"Immortal Beloved..." L...

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...

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Rome...Early afternoon...Two weeks after Angel's group's victory over the Senior Partners...

(Really more of an endurance thing after the dragon went down as the Hell boys couldn't risk a lengthy stay above ground and detection by human authorities...Hey, magics and superpowers are all very well, but nukes are nukes...And with that right wing maniac in the White House, hell...Who knew what kind of weapons he might sanction against them?...)

Hmmn...No answer to the third pull at the antique door buzzer to the Summers' apartment...

Well, one may as well enjoy the Roman afternoon sun...Strolling unhurriedly on a beautiful, clear late spring day...

Rather a new...Or at least, a long forgotten sensation...

And a fine cue to play one's new favorite song as one walked, seeing the sights of Rome...Now that one had time and peace enough to rediscover one's love of such beautiful things...

Such a wonderful world really...As dear Mr. Louie Armstrong would sing...And currently, via cd headphones was...

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

(George Weiss / Bob Thiele)

Play

[ I see trees of green, red roses too

I see them bloom for me and you

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world]

To see all these things in the light of day, feel the sun on my face again...After so long, so very long...

[ I see skies of blue and clouds of white

The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world]

To feel no rage or bloodlust in my heart again...My head clear of all the evil that gripped me...

Though I did want to kill that hotel clerk this morning who shook his head and shrugged, waving hands when my shower water failed, God forgive me...

But even humans...Humans like me again...Have such thoughts...

And perhaps...That which held me so long...Sprang from the darkest of my thoughts...

Perhaps...But even so...It was never the sum of what I was...I will not let it be the sum of what I am...Never again...

[ The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky

Are also on the faces of people going by

I see friends shakin' hands, sayin' "How do you do?"

They're really saying "I love you"]

"Hello there...Beautiful flowers you have..." "Si...The finest in Rome..." The florist beamed...Offering a rose...

"Oh, thanks...Thank you so much..." No, no...the man smilingly refused the offer of money...

"For you...On this beautiful day..." he nodded...

"Yes, it is...As is your rose...Thank you..."

Yes...A beautiful day...And at last, thanks be to God and my dear friends I can experience it once more...

[ I hear babies cryin', I watch them grow

They'll learn much more than I'll ever know

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world]

And now when I breathe...It means something again...

And when I listen hard enough...I can hear my heart beat once again in my chest...Feel my pulse racing with joy or slow with sorrow...

Oh, Mother...Mother I am alive again...Father I am free again, thanks to my friends...And in God's good time, I will see you both again...

[Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world

Oh yeah]

Yeah, Louie...It's a wonderful, wonderful world...

Well, there's the Summers' building again...Surely Giles is right and Buffy and Dawn will be home this afternoon...But, however long it takes, excepting an hour or so for my four o'clock engagement...After all, time for me to start showing a little gratitude...And it is a beautiful afternoon...

"Yes...Hello?...It's me again...Yes, here to see the tenants in 3A...The Miss Summers?...I'm afraid they weren't home before...Thank you..."

And there's their door...Well...

Well...Here goes nothing as the Americans say...Hope the new Chairman of the Watchers' managed to get through the Rome telephone system and reach the ladies... Hmmn...I think I hear...

The door opened suddenly...Dawn starting an automatic "Hel..." Followed by a shocked silence...

Hmmn...I'm think they have mice in this building...

"...Ahhhhh!...Get away!!..." Dawn screamed, backing from the door... "Buffy!!..." she shrieked...

"Dawn...Miss Summers...Please...!...It's all right, really..."

Guess that answers my question about Giles reaching them...

"Buffy!!!..." Dawn screamed again, a sound of a desperately hurrying Slayer coming to them...

Buffy appeared stake in hand...And stopped, open-mouthed...

"Buffy!...Wait, please!...I'm not what you think...Look..." A quick back away to the open hallway window... "You can see I'm standing in sunlight...I'm human again!...Please, listen to me!..."

Human?...Dawn stared...

You?...Human...?

Buffy held her stake at the ready...But noting the bright sunshine flooding through the open window...And the cross on a necklace now held out to her...

"Human...?"

"Yes, Buffy..."

How...?

"It's a lie...A trick..." Dawn eyed her sis... "We can't trust..." "I understand your fears, Dawn...But I swear to you, it's true...Call Giles in London, he'll confirm it...I've already seen him...He was supposed to call you..."

"Right...You killed and transformed Giles in London and now he'll say anything..." Dawn frowned...

"Dawn...Sunlight, cross..." Buffy noted...

"How...?" she repeated...

"The love of a good man..." Drusilla smiled wanly... "Well, two good men, actually...As William offered Angel the chance first after the Guardian of the Prophecy offered it to him after their battle with the Partners...Before persuading him that I was the innocent one who needed the Prophecy to be saved and so was...After they cursed me, the Guardian agreed..."

