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Author's Note: I was going to continue the Sunnydale scene at the end of the last episode, but I decided it worked better if I didn't. So you'll get all of that in the next episode. Now for a complete rewrite of Waiting in the Wings, my most hated episode of Angel. I have changed the disgusting bit that was Cordy and Angel, to Buffy and Angel. Prepare for some steamy B/A scenes, including a NC17 one at the end. Enjoy.

And A Ballet In The Evening.

"Miles of cornfields, and a ballet in the evening."

Alan Hackney, British novelist,
from Private Life (1958)
(later filmed as I'm All Right Jack , 1959),
on describing Russia.


She is mine.

There was a hush about the City of Angels National State Theatre tonight. A soundlessness born of expectation. Of knowledge that the occupants of the burg were about to be presented with a great honour. And with it a certainty that such an event would go down in the annals of the state's history as a evening of momentous proportions.

Backstage was a natural counterbalance to such expectations. The hubbub of activity one would anticipate, but with a need for quietness that was mindful.

On the floors behind the curtains and picture-frame, a representative of the Los Angeles district council was walking with the company director who had arrived very unexpectedly last night.

"It's such an honour to have the company here, I have to say. All of LA is buzzing. To have the Blinnikov performing Giselle... I can't imagine what's tonight's going to be like."

In contrast to the over-enthusiastic official, the company's director was a reserved gentleman of aristocratic poise. "It will be the performance of a lifetime. I guarantee it."

The official was not offended by such a short response. He had foreseen as much from the director's appearance. "I don't suppose I would be able to meet the prima-ballerina?" He asked nervously.

Count Kurskov smiled for the first time. "Well, I shall have to ask her, but I'm sure there will be no refusal. After her performance, of course."

They had by now reached the entrance to the dressing rooms.

"Of course," the official was ecstatic. "Thank you so much, sir." He shook the Count's proffered hand then exited stage front.

Count Kurskov opened the doors and stepped through to the corridor behind. He walked down to main dressing room.

The door was open, as always. The prima-ballerina sat delicately in the chair before the dressing table as usual. From her sorrowfully solemn face the eyes gazed into it's mirror, wondering if tonight would be the night.

Kurskov watched her slender hands caress the elegant hairbrush, perfume bottles and powder compacts before her; picking up this, adjusting that. For the second time he allowed himself to smile.

She is mine.


Wesley chuckled at his colleague's assumption. "She is not mine."

Cordelia was sceptical. "Really? Then how come every time she was walks into a room all you can do is stand and stare?"

The head of Angel Investigations chuckled once more, then handed the seer the leatherbound ancient volume he was examining, open at the appropriate page. "Sorialus the Ravager."

Cordelia took a look at the picture. "And, yeah, she's the one from my vision."

"Coming to destroy the humans that killed her mate."

"But not for another month or so. I'll file her under 'pending.'" The seer paused to write down the needed information for elimination. "So, you're serious?"

"About Sorialus the Ravager?"


"I'll admit, there was a time when I thought she was the loveliest thing in the world....." Wes trailed off with a shrug. "But from what I've seen recently, I'm not the one. And when I realised who was, it didn't hurt as much as I thought it would."

The former cheerleader gazed at him with understanding. "You know, there was a time when you thought I was the loveliest thing in the world."

"Well, I... you're an extraordinary woman...... I mean..."

"At ease, soldier. Just like to hear it every now and then. I was the ditziest bitch in Sunnydale, could have had any man I wanted. Now I'm all superhero-y and the best action I can get is an invisible ghost who's good with the Loofah."

Wes blinked then returned to the tome in his hands. "I'm sorry. I missed that last part."

"You are a gentleman."

"Who's doing what with the Loofah?" Angel asked as he entered the room.

Wes rapidly covered. "Not Loofah, Looh-fah. Nooctm... Skumth. It's a demon."

Angel missed the attempt completely. "Ask me why I'm smiling."

"I will, because it's scaring me," Cordelia commented.

"We, are stepping out."

"Where to?" Asked the slayer as she walked into the lobby.

Angel produced the tickets with a flourish then bent down to give her a kiss. He was about to answer when Gunn and Fred's entrance forestalled him.

"Morning friends and neighbours," the former uttered in greeting. He noticed the bits of paper in Angel's hand. "Ooh, are those the tickets? You got 'em?"

"Well, I got to the ticket place and..."

