The Dancer

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Chapter 9

“Are you comfortable?” Advik’s question made me snap out of my thoughts. I looked over at him before nodding. He was trying to set up his computer’s monitor in a way that would let us watch Netflix from his bed. Yes, I was at the movie night I had agreed to. Like most rooms owned by music students, Advik’s room was soundproof and had hardboard wood as a flooring.

His room wasn’t stuffed with cluttering. It kind of reminded me of my roommate’s corner of the room. Free floors with minimal furniture.

“Yeah,” I mumbled, hugging myself as I looked on at me. Advik smiled, returning his attention to the computer in front of him. When he was done setting up he walked over to the bed, sitting beside me. The mattress sunk with his weight, and I could feel my heartbeat pick up from his closeness. I hugged myself with a tighter grip, scared that I would do something stupid if my hands were free. I didn’t even know when Advik selected a movie for us to watch, all I knew was that one was playing on the computer screen now. Advik moved from sitting to laying on the bed beside me, I looked down at him when I felt a blanket cover my feet.

“It’s cold,” he said, rolling over so that he was lying on his back. “I covered your feet because it’s cold, isn’t it?”

I didn’t know what to say to that, so I just looked away from him and tried to concentrate on the movie. He didn’t seem interested in watching it since he was staring at the wall above. I felt uneasy, and I was starting to regret coming to stay up in his room with just him. His floor mates had gone out for a party, so not only were we alone in his room, we were alone on his whole floor. We were both in PJs since it was around eight in the evening on a weekend night.

“Did I do something wrong?” he asked, and my eyes went wide before I looked down at his face again. His dark eyes were staring at me with concern, and his lips were drawn into a thin line as he studied my face. “Are you uncomfortable?”

Yes. I said in my head, but I shook my head in a no motion, clinging to the green duvet he had put on my legs. “I... I’m just nervous,” I admitted.

“Yeah, I get that. I don’t expect you to be all over me in two minutes considering what I put you through,” he said, and his voice had gone a lot quieter with each word. The room fell into an uncomfortable silence. I clawed at the skin in my hands with my fingers, hoping that the awkwardness would pass.

I almost jumped out of the bed when I felt Advik press up against me. He had rolled to his side until his body was touching mine. While I was a mess of nerves, Advik just kept looking at me.

“I miss when we would just hang out, you know, go to the gym, grab some food and just laugh around?” Advik said, and I bit down on my bottom lip. I knew what he meant. I missed it a lot, I really did. “You didn’t like going for parties,” he chuckled, picking off lint from my pants. “I always wanted to be around you, so I used to ditch parties to spend time with you. I didn’t know what I was feeling then,” he muttered, looking up at me. I swallowed down, trying to stay as still as possible. I didn’t know what would happen if I spoke. I was afraid I might break down and start sobbing.

Advik seemed to notice so he stopped talking. The sound of the movie playing on the Computer screen was the only sound to fill the room. Advik’s hand was still on my thigh, but he wasn’t picking lint anymore.

“That night...” he trailed, taking his hand away. “You kind of shocked and scared me at the same time. I’m sorry,” he muttered, looking up at me. I didn’t say anything and just looked away. My throat felt clogged, and my eyes were getting prickly with tears. I wasn’t going to break down in front of him, I had already promised myself that. I pulled the pillow that was behind me and used it to cover my face in a way that Advik couldn’t look me in the eye from his laying position.

“I tried not to think about it too much my hanging around with other people. I even started dating. I never used to date,” he mumbled. I didn’t say anything, and the room stayed silent after his words.

“Is Grace still bothering you?” he asked, breaking the silence. I looked over at him, shrugging in uncertainty.

“I don’t know what she’s up to, but I guess I’ll have to wait to find out,” I muttered, and the room went silent again.

“I could help get her off your back.” Advik’s words made me raise a brow in confusion. How? I wanted to ask, knowing how manipulating and cunning Grace could be. Sure, Advik was popular and he had a lot of people that would heed to what he said just because he said it, but if Grace wanted to mess with him she could do that. She’d already built a good reputation, and she was already popular and well known. Advik was the only other person apart from me that knew she was two face, and that was because she had tried to manipulate his thoughts about me and feed him lies, but it didn’t work out.

“You don’t have to go through this by yourself, you know,” he said, and I looked away feeling a bit bad for some reason. I wasn’t going through it by myself. I talked to George a lot, and I had Greg.