William...? Buffy whispered....Dawn looking at her...

"As I set the process in motion that led to William's decisive participation in defeating the Senior Partners' last chance of victory..." Dru looked down...

William?!!...Buffy stared... "William's dead!...I mean..." she waved a hand... "Beyond dead..."

"He's in Los Angeles, Buffy...Very much in this world....To my blessed fortune...Praise be to God for his gracious mercy..."

William?...Dawn stared...Alive?...

Well, you know...

"He's back..." Buffy murmured...Staring at the gently smiling Drusilla...Who nodded quietly...

"Are you wearing a nun's...?" Dawn asked... "Habit, we call it...Yes..." Dru beamed... "But I'm only a novice yet..."

"Thanks to William and Angel's compassion I'm at last to have another chance to dedicate my existence to God...And to have a chance to make amends to all the souls...I..."

"Oh!..." Buffy gasped suddenly... "Why didn't he let me know?!...How long has he been back?..."

"Since September...And you know why, Buffy..." Dru eyed her...The Slayer frowning at one of the very few she'd never quite been able to defeat...

"I told him I loved him...Why didn't he..." "He's afraid, dearest..." The girls stared at her...

Hmmn...Another gay, now thing?...Dawn wondered...

"Sorry...Dearest is one of our Victorianisms from my day...Didn't mean to step in your personal space..." an apologetic sigh...

"Anyway...Will is afraid, Buffy...That's why he didn't come...Or stay to see you when he was in Rome..."

He was...here...?...Buffy blinked, then frowned darkly...That little...Hmmn...Wait a mo...

Uh-oh...

"Ummn...When was he in Rome?..."

"He knows about the Immortal..." Drusilla eyed her...

Oops...Dawn looked at the ceiling...

"That was business...I was trying to get some info for the Council..."

I staked him last week...she noted...Phew...she thought...

Hope Will buys that one... Dawn thought...Don't think the truth...Caught His Benevolence trying to compare vamp girls within a hour of Buffy...And overheard his schemes for taking Buffy to be his ally/enslaved siree...Would not quite do just now...

Though it did start out as work, that's true...

"A very poor choice of boyfriends, Miss Summers..." Dru noted, a bit sternly... "Glad to have seen his destruction in a vision...A terrible creature, skilled in deception, worse in some ways than...It..."

It?...Dawn eyed Buffy... "Angelus..." Dru explained, quavering just a bit at the name on her lips...

"And if I remember him, rather a pompous jackass once the...Ummn..." Dru blushed a bit...

Other things...Are dealt with...

Yeah, yeah...I don't make good romantic choices...Buffy sighed... "Everyone's been doing their best to remind me these past few..."

"You made two excellent choices..." Dru smiled... "Or maybe three...Was there another beau back at Sunnydale?...I seem to remember a very nice tall boy in black..."

Yeah...Buffy nodded curtly...Then eyed Dru intently... "Where?..."

Still in LA...Dru noted...And has no idea I've come, in part, to see if I could speak to you...But him being so clearly desperate, so devoted to you...

"So scared shitless to see you..." she grinned...

"He's all right?...We heard about the battle...I would have gone if Angel'd let me know..."

"He's fine...Helping Angel to reorganize what's left of the firm to fight evil...And try to be one of the more ethical multinationals..."

Angel and Spike trying to run a law firm and multinational corporation...Without the Senior Partners backing Angel up...I'll go to LA just to see that...Dawn thought...

"He doesn't...He didn't believe..." Buffy eyed Dru...Who now stepped into the room and out quickly...

Don't mean to be rude...she smiled at Dawn... "Just giving a last proof...No invite required..."

"Well, come in and stay a while..." Dawn smiled back, offering a hand...And led her to a chair, she and Buffy taking the sofa...

Dru turned to the pensive Buffy... "I think he does believe, Buffy...He wants to, has lived on it, I'm sure...But he's afraid it was only for the moment...And..." she paused delicately...

"Something to drink?..." Dawn suggested, kindly offering a moment alone... "Coffee, tea...?"

"Tea would be heavenly, thanks..." Dru nodded...

"...only for the moment..." Buffy murmured... "I've been...God...A wreck all year, thinking of him and how he died, thinking...But you say he did believe?...At the least at the moment, I..."

She sighed before Dru could answer... "And why should he believe?...I didn't have Willow pull him back...I could have made her do it...Wait..."

"Andrew was in LA...Did Angel?...Did Will...Hide...?"

Ummn...Well...Dru paused...

"I'll kill him..." Buffy whispered grimly... "That little geek playing mystery man..." "Buffy, Will made him promise not to tell..."

"I mean William, too..." the Slayer fumed...And burst into tears...

