symbolism_egg: (Evil Devi ; anonymous_proxy)
[personal profile] symbolism_egg
Summary: The Earl's forcing me and Jasdero to learn to fucking ballroom dance. How did we not escape this one?
Prompt: 037. Hell
Warnings: Language. A lot of it. Since I rewrote this to change it from third person to first person, it acquired twenty times the profanity. Other than that, nothing to warn for.
Disclaimer: The D. Gray-man series and characters do not belong to me.

Okay, I’ve discovered what I fucking hate. Not as much as the fucking Exorcists and their goddamn Innocence, but still.

I hate ballroom dancing. I fucking loathe it. I hate it worse than those giant centipedes, like the one wriggling past when I stepped out of bed barefoot one day last week. I kinda yelled when I saw it, and it bit my foot before I could do anything more than notice how disgusting it was. Jasdero grabbed one of his boots and we beat the thing to a pulp. He wouldn’t wear the boot for a couple days afterward, and my bitten foot, well, it swelled up. Hurt like hell to walk for awhile. God, I hate those centipedes.

Right now I want to smash Tiki’s head in with my boot. He’s dancing something called a “pavane” with Lulu, ‘cause he’s supposed to be showing us how. He looks kinda smug about it, too. He knows we’re hating this. Since he’s supposed to be demonstrating, we’re supposed to be watching, but I haven’t been paying attention. Jasdero’s been staring up at the chandelier for half the dance. We’re in a big stuffy ballroom—yeah, it’s stuffy, cause it has no windows and we know it’s sunny outside.

We can’t run out into the sun, ‘cause Rhode’s sitting on a long, cloth-covered table by the wall. She’s wearing a dress with too many frills and not enough ribbons. She’s got a lazy little smile on her lips. Probably for the same reason Tiki looks smug.

A lot of fuckers in our new family.

Next to Rhode there’s one of those phonographs like she’s showed us before, playing music that’s way too complicated, like the Earl likes.

He’s the one forcing us to learn. Of course. Otherwise we’d be gone. Outside. The boss says we have to mingle in high society, which is all rich fuckers in stuffy clothes threatening to dance with you. Don’t think we didn’t try to get out of it, but that ended with the Earl hanging around outside our door till we changed into our fucking formal wear.

So we’re standing here in these goddamn oppressive clothes and I’m thinking how much I’d rather be wearing pants made of leather and string, when oh look, the dance is over! I don’t remember a thing. It was fucking boring and all looked the same.

Jasdero quits staring at the chandelier and looks around, hoping the dance lesson’s over, but of course it’s not that easy.

“Now it’s time to try it yourself,” says Tiki, after bowing in our direction like he didn’t spend all morning digging out fucking rocks with a pickaxe or whatever the hell you do in mines.

“What!?” shrieks Jasdero. My feeling exactly.

Lulu is taking her leave, lucky bitch. Out the double doors she goes, and in streams sunlight that we want to be in so bad.

“We watched your goddamn dance. What more d’you want?” I demand of Tiki. Reasonable question.

“Now you have to learn it yourselves, Devit,” says Rhode, sliding from the table. She takes Jasdero’s wrist. He looks back at her unhappily. Back off, Rhode.

“We quit,” I say. Yeah, maybe we could go out on the streets in some big-ass city for awhile and—nah, I know that’d be stupid. It was tempting for a moment, though.

Tiki, in his suit, stands in front of me. “You took to expensive clothes and hot baths quickly enough—dancing at balls is another part of this world.”

“Not that you’re one to speak, Tiki,” Rhode says, “the way you like being a hobo half the time. You don’t want to be like him, do you?”

Snickering at Tiki, we shake our heads.

Rhode nods, looking way too satisfied, and sets the needle back on the phonograph. Y’mean I have to suffer through that song again?

And again, and again. “Great, let’s go,” I say after the first goddamn dance with Tiki, but he holds on to me and tells me I was moving too fast. Yeah, ‘cause somewhere I must’ve been thinking that the fucking dance would end faster that way, but of course it didn’t. Then there were all the times I stumbled from missed steps. So, again.

Jasdero isn’t doing much better. He’s moving too slow, and not with the beat. “You dance like a zombie, giggles Rhode as Tiki and I pass her. Stupid bitch. Jasdero is obviously trying to learn the dance steps—more than I’m doing—and is staring down to make sure he doesn’t step on Rhode’s feet, either.