George.

The thought of him had me confused.

I shook my head, trying to remind myself that I was with Advik now. Advik. I was trying to fix my relationship with Advik — yes. Thoughts about George could wait.

I didn’t say anything in reply to Advik’s words, so he just looked away from me and faced the Computer’s monitor. I did the same soon after, and be both concentrated on the movie after that, not saying much. The tension from before seemed to have left, and soon Advik was talking to me, and I was talking to him — about mundane things, that is — we both danced around personal topics, wanting to bring them up but worrying about making things a lot more awkward than they already were. If we were going to be friends — maybe even more than friends, later on, we had to skit into it slowly.

“Ollie?”

“What?” I asked, looking down at Advik. He shrugged, smiling a bit before bending his head back so that he could look at the computer screen properly.

I chuckled a bit at the sight. “You’ll break your neck,” I said, and he just kept smiling.

“I like this,” he said, and I rose a brow, not sure what he meant.

“I mean hanging out with you. I like it,” he clarified, sitting up on the bed so that his face was on the same level as mine. “I really miss being around you,” he continued, looking away from me and down to his hands. My face felt warm, and it was probably a beat red color now. More than two hours hand passed. The movie was long, but now we had less than an hour left together.

I felt the space beside me sink a bit, I bit my bottom lip, fully aware that Advik was shuffling closer. I brought my legs to the bed, hugging them as I tried my best not to think too much about him at the moment. I lost my cool and shifted to the other end of the bed when I felt his hand brush against mine. Even though there wasn’t much space for me to sit comfortably. I didn’t just want him to be too close. When I did that Advik moved away, staying by himself. He didn’t attempt to get any closer after that, and I felt like I might have offended him somehow.

What’s wrong with me? I wondered. I didn’t understand why I was so out of touch and panicky, Advik was just trying to improve our relationship again. I should get out of my head.

When the movie was over I got up a little too fast, and it seemed Advik noticed because he threw me a concerned look when I started to fold up his blanket.

“You don’t have to leave now,” he said, as I tossed the folded duvet on the bed and slipped my feet back into their slippers. “We could watch another movie, maybe even play a video game,” he said as I started making my way for his room door. I paused, turning to face him when I realized how my scampering away might look to him.

“I have a morning class tomorrow,” I lied through my teeth. Advik frowned, before sighing. He knew I was lying, and he just shrugged before stuffing his hands into the pockets of his Nike joggers.

“Can I at least walk you to your room—”

“No,” I said so quickly that I was also shocked at myself. Advik opened his mouth to say something, but he closed it before sighing and rubbing the back of his neck.

“I—” I started, not knowing what to say.

“Okay, I understand,” he muttered, licking his lips and looking down at his feet. “Can I at least show you out of my room?” he asked, and I nodded, feeling a bit bad about how I was reacting. I had said yes when he asked me to come over, and now here I was acting like I was being forced to be here.

He walked me to the door, and I turned to face him immediately as I stepped out.

“I’m sorry,” I said, watching as he smiled a bit. There was nothing happy about it. It was a frustrated smile, and it made me feel terrible.

“What are you sorry for? There’s nothing to be sorry about,” he said. He said that, but I could still see the confusion and frustration in his eyes. I looked down at the hallway carpet and then back up at him again.

“I’m sorry for everything,” I said, still hugging myself. I knew it was a rhetorical question, but I felt a need to reply. “I’m sorry if I’m acting weird,” I added, smiling a bit as I watched his smile fall and the expression behind the fake one come through.

“It’s not your fault. I’m stupid for thinking things would be easy,” he mumbled, and I just stared at him before reaching out to hold his hand. We both looked down at our conjoined hands until, of course, I freaked out and let go. I was about to start apologizing again, but Advik was smiling. He leaned against the doorpost before folding his hands over his chest.

“You should get going,” he muttered, and I looked away from him and turned my gaze to the end of the hall.

“Yeah, I should be going,” I mumbled in reply before turning back to face him. Biting my bottom lip and thinking about it for a bit I moved forward and stood as high as I could. I kissed his cheek, pulling away to stare at his shocked face.

“Okay, I’m leaving,” I said, turning and leaving in a fast walk. My heart was beating fast, and my face was burning.

What am I doing? I wondered, sighing as I got into the elevator and pressing the button for my floor. Just what in the world do I think I’m doing?

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