Immortal Beloved..." LVI...

...

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 regards stopping at 50...But me poor ole mum would just say, "so long as I like it, it's ok..."

Sides, after 51, I had to do another nice one to balance things out then I had to balance that one...And there was that mistake with the numbers earlier...I mean there's no choice but to press on (over your pleading screams to desist, no doubt...)

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"So..." Dawn stepped quietly into the room...Xander looking up at her from where he was tending the large television...Rewinding a tape...

"How's the best sis in the world today?..." she smiled at the wan-looking figure in robe sitting quietly in the chair next to Xander...Moving to give a hug which was barely acknowledged, let alone returned...A slight troubled, clouded look briefly coming over the Slayer's haunted face as she vaguely eyed the newcomer, then turned back to the TV...Which had started again...

A slightly graying Jimmy Stewart, talking anxiously to a lovely blonde lady who seemed a little out of it...Dawn briefly noted...

"It's Dawn, Buffy..." Xander said carefully... "She's come to see you..."

"Yeah..." A hearty cheeriness... "Got lots to tell ya, sis...Things are really cookin' out in Slayerland these days...Your girls are wiping up the mat with the baddies...Though they can't wait to have their Number One, Greatest, back...I'm putting together my stuff to apply to the University of Milan and some other places...And Giles, Willow, Andrew, and some other folks are coming by in a little while..."

That'll be nice, right?...she eyed her blankly staring sis...

The room door opened and a doctor came in, with nurse...Dawn looking at them with a troubled expression...

"There's nothing wrong?..." The doctor shook his head...Just the daily visit...We've been a little delayed today...The nurse gently pulling at Buffy's arm to strap a blood pressure gauge...

The doctor began doing a few standard tests, trying to catch Buffy's attention as she returned to watching the TV screen where Jimmy as Scottie Ferguson was now showing Kim Novak's troubled Madeleine Elster around a stable... "See...There an explanation for everything..." he was saying as a wan Madeleine looked round...

"How..." Dawn began... "She's about the same as usual...But remaining fairly calm on her new meds..." the doctor gave her a reassuring smile...Returning to Buffy...Who seemed to be showing a vague interest in the film...

"Has she been watching like this all day?..." he looked at Xander who nodded... "She seemed to like this one from the video library...Maybe it's the blonde girl...I've been running it back and forth on some scenes she was kinda following..."

Hmmn...

"Is that good?..." Dawn eyed the doctor...Knowing already what his response would be...The usual... 'Possibly'...

Possibly...the doc nodded...Right...Dawn sighed...

"How long is this gonna take, doc?...You said you were sure she'd pull out of it...It's been months since..." she paused... London...Xander mentally filling in... London, where her incessant, worsening nightmares became 24/7mares... "...and you haven't even been able to tell us exactly what's up..."

"She's suffering from acute melancholia, complicated by a guilt complex..." Xander eyed the Slayer, now a bit more intent on the screen, wisely...The doctor and Dawn staring at him..

Well...He indicated the screen...That's what Scotty Ferguson's suffering from...Later on...

"And the cases do seem kinda similar..." he noted...Dawn and the doctor frowning

"I believe she's improving slowly, Ms Summers...As you know, she's generally much calmer now...But it may be some time..."

"Six months to a year for Scotty..." Xander noted...Dawn frowning at 'Dr.' Harris...

Doctor?...the nurse was having trouble getting Buffy let her take a pulse...Moving her arms and trying to slow edge toward the screen...Where Madeleine was pleading with Scotty to let her go to the mission church building across from the stable... "You believe that I love you...?" she began...

Buffy moved closer, staring more intently...

"Sis...?" Dawn stared at her, then the screen...

"Could you freeze the scene a sec?..." the doctor asked...Sure...Xander halted the tape...Buffy blinking a bit, then settling down to a quiet stare again...The nurse taking her pulse...

"Haven't seen her so responsive in a while..." the doctor noted...

A knock at the door...Dawn went over...

"Sarah...Your Benev...Hey..." Dawn nodded to the couple just outside, welcoming them in...A young-looking, almost divinely handsome man and...A twin of Buffy...

"Ms. Gellar, Count d'Vestigy...Dr. Eckles..." she introduced them to the doctor who stared a bit at Ms. Gellar...

"Ms. Gellar?...The actress...?..."

"And Slayer..." Dawn smiled... "It's ok, doc...She's one of the new Slayers...And Buffy's stand-in while Buf's..." she paused... "...Been ill..."

And Count d'Vestigy is the famed Immortal...Our friend and her uh...Intended...

"Just tryin' to keep things quiet while we waitin' for Buf to get back on her feet..." Sarah smiled at Buffy...

"A secret that doesn't leave this room..." Dawn eyed the doctor and nurse sternly...

"I see..." Dr. Eckles nodded... "Chairman Giles had told me in confidence you'd secured someone to take Ms. Summers' place...Amazing..." he eyed Ms. Gellar who smiled... "Luck of nature, doc..." she grinned...And turned to the quiet Buffy...Who was staring at Xander now...As if wanting him to do something...

