The music pounded itself into my head. The same bass beat over and over, pulsating with the lights- blue, red, white, green, gold, then black. I could feel it all- music, people, colors, sweat, blood, emotion- it poured into my skin and I loved it. The vibrations on the last inches of my spine forced me to live it, again, and again, and again.
Funny how the past comes back in times of least input or greatest sensory overload. It's like the memories are just waiting for the times when you are the most susceptible to them. And in the confusion of the dance floor, they overtake you. Funny, the rhythm really is going to get you, but I never intended on running from it to begin with.
In fact, one reason I still came here was to walk through my memories on their own terms; in a place where I couldn't shape and distort them. I had to stare at them through the lens of forced honesty. After all, what better place than the club where it all started?
But still, I was a little afraid, afraid of some things my conscious mind kept hidden from me. Like why here? Why then? Had it all happened now.... how would it be different? And, if there was no answer to those 'whys', what was I supposed to think? Hell, I suppose I could think about alcohol, or wonder who the hottie was who was trying just so hard to get my attention. Sorry sweetie, I got other things on my mind tonight....
Picking apart the past- some people would have 'gotten over it' or 'moved on.' But I had to know. After all, I deserved that much didn't I? Or did I really deserve anything?
Doubt was a bitch, but for now, I let it drop. I had more important things to do. Like wander over to the bar and experience that drink I had been thinking about. Taste. It was a sense that could bring back more memories than sight or hearing. Taste and smell. God, I could still smell him. But it is so much easier to let the astringent flavor of the alcohol carry that away. Seeing him when I closed my eyes was bad enough, I didn't need to smell him tonight too.
But, through all the chaos of the room, there was his voice again, hypnotic, powerful. It matched his eyes. What had he said that night? Nothing is set in stone. There is no fate, there is no predestined gain or loss. There they were, words he'd spoken on so many occasions. Usually, he was trying to convince someone of something, but that night, he was reminding me. Never forget this.... And now what was I doing? Trying to bury myself in a drink. Damn it.
I needed to remember; needed to- the thought came interrupted. Nothing in the room changed, yet it had. The music wasn't all encompassing now. The colours.... they were just that. Why did things feel empty like this? Just like it used to when he- oh God. It was because there was another presence in the room, something, someone, brighter than all the colors, louder than all the music. Oh God. It's been over a year. Why tonight, why to-fucking-night?
But he was there, in all his glory, simultaneously noticing and dismissing everything in the room. The arrogance dripping off of him as his eyes scanned the crowd.
I wondered if I could sink into this corner enough, wrap the shadows around me and pray that he leaves before he breaks my heart again. But he knew that I was there, just as I had felt him enter, and in some small part of my mind, I knew I was drawing him to me. I wanted him to find me. Inevitable, unless I snuck out the back. I wanted to throw my arms around him as much as I wanted to run. Fight or flight, fight or flight.
I stood up a little straighter. All at once, he was there, close enough to taste, gazing at me with those eyes, distant and real at the same time. He didn't say anything. He didn't need to.
I've got this theory about relationships- eat the roses before they eat you. I wasn't going to let myself be eaten this time. Not by him, not by anyone.... I wouldn't be destroyed.
My mantra broke as he gently stroked my cheek. I flinched. A step back was all I needed, but the genius that I am had decided to stand against the wall because it looked more nonchalant.
I'd heard him make his voice terrifying, persuasive, sensual, but now he was using that strange mix of amusement, enticement, and desire that he saved for special greetings. It made me want to melt into him. A side step would have to do.
"What are you doing here Demian?"
He mocked a pained look.
"I'm not allowed to come to my favorite club? Besides, I could ask you the same."
"I haven't seen you here in a year Demian and I'm here every Friday night and you know I tend bar on Saturdays. Cut the crap. You made sure I would never be a fool after I met you, and I don't intend to need that lesson again."
He dropped his act. "Fair enough. Truth be told, I wanted to see you again."
I stared at his face trying to find some last vestige of an act. There wasn't one, not one damn bit. I wanted to believe him. I wanted to believe him so bad it made my teeth hurt. That was more terrifying than anything.
My voice was softer than I intended it to be.
"You left a year ago without even saying goodbye."
"I'd apologize, but you know I don't do that and we both know it wouldn't help."
There was nothing to say to that. He was right. We had always said that our freedom was the most important thing. But what could I say? How did he expect me to respond? I had fallen in love with him, and all the time in the world wasn't going to change that. I also wasn’t ready to forgive him for that either.
He stared at me for a second like he was trying to see all that had passed while he'd been gone. It made me dizzy, but I found I could meet his gaze. If I'd thought it possible, he looked almost sad. If only he knew.
