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

***

LA...Offices of Angel, Burkle-Wyndham-Price, Gunn, and Walthrop...

One month after the defeat of the Senior Partners and the collapse, literally in the case of the Wolfram-Hart Tower building, of Wolfram-Hart, Inc...

Angel waved his two available partners (Charlie Gunn still in hospital recovering from injuries)...Noted researcher "Dr.". Winifred "Illyria" ("just a nickname the guys cooked up for me, Mom") Burkle-Wyndham-Price...And the distinguished attorney-at-law, occult researcher, and poet, William S. Walthrop, Esq. (Degrees and titles courtesy chameleon-like abilities, well-forged documents, and hefty bribes)...Into his office...

"We have a guest..." he indicated the elderly woman seated...White-haired, tall, well-dressed, quite elegant, clearly a great beauty in her youth, though a bit worn and looking rather anxious... yet with an energy in her movements that belied her years and...Whoa...Definite aura of power...William noted...

Though not quite one he could put a finger on...Demonic traces, yet not...

"A Slayer..." Illyria smiled kindly in her best Fred mode...Hmmn shoulda thought I'd've caught that, Will thought... "That must be wonderful for the new Slayers to have someone older to..." she continued in rather bubbly Fred style...

"Yeah, yeah..." the woman waved, impatiently...Eyeing William carefully...As if seeking something in his face...

Hmmn..Something more than just the Slayer in her...William smiled back...Some other aural trace...Definitely demonic though somehow, not quite her own...Like a powerful echo clinging to her...

"Ms. Smith urgently requested meeting you, Will..." Angel explained... "She has some vital information..."

Yeah, right... "Ms. Smith..." nodded...And rose...Eyeing Will firmly...Sudden fire in her eye...

My God...He blinked at her...I...know...That...Glare...

"Dammit, William!..." the old woman banged her stick on the floor...Creating a slight dent...Heh, I still got it...she grinned at the depression... "You know who I am..." a pleading stare that belied her crotchety tone...

To both vampires' and Illyria's shock...But especially Will's...She suddenly grabbed him, jerked him to her, and embracing him with one firm arm...Stick clenched in the hand of the other...Kissed him passionately...

Then released him...He stumbling back...

"Old humanity-restored girlfriend?..." Angel guessed, eyeing him... "The Cicely girl you used to go on about when Dru wasn't around?..." The woman giving William a triumphant, yet still slightly pleading look... Well?...she glared...

"Buf...Buffy..." he looked at Angel, now blinking rapidly... "It's...Buffy..."

"In the wrinkling flesh..." Buffy nodded... "Excuse me, gotta set a spell...Ain't quite as limber as I was..." she sat down...

What?... "Are you sure?...This woman's nothing like...I mean even if she were aged..." Angel stared... Buffy glaring at her ex-...Then shrugging...The one who left me to face Glory in Sunnydale to go rompin' with Darla and God knows how many others here doesn't know me with a minor bodily readjustment...Should I be surprised?...

"It's her...After 67 and a half...You bet I counted them...ecstatic trysts in my crypt, her backyard, and her basement...Not to mention at least five utterly sincerely affectionate kisses...I know my Slayer's touch..." Will nodded...Buffy winsomely beaming at him...Aw, William...

A half?...Illyria stared... "We were interrupted one time when I was invisible..." Buffy explained, Will nodding...

"But what the hell happened to you, Buf...?" he turned to her...

"Hmmphf...Like you care, jerk..." she glared, waving the stick at him... "Maybe I'm testing your devotion for when I've got one foot in the grave and you're still...My utterly beautiful William..." she grinned, looking him over with a gaze loving, possessive, and rather effectively...Especially considering the eighties-ish body...seductive...Ummn...Cuse me...she hacked a bit...

Stupid cold...Catch one like that nowadays...she grumbled, blowing on a hastily pulled handkerchief... "Couldya turn the heat on for cryin' out loud?..." she eyed Angel... "It's freezin'..."

It's 73 degrees, I just complained to maintenance...Angel thought...

"Buffy...?" Will tried again...

"What?..." she stared at him... "Oh, yeah...The ole biddy Buffy bod...Say?..." she eyed Illyria narrowly...

"She your new girl?..." she turned to William, a sad, even bitter tone... "God knows you must have a slew by now..."

"No...And no one...Things have been kinda busy for that, Buf..." he paused... "And I'm a sentimental idiot when it comes to moving on...You oughta know that...Love..." he smiled...

