"Immortal Beloved..." LII...



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...Ok, just had to do one more...but I absolutely, positively...

On my mother's soul...Ok, I lied...But me poor ole mum would just say, "so long as I like it, it's ok..."



***

London...Six months after the defeat of the Senior Partners at LA...

"Meeting of the Royal Council of Librarians and Library Scientists..." the hotel conference room placard proclaimed to the young-looking, slight blonde-brown- haired man looking rather uncomfortable in his obviously new suit...

"May I help?..." a young, tall, red-haired woman at a reception table eyed him...Jaw dropping..."William?..." she gasped...Ummn?...he stared back... "Do we...?"

"You're William..." she stated in a hushed tone... "....Walthrop..." he finished... "Guilty as charged...Representing Angel, Burkle-Wyndham-Price, Gunn, and Walthrop...And you are...?"

Melanie...she touched her nametag...Yeah, that's me...she blinked...

"William?..." Another young woman came over... "Is it really?..." "Yeah...." Melanie nodded...

"Are you both...Slayers?..." he asked quietly... Yeah...the two chorused... "I'm Rachel..." the new arrival noted...

And you're William...she sighed...

"Well, what's left of him, yeah..." he nodded...

"Sorry..." Melanie recovered a bit as new arrivals came up... "Slayer memories...We've all got em from Ms. Summers and the others..."

"Sounds like they're certainly better ones than what poor Dana had of me..." he smiled...Both women eyeing each other...Dana...A dark look exchanged..."We've got her locked...Er, safely confined...In a sanitarium...She won't ever hurt you again..." Rachel firmly nodded...

"You are ok, right?..." Melanie asked, anxiously... Fine, fine...No permanent damage...he grinned...

"Is that?..." yet another young woman, followed by several others, ranging from teens to middle-age, approached...

"Hi...Ummn...Ladies, I appreciate the attention but..."

"Buffy's here..." Rachel offered...Then a slight frown...

"With... 'The Immortal'..." Sour looks breaking out on several faces...



"Oh...I see..." Several Slayers looking downcast at his quiet tone... "Well, I'm really here for the meeting...And to see Chairman..." Giles appeared at the large conference room doorway... "Rupert..." Will called in a somewhat relieved tone...Noting six more ladies eagerly approaching...

"William?...Glad you could make it..." the new Chairman of the restored Council strode to him, hand extended for a shake which was given... "Are things well in LA?..." Leading him into the hallway from his growing circle of fans...Who watched devotedly as the two strolled...

"Chaotic...I'm afraid...At least in the underworld and behind the scenes...The one thing the Partners did provide was a bit of structure...But it's gradually falling into place..."

Thanks for the rescue, mate...he hissed...Nodding cheerfully at the swelling line paralleling the doorway and causing some difficulty for those simply trying to enter the main room...Most waving or nodding back eagerly...

"I'll try to get them to settle down...I'm afraid you've quite a reputation...An implanted one...To live up to..."

Sorry Angel couldn't make it...the Chairman eyed his guest...

"I suppose he's still a bit..." "A bit, Rupert...Winifred meant a great deal to him...It hurt to have you and your people slough us off...Though we do understand..."

"I suppose my own feelings got in the way there..." Giles sighed as they moved down the hall and turned back... "But I do regret what happened and I hope this meeting will be the start of proper cooperation between us again..."

"We've never stopped being on the same side, Giles...Ludicrous as that may sound coming from me..."

Well...Giles smiled... Things change...And you have lived up to Buffy's hopes for you...

"She's here, by the way..." "So Ms. Rachel told me..." Rachel hearing, gave a happy beam...

And how is our champion Slayer...And her latest...?

Giles gave him a close, shrewd, and somewhat hard look...

"She's well...Seems to be enjoying her little romance with yet another member of the Undead..."

"Good..."

Really?...Giles eyed him again... "Can I do a thing about it?..." Will smiled, shrugging...

"I was surprised...After the shock of hearing about you from Andrew wore off...That you never came to Rome..."

"Nothing for me there, Rupert...I had no illusions..." Giles gave another hard look as they paused in the hall...

"Well, some illusions that I wanted to keep, yes..." a sheepish nod... "But I knew they'd fade like mist in the morning sun if I met with her...So..."

I see...Giles sighed...

"Things are all right?..." Will hesitated... "His Buffoonishness isn't souled, I know...But I understand he's more or less..." Giles smiling at the "Buffoonishness..."

"He's acquired some kind of a moral sense over the centuries...And is, or is giving a reasonably good performance of, seeking some form of redemption...I'm fairly willing to accept that and his claims for being with us in the fight...To an extent..."

