#FanficThursday: The Only One (Camille and Moose) – Step Up – Chapter 24

Chapter 24 –  One More Step (Los Angeles)

Moose and Camille, Step Up: All In

Los Angeles. City of fame, successes, and failures. The place to which, years ago, my maternal grandparents emigrated from their distant Eastern Europe. The great hope for their greatest passion: dancing.

With that background, although my mother admits that she has barely listened to dance since she passed into adolescence, it’s not surprising that I have ended up as I have. It’s true that having just finished my degree two months ago, my top priority is to find a job as an engineer and quit dancing, but I can’t deny that it’s in my genes.

“‘Cha-Cha Palace’,” Cam reads aloud as we come to the door, before glancing at me full of irony.

“My grandparents don’t exactly come from Street dance, honey,” I smile, as I imitate her tune. “Although I have to admit that they’re not bad at ballroom dancing.”

Camille bows her head, smiling in shame, and I come over to kiss her on the temple without being able to help it.

“Come on, they must be waiting for us by now. I’ll show you around”, I say before opening the door of the dance school to let her in.

Because the building we are entering is no more and no less than where my grandparents set up their dance school almost twenty-five years ago. And, to date, they seem to be doing well. Mind you, I know it’ll never be my style.

Mooski! “my grandmother is the first to come out to greet us with a radiant smile, and after hugging and kissing me, she turns to my girlfriend. “Aha, and you must be Camille…”

Immediately, and with almost no time to react for my girlfriend, my grandmother bows to give her two effusive kisses. The usual thing in her country and something that she has never been able to give up.

“I am delighted to meet you at last,” babbles Camille as she recovers and manages to show a smile that hides her obvious nervousness about the situation. “Moose talks a lot about you and this place.”

My grandmother, on the other hand, rolls her eyes slightly while smiling anyway.

“You can call me by my first name,” she says, marking the R’s as usual with her peculiar accent. “Please come in. Your grandfather is picking up the material upstairs,” she says as we go up, like chicks behind the mother hen. “And Camille, between us… I think I’ve heard a lot more about you. Right, Mooski?” She asks me with a wink.

“Oh, no”, I’m breathing down my neck.

Why does she has to do that? Immediately, I notice how my cheeks warm up with an accusing red that makes Camille laugh underneath before giving me a discreet look of understanding.

“Ah, you’re here already,” I say hello to my grandfather then. The great Boris. “Are you ready to go for lunch?”

“Popa”, I greet him before I hug him with love. “It’s been a long time.”

“It’s true…But you know”, he keeps the voice down in confidence. “Your father doesn’t want to hear about dancing, never, ever.”

I twist the gesture as if I had just swallowed a particularly acidic lemon. Yes, he had been unhappy to know that, despite everything, I had been avoiding his vigilance every year of university and managing to study two careers instead of one… The second one, dancing.

My mother did know and trusted my ability to devote myself to the two things I was most passionate about in the world while paying me part of my tuition fees without my father knowing. I got the rest from contest prizes, scholarships, and, well…whatever my talent or that of The Pirates gave me.

There were even times when Tyler offered to help me out, but luckily I was able to avoid that responsibility whenever the occasion arose. I get along great with him, but I couldn’t do that to Camille. My pride prevented me from doing it. I had to show my father, if he ever found out, that I could handle it. Alone.

Now, in the room with the large windows where my grandparents teach, I suddenly feel like I’m back in the MSA, in the classes, letting myself be carried away by music…But it’s time to put my feet on the ground. Because it is likely, to be honest, that I will find a more acceptable salary as an engineer than as a dancer.

“That’s right, Mooski. “How did your interview go this morning on Magogan?” Asks my grandmother.

I smile tenderly without meaning to.

“It’s McGowan, baba”, I correct her, “and I think it went fine, but I guess it’ll be a while before I know anything.”

Indeed, it’s the primary reason I’m in Los Angeles. I convinced Camille to come with me to meet my grandparents, but I know she’s looking forward to doing some interviews both in New York and here, so it seemed like a good time to be alone and quiet apart from visiting family.

My grandfather shrugs and my grandmother nods, agreeing.

“Well, then…Let’s eat.”

Luckily for Camille, there are no more awkward moments or questions during lunch at a nearby Lebanese restaurant, not even when my grandparents discover that Camille only eats vegetables―no meat or animal products. But my grandparents assume this with apparent naturalness and do not comment on it, even though my popa, in particular, is a convinced carnivore.

The afternoon passes quietly and we stay for dinner and sleep at my grandparents’ house, with which I discover with joy that my girlfriend agrees with them at first. The next morning, Camille leaves for an interview and I go with my grandparents’ school. It’s Friday morning and they don’t have classes scheduled until 1 p.m., so after helping them clean up and pick up, while they finish a series of errands, I can’t resist going up to the dance hall again. And even without music, I feel the floor calling to me. I need to dance.

Therefore, soon my body starts to move almost of its own accord. At least, until a cough that I know well makes me turn like a spring towards the door.

“You can’t give it up, huh?” Camille asks me with a smile.

I’m imitating her.

“I think it’s burnt in my genetics” I’m kidding before I get close and she does the same. “What did they say?”

She bites her lip.

“Well, I…”

Hey, that’s not fair, that’s my trick, I think immediately, although I sense with joy and something else that she’s supposed to use it.

“I already have a job at a publishing house”, she adds right after, for my biggest delight. “So…”

Even though she’s bugged me a little, I’m very happy for her. Although a somewhat uncomfortable knot is indeed taking hold of my stomach. If she comes to Los Angeles, I could come with my grandparents but, without work …Still, I do not want to spoil her smile and I say after kissing her:

“Cam, that’s so great…”

But I can’t say more because, immediately, my cell phone rings. Unknown number.

“Yup?” I answer, with a runaway heart.

“Mr. Alexander? ―on the other side of the phone rings an old man’s voice that I can’t identify the first one―, “ I’m McGowan, we met yesterday for your interview” ―is it possible to be that much of a coincidence? It has to be. I hope it is―,” the truth, young man, is that I am convinced by your candidacy and your apparent ability to carry out any project you propose” ―I hope he’s not laughing at me, but with the nerves, I have right now I would not know―, “so I’d like you to start working at the company on Monday. Same conditions I gave you yesterday. What do you think?”

I’m about to leap over joy, but I hold back before politely accepting. It’s the answer I had prayed for a few minutes ago, but I can’t say it like that or it will look bad. Camille, on the other hand, looks at me with her eyes like plates, waiting for some more obvious reaction from me and intuiting what is happening.

“All right, sir. Thank you,” I hang up and turn to Camille, who is questioning me with an inquisitive look. “They gave it to me,” I whisper, not believing it yet, before exclaiming. “They gave me the job!”

I’m euphoric and Cam reacts the same way, hugging me and understanding at first sight what it means. From the joy, I turn her in the air while she laughs with delight. But an idea just crossed my mind. If we’re both in Los Angeles…

“Well, then…”, I murmur at her neck. “It’s time we started looking at some flat around here, right?”

As a reflex, my girlfriend stops laughing suddenly and looks at me as if she doesn’t believe what I just said, while a subtle suspicion takes over her face. But I hope she got the hint.

“Moose… Me…? I…” She covers her mouth with her hands when she sees me moving my head up and down, confirming what she suspects. And after a few seconds that take forever, she finally responds. “Okay. Yes… Yes!” ―she puts her arms around my neck and I hug her too, excited―, “I love you, Moose.”

I close my eyes and respond by her hair, before inhaling that aroma that I love. Well, like everything about her. And there’s no one else that I want to share this new path that opens up before my feet…

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