Title: WarStoryville
Author: Lint
Email: CrashDarby@aol.com
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine. Never were, never will be.
Pairings: Multiple
Notes: Heavily influenced by Pearl Harbor.

***

The squeal of five eager young nurses nearly drowned out the heavy clacking sound of the rail underneath the train as it rolled toward it's destination. The conductor had already asked them twice to try and keep it down, but they couldn't help being rambunctious. It was their first extended leave in three weeks. Other passengers consisted mainly of elderly folks who could easily ignore the excitement of vigorous youth. There were six of them, all dressed in their finest civilian clothes, faces powdered, lips red. Anya even went as far as wearing a fur coat. Two smoked cigarettes and chatted up a storm, while the other three giggled amongst themselves and stared out the window. One single gal sat quietly, enjoying her friends' energy.

Anya, Willow, Tara, Cordelia, and Amy took turns bantering back and forth about what they would do in the city. The sights, the sounds, the clubs. How they would handle a soldier if he tried to get fresh with them.

"I'd make him curse the day he ever thought a cheesy line would work on me!" Anya roared before collapsing with laughter.

"I'd tell him he better have it in him to back it up," Cordelia said.

Four of the girls stared at her, eyes slightly widened.

"What?" She asked. "If he's brave enough to even try a line on me it shouldn't go un-rewarded.

The girls stared at her for another moment before bursting into laughter.

"What would you do Willow?" Amy asked her friend.

"Me?" Willow replied. "I...well I guess I'd... Oh shoot, I don't know."

Cordelia grinned at her. "I'll tell you what to do," she said. "Right in the middle of 'oh baby, we might be at war tomorrow.' Plant one right on him. I guarantee he'll be shell-shocked."

Willow giggled and Tara looked at her seriously.

"Hey," she said. "It's what I'd do."

All five squealed into laughter once more.

"Why aren't we asking Buffy this stuff?" Amy asked in-between giggles.

Five heads turned toward the sixth girl of the group, sitting there contently silent. Smiling and listening to them.

"Buffy doesn't qualify for this conversation," Anya said. "She's already got herself a steady beau."

"Uh huh," Tara chimed in. "Her dear Angel. She loooooves him."

Buffy grinned and laughed along with all her friends.

"Laugh it up girl," Cordelia said. "Just sit back and relax with your man while the rest of us have to hunt down ours."

"Hunt them down like buffalo!" Amy shouted, the six of them falling into a giggle fit for the hundredth time.

"He's bringing friends," Buffy said to all of them.

"Pilots?" Willow asked.

Buffy nodded. "All of them I think."

The girls chorused in whoops and hollers. Tonight was going to be a ball. They could feel it.
It was quiet for about a minute before Amy couldn't stand it any longer and broke the silence.

"So Buffy," she asked. "Just how did you meet this man of yours?"

"Yeah how?" Anya, Willow, Tara, and Cordelia echoed.

"Oh come on," Buffy replied. "I've told you all this story a million times already."

"So make it a million and one," Amy insisted. "I haven't heard it."

The five girls stared at their friend expectantly.

"Okay, okay," she caved.

"Yay!" Amy grinned.

All of them leaned forward in their seats.

"It's a funny story actually," Buffy began.

***

"Ow, ow, ow!"

"I'm really sorry!"

"Don't touch it!"

Buffy's eyebrows perked up at the commotion coming from the hallway. It was usually quiet on Wednesday afternoons. She put down the bottles she was counting, dropped her clipboard on the counter and walked swiftly into the hall. Two figures loomed at the end of the hall, one sitting on the chairs next to the elevator, the other standing over him. As she got closer, what she saw was as humorous as it seemed painful. A tall, well built soldier with dark shortly cropped hair and slightly paled skin. Stood hunched over another dark haired soldier whose nose seemed to be bleeding profusely. She stepped back into the supply room and grabbed some cotton swabs and a towel. Shaking her head slightly as she approached them, she told the bleeding one to tilt his head back. She pinched the bridge of his nose and bit back a giggle as he gritted his teeth and grunted softly.

Glancing at his dog tag, she sterilized a cotton swab with a bit of alcohol and began to gently wipe the blood away.

"I don't think it's broken Alex," she said.

"Xander," he grunted through his clenched teeth.

"Excuse me?"

"No one calls me Alex except my dad and he's dead," he said. "Call me Xander."

"Okay Xander," she replied with a smile. "I don't think you did this in flight training. So what happened?"

"He did it," Xander replied, pointing at his friend.

Buffy glanced up at the man standing next to them. His face held an impish grin, like he was trying not to laugh. Their eyes met, and for a moment Buffy found herself lost in the deep soulful orbs.

________

"Was it love at first site?" Amy asked.

"Yeah was it?" Willow and Tara echoed in unison.

"Almost," Buffy said with a grin.
________

"OW!" Xander shouted when the distracted Buffy pressed a bit too hard on his nose.

"Oh I'm sorry!" She said.

"Baseball," Xander's friend said. "We were playing baseball."

"DiMaggio you aren't," Xander muttered.