I suspect that redemption-seeking may in fact be his primary attraction for Buffy...he looked at Will closely...

"Outside his overall attractiveness, aristocratic bearing, profound intellect, amazing abilities, and vast wealth..." a thin smile...

"Sounds like quite a catch..."



"If one wants an aristocratic vampiral...Buffoon...with the smatterings of a moral sense in the family...Perhaps..." Giles nodded...Will grinning wanly in his turn...

"Will...I am sorry...About our differences the other year...I realize I should have recognized your soul recovery as marking a profound change...And I should have tried to help you in regaining a place in Humanity..."

Afraid, young Randall...he grinned, but with a sincere sigh...That Father has failed you...

"Daughter was your focus, Mr. Chairman..." William smiled back... "And she was lucky to have you keeping a crossbow trained on me..."

"Mr. Chairman!!..." a call from Melanie... "They want everyone to get seated..."

Yes...Well...He turned to William... "Shall we go in and see just how tedious a Council conference can be...?"

"I'll show William to his chair..." a chorus of voices from the only slowing breaking line...Melanie moving to try and secure first spot...

"Thank you, ladies...And you, Andrew..." Giles nodded to an eager, newly-arrived-in-the-line, waving...Hey, Spike!...Andrew...

"But I'll bring Mr. Walthrop in...I need to speak with him regards matters with his organization..."

The line reluctantly parted to let the two through...See ya, William!...Several calls...

"Just keep moving on through before more get here..." Giles hissed...

***

Giles summoned away to deal with a preliminary procedural matter, Will scanned the room from his chair...Trying not to look too intently round...

Hmmn...No sign of...

"William?...Hiya...Ok if I?..." Dawn paused... Sure, Ms. Summers the younger, he nodded, waving her to the seat beside him...

"She's over there..." she pointed... "Just heard you'd come in..." Ah...he looked to see Buffy in the distance, turned away, arm-in-arm with and speaking to a tall, youthful-and-distinguished-looking man as various milling Counselors, Slayers...Several waving his way...Hey, William!...and various guests stepped to block his view...

"Well...She looks good..." he smiled faintly at Dawn...

"I guess..." she began...Staring at his quiet face, then looking away... "I s'pose you were hoping for a different kinda reunion with Buffy..."

"I didn't expect to see Buffy at all here, Dawn...Nor you..." he gave a faint smile... "It's nice to see you again though..."

You, too...she hastily replied...A quick glance at him...

Ummn...

"How's Rome...?" he asked... "You oughta know, you were there, right?..." she replied...A slightly hard tone...

"Just on business...And I knew Buffy was busy..."

"You should have stayed and looked in on us, William..." "And the reason for that, apart from a Spikish desire to embarrass your sis, would be?..."

We woulda been glad to see you...I would've been...she sighed...

"Best to let things be, Dawn...And your sister seems quite content with that..."

"You aren't...I mean...You don't..." "I've tried to put things behind me and move on as Andy suggested when we came to Rome..."



"But you came to Rome 'cause...?" "Yeah, not knowing which way the Immortal was currently leaning..." She stared as he grinned... "Evil or good, I mean...But, things are the way things are...I've accepted it, girl...It's fine..."

I never expected as much as I got from her...

"You should've come, William..."

"Maybe...But I think not...Anyway, we'll never know and as long as Buffy is content, it is best to leave things be..."

"I'm sorry..." she hastily blurted... Uh...Sorry...

"I mean about last year...I shoulda been a little more supportive, I know..."

"I nearly raped your wounded sis, Dawn...I understand your feelings..."

"That was Spike...Hey, Angelus nearly killed us and destroyed the world..."

"And I've noticed you've never been too anxious to sit and chat with the ole poof-boy..."

"He shouldn't have left sis...And he might've tried to help her out after she came back..."

Like you always did...she eyed him... "Anyway, I wish I'd handled things a little better back then..."

"How's His Benevolence?..."

She made a face... "About what you'd expect a guy who calls himself 'The Immortal' to be like...But ...He does seem pretty unevil...Buffy seems to like the attention...And he does offer a lotta perks...They were at his estate on the Rivera for a week last month..."

"Nice to think she's with someone who'll take her to a few decent places, at last..." he smiled...

"Drusilla paid us a call..."

"Did she?...Post-rehumanity, I hope...?" "Yeah..." Dawn nodded...Staring at him carefully...

"That was great of you, Will...Giving the Prophecy up to her..."

"Angel's choice too, girl...And Dru was the one who needed...And deserved it...Most...She'd never have been able to bear the curse in that vamp body and after all she's suffered, soulwise...There wasn't really much of a choice, once we'd convinced the Guardian..."

