Choices...

A Shortie: Mephistopheles drops by to offer ghost William various options on improving his lifestyle...At the usual price of course...

Archived at the Buffy Rebecca verse, "Normal" Buffyverse page...(You saw the quotes...) www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/index.html

PG-13

Disclaimer: All BTVS characters remain the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and all other owner/creators of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series...

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Office of a certain LA law firm, midnight...

"So..." the short bald man in horned-rimmed glasses and rather drab, 50s-style dark suit, leers at the now visible William... "This is the reward you get for all your sacrifice...Your demon gives up his free existence to let you back in control...You give up your life back on Earth to save the world and your beloved...And does anyone appreciate it?..."

"Where is Ms. Summers, my friend?...Where is your chance to build a new life, have the career and existence stolen away from you in 1880?...You, an innocent soul...A victim, of a hideous fate, no less than your own siress, poor Drusilla..."

"And look at the fate of the world's only other human-souled vampire...Angel...A creature who never asked for, never risked a thing to recover that worthless soul of his...And now sits in luxury at the height of his powers, respected, feared, admired, a chance for life and happiness at his grasp...Very likely even Ms. Summers when she returns..."

I won't even mention...The demon smiled thinly...His not contacting your Buffy to let her know of your miraculous return...And his failure to accord you your due status as a man worthy of respect and help...

"Even warning that poor girl...The one person seeking to help you...Away from you..." he shook his head...

Hmmn...Guess I did mention all that, after all...Oh, well...he smiled...

"Right...So?..."William eyes the creature...You're one for whom horns and the ole demon ridges would be a distinct improvement, mate...he thought...

"There's no need to be rude, Mr. Walthrop..." the demon pouted... "Yes, I know your name...And I can read minds...Even in spirit form..."

Sad, isn't it?...She never even asked you your name...he sighed...

"Uh-huh...What do you want, friend?..."

"My name sir...Is Mephistopheles..."

"And mine's Lestat...How are ya?..."

"I am quite sincere, Mr. Walthrop...I am the legendary tempter of Faust...Famed throughout history, thanks to Marlowe, Goethe, and Franz Lizst...Among others..."

"All right..." Will put up a hand... "Fine...You're the fellow with the bloody pen and the soul contract...Nice of you to drop by...What can I do for you...?"

"It's never what a client can do for me, sir...But what I can do for a client..."



"Should've tried me a couple of years ago, mate...I would've signed on gladly..." William frowned...

"Ah...But that's the thing, sir...You weren't soul-endowed then...Nothing to trade of interest to me, you see..."

But now...he smiled...

"I get it...You want my sparkly little soul...In exchange for...?"

"Not necessarily in...Exchange...Mr. Walthrop...I know you're an experienced man of the supernatural as well as the natural world...I realize a simple exchange would not be satisfactory to you..."

"Oh...I dunno...Considering my current situation..."

"Please, sir...I'm not a fool...And I do read minds...You'll never simply accept a trade that will deprive you of your principal asset at present...Your one hold on your beloved..."

I was thinking...The demon eyed him carefully...More along the lines of a game of chance...

"You're a gambling man, Mr. Walthrop...Your demon gambled his independent existence for the hope of winning a smile from your beloved...Surely...A chance to escape this unjust fate..." he stared at Will's ghostly form... "Would be worth taking...Some measure of risk..."

"I don't think so, friend...Demonic shell-games tend to be one-sided..."

Ah...But suppose...The demon raised a finger...A nail-less one, William noted to his slight nausea...Oh, sorry...Mephistopheles apologized...Always forget the minor details when I come out on Earth...A nail appeared on the finger...Anyway, as I was saying...

"Just suppose...The chance offered more hope of a successful outcome...Even the retention of your dearly-bought soul..."

"And you had a fair chance to look over the situation...Evaluate the odds against you...And evidence offered to you to make a correct choice...If you can..."

"I'm listenin'...Havin' nothing better to do just now..."

"And the rewards offered...All that you could wish for and more...And I did say you might have the chance to retain that precious soul of yours..."

"So this is why I was brought back, eh?...Christ, you people...Not enough to condemn me for a century as a vamp...Now my only chance to live is to give up what little I've managed to win back?...Lovely...Please thank your boss...And I mean the big G himself, as I'm sure He has a hand in all of this..."

Indeed...The demon nodded...The ways of our universes and their Creator are bizarre...I sometimes wonder myself what it can all possibly be for...

