ZoomBoy sang in choir tonight, and that was sort of neat-- it was a combined choir of the junior high and all the high school choirs-- but I must say, my mind wandered HORRIBLY during the singing. (I'd heard a lot of it before.)
So, I was wrestling plot bunny after plot bunny, and in the meantime, SOMEBODY posted a meme SOMEWHERE specifically where I would see it, and intimated I MIGHT know what she wanted.
So you know who you are.
This is for you.
* * *
It took a year and a half before Jared could walk without a cane, but he did a lot in that year.
Physical Therapy, every day. Gym, pool, personal trainer--he did it all--even though Dawson whined bitterly about the diet it took for him to not gain wait, it was worth it. Someday--someday--he would fly again. And if he didn't fly high enough or fast enough to perform professionally, that was okay. That wasn't why he flew in the first place.
He found studio space, and, with the help of Dawson, Benji, Daria, and Amber--and Dawson's dad, of course-- managed to lay hard rubber for the stage, layer the walls with acoustic tile so the sound didn't echo, and, one pane at a time, install the giant mirror and the barre.
The space was small--but two classes a day paid the overhead, and three classes a day let him pay for rent.
He advertised at the local grammar school, gave fliers to the special ed teachers, talked to the local community centers--by six months, he had outreach classes at the community centers and needed to hire Daria to teach after school classes there.
Six days a week, he came home to Dawson, exhausted, sore, and... oddly enough, happy.
He wasn't counting on the mom-ager and her superspawn to walk into the studio when he had his 8-12 year old class of moderately to severe handicapped students at the barre.
There were only eight of them, but they were challenging enough that he'd recruited volunteers from the college physical education programs to come help. It was something for their resumes, he'd said, and he'd been blessed with three young and able people, two young men and a young woman, who seemed to genuinely like the kids and read his cues for how to help them adjust awkward, stiff-tendoned, loose-muscled limbs into the stretches that would help them while dancing.
If the studio could just do a little better, be a little more in the black, he'd maybe get salaries for them all.
So when the obviously well-heeled woman in a business suit walked in, his first thought was "Sponsor!" and then he saw her son, wearing jazz pants, with a dance bag over his shoulder and a superior smirk on his face, and the thought changed to, "Douchebag!"
Suddenly, he wished for Dawson.
Dawson could awkward his way through this situation no problem. He could stand up for Jared's kids and get this woman to sponsor a class without pausing for breath. But all Jared could do was push himself over, cane in hand because it was the end of the day, and wait until the musical selection ended.
"Everybody, take five, but don't stop moving!" he ordered. This was actually the fun part, because the kids would do what they thought was dancing--whirling in endless pinwheel loops, leap with heavy bodies in jumps with no name, execute simple pedestrian maneuvers no dance teacher had ever seen before--it was dancing without the rules, and sometimes his kids needed that with everything in their souls.
"Hi," he said, remembering the days when a quiet smile at a cocktail party would get his manager into his next gig. "Welcome to Emory-Barnes studio, I'm Jared Emory." He smiled softly as Hannah, a sweet little girl with springy pom-pom pigtails and a soft, pear-shaped body did a passable pirouette to music only she heard. "What can I do for you?"
"This is a dance studio?" the woman said, lip pulled back.
"Yes," he said with dignity. "This particular class is for children with moderate to severe mental and physical handicaps."
"And you teach them to dance?" The skepticism in her voice started his stomach churning. His little sister had loved dancing--nobody told her that kids with Downs Syndrome couldn't dance, so she never had to doubt herself.
"Everybody should dance," he said with a quiet, determined smile. A little desperately, he caught the boy's eye. "Don't you think?"
And he saw it--the moment when the boy recognized him.
"Jared Emory," he said blankly.
"Yes." Oh hell.
"The Jared Emory."
"I... I own three DVD's with your performances," the kid burbled. "I've seen every YouTube video ever made with you. I've..." He looked at the cane then, eyes wide. "I saw you fall."
It took a lot for Jared to take the next breath. "The whole world saw me fall," he said ruefully.
"That's why you never came back?" He must have been fifteen, this kid, with dark hair and green eyes. Black brows arched expressively over dark lashes, and a little bow-stung mouth made him a stunner, probably even without makeup from the stage.
