Again, some dialogue taken directly from the movie in this part.
by: Caroline

Shall We Dance
VI : Paso Doble

The days seemed to drag by, but finally Wednesday arrived. Heero spent most of the day looking at the clock until it was time to leave work. At last, six o'clock arrived, and Heero packed up his stuff and hurried out of the building to the train platform.

The platform was crowded, even more so than usual. He asked a young woman next to him what was going on.

"Train derailment," she said, exasperated. "No one was hurt, but everything is running late."

Heero groaned inwardly. Of all the days to be late...

It took nearly an hour for his train to arrive. Heero cursed the fates. Usually he had plenty of time to get to his lesson. Now, he'd be nearly half an hour late. He hoped he wouldn't miss anything important... he hoped that Duo wouldn't think he'd quit...

He hurried up the steps to the dance studio, glancing at his watch. Only twenty minutes late. Not too bad. He quickly pushed his way through the door, expecting to see Quatre and the others in the midst of their lesson. However, Trowa and Quatre were sitting on one of the benches, watching Hilde and Wufei dance. Heero scanned the room for Duo. He was dancing with an older woman he'd seen before, but hadn't caught her name.

"Heero! Did you get caught by the train mess too?" Quatre asked as soon as he saw him. Heero nodded. "I though I was going to miss the beginning of class."

Quatre shook his head. "Duo said Une called earlier. She's caught too. She should be here soon."

"Good," Heero murmured, not taking his eyes off Duo. The American said something to the woman, then turned and saw Heero standing there. He gave the Japanese man a small blushing smile before turning his attention to the woman once again. Heero felt his stomach flutter.

"No! Clumsy oaf! What do you think you're doing?" Hilde exclaimed, jerking away from Wufei.

"What do I think I'm doing? Onna! What do you think you're doing?" the Chinese man countered irately. "The man is supposed to lead."

"Well maybe if you'd start leading, I wouldn't have to do it for you!"

Heero heard Quatre giggle. "What're they fighting about?"

"Hilde's 'auditioning' partners for a dance competition. She tried to rope Trowa into it but he refused. And since you weren't here yet, she's trying out Wufei," the blonde explained. "I don't think he's what she's looking for."

At the pinnacle of their argument, the door opened and Une stepped gracefully inside. "What's going on?" she asked Quatre as she divested herself of her coat.

"Hilde's auditioning," Quatre stated.

"Ah," said Une as if she'd gone through this before. "Hilde-san, Chang-san. Please desist. Hilde, it's obvious your personalities won't match. That's no reason for you to fight with each other. We'll find someone else."

Hilde flushed and looked at Wufei guiltily. "Gomen nasai," she said, sheepishly. "I don't usually let my temper get the better of me. Please accept my apology." She started to bow to him, then suddenly her eyes rolled up into the back of her head and she fell forward in a dead faint.

"Hilde!" Une exclaimed as she hurried to the young woman's side. The others stood there in shock, not quite sure what to do. "Duo, call an ambulance."

The long-haired dancer hurried to the reception area and grabbed the phone. Heero helped Une move Hilde to a couch while they waited for help. Several minutes later, the emergency personnel came through the doors and took over. After assessing that Hilde wasn't in immediate danger, they loaded her limp form onto a stretcher and took her away.

"I think I should go to the hospital to make sure she's alright," Une said apologetically to Heero and the others. "I'm sorry to cancel tonight's lesson."

"You go check on her," Trowa said reassuringly. "We don't mind." Quatre and Wufei nodded in agreement.

"I'd like to come as well," Heero said.

"I think Hilde would like that. She's taken a shine to you," Une said, smiling slightly. "Duo-chan, could you call her family then meet us there?"

"Sure, 'neesan."

Quatre, Trowa, and Wufei bid them good-bye and asked them to take their wishes for Hilde's recovery to her. Une gestured for Heero to follow her, and together they hurried down the steps to the street. They walked the few blocks to the hospital in silence. Heero hoped the short-haired girl would be okay. For all her brash mannerisms, she had a nice heart and seemed really dedicated to dancing.

Once inside the hospital, Une and Heero were directed to a waiting room. Hilde was being checked out the doctors and they couldn't see her yet. Duo came in a several minutes later, smiling shyly at Heero before informing Une that Hilde's sister was on her way. Shortly thereafter, the doctor came in and told them they could see Hilde.

The young woman looked incredibly pale against the stark white sheets of the hospital bed. But she was awake and smiled brightly at them when the trio entered the room. "Une-sensei! I'm so sorry for scaring you like that."

"Daijoubu. Are you alright?"

"Hai. The doctor said it was just exhaustion. I guess having two jobs and dance lessons three times a week really takes it out of me."

"We can cut down your lessons if you need Hilde," Duo said, taking Hilde's hand.

The young woman squeezed Duo's hand and smiled at him. Heero had to suppress a surge of jealousy. He could see the friendship between the two and wished he had the same bond to the braided boy.

