"Immortal Beloved..." XXXI...



Summary: Ok, ok...But this was a special request by a fan of both mine and...(well, read the thing)

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Rome...The doorway of Buffy's apartment...Just moments after William and Angel took their farewell of Andrew in the Angel episode "Girl in Question..."

"Andy?..." Dawn stared at Andrew in his tux, the two lovely young Slayers smiling beside him...

Claire, Ramona...she nodded...Hey, Dawn...

"Heading out the garden just now?...Was that who I thought it was?..."

"Angel and Spike...Yeah..." he nodded... "They came to..."

"What the hell did you let them go for?...Buffy's due back in a few..." her eyes narrowed...

Andrew...What did you say to them?...

Ummn...he gulped...Well...

"You guys and Mr. Giles all said..." he tried...She whacked him...You twerp!...

"Ok..." she calmed... "I know what we all said...But you know...Andy!..." she fumed again...

Claire politely interrupting... Ummn... "Guys...We'd really like to finish our training...Tonight...I gotta be on a plane home tomorrow, you know...My husband and little girl are going outta of their skulls over all the time this 'internship' is takin'..." Yeah...Ramona nodded... "My boyfriend's going nuts..."

"Just a min...And Mr. Bond here is all yours..." Dawn sourly frowned...

Andy...Now what did you tell William?...About...You know who?

"Well...Just that...She's been very hap..."

Andrew!!...

"But...She has..." A hard glare...

C'mon, Dawn...he sighed... I owed him...Big time...And the man is my friend...

***

A café two blocks away...

"I still can't get over...How you managed..." Buffy began...Smiling at THE one and only, Immortal...Perhaps not quite the impressive figure his buildup had suggested...

At least, not in his current existence...

"I don't know the details myself, Buffy..." he smiled a wan grin... "I only know somehow I found myself wandering around I-87, covered with dirt and not exactly fully stocked with blood..."



Thank anemia and that ole Vasoconstrictive reaction, he chuckled...

"Not to mention Principle Wood's blanket, keeping me somewhat warm before he dumped me in that hole...Though I did manage to be dead just long enough for the First to use my form...Poor Andy..."

"He needed to face you...And deserved it...But he has done well since...And nobody was happier to see you than him..."

Yeah...he smiled faintly...Thought he was gonna have a heart attack when I knocked on your door that evening...

"We all nearly had a heart attack that night..." Buffy grinned...

Only wish I could've recovered my memory and gotten out of the hospital in time to help you guys out back last May...he sighed...

"We made out ok..." she nodded... Yeah...he eyed her a bit sternly...

"And when are you gonna call him...?"

"You're that anxious for competition?..." she dodged...Looking a bit sheepish... "And he coulda called, written, come here..."

"He's scared Buffy...He's afraid...As I sure would be...That you're gonna take it back..."

"Well..." she sighed... "Maybe you're right...But...He always knew how I felt...I care, but..."

"I think...You care a lot more than you want to know..." he leaned back...

Hey?...She stared, a slight frown... "You're supposed to be fighting for your own here, you know...You tryin' to back off?..."

"I just know what he's probably going through...I've been there...Especially since taking this last form..." Jonathan shook his head... "And you're still not certain one way or the other, admit it..."

"I cared for him...Sure...But we never quite ever got started...Really, I mean..."

Uh-huh...he eyed her...Well...she looked away...

"Call him...Write him...Find out how he's doing, Buf...You'll never be able to forgive yourself in the long run if you don't...And frankly, I wanta know where things are gonna go before we take this further..."

"If I promise to, will you tell me something?..."

Course...he nodded...

"Why...Jonathan?..." she eyed him... "I mean..." she added hastily... "I want you to stay Jonathan, I'm not complaining...Just...?"A wry grin...

"Buf, I'd lived...Or existed is a better way to put it...For hundreds of years...As a paragon...At least of Evil...Till I found a chance for redemption...But even after that, I lived as The Immortal...Humans, demons, vamps looking up to me, always the hero, the strong one, the perfect one..."

Though I'd been anything but perfect in my initial human existence...My current state as Jonathan is actually not all that far off...Though back then I did have a lot of advantages...A dukedom, enormous wealth and temporal power, access to all kinds of magics and forbidden knowledge...

"I had to have a chance to live again as an ordinary human man...Even a somewhat limited man...A bit downtrodden, not exactly a prime physical specimen...A bit of an outcast...And see what real life is like for the average guy...Minus all the pluses I was blessed...Or cursed with, if you consider my origins and what eventual path I trod for a time...By chance and fortune, not by my earning..."



To be reborn as Jonathan Levinson...And try to find my way in the world...Try and see what would become of me without my gifts...Was the ultimate challenge, the ultimate chance for total redemption...And I nearly failed, lets be frank...Even grabbing at something of my old power and status via magics that time back in Sunnydale...And then with Andy and Warren...

"And I might still fail..." he smiled... As my time as Jonathan ain't over yet...Even if my temp death revived my ole memories prematurely...And I've somewhat resumed my ole role...

"But I hope, I've managed it reasonably well in the end...For a little lumpen geek...And if I can see it through, in this state...Ending my current path this time as a good man...Perhaps, I've finally, truly cleansed myself...As William and Angel did..."

