"Immortal Beloved..." XLVIII...

A shortie...

PG-13

Disclaimer: 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: Various outcomes following "Girl In Question" and /or "Not Fade Away" on Angel...What the hell, I'll try for 50...I mean the numbers are easier to write after 40 anyway...



***

I've Got You Under My Skin...Cole Porter...

Play

I've got you under my skin

I've got you deep in the heart of me

So deep in my heart

You're nearly a part of me

I've got you under my skin

I have tried so not to give in

I have said to myself this affair

Never gonna go somewhere

But why should I try to resist

When baby I know so well

That I've got you under my skin

I would sacrifice anything

Come what might

For the sake of holding you near

In spite of a warning voice

That comes in the night

It repeats and it shouts in my ear

Don't you know blue-eyes

You never can win

Use your mentality

Wake up to reality

But each time I do

Just the thought of you

Makes me stop before I begin

'cause I've got you under my skin

I'd sacrifice anything

Come what might

For the sake of having you near

In spite of a warning voice

That comes in the night

It repeats and it shouts in my ear

Don't you know you old fool

You never can win

Use your mentality

Wake up to reality

But each time that I do

Just the thought of you

Makes me stop before I begin

'cause I've got you under my skin

And I love you (when you're) under my skin

***

LA, morning...Ten hours before the battle in LA...

"What do you want with a company card, Spike?..." Angel eyed his, well...What the hell since they'd be even deader in ten hours or so anyway...Partner...

"My business...The upstanding business of one of the human-souled, mate..." Will shook his head... "I've no plans to welch on you, boss...But you did say to live the day to the max...And I need a little lucre for my entertainment..."

Angel frowned...Then shrugged...Hell, why not...He's earned it and if he socks Wolfram-Hart with a day's orgy...Am I gonna worry?...

"Here..." he signed a form... "Take it to Harmony and have her rush it through..."

But Will...Angel eyed him... "If you are having second thoughts about things...You're still a volunteer..."

"Thanks...I'll be back on time and then some..." Will nodded... "Not that I owe you, poof, considering everything I've done for you recently...Risking both existence and my innocent, non-redemption-needing soul..."

"Yeah...Thanks...Just remember, you're pledged to be there now...And dust if you let us down..."

"Just make sure you don't spend the evening plucking hairs from that overgrown single brow of yours, poof..."

***

A shabby shop in a run-down part of town...Though why they're always shabby and rundown, Will thought...Considering the owners always have access to tremendous occult power...

"I need an orb of Callos...Price no object..." he eyed the elderly proprietor who'd frowned at the beginning of the request...But, on seeing the presentation of a Wolfram-Hart credit card...Beamed jovially...

Certainly...he smiled, reaching down to a locked box...

"Ummn...You do know how to handle these, son?...Very tricky if you've never played with one..."

Hmmn...Will turned away from the ad for a poetry slam on the near wall...4pm, Riallo St...

"Oh, sure...Say, have you got a piece of paper and a pencil...?"

The elderly...Man?...William eyed him...Yeah, man...Handed a pad and pen over...

"If it's not imposing..." the shopkeeper paused... Will noting down the address and time...

Yeah...

"I was wondering what you were planning to..."

"Yeah...As in, yes...It is imposing..." William frowned...

But if you must know...And as I could use a little advice...

"Teleportation..."

Oh...The old man nodded wisely...Done a bit in my day, his expression saying...

"Any experience with long-distance, pops?..."

***

Rome, evening...Nine hours before the battle in LA...

Buffy leaned against her chair...A slight chill, despite the warm Roman evening, running yet again down her spine...As if a premonition of something...Some danger, or some thing, coming...

Her companion, the famed Immortal...Image of actor Jude Law (my wife adores him, that's why, ya happy now?)...Smiling at her...Though under his ever gracious manner, a bit annoyed by her distance this evening...

As if she were once again obsessing about the ominous news from her Chairman regarding that ridiculous posturing 'hero', Angelus and the buildup of dark forces in LA...And above all, about that pitiful Billy Idol impersonator, poor man's James Dean in blonde...Cheap, third-rate, not-even-imitation, would-be Shelley...

"My dear..." he tried gently...Hmmn?...she stared...Oh...

"Sorry, Henri...Mind on business, ya know..."

But of course mon cheri...he smiled...

Girl, you are with The Immortal, Count Henri Faucomb d'Vestigy, himself...At least show some modicum of interest...Americans, he sighed...

Still, poor thing has had her share of troubles...Working night and day with her Council and new Slayers coming in from around the globe...One must make allowances...

And, if one could take a neutral view...As befitting a French aristocrat and many-lived man of the world...Rather sweet to see her take on after her lost little fellow so...

Even if dear William's stock had dropped somewhat after, bless him, dear Andrew had let slip the knowledge that William the Bloody, apparently still with human soul, had reappeared in LA...

Knowledge that had plunged her, after a brief moment of disturbing joy...Into a profound depression when the nobody self-professed "poet" and second-string "champion" had failed to make contact...

Though she'd the good sense and tact not to go rushing off to LA...Even when her charming little weasel of a sister had urged it on hearing from Andrew of William's little encounter with the psychotic Slayer Dana...And his subsequent forced hospitalization...Noting sensibly, to his pleased satisfaction, that if William didn't wish to contact her, it was best not to rake old matters up...

Well, pleased satisfaction until it had occurred to him that she might, possibly, one day serve him in similar manner...

Hmmn...Nah...C'mon, The Immortal here...he'd noted to himself...What female of any vaguely humanoid form would be inclined to allow herself...Or even wish to...Forget him...