Gunn interrupted him. "I'm paying you back. This one's on me. Mahta Hari is the tightest band in LA. You guys are gonna be trippin' out."

Angel tried again. "The only thing is..."

Gunn was having none of it. "Look, I said I'm good for it, man. Don't have to worry about dippin' into the Investigations' fund." He took the tickets from Angel's hand. "The time I saw the Mahta Hari at the Troubadour they were......." he trailed off in surprise as the words on the tickets came into focus. "Blinnikov World Ballet Tour." He looked up from the tickets to the man he had sent to fetch them. "What's going on?"

Angel was still smiling. "I was trying to tell you. I got to the ticket place and boom! Tonight only!"

"But you got ballet on my Mahta Hari tickets." Gunn was crestfallen.

"This is the Blinnikov World Ballet Corps."

"He's been saying that like it has meaning," Cordelia muttered aside.

Angel ignored her. "This is one of the premier companies in the world. And they're doing Giselle! It's their signature piece."

Gunn's expression was a mixture of defeat and disbelief. "This is all like some horrible dream."

"I think I've heard of them," Wesley commented. "Very ahead of their time."

Glad to have someone on his side, Angel added, "oh, yeah. I saw their production of Giselle in eighteen-ninety. I cried like a baby. And I was evil!" He turned to his soulmate. "Do you mind?"

Buffy shook her head. "Not at all. It sounds exciting."

"Yes," Wes added.

Gunn still could not see the joy in it. "No. No! This is not Mahta Hari. This is tutus, and guys with their big-ass packages jumping up and down. This is just..." this to Angel, "I will never trust you again. The trust is gone."

"Oh, get over it," Cordelia commanded. "Do we get dressed up?"

"Of course."

The seer smiled. "I'm in."

"Me too," Fred uttered.

Angel turned to the last dissenter. "Guys, seeing real ballet live it's... it's like another world. Gunn, these guys are tight, and you're gonna be trippin' out."

"Don't be usin' my own phrases when we lost the trust."

"Gunn, I saw a production at UC Sunnydale," Buffy tried to reassure him. "Trust me, it will spellbound you."

"Okay. But I'm not still paying, right. Because this is... this is... It's like a nightmare."


"Are you certain this is the place for us?" Fred asked.

She, Buffy and Cordelia stood before the threshold of an elite, designer-clothes shop.

The latter now shrugged. "Well, we could always get our outfits at 'Cave-girl's House of Burlap,' but that's just so last season."

Buffy laid a consoling arm around Fred's waist. "Trust us, Fred. The guys are all renting tuxes. We gotta step up."

The former physicist was still unsure. "But aren't we, you know, poor?"

"There is a custom amongst my people," Cordelia assured her as they entered the shop. "It's called 'buying a dress, wearing it once, and returning it the next day.' It's all about hiding the tags while it's on."

"Usually, I'm all for that," Buffy remarked, "but for this night, we have been given a very special gift!" She brandished an old-fashioned money clip.

Cordelia gasped. "Is that what I think it is?"

"If you mean, Angel's wallet, then yes. He gave it to me before we left, along with making me promise that we splash out."

"Oh. Okay. I'm very excited about tonight." Cordelia said unconvincingly.

"Me too," Fred sounded more truthfully. "I love the ballet! I mean, I haven't seen that much, but my family used to go to the Nutcracker every Christmas, and I had my first sexual dream about the Mouse King."

Cordelia raised an eyebrow and walked to another selection. Buffy simply shrugged and held up a dress. "Face me," she requested to Fred.

Fred obligingly held the dress before her. "Can I ask you something?"

Buffy looked at her face and smiled, guessing the answer. "I think you guys are perfect for each other."

"It's not like we've said anything or... but he's so sweet... and commanding, and I feel so comfortable around him....." Fred trailed off, gazing down at herself in a moment of despair. "I mean, I don't even know if he feels..."

"He feels," Buffy assured her.

"Feelings?" Fred looked up.

"Oh, there is definite feelings. We find the right outfit for tonight, there may be actual feeling."

"And then we have to find a dress for you. Something that will make Angel crazy."

Cordelia returned then. "Fred, sweetie. Angel is crazy." She handed the dress she had been holding to Buffy. "But then so are you."

"If you mean in love, then yes I am," Buffy smiled at her two friends as she admired the dress in the mirror nearby. "Or rather, yes we are."

"I actually meant about the ballet."

"The UC Sunny production was amateurish at best," the slayer admitted, "but the story is powerful."

