21 Mar 2016

Juvia came to the big city to get a spot in a prestigious dance company. But not everything goes as planned as she meets a ragtag crew of performers struggling to make ends meet, shooting for an opportunity to show the world what they have to offer.

Teen (13+)
Chapters: 17
Words: 117,566


Chapter 5
Blame It On the Boogie

Chapter Notes:

Sorry guys, was up finishing NaNoWriMo and then I got sick. I missed the Steam sale because I got sick. Damn you, fever.



( “Don’t blame it on the sunshine,
don’t blame it on the moonlight,
don’t blame it on the good times…”)
Blame It On the Boogie
— The Jacksons


“This place looks nothin’ like a house.”

Juvia looked at Gajeel and shrugged. “Juvia told Gajeel-kun already, it was originally an abandoned building. It was owned by a man close to Gray-sama and the others, and… Juvia guesses they decided to move in to save on money and effort in finding somewhere to stay.”

Gajeel gave a noncommittal grunt, eyeing the paperbag on his friend’s arms. She made cookies — a lot of cookies. It’s been a week since she first came into the city. She insisted that Gajeel come with her to bring the treats to the guild. “Are you sure this is the place? It still looks abandoned.”

“Don’t be rude, Gajeel-kun. It’s someone’s house.” was all she said as she bravely walked forward, stepping inside the garage and only stopping for a bit to look around and find the stairs. Gajeel followed her until they stopped in front of a closed door.

The last time Juvia was here, the door was locked and Gray had the keys. This time, she knocked. She didn’t know if it works, so she rang the doorbell as well. It was a Sunday — hopefully some of them were home.

They stood by the doorway for a while until someone opened it — a young woman, maybe in her teens, with large brown eyes and long navy blue hair in a high ponytail.

Juvia blinked. “…Um… hello?”

“Hello.” the girl said, smiling a friendly smile. “How may I help you?”

They both heard a distant call from inside — “WENDY, IF IT’S ONE OF BACCHUS’ PUPPIES, TELL ’IM CANA’S IN HER FLAT!”

The girl called Wendy laughed lightly. “No, it’s not them!” she called back, then looked expectantly at Juvia.

“Um, my name is Juvia.”

“Are you here for someone?”

The woman nodded. “G-Gray-sama? O-Or Levy-san…”

“Oh! You must be— Nevermind, please come in!” the girl said, opening the door wide open and letting them in. “We’re in the middle of practice, so things might look a bit messy…”

When they stepped inside, she was welcomed by the sight of dance practice in progress.

She saw the dance floor only once when she first visited and that was on her way out. She didn’t have time to imagine what it would look like with actual people in it.

She saw the more familiar faces — Natsu, Gray, Laki, Max and Warren — together with a young woman with silver hair that Juvia assumed was Mira’s younger sister (although the name escaped her) and a red-haired woman who seemed to be the one teaching them the choreography. There was no music yet — it seems they’re still studying the steps.

“Gray-san, you have a visitor!” Wendy said cheerfully.

The others turned towards them. Juvia smiled as the ones she was familiar with all brightened up when they saw her. Laki immediately whispered something to Mira’s sister, while the red-head paused and looked at the others before her gaze flitted back to Juvia.

“Hello, everyone.” Juvia said, looking nervous as she fiddled with her paperbag.

Lisanna and Natsu both gave Gray a nudge, and he just looked at them in annoyance before smiling and stepping forward, probably deciding to be the spokesperson. “Hey, you’re back.” he said with a small smile. “What’s up?”

She smiled uneasily. “Is… Is Juvia interrupting anything?”

Gray seemed to look at the red-head for confirmation, and she quickly nodded and spoke up. “Alright, guys — let’s take five.”

As soon as she said that, the others also stepped forward to meet her.

“Juvia-chan, it’s good to see you again!” Laki greeted.

“Hello, everyone told me about you! I’m Lisanna! Wasn’t around the last time you were here…” Lisanna said, taking the other girl’s hand and shaking it.

Erza also stepped forward, a smile in her face as she extended a hand. “Erza Scarlet. Like Lisanna said, everyone talked a lot about you. It’s nice finally having a face to the name.”

“I-It’s nice to meet you, Lisanna-san, Erza-san!” Juvia said, shaking Erza’s hand. The other woman didn’t look much older than her, but she gave off an air of authority. She must be some kind of leader figure for everyone. “Juvia is sorry for interrupting dance practice—”

“It’s no big!” Max assured. Beside him, Warren nodded.

