Story: Kaleido Stages of Love (chapter 2)

Authors: HuntressDarkmoon

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Chapter 2

Title: Stage 2: Walk

[Author's notes:

Same disclaimers as before.  I don't own these characters, ect, ect.  All I can take credit for is the plot.

This chapter gets a slightly high rating than the previous for minor sexual content, but nothing severe. . .Yet.



The backstage area of Kaleido Stage was alive with activity that night. As patrons filed in to their seats, actors, costumers and techies scrambled around to get the finishing touches ready for the night’s show. It was the opening night for their new act and everyone wanted it to be perfect. Everyone, including a tense young woman who stood as still as she could while a seamstress repaired a rip in the costume she wore.

"Honestly, Sora, can’t you keep still for two seconds?" the seamstress asked. She pulled the needle and thread taut, made a firm knot and then severed the thread from the garment with her teeth, lacking scissors.

"I’m nervous," Sora admitted. "It’s a new show, after all. What if they don’t like it? What if I mess up?"

The seamstress shook her head and threw her hands up in the air. "What if the sky falls down? You worry too much, little Kaleido Star. Now, get ready to show them what you’ve got."

Sora nodded and joined Mia and Anna, who were almost finished warming up. Still bouncing on her toes, Sora looked over at her friends, wondering if they were as keyed up as she was. Opening night was rough on everyone, but for some reason Sora always felt as if it hit her the hardest.

This night would be especially nerve-wracking for her. Not only because it was a brand new show, but because she knew of one person who would be watching her alone. Layla. The thought of the tall, blond woman with her cool blue eyes made Sora’s knees weak and she subtly stabilized herself on the edge of a table.

"Sora," Mia said firmly. "Calm down, girl! You’re making me jumpy."

Nodding, Sora tried to calm her thoughts. It had been barely a week since she and Layla had shared their true feelings for each other. Barely a week since Layla had first kissed Sora tenderly. Sora’s stomach still fluttered when she thought back on that moment. Since then, the pair had been kept apart, due to scheduling mainly. While Sora’s training schedule kept her tied to Kaleido Stage, Layla had been out of town to answer a casting call for a new movie. Sora hadn’t seen Layla since that night, nearly one agonizing week ago. However, tonight that would change.

Sora peeked out to the stage and watched the crowd gathering slowly. She knew she’d never be able to pick Layla out of such a huge crowd. People pressed in on each other, finding their seats and sending people out one by one to get refreshments for the group. The house was packed that night and everyone knew it. Still, there was only one that Sora wanted to see.

"I don’t see her. . ." Sora sighed. She turned to the backstage area to come face to face with Mia and Anna.

"Don’t see who? Hmm?" Mia asked with a mischievous glint in her eyes.

Sora waved her hands in front of her and shook her head. "Uh, no one! No one. I’m just. . .Uh. . .Nothing."

Mia and Ann shared a knowing smile and Mia patted Sora on the shoulder. "Well, it’s almost time for the show to start. We’d better get to our places." The pair walked off to find their places and make any last second preparations.

Lowering her eyes, Sora let out a deep sigh. She had hoped to catch a glimpse of Layla before the show, but that didn’t look like a possibility at this point. She leaned her back against a large backdrop and clasped one hand at her chest. The others around her were taking their places and Sora knew it was time for her to get to her position, as well. She pushed herself forward and opened her eyes, lifting them from the floor to find Layla standing before her, holding a bouquet of flowers. Her right arm was still in its sling, even though Layla was healing remarkably well.

Sora’s breath caught in her throat and she found herself unable to speak momentarily. Layla smiled down at her. "Shouldn’t you be in your place?" The blond woman asked with a sly smile.

"Layla," Sora breathed. "I was just going, actually. I. . .didn’t expect to see you."

"I told you I’d be here, sweetling," Layla said. "My flight was delayed, so I’m a bit late. Now, go. I’ll see you afterwards. We’ll celebrate."

Layla cupped Sora’s cheek in her palm and bent down to gently kiss her on the lips. Sora’s heart begged to stay there for just a moment longer, but she knew where she had to be at that moment. And Layla had promised to see her after the show. Drawing back, Sora smiled, nodded and took off to take her place before showtime.

The show went well for its first night. Any performing and technical issues seemed to have been caught before the first show. Cues were made on time. Props were where they should have been. Things could not have gone better than they had. As the show wrapped up, the audience leaped to their feet, clapping and cheering wildly. The cast of Kaleido Stage bowed, each of them worn to the bone, but surging with a pride known only to actors. One by one, the cast left the stage as the audience members began to file out of the arena.

