himself, mum having been what she called a "hoofer" before he was born). And boys who had been at full-time ballet school since they were eleven and had been trained by ex-soloists from internationally famous companies.

It was the only way, though. It was the only school he wanted to go to. Miss Fitzgerald might not be an ex-soloist from an internationally famous company, but she knew what she as talking about. She always said that if you were good enough you'd make it, and if you weren't you shouldn't anyway.

He put the magazine down and looked out at Miss Fitzgerald's unmown lawn and unweeded path. He thought about a lot of other things she said.

All's fair in love, war and ballet.

Every successful dancer tramples on the dreams of thousands of failed ones. It is a ruthless profession. Talent will out. That was one of her best ones.

He tried to hear her voice in his head. A funny voice, with a crack in it from fifty years of smoking. Then he wondered if he would ever hear it again, and he felt suddenly terrible, like he had felt when he missed lunch to play football and had no money for the vending machine.

Come on, come on, he urged Miss Fitzgerald's invisible daughter. Getting up he wandered restlessly around the room. But it was so hot that sweat broke out on his scalp, so he leaned on the barre and looked at himself in the mirror.

The Greek sun had reddened his skin and bleached his dyed blonds streaks whiter. His hair was too long and the darker roots were showing. He needed to go and get it done again. But dad said that if he wanted to look like Marilyn Monroe, he could pay for the privilege himself, and Michael had spent all of his money in Greece.

He examined one of the things he had bought. A silver earring in the form of a leaping fish. Quite small, but noticeable enough to incense dad even more than Marilyn Monroe hair. For ballet class, of course, he would remove it. But since ballet class wasn't going to happen, it stayed in his ear lobe, flashing in the sunlight like a real flying fish.

"Hello-ooh! Anyone there?"

Michael had been so interested in looking at himself that he missed Diana's arrival. Now she was here, though, he could escape. He whirled The Dancing Times into his bag like a Frisbee and made for the door.

Diana was a light-haired woman of about fifty, who explained that she'd forgotten to lock the door and her sister had told her off for being so silly, and they were both so-o relieved he was there, and she could give him a lift anywhere, and she didn't know her mother took boy pupils.

This last bit made Michael stop on the doorstep. "I'm the only one," he said.

"Really?" Diana was astonished. Her eyes were like Miss Fitzgerald's. Small, pale, lively.

"Don't you mind being with all those girls?"

Michael didn't mind. It was part of every male ballet student's life, to do class with girls, and be taught by woman. "Is Miss Fitzgerald all right?" he asked.

“Well... actually, she looks worse every time I see her. She had to have an operation on her hip, you see, and I don't think she's recovering very well." She looked at him worriedly. "If she goes it will be an awful headache for us, what with this big house to see to and everything. She should have retired years ago, of course, but there's no convincing these ballet dancers." She checked her bag for her keys and shut the door. "They're quite mad, all of them, you know," she told him solemnly. "I think they have to be, in order to stay sane."

Michael managed not to smile until he was around the corner. He hurried on a few steps, giggling. Then the giggles, or something else, blurred his view of the pavement, and he had to walk more slowly.

To Be Continued


Hi, I just wanted to let you all know that this is based on thebook Fish Feet, PLZ reveiw I would love to see what you think, and because it was one of the first fics I have done I am asking you to go easy on me, thanks!

oh and if you like it i will continue before the night is out!!! :D

Faye Vaughn

Oct 12, 2005
ohhhh! I like it!! find it a little weird that Vaughn dyed his hair and is wearing earrings, but i don´t want to draw conclusions too soon hehehehe
please PM me :woot:
Jun 14, 2006
Chapter 2

"All right you bunch of hooligans, that's it!"

Mr. Williams held out his arm at shoulder level like a STOP barrier, pointing with a trembling finger. He blew his whistle so hard that Michael was momentarily deafened.

"Off! Go on, get off! I've warned you!"

Jake Thorogood, a famously dirty player, slumped off the pitch. A small group of supporters brought by St Marguerite's – also known as the Daisies – jeered. The Falcon's supporters jeered back. One of the Daisies had slammed into Jake without Mr. Williams seeing, and Jack had kicked the daisy hard enough to knock him down, which Mr. Williams had seen.

Michael wiped his face with his shirt. He could hear his friend Erick, the Falcons' captain, shouting encouragement from the other end of the pitch. Mr. Bristow the team coach, who was also Erick's step dad, was sitting on the bench in his tracksuit, controlling his expression. The ball came Michael's way and he assed it to Marshal, who struck it towards the goalmouth, which it missed by at least 5 meters. But the usual assembly of excited children, enthusiastic dads and bored girlfriends cheered anyway.

The Falcons were two – nil ahead, with 5 minuets to go. Michael could hear Jake Thorogood swearing from the touchline. Eddie was showing off his dribbling skills. Marshal, a stranger to the idea of time wasting, chugged up and down the pitch like a train.

Football was all right. In fact sometimes it was great, it had given Michael some of the most thrilling moments of his life. But since just before the end of last season, it had started to seem less important.

What do you mean, less important, Mr. Vaughn? Asked an invisible TV reporter, holding an invisible microphone under Michaels nose as he jogged up the field
I mean less than ballet.

Ballet, Mr. Vaughn? Are you serious?

Look, I've made a decision. With the Falcons, it's all or nothing. But it's all or nothing with ballet, too. If I'm going to audition for the ballet school in February, which will be my big chance to try for full time training, I've got to devote my time and energy to that, haven't I?

But wouldn't you miss football, Mr. Vaughn?

Miss it? Miss running round a muddy pitch with a crowd of madmen, having massive fun and getting massively exhausted? And dissecting the match afterwards, and turning up to Falcons training on Thursday evenings, and going to the Falcons discos at the clubhouse, and having a good mate like Erick? Miss it?

"Oi, Rudolph!"

Someone ran into him, grabbing his shirt, and before he knew it his ankles had been kicked out from under him, and his face hit the grass. Sprawling there, winded, with a pain starting up in his shoulder, Michael didn't kneed to ask why he had been targeted. There was always people – even so called friends like Marshal Flinkman – who couldn't resist an opportunity to knock him down and call him Rudolph.

Marshal stood back with his hands up. "Sorry mate, you're all right, aren't you mate?" Michael sat up wearily. His breath was coming back. Slowly he got up. Marshal was hovering, jumping lightly from foot to foot. "What's the matter Vaughn? Laddered your tights?"

"Why don't you grow up?"

Marshal's damp pink end of match face almost disappeared a triumphant grin. "Why don't you stop being such a poofter?"

It was no use. All male ballet dancers were gay. Not just gay but clamply, overtly, flamboyantly gay as every brainless caricature ever produced. All ballet dancers of ether sex were airheads, or mental, or saddos. Any dancer who dared to come into the vicinity of Marshal Flinkman had better watch out.

The final whistle blew. Erick ran toward Michael with his shirt off and his face blotchy with pride and exertion. They slapped hands and shouted a bit and behaved like very little children for a bit. Michael felt happy. He began to look forward to tonight's disco in the clubhouse. Girls, always in short supply amongst supporters and non-existent at his school, were more plentiful at Falcons discos.

Maybe tonight would be the night when one of them would actually talk to him without renewing her lipstick at the same time or looking at a more desirable boy.

In the shower, Michael lathered his hair then rinsed it, feeling the hot water pushed the suds down his back like lava. Though he hadn't done ballet class in over a week, he felt fit and clear-headed.

Erick's voice echoed in the tiled shower room. "Mike you in here?"

When Michael came out, toweling his hair, Erick was waited. "Everyone else finished bloody ages ago."

"Sorry." Michael put the towel round his shoulders.

"Jacks expecting us to help with clearing the hall for tonight. There's about a thousand chairs to move."

"You sound like my mum."

"And you look like a girlie girl."

"So I play football like a girlie girl to, do I?"

"Oh, very humorous."

