Datherine (prompted by daltonismydrug)
Title: I have absolutely no idea, someone help me out and I’ll change it here later?
Word Count: 1,025
Pairing: David/Katherine (from CP Coulter’s Dalton)
Summary: They’re dancing. David’s thinking. Katherine’s smiling.
they’re dancing softly, sweetly in a room with one wall of mirrors and three walls of nothing, spinning to no music at all, the rhythm of their dance echoing the fluttering heartbeat he can feel where their fingertips meet, and he’s still unsure how to lead in this dance she seems to know so much better than he ever could.
she’s not looking at him as they start to waltz dizzingly—onetwothreeFOURfivesix—but as he looks down at the crown of her head, at her face tilted down toward his chest, he can see her lip curve up and he smiles too, knowing she is thinking what she has told him a thousand times: “if you don’t take your time, you’ll trip over yourself, dancing is about taking your time, picking a moment and staying in it for as long as possible,” so he wills himself to stretch it, to stop thinking and just be.
she doesn’t laugh when his grip clenches imperceptibly—he really is a terrible leader, holding her tighter than he really should, afraid of her spinning out and away from him, a flash of ribbon, unspooling into nothingness—and he is mutely grateful because as much as he loves the silver peal of her laugh, he loves her silence more, loves those moments when they are so full of each other that there is nothing to say.
the silky fabric of her dress slips freely under his fingers, almost as soft as the hair that is now tickling his lips as they slow and curl into each other, no beat anymore, just languid turns that bring him face to face with their reflection, him in a sober gray suit and her in red, all swirling fabric like a lick of flame in his arms.
they are only just moving, the barest swish of red silk on the floor, and she looks up at him, not through lashes but levelly, he can see the fleck of gold in her right eye that was the only thing he could focus on when he first told her he loved her, he remembers the way her eyes widened when he said the words like she was surprised, like it could be any other way, he loves and hates the way she thinks herself so ordinary when she is so utterly, beautifully otherwise.
her hand on his shoulder is almost nothing, all ocean-blue veins thrumming under translucent skin, faint marks where the needles enter her—he’s seen her brow crease when she caresses them absently in moments when she thinks he’s not looking (he always is), as if licking a finger and rubbing them will make them fade, a mother’s cure really, but for all her purity of self she is no child to be coddled, her eyes are the deepest proof.
they say love isn’t complete without knowing your lover’s imperfections, he should know, he read enough self-help books—and later poetry, but it’s not that he’s an automaton, he just likes logic and logical this is not, love is messy, he’s frankly bewildered, and research is what he does best, so he read Browning and St. Vincent Millay (and in a moment of desperation, cummings)—and he came out knowing love is the one thing he will never read into submission. but nevertheless he’s seen the ashen skin, the luridly yellow and purple and green bruises inside the corner of her elbow (it was his favorite part of her, before, the delicate crook of her arm, the mottled, tender skin just makes it more lovable now); he’s even seen her traitorous heart, beating harshly on a grainy screen, he sat in a chair by her head and stroked her hair, feeling her pulse jump under his fingers as did his at each arbitrary, terrifying skip.
he sometimes worries he will smother her one day, all his darkest worries and heaviest hopes will rest on her shoulders where the bones are traced lightly and she will lose that which makes her unique (the term utterly inadequate, everyone is unique but she is a maelstrom of contradictions and complexities and through it all she is elemental) and he knows all at once when she looks at him that way, the certain knowledge surges through him—
he always underestimates her, and he has come to accept this, that just like the angles of her face are infinite and unreproducible, he can never know her limits because she does not know them herself, she could be invincible, she could be gone in a week, but though he too often misinterprets her ability to love the world in spite of everything as naivete, it is a kind of bravery to return, again and again—to love life, to love it even when you have no stomach for it and everything you’ve held dear crumbles like burnt paper in your hands—and to believe in people without reservation, as she does, something he lost before her, too many hands tugging him in too many different directions, and though he can’t quite bring himself to see through her eyes sometimes he glimpses flashes of a better world and knows it’s from her—you hold life like a face between your palms, a plain face, no charming smile, no violet eyes, and you say, yes, I will take you, I will love you, again.
life is short, he knows this, but never has it been clearer than in this interminable moment, we are all going, this ephemeral girl with the red dress like a shuddering lick of flame and the flash of gold in her eye dancing merrily, cool fingers laced in his and her heart beating between them—thumpTHUMPthumpTHUMP—too fleetingly to say, the reminder each second that she’s alive, she’s alive, she’s alive.
this worrisome honesty he’s kept for too long deep in his pocket, the truth that she will die, he will die, hell they might all die tomorrow, the world may end, life is too short for a love as long as theirs, and he makes his choice—
hand in his pocket
down on one knee
Notes: At first the lack of capitalization came from my phone’s fails due to Google Docs, then I decided to keep it out of some misguided attempt at being literary. The original prompt was for dialogue only, so obviously my muse had to deviate in some way. Funny—originally I wanted to do a Katherine ‘before’, because I like to think of her as a healthy, smiling, vivacious girl, but then I sort of realized halfway through that she can be smiling and vivacious and sick and everything merged. Oh, and—I hope you like the ending. :)
Also, the poem in the italics is The Thing Is by Ellen Bass, and ‘we are all going’ were the last words of William McKinley (the use here shamelessly stolen from John Green).