This story wasn't meant to diverge from canon, and I apologize if I implied that. Mostly I just wanted to play with silences and with stagnation -- with two people who can't let go yet can't move forward -- and R/G fit the bill. There isn't going to be any direct followup; it finished how it should have. But I felt bad, which led to being pensive, which led to the epilogue below, set years later, that is a conclusion but isn't really an ending. Thanks to Harligh Quinn for planting the seeds, but my apologies too: it isn't what you asked for, but for better or worse, it's what ultimately felt...right.
Warning: this is spoileriffic for X-men: Legacy 224, which came out in May, and kinda the entire Salvage arc, so please stop now if you're waiting for the TPB and don't want to know. Other contextual notes: back in X-treme R/G got depowered and moved to California; more recently, Gambit spent awhile as Apocalypse's horseman Death (which still...just...wtf, Peter Milligan, wtf); even more recently, Rogue got infected with Strain 88 virus and then absorbed a couple billion minds at once. Finally, this was written with Sydney's Darling Harbour in mind. (Oh, and I still own zilch, woohoo.)
With all that said, thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy.
A man kisses a woman's hand and asks her to dance as the sun sets over Sydney harbour.
There is no music save the husky, haunting notes of a busker's saxophone echoing down the boardwalk, but for them, it's enough.
They want nothing pretentious, no pretensions, not tonight.
Tonight, he wears no trenchcoat and she wears no gloves. They wear no masks, no uniforms, no responsibilities.
Because yesterday had been spent on dusty Outback roads, and tomorrow will be spent on a plane to San Francisco. But for tonight -- for the moment -- he's just a man and she's just a woman and they're just in love.
For now, that's enough.
And so he wraps his arms tightly about her waist, and she presses her body close enough to feel his heart beat. They've danced this dance a hundred times before, but right now it still feels like the first time and in some ways it is.
...Because this is the first real moment they've had, alone and unobserved, since he became Death and she lay dying.
...Because for the first time in a long time, pondering life's possibilities no longer leaves her afraid.
...Because for the first time since once upon a time, she presses her cheek to his, caresses his roughened face with a bare hand. Just because she can now, unafraid. Just because they're both still disbelieving.
Just because for so very long now, whenever she's dreamt of control, of finally touching unafraid, she's dreamt of touching him.
And now that she can, now that she is, she feels like a flower that's finally blooming, in all its full and vivid glory.
And so they dance.
Not around issues, not along limits, but just because they're in love, just because...
Because even though what they are right now is as nebulous as the future, they've learned the hard way that what they are, or where they are, or what they've said or done, doesn't change how they feel about each other, not truly.
And thus they've learned too that in moments like these, words become insubstantial.
So as they dance, as her lips paint a pale red blossom on his shoulder and his lips curve against her hair, they say nothing at all.
And so the moment grows.
As one jazzy tune finally reaches its conclusion and a slower, sweeter one begins, time for them seems to slow as well.
He loosens his hold, steps slightly back. Offers her a last chance to retire, to let the moment pass.
...But their dance is still going. Has never really stopped, only changed, only grown.
And so she takes that step forward, weaving her fingers through his hair, and gently sets his forehead rightly upon hers.
His eyes flicker; her cheeks blossom.
"Ah know Ah said Ah wasn't ready ta talk about us yet..."
She bites her lip. Gazes down momentarily as she stumbles over the words to say.
He tugs her closer with a knowing smile, one that steals the words off her tongue:
...But this don't count as talkin'
And so flicker turns to flare; blossom turns to burn.
Because in a moment so full of possibilities, for this man and this woman, right now there is only one.
And thus she inclines her head just a little upwards, while he inclines his head just a little downwards.
Somewhere in the middle, they meet as one.
The moment blooms.
It's finally right.