Michael had setup both goals this afternoon for someone else to score. Everyone knew that he was the best player on the team at knowing where every player was and anticipating what they were doing next. He was also good at dummy shots, because he was very fast at turning unexpectedly without tripping over his feet. And he was capable of bursts of energy, even late in the game, which left his pursuers, standing. Ballet dancing, for all there mockery, had its useful side effects.

Erick followed him into the changing room, muttering. His child like joy of the Falcons victory had evaporated. His face looked full of some other concern.

"Eddie just said something," he said thoughtfully. He folded his arms and sat down on the bench, looking at Michael with uncertainty.

"Eddie?" Michael was surprised. What Eddie said was usually only a wormed over version of what his brother marshal said, and what marshal said was certainly never worth taking seriously. Michael took his t-shirt off the peg and pulled it over his head, and then started to pull on his jeans. He hadn't dried his legs very well and his jeans were sticking to his legs.

"He said that you're thinking of quitting the team." Announced Erick, his eyes on Michael's face.

Michael hauled his jeans up and zipped them. Ho hum. So it wasn't just between him and the invisible reporter, then. Somehow Eddie – or more likely Marshal – had muscled in on the story. "Eddie should go on the stage with this mind reading act of his."

Erick's uncertainty deepened. "I'm not joking, mate."

Michael went to the mirror, his hairbrush in hand, and looked solemnly at his reflection. Erick's declaration seemed to have emptied his head. Perhaps he spent too long looking at himself in mirrors. He should try and curve his habit.

"So is it true, or not?" asked Erick.

Michael brushed his hair flat against the nape of his neck. "No. Yes, maybe. Um... I don't know."

Erick stood up. The mirror reflected the uncomprehending dismay on his face.

"Jack's going to go ballistic! I mean totally. We're away to the Tigers on Saturday!"

"Tell me something I don't know."

The hostility in Erick's voice wavered. "You're not really going to quit, are you?"

"I told you, I don't know yet."

"You'd just better not, that's all."

Erick's gaze dropped. Catching sight of something brightly coloured lying on the floor, he stopped to pick it up. It was the red hair-tie, which tied Michael's hair back during the game. "This yours?"

Michael took it. It was mud soaked and unwieldy, but he managed to return it to its usual place around his wrist. "Thanks," he said.

Erick's dark, dripping eyes looked at him sharply. Michael looked back. Then, for good measure, he widened his own small green eyes and blinked. Pursing his lips, and stroked his wet hair like a camp comedian on TV.

"Don't do that," said Erick.

His tone was serious. Michael stopped. "What's up?"

"Nothing." Erick was frowning uneasily. "But just don't do that, will you?"


hay, well i am soooooo new at this so i dont realy know how to pm so if you dint get it plz dont shoot me!
oh and i hope you like it!!!

Faye Vaughn

Oct 12, 2005
hehehe I got the PM, thanks.
So... Jack is Eric´s step father? That means eric and Syd are "sibilins"? I really don´t were you are going with this... can´t wait to read more!! :woot:
Jun 14, 2006
hay! well i am glad you all like it and i have done the first 6 chapters so they should be up by the end of the week! oh and i am now officialy on SCHOOL HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!! *does happy dance around computer* so i should be able to writer chapter 7 soon!

Chapter 3

By ten o'clock the disco was loud, hot and crowded. Condensation was puddling along the bottom of the windows. Cigarette smoke swirled in the beams of light from the low ceiling. Near the bar, were it was almost impossible to move, the smell of beer, perfume and perspiration combined to produce the familiar atmosphere of a public party.

Everyone who wasn't dancing was shouting. Michael leaned on the bar and shouted too.

"Coach!" Erick's step dad was connecting a beer barrel and didn't hear him. "Coach! Can I have a beer?"

A shiny face appeared above the counter. "You know you cant, Vaughn, so don't waste my time." He began to clear glasses off the bar, looking cross. "Where's Jake? Joke more like. Lazy so-and-so. His shift starts at ten."

Michael looked around, but he couldn't see Jake Thorogood anywhere. He was glad he was too young to help behind the bar. In just over two years, though, he'd be expected to do it with enthusiasm. If he was still here, of course.

"Sorry, haven't seen him."

"Well do me a favor, will you? Go find him, and tell him no work no pay."

Michael obeyed Mr. Bristow from long habit. He struggled along the edge of the dance floor and scanned the dancers. He saw Erick swaying in the corner with a girl in a green shiny dress who was throwing her head back and laughing at something he was saying. Jake Thorogood wasn't there.

He wasn't in the hall at all. And he wasn't in the entrance lobby, or the kitchen. Michael reasoned that he couldn't be in the equipment store, which was locked, or in the woman's bathroom. He looked in the men's bathroom, then almost decided to give up. He was probably in the car park, steeling cans of beer out the back of Mr. Bristow's car, to sell to under age boys that Mr. Bristow refused to serve. Jake wasn't very moral and Michael was sure he knew how to pick locks.

Suddenly, he remembered one place he hadn't looked. He opened the door of a narrow, bare-bricked room, too small to have any purpose beyond storing chairs. The hall had been cleared for the disco, so the stack of chairs was high. Beyond it Michael could just see that the fire door which led to the car park was open, which it shouldn't be. Perhaps jakes latest scam was letting people in that hadn't paid for tickets and charging them half price himself.

Michael went to close the door, but paused when he felt the coolness of the air. He stepped into the calm September night. There were a few people on the far side of the car park, leaning on a car, drinking alcohol and cooling down. Michael watched them for a moment.

Then, quite near him, half in the shadow cast by the building, he saw Jake and a girl. Her shoulders were pressed against the outside wall. Her fists were clenched. Jakes lanky limbs were all over her, as uncontrollable as they were on the field. Michael saw her fists come up and push against Jakes shoulders.

He assumed they were play fighting, snogging a bit, having a fondle, having a laugh. Teenagers did that at discos. Everyone knew that. Half embarrassed, half jealous, Michael turned to go back inside.

But Jakes voice floated towards him through the darkness. "Wassa madder? Don' yer fazzy me?"

They weren't snogging. Jake was drunk. His hand gripped the girls jaw, and one of his knees pushed its way between her legs. Michael could her muffled protests as she struggled, trying to push Jake away.

For a moment Michael couldn't decide what to do. Then he went over and touched Jake's shoulder. Jake wiped around, almost losing his balance. The girl's hair was all over her face. She pulled her shirt over her midriff, which Jake's fumbling fingers had exposed. She didn't look at Michael.

Jake was breathing very fast. "Eff off," he said to Michael.

"Cant you see that she is not interested?" said Michael, wondering why he started this, and where it would end, "or are you to pissed too see anything?"

Jake looked lopsidedly. His eyes looked glassy. Without warning, one of Jake's long arms reeled out and struck Michael on the side of his head. But alcohol had disturbed his judgment. The blow landed uselessly, with no momentum, just below Michael's left ear. Jake jerked his head in the direction of the girl.

"Sho you think you're well in there, do you, Vaughn?"

Michael didn't say anything. The girl still hadn't looked at him.

"Erick Weiss's sister!" Jake blurted out. "Line up the team! Here she is, boys!" he broke into laughter.

The girls had pushed back he hair, and Michael saw that she was, indeed, Erick's stepsister, Sydney. It occurred to him that most girls would be crying in this situation, but he didn't think she was.

Jake stopped laughing and belched,

"Couch wants you behind the bar," Michael told him. "He says no work, no pay."

"Coach can go to hell." The same pointless aggression, which had got Jake sent off that afternoon, rose to the surface again and Michael found himself being pushed backwards. His shoulders hit the wall with a thud. His heart began the pump.

Then a voice came into his brain. A familiar voice with half a century of cigarettes burned in it, instructing him with words he'd heard hundreds of times. Use the back of the leg. That's were all the big muscles are. Up comes the foot. Feel that muscle working? That's it, Michael.

Before he could stop it, Michael's right foot came up. Jake collapsed and rolled sideways, his face distorted, his hands clutching the front of his shorts.

Sydney's brown eyes, the same brown as Erick's took all of this in. but she didn't say anything. Michael resolved that one day he would tell her that jakes blow hadn't really heart him, and that he himself had an unfair advantage in kicking. Not tonight, though.

