"Immortal Beloved..." CXXV...



PG-13



Disclaimer: If ya are fan-fic writers, where's your disclaimers? Disclaimers? We ain't got no disclaimers...I don' need to show you no stinkin'...No, Joss, no...I make no claims, put that thing down!

It's all yours and ME's...

Spoilers for Angel to the bitter end...Flee at once!...

Summary: Though the standard IB format, one of (125) versions of events following the end of Angel S5 episodes from "Girl in Question" through to "Not Fade Away" and beyond... (Not a continuous story, though some are multipart...)

Archived (soon) at the 'Normal' Buffyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse at -https://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/index.html, scroll down to "Immortal Beloved" series ...



***



Rome...One month after the LA battle...

Hmmn...Andrew, head wrapped in towel, frowns at the insistent buzzer...

Not another Slayer seeking guidance from the One and Only...

Not to mention from Buffy as well...

About time I spoke to the Chairman and we ended this charade... Even if it was my idea...

Still...And speaking of the Chairman...It could be an urgent Council matter only one Wells could be entrusted with...

Or it could be my pizza...He sighed and stood at the door...

Hmmn...He peered out the peephole...

No one?...

Well...

"Mr. Wells?..." Buffy...Or rather 'Buffy'...Had emerged from her bedroom in a robe... "Is anything wrong?..."

He put up a hand...Not time to abandon character... "I think it's just a mistake or uno bambino playing the tricks...Ms. Summers..." he put emphasis on the Summers...

One never knowing...

She nodded, biting lip...Should know better than to come out of character without an all-clear... "Right...Andrew..." she giving it the full Buffy vocals...He nodding in turn...Very good...

Even if it was only...The buzzer ran again, startling them...

But, naturally the Vice-Chairman for Field Operations had chosen his Buffy double, a former actress called to Slaying, well...She held character, without skipping a beat... "Andrew?...Were you expecting someone?..."

He carefully put eye to peephole... "Let me..." she insisted, in excellent Buffy manner, gently pulling him away...Though not before he'd again taken a quick look...And seen that all remained seemingly clear...

She gazed through the peephole, carefully repressing her natural nervousness...Andrew pleased to see her taking a very Buffy initative...

"So...?"

"Nothing..." she sighed...Looking again...And pulling away with a shrug a moment later...

"What'd'ya think, Andy?...Shall we take a peek to be sure?"

"Buffy, I'd prefer to..." he paused as the buzzer ran yet again...

'Buffy' returned to the peephole... "No one again..." she looked back at Andrew...Both bewildered and a tad apprehensive now...

"It's William!..." she suggested... "He's come back as a ghost after LA and wants me to help him..."

Uh-huh...Andrew nodded...

My God how lame can you get?...he thought...

On the other hand...Maybe his spirit now knows about our little charade and is here in disembodied form to flay me alive...With Angel's equally enraging spirit perhaps assisting...

"I'd better take a look, Andrew..." she put hand to knob and unlocked the door with her free hand...

"Wait..." he put hand on hers...

Why, Andrew...slight-out-of-character-beam...She'd been waiting six months for the little guy to make a move...Even expressing a real interest during off-duty moments in her Immortal partying companion hadn't gotten a rise out of him...

Watchers are so dedicated as she'd mentioned to Ms. Dawn Summers during her visit during her break from studies in Milan...

Though it had been disconcerting the look Dawn had given her in return...Andrew?...

"Lets not do the classic slasher movie mistake, going out there alone...Obviously someone wants us to come out..." he noted...

She nodded, as a veteran of several such...

"Though on the positive side, if they were something invincible or even super, they'd've likely come in by now...Unless..."

"Vampire?...Right up my alley..." she beamed...But as he kept his...Very sweet hand on hers, she hesitated...

Should I put my hand on his arm?...To thank him for his show of concern?...Maybe encourage him a little?...

"Could be Drusilla..." he pondered... "She'd do it this way...And she could possibly be pissed at Buffy over Spike..."

