Dance wasn't really the word for it

It's funny how the entire course of your life can hinge on one decision. Take Masahiko, who wouldn't usually frequent a public house but had crumbled under pressure from his scene partner.

'Come along, Hiko!' cried Jameson, a papercut of a boy whose hair stood on end whenever it was combed. 'I know just the place!'

Masahiko learned a lot about pubs in the first few minutes of entering one. You should never place your elbows on the bar, they're sticky with an undefined liquid and risk ruining the sleeves of your favourite blue blouse. Secondly, it's far too loud to hold a decent conversation - with what appears to be an entire oompah band crammed in the far corner, hitting notes that shake the walls. Lastly, never, ever accept a drink from the bar - it tastes sour enough to peel wallpaper.

Having come to these conclusions, Masahiko was prepared to bow out gracefully and had just batted Jameson's shoulder in farewell when the band struck up a different, calmer tune. It sent many squirrelling away from the writhing crush of bodies marking the dancefloor, leaving just one. A boy close to Masahiko's own age, seemingly unaware the music's tempo had changed, or that he was the last dancer standing, because he continued to...

Masahiko cocked his head. Dance wasn't really the word for it. Flounder? Wriggle? Whatever the other boy was doing, Masahiko felt a grudging respect for him.

'Cor,' Jameson clapped Masahiko on the back, 'he looks ridiculous! What's he doing?'

Masahiko shrugged off his scene partner's arm. 'I rather think he's doing his own thing.'

'Well it rather hurts my eyes,' Jameson quipped, his hand returning to Masahiko's shoulders not to console but to push. 'Why don't you show him how it's done, eh?'

Masahiko was too well-trained a dancer to ever trip, so he went onto the dancefloor with just a little extra momentum than usual. The other boy paid him no heed, continuing to move in his own way, now with his arms raised over his head like a blossoming flower. Perhaps it was the simplicity of the motion, or the joy radiating from the other boy's face, but Masahiko found himself raising his own arms above his head, mirroring the boy's movements.

That got his attention. The boy's smile spread even wider, and he was quick to welcome Masahiko into his dance, splaying his fingers and waving them. Masahiko copied, a laugh bubbling from his mouth as he followed the other boy's lead. For the first time in a long time, Masahiko wasn't thinking about the impending steps, but of the joy of the movement - however ludicrous they were. And there, on that grimy pub dancefloor, he felt something like joy.

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