"Immortal Beloved...XXIX..."



A longer entry but basically a one part 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: Ok, now I've gone utterly and entirely too far...(Remember they're not parts of one story, but a series of retellings during and after the Rome rendezvous of "Girl In Question")

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Rome...Dawn and Buffy's place...May 18th, 2004...Evening...

Buffy sits, a bit down in the dumps on the sofa, watching television...Andrew beside her, offering what comfort he can...

Pointing out that things seem to be going well with the Immortal and all...Yeah...Buffy answers curtly...

"Why didn't you tell him to stay?..." she glares at her roomie and fellow (probational) New Counselor...

"All these months...All my calls, my letters...He won't answer, sends them back...Finally he comes...And you tell him I've 'moved on'...?"

But...Andy looks at her, blinking...You said...You told us when you started up with His Benev...

Dawn sighs inwardly on hearing as she enters with the unopened mail, dumped by sis on the hall table...Not this again...

C'mon sis...Spike does the right thing for once and leaves you be...And you can't let it go...

Though, damn him...He coulda called and told us he was alright...That thing about the hands really upset her...

"Mail..." she calls cheerily, hoping to break Buf's gloom a bit...God, I wish that pompous Immortal jackass would show tonight...Much as I hate the idea of sis with another vamp, at least he made her smile a little...

But he could see before any of us...Her heart wasn't in it...Good thing, despite the lack of true soul, he's sorta midway twixt good and evil...Although...A little rough and tumble with a fairly competent baddie might be just the thing for her now...

Buffy rose, reaching for the mail with a sigh...Already checked...Not a thing from LA...

Thank God, at least no more returned letters of hers...Dawn thought...Though I know she's tried yet again...Hmmn...

"Hey there's a package from Amazon.com..." she opened it as Buffy took the others...Bills, fan mail from new and worshipful Slayers...Hmphf...A threatening letter from some guy claiming to be my greatest nemesis...

"Did you order a tape?..." Dawn looked at her sis...Holding the open box out to her...No, Buffy shook her head...

Yikes...Dawn blinked at the card she'd just pulled...Buffy took a look at her face and grabbed it and the tape away...



"Buffy,

Sorry I couldn't hook up in Rome...And sorry I didn't try to call or write sooner...Jitters, I guess...Anyway, I wanted to say that Angel and I seem to be managing to avoid tearing each other's throats out...Luckily for him...And I'm doing my best...As I will always...For your sake...

We seem to be likely to have some trouble with the Senior Partners here, so thought I'd best drop a line in case things don't work out...Believe me, Buffy...Giles has got it wrong...Angel's never been in their corner, just trying to make things work out for his kid's sake...(If you forget Connor, the kid, it's a spell...Have ole Red take a gander, should be easy to clear on your side of the pond...)

The fourth song on the tape is the one...A bit sappy, perhaps, but Ole Kurt Weill, however bad a singer, always had a way of saying things right...Our moment was swift, we were two ships adrift, and swept apart...But, forgive me if I choose to believe that for the moment, it was real...Though no one could be happier for you if you are making out well with that...You know...

If we do meet again, to steal from the best England's ever produced...Why then, we'll smile...

If not, then...Yes, my darling...This parting was well made...

Thank you...For the soul, for your faith in me, for everything...

Love beyond the world,

William...Soames Walthrop (in case you'd ever like to know)..."



Now he sends a note like that?...Dawn frowns, looking over Buffy's trembling shoulder...

The Slayer put the tape in their apartment stereo...The trembling, high-pitched accented voice of Kurt Weill filled the room...

(Speak Low...Kurt Weill, Ogden Nash...)

"Speak low when you speak, love

Our summer day withers away too soon, too soon

Speak low when you speak, love

Our moment is swift, like ships adrift, we're swept apart, too soon

Speak low, darling, speak low

Love is a spark, lost in the dark too soon, too soon

I feel...Wherever I go...That tomorrow is near, tomorrow is here and always too soon



Time is so old and love so brief

Love is pure gold and time a thief

We're late, darling, we're late

The curtain descends, ev'rything ends too soon, too soon

I wait, darling, I wait

Will you speak low to me?...Speak love to me?...And soon?..."



"Something's wrong..." Buffy's pale face turned red as she coldly eyed Dawn, then Andrew... "Someone's been screwing with us..."

Dawn looked at Andrew, he at her...Ummn...

***

Meanwhile...

Deep beneath LA...The vast pit of the Well of Souls beneath the Wolfram-Hart tower...

