Chapter 5 of Time at the Studio!

Hello, my beautiful Maksyl fam! I hope you’re all having a beautiful day/night/whatever-it-is-where-you-live. This is the 5th chapter of T.a.t.S!

I would like to send a special thank you out to all of my amazing readers. Your encouragement and suggestions keep me writing, and I love every single one of you! As a special shout-out, I included a lot of your requests.

You’ll see what they are, I’m sure, as this chapter wears on.

In case you haven’t read the previous chapters of Time At The Studio, they are here, here, here, and here!

I sincerely hope you all enjoy this chapter! Let me know, fam.

Love you always!
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“This is such a stupid movie,” Val groaned.

The next thing he knew, he was being assaulted by flying pieces of popcorn.

“Shut up, Val; It’s a great movie,” Zendaya hissed, shooting him her famous death glare.

Meryl sighed wistfully.
“It really is an amazing movie. Why can’t I be Rose?”

“God, Jack’s so beautiful,” Zendaya chirped as Leonardo DiCaprio’s face filled the screen.

On the other side of Meryl, Maks chuckled.

“Ваш маленький план неприємні наслідки на вас, брат,” Maks whispered.

Your little plan really backfired on you, bro.

“припинити говорити,” Val frowned.

Stop talking.

“Guys, I swear to God, if we miss the best part because of your chit-chat session, I will end you both,” Zendaya warned, and Meryl laughed.

“Please be quiet for us, okay, boys?” Meryl added.

The brothers reluctantly agreed to the girls’ requests.

They were hating themselves for allowing the girls to pick the movie.

“Mepiл, you know how the story ends, right? Everyone di—”

“Maksim Chmerkovskiy, if you decide to say anything about this movie in a negative light, I will have to force you to leave. Also, I will tell Larisa.”

“Isn’t telling my Mama a bit childish?” Maks chuckled at the sentiment.

“Nope. What’s childish is you ruining the movie for my friend and I by talking through the ending! Now shush!” Meryl replied, swatting Maks’ shoulder.

Maks turned and made a face at Val, not daring to say anything else to upset the fanatic girl next to him.

Not long after, the girls were screaming for a different reason.

Zendaya and Meryl gaped in horror as the large ship collided with the iceberg.

“No!” They both shrieked at the same time.

“Why would anyone ever consider this a classic?” Meryl howled, clearly distressed.

Meryl’s mom popped her head in the room.

“Meryl, please keep it down, honey. Your brother’s trying to study upstairs.”

“But mom, this is not okay,” Meryl repeated, clasping Zendaya’s hand tightly in her own.

“Wait; are you watching Titanic?” Meryl’s mom questioned.

“Yes! Now please, mommy, shush!” Meryl screeched.

People began to fall overboard, plummeting to their deaths in the icy waters below them.

Val smirked. “Finally, this is getting interesting.”

“Val!” The girls scolded in unison.

Meryl’s mom quietly padded out of the room, smiling and shaking her head at the group of teens behind her.

+

Meryl’s head leaned against Maks’ shoulder, and his arm was wrapped around her waist.

She was crying heavily into the crook of his neck.

Meanwhile, across the room, Val was still apologizing to Zendaya for being sarcastic throughout the movie. Zendaya was purposely being difficult though; if Meryl knew Zendaya, and she did, ‘Z’ was definitely going to forgive Val by the end of the night.

Zendaya was a great flirt when she wanted to be.

“Why would anyone ever think to make such a terrible movie?” Meryl sniffled into Maks’ shoulder, ignoring the flirt-fest occurring on the opposite side of the room.

“Mepiл, it actually happened in history,” he spoke softly.

“Yeah, I know, but still…” She trailed off for a moment, but then continued, impassioned.

“I can’t believe those royal frickheads abandoned proper safety procedures to make the boat look nicer! I’d take something safe over something aesthetically-pleasing any day, thank you.” She huffed.

“I know, Mepiл, I know. Thankfully, boat designers have done a better job since the time when the Titanic sailed. Not-so-surprisingly, though, those regulations had changed as a result of the Titanic’s wreck.”