The hyper trio of Sora, Mia and Anna came bursting into the female dressing room, giddy from their success. They talked back and forth, commenting on each others successes and trading little foul ups that the audience would never know about. Just inside the dressing room, Sora came to a halt; Mia and Anna running into her from behind.

"Hey!" Mia cried. "What’s up, Sora?" She and Anna looked around their friend to see Layla. The former star sat in the dressing room, waiting, a bouquet of flowers on the table before her. Mia and Anna exchanged confused glances. "Wha-?"

"Layla!" Sora leaped forward suddenly, leaving Mia and Anna standing, confused, in the doorway. Sora nervously approached Layla and the blond woman reached up to take Sora’s hand in her own. "So. . .What did you think?"

"Marvelous," Layla said with a smile. "You truly shone out there tonight, Sora."

"Uh. . ." Mia came forward, casting a bewildered look between Layla and Sora. "Sora. . .umm. . ."

Anna, catching on to the situation, took Mia by the shoulder and pulled her toward the door. "Come on, Mia. I think we forgot some of the props on stage."

As Mia was dragged out the door, she kept her eyes on the odd pair at the table. Anna gave one last tug and Mia disappeared from the door before it shut, leaving Sora and Layla alone.

Once they were alone, Sora fell to her knees before Layla and lay her head in Layla’s lap. She snuggled against the older woman, breathing in her light scent. Layla smiled down at Sora, placing her hand on Sora’s head. The pair stayed that way, enjoying each others company, for a moment. Then Sora looked up to meet Layla’s eyes.

"You really enjoyed the show?"

A mischievous flash crossed Layla’s eyes. "Well. . ." she began, "there were a few areas you could have improved on." She laughed in the back of her throat at Sora’s distressed look. "I’m kidding. You were wonderful." She picked the bouquet up from the table and handed it to Sora. "Here. I got these for you."

Sora took the flowers and held them to her breast. "For me? Thank you."

Layla brushed her hand down Sora’s hair and got to her feet. "Get dressed. I’ll be waiting outside for you."

"Hmm? Why?"

"Didn’t I tell you? We’re going out to celebrate."

Outside, Mia and Anna were listening at the door. They strained to hear anything above the din in the hallways as the cast and crew continued to mill about. Finally, Mia sighed and shook her head.

"I can’t hear a thing. Can you?"

Anna screwed up her face in concentration. "No-"

The door swung open then. Too shocked to know what to do, Mia and Anna stood face to face with Layla, silently watching. The pair of eavesdroppers straightened up and moved aside to let Layla through. The graceful woman smiled faintly down at them and nodded once.

"Ladies." With that, she headed toward one of the lounges used by the cast.

Immediately, Mia and Anna burst into the dressing room. Sora, sitting at her dressing table, looked up at the pair, a broad grin nearly splitting her face. Before her on the table sat a vase of fresh flowers, oddly identical to the ones Layla had been carrying earlier. The pair converged on Sora before she could escape.

"What’s this all about?" Mia asked.

"What’s what?" Sora was no good at playing coy and it showed.

Anna jerked a thumb toward the door. "Layla’s waiting in one of the lounges. Do you know why?"

Blushing, Sora smiled at her friends but still refused to tell them anything. She continued getting changed into her street clothes. All the while she dodged her friends questions about why she was hanging out with Layla. Sora simply told them that she and Layla had things in common they wanted to discuss. However, the heated flush in her cheeks told her friends Sora was hiding something.

When she was finished changing, Sora headed to the door, waving to Mia and Anna as she left. The door shut on two very confused and curious friends. Turning toward the lounges, Sora felt her heart leap in her chest. To think that Layla was actually waiting for her made the butterflies she felt in her stomach increase tenfold.

Tentatively peeking around the corner to one of the lounges, Sora saw Layla sitting on one of the couches, talking with a few others of the company. Sora felt a twinge of sadness at Kaleido Stage’s loss of Layla as a performer. It seemed as if her fans, even among the cast, hadn’t given up on her.

"Um. . ." Sora hesitantly stepped forward. "Layla?"

Turning in her seat, Layla’s eyes caught sight of Sora and her face softened visibly. She excused herself from the others, much to the dismay of several of them, and rose to join Sora in the doorway. "Ready?"

