An Affair to Remember

Summary: Sara and Ian share a pizza, a movie, and a dance. Sequel to "Sara, Ian, Vodka, and Handcuffs".

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: I don't own them, I just enjoy getting inside of their heads from time to time...

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An Affair to Remember

Sara checked her reflection in the mirror, pleased with the results of her efforts. She actually looked kind of... pretty. Why she was dressing up for a curl-up-on-the-couch-and-watch-a-movie with Ian Nottingham of all people was still a little beyond her, but here she was, in an honest to God dress. Ankle-length and sleeveless, the dress accentuated curves she had almost forgotten that she had. Its variegated shades of blue complimented her complexion and accented her eyes.

As she brushed her hair, never taking her eyes off of the stranger in the mirror, she considered changing into something less flattering, but before she could pursue the consideration, there was a gentle tapping on her front door. She turned, surprised by how gentle and tentative the knock sounded. She had expected a series of short, decisive raps from Ian, not this light, almost inaudible sound. In fact, as she hurried towards the door, she found herself faintly surprised that he was using the front door at all. She admonished herself mentally for allowing her thoughts to take such a cynical turn.

Shaking her head and smiling, she opened the door. It took her a few moments to recognize the man in front of her as the Ian Nottingham. Only his posture gave it away, legs spread, hands clasped behind his back, head bowed. His hair was pulled back, his beard neatly trimmed, and not a trace of black was evident in his wardrobe. And were those blue-jeans? Yes, Ian Nottingham was standing at her front door wearing faded blue-jeans and a red turtle-neck. Even his jacket was not black, but a light-brown suede. Unbelievable! And incredibly attractive.

Sara took a moment to recover herself before saying in what she hoped was a casual voice, "Come in, Nottingham. Ian..." she corrected herself.

He smiled up at her, lifting his head. He froze, his smile wavering for a split-second as he got his first good look at her. She was beautiful. Even more so than usual. He unconsciously lifted his left hand to his chest where his heart was pounding so loudly that he was sure she must have been able to hear it. He moved his mouth wordlessly a few times before offering her the white rose he held in his left hand. He had considered buying her a bouquet, but had dismissed the idea as pretentious.

"Thank you..." Sara said softly, surprised both by the gesture and by his reaction to her appearance. She accepted the rose with a smile and stepped back. "Come in, Ian..." she offered again.

He nodded and followed her in. "You look... radiant this evening, Sara..." he managed.

"Thanks..." Sara smiled and lifted the rose to her face, inhaling deeply. "Oh, that smells great."

Ian smiled and nodded, shrugging off his jacket. "It took me some time to select the perfect flower. I am afraid I annoyed the florist greatly."

He bowed his head, grinning as he remembered the woman's reaction to his attempt to find a flower flawless enough to present to his Lady. She had softened considerably when Ian had described the object of his admiration and respect, even joining him in the search. After almost an hour, he had found it, the perfect flower. A white rose, perfectly symmetrical, not a single petal marred with any flaw, its scent remarkable even among a shop full of flowers. Overjoyed, Ian had paid for the rose with a fifty-dollar bill and left. 

Sara smiled in response to his grin. "It's perfect, Ian."

"Then I have chosen well..." he said softly. After a moment's deliberation, he pulled off his gloves and tucked them into his jacket-pocket.

Sara noticed this with a faint smile, but did not comment. "Let me go put this in water."

Ian smiled and nodded. "Do you have a movie in mind, Sara? Or should I go and rent one?" He asked the question not really wanting an affirmative answer, more than a little reluctant to leave his Lady.

Not really wanting him to go, she called from the kitchen, "Nah... I have a bunch of tapes. See if one works for you."

Ian turned his attention to Sara's collection of tapes. Mostly action and comedy, he observed, reading through the movie descriptions. He did not get much opportunity to watch movies, had, in fact, seen only two or three in his life, and he wanted to pick something that they would both enjoy. He disliked comedy and wanted to avoid action, which was too much a reminder of their day-to-day lives.