Oh yeah, did I mention I’ve been stepping on Tiki’s feet a lot? He may be wearing hard shoes, but I can tell from how he winces that I’m doing something right.

So they aren’t too pleased with our progress, not that I care, and just when we start feeling a little hopeful at the end of each song and look toward at the door, Rhode runs over and adjusts the phonograph needle, and I start wanting to shoot myself in the head again.

Somewhere around the second or third dance, I glance at Jasdero to see how he’s doing. (Badly—not so much dancing as lurching sideways.) Tiki looks over too.

“Rhode, are you teaching Jasdero the woman’s part?” he asks, and Rhode answers with the flash of a mischievous grin that makes me want to hit her.

Jasdero stops. “But Jasdevi are boys!”

“You’re still learning to dance,” says Rhode, and then, to Tiki, who’s glowering at her, “The Earl didn’t tell me to teach them to dance like boys!”

“Godammit, Rhode!” I call over my shoulder.

“Rhode, start from the beginning and make sure he knows the other half!” says Tiki.

"What!” shouts Jasdero.

Rhode ignores this and places one of his hands on her shoulder. “All right, Jasdero, don’t listen to the music, just put your feet where I tell you….”

All the while, Tiki and I are moving too fast and almost tripping over each other. “You aren’t teaching me to dance the girl’s part, are you?” I ask, suspicious. He’s so going to die if he is. No, I mean it.

“No,” he answers.

I feel a grin on my face for the first time since the whole damn dancing thing started. “That means you’re dancing like a girl.”

Tiki gives his I-can’t-win grimace. It always lifts my spirits.

Jasdero and I start the dance again for the God-knows-what time. Kind of like a recurring nightmare. Jasdero’s struggling with the man’s part, and the more hatefully he looks at Rhode, the more cheerful she gets. I want to waltz right over there and stomp on her foot, and I would have if I hadn’t known it would get me stabbed. Fucking Rhode.

Tiki is holding his arms all stiff, trying to keep me out of stomping range. “Those clothes look good on you,” he says without warning, and sounds like he means it, too.


“Now you get to learn the art of complimenting your partner. This is an important part of dinner parties, even when you’re not dancing.”

I’m horrified. There’s more than dancing!? Rich people are crazy.

“Telling your partner her dress is lovely is a safe bet. Complimenting her dancing, too.”

Well, if that wasn’t fucking stupid. “What if her dancing sucks?”

“That’s not the point,” says Tiki, looking irritated. Yeah, so what is the point? “But if it were, it couldn’t be as bad as your dancing.” With quick footwork he dodges my attempt to step on his toes. He smiles like he’s challenging me or some shit. “How about it? You want to try saying something nice for once?”

“You’re too tall,” I say. “And you need to bathe.”

“I know it’s hard,” says Tiki, “but saying nice things to people will make you something called ‘popular,’ which can be useful when—”

I abandon the dance steps, which I was probably doing too fast anyway, and try for breaking Tiki’s toes. I don’t care if he’s wearing shoes. But this time my foot goes right through his. In-sub-stantial. Damn Tiki’s abilities. I lash out at his calf, and it’s like kicking air. I lose my balance—only his grip on my hand keeps me from falling.

“Cheater!” I hate it when Tiki uses his abilities. Like a few kicks to the head or stomps on toes ever fucking hurt anyone. Jasdero and I would have to catch him off guard later and thwack him on the head to make up for it, like we usually do.

“Okay, playtime’s over,” Tiki says.

I fumble my next steps, seeing as I’m pissed. “So when’s this dance end?” I ask once I can trust myself not to scream at Tiki for being a fuckhead.

“When you two learn it. Trust me, I can’t wait either. At first I was helping you out of the kindness of my heart, but now I’m helping because the Earl will lecture me if I fail.” Tiki sighs and takes me through the last steps with his eyes closed. “I can’t wait until I don’t have to see you for months and months.

The dance ends. Good, a short break from the suffering.

“You suck at giving compliments,” I say.

“Jasdero is bad at dancing. And Rhode taught him the girl’s part. The boy part is different, and hard too, so Jasdero forgot both of them!” Jasdero looks like he’s gonna cry.

