Carefully-honed, precision steps carried her effortlessly across the dance floor, incapable of missing a beat, commanding it in fact, controlling it, owning it like no one else could. Granted, it was a dance she was fairly new to, the Kolbasti, a vivid, almost frenzied dance involving lots of quick footwork and flexibility. To many it would look like a hybrid of part river-dancing and belly-dancing, two styles the average person might think incompatible. She took to it like the professional she was though. It wasn't as if she was worried though; the stakes of her dance were low, a room filled only with a few other performers ranging from barely above amateur to impressively professional, but the fact that she was among her peers meant they were watching her every step, every move, every minute point of her art. Timing her art to a beat she'd memorized and could dance to without hearing it, she let her body spread her perfection with the utmost joy.
The forms of entertainment around the table got to be competitive in a funny way. Two guys arm-wrestled in the middle of their meal, which somehow lead to french fries being thrown across the table in a pseudo-attempt to start a fun food fight. It failed miserably as the intended targets just caught the thrown fries in their mouths. Their partners next to them got them to stop by teasing them with the fries, pretending to feed them but pulling away at the last moment, tracing their lips seductively leaving salt and ketchup trails across their mouths. It looked so fun, every couple at the table tried it, which led to some pretty hot kisses to follow, and more laughter and smiles expressing how much they loved this gathering, even if it celebrated Thanksgiving way in mid-December.
Camille, the dancer that brought them all together, found her gentle smile brightened considerably as the door to the restaurant opened and she saw her fashionably late special guest. Everyone else turned their head to look upon the final arrival, all but Camille and Penny looking to her with some curiosity at first. Everyone else but Camille and Penny only vaguely expected to celebrate something in a grandiose fashion arranged by the infamous holiday performer, but Thanksgiving was usually reserved for some combination of them and the latecomer, always festive like Camille could never resist playing up to.
Camille liked to leave the regular holiday to meetings with families, which for some left much to be desired; she kept up her tradition of nontraditional with the much desired, in this case meant a friends version of Thanksgiving, people who you'd want to break bread with by choice, often the week after. This year end up being low-key; turkey-burgers and fries in an empty Salsa restaurant reserved just for them. The other guests were a collection of couples the Holidancer had amassed over since the past Christmas, the recently engaged Penny and Trent, June and Auggie, Teri and Carlie, and of course Keith at Camille's side. It constantly warmed her heart that she was partly the reason it was a collection of couples to begin with.
Camille maintained her smile aimed at the door while Penny groaned inwardly as if looking at a justifiably long-lost relative who'd walked back into her life, an hour late again. Someone she saw at least once a year, but that seemed more than enough, though she tried to keep her inward feelings to herself.
Teri and Carlie eyes eventually widened as they realized who had just walked in the door - the famous Celine Mansuer, the "other famous Canadian Celine" as she was known among celebrity and dance circles, the best dancer her country had ever produced, or so her publicist explained. She mostly lived up to the hype, but unfortunately so did the ego to go with it. The backdrop of falling snow being blown in behind her form made her look like she was walking out of a music video. She strutted in like she owned the place dressed in Gucci everything, boots, coat, even sunglasses big enough to hide her features from most untrained eyes, no matter how silly she looked at night wearing them. She seemed to match everyone else's color scheme, as they were all decked out in different shades of brown, except Camille who wore a white, sparkly turtle neck, shimmering like snow in the light, as if one person had to correctly represent the weather for the party.
Celine looked over several faces new to her, and two all too familiar. Her approaching body language expressed her near disregard for everyone else, and slight reservation toward Camille and Penny. Celine groaned at that ever-eager smile Camille wore that looked so unbecoming on her beautiful features, according to Celine. Penny shared a similar smile of contempt, borderline smirk, as they exchanged pleasantries.
Dancing like a tempest of passion and fire, she barely had to look in the direction of her audience to know they were practically mesmerized already, leading them on toward something greater. She wondered how many had caught on to the pattern each part of her body showcased, her arms gently, flailing in specific horizontal or vertical directions, not unlike an aircraft marshall signaling. They may have noticed it if it weren't for the swift jiggling of her hips, and the light and dark shades of golden brown glitter and jewels surrounding her where her naval would be across her sweater, undulating and heating up the whole club with it's efforts and making the overall level of body heat rise. Her stomach shifted like a flag in the wind, aided by wearing flats and having legs that bent by the knees on a specific tempo few may have been aware of. Even she couldn't keep up in a sense as the tempo was so practiced for a dance so new to her, made to set the timing for the rest of her body and overwhelm everyone else's senses. It was easy to keep up with it, practically able to set her watch to it.