Tonight he wanted nothing more than to be a normal man, enjoying a quiet evening with a normal woman. No, he amended. There was nothing normal about Sara Pezzini. Even in the absence of the Witchblade, she was far from ordinary.

"Find anything yet?" Sara asked, placing the bud-vase containing her rose on the table and joining him at the cabinet that held her tape collection.

"Do you like this one?" Ian asked, holding up a box for her inspection. An Affair to Remember.

Sara stared at him dubiously. "Do you?"

"I have never seen it, but the description sounds interesting."

"Nottingham, it's a chick-flick..." Sara pointed out, still staring.

He bowed his head under her scrutiny. "If you would rather watch another..." he began.

"No, it's not that. I just... didn't figure you for the type of guy who likes chick-flicks."

"I thought that, for one night at least, we might avoid flying bullets and car-chases."

"That's actually a pretty good idea." Sara smiled at him and nodded. "It is a good movie. One of my favorites, actually. You sure you'll like it, though?"

He shrugged. "I will not know until I see it, but I have heard it described as a Classic. In fact, I have never heard a single uncomplimentary review of it..."

Sara smiled and nodded. "Yeah, it's pretty good."

"Then I am sure I will enjoy it very much."

"Cool. I'll order the pizza. What do you like on it?"

Ian hesitated before replying. "Whatever you enjoy is fine."

Sara nodded and picked up the phone. It was not lost on Ian that she had the number on speed-dial. He really was going to have to teach her how to cook.

"It'll be here in 45 minutes..." she told him, hanging up.

He nodded and smiled. "Shall we start the movie now or wait for dinner to arrive?"

"Um..." Sara shrugged. "We could just talk for awhile."

Ian nodded. "Very well."

Sara walked over to the couch and dropped on to it. After a few moments, she stared at Ian who was still standing, shifting his weight from foot to foot, and generally looking uncomfortable. "You were planning on joining me, weren't you?"

Feeling more unsure of himself than he ever had in his life, Ian nodded apologetically and sat down on the edge of the couch, on the opposite side from Sara. It was nice being in her place, her guest, invited to spend an evening with her. It was also more terrifying than any fire-fight he had ever been in, and he had been in many.

Sara doubted that he could have put any more space between them while remaining on the couch if he had tried. She regarded him thoughtfully out of the corner of her eye, watching him.

He kept shifting his weight and tapping his fingers on his knee. When he realized he was doing that, he abruptly withdrew his hand and raised it to his face, rubbing his mouth several times. He dropped his hand back to his knee, tapped his fingers a few times, caught himself and clasped his hands together tightly, resting them on his legs. Throughout it all, he kept shifting his weight from one side to the other. His eyes were no stiller than the rest of him, darting about the apartment out of habit, taking in every detail of a space he already knew perfectly.

He was nervous, she realized, which made her feel a lot better about her earlier nervousness.

"So..." she began, making him jump. Shaking her head, she slid across the couch, moving to within a few inches of him. "Nottingham, relax..." she said softly. "I don't bite."

He looked at her, startled. "No, of course not."

"Hey, what's wrong?" she asked gently.

He dropped his eyes. "Nothing. I am simply... unaccustomed to this sort of thing."

"This sort of thing?" Sara repeated, raising an eyebrow and wondering exactly what he was expecting to go down tonight.

"Socializing..." he clarified.

"Ah." Sara nodded, a little embarrassed to have misconstrued his meaning. Of course Irons would not have allowed him to socialize much. Poor guy, forced to live most of his life with a guy like that as his boss. Or whatever Irons had been to him. "Well, relax. It's not hard and it doesn't hurt."

He smiled shyly and nodded. "Of course."