A battered Angel grimly hanging on at a glowing mass of rock, the portal through which the Partners must come...William and Illyria fighting off a determined horde of demons...

The demons falter, a number falling back, seeing that the portal is being resealed even as Angel feels his last strength ebbing away... "Spike!!..." he calls...

"Can't..."

"Take the mat, girl..." Will turns to Illyria as they both charge the demoralized group...The demons retreat, Illyria pursuing..."Wesley!!..." her battle cry...William moves to the portal...

"William!..." a voice calls...Buffy...He turns...

"You have to leave with me...It's done...It's ok...They're finished...Come now..." she reaches out...

I'm here...I've come...I love you...Don't die here...

"Will..." Angel calls feebly... "Hurry..."

"So..." William eyes 'Buffy'... "It's you again...Back from Hell already?...I commend your team spirit, girl..." He turns to the wall and sinks his hands in...Screaming momentarily from the pain...

"You fool..." the First sneers... "I give you a chance...Wasting the remnant of power the Senior Partners passed on to me ...And you throw it away..."

"You know..." Will turns to the dying Angel...At the end of his strength...

"Of all the people in this sad ole world, you were the last one...I ever thought I'd be glad to die with...Gramps..."

A wan smile from Angel... "You've been a one hell of a pain in the ass, grandson...but...Nice to have you here..."

Now, go get me a drink of water...he grinned...Collapsing against the wall...

"Stop it, William...You've won, you're done...We're beat..." the First eyed him...

Sure...Just give me a min...he smiled wanly...His life force ebbing away now...The portal visibly losing energy...



"Will, please...Don't do this...I could be Buffy for you...I can be kind...You've seen me kind..." she smiled at him...

"Enough, girl...Take it like a Buffy..."

There's no amulet to save you this time, William...You'll die for real now...Alone...Friendless...

"No..." he smiled up at her... "Not alone anymore...Not friendless anymore...Wherever I wind up...One good man is my friend...One woman..."

"She's betrayed you, Will...She's not coming this time...She's...Busy..." a harsh sneer...

"Don't matter, girl...I have the moment...And that last year...It'll do...It's fine..." he murmured...

Fine...A hard glare...Die...But first...

"You may as well know the truth..."

Harmony!!...she called... Get your miserable, cowardly ass over here!...

Harmony emerged from the shadows...Ummn...He dead, yet?...she eyed Will...

"Almost..." the First glared... "But before he goes...Tell him..."

Enjoy yourself...she smiled coldly...

"I stopped her calls...Returned her letters..." Harmony frowned at William as he staggered against the wall... "She was trying to reach you since the day you appeared in Angel's office...I guess Willow was looking for your spirit for her, and figured out what had happened...But I held everything back..."

It was for your own good, of course...she gave a solemn look... She was no good for you...And you weren't a good match for her...Her friends sure didn't think so...

"They were happy to help me..." she grinned... "For their dear Buf's sake..."

"Anyway, why shouldn't I have done it?...After the way you treated me?...I loved you..."

Well, ok...I didn't love love you...she nodded...But I was there for you...While you...And Angel...And Buffy, back in Sunnydale...

"Left me as I was...Content to stick me behind a desk...Harmony the comic relief vampire...Always good for a laugh..."

Even my soul should've hated you both...Abandoning me like that...Hell, if you had once asked...I would've gone to Africa and gotten my soul back...But you...None of you...Gave a damn...she eyed him...Harmony?...he gasped...

"But I wasn't quite the simp you all took me for..." she grinned...The First eyeing her...

I cut my own deal with the Senior Partners...And your friend here...

"And stupid, silly Harmony...Torpedoed the love of Buffy and Spike...Hell, I knew you two would never have the guts to face each other directly...And the only time I had cause to worry...When you went to Rome...You took care of things yourself...You fools...Both of you...Too afraid the other didn't feel what you felt..."

You really should read her love letters if they let you in Heaven...Or Hell, Will...They were great...Very passionate...Pleading...Heck, she was nearly talking suicide by vamp at one point...



"But you...er me...Sent every one back...Unopened...At least after I had our best spy types steam em and reseal em..."

Poor Buffy...What she must've thought...Harmony chuckled...The First now giving her a slight glare...

Buffy...he gasped...No...

"Well...Maybe she'll say hi in Heaven...Or Hell...And you can talk things out then..." Harmony laughed...The First's glare slightly intensifying...