"What's your name soldier?" Buffy asked looking back to him.

"Angel."

"That's a pretty name. But really?"

"It's actually Liam," Xander answered. "But no one has called them that since he was eight."

"Then why Angel?" Buffy asked.

"Used to have a voice like one," Xander answered again.

"He doesn't anymore?"

"Can't sing a note. Puberty wasn't kind to him."

She smiled at Xander briefly. "He doesn't talk much does he?"

"Only when I need to," Angel said quietly.
______

"Ooh, so cool," Anya taunted.

"Let her finish the story An," Willow said.

"Fine."
______

After another few minutes Buffy finished patching Xander up, every once in awhile daring to glance over at Angel. He never said anything other than a few more apologies. Buffy told Xander to keep the cotton swabs stuffed until he was sure the bleeding had stopped. Both he and Angel thanked her, Xander going as far as kissing her hand. They left the hospital without really looking back at her.

______

"That's the story?" Amy questioned.

"She's not done yet," Cordelia answered.

"Yeah," Tara grinned. "The best part is coming up."

"Are you going to let me finish any time soon?" Buffy asked.

"Yes!" They all shouted.

"Okay then."
______

The sun was just beginning to set as Buffy walked down the steps from the hospital. It had been a long day. After Xander's little mishap an entire company of men had come in for vaccinations. She'd never seen so many asses in her life. She almost thought she'd grow tired of them. She stopped in the middle of the stairs to look inside her bag for something to tie her hair back when she heard something behind her. She spun quickly, nearly losing her balance on the step. He caught her swiftly, saving her from a fall.

"Sorry," he apologized. "I didn't mean to startle you."

"Startle me? Uh, no...Not at all. I wasn't startled."

"No?"

"A little surprised maybe, but not startled."

He said nothing in response, merely stared at her. She didn't know how to respond.

"So how's Xander doing?" She asked.

"Still talking like a telephone operator," Angel said. "But I guess a line drive to the schnoze will do that."

"Are you two brothers? You seem an awful lot alike."

"Stepbrothers actually. Known him practically my whole life."

"You get along well?"

"When were not hitting baseballs at each other's faces, yeah we get along fine."

Buffy laughed lightly causing a smile to grace his lips. They stood silent for a few minutes, a slight awkward silence, each not knowing exactly what to say to each other. Buffy checked her watch; she was five minutes late to meeting up with Amy.

"Oh shoot," she said. "I have to go. Um...did you want something?"

"Actually...I wanted to...I mean if you weren't busy..."

"Yes?"

"Would you like to go for some coffee? Or a picture show or something?"

"Hmm, coffee or a picture show. Those my only options?"

______

"You did not say that!" Amy said astonished.

"Oh yes she did," Anya replied smugly.

"Girls!" Willow admonished.

"Sorry."
______


"Uh well, we could do whatever you wanted...I mean...you know. If you wanted to."

She stood there a moment pretending to think it over, taking slight amusement in the way he seemed to be on the edge of his toes.

"You know..." she began. Angel's eyes were fixed on her. His eagerness for her answer painfully transparent.

"I think I'd like that."

***

"Aww," all the girls sighed in unison.

"So far it's been the best three months of my life," Buffy said.

"I need a little romance," Willow said wistfully.

"You need more than that honey," Cordelia said.

"I think we all do," Amy piped in.

A few rows down the conductor sighed as the end of the car irrupted into laughter yet again.

***

The six soldiers that made up the Hellmouth Squadron stood on the train platform, uniforms freshly pressed, shoes spit-shined and hats perfectly poised on their heads. Xander, Wesley, Oz, Jonathan, and Spike bantered back and forth eager for the train to arrive. Spike was telling Jonathan which lines to use and which not too, while Wesley and Oz stood in their mutual stoicism. Angel stood a few feet in front of his friends. His fingers were slightly clenched around a single rose he intended to give to Buffy.

"You know," Xander said to his brother, patting him on the shoulder. "If you don't relax you're gonna kill that thing."

"Who's not relaxed?" Angel replied.

"Hide it all you want," Xander said. "But you don't hide it well."

"S-she's b-bringing friends r-right?" Jonathan stuttered.

"I'm sure she is," Wesley said. "Otherwise our being here would be pointless."

"Do you always have to talk like that?" Xander asked.

"Talk like what?"

"Like you have starch in your underwear," Spike shot in.

"There is nothing wrong with the way I speak William," Wesley retorted.

"Don't call me that Price," Spike warned.

"Don't make fun of my speech."

The two advanced toward each other like they would come to blows when Oz got between them.

"Guys," he said evenly. "Trains here."

The two separated immediately and stood straight. They struggled to see through the steam caused by the train.

"I don't see anyone," Spike grumbled.

He didn't. But Angel did.

He walked right through the mist to the girl with the long blond hair, picked her up and twirled her around in circles. She wrapped her arms around his neck, just loving being this close to him.

"Hey you," he said.

"Hey yourself."

He set her down and kissed her cheek before presenting her with the rose. She took it and brought it to her nose, inhaling its sweet scent.