Absent the ticking of a watch, or the beats of a song to dance to, she created her own with her steady tapping of her feet against the floor, emerging into her own slower, more impactful Kolbasti dance. Thanks to the slightly hard, sounding platform on her flats, each was measured and powerful, their full impact lying the rhythm set instead of how hard the collided with the surface she danced on. Deep inside though, every measured step and near-stomp reverberated, caused tremors of energy, reinforcing her precision. From the tips of her fingers, surging down to the tips of her toes and back, her core in her stomach circulated that energy like hear heart pumped blood thoroughly through her. The more she stepped into it, the more she needed it, the longer she could keep herself going if need be, if she needed to. Her audience was already where she wanted them though, giving her encouragement she felt deeply and loved.
Celine's extended hand was ignored and Camille moved in for a hug, made more difficult by the fact that Camille walked with a crutch this year, meaning she'd suffered another injury for herself. It amused Celine how Keith nearly rushed to her side to keep her from falling; it wasn't often the infamous Camille Fares had trouble staying on her feet.
"My, this looks like a familiar sight," a cultured and slight Canadian accent spoke with amusement. The words made Camille chuckle, Penny grimace slightly, and left everyone else confused momentarily. "What happened this time? Ambition with something creative get the best of you?"
"Seems like given all the looks at the table, explanations of the past are in order," Camille said.
"And who better to tell it than then one who profited from it the most," Penny regarded snarkingly.
"But you tell it so well, Pennywise."
Penny gave her an evil look only she and Camille could see, foolishly hoping against hope that that nickname from her least favorite Stephen King novel wouldn't come up, or for her absolute dread of clowns of any kind.
"Sometimes you can just tell when two people deserve to be siblings," Camille rested her hands on her friends shoulders, treating both of them like two bickering sisters who loved doing it just for the sake of. They helped her with her crutches to the table.
"Before we get into that, introductions are in order. The first lovely couple over there is June and Auggie; I met them on Valentine's day, which is the day they got together. Since I've known them, they act like Valentine's day never ended somehow," the Holidancer's warm smile belied her humorously sarcastic tone, and she received a pair of warm smiles from both, and warmed the room with as they looked at each other and smiled a little deeper.
"Aww," Teri and Carlie replied together.
"Which brings us to the next coupling, and hopefully they'll finally admit they are one now, at least among friends." Carlie feigned unsurety as Teri wrapped an arm around her brunette girlfriend's shoulder and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Teri and Carlie, two aspiring dancers that you're sure to hear about in their bright futures."
"Well, when we have such role models to look up to..." Teri regarded her mentor and the celebrity she never mentioned knowing.
"And you should know Keith, even if you two seem to have missed each other every other Thanksgiving."
"Magic Keith. How's tricks?"
"Wonderful as always."
Camille smiled at how Celine and Keith when occasionally meeting seemed to get along decently, staggeringly more than with Penny. She could tell Keith was handsome enough to give him a once-over when she thought no one was looking, but she knew Keith had eyes for his favorite enchantress of a dancer, so she never really worried.
"Everyone, this is Celine. We just call her Celine."
Tingles under the skin of the balls of her feet felt absolutely sensational. The tingles flowed with the energy, concentrated to her feet, her core, to a ticklish sensation on her forehead. She perspired sometimes but never felt sweat when those tingles happened. They were their own form of reward, a sign of unity, cooperation, approval.
It started as far back as her old teacher, an ever-demanding taskmaster who expected nothing less than for that beat to be danced to. He would tap his foot, and she would tap hers in time during a freestyle of dance he let her do, the one she danced for her current audience. She felt lucky enough that every once in a while, someone would be intuitive enough to pick up on the same beat, tap along with her, becoming an external source of energy, as if it echoed in and out of her skin.
A small smile she couldn't hide anymore appeared on her face, and in her movements, happily giving more life to the dance. So unlike the side effects fear and apprehension arising from avoid a wrong move, at some point she could associate those taps with freedom, more than freedom to dance - freedom to be the dance. What her muscles and motions lost in rote methodology, they gained in the initiative to be more organic.
She eventually loosened her wrists and let them sway as she felt. She let her ankles bend until she was occasionally on the tips of her toes, twirling on them. Her entire routine changed to more of belly-dancing inclusion, hands now outstretched to symbolically invite the audience with cruxed fingers, when she wasn't hugging her figure and drawing attention to her sparkling midsection of her top. She let her hair whip to the beat as she turned toward and away from them every other tap of her foot. Every other stop became deeper, a strong refrain set apart from the rest. As she felt her stronger taps being matched externally, she let her eyes remain closed and mouth open more to moan and shudder uncontrollably, a new energized core forming below her stomach.
"How long have you guys known each other?" Carlie asked with unabashed interest.