Dawn returning to find the interesting sight of Buffy sobbing in Dru's arms, Dru in habit stroking her hair...

"He loves you, Buffy...Truly..."

"I didn't...The Immortal...All his talk about loving me, finding his way back through me...I...It made me think of him...I..."

"He'll understand...Buffy, he's been trying so hard, just to be worthy of you, if any chance ever came..."

Moron...Buffy pulled away... "Who cares about his damned romantic quests?...He shoulda come here, first day...Damn him!...Little cowardly..." she paused...

Ummn...I don't mean the damn thing literally...she hastily added... "No offense, Dru...But you could be a vengeance demon trying to fool me..."

"None taken, a wise precaution...But it's ok..." They sat...

"So...He's got...Had a string of girls in LA I suppose...?" she asked, in a desperately causal tone...

"Nope...Not a one...Well, he did..." a pause... Buffy interrupting her initial pleased flash...No one?...To glare a bit...

"Just when he recorporealized...He told me he'd...Ummn...Wanting to more or less explain why he'd felt it was right to curse that poor girl...That he felt some obligation to ..."

Harmony?!!...Buffy's glare reached sudden kill intensity...

I believe that was the name, yes...Dru eyed Dawn who rolled eyes...

"But it was only one time, Buffy...And he didn't think there was a commitment..."

Yeah, yeah...Hmmn...

"Only once?...Only Harmony?..."

That's all...

Whoa...Dawn grinned... "Get the tea, Dawn!..." Buffy glared...

"Shouldn't have let her stay, sorry..." she noted to a Dru who'd been blushing through most of the recent conversation...

Not that sexual matters had not been on everyone's mind in her former human days...Just...We put these things so much more discreetly in my day...she thought...

"Only once, eh?..." Buffy repeated...Smiling a bit now...

But why the hell couldn't he have left a note when he came to Rome?...she sighed...Hmmn...

"He gave up Humanity?...The chance to be a man...For you?..." she eyed Dru coolly...

"Strictly kindness, Buffy...And Angel agreed as well..."

Yeah...Only after Will had already cornered him into it...That's our William...a returned Dawn joined Buffy in the thought...

"Gave it up..." Buffy shook her head...

"Should it make a difference?...So long as he has the soul..." Dru gave a somewhat stern look... "If you love him?..."

"Didn't say it made a difference..." a glare...

Sugar?...Dawn offered...Two, thank you...Dru nodded, offering cup...

Buffy looked the serene-looking former psycho over carefully...

"You recovered your sanity pretty fast..." "Buffy..." Dawn frowned...

"Actually, my demon had been doing a little better since her time in Sunnydale...And I only went... bananas..." Dru grinned at Dawn... "At the very end, when there was no hope of escape from Angelus...and no place to run but the darkest corners of my mind..."

And Angel still had a good team of psychiatrists on staff, luckily for me...she smiled...

"Sorry..." "No problem...I understand your suspicions, Buffy...They're only natural..." "Cookies...?" Dawn offered... "Oooh, vanilla creme, my favorite...Thanks..."

"And yes..." Dru smiled... "Your real, unasked question is quite valid...I do love him...How can I not love such a good and kind man who offered me compassion when he should curse my very name...?"

But...I'm already married...Even if the ceremony was incomplete for a century...

Dawn stared...Hmmn?...

"To Christ..." Dru explained...And I love my husband more...Whatever I feel for William Soames Walthrop...

"Yeah..." Dawn grinned, poking Buffy... "We know...We got his name back in October...Set up a nice plaque and everything...We both wore black at the memorial service..."

"That's so nice...He'll be so touched..."

"Anyway...I can't offer him any more than a dear sister's love...And I am blessed to have such a fine brother...Two fine brothers..." she eyed them... "In this somewhat confusing new world I find myself in..."

"That's kind Dru..." Buffy nodded... "Angel must...or better...be very grateful..."

"He wasn't responsible...Though I must admit I still get a little skittish around him...Anyway, as I say I can't give Will the love he deserves..."

But I can offer him a service of love...And that why I came to you, Buffy...Someone had to tell you...

"And I had to be in Rome anyway...The Pope is giving me a special audience this afternoon and has arranged a Mass of thanksgiving tonight..."

Whoa... "Yeah..." Dru nodded... "I couldn't believe it myself...But the Church has really put out the carpet for me...Of course it's a celebration of a triumph for God's mercy, not for me personally..."

If you two would like to come tonight?...It's at the Vatican at eight and I can invite a few guests?...

"With bells on..." Dawn nodded... Ummn...Unless...She eyed Buffy... "We'll leave for LA after Mass..." her sis nodded...

"Though I may yet give that guy of mine one last good sock when I catch up with him..."

Sorry, sister...she shrugged to Dru...Who winked back...

"He does deserve one good sock for not trusting in you..." she grinned...

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