Sora nodded, although she wasn’t sure what she was supposed to be ready for. "I think so." She swallowed a lump in her throat as Layla reached out for her hand.

"Don’t be scared," Layla said quietly. "It’s just dinner at my place."

That made Sora’s heart leap again. "D-dinner. . .? At your place?"

"That," Layla began, "and I thought I’d give you a few pointers on your routine from tonight. That is, if you don’t mind being taught by me?"

Sora shook her head vehemently. "No, not at all. Please, anything you could show me would be great!"

The pair left the Kaleido Stage building where a car with tinted windows sat waiting for Layla. The driver opened the door for the pair and Sora slid into the plush leather seating after Layla. As the door closed, Sora looked around the car, realizing it was the most luxurious she had ever ridden in. She drew her hands into her lap and tried not to touch anything. With a gentle tug, the car slid into gear and they were off for Layla’s home.

The first part of the drive was slightly nerve-wracking for Sora, who didn’t know what she should say, if anything. She nervously fiddled with her hands in her lap and glanced out the window as the scenery passed by. A few moments into the car ride, Layla laughed in the back of her throat and laid a gentle hand on Sora’s fidgeting hands.

"We’ll be there in a few minutes," Layla said. She looked down at Sora. "I missed you while I was gone."

Sora’s face brightened. "Really? I missed you, too."

With a faint smile, Layla put her arm around Sora’s shoulders and hugged her. Sora snuggled against the older woman, happy just to be in her presence again. She tentatively reached a hand up to Layla’s right shoulder and laid her fingers lightly across the sling. Layla looked at her encouragingly.

"It’s getting better," she assured Sora. "I only keep the sling on when I leave the house. Too much of a risk to leave it unprotected. In fact. . ." Layla released Sora and began to remove the sling from around her neck. Finding it caught on the seatbelt, Layla sighed and sat back.

"Let me," Sora volunteered. Her nimble fingers worked deftly at the knot in the sling and she soon had it freed. Gingerly pulling at the fabric, Sora gathered up the sling and folded it neatly in her lap.

Layla seemed relieved to have the cloth contraption gone and warily rotated her shoulder twice. "It should be fine for tonight. Just a bit stiff." Her left hand strayed to her wounded right shoulder and clasped it as her eyes became distant. "I’m just lucky to have made it through my last performance. Kate was so mad at me."

Sora didn’t know what to say. She knew Layla had injured her shoulder while training in the Grand Canyon, however, she never knew that their last performance together would be the nail in the coffin of Layla’s career. "I wish it could have been different."

As the car pulled up to Layla’s mansion, the older woman nodded once. "Me too." She released her seatbelt as the driver opened the door for them. "But it’s not to late for you to pick up where I left off. Come on."

Moments later, Sora and Layla were standing in Layla’s private training area. Sora was always amazed that Layla had her own practice equipment in her house. She was even more surprised, however, that Layla had kept it all intact, even though she would never use it again.

Sora was leery of practicing in her street clothes and was relieved when Layla offered her one of her old leotards to borrow. She changed quickly, happy that Layla had something that would fit her smaller frame. The thin cloth hugged her every curve like a second skin, leaving very little to the imagination. Although used to being this exposed on stage, having a one-on-one session with Layla made Sora suddenly shy.

"Now," Layla said, as she indicated the tightrope stretched only a foot off the floor, "we’ll start here."

Nodding, Sora shed her shoes and hopped up on the tightrope. She got her balance and looked to Layla for guidance. Layla reached out a hand to Sora’s waist and began to give her directions on how to better keep her balance, especially so high above the stage. Sora listened intently, nodding to convey her understanding and asking questions when she didn’t quite get the concept.

Slowly, Layla walked Sora through her routine. She stayed directly beside Sora the entire time, her slim hand rarely straying from Sora’s waist. After a time, no matter what Layla was describing to Sora, the two of them were rarely out of each other’s grasp for more than a second. As Layla placed both hands on Sora’s waist, the younger woman paused and looked down into those deep blue pools she loved so much to lose herself in.

Their eyes locked momentarily. Sora fought to gain her breath back as it was stolen not only from the exercise but also from gazing at Layla’s beauty. Gently, Layla tightened her grip on Sora’s waist and lifted her off the tightrope to the floor. She barely made it before her right shoulder gave out on her, causing her to suck in a quick, pained breath. The pain drove her to her knees on the padded practice mat beneath her.

