Fandom/ Pairing: Dirty Dancing, Baby/Johnny
Word Count: 942
Summary: Last night when you were changing for bed you found five nickel-sized bruises on your upper thigh and you stared at them for a full minute before you realized they were from his fingers, steadying, your leg wrapped high around his waist.
Author's Note: If you want something done, you gotta do it yourself. Thanks to leigh57, who will beta literally anything I send her.
Three days before the show at the Sheldrake, you're practicing the cross-body lead in the staff lounge when all of a sudden you become absolutely positive you're going to pass out. "Wait," you say, stopping short where you stand, your grip on Johnny's upper arm tightening a little. The room tilts, rights itself. Your stomach lurches. "Sorry, I just--wait."
"You gotta spot, Baby," he says irritably, but you must look really terrible because as soon as he glances down at your face he goes soft. "All right," he tells you, more gently this time. "Take it easy. Let's take a break."
He gets you a paper cup of water and you sit on the wooden steps outside the door, quiet, your backs against the rickety screen. A warbler calls high in the pine trees. Penny's teaching the cha-cha up in the gazebo so it's just the two of you, his bare shoulder warm and damp and solid against yours. You never know exactly what to say to Johnny. Everything out of your mouth when you're around him makes you feel like you're twelve years old.
"You're getting better," he tells you eventually, staring out at the patch of wet grass behind the cabin. The air is always slightly damp here, like the dew never dries in the morning: moisture seeps up through the floorboards, settles slick and heavy on your skin.
You laugh a little, frizzy hair falling down into your face. "Yeah, right."
"No, I mean it," he says, almost earnest, as if he didn't spend all morning barking at you like some kind of drill sergeant: arms, back, chest, Baby. "You just gotta trust it a little more."
"Yeah." You reach down to unbuckle your dance shoes. They're Penny's, half a size too big for you, and there are blisters on your heels from where they slip. You've got blisters everywhere, actually: blisters and twinges and aches, your whole body sore and unfamiliar. Last night when you were changing for bed you found five nickel-sized bruises on your upper thigh and you stared at them for a full minute before you realized they were from his fingers, steadying, your leg wrapped high around his waist. You swallow hard, blushing. You fumble at the clasps.
"Here," Johnny says, circling one hand around your ankle, pulling your foot into his lap and making quick work of the tiny hooks. You've never met anyone less self-conscious about touching. He gets your other shoe off just as easily, presses an experimental thumb against your instep. You gasp, a pulsing combination of pain and something else shooting all the way up through your middle. Johnny smirks. "You ticklish?" he asks, fingers tightening for a moment before letting you go.
"I..." You wonder if he notices your breathing coming faster, the swooping two-step of your blood inside your veins. Your mother would be appalled. "A little."
This close together you can smell him, sweaty but not bad, a thermal human smell. Your heart echoes. You've kissed three boys in your life up to now and you'd be lying if you said you hadn't thought about what it might be like with Johnny--that you aren't thinking about it all the time, during dinner with your parents and gin rummy in the lodge, lying late at night on the scratchy Kellerman's linens, one hand creeping up beneath your nightgown in the dark. You think he's probably been with all kinds of different women, which alternately strikes you as intriguing and makes you feel a little sick. There's something about him that's risky. You worry there might be a cost.
You look up and realize he's staring at you, a vague kind of interest flickering over his face. "What?" you ask, trying for teasing and landing closer to shrill. "What?"
"You," he says, still looking. There's nothing shy about him at all. "You workin' out world peace in your head over there?"
The absurdity of it makes you laugh. God, you don't know anything about...anything. "Hardly."
"Well." Johnny shrugs, unruffled. "Give it time, I guess." He picks himself up off the staircase, one smooth fluid movement, and offers a hand to pull you to your feet. "You feel better?" he asks, when you're standing. He doesn't let go right away. You're still in your borrowed leotard, perspiration drying salty on your neckline, the front of your body almost flush against his. A faint trail of hair at his navel disappears into the waistband of his pants. Not fifteen minutes ago he had his hands all over you, in places where you've never been touched by anybody until now, but somehow this feels more personal. "Yeah," you say softly, and you don't mean to look at his mouth but you do, just for a second, his tongue and a white flash of teeth. "I'm ready."
"How's it going?"
Johnny turns around fast, stepping back like you've stung him; Penny, flushed and tired, makes her way across the grass. Even through palpable exhaustion she's beautiful, Aphrodite or Helen of Troy. You're kidding yourself, truly. You're never going to move like her.
"Not bad," Johnny calls back, his voice booming and jocular. "Been waitin' for you."
"Looks that way," she replies, glancing at you evenly as she opens the screen door. She bends down and picks up your dance shoes, hands them to you by the straps. "Wanna get to work?"
"Just about to," you say quickly, though Penny's already inside.
Johnny holds the door open, lays a hand on your prickling back. "Okay, Baby," he murmurs, low so only you can hear him. "Let's dance."