"But then I see a chance to help a fine young man like you, sir...And I find I must make the effort...And hope for the best possible outcome..." he beamed...

"Well...Just out of curiosity...What's the worst outcome?...Assuming, as I do, I'm sure you understand why...That that's the most likely..."

"Oh...Not all that bad...You lose your soul again...We get Spike back in the ranks of evil..." his voice dropped to the equivalent of small print... yoursoulgetscondemnedforeverinHell...

"I heard that, friend..."

"Well...You were a vampire before...What's so bad about that fate?..." the demon grinned...



"My soul wasn't condemned forever then..." William eyed him...

A very minor detail...Mephistopheles waved a hand...

"Your old acquaintance and former robotmaker?...Mr. Warren Mears?...His soul is in Hell and he's doing quite well...A very respected figure there...Sends his regards, by the way..."

Uh-huh...

"Well...The flayed muscles ache a bit I understand...But otherwise..."

Uh-huh...

"I did say you'd get choices...And the option to keep your soul plus at least one generous reward..."

I heard...William nodded...Seems different from your reputed usual...

"I know..." the demon sighed... "We got all kinds of new regulations on our organization now...No more straightforward 'Your soul for wealth, love, and power' arrangements...We gotta offer some hope of salvation as well now...As well as the following disclaimer..." his voice dropped to incoherence as he hastily mentioned his worst nightmare... the right to deathbed repentance...

(stinking regulations...he groused, equally quietly...)

"What was that again?..."

Sorry...Mephistopheles smiled...Only hafta mention that one once...

"Well...Seein' as I ain't about to go anywhere...What's the setup...?"

Ah...Mephistopheles beamed happily...

Ummn...Forgive the slight tackiness of my equipment...he apologized...Haven't used this method in a while...

"But as a fan of daytime TV...This should appeal to you..." he noted...

Three large doors appeared...Blaring music...

Mephistopheles took on a new form...That of Monty Hall...

"William Walthrop!...Lets...Make...A...Deal...!"

Will blinked at the demon...

Hmmn...Somehow this seems about right, he noted...

"Behind door number one...Your chance to take Liam's place as head of Wolfram-Hart, Inc...A heroic leader of the Forces of Light...Loved, admired, respected by the world...Wealth and power at your command, with the right to employ them for good or evil as you see fit...Mucho love opportunities...No doubt including your dear Ms. Summers..." (and the stinking, lousy deathbed repentance option...the demon hastily whispered...)

"Speak up, mate...And what about the current head of the firm...?"

"Trapped in a nightmarish dimension for the balance of your existence...With Ms. Summers' fiendish demon...Anne, by name...Who loathes him...As his only company...Not bad, eh?..."

"Sounds good...Anne, eh?...Nice name...I think Spike sensed her hovering round Buffy once or twice..."



"She's a forward lady...And very much attached to you, sir..."

"Soul?..."

"Can't say with this one, sir...But it could be up to you..." the demon looked innocently at the ceiling...

And...? Will eyed door two...

"Yes...Behind door two...You return as Spike...With mucho enhanced power...Telepathic ability, the world's magics at your command...The world at your Immortal feet...An enthralled Buffy yours...To transform or keep as a personal human pet...Angelus as your kickaround minion and comic relief guy..."

"Tempting for sure..." Will nodded... "I take it my soul's gone for sure with this one..."

"Unfortunately, yes, sir...But you could lead the forces of Evil to Eternal Victory...In which case, soul...Schmoul...Who needs it..." (though even Spike gets the damned deathbed repentance option...the demon hastily muttered in a whisper as Will pondered...)

And, finally?...

"Yes...Door three...You keep your soul and get...Some minor reward...But you remain as you are until and unless someone helps you..."

"Doesn't sound like it's all..."

"William!...Goddamn you, you better choose this one!...I stayed up three nights straight in England working on this!..." Buffy called from behind the door... "Not to mention..." her voice was suddenly cut off...

Damn!...the demon sighed...Still, on the other hand...Ms. Summers having violated the terms of her agreement...She must pay the penalty...

But shit, Anne loves him too...And won't let him suffer...Soon as Summers is transformed she'll sit on her hands or even come here and let him save her...Damn...

Oh, well...Even I'm a sucker for a story of true love...

"I suppose you know which door I'm gonna take..." Will eyed the demon...

Yeah, yeah...

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