They’re facing each other silently. He’s watching her to see if she’s ready. She’s waiting for his command to begin. He nods once and her eyes flutter closed. Instantly, he lunges. He’s pouncing, bounding, leaping, reaching, revolving, circling, clutching…only to come up empty. And she’s twisting, turning, spinning, twirling, stepping ducking, dipping…moving easily out of his grasp. It’s an intricate routine, they’re dancing, and it looks almost as if it’s choreographed. Even though they’re fighting, their movements are elegant and graceful. She’s humming softly to herself, her high soprano voice creating the perfect tune, and it’s as if they’re moving in time to her sweet song.
He begins to stop planning which moves he’s going to make, instead just jumping at her whenever the situation arises. It’s working, even though he wishes it won’t. She’s barely missing his blows now and sometimes, he strikes her, and as much as it hurts him every time she stumbles, he knows he has to keep going. He can feel her getting increasingly angry and frustrated but he knows that this is necessary…so he keeps going.
His strikes are hitting their mark more and more often and it’s hurting him just as much as it’s hurting her. He can feel the hurt emanating off her in waves. Not only is he hurting her when he hits her but he’s also hurting her because he keeps going.
After one particularly hard blow, she stops. He can see her lips wobbling, even though he knows she can’t really cry, and her legs shake as if they’re about to give in.
“C’mon on, Alice,” he growls, reaching out to hit her again. He knows that his voice isn’t the comforting, encouraging sound she wants to hear, but he knows she needs to learn, otherwise he won’t be able to leave her side. Her eyes snap open, the liquid gold staring straight into his own. The pain in her eyes is palpable. She wants him to stop, she wants him to take her into his arms and tell her everything’s okay and that she’s doing well. But he can’t.
“Concentrate,” he growls, stepping back slightly to give her a moment to compose herself. She closes her eyes again angrily and suddenly the frustration he feels coming from her turns into full blown fury. In that moment, she hates him. She hates that he’s doing this to her, that he’s not helping her or encouraging her. Most of all she hates that this part of him is the man he was before her or that there was anything for him before her, because there wasn’t anything before him for her and until now she’s been able to convince herself that it’s the same both ways. And on top of it all, she hates that he’s doing this for her own good, because he loves her and it makes her wonder if his love is stronger than her own, because he is willing to hurt her to save her.
She’s moving quicker now, faster, stronger and he’s glad to see that each time he lunges, he misses her. She’s gaining on him now, scratching and hitting him and so he steps up his game, because maybe, if she can beat him in a fight then he won’t have to worry about her.
“Keep going, you’re doing well.” There’s the encouragement, the support that she needs from him. Her body warms at his words and a smile lights her face. She picks up the tune of the song she was singing again, humming softly to herself but this time he joins her, humming quietly as well. Soprano and bass, mixing together in an intricate weave. Their movements turn back into the dance but this time quicker and faster and their song picks up its pace.
He’s watching her; the way her lips tremble from their music, the way her body moves, stretching, contracting, bending, as she moves easily out of his grasp.
And then one moment she’s there in front of him and the other, perched on his back, her mouth at his neck. He smiles widely as she kisses his neck, giggling softly. He slings her around so she’s facing into him, her head curved up towards his.
“Sorry about that, love,” he whispers into her hair, hugging her tightly to him. She just laughs and he can tell from the love and forgiveness radiating from her that she never really held it against him, not really.
He squeezes her tightly and kisses the top of her head once more.
“Now, ready for round two?” She laughs and dances out from his arms, her grin stretching widely over her face.
“You know I’m gonna win.”