Disclaimer: Song by Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
The Sunnydale Museum Annual Summer Ball was packed with both students and museum lovers. Giles had been invited as he was a regular consultant to the museum and he had been invited to bring guests. Buffy and Willow were attending as history students anyway, so Giles arranged for tickets for the others.
He glanced over at Buffy who was standing alone watching the dance floor. Part of him wished he hadn’t bothered. He knew the vamps of Sunnydale had taken quite a beating over the last few weeks since Angel’s departure. Somehow, though, he just couldn’t seem to care. If it was how Buffy channelled her anger and depression then that was fine by him. As long as she didn’t get herself killed.
Buffy allowed her gaze to travel over the dance floor. Willow and Oz were wrapped around each other, whispering into each other's ears. Willow looked so happy and while Buffy would never begrudge her friend a minute of happiness, she half wished that Willow was beside her then. Xander, looking unusually handsome in his tux, and Anya, in a sophisticated black dress that clung to every curve, danced across the floor. They were not so wrapped up in each other but still looked contented.
Willow glanced over Oz's shoulder, saw her friend standing by a doorway and smiled at her. Buffy looked so pretty tonight all in white, her skin tanned golden brown and her blond hair up with a few curls hanging down. Willow had helped her pick out the dress a week ago and she remembered how lovely Buffy had looked when she tried it on. She also remembered the conversation that had gone with it.
"Why am I even bothering to do this?" Buffy had asked her face dark and sulky. “I don’t even have a date for this ball.”
"We never go to dances and it'll be fun," Willow had replied.
"At least you have a partner," Buffy had said.
"You don't know that Angel won't come." Willow tried to comfort her.
"Have you spoken to him yet?" Buffy had shaken her head and disappeared off into the changing rooms to take off the dress. She had bought it though. Willow bit her lip anxiously. She so hoped Angel would turn up tonight. She had taken the matter into her own hands and telephoned Angel herself. She had spoken to his answer phone but she hoped that she hadn't sounded too desperate.
"Hi Angel, this is Willow. I was just calling to say 'hi' and that we're all hoping to see you at the dance on Friday. If Sirius is there, thanks for the note. I’ll think about it. Bye.”
Angel stood at the entrance to the gym and remembered Willow's message. He had heard all of the messages, he had been there when she and Buffy had rung. His dark eyes took in the scene around him and a flash of green caught his eye. Willow and Oz were dancing together and it was Willow's dress that had caught his eye, long green silk, her long red hair loose and flowing. She would make a damn good witch one day, he thought to himself, and she was a good friend. She had grown up in the few months since he had last seen her, she seemed taller, more sure of herself and as Oz whispered something in her ear Willow smiled, a knowledgeable smile.
He saw Xander and Anya in the corner and smiled to himself as a thought struck him - whoever thought those two would get together? Not him. Xander with his baggy pants and floppy shirts and Anya always dressed so beautifully – not a mix he would have ever put together yet they made a very good match. Tonight Anya looked absolutely beautiful in a black dress and Xander had been persuaded out of his baggy clothes into a more form fitting tuxedo.
And then he saw Buffy, slim and lovely by the wall gazing, out over the dance floor but not really seeing it. He knew that look, the haunted loneliness of the Slayer; they all looked like that at one time or another, but never because they were longing to see him, more because of something that he had done.
Buffy sighed to herself, wishing that she had someone to dance with too. Giles touched Buffy's shoulder affectionately and smiled at her but all she could manage was a slight lift of the corners of her lips. He squeezed her shoulder reassuringly and she turned back to watch the dancers.
"Is Angel here?" he asked quietly.
"I don't think so," she said sadly, "I did leave him a message but…" She didn't dare finish the sentence off. Giles took a deep breath and Buffy knew that meant he was going to say something hard, either for him to say or for her to hear.
"I know that it's not been easy with Angel coming back, but I am sorry Buffy".
"Thanks," she answered listlessly.
The song finished and before the next one started the lead singer of the band spoke "This song is a dedication for Buffy Summers."
Buffy looked up at the sound of her name.
A simple chord rang out and the lead singer whispered into his microphone.
I'll protect you from the hooded claw Keep the vampires from your door
Buffy gritted her teeth and turned to head out of the hall when a face caught her eye. Angel. He stood slightly apart from the dancers and held her gaze. He was dressed in a traditional tux and looked absolutely gorgeous. His dark eyes met hers and he held his hands out slightly. She changed direction and nearly fell into his arms.
"I thought you weren't coming."
The band continued into the song.
Feels like fire I'm so in love with you...
Dreams are like angels, they keep bad at bay
Love is the light scaring darkness away.
The power of love,a force from above
Cleaning my soul
Flame burning desire, love with tongues of fire
Purge the soul
Make love not war
Buffy felt the tears well up in her eyes and she looked up at Angel. He touched cold lips to her forehead and smiled down at her.
I'll protect you from the hooded claw, keep the vampires from your door
When the chips are down, I'll be around with my undying
Death defying love for you
And you will hear it said let yourself be beautiful
Sparkling with ribbons and pearls and pretty girls
Love is like an energy, rushing in rushing in silently
Willow glanced up and saw Buffy and Angel entwined together. He came! she thought, he's here. She whispered in Oz's ear and he turned a sweet smile on her and held her closer. She turned her head and watched the Slayer and the vampire. Somehow, she thought, that looks right, that's how it should be.
This time we go sublime, lovers entwine divine divine
Love is danger, love is pleasure, love is pure, the only treasure
Anya felt Xander's hands tighten on her waist when he saw the two dancing. She sighed to herself, would he ever get over this? She squeezed him back and he transferred his gaze to her before stroking her cheek and pulling her closer.
The power of love, a force from above
Cleaning my soul
Flame burning desire, love with tongues of fire
Purge the soul, make love not war
Giles did not move his gaze from Buffy and Angel, wishing that Jenny could be there to see it, to see that the Gypsy curse that her clan had inflicted on Angel held true again and hurt him more than ever. The Slayer looked so tiny, dressed in a flowing white dress with her blond hair caught up on the top of her head.
One would never imagine the strength and the power that she carried in her slender body. The scars on her back had soon faded but he did not think that the scars in her mind would heal as fast. For a moment he sensed danger and wanted to call her away from him, to remind her that Angel was a vampire, that he had killed Jenny, that he had tortured Giles to the point of death, that he had threatened Willow. How could she forget these things and throw herself at him and allow him to hold her so closely? Giles shook his head - he already knew. No matter how much the pair of them denied it, no matter how little they saw each other now that Angel had left Sunnydale, you could tell from the way they looked at each other and the way they touched each other. Love flowed between them so strongly it could overcome everything; it did overcome everything.