Jake sat up and grunted, still clutching his crotch. "my good, you've crippled me, you effing creep."

"You're all right," said Michael scornfully, hoping he was. It had been a strong kick, practiced for years, though normally only aimed at the air. "Get up and get lost."

Jake staggered to his feet. Michael braced himself for another attack, but Jake didn't lunge at him again. He stuck his hands in his pockets and instead referred to verbal abuse. "I'll sort you out you, effing poofter, stupid, effing, stupid..." he twisted around, almost fell over again, and made his was to the open fire door. “Effing loser," he muttered. He stopped, tottering. "You wait till nex' sasserday, Vaughn, you jus' wait..."

He disappeared into the darkness of the storeroom. The people leaning on the car hadn't even looked across. Like Michael when he first came out, they assumed that his encounter with Jake and the girl had just been a little bit of intoxicated fun.

He looked at her.

She didn't look at him, but she spoke. "This is were I say thank you and you say that's all right."

Now Jake had gone, Michael realized that his insides felt twisted and his head ached. For the second time that day, he'd been attacked by a member of his own team. "Did he hurt you?" he asked Sydney.

She swallowed, blinking. "No. I was scared, though. I mean, he's really strong. And I don't know what him grab me like that –" she glanced at Michael, checking he understood.

"Honestly, I don't know why he should think – you know, what he said about the football team."

Michael was embarrassed. He had never heard any boy make a crude comment about her. In fact he had never heard anyone say anything about her. She was just Erick Weiss's step sister, who lived in Erick's house and went to the same school as some of the girls he had done ballet with at miss Fitzgerald's. He had known her all this time without actually knowing her at all.

"Don't worry, everybody knows what a trouble maker Jake Thorogood is," he assured her. "We've only got him on the team because he is bigger than everyone else." This didn't seem to bring her much comfort so he straggled on.

"The rules say he has to leave soon, though, because the falcons are an under – eighteen team."

Her eyelids disappeared under her brow bone in surprise. "He's eighteen?"

"Yep. Doesn't act it though. As you've seen."

She looked flushed and bright eyed. Understandably she was upset. What was he supposed to say to a girl in this situation? In movies, when a hero had rescued the girl it was always the end, so de didn't have to think of what to do next. This wasn't a movie though. This was the car park of the Holme Green Football and Athletics club, two hours into a Saturday night disco with two hours to go. "Look," he said trying to sound sensible, "don't you want to go back inside?"

"No." she put her hand over her mouth. "I feel a bit funny."

"Are you going to be sick?"

"No, I don't think so." She took her hand away and her lip quivered. Michael supposed the tears were coming at last. "I think I would like to sit down."

They walked across the car park to the patch of grass next to the road. Sydney sat on the wall, and Michael not knowing what else to do, sat down next to her.

She'd managed to control the tears, but she pulled a small tissue from the pocket of her jeans and wiped her nose.

"Why do you think Jake thinks that?" she asked. "About the team?"

Michael didn't.

"Its because people make up things about me. Horrible things."

Michael couldn't think of anything reassuring to say. He wasn't sure who "people" were for a start. Girls? Boys?

"I'm just a freak," she said.

He looked at her. She didn't look like a freak. Something about her – the shape of her eyebrows, the miniscule droop of her outer eyelids, her bare arms, not very brown for the end of summer, were nicely shaped. Her neck sat gracefully on her shoulders. In the small amount of light he saw a neatly made ear with a gold stud in it. He didn't know much about girls – hardly anything compared to Marshal and Eddie, if anecdotal evidence could be believed – but the prettiness of this small ear struck him as an essential ingredient of femininity.

He watched her slide off the wall and sit on the cool grass. "Maybe I should just go away," she said.

"Pardon?" he regretted the word the minuet it was out. "I mean what did you say?"

"Oh, you know, take off somewhere, so that no one would know were I'd gone."

"Why would you want to do that?"

"Maybe that's what they want. Or if it isn't it would show them how stupid they'd been." She brought her knees up and put her chin on them, her hands clasped around her legs. "Do you ever imagine what it would be like if you ran away?"


"Pictures of you in the newspaper. You know, with your school uniform on, and 'hunt for missing teenager' in huge letters."

Michael could imagine it.

"And what about all of those scary appeals on TV?" she still wasn't looking at him, but seemed egger to keep on talking. "I can just see Jean, with her hair all done up, and her face all made up, holding Tilly on her lap, looking tragic."

Jean was Erick's mom and Sydney's step mom. Michael didn't see her much, because he didn't go to the Bristow's house very much, but he knew she was young, only just 37, and she and Sydney's dad had 2 little children. Whenever Michael had met her, Jean had tossed her hair around a lot and produced a chirpy laugh at everything he said. "She's cool, but kind of not cool... if you know what I mean," Erick had once told him enigmatically.

"I don't think running away would do any good," said Michael "I mean, when you came back everything would be just the same, except you would just feel stupid."

He debated whether or not to say the next thing he thought of. Then, since he didn't have anything to lose, he said it. "And there are other ways of getting away, you know." Her hair had fallen over her ear and he could no longer see the side of her face clearly. Now he started, though, he had to finish. "I mean I might try for full tine dance training this year, before it's to late. That would mean going to New York next year, and never coming back."

She didn't move, but a change came over her. A tiny electric current, a readiness for what was coming next, spread though her body. She looked at him with intense interest. "Dance training?"

Michael began to feel self-conscious. He reminded himself that girls were usually sensible – even encouraging – about his particular pastime. And this girl must know about it already, as she was Erick's sister.

"Well, yes. I know Erick thinks I'm bonkers, but, I mean, he's always saying he's going to go to university on a football scholarship, which is just as bonkers isn't it?" he said. Then, in a panic that he'd betrayed a secret, he added, "he's mentioned that to you, hasn't he?"

For the first time, she smiled. "Don't worry, he has. About twice a day for the last five years!" she put her hair behind her ear. He noticed again the gold stud earring and a gold bangle on her wrist. "But he's never mentioned to me that you're interested in dance."

Her smile became more confident. Oh, no, thought Michael. She's not going to be sensible at all. She's going to laugh at me. She's going to go back to the disco and announce it to all her friends. What a huge joke. Michael Vaughn – you know, my brothers friend with the funny name and the funny hair – wants to be a dancer! Can you believe it? He must be gay or crazy or both!

"Hasn't he? Er ... well, I am" it was too late now to pretend otherwise.
She was no longer hugging her knees and turning away. She was sitting cross-legged on the grass, looking up at him with the chained attention of a child listening to a story. She seemed to have forgotten all about running away form people who said nasty things about her. "What kind of dance?" she asked him


"Yes, ballet."

"Oh! Who's your teacher?"

"Um... I go to miss Fitzgerald's. Well I used to. She's retired. I mean she's in hospital, and she's pretty old, so–"

"Is that Norma Fitzgerald, in Caledonian Road?"

"Ye-es," said Michael, amazed that she knew this.

"I've heard she's good."

Michaels surprise increased. "Well, I like her. But how do you know her?"

Her next words were destined to stay in Michael's memory for a long time. When she said them, he felt a small shock, like when someone burst a balloon.

"I'm a ballet dancer too," she announced.

Michael's heart settled after the balloon-burst shock. He leaned weakly against the wall, feeling numb.

All these years of being Erick's friend, and Erick – some friend! – had never mentioned his sister's passion for ballet, even though he knew all about Michael's. Why? Did he think that perhaps he'd be the one Marshal would tease? Or was he just too possessive to share Michael with his sister?

"I've been doing it since I was 5," she continued. "I totally love it. It's the best thing in the world." She looked at him her eyes very bright. "Are you really going to audition for ballet school?"

"I don't know. I might if..." an idea come into his head, and he sat up straight again. "Who's your teacher?"

"Olivia Perry, at the community center in Lowry Road."

"Dose she teach boys? Would she teach me?"

Sydney looked amused. "My class is known as the Big Girls. Wouldn't you mind being the only Big Boy?"