Drusilla?...Oh, right...The psycho with hypno powers, William's ex-... "That's not a bad idea, Andrew...But..." projecting voice a little... "I've handled Drusilla in the past..."

He put up a hand...Ok...A slight smile...Very Buffy...Which she returned...

"Lets throw something on and I'll get the new projector and the thermal scanner...We'll see if anything warm-blooded is out there and if not flood the hallway with UV..."

"Make sure there are no kids out there, fooling around Andrew..." she said, anxiously as he went to grab the new equipment...All his inventions she thought with admiration, heading for her room...What a guy... "That thing could blind them..."

If only he could see how blind he was to me...

"We'll be careful..." he called back... "Just don't open the door..."

She emerged a couple of minutes later in sweater and slacks...

A crash from Andrew's room...

"Andy?!..." "Fine, fine...Dropped a box..."

Another buzz...She peered out again but as she expected...Nothing...

"Ok..." Andrew emerged, in t-shirt and trousers, holding small cell-phone like scanner with tiny readout screen in left hand, large boxlike unit with giant flashlight-like projector on top barely managed in right...

She hurried to help with the projector, taking it in hand...As he began scanning the corridor...

Hmmn...The two people in what should be apartment 138 were either very recently dead victims stacked like cordwood or...Yeah, having sex...

Other than that, nothing remotely human around...And nothing at vampiral body temps...Though of course they could get pretty low if necessary...Cyborgs?...Nothing even that warm...

"Looks clear unless ghosts or robots...And they'd have to be robots operating at room temperature..."

"Maybe the buzzer's just not working right..." 'Buffy' suggested, setting down the UV projector which he now took up, struggling just a bit to conceal the effort...

Gotta steamline this thing...

"We'll see...Ok, Buffy..." raising voice a bit... "I think it's clear...Lets take a quick look..."

She nodded, pulled stake...Pleased at his pleased...That's Slayer form...Look...And moving to the door... "Ummn...Andrew?...Towel?..." she pointed at the towel turban still on his head...Whoops...Then opened the door, carefully...

Both peering out into the empty hallway...Not a thing...

Yet...

At his nod, she stepped out, cautiously, while he followed behind, lugging projector... "Let me give a burst just in case..." he passed a pair of rather hip-looking sunglass-like goggles to her and put a pair on himself...

And setting the projector down squarely in the middle of the doorway, activated it and carefully angled the flashlight-like emitter to cover the entire hallway...

No screams of agony or sudden flameouts...Good...He snapped the unit's switch to off...And turned to look at the buzzer...Which looked, to all appearances, normal...

"Should I take a look down the hall?..." 'Buffy' asked...

He gave a guarded look...Not very Buffy... "Ummn...You spotted anything I should check out, Andy?..." more confident tone... Sorry, her look back said...



Much better...His return look...

"Please wait just a minute, Slayer...I just wanna be sure this thing isn't the problem..." he pressed the buzzer; it rang normally...

Ok, so far...He gave her the 'Buffy now does her own thing' look... "I'll think I'll take a quick look down to the elevator..." she said, insistent tone...Hesitating only a second...

"Wait for me, Buffy..." he replied, rising to follow after her...

Phew...She thought...I dread the day when he really will have me do this stuff alone...

Though I am getting pretty good...

They moved down to the elevator, 'Buffy' looking self-assured...Though carefully eyeing each apartment door they passed...

"People in 138..." Andrew hissed as they passed... "Human, just making out..."

"Ok..." she nodded...

Wish he'd take a little inspiration from them...God, I know it's my job and my duty to play Buffy but why couldn't Buffy find Andrew attractive?...He's brave, he's brilliant, he's nice...He's human...And he's not that pompous jackass the Immortal...Or some of those egos I've worked with in my other career...

Heck, I'm beginning to think this Summers girl is a little...What with all the living dead boyfriends and all...

