A/N: This is my favorite crack pairing in all of The Wild Party. Why? I don't know. I think it's sweet. Sort of squishy and implausible. Anyway, after watching the Merchant-Ivory movie (my Sunday was dedicated to this fandom, poem, movie, both recordings, and any YouTube clips I could find), and seeing the scene at the end with the odd versions of Burrs and Nadine in the kitchen, and wanting them to kiss... I wrote this. Also, as a note... James Coco and Nathan Lane are time-traveling brothers, I swear.
It was the sadness, hidden under that thin mask of arrogance, which had attracted her to him. That, and the way he looked at her legs: approval. Then it was his smile, kind and understanding, almost admiring. He had told her she looked older, and she just nodded and looked at him adoringly.
This was a real performer who was talking to her. A genuine stage actor with wit in his bones and cleverness in his soul. At least, cleverness where it wasn't gnawed away by obvious jealousy that he tried so frantically to cover. There had been desires and confessions thrown between them during their conversation, which had started out with simple introductions.
And somehow, beyond her understanding, they had ended up in the kitchenette, pressed against the oven, kissing. A kiss so desperate and sorrowful she was afraid he might swallow her whole, taking all of her youth and innocence. His hand were cold. She could feel the chill on the back of her neck as he held her.
She couldn't even remember the first real words he had said to her. Something about how her dress was a bit short for someone who wasn't looking for trouble. "My sister, Mae, told me it was in style," she had replied.
"Don't let your sister whore you out, kid. Just because she never got enough love, and has spent the past who knows how many years trying to get over that, doesn't mean she should make you a shell of yourself."
Then she had danced a bit. Just a small twirl and a well practiced 'come-hither' glance. She had watched the hostess give one to the tall, handsome man who had walked in the door late, with the glamorous, dark woman.
"Where did you lean that?"
"From Mae, and a little from dance lessons back home."
"Well, maybe I was wrong about the sniveling whore. She taught you something good."
"She didn't teach me the dance…"
"I know. She wouldn't be able to. But…" He stood from the couch in the studio, and embraced her, pulling her close to him. She was nearly a foot shorter than him, and strained, looking up into his eyes. His grey suit was old and beginning to look beat and over-worn, it felt soft to the touch, smooth on her arms as she followed his idea, surprised how simple it was to hold tightly to him.
"Is this alright?" she whispered, "Will your wife get angry?"
"Wife?" He laughed quietly, but his voice had a broken tone, "She's not my wife. Wouldn't be my wife if I asked her. And besides, look at her. She's got her newest fling."
"And you have yours…"
"Not as long as you've got such a pretty face. There will always be men after you."
"Mae said that you can kiss me, if you want. She wants you to put me in a line."
"We'll see, angel-face. We'll see." He kissed the top of her head, and then released his grip on her, taking her hand instead and navigating them through the mass of people to the back of the kitchenette, where the only illumination came from the beams of the street lights, bouncing back into the apartment. The candles did not reach that corner, but the shadows did. In that moment, they were shadows, too.
Maybe he would give her a spot in the line if she let herself be kissed, let herself be used… And if not… it was practice, right? There would be other, more important men. Men with status who really wanted a kiss, not just a substitution or heart-break remedy.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" A woman's voice broke the spell. Not only broke… Shattered. Torn a moment apart with her sensuous tones.
"That's Eddie's sister-in-law, you know."
"Well, you don't want to get in trouble, do you? Eddie catches you drooling over a kid, and he'll knock your lights out. Come on. You look tight."
He gave her a look over his shoulder, an apology, a plead, a… Well, she didn't know if there was really any more to it. He left with Kate, out into the jungle of dancers, vanishing into the smoke.
"Good evening there, darling. What are you doing all by your lonesome?" A man had come out of thin air, it seemed, and was now standing directly beside her, a wine glass in his slender hand, a charm about him that was almost tangible.
"Intriguing. Care to dance."
"I suppose so. Say, are you a performer?"
"I am in a way. Come on, hold that thought for a moment, you look bored. Let's dance."
So she stepped out into the crowd with him, and lost herself.