"A lot has changed Demian." I couldn't meet his eyes anymore. I hated how wounded I sounded.
His voice was so soft, it barely carried over the music. "I know." Most people say that automatically. With him, I never doubted. He always knew, and that was so damn infuriating.
His hand was there on my cheek again, barely touching, almost painfully gentle. "I've...missed you."
I wasn't going to cry. There was no way he was going to make me cry. "A year Demian... and ... now you miss me?”
His eyes flashed, only for a second, but there was enough anger there to stagger me. If it had been directed, it would have made anyone run in terror, but he'd always saved his hatred for himself. So I had deserved that one, but what else was I supposed to say? God, I missed you too. It hurt too much, and as petty as it sounded.... I almost wanted him to hurt as much as I did.
"Most people wouldn't have come tonight, you know that I can't just leave with nothing. I know I did then, but I'm not exactly the same either." He was controlled, but the emotion was still there, bubbling beneath the surface.
"You never were most people."
"Neither were you."
I had meant mine as a stinging insult. He meant it as a compliment. Now who was being the ass? I hated feeling flustered. "Want a drink? It's on the house..."
"No, but I think you do know what I do want." His fingers rested under my chin; I'd looked away without realizing it.
"No Demian, I don't know what you want. I thought I did once." I turned my face back slowly, not meeting his gaze. He lifted my chin ever so slightly, forcing me to look into his eyes.
"Yes, you do." His voice was soft, but I could feel it dance across my skin.
"Damn it Demian." Yes, I was using his name more than I needed to. It was my way of showing him how angry I was with him without screaming and breaking down on the sticky floor.
"You can't just expect..."
He silenced me with a look. It was pained, full of desire and longing. It was one that belonged only to him, and he knew the effect it had on me.
"What would you do if I said I was seeing someone now?" Again the pettiness, but God it hurt so much just to look at him. Part of me hoped he'd believe me and leave.
He grinned, though the look in his eyes was still there. "You know that's when I'm at my best."
I never seemed to be able to win with him. The only thing that could happen was I'd lose and end up falling for him again. Though it's hard to fall farther for someone when you've been at the bottom since you first met his eyes.
"I...want another chance." Still the look. Humility was not his strong point, not by a long shot. This was costing him. It was the closest thing that he had ever done to admitting he was wrong. And I didn't know what to say.
I closed my eyes and whispered, "Where have you been for the past year?"
"Around." That one word carried all the sadness, anger, wonder, and simple joy in the world.
It was so nice to know that I rated a one-word answer. I felt the anger growing again.
"I could spend another year trying to tell you. I've seen a lot, felt a lot. I… thought about what I gave up. That's why I came back."
And as quickly as it came, it vanished. We had stood there and spoken, his hand on my face and I hadn't said it. I hadn't said it. I didn’t want to feel like I had to say it.
"I missed you."
"Will you come with me? Tonight? I think...we have some things to talk about." He never pleaded or begged, but this was as close as I'd ever heard him. That questioning tone. He sounded, almost, confused. As though he were unsure of how I would respond. I think he as much expected me to hit him, or at least tell him off more than he expected me to say, "Where did you want to go?"
"A Walk." Just like that, capitalized.
"A walk." That was how it started. Maybe it was starting again.... maybe I still would slap him. Either that or kiss him.
He leaned in, slowly, pausing with his lips barely touching mine before pulling back, that mix of desire and pleading in his eyes again.
There he went reading my mind again. A chill swept over my skin. All I could do was nod my head like an idiot. I seemed to be good at the idiot thing tonight.
His movement was almost violent as he grabbed the back of my neck and pulled me into the kiss. His taste, the feel of him, they were all the same. Some things you never forget. And under it all, that burning of his passion, smoldering inside him like a caged animal waiting to get out. I felt the heat rise to my face and sink through the rest of my body. Whether a year or a hundred years, I'd never forget the feeling of his lips on mine.
"Oh God, Demian," I whispered into his lips. I couldn't force my legs to take a step away.
"Just let go," he murmured back, gripping me tighter in his arms, searching now with his tongue.
I tried to draw away, my head hitting the wall behind me. My eyes searched his. "Didn’t you want to go for a walk?"
He kept a loose hold. "You knew what else I was asking for." Utter confidence, as usual. And he was right, as usual.
I remembered this feeling- his heart beating, the flames in his eyes and the arrogance in his voice.
"Let's start with a walk Demian."
"As you wish, Lena." It was the first time he'd used my name, the first time I'd heard it melt off his lips in a year. With that one word, he'd told me everything I needed to know. I couldn't help but follow him out the door.