Lyrical: Chapter 36

Pen

Turning over in bed, I swipe at my eyes, feeling the first rays of dawn warming my skin through the glass. Groaning, I sit up, feeling disorientated for a moment. It takes me a few seconds for everything to fall back into place, and my stomach turns over.

Uneasiness settles in my stomach, and I reach out my hand, pressing against the spot where Dax had lain down next to me. The bed sheets feel cool, indicating that he left a while ago. I can’t help but wonder whether he stayed the night holding me, or if he left the moment I fell asleep. I force myself not to think too much about the fact he’s no longer here. There’s still so much left unsaid. As much as I want to fix us, I know that might not be a possibility given everything standing in our way.

The Breakers’ bond is solid. It was forged before they accepted me into their crew, and it remained strong long after I walked away. The fact of the matter is there’s still too much bad blood between us all. Dax might have stepped in last night to stop it spiralling out of control, but in the stark light of day can we really get over everything that’s passed between us? The honest answer is that I don’t know, and the only way I’m going to find out is to have that talk with all of them.

I need to be brave.

The thing is, what do I say? I still have no idea how I’m going to deal with this situation. I’m still beholden to Jeb, to David. My sister’s life is still under threat, nothing’s changed in that respect, and I’d be a fool to believe that the Breakers will suddenly come to my rescue. They still work for Jeb, after all. They’ve taken a blood oath, have sworn to put the crew first. What phrase had my brother loved to throw back in my face as often as he could…?

Skins before whores. Yeah, that was it.

Heaving a sigh, I slide towards the edge of the bed. I’m not sure exactly what the time is, but it can’t be much past six am. That means I’ve only really had four or five hours of sleep. My throat feels dry and my tongue furry, so I head into the bathroom and squeeze some toothpaste onto my finger, rubbing it over my teeth then rinse my mouth with water. I wish I had my toothbrush with me, but beggars can’t be choosers.

“Come on, Pen. You can do this,” I say to my reflection, gathering my courage. Striding out of the bathroom and across the bedroom, I step out into the hallway and head towards the main living area.

“Dax?” I call, half expecting him to pop up from behind the kitchen counter, topless, just like he did last night. When he doesn’t appear, I twist on my feet and head back the way I came.

“Dax?”

I try the next three doors, peering into more bedrooms. All of them are similarly decorated without any personal touches and none of them have been slept in. One room has a few more items dotted about, and I recognise Xeno’s jacket thrown over the back of a chair and a couple of pairs of trainers left discarded by the wardrobe.

“Hello?” I say, my heart pounding in my chest.

When I reach the last door, which must be a spare bedroom or a bathroom, I can hear the faint sound of music start to play from behind it. “Dax, are you in there?” I ask, knocking on the thick wood. When there’s no answer, I push open the door, stopping dead in my tracks when I’m faced with Dax.

He’s dancing… to Halo by Beyoncé… in nothing but a pair of knee-length, grey jersey shorts. His skin is slick with a sheen of sweat and every inch of him is covered in tattoos, right down to his bare feet; they wind up his legs and creep beneath his shorts. He’s a walking painting, a work of art. My eyes drink him in greedily, grazing over every inch of him, from his chiselled abs, to his powerful thighs and strong calf muscles. He has arms almost as thick as my thighs, defined, strong. I remember how it felt to be wrapped up in them last night and my stomach tightens.

My beautiful, damaged Dax. My Dark Angel.

I swallow, my heart bruising the inside of my ribcage, it’s beating so damn hard.

Fuck.

Dax is so engrossed in his movements that he doesn’t notice me straightaway, so I slip inside the studio, gently shutting the door behind me. The space is a little bit larger than Dax’s bedroom and en-suite bathroom combined, and is roomy enough for the Breakers to dance in together.

Though right now the space doesn’t feel big enough for what I’m witnessing, because Dax takes up the whole damn studio with his presence. He’s like a goddamn hurricane trapped inside a glass jar. Any minute now the full impact of his passion is going to hit me. I already feel my skin tingling and my body swaying to his movements. He flies across the floor dipping and turning, producing leg kicks, spins and arm flares that leave me breathless. There’s so much power behind his moves and he lifts off the ground with ease.

It’s magic.

Pure fucking magic.

His muscles ripple as he moves, tightening and flexing as he dances. The expression on his face is filled both with longing and pain, but there’s also relief. He’s lost to the music, to his movements. This is Lyrical dancing. He’s dancing to illustrate the music, the words specifically. Every beat of the song, all the words Beyoncé sings are expressed through his movements and I understand what this is.

get it.