“It’s just a shame so many people had to die to prove that the ships were unsafe,” she sighed. Maks hummed in agreement.

“Okay, guys,” Meryl cleared her voice and turned her ‘announcer voice’ on, “next time we hang out, we are not watching ‘classic’ movies. We are watching a comedy, or we could just not watch a movie at all.”

The other three agreed quickly.

+

The rest of Meryl’s week passed by uneventfully, each one of June’s sweltering days morphing into an eternity. Meryl spent each eternity in her air-conditioned room texting and reading, or out taking another ice-dancing lesson with Charlie.

That week’s dance lesson rolled around again, and Meryl switched her usual dance attire from sticky leggings and a tee shirt to loose shorts and a tank top.

Before she left the house for dance, she hopped into her garage. She grappled around in the dark for the light switch; once the light clicked on, Meryl began to scan the area for the single thing she’d come for in the first place. On the far side of the garage, a full can of blue paint lay on one of the many shelves. Meryl crossed the room and stood on her tip-toes, grasping at the base of the can.

Curse her short stature. Curse it.

The can rocked back and forth on the shelf before falling off it completely.

Meryl caught the can just before it hit her dad’s tool-bench. (Meryl had never known why, exactly, her father had needed a tool-bench in the first place. It wasn’t like he actually did anything with it. He wasn’t a mechanic. He didn’t even do household repairs. It was probably just a dad thing, she’d always figured.)

The can of paint in hand, Meryl swept her dance bag up off the floor, shouted a ‘see you later’ to her parents, and began the short walk to dance class.

She arrived twenty minutes early, and the doors to the dance studio weren’t unlocked yet.

She slouched against the front of the building, exhaling slowly.

An unfamiliar voice sounded from next to her.

“What’s with the paint?” The question wasn’t said in an aggressive way; the asker was simply curious.

Meryl turned her head and looked at the source of the voice. Standing in front of her was a girl who looked to be about her age.

She had stunning, thick hair, which was braided back into a low ponytail. This new girl’s soft pink leotard contrasted—in an elegant way, Meryl thought—against her dark skin.

“Oh, it’s just for a project I have to do after class,” Meryl explained politely, offering the girl a friendly smile.

“Ah,” the nameless girl grinned knowingly. “You don’t have to tell me the real reason. I was just making conversation.”

Meryl was caught off-guard at thebnew girl’s intuitiveness.

“No, no! It’s not a bother or anything. I just have to do a bit of home renovation,” Meryl bluffed, smiling apologetically.

“Okay,” the girl smiled, still a bit dubious, but she dropped the subject anyway.

“I’m Daphne. It’s nice to meet you, Ms. Home Renovation,” Daphne gave her an easy smile.

Meryl introduced herself as well, returning Daphne’s friendly expression. “What class are you here for?”

“I’m here for ballet with Miss Lopez. She’s always late,” Daphne explained, giving a casual roll of her eyes.

“This is the first time the doors haven’t been open, though; do you think the studio’s closed for the day or something?” Meryl wondered aloud.

“No, I’m pretty sure they’re open today…Hey, Home Ren; don’t look now, but there are a couple of really hot boys behind you! They look like they’re walking towards the studio,” Daphne smirked.

Meryl looked behind her, curious, and let out a genuine laugh.

Val and Maks were walking her way.

“Those are just two of my friends,” Meryl explained. Daphne rose an inquisitive eyebrow in response.

“How do you stay ‘just friends’ with either of those boys? You must have some serious self-control, girl,” Daphne laughed.

Meryl cracked a genuine smile.

“Mepiл,” Maks called from down the block, and Daphne’s mouth dropped open.

“Wait, they’re foreign, too? Forget ballet; I need to sign up for whatever class you’re taking,” she joked.

“It’d be good to have another friend in the class,” Meryl admitted, half-kidding, hald-serious, and Daphne grinned at the statement.

Before she could respond, though, Meryl’s vision went black.