"Seems like forever. 15 some odd years, I guess," Celine says, "Since my days as a young troupe performer, a little younger than you were, maybe. Your holiday enthusiast here found ourselves applying for more than the same auditions every so often. Those giving out the roles and writing the articles liked to play it up like a rivalry, just to see what we could produce against each other."
"And how silly that was," Camille regarded her fond past.
"Such is the price of professional dancing. Something you've seemed to willfully evade."
"Happily evade. Was never going to be my scene; all the exposure off the stage they tell you you need to stay relevant and working, just not worth it. Though no offense to those with the ambitions for it," Camille gestured her drink and Celine, Teri, and Carlie.
"I sense yet another false hypocritical argument coming," Penny said, finishing off her fries.
"Coming right behind your misunderstanding of the word 'hypocritical,' Pennywise. Biggest dance opportunity of our lives at the time, but the only reason I went unopposed wasn't because you didn't show up with your A game. Crutching your way into the theater, I still swear you were trying to find a way to dance that day. You had it in you Camille, or at least some of it in you."
"Just enough for me to see a legend in the making, which was worth the limping my way to a great show. But I was grateful for how things turned out. We both got to do things that we love; I'm in it for the love of the game, and loving the near autonomy of getting to do things exactly the way they want, no matter how weird they are to some."
"You're not weird Camille, what you do is like a...what's that word?" Carlie asked.
"Idiosyncrasy," Auggie guessed.
"Yeah, that word, I think." Teri snickered next to her, and Carlie gave her a gentle shove. "We love how you do things. It's nice to know there's more than one type of success in the dance world. We only saw one type in our cramped little world."
"Personal success, which even I've underestimated. No matter how corny it is sometimes," Celine couldn't help but comment.
"Sometimes corny is just another way of saying 'creative.'"
"Or weird. I mean, leave it to you to procrastinate this hard, a Thanksgiving celebration weeks after. Injury aside, I didn't expect that would stop you from having things on time."
"Weird or not, creative is creative," Camille said before taking a bite of her burger.
"That's true, I'll never look at Christmas trees the same again," laughed Trent, remembering his brother-in-law's bachelor party, and Camille's rousing attire and exploits. Everyone else laughed as well after what Trent told everyone, expect Penny who just smiled one of Camille's seductive smiles.
"You sure won't," Penny said under her breath.
"I mean, you sure didn't," Penny falsely corrected her tenses, almost giving away her future Christmas plans, thinking of a dance or some captivating method that would get her fiancee under the Christmas tree, naked, a silk bow tied around his erection as Penny took her time unwrapping her present.
"And before I forget, since we're all here now, I think it's time to go around and say what we're all thankful for."
A heat bloom from the rising energy filled a thick, blanketing warmth nearly everywhere in her body, so much so that the clothes she wore started to feel uncomfortable and too restricting, especially the sweater she had on. Something in her told her said it would be absolutely no issue in discarding it mid-dance. As she caressed her body, hands edging toward the hem of the fabric, she felt like it was more something she was supposed to do. The relief via expending the heat underneath the sweater felt as good as the gasps she heard from those watching, her mind registering them as delighted reactions, encouraging her further.
Twirling on her toes, arms outstretched, she feels the wind against her movements more than she expects, as if an extension of herself flutters against the flowing air. She finds she loves that feel, as if she were a bird with a long wingspan, letting the wind keep her gliding above ground. She even felt it just below her back, a flourishing plumage, free to move and stimulate her rear, giving her more reason than ever to give her her asses more emphasis in her dance. She wondered earlier why she felt so constrained with the sweater on, and the freedom she felt from up under the sweater unlocked in her mind why it felt good to bear what was under. Everyone marveled at the design of Celine's top, an autumn-brown, opaque, semi-sheer bodycon dress. The semi-sheer showed off her bellybutton and had golden glitter strewn all over it. Sewn into the sleeves were actual turkey feathers, and attached to her belt was a sturdy paper plumage topped off with more feathers. Every other twirl, she stopped to give her audience and eyeful of the brown feathers in tantalizing circles and dips as she bent her knees. Diverse laughs and gasps of desire came when she turned her torso to provocatively turn that plumage into a fan for her to hide most of her face behind. Only dark eyes filled with passion could be seen behind the feathers, making nearly everyone lean forward subconsciously in their chairs to get a better look.
