Summary: Set somewhere between
"What's My Line: Part II" and "Bad Eggs", during one of
Buffy's visits to Angel's apartment. If Xander retained his Soldier Guy
knowledge and skills from "Halloween", then it follows logically
that Buffy retained just as much from the 18th century noblewoman.
Rating: PG (sorta)
Angel couldn’t bring himself to feel any regret or anger
that Spike and Drusilla had nearly killed him in their ritual to restore
Drusilla’s strength—not when one consequence was that Buffy had been
spending a couple of hours with him at his apartment every day since.
However, he was resigned to the fact that, soon, this convenient excuse for
her to come over so often would no longer apply. The debilitating weakness
and exhaustion had almost completely left him, the holy water burns had
healed, and all that remained of the wound in his hand was a fading scar.
In at most two days, he’d be completely back to normal. Sometimes
accelerated healing wasn’t such a good thing.
His heart leapt when he heard her coming down the stairs
in the outer hallway, and he grew even happier when she entered the
apartment without knocking. She offered a slightly sheepish smile when her
eyes met his. “Hey,” she said, closing the door behind her.
He returned the greeting and smiled back at her, then
noticed that she was carrying a large paper bag. His eyes widened in
surprise. “Is that—”
“Yesterday, I noticed you were running low,” she
explained hastily, a hint of a blush rising in her cheeks. “So I stopped by
the butcher’s earlier.”
“Thanks,” he said, unable to think of anything else to
say. He felt both touched that she would do something like that for him and
ashamed of the automatic surge of hunger he felt. It was an odd
He suddenly found himself thinking back to the long
interval between their second kiss and their third. He had been trying to
stay away from her, knowing he didn’t deserve her, but his resolve hadn’t
held for long. It was funny how he could resist the temptation of human
blood for decades at a time, but he could only resist his yearning to be a
part of her life for a few months.
By now, he’d stopped trying. He had told her about
Drusilla, his greatest sin, and she still loved him. She could look on him
with the same tenderness in her eyes when his features were vampiric as
when they were human, and kiss either face without reserve. He had never
asked or expected her to do it, but she had come every evening after school
or patrol (and sometimes both) to aid him in his recovery—he hadn’t told
her that her presence alone was a more soothing balm than anything she
could actually do to physically treat his wounds. And now here she was,
serenely humming the tune of an unfamiliar pop song to herself as she
unloaded containers of pigs’ blood into his fridge. The knowledge that he
didn’t deserve her couldn’t stand up against such devotion and acceptance.
“What’s wrong?” asked Angel.
Buffy jumped and looked up at him. He stared at her with
a mixture of puzzlement and concern.
She had recently finished removing the now-unnecessary
bandages from his hand, after which she had curled up in his lap on the
armchair, and they had fallen into a peaceful silence. He always reveled in
moments like these, when he could reflect in awe on the fact that this was
where she had chosen to be, her head nestled in the crook of his neck and
her fingers idly playing with his. But when he looked down at her face, he
noticed the vague frown that had appeared there, and the slight crease
marring her normally smooth brow.
“Oh,” she said, then smiled apologetically. “It’s
nothing, I just….”
“What?” he said, tilting his head slightly.
Buffy grimaced. “You’re gonna think it’s stupid.”
“Okay,” she said. “You know how I got turned into a real
eighteenth century girl on Halloween?”
“Yeah,” he said. His brow furrowed. “You don’t still
think I wish you were one, do you?”
“No, it’s not that,” she said reassuringly. “I still
remember that girl’s life, and there are a lot of reasons I’m really glad
it isn’t mine, even though there were
one or two nifty things thrown in.”
Angel raised an eyebrow and the corners of his mouth lifted.
“Well, I can write in this gorgeous scripty cursive if I
want to now,” she said brightly. “I could also out-Queen’s English and
etiquette Giles, but it’s more fun to horrify him with my American-ness.
Oh, and I think I could play some pretty intense Haydn on the pianoforte—I
mean, piano, if I had one.” She
trailed off, frowning again.
“But all the eighteenth century dances I know are
completely useless!” she exploded crossly.
Angel let out a burst of laughter that momentarily distracted
her. It felt wonderful to do, and he hoped she wouldn’t be annoyed that it
came at the expense of her frustration, but he couldn’t help it. He had a
sudden powerful urge to tell her exactly how much he loved her, but he
mastered it and instead asked, his eyes still full of mirth, “What’s wrong
with eighteenth century dances?”
He watched the heat rising in her face until she looked
away from him. “None of them are pair dances,” she mumbled. “Except the
minuets,” she amended, wrinkling her nose. “But those look really goofy.”
He briefly lifted the eyebrow again. “You missed the
pair dances by a few decades. Especially since you were part of the
nobility. Pair dancing was still considered scandalous and immoral then,
particularly in England.” Which was exactly what he had loved about it in
“And those are the refined, elegant dances, these days,”
Buffy mused dryly. Then she pouted indignantly. “None of the dances I got
from being Miss Dainty Nobleman’s Daughter are romantic at all, though! I
always thought that was what balls were like back then, but so much for
that treasured childhood fantasy.”
“You want to know a romantic dance?”
