I don't really mind AU fics that get crazy (you know, Harry and Draco live in China, Harry as a grocer, Draco as a garbage man—stuff like that)—they can be really good, and in the right hands, really enjoyable. I tend to avoid them until I've read a ton of stuff from any given fandom, though, and don't seek them out until I really need something fresh. I probably would have ignored this fic until forever, but I've already read like 80% of all of the available Entourage fic in the world, and it's over 5k (so much of Entourage fic is only like 1-2k /o\), so I gave it a shot. And, kind of surprisingly, really enjoyed it. And it's not actually as AU as I thought it would be.
Title: Same Tune, Different Lyrics
Rating: Teen and up
Word Count: ~7.5k
Author's Summary: Well, her summary is actually just the prompt for which she wrote it and it doesn't really encompass how the story plays out, so my summary is something like... hmm.... Thirteen years after leaving Queens, twenty-year-old Eric—accompanist at The Gold Standard ballet company—runs into Vince during an audition. Vince's audition. And even after so many years, they haven't forgotten each other.
[More yapping and an excerpt.]
Despite how improbable the idea of Vince as a ballet dancer might seem, it's really not. And the reason for why Eric is where he is, is a good one—a legitimate one—and I think that helped me believe that all of it really could have happened, that their story could have gone this way instead. There are enough parallels between the story and canon, and such good canon characteristics in all the characters, that I found myself easily believing it.
For the excerpt, I'll just include a bit of the beginning:
Eric’s not really sure why they do it. Flirt with the accompanist. It’s not like he has any say, period, in who gets selected – but it’s like every single dancer who comes through the studio doors finds a way to smile, brush his shoulder or touch the back of his neck as they lay out their sheet music for him. One memorable girl even scribbled her number across the coda of La Fille Mal Gardée. Others, the look they give him when they pass across their music, it’s like they’re daring him to screw up. Nothing says mess this up and I’ll break your fingers like the eyes of a pre-audition dancer.
Time slot no. 9 on day two of auditions definitely falls into the first category. Not blatantly – as far as Eric can tell, the guy’s not even trying. With eyes and hair like that, it’s probably his natural default mode, the way he shakes his curls out of his face and smiles at Eric like he’s the audition prize. Eric looks down at the sheet music in his hands – Le Corsaire, Ali Variation – and has to fight the urge to roll his eyes. Shauna isn’t so kind, not bothering to hide her disgust when Hair-Shaker announces his piece to the judge panel. “Please tell me you’re kidding. This is our third pirate today, I swear to God.”
Eric has to hand it to the guy; he doesn’t flinch – just smiles lazily and drops into forth position. And really, good move, because all eyes are now on his ass. “Well you know what they say about third times,” he says, and Eric’s reluctantly impressed – confidence like that, you cannot buy. He looks over at Eric and starts tapping out a tempo with his heel. A little slower than usual, which means higher jumps and longer holds. Eric raises his eyebrows and the guy just grins back, all teeth. So he shrugs, smoothes his hands over the keys and at Shauna’s cue, rolls through the introduction.
Eric’s lived with his aunt long enough that it’s almost second nature to scan dancers with the clinical eye of a recruiter. He knows what to look for, even though personally he’d rather set himself on fire than get within ten feet of a barre. This guy – he’s good. Sloppy footwork, maybe, but light on his feet, big on the drama. He dances like he’s trying to shed his own skin, bright-eyed and a little wild. Eric watches closely, ramps up the music more than he usually would for an audition piece, and the guy responds, his next tourjete sharp, high and breathless.
So of course he trips.
Eric’s fingers are still going before he registers Hair-Shaker on his back, winded and wide-eyed. He clunks to a stop as his aunt clears her throat and Ari bellows “fuck my mother, what kind of a finish was that?” over the silence.
Look, Ari being Ari! There's actually not a ton of Ari in the fic, but there's a little. There's also some Turtle. And plenty of Vince. (It's from E POV.) Lots of the guys being the guys—Vince doing something he loves but not really knowing the best way to go about it; Eric coming in and manhandling him into shape. With the good AUs, it's fun to see how the author can weave canon through the new world and make it work, and though the divergence from canon starts so early here (when the boys are seven), the author makes them all very them, and it wasn't like meeting brand new characters. And really, that's what fic is all about. It also makes the title a good one.
If you haven't read any Eric/Vince fic, I don't know if this is where I'd start (unless your name is Cass and you're tempted by things like ballet fic), but it's a cute story, entertaining, and certainly worth the time it takes to read 7500 words.