“Oh, hey — this is Wendy.” Natsu said, pulling Wendy with him. The girl smiled shyly. “Hangs out here a lot when there’s no school.”

Wendy nodded in acknowledgement. Juvia did the same, about to reply when she remembered that she came with a friend. “O-Oh! And um, this is Gajeel-kun! He is Juvia’s friend. Juvia lives with him at the moment.”

The introductions were done fairly quickly, until finally Laki asked their guest about how she was doing. Juvia told them that she had gotten a part-time job, and then told them her agenda for being there that day.

“Juvia wants to thank everyone for helping when Juvia needed it the most. I-It’s not much, but… Juvia made some cookies—”

“COOKIES!” came from almost everyone and Juvia was surprised at how delighted they looked.

“Juvia couldn’t make too much, but hopefully there’s enough for everyone.” she said, offering the paper bag to them.

Laki was the one who accepted it with a grin, and as they opened the package, everyone made their own sounds of approval.

“It smells delicious, Juvia-chan.” Lisanna marvelled.

“It looks great.” Gray agreed. “But you really shouldn’t have.”

“Please… Please do consider it as a token of gratitude.” Juvia said, looking down bashfully.

“Of course.” Erza said, looking at the others. “Now just one cookie for everyone, alright? We still got to practice, can’t have you guys stuffing your faces.”

“Yes, ma’am!”

She turned back towards Juvia. “I hope you don’t mind.”

Juvia shook her head fervently. She glanced at Gajeel, and he seemed to be doing fine overall just standing a few steps behind her. “May Juvia and Gajeel-kun watch?”

“Sure!” Natsu said, grinning widely. “If you promise to tell us what you think ’bout it.”

Juvia smiled back, nodding.

They all transferred towards a corner of the room, where each of them took a piece of cookie as they all took a break. Juvia shyly stood still next to Gray as the others praised her baking skills. Laki and Lisanna tried to break down the recipe between them, while Erza sternly told Natsu and the other guys that they were still in the middle of cooking up a new routine and that they should leave some cookies for the others.

“Um, Gray-sama, where are the others?” Juvia asked softly. She sat down on the floor, back against the wall.

“Let’s see…” Gray started, gaze lifting to the ceiling as he did a mental tally while absently chewing on the cookie. “Cana and Lucy have a guesting thing. Mira, Al and Bis are on the studio as usual. Working. Laxus and Bix are upstairs, probably sleeping in. Jet and Droy got work today, there’s a sale at the mall. Levy’s upstairs, tapping. She’s got a really good routine and we’re letting her finish it.”

“Oh… Juvia wants to thank Levy-san for bringing the sketchbook back.”

“Yeah, she told me you made really cool drawings.”

“T-T-Those are just sketches… Juvia isn’t really that good at… d-drawing…”

“Hey, don’t get yourself down. I can spray paint but I don’t come up with the stuff, I just copy designs. Nobody’s perfect.”


Then Lisanna handed the cookies back to Gray. Gray looked up to see Erza calling everyone back to their places to continue practice.

He was about to stand up when the others insisted that it’s okay, he should “go talk to Juvia-chan some more! You already know the choreo anyway!”

“What the hell.” he mumbled, standing up anyway.

“Please don’t mind Juvia. Juvia will just sit here and watch!” their guest said, taking the cookies from Gray for safekeeping. Gajeel crossed his arms and sat beside her.

Gray nodded at her, ignoring how his friends chorused their disappointment.

As Erza continued on teaching them the choreography, Wendy took Gray’s previous place beside Juvia. She was holding a book and a pen. When Juvia turned to look, she saw the diagrams and the formulas in the textbook. Wendy was obviously doing homework.

“Wendy-san is in high school?” she inquired politely. That’s why Wendy looked much younger than everyone. The girl looked no older than 17 or 18.

“Ah, yes.” Wendy said, smiling back as politely. “And ‘Wendy’ will do! That’s what everyone here calls me anyways.”

“Isn’t it distracting? Doing homework while a lot of people are dancing around?” Juvia asked, all curiosity.

Wendy shrugged. “Well, I’m kinda used to it. I know it’s weird but it helps me concentrate. It’s like white noise by now, actually.”

“Wendy comes here often?”

