To Meet, To Dance, To Fall
A/N: I got the inspiration for this listening to Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now", and was also influenced by "I Run to You". Oh, and Linkin Park's "In Pieces" and Fiction Plane's "If Only", too!
What am I doing?
Her brisk pace slows, but she doesn't stop. Shaking her head against the all-too-tempting thought of turning back, she speeds back up.
It's the middle of the night—a very cold night, at that—most people are asleep, or at least thinking about it, and certainly not taking a walk to… clear her head is the only reason she can think she's doing this, but the chaotic maelstrom of her thoughts seems only to be intensifying.
She doesn't even know where she is now. The wind is bitingly cold. She remembered gloves but neglected a hat in her haste, so her uncovered ears and nose ache, her eyes watering as another gust hits her with full force. She knows it's complete idiocy, but she does the only things she can: she buries her hands as deep as she can in her pockets and walks on.
He has no time to ask himself why he's walking. Thoughts flit through his mind at breakneck speed, colliding and side-swiping each other and confusing him monumentally.
Why tonight—as opposed to any other night—has taken this turn, he doesn't know. He does know, however, that the wintry sting of the wind isn't helping like it usually does. Instead of forcing him to concentrate, it scatters his thoughts to all ends of the universe. He scrabbles after them as best he can, but it's not a task he can finish on his own.
He slides on a patch of ice, flails, and curses, less because he slipped and more because he wishes the clarity he experiences in that moment would be a permanent fixture in his life. He knows it usually is, actually, and it only angers him more to realize it. The lining of his pockets strains as he jams his hands back into them. He clenches his fists, and speeds up.
She doesn't know how long she's been walking, but suddenly, it starts to sink in just how cold and tired she is. The miserable roar of all her thoughts has faded to a dull hum, and it's then that she realizes that she not only has no idea what the best way back to her apartment is, but also that she doesn't know if she could make it back.
Something catches her eye. She looks up and freezes, unable to contain her shock.
His thoughts are nowhere near settled, but he knows he needs to turn back. If… however long it's been hasn't done him any favors, it's no use continuing.
He stops for a moment. His mind must be playing tricks on him, it has to be.
But it isn't. He knows she's really there for only an instant before she looks up and sees him.
Mostly, he's elated, but he notices that she looks as helpless as he feels, and a tiny voice not so far back in his mind wonders if things haven't just gone from horrible to so unspeakably abysmal that he should turn and run while he still can.
He's the first one to speak; he usually is.
"Shouldn't you be at home?" He asks softly, managing to keep just the confusion in his voice, but sadness is still detectable in his smile.
"Shouldn't you?" Her voice is near a whisper, still a little startled.
He shrugs. "Couldn't sleep; too much to think about and not enough time."
She nods, not needing to tell him that she suffers from the same affliction. But she does need to say something. "I should go." She turns.
Half-way through her step, she stops, but she doesn't turn back. She can't afford to, because she can't bear to see the mask he's putting on for them again.
"I'll walk you." He takes a few steps until he's beside her, and they continue, an uneasy tension between them.
"Will you be alright?"
The question takes her by surprise, considering she's usually the one asking him, but she nods, still unable to look at him.
"Are you sure?" He places his hands gently on her upper arms, and she looks up.
"I'm sure." Her voice is still low and quiet, and she avoids looking directly at him as best she can. They stand there for a few minutes, unmoving.
"Please—" She stops, swallows. Her raw pain and desperation are too much to take, and she shouldn't have let them into her voice, but she did. When she's sure she has her composure (and sure she won't lose it when she sees his concern), she carefully meets his eyes. "I'll be fine, thank you."
More time passes (as with most of the night, neither really knows just how much), and suddenly, he draws a little closer. She stands still, his breath warming her lips, her arms tensing under his grip, their eyes saying everything they can't and won't. They draw closer and closer until finally, they meet.
The kiss lasts no more than half a second, and is so soft, so fleeting, that neither is sure that it's actually happened. It's probably better that way, anyway.
Without another word, they go their separate ways.
Maybe, if they can sleep tonight, they can pretend it was all a dream, that nothing's wrong, and that they don't care about each other at all. It would make everything so much simpler, wouldn't it?
No—that's a lie. Their whole careers have been built on that lie. They meet, they dance, and everything's fine. Unless they let something slip, that is. To fall is so easy—it nearly just happened—and they can't let themselves get that far, no matter their feelings.
Somehow, they'll find the strength to keep going, to keep meeting and dancing again, until they don't have to pretend anymore. Then, they will be able to fall for the world to see, but the world won't see, because it doesn't need to. They are the only ones who matter.
The only ones who ever will.
A/N: I meant to use more dialogue, really! It just… never happened. It also started out in past tense, but there's a certain something that I felt the present tense captured better.
Also, it being Valentine's Day, I wanted to post something, and this was the happiest thing I could find that was in any shape to be posted.
Let me know what you think, please!