A flash from somewhere amongst the crowd went ignored by the entertainer, too lost in what she was in everything. Celine might have recoiled in horror to see herself, and to see Penny's overly-satisfied smile after the photo she took with her phone. Camille admonished her for it and tried to steal her camera away before she could start a video. She'd accidentally stopped the tapping with her shoe that was Celine's encouragement, only to realize Teri had taken up the slack. She'd been so caught up in the rhythm and dance she arranged for Celine that she paid little to no attention to those who joined in. She half-smiled at Teri, surprised to hear that of anyone else tapping, Teri also had the perfect salsa shoes to create the most profound sound that reached Celine's ears, much better than everyone elses generic sneakers or boots. It wasn't easy wearing them while dealing with crutches. Keith had to insist she wear something else; she overruled him pretty quickly, compromising to letting him bring a pair of sneakers so he'd worry less
Camille watched Teri carefully as she easily maintained the tapping while leaning over to say something to the unexpected guest who had yet to take his coat off. He happened to look upon Celine with a longing no one else did, understandably. She couldn't understand why his face brightened or why he confidently stood up and finally discarded his coat, to everyone's, especially Camille's shock.
Celine felt shock as well, coming from how a bout of fatigue unexpectedly set in. Someone said something in the crowd she didn't catch, but there was no stopping the need to rest, to stop for a moment. The expected shame she would've felt for welshing on a performance didn't come, just concern for the audience's enjoyment followed by the relief of their understanding as she felt herself wrapped in the arms of someone strong enough to support her weight. She was lifted off her feet, and smiled as she fell into a light, careless sleep.
Penny began with, "I'm thankful for good friends, good family," she gestured toward Camille, and even gave a look in Celine's direction, "a good excuse to drown non-dry turkey in ketchup, and a hell of a fella to share it with," Penny kissed Trent's cheek and watched his pale flesh redden.
"Well, for one, the idea that holidays can be shared with people by choice. This one like our burgers in a strange way," he tried to explain and not be embarrassed by his quick though. "The official holidays this season are like the buns, fluff and filler, and the meat is this party here - good, tasty substance." The nods he got from around the room were more merciful than his real family; he was glad his sister and brother-in-law didn't come, knowing they'd laugh at his example. "But more than that, I think I'm just a lucky sob who this sexy lady said yes to my proposal," Trent answered, feeling suddenly light-headed after another kiss for his words.
"Good girls do love good boys," Camille looked at Keith
"Hear hear," June said. "And I'm thankful for having met Camille, and her helping showing me how good I can be, or how good we can be."
"I'm thankful for meeting an awesome group of people, for being taught how to dance without embarrassing myself, with the right partner." Auggie kissed June's hand, loving seeing the gooseflesh emerge from his soft attention. "Oh, and for winning my first arm-wrestling match in a long time," prompting a challenging stare from Trent.
"Oh, and I'm thankful for the outcome round 2 will have," Auggie's challenger replied.
"And for the good girls that love good girls," Carlie laughed at the male competitors, shifting the attention her way, "I'm thankful for meeting such great people too, strong loving people who taught me to be ok with me and love what I am, and whoever I want."
The warmth she received all around the table was what Carlie hoped to get from her parents, someday. The lie she told them about being stuck where she was felt bad, but it was necessary; Teri and Carlie became an official thing really quickly, and she needed time to sort out family's predictable outrage and shock. She might have to ask Camille to step in and convince them why it was a good thing.
She got warmth from Teri too, but for some reason, Teri kept staring at the entrance, and looking at her watch.
"I think everyone here knows I have plenty to be thankful for this year, like life couldn't get any better, moving out here, meeting you all, meeting Camille, being allowed to be honest with myself for the first time. I feel like I've been given so much, that I'm reminded of the joy of giving. So-"
Teri's phone went off. She looked down to see a text message, and looked satisfied at what she read.
"So I'm thankful for giving as good as I get, or trying to when I can."
"And do you have any good news to give us?" Camille asked
Teri's cryptic smile didn't go unnoticed, but decided to keep the thanks going.
"Magic Keith," Camille joked. "Any thanks?"
"Dancing, friends, and the goddess next to me."
"Don't make me blush," Penny responded, which made everyone laugh heartily, even Celine.
"And Miss Celine? What are you thankful for?"
"A lot. For surviving all the crazy diets I've been through, and maybe for more to be thankful for in the future. And usually, for two reasons this holiday's been tolerable for so many years."
Camille and Penny got up and gave Celine a sisterly hug in her chair, which she gave back with an annoyed look on her face, annoyed more because of the 'awww's' at the table.
"I hope we can be discreet about this," Celine asked everyone.
"Sure," Penny said cheerfully. "Just like we can be discreet about the show you're going to put on for us."
"You realize that was when Camille wasn't crutch-bound; it's the whole point of a competition."
"You didn't have that problem when we were younger," Camille countered. Celine's raised eyebrows met a confident smile. "Just think of it like bowling - go for a turkey."