Heck, Angelus' old mate Darla and his sired 'daughter' Drusilla had continued to try and persuade him to meet up right up until the last couple of years ago...Despite his heavily publicized redemption of sorts a century ago...

But, and in spite of his, The Immortal's, presence...Ever since the news from Mr. Giles the other day that things seemed to be reached a head in LA, and the Senior Partners and their Circle of the Black Thorn to be preparing a major operation...With uncertainty as to Angel and his people's position...She'd been pensive, like this...With an occasional demand to her Chairman that he keep her informed as to William the Bloody's whereabouts...

Frustrating...I thought she'd finally trashed the memory of that fool like an unprofitable dream.

Well, at least the news was promising and with any luck, by this time tomorrow, no William to bother one's head about...

"Buffy..." A voice called softly from behind their table...

"My God, William?..." she turned round, rising...As Will stared at her...Standing with some kind of orb in hand...Giving The Immortal...A rather astounded Immortal...Only the slightest of brief looks as he came up to their table...

"Sorry to intrude, Slayer..." he smiled wanly... "Had some time on my hands and well..."

I...she blinked...

"You look a little under the weather...Things been busy?..." he pleasantly inquired...

Get out...he briefly eyed The Immortal again...Who blinked in intense astonishment...

William?...Buffy stared...

"Mate, I have some business with Ms. Summers...Go enjoy the nightlife or take a tour of the Roman ruins by night..."

I've no time to play round with you, go...he waved Henri off...

Who, to his renewed, more intense astonishment...Found his date not all that put out about their sudden guest's rather impolite attitude...

"Buffy?..." Henri turned to her...

Not of course in the manner of one seeking help against a potential foe...Hey, The Immortal here...

Just...To indicate, in his trademark gracious manner...His shock at such a display...

Well...William sighed at her...Since your friend here doesn't seem to take a hint...And I don't wish to muss my perfect resouled behavior record...

"Come on, girl..." he waved at the dance floor... "Surely I rate a dance..."

"Back in a bit, Henri, sorry..." she hastily mumbled as she got up...Leaving His Benevolence in open-mouthed astonishment...

Well, Maman had warned him, centuries ago...To beware forward and impudent girls...

***

"Will...Why?..." she began as he led her out to the dance floor...

He raised a hand...In a bit, girl...Lets have it out in a bit...

"For now...Whatever you're willing to let me claim you owe me for last year is settled if you'll just give me one dance...Please, darling..." he looked at her...And seeing her face, nodded to the heavily bribed bandleader who'd been eyeing him...

"I've got you under my skin..." the band's singer and music began...She clung to him...A little desperately, sensing the urgency in his words and manner...

"William..." Ssssh...he hissed...Later...Later, my love...he held her... "Just let me hold you a bit, love...Please..." she letting him pull her close...

"When did you..." she looked up at him finally...He swung her round gently...

"Come on, Buffy..." he gave a gentle smile... "Don't try to tell me Andrew didn't tell the moment he reached Rome..."

I...Well...she began, brokenly...

"I know I should've called or something...I just couldn't work up the nerve til now...Sorry..." he sighed...

"I've got you...Deep in the heart of me..."

"I couldn't lose that moment back in Sunnydale..."

She pulled away a bit... "You said you didn't believe me..."

"So deep in the heart, you're nearly a part of me..."

"Didn't want to hold you to it, girl...I knew it was only the moment speaking...You meant to be kind, I know...But I also know...For just that moment..."

"I thought about coming, calling William...But..."

"I've got you...Under my skin..."

"No hard feelings, love...None...I understand...I do..." he smiled...

"I understand everything now...Cicely..." he eyed her....

I'm sorry...she began...Then blinked at him...Who?...

"You remember..." he told her quietly... "You've known about Cicely a long time now...I know..."

Access to Wolfram-Hart surveillance reports, girl...Very handy...he grinned...

"William...I..."

"She was a Slayer, you're a Slayer...You have her memories...Poor kids..." he sighed, shaking his head...

"I was wrong that night..." he explained... "Saying they wanted to die...My two poor Slayers...It was me who wanted to die, throwing myself at them, hoping they'd be strong enough...And they, with Cicely staring out of them, who wanted to save me, couldn't bring themselves to kill me...Though she wasn't in them as clear as in you...They hesitated out of compassion for me, seeing the night I died all over again...Poor, poor kids..."

How long have you known, Cicely?...he eyed her...

"Months..." Buffy stared at him...No point in trying to evade...And maybe, she sensed...No time...

I've had visions, clearer than anything I'd ever had, ever since Sunnydale...she sighed...And finally, when Dawn and I and Willow were with Giles in London for a while...I found what was left of the old archives...Cicely's Slayer records...

"I see..." he nodded...

"William, I'm so sorry...If I'd known before..."

"Makes no difference, darling...I understand...And I appreciate what you did for me...Giving me a chance to prove myself and all..."

"I did...That moment in the cavern...I did, Will...Please believe me..."

I did...he nodded...I do... "But I know...It was only for the moment..."

She was silent, holding him...Then... "If I'd come to LA...The moment Andy told me..."

If I only...That night in London...she eyed him, tears welling...

"Thank you..." he smiled... "But I didn't come to pressure or accuse, love...Cicely, I'm not here to blame..."

"Just to tell you...I love you...Always...Forever..." he kissed her as the music stopped and the dancers began heading back to their tables...And stepped a bit away from her...

William?...

And, the orb held in his hand glowing...Vanished...

***