The girl nodded. “This place is like my second home. I’m a foster kid too. I knew Natsu-san and the others from Makarov-jii-san even before I was taken in by my new family. He introduced me to them because I liked dancing too. I’m not as good as them, though…” she looked at the others, all concentration as they danced to Erza’s counting. “But I hope I could be, someday. Erza-san is amazing, she can dance all sorts of styles.”

Juvia smiled and nodded, also watching the practice. She wasn’t the best judge for hip-hop, but the steps looked legit, and Erza seemed very confident with her movements. “What style do you dance?”

“Contemporary. I’m actually thinking of shifting to jazz since it’s close. I dance a bit of hip-hop, too… Just a bit.” Wendy looked sheepish. “I don’t think I have the… uh, swag… for it.”

“It does look like it takes a certain kind of… attitude.” Juvia mused, observing the dancers. They were the same easygoing folks she spent a morning with just a week ago, but like this, they were like completely different people. They weren’t dancing with accompaniment just yet, but Juvia could really see how dynamic it was going to be. Their moves were rough as they all executed the choreo while counting, but it looked good.

“Right. I mean, I can nail down the steps, but some people can just look so much cooler doing it.” Wendy continued. She sighed, then returned to doing her homework.

Juvia, not wanting to disturb the girl anymore, simply continued watching.

When Erza clapped her hands twice over her head and announced that they should try dancing with music this time, Juvia sat up straighter. She wouldn’t dare miss this.

Erza’s phone was hooked to the speakers. She stepped forward to quickly find the song and turned towards the others who were standing by in a loose formation.

They made two rows: Laki and Lisanna in front, an empty space between them for Erza, and at the back, Natsu, Gray, Max and Warren.

Erza nodded, tapped the ‘play’ button on her phone and rushed to join the others.

The intro was several sound effects, followed by the very familiar start of the song. Juvia recognized it quickly, and so did Gajeel, because she heard him chuckle beside her.

“You like this song, Gajeel-kun?” she asked, but didn’t take her eyes off the dancers.

“No shit. It’s ‘Smooth Criminal’. It’s a classic by now.” was all he said, shrugging in slight amusement as he also kept watch.

The group all had their backs turned and the start of their routine had them all turning around in sync. After that, the choreography turned much more dynamic as they all moved together.

Gajeel whistled, clearly impressed.

Juvia watched closely. The movements were very rooted in hip-hop, with some popping and locking. The footwork was very fast-paced and the arm movements were snappy. She was amazed at how coordinated the group’s moves are — because of the style of the song, the dance was a series of very quick, lyrical movements which so often shifted to slow motion before again picking up the tempo. It took very precise control to not look sloppy. And they all had it.

It was hard to look away from Erza, whose movements were the most polished, being the one who came up with the movements and who had mastered the choreography before sharing it to the rest of the group. She was obviously the standard to live up to in this dance.

But Juvia promised to tell them what she thought, so she tore her gaze away to fall on the other two girls: Lisanna and Laki. Their contemporary and jazz backgrounds were obvious. They took on the steps with the focused precision of trained dancers. Juvia knew they were both students — this must be why they took up the choreography well, adapting to the different style. Their moves were more graceful, though — and their original style shows because they were focusing too much on nailing down the hip-hop, that their performance loses some of the personality they should be giving the dance. But even with that, they had what Wendy called ‘swag’, the attitude and confidence. They know they look good dancing, and they show it.

Max and Warren were visibly more comfortable with the hip-hop steps, it being their genre. But Juvia couldn’t help but be in awe when the popping and locking happens, because the two were great at it. She wondered if that was their style. She vaguely remembered Gray telling her that Warren was an animator. Maybe Max was, too. This must be why their movements were snappier compared to the rest of the team. Still, their movements were fluid when it needed to be.

Then Juvia looked at Natsu. Natsu exuded confidence and he had reason to. His moves weren’t the most polished, but what he lacked in the precision, he made up in delivery. Juvia could tell he was a heavy hitter. He was light on his feet and he caught up with all the fast-paced action, but his arm and leg movements were firm and powerful. She didn’t know Natsu’s style — it wasn’t this — but she concluded that he was a performer all the way.

There was an interlude that lasted seconds and part of the steps had everyone’s movements slow down while Gray went for a solo break. It was very short, but Juvia saw the smooth, calculated pop-and-lock moves. Then everyone fell into step with each other again, back to the fast-then-slow-then-fast again steps. Gray was comfortable with the style, he moved with the comfort of familiar moves and the confidence of someone who knew his delivery was on point. His moves were almost as good as Erza’s for the dance. If Juvia had concluded right away that this wasn’t Natsu’s style — then she was just as sure that it was Gray’s.