"No! The competition is in a few months and I want to be ready. I'm going to move up to level three this year. I just know it!"

"Not if you keep wearing yourself out, 'neechan," said a voice from the door. A young woman who looked remarkably like Hilde stepped into the room. "Didn't I tell you you were working too hard?"

"Hai, hai," said Hilde, rolling her eyes. "And how many times do I actually listen to you Gretchen?"

Gretchen sighed. "Never." She turned to Une. "I'm sorry she had to trouble you."

"Iie. I'm just glad she'll be alright," the tall dancer said in relief. "Hilde-san, don't worry about the competition. We'll get you ready. Take some time to recover and then we'll get started."

"Hai. Arigatou, sensei."

Duo and Heero said their good-byes and followed Une out the door. They left the hospital in silence, enjoying the cool night air as they walked back to the dance studio. Une knew a shortcut and turned them up a set of stairs to reach the next street. As they climbed, Heero could hear familiar strains of music coming from a building behind them. Both he and Une turned to see a well-lit room of another dance school in which several couples were dancing in time to the sweet sounds of the music.

Duo stopped a few steps above them, watching the dancers in wide-eyed wonderment. Une, too, had the same wistful expression on her face.

"Heero-san, why don't you be Hilde's partner?" the tall dancer asked suddenly.

Heero's eyes widened in surprise. "I couldn't. I'd be terrible," he protested.

"You'd be okay. I guarantee it."

Heero turned back to watch the dancers. "She'd never agree. My dancing is far too bad."

"She'll be fine," Une insisted. "Remember what I told you? She's quite fond of you."

"I... I don't know."

"A dance begins with the dancer's feelings," Une replied softly as she continued to watch the dancers inside. "Besides, you're not a bad dancer. Spare me just two hours, three times a week after class."

"Three times?"

Une laughed. "Don't worry. I won't charge you. Consider it special training. There's still three months before the competition. We'll be able to do it. Ne, Duo-chan?"

Duo turned his startled eyes to Une. He gave his sister-in-law a small smile before turning back to the dancers. Heero followed the young man's gaze to see a small girl about eight years old with long brown hair, mimicking the dancers in the room. Duo watched her every move with a sad, wistful gaze.

"What do you say, Heero-san?" Une asked.

Heero hesitated. Two hours three times a week was a lot of time. Relena would be furious. He snuck a glance at Duo, and a warm flush spread throughout his body. "Hai. I'll do it."

"Sugoi! We'll start as soon as Hilde is well."

Heero swallowed nervously. Dancing in a public competition... he hoped he knew what he was doing.

+

Milliardo was ecstatic. Last Saturday at the dance hall, he had almost decided following Heero was a bust. If the only thing his sister's husband was doing behind her back was taking dance lessons, he needn't be wasting his time. But after the ruckus at the bar involving that tall ginger-haired man and the pretty boy with the long chestnut braid, his possibilities started looking up. He'd followed Heero and the boy to the young man's home. When it started raining, he'd taken shelter under nearby tree, waiting for Heero to emerge. And when he did... he wished he'd had his night lens on his camera to capture the kiss the long-haired boy had placed on Heero's cheek. Even from across the street, he could tell the kiss had affected Heero. So... Heero wasn't seeing another woman. He was seeing another man!

Oh, this new revelation was just too delicious. He'd been tempted to call Relena, who'd been getting impatient with his slow progress, but he wanted some nice, juicy photos first. He wanted to see Relena's face when he showed them to her. He felt all giddy inside just thinking about it. But first, he needed to find out more about this Duo Maxwell. He knew from asking around about Une Maxwell before that he and his sister-in-law did not teach at the school on weekends. Perhaps it was time for him to sign up for some dance lessons - and learn about the pretty young dance teacher in the process.

He waited until the following Saturday when he knew neither Duo, Une, or Heero would be at the school. He took Howard with him again. The old man may be slightly off his rocker, but Milliardo had to admit, he did know his stuff when it came to dancing.

They stood near the reception area, watching the weekend class practice their steps. Howard, dressed in one of his ever-present Hawaiian shirts, hummed along with the music and danced in place.

"Ah, this takes me back," he said as he watched the couples dance gracefully by.

"You really enjoyed dancing in your younger days didn't you, Uncle?"

"My younger days? I still enjoy it, Zechs. Once you get dance in your soul, it never leaves you." He waved at one of the young women who smiled back at him. It never ceased to amaze Milliardo how women seemed to flock to his Uncle. Granted, the man could be utterly charming, but he just didn't seem to be the type of person one would expect to attract women young enough to be his granddaughters.

The young woman gestured for Howard to join her. "I think I'll give these old legs a whirl. You don't need me at the moment do you?"

Milliardo laughed. "No, Uncle. I can handle things from here."

He watched in amusement as Howard danced his way over to the girl, twirled her around, and took off at a dizzying speed around the dance floor.

"Excuse me? May I help you?"

Milliardo turned towards the voice addressing him... and froze. The woman standing before him was a vision. Tall, slender, mostly short hair with one long strand falling across one eye... Milliardo felt his mouth go dry as he tried to speak.