Really?...A wan, but eager...Even...My God, she is Buffy...Angel blinked at her...Girlishly shy smile...

Followed by a grumbling, old lady's frown... "Then where the hell where ya?!...William?!...Why didn't ya come to Rome?..."

"When Andy told us you'd been there...Been in the apartment and couldn't be bothered to wait long enough to...My heart broke..."

Again...she sighed, then sobbed a bit...

"Buffy..." Will came to her, embracing her... William!...William...she hugged him close...

"Buf..." he pulled her tear-streaked face up... "Just what in God's holy name happened...?"

"Eh..." she waved a hand... "You know me, honey...Love spells and body swapping are my Achilles' heel..."

Body swap?...Angel stared... Hmmn...Definite traces...Illyria nodded... "Mental transfers leave a very clear sign when the original host is psychically or demonically powerful..."

And looks to my lil' sixth and seventh senses like the lady who ran this body before you had some preety nifty power...she cheerily nodded at Buffy...Who glared...Who's the happy nut case?...

Still, not Will's girl...She opted for moderate glare only...

"Buf...Who did this?...Who was she?...Or he, given some of the body snatchers we've been dealing with here..."

Buffy put on a sheepish look... "I love you William..." she said solemnly...

But...

Uh-huh...He eyed her...Knowing what was coming...

"When I thought you were dead...And Willow said an appeal to Osiris, Lord of the Dead, was not an option after their little spat over Tara..."

I was lonely in Rome...Thinkin' about you and how...Goddamn furious I was with you...

"Dyin' like that...Not believing you were loved...Not believing in me..." she angrily explained to his startled face...

"Was I gonna kick your butt sideways in Heaven when I got there...Before draggin' ya to the nearest hitchin' place..."

Then...Asshole showed...

"His Benevomitus..." she glared... "Playin' at being yet another vamp seeking redemption, captivated by my legend and willing to risk dustin' to meet me..."

Yeah...she frowned at the boys' noncommital faces... "I fell for his line like a tona bricks..."

But he was good...At the game, I mean...she added hastily, catching Will's hard stare...

Well...Pretty good at other stuff, too...she grinned...Though not as good as you, hon...she patted a crestfallen Will...No way...she nodded...unt-uh...a solemn head shake...

Really...she tried a wistful look...Fine, fine...Will waved a hand... "I'm champion stud...So...?"

"He had a record of small heroics and boy scouty good deeds (My nuns, Angel sighed wistfully...Catching himself as the others looked at him...Ummn...I mean, thank God he saved my poor would be victims...) stretching back long enough to look preety good...Though he'd never of course taken any real risks...He was clever enough to want to be on the winning side and had seen clearly enough to know that Evil wasn't gonna be it..."

Though he had another agenda as well...

"And another girlfriend..." she indicated her body...

Who hadn't held up through the centuries, being a sorceress rather than a vamp, quite so well...

He needed a worthy new host for her...And had been planning this for quite a while...

"It was gonna be a Slayer...The only body suitable as he...And she...Wanted her human...But he wanted the best Slayer possible...And waited..."

Until a dimwitted, mourning blonde with her self-esteem in the gutter and her guilt meter on max fell into his clutches...

"But I never loved him, Will...I just wanted to help him for your sake..." she anxiously pleaded...

And the terrific sex...Will eyed her...You coulda come to Rome!...she dodged...Banging stick again...

"And when Andy spilled the beans after Giles said things were lookin' dangerous in LA for Angel...Told me you were alive..."

And after I spent a night smashing everything breakable I could get my hands on and cursing your gutless coward's name in every language I could netsearch...

"I was gonna come...To save you...After I beat the crap outta ya..."

Naturally...she sighed... 'The Immortal' didn't take kindly to my plan...Especially when his own was nearly ready...He had to move before I let anyone else know we were through so his girl could convince my guys she was good ole moi...Happily in dewy-eyed love with her latest...

"I thought I was being decent, telling him alone, before I told the guys I was going to LA...No good deed ever goes unpunished..." she smiled wanly at William...

"Like saving a woman's soul from God knows what would have happened to her if you hadn't been there for me that year, eh Will?...All that got you was a good beatin' and roastin'..."

And a soul...he smiled fondly...

And fantastic sex...she grinned...

Titanic...he smiled back...

"But why didn't he kill you afterwards?..." Illyria asked...

He thought he had...Buffy grinned..."And nearly did...Fortunately my imposter wasn't too eager to start slicing me up...They dumped me in a hole and hey,with my honey here still on Earth, was I gonna kick-off?...No way..."

