page 42

I walked into the studio with the familiar feeling of dread. Roy was just behind me, looking around with curiosity, and I felt bad for using him in Bea's scheme. I'd insisted, against his protests, that he come inside. 

She wanted me to give him a tour, be affectionate. See Sutton's reaction to him, to us.

Bea was devious. 

I peeked into the practice room, surprised to see Sutton looking through some book. He glanced up instantly.

"You're early." he said, blinking in remote surprise. 

"Just showing someone around the place." I replied, taking Roy's hand and leading him into the room. 

Raphael's expression shifted.

"Didn't you see the 'No Pets Allowed' sign by the door?" 

"Yeah," I replied, "But I figured it went out of date when you showed up here."

Roy cleared his throat awkwardly and introduced himself. Sutton just looked at him and then at me, with a look of distaste.

"Don't mind him." I said to my companion, "He's a cranky old man at heart."

"I heard that!" Raphael said, not looking up from his book.

I didn't know if it was just me, but he seemed ruder than usual. And that's saying a lot.

I proceeded to show Roy the multiple rooms, explaining the pictures of famous dancers on the walls and gave him some history on the Chicago Ballet. 

Feeling bold, I even gave Roy a mini-dance lesson in the practice room, teaching him a simple waltz. I could swear I caught Sutton watching over the book, but whenever I looked he was engrossed in it. Eventually he started calling out Roy's mistakes, and I felt horrible as my partner, being the honest, down-to-earth guy he was, actually took them in stride.

I supplied Roy with lots of encouragement to try and make up for Sutton's harshness, but had to gape in shock when he butted in for 'a demonstration'.

Thankfully right then Roy looked at his watch and exclaimed that he had to get to work, and he kissed me on the cheek before hurrying out.

 I promptly turned on Sutton, my eyes shooting a thousand daggers at him.

"What the hell was that?"

He shrugged, starting to lead me in a waltz.

"I'm sorry. I'm used to seeking perfection, and I can't stand to see a timeless dance slaughtered like that."

"That's no explanation for how you treated him!"

"Did I upset you, Abromovich? I'm sorry, I suppose I should have brought over a ceremonial offering and held a powwow in his honour." he remarked sardonically. 

"What is your problem?" I hissed, glaring openly at him. 

"It's not my fault if I'm surrounded by a bunch of incompetent idiots!" 

I backhanded him across the face. Hard, seeing as my hand stung afterwards.

We stood there, his gaze fixed on the ground and mine searing into his skull. My hand was shaking, but I balled it into a fist and it stilled. After god knows how long he spoke.

"I'm sorry if I've offended you."

I bit back my retort and sighed.

"Let's just practice, okay?"

He obliged and I was glad he didn't try to say anything to me. The last thing I needed was another reason to slap him. 

The End

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