He gave an exaggerated shrug, to show her just how little he wouldn't mind. "If I cared about things like that I'd have given up years ago. Here" he fished in his pocket and came up with a pen and an old bus ticket. "Will you write Miss Perry's phone number on there for me?"

She took the pen and ticket. As she wrote the phone number neatly in the very small space, euphoria trickled over Michael.

It was hard to tell for certain because she was sitting down, and she had hair all over her face again but she looked much more like a proper dancer than any of the girls he had done class with at miss Fitzgerald's senior class. She spine was very straight as she sat there cross-legged. The fingers that held the pen looked slim, and her head dipped in an un-posed, natural way.

"I'm sure she'll have heard all about you already," she said giving him back the pen and bus ticket. "Ballet teaches all know each other, and a boy pupil is so unusual, you're probably famous."

He put the pen and the ticket back in his pocket. "I intend to be, some day."
She stood up. He stood up too. The disco music boomed from the clubhouse. "How serious are you about ballet?" he asked her.

She looked down at her feet, which she had automatically placed neatly, the toes pointing outwards, even in trainers. He realized she was looking at his feet too, similarly placed. She looked up again. "I'm serious, definitely."

"That's why people call you a freak, isn't it?" he asked.

She nodded.

"I'm a freak too, then."

She nodded again, and smiled. "Being a freak has its uses, though, doesn't it?"
Michael smiled too, not sure what she was getting at.

"I mean," she went on, "if I could have freed my leg, I'd have given Jake a grand battement kick myself."

Michael was supremely pleased to hear her say this. It was the first time, outside a ballet class, he'd ever heard those words. "Come on," he said happily. "Lets go back in."

He set off towards the clubhouse, his steps springy, assuming she would follow. But when he turned around, the patch of grass where they'd stood was empty.


you like???
Aug 28, 2005
Anywhere But Home
oh!! i read this on ALLIES!!!!

i can;t wait till you write chapter 7! are you still gonna post it on allies?

otherwise, i guess i can just catch up here.

i'm glad you brought back this story! cant wait for more!!

*that kinda means i want a pm :LOL: *

Faye Vaughn

Oct 12, 2005
oh no, where did she go? Where did she go???
Can´t wait to see (or better:read) them dancing together!! Thanks for the PM. And well done on the school holidays!! i sooo envy you right now :woot:
Jun 14, 2006
hay sorry it's been sooooooo long, but the stupid site wouldn't let me on for like a week! so to make up for it here is a double update...

Chapter 4

Michael's feet hurt. He looked dolefully at them, took off his ballet shoes and looked at them again. He wiggled his toes. Then he stretched his feet, arching his insteps. He had the kind of feet that looked good on stage, Miss Fitzgerald always said.

Barefoot he stood up. Placing his left foot carefully, the toe turned outwards, he pointed his right toe in a tendu, feeling the semi-pain, semi-pleasure of the stretch through his leg. He lifted his arms, watching himself in the mirror, which covered half of one of his bedroom walls. Then he lowered his arms again.

It was Thursday. Thursday night was training at the falcons' ground. But Thursday had turned out to be the only evening that Miss Perry, Sydney Bristow's teacher, did a full class with the Big Girls.

He felt bad. Erick on one side, Sydney on the other. Sitting on the bed, he slung his ballet shoes into his bag and tried to think. Erick was a long-standing friend, so ought to command some loyalty. But Sydney was a dancer, a serious one, and he had dreamed about meeting a serious dancer for as many years as he had known Erick.

There was no avoiding it. If tonight's class went OK, and Miss Perry agreed to coach him for the ballet audition, he would have to leave the falcons to there fate.


Mum's voice came up the stairs. It was a clear voice, as distinctive as her sandy blond hair, freckle-free golden skin and – this surprised every one – the darkest lashes around the bluest eyes. Michael was proud of his mothers beautiful French looks and the fact that she had been a professional dancer.

"Are you going to this class, or not? I thought it started at seven."

He was going. He'd decided to do it, and he would, though he felt recklessly unsure what might happen. Tying his laces with fumbling fingers, he collected his bag and went downstairs.

"It's alright, I'll jog," Michael told his mother, who was jiggling her car keys. "I'm so unfit after Greece, it'll be good for me. And I'll walk back, too."

"Whatever." She fingered his dry hair. "This is match too long, and the roots are awful. Mr. Caterpillar's going to put you in detention if you don't get it tied up."
Michael was weary of this ancient joke. "Mum, his name is Mr. Cadwallader."

"Personally, I think it looks good." Her hand traveled from his hair to his chin.

"You're a very nice-looking boy, you know."


"Oh, all right. Just go and have a good class. I hope this miss Percy person appreciates what a talent she's got on her hands."

"You never give up, do you? Her name's miss Perry."

He disentangled himself before she could kiss him, and jogged around the sweep of the drive. He looked at his watch, that told him he was going to be late, and jogged faster. When he got in site of the small community center where miss Perry taught, he slowed to a walk. If he was sweating and panting at the beginning of a ballet class, just how un-cool would that look?

They'd already started. Michael stood in the disinfectant-smelling corridor, listening to the tinny echo of the piano, trying to control his nerves. When he was at miss Fitzgerald's it had never mattered that he was the only boy in the class, because he had grown up with those girls and none of them were at all attractive, serious or talented anyway. But now, it did matter. The room he was about to enter contained a girl who was certainly the first two and might well be the third.

He pushed the swinging door. Thankful that it led to the back of the room, Michael took three self-conscious steps into the corner, where he furtively took off his trainers and jogging pants and slipped on his ballet shoes.

Then, equally furtively, he inspected his appearance in the mirror which ran the length of the room. He had tied his hair back into a ponytail as he always did for football or ballet class, which exposed the long shape of his face and his narrow forehead. His practice kit was ragged and minimal, just tights and socks and leather shoes, and a graying t-shirt with "Norma Fitzgerald School of Classical Ballet" printed on the front. Earring-free already, he took off his wristwatch and put it in his left trainer, according to his routine. He looked OK, he thought. But only OK.

The music stopped. All the girls turned around. Even the accompanist, an eager middle-aged woman, lifted her trousered bottom off the stool to scrutinize him over the top of the piano. His mouth felt dry. Sweat was gathering in his armpits.

Miss Perry herself was quite young. She had curly auburn hair and the sort of skin which often goes with it – pale, veined, bluish about the eyes. She was wearing a swishy black skirt and flesh-coloured T-strapped shoes. Her bare legs with their chiseled muscles reminded Michael of mum's.

"You're late," she said


"I said seven o'clock quite clearly on the phone."

Miss Perry's voice was sweet, and her smile wide. Her hand rested gracefully on the table beside her. Michael could tell by the flicker of her eyelids that she was appraising his appearance.

"Start warming up, would you?" she instructed him. Then, more briskly, she addressed the class. "Girls this is Michael Vaughn. He's going to be taking class with us in the future. Change into your point shoes, please."

Michael saw Sydney Bristow sit down on a bench at the end of the room. He watched her stretch each foot in turn and grimace as she eased them into block shoes. Then she tried her weight on the block and grimaced again.

He went to the barre near the back of the room. There was an undignified scramble for the places near the front, as each girl tried not to be the one whose bottom he would have to look at.

"Oh Sydney, poppet," said miss Perry. "You already know Michael, don't you? Would you like to fill that lovely space between him and Lisa?"

Sydney clomped across the room and took her place in front of Michael. He smiled but she ignored him.


With one hand on an invisible barre and the other elegantly outstretched, miss Perry turned her feet out to the correct position, drew herself up, flattened her stomach, stretched he knees, straightened her shoulders and slightly tilted her head.

Sydney prepared.

Michael prepared, though he wasn't doing the same exercise.

The girl in front Sydney prepared.

The girl in front of her didn't.

"Carrie Bowman!" declared miss Perry, with clear and crisp consonants. "Look at me!"

A tall, blushing girl with dark plaits looked and copied.

"AND!" said miss Perry loudly, with a nod to her accompanist.

