Five Times Kate Providence Danced with Danny Valentine
(or Two Fake Weddings, a Real One, and a Few Other Places)
Words have divided man from woman,
one from another, this from that,
until only sages know how to put things together.
Without words, without even understanding,
lovers find each other.
The moment of finding is always a surprise,
like meeting an old friend never before known.
- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
1. The almost-wedding
The first time Danny dances with Kate is at the celebration following what would have been Nisha’s wedding. He doesn’t ask her to dance, nor does she ask him, but they end up drawn together anyway. There’s something that just seems natural about the two of them that he can’t quite explain. She’s a ball of energy on the dance floor and he matches her movement for movement, and if he feels a little ridiculous at first, well, he’s seen a lot of ridiculous things in his lifetime, and he forgets his inhibitions in face of her sheer enthusiasm.
She seems to have forgiven him for attempting to whore her out to his dad. (It sounds worse than it really was, anyway.) He can’t figure out why she’s so accepting of it – of everything, from his taunting (which never gets the rise he wants out of her) to the overwhelming fact that he’s a god.
Even more disconcerting is how easily she sees through him. Not only did she know right away that he was behind her sudden desire to boff his dad, but she even tricked him into admitting it! He might find her a little bit admirable, actually, might even start to like her, if he were in the habit of becoming attached to mortals. As it is, it only makes him feel more compelled to figure her out.
After all, it’s vital to understand people in order to manipulate them, and manipulating people is what Danny does best.
So he takes her hand and lets her lead.
And sure, she’s just another know-it-all mortal. And she’s not his type. And she’s a bit of a dork. But he’s willing to entertain the notion that she may be his perfect dancing partner. The height difference allows twirls that are the envy of every other couple in the room. He gets dizzy just looking at her, but she never wavers.
She sits on his knee, then jumps up, pulling him up with her. She dances away, and when he reaches for her she pulls him in close. “So. Why did you want me to screw your dad, anyway?”
Danny has never believed that honesty is the best policy, but he figures it isn’t worth concocting an elaborate cover story when she’d probably just see right through it.
“I needed to make Mom angry at Dad, and you were the bait.”
She doesn’t seem affronted in the slightest. “Why?”
He shakes his head. “That’s strictly need-to-know.”
She considers this and nods. “Okay. But next time, could you let me in on your grand scheme instead of using me?”
No way, he thinks. “I guess that’s reasonable.”
She grins, and he gives her a twirl.
“So,” she says when she stops spinning, “you blew your own plan when you came to rescue me, then?”
He nods reluctantly. “Yeah. It was Leo’s idea, though.”
Her smile widens. “Whatever you say.”
Again he can’t help but marvel at her distinct lack of outrage over this whole thing. He’s been soundly thrashed with flung objects by countless mortal women for transgressions far slighter than this.
At least she doesn’t know about Ari’s penchant for turning his mortal lovers into furry animals the morning after. If she did, she probably wouldn’t be so forgiving – and Danny has a feeling that her projectiles wouldn’t fail to hit their mark.
He dances with her well into the night. When the party is over, he doesn’t want to stop. He tumbles into bed to the sound of her humming down the hall, and taps out an accompanying rhythm as he falls asleep.
2. The nightclub
It is a few weeks later when they dance for a second time. After successfully getting Nick and Summer together, Ari skips out to go start a war somewhere and Grace, Leo and Phoebe head home, but the air is full of electricity and magic and romance, and there is no way Danny’s leaving this club. This time, he asks Kate to dance, and she smiles and gives him her hand.
The club is just about the furthest thing from a wedding, and the dancing is different as well. Club dancing isn’t her forte; she’s a bit rusty, a little awkward compared to the vixens he usually dances this way with. He figures she probably hasn’t been clubbing since college. It’s a shame, really, because her enthusiasm more than makes up for her lack of practice.
She throws her body on his in the manner of a woman who knows exactly what reaction she wants to provoke. Not for the first time, her fearlessness takes his breath. (Metaphorically, of course. There’s no way he actually forgets to breathe when she pulls him flush against her. Because that would be crazy.)
He isn’t delusional enough to think to that she actually wants him. He knows she acts this way with him because she feels she can. Because he’s safe. He’s Danny. Over the past few weeks he’s become her partner in crime, her ally in the Valentine household, and she feels comfortable with him.
He doesn’t know what he did to earn her trust. He doesn’t think he quite deserves it.
But clubs have a way of making a person forget themselves, even without the added effects of alcohol and divine magic, both of which this particular club on this particular night is full of. So Danny holds her close, touching her everywhere he thinks he can get away with, and just this one night, lets himself give in to her, to that strange allure she holds for him, and to the feeling of her skin on his – something he didn’t know he wanted until he felt it.
He loses himself a bit, actually, forgetting completely about Nick and Summer until Nick taps him on the shoulder on his way to fetch drinks for himself and Kate.
