*this is the fastest I have ever completed anything ever so I hope you're proud of me
I was reading through GamblingDementor's fics (again) and got inspired to do a little one of my own! Thanks to them for the inspiration!
And thanks as usual to my beautiful beta avasdandelions- the lenny faces are much appreciated ;)*
Usnavi doesn't dislike dancing, per se- it's more the fact that he's never really done it all that much. What with essentially running his own business from the age of 17, and with a younger cousin to pseudo-parent on top of schoolwork and a couple of extra jobs on the side, he didn't exactly have time for the dance floor at any point before his early twenties. He doesn't dislike it… but he'd be hard-pressed to deny that it scares him a little.
Dating Vanessa hardly makes that better.
Vanessa loves to dance- she loves to shake and work her body on the floor and she's always the centre of attention because of how damn beautiful she looks when she does it- and before, Usnavi loved to watch, ignoring the twisting feeling in his gut as nameless men grabbed at her and whistled, in awe of the way she moved. Now, dating her, he comes to the abrupt realisation that he's supposed to be dancing with her. And that is nothing short of terrifying.
She's Vanessa, she's perfect, she's practically renowned for her movement on the dance floor, and he's already got so much damn competition. On his way to their first proper date at a club- he's been putting it off with trips to restaurants he can't afford- he finds himself dreading the evening. Guys like the ones that frequent this place laughing his sorry attempts at dancing are the last thing he needs for his self esteem- he hasn't danced, properly danced, in years. It makes it that much worse that Vanessa has danced with every guy on the block; she's just got far too much to compare him with and he knows, just knows, that he's going to make a fool of himself.
So when they get there, he stalls. He buys her drinks, says 'in a minute' when she asks if he wants to head onto the floor, and it takes her physically dragging on his hands for him to leave his position at the bar.
And Vanessa Garcia is anything but stupid.
She stops, cups his chin with one gentle hand and says "Usnavi, we don't have to dance." And she means it, 100%. If the prospect of dancing is making her boyfriend's face turn practically green with fear, she'll give it up in a heartbeat. Usnavi shakes his head and tells her that no, he wants to dance, really, but she knows him well enough by now to see through it. It doesn't hurt that Usnavi is a terrible liar.
She takes his hand before he can protest further and pulls him outside, where he puts his face in his hands and keeps repeating that he's sorry, he's sorry and she realises after some coaxing that he think's she's embarrassed of him. He doesn't look like he believes her when she tells him it's not true- but after barely a moment of thought, she comes up with a plan.
Vanessa Garcia is the best dancer in Washington Heights- she can damn well teach Usnavi.
At first, he's awkward about it. He shows up to their first 'lesson' looking like he's on his way to the gallows, and he's stiff as a board when she takes his hands and guides them to her waist. He blushes and apologises again and again when he gets something wrong, and he's not exactly a champion weight lifter so there are plenty of things he can't physically do, which she knows frustrates him, but, gradually, he gets better. He starts actually dancing, instead of stiffly moving against her- and he starts to enjoy it, too.
A few weeks later, they end up back at the same club and Usnavi barely hesitates before he pulls her onto the floor. Not the centre, but he dances with her at the side, smiling and moving more easliy with every second, and she's proud of him, more than anything. As they carry on practicing, Usnavi continues to improve- and, sure, maybe he'll never be the best on the block, but for her, he tries to be, and that means the world.
Dancing has never been all that high on Benny's list of favourite things, either. He can appreciate the skill behind it, and really quite enjoys listening to the music- but the Heights doesn't have the music or the dance that he grew up with. It's difficult. Cami and Kevin don't dance the way his parents did, Dani shaking her hips to the piragüero's guitar is so far removed from the way he remembers his sister's laughing, stamping movements- it's another glaring reminder that, in some ways, he can never belong here. That he's an outsider.
But hey- if it makes Nina laugh when he takes her hand and guides them in a waltz when the music screams 'tango', he'll do it without batting an eye.
Dani has always loved dancing. She and Carla will go out on Friday nights to the hottest club on the block and blow people away with their carefree movements, but the predatory stares of the men around the walls leave more than a little to be desired. Because yes, Daniela loves dancing, but she wishes to high heaven that she could do it without leering young men taking the twists of her hips as a goddamn invitation- and after the third consecutive trip that ends with her running out with an aching wrist and shouted obscenities at the man she's leaving behind, she decides she's had enough of dealing with it, and doesn't go out any more.