The girls began to lift and lower their heels, to suitable music. But Michael had to do slower warming-up exercises. Doing something while the music was going something else was hard, but he was aware that his concentration was under examination here as much as his technique. After a few demi-plies, he began to perform grand plies, lowering his straight-backed body as slowly, and as deeply, as he could.

A mischievous thought came into his mind. He stood up, placed his feet differently and began to do grand battements. It was a secret message to Sydney. He was sure she would understand.

"Michael, sweetie..." miss Perry came over, and he stopped. "It's all right, dear," she said to him tenderly. "You don't have to earn your place in this class. Doing grand battements without warming up properly can injure you, you know. We like to work hard here, but we'll forget the showing off, shall we?"

Michael felt the blood rise in his cheeks. But experience had taught him that ballet class was like a battlefield – falter and die. After a moment he began again on his plies, aware that everyone was concentrating too much on there own work to notice his embarrassment. Sydney hadn't even looked at him.

Barre exercises were always done facing one way first, then the other, so that each side of the body could be worked equally. When miss Perry asked the girls to turn, Michael and Sydney were face to face. Michael tried to be a disciplined dancer and gaze past her head into space, but he felt compelled to look at her.

She looked much better in her pink leotard and pinky white tights than any of the other girls. She had slender ankles and well-molded calf muscles, and the bones in her knees and shoulders didn't look too knobbly.

Without changing his expression, he turned smoothly on the ball of his foot and began to do the exercise facing the back wall. Her knew this meant Sydney had no choice but to look at his bottom, but he didn't care. Just standing next to someone who looked so nice when she did her exercises was a new and spectacularly interesting experience. He attacked his footwork, beginning to enjoy himself, and twenty minuets passed.

"Center work!"

Ballet classes were all the same. Barre exercises, the same exercises in the center of the room, them jumps. Then the class would do enchainements, which involved putting exercises together into a sequence of steps. Michael always liked enchainements best, especially when they did the allegro, or quick, steps. It was the only part of the lesson where he felt free to express something in his dancing. Today happiness. Other days, not necessarily so. But today, not long after they started enchainements, he started to get the feeling.

He'd always called it the feeling, ever since he'd first experienced it when he was about 10 years old. It was almost an adrenalin-rush, only it wasn't a rush. It was a smooth, enveloping sensation. He knew that it was only when he had that feeling that he really danced well, but it didn't always come. When it hadn't, miss Fitzgerald used to dispatch him at the end of class with an encouraging pat on the shoulder. She'd always known it would return.

At the end of class the girls took there positions for reverence, a curtsy traditionally given to thank the teacher and the accompanist. Michael did what he'd always done at miss Fitzgerald's. He stepped forward with one arm held out as if presenting an invisible ballerina, and made a little bow.

"Very nice class," said miss Perry with satisfaction. Michael glowed at the thought that she could no longer address them as 'girls' any more, "Michael, would you stay for a moment?" she turned to the piano, "you can go Mrs. Dearlove."

Excitement gathered in Michael's chest as the class dispersed. He had danced well, he knew. Miss Perry couldn't have failed to notice.

"About this audition," she said.

He struggled in to his sweatshirt. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Sydney changing her shoes and pulling on a black top. "Yes?"

"Well that's what I was about to say. Yes, I think you should do it. The ABA's a tough school to get into, but they encourage everyone to try."

Michael began to speak, but she interrupted.

"And yes, I'll take you for what ever extra lessons you need. Would you like me to speak to your parents?"

"Err... about money?"

Miss Perry nodded, her curls shaking.

"The money's not a problem," he assured her. Dad might be the problem, he thought.

"Good." She held out her hand and he shook it. "Saturday afternoon then. Three o'clock, at my house. Sydney will give you the address, wont you poppet?"

Sydney pushed an escaping piece of hair behind her ear. She gave miss Perry no response that Michael detect. Miss Perry turned to go, then turned back to Michael. "Is Norma Fitzgerald still in hospital?"

"'Fraid so."

"Poor old dear. Which hospital is it?"

"The Angel Of Mercy." Michael knew this because he and his mother had spent yesterday evening at her bedside. Miss Fitzgerald had been mums teacher too.
"I'll take in some flowers," said miss Perry. She smiled encouragingly and pushed the door. "See you Saturday, then. Don't be late!"


Chapter 5

Vaughn looked at Sydney. Because she was packing her bag, the top with its neat part hovered near him. He could see the sweat around her hairline. What were mum’s instructions about scary situations? Disengage brain. Put mouth in fifth gear. Cruise.

“Good class,” he said. “Thanks for lending me your teacher.”

“Well, you asked.”

He didn’t know what to say next. He realized with incredulity that everything he knew about her could probably be written on the back of one of her small, slim fingered hands. How could he push away such a mountain of ignorance?

He stuffed his ballet shoes into his and pulled on his trainers. “Um… what about Miss Perry’s address?”

“Oh.” She pushed the door with her shoulder. “I don’t have it with me.”

“Don’t you know it?” Vaughn grabbed his bag and held the door open for her. He tried not to embarrass himself by bumping against her as they turned into the street.

“Well, I know where the house is, but she asked me to give you the address.”

A light rain began to fall, giving the pavement a sweaty sheen. Though it was before nine o’clock on a mid September evening, the low clouds and the trees lining the street made it almost dark. Vaughn, baffled by her words but fearful of offending her, said nothing.

“Can you see alright?” she asked him suddenly. “For god’s sake don’t trip. These tree roots along here are lethal.”

She knew, then. She understood how much the audition meant to him.

“Stairs are the worst,” she added, transferring her bag to her other shoulder. “It makes me go cold just thinking about it sometimes.”

A picture of Miss Fitzgerald falling down the stairs came into Vaughn’s mind. “Don’t worry,” he told Sydney. “I’m always careful.”

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said.

“What is?” asked Vaughn, had he missed something?

“That you are doing the audition. I mean, you should. You must.”


“Can I tell you something?” she took a step closer to him. On her face was a conspiratorial, secret-divulging expression. “You know at the end of class, when we did our reverence?” Vaughn nodded. “Well, when you did yours, I felt – I don’t know – excited.”

“Why?” Vaughn was bewildered, but interested.

“Because when you put your hand on your chest and bowed, you looked like… oh, a dancer, I suppose.”

In a rush, she became embarrassed and dipped her head. Vaughn stared at her. He couldn’t think of what to say. Then he suddenly remembered that his hair was still in its ponytail. He pulled the band out and swiftly around his wrist, raking his fingers through his hair.

They walked on. Through the gloom he noticed Sydney had glanced at his hairdressing efforts with interest, but when he tried to look at her she turned her head away.

“Erick’s going to be furious with you for not going to practice tonight,” she said. “I thought the Tigers were the flacons’ biggest rivals.”

“They are,” confirmed Vaughn.

“But you’re going to Miss Perry’s on Saturday, aren’t you?”

They looked at each other. The decision was making itself. “My lesson’s scheduled for kickoff time,” said Vaughn blankly. “I’ve got to tell wiess. I mean, I’ve got to tell him that I’m giving up the Falcons altogether. I mean for this season. Until I get the result of the audition, I mean. If I do the audition, that is.” Something must have been making him nervous. Why else would he be babbling like this, spewing a stream of absolute nonsense?

“I’m glad I’m not you,” she said.

They continued in silence until the trees cleared and they came out onto the main road by the football and athletics club, the car park that had witnessed their encounter with Jake last Saturday. The place was deserted. Football training was over. Vaughn knew that Mr. Bristow would be in the pub across the road, on the bar stool that he occupied every night.

Now they’d walked this far together, Vaughn couldn’t easily desert her in this darkness. But he’d never escorted a girl home before. He tried to unravel the tangle of feelings this gave him. Pride, because she was nice-looking, although there was no one around to see that she was with him. Relief, because he’d often wondered if he was going to grow old – possibly even die – without ever having taken a girl to her front door. And fear, definitely, because now he had to worry about what to do when they actually reached the door.