She stopped herself before saying anything, and folded under Camille's unyielding, expectant look as she got up from her seat, took her coat off, and strutted up to the center of the small dance floor, ready to amaze them in her casual clothes. She tapped a few beats on her feet to start, unable to hear Camille do the same with her heels, and began to dance.
Vivid dreams washed over Celine, dreams she latched onto, dreams that let the rest of the universe come to a complete halt as if on her command. It wasn't really her command, it was someone else's command that made it happen, someone she trusted like she trusted herself. And she wanted those still moments as often as she could get them, so her mind reasoned to a compromise that she made it happen.
The dreams reminded her of how dancing felt better than anything else, how her love for it trumped all else. "All else?" her mind suddenly questioned. She heard that trusted voice from far off, sounding a little surprised herself, but confidently lead her to a sense of it being perfectly alright to admit there was something, someone she could love like dancing.
Love of success waned, seemed vapid sometimes. Love of traveling seemed tedious, too many timezone to keep up with, and some places were starting to look the same despite their individual fame. The same applied to being a celebrity, and how the people, their figures, their dances, their faces all ran together in a bland mix. Except one.
Desmond, a back-up performer trying to make his way to the same consideration and stardom she already had, but found himself falling for his superior. He fought it at first, and she didn't care. She expressed as much when he asked her out for coffee the first time, and the next few times. He was always polite about it, and she was always rude, as she was known to be. He spread the times asked between months while within her dance company. When she finally asked "what's not getting through your skull that I don't feel like going out with you," Desmond finally admitted "I get that sense, and I'm surprised I'm asking too still. But, I kinda can't help it, and you're worth it."
There was something sincere in his voice, something that broke the cycle. She told him she'd agreed to one short coffee date, very informal, very "not a date." She got it in her head he was just looking for an in to a better position, past the unreliable on-call position he fought like hell to be put on unofficially. She eyed everything he did carefully, looking for something that would show what he was really after. It took several official dates she called "business meetings over dinner" of watching to be convinced of his sincerity, and it was only after the fact that she realized he was actually fun to be around.
Neither knew when, but they became an unofficial thing quickly. She kept things very private, which he was ok with, though he expressed not being afraid of being seen dating an ice queen. She laughed after he quickly amended that to ice princess, as if it was any kind of good recovery; it was, weirdly, but she kept that to herself. Celine couldn't remember when she'd been so happy with regard to someone besides herself, the main reason for that being any happiness was reserved for dancing only. Everything else was either business or necessary evil, even relationships. It was kind of an oddity in her mind for someone of her status to date someone fairly lower, as far as the tabloids were concerned. Eventually, in the grand, disastrous fashion she was known for, she got him silently moved away, to another company, less glory and opportunity.
He never figured out her hand in it, and his only real sadness was expressing his having to go away. He even admitted the kind of other jobs he thought about taking temporarily just to stay somewhat close to her, and asked her how she felt about them. She was speechless, didn't say one word to him as she left his presence. He'd left messages, but she hadn't returned any of them, right into the holidays. He probably would've asked her to come spend time with his family, so she wouldn't be alone. He didn't know her "sisters" kept her from being alone most holidays, and it would've been a harsh rebuke to the offer anyway. She felt she was sparring him, and would find a way to deal with it next year. Maybe.
Sadness and regret nearly interrupted her pleasant dreams, but a voice was able to soothe her impossibly over the bad feelings. It always knew how to make her feel better; this time, it told her to imagine "What if Desmond was there, and offered to dance with you..."
Silent amazement rang through the restaurant, captivated by how even this known celebrity fell into the holiday swing of things, unbeknownst to how much she was getting into it. Even Camille herself got lost in it all, so much so that she never noticed Teri leaving temporarily and having brought a guest with her. Camille got up gently by herself and met them at the bar.
She did a double take as she sat, staring closely at her Teri's newcomer.
"Hope you don't mind Camille, but I decided to invite an extra person, who was really looking forward to coming."
Camille looked at her and at the man silently, immediately recognizing him, but not knowing what to say right off the bat. It was an expression her student savored with a naked happiness.
"Welcome to our little gathering, Desmond," Camille greeted, leaving out the 'private' part. "Hope you didn't have much trouble getting here."
"None at all; Teri was a real help."
"I do like to be helpful. Just like you like to be silent and sleepy."
"Yeah..." Desmond's speech trailed off as he leaned against his stool seat, with Teri next to him ready to keep him seated and safe, as she enjoyed Camille's triple-take.
"Ok, I know I have a lot of explaining to do, but given Celine's 'turkey' dance is still going, I'll be quick. I found your holiday planning notebook weeks ago. Saw what planned for Celine and Desmond, and know something happened with Desmond that you had to amend. I just happened to have made a contact that could get in-touch with him. I reached out, told him I was a contact of Celine's, and that I was to help prep him for a job. I reached back to your training of captivating my audience, and things really, really worked out. So I got him here, ready for you to go the whole nine yards. And I threw in a little bonus for you. Open your coat, Desmond."