Was she doing well?...

"Fine...Or seemed to be...They rolled the carpet out for her at the Vatican...A PR thing for Catholicism and Christianity I guess...But it was nice..."

"Good..." he smiled... "God rest her, the poor thing's earned a little kindness and support at last..."

"So have you..." Dawn told him quietly... "I'm fine...And very lucky, really..." he shook his head... "I may have put off Humanity for the moment, but that may come someday for me...And Angel...But otherwise things are fine..."

And best of all, Angel didn't beat me to it...he grinned to her...A grin she returned...

"Dru said..." she stared at him... "You still loved her...In fact she'd come to see us, hopin' Buf would..."

"Kind ole thing, my poor Sister Drusilla..."

"She loves you too, you know...In a Sisterly kinda way..." "I know..." he nodded...



"Odd that I have regained a family in a way...An older brother and sister..." a faint smile...

She looked over where Buffy was sitting, talking rather loudly to the Immortal...Eyeing them from where she sat every now and then...

"It's...Gonna end badly, isn't it?..." she eyed William, who nodded slightly... "I'm afraid it's likely...Given what I know of His Benevolence's rep with the ladies...Though I think Buf can handle him even if his 'redemption' bit is an act..."

"Don't suppose there's any chance...If things go that way...?" Dawn hesitated... "You might..."

"I won't risk my heart...And soul...another time, Dawn..." he said quietly...

"I see..." she sighed... "Well, anyway...I am sorry, William...And I really do hope you can forgive me...Someday..."

"Forgiven, Niblett..." he smiled as she wanly grinned back...See ya...she patted him...On rising, turning to give Buffy a brief, hard stare and then turned away as she moved over several tables over to where Willow sat...Who, catching his eye, gave a quick, bright...Heya!...To William...

Buffy looking back over at Dawn , then quickly at William...Still eagerly chatting to her beau...Only the faintest fleeting flicker of a shadow across her face which vanished fast as it had come...

***

"Mr. Walthrop?..." "Mr. Wyndham-Price..." Will eyed Roger Wyndham-Price standing before his chair, who held his usual stern pose...If at least the cyborg copy had been as good as poor Wesley had insisted...

With perhaps, just the faintest trace of...something...

Pleading?...

"So...You appear to have done well since your soul's recovery..." Wyndham-Price hesitated...

"Please..." William pushed the seat Dawn had occupied... "Yeah, 'bout as well as could be expected I suppose..." he nodded as Roger took the seat gingerly...

"He...My son...Wrote me about you once...Said he was unsure how they should proceed with you and for the first time in years, actually requested my opinion..."

"And...?"

I told him to stake you...Wyndham-Price shrugged...If you gave the slightest sign of regression, that is...

"We do, even on the Council, make some allowances..." he smiled faintly...Will chuckling...

"He was a good lot, your boy...A fine man as they say...And a true friend to Angel to the last...Though, judging from what Angel has said, at times a friend who did not fear giving offense..."

Which, I'd say is the best kind of friend...he smiled...Roger silent...

"William...Mr. Walthrop...Did my son?...Did Wesley ever speak to you about what I told him about you?..."

As in the staking advice?...Will grinned...

"No, but I got the general impression he was quite ready to..." "No..." Roger shook his head... "I mean about our family ties..."

"Ties...?"

"We are related, William...Distantly now, of course...But the tie exists...You see your younger brother..."

"Are you saying...?"



"My maternal great-grandmother..." Wyndham-Price eyed him...

Whoa...Well...

Always did see a little Walthrop blood in ole Wes...The courage, stout-hearted Englishness...Poetic sensibility...Way with the ladies...

"No...He never mentioned it...Shock, I'd guess..."

Yes, I'd rather expect...Roger nodded...

Living relatives...My God...

"I..." Wyndham-Price hesitated... "You were there...When..."

"Ms. Burkle-Wyndham-Price was with him...Though I did see him before...He was a man to be proud of that day, sir..."

My...Multiple times removed...Cousin...Wesley...

"Yes..." Roger nodded... "And we were...Whatever he seems to have convinced himself of...We...I...Was..."...He paused again...A slight smile breaking...

"Ms. Burkle-Wyndham-Price..." he shook his head... "She called us, you know...His mother and I...Wanted our permission to take the name..."

"She...Both of her...Loved him sincerely...Maybe, on Illyria's part even more, knowing she must lose his soul to our Fred..."

"That was not difficult to see...Even in a brief conversation...A most remarkable...Woman..."

"That she was...And Illyria, thanks to what she gained from her, is..."