"I could have come back for a season," Jared admitted, "but I never would have danced again. So I decided to build up the knee--I might not dance professionally again, but someday, I'll dance." He tried not to admit to Dawson how much being earthbound weighed on his bones. In the pool, or when watching his students dance, he could fly.
"But..." The kid bit his lip and looked around at Jared's twirling, giggling students. "Why... why..."
"Everybody should dance," Jared told him, believing it. "Everybody should fly."
The kid's face lit up. "Yes." He looked at his mother, who seemed to smell something bad. "Do you... do you have any advanced classes?" he asked apprehensively. "I... my last teacher was..." He shuddered.
"I've had those," Jared said, understanding that. "I used to throw up before practice."
The boy nodded, his neck suddenly thin and vulnerable. "I puked blood," he whispered.
"I'll tell you what," Jared said, gauging the way the kid seemed to smile indulgently at his students. "If you want to help me out, I can help you out."
"What do you mean?" his mother asked, suddenly engaged.
"I mean my interns are doing this for semester credit, and I won't have a helper here over the summer. My boyfriend can come in some days, and his best friend, and my other employee--but it's not locked in stone. If--" He looked at the boy meaningfully.
"Todd," the boy said, smiling like he got it.
"If Todd can come in, this day, this time, and help me out through the summer, I'll stay after for two hours and instruct him special. I have an advanced class three days a week, but the two hours of lessons is only open to a few kids. I want to start having recitals next summer, and I need some dancers who can lead the rest of the studio."
The idea had been fermenting in the back of his head since they'd opened in January, a year after his fall, but it hadn't fully coalesced until right now.
"Couldn't I just pay you--" the mom began, but Jared shook his head, and, surprisingly, Todd cut her off.
"Everyone should dance," he said shortly. "Mom. He's right. Everyone should dance."
They finalized the particulars after Jared stretched the class and had them cool down, but he had such hope burning in his chest--he couldn't even articulate it, not to himself.
But he found, later that night, as he and Dawson were stretched out in front of the television, he could find the words.
"I don't even know where we'll perform," he said, his voice catching at the end of the spiel. "But I'm giving those private lessons, and the other kids know who the superstars are, and all they want to do is perform, and--"
"That's a great idea!" Dawson exclaimed, waking up from a semi-stupor on Jared's chest. "You can petition one of the local high schools to use the gym and I can run the lights and the sound and the curtain and--"
And just like that, Jared saw where his hope came from, where the faith that this was a good thing. He captured Dawson's mouth with his own, holding his cheeks until the slow burn of passion replaced Dawson's enthusiasm, and he fell into the kiss with fervor.
Jared turned him, until Dawson was sprawled on his back, grinding up agains Jared, stripping off Jared's shirt because not being skin-to-skin would hurt.
"Where's Amber?" Jared panted.
"At her girlfriend's," Dawson answered. That was happening more and more--they were starting to feel bad taking Amber's rent money, but reluctant to break up the terrible trio.
"She'd better knock if she comes back," Jared panted. He fumbled with the button to Dawson's 501's and Dawson helped by lifting his ass up and then pulling his knees up to his chin so Jared could strip them off, along with his underwear.
And there he was--pale and slender, surprisingly muscular, but still not filled out. His pink little nipples stood up from his white chest like a surprise, and flat moles still marked him in unusual places.
He was beautiful, like a swan, or the clouds from eye level.
Jared lowered his head to take a nipple into his mouth, and felt the leadenness of earth fall from his limbs. Dawson grunted and flailed, still not graceful when they made love, but it didn't matter. As Jared worked his way down that soft-skinned body to the wealth of hair--and of cock--at Dawson's groin, he guided Dawson's hands back to his own nipples so they'd have something useful to do.
He wanted to take that cock into his mouth and play it unmercifully. He wanted Dawson to come down his throat so hard he saw stars and sailed in the night sky for hours.
He planned to thrust inside that willing body while Dawson wrapped long arms and legs around him, and together they would hit the stratosphere and float gently down.
His knee would never be perfect--but this man, this love, this happiness between them--this would let him fly. When he healed completely, and could dance with his kids and in his own performances, he could fly again on stage.
But here, in Dawson's arms, he could fly forever.
He stripped and found Dawson's entrance, pushing in as Dawson told the entire apartment building, again, that they were having sex.
Swans were mean creatures, sometimes carnivorous in their urge to be the strongest, the most elite, the most beautiful.
Jared would find joy flying with the ducks.