It was ajar. “I’m always losing my key,” explained Sydney, “so Jean doesn’t let me have one anymore.”

“Why not just ring the doorbell?”

“Jean’s always bathing the children when I get home, and Erick is too lazy, and dad wont be home for ages.”

They stood self-consciously on the doorstep. Sydney pushed open the front door. Her cheeks still looked a bit pink from ballet class. “Why not come in and see Erick now?” she offered. “And I’ll find that address.”

The hall was full of children’s bicycles. From where he stood on the doorstep, Vaughn could hear splashing and shrieks, and the booming of music. Syd’s stepmother, jean, appeared at the top of the stairs with her sleeves rolled up and her normally neat fringe sticking up in horns at each side. “Come and do something with Nadia, will you?” she called to Sydney. “Tom is being a little monster.”

Vaughn was still outside and Sydney didn’t reveal his presence. She nodded towards the narrow passage beside the stairs. “Erick’s in the kitchen, I expect. I will be back as soon as I can.”

When Vaughn entered the kitchen, wiess was kneeling in front of the open door of the fridge, reaching inside. All Vaughn could see of him was his bottom, encased in jogging pants and the soles of his size 11 trainers.

Vaughn couldn’t resist. Although it was a gentle kick with the toe of his shoe, it startled wiess. His head came up fast and hit the top of his head on the top of the fridge. “What the hell…?” he sat back on his heels and looked around, rubbing his head.

“Yello,” said Vaughn, which was how he and wiess always greeted each other.

Weiss’s expression changed from one of surprise to one of resentment. “Piss off, you lazy slob,” he said. “Coach says you’re dog meat and he’s right.”

“I know,” said Vaughn with more bravery than he felt. He slid his ballet bag off his shoulder and lowered it onto the floor.

Wiess stood up, kicked the fridge door closed and glowered at Vaughn, a carton of milk in one hand and an apple in the other. “Where the hell were you?”

He crunched the apple, his gaze fell first on Vaughn’s bag, then on Vaughn, then, with narrowed eyes, on the red ponytail band around Vaughn’s wrist. “Oh my god, I know where you were! You were at my sisters dancing class!” bits of apple escaped from his mouth. “For Christ’s sake, Vaughn, what do you think you are up to?”


“How can you let that stupid…”

“It’s nothing to do with your sister. I lost my ballet teacher so I decided to try Miss Perry.”

Oo-ooh!” wiess struck a mock ballet position, spilling milk on the floor. “Ai lorst mai ballay teachah so ai decaided to trai Miss Perr-ee!”

“And she does her senior class on Thursdays,” said Vaughn, trying to ignore both the mockery and his desire to laugh at it.

Wiess wasn’t laughing. He put down the carton and pointed at Vaughn. “You let me down this season,” he told him steadily, “when we’ve got out first real chance to win the shield, and I’ll bloody murder you. Personally, in cold blood.”

“Calm down will you?” said Vaughn, though he knew wiess couldn’t. His passion for soccer was almost as intense as Vaughn’s for ballet. In the part of his brain where he stored his I-don’t-want-to-think-about-this-now thoughts, Vaughn registered the fact that whichever of the two passions was sacrificed, ether he or his friend would suffer.

Wiess’s eyes burned. Vaughn could tell his brain was racing, trying to work out how to put together a team without Vaughn, trying to imagine what to tell his dad. After a pause, he stopped pointing and picked up his carton of milk. “Sometimes I can’t believe what a tosser you are Vaughn.”

Vaughn sighed. “Look nothing’s decided. But I might consider the possibility of going to ballet school next year instead of staying at our school.”

Wiess just stared

“And if I decide to do that, I would have to give up soccer.”

Wiess went on staring.

“I mean,” said Vaughn as reassuringly as he could, “it’s not as if the falcons are in the Premier League or anything, is it? And if I fail the ballet school audition, which I probably will, I’ll be back playing again next season.”

“But next season’s to late!” Wiess’s eyes were lit with hurt pride. “Jake’s got to leave at Christmas because he’s turned 18 remember? Just how crappy are we going to get if you leave too? Were going to end up bottom of the league in the very year we should be top!”

“That’s not true.”

“Yes it is.” Wiess sat down on a stool and drank some milk absent-mindedly. “It’s bloody obvious.”

Vaughn felt guilty and genuinely sorry. He didn’t know what to say. Then he noticed the dancing magazine, even more dog-eared than it had been on Monday, peeping out of his bag. He turned to the page and offered it to wiess. “Here read that.”

Mournfully, wiess read the advertisement. Then he held magazine towards Vaughn with the tips of his fingers, as if handling it might challenge his masculinity. “You know what your step-dad’s going to say don’t you?”

Vaughn took the magazine. “I’ve still got to try Erick.”

Wiess shrugged. His round face and thick brown hair, familiar to Vaughn for so many years, suddenly looked eight years old again. He’d been let down. His lower lip stuck out as he tried to get a grip on his chin, which wanted to quiver.

“I haven’t got any more time to mess around,” explained Vaughn. “if I do this audition, and pass it, I’ll have to do another audition, and if I pass that…” he couldn’t finish the sentence. The possibility of actually going to the ABA suddenly seemed as remote as that soccer scholarship. “Anyway, that’s how it is. I’m sorry about letting the boys down, but in a couple of weeks I bet you wont even miss me.”

“Oh sure.” Wiess had mastered his moment of weakness. “We’ll find someone much better than you.”

A small boy in a striped dressing gown and teddy bear slippers, his wet hair brushed flat, appeared in the doorway. “Nadia ate a worm,” he announced.

“I didn’t!” the small boy was followed by a slightly taller girl, who was also dresses in a dressing gown, but with bare feet. “I just said that so Tom would tell mummy.” She gave Vaughn a cheerful look. “Then he didn’t tell her anyway!”

Vaughn didn’t know what to do. He had never been approached so directly by the children before. In fact, it was so long since he’d been to Wiess’s house that he’d almost forgotten them. “Really?” he said.

“Syd says there’s a dancer in the kitchen!” the little girl looked around the kitchen in puzzlement. “Where is she?” her disappointed face turned to Wiess. “Did you see her? Did she have a pretty dress?”

“Yep.” Wiess gave Vaughn a wicked look above the children’s heads. “And a tiara and a magic wand too.”

The little girl clapped her hands in excitement. “Oh!” she jumped up and down, her bare feet slapping the tiled floor. “Tom she had a magic wand!”

Vaughn felt embarrassed. It was unfair of Wiess to tease her, but he didn’t know how to stop him.

“Have fun,” wiess said, throwing his half-eaten apple into the bin with more force than necessary. He gave Vaughn an unreadable look and slouched out of the room.

“Nadia! Tom! Are you being a nuisance?”

Jean bustled into the kitchen, her arms full of dirty clothes and wet towels. “Hello, Michael, we haven’t seen you for ages!” she said cheerfully. “I don’t know why Sydney let the kids come down, some stupid nonsense about a dancer…” she stopped smiling at Vaughn and gave Nadia a stern look. “Nadia Bristow, where are your uggies?”

Poor Nadia was almost in tears. “Sydney said there’s a dancer here, and Erick saw her and said that she had a pretty dress.” She looked up at Vaughn with uncertainty. “Didn’t he?”

Vaughn had picked up his bag, ready to escape as soon as Syd showed up. But the little girl’s crest fallen expression softened his heart and lowered his bag again. “I think he might have tricked you,” he said, crouching down to her level. “But perhaps Syd’s right and there is a dancer down here. You never know.”

Jean stopped piling clothes into the washing basket. She tossed her shiny hair, looking at Vaughn with a light heartened scorn. “Are you drunk? Or have you been indulging in some other recreational substance?”

“No, of course not.” He tried to sound lighthearted too, though he was offended. Jean was doing what she did every time he saw her, tried to be motherly but trying not to impose to much.

“Why are you winding Nadia up then?” she asked him, stuffing the dirty clothes into the basket. “You teenagers! You think you’re so adult, but you behave more like babies than babies do!”

Sydney came in and heard the last bit of this. She looked warily from Vaughn to her stepmother and back again. “What’s going on?”

