Or Are We Dancer
No one had really known what to say.
It was an awkward moment when the team discovered their red-headed bro alone in the training room, dancing to a Spanish salsa.
Wally has always danced, and he thought he was pretty good. His mom had tried, when he was much younger, to put him in dance classes, but to no avail. At that age (or any age, I guess), no little boy liked feeling like a girl, and as the only boy in any dance class, that's exactly how he always felt. After the accident, when his uncle took him on as a protégé, Wally revisited dancing. Barry said it was training; that being able to dance would help him flow and move and even, no pun intended, be light on his feet. Like football players taking ballet.
The first class he took, classical dancing, was boring as hell and ended up being his favourite. He wasn't the only boy anymore; he made friends. Girls would clamour to be his partner for whichever dance they were learning next (at their age, they would much rather dance with a boy than another girl, and at his age, he loved the attention) and it gave him confidence. He could lead the klutziest in a waltz and dip even the tallest of the girls with magnificent flourish.
He was good.
His next class, cultural dances, was more of a challenge, but he was determined. He took home steps for Mexican folk dances and made his uncle practice with him, or sometimes his aunt. He hummed the catchy tunes for the Swing, getting them stuck in both his parent's heads. He was devoted, and he wasn't done until he did it right, and eventually he did.
He kept his hobby a secret as he went through school. People liked him, and he had friends, but he knew that boys who danced were automatically gay, and gay boys didn't have friends. They were beaten up.
So when his team mates walked in on him, mid-mambo, he jolted in surprise, stopping in his tracks.
There was a weird moment of non-silence. No one was talking, but the singer on his CD continued to spew out smooth Spanish lyrics. Wally didn't really know what to do, and no one really knew what to say. No one, of course, except M'gann.
"What kind of dance is that, Wally?" The Martian floated over to him in an amazed trance.
"It's, uh. It's called salsa dancing," he said cautiously. She clapped a hand over her mouth.
"That's so cool!" came her muffled compliment. Wally smiled, a heat he had noticed before dissipated from his face.
"The waltz is my favourite, even if it's pretty simple." He spotted the look of awe on M'gann's face. "Would, uh, you like me to teach you?"
"Yes please!" She nodded her head excitedly.
"Well, you kind of need to land first."
Once the bubbly red-head was firmly on the ground, Wally changed the track on his CD.
"Okay." He walked up to M'gann. "You're going to put you hand on my shoulder—yeah, just like that—and I'm going to put my hand here. Okay? Good. And now, you grasp this hand—yeah—and we hold them out like this."
The positioning was okay, but M'gann's arms were too loose.
"Keep your arms stiff," he told her. "So I can lead you. Good, now, follow me."
He stepped forward and back and around, stopping every now and then to tell M'gann to step with the other foot. Pretty soon they were moving smoothly. The song changed, a slower tempo, still a three-step. He led M'gann around the mat in the training room. Step. Step. Spin. Step. Step. Step. And. Dip. He ended perfectly at the end of the song. Wally smiled; Artemis was sure his face would crack if she smiled any more. M'gann spun into the air.
"That was so fun!" She twirled some more.
"Yeah, it's better when your partner is as pretty as you." Wally smiled. So did M'gann.
"Thanks Wally." She spun towards the others. "Superboy, you should try it, it's so fun!" She grabbed his hands and mimicked the pose Wally had taught her. Wally's smile faltered.
"Like this, Wally?"
"Yes, exactly." He was still smiling. "Very impressive, M'gann, you're a fast learner."
"Give up, Kid." Artemis was at his side, speaking in a whisper. He wasn't sure when she got there.
"Give up what?" He wasn't looking at her, he was watching M'gann and Superboy.
"Give up her." Artemis crossed her arms.
"Why?" Wally said. Artemis wasn't even sure he was listening to her.
"Maybe because she's not interested?" Artemis elbowed him.
"Huh? M'gann? Oh, yeah, I know." Wally smiled at her. "But it's just too much fun to quit." He seemed to realize who he was smiling at, since the grin vanished quicker than it had arrived, and he side stepped off into a dance by himself. But it was too late, the damage had been done.