Camille covered her mouth to keep from gasping at the surprise. She let herself process the information as slowly as possible, breathed deeply for a few seconds, and gave her student a look that said there would be more to talk about later. Celine's dance in the background was beginning to very much live up to the turkey part of things, when Camille moved over to Keith, who moved up near Celine as Camille spoke something significant only to the current performer, slowing her to a crawl and eventually standing still. Keith held her in his strong arms as Teri brought Desmond up, having him take off his long coat to reveal the surprise. Camille and Teri spoke to their charges in agreement to let them synchronize into something like the dance Camille wanted to display all along.
"What if" began to reshape Celine's world, as if it was constructed by the fleeting structures of thoughts and dreams. Things her mind told her were impossibilities were shattered like mirrors by the impact of the trusting voice. Small reflections of herself appearing, only the reflections promoting positivity, energy, believing in happiness. Slowly the mirror put itself back together until she saw a new self, a better self.
She could feel herself grounded in this newness, gravity settling in as her feet reached the floor, and things seemed normal. The desire to dance was among the normality, except something was missing. It wasn't until she felt someone taking her hand in theirs, and looking up to see Desmond that what was missing, in-fact everything seemed complete. All was right with the universe, and what would keep the world turning was when they let their instincts take over and begin to waltz with each other.
Arm-in-arm, they danced slow, breathing together, hearts beating at the same rate, taking the time to study each other's faces. The haze that was once the real world showed how unimportant all else really was, and how all they needed, wanted was themselves moving with each other, against each other. Noises that sounded like approval from somewhere barely pierced their space, but became accepted by both as affirmation to how right this was.
As everything else was in-sync between them, so was their kiss, mouths pushed against one another, tongues cooperating with one another, tingles exchanged though both their bodies. Hearts took over as their minds were at rest, and at some point both knew they were forever changed. That knowledge left both very content while a familiar sound easily pierced the haze - the measured foot stomping had returned, and it became the pace both set their hearts, limbs, and minds to.
How Desmond imagined taking Celine out for salsa dancing came true as music came from nowhere and gave him to confidence to make her love it. His hands rested at her hips, gripping the material as his feet moved. Her hands grasping his neck and the hair under his hat kept his face fixed on hers. He literally couldn't look anywhere else but at her, and he loved her possessiveness, unnecessary as it was. She felt the material of his hat, and finally paid attention to the pilgrim hat sitting atop his head.
She understood it being there better when she looked down below his neck to see his painfully-accurate pilgrim costume, dark fabric, buckles, ridiculous shoes and all. He got the urge to look down as well, wondering why with the glitter and color scheme did she eerily resemble a turkey, feeling what was probably a tail around his hands. They both concluded what each was wearing, unable to laugh at one another or themselves as there was no one to laugh at them despite what sounded like the occasional laugh from somewhere. All their costumes really got them to feel was an inexplicable need to heat up their dance.
Desmond picked Celine up and twirled her around in circles according to the tap, loving seeing her hair, feathers on her arm and tail flowed in the wind, until Celine's body language told him she wanted back to the floor. He obeyed and the second her feet landed, she took the lead, moving her hands between his, grasping his wrists and raising them over his head, keeping there while her hands trailed down the arms, over his face, down his chest to the sides of his hips and grasping at the air she imagined his full hardness would be grasping, as she spun on her own feet, giving him a show as she used her plumage to tempt him while he stayed still looking like a man under arrest. Seductive charms surely kept him that way until she approached him again, grinding against his body as if she was a pole dancer and he the pole.
Soon he couldn't take it any longer and gripped the back of her neck, and reached under her thigh, and dragged her across the floor, kissing her as he did so, trying to get her to melt in his grasp. Celine nearly did, until a gentle touch under his chin made him falter, an erogenous spot of his they discovered after one of their recent dates, one she kept repeating until he lost the strength to keep her help up. Years of professional training got her timing on her feet like a cat naturally always would, as he became still again, enjoying the simple conquering caress, feeling him follow it as she walked around him in circles, turning his neck and then his body to keep up. She led him in dizzying circles, made even dizzier when she switched caressing hands and opposite circles.
He didn't know how long he could remain on his feet, his only gambit a memory of how he remembered searching her body for an erogenous point he could match on her body. He'd found it the night she'd found his, tickling the skin behind her left ear. Still in the whirlwind of her circles, his hand reached for the side of her face. Celine wasn't fast enough to realize what he was up to, and began drowning herself in his perfected touch, moaning at a miniscule pinch of her skin. The circles slowed, but didn't stop as they increased the attention to each other's weak points.