“You said there was a dancer!” said Nadia accusingly.

“Where de dancer?” asked Tom at the same time.

“There!” said Sydney, pointing at Vaughn.

Jean straightened up and put a hand over her mouth, gasping with theatrical laughter.

Sydney ignored her. “One day, he’s going to dance in New York, on the stage in a real theater,” she continued, addressing the children. “Would you like to go and see him?”

Nadia nodded solemnly. She went to Sydney’s side, her thumb in her mouth, gazing at Vaughn widening eyes. Then she took her thumb out of her mouth and asked, “Will he have a tiara and a magic wand, like Erick said?”

Jean’s laughter burst out. She came up to Vaughn and punched his arm. “You dark horse, you!”

Vaughn took the attention as graciously as he could. “I never knew Sydney did ballet or I’d have told you before. I mean it’s not a secret or anything.”

Jean gave Sydney a meaningful look. Sydney didn’t return it. “Bedtime, you two,” she said, taking Tom’s hand. “Say goodnight to Michael.”

“Goodnight Michael,” chanted the children obediently.

Vaughn couldn’t help but be charmed. He glanced at jean, who had gone to the sink and started to fill the kettle. “Err… see you later Mrs. Bristow.”

“Oh, call me Jean silly. Don’t you want a cup of coffee?”

“No he doesn’t,” said Sydney over her shoulder from the hall.

“Suit yourself.” Jean slammed the lid of the kettle on. “And tell Erick to come in and clean up whatever he spilt on the floor. Is it milk?”

Tom suddenly let out a shriek. “Look!”

Sydney and Vaughn froze. “What is it?” asked Sydney.

“Fish feet!” exclaimed the little boy, pointing at Vaughn’s trainers.

Vaughn was bewildered. He looked down at his shoes. Fish feet?

“Oh, I see!” Sydney touched his arm and he looked up. She was smiling. “Tom says I walk like a fish walking on its tail fins. You walk like that too I suppose.”

Of course, the dancers turned out walk. Vaughn had heard it compared to a penguin, and a hat stand, and Charlie Chaplin. But never a fish.

Tom disappeared shyly behind Sydney. “Fish feet,” he repeated.

“He’ll call you that for ever now,” she warned. She was still smiling and her face was pink, from exertion and bath time. “Oh! Miss Perry’s address.”

Vaughn expected her to go and look for a piece of paper, but she didn’t. “It’s 52 Church Grove. The house with the red door. You just ring and go in.”

Vaughn felt funny. Sort of nervous, but sort of important. He walked to the gate, watched by Sydney and the children.

“Sorry about Tom,” said Sydney. “He’s only five.”

“I don’t mind,” he told her. He waved, and the children waved back. “It’s the first time anyone’s called me a nickname which isn’t an insult.”

Um… hi, well I just thought that I should include some Australian/American translations for all you Americans that just read this chapter and didn’t understand some of the words I used. So um… here it is

Fringe – Bangs (front of hair hanging over the forehead)

Mum - Mom

(I know you use this in America but…) Soccer – English Football

uggies – soft slipper like boot, usually lined with sheep wool

(um… and a ballet word you might not know) reverence – thanking the teacher or pianist at the end of a ballet class

well I think that is all I need to tell you, I just hope you R&R (it keeps me going after a long day of boring lessons). Oh… and just so you know, the italic text in this chapter was just wiess putting on a funny English accent and making fun of Vaughn, but you all know that anyway, because you all are so smart!

I don’t want to stop now because I only have 40 words to write until I reach 3,000 words so I think you should listen to the Elektra soundtrack because I love it and you will too.

Faye Vaughn

Oct 12, 2005
i liked it. very much.
Just want to clear something up: Is bill vaughn alive or is Michael´s "dad" his step dad??
Thanks for the PM
Jun 14, 2006
Hay, sorry it's been sooooooo long but i have been sick and i couldn't get out of bed for like a week :mad: so you can probably tell how my schoolwork and fics have been affected by that, but awyway, hope you like the new chappy! :D oh and the little comentery on the bottom of the chapter is the one i posted on so it is a little old but it should be some goods reading if you are interested...

Chapter 6

Ralph Delibes was a self-made man. Vaughn had heard this phrase so often he hardly noticed when people said it, or described his stepfather as ‘a hard-nosed businessman – but good at heart’.

Vaughn knew that his stepfather was good at heart. For as long as he could remember, Ralph had worked the long hours necessary to build up and maintain his successful computer software design company. Yet he had supported Vaughn in all his short-lived adventures, from guinea pig keeping to learning karate, and encouraging him to gat involved in the soccer club. Vaughn knew that a man who was capable of all this and more must be in possession of a good heart.

But he also knew other things. First, complications at Vaughn’s birth had stopped his mother from having any more babies, so he had remained an only child. Ralph hadn’t objected when Vaughn’s ex-dancer mother had continued to send him to ballet classes, since she would never have a daughter to follow in her footstep. And when Vaughn had shown more talent and enthusiasm, Ralph had, as ever, been generous.

From the darkness of the landing where he had used to hide when his parents entertained, Vaughn had once overheard him tell a dinner guest that, “he’s pretty good at it apparently. I suppose he might as well get it out of his system, if he enjoys it. It’s harmless enough.”

On top of this, Vaughn was acutely aware that his talent for dance wasn’t the only one he had. Since his first day at Rawlish High School, he’d been good at the work. He was never out of the top five in his class, in any subject. And that meant that Ralph Delibes’s longest held and most cherished dream had a real chance of coming true. Vaughn would be the first Delibes (even though he kept the last name Vaughn) to attend university and enter a profession.

A profession you needed a degree for, that is.

When Vaughn got home from school on Friday, both of his parents’ cars were in the driveway. He wondered why Ralph had come home early. Opening the front door as quietly as possible, he took off his shoes and made for the stares.

“Darling” mum threw open the double doors of the living room. Her hair was twisted up, and she was warring loose black pants and a small white t-shirt that showed off her Greek tan and here feet were bare. Vaughn knew that some ware in the room, a pair of thin-strapped gold sandals would be lying where she had kicked them off.

She kissed him on the cheek, “goodness you look tired.” As she spoke she ushered him into the living room, taking his shoes out of his hand and dropping them in the hall. “Come on, Ralph’s through here.”

The light that filled the conservatory was no longer the golden light of summer. But it was warm enough to have the windows open. Ralph was sitting in his favorite chair, his back supported by cushions, his drink – which looked like gin and tonic – in his hand. The evening paper lay unopened on his lap. On the table between the chairs stood an opened bottle of coca-cola and a glass containing ice cubes. The only other thing on the table was an envelope.

“Sit down son. Have a drink.”

“His hands aren’t very clean Ralph,” said Mum

“So what?” said Ralph cheerfully. “Neither are mine.”

Vaughn saw that the envelope had the Rawlish High crest in the corner. The cap of the coca-cola bottle made a satisfying hiss. “What’s all this about?” he asked his stepfather, tilting his glass. “Shouldn’t you be at work?”

Vaughn’s step dad was tall and thin. Mum always said that his workaholic nature kept him that way. He had well-tended dark hair, a bit gray on top, and the kind of moustache favored by middle-aged American actors. When he wasn’t in expensive business suits, he wore clothes from catalogues where the models were pretending to be sailing or walking in a park.

He smiled, making deep creases in his cheeks, and shifted in his chair. He put one ankle on the other knee. “I thought I’d come home early and see you before you go out. You are going out, art you? To your class?”

Vaughn’s chest contracted. He usually went to ballet class at six-thirty on Fridays. Ralph had been told that Miss Fitzgerald was in hospital, but he’d obviously forgotten.

“He’s not going out tonight Ralph,” said mum gently. “Norma’s had an accident. We did tell you.”

Ralph karate-chopped his head playfully. “I knew that! But anyway, do you want to read this letter?”

The first paragraph told mum and Ralph how delighted the school was with Vaughn’s progress how confidently his teachers were predicting his shining GED results.