Sara grinned and put a little more space between them, more for his comfort than anything. She would not have minded sitting much closer, but she suspected that would have made him even more nervous. So much for curling up on the couch to watch the movie. Still, she supposed that this was just part and parcel of the interesting man she had resolved to get to know better.

It must have been incredibly difficult for him to live in such isolation for so long, and she found herself wondering if she was the first person who had ever really reached out to him. She was glad she had, though. He was a puzzle, but she was willing to bet that once she had deciphered it the end result would be well worth the effort.

"Hey, Nottingham, Ian..." she began softly.

He looked up, startled by her almost hesitant tone. "Yes, Sara?" he asked gently.

"Thanks for last night." To Sara's surprise, he blushed as if he had been the one who had been drunk and acting like an ass. "I was... it was a really bad day..."

"The visions?" Ian asked softly, moving a little closer. He noticed for the first time that she was not wearing the Witchblade. The visions must have been bothering her.

"How'd you know?" she asked, surprised and wondering, not for the first time, if he was capable of sharing them with her.

"You mentioned them to the bartender. And you are not wearing the Witchblade."

Sara nodded. "Yeah, Danny and I are working this case. I keep getting flashes of the killings at... really bad times."

Ian nodded sympathetically. "I am sorry, Sara. If I could ease this burden on you, I would..."

Sara looked up, startled. He meant it. "Thanks, Ian. I appreciate it."

He nodded and managed to offer her a faint smile. There was something obscurely comforting about acting like a normal man, even if only for one evening. Being treated like a normal man by Sara was an added bonus. At least, he assumed this qualified as normal. He had no real way of knowing, of course, and the whole process was extraordinary for him. That much more so because it was Sara whom he was sharing these experiences with.

Sara returned his smile, impressed. In the past 24 hours, he had smiled at her and made more eye-contact than he had in their entire relationship to date. And every single smile was worth the price of admission.

Out of habit, Ian returned his head to a forward-facing position, occasionally hazarding a covert glance at Sara. She was so beautiful, and more at ease than he had ever seen her in his presence. Almost as at ease as she was when she was spending time with her partner. She so seldom let down her guard for anything that it was nice to be able to experience it first-hand. He was hopeful that this was a sign of things to come.

As they sat in comfortable silence, Sara caught herself stealing more than one look in Ian's direction. There was definitely something about him that she had never experienced in any other man. Underneath that black-clad exterior, behind the warrior's armor, there was a poet, a kind and gentle creature, only suppressed as a result of years of abuse and struggling to reemerge. And Sara found herself wanting to be the one to awaken that part of him again.

Her reverie was abruptly cut off by the sound of a doorbell.

"Pizza's here..." Sara announced, rising.

"I'll get it..." Ian said, heading towards the door.

"Oh, no, Ian, that's..."

He smiled. "You get the phone, I'll get the pizza..." he told her simply.

Grinning, he hurried to the door as the phone started to ring. Sara stared after him for a moment, startled. How had he done that? How did Ian Nottingham do anything? He was Ian Nottingham, he just did. Shaking her head and grinning with bemusement, Sara walked into her bedroom and towards the phone.

She picked up the phone, her stomach sinking when she heard Danny's voice greeting her. "Lead?" she asked with a notable lack of enthusiasm.

"Wow, Pez. Think you could be a little less excited there?" he laughed.

"Come on, Danny. Do we have a lead?"

Ian had returned with the pizza and she saw him watching her uncertainly.

"Nope. Nothing yet. Jake and I were going out to shoot some pool. Thought we'd invite you to come take our money."

Sara grinned and nodded reassuringly to Ian. "As tempting as that sounds, Danny, I'm going to have to take a rain-check."

"She said no..."

"Tell her she spends too much time alone..." Jake's voice came over the phone. "Hey, Pez! Get out once in a while!"

Sara rolled her eyes, guessing that Danny had already gotten the rookie drunk in order to better facilitate kicking his butt at pool. Not that such a task was difficult, even when McCarty was dead-sober.

