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Lyrical: Chapter 17


All their eyes are on me, but all I can focus on is her.



She’s challenging me. I see her. I get what this is.

When we were kids and shit got too much, she would challenge me to dance my feelings. To let them out. She was the only one who understood the damage I held inside. She knew what I needed to heal. Dancing gave me the ability to free myself of the ugliness I lived with daily. Her friendship gave me something positive to hold onto and her love… Fuck, her love made me feel so fucking big. I could rise above every punch and harsh word from my dad knowing that she loved me.

And that’s why I can’t fucking dance with her now.

I can’t fucking do it.

Not after what happened at Grim’s. Not after the fucking hole she punched in my chest. I can’t be close to her like that and not want her, need her. It’s hard enough being in the same fucking studio as her, but to dance with her?

That’s torture, plain and fucking simple.

I’m barely keeping my head straight around her and I need to do that. I fucking have to do that or everything we’ve worked towards will go to fucking shit.

Zayn has already caved, and York is on his way to saying fuck it. I can see it coming. I can see it in the way he looks at her, how he follows her with his eyes every time she’s nearby. It’s inevitable. And me? I need to stay the fuck away.

Xeno is the only one who’s sticking to his word and holding his fucking nerve. That man has balls of fucking steel and a wall so thick around his heart it’s impenetrable, but I saw how he reacted to Pen dancing at Grim’s club and I sure as fuck saw how much he hated it when Malik kissed her. If I hadn’t stepped in, Xeno would’ve, and then we would all have been fucked.

Jeb isn’t a fool.

He challenged Xeno to kiss Pen at Rocks that night to see how he’d react. He set up that evening at Grim’s to see how we’d deal with Zayn fucking Pen in front of us, in front of the whole damn warehouse.

He was testing us.

Skins before whores.

That’s always been the Skins’ mantra and Jeb has made it perfectly fucking clear that we are not to be distracted. We’re here at the Academy for one thing and one thing only, and Pen is not part of the plan. Except now, Zayn has overstepped, and York is fucking crumbling. So it’s up to Xeno and me to keep our fucking heads. The only reason Jeb hasn’t chopped Zayn’s dick off is because of the deal Zayn made with Grim that worked in his favour. That doesn’t mean to say Jeb isn’t keeping a close fucking eye on his nephew. Zayn is playing with fire and he fucking knows it.

Now here I am, doing the same damn thing.

Pen eyes me expectantly, her expression is impassive even when her eyes drink me in like she’s gone without water for days. It sets me on edge.

But it’s too late to back out now.

Fixing my gaze on the woman I loved then lost so spectacularly, I place my hands over my face and wait for the music to start. Paralyzed by NF begins to play over the loudspeaker and Pen sucks in an audible gasp. She recognises this song.

She should.

Because the first time I played this song to her was the same night my dad had beat me so badly I had two cracked ribs and a bruise covering the whole left side of my face. We were fifteen. That night, as she held me and cried the tears I couldn’t, I knew without any doubt that I loved her, and I had vowed to myself that I would become a man worthy of this girl who held my heart in her hands.

But I let her down.

There’s no getting away from genetics, I’m my father’s son. Since she walked away I didn’t fight the violence living within me. I became ruthless, cold, and dealt out punishment on Jeb’s behalf with a brutality that would make Pen sick. That’s all I’ve known these past three years, and now? Now, I don’t know who the fuck I am anymore.

Slowly, I drag my fingers over my face and down my neck, echoing those tears I never shed and fix my gaze on Kid. I see tears welling in her eyes and they gut me. I wish I was capable of feeling like her, but like the song suggests, I’m fucking paralyzed. I don’t know how to cry. I don’t know how to let go of my bullshit past and the ghost of my dad. I don’t know how to just be me. Dax the man, not the criminal, not the bully, not the monster.

Once upon a time I was the victim.

Now I’m the assailant.

But somehow I’m still both. I’m a dichotomy.

Which is just a fancy word for fucked-up. I’m fucked-up.

But when Kid looks at me the way she does, as though she’s rubbed off the tattoos, pulled away the layers of skin, muscle and bone, and sees right into the very atoms of me, I begin to believe I’m more. I begin to believe that I’m capable of being more than a victim, more than an assailant, a criminal, a bully, a fucking monster.

I can be Dax.

I can be her Dark Angel.

I can be the boy she loved.

Sweeping out my left leg into a standing kick, I twist on the ball of my right foot then centre my weight on both feet and raise both arms up in the air, tipping my head back as NF begins to sing. For three years I’ve been numb, just like the song suggests. Now, I’m beginning to feel, and fuck, it hurts. It’s painful, but still I dig deep, trying to hunt how I feel from deep inside. It’s a mammoth fucking task because I’m used to burying my emotions. This time, however, I accept Pen’s challenge and I burrow down, searching for the mess of feeling that clogs me up like cancer.

I find it.

My arms drop, I lift my head to look at Pen as my fist grips my t-shirt. Staggering towards her, I pull at the material gripped in my fist as though I’m being tugged in her direction by my heart.

And I am. I fucking am. My heart wants her so fucking bad.

But my head is waging a war against my heart.

I’m torn, and it’s killing me.

Pen’s mouth opens as she sucks in a shocked breath at the rawness of this moment. Her tiny hand lifts up to cover the choked sob I hear. Her pain pulls me up sharp and I stop a few feet from her, focusing on her and only her.

Do I listen to my heart or my head?

I don’t know what the fuck to do.

Right now all I can do is dance.

My body takes over as I spin on my feet. Around and around I turn. I feel the emotion swirling within, the battle between my head and my heart is like a fucking tornado ready to rip me up.

I spin until I can’t anymore

I drop to my knees, my clenched fist bashing against the floor, my chest heaving.

“Dax…” I hear her whisper, but it’s like she’s screaming my name. It’s so fucking loud.

What the fuck does she want from me? Isn’t this enough, doing this, bleeding out for her?

Then I catch her gaze and I see. This isn’t enough. She wants more. She wants to dance with me. She wants me.

But fuck that.


My head wins out.

The beat of the music changes and the rapping starts. That’s when the anger comes.

That’s when I really let it go.

Because fuck, I’m mad at her. I’m fucking livid.

My movements change from free-flowing to sharp, jerky movements. I fall into my old hip-hop moves, focusing on the anger and the pain I feel. She left and I fucking turned into a monster. I turned into my father.

Those feelings of disgust and regret pour out of me now with every flip and every spin.

Every now and then I catch her expression and it’s as though I’m physically beating her. She feels my anger like a punch to the gut. Well, she punched a fucking hole in my chest and ripped out my damn heart when she danced at Grim’s club, so now she can experience what it feels like to be fucking slayed.

So I keep going.

I’ve not danced like this for years. Three years to be precise.

And fuck does it feel good.

I might have learnt choreography these past few weeks, but I haven’t danced like this.

It’s freeing.

All logical thought, all reason leaves me, and just like when I was a kid, I let it all out.

I purge my soul.

I feel.

I dance.

I move across the hardwood floor, until my veins are rushing with adrenaline and my muscles are screaming at me to stop. By the time I focus enough to be aware of my surroundings, all five kids are standing on their feet clapping and cheering, the song is long since finished and Pen… She’s gone.


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