"So..." the vampiress turned to her...Comrade?... "What do we do now...Do I hafta finish him...?"

No...The First sighed... I wasn't lying...

"It's too late...We've lost..." she eyed Will again...A faint smile on his lips... "Thank you..." he whispered... "That was kind...Letting me know..."

You fool...she murmured...You poor, sad fool...

Lost?...Harmony stared...But...

"You bet on the wrong horse, kiddo...That's the way it goes..." the First grinned at her...Then glared...

You know, as Buffy's representative at this tender scene...I feel it's my duty...To do what she'd've done if she'd not been too preoccupied to assist her lovers...

A burst of energy threw Harmony back down the cavern...

"She'll be sorry...I promise you..." the First smiled faintly at William...Kneeling by him...

"She's not to blame...It was her nature...And we should've done for her..." he murmured, groaning...

"Listen, Will...Let go...I can still save you...Please...I'm not lying...You've won...I..."

A glow of light filled the cavern...Buffy and Willow appearing...The First staring at them...Will vaguely looking up as well...

Buffy?...Both gasped...

"Hurry..." The First called to her...She and Willow blinking in turn at her...You again?...

Angel...Willow gasped, looking at the crumpled body...Buffy rushing to William...But staring at Angel as well...Rage in her face as she looked at the First...

Who, oddly enough...Had anything but a triumphant look in her face...

"It's over...He and Angel have done it...You've won....Take him..." With just the faintest touch of pleading...

Hurry...There's still time...

Buffy grabbed at him...He struggling faintly...No...You're not...

He looked at her...Head sagging...Buffy?...

"Yes, Will...I'm here...I'm not her..." she nodded at the First...



"I can't let go...It's too late..." he whispered feebly...

Willow?...Both Buffy and the First turned to her...She staring at each...

"Get him loose..." the First demanded...Ummn...Yeah...Buffy nodded at Willow, glaring back a bit at her twin...

Willow concentrated as Buffy tried to pull him back...No...Will tried to shove her back...Don't touch me, girl...She gave up, backing away, clearly drained by the brief touch...Staring at Willow...

"I can't...I can't...Willow?..." Willow shook her head...It's no use...

It's too late...The First murmured...A strange note in her voice...

"You...Loved him, too?..." Buffy stared...The First giving a hard, grim stare...Shrugging... "How can I not...You're part of me..."she noted... "As all the Slayers became...When the Watchers stole part of my strength thousands of years ago and gave it to you..." She looked back at William...

"Try again..." she demanded... "Willow?...Oh, take him away, Buffy...Don't let him go like this...Again..." Buffy stared at her a long moment...

My God...Willow thought, looking at the two Buffys...Drusilla, Buffy, the First...And if what we found in the Council archives is true...Cicely...

Not too bad, Mr. Walthrop...I gotta check his poetry out some time...

"No...I won't let him go...Not like this...Not alone again..." Willow staring in horror as Buffy took Will's hand at the wrist where it entered the solidifying wall and embraced him...Her life force now flowing out as well...Faster now as the portal sealed completely...

No...he murmured...No...

"William...Honey...Darling..Let go...Let go...And come...It's time to go home...Time...To go home...Come home with me, my love...Forever..." she whispered in his ear, brushing his hair gently with one hand as they both collapsed against the wall...Willow rushing to them...

Gone...She realized immediately, gently stroking their locked hands...Gone home, together...And looking up saw the First staring down at them...At him...Even as her image began flickering and faded out...

A sorrowful look?...

Love so strong a demon as powerful and vicious as Spike couldn't fight it...Surrendered to it...And even the pure Evil of the First could be moved by it...Willow sighed, putting her head in her hands...

A sobbing sound...she turned...

Harmony...

She glared coldly, moving to a defensive posture...Reaching out...But...Harmony on her knees, hands outstretched, pleading...

"Why?...Why did they do this to me?...Willow?..." she rose, moving slowly towards her...

She stared at the blonde...Oh, my...God...

Human...Harmony...



"Why did they make me live again?...See what I've done?..." a hand waved at the bodies... "My id...Oh, Willow..." Harmony fell to her knees... "God, William...Buffy...Angel...Wesley...forgive me...Forgive me...Cordelia...Forgive me..."

The Prophecy...Willow thought...One would be judged...And chosen...The goal poor Angel had striven for so long...Never realizing...

The Prophecy...Like all the blessings of the Powers That Be, bastards that they are...Both Gift and...

Punishment...

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