"Well, I'm not much of a ballet fan." Cordelia confessed as she found her dress for the night. She turned to the others. "So, are we satisfied with our choices?"

"I think so," Fred uttered, as she looked in the mirror one final time. "I just hope he likes it."


"You got to promise not to laugh."

Fred smiled. "I promise."

Gunn was not so convinced. "It's gotta come from the heart."

"Will you stop being such a little girl? I said, I promise."

The former street-fighter cautiously stepped out of his room in the Hyperion. He gazed at the woman whose opinion he trusted.

Fred took one wide-eyed look at him, and then laughed.

Gunn was injured. "This is what your promises are worth? I'm having a lot of trust issues at this time in my life."

"It's just - my god, you're so pretty."

"You know there's not a lot of people could say that to me and live. But...." he trailed off as he saw what she was wearing for the first time. "The way you look...... there is no way I can fight you."

She blushed. "Tonight feels... I don't know, kind of magical. Is that stupid?"

"Not at all," Wes remarked as he came towards them." He glanced at Gunn. "Finally came out of hiding, eh?"

Gunn gestured to the girl before them. "And look at my reward."

"Yes. Isn't she a vision," Wes uttered softly.

"A lot of that going around," Gunn added as he saw Cordelia coming down the stairs, resting her arm on Lorne.

"Thank you, but no thank you," the seer uttered. "There will be no visions tonight."

"How can you be sure?" The slayer asked as she and Angel joined them.

"I had a vision."

They all laughed at that before walking out to the car.


"Sorry they're not closer," Angel apologised as he and Buffy sat down next to Lorne and Cordelia in one of the upper dress-circles. "Getting seven seats together..."

"Don't be silly," Wes uttered from his seat in the row below. "Best place. We get the whole panorama from here."

"Besides, back here we stand less chance of setting off the 'monster' alarm," Lorne mused as he got comfortable.

"Or the over seventy," Cordelia muttered aside.

Gunn and Fred sat next to each other silently.

"Back in the day I'd always get box seats," Angel commented wistfully.

"Or Angelus would just eat the people who had 'em," Buffy uttered with a smile to show it was kindly meant. Angel helped her tidy her stole around her upper arms.

"Don't lets reminisce," Lorne voiced as the lights dimmed. "We're here. Enjoy."

The curtains opened to reveal a country lodge where Giselle and her mother worked as a chambermaid and a housekeeper. They were waiting for a hunting party to arrive.

Giselle had fallen in love with a man called Albrecht, despite being engaged to another, a gamekeeper by the name of Hilarion, who loved her dearly. Seeing her and Albrecht together, Hilarion is consumed by jealousy and a fight ensues as he breaks them apart.

The fight is ended by the villagers returning to celebrate the grape harvest. Berthe tries to make her daughter see sense over her beaux by telling her the story of the wilis, vengeful spirits of virgin-brides who were abandoned before their wedding night. The Wilis haunt forests, making young men dance until they die as revenge.

After this tale the hunting party arrives, led by the Duke of Courland and his daughter Bathilde, who is engaged to be married to a Count.

Giselle meets Bathilde and speaks of her love for Albrecht. Wishing her happiness, Bathilde gives her a necklace as a wedding gift. Little do either of them realise that Albrecht and the Count are one and the same.

During the celebrations of the grape harvest where Giselle is crowned Queen of the Vine, Albrecht's real identity is revealed. Feeling wretched over his duplicity, Giselle loses her mind and mortally stabs herself.

At the end of the first act, everybody was certain about their current judgement of the production.

"Bravo! Bravo!" Lorne clapped, disturbing the seer from her slumber.

Cordelia sat up straight suddenly. "I loved it."

"It's just intermission."

"Oh." Cordelia glanced at her wrap. "That isn't drool, is it?"

"Don't worry, it'll wash." Lorne assured her.

They saw the others were moving and followed them out into the lobby.

"I say it once, and gloat all you want," Gunn declared. "These guys are tight, and I am trippin' out."

"They certainly live up to their reputation," Wesley commented.

Buffy nodded, before asking her champion, "has the choreography changed much since..."

"No...." Angel answered, mystified. "Nothing's changed."

"Well, it's wonderful they're able to..." Wes stopped talking as he met his expression.

"No. I mean, nothing's changed. These are the same dancers I saw before."

"That's impossible," Fred voiced. "We're watching the exact same troupe you saw in nineteen-ninety?"