"William...Mrs. Wyndham-Price...That is, both of us...Would very much appreciate it if you'd consider coming out to us at our home?...When you've finished with the conference?...I can't say we have a great deal of information to give you about...Our family...But..."

"I think I'd like that very much, thanks..."

***

"Excuse me...William?..." Kennedy stood by his chair...Ah, hi...he smiled up, she smiling back... "May I?..." she looked at him...He waved her to a seat...

"So...That amulet worked out, huh?..." she grinned... "Depends on your pov...I suppose so..." he hastily corrected, seeing her face fall a bit...

"I guess it hasn't been a very happy homecomin' for you..." she sighed... "Sorry we didn't handle it better..."

"You didn't know, lass...But I've made out ok...Angel's been surprisingly decent to me as time's gone on...For a brooding poof, he's not all that bad a mate..."

In the 'ye merrie ole England' good ole boy sense, he grinned...I haven't gone the distaff way...

"Are you?..." she paused... Looking over where Buffy had again briefly glanced their way... "Were you in Heaven, Will?..."

"God knows, girl...Not likely with my record...But I've no idea...No memories of the experience to share I'm afraid..."

"You would have deserved it, William...Your soul was innocent...And you died a hero..." she smiled faintly...Looking him over carefully...

"How's Red these days?...You two were having quite a time in Rio I understand from ole Andrew..." "We're not together anymore..." she hastily interrupted... "Willow and I decided to call it quits a while ago...She wasn't quite as sure as before about the 'gay, now' thing...And hadn't forgotten either Tara...Or Xander..." she looked over to where Xander now sat by Willow, she talking to him quietly...

Guess she figured he needed her more now...



"But I wasn't dumped...It was mutual..." she noted hastily...

After all...I never took the vows myself...

"Keeping your options open, eh?...Well, that's my motto myself these days..." he smiled...

"Are you ok?...I mean..." she looked at him... "My poor ole bleeding heart is slowly healing...Yeah, ok.." he grinned at her solemn face...

She was silent a moment...

"William?...Ummn...I've been thinkin' about you...Ever since...Well, since I first saw you with Buffy...But especially since...I mean about what you did for Buffy and everything..."

"Anyway, ever since I got the Slayer memories...And knew the details of what you did for Buffy...Souled and soulless...And the rest..." she paused...

"Yeah, I've acquired quite a fan club thanks to Ms. Summers..." he smiled...

"I think I've gone a little beyond fan status..." Kennedy gave him a cool stare...

What?...she stared at his blinking face, grinning... "Like I said, I never took the perpetual vows..."

And I always thought, if I were to reconsider...You'd definitely be a candidate...

"That is, if Slayers are still on your list..." Another stare as he blinked at her...

"Hey, Will..." Willow taped him on the shoulder, Xander, looking rather uncomfortable, in her tow... "This is so great to have you here...Congrats on how things went in LA..." She startled him by giving an embrace... "You've made us all proud, there, Mr. W..."

Right, Xander?...She turned to him...

Yeah...Sure...he nodded... "Hi, Spike...Still kickin' I see..."

"William, Alexander..." Will eyed him coolly, offering a hand... "Spikey is gone to that warm place where demons dwell when not on vacation here..."

"Good...Hope he stays there..." Xander...Willow hissed...Squeezing his hand...Kennedy glaring from her seat...

"And how's dear ole Anya?..." Will eyed him... "I assume you have called her via seance...?"...A hard look...Willow gulping slightly, then frowning...Geesh, Will...

"She's good...And thanks for the instructions...I did prefer doing it personally..." Xander grinned...Kennedy and Willow staring...

"Sorry, ladies..." Will grinned as well... "Mr. Harris and I are pulling your legs a bit...We've been in touch the last few months ever since Xander sent me a most charming note..." Xander rolled eyes... Knew that good deed would go neither unpunished nor unpublished...

"You wrote Sp...er William?..." Willow stared...Yeah, yeah...Xander shrugged... "I thought one of us oughta...Him dying to save us and all..."

"It was like having a younger brother again...I was deeply moved..." Will smiled..."If only I'd been of the right persuasion...My problems dela coeur would have been settled at once..." "Shut up..." Xander mock-glared...

"You guys were in touch all this time?..." Kennedy shook her head... Just since our two vamp stooges did their Rome trip...After Andy told us, I thought somebody...Xander gave a sheepish look...

"That's my Xan..." Willow patted him...

"You had a younger brother?..." Kennedy eyed Will...Xander and Willow looking at him as well...



"Hello, I was human once...Had a family like most...Yeah, I had a brother...Good ole Phil...Fortunately I didn't maintain the old family ties..."

