AN: Happy 4th of July!

Beneath the Dancing Lights

It was bizarre how they both went to school in the city but hardly saw each other. He supposed they were both occupied with making a name for themselves on their respective campuses, and the transit from the Upper West Side to the Village wasn't exactly comfortable, but still how strange it was to hear through a game of telephone that a few of his best friends from childhood had broken up without his knowledge.

She looked pretty and perfectly at home in his family's Connecticut estate, donning a flared blue halter dress cinched at the waist with a thick red belt. The humid summer heat didn't seem to effect her at all even if it was the beginning of July. At some point during the day's festivities, probably between rowing and afternoon tea, she had captured/stolen Tripp's white cap and her brown waves fanned out from beneath it. She claimed that it matched her white tennis shoes perfectly and Tripp, the gentleman that he was, naturally conceded.

See how easy it was to keep in touch with someone?

It made everything all the more awkward as he idled by the balcony with his Chardonnay while his fingers twitched desperately for the familiarity of a beer mug or a red plastic cup. Everyone stood by and watched as the sun set slowly beyond the horizon and the sky spanned into a gradient of black and blue, the stars visible in the clear Connecticut sky.

Blair stood with Maureen, fingers curled around her own glass of champagne as she pointed at different constellations that she learned to identify in her natural science class. He could hear snippets of their conversation and see the way her cheekbones had grown even more pronounced than they had been the last time they met. Thanksgiving, he believed, also courtesy of his family. It seemed that Blair kept in close touch with Maureen and Tripp, having discovered through her Conversations of the West classes a special interest in art history.

Of course, Blair would much more realistically become a curator rather than just sit on some board. She would miss being hands-on and bossing around people too much. Even now, she had no qualms in getting his older cousin to fetch her a refill and instructing him on how to be a better husband by being more attentive to his wife.

He heard two cracks followed by joint whistles and a white spark shoots into the sky before exploding in a cascade of stars. Then a pink bouquet of lights faded and left behind a trail of smoke. Nate watched her face, lit up in pinks and blues and shining whites, her smile genuine with teeth showing and her eyes wide. This was what was missing from his backpacking trip with Vanessa, the way Blair appreciated all the true, extravagant beauty in things. It was nice being able to appreciate something for being pretty and shiny and romantic without having his ear talked off about history and culture and the overindulgence of the bourgeois. The way Vanessa and Dan talked sometimes, you would think they were from backwaters potato farms in Idaho rather than a roomy, homey loft in a hip part of Brooklyn.

There was something so physical and tangible about Blair that by just standing there, watching her, he missed the simplicity of just being with someone. He used to think that Vanessa made him a better person because he was open to more things, but it just became so exhausting. With Blair, he seemed to kind of, well, coast by. He made mistakes and was forgiven. He learned more about her from those mistakes and felt better for it. The learning curve wasn't as steep and perhaps, he thought for a moment, that's what it really meant to love someone. To be in sync and grow old with someone at your own pace.

But that was in the past now and before him stood a girl he hadn't spoken to in nearly a year. The sparks in the sky reflected off her face and he shallowly wondered if the forefathers hadn't fought so hard for freedom for him to just have this moment to be with the girl he was always supposed to be with. How epic and wonderful their fates must have been to warrant over two hundred years of history.

Her eyes caught his and she offered him a smile, his head cocked to the side in a contemplative glance. She raised her glass at him and he returned the gesture. The loud cracks in the background seemed to pop away all the years between them. The lies and misunderstandings washed away in the gleaming white light of a sparkling explosive.

The sparks were still there.