Gunn gently corrected her. "I think he said eighteen-ninety."

"Oh. Okay, that's much more impossible."

"So," Buffy began, "somebody wanna tell me how we're watching a show starring people who should have died sixty years ago?"

"Well, it's a puzzler," Cordelia decided. "Are there snacks?"

"So what are we thinking? Vampires?" Wes asked, ignoring her.

"Well, they're not a deeply tanned bunch," Buffy said thoughtfully.

"That would explain the precision and the athleticism. I mean, some of those jumps were..." Gunn's enthusiasm faded as he caught the glances from the rest. "You know, I was cool before I met you all."

"Dancing vampires," Cordelia commented. "Who's not scared?"

"On second thoughts, not it," the slayer was certain in her opinion. "I'd know. I'd sense it."

"Even all the way back there..." Wes caught Angel looking at him, "...with the panoramic view?"

"We should check it out." Angel decided.

"Maybe after the show we should head backstage?" Fred suggested.

"I was thinking now," he replied, turning to the slayer to receive her nod of agreement. "You guys should go back. We'll snoop."

"I'm with snoopies," Cordelia voted. "The magic of the ballet is not really getting to me."

"How will the dancers keep time without your rhythmic snoring?" Lorne remarked.

At that moment the lights in the lobby dimmed briefly, signalling the end of the first intermission.

"Don't think that's not coming back to haunt you," Cordelia threatened to Lorne.

"Go," Wesley ordered.


"Check out the zeppelin." That was the seer's first comment as they reached the access to backstage.

"Awful lot of muscle for a ballet company," the slayer agreed.

"You want me to distract him?" Cordelia asked both of them. "Make with the nice, nice while you two slip by?"

"I think I'll just have to go with my patented sudden burst of violence." Angel decided.

Cordelia produced a folded set of dollars. "Hey, hold on. I think I might have an approach that is a little more subtle." She came to stand before the guard. "Hey! Do you like bribes?"

Buffy and Angel glanced at each with a look of disbelief.

"Do I ever." The guard wisecracked.

Cordelia persisted. "Well, we really wanna go backstage."

The guard took the money, counting the amount with a single glance. "Yeah, okay, but this isn't so much a bribe as it is a tip. And since I'm not parking your car, there's really no way that..."

It was at this point that Angel cut in, with a hand slice to the back of the guy's neck. Leaving him unconscious on the floor, the trio entered the realm of backstage theatre.

And came to an abrupt halt.

"Okay," the slayer remarked, "you saw the building as we drove by. Do you remember it going on forever?"

"It's clearly a spell, or a time flux, or something." Angel paused. "I don't think we wanna be rushing in here."

"Well, let's get the others and talk options," Cordelia suggested.

Buffy turned round, only to see another corridor stretching on forever. "Works in theory," she commented wryly.

Angel turned to Cordelia. "How about you go back while Buffy and I go forwards?"

"Sounds like a plan," the seer agreed before walking away.


"This is the prima ballerina's dressing room," Angel uttered, as he and Buffy entered it. "It's unchanged," he added.

Buffy moved to the dressing table. "She would wait for him here," she uttered without thought.

"It's warm," Angel commented. "It's very warm."

Buffy glanced at him from her stance by the dressing table. "I feel it," she said softly. "Something happened here." She paused before adding, "Angel?"

"Yeah?" Her soulmate answered distractedly, as he continued to examine the room.

"I want you to undress me." The slayer answered.

That got his attention. "Beloved, this is hardly the time or the place...." He trailed off as she closed on him, her hands caressing the jacket material of his tux.

"It's just another costume," she uttered huskily. "I want you to see who I really am. You're the only one who can."

Angel struggled for control. "I... This isn't us. we're acting this out. Someone is..." he leaned down to just touch her lips.

Buffy let him, then stopped by in embarrassed surprise. "Whoa! Did I just ask you to undress me?"

Angel suddenly wrapped his arms around her waist. "Is that what you want?" He let his hands slip under her wrap to stroke her exposed back. "You want me to make love to you right here?"

The slayer sighed, tilting her head to bare her neck. "You know I do."

Angel gently kissed it. "But you're afraid," he whispered.

She nodded. "What if he finds us?"

Her tightened his embrace. "I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid of anything." He kissed her neck again.

Buffy groaned before uttering last, "I'm only alive when you're inside me." Then she captured his lips with hers.


