AN: I tried to write a new chapter for Conversations, but this came out instead. Title comes from the song Dance Me to the End of Love by Leonard Cohen. Hope you enjoy and please review!
The first time he sees her she's dancing. Actually the first time he sees her she's studying, but that barely lasts two minutes and by the time he can get close enough to be sure she's who he thinks she is, she's started to dance. And later in the alley she's still dancing, and the beat of the music is still pulsing through his skull. That ridiculous song is stuck in his head off and on for weeks. Years from now the words will seem prophetic and he will wonder if maybe that should have been his first clue.
But that night he just sees dancing. And later in the school, and every fight they have after that, she's still dancing. He's a more than willing partner. He doesn't dare tell anyone but this first time in years that he's been unsure of who will be leading when the music stops. Of course, in the end, someone else cuts in and she finishes the dance without him.
Two years later they have one last, glorious, sun-drenched dance. He should have known that it was too good to be true. Too good to last. And now he can't dance at all. With anyone. Ever.
Just when he's giving up hope a miracle happens. He can hurt demons. Anything that's as evil and soulless as he is, is fair game. If he were anyone else it might bother him that he has to hurt his own kind, but he doesn't care. It's the same old dance he loves, just with different partners.
The universe has a twisted sense of humor and the Powers That Be are complete assholes. One incredibly vivid dream and he's redefining what it means to want to dance with the Slayer. He tries for a bit to deny it but he's horrible at lying to himself.
The song changed and she didn't notice. So she's following the steps she knows by heart, but he's following new ones, and they're pulling in different directions. For a little while it's fun. Sliding into new territory, trying to bring her along. It's tipping her off balance, making her a little unsure. He loves the way she looks at him like he's a new brand of creature she's never seen. She looked at him like that, standing in the alley when they met. Now, in the same alley, he relishes the feeling. He knows, can tell from the way her heart speeds, and her breath catches, ad the way her body reacts to him stronger than it has before, that she wants it too. That if her mind could just catch up and wrap around the concept, she'd be only too happy to join him in this mad new dance. But she's still a few steps behind. Still spinning away, while he's standing motionless, waiting for her to twirl back to him. Still following one set of rules, while he's busy making up new ones.
That night, on her porch, she finally stops dancing. But it takes months before she notices that he still is. And that's when it stops being fun.
The night she joins him, ready to learn new steps, is the night she dies.
When she comes back, he doesn't dance. He sings.
The next time he hears the music it's a terrifying, confusing mix of the old and the new, and this time she's the one who knows all the steps and he's the one trying to hold on long enough to regain his footing. The music and the steps change so many times he can't keep track. She thinks that he's leading, and he thinks she is, and it turns out that the two of them are simply spinning. Whirling together until he's nauseous and dizzy but he doesn't want to stop. This particular dance may be strange and brutal, but she's still his partner and he'd give up everything in the world to keep that.
There are moments when everything else falls away and the music fades, and it's just them. In those moments he thinks she sees him, thinks that maybe she might love him. But then a drum crashes and everything rushes back and they're back in the dance. They start to spin too fast and they're going out of control, and he tries to pull her away. Tries to change their course. But he tugs too hard and she's gone. But he's still spinning, trying to remember the steps.
This isn't how it goes. But by the time he remembers that, it's far too late and he's looking at her on the bathroom floor.
This is different. Subtle. At first he doesn't recognize it for what it is, but then he does. They're still dancing. But it's not violent, or demanding, or outright indecent, or anything else they've ever done before. It's gentle, careful, a simple push and pull of him against her. He invades her space and she pushes right back into his. It's the brush of a hand, the ghost of a smile, the quiet acceptance of flaws. Neither of them knows these steps so they make them up as the go, until one day they discover that they do know how to do this after all. And things shift again. They move closer. His fingers toy with the bottom of her hair. His arms go around her waist, and hers go around his neck, and they just
And then they start to twirl. And it's not fast or out of control, but it is together. And they keep it up. They dance each other through those last dark days, and they dance into the battle and through the battle, and when he goes up in flames, and her words echo in his mind, the music fades out. And it's a draw. No one is leading, no one is following and it feels like the end but it's not.
He's watching her again. Seven years after that first fateful night when he wanted her dead and she wanted him dead and now it's happened to both of them, just not the way they pictured it that night in the alley. It turns out; death is less permanent than they thought back then because they've both died twice and she's still alive and so is he. But they're frozen. Afraid to make a move, the last things they said before he died still hanging in the air. So he's been watching her move around her apartment and move around this new city, and now he's watching her move around the dance floor with her sister. And something about the symmetry of this evening and the first one makes him brave. Makes him think it's now or never.
So when the band starts to play something slow, and she sits down across from him, he slides off his chair and picks up her hand. Wordlessly he leads her back to the dance floor. One hand rests on her waist and the other catches hers. She bites her lip and stares at him quizzically, even as she positions her free hand on his shoulder. He shrugs. And then they're dancing, bodies moving together, feet and hands and arms. They step closer together and he doesn't know who made the first move, but she's suddenly pressed completely against him. He takes a shuddering breath and drops his forehead to rest against hers. They're barely moving anymore, just swaying together. It's the first time they've ever done anything that remotely resembles what the general public would consider dancing.
"Why haven't we ever done this before?" the words are out before he has time to change his mind.
She tips her head back to look at him. "What? Dance?"
He nods, but anything else he'd planned to say flew out of his mind when he realized just how close her lips were to his. Her eyelids flutter and she breathes out words he thought she'd long forgotten.
"That's all we've ever done."
The steps change. They keep up.