"It's lovely," she said. "Thank you."

The two stared at each other and it seemed as if the rest of the world didn't exist. If their friends weren't right behind them it would have kept on seeming that way.

"Ahem," Cordelia coughed loudly.

"Right," Buffy muttered. "People."

She turned to face her girls, a beaming smile on her face.

"Ladies," she said before turning to the boys behind Angel. "Anya, Amy, Cordelia, Willow, and Tara." "Gentleman," Angel announced. "Xander, Oz, Spike, Wesley, and Jonathan."

The steamed cleared completely and the nurses' eyes met the soldiers. Cordelia walked right up to Wesley. Tara tiptoed her way toward Jonathan. Spike waltzed up to Amy. Willow and Oz merely looked at each other before grinning and nodding. Anya walked over to Xander. Buffy and Angel looked at each other. Everyone was paired up for the night. It was time to celebrate.

"Where exactly are we going?" Cordelia asked as they all walked out of the train station and onto the street.

"The Bronze Ballroom," Spike announced. "Wining, dining, and dancing for all. We'll have a ball, so don't stall, don't stall." Amy giggled squeezing tighter on his arm.

"And he makes fun of the way I talk," Wesley bit out quietly. "I think I like the way you talk flyboy," Cordelia replied leaning her head on his shoulder. Wesley looked down to her, a grin easily forming.

"So...do you dance?" Willow sheepishly asked Oz. "I'm a machine," he said causing a laugh.

"You're a pilot huh?" Anya asked Xander. "I am." "Do you do tricks?" "You mean like rolls and loops?"
"Uh huh." "I've done a little hot-dogging in my time." "Show me?" "Sure."

"Spike? Your name is Spike?" "Yeah it is." "How do you get a name like that?" "Let's just say I'm not very good with a hammer."

"S-so Tara, y-you l-like being a n-nurse?" "I like it fine," Tara said. "Do you always stutter?" "S-s-sometimes, j-just in f-front...in f-f-front..." "In front of gals?" Jonathan smiled gratefully at her. "Y-yeah."

Buffy watched as her friends flirted and laughed and smiled with their dates. She couldn't help feeling

"This is going to be wonderful," Buffy whispered in Angel's ear. "Just wonderful."

***

Music blared from the inside of the Bronze Ballroom. The velvet curtains adoring the walls shook with the vibration. Golden Chandeliers hung from the ceiling, and the plush maroon carpeting squished underneath the patrons feet. Up on stage The Glenn Miller Orchestra wailed their way through Pennsylvania 6-5000.

"All right," Spike said happily. "Some descent swinging music."

Scores of soldiers, nurses, and civilians milled about. They danced, smoked, and drank. A few whisked off to quiet corners of the club for some illicit necking. Buffy and Angel were cuddled up in a booth, sipping drinks and watching the dance crowd. Buffy's eyes were fixed on Willow and Oz in the middle of the floor, swinging to the beat. She was surprised at how well Willow could dance. When she'd first met the shy, somewhat awkward at times girl back in med. training; she didn't really seem the dancing type. Seeing her now...the girl could cut a rug.

Spike and Amy bopped around next to Willow and Oz. She couldn't see Cordelia anywhere and assumed he must have done something to be rewarded. Though, Wesley didn't seem the kind of guy to spout pick up lines. Tara and Jonathan sat at the bar sipping drinks and having a conversation. You could see him stuttering all the way from across the room and Tara smiling at it. Buffy looked a few booths down to where Anya and Xander sat. Anya was obviously chatting up a storm and Xander sat there quietly, politely paying attention. If she tried she could almost hear their conversation.

"You like my dress?" Anya asked. "It's an original Sanger. Almost took a months salary to buy it."

"It's nice," Xander replied.

"So do you like...?"

A blare of the horn section from the band cut off the conversation to Buffy's ears.

"Xander not much of a dancer?" She asked Angel.

The look on Angel's face told her no. "Not really," he said.

"Anya seems to be taken with him."

"Seems to be."

"He doesn't look that way."

Angel turned his head toward his friend. "He's got a few confidence issues," he said. "Most of the time, when a girl like Anya there clearly digs him, he's pretty clueless."

"Wow," Buffy mused. "That's pretty clueless."

"We're not here to talk about Xander," Angel said wrapping his arm around her shoulder. "Are we?"

She looked to him, lips curled in a grin. She kissed him sweetly before taking his hand.

"Come on flyboy," she said. "Let's dance."

The walked over to the dance floor passing a table Amy and Spike had sat down at to rest. Spike was slamming a few shots while Amy gingerly sampled hers.

"Careful with the booze," Angel warned. "I don't think Commander Giles would appreciate us all showing up drunk."

"Don't you worry your pretty little head about me;" Spike said downing another shot. "I can handle my self."

"Fine," Angel replied putting his hands up in surrender.

The band broke into Tuxedo Junction and Angel swung Buffy around, jiving to the tunes. The dance floor thrived, and everyone was having a ball. A perfect night to say the least.