Back amongst the seats in the dress-circles, Winifred, Gunn, Wesley and Lorne were still spellbound by the ballet, now in it's second act.

In grief at Giselle's suicide, Hilarion and Berthe visit her grave.

As night falls, the wilis awaken. Led by their Queen, Myrtha, they summon Giselle from her coffin.

Cordelia found herself walking round in circles through the never-ending corridors of the backstage. Giving up hope of contacting the others, she tried to return to the dressing room of the prima-ballerina.

To her surprise, this succeeded. She tried the door, but appeared to be locked. Fearing the worst, she pounded upon it calling out, "Buffy! Angel!"

Inside, the chosen warriors reluctantly put a stop to their making out session.

"Ah! Cordelia.," Angel uttered as they heard her voice.

"Yes," the seer replied through the door. "I couldn't get to Wes and the others, so I came back to you two. Are you guys alright?"

"We're fine," Buffy returned, looking at Angel. "We so need to be out of here," she stated aside.

"Yes," Angel answered, breathing heavily.

Still struggling with their conflicting desires, they moved the short distance to the door and tried to open.

The door resisted for a minute, then when they applied both their strength, it opened with a violence, pushing both of them out into the corridor.

Cordelia backed away from them in shock. "Whoa!"

"That's a fair assessment," Angel added as he leaned against the door.

"What the hell took you so long?" she asked them.

The champions glanced at each other, before the slayer opted to answer for both of them. "There's spirits in there. Energy trapped in time. It took us over."

Cordelia groaned. "Not again. I still have nightmares of when that happened during High school."

"Well, now we've discovered it, we have to stop it," the slayer decided. "Find out some way to break the temporal circle."

"Well, what was the story?" Cordelia asked. "In the room."

"Er.... the prima ballerina was in love with someone," Angel answered carefully. "But she was also afraid of showing that love."

"Which means she wasn't free to love him," Buffy answered, "rather like the ballet."

"But you don't know their names?" Cordelia asked.

The warriors shook their heads.

"Okay," the seer began, in an attempt to draw a conclusion. "They were afraid of someone. And I'll bet you anything that the someone is the reason why we're stuck here! You guys left the room too soon. You have to go back in."

"I'm marvelling at the wrongness of that idea," the slayer said.

"You wanna wander around backstage like Spinal Tap for the next - ever?" Cordelia countered.

"What if there is no more talking in that scene?" Angel asked his soulmate. "Look, we've been possessed by the spirits of old lovers before. Never goes well."


In the ballet, a grief stricken Count Albrecht approached Giselle's grave. Myrtha and her wilis retreated into the forest, letting Giselle try and comfort him.

"Angel!" Fred whispered abruptly, making Wes, Gunn and Lorne sit up. "And Buffy and Cordelia." She added. "They've been gone way too long."

"You're right," Wes agreed. "Come on."

"We're gonna miss the end!" Gunn objected to no avail as his colleagues slipped out into the aisle.

Reluctantly he followed.


"Okay," Buffy began when they had been in the dressing room a few, uneventful minutes. "Let's take it from the middle. I want you to undress me."

"You want me to have sex now with you here," Angel returned. "But you're afraid."

"Yes, What if he finds us?"

"Well, I'm not afraid of anything."

Buffy wrapped her arms around his neck. "I'm only alive when you're inside me," she said before kissing him.

Angel kissed her back, all the while sensing for the lost souls to kick in and take control. When nothing happened, he drew back.

Only to be swept up into another kiss by the slayer.


"At least Angel left us a trail," Gunn commented as they encountered the security guard.

Silently they stepped over him.

Above them in his box, Count Kurskov watched the second act. He was engrossed in the magnificence of the prima ballerina as she danced Giselle's required steps.

Suddenly two white-gloved hands clutched his shoulders. Voices sounded in his ears, laughing insanely.

"Deal with them," Kurskov answered them, his eyes still fixed on Giselle. "I can't be bothered right now."


In her dressing room, two possessed warriors embraced each other on the chaise lounge. A wrap and tux jacket lay pooled together on the floor below them.

"This is wrong," Buffy said softly.

"Hush," Angel gently commanded as he showered her neck and breastbone with kisses.

The slayer arched her back in pleasure. "You don't know him. He has power."

"The power to do this?" Angel answered, his lips touching a sensitive spot.

Buffy breathed deeply, her body shivering with ecstasy. "Stephan, his power is unnatural. He could..."