"Ah... I came to sign up... for dance lessons that is. If you have room," he stammered.

The woman smiled indulgently. "Have you had any experience?"

"No. Only what my uncle has told me of it," he replied nodding in Howard's direction. The woman turned to look at the older man appreciatively. "He's quite a dancer. Has he had formal training?"

"I... I don't know."

"Well, all our beginner's classes are full, but we may be able to squeeze you in. What days are good for you?"

"S...saturdays." He didn't understand why he felt like a teenager again.

She smiled at him sweetly. "Beginner's classes begin at four. Is that alright with you?"

"Perfectly."

"Good. My name is Lucrezia Noin. I'm the teacher on the weekends."

Lucrezia Noin. What a beautiful name. "Milliardo Peacecraft. It is a pleasure to meet you," he said, smiling along with her. Suddenly, taking dance lessons didn't seem too bad. With teachers like these, he could understand why Heero enjoyed it so much.

Yes, things were definitely looking up.

+

Heero started his training for the competition the following Wednesday after their regular class. Hilde breezed through the glass door wearing a white dress and red carnations in her hair. She twirled over to Une and struck a melodramatic pose.

"You look fit as a fiddle," Une commented, beaming at the girl.

"Ahhh, I'm full of energy and raring to go!" Hilde exclaimed happily.

Wufei watched Hilde twirl around with one of the other dancers still in the studio. "Yuy, you're either a brave man or you've got some strange tastes."

Heero shot the Chinese man a look as Hilde walked over to him. "Look, I don't know what Une-sensei said to you. But I don't want your sympathy, okay?" she said, glaring at him.

Une walked up and laid a hand on Hilde's shoulder. "Stop being so defensive," she admonished the girl. "He agreed because Duo asked him to do it."

Heero stared incredulously at the tall dancer. Une looked at him over Hilde's head and winked. "You hardly need his sympathy, Hilde-san."

Hilde turned and smirked at Heero. "I guessed as much."

"Are you ready? Let's begin," Une said as she ushered them onto the dance floor. Heero glanced up to see Duo staring out the window again. His heart did a little flip-flop before Une caught his attention. "We'll need to do the waltz and the quick-step. Plus the rumba and the paso doble. Dance them in that order."

Heero nodded and took his position opposite Hilde.

"First, the waltz."

The music began and Heero reached for Hilde's hand. They both stepped forward at the same time, causing Heero to almost lose his balance. He waited for the music cue, then stepped forward. His steps were conservative, but Heero was feeling nervous. Suddenly, he felt Hilde take charge. She led him into a turn which he stumbled through, causing him to lose his timing. Hilde dropped his hands in disgust.

"Chotto! If you don't lead it's hopeless!" she admonished him. Heero mumbled an apology.

"Let's try the quick-step," Une said gently.

Again Heero took his place with Hilde. The music started, and Heero took off with the basic steps of the dance. This time he tried to be a little more daring, but ended up stepping on Hilde's foot.

"Ow!" Hilde cried out, hopping on one foot.

"Heero-san, just relax and feel the music," Une said as she changed the CD. "Let's try the rumba next."

Heero swallowed nervously. The rumba was one dance he was really unsure about. He didn't feel comfortable with the arm movements that went along with the steps. The rumba always made him feel... silly. The music started. Hilde started dancing. Heero tried to follow, but he knew his movements were wooden and stiff. They only got a few bars into the music before Hilde dropped his hands, shaking her head and sighing dramatically. Heero flushed with embarrassment. He glanced over at Duo to see the young man watching with an unreadable expression on his face.

"Daijoubu, Hilde. We'll work on the rumba. Now let's try the paso doble," Une said.

Heero stared at Une. The tall dancer widened her eyes as she remembered. "Oh. We haven't covered that one yet, have we?"

"No," Heero answered.

Hilde's eyes grew round as she turned to look at Une. "You've got to be joking!"

Une smiled at Hilde as if to reassure her. "Don't worry Hilde! There will be plenty of time to work on everything. I just wanted to see you two paired together. We'll stick to the modern dances today."

"Hai," Heero said, somewhat relieved. He took a deep breath and reached out to Hilde. The girl looked at him, frowning. Stamping her foot, she turned her back on Heero, pouting. Heero looked at Une, not sure what to do. Une simply sighed and shrugged her shoulders.

"Hilde, getting ready for this competition will take a lot of work. But we can do it. You and Heero match each other well. I promise you, things will work out," she said to the short-haired girl. "Now, shall we resume?"

Hilde turned to look at Heero. Rolling her eyes, she reached out her hand to the Japanese man. "Let's get started, lover boy," she said as she waited for the music to begin.

Heero felt himself flush. Cringing inwardly, he could tell it was going to be a long three months. And as he readied himself for the waltz, he could feel Duo's violet gaze watching him intently. Yes, a long three months indeed.

[part v] [part vii] [back to Caroline's fic]