"Danny, tell the kid I've got company."

"She says she's got a hot guy with her..."

"Danny!" Sara laughed, shaking her head.

"Let me guess, Sara. Lots of piercing, visible tattoos, long hair."

"One out of three? You're loosing your touch, Woo."

He laughed. "Anyone I know?"

"Possibly. Bye, Danny."

"I expect all the sordid details in the morning."

"You'll get nothin' from me, Copper..." Sara told him in her best gangster voice.

"Ooh... Sounds like you've got a fun evening planned."

"It'll be more fun when you get off the phone..."

"Yeah, whatever. Have a nice debauch."

Sara shook her head and rolled her eyes. "Bye, Danny."

"Bye, Pez. Don't do anything I wouldn't do..." Chuckling, Danny hung up the phone.

Sara shook her head and hung up, turning to Ian. "Sorry about that."

"Nothing serious, I hope?" Ian asked, placing the pizza box on the table.

"Did that sound serious to you?"

Ian smiled and shook his head. "Your partner?"

"Yeah, Danny. He's taking our rookie out to kick his butt at pool. Thought I might want in on the fun."

Ian smiled and nodded, pleased that she had declined in favor of spending the evening with him. It was... gratifying.

"So, you want a plate or should we be adventurous?" Sara challenged.

Ian hesitated before smiling and conceding, "In small doses, adventure can be... fun."

Sara grinned and shook her head. Fun was not a word she had ever expected to hear out of Ian Nottingham's mouth. She grabbed the pizza box and carried it over to the couch, along with a handful of napkins. Adventurous was one thing. Ruining a perfectly good dress with grease and sauce... completely different. She dropped the napkins on top of the box and walked back to the refrigerator.

"Wine or beer?" she asked, pulling it open.

"Water, please." Noticing her surprised expression, he explained apologetically. "I do not drink."

Sara shrugged and grabbed a bottle of water and a can of beer. "Suit yourself."

She returned to the couch, handing him the bottle of water. She supposed she should not be surprised. Many men did not drink. Ian's not drinking was probably another result of years of social isolation by Irons. Smiling, she opened the pizza box and pulled out a slice. Ian watched closely, a little surprised by the mess and wondering if plates would not have been the wise choice after all. Shrugging internally, he followed suit, managing to get a slice from the box to his hands with a minimum of mess. He continued to scrutinize her as she took a bite.

"What are you looking at?" she asked around a mouth-full of hot cheese.

"Nothing..." Ian assured her, taking a small, cautious bite. He smiled at the taste as he tried to figure out how to deal with the threads of cheese between the slice of pizza and his mouth. It was very warm and the different ingredients combined to form a unique flavor, unlike anything he had ever tasted before.

Sara watched him for a few moments before it sunk in. "You've never had pizza before?" she realized.

He shook his head, finally concluding that he would have to use the fingers of his free hand in tandem with his teeth to deal with the stringy cheese. "Am I doing it right?" he asked after swallowing.

Sara nodded, amazed. He did not drink and he had never eaten pizza before. Unbelievable. "You're doing fine, Ian."

He smiled and took another bite. "It is very good..." he observed. In spite of the potential mess, eating pizza was actually a very pleasant activity. Or perhaps the difficulties were part of the charm of the experience. Either way, he was having more fun than he had in years.

"Yeah, New York style is best. Blows Chicago out of the water. Add to that extra cheese,  extra sauce, and double pepperoni..." She smiled and took another bite. If she had known that he had never eaten pizza before, she would have ordered something less goopy, but it was fun watching him try to negotiate the stringy mozzarella and almost overflowing sauce.

"It's very... gooey." He grabbed for a napkin as sauce started dripping from the over-loaded slice.

Sara laughed and nodded. "Don't use the napkin. Put it in your mouth..."

Unaccustomed to eating with his hands, Ian hesitated for a moment before shrugging and using his free hand to catch the dripping sauce and transferring it to his mouth. He reached for a napkin to clean his fingers.