When he leaps into the air, performing a grand jeté, his powerful legs splitting wide, I let out a gasp of astonishment. He moves with a lightness that’s insane given his bulk, and lands like a ballerina with grace and control.

I’m itching to join him, to mould my body to his and just let everything go. But this isn’t about me, this is about him, and as the words of the song wash over me, I understand that this is Dax’s way of truly opening up. He’s expressing himself the only way he knows how, the only way he can, and I feel it. I open my heart, and I accept everything he has to give as he flips backwards, tumbling like a gymnast. I accept this gift as he extends his body, as he moves with intention, with feeling. I accept his story because this is exactly what this is. This is Dax baring his soul to me. This, right here, is brutal honesty. This is his story.

And, fuck, is he stunning.

So fucking beautiful.

Dax has always been an expressive dancer, but I’ve never seen him dance like this. I can’t seem to breathe as he twists and turns, his body moving fluidly, with precision and purpose.

What I’m seeing is intense, passionate, and as Beyoncé’s haunting voice sounds out over the speaker system I find myself transfixed, because right here and now Dax shows me the true depths of his heart.

He. Floors. Me.

He transforms, telling me his story step by agonising, heart-breaking, step. He shows me the loneliness he felt as a child, the walls he built to protect himself from his parents, and I let out a strangled cry as he falls to his knees, curls over and clasps the back of his head as though protecting himself from the ghost of his father, from the punches and the kicks, from the harsh words and the hate. He never really talked about what happened to him when we were kids, though we all knew only too well just how bad his home life was. The bruises, the stiffness in the way he used to hold himself. The way he hid beneath his caps and hoodies. The rage that would take him over when it all got too much. We knew, we saw, and we did our best to help him, to heal him with friendship and love.

But that kind of abuse, that kind of betrayal and hurt, it never leaves you. It stays with you. It’s a black stain, a curse that haunts your dreams. It drags you down, takes hold of you until the only way to cope with the pain is to either turn it in on yourself or on someone else. Violence from a parent, from someone who’s supposed to love you, it leaves a lasting wound that never, ever heals. I know that. I understand.

Dax covers his head, his body visibly shaking as he reaches up with one arm, his hand opening and closing to the beat of the music. This is the boy he was. The beaten and bruised kid, begging for it to stop. This is the child who had nothing until he had the Breakers, until he had me. The guilt I feel in this moment is like a stranglehold around my throat, because I walked away from him, from the rare, precious gift of his love. Stuffing my hand over my mouth, I force the sob back down because Dax never cries, never. At this moment I want to be there for him, to be his strength when he finally lets it all go, because I feel it coming. That glass jar is about to shatter and all that he is will rain down over me. I need to catch him when he falls.

But right now he needs me to see, to understand, and not get lost in my own emotions.

So that’s what I do.

see him, and like last night when I opened myself up to the Breakers, he does the same now.

It’s a gift. A messy, glorious, complicated gift that I accept wholeheartedly.

Dax slams his fists onto the floor in time to the beat of the song, then lifts his head and pins me with his stare. Our gazes clash and I feel everything. All the damage inside of him comes tumbling out in that one look. I watch him crawl towards me, hauling himself forward on his forearms in time to the beat, dragging his legs behind him as he slams his fists onto the wooden boards.

Thump.

Thump.

Thump.

Thump.

Then he slowly rises, pushing up on his hands and knees, climbing to his feet. He unfurls, transforming from a broken boy to a fearless man. He stands tall, strong, proud, leaving behind that beaten down boy. With a heaving chest, Dax jerks his chin, grits his jaw, then flings his arms wide, tipping his head back.

Beyonce sings about walls crashing down and with every beat of the song, he stamps his feet on the floor, his fists clenched, his arms held out to his sides. I watch him in awe as he squashes the brutality of his childhood beneath his feet, letting it go with every step.

“Dax,” I lament, my feet moving towards him of their own accord. Like a magnetic force, I feel the pull, and I can’t seem to stop myself. I don’t want to.

With glistening eyes, Dax offers me the hand of friendship just like he did when I met him that first time in the basement of Jackson Street, just like that boy—a complete stranger—who let me rest my head on his shoulder, who gave me comfort.

“Kid,” he croaks out, his fingers flexing, his gaze focused and fierce on mine. A single tear slides down his cheek, but I don’t see weakness.

I see strength.

I see the man I’ve loved most of my life letting go of all the shit. He’s showing me the power of forgiveness. He forgives me for hurting him, for leaving him.

That one single tear eviscerates his past hurts and bad decisions, just like it eviscerates mine.

It’s time to heal.

I don’t hesitate, I run, leaping into his arms.

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