And when you come, my heart will be waiting
To make sure that you're never alone;
There and then, all my dreams will come true, dear--
There and then I will make you my own.
- Lyrical legend Keri Hilson (x)
People didn't dance like that in clubs.
Bro forgot about the highball glass in his hand as he watched Egbert and Doc Lalonde spin each other across the patio. It was a song he was pretty sure none of them had been born for, all jazz piano and walking bass line and a guy making out with his sax.
But they moved into it like it was their song, and not in any tongue-in-cheek "this my jam" sense. They owned it. They danced like they'd been married thirty years on an Earth where marriage meant a perpetual state of competitive foxtrot, and they played to win. Egbert took a step and Lalonde took the same step in the same breath and four more besides, a complex honeycomb pattern he could follow but couldn't quite break down. Seamless didn't cover it. They were a single swaying, bobbing movement of feet and arms and clasped hands.
And they looked so happy. Lalonde was all the girlish joy of sixteen again and none of its consumptive self-consciousness. She moved in that clingy little black dress with maturity's ease. It wasn't confidence, exactly. She didn't throw herself into the wild throes of the music, either. Instead her dance was--not premeditated, but meditated, deliberate, every flash of leg and round sweep of her hips a conscious and fluid declaration of self. She was a glass brimming with two-hundred-proof Lalonde, and when she spilled over it was in laughter bright and golden as champagne.
And hell. Egbert.
Egbert had actually loosened his tie. Bro could swear there was a different spring to his step, something coiled and driven. He was a powerful man, Bro had always known, but with Doc Lalonde in his arms he was a force of nature. Strong. Sure. And surprisingly pliant as he bent back, lifted and spun her on his hip. Damn, but the man could lead. Gene Kelly would weep.
Lord, he'd seen them move, but he'd never seen them move like this. This was intimate. PlushRump hadn't prepared him to feel like such a voyeur.
Dr. Lalonde laughed as Egbert spun and then caught her against his chest so her arms crossed in front of her. They swayed together to the croon of the saxophone. He bent his head to whisper something in her ear, and she tipped her head towards him. There was that cat smile. They looked so good together. Bro's heart twanged like a badly tuned banjo string.
Oh, no, he thought. They're hot.
Lalonde's laughter bubbled low and clear again into the warm evening as Egbert twirled her round again and let go. She pirouetted like a figure skater and landed squarely in Bro's lap.
"Umfh," he said.
"Dance with me," she told him.
She reached for his glass, but he raised it over his head. "Is that any way to court a mild-mannered debutante, Doc? Take it easy, you'll have me taking to my saddle shoes long before midnight."
She huffed and draped her arms around his neck instead. Egbert looked on, still and suddenly stolid without partner or pipe.
"Come now, you wouldn't refuse a lady's invitation, would you, Striderico?"
"You know me." Bro sipped his highball. "Shrinking violet."
And then both her hands were on his face. "Dance with us," she said, eyes sparkling.
"Lalonde," he began, but she'd already slipped off his lap and plucked the glass from his hand. "Lalonde, look--"
"Up," she said, and that was the thing about Dr. Lalonde--she was slender and svelte and smiling, but she could close quarters with a golem and it would knuckle under. One slim hand wrapped around his wrist and then he was on his feet, propelled toward Egbert with all the force of a woman's prerogative (and one hundred thirty-five pounds of solid fistkind). A lesser man would have stumbled.
Instead, he steadied himself against Egbert's shoulder, snatched up his empty, waiting hand.
Egbert raised his eyebrows a fraction, offered him a subtle smile. He had a damn fine poker face when he wanted, but Bro had a sneaking suspicion that, insane ninja recovery or not, his prankster's gambit had just taken a hit.
"You don't want to lead, Mr. Strider?"
His hands were bigger than Bro's, cool and calloused. Bro shrugged. "What says Sadie Hawkins?"
He looked over his shoulder to catch Lalonde topping off his drink. "Mm, lady's choice says...that Mr. Egbert knows how to treat a girl." She winked and sipped from his newly refilled glass.
"You know, I think I've been swindled here. What happened to two for the price of one? I know I've got the coupon somewh--"
Egbert curled his arm around Bro's waist and dipped him.
"May I have this dance, Miss Violet?"
"...Guess that'd be pretty swell as long as you promise we can go steady, fella. And I've got to be home by nine."
Dr. Lalonde's laughter washed over them like starlight, and Bro had to pretend it wasn't doing weird, fluttery things to his stomach.
They danced slowly, gently rocking more than anything else. The top of Egbert's head only reached Bro's nose, but that didn't stop him from deftly steering Bro around the patio: first this foot, then that one. Simple.
Eventually, Bro adjusted to the sensation of being led. Allowed it. He flicked his eyes up from their feet to catch the glimmer of moonlight along the side of Egbert's face, and the whole thing became breathlessly easy. It was like perfectly centering his balance in the middle of a form with his sword, like dropping a beat at just the right moment. Egbert would move, and he would know exactly where to go. Egbert pulled the same twirl-and-catch move on him, and in thanks and retaliation Bro turned and nibbled his ear, smirked as he stumbled.
This time, Bro dipped him.
Lalonde joined them again, held both their hands in a circle that should have been awkward but just felt sacred, the way a perfect summer night is sacred when the fireflies first begin to emerge. She did the goddamn twist right there under that rising moon, unashamed, full of everything that made her Lalonde and him Bro and Egbert motherfucking Egbert, and when her jazz playlist finally wound down, Bro found himself chuckling at the intro to the next track.
"What?" asked Egbert. He'd lost the tie entirely.
"This's my jam," Bro told him, and this time Lalonde aimed that cat smile at him and dragged him back onto their dance floor.
A minute later, with the curve of her ass ground snug and tight against Bro's crotch, Egbert cleared his throat and said, "People never danced like that at Nanna's country club."
One, two, three,
Peter, Paul, and Mary,
Gettin' down with 3-P
Everybody loves, ooh, countin'
- Lord Nelson, famous composer and third of a ménage à trois (x)