"Use your mouth..." Sara told him firmly, intercepting his hand half-way to the pile of napkins.

He stared at her quizzically, not sure if he was joking.

"Pizza-eating etiquette..." Sara explained, demonstrating by licking her fingers. "See?"

Ian glanced from the slice in his right hand to the sauce-covered fingers of his left hand. Shrugging, he raised his left hand to his mouth.

"There you go..." Sara nodded as she watched him lick his fingers clean. It was priceless to watch Ian Nottingham licking pizza sauce off of his fingers. It was also disturbingly attractive. "That's good..." she told him, shaking off that feeling and returning her attention, or at least her eyes, to her slice of pizza.

Ian smiled up at her, feeling foolish but, oddly enough, enjoying the feeling. It was strangely liberating, another normal activity rendered extraordinary because it was a first for him. He licked the last of the sauce from his fingers then took another bite of the pizza. If Irons could have seen him now, sitting on a couch, eating pizza, from the box, without plates or napkins. He smiled, knowing that he would always associate the taste of pizza with the taste of freedom. It really was quite good and he finished his slice at about the same time as Sara finished hers. She promptly handed him a second slice before helping herself to one.

"Thank you..." he said softly, smiling at her. "This is... wonderful."

She nodded. "Yeah. It's good pizza."

"No, I meant the entire experience." He bowed his head, his smile widening. "I have never done anything like this before. It is... wonderful." He chuckled softly, too happy to contain himself.

Sara stared at him. That was a definite first from him and she liked it. His laugh was as soft as his voice, very genuine, very appealing. It was the kind of laugh that came from a man who could make a very good friend. Beneath that tough, enigmatic exterior, there was a sweet, eager soul. A gooey center, as it were.

"Well, I'm glad you're having fun..." she told him, smiling and leaning back on the couch.

Ian smiled back, enjoying everything about this moment, especially the feeling of being completely, utterly normal. It was beyond words. "Shall we start the movie now?" he asked, eager for new, normal experiences.

"Yeah." Sara nodded and rose, plugging the movie in. "You done with the pizza?"

He hesitated and Sara forced another slice on him, grinning.

"Thank you..." he told her quietly, smiling as she carried the box into the kitchen. She returned with another can of beer and a fresh bottle of water, handing the later to him. "Thank you..." he repeated, finishing his slice of pizza and opening the bottle of water.

He glanced at her beer, wondering what she saw in it. He had once, in a moment of rebellion, had a beer with some fellow Black Dragons the night before a mission. He had finished it only because the others were watching. It had tasted foul to him, in addition to giving him a nasty stomach-ache and had only served to reinforce his training to never accept alcohol in any way, shape, or form.

As the movie started, he sat back and relaxed, allowing himself to slide a few inches closer to Sara. There were still several feet of couch-space between them and he doubted that she would mind the minor intrusion into her personal space. In fact, he doubted if she even noticed it. He, however, did notice the difference, and he liked the change it made.

"Take your shoes off and put your feet up if you want..." Sara offered, sliding off her shoes and pulling them under her.

Ian shrugged, glad he had opted against wearing his boots, which were a royal pain to remove. He pulled off his shoes and leaned back on the couch, stretching his legs out in front of him.

"Comfortable?" Sara asked, resting one arm along the back of the couch, almost touching Ian's shoulders.

She could not believe her own actions. It was, after all, usually the guy who looked for such a lame excuse to touch the lady. But that was not going to happen until Ian got more at ease. He was more relaxed than he had been, and hopefully he would continue to relax as the night progressed. Maybe it would help if she showed him that a certain amount of physicality was acceptable.