"He could what?" He questioned, as if it were ridiculous. "Kill us?"


Angel slipped her dress a touch lower. "Kurskov owns the company. He doesn't own you."

"He doesn't know that. He thinks I'm his. That I dance for him. He is nothing but a deluded fan. He thinks I love him."

"Come away with me. Now. Tonight. We'll disappear. Even he won't find us."

"Stephan, everything I worked for is here."

"You can still dance."

"Can I? I don't... Not yet. Maybe when we're..."

He put a finger to her lips. "Don't. Don't make promises you cannot keep."

She kissed them away. "Help me. Help me be not afraid."

He pressed her back down. "You are mine. He cannot touch you again."


"This is very not right." Gunn commented as they walked down the endless hallway.

"Do you hear it?" Fred asked.

"There is something," Wes confirmed. "Someone's in pain."

"Either that," Lorne muttered, "or someone's in fun."


Buffy moaned. Her dress had now slipped to rest just below her thighs Angel was kissing her abdomen, all conversation at an end.

A banging on the door stopped them from getting any further.

"Guys!" It was Cordelia. "Now is not the time to indulge in fantasies!"

The slayer sat up, Angel reluctantly following suit.

Only two be knocked to the floor by a white-gloved hand.

"Angel!" Buffy shouted, attracting the attention of another set of gloves. She hurriedly made herself decent before looking up to see what other horrors were above them. A grey comedy face stared back at her.

"Now enter the villainous lackeys," she commented before joining Angel in the fray.


"Now that sounds less like fun," Gunn remarked as their hearing picked up the fighting sounds.

And then he was screaming as a sword suddenly thrust through his body.

"Charles!" Fred cried out.

"Fred, stay behind us." Wes ordered as he and Lorne faced the demon, who had since been joined by another.

Lorne grabbed a prop and managed to knock free one of the swords, which Wesley deftly caught. Together they began fence off their attackers.


"A little help!" Buffy called out in the general direction of the door, hoping Cordelia had by now found some weapons outside.

One of the lackeys pulled out a stiletto-bladed dagger and threw it at her.

"Thank you," she said, catching it, much to his surprise. She threw it back, stabbing the other one, who was just about to come at Angel from behind.

Angel turned and grabbed the dagger, pulling it free of the minion's black chest. He faced his opponent, struck him across the chin then skewered him through the throat.

The slayer waited for the lackey to drop to the floor then rushed over to him. "You alright?" Angel asked her.

"Yeah. We gotta move."

"Why?" He asked. "You think they're not dead?"

Buffy shook her head. "You just looked really hot doing that."

"Oh," Angel answered, understanding. He grabbed the swords and handed one to her. "In that case, let's run."


After some pretty fancy sword play, Wesley managed to run through his own tragedy masked villainous lackey with his blade.

"Who is laughing now?" He commented. The minion let out one weak chuckle. "Well, you," he conceded. "But I still win."

"That's good," Gunn commented as Winifred tended to his wound. "That should hold. You okay? You hurt?"

"I'm fine," She answered. "I just thought.." she took a deep, shuddering breath to control her fears. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't fall apart like this."

Gunn managed a slight smile. "You scared I'm gonna die on you?"

"Charles, don't even..." she trailed off as he lifted his face to the ceiling, proclaiming theatrically, "and all I ask is one last kiss as the light is dimming." He laughed as he finished his sentence.

Fred was not in the least amused. "You think that's funny?"

"It's just a scratch!" Gunn assured her.

She shook her head. "I thought it was... I..."

"Hey," Gunn uttered, before carefully pulling her into a half embrace. "You really that worried about me?"

Fred looked down at her dress. "You probably think I'm an idiot."

"I think if you care that much, the wound is definitely deep."

Winifred looked up, hopeful. "The light is dimming?" She echoed.

"And all I ask is one last..." Gunn leaned forward and let his lips touch hers.

Wes and Lorne, their opponents conquered for the moment, turned in time to see them kiss. Lorne glanced at the former, only to be surprised as he sensed Wesley's calm acceptance of the new couple in the firm's mist.

Cordelia, Buffy and Angel unexpectedly emerged from another hallway, disturbing the scene.

"You guys alright?" The slayer asked.

"Charles got stabbed," Fred uttered.

"Yeah. A couple stitches worth," the former street fighter confirmed.

Angel took a look at their attackers. "They're same guys that attacked us."

"Any idea where we are or what the hell?" Lorne asked them.

