Hey Maksyl fam! This is my AU fic where… Well, read on to find out!
I will be introducing Preteen!Charlie the next chapter.
I really really hope you all like this one!
Sending you all my love forever and always!
UPDATE: Chapter two can be found here ! Thank you so much for all the amazing feedback. You all are the best! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Meryl had started dancing when she was just three years old.
She’d done various styles of dance through the years of her young life, ranging from hip-hop to ballet to jazz.
Meryl was always taught at the same studio, but every time she’d report to a different room for a new class, she took her time to observe the room. She looked for visual clues as to how far or close things were to her. Looking in the rooms helped with her depth perception problems; she took the time to study what was in front of her so she wouldn’t embarrass herself later in front of her classes.
Meryl hadn’t told anyone about her depth perception problems, save for her kind and understanding dance teachers (and of course, her parents and doctors).
Every time she had a new teacher, they had to be alerted so that they could make the environment ‘safer’ for her. They kept throwing around huge words that she grew to understand as she grew older; monocular cues, motion parallax, binocular clues, etc., and the list went on until it was a laundry list of issues dealing with her eyesight.
She hated feeling as fragile as a butterfly’s wings. She hated feeling like a little kid; “making the environment safe for her” made her feel insignificant.
Meryl just hated feeling weak in general, and she couldn’t stand how some people who knew about her condition treated her.
She made herself strong.
Personality-wise, at least.
No person had ever seen Meryl Davis cry. (Maybe her parents had, but they didn’t quite count on the list because they were her parents.)
No one had ever seen Meryl Davis without an upbeat smile on her face, or without a cheery disposition.
No one had ever seen Meryl Davis fragile and hurting and alone, because she locked that Meryl away for a time where people wouldn’t be watching her.
The first time she noticed him was the second time they were in that particular dance class.
He, apparently, hadn’t shown up for class last time.
(Neither had she, though; she had to get her annual physical for school.)
All the girls her age stared in amazement at the young boy tying his jazz shoes in the corner of the room.
He couldn’t be much older than them; 15, at absolute most.
But a boy taking a dance class? It was almost unheard of in Meryl’s town. It brought a lot of teasing the boy’s way a few weeks ago, Meryl heard from the gossiping group next to her, but somehow the boy managed to be tough enough to deter his bullies completely.
She wondered how he felt to be the object of speculation everywhere. Surely, he knew that everyone in town was probably discussing him. She wondered if he felt lonely.
She wanted to go say something to the quiet boy, but then another, younger boy entered the room and plopped right down next to the first one.
The girls’ whispers intensified.
They look similar, Meryl noted.
This new, younger boy seemed friendlier than the first.
Just as the thought entered her head, the younger boy caught Meryl staring at him and his quiet companion. He shot her a quick grin.
She smiled back, albeit feeling incredibly awkward about being caught staring.
This new, seemingly-social boy (who Meryl decided she was going to call Smiley) elbowed the quiet one next to him.
Meryl was within earshot to just make out what they were saying to each other.
“Hey, bro,” Smiley said, and once he got the attention of his ‘bro’, pointed his finger directly at Meryl.
She turned her face away immediately, mortified at the fact that Smiley couldn’t keep the whole staring ordeal to himself.
She saw her friends chatting a few feet away and made a break for it.
Anything to get her out of that potentially uncomfortable situation.
“Hey! Zendaya! Jenna! Allie! What’s up, guys?”
The girls were, predictably, talking about the two new arrivals.
Zendaya thought Smiley was “really cute.” Jenna agreed immediately.
Allie wasn’t too impressed with either of the boys.
Meryl just nodded and went along with the conversation, her mind continually drifting back to the quieter boy who she may or may not have begun to feel an attraction towards.
Before long, their dance teacher walked into the room.
Her attitude was bubbly, as it always was, and her loud voice lilted with a sweet Australian accent.
“Good morning, everyone,” she greeted, and the students responded in kind.
“Good morning, Miss Sharna.”
“We have two new students today,” Miss Sharna turned her head, kindly indicating the two boys to the class full of girls as if they hadn’t already noticed.
“Boys, would you like to introduce yourselves? Maybe you could also share a fact or two about yourselves, after you’ve said your names?”
There was no demand hidden in the question, and it was said with a smile.
