#FanficThursday: The Only One (Camille and Moose) – Step Up – Chapter 8

Chapter 8 – You Can Do It (Baltimore)

Camille (Alyson Stoner) and Moose (Adam Sevani), Step Up 3

The chords are starting to play over our heads. The light seems to dim and suddenly it’s as if it’s just the two of us on a big stage. He moves forward, performs several dance steps, and kneels in front of me. I accept his hand and let myself turn. His hands pick me up as he stands up and we both execute a quick sequence with our feet, going backward first and then forwards. We separate slightly, take three steps, and then turn around until we are in front of each other, both facing forward. I execute my free movement, he follows with his.

The chords continue and we change position to face each other. We take several steps as if we were dancing a ridiculous foxtrot and then separate to face each other in freestyle, face to face. When I look into his eyes and see how he feels the music, I grow up and get down on the floor in spagat, close my legs and then stand up, with hardly any impulse, to face him again. Moose, on the other hand, cannot resist a mortal backward.

The music is nearing its end, and we both know what we must do. After pretending we’re going to dodge, he takes my hand, makes me do three pirouettes in front of him, and ends, with the last chord, by lowering me on his left arm until I’m parallel to the floor. There is a thousandth of a second before the class breaks into applause but, in that small lapse of time, our gazes cross, sparkling in unison… And I feel a sudden urge to kiss him. Luckily, as soon as I hear the applause, I return to the reality of the school and don’t even make a move. Seconds later, when we split up, I almost cursed myself for an idiot―what am I thinking? We’re good friends, we grew up together… I can’t do that to him and ruin our relationship.

Luckily for my troubled head, at that moment I hear Collins’ voice, who is going to give the verdict on our dance. And I don’t know who is more stunned to hear what he has to say.

“Well, Moose. I must say frankly that, despite the way you started the course a week ago, you have begun doing exactly what I intended you to do” ―the man in question and I looked at each other, unbelieving. We’ve indeed been working like mules these days, but I never imagined that we’d run into each other like this―. “I don’t know if it’s Miss Gage’s doing or yours, I admit it,” the director continues. “But, still, I hope you will keep going that way.”

***

Wait, wait, wait… Did Collins just congratulate me? All of a sudden, it’s like my throat can’t even respond. But with a supreme effort, I manage to issue a “thank you, Principal,” before I go back to where the rest of the guys are.

Several performances later, including those by Andie and Chase – he’s apparently managed to get my street-dancer friend to polish her moves too, becoming the great dancer she can be – and Kido with Cable – it took convincing Collins to accept them but by appealing to ‘The Streets’, the scales finally tipped in our favor – the bell finally rings and Camille and I rush out of class. However, we didn’t sing victory until we walk out the door of the MSA. Luckily, Technique was the last class of the day. I, personally, still can’t believe Collins liked my performance. It’s something I haven’t felt since… ‘The Streets’. And another, much more bitter memory intersects with that one, making my joy fade slightly. Because I’d be lying if I said I was over Sophie.

“Moose… Moose!”

All of a sudden, I react. Camille walks over to my side, and she starts making a fuss in front of my face.

“I’m sorry, Cam. Did you say something?”

She doesn’t answer right away, but she twists the grin. But she doesn’t seem angry.

“Come on, man. Encourage that face. Collins praised your public performance.” She’s trying to encourage me, without even knowing what I’m thinking. “You should be proud.”

“Yes, I am, I am,” ―I’m sure, although Sophie keeps hanging around my head like a pesky wasp I try to ignore. “Still, it’s because of you.”

I smile at her and she smiles back at me, but at the same time, her cheeks turn red.

“Yeah, well… It was the least I could do,” she says, before looking at me again. “Seriously, Moose. You’re a natural… I don’t know why you doubt it.”

For a moment, my inner self shrinks into a corner, embarrassed. Because I still think, compared to her, I’m an amateur.

“I wish I could have learned from your brother, too.” But I get silent at the sight of her smile disappearing, her face becoming deadly serious, and her gaze suddenly turning away from me. So, with all the alarms going off, I force her to slow down. “Hey, Cam… Hey, did I say something wrong? If you did, I’m sorry, I…”

“No, it’s nothing. Don’t worry,” she answers right away, showing again a smile that, I detect, doesn’t reach her eyes.

It’s forced, and I wonder for a painful moment why, at the same time, a dangerous doubt assails me―what happened in New York? What hasn’t she told me yet? Probably many things, but I prefer not to burden her.

“Hey, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to,” I assure HER. “I’ll just… try not to bring it up next time, okay?”

Camille’s not answering. She just snorts and, for several yards, neither of us says a word. Until I come up with an idea that I think is perfect.

“Hey, I’ll buy you a smoothie. I want to thank you for what you’ve done for me this week.”

I seem to remember that when we were little, we loved the smoothies and juices sold near the school, and we’re just about there. Cam, on the other hand, seems to have her eyes glowing at the prospect again, so without further thought, I take her by the hand and drag her to the stall immediately.

Then, with the drink in hand, we continued walking until we reached the port. I didn’t want to push any further, but I admit that I am dying to know what I said to make her sad. I can’t bear to see her like that.

That’s when she finally gets the courage to come clean.

“I never told you one of the reasons why I left with Tyler, did I? ―Feeling the alarms in my brain whistle again, I’m slowly nodding my head. I watch her swallow and I start to worry for real. But nothing prepares me for her confession. “You know my biological father has been in a maximum-security prison for many years, and in the meantime, I have lived with a foster family, the same one as Tyler” ―I feel, even though she is not looking at me but has stared at the boats nearby. “Well, let’s just say that, since I turned thirteen, my father” ―she quotes with her fingers― “stopped treating me as he should.”

My mouth gets dry. It’s not possible…

“You…?”

I can’t pronounce it―it’s too horrible. But when she shakes her head, I breathe a sigh of relief and can’t help it. Thank goodness for that.

“He never got further,” admits Camille, although the sadness that permeates every word is as evident as the sun that shines above our heads. “But one day when he came home drunk, he tried to do… other things,” she bent her head and pressed her lips. She’s having a hard time telling me, and I don’t know what to do to help her. “So when Tyler came home one weekend to visit, I told him what had happened, and Bill tried to get close to Nora without even being drunk, and my brother decided it was over and offered me the option of staying for a year. I would go on tour with the two of them, learn, and get ready for the MSA trials,” she shrugs. “And here I am.”

I’m still dazed by what she’s told me, so it takes me a couple of seconds to react.

“Cam, I…” I can finally vocalize. “Why didn’t you ever tell me anything?”

Suddenly, I realize her eyes have filled with tears.

“I was afraid” she confesses. And, immediately, I know what I have to do. I put my drink down on the railing and walk forward with my arms open to her. My best friend, grateful, takes refuge in them right away, but she doesn’t cry anymore. She’s a strong girl. Who, right away, raises her head to look at me again. “Luckily, Bill is no longer in our lives” ―and to my surprise, she says, leaning back on the railing.― “My mother finally split up last year and now she’s surviving on what Tyler and his job send her,” ―she smiles halfheartedly―. “She’s also started dating someone who treats her well. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so happy.”

I’m touched and can’t help it. I want her to be happy, too, but I don’t know how to tell her without sounding a little corny under the circumstances. So, lying next to her, I whisper sincerely:

“You’ll always have me, Camille. Whatever happens.”

She turns to me; smiling, now, with joy and gratitude in equal parts.

“I know… and I wouldn’t wish for anything else in this world.”

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