"Yeah," the seer answered. "Buffy and Angel hit kind of a mystical hot-spot back in one of the dressing rooms."

"Well, it seems the prima ballerina had a lover back in the day," the slayer explained. "And there was this Count Kurskov, who owned the company, and I guess he had a thing for the girl and they were mightily afraid of him."

"He had powers of some kind," Angel added.

"He was a wizard," Wes stated abruptly, remembering. "He was obsessed with the girl. When he found her with the other man, he went insane with jealous rage and pulled her out of time, out of any reality beyond his theatre, his company. He swore she would dance for him forever."

"And now we're stuck here?" Lorne asked.

"Well, this kind of temporal shift can't just exist. It has to be maintained. That requires power and concentration. If we can overload him somehow, we might be able to slip back to the real world."

"Great. So, how do we overload him?" Angel queried.

"Well, I'd imagine that requires some energy."

The gang watched as their boss's eyes fixed on something behind them. They turned to see one of the minions rise from the floor, and split into two. The other followed suit.

"The more we kill, the more he makes," the slayer realised.

Wesley directed their gaze to the suddenly wavy corridor the lackeys were guarding access to. "And that is draining his energy. Angel, try and find a way to the stage. The count will be watching. Find his power centre and destroy it. We'll try and loosen his hold."

"It's normally a necklace," Buffy added, remembering Anyanka.

"By making more monsters?" Gunn commented as he shakily rose to his feet. "Man with the frightening plan!"


Angel navigated his way through the corridors until he found a fractured barrier. Taking a risk he jumped through to find himself in the wings of the stage.

Giselle was waiting behind the backdrop, watching the other ballerinas dancing as wilis, tormenting Hilarion into a dance of death.

Angel took another risk and called out to her.

Giselle turned her head in surprise. "Who are you? There's no one... You're new."

"I'm pretty old, actually. I've seen you dance."

Giselle sadly faced the stage once more. "Everyone sees me."

"It was Giselle then, as well."

"Always," she confirmed.

"I know what's happening. Count Kurskov's punishing you."

Giselle nodded. "He made me. He owns me. And when I dance it is only for him."

"Do you believe that?"

"It really doesn't matter. I'll dance. I'll wait here. And then I'll dance again. That's all."

"A hundred years doing the same piece every night. Is that enough? What about Stephan?"

A tear crept down her face. "I waited too long. I should have gone when he asked me, should have disappeared, but I wanted this. This dance, this. I hesitated and... I lost everything that mattered. Now all I do is wait." She smiled wryly. "There is a section in the first act, during the courtship dance, where my foot slips. My ankle's turned and I don't quite hold, every time. He doesn't notice. He doesn't even know ballet that well. But always, at that same moment, I slip. It isn't just the same ballet. It's the same performance. I don't dance. I echo. Please can you make it stop?"

"I can help you. But you have to do something."


"Change the ending. Dance something new."

"I can't."

"He doesn't control all this. He's losing it. But you have to take the stage. It's not too late. You can change things."

Giselle looked from Angel to the stage. Then she made her entrance, coming to the rescue of Count Albrecht, before he befell the same fate as Hilarion.

From his box Kurskov saw the moves and realised he was being tricked. "No!"

Angel ran out on to the stage and jumped, landing in the Count's box. "Hey," he commented casually, "where is your power centre?"

"How dare you?" Kurskov was enraged.

Angel spotted the ruby jewelled cross he was wearing. "No wait, I'll guess." He smashed the gemstone.

A bright blue light flowed out of it's remains, over the stage and into the hallways behind. Taking away the villainous lackeys and the rest of the ballerinas into oblivion.

Giselle smiled at the Count and then at Angel before performing a bow to land in a half-split on the stage floor.

"You have no right," Kurskov told Angel.

"Save it," Angel replied as the audience began to applaud the end of the ballet.

"She was my love. She danced only for me!"

"You love her that much?" Angel began, before punching him. Kurskov dropped to the floor of his box. "Start a website."


It was close to midnight when the Fang Gang returned to the Hyperion, thankful that the rest of the audience had noticed nothing strange about the ballet.

"We'll have to clean the wound," Wes commented, glancing at Gunn. "Do you want something for the pain?"

"What pain?" Gunn asked as Winifred put an arm around him.

They entered the reception lobby to find someone waiting for them.

"Princess!" The visitor called out, rising from the soft furnishings.

"Groo!!" Cordelia practically screamed before rushing into his arms.

