"We have a birthday girl with us tonight

Birthday Surprise

"We have a birthday girl with us tonight!" Ally announced stopping the music at the dance practice. "And you all know what that means."

The other dancers cleared to the edges of the gym as Ally escorted a blushing Willow to the center of the floor. Angel started forward to claim his partner when Tiff announced, "Tonight we're doing a birthday salsa."

Angel stopped; he didn't salsa. Sure it was fine in class when he had to, but he didn't salsa unless forced to, it just wasn't a type of dance that suited the brooding vampire. Willow grinned at him; the little minx knew perfectly well he didn't salsa.

Waltz, Foxtrot, West-Coast, they were all fine and Tango, Argentina Tango especially, fit Angel perfectly. But Salsa, Samba, swing and, ugh, Lindy-hop were not his style. Only Willow had him cornered, it was her birthday; he had to dance this song with her.

A look of horror crept into Angel's eyes as the first measure of "Living La Via de Loca" came on. Of all the songs that she could have chosen, it had to be that one.

Slowly Willow's arms rose over her head as her hips swayed to the vibrant melody. Rick sprinted past the frozen vampire to twirl Willow into a quick spin and the game was on. After two more spins Jeffery was hovering around the couple, looking for his chance.

It came when Rick led an open spin, smoothly Jeffery picked up the lead, taking Willow into a close embrace basic that set Angel's teeth on edge. Sure he knew Jeffery was just playing around and he flirted outrageously with every girl he met, and it didn't hurt Willow at all to receive that kind of attention after being ignored for so long, but it didn't stop the irritation Angel always felt when the brown haired boy approached Willow.

Jordan moved close to the couple and Jeffrey swung Willow around so that he was between Jordan and the red-haired girl. Jordan rolled his eyes as Jeffery cast a mischievous grin over his shoulder.

Ally walked up behind Jeffery and tapped him on the shoulder, when he turned to look, Jordan caught Willow's waist and swung her into his arms. A measure later another boy stole the lead from him.

Angel smiled as he faded back toward the wall, maybe he could get away with not dancing this particular dance after all.

He was amazed at how much Willow had changed in the month since they'd began lessons. On the first night of classes Angel remember her dismayed squeak when the instructor announced that they would be rotating partners. When a strange boy had tried to dance with Willow for the first time she'd been stiff as a board, staring at the floor and blushing furiously. Angel had almost growled at the boy, but every other couple was rotating and so Angel followed suit, even if most his attention remained focused on the slight hacker.

"I don't bite, I swear," the boy had said smiling kindly.

"I'm glad," Willow had stammered. "I certainly don't need anymore biting types in my life."

Tonight every boy in the room was going to try to steal a dance with the birthday girl and Willow was loving every minute of it. All the attention being showered on her was just part of the game, but at school, this day had passed almost without notice. Xander had given her a silly card and traditionally threatened her with a birthday spanking, while Buffy and Giles offered best wishes, but that was it.

It wasn't that it bothered Willow, it was just that this was so wonderful in contrast. Sure playing steal the lead with the birthday girl was tradition in the dance group and flirting was a common practice, but Willow wasn't being overlooked in favor of the more popular or outgoing girls for a change.

At first the attention had tended to send her scurrying back to Angel's protection but it hadn't taken Willow long to learn to enjoy the flirting and even return a little of it. The boys here didn't see anything strange about thinking about her lips, even if Xander did.

Well she didn't care anymore. Xander could go right on chasing after every girl who wasn't her, Willow was happy with boys who didn't see her as being "like a guy friend who knows about girl stuff."

She'd be even happier if a certain vampire lurking in the corner would take his turn leading her even if he did hate this song and any song that required a loss of dignity to dance to.

Rick, who'd just stolen the lead for the second time, caught Willow's wistful glance. "Don't worry, we'll drag him out here. Your Angel needs to learn that his face won't break if he smiles."

Rick spun Willow gracefully into Jeffery's waiting arms then he and Jordan headed for Angel's corner.

"I don't salsa," Angel protested weakly as the two boys shoved him onto the dance floor. Angel made a show of resisting but let them force him to Willow's side.

Jeffery stole a quick kiss from Willow and Angel's eyes flashed gold as he growled warningly.

"Just for luck," Jeffery claimed giving Willow up to Angel.

Possessively Angel spun Willow away from the other males as she giggled. "That would show Xander," Willow said. "I do too have lips worth thinking about, even if I'm not some life stealing Incan Princess."

"I told you before, Xander is an idiot. That doesn't mean you should let the dance group's resident Romeo kiss you," Angel rumbled, leading Willow into a cross-body turn combination.

"I didn't see anyone else offering," Willow said sulkily, she didn't see why Angel was being so bossy about this.

Angel spun Willow then caught her waist, bracing her against him. Willow let her knees sag and her upper body fall back in a rolling, swoony-type dip. When she came up again she was nose to nose with Angel. He tilted his head slightly and kissed her firmly on the mouth.

Willow gasped in surprise and Angel deepened the kiss without thinking. The room erupted in cheers, whistles and catcalls. Willow and Angel broke apart and stood there, staring at one another in shock.