That was when she noted the choreography. She already thought it was amazing and dynamic — but Erza must be a damn good choreographer to come up with it because it worked well with what Juvia saw of everyone’s strengths so far. It required fast footwork and control, which they all had. The moves weren’t too heavy so the two contemporary girls could catch up well, but it wasn’t so snappy that only the animators will get to really nail the steps. Erza must have come up with the moves, taking everyone in consideration.

They finished quickly, having only danced half the song. And when they did so, Juvia found herself clapping next to Wendy.

“That was so cool!” Wendy exclaimed.

Juvia nodded fervently. These people were brilliant at what they do. And from the looks of it, it was only their first time practicing.

Beside her, Gajeel was also looking very impressed.

“THAT WAS SO COOL! ONE MORE TIME!” Natsu said, jumping, visibly pleased with how the routine turned out. “C’MON, ONE MORE!”

Erza rolled her eyes. “Let’s take a bit of a break, everyone. Or… or keep dancing if you want. Whatever.”

She didn’t bother turning the music off, allowing the rest of the song to continue as she walked towards the other corner of the room to grab a drink. Her energy drink was in the corner by one of the speakers.

Natsu seemed to have taken her order to heart because after that, he started break-dancing in the middle of the dance floor. Lisanna, Laki, Max and Warren cheered him on.

Gray walked towards their guests. He gestured for the water bottle he left on the spot beside Juvia. “So, what do you think?”

“It was brilliant!” Juvia exclaimed, handing him the bottle. He squatted in front of them and drunk some of the water before raising an eyebrow.


“Juvia has never seen group hip-hop dance up close.” she said. “The choreography was very good, Juvia thinks it’s very clean and classy.”

“Nice song choice.” Gajeel added.

Gray nodded. “Thanks. Erza came up with the choreo.”

“May Juvia ask what Max-san’s and Natsu-san’s dance styles are?”

The raven-head blinked. “Hip-hop. Why?”

“Juvia noticed that Max-san and Warren-san are really good at the pop-and-lock parts and they move differently than the others. Natsu-san’s arm and leg moves are very strong and heavy-looking.”

Gray stared at her for several seconds before a smirk made its way on his lips. “Damn, you’re good. Didn’t expect you to catch that much.”

Juvia looked down a bit, blushing.

“Max and Warren are animators, that’s why they’re good with the snap moves. Because they always do the robot stuff.” he explained. “Natsu’s a krumper. That’s why his moves should be heavy. He’s also a b-boy.”

Juvia nodded, seeing that demonstrated on the spot as Natsu just finished a breakdance exhibition and stood up, then pulled Lisanna with him and the two started dancing freestyle.

“Laki-san and Lisanna-san are really good, too… If Juvia didn’t know they were contemporary dancers, Juvia wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.”

“Well, we all got to dance hip-hop. Contests ’round here are always street dance. The contemporary ones’re filled with all sorta criteria. Plus not all of us can do it.”

Gajeel cleared his throat then, knowing that the two are getting engaged in conversation now. “Uh. Where’s the toilet?”

“It’s upstairs.” Gray answered, standing up. “Just… uh—”

“I’ll take you there.” Wendy volunteered, standing up. “I was going to borrow Levy-san’s laptop, anyway.”

Gray watched as Gajeel followed the girl upstairs, before taking the guy’s spot beside Juvia. “You got good eyes.” he started. Juvia looked at him, blinking. He continued, “You caught all those stuff in the choreo. You dance too, don’t you?”

She bit her lip, avoiding his look, just fiddling with the paperbag of cookies in her arms. Of course, with commentary like that, there was no way she’ll get away with being a stranger to dancing. Slowly, she nodded.

“No way.” Gray chuckled. “What style?”


“Nice.” he remarked, smiling. It took all of Juvia’s willpower to stay still as he observed her quietly. Why was he looking so closely at her? “It suits you. Why didn’t you tell us before?”

“J-Juvia is not a really good dancer…”

“Still a dancer.” he concluded. “You with a group? Studio?”

“Juvia is self-taught…”

“Like the majority of us.”

She nodded mutely.