This was simply a standard ‘teacher’ test of hers to see what these new arrivals were like—to see what they’d add to the class besides testosterone.
Smiley stood up first. Meryl had a feeling he would be the first one up; it seemed like he was all for socializing with the class, which, of course, Meryl agreed with.
“Hi, I’m Valentin,” he began, and Meryl realized with a dull sense of disappointment that she’d now have to call him by his real name. No more Smiley.
“I like the name ‘Val’ better, though, so you all can call me ‘Val’ if you want! This boy here is my brother, but I’ll let him introduce himself. It’s really nice to meet you all!”
He ended the introduction with an award-winning smile.
Meryl was surprised the rest of the girls hadn’t fainted.
They were all definitely enamored with him.
A chorus of “It’s nice to meet you too, Val,”-s echoed through the room, only causing his grin to grow wider.
He tugged Quiet Brother’s elbow so he was standing, while Smiley (okay, fine, Meryl would start to call him Val,) took a seat.
With a breath, Quiet-And-Vaguely-Intimidating Boy began his introduction.
“Hi, everybody; I’m Maks. Val and I are from Ukraine. We just moved here a few months ago, but we can speak English pretty well. It’s, um, nice to meet you all,” the boy spoke quietly, seemingly shy in front of the company he was keeping.
He got silence in return.
No ‘welcome’-s, or anything of that nature.
Are all my friends suddenly shy because he’s older or something?
The boy—Maks—looked a bit downtrodden, but it was like he had been expecting the class’ reaction. His eyes lowered downward, and he was about to sit back down when Meryl decided she’d had enough.
Maybe his introduction hadn’t been as friendly as Val’s had been, but that doesn’t give my friends the right to freeze this boy out just because he seems a bit intimidating.
Meryl couldn’t take the silence.
“It’s nice to meet you, Maks,” she chirped politely, ignoring the looks of surprise from the other girls.
Maks’ head whipped up at the sound of her voice. The beginnings of a genuine smile began to develop on his face.
Wait, what’s that feeling in the pit of my stomach?
I’m probably just hungry or something. I haven’t eaten in, like, two hours.
Yeah, Meryl, that’s it.
“Yeah, it’s nice to meet you too,” he spoke gently, maintaining eye contact.
She willed herself not to blush at the warm tone in his voice, nor at the way his eyes remained on hers.
The other girls blushed enough for her, charmed at his reaction to Meryl’s kindness, and suddenly all the girls spoke up at once.
They began saying their warmest “Welcome, Maks”-s in the hopes of getting a response like he had just given her.
She understood why they had.
What could she say?
All the boys at the girls’ school were jerks, and suddenly, on the weekend, two attractive boys with accents show up at a dance class they all took for fun.
Of course the girls would be eager to flirt with them.
Maks, however, just gave the girls a noncommittal “thank you, everyone.”
His eyes never left Meryl.
Unlike his brothers’, Val’s eyes darted swiftly between Meryl and Maks.
Yet another smile began growing on his face as he watched the interaction between the pair.
Meryl couldn’t figure out why.
Yeah, Val, you’re definitely Smiley to me.
Miss Sharna spoke up, and the class turned to give her their attention.
“Alright, ladies and gents. Let’s get jazzy,” she clapped her hands together as she finished the statement.
Today’s routine was interesting, Meryl reflected on her walk home from dance class that evening. Miss Sharna had the boys doing different choreography whenever the girls had to do pirouettes or chest-popping.
It all looked good together, of course—Miss Sharna was a genius at choreography—but Meryl was a little bit off her game that day. She was more focused on the new arrivals than on the routine.
Are they comfortable? Are they okay with the routine so far? What if they’re too shy to admit they have a problem with the routine? What if they don’t know how to do a certain step? Do they know how to walk home from here? Is it even possible for them to walk home from here? I don’t want them to get lost. Should I offer to walk them home, maybe?
The thoughts plagued her until she reached the front door of the studio.
Staring out the glass, she saw the retreating figures of Maks and Val walking down the same street she had to walk down.
They were maybe a block ahead of her. At most.
Should I yell for them to wait up? Probably not. They don’t know me. They might not want to walk with me anyway.
She began walking, occupying herself instead with the way the bright autumn leaves sprinkled on the sidewalk.
