Watching Nina dance is like watching lightning crack across the sky, leaving Lily thunderstruck.
The girls here don't like Nina, whispered hushed comments about it was almost sick, just how much she can embody the white swan—a fragile dove, a girl-woman child, in the form of a dancer, a perpetual virgin, mixed in between the accusations of being both a prude and a slut, a stuck up bitch and getting the part only because she's sleeping with Thomas.
Lily doesn't see that. There's something tight, tense in Nina’s body. In her gut, in the rigid lines of her spine, in the precision of her arms and legs, as if she's holding something within herself. She's not a child in the body of a woman. She's a woman holding back a deluge.
Nina Sayers is a goddamn horror show—too much and not enough at the same time. She was going to crack someday, maybe soon, fall into a bunch of jagged, sharp edges.
Lily aches looking at her.
“You need to loosen up, Nina,” she says, after a practice. She touches the small of her back, and places another hand in her warm arm, skin sweaty and shiny. “You're so wound up. It's okay to be a little loose.”
I'm only saving you from yourself.
Nina’s head snaps towards her. She takes a heavy long breath as she gazes at Lily. It occurs to Lily that touching Nina like this is a little too much, too close to her skin, Nina’s arm hairs prickling against her fingertips. Lily feels it, deep in her own gut, a burst of heat that didn't come from dancing, that burns all the way down, like molten lava in her blood. Down in her belly, her pelvis, her cunt, where she ached and burned.
Nina is and has always been beautiful, since Lily walked in late that first day. Doe-eyed beauty, swan-like resplendor.
Something shifts under Nina’s skin, pushing against her touch. Something alive.
Lily freezes, her mouth dropping open in a silent gasp.
Nina’s eyes are deer in headlights wide, too wide, whites showing, not blinking. The veins in her throat stand out, whipcorded. She leaps away from Lily, like Lily was the one who did something frightening and not her, and run-walks away from her.
Lily can feel her stomach clench.
Knowing Nina had a wet dream about her does things do Lily. Strange, hot things, flooding her, even as she laughs and asks was I good? In this lezzie wet dream of yours?
Laughs, even though she shouldn't, because it upsets Nina, flusters her, brings a pretty pink blush to her already pink skin.
She should have known Nina was the type to like girls. She's from San Francisco and she should be able to recognize the kind of willfully repressed desire, trapped in a performance of girlhood, shimmering right under her skin.
(Girlhood, and something else.)
Can anyone else see it? Or is it just her?
That flutter under Nina’s skin. That hot, sticky, alive thing deep down. Thomas sees something —the black swan, the passion, attack it attack it over and over in a horrifying invasive mantra—but he thinks it's for him, he thinks he's nurtured it, and the thing men like Thomas don't understand is that Nina’s dance was never for him.
Lily watches her dance—all fine lines and movements, precise, perfect, white swan with her sorrow filled eyes and she wants to kiss her. Just shove her against the wall, the dance barre, the mat and kiss the perfection right out of her, kiss her godless until they're sharing breath.
Nina looks like she tastes like cotton candy—sugary sweet, tooth rotting and ephemeral, fluttery and soft on her tongue.
Lily wonders, idly washing down a water bottle, what her cunt would taste like. The girls call her frigid, but she was so warm and touchy and giggly on E. She has to be as warm and slick as any other between the legs. As heated. To taste like sweat and blood, rather than roses.
In her head, Lily remembers the odd way Nina’s skin rippled against her touch. Lily, half convinced she'd imagined it, and half daydreaming of tearing her apart and getting deep down inside her until she finds what she's looking for.
On stage, Nina changes.
Her bones twist under her skin, pushing up as if they're about to burst through, before rearranging themselves, joints and skin stretching and pulling. Her hair turns darker, impossibly so, brown giving way to dark, thick black, midnight in color. Lily thinks she can hear the sound of crunch and pop, sickening crack of bone, bending and twisting in ways that humans aren't supposed to bend. That has to hurt, but Nina is a woman possessed and keeps dancing, spinning like a demon.
She twists around in the air and blood drips on the floor, splattering from an outstretched feathered arm
Her skin ripples, pebbling as fur—no, feathers —slide out of her skin, not growing, but taking their place as if they've always been there.
Nina leaves a trail of blood all cross the stage. Her ballet shoes are red, soaked.
It is a majestic dance. Lily watches from backstage, a different angle than everyone else—almost as if she's intruder, behind the scenes.
Lily knows she couldn't have done it better. She doesn't have wings beneath her skin.
There's a curl of fear in Lily’s belly the longer she watches, her hair standing on end, cringing at all the blood on stages. It's mixed in with the squirm of arousal in her guts, her cunt slick in her tights. Like it's the same feeling, a feedback loop of revulsion and awe and desire.
Nina dances, wings furling out, agonizing and ecstatic, and Lily loses her breath.
Lose yourself, Thomas said, but as Nina takes her bow—eyes are red and alight, mouth agape, blissed out, blood everywhere—and she's Odette and Odile. Both, one and the same. Found herself.
After, still in her understudy costume, Lily finds Nina alone in the dressing room—normal, taking her makeup off, features softened, gentler, like a girl and not a sharp eyed swan dancing. She kisses her just like she's always wanted to—hard on the lips and fingers tangled in her hair, pulling Nina forward towards her.