“Guess who?” An unnaturally-squeaky-sounding voice screeched in her ear.

“Huh…Val?” Meryl guessed, and immediately the pair of hands was removed from her eyes.

“Damn it, Mepiл,” Val laughed, greeting her with a swift hug.

“Hey, ‘Mepiл’ is my thing with her,” Maks called out, catching up to the group.

Upon reaching them, he thwacked Val on the back of the head.

Meryl cast a quick glance at Daphne, who was silently pointing between her and Maks and mouthing ‘you sure?’

'Sure of what?' Meryl mouthed back.

“Just friends?” Daphne questioned aloud, and Meryl turned a bright shade of red.

“Um,” she glanced towards Maks, who began chuckling.

“Yeah,” she answered slowly. Daphne didn’t seem too convinced.

“My Mepiл and I have a unique relationship,” Maks answered coyly.

“By the way, I’m Maks. This is my brother Val,” he was still chuckling at Meryl’s red face throughout his introduction.

“I’m Daphne,” she replied, “it’s really nice to meet you guys!”

Then, out of nowhere:

“Just out of curiosity, do either of you have any idea what she’s doing with this can of paint?”

Maks and Val glanced at the tub of paint on the floor, then at each other.

They both cast appreciative glances at Meryl, whose stare still remained fixated on the ground.

+

Eventually, the doors were opened. The teacher Meryl identified to be Miss Lopez had sprinted towards them after seeing the students standing under the studio’s canopy, swiftly unlocking the doors and allowing the students entry into their respective rooms.

Meryl had, of course, traded phone numbers with Daphne. They decided to make plans to get together soon.

This exchange (while making Maks happy because his friend was happy) still made him pout; after all, he didn’t have Meryl’s number and they’d spent more time together.

Meryl, ever-forgetful of that minor detail, laughed as she punched her number into his phone.

“I need a picture for Caller I.D.,” he informed, and so Meryl took about 50 different selfies on his phone before determining that only one out them all was usable.

She set the one as her picture.

“Really?” Maks mused, smirking at the abundance of pictures of Meryl now on his phone.

“Taking selfies is a skill that I haven’t mastered on the first try,” she answered.

Slowly, the room started to fill up with familiar faces.

Miss Sharna clasped her hands, smiling at the group.

“Welcome, class! Let’s get started!”

Class began.

+

Meryl blew strands of hair out of her face as she rolled the bright blue paint onto the house’s exterior. Redecoration was a definite process, as the trio had soon discovered.

Val had carted over a wagon of dance-related furnishings—such as a long ballet barre for the inner right wall of their hideaway—over from the Chmerkovskiy house. The three had stopped there briefly to gather supplies they’d kept stored in the garage.

(Of course, while they were there, Meryl engaged in conversation with the boys’ parents. This warranted yet another dinner invitation Meryl was happy to accept.)

It took a while for Val to figure out how to assemble the long ballet barre from the array of pieces and screws in the box it came in.

Meryl decided not to ask how he had gotten such supplies.

It was better to be clueless, she’d decided, than to be informed of a potentially-illegal situation involving the theft of dance-related furniture.

Along with the large barre, Val had carted along an iPhone dock for musical purposes.

Maks carried over two semi-large fans so that the cabin could be cool, even in the midst of summer’s heat.

Maks was in charge of dusting the cabin and clearing it of cobwebs.

Once he’d finished that task, however, he began to use a large tub of paint he’d brought along to coat the interior of the cabin. The fans helped blow the paint’s fumes outside of their cabin.

He used a large brush to slather bright yellow paint onto the walls, taking time to make sure not a spot of wood was left uncovered. He wanted this place to be perfect for them all.

Meryl borrowed a bit of fluorescent red from one of Maks’ paint tubs and wrote in large, capital letters ‘OUR STUDIO’ directly above the cabin’s front door. She pressed a yellow handprint on one side of the phrase, calling the boys out to do the same.

She breathed out a content sigh.

They were almost done creating their secret studio. She couldn’t wait until they could utilize it.

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