One, two, back, back, turn. Repeat and then it was over. The hands that had been guiding her in the movement had retracted, and she turned to him, large eyes wondering. He stared down at her, wanting to say something, but couldn't find the words. He didn't love her, no. He didn't believe in love at first sight. That was bullshit, and more shallowness than anything, but he did like the way that she learned. The way he could teach her, but when she had told him those three words, spoken so often and so little but always at the wrong moment, he hadn't said anything. He could feel her burning skin beneath his palms. She was like a flame and he had to back away as soon as possible. She was a naïve little girl to him, and while he thought about it, could he really ever have it?
She was so stupid, she knew it. I love you. Who says that anymore? Who says that to people that they barely know? It was so stupid for her to have poured her heart out to him. Love at first sight? Yes, it had been. She was so sure, but he had done what was worse than any rejection she would have given someone. No, he had almost completely disregarded her declaration, and had simply taken her hand to show her the steps again. He was her choreographer all over again, somebody only there for the money her parents had been paying him. For some reason she felt used, but he was only doing his job. He just did it in a different way that the others hadn't.
"Ara," he muttered as he watched her do the steps all over again. Something was off. She turned to him as he spoke, waiting. What would he say? What had she done wrong? She had done what he had said to, what he had showed her to… Ara would admit that she did do better when he guided her, but he wouldn't be there forever. Hell, he was barely there now. She felt herself growing bitter with the doubt. He didn't care. Money, money, money. She hated it.
"What?" The silence annoyed her, as did he. He hadn't spoken, and they had stood there, facing each other in the dark ballet studio for a few moments too many. The only light coming in was from the high, narrow windows. It seemed like the sun was setting.
"I think we should continue tomorrow," he muttered, finally. When she made no move to leave, he did, giving her a friendly pat on the back before he left with a slam of the heavy, wooden door.
Ara didn't leave right away. First she stared at her reflection, honey colored hair tied up in a bun with side swept bangs pinned up by a few red bobby pins. She wasn't a fan of the leotards, so she had stuck to black sweats and a tank top. Her skin was olive toned, and her eyes were brown. Her features were very large, big eyes, lips, and even nose to her dismay. When she tired of her reflection, she finally left, only to find him waiting outside.
"I don't love you," he said simply, kicking off of the walk he had been leaning on. She blinked, almost angry. He really had to point that out? Rub it in her face like a two year old would during show and tell when they got the newest toy? Why did he need to just tear her heart into little pieces. Right now she preferred his silent rejection. It wasn't the first time that she felt stupid in front of Mateo. The silence that had followed her confession had definitely sobered her up and made her realize that that it hadn't been the right time. It was just another day, any old one. She had assumed that the moment had been right though. Apparently she had assumed wrong.
"Well thank you for that obvious and ruthless proclamation, but I do have to be getting home Mr. Holmes. I will be seeing you tomorrow and if you need to speak to me you can speak to me there," she snapped, and he could see the anger in her eyes. Of course he heard it in her voice first. When she moved to go past him, his hand reached out and took her arm, making her turn. She wanted to give him a chance to say something, but she had already put up the tough exterior to protect herself.
"Let me finish," he muttered. When his hand dropped, she sighed and walked back in front of him. The dark eyes challenged the pale ones. What would he have to say? Oh, by the way, I hate you too. That would make her day.
She waited for him to speak, but realized that he was waiting for her to verbally confirm that she would indeed let him finish, so she did.
"We've known each other for two weeks, right?"
"I can't fall in love with anyone in two weeks," he said.
Twisting the knife in the wound again, she thought. Where was he going with this?
"Ever heard of… love at first sight?" She felt so odd talking about it. Who talked about their feelings anymore? Ara was the type of girl who you could go to dinner with but only learn her favorite color. She didn't talk about feelings and things that could offend others. You had a dog? Oh, she loved dogs! And relationships? Oh, they're cool, next subject.
He knew she was uncomfortable by how she was fidgeting. Wringing her hands and then pulling her hair down, putting it back up. She seemed to have a need to do something while he took his time to speak. It seemed like Mateo always needed the opportunity for a long pause in between his speeches.
"I don't believe in it," he paused to let her interrupt, and for a moment it looked like she was about to, but then she closed her mouth, "it's shallow to me." And he pulls it out and shoves it back in… "I will admit, that, in time, I could grow a… fondness for you."
She didn't want fondness, she wanted love. You were fond of puppies, not people. He didn't seem to understand that, especially since he kept talking.
"Love isn't… easy for me. I don't have that bad childhood but I don't open up to people easily," he looked like it was painful to say. He ran his fingers through his brown hair constantly. His nervous quirk. It happened when he was angry too, his hands were always in his hair.
It's not easy for me either, she wanted to tell him. He was so one-track minded. It was weird for someone like him to not be able to have an imagination pass what is real and what isn't. Dance wasn't full of logic, so how could he assume that everything else was? Things just happened for a reason, did he not believe that either? Logic, it was so stupid. Just because we know how our hearts beat doesn't mean we know why.
"You don't like me, I get it," Ara wasn't satisfied with him just maybe becoming fond of her. That wouldn't do. Either he liked her or not, and it seemed to be the latter. "I'll see you tomorrow." But she didn't.
When that fondness did grow, it was too late. She was off with other people, with bigger and better things. Yet he was still stuck in that dusty studio, teaching people who weren't as grateful or kind as she was. When it came to the girls, he couldn't bring it to himself to guide them like he had her. He felt like he was betraying Ara, who he had forsaken so long ago.
Mateo went on with life, yes, and they met again a few times, but they never spoke of the encounter. Her stubbornness matched with his insecurity made both of them miss out on something that could have been wonderful. He would think, if only I had tried.