Ian glanced at her, startled. Her arm was almost touching his shoulders. With his heightened awareness, he knew that without looking. He could feel her arm's proximity through the heavy fabric of his sweater. It set his heart racing and his head spinning. His mouth suddenly dry, he picked up his water and took a sip before leaning back again. Wondering if it was wise, he leaned back farther than he had been before, until his back was actually touching her arm. He stole a cautious glance at her and could have sworn he saw a faint smile form on her lips.

Sara kept her eyes fixed on the screen, not really paying attention to the plot. She was pleased that Ian had loosened up enough to allow for even this minor contact. It was a start, and a good one considering that he probably had as much experience with casual contact as he did with pizza. She debated moving over and resting her head on his shoulder, but suspected that Ian would probably jump out of his skin if she tried it. Instead, she slid closer to him by degrees, an inch or two at a time, wearing down his resistance and anxiety.

She stole a glance at him and decided that he knew exactly what she was doing. He wore a faint smile as he glanced at the screen, and made no move as she sidled closer still. She stopped with a few feet between them, waiting for Ian to make the next move.

He noticed when she stopped moving towards him and supposed that she felt they were close enough. Which was a shame because he was really beginning to enjoy her proximity, and his enjoyment seemed to grow almost exponentially in relation to how close she got. Still, it was very nice to have her this close. Capable of focusing on several things at once, he kept half of  his mind focused squarely on Sara, allowing the other half to become immersed in the movie, which really was very good.

Sara spent more of her time watching Ian than the movie, but she eventually became absorbed in the movie, only peripherally aware of Ian's presence until near the end, when she heard a soft sniffle. She glanced at him and saw that he had tears in his eyes. He saw her curious expression and shrugged, making no attempt to hide or minimize the tears. Sara smiled, impressed, and started to hand him a napkin.

Changing her mind, she leaned over and reached out with the napkin, making eye-contact. He stared at her uncertainly for a moment before realizing that she was tacitly asking permission to dry his face. Startled, he nodded and turned his head towards her, condoning the gesture and reveling in the simple intimacy of it. It was the kind of thing that he could imagine one friend doing for another. As Sara lightly brushed away his tears with the napkin, he felt his heart flutter at the friendly, casual act. He had been attracted to her, loved her, for a very long time now, never believing that anything would come of it. In this moment, though, he realized that he could be her friend as well, that she would be his, and that, maybe, his hopes and dreams for them were not so unrealistic after all.

"Thank you." He smiled and nodded. "It was very sad. Very... very nice."

Sara dabbed absently at her own tear-stained face. The movie usually made her cry, something that had caused many men she had dated to laugh. She had never known a man to cry at the movie as well, and she liked it. "That mean you like it?" she asked, smiling at him and raising the napkin to his face again. To her surprise, he covered her hand with his.

"Fate is a remarkable thing..." he whispered, staring curiously into her eyes. Marveling at the feel of touching her, without his gloves as a barrier for the first time, reflecting on the shared fate that had brought them together, he smiled.

Sara nodded and smiled back, reflecting on the same thing. "Yeah, it is." She could have stared into those eyes forever, but she felt uncomfortable doing so in silence. "Good movie..."

For Ian, it was as though a spell had been broken. He felt a pang of regret. "It was very good. As was the pizza. Thank you for both." He smiled at her, more tears forming in his eyes, these undeniably happy.

Sara realized that he was about to leave, assuming the evening over now that they had done the two things she had invited him to do. She wanted him to stay, badly.

"Hey, Nottingham..." she said, the words sounding strangely familiar as she spoke them.

"Hey, Sara..." He frowned, surprised by how familiar the words sounded coming from his mouth, even though he had never spoken them before.

Sara shook off her deja vu. "You dance?"

"Dance?" he repeated, surprised.

She nodded. "Do you want to dance?"

"Here?" he asked uncertainly, casting nervous eyes around the apartment.

She nodded. "Yeah, why not."

He smiled hesitantly, then his smile faded. "I don't know how..." he admitted, bowing his head.

"Hey, that's okay. It's not something you're born knowing."