Artemis had never been on the receiving end of one of his smiles before; not one that wasn't a smirk. It was a strange feeling it gave her. The power of his charm was not something she would underestimate again. But she couldn't help but wonder-
"Wanna try?" Came a snickering male voice.
"Sure, I guess." Artemis said to the shorter boy. "You'd have to be the girl though."
"Screw that." Robin huffed. "You're a girl, you be a girl."
They assumed position, awkwardly due to a significant height difference. Robin stepped forward.
"Ow. You stepped on my foot." Artemis shook her foot.
"Well you're supposed to follow me." Robin countered.
"Then lead better." They started again. They managed a sloppy circle around the mat and a clumsy spin before they were stopped.
"Rob, you are way too short, bro. But that aside, your arms need to be stiffer, Artemis, and Rob, you need to give her some warning; she can't read your mind." Wally instructed.
"Warning? Like what?" Robin complained, he didn't like vocalizing his moves.
"Like uh, here." Wally easily slid in to occupy Robin's previous position. He didn't smile at her, but his hand on her waist was bringing the weird feeling back.
"Ready." He did ask; he was letting her know to start. "And one-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three. Now spin. One-two-three, one-two-three. Everything's in three-count; follow the beat."
She was looking at her feet and getting dizzy. He was leading her in tight circles, stepping around her, forcing her to cross-step. Staring at the ground was only making her dizzier. She brought her head up and looked at him instead. He had his eyes closed; red-orange eyelashes kissing freckle-stained cheeks. She had been reading too much poetry. She stared straight ahead instead, but that only got her staring at his broad shoulders, and his clavicles, (when did he get taller than her?) pushing out against his pale skin; they were also dusted with freckles. Why was she noticing this?
The spin came unexpectedly and she landed on her ass.
"Nice one, clumsy." Wally mocked her. "I even told you I was going to spin you."
"Maybe if you were a better leader, I wouldn't have fallen." She got up, ignoring his extended hand.
"Maybe if you weren't daydreaming, my perfect fine leading skills would have benefited you." He crossed his arms. She started walking away. Kaldur had left long ago, M'gann and Superboy seemed to have waltzed themselves away, and Robin was gone. Just gone. Even though Wally was supposed to be teaching him how to lead. She walked out the door, letting it swing closed behind her, and then he was alone.
He was usually alone when he danced, but this time it didn't feel right.
She found him again, right where she had left him, several hours later, when she couldn't sleep and wandered into the training room to maybe punch some stuff. He wasn't dancing. He was lying down on the mat, both arms tucked under his head, next to his CD player which was singing him a soft tune. She would have thought he was asleep if his feet weren't tapping the beat of the song. She went and sat next to him.
"What type of dance is this for?" she asked.
"Box-step." He replied. "The poor man's waltz." She didn't respond, he didn't move. She laid down next to him. He pulled an arm out from under his head and lightly tapped her with it, she accepted and lifted her head so he could slide it under her. Neither of them knew why they were doing this, maybe it was the music. Or maybe dancing with someone forged an unusual bond. Or maybe it was the music.
"Are you gay?" Artemis asked after a silence.
"No." Wally glared at the ceiling. He should have seen that coming.
"Okay." Then neither of them said anything.
They must've fallen asleep; the next thing they knew the CD was over and Wally couldn't feel his arm any more. They both stood up.
"Should probably go see what time it is." Artemis didn't look at him. She hadn't planned on sleeping next to him (all night?), and it had made waking up a lot more awkward.
"Yeah…" Wally trailed off. She didn't know if he was looking at her or not.
"Well, thanks, I guess?" She said awkwardly.
"Thanks? Thanks for what?" he shook his arm out a little, trying to re-establish blood flow.
"For teaching me to dance."
"From the girl who said I was a lousy instructor." He smirked. Not smiled.
"You're a fine instructor." She rolled her eyes, and, putting a hand on his shoulder, kissed him on the cheek.
"Wha…I….hu…." he blubbered, his face reddening.
"You normally thank someone for giving you a complement." Artemis gathered herself and prepared her escape.
"I, uh, right. Thanks." He said as she turned around to leave. But not before she saw him flash a smile.
Human (c) The Killers