She was blushing again, but seemed to be trying not to
let it get to her this time. “Well, yeah. If I did…if I did, then it would
mean I’d know one from back then that maybe nobody else but you knows how
to do firsthand anymore.” She ducked her head and began fidgeting with the
edge of the armchair’s cushion. “And then it would be something from your
past that we could share, and it would only be ours.”
He spent the next few seconds in another silent
wrestling match against his increasingly overwhelming need to confess his
feelings for her aloud, and he had only barely conquered it when she
glanced hesitantly at him.
“I could teach you,” he said softly, shifting a little
and reclaiming her hands with his.
They moved to the center of the apartment where the
floor was free of furniture, and Angel released Buffy’s hands and stepped
“So, what dance are we doing?” she asked eagerly.
“You’ll see,” he said with a mysterious smile.
“But how am I going to know which steps to do if I don’t
even know what the dance is?” she said, pouting.
“All you have to do is follow my lead.”
“Okay.” She felt slightly nervous, but the look on his
face reassured her.
He stepped forward until his body was only a few inches
away from hers, but slightly off-center, so that his right foot fell just
to the inside of hers. He took her right hand in his left, guided her left
up to rest on his shoulder, and placed his right a few inches below her
“What about music?” she asked, frowning.
He flashed that mysterious smile again, and due to the
physical contact, it was impossible to pretend it didn’t make her go weak
in the knees this time. “I’ve got all the music I need.”
She had no idea what he meant by this, but was now too
intent on looking into his eyes to want to burden the moment with more
words. He stepped to the side, and she followed; the subtle pressure he
exerted with each hand told her exactly how she needed to move. Now he
stepped back, then brought their feet back together, and then they did it
all over again, traveling in a small square that turned slowly
counterclockwise. They went a few repetitions stepping backward, then
stepped forward for the next few.
Angel’s movements were deliberate, yet so fluid that
Buffy almost felt like they were floating from one step to the next, and
she was surprised at how smoothly she was able to follow his lead without
ever having done this before. She wondered if it had something to do with
the particular rhythm he was setting; even without music, it felt like the
most natural thing in the world.
The first time he moved his hand away from her back, she
barely managed to stifle a squeak of surprise, but miraculously did not
lose her footing as he brought their joined hands inward and over her head,
leading her into a twirl. When she faced him again, he changed the
footwork. Now they stepped back first, then to the side. Somehow, this
alteration made the dance much more energetic.
She was amazed at how the tempo seemed to be increasing
without breaking away from that natural rhythm at all. They cut a larger
path across the apartment floor, and they spun into faster revolutions,
going full circles in three steps, her back arched and their bodies coming
into full contact from chest to waist, spinning tightly around the
invisible axis that seemed to exist in the millimeters of space between his
right leg and hers.
Buffy had forgotten that they were in a dimly lit
basement apartment, Angel dressed in a white undershirt and black
sweatpants and she in the clothes she had worn to school; they had gone
back in time to a nineteenth century ballroom lit by vast crystal
chandeliers, he wore a tailored suit complete with waistcoat and neck
cloth, and she a beautiful ball gown of flowing silk that swirled and
billowed around her at the slightest movement.
With the more energetic pace and footwork came more and
more interesting moves. The twirls became more elaborate, where he would
spin her out away from him until their arms were fully outstretched and
only the tips of their fingers were still touching, then pull her back in
and tuck her against his chest again.
The third time this happened, she was still facing away
from him when he brought her back against him, and she realized that
somewhere in the midst of her twirl, he had deftly switched hands so that
he was cradling her left hand in his, while his right rested gently at the
side of her stomach. She moved her own right instinctively to cover it, and
they danced on. She was surprised to find that not being able to see his
movements in this position did not impair her ability to follow them in the
slightest, though it did add an oddly thrilling sense of precariousness to
Angel released her left hand and raised his right,
transferring hers back to his left after yet another twirl, and they were
facing each other again. With his right hand once more on her back, and her
left returned to his shoulder, he slid his right leg back and bent his left
knee slightly, and she felt herself fall into a graceful dip, the hand at
her back easily supporting her weight.
They remained in that pose for a long moment, savoring
the end of the dance as nineteen ninety-seven settled back in around them.
Buffy was sure she could state categorically that nothing she had ever done
before this qualified as dancing. For the first time, she became aware of
how rapidly her heart was beating, and she suddenly realized what his music
and her natural rhythm had been all along.
He slowly drew her back up until they were standing
normally again, then smiled. Conveniently, he hadn’t let go of her yet, so
she simply pulled their joined hands in towards them, moved the hand still
on his shoulder up to the back of his neck, and stood on tiptoe to kiss
him. As fast-paced as the dance had been at the end, this was much
slower—the more tranquil portion of the coda.
“Thank you for the dance, kind sir,” she said after they
broke apart, sweeping back into the final curtsey, unable to suppress a
“The pleasure was mine, milady,” he replied with a bow;
his own grin was all in his eyes.
note: The footwork
change signified a historical period shift. The waltz step was
side-back-together at first, but it changed to back-side-together once the
ladies started wearing more danceable dresses. And, incidentally, that dip
there at the end of the dance would have left Buffy's neck very, very
exposed. Just so you know.
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