He turned to call on his housemates, but saw that they were busy dancing (to a different song now) WHILE trying to watch him and their guest. Laki even winked and Max held two thumbs up as they did some random disco moves. But at least they were trying. Unlike the others. Warren, similarly, was mouthing ‘KEEP TALKING TO HER!’ while doing the Macarena. Lisanna was making a grand ‘No, go on, pretend we’re not here!’ gesture… disguised as dancing? Natsu was letting her drag and twirl him around in what looked like their attempt at a waltz. You don’t Macarena or waltz to Uptown Funk, you just don’t. He wanted to shout at them for that.

Erza was chilling on a corner of the room, pretending to mind her own business, scrolling through her phone. He knew she was pretending because when he looked at her, she smiled her guilty ‘I SWEAR I’M NOT GUILTY’ smile. She does that.

He wanted to clobber them all. Honestly.

The only saving grace here was that Juvia was feeling too awkward to notice what was happening.

“How long’ve you been dancing?” he asked her again.

“Juvia started at around fifteen… but never formally. It’s just… videos and watching some practices. Juvia had a part-time job cleaning up on a dance studio once.”

“Fifteen? And you’re what, now? Twenty?”


“Huh. Same.” he blinked. “Although turning twenty-three next month. Hey, you’ve been dancing seven years — you oughtta be good. Ever performed for others? Like, a contest or for a job?”

She shook her head frantically. “Juvia never danced with others, it’s… it’s… embarrassing!”

“You can’t just dance by yourself all the time. No matter how bad you think you are at it.”

She looked at him blankly.

He gaped. “No way, for seven years?”

“W-Well sometimes Juvia lets Gajeel-kun watch… Only sometimes!” she stammered out. “B-But Juvia came to town to… to do something about it!”

She froze, promptly horrified about spilling too much. Was it too much? She just didn’t want Gray to think that she was a total weirdo so she started explaining herself but—

“You said you went here to get a job.” he started slowly, in a tone that indicated he was slowly figuring things out. “Wait. You’re trying to go pro?”

The woman nodded tentatively. “J-Juvia got a spot in the auditions for the Rainfall Contemporary Dance Company a-and Juvia came to town to prepare for it and hopefully if Juvia gets accepted, Juvia can be a professional member of the group and—”

Gray stopped her there. “Whoa, whoa wait— Rainfall? As in… the one run by— uh, that scary dance and theater woman, Lucy’s mentor—”


“THAT one?”

She nodded.

Gray turned towards his dancing friends. “Oi, Lisanna, what’re the requirements to get an audition spot at Rainfall Contempo?”

Lisanna quickly stopped dancing, surprised by the seemingly random question, but she answered quickly. “Uh, at least 18 years old, strong contemporary background. You have to send in a solo dance video and they filter that before you get called in. Why?”

Gray raised an eyebrow at Juvia. “You have a spot for audition and you think you’re not good? Dude, even Lucy had a hard time getting in. Well, she eventually transferred to Broadway because the Aquarius woman thought she’s a better fit for that— nevermind. But this means you’re at LEAST her level.”

Juvia gaped. “L-Lucy-san auditioned too?”

“Twice. She needed two tries to get in.” he said, a look of amazement in his face, as if he was also realizing his words then.

By this time, Lisanna and Laki had joined them curiously. “Wait, are you auditioning for Rainfall?” Lisanna asked. “You dance too?”

Laki continued, “That’s, like, the only reason I’m trying to make it in dance school! So I can get a pass to Rainfall! It’s the best contemporary company ’round here!”

“Guess what, she’s already got a spot in auditions.” Gray said smugly.

Both girls gaped, looking at their new friend. “HOW GOOD ARE YOU?”

Juvia ran a hand through her hair. She didn’t expect them to react like this. “J-Juvia got lucky…?”

“No, you didn’t.” Erza cut in, joining them. “Lucy showed me her old audition videos once. If that’s the level required to get in, they’re not fooling around. She’s got years of classic training too. You should be really good if they’re allowing you to audition.”

Juvia nodded slowly, somehow it was more amazing coming from Erza, who she was told can dance almost every style.

Natsu smirked. “Lucy’s gonna freak out when I tell her this.”

“So when’s your audition thing?” Max asked. Juvia hadn’t even noticed that the others had joined in.

“Two months from now.” she answered softly. “Juvia is still preparing a piece… Juvia practices at Gajeel-kun’s apartment rooftop sometimes…”

Gray looked at his friends, particularly at Erza, and she seemed to read his mind. The red-head nodded quietly.

“Hey, tell you what — if you don’t have a studio, you can practice here.” he told Juvia, who opened her mouth to protest. “It’s gonna get busier soon, since we got a contest to prepare for, but there are plenty of dance spaces in here.”