Vaughn looked up. “It’s the standard letter Mr. Cadwallader sends out at the beginning of year 11 to everyone. Nick Simmons got his yesterday. What’s the big deal?”

Ralph took his ankle off his knee. Ice clinked against the side of his glass. “Read on.”

The next paragraph said that because of this, Vaughn was one of a group of very able boys being invited to start an advanced level course a year early.

“Why?” asked Vaughn, bewildered. “Why are they in such a rush?”

“They’re fast tracking you,” said Ralph. He leaned forward, his eyes bright. “Pretty good idea isn’t it?”

It didn’t seem like a good idea to Vaughn. He felt confused, but he made himself focus on the one fact he could see clearly. If he was ever going to present Ralph with an alternative scheme for his future – a scheme which didn’t involve Rawlish Sixth Form at all – the moment to do it had arrived.

“Did I mention Olivia Perry to you?”

The brightness in Ralph’s eyes faded slightly. “Err…”

“She’s a ballet teacher. She teaches at the community center at Lowry Road.”

Mum glanced at Ralph apologetically. “She’s teaching Michael while Norma’s sick,” she explained.

“I went to her class last night,” said Vaughn.

Ralph’s eyebrows twitched “isn’t Thursday night Falcons training?”

“Yes but it is the only night that Miss Perry teaches seniors.”

“I see.” Ralph sipped his drink. “This is a temporary arrangement, is it?”

“Um… well, anyway, Miss Perry’s a really good teacher. A serious teacher, who is prepared to coach me, if I’m good enough…”

“I’m sure you are, sweetheart,” interrupted Mum.

“… For ballet school auditions.”

Every one was silent.

“You know, the American Ballet Academy.” Said Vaughn. His nerve was failing. He couldn’t breathe. His voice got quieter. “It’s in New York. The auditions are in February and March, to start in September.”

While Vaughn had been saying this Ralph’s smile had gone. His cheeks weren’t creased any more. He looked at Vaughn’s mother. “Did you know about this?”

She nodded. “Listen, Ralphie. If Michael is ever going to be a professional dancer, he has to go into full time dance training next year. He’ll do the rest of high school at the ABA, just like he would at an ordinary school, but he wouldn’t go to university afterwards.” Vaughn could hear equal measure of tenderness and toughness in her voice. He knew that she would always be on his side of this argument. “He’ll join a company and dance for his living.”

There was a pause, during which Vaughn struggled with the knowledge that he loved both his parents and wanted to please them both, but couldn’t. What ever happened, one of them would get hurt.

Ralph was still leaning over the coffee table, his forgotten drink in his hand. Sitting there in his work clothes, he looked as if he were at the end of a meeting at which nothing had been decided, with an unsolved problem still dangling ahead of him, promising hours and hours of work.

Vaughn had rehearsed this moment in front of the mirror hundreds of times. Be clear headed and tell him straight. Don’t let him get emotional. But Ralph was already more upset then Vaughn had feared.

“Tell me something Michael,” he said. He was trying to sound unconcerned, but the disappointment in his voice crashed over Vaughn like a landslide. Under it, Vaughn’s already faltering nerve collapsed. He waited obediently for Ralph’s question.

“Do you have the remotest idea – the smallest idea – what Rawlish costs?”

Vaughn knew that Ralph didn’t really want this question answered. And he certainly wouldn’t want to be told that judging by present surroundings, what the school cost was of no material significance.

“Alright, we’re comfortable,” he admitted. “But do you really think that I worked my ass of for the past twenty years to throw my money away on some pathetic little ballet school?”

Vaughn’s flattened courage recovered itself. He stood up, and looked down at Ralph’s serious and surprised face. “The ABA isn’t some pathetic little ballet school!” he protested “It’s a famous school, much more famous then Rawlish!” he applied to his mother. “Isn’t it?”

Mum nodded. See too was watching Ralph’s face. “It’s a very tough audition, Ralph, but if we don’t let him at least try…”

“Try to make a fool out of himself, you mean?” Ralph remembered his drink and took a mouthful, gesturing towards Vaughn’s chair. “Sit down and stop the melodrama, Michael. You’re not at stage school yet you know.”

Vaughn didn’t want to sit down. He turned to escape, but his socked feet slid on the tile floor, and he stumbled. Mum half rose to help him, but Ralph was quicker. He stood up, spilling some of his drink on the table as he set it down, and caught hold of a chunk of Vaughn’s hair, twisting it around his hand.

“Get off!” Vaughn had lost his temper. “Leave me alone!”

Mum tried to intervene, but Ralph’s grip was too strong. Vaughn had no choice but to stand still. “Are you seriously telling me that you want to be a dancer?” Ralph asked, as if the possibility had only just come to him.

“Yes, that’s what I…”

“Shut up and let me tell you something. You’ll never be a dancer. You’ll be a statistic, that’s what you’ll be. In the unemployment benefit queue.” He released Vaughn’s hair. “Now get out of my sight.”

Vaughn went up to his room. He took off his blazer and tie and hung them up without noticing what he was doing. He opened his schoolbag. Latin. Geography. Unbelievably, tears stung behind his eyes. Tears. ‘For god’s sake Vaughn get a hold of yourself.’ Note book. Folder. Pen.

He sat down at his desk. It was daylight outside, but he still put his desk light on from long habit. This is where he’d been doing his homework at five o’clock every night for four years, except for Friday nights when he went to Miss Fitzgerald’s. Tonight, though, there was no Miss Fitzgerald. There wasn’t even the prospect of calling Wiess and suggesting that they go see a movie and maybe grab a burger afterwards. There was nothing to look forward to but Ralph’s frostiness and mum’s brave cheerfulness.

He tried to read the words in front of him, but the stinging in his eyes worsened. He snapped his Latin textbook shut. He closed his folder and put down his pen. He turned of the light and closed his curtains. Then still in his school pants and shirt, he lay down on his bed.

He’d begun something that was certain. Deciding to quit the falcons was the first rung on a very, very long ladder that reached so high that the end of it disappeared in the clouds like jack’s beanstalk. The second rung, which he just tried to step onto in the conservatory, that had broken so spectacularly that it made Vaughn feel sick to even think about it. And how could he get onto the third rung, when he wasn’t even sure where, or how far away, it was?

Lying in the darkened room, he fingered his jaw, which felt scratchy, and thought about Mr. Cadwallader’s letter. It brought him no joy. In fact, it threw up a big, big question. Could he – he, ordinary Michael Vaughn – really turn his back on the academic glory which would come to him so easily, in order to pursue a different kind of glory, doing something so impossibly difficult, so filled with uncertainty and in which he was so extremely unlikely to succeed?

Suddenly the truth of what Miss Fitzgerald’s Daughter had said. He sat up, thinking hard, and looked through the gloom at his reflection in the mirror on the opposite wall. His hair was a mess and he needed to shave. But his eyes stared calmly back at him.

Ballet dancers really were mad. Their madness was a delirium, a fever out of control. It didn’t matter what a sensible person would do. He didn’t want to be a sensible person. He wanted to work his way further and further into the over heated world of ballet and be infected with the madness too. And surely, the only way to achieve this was to go to a place where everyone else was as he was?

He knew from chemistry lessons that if you wanted to make something very hot, very concentrated, you burn it in an enclosed space, depriving it of the oxygen it needed to flame freely. Slowly, you reduced it to glowing white-hot embers.

An enclosed space. A place where he no longer had to juggle one life with another, and keep his achievements to himself, and be attacked by people like Charlie Miller and Jake Thorogood. Wouldn’t that be a glorious, blessed relief?


Wow, thank god that this chapter is finished! I know I haven’t updated in ages, but that is because I have had NO time to write because of school (DO NOT LIKE VERY MUCH AT THE MOMENT)!

Well the other day I went to see a ADT (Australian Dance Theater) performance called HELD and I recommend every one to see it if it comes to a town near you, because they are now on a world tour! (yay!) It is a modern dance that has a photographer who is on stage with the dancers and taking photos of them, and a second after the photo is taken it appears on huge board things behind the dancers!