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Oct 18, 2019 8:10 AM
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"I'm glad someone is."

He's so cute. And he pays attention, and then follows through. Not that nobody knows him as himself, but...

"...I like this one. In the red."

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He is fully capable of ignoring the first sentence, focusing on the second, and talking about the fabrics and detail work that didn't make it into the sketch for that one in the red! 

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Gabriel Taylor is, apparently, attentive and thoughtful when people are talking about fashion!

His posture changes, a little, as they talk, but he's still nodding along and giving opinions and offering qualified suggestions, deferring to Sasha's expertise.

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He notices the posture change and —there's something about the syntax, something about the word choice, he can't put his finger on it but it's definitely there— adjusts his own word choice and tone of voice accordingly. (He's enthusiastic about his field, and he's keeping it professional but the enthusiasm comes through anyway.)

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"...I'd like to keep some of the silver," he says, eventually. "And the powder blue. If you don't think it's...unflattering."

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"It's not unflattering, but it's......better suited to the way you are now than to the way you are onstage," he says, very carefully. 

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"...you're not wrong about that."

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That sure is a miserable person right there. 

"I can keep it." 

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"If it makes the performance worse it doesn't help anyone."

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"If it would make the performance worse, it'll never leave the sketchbook. I'll keep the silver." He'd been pleased with the first thing Sasha designed and that was silver, it can't be impossible — it's easier than keeping the blue, even, silver lends itself better to sparkle — he'll make it work. 

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“...thank you.”

He doesn’t smile, it seems — uncomfortable for him, somehow, to say it, but it’s deeply sincere.

 

“The new direction is...good. As long as that’s not all there is.”

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He nods and twirls a pencil around his fingers. "Alright. I'll get back to you?" 

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He nods, says his goodbyes and departs for more dance.

 

He has a furious argument with himself in the hallway. What else is new.

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The sketches go...slowly. 

At first he tries to split the difference, put silver and ice-blue with flowy, open lines and sheer fabric and put pomegranate red and sunshine-gold and orchid purple with structure, but that just gets him a half dozen thumbnails that don't look like they fit either of the ways that Gabriel can be. Then he tries playing up the distinction, which leaves him with caricatures. Maybe if he leans into the ice theme? —but no, everything he tries to draw on that theme looks like a genderbent Elsa from Frozen, which is a fine thing to design but it's not Gabriel. 

Okay. New plan. How does one go about watching Gabriel run through choreography? 

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One talks to the assistant in charge of his schedule, who talks to his choreographers and his trainer, who relay back the information about where he's practicing today and stress to ask before staying and watching because he sometimes has a very intense preference about practicing unobserved by anyone not directly involved in the process. He should be running through a few routines now, or they can set it up as an appointment.

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How about he doesn't interrupt Gabriel while he's working and instead sets up an appointment. 

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He's penciled in to watch him practice the next day.

On the next day, about an hour beforehand, he's informed that unfortunately it's not going to be possible that day, and he's given a new time for the next day and urged not to arrive early.

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....yeah, it's Gabriel, he's not surprised, but this is a bottleneck on his job so he is kind of annoyed about it. Not enough to mention or indeed to show, though; showing it to Gabriel would be deeply unproductive and it's not the assistant's fault.

He shows up in the correct hallway two minutes early and doesn't open the door until exactly the time he was told. 

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Gabriel is already warmed up and moving.

Right now, when he dances, he's precise. On stage, he gives the impression of high drama, movements that are perfect because he just happened to fling his arms out in exactly the right way or take the right pivoting step – right now he's clearly controlled. Every so often he makes a mistake, sometimes obvious and sometimes invisible to anyone but him, and he stops the whole thing cold, gets the music turned off or rewound, drills the same movement over and over until it's perfect.

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It's fascinating to watch and study the differences, watch how the control he sees all the time translates into Gabriel's movements. (He wonders absently if he'll practice it the dramatic way too once he's gotten the motions perfect.) 

It's also beautiful, beautiful in a completely different way from how his performances are beautiful — if he had to pick a metaphor he'd say it was the difference between a sunrise and the Fibonacci sequence; there's a reason he's not a writer. 

He watches. He takes notes. He tries a few thumbnails with the poses he sees in front of him, but Gabriel will wear this when he's performing, not when he's practicing, knowing how tightly controlled his posture is right now does help but not that directly. He watches closer. 

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He keeps going. He takes the occasional extremely reluctant break, which is mostly him lying on the ground and interrogating the trainer about his own posture.

And then, more than an hour in–

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They run the whole routine, for the second time in a row, and it's different.

It's easier to see the skeleton behind Gabriel's seemingly effortless movements onstage, now, the countless hours of practice that must be involved.

He watches himself lovingly in the mirrored wall, rather than with a critical eye, flirts with his own reflection.

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It's gorgeous. It's always gorgeous, but it's even more so when Sasha can look at it and see the effort behind each step. 

Better yet, he thinks he has an idea.

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If he needs to talk to Gabriel about it, it might have to wait a little while.

He practices for another hour at least, flickering back and forth between the meticulous drilling of his movements and the runs of the whole thing with his performance face. Occasionally one of the staff steps in to correct something for him.

At some point, abruptly, he misses a step and stumbles. And that’s the end. He picks himself back up, with clearly shaking legs, and slumps in a chair — someone covers his shoulders with a blanket and hands him water.

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He doesn't need to talk to Gabriel about it — he will at some point but not right now, and Gabriel probably doesn't want to talk to him at the moment — but as soon as there's nothing that someone might think he was recording, he pulls out his phone and starts researching various companies' costume designs for Swan Lake. 

Gabriel isn't actually a ballerina, Sasha can't put him in Odette's dress — well, he could, technically, but it wouldn't go over well and he's not going to — but if he takes the torso detailing from this production and takes the skirt detailing from that production and moves it so it wraps around the legs, it looks right.

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