"Immortal Beloved...XXVII..."



A shortie...



PG-13



Disclaimer: It's all yours and ME's, Joss...Except the 'Soames Walthrop'...

Spoilers for Angel to this week...Flee at once!...



Summary: Remember they're not parts of one story, but a series of retellings during and after the Rome rendezvous of "Girl In Question"



***

London...New Council of Librarians' and Library Scientists' (Slayer-Watcher Council) Hall...Late night, three days after Angel and William went to battle against the W-H Senior Partners...

"Buffy..." Giles pleads...Attempting to look at her...

A difficult feat as he is bound and hanging by his arms from a large beam in the main hall...Dawn beside him, likewise hanging whimpering in pain...Willow trussed and also hanging, next to her, unconscious...A mystic energy-draining orb beneath her...

Buffy busily prepping a bound, unconscious Xander for a similar fate...Humming contentedly to herself as she does...She pauses to look up at Giles...A serene, content, hideously cold look on her face as she scans his agonized face...

"Yeah, Giles?...What's..." she grins, eyeing his stretched arms... "Up..."

'Sides you, I mean...

"It was my fault, Buffy...You must spare the others...You can't do this...Your..." he groans in pain as the effort to speak causes his ropes to twist..."

"Not...Your own sister...Buffy..."

"Energy ball sis?...She was in on it, wasn't she?...Happy to follow your instructions to the letter and lie to me all this time, right?...Like all of them were..."

Willow with her little drug to ease my grief and encourage me to give that Immortal the time of day...she smiled over at the slowly twisting Willow...Who moaned slightly a moment then was still again... "Just bad luck for her, it was magics-based...And the Immortal didn't like winning me with help..."

"You telling them all to keep me from finding out William was back, in LA, even if it meant a lil' Wiccan mind control...And they all did such a bang-up job, Giles...You should be proud..."

Pity Andy can't be here with us...He was so essential to your little scheme after he met Will in LA...

"But hey, even a minor case of hideous death by insanely angry Slayer can keep you down a while..."

"I made...The decision, Buffy...Punish me, not..."

"Last time I checked my friends and fam had free wills...They wanted William gone as much as you did...Heck, what's a little thing like having a soul and saving their miserable hides and the world..."

Spike was...he began...

"William!..." she screamed up...Xander groaning faintly... "His name was William, Watcher...You outta know...It's been in the archives since your Council arranged his murder a century ago!!..."

But...She calmed...You really deserve a major commendation yourself, Mr. Chairman... "For finally finishing the job after all these years...Making sure Cicely the Vampire Slayer and William Soames Walthrop never find each other...That she never hears his words of forgiveness for going along with her Watcher's scheme to drive him away in 1880...That..." she began sobbing...Giles continuing to try to reach her, she ignoring his pleas...

"Course, credit for the final act itself, must go to the Wolfram-Hart senior partners...Thank God, you had an apocalypse handy...And what luck I didn't know William was in the middle of it...Or that Angel hadn't actually joined the ranks of Evil for his son's sake..."

Though I don't think I'd ever have doubted him if it weren't for Willow's help...And the rest of the guys' constant pressure...

"Buffy...Please...I did what I thought was best...I feared...Cicely's presence in your life as much as William's...It would have destroyed you...Put you at Spike's mercy..."

"I think I kinda like Cicely's 'presence', Giles...And I gotta tell ya..." she pouted up at him... "Trying to run my life like this...Lying like this all these years...Tres domineering, even given you were like my second...Heck, lets be honest...My true...Father to me..."

You knew...she sighed...All this time you knew...And I thought you were trying to protect me from letting my heart get the better of me over Spike the mad killer with an insane desire for me, his nemesis...

"But it was your Council you were trying to protect...From me..."

And my poor husband...You son of a bitch...

"I feared for you, Buffy...Cicely is dead...You have your life to..."

"Buffy and Cicely are one...They came back to find their husband's poor lost soul, struggling to hang on to Spike, refusing to let go, trying for a century to find his wife on Earth, sure she hadn't meant to abandon him...They returned to reclaim the life your Council wouldn't let them have, stole from them..."

And you took it all away...Just when...

"Well..." she waved a hand... "I guess I should let bygones be bygones...On the personal level...But...As 'the Law'...I can't help feeling...As I'm sure you must...Responsibly civilized, sober man that you are, Giles...That justice is called for here..."

"This isn't you, Buffy...Listen to me...You can't...You'll cut yourself...Your soul...Off from any hope of finding him in the next world..."

Got that right, Giles...she grinned...

"Buffy couldn't do it...To cut herself as well as her William in Heaven off from any hope, no way...Or even to you guys, no matter how much she wanted to kill you all...Cicely?...Well, maybe...Not knowing you well and hating the Council as she did..."

Still, even she had her moral scruples...Those nice old Victorian ones...

"But, after Buffy learned the truth the other day in the Council archives...About William being alive...And about Cicely...And learned from your rather talkative old boys that William and Angel had been killed stopping the Senior Partners...And that if she had known in time, she might have saved them...Well, they could...Together...Commit suicide...To be with their poor Will's soul..."

Letting a vamp do it...And letting me...Buffy's demon...Out to deal with all of you...Simply appealed to their mutual sense of justice...After all, what's the big deal about dying, right?...A little pain and you clowns go to bliss...

Or punishment...she smiled coldly...

"And if it was good enough for our William...Heck, why shouldn't you guys experience a little justice...You, Andrew, and Willow did kill your fellow man after all...Dawn helped you, very likely caused Mom's death, and isn't real anyway...And Xander?...Well, maybe Anya will forgive him what he did to her...And those lousy jokes at the crater when her corpse was rotting in the rubble..."

Afraid I...And Buffy-Cicely...Can't quite forgive what he did to us...Going along with you as he did...

"Fortunately...Buf left me enough magics to cover my presence till I got you all where I wanted you..."

"Buffy..." Giles stared at the demon face in what horror his battered body could manage...

"Call me Anne, Giles...Nice to finally meet ya in the about-to-rot flesh..."

***