COPYRIGHT: February 2006
"This isn't going to work, Hannibal. There is no way anyone's going to believe we're pro's, especially if these judges are legit."
"Oh, I don't know, Face. You two looked pretty good to me."
"Good? Hannibal, I'll be lucky if I can walk by the time we're through. She's got two left feet. Hell, she's all left feet!"
"I heard that, Face! It's not my fault I never learned ballroom dancing. Geez, why would I?"
Face looked over at her, shaking his head. "You'll never find out at this rate, Amy."
"Well, excuuuse me." Amy huffed and stalked away, toweling her neck. Face looked back to Hannibal, who was grinning broadly.
"I tell you, Hannibal, it's not going to work!"
Hannibal shook his head, lighting a cigar. "It has to, Face. So you make it work."
"BA, you ready?"
"Yeah, Hannibal. Signal's comin in loud and clear."
"Yo. They can't make a move without me, Colonel."
Hannibal slipped the small radio into his pocket, smiling congenially at the older couple passing by. They were dressed to the nine's, as was every other person in the big hall. Hannibal looked around appreciatively. He had no idea that ballroom dance contests were this...classy. No wonder Face had been nervous about Amy.
These people meant business.
He chuckled to himself. Poor Amy. Face had been relentless during their rehearsals, and had even taken her to a private dressmaker, experienced in creating the specialized gowns which were mandatory for these shindigs. Amy had been totally unprepared for Face's intensity.
Hannibal had been just a bit surprised, himself. But then again, Face was about to showcase his talents in front of a huge audience, not just a single target. If they couldn't be a convincingly professional dance couple, the whole scheme was shot. And if that happened, their client stood to lose a substantial investment, both in money and reputation.
He heard the song for the current couple come to an end, and the thunderous applause following. He moved closer to the dance floor. Face and Amy were up next. So far, they'd gotten through the early rounds without too much trouble, which actually surprised Hannibal. He'd quit going to the rehearsals, for his own sanity, but had watched them today.
Quite frankly, Face had outdone himself in transforming Amy. And that gown...she was absolutely stunning.
Now, all they had to do was wait for the bad guys to do their thing...
Amy stood beside Face, watching as the couple ahead of them bowed to the judges and audience, picking up flowers strewn on the floor. In a matter of seconds, it would be their turn out on the dance floor. This was IT.
She wanted to throw up.
Face seemed to sense her fright. He squeezed her hand, cold and clammy in his. She looked up at him, and saw the twinkle in his eye.
"Piece of cake, Amy."
She smiled back, trying to compose herself. Thinking back over those endless rehearsals, she could hardly believe they'd made it this far...
Face practically fell stepping away from her, limping badly.
"Oh, Face, I'm sorry! I told you I shouldn't wear this damn stilettos."
"You have to get used to them. You can't dance in a ballgown and tennis shoes!" He groaned as he stepped carefully on his left foot. "And please - it's a little half-step, not a damn stomp!"...
"...Couple number 47, please take your place!"
Amy felt herself being pulled gently forward, felt the heat from the bright lights above. She shifted to automatic, taking her beginning stance, Face's hand light on her lower back. Heard the music begin, a bolero, thought about her first steps.
And then she looked at Face, felt his arms around her, his body closing in, the warmth, then turning and stepping and stopping, turning, stepping, stopping, over and over, the music seeming to flow into her, through her, watching Face's eyes as he watched her face, saw the twinkle turn to a warm glow, saw the glow turn to a burn, felt her face warming to match the burn, felt her body picking up the rhythm of the music, the rhythm of the dance, the rhythm, the rhythm...
And then it was over. She heard the audience, only dimly aware of moving to gracefully curtsy to the judges, to the audience, still feeling the warmth of Face's hand holding hers, holding tightly, the heat spreading from his hand to hers and beyond...
As they moved quickly from the floor, Face leaned in toward her, smiling a smile she'd never seen turned on her before, voice low, husky.
"That's why we dance..."
Amy watched the ground disappear below the plane. She was on her way to her new assignment. Jakarta. Who the hell had heard of Jakarta? But it was what she had always thought she wanted - on overseas assignment, playing with the big boys now.
She thought over the past couple of weeks, since The Dance. She always thought of it like that. Capitalized. Significant. Special. The Dance, that had suddenly made her see Face in such a completely different light. A dazzling light. A warm, musky light. A dangerous, exciting, heat-filled light.
And Face had joined her in that light. Had finally admitted it, after the first few awkward days following The Dance. But they'd had to hide it. Hannibal would never stand for it. Never put the team in danger because they were distracted.
And now she was on her way to Jakarta. Face had insisted. She couldn't give up a career maker for life with a fugitive. They would get together, when they could. He'd promised.
They would dance again...
Hannibal puffed slowly on his cigar, sitting in the van at the airport, watching as Face walked slowly toward them. Amy safely on the plane, safely out of the way. It had taken some doing, some fine acting, to convince Amy's people she was ripe for this assignment. And doing it without either Face or Amy finding out...a scam Face would have been proud of.
He smiled to himself, sadly.