She loved the way they crunched beneath her feet with every step she took.
She swung her dance bag back and forth in her hand, humming a made-up tune to herself.
It wasn’t long before a loud voice broke her from her nature-induced reverie.
“Hey, Ponytail,” a voice had called from up ahead of her, and she blinked, confused.
Sure enough, Val had waved her over to them. He and Maks were waiting at a street corner for her.
“Hey Maks! Hey, Smiley,” she greeted, eliciting a full-blown chuckle from Maks and a huff of mock-hurt from Val.
Well, he had called her Ponytail. It was fair.
“Really? Smiley? I never thought I’d endure name-calling on the first day of dance class. Damn, America is rough.” Val dramatically clasped his hand over his heart.
“You started it. And hey, it’s true! Are you ever not in a good mood?” Meryl joked.
“She’s got a point, bro. You’re smiling 24 freaking 7,” Maks joined in, and Val swatted his brother’s arm.
Meryl almost wished she hadn’t seen the wink Maks shot her after his agreement.
It made her turn 50 Shades of Bright Red and look away quickly.
But it also did strange things to her heart.
Luckily, Val was too into his little soliloquy to notice the flirty exchange.
“My own flesh and blood turned against me! How will my twelve-year-old heart go on after this betrayal?”
Maks snorted. “I think you’ll live.”
“Wait, you’re twelve?” Meryl couldn’t hold back her disbelief.
“Yeah,” he dropped the antics for a minute, explaining, “I am! Maks is fourteen, though, and he thinks he’s better than I am because he’s one and a half years older.”
“Val,” Maks gave a martyred sigh, “you are not twelve ‘and a half.’ There’s no such thing as being half a year old. You’re twelve.”
Val’s eyes implored Meryl for support, but she just had to laugh.
“Sorry, Val, I’m with Maks on this one. I’m thirteen, not thirteen and a half.”
“I should’ve known better than to turn to one of you Americans,” Val pretend-scoffed, clearly joking with her, “always so cold-hearted.”
“I should have known better than to talk with you Ukrainians,” Meryl laughed, “always so difficult to understand.”
Maks got a mischievous glint in his eye.
“Вона щойно сказала, що ми важко зрозуміти?” Maks spoke in rapid-fire Ukrainian.
Did she just say we’re hard to understand?
“Я можу зрозуміти, нам дуже добре!” Val retorted, just as swiftly.
I can understand us just fine!
Meryl was way out of her realm of knowledge here.
“Ця дівчина, здається дійсно здорово, Макс. Вона мені подобається.” Val continued.
This one seems really cool, Maks. I like her.
“Я повністю згоден, Вел. Це не тільки Меріл смішно, але Меріл красиво, занадто! Вона також знає, як мати справу з вами, чого мені ще потрібно вчитися. Любиш нас, Меріл?”
I agree, Val. Not only is Meryl funny, but she’s also beautiful! And she knows how to put up with you, which is something even I need to learn how to do. Do you like us, Meryl?
She realized the question was directed at her when she heard what sounded like the Ukrainian equivalent of her name.
She decided liked it when Maks said her name like that. Actually, she decided she liked it when he (and Val) spoke Ukrainian in general. It had a nice feel to it.
But the boys were expecting a reply. She knew they were doing it to push her buttons, because she couldn’t speak their native language, but she wished she could stun them with some random Ukrainian language skills.
Where was Rosetta Stone when you needed it?
She tried her best to repeat the question in an affirmative tone.
It made the boys laugh even harder.
Oh, no, what had she said?
“Meryl,” Maks was calming down from his laughter. “We asked if you liked hanging out with us.”
“What did I say back?”
“I—it didn’t make sense,” Val interrupted, still laughing.
“You just sound adorable when you’re trying,” Maks explained further, making Meryl blush again.
Eventually, the trio had reached Meryl’s block, and Meryl said her goodbyes to the boys.
She hugged each boy (and maybe she latched on a bit tighter to Maks) and made them promise them to teach her some Ukrainian. Once they agreed, she said she’d see them soon.
Especially, she’d teased, because the Chmerkovskiy boys lived a block away from her.
They agreed immediately.
Walking into her house, she yelled up a greeting to her parents. She was still grinning.
These boys made her feel important.
She couldn’t wait until she’d see them next.