She expects Nina to shove her away, and for a moment, she only gasps into her mouth, refusing to be moved, before biting down on Lily's lip, hard, just once. Lily almost stops, but Nina opens her mouth then, lips parted open like a welcome, tongue wet and curious against her.
Nina tastes like blood, sharp and coppery. It's intoxicating. It's terrifying. She should have done this before.
Lily pulls back, giggling, a little lost with it, letting herself spiral around. Nina still looks human, and she's so sure she knows what she saw on stage, that she didn't imagine it.
“Where are your wings?” she asks, running a hand across the expanse of her back, her sharp shoulder blades, savoring the way Nina shakes under her touch.
Slowly, Lily sinks to her knees in front of her, and pushes her knees open. Nina doesn't seem to notice, letting her legs part. Nina just mouths wings at her, feigning ignorance.
“I know what I saw,” Lily says. Her intricate costume is down to basics, just a leotard; she's have to pull it all off to get to her cunt. Expose her completely.
Lily presses her face against her crotch, mouthing at her through the thin fabric. Nina lets out a soft moan that sounds like victory.
“You turned into a swan,” Lily says. “We all saw.”
“I'm not a swan,” she protests, shivering, shuddering. “You're imagining things.” She sinks back into the makeup chair, but keeps her legs spread for Lily. With her white swan Odette costume on, she looks obscene.
Lily rises up, palms down on Nina’s thighs, until she meets her eyes. Nina’s scalera has gone a dark red. “I'm sure people think those are contacts,” Lily says, smirking.
Nina doesn't say anything. Just pants heavily, breathing hard against her. Lily reaches around to take off her leotard, peeling back from her skin, sticky with sweat. She wants for Nina to stop her, but she doesn't, letting Lily pull and slide the garment off her, until she was totally bare. She has small, pretty ballet dancer tits, a lot like hers, but paler—they all had a similar body types, really—and was almost too skinny, from the way she could see her ribs, but Lily was drawn to the gorgeous expanse of her back in the mirror behind them. Two dark rashes appeared on her shoulder blades, like a tattoo, pushing from beneath her skin.
“Is that?” Lily asks, and touches her again. The skin feels raw and rough and red and Lily is sure she must have seen Nina’s back before, but she's never seen this. “Is it always like this?”
Nina shakes, arches her back and Lily can feel it, dark coarse hair push against her finger tips. “No,” she says. “This is new.”
Lily pulls away. She sinks back down to her knees, to Nina’s exposed cunt. She smells like a woman, even turning into a swan, briny and dizzying.
She hears that sound again—bones cracking, joints fusing.
“Does it hurt?” Lily asks, watching wings sprout from behind her back with a kind of awed horror; they're not like angel wings in pictures and movies—the feathers are black and take up the whole of her arms and back and shoulders, fusing together, becoming one, a wingspan.
“Yes,” Nina says, moaning in pain. She kicks her legs out and Lily can see her toes have webbed together. Like a bird.
It's a dumb question. Of course it hurts.
“It hurts,” Nina gasps, staring down at her with dark blood red eyes. She grasps Lily’s shoulder; her nails are sharp like talons, but they don't dig in, don't break skin, just hold on to her— precise control . “But it feels good too.”
Lily grins, Nina’s smile infectious and leans in to lick a long strip against her slick folds. She lives for Nina’s reaction, her low throaty sounds.
“I dreamed this,” Nina gasps. Her skin is shuddering again, along her bare thighs, her arms, her back. It shivers and twitches, then ripples as Lily slowly feels up her slick insides—her cunt wasn't bird-like, open to her, wet and swollen—gently teasing her tongue over her clit, pressing in with one finger, just to feel, experiment.
“Have you been wet this whole time?” Lily asks against her skin. She takes another sharp inhale of her scent until Lily can taste in her the back of her throat, then drags her tongue against Nina’s folds before she can answer.
Nina cries out, but her voice sounds different, sharper and overlaid when something else. Her arms, her wings, open wide until they all engulf Lily, surrounded by Nina’s cunt and her heady taste, and her thick, black feathers and talons.
“You're amazing,” Lily moans, and slides a finger inside—so wet and slick she goes in easy as Nina throbs and pulses around her. “A fucking force of nature.”
“ I want to be you ,” Nina half laughs and half moans with a ragged, layered voice. Lily laps at Nina’s clit, and sucks slightly on the small nub of nerves and that's it—Nina snaps and unfurls her wings wide, stretched all the way instead of trapping Lily against her. Her nails on her exposed back dig in into her skin, drawing blood. Lily feels her cunt pulse and squeeze around her fingers. She's never felt anyone be quite so responsive.
“Me?” she asks, pulling away, fluid dripping down her chin, but she doesn't want to clean up yet.
Nina doesn't change back either—her eyes dark and red and deep. “I've always wanted to be you,” she says.
Lily laughs, love drunk, high on Nina, delighted to finally have torn into each other.
“You shouldn't. We all want to be you.”
Lily wakes up the next day, a throbbing red rash where Nina dug in too hard with her nails. Lily sees white little hairs sprout from her arms, the skin of her back rippling in the bathroom mirror, and smiles.