QUEEN MYRTA'S DANCE
By D. M. Evans
Disclaimer - I don't own any of them. Mr. Whedon owns all. Aspects of Giselle belong toThéophile Gautier who penned it about a 170 years ago.
Rating - PG-13
Spoilers - none. It's set within Waiting in the Wings S3
Summary - Wes has his evening out at the ballet planned out but things never go easy
Author's Note - This was written for Aaronlisa's Wesley ficathon, written for MrsDrake (requirements at the end). Giselle is my favorite ballet. I can't even remember how many times I've seen my tape of Nureyev dancing it. Using it as a metaphor came naturally. For those who don't know Queen Myrta is the Queen of the Wilis (Originally I was going to call it The Dance of the Wilis but it looked like 'willies' and that was just NOT the image I wanted)
Wes watched the ballerinas spiraling en pointe across the stage. He never failed to marvel at the skill and strength it took to make it look so effortless, so otherworldly. Wesley loved the ballet, and Giselle was one of his favorites. He hadn't been particularly surprised to find out he shared that artistic love with Angel. As gruff and dark as the vampire could be, Wesley had seen his literary collection, heard his classical music library, seen the bits of art about his personal rooms. It came as no surprise to find out Angel liked ballet, too.
It was Gunn's enthusiastic embracing of the art that stunned Wes. He hadn't expected Gunn to be anything but bored, not sitting on the edge of his seat obviously enraptured. Wes expected Gunn to be more like Cordelia, snoring and embarrassing them all. Wes had to fight to drown Cordy out, and Angel kept shifting her around, trying to wake her up gently.
Wes tried not to pay them any mind. His eyes remained on Fred, who was beautiful with her hair up. He was watching her more than he had been watching the ballet. Tonight was the night. It wasn't as romantic as it could have been, not with all their friends around, but Cordy had assured him the iron was hot. He was still surprised Gunn hadn't traded Lorne the Connor babysitting duty. It would have been easier if Gunn wasn't with them. Wes was torn between being glad that Angel was finally able to trust someone with his son, and wondering if it was a good idea to leave an infant only a few weeks old, with all his incessant needs like a bottle every two hours, with the one person in their group least able to fight back. That really couldn't be a good move with Holtz still running free.
Still, it wasn't Wes' decision, not his burden to bear, so he shoved it out of his mind leaving him free to concentrate on Fred. Wes still longed for a slightly more romantic setting, like he and Fred alone, but it was as close as they were likely to get given their life styles. He would tell her tonight when they got home, when they could be alone for a few minutes. Cordelia was pressuring him to tell Fred, and he knew she was right.
Wes studied Fred's face as she watched the ballet. She had such a delicate bone structure. She put him in mind of the heroine of the ballet, Giselle. She had the same ethereal beauty. Only he knew Fred was made of far stern stuff than Giselle. Fred wouldn't die of a heart attack at a simple announcement that her would-be lover was betrothed.
Wes grinned to himself. He had cast himself, without thinking about it, in the role of Albrecht, the handsome young prince. Would that make Gunn Hilarion, the gamekeeper who was in love with Giselle? There wasn't much resemblance there. No, as adorable as Fred might be, she was stronger than Giselle. She had survived Pylea and readjusted to Earth. There was nothing weak about her. And it might be ego making him cast himself as Albrecht, but at least he didn't have a fiancee to worry about. His path to Fred was clear.
Except maybe for Gunn. Wes knew it might be unkind to cast him in the role of Hilarion, who ended up destroying them all. Still, Wes knew Gun was interested in Fred, but he couldn't imagine Fred could be interested in Gunn. It had nothing to do with race, and everything to do with education. Gunn was nobody's fool but Wes didn't think Gunn ever even graduated high school. It was no fault of his own, at least Wes didn't imagine so. Gunn had been a homeless street kid when he joined the group. No matter how bright Gunn was, he couldn't keep up with Fred's burning intellect, her innate curiosity and her love of science. Even Wes, with all his education, had trouble following Fred's train of thought sometimes, especially when she went off on a physics tangent. He couldn't imagine her being interested in someone not at her intellectual level. Wes knew that was damn conceited of him but he couldn't help it.
Fred's intelligence was what made her so sexy to him. Maybe that's why it never worked with him and Cordelia. The young woman was far from stupid, but she liked to get by as much as she could on looks and didn't apply herself at a level he knew she was capable of. Cordelia was more instinct and impulse, while Fred was cool logic and that's what drew him to her like a moth to flame.