Course this could be another spell...he grinned...And shame on you for not having Willow check it out right away...

"Well, she did, in the end...After she found out about you..."

Yeah...And thank goodness she did and cleared me...Else I'm sure Giles and Xander, let alone Spike and Angel, would've croaked me...

"When are you gonna learn to carry a little magics protection on you, Slayer?..."

She shrugged...Guess I should...

"But I knew it wasn't magics...The moment you walked in that door...Umbrella man..." she smiled...

Then stared at him...Jonathan...

"I have been very happy with you these past few..."

Thank you...he smiled...From both my Immortal side and my Jonathan...

"But Buffy...I share one thing with William...I won't settle for being your fill-in guy...I want you to see him, give him his chance, and make a decision...I don't want you simply by default..."

'The Immortal'...he shrugged, grinning again...Can't allow his rep to suffer like that...

"Though, to be honest...If I wasn't afraid William's ghost would dog us forever under those circumstances...Like Joyce's Michael Furey...I might go for it regardless...But I won't wake up one night ten years from now to find you sobbing over the one you truly loved..."

She looked away...

"Of course..." he smiled as she looked back at him... "Once he's had his fair chance, all gloves come off and I will use every benefit of being the Immortal...Including that 3000 acre estate in Gascony you liked so much... To make my case...I just insist on a level playing field..."

She shook her head...Jonathan...Tears welling a bit...

"And if...I...If he's...Really..."

"Then we'll always have Sunnydale High...Miss Class Protector..." She laughed a bit...Pulling out her surprise...

"So you kept it all this time..." he smiled...

"Well...I don't get a reward like this every day..." she grinned...Opening the umbrella...

A cry and sound from down the street...As if someone were being dragged under protest to a meeting he did not wish to attend...



"Buffy!..." Dawn's voice...They looked to see Andrew in the grip of his two Slayer trainees, decked out for their night's Patrol among Rome's glitziest watering holes, Dawn leading them...

Andy?...Jonathan stared...

"I can explain..." Andrew began as he was brought forward...

***

"So..." Buffy's voice was icy... "The little blonde coward couldn't face me...Wouldn't wait five minutes...Believed right away I'd dumped him for..."

Ummn...She looked at Jonathan...Ummn...

"Jon...I don't mean..." "I understand, Buf...And I'm not leaving the field just yet..." he grinned, nodding...

Oh, well...he sighed inwardly...

"But what do you want to..." he began...

More noise from down the street...The demon butler who'd stolen the capo from Spike and Angel appeared, dragged by several very large, very well-dressed men...

"Sir..." One called to Jonathan as the group stared at the new arrivals... "We have recovered the item..." he presented a bag...

Ummn...The demon butler stared at the famed Immortal...Hmmn...Little shorter and rather less incredibly handsome than his book jacket photo would have suggested...

"Uh...Signore...I wish to apologize...I had no idea that the Immortal was interested in this little matter...Had I but known..."

Right...Jonathan waved... "Just take your money and leave the capo alone...From now on, all right?..."

"Si, si...And may I uh say...Your latest book was...Life-altering..." the butler backed away, bowing...Clutching his sack of cash... "I've read it twice through already...!"

Well...Jonathan turned to the still fuming Buffy... "We got their capo back...We'd best get it to LA asap..."

I guess you'll be wanting to deliver it personally?...he eyed her...

"Oh, no..." she glared at the sack... "I think William should stew in his own juice a bit longer..."

"Buffy..." Dawn shook her head... "He had no way to know..."

"He should have..." she said quietly... "He never calls, never writes...Leaves me to think...God..."

All right, then... "Jonathan...take a note..."

***

Dawn sighed as Buffy handed the capo to one of the Immortal's minions...All of whom had faithfully waited out the years till their Lord should complete his latest life journey and memory returned, resume his proper place with them...Another step in his final redemption complete...

"This is so ridiculous, Buffy...Just take it to LA..."

A hard look...She rolled her eyes...Geesh...This is gonna go on for...



"I have to go to LA in two weeks anyway, if the Council's psychics are right and the Senior Partners are gonna try their thing then..." Buffy shrugged...

William may as well let his weak-knees tremble a lil' longer...Damn him...She stalked off towards their apartment...Dawn eyeing Andy and Jonathan with a resigned expression...What you gonna do?...And a sympathetic look to Jon...Who nodded back...Thanks...

"Well..." Andrew looked at his old and rather full of surprises, at least recently, friend...

"Andy..." Jonathan the Immortal frowned at him...Then grinned... "Thanks for trying...I know you meant well..."

"No problemo, mio compadre...And thanks again for the papal absolution..." Andy nodded...

Buffy running back, a distressed look... "They left, right?..." Jonathan gave her a kind, rather resigned look...Fraid so...

"They had to get it to LA asap, Buf..." Yeah...she sighed...Well, she shrugged... He deserves it after all he's been puttin' me through...

"I gotta go to India tomorrow anyway..." she sighed... "Slayer training in New Delhi..."

"Your guys do agree with Giles' people about the LA thing, right?..." she looked at Jonathan...

Yeah...Potential apocalypse in two weeks...he nodded...

"He'll really be pleased to see you come riding in..." he smiled at her... "Just in the nick..."

Aw, Jon...she sighed...

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