"Do you dance often?" he asked quietly, curious.

She shook her head. "Used to dance one with my father every year on my birthday, but that's about it. Sometimes I'll go a round with Danny at the policeman's ball if I can drag him away from his wife." She shrugged. "Just to stay in practice, you know."

"Will you teach me?" he asked quickly, impulsively, afraid that she would say no and terrified that she would say yes.

"Sure." Sara nodded and rose. "Come on."

She led him into the open space between her living-room and bedroom. Ian stood rigidly before her, watching her uncertainly and she realized that he was not joking. He had absolutely no idea what to do or how to act. And he was nervous.

Sara extended both of her hands, palms up. "Give me your hands, Ian..." she said gently.

Ian slowly lifted his hands, suddenly wishing he had left his gloves on. He shook the thought off and slipped his hands into hers, shivering with pleasure at the sensation.

Sara noticed the shiver, and the accompanying smile, and wondered what was going through his mind. He was still eyeing her cautiously. She smiled and nodded at him. "Good. Now, you hold my hand like this..." She showed him, twining her fingers through his and extending her arm. "Okay?"

He nodded, eyes wide. His heart was pounding in his chest again, so hard that it was a wonder she could not hear it.

"Okay, now you put your other hand here..." Sara told him, placing his hand against the small of her back. "Okay?" she asked, more than a little startled by her response to his touch. She felt her face warm and her heart beating faster, but did her best to remain composed.

He nodded, managing with some effort to control his breathing. "Yes..." he whispered in agreement, surprised that he was able to keep his voice from breaking. Being this close to Sara, touching her... holding her.

"Okay, and I put my hand on your shoulder like this." Sara demonstrated, smiling at him. "Now pull me closer."

Ian took an involuntary step backwards, dropping his hands.

"You okay, Ian?" Sara asked gently, realizing that she had underestimated exactly how nervous he really was.

He nodded quickly, his cheeks burning. "Yes. Forgive me." He approached her again, awkwardly taking her hand and sliding his other hand behind her back, resuming the earlier pose. "Like this?"

Sara nodded and returned her hand to his shoulder. "Yeah, Ian. That's good. Now pull me a little closer. Find a comfortable distance."

Ian pulled her marginally closer, then, when she did not object, closer still. There was still a healthy distance between them, but it was closer to her than he had yet been. It was very nice. He smiled shyly at her.

"Now what?" he asked quietly.

"Now you just sway to the music..." Sara told him.

"What music?"

Sara laughed softly. "Knew I'd forgotten something." Not wanting to break the contact yet, she said, "Um, let's just get comfortable with this first, and then I'll turn on the radio and we can try the real thing."

Ian nodded, gingerly adjusting his hand on her back. "Is it really this... simple?" he asked quietly. He had thought that learning the steps would be the hard part, but he was finding that the truly difficult thing was in getting comfortable with the physical contact and the myriad sensations it stirred.

Sara nodded, reluctantly pulling away and turning on the radio. "Yeah, it is. Shouldn't be too much of a stretch for a guy who moves like you." She stood in front of him again, resting her hand on his shoulder and offering her other to him.

Ian shook his head, taking her into his arms again. It was no stretch at all. In fact, it was almost instinctive to hold this woman in his arms like this. Horrified by his own forwardness, he pulled her closer until their bodies were touching. He felt like his entire body was on fire as he inhaled the almond-scent that he had come to associate with her but had never expected to experience so strongly. He was aware he was trembling, but he did not care. Nothing short of a command from Sara could have convinced him to break this amazing contact. He felt like laughing and crying at the same time.

Sara inhaled deeply as he pulled her closer, startled and pleased. She could feel him shaking but he made no move to pull away. She closed her eyes, inhaling his spicy-sweet scent and marveling at how gentle his hands were capable of being. She leaned into his muscular chest, heard him catch his breath sharply at that. She started to pull away, but his hand on her back held her close and his eyes looked into hers almost pleadingly. She smiled and leaned into him again, hearing him sigh gently.