Their legs got weak eventually, the circles dwindling as they got closer and closer to the floor, simply holding their special points, and their cheeks with their free hands. One of them lost their grip, and that was incentive enough to begin kissing each other on the floor, wrapped in each other as if they were in bed. Just as they begin to tear their clothes off, a powerful word from somewhere stopped them both, and they found they couldn't continue, but sighed and rested against each other.
"You're such a nerd, you know?"
"What do you mean?" Camille asked Penny.
"That first dance from Turkey, the outfit you planned to wear that Celine happened to fit, the bowling suggestion..."
"Not to mention the other thing."
"What other thing?"
Penny wondered why Camille felt the need to whisper, wondered what the strange word meant, and what it meant for one of the recently worn-out entertainers.
"Hey Celine," Penny asked, looking down at the tired dancer atop her partner.
"Snood?" She looked puzzled at the word Camille gave her.
"Gobble gobble gobble. Gobble gobble."
"What was that? And what's that name you had for me?" Penny got out between giggles, starting the video record function on her phone again.
"Gobble gobble. Gobble! Gobble gobble gobble gobble! Gobble...." Celine seemed angry for being engaged while she was so drowsy, unaware of her words.
"That favor I did for you on Halloween, consider it repaid in spades," Penny thanked Camille.
"Told you I would."
"So....who won that one?" Penny asked.
"Well, the turkey is on top, so I think the turkey finally wins Thanksgiving. What do you guys think?" Camille asked the table. She got everyone clapping and "bravos" and "encores" as and answer. She bowed as best she could and started quietly address the grounded couple.
Celine and Desmond blinked together, coming to, standing in each other's arms, as if a slow dance had ended and one or the other fell comfortably asleep in the other's safe arms. No attention was paid yet to the table watching them, just each other as they sighed together, her half smile not as bright as his, but not any less sincere. She started to laugh for the first time at his costume.
"Apparently you're not a bad dance partner, pilgrim."
His smile turned lopsided as he looked at her.
"And you make me...really hungry."
Acting undignified, she playfully slapped him, and he quickly caught the slapping hand to kiss it over and over again, trying to make her blush. She was halfway there when an 'aww' from Carlie made them both look toward the table.
Celine tried to walk away and regain her dignity, but Desmond's strong hand pulled her back into an embrace, ready for the slap he knew was coming, but unprepared for the kiss she gave instead, making the whole table go 'awww.'
Celine ended the kiss and dragged Desmond's unresisting body back to the table.
"As I said people, discretion."
"Whatever you say, lovergirl," Penny joked as she finally put her phone away.
"Come on guys," Teri asked. "Give'em a round of applause."
Desmond immediately bowed, and Celine annoyingly followed, regarding the hoops and hollers amongst the clapping as best they could.
Post-turkey dance, everyone had settled into being full from food, and discussion was going on about if they all wanted to use the dance floor and what song they might want to dance to.
Teri couldn't participate at the moment as Camille had pulled her aside toward the bar to talk.
"Are you mad," Camille's student asked in all seriousness.
"I'm....somewhere between upset and unsure." She watched Teri take that answer with as much unsurety as she felt.
"Truthfully, ego wants to be harsh with you saying 'I'm the ringleader here,' but also part of me is worried about the risk you took. I've been at this for years, and have made plenty of mistakes along the way, some bigger than others, taking the same kind of risks you have, sometimes bigger ones. Some were mistakes I couldn't fix, no matter how persuasive I can usually be. This year has been exceptionally good for me, whether planned or not, but I had to make lots of mistakes to get to it. And if you're trying to go where I think you're trying to go, I'd rather not have you make the same mistakes and realize you're messing with big things."
"I kinda figured all of that, though it's hard to imagine you making mistakes with these kind of things."
"Like I said, lots of mistakes before, mistakes I wish I could take back even if they helped get me here."
"If you were just trying to put out the happiness that you've put out this year, that's all gathered at the table right now, it was worth it."
"I wish I could believe that, but that just isn't always true, as much as I, we, try to make it so."
"Trust me, love is always worth it," Teri countered, and continued before Camille could reply sternly.
"Do you know what kind of life I would've lead if you never came along? How miserable I might've really been on the inside, how much self-loathing for my own feelings? I think about that a lot lately, how lucky I am. Every time I get to wake up next to my best friend and kiss her because I mean it, everytime I get to dance or just be around you, everytime I get to just be me, even trying to imagine all the failures you might've caused, I can't be sorry for everything that's led to now, even though I don't know everything."