Wes' attention wandered back to the stage. As he watched the dancers, he imagined how the conversation with Fred would go after the ballet. Would they simply kiss or would they go to his room like errant teenagers? Which scenario excited him more? What would the others think? He already knew Cordy was okay with it. Angel was so wrapped up in his infant son he probably wouldn't even notice. Gunn would be a much stickier wicket. He could see Gunn had some feelings for Fred. Things might get a little tense once he announced his feelings for Fred but Wesley was sure they could weather it. Still, a voice inside his head reminded him that the rivalry of Albrecht and Hilarion ruined all their lives.
This was a bad idea. Wes felt like kicking Angel for waiting all the way until intermission to mention that this dance troupe was the one he had seen over a century ago. That's not the kind of thing one should keep to one's self, not given the usual things they faced on a daily basis. Nothing good could possibly explain it. Magic? It was certainly a possibility since Angel was adamant it wasn't vampires.
None of them should be just sitting around. Maybe Angel feared if they all disappeared from their seats someone would notice and wonder. Still, Wes felt convinced that Angel should have at least taken him along. After all, wasn't he the one with the encyclopedias full of demons and magic crammed into his head after years of Watchers' training? Surely he could have helped, certainly more than what he was doing here.
How could Gunn and Fred just sit there and watch the show? They couldn't be, he decided. They were faking watching the show while thinking, just as he was, that they were wasting their time when they should all be looking for clues. Wes was barely aware that his plans for the evening were receding into the dark corners of his mind. Who could think of romance when faced with a potentially undead or bewitched ballet troupe? Who would do such a thing and why? It didn't have the more diabolical bent they were used to.
Finding no answers, Wes tried to think again about Fred and his plans. Giselle was now a Wilis on stage, one of the vengeful spirits of scorned women, and she was busy dancing Hilarion to death. After all, Hilarion had been the one to expose Albrecht as an engaged prince in disguise, breaking Giselle's heart, killing her. No, Wes didn't want to cast Gunn in that role. It was too harsh, too ugly. As Hilarion was dying, Wes reached for Fred's hand.
"Angel!" she whispered and he jerked his hand away, noticing a movement out of the corner of his eye. What had Gunn been doing?
"Huh?" Gunn looked at her.
"And Cordy. They've been gone way too long."
Wes thought about that. How foolish of him. He had been so wrapped up in being disappointed that he had been cut out of the search for clues that he had lost track of time. "You're right. Come on."
"We're gonna miss the end!"
Wes looked at Gunn like he had lost his mind. Their friends might be missing. There was a supernatural dance troupe on stage, and all Gunn was worried about was not seeing the end. Maybe it was part of the weirdness of this troupe, maybe they had cast a spell sapping common sense. "I'm sorry."
At least Gunn didn't protest as they left the house, going deeper into the theatre. They found an unconscious guard.
"At least Angel left us a trail," Gunn said, and Wes couldn't help thinking, what a foolish thing to do. If Angel didn't want people knowing anything was wrong, he shouldn't have left the guard where anyone could find him. It was sloppy. Now someone might know there was something was afoot, and, if they were on the side of evil, Angel and Cordy could be in trouble. It would explain why they had been gone so long.
Wes didn't like this. Angel and Cordelia could handle themselves, but there was obviously something happening in the theatre. Even as they stalked the corridors with their lush appointments, there was a feeling of unease that was almost palpable. It left a coating on them, a corrosion that subtly ate away at the opulence that came with classical artistry. Theaters always felt vaguely haunted, or at least they had always felt so to Wesley. This one felt like its hallways would lead somewhere terrible, like the forest of the Wilis. The phrase 'by the prickings of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes,' started banging around in his subconscious.
Wes fought to throw off his disquietude. If Angel and Cordy were in trouble, they were counting on him, Fred and Gunn. He couldn't afford to be nervous. None of them could.
Wes caught the slash on the flat of his blade, jarring his arm all the way to the shoulder. He spun out of range then danced back in. He was good at this. He never questioned it. Fencing had been his true love back in Watchers' training. He had excelled at it and he needed all of his skill now. One of his friends lay bleeding behind him. He and Gunn might be rivals but he would never wish anything bad on his friend. For all he knew, Gunn was dying. They all might die if he and Fred couldn't defeat the grotesque creatures, with their comedy and tragedy caricature faces, that he and his friends were now faced with.
Wes could hear Fred holding her own. She was poorly equipped for a fight in that gorgeous red dress that hugged her body in a way that made him perversely jealous. He wanted to be as close to her as that satin, and he couldn't afford such thoughts in the middle of a battle. Concentrating was hard enough with all the infernal laughter bubbling out of the creature.