“Oh, hey man!” Danny exclaims with false cheer.
“Look, dude,” Nick says seriously. “I don’t know what’s going on here.” He pauses and smiles at Summer, waiting for him by the door. “And I don’t care anymore. But I do know two things. One is that Pencil isn’t really dating that old guy she was here with. And two is that Pencil likes you.”
Danny frowns. “I’m sorry, how do you know all this?”
“Because I know how Pencil looks at a guy she loves. She could barely stand that other guy, but you… If she was trying to get rid of me, she should’ve come here with you. I know that look anywhere. And I can tell you like her, too.”
Danny opens his mouth to protest but Nick heads him off.
“Hey man, you don’t have to explain anything to me. I’m happy with how things turned out.” He pushes his face close to Danny’s. “But know that if you ever do anything to hurt Pencil, I will kill you.”
And with that, he turns and steps out into the night, his soulmate on his arm.
Danny shakes his head slowly and continues about his business. He brings Kate her drink and she barely takes a sip before setting it down and pulling him by his chains back onto the dance floor.
Her fingers are on his neck, now digging into his back, now pressed against his chest. He lets his lips graze her ear and thinks that if he looks like he’s in love with her right now, it’s only because of Phoebe’s magic. That’s all.
3. Their (fake) wedding
After an hour of toasts from people who don’t even know him at all, Danny is bored, his feet antsy to get up and dance.
He nudges Kate’s foot with his and whispers, “Let’s dance, shall we?”
Her smile is radiant - like a real bride, he thinks.
They don’t get much actual dancing done, however, as the guests plop him in a chair and lift him above their heads. But Kate holds out her hand and he takes it over the barrier, and watches as she giggles with glee.
He watches her a lot these days.
He doesn’t let himself think about that kiss. If he did, he would run before he ever gathered up the courage to do it again, and running away from her is the last thing he wants to do right now.
He isn't sure what his feelings for her are; he isn't exactly in the habit of analyzing them. But he knows what she tastes like now, knows what it feels like to hold her in his arms, and he doesn't think he can ever forget that feeling.
He thinks he never wants to run again, unless she is running with him.
They don’t get a real dance at their fake wedding, nor does Danny get a second kiss, because Grace screams and suddenly all hell breaks loose.
4. The garden
The fourth time they dance is also the saddest time, in that he finds her crying alone in the garden in the middle of the night, leaning against a tree for support.
Things are getting worse by the day now. Ari is dead and Ray is missing and Grace is beside herself. Leo never sleeps, constantly on the alert. Phoebe hides in her room, won’t go near the oracle except for jobs, afraid of what she’ll see. All over the world, gods are disappearing left and right, and through it all, the Valentines have to keep up the family business, because otherwise they’ll die. Simple as that.
Kate could have left a long time ago. Should have. There’s no reason for her to stay when it only puts her in danger. This is not her fight. But she has borne it all bravely, even become the family’s rock, in a way, with a façade so strong it fooled even Danny.
Until today. Today they failed at a job. Two soulmates who were literally perfect for each other but had too much baggage between them. Absolutely nothing had worked to make the two see past the issues, the fights, the broken promises. The window of fate closed, they went their separate ways and Phoebe won’t say what happens to them in the end.
It is Kate’s first failure, which really should be impressive, but Danny knows all too well the guilt of watching two people destroy their one chance at happiness and being inadequate to stop it. It’s happened to him thousands of times and he still feels it, cold and sickening. He can only imagine what it must feel like for her.
She looks up at him, eyes glistening, like he knows answers that she doesn’t.
“Why does it have to be so hard?” she chokes out. “Love should be simple. When there’s someone you love in front of you, you should stop trying to analyze and rationalize and just hold them.”
Yes, you should, he thinks, and before he even realizes what he’s doing, he’s pulling her into his arms. She melts into him, buries her face in his chest, fingers clinging to the folds of his shirt.
He wonders if she understands the implication. He won’t ask, can’t ask her about something even he doesn’t fully understand. He isn’t yet ready to face what this all means –the implicit trust between them, his inexplicable willingness to let her cry on his shoulder, the way his body and his gaze always gravitate toward her, and the cold, hard knowledge firm in the back of his mind these past few months that if it came down to it, he wouldn’t think twice about doing whatever it took to keep her safe. He isn’t ready to know what her answer would be if he told her.
If she does catch the subtext, though, she ignores it and just keeps talking.
“Was there ever a time when love was like that?” she asks, voice muffled against his shoulder.
He shakes his head, rests it on top of hers. “No.”
There is silence then, and he thinks this might be exactly what she was talking about.
It feels comfortingly familiar, like something he’d known many years ago and forgotten, and his only fear is that he will screw it up somehow. He feels a need to comfort her somehow, but his best laid plans always seem to backfire, so this time he goes with his gut. He searches for the most comforting thing he can think of, and alights on an ancient Greek love song he learned in his childhood well over a thousand years ago. He sings it softly in her ear, willing the words to comfort her and not make him seem like a fool.