“That’s right!” Lisanna agreed brightly. “We’ve got this floor, the garage, it’s easy to clear the living room upstairs, there’s an empty room on the fifth, and the rooftop…”

Juvia shook her head. “Juvia can’t possibly— That’s too much!”

“It’s alright, really.” Erza reassured. “I’m sure Laxus won’t mind. I bet he won’t even notice.”

“Besides, we all started out the same here.” Gray followed, absent-mindedly picking a cookie from Juvia’s paperbag and taking a bite. ‘Self-taught, learnin’ from vids and TV until we can make up mean routines.’ — he paused. “Maybe if you get in, just bake us more of these cookies.”

Juvia blushed as the others scolded Gray, accusing him of eating a second cookie when they all promised to have only one each.

He almost choked as he snapped back at them. “I couldn’t help it, they’re the best freakin’ cookies I’ve ever tasted!”

Levy had pushed the couch, pillows and coffee table to one side of the living room. All she had was the tap board and her reflection on the TV set, as she came up with a tap routine.

When Wendy and Gajeel arrived on the floor, she turned towards them.

“Hey.” she smiled at the visitor. “It’s you! Gajeel-san!”

“Drop the ’-san’. Nice place you got here.” Gajeel nodded in acknowledgement, looking around. “Juvia’s downstairs. She brought cookies.”

“Oh! Really?”

“We’re saving some for the others.” Wendy said, then turned to Gajeel, pointing towards the bathroom. “There’s the bathroom, Gajeel-san.”

“Thanks.” was his low reply as he disappeared towards the bathroom.

Through the door, he heard Wendy asking Levy if she could use the woman’s laptop for some research on her homework. Levy agreed. There was the sound of footsteps fading again — perhaps Wendy going off to retrieve said laptop.

He decided to wash his face a bit, then grabbed some tissue to dry off. As he did this, he heard rhythmic tapping sounds. Levy must have continued her session.

Even though he had seen his fair share of tap dancing by some street performers and on TV, he had always been interested in the sounds that the dancers make. He can ignore most dance numbers, but he always stayed for the tap dancing — he just thought it was more awesome because the dancers made their own music. They danced to their own moves. Even though their trademark was the speed of their steps, each one was calculated because each one made a sound and sound is always critical to a dancer’s performance. Even a single misstep would be very obvious. For that, tap dancers always impressed him.

So he decided to stay there in the bathroom for a while, enjoying the sounds of rhythmic tapping created by the woman he knew was dancing outside. It was hard to picture that such a small and calm-looking person was making this kind of music. He expected her to have the same style as Juvia, at least. All grace, turns and light steps — but here she was, every step heavy, making a sound, counted.

He was a musician — he knew good rhythm when he heard it. The “little tapper girl” was really good. Gajeel was a guitarist and not a percussionist per se, but he could appreciate the variety in the beats that he was hearing.

Dammit, it looks like Juvia found a bunch of very talented folks.

He stood by for a while longer, listening to the frantic tapping sounds. It was more modern sounding, somehow — he heard some claps and snaps in some places. He also found a pattern to it.

Yes, he wasn’t a percussionist — but he recognized familiar beats and he knew how to play in accordance to those beats. This percussion solo that he was hearing? It’s a good match for a good song.

When he went out the bathroom, he saw Levy dancing away at her tapping board. She was only wearing a tank top, a pair of short shorts and her dark brown tap shoes, her hair a messy ponytail on top of her head, a headband pulling her bangs back — and she just. Wouldn’t. Stop. Moving.

It was amazing, really — how much energy does she have saved up in that tiny body? Hey, it actually was a really fit, surprisingly compact-muscled tiny body, and from his current position, he could appreciate the shapely curve of her hips—


Gajeel looked away, regretting his decision to watch. HE JUST WANTED TO LISTEN TO HER MAKING PERCUSSION SOUNDS, DAMMIT. He was there to appreciate the music!

He cleared his throat then, catching her attention. She stopped and turned towards him. He came up with a lame excuse on the spot. “Uh, you got some water?”

Of course they have water — it’s a house and they were all dancers and LOOK THAT’S THE FRIDGE RIGHT THERE!

Gajeel didn’t know what was up with him today.

“Of course! There’s the fridge. Wait, I’ll grab you a glass.”

Before he could tell her that he could get it himself, she already hopped off the board and strided towards him. How could someone walk that fast? He followed her and stood awkwardly by the dining table as she grabbed two glasses of water and then headed to the fridge.

