Rehearsals were over for another two hours, so Rowan joined Will in the cafeteria for lunch. The cheery londoner seemed a little put out, and kept looking at Rowan oddly, before hurriedly returning his gaze to the tray of food. Eventually it was too obvious to be ignored.
"All right, Will, tell me what's up," he said sternly. "If you're going to glare at me like that, you could at least explain why." He waited, taking a bite of pasta in order to have something to do.
"You snuck out last night, didn't you?" said Will at last. "When I woke up, you weren't there, and by the time you came back again I must have fallen asleep, because I didn't hear you come in." He sounded suspicious, even angry.
"Yes. Yes, I did."
"And that's what you were talking to Netta about, am I right?" Rowan nodded. "You made her angry. So what were you guys doing last night?" At last, the fury was explained. Rowan couldn't help but laugh, and although the site of his friend's frown made him try to control himself, the giggles that escaped seemed to anger Will even more.
Forcing himself to calm down, he said, "It's not like that at all, I promise you. We weren't - together. Well, we were both in the hall, but she didn't even know I was there until this morning, and I didn't know that she was going to be until I got there." Feeling a little hard done by, Rowan added, "Why, do you fancy her?"
Will actually blushed. "Of course I don't. Stop being stupid." But he wouldn't look up. Eventually he broke the awkward silence to say, "So, what's it like, dancing with her?"
"Incredible," he breathed. "I only wish we had more dances together." But that wasn't quite true, for Rowan had managed to find that high for himself, even when he danced alone, and if he was entirely honest, Netta still scared him. "It's like having wings." Yes, that was how to describe it: like a phoenix, rising in glorious light from the ashes of the old dance, the boring dance, the constricting dance; like an eagle soaring high above the ordinary people down on the ground.
"Oh, well, then." Will didn't really know what to say. It was true that he had had his eye on the beautiful Netta for two years now, ever since he joined the company, and though he knew she was unattainable, it didn't stop him from being more than a little jealous of his friend, a newcomer who had already had such glory.
"I'm sorry, Will." Rowan seemed to catch the tenor of his thoughts. "I didn't mean to upset you, I really didn't. I never asked for this! In a few days time, James will be better, and I'll go back to being insignificant again. Please don't be angry at me."
"I'm not angry at you, I'm really not." They sat in silence. "What did you say to Netta that made her look so shocked?"
"Oh - nothing. I saw her dancing last night and she didn't realise I was there."
"She dances at night? Is she not worn out enough from the day time?" Will shook his head. "I always said she was a crazy woman, Rowan. You look out for her, in case madness is catching." With a grin he was back to his normal self. "Have we got rehearsals this afternoon?"
"No, just practice. I'm going into town for an hour before we start, if you wanted to come. No one will care." Rowan looked around at the other dancers, lounging about the canteen and rejoicing in the break from intensive muscle abuse. "To be honest, I could do with the fresh air." Their friendship, so close to being lost, was restored.
"Sure, I'll come with you. No offence, but I need to get away from a few of these guys for a bit anyway."