"And I'm willing to admit with no hesitation, I don't know everything. But what I do know, what I truly am thankful for this year, is love. When I read up about you and Celine, your plans with her and Desmond, overhearing from Penny your past, I figured it was worth a shot. Out of my league? probably, but I love love, and once I met him, I could sense the love right away, and acted on it like you would to make that happen. And even if I failed, I'll never be sorry for trying."
"And if you managed to make it worse?"
Teri said nothing for a second and tried to imagine worse, and grimaced a little.
"Not to toot my own horn, but that wasn't going to happen. He really, and I mean really, took to my suggestions. So easy to instruct, partly because Celine was the carrot on the stick, and I got him here because your notes were detailed enough about what you wanted to happen between them and their feelings. He opened up to me like he wanted to, doing things we wanted him to that were his dreams all along. I knew you had Celine down, for a long time I bet. They didn't stand a chance against us," Teri allowed herself an arrogant smile, but turned to meet Camille that didn't have one. The younger dancer cleared her throat and got back to being serious.
"But if I failed...then...I'd throw myself at their mercy, apologize, and tell them what I saw, why I did what I did, and let them decide after. Did you ever do that after your mistakes?"
"...yes. Didn't feel any less shitty getting caught."
"You're not just a seductress Camille. You're a matchmaker, one with the best of intentions. No matchmaker out there has 100% success rate. Given divorce, I'm sorry to say most might not even have a 50% success rate even. There's no road leading to hell in what you do with us; that's why I love what you do with our heads, blurs things bur really helps keep things in perspective too. Reminds us of things we keep forgetting, like breathing, or loving, despite all the bullshit out there that wants other things from us."
Camille just looked at Teri, like a younger version of herself, just as ambitious, but wiser and more introspective than she was at her age, looking for ways to argue against her points, but knowing she agreed, so she said nothing. She knew she'd have attempt to have strict, motherly words for her later, or tips to help her avoid past mistakes of her own. But all that consideration took a back seat to giving her charge a warm hug, one that was enthusiastically given back.
"And you want to be another matchmaker too?"
"Yeah, I do love stuff like that; don't think I've got the moxy for all the holiday dancing stuff, though after everything I've heard and seen and felt you do, maybe some of that is inevitable too."
"Why Teri, are you really trying to be another me?"
"What's that saying? 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Though I can't say I love the holidays nearly as much as you, heh. And I have to wonder by now who's more cunning, as surprised as you looked when Desmond arrived."
"Is that a challenge, dear Teri?"
"A student is practically destined to challenge their teacher, even star pupils."
They smiled at each other like equals for the first time, pangs of pride welling up in Camille.
"Just as you know who's boss by the end, young padawan."
"Whose boss," Keith overheard and interjected.
Camille said nothing but patted his face gently, slid her hand up the side of his face at into his hair, lightly scratching his scalp while she gently started to spin his head around. And around. And around. And around; a spiral motion extending his head-rotating outward. Teri being shorter got an even better glimpse of Keith's pacified, content visage, impressed.
"Ok, I'm definitely teaching Carlie to respond to that."
"To respond to what?" Carlie moved closer, interested in what Camille was doing to Keith. She eventually stopped moving his head and whispered to him to stay upright and keep his head still.
"Oh, just this," Camille responded instead of Teri.
A hand came from nowhere to caress the side of Teri's head, gasping at feeling what she'd just observed, taken aback by how it felt ten times better than it looked, an itch in her scalp she didn't know she needed scratched, the look of the room gently spinning around. And around. And around. And around.
Carlie seemed almost enthralled at the sight of her girlfriend's eyes starting to roll back in her head, and Keith soft, sleepy expression, afraid to look at Camille who was looking at her, just waiting for her to silently do as she asked. Once she did, she found herself stuck smiling at the Cheshire grin as if that's what did their significant other's in.
Those hypnotized came back to find people around them dancing to slow-playing music in the background. Teri and Carlie smiled at each other the smile that only came when one or both of them found themselves floating back from trance, happily arm in arm. Keith shook his head back to full awareness, seeing all the couples come together, even the recently-joined turkey and pilgrim. He found he was standing next to the chair Camille was sitting in. She gently lifted herself out of it and told him to sit. He knew what she wanted, but gave his usual expression of concern, silenced by a hand in his head again. He sat facing the empty dining table, until Camille placed herself on his lap, happy it didn't hurt to sit like that. She wrapped her arms around him and they swayed in the chair as if dancing. He leisurely stared at her top that shined in the light, and her face as she looked at all the other couples dancing.
He loved that smile, the smile that meant she might play with everyone maybe once more before the night was over, and get worked up from that to play with him well into the next morning. Holidays and trancing always seemed to make that happen. The smile deepened a little as she forgot to mention what she was thankful for to the group, though she silently did in her own way.
Thanks for giving in.