Ian closed his eyes, enjoying the feel of holding her like this. It was wonderful, perfect, hauntingly familiar. In how many other lives had they danced together in this manner? Did any life but this one really matter? The answer, he quickly decided, was a resounding no.

The music changed, slowing, and Sara freed her hand from Ian's, sliding both of her hands around him instead. Ian eagerly followed suit, holding her close and swaying to the slower music. When the singing began, he felt as thought the song had been written for him alone.

When I saw you standing there

I about fell off my chair.

When you moved your mouth to speak

I felt the blood go to my feet.

Now it took time for me to know

What you tried so not to show.

Something in my soul just cried

I see the want in your blue eyes...

Ian sighed deeply, never in his life as content as in this moment, holding this beautiful woman in his arms and swaying with her in the half-dark loft.

Baby, I'd love you to want me,

The way that I want you,

The way that it should be.

Baby, you'd love me to want you,

The way that I want to,

If you'd only let it be...

Sara stretched up and rested her cheek against his, enjoying the feel of his bristly beard against her smooth skin, an almost ticklish sensation. She heard Ian exhale again, surprised by the gesture, but then he moved his head slightly, leaning his face lightly into hers. She smiled, enjoying the pressure and the heat of his face.

You told yourself years ago

You'd never let your feelings show.

The obligation that you made

For the title that they gave...

Ian opened his eyes at the amazingly appropriate lyrics. Was that not exactly what both he and Sara had done? Renouncing any chance at a normal life in exchange for their respective titles and the obligations that came with them. Only now, it suddenly seemed as if they might just have a chance at normalcy. Smiling, he closed his eyes again, feeling that if he had died in the next moment it would have been as a happy, content man. A normal man...

Baby, I'd love you to want me,

The way that I want you,

The way that it should be.

Baby, you'd love me to want you,

The way that I want to,

If you'd only let it be...

Now it took time for me to know

What you tried so not to show.

Something in my soul just cried

I see the want in your blue eyes...

Baby, I'd love you to want me,

The way that I want you,

The way that it should be.

Baby, you'd love me to want you,

The way that I want to,

If you'd only let it be.

If you'd only let it be...

Sara sighed happily, not letting go of Ian until long after the music faded into another song, and another after that. The phone rang and she ignored it, still holding Ian close.

"You should get it..." he whispered reluctantly, not wanting to end this beautiful embrace.

"That's what the machine is for..." Sara told him, tightening her grip on him.

The machine clicked on and Danny's voice filled the room. "Sara, pick up. I know you're there. Look, I'm sorry to interrupt your date, but this is important. Pick up the damn phone, Pez."

Sara growled in frustration, shaking her head.

"Get it..." Ian whispered, his eyes sad but understanding. "It's okay."

Cursing softly, Sara picked up the phone. "Here, Danny. This better be good."

"We've got another one."

"Damn it!" Sara snapped.

"Sorry." Danny sounded genuinely apologetic.

"Where?" Sara asked.

"1111 Eleventh Street."

She sighed and nodded. "I'll be there in half an hour." She hung up the phone and turned to face Ian. "I'm sorry."

He nodded. "You have to go. I understand." He picked up the Witchblade from her night-table and extended it to her. "Trust the Witchblade, Sara. Listen to what it has to tell you. Stop this man from killing again."

She nodded and allowed him to slip the bracelet onto her wrist. "Call me. We'll finish this another time."

He smiled and nodded. "I would like that very much." He held her hand for a moment, then swiftly raised it to his mouth, kissing it lightly. Not dropping it, he said, "Thank you, Sara, for a wonderful evening."

"Thank you, Ian." She smiled at him as they walked to the door together, hand in hand.

They paused outside of her door for several minutes, gazing into each other's eyes. Then, reluctantly, they went their separate ways...

The End