“Oh look, there’s still some orange juice. You want some? Or just water?”

“Just water, thanks.”

How could someone still look like she has twice the energy after dancing for that long? He will never know. She still looked more alive than him.

She poured water for him and juice for herself. “So, you really just went with Juvia-chan here to deliver cookies?”

He shrugged, taking the glass of water. “It’s a day-off. She won’t go without me. Now she’s busy watchin’ the dance practice downstairs.”

“Erza made a mean routine.” Levy smiled to herself before drinking the juice, at the same time wiping the sweat off her brow with a towel.

“She did. It looked great.” he said, looking around. “So Juvia wasn’t kidding? You all live here?”

“Yup! It’s a lot more homey than the outside, right?”


“We thought of painting it, actually. The outside walls? We got two good graffiti artists here. But then we realized some kids might use it as a hangout. Or just spray over it. You know how they get. And we don’t want that.”

“Point.” he said in agreement.

They fell silent after that, simply drinking their beverage. Gajeel didn’t feel like going just yet — he thought Juvia should just bond with her new friends. Levy looked like she was taking a break too, so he didn’t feel like such a disturbance in her company.

“Your… tap dancing a while ago. ’Ya came up with the routine yourself?”

She nodded. “I’m still improving it.”

“You realize it sounds like that one Michael Jackson song?”

She blinked, brow furrowed in confusion. “Tap doesn’t… sound like anything.”

“No, but the percussion arrangement matches something. You guys dance with a song sometimes, right?”

She shrugged. “Sometimes.”

“You should check it out. I think you’ll nail it.” he commented.

“What song?” she asked as she walked away from him, towards the coffee table pushed to one side of the room. She picked up her phone and looked at him.

He looked back at her with a smug grin. “Blame It On the Boogie.”

She raised an eyebrow. “As in… umm…” then she half-sang a snippet of lyrics she remembered from the song’s chorus, “Don’t blame it on the sunshine… don’t blame it on the moonlight…?”

“That’s the one. Dunno how I came up with it. Not the biggest Jackson fan, but they were doing one of his downstairs too.” he shrugged. “Thought it matched your timing. I mean, while you were tapping I was listening and it matched the tempo and rhythm — of the chorus, I think — maybe it’ll sound good.”

On the short time he explained, she had already looked the song up and it started playing on loudspeaker softly.

(( My baby’s always dancin’, it wouldn’t be a bad thing.
But I don’t get no lovin’ and that’s no lie… ))

She listened, then looked at him, quite impressed. “You have good ears.”

“I sell music.” he deadpanned, then realized a minor mistake and shrugged. “Other people’s music, but the point stands.”

(( We spent the night in Frisco at every kinda disco
From that night I kissed our love goodbye… ))

“You’re in a band too, right?”

“Guitar. Worked with plenty stupid vocalists and drummers — sometimes you had to adapt to keep a song from crashin’. So I needed the good ears.”

To his surprise, she put her phone down on the table, then stepped right up into the tap board, waiting for a cue in the song. Then she started tapping again.

(( Don’t blame it on the sunshine, don’t blame it on the moonlight… ))

She wasn’t used to it, but she was taking it in stride and using her earlier steps, adjusting her tempo just a bit to match the music. “Hey, you’re right!” she said shortly, continuing to dance. She even managed to sneak in her snaps and claps.

(( Don’t blame it on the good times, blame it on the boogie! ))

He watched and listened, pleased with his song choice. He focused on her feet this time. He never really knew how they could move like that.

(( Don’t blame it on the sunshine, don’t blame it on the moonlight
Don’t blame it on the good times, blame it on the boogie! ))

After the chorus, when she ran out of choreo, her beats became more erratic — obviously improvising now — but still matching the beat well. She even inserted a nicely-placed turn in her impromptu routine. It’s good that they picked a familiar song.

But after another chorus, she stepped off her little stage and stopped the music. “That was a nice idea. You’re good at this!”

“Hey, I’m a guitarist. That means I’m accompaniment. I know how to match beats.”

“Mm-hm.” she nodded thoughtfully. “We don’t always dance to accompaniment, though. We’re not too big on classic instrumentals. It’s not too easy to find modern songs suitable for tap, either.”

“Your style’s real flexible. There’s a ton of songs that’ll fit right in.” he replied.

“Maybe.” she replied, considering the idea.