Was a leetle gross digging my way out...But, hey...once you've done it...

And with a tangible, rather hot and sweet lil' goal awaitin' me...she beamed at William... "I managed..."

"Well, so where are your body, this sorceress/snatcher, and the soon-to-be-no-longer Immortal now?..." Angel asked...Which alone will be reward enough for me...he grinned at Buffy...Who beamed back... "Thanks, kiddo..."

"Well..." she rose carefully...Will helping her... "He's tryin' to keep his place with my organization through her...She's been doin' a fair job of fooling the guys..."

"Dawn, too?..." Will stared...

"She's at university in Milan...Glad to see how happy sis is on those brief visits...Moron..." she glared...

But he did have his girl study me for quite a while...Took his time before makin' his move...

"Willow?..." "Willow?...Oh...She's still out searchin' the astral plane..."

Oh...?...Will frowned... "Just what the hell is she doing there...What's she searching for...?"

"For you, jackass!...I begged her to find your spirit when she told me she couldn't revive you and your soul wasn't available via seance...She's been on the track since...Dropping in at times to give me reports and do some work at the Rio center..."

"Red's been looking for me all this...?" Will began, a rather touched expression...God, sweet ole Red...

"Kennedy was with her, I think they've spent most of the time messin' around in different Paradise dimensions..."

"Oh...Well, it was still nice of her...And you, pet..." he beamed... Just protectin' my investment in ya, babe...she smiled...

"If you were in Heaven, no prob...Anywhere else, I've gone to get you out..." (Oh?...Angel stared, a tad coolly...)

"So, assuming we can catch 'The Immortal' ('The Immortal'...French vamps, Buffy sneered...Didn't stop you from dating him...Will noted...You coulda come to Rome...she solemnly replied...)...And his phony Buffy..." Angel eyed her...

What then?...

"She's wearing an antique necklace...A gift he gave me, the worthless sob...Ummn, I didn't intend to accept it, honey...It was just...He seemed so like you when he asked me to take it..."

Right...William replied curtly...

"Honey..." she sighed...Then glared... "Next time damn well believe it when the Slayer tells you she loves you!...This is really your fault, you know!...Uh..."

Sorry...she put a hand out to him...Which he took after a second... "I didn't mean it...I shoulda had more sense...But I missed you so much, William..."

"Well, next time I croak on you, settle for some human gigolo..." he noted...Who is not versed in magics...

"The Hell there's gonna be a next time, lessen I croak with you..." she coughed a bit, raising a hand to keep him back...I'm ok...

Though 'fraid I may be the one to go this time...she noted...Not alone, he firmly replied...

William...she looked down shyly....Never alone...he kissed her...

(Angel?...Illyria hissed...Was I supposed to commit suicide when my Wes died?...I know some of the human cultures require that...)

"So...We get this necklace, break it, you're back in your body?..." Angel interrupted the lovefest...

"That bout the size of it..." Buffy nodded...But he's got a good number of minions and of course my guys and the new Slayers will protect the one whom they think is Buffy...We'll have to do this carefully to avoid causalities among them...

"We will have to check this out, you know..." Will paused... "Speak to Giles, double-check that it's Buffy's soul in there... Make sure you're not this lady fooling us to destroy Buf's one protection against you..."

"Sure...I understand..." she nodded...

"I think we have something that should confirm a soul's identity in my occult research files..." Illyria offered... "Angel, you should contact Giles..." she turned to him...Hmmn?...He stared...

"Give them a moment alone..." she hissed... "You know it's her in there..." "Come on, boss..." she led him to the door... "Thanks folks..." Will called... Indeed...Buffy smiled at Illyria...Definitely thanks...

"It's just precaution, pet..." "It's ok, Will..." Buffy nodded...

Though my money's on you, dear...he smiled...It's just that I couldn't take chances with my Buf...Even if she really were the Immortal's girl ...

Aw, Will...she beamed..."I appreciate it...You're the best...So long as you never again go gutless regarding my love for you..." a stern look...

"Never, ole girl...And I mean, ole girl..." Hey...she frowned... Bet I could still rock your universe...

"And as long as we have a few alone..." she eyed him...Ummn...Buffy...he paused delicately...

"Just be gentle...Like that time when after I started talking to you like you were a person I cared about?...Consider it practice for when I really do hit the upper numbers..."

Oh, you definitely are my Buffy...he grinned...

***