"I feared you'd forget who I was."

"Remind me," she commanded before kissing him. He swept her off her feet and upstairs in search of an empty room.

"One-fifteen's in good order," Wes called, chucking the appropriate key so it landed on the railed hallway of the first floor.

"Thank you," Cordelia managed to call out before she was whisked out of sight.

Gunn and Fred smiled at each other and then walked off up in direction of her room.

Buffy watched the couple go with a smile on her face. She turned to catch Wesley's expression. "You okay with them?" She asked him.

"I am," Wes assured her. "I foresaw it's coming. She and I were never meant to be."

"One thing you can be sure of in both this world and Pylea," Lorne remarked with compassion, "you can't fight Kyrumption. It's in the stars. It's fate."

"I'll say," Buffy whispered as she leaned into Angel's arms, which had been resting around her waist ever since they got out of the car.

He turned to her, his lips brushing her blond hair. "You fancy picking up at the fantasy where we left off?" He asked.

She smiled up at him. "You read my mind."

"You two go," Wes told them, witnessing their intimate conversation and guessing it's import without any knowledge of the words. "We'll lock up."

"Thanks," Angel acknowledged before sweeping the slayer into his arms. She laughed huskily and wrapped her arms around his neck, allowing him to carry her up the stairs.

Lorne and Wesley watched them go with a smile.


"Have I told you how beautiful you looked tonight?" Angel asked his beloved once they were safely installed in their suite on the second floor of the Hyperion.

"Looked?" the slayer echoed, emphasising the past tense of the word.

"Well, it is gone midnight."

"It's still the dark before dawn," she pointed out as his hands removed her stole from around her shoulders, dealing each of their blades a kiss as he did so.

"Then you look as beautiful as when I first saw you appear to me in this silken attire," Angel paused to kiss the back of her neck. "Wilt thou have me fashion into speech, the love I bear to thee?" 1 He softly added, as he undid the clasps of her dress once more.

Buffy smiled as she recognised the quote. "Do not say 'I love her for her smile, her look, her way of speaking gently," she returned, letting her own memory of the words come into play. "If thou must love me, let it be for nought, except for love's sake only." 2

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways," Angel continued as he slipped her dress gently off her upper arms, aiding the material's journey until the silk had fallen from her fingers, leaving the bodice to fall and reveal her bare front. "I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight for the ends of Being and ideal Grace." He walked around her to stand before her; "I love thee to the level of everyday's most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. I love thee with the passion put to use in my old grief's, and with my childhood's faith." 3

"Say over again, and yet once over again, that thou dost love me," Buffy replied as her hands reached up to undo his cravat, deftly flicking the material behind his neck and thus to fall upon the floor. "Say thou dost love me, love me, love me..." she added, undoing his shirt buttons, revealing his bare chest to her gaze, "....only minding, dear, to love me also in silence with thy soul." 4

He helped her take off his shirt letting it rest by his jacket which he had removed the moment they entered the suite, then swept her into his arms once to lay her upon the bed. "The face of all the world is changed, I think," he began as he moved to knelt over her form, "since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul. I, who thought to sink, was caught up into love, and taught the whole of life in a new rhythm.5 Oh, beloved, how I love thee."

"Yes, call me by that name," Buffy answered as his lips began a trail of kisses down her neck to her breast, "and I, in truth, with the same heart, will answer and not wait."6 She arched her back as he reached her abdomen, "with the same heart, I said, I'll answer thee."7

Angel rose to remove his trousers, then, when she forestalled him with a hand and a look, he obeyed her silent wish and just unzipped his fly. "Love is fire," he continued as he settled back on top of her. "And when I say at need I love thee, mark! I love thee! In thy sight I stand transfigured, glorified aright."8

"Beloved, thou hast brought me many flowers," Buffy uttered softly as she opened her thighs to welcome him, "take them, as I used to do, thy flowers, and keep them where they shall not pine. Instruct thine eyes to keep their colours true, and tell thy soul their roots are left in mine." 9

And then there were no longer breath for words as their two bodies became one, in heart, in soul and in love.

The End.
To Be Continued In


All quotes are from Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets From the Portuguese (1850):

1. Sonnet 13.
2. Sonnet 14.
3. Sonnet 43.
4. Sonnet 21.
5. Sonnet 7.
6. Sonnet 33.
7. Sonnet 34.
8. Sonnet 10.
9. Sonnet 44.