"Well, it's been fun," Cordelia said. "Not. No offense, but I've got to distance myself from the tragedy that follows you people everywhere," she said and left them to their own devices.
"Imagine that," Xander said sarcastically. "Cordelia didn't want to hang with us. Who wants to bet she heads straight for the bathroom to primp herself?"
Angel snorted softly as he watched the brunette in question saunter in the direction of the bathroom. He would not have taken the bet anyway. He got that Cordelia was not exactly friends with Buffy or Buffy's friends, so he was not entirely sure where she fit in.
"So," Xander said, clapping his hands together once and rubbing them. "What's on the agenda first? Dancing, frothy beverages or good eats?"
"I'm up for some dancing. Are you, Rupert?"
"Dancing?" Giles looked a little frightened as his eyes darted from the area of the club where the dancing in question was taking place to Angel. Angel just shrugged, he had a feeling he was going to be roped into a dance or two this evening, too. If he had to dance, he did not see any reason why Giles should get out of it. Of course, his date had not died, so Giles might get out of dancing a little easier.
"Date," he whispered aloud, the word sounding foreign to his ears. Willow was much too generous in assuming he had multiple dates every year for over two centuries. He had spent most of the first one hundred twenty years with Darla and the past one hundred years by himself. Whistler and Buffy had been the first two people he had said more than two words to since shortly after the turn of the century.
"Did you say something?" Buffy asked. Her hair and her dress were still damp, but she did not seem to care much about her appearance tonight. The alternative to being at The Bronze was her still lying in the shallow pool of water near The Master's lair dead. Things like her hair and clothes being a little wet probably did not seem too important right about now.
"Me?" he asked, wondering if slayers had enhanced hearing. "I didn't hear anything."
She frowned, looking confused but let it drop. "I say we dance. We came to party not sit at a table and eat."
"We can do all of the above," Xander said enthusiastically. "Can't we?" he asked, not sounding so sure of himself anymore.
"I'll dance with you, Buffy, and you, too, Ms. Calendar," Willow said.
"We guys can get a table and those frothy beverages," Xander said.
Buffy glanced at Angel and grabbed him by the forearm. Using her Slayer strength she pulled him aside so they were not in earshot of everybody. "You're not going to dance with me?"
"I didn't say I wouldn't."
"But you're not. You're going to get a table and drinks with Giles and Xander." Angel found it difficult to take her too seriously when her lower lip was extended in the adorable pout she utilized so well. It tugged on his heartstrings something fierce when she gave him that look. There were times he believed she knew it was effective on him and did it intentionally.
"Buffy," he started and stopped not quite sure what to say.
A bit of honesty seemed in order. Here goes nothing, he thought. "I don't dance, at least not to this type of music," he said, gesturing to the dance floor filled with writhing high school students. "I've spent the last one hundred years rather secluded, I'm not exactly up on modern dancing techniques."
"Oh," she said, nibbling on her lower lip. He wondered what it tasted like, what she tasted like. The few kisses they had shared had been rushed, so he had not had the time to savor her. Just a little bit harder and she would draw blood, it was not that tough to do with lips. "Well, we don't have to," she said, sounding more than a little disappointed.
"Just let me get acclimated to being around this many people and we'll see what we can come up with. Okay?"
"Sure." She sounded discouraged. He did not feel like making a fool of himself tonight. "Okay, I'll see you in a little bit then," she said. "Let's go dance," she said as she took Willow's arm and led the redhead to the dance floor.
Angel sighed softly as he watched her walk away from him. "Idiot," he whispered.
"What's that, Angel?" Xander sounded entirely too pleased. Angel wondered how much of a fool he was for letting Buffy walk out to that dance floor by herself.
"Nothing," he muttered. "There's a table over there." He did not give Xander or Giles an opportunity to say anything before he headed in the direction of the empty table he had spotted across the room.
Angel took a seat, one offering him a good view of the dance floor. He was so engrossed with watching Buffy on the dance floor that he started when Giles placed a hand on his shoulder. "If it's any consolation, I don't think one dance would placate her tonight."
"I know," Angel mumbled gruffly. "She died, the least I can do is dance with her."
"I suppose that's true. If I may be so bold as to make a suggestion." Angel looked at Buffy's watcher with interest now. "She might not mind a private session with you this evening."
Angel grimaced. "I don't think so." He was not sure exactly what Rupert was suggesting, but hoped it was not what it sounded like.
"I'm not talking about anything beyond dancing with her, Angel," Giles said as if reading Angel's mind. "Walk her home. She's had an upsetting evening. Surely she has a radio or one of those contraptions to play music with. You could give her the dance she wants without making a fool of yourself."
"Why are you telling me this?"
"Because as much as it might pain me, I believe she needs you right now more than she needs us. You've been avoiding her for weeks. I understand why, but she doesn't and you were here for her tonight when it really mattered. Without you, she'd be dead, Angel. Don't turn away from her now."
"If I don't turn away from her now I'm not sure I'll be able to again."
"Who says you have to turn away from her?"
"Nothing good can come of this, Rupert. Surely you know that."
"That's a decision only you can make, Angel."
He had already drawn his conclusions. He loved Buffy. He had not blatantly told her so, but believed she knew how he felt. Rupert had called it poetic not too long ago, but Angel found it to be like an additional curse on top of his soul. Like his soul, Buffy made him want to be a better man. That was not necessarily a bad thing, but just knowing she was nearby was sufficient for him to strive to be better. It would never be enough, but it would have to do.
"Aw, Angel, are you leaving us? That's too bad," Xander said as he approached the table carrying some drinks just as Angel stood to leave. "Have a good night. Bye bye."
He wanted to wipe the smug grin off the boy's face, but took a deep breath instead. "Isn't it past your bedtime, Xander?"
"Is that really the best you could come up with? I guess those rumors about you being the Scourge of Europe and all that are false."
Angel stepped up almost flush against Xander and allowed his human disguise to melt away, exposing his true face. "I don't think you want to find out firsthand just how true those rumors are, boy. I may be out of practice, but I doubt it would take long to get back into the swing of things."
"Xander, please," Giles murmured.
"All right, all right, I was just having some fun at your expense, don't sweat it."
"Tell Buffy I said good job tonight."
"Is that all?" Giles asked as Angel's human visage fell back into place.
"And that I really do like her dress," he said gruffly.
He paused at the door to take one last look at her as she danced, looking angelic dressed in white with the dance floor lights flashing around her. She stopped dancing and began looking around the club frantically. This was Angel's cue to leave before she saw him. "It's better this way," he whispered before turning to leave.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com