The ex-Watcher ducked under another wild slash and feinted forward. The creature jumped back, getting closer to the fly curtains. Wes could no longer hear Fred or Gunn. He tried not to think about what that could mean. He chose to believe it meant Fred had been victorious, and she was tending their fallen friend. The alternative hurt too much to think on.
Wes showed the creature exactly how good he was with a sword. Blades flashed and arced. The curtains worked to his advantage. The billowing cloth caught the eye, broke the concentration and allowed him his opening. He ran the creature through and made his quip, hoping Fred would hear and get a giggle herself, but once the demon's laughter died there was nothing but silence in the theater's corridors.
Wesley crept up the hallway as silent as he could just in case there were more of the creatures. He didn't need to alert them, but he had to get back to Fred and Gunn. He had to be sure they were all right and they would need to get Gunn medical help if he was hurt as badly as Wes feared he might be. Wes froze. Nothing would have prepared him for seeing Giselle giving the dying Hilarion a goodbye kiss after dancing him to death.
Reality filtered in slowly, unwanted. No one had danced Gunn to death. He looked far from dying. And Wesley had waited too long to tell Fred. How much of an idiot could he be? Wes whirled, dragging his sword behind him like Marley's chains. Out of their sight, he dropped to his knees, feeling like he had been the one to die. Cordy had promised him the iron was hot. How could she have been so wrong?
A vicious wave rose up in him, the urge to finish what the demon had started. How dare Gunn touch his woman? He would make him very sorry for it. How could Fred not see he was the better man? He was suave, well spoken and most importantly of all, overly educated. What would she talk about with Gunn? How to survive on their wits with nothing? Yes, they had that in common, he the streets of L.A., her the forest of Pylea but how could that sustain them?
The jealousy claimed him. Wes felt the Mr. Hyde in him coming out. He had thought that part of him, the part that was like his horrid father, was a manifestation of Billy's power, that it was just a shadow, not real. But here it came again, unbidden. He would carve out Gunn's heart like a prize. Gunn would know what it was to trifle with him. No one had the right to the object of his love, his woman. And as for his pretty little Giselle, no one would have her but him. She would have to be punished, of course, for her infidelity. He would pull her out of time and she would dance for no one but him. She would dance the dance of the Wilis for him alone, until the end of time.
Wes shook his head. Dance for him? That thought wasn't his own. It was like someone had inserted fingers into his mind wiggling them about, making him think things, tamping down his frontal lobes, lowering his impulses, freeing his inner demons. He pitched forward, rolling away from the spot that had taken him to his knees. He lay there, breathing hard. He finally understood what was happening in the theatre. His own betrayal and pain would have to wait. He had to find the others and warn them.
Wes let the cool night breeze kiss his face. He could see the light on in Angel's suite. He could just go up there and get the vampire and go close down a bar somewhere. Then find an after-hours place, drink until dawn and crash somewhere as low as he felt right now. He had seen the pain in Angel's eyes when Cordy went off with Groo. A small part of Wesley felt relief that temptation was out of Angel's - make that Angelus' way - but he pitied the vampire. He knew how it felt.
Somehow he held it together through the battle to free the ballerina. He even managed to choke back his pain and disappointment long enough to patch Gunn up. Wes was glad, of course, that his friend wasn't hurt worse, but it didn't ameliorate his own sorrow. Fred had made her choice. How had it happened? It had to be more than Gunn being injured. Had the other man simply told her how he felt? Wes had no one to blame for not making himself heard. Still, he wanted to blame Gunn because it helped just a little, being angry at him.
The realization hit as he stared up at the stars. He had had it all wrong in the theatre. He was Hilarion, the plotting, jealous gamekeeper and Gunn, Prince Albrecht. Like Giselle, Fred had comforted the injured Gunn, got him a reprieve from dying while Wesley himself felt danced to death.
In his mind's eye he saw Fred with Gunn, Cordy with Groo and thought yes, he and Angel were most definitely caught in the Dance of the Wilis. They might be alive come dawn but they would feel dead inside. Curling up over his knees, Wes wept softly.
Pairings or none: none
2-3 requests (what has to be in the fic) during episode Waiting in the Wings--Wesley's POV(what's he thinking) while at the ballet and at the hotel; tell what happened with Wes, Fred, and Gunn during the time we saw C/A on the show
2-3 restrictions (what can't be in the fic) no character death, no fluff