“Maybe if we fake our own deaths—”

That damn music cuts me off. My first instinct is to turn and shoot the phonograph, but without my pistol to reach for, it just isn’t as dramatic. This song’s gonna get lodged in our heads and drive us insane, I just know it.

Rhode comes over to claim Jasdero again. I want to hit her again, but a vision of my hand being stabbed stops me. So I just grit my teeth and saunter over to Tiki.

I take it back about the song. I’ve already gone crazy.

“Remember that part you were doing wrong?” asks Tiki, like a jackass.

“Kind of…” I mutter.

“You’re still doing it wrong. Remember the right way I showed you?”

“No.” I congratulate myself on my restraint.

He stops and shows me the right steps again. I can feel my brain going numb.

Dancing again, I say, “Hmm…but if we learn the stupid dance, we’ll have to go dance at a dinner party, right?”

“That’s why we’re teaching you,” says Tiki, looking as if the song’s also numbed his brain, such as it is. Good. I’m not the only one. “But you’ll have to go to a dinner party even if you don’t learn to dance,” he warns while I’m doing this complicated stumble on purpose.

“What if I shoot myself in the foot?” I ask, hopeful.

“It would be one of you stupider plans,” he says.

We glower at each other for awhile.

I break the silence. I have a lot of fucking complaints, and why not taking them out on Tiki? “This isn’t even real dancing,” I say. “The music’s too complicated, and there’re too many rules. If I’m gonna dance, I want to dance how I feel like.”

The music’s nearing the end, not that this means we get to stop dancing. But this time, after saying obvious shit about how the Earl wants us at the dinner parties, Tiki heads over to Rhode and asks, “Can I leave?”

Yeah, leave! I think.

“But we’ve only just started, Tiki! They’re still bad.”

Rhode is trying to pry Jasdero’s fingers from her shoulders. In his anger, he had a death grip on her. The phonograph moves to some newer, faster song.

What with Tiki’s asking to get the fuck out of there, the time’s come to take a stand. I cross my arms and sit on the hard ballroom floor.

“Jasdero’s stopping too!” He lets go of Rhode and sits next to me.

“There you have it. Time for a cigarette.” Tiki takes a step towards the door, and silently we cheer him on.

Rhode grabs his arm. She puts her other hand on her hip and stares down at us. “The Earl will ground you if I tell him you weren’t trying.

“Weren’t trying!?” I say, my voice rising. “We’ve been dancing all day—”

“—half an hour—”

“—and now you’re dragging it out to annoy us.”

Jasdero unbuttons his suit jacket and drops it in a crumpled heap.

“Jasdevi…” says Rhode, that warning tone in her voice.

Tiki leans down and tells her in a carrying whisper: “Think of it like this—you can have fun watching them when a pavane comes on at a dinner party dance.”

Rhode brightens. “That’s true…” She smiles at us and skips out of the ballroom, freeing Tiki.

He lingers a moment, tells us, “You know, I also hated formal dancing when I had to learn it. Had to learn about five different dances in a week, too. It’s not all bad, though—I get to charm the ladies.” He grins.

A smile tugs at the corner of my mouth, although I’m still more annoyed with him. Jasdero bursts out laughing, then stops abruptly to ask, “So why doesn’t Tiki have a girlfriend?”

Tiki waves a hand at us, pulls a cigarette from his breast pocket, and leaves. Loser.

The phonograph’s still going. Jasdero looks at me.

“Wanna dance?” he asks, and grins like it’s the best joke in the world.

It’s a pretty good joke, and this music has a beat I can feel, besides. “Yeah,” I say.

He offers his hand to me with an exaggerated bow that ends with his head flopped to the side. I take his hand with a curtsy of fake skirts, which gets him giggling. We start in to the dance with the steps Tiki and Rhode taught us (the fuckers), only faster, ‘cause this song’s better like that. Neither of us leads, neither of us follows. Quick enough we lose the steps and make up our own. Now this is fun. We whirl around, stumbling, our hair flying. Jasdero’s hair gets me smack in the face, and I step on his foot, not meaning to. When we stop poised to whirl the other way, I stomp on his foot again, this time meaning to.