She liked this conversation. She thought that Gajeel would be a rough and tough guy, only being gentle to Juvia and passably polite to others… but he was actually quite a peaceful person from her encounter with him when she brought the sketchbook over. And now, he’s quite the talker when it came to music. Plus, he doesn’t hesitate to give out praise — most guys she knew outside the Guild were always too afraid to do that.

So Levy continued, “A problem, though. More often than not, we’d have to tone down the percussions in the arrangement. Doesn’t always work out when we edit…”

“Custom arrangements should work better with what you do.”


“That way the sound stays genuine and you get to control how much backup percussion you want, since you’re taking that part.”

She nodded again. “Exactly what I was thinking. But our DJ doesn’t really play instruments. And no one here knows how to make music digitally. Just mixing and mash ups and stuff.”

“Well, just sayin’. This city’s full of artists. Musicians, dancers, painters. Specially downtown.” he set his glass of water down and started to head towards the staircase again. “That’s how we end up there anyway.”

She pocketed her phone, following him. “What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean.” he shrugged. “You’re a dancer, and you love dancing. But that’s not your day job, isn’t it?”

Levy paused, watching him disappear downstairs. He was right. She knew what he meant.

Shaking the thoughts off distractedly, she followed him anyway.

When they got downstairs, Laki and Lisanna were already asking Juvia all sorts of questions about her audition, while Gray was trying to argue with Natsu and Erza about… cookies? Either way, the dancing has stopped and they were just hanging out together now.

Levy strided past Gajeel, heading towards her friends. “I was told that there were cookies!” she announced cheerfully.

“Levy-san!” Juvia happily greeted, offering the said treats to the other woman. “Thank you for bringing Juvia’s sketchbook back! It means a lot!”

“Aw, that’s no biggie!” Levy replied, taking a cookie before she turned to Erza. “Erza, how’s the routine?”

“It’s looking really good.” Erza answered. Levy stepped forward to talk more about their dance.

Gajeel sat beside Juvia again and the woman turned towards him. “Gajeel-kun, Gray-sama and the others said that if you need to record something… your demos and music, you can talk to Laxus-san.”

“Wha-… you told ’em about me?” Gajeel raised an eyebrow.

“We asked.” Max said. “Natsu thought you looked like a krumper.”

“Got the arms for ’em.” Natsu shrugged.

“I don’t dance.” Gajeel replied. “But yeah, I play.”

“Laxus has recording and DJ stuff up there. Mics and some mixers, plus his lab’s sound-proof. You get on his good side, he might let you use it.” Gray said. “S’long as you promise not to break anything there, anyway.”

Gajeel nodded. “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.”

He watched as Laki and Lisanna told Levy about Juvia’s upcoming audition and the woman’s jaw dropped in amazement as she joined their little crowd and gushed about it together.

On another corner, Erza had Natsu, Warren and Max with her, and they were probably all talking about their routine, with Warren and Max making some useful suggestions while Natsu turned to Erza and nodded in approval at some.

Meanwhile Gray was telling the other girls that they were probably scaring Juvia. “Don’t hover too much, guys.” he said warily. “You’re gonna scare her into not coming back.”

All three girls promptly stopped, backed away a bit and apologized to Juvia if they were being too nosy. Juvia smiled at them appreciatively, then started asking about Lisanna and Laki’s performing arts school, genuinely curious because there was nothing like it back in her hometown.

They answered cheerfully and politely.

Gajeel simply kept watch as this all happened. He looked at his best friend’s smiling face again and inwardly sighed in her relief. He came with her today because he was worried they wouldn’t be nice even though Juvia had sworn that they were. He should have believed her.

Because watching them now, he finally accepted that Juvia found truly good people, and he was glad he worried for nothing.

Chapter Notes:

Our family business is a Lights and Sounds system, you bet I know all of MJ’s hit songs by heart because I grew up in disco.

re: Rainfall Company — Aquarius has many creative investments, the dance troupe only one of those. They should all have water-related names. I just thought ‘Rainfall’ was a nice fit for the genre.

Dance/Musical Notes:
— The entire Smooth Criminal part was inspired by the ‘Smooth Criminal’ routine choreographed by THE B.I.P.S — look it up on YouTube and imagine the crew dancing it because it is seriously badass.
— I really don’t have any reference for the ‘Blame it On the Boogie’ part but I’m sure there are a number of tap routines to that song in the net.
— But for badass ladies tap dancing, go look up the Syncopated Ladies.

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