To his surprise, she begins to sway in his arms, her hands traveling up to clasp behind his neck. He moves with her, the archaic language both familiar and foreign on his tongue.
When he stops, she asks quietly what language it is, and takes in a sharp breath at his answer.
“It’s beautiful,” she murmurs, and he switches to an Italian Renaissance love ballad. These songs are lost to history, forgotten by all save him and the immortals who care to remember them. They make him feel somehow removed from time, here in this garden, with her.
When he finishes his second song, she looks up at him, her eyes dry, and giggles a little.
He raises an eyebrow, feels his cheeks warm. “It’s not supposed to be funny.”
“No, no, it’s not! I was just thinking.” She pauses and shakes her head. “I’m being serenaded by the God of Love.”
“Technically, by the God of Erotic Love. I’m sure you could get Mom to sing to you, though, if you want.”
She smiles up at him.
“Thank you for humoring me.” She sounds so earnest, and he thinks she doesn’t have to thank him, shouldn’t have anything to thank him for. “I guess you don’t usually have to deal with women blubbering all over you like that, huh?”
“Just you and my mother,” he answers truthfully. “I wouldn’t do it for anybody else. Maybe Phoebe, but she always goes to Leo first, so.”
“I’m not usually like this. I haven’t been myself lately.” She pauses, ducks her head.
“I’m so afraid, Danny,” she whispers, like she’s ashamed of the admission. His name on her lips sounds exactly the way it did when she turned to him after her house burned down, only then she wasn’t asking for help or even sympathy from him. Now she looks at him like maybe he can fix it, and it makes his chest ache.
“Shh.” He tries to infuse his voice with as much comfort as possible. Empathy has never been his strong point. “Don’t worry. Nobody’s going to hurt you.”
Her head snaps up, her brow furrows. “Not for me,” she says, as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “Not for myself.”
He understands then.
She’s afraid for him.
She stayed for him.
And he can't fathom what to say to that, so he decides to kiss her instead.
He lowers his head and she meets him halfway. She tastes just like he remembers, only saltier, and he presses her body close against his. He feels every point of contact between them - her fingertips on his cheek, her hair in his hands, the tip of her tongue shy and teasing at his bottom lip - and he has the crazy thought that this is what forever feels like, that he's never really understood the concept until now.
She breaks the kiss first, and for one terrible second his mind kicks into overdrive, trying to come up with a good way to apologize that isn't I'm sorry, because he's not sorry, will never be sorry.
But she smiles at him and presses her lips to his neck, and he remembers that talking is overrated, anyway.
5. Grace and Ray’s wedding
It’s scandalous because Ari’s only been dead for two years, but Grace never cared a whit for what the other gods thought, and the prospect of death has taught her to throw the last vestiges of caution to the wind.
The real miracle is that it only took months instead of years for her to forgive Ray for his role in Ari’s death. But Ray did try to warn Ari, and nearly died trying to avenge his brother; now he’ll have to live with the consequences of his actions for all eternity. Anyway, as Grace explained it to Kate, the marriage won’t change anything. Grace has always been caught between her two great loves. In life, they shared her physically; now, with one of them dead, the living will always know that her heart is eternally divided between them.
When Grace throws the bouquet, Kate stays on the edge of the crowd, doesn’t even reach for it. But Danny, hiding behind a tree, lets loose a felt-tipped arrow that spears the bouquet midair and drives it directly into the ground at Kate’s feet.
She picks it up graciously, but later, when they take to the dance floor, she chastises him soundly.
“You could’ve put my eye out!”
“It’s a training arrow! It’s harmless!”
She forgives him, because she’s used to this kind of thing.
"So," she asks casually, "did you do that just to show off, or are you trying to tell me something?"
Danny cocks his head. "Well. I don't really believe in marriage, per se, but we are already married according to Jewish law, so I suppose it's too late for nonbelief. But trust me," he winks at her, "if I ever propose to you, you'll know it."
He still doesn't really see the point of marriage, but he's read her books (though he'd deny it if asked), and they all end in weddings, so he figures he knows what she wants.
And he's never letting her go anyway, so he might as well give her a piece of paper to that effect.
They don’t get a real dance at their real wedding, either, because the Oracle sends them an especially urgent job in the middle of the reception.
“You don’t have to go if you don’t want to,” Grace assures them. “Phoebe and Leo can handle it.”
They look at each other. Danny shrugs. Kate grins and says, “Give me fifteen minutes to change.”
He follows her up the stairs, catches her around the waist, and whispers in her ear, “You’ll dance for me later, right?”
“You wish,” she retorts, but she kisses him hard before disappearing into their bedroom.
Danny sighs, but he doesn’t mind. Not really.
After all, tomorrow they leave for their honeymoon on Mount Olympus, and if Danny remembers correctly, the dance parties there are wild.