Ms. Gellar giving her a gentle hug as the Immortal gave Buffy a kind smile... "Miss Summers...How are you today?..." She now blankly staring at her twin, the faintest of smiles on her lips...Sarah now giving Dawn, then Xander a careful look...

Something up...Xander realized...



"Thanks for coming by guys...Buffy?...Wasn't it nice of the Immortal and Ms. Gellar to come by on their visit from Rome to the Council and see us?..." Dawn pressed a bit...

Buffy gave a slightly more focused stare at her near-identical twin...A vaguely puzzled look as Ms. Gellar stepped back a bit at the doctor's hasty glance... "Hello, Buffy?...Do you remember me?...You trained me here in London for a week when I came after being activated as a Slayer a few months ago?...It was so odd that we looked so much alike, remember?..."

Buffy was still...Dawn sensing the wisps of some fear or anxiety... "Buffy...Sarah looks like you, you remember...There's nothing to be afraid of...She's been helping us while you've been ill...She's an actress, so she's been playing at being you so you wouldn't be bothered here while you got well again...Remember her Scooby Doo movies?...(Wish I could forget them...Sarah thought, sighing a bit...)...We saw them and you were so startled to see how much she looked like you?..." A vague hint of a smile... "Yeah, that's right...Sarah's our friend...There's nothing to be concerned about..."

"That's right, Buffy..." Sarah gently smiled at her...The doctor nodding for her to come forward, again, she did so and took Buffy's hand... "We used to joke that we must've been twins separated at birth, remember?...Here in London?..."

Yeah...Dawn encouraged...Buffy apparently losing interest, stared at the paused TV screen, then again at Xander...The faintest air of expectation...

Should I?...he stared at the doctor who nodded... "We're finished...Enjoy your movie, Ms. Summers..."

Let me know if she continues to follow it...he eyed Xander...The nurse packing up and following him out the door...Buffy giving a vague aura of contentment as the film resumed...Sarah stepping back to the Immortal who put a arm around her as she looked at him..."I guess we'd better tell..." she began...He nodding... She moved to Dawn...Pulling her over, away from a Buffy now focused on the scene in progress...

"...And if you lose me now..." Madeleine was saying... "You'll know I loved you and wanted to go on loving you..."

Dawn...Sarah hissed... I hafta to talk to you...Something's happened...

"Last night I was talkin' to Andrew at the apartment after Henri brought me home...He was all upset about something big going down in LA with Angel and his people there...And then, suddenly...He told me I...Ummn, you know...Buffy...Had to go to LA...Right away..."

That's why Henri and I came straight here...

"Was it that bad?...I know Giles said Angel seemed to have gotten himself into some pretty deep..."

No...Sarah shook her head... Not Angel...This wasn't about Angel...

"Sarah?...Dawn?...This film..." the Immortal suddenly interrupted...She paused and looked in shock at the TV screen...Holy shit, that's...

My God...Xander?...She stared at Xander...Buffy glued to the screen, shoving Dawn off as she tried to pull her away...Xander, suddenly realizing the film had taken a rather downbeat, shattering course, fumbled with the remote buttons...

"Uh...Uh...Ahhh!!!!..." Buffy screamed at the TV set...Dawn and the others turning to see Scotty Ferguson, desperately staggering up the stairs he could never climb, trying to stop his Madeleine from rushing to her doom at the top of the mission bell tower...A doom he could not avert as her falling body passed by the window he'd barely managed to struggle to...Her scream echoing in his ears...

The film jumped forward...A cold on-screen voice quietly, sanctimoniously accusing... "...He claims to have suffered a mental blackout...And to remember nothing until he found himself in his apartment several hours later...That you may chose to believe...On oath...Or you may choose to believe..That having once again allowed some one to die through his...Weakness...He ran away..."

"Ahhhh!!!...Ahhhhhhh!!!..." Buffy shrieked, staring in horror at the screen...

"XANDER!...Goddamn you!..." Dawn rushed over to shut the set off... "...What the hell were you thinkin' puttin' a movie like that on...With a death scene like that...!"



"Xander?.. 'Vertigo'?..." Sarah shook her head, staring briefly at the videotape box ...Holding the screaming, sobbing Buffy in her arms...Buffy...Buffy...It's all right...Shhh...shhh... "Nonono!!!...William!!..." Buffy cried... "No!!...No!!!." she twisted desperately...Dawn hurrying over... "It's all right, Buffy...It's just a movie...Just a movie...Not real...Not real, honey..." she hugged her, Sarah releasing her but maintaining a Slayer hold on her arm...

"Just a movie some thoughtless idiot put on..." Dawn glared at Xander...As Buffy's screams faded a bit, turning to racking sobs...

The Immortal eyeing the chagrined, downcast Xander sympathetically as he joined Dawn and Sarah at Buffy's side...Standing by in case a single Slayer was not enough restraint...

She seemed to be following it...I thought she liked it...Xander feebly noted as he removed the tape...

***