My God...Willow shook her head...Gee...Never even thought...She stared over to where Buffy, Immortal still on arm, was making rounds as the rest of the onference attendees trickled in slowly...A quick, questioning glance from the Slayer catching her...

For Godsakes, Buf...At least come over and say hi...Preferably minus his BennyHilliness...Can't believe she can tolerate that clown and his pretensions...Hell everything he's got fell off the cart of somebody he killed centuries ago...Giles says even his title was swiped from some poor nobleman whose estates he grabbed back in the back ole days...

Then again, Will here doesn't seem anxious to visit with his girl...Though I suppose even though we're quits I wouldn't relish having to make nice meeting Ken's...she paused...Eyeing Kennedy who was eyeing William with a rather...look...

Hmmn...I think, maybe...Unless my acute perception is off...

I just did meet Ken's latest...

"You two look like you'd like to be alone..." Xander grinned at Will and Kennedy...

Ummn...They looked at each other then the others...

"Actually..." Kennedy grinned... "I would like a few minutes..."

Yeah...Willow sighed to herself...I just did...Given that even Xander's picking up the vibes...

Well, he is a nice, heroic guy...Post-soul...And given the current sit ala Buf...Maybe it's for...

"William...How ya doin'?...Long time no return from beyond the grave..." Buffy beamed...At somewhat overintense intensity...Fine, Slayer...Will nodded, briefly eyeing her...

Hmmn...Well, she did lose her Jude Law clone...Willow thought...Catching sight of His Benevolence now conversing with some animation with Giles...A rather interested-looking bevy of Slayers in close attendance...

"So how's my guy who couldn't be bothered to call me even when in Rome?..." Buffy continued brightly...With a brittle edge in her voice...

Uh-boy...Willow gave Xander a sidelong glance...

"Still dead..." William nodded politely... "And His...Or, rather Your, I guess...Benevolence?...I'll have to thank him for sending that capo to us...Saved us a minor war..."

"He's great...I'll introduce you later...Say could you guys give us five?...I wanna talk to Spike before the meeting starts..." she pulled at his hand, speaking in a rush...

"His name's William, Buffy..." Kennedy said, in a slightly cold voice... "He'd prefer we lose Spike these days..."

Oh?...She locked eyes a moment with her fellow Slayer...Then turned to William...Pulling a bit harder... "C'mon William, just gimme a minute of your precious time..."

He rose, a bit reluctantly...Sure...Buffy pulling him along...

Xander rolling eyes at Willow who wrinkled her mouth...As Kennedy watched the two moving off...Then turned back to her friends...Willow eyeing her now...

"I'll be fair..." Kennedy nodded to Willow's careful stare... "She can have her chance..."

"But I won't sit by and let him be jerked around...Or used, again...She's not the only Slayer now and she can't have it all her way..."

"These are Buffy's memories you're..." Xander began...



"But the use I make of em is my own choice..." Kennedy nodded firmly... "And I choose to follow through on them...Kinda speeds the process up, ya know..." she grinned at Willow...

But I will give her her chance...

***

"This thing with the Immortal..." Buffy spoke hastily, in a low voice as they moved to the back of the hall, resuming a more normal tone as they reached an empty corner... "You know it's only that, right?...William?...I mean he's fun and all but I wouldn't stick with some other...You know I wouldn't..." she paused... "I was so lonely after you died...I had to have..." He nodded...Sure...

"He is trying for redemption...It reminded me of you...Though I wouldn't take any vamp, not permanently...You understand?..." "That's fine, Buffy...No sweat..."

She frowned at his calm face...Biting a lip...

"Dru said..." "Dru is very sweet...And cares a great deal for me..."

"Why didn't you come to Rome?...Was it what she said?...You were afraid?..."

"How long have you known I was back, Buffy?..."

She stared a while...That long, eh?...he smiled wanly...

"So that's it...You don't love me?...Anymore?..."

He stared at her face a long moment...The sad, puzzled face of a hurt child...A loving and courageous, if thoughtless and selfish child...

And forced to be so, by a calling she never chose, he knew...The world-saving Slayer, blithely demanding and receiving the unending sacrifices and support of family, friends, and assorted lovers as her due...Which, given her own willingness to sacrifice herself, he could now agree dispassionately, it was...However abstract and bound up in pride and pleasure in her work her love of Humanity in the general might be...

"I'll always love you, Buffy...Of course..." he nodded kindly... "But I understand what can and cannot be..."

She smiled at him, relieved, patting a hand... "I love you, too...You know that...And if you ever win Humanity..."

"Thanks..." he smiled back... "I'll keep trying..."

She nodded...And went back to her seat...

***