At Last

"This one's on me," Niles said, as he tore up the check. CC raised a surprised eyebrow then went back into Niles' arms, who swept her into a low dip, releasing the deep, sultry laugh that he loved so much.

They continued dancing and talking and laughing, each having a startlingly good time, which surprised them both. "You know, Miss Babcock, its past midnight and you haven't transformed into anything evil. This HAS turned out to be a pleasant evening," Niles said, taking her for another twirl around their makeshift dance floor. He hesitated just a moment before he continued, not quite daring to look her in the eyes. "I have a friend who performs in a jazz combo at a club downtown. There's a lovely bistro right across the street. Do you think you could retain your human form long enough to join me for dinner and some dancing on Friday?"

CC was taken aback by Niles asking her out on a date and it took her a moment to compose her thoughts. He had been a charming and attentive escort tonight and she LOVED going dancing. Chandler never took her dancing and she hadn't been in so very long. She tilted her head to one side as she gazed at a distant spot over his shoulder. "Hmm, live jazz… free food and drinks… you ARE paying, by the way. I suppose I could stand it for one evening. As long as you hose off the Tilex smell before you pick me up." She couldn't believe she'd just agreed to a date with the Tidy Bowl man but she figured, what the hell? It couldn't be THAT horrible and it might actually be kinda fun. Niles suppressed a grin at her acceptance and countered, "I'll wash up if you promise to clean your hooves out first. Wouldn't want you tracking any manure into the club."

The current song ended and CC stepped back out of his embrace, with a small laugh. "It's been fun, dustbuster, but unlike you, I have to actually work in the morning. And all that champagne is hitting me and I have to pee like a racehorse." Niles laughed at her crass remark, "Ah, Babcock, ever the dainty flower," as CC strode across the living room towards the bathroom under the stairs. "Call me a cab, would you, Hazel?" CC tossed over her shoulder. Niles just shook his head with a smile and crossed to the phone to ring the taxi.

When CC returned to the living room, having answered nature's call, she found Niles relaxing on the couch with two snifters of brandy. "Take a load off, Shamu, and join me for a nightcap while you wait for the cab." CC plopped down next to him and took the drink he offered. She sighed deeply, as she rested her feet on the coffee table and then tipped the brandy into her mouth. It had been a long day and she was beginning to feel it. She leaned her head on the back of the coach, rolling it from side to side, stretching her neck muscles while she flexed each ankle in turn, working some of the tension out of her feet and calves.

As the radio started to play Etta James' "At Last", Niles suddenly stood and put his brandy down. "I love this one. C'mon, Babcock. One more dance before you flap off into the darkness." He set her glass aside then pulled her from the sofa and walked her over in front of the fire, placing one hand on her lower back and lightly grasping her hand with the other. This song was much slower and more sensual than the ones they had been dancing to earlier. CC found her eyes closing, mesmerized by the haunting melody and the slow swaying of their bodies. As the music continued, Niles drew her hand into his chest and her body closer to his. Soon, they were cheek to cheek, lost in the moment. CC suppressed a shiver as she felt Niles' warm breath tickling her neck. He drew her closer still and in a course whisper said, "It's late. Why don't you stay?" CC took a deep breath to collect herself and replied quietly, "The cab's already on its way and I need to get home. There's no need for you to make up the guest room." Niles' hand released hers and softly slid its way up her arm, then over her shoulder to press warmly against the silky skin of her bare back. As his other hand slid down to the top of her hip and pulled her against his body, he growled low and soft into her ear, "Who said anything about the guest room?"

Suddenly, the moment was broken by the jarring horn of the taxi, announcing its arrival outside. CC stepped back quickly, releasing Niles, and blinking several times to clear the fog that had overtaken her. "The cab's here. I…. I have to go," she stammered, dazed as she retrieved her handbag from the chair and headed toward the front door. In an instant, she was gone, leaving Niles standing alone in the living room, eyes tightly closed, head thrown back in frustration, hands clenched at his sides. "Damn..."