Carla still goes- she sticks with Vanessa, Dani's pretty sure, or makes sure Benny's nearby- and she sits at home with a sour feeling in her stomach that she doesn't want to think about. It's not like they don't see each other, after all- the pair are closer than sisters- but the thought of Carla dancing with some handsy boy makes her want to punch something.
One night, they're watching an old black-and-white film at Dani's apartment, curled up together despite the uncomfortable heat, and Carla shifts her position as the credits start to roll. She protests half-heartedly, running her hands through the younger girl's hair to see her smile, but Carla crawls across the room to pull something from her coat pocket. Frowning and craning her neck to see, Dani realises it's her phone, and she flicks it on and walks back over to her as music starts to drift from the tinny speakers. Dropping it onto her bed, Carla takes her hands in hers and tugs lightly, and Daniela frowns up at her in confusion.
"What are you doing?"
"You need to learn to love dancing again, abuelita." Carla teases, a pout on her cherry-red lips.
"I do love dancing- " Daniela grumbles. " - and I barely have two years on you!"
"Then why do you never come out with me any more?" The girl's face is earnest, and Dani feels a pang at the hurt she can see in her eyes. Has Carla really been upset about it?
"It was those boys." she mutters. "I got fed up with breaking my nails on their noses." Carla giggles at that, but she's taking her hands again, trying gently to pull her to her feet.
"There's no boys here." she points out. Which is true, Dani concedes, but the thought of dancing with Carla, just the two of them, makes her heart quicken and she isn't sure why. There are a few seconds of silence, before-
"I…" Carla begins, and her voice is soft with worry- "You don't have to, but… I miss dancing with you." That makes Dani look up. Her friend's gaze is sincere and a little nervous, as if Dani will laugh at her or accuse her of… of what, she's not sure, but she can't bear to see Carla so frightened like this, so she gets up and smiles, and feels her heart lift as Carla beams.
"I've missed it too." she admits.
Carla takes both her hands and leads them slowly to the centre of the room, starting to sway in time to the music. It's a slow song, nothing like the music at the club, and they aren't usually this close when they dance, either, but she can't find it in herself to pull away when Carla's hands are feather-light and nervous on her waist and their foreheads are almost knocking. They turn slowly on the spot, Carla's weight warm against her, and it's different, yes, but it's nice. Dani smiles into Carla's hair.
Yes. It's very nice.
Pete does dance. He dances by himself on sidestreets to the thumping beat of his crackly old boombox, to music so low and loud the notes physically thud in his chest, and lets his sharp, controlled movements work out the tension in his shoulders. It is dancing, despite what some people say, and he enjoys the feeling of the rhythm in his feet, the way it takes over and lets his mind focus as he paints- giving the rest of his body something to do while his hands work.
But dancing with someone- that's different. Especially when that someone is Sonny de la Vega.
The first time he sees him, it's an accident. He's walking up to the bodega, on his way to visit him since his shift is almost over, and sees him through the shop's large windows as he approaches. And he's dancing.
Sonny's dancing, broom in hand, chunky neon headphones that look far too big on his head pulled on over his hat, kicking out and spinning with his eyes screwed shut and a smile on his face. And he's good. Pete can't hear the music, of course, but he can tell that he's moving exactly on beat, and he can almost feel the energy coming from him- and then he leaps and swings his leg practically over his head and Pete feels his mouth drop open- where on earth did he learn to move like that? He continues to watch, practically transfixed, as Sonny's movements grow faster and fiercer, stifles a gasp when he swings the broom around and uses it to push himself into the air, flipping with his heels over his head and landing perfectly- only to turn the movement into a little shuffle he can only describe as dorky, clicking his heels together and snapping his fingers. He seems to switch styes every time Pete blinks- jazz hands and sliding feet one second, but then he's shaking his hips in a way that reminds him of Vanessa before he can process the change. That in particular makes it harder still not to stare.
