He shouldn't have any more wine, the fine blur decorating every object in his vision stands testimony to that, but he pours himself some more anyway, and then finishes off the bottle completely when he gives the last of it to her. Lips painted dark green curl upward at the edges, a wordless expression of gratitude, and then the two of them raise their glasses. A crystalline ping rings out through the night air as they raise a toast to this strange, little friendship of theirs; her to his unwavering ability to listen, him to her very existence in his bittersweet life.
He was not the only man around willing to hear her worries, not even close. But the others, they'd listen and then they'd suggest. They'd give their opinions, how they thought she should right all her issues, but that wasn't what she wanted. She just wanted someone to speak with, who was willing to listen and not question, to offer condolence instead of judgment. He became that person on the grounds of comradeship and nothing more. It was his sword duty to serve the Felt, an important part of which she was. But as he chiseled away at the layers and learned more and more about the person hidden beneath, who was, to him, even more beautiful that her stunning exterior, comradeship fell away into the comforting familiarity of friendship. Then in his heart the seeds grew, warming his skeptic's soul, and then the unthinkable – no, the impossible – occurred.
He fell in love.
He fell into a terrible, single-sided kind of love that poisoned his heart, left it aching in all waking hours because he knew – and, now sitting beside her, still knows – that he would forever stand eclipsed in the great shadow of Spades Slick.
It hurts. God damn, does it hurt, like an infected gash doused in alcohol, but he's okay with it. He's impervious to pain, unshakable. Pain is his play thing, and he fucks with it like there is no tomorrow. If there is anyone who can tell pain who's boss, it's him. At least, that is what he likes to tell himself.
He doesn't really know if he believes it or not.
"So, Doze," her sultry voice purrs with its own tipsy edge, "you said you worked in showbiz before coming to us, right?"
He sips his wine, just to buy himself a few more seconds before he has to answer the question. He doesn't like to talk about his life before the Felt. Every time he speaks of it, it's like he's slashing open an old scar. He loved the theater, the swing of the jazz, the tap of his black, polished shoes as he danced on the stage. And the people. Oh, the people. To have been adored just by doing what he loved. It was the best feeling.
Doze hates talking about his life before the Felt because he misses it more than anything in the world. But Snowman doesn't know that, no one does, so he can't bring himself to snap at her.
He sets the wine glass down on the patio table beside him, settles back in his chair, his hands folded over his rounded stomach, and stares across the Mansion's rooftop at the glowing city skyline and the two moons hanging high in the sky. He's afraid to meet her eyes. He fears that his own might betray his feelings. "Yeah. I sang show-tunes and danced for people."
Dreading her next question, his green fingers grip the arms of the lounge chair so tightly his palms begin to ache. He's so scared she's going to ask, "Why'd you leave?" It's what everyone always asks, and usually he has no qualms about telling others to buzz off, but this is her. She's even worse than Clubs Deuce and Itchy combined when it comes to ferreting the truth out of him.
But what she says instead takes him completely by surprise.
"Why don't you show me, then?"
His brows rise a fraction at the strange request. "My tap dancing?"
He is not sure if he wants to do that. The summer night is warm, and even without his signature coat, his skin feels a little sticky from the heat. And of course, he is flushed and dizzy from the wine.
"No, not that." She swings her shapely legs over the side of her chair, slips her feet into her sandals, and rises. Palm up, a black hand is extended towards him in an open invitation. "Dance with me. Any old dance, I don't care. Just show me you know how."
He looks at her hand, the fingers, their nails painted sparkling green, so dainty and perfect, and scoffs. "You're drunk. You don't want to dance with me." He gets up to leave. "Go do it with Scratch, or someone."
Snowman catches him by the arm, latching on with a grip that is forcefully tight. "That bastard always steps on my toes. And I don't want to dance with him right now, I want to dance with you."
I want to dance with you.
The words rend him helpless. He doesn't even know if they're real, they seem too good to be true, like something right out of his most secret thoughts, but he still turns around to face her. When he looks up, he sees she is smiling. He can't help it; he smiles too.
"Alright." He laces the fingers of one hand with hers, and tentatively puts the other on her narrow waist. A shiver runs from both hands all the way down to his toes. "Why don't we waltz?"
"A slow dance?" She snickers. "Perfect."
"Haha, very funny." With a good-humored roll of his eyes, he takes her hand, and they begin.
There is no music to guide them, no rhythm to which their feet can keep in step, but still they move together, their movements matching in perfect time. It is as though they can hear it in their heads, the music that grants them both their seamless motions, the steps that fall in sync as though by magic. No word is spoken, no sound is made, and yet they move as though they know exactly when the other is to turn, to dip, or to step.
In that moment, they are alone but for the stars, casting them in hues of silver. There is no Mansion, no sprawling city. No Scratch to answer to, and no Lord English to call the shots. There is no shadow for Doze to stand in. There is only them, Snowman and Doze, waltzing on the rooftop as though guided by the light of the stars.
Her hands are warm in his and the ground is solid beneath his shoes, but in his drunken haze, Doze still can not help but wonder if this is real. Dancing beneath the shining lights of the heavens with the one person he desires above all else. It seems too lovely to be real, for, after all, it is the stuff born of moonlit dreams.