She'd reached the elevator...Andrew just behind...

Nothing...No one...or thing...

"I think we oughta check the other floors, then I guess I'd better go take that buzzer apart..." he said, shrugging... "And maybe try a poltergeist detection spell..."

God, how does he manage to know all these things?...She repressed an urge to beam at him...

Still no reason not to advance things a little...

"Thanks, Andy..." she patted his arm... "You're the best..."

Ummn...He blinked...

"I think we'd better take the stairs, just in case the elevator's booby-trapped..."

The elevator suddenly opened...A slender, attractive young brunette-haired woman stepping off...Stopping at the stares of the two before her...

"Ms. Summers?...Mr. Wells..." she addressed her neighbors in accented English...

"Carolina..." Andrew gave a friendly wave... "Nice to see you..."

"Carolina..." 'Buffy' smiled, likewise waving... "We're going to do some night photograpy in some ruins again... " she indicated the projector in Andrew's hand...

"Bene..." Carolina gave a smile back...Making her way between them...

Such an odd little American couple...Still can't figure them out...And even though Ms. Summers is always running around with that dashing aristocratic charmer...A real Italian gentleman of the old school...It's obvious she prefers the little fellow...

Perhaps it's a title she wants...Or she needs to marry for money...Americans aren't quite as loaded as they used to be these days...

Of course the little one is rather cute in his way...An inventor or engineer judging by the things they're always playing around with...Perhaps that's it...She's throwing herself at the wealthy Italian investor for sake of the brilliant inventor?...Who might be the next Gates-in-training?...She cast another smile primarily at Andrew as she reached her door... "Good night..."

"You sure she's not a vamp or something..." 'Buffy' hissed to Andrew as they watched Carolina's 136 room door close...

"Doesn't show any signs...I had all the neighbors checked out...Nothing questionable in her background...She seems like a nice girl..." Andrew noted... 'Buffy' frowning...

Nice girl, right...

No single Italian "stenographer" could afford an apartment in this building...Not to mention that outfit...

"Lets still take the stairs..." Andrew noted...

***

"Second floor...Clear..." Andrew pronounced as he and 'Buffy' re-entered the stairwell from the second floor, one floor below their apartment...

Though it was a shame about that elderly couple in 28, he noted...'Buffy' shuddering a bit again at the memory... At least nothing killed them but old age and dehydration...

"Sorry about staking that cat..." she sighed... "But it was eating the lady's toes and I thought it had to be..."

"It's fine...I got it out the window before anyone came...And demon or no, it was an evil cat..."

"Should we just go back?...The police'll be there for a while...Probably want to talk to us again..."

"We've just got the fourth floor to check now...We'll make it fast..."

"Right..." she took a more Buffy tone... As Andrew always notes in training, anyone could be watching at anytime...And a professional actress stays in character...

Even if she'd really like to cry on the shoulder of her sweet companion/Watcher-supervisor/live-in...That was awful back there...

Though clearly they had been a very devoted old couple...

They moved up the stairs again...Pausing at the fourth floor entrance...She set down the UV projector as Andy began a quick scan...

"Looks like everyone's home up here..."

No one around...I doubt anyone has a camera up here...

Now or never, girl...Though don't break character...

"Andrew..."

"Yeah, Buffy..."

"I've been thinking..."

"You have an idea?..." he looked at her... "What?..."

"I love you..." she said...

Uhh...



"You heard what I said?..."

Uhh...

"Buffy, I..."

"Yeah!...Buffy Summers loves Andrew Wells!..." she said, louder...

Hmmn...I don't remember suggesting that development in the character...Andrew thought...

"...And so does..." she hissed...Taking his arm...

"Sarah..." he hissed back... "What the heck are you doing...?"

"Don't make me break character, Andy..." she hissed back...

Ok...Maybe she's had an idea?...The William ghost again?...

"Buffy?...What do you mean?..." he tried to play along...Cautiously glancing round...Did she sense...Something?...

