I Don't Dance

Tuesday night at Locus Pocus. I'd managed to grab a table, so I didn't really need to be holding Zan's sweaty t-shirt balled up in my hands. I could've put it on the table. I just didn't think to. It wasn't so I'd smell him on my hands later. I'm not that sentimental.

Every couple of songs he came plowing over to gulp water. If I served any purpose by being there, it was keeping his water glass full. Occasionally one of us would drop a witty comment, and the other would nod and laugh, unable to hear it properly over the thundering beat. All we were really saying to each other was I'm still here and so are you anyway. The fourth time I saw him heading over, I had a good one ready for him, some choice bit of snark about the nearest cage dancer's wardrobe trauma.

Then he grabbed my hand, and I forgot my joke. I spilled my beer. I reflexively pulled away, but he grabbed me again, tugging at me.

"What?" I demanded indignantly.

He pulled. I resisted. He said, "Come dance!"

I yanked my hand away for real, shaking my head. "No!"

"Come on, Star, you can dance just once!"

"No! I don't dance."

He hesitated, maybe considering whether to try again, maybe wondering what my damage was. Then he shrugged and dove back into the crowd.

I finished my beer in one gulp. I refused to wonder why he'd suddenly tried to include me.

When he'd had enough, we left. We never stayed until bar close. He danced as much as he wanted to, and then we vacated. I'd mostly forgotten about before, but as soon as we were out in the cool spring night he said, "How come you don't dance?"

I rolled my eyes. "Is it so fucking abnormal? I thought you got it."

"I guess not."

He sounded contrite, so I couldn't be outright nasty. I still came off a bit sharp, though: "I don't like to make a public spectacle of myself, all right? I don't like to be conspicuous."

"Oh." He glanced at me as if considering saying something else, but decided not to. I handed him his shirt. He tucked it in the back of his belt instead of putting it on.

When we got home, he grabbed my arm and towed me toward his room. My first thought was that he was going to command me to play versus-mode Katamari with him. I decided to tell him to shower first and duck out while he was in the bathroom. It was cute how much he enjoyed dropping pans on my head when he won, but the game itself made me carsick. He didn't turn on the game system, though. He went to his computer instead, the one that was his personal machine rather than the Foundation's.

"What's up?" I asked.

He was paging through something. I peeked over his shoulder and saw that it was a music mix. "Can you dance in private?"

"Oh no you don't. I'm outta here."

His hand shot out and caught my wrist as I turned to go. "Don't be a baby," he commanded, still paging.

"No. All kinds of no. Look, I can't even -- that mopey bullshit you dance to -- I don't know how you --"

"This isn't mopey, right? Chemical Brothers." He found what he was looking for and started it playing. Not mopey; in fact, so cheerful it was a bit silly. Not very danceable, though, to my relief.

"I can't even find the beat in this. Go take a shower, quit fucking around."

"Long intro. Wait for it. There it is!" As the music picked up what even I had to admit was a fairly catchy beat, he threw me a huge grin and started bouncing around like a kid.

I burst out laughing. He looked so very stupid. When he took my hands and started dragging me around with his bouncing, I let him, only half-grudgingly. Feeling unreal and self-conscious, glad I was a little bit drunk, I started hopping around too. He laughed even harder than I did. He was making such an idiot of himself, I didn't really mind being an idiot too. Well, not much, anyway.

Our dorky bouncing gradually took on a certain dancelike aspect. Though we occasionally started laughing again, after a couple minutes we were mostly dancing. It was surprisingly okay with me. He wasn't trying to give me a personality makeover or anything. He just wanted to play. That was all right.

Besides, I didn't get to see him laughing and acting like a goof all that often. It was appealing.

The song ended, and we stood there breathing hard, grinning, still holding hands. I could feel the heat radiating off him; I smelled fresh sweat and a lingering aura of smoke from the club. The next song was playing. Neither of us moved; we just stood there looking at each other and listening to it. It was trancey, ambient; he wasn't going to start bouncing around to this one. That meant one of us was going to have to let go first. I decided, impulsively, that it wasn't going to be me.

It wasn't him either. We listened to this boring, pretty techno nothingness for minute after minute, staring at each other's faces, half-grinning. I wondered if he felt as stupid as I did. I could see his pulse jumping in his throat. I wondered if his heart was pounding because he'd been dancing, or because we were frozen like this.

In my mind, we each took a step closer, and we slow-danced to this undanceable song. We shuffled awkwardly around like kids at prom. In my mind, when it was over we didn't move apart. We held each other silently for... hours. Years. Until I finally felt like it was me he was holding.

The song ended, and we both startled like sleepwalkers waking. Before I knew what I was doing, I'd dropped his hands. He looked away, sheepish, rubbing his arms as if he was cold.

"Shower time," he said, and went into the bathroom without looking at me again.

I shook my head to jolt the dream out. As I went to my own room, I resolved to cut the second half of the incident from my memory. I'd remember this as the time we jumped around like retards, not the time we stared at each other for five and a half minutes without moving. Or if I couldn't forget it, I'd pretend it was a staring contest. I wouldn't think about how we spent those minutes talking ourselves out of taking that step forward.

And when I couldn't sleep, a few hours later, and killed some time downloading all the Chemical Brothers I could find until I located those two songs, it wasn't because I was replaying the scene in my head. I'm not that sentimental.

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