He screeches and tries to get mine. I’m ready, and dodge. Jasdero laughs again and gets my foot on the second try. We go all around the room hands together, now grinning our intent at each other, calculating the best moment to strike. Yeah, it hurts a little when we step on each other’s feet with our hard-toed shoes, but when I double over and collapse on the floor, it’s from laughter that I’d missed during the goddamn dance lessons. Jasdero, who’s about to fall over from laughing himself, pulls me up by the arm. He’s trying not to grin and failing real bad. I try for a solemn expression myself (bet I look ridiculous), and we finish the dance all serious-like, a pretty good joke in itself.

That was the one ballroom dance I ever enjoyed.

Unfortunately, we have to attend an actual dinner party. There’s a dance after dinner, and under the eye of Road we take to the dance floor. I end up with this dark brownish-haired girl, maybe a couple years older than me, with quite the snotty look. I forget her name the second I hear it.

“I don’t believe I’ve seen you here before,” she says, breathy.

“Haven’t seen you either,” I say. That’s conversation, right? Now that I have to dance with a stranger, it's embarrassing not to remember more than the vaguest of steps. Not that I care.

We move to the steps I barely remember. The bitch decides to try conversation again. “Isn’t that your brother?” she asks.

I look to where Jasdero’s lurching into other couples with the girl he’d picked up. “Yeah,” I say.

“He’s rather odd, isn’t he? I’m glad to be dancing with you!” exclaims my partner, like she’s doing me a big favor saying so.

My foot comes down hard on hers. She’s wearing pansy little shoes that stop nothing, and I think I felt the snap.

Her face twists as she bursts into tears. I’m too pissed to fake an apology, and if I open my mouth I’ll probably burst out laughing. The dancers surrounding us turn to stare. I leave her there on the floor with her broken toe or two.

Bitch should learn to give a compliment before someone breaks her foot.

I escape her and her wailing just in time to see Jasdero and his partner crash into a buffet table. Silver platters collapse on themselves, and a tray of fishy appetizers in little dishes fall all onto the girl’s skirts. Jasdero lets go of the girl’s hands and leaps back with a shriek at the clatter of plates. The girl falls on her ass. Doesn’t look like she’s going to cry, though, just has an idiot look of surprise. The rich fuckers milling around the buffet table stare even worse than when I stepped on that bitch’s toe, and I want to laugh at the same idiot expressions on their faces. Some nearby dancers stop, too.

“Sorry! Sorry!” Jasdero apologizes loudly to his ex-dance partner. “Sorry!” But he starts giggling in between apologies, so it’s not like he's that sorry. The girl sits there with a bemused expression.

That’s when Tiki appears at Jasdero’s side. He addresses the girl. “What a shame, miss. I’d hoped for the next dance,” he says, holding out his hand, all suave like he belongs here. That draws everyone’s eyes away from Jasdero. Jasdero shuts up and looks up at Tiki with his big eyes.

The girl lets Tiki help her up. Tiki’s saving our asses? Or maybe he just has a hard-on for women covered in fish. Fuck if I know. Anyway, he meets my eyes for an instance and raises his eyebrows. I want to flip him off, but then the rich fuckers would all turn to stare at me like I’d just stabbed a guy with that carving knife by the ham tray. If I wanted them to stare, I would stab a guy with a carving knife.

The orchestra switches to playing something stupider, and in the lull I hear that bitch I’d been forced to dance with sobbing as she limps out of the ballroom.

Yeah, we never went to another ball after that.

So now we’re locked in the cellar, which is fucking boring, but it’s not so bad, because we imagined us some comfy armchairs, and nobody’s found out so far. Yeah, it’s dark and it smells like rotting vegetables, and there are probably weevils and cockroaches and millions of those fucking demon centipedes down here. We draw our feet up onto our armchairs. Jasdero pokes at his light, making the shadows wobble.

But Tiki says that the tradition around here, when it comes to those centipedes, is to drop ‘em in boiling water while they’re still alive. Scares off the rest, too. So that’s all right. Just let one try for my foot again—we’re ready for it.

And we may be punished right now, but I’m it’s not like they’re going to ask us to any more ballroom dances. Jasdero’s thinking the same thing, ‘cause he’s moving his head from side to side, humming. It’s the song we learned to dance to—I knew that goddamn song would stick around to torment us.

I still hate ballroom dancing. Maybe more than those disgusting centipedes.

But no matter how much I hate it, there will always have been that one good dance.
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February 2011

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