"I mean I love you, Andrew..." she beamed at him... "I have for a long time...I just finally worked up the nerve to tell you..."

Ok...Warren's evil ghost has possessed her for a practical joke, no doubt...

"Ummn...Buffy...That's very flattering...Were you exposed to anything recently?...An orb?...A jacket maybe?..."

"Andy...You know I love you...Can't you just accept it and tell me how you feel?..."

What is she up...To?...He gasped as she pulled him to her and kissed on the lips, hard...

"I'm not kidding, Andy..." she whispered... "But I don't wanna break character..."

Holy...

"So...?" she pulled back a bit...Eyeing his startled, rather wild-eyed expression... "How do you feel?..."

I really don't think Chairman Giles will approve of this version of our 'Buffy in Rome' playlet...

"What was that?..." he looked behind her...

"Andrew..." she frowned... "That is the oldest ..."

"No, I mean I heard footsteps...Let me check the scanner..."

They both heard the slam of the door on the third floor... 'Buffy' looking at Andrew...

"It was someone..."

God, Andy you are so sharp...she beamed...

"...Someones, maybe...Or things...Invisible...Come on!..." he pushed past her...

***

An alley...Five blocks away...



"Well?..." Buffy eyed William...Both now visible after application of the Trio's old invisibility ray in reverse polarity...

"All right...It was a double...Very good double too..."

"Not much shakes as a Slayer, I'd say...She never sensed us standing two feet away...If Andy hadn't heard us...The little..." She frowned... "Do you believe me now?..."

"Yeah..." he sighed, smiling...

"Ok, then...Jerk!!..." she whacked him, hard...Knocking him down... "Believing I wouldn't come like a shot if I'd known...And not coming to me, then threatening Andrew, even Giles if you had to, once you found out about Buffy the play-actress...God-damn you, you little...You know what I've been though...?...And when I found out about us in the archives...Thinking I'd lost you again?!..." she whacked him again as he rose...

"Easy, Cicely!...Or you will lose me again!..." he protested...

"Of course Andy has it coming too...The little..."

"He did think he was doing the right thing, you know..."

"And Giles, backing him up...Letting the guys think I'd gone ga-ga over that publicity-grubbing, Council-boot licking Immortal, telling me it was for my protection when it was to keep you away... And after never telling me about us, knowing our history from the files all these years...Ohhhh, I could just..."

A glowing, if somewhat fading-in-and-out Buffy appears, looking hopeful...

"Screw off girl..." Will frowned at the First... "She doesn't mean that..."

"I can't believe you...You think I'm dumb enough to blow two resurrections and my husband's salvation on revenge..." Buffy, equal frown... "Get lost!..."

The First faded out, fuming a bit...

"You know..." Will grinned... "We could bloodlessly turn the tables on our two little Shakespeares...If you were to step into the lady's shoes for a few days...Say we got Angel to have one of our W-H studios offer her a part and she had to take an immediate break...Buffy kindly agrees to fill-in..."

"Yeah?..."

"But through some mischance involving the hurried nature of the offer and an invisible mail/note thief, our Andy doesn't get word of the switch while Giles does...While Buffy carries on with lil' Wells where our lovelorn actress stepped out..."

"Will...That is evil..." Buffy grinned...

"Drive Giles crazy...And Andrew would have a lot of explaining to do to both your clueless gang and his girlfriend..."

"I wouldn't have to...You know..."

"Please...I may be a bad poet but I can write a few convincing love scenes without putting you both in the sack...And it's not all revenge...That boy needs to make up his mind and tell that poor girl what he wants...One way or the other..."

"I'd have to continue her playing around with the Immortal too..." she gave an arch look... "You think you could deal..."

"Judging by what we saw the other night, I'd say His Benevolence was more likely interested in young Wells than you..."

"Hey..."

"Not your fault, love...Or hers...But at least now we know why he was so obsessed with me over the last century..."

***