Sora was instantly at Layla’s side, bracing her as best she could. "Are you okay? You shouldn’t have done that."

Layla leaned against Sora’s shoulder with a look of chagrin on her face. She looked down at Sora and brushed a lock of Sora’s hair from her face. "Sorry to make you worry. I’m fine."

Smiling in relief, Sora hugged Layla and rested her head against the older woman’s chest. "I’m glad."

Layla sat back on the practice mat to let the wave of pain fade from her shoulder. She took Sora into the crook of her left arm and pulled her close, seeing the worry still lingering in Sora’s eyes. Without a thought, Layla leaned in to close the gap between her and Sora. As Sora looked up, Layla gently pressed her lips against Sora’s.

It had been nearly a week since Sora had last felt Layla’s lips against her own. Sora’s heart pounded against her chest as she relinquished control and gave in to Layla’s unspoken request. Cradled in Layla’s arm, Sora never wanted to move. She could only stare back into Layla’s eyes as they drew apart.

"Every day," Layla said. "I thought of you every day I was gone. And I wondered if you thought of me."

"Always," Sora whispered back past the lump in her throat.

Tilting her head back, Sora gave Layla access as the older woman landed a row of kisses along Sora’s throat to her shoulder blade. She leaned back as Layla pressed forward until Sora felt her back hit the padded mat beneath her. Sora looked up to see Layla, propped on her left elbow above her. Reaching up hesitantly, Sora laid her hand against Layla’s cheek and gently caressed her. Layla shivered at the younger woman’s touch and pressed her cheek into Sora’s palm.

"I love you so much." Layla whispered against Sora’s palm. "I wish I’d known before."

The fingers of her right hand traced gentle lines down Sora’s face to her throat to cup her chin in her palm. Layla leaned in again to kiss Sora’s soft lips and found Sora to be resisting less and less. She pressed in harder, trying to keep her newly released passions bridled for Sora’s sake. She didn’t want to scare the girl off, however, her body was screaming at her to continue.

As Sora gasped for breath around Layla’s insistent kissing, she felt Layla’s right hand slide slowly down to the back of her neck. Layla’s body dipped lower until it contacted Sora’s in a light brush of cloth and skin. Electrified by Layla’s attentions, Sora let a soft moan escape her lips that sounded vaguely like plea for more.

Goaded on by Sora’s weak entreaty, Layla cautiously slid her right hand down Sora's neck to her shoulder and rested it there, tantalizingly, before letting it travel to the very crest of Sora’s breasts. Layla felt the younger girl tense beneath her suddenly and held off her movement until Sora’s eyes met hers, giving her permission.

The thin material of the leotard was the only thing keeping Layla from what lay beneath. But even so, she dared not go too far with Sora so soon. She gently rested her hand on Sora’s breast but made no motion to advance as her lips found Sora’s again. Beneath her, Sora melted into Layla’s embrace, scared and excited all at once.

A sudden rap at the door caused the pair to break apart, each gasping in shock. They looked toward the door, but it did not open. From the other side a voice called, "Miss Layla, dinner is ready."

Flushed and a bit irritated at having been disturbed, Layla ran her hand through her hair with a sigh. She looked down at Sora, grinning. "I guess that’s enough training for tonight."

Sora could barely nod her assent as she gasped for breath on the floor. With Layla’s help, the flustered girl sat up. Layla got to her feet to answer the door as Sora tried to control her breathing. The emotions coursing through her system alone were enough to keep her keyed up all night. Her body’s chemical responses only added to the turmoil she now found herself in. When Layla returned, Sora was still on the floor.

"Need help?" Layla asked, holding out her left hand.

Nodding, Sora gratefully clasped Layla’s hand in her own and shakily got to her feet. She leaned forward, catching herself on Layla by wrapping her arms around the older woman’s waist. Layla placed her good arm over Sora’s shoulder and rested her chin atop the girl’s head.

"Come on, sweetling," Layla whispered. "Dinner’s ready."

As the pair somehow made their way to the door, Sora breathed, "I don’t know if I can eat."

Layla laughed under her breath. "Me neither."

"Do you. . .think we can practice again, soon?" As soon as the question was out, Sora felt a heated flush climb through her entire body.

"Perhaps, sometime soon." Layla would not put time restrictions on this relationship and so kept her answer vague. She kissed Sora’s head lightly as they headed toward the dining room together.

To Be Continued in "Stage 3: Run"

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