After a minute, however, Sonny opens his eyes and catches sight of him, and waves for him to come into the shop. He does, quickly wiping the awestruck look from his features and slapping his usual easy grin on instead. Sonny's pulled his headphones down so that they hang around his neck, and he can hear the music a little as he approaches to clap his hand in their usual greeting. Sonny's breathing hard, adjusting his hat where it's almost fallen off, and grins as he sets his broom down against the counter.
"I... Hey. You were- "
"Dancing, yeah." He doesn't look at all embarrassed.
"Right, I... I saw."
He learns pretty soon after that this is hardly a rare occurrence for Sonny. He can't believe he's never seen him properly dance before- the boy seems drawn to music like a fish to water, and moves unabashedly to any beat he can find- Pete just can't understand how he does it. Not the physical aspect- though that's impressive in itself- it's the fact that he seems to be completely comfortable doing it that baffles him. He can't imagine that, throwing himself into the movements as Sonny does, not caring about stares he might get- Pete dances, yes, but he does it alone. Dancing in front of people? Off the table.
He doesn't allow himself to entertain the fantasy of dancing with Sonny for more than a few seconds at a time- the idea of it might be appealing in principle, but the prospect of actually doing it makes him unbelievably nervous- he's seen Sonny dance, and he dances wildly. He's never danced like that.
In the end, it turns out to be a whole lot easier than he expected.
He's painting- playing the same thumping music as always, shuffling his feet and rolling his head and his hips in time, when he hears footsteps behind him.
"Hey." It's Sonny, of course.
Sonny's watched him work before- it's pretty common, especially now, in the summer, with the evenings growing hotter by the day- what's new is that, after a few minutes of watching, Sonny starts to dance. Pete can hear it, behind him, the rhythmic slap of his sneakers on the sidewalk and the swish of fabric on fabric as he moves his arms. He tries to keep on working, but he keeps snatching glances behind him to watch the boy, dancing with his arms thrown up over his head and hips swinging, feeling his eyes linger longer and longer each time.
It's not long before he gives up on the painting altogether.
Sonny lets go when he dances. He has his eyes closed, like he did that first time at the bodega, and he spins and stamps and beams without a care in the world- that is, until he glances over at Pete and stops short.
Pete redirects his own gaze to his feet hastily, flushing, knowing that it was obvious he'd been staring. Sonny doesn't say anything for a few moments, and he starts to worry that he's made him genuinely uncomfortable- and is formulating the beginnings of an excuse when the boy's voice cuts him short.
"Dance with me?" He looks up sharply to see Sonny with his hands out and a flush in his cheeks, eyes wide and hopeful as he waits for his response. His heart does a somersault. How could he say anything but yes?
He takes the offered hands and steps closer to him, but finds he isn't at all sure what to do after that. This, fast and wild and carefree, isn't the kind of dancing that he's used to, and he stands awkwardly still for a few moments, arms stiff at his sides. What does Sonny expect him to do? Their hands are joined, and the music seems muffled.
After a moment, Sonny takes his shoulders and starts to move him. He twists his shoulders comically from side to side, grinning up at him, and Pete feels laughter build in his throat at his friend's exaggerated movements and beaming smile, starts to move his feet in time as well. He can't help feeling a little self-conscious; Sonny moves like it's the most natural thing in the world, while he's struggling not to step on his feet as their movements pick up speed. But it's Sonny, and he can't stay worried around him for long, and he ends up laughing properly as the boy mouths along to the words and takes his hands, lifting them up in the air and waving them around, and the tension starts to leave him. This is Sonny. He's looking at him, expectant, pleading, bobbing to the music, and he can't do anything but smile. Sonny's not embarrassed- so why should he be?
So he dances, wild and wonderful, and doesn't know at what point he closed his eyes and let the music wash through him but he finds himself laughing, heady and breathless with Sonny's hands on his waist and his heart in his ears and lets himself look like a fool- because it's Sonny.
They dance, stumbling and giggling and singing and even when Sonny tries to spin him and he ends up tripping on his own feet and falling into his arms like they're in the middle of some shitty rom-com, he keeps laughing- and Sonny does too- and it's not exactly a stretch for him to say that he could stay like this forever.
They keep on dancing.
*yes I know Usnavi dances with Yolanda in The Club let me have my shitty headcanons
please tell me what you think!*