Immortal Beloved..." LXX...

...

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..."

Something new, I've modified the earlier IB 66 in this one...

***

November 2004, night...On board the Venice Simplon-Orient Express, heading for Budapest...One of the luxury dining cars...

Beautifully attired in black evening gown, though worn with a careless air as if to say it hardly mattered to her if you were attracted or not, the young blonde woman was smiling softly at first one, than the other of the two seated on either side of her...One, a tall, dark-haired, immaculately-groomed, elegant-looking man, with an aristocratic air...Youthful one might say unless one looked closely into his old, even ancient, eyes...The other, a bit more conventional, a handsome, reasonably dashing young officer of one of Europe's various armed forces...

From his secluded seat, carefully chosen, the slight blonde man watched the group impassively as the train sped on through the night...The woman playfully touching the sleeve of the officer, then turning to the other...Who seemed unruffled by her obvious flirtativeness while the officer seemed a bit more anxious, even a little insistent in his efforts...She whispered in his ear, something that clearly did not please him, most likely a gentle tease or perhaps a polite, half-joking insistence that he tone his ardor a trifle...

He flushed and pulled back...The other man giving him a faint smile of something like sympathy mixed with a kind of world-weariness, as if the game of the evening was beginning to bore slightly...She turned back to him, flashing a bright smile...Playfully fingering a large earring...Pearl, almost no doubt...Looking round the train car briefly...

Blinking as she looked in the direction of the hidden blonde man...Who realized she'd caught the briefest glimpse as he'd leaned forward to observe her better...But he'd pulled back before she'd been certain, he was sure...

She stared his way for a long moment then seemed to shrug the vision off and returned to her teasing game between her two companions...But the young officer had apparently had enough...He rose, a bit tense, but managing to maintain a polite air, excused himself...The other rising slightly, offering a gracious hand...She looking a bit furgitively yet again in the direction of the blonde man's booth for a bare second, then smiled up at the soldier...Or pilot or sailor...Yes, pilot most likely, the blonde man thought, pulling back into the recesses of his booth...

A few moments later, after a bit of apparently idle chatter, the dark-haired man rose, clearly making a polite good-night to the woman...Who extended her hand for a brief kiss and smiled gently at him as he turned to go...

After he'd gone, she waved to the waiter passing by and reordered the drink she'd been slipping from...Again glancing down the way...Then idly fingering the newly delivered drink for a bit after smiling kindly at the young waiter, clearly as smitten as the young officer...

Suddenly she rose and moved down the car towards the booth...Halting by it without looking at the man seated, he leaning back against the wall of the booth...



"The fourth car, compartment 3...He's not there..." she murmured to the dark booth softly, still not looking into it...And continued on...

About fifteen minutes later, he rose out of the booth, left some money on the table, and went down the car in the direction she'd taken...

***

Compartment #3...

"He came..." she whispered at the face in the large dressing mirror... "You were wrong, he came...He's come to me..."

So?...He came to check on things when they called him...A malicious smile back from the mirror... I'd be surprised if he didn't...

And what does it matter to our arrangement?...Except to confirm that I kept my part of the bargain...Unless you're thinkin' he's come to get you out of our deal...Which I promise you, he is not...He has no idea what you...We...Did for him...Courtesy me pushin' dear ole Lindsay...

But hey, as I say...I'm not objectin' to seeing him again...So long as you keep your end of our deal...Which seems a pretty fair one on your side to my way of thinkin'...

"You're trying to change me...I know it, I feel it..." she murmured... "Turning me into..."

Change you?...She gave and saw a startled look in the mirror...Change Buffy the Law, the Greatest Slayer of 'em all?...With your humongous will power?...Impossible...C'mon...

I'm just havin' myself a lil' fun in the few moments your incredible strength of character allows me to take and maybe helpin' you learn how to loosen up and enjoy the good things in this pitifully short, mortal existence...Hey...It's not like I'm tryin' to back out of this...You wanted him saved, no matter what, and I sure as hell kept my end of our little bargain, Summers...You just saw the Unliving proof...Your lil' blonde honey is walkin' and talkin'...Here, not in Hell...Not lost among the stars...

You cut a deal with the First that day back at the mouth of the crater, babe... she smiled coldly at herself in the mirror...And there's no wiggle room in that kind of contract...

"I'll never be you...Never let you have control..." Never expected that, babe...Heck you creamed me twice, countin' that time with Angel, right?...How could I ever hope to grab the reins?...Nah, like I say, I just want a connection to your world and a lil' chance to occasionally experience a bit of what the corporeal side has to offer...

Which I'd say shows a pretty damned good spirit on my side, considering I was one step away from world conquest only a few months ago...Giving you William, intact, for only a little corner in you where I can watch the world wear away in my bitter exile...

And by our agreement I can't even step forward to speak with you unless you're aware of my presence...So what's the big fuss?...Even if this way is my usual slow and patient modus operandi rather than the grandiose thing with the Ubers and poor Caleb I tried...You're the one who was sure she couldn't ever become a tool in my hands...And I concede, Buf...You can't be my instrument...Not in the way I'd like...The way I did hope, back when I thought you might surrender to despair in the end...

No, best I can hope for now...The only victory I can win...Is basically to give you what you really want, deep down...A chance to give up this world-saving nonsense and live your own, somewhat frivilious and empty life as that dull dolt, the Immortal's...God, was ever Immortality wasted on a guy, Buf?...He wants to be a 'player' in the human world?...Geesh...Coquette...

Maybe a bit of a disappointment to friends, admirers...Ex-lovers...And even some of your ole foes...But hardly a great triumph for me...

Unless you want to back out of our deal?...Oops, nope...Too late...I got your John Hancock on the contract and more important...Since we didn't really sign anything...I got my hooks in...

Ya want me to go?...Make me... a cold chuckle within as the dark smile in the mirror deepened... But take care...Cause you wouldn't wanta try, fail, piss me off, and in some off moment have me go and strangle our lil' Dawny in her sleep?...Or catch you when really blanked out and whiz over to London to let ole Giles have a night he won't forget...Cause he wouldn't wake up...



Or maybe even our blondie boy here...Hey, he's available, right?...And he was what this deal was all about...So why shouldn't he be the price of cutting me loose...If you even could, which I'm afraid, sister...You'll find you can't...

Yeah...Maybe a quick stake shove?...Sure be easier on him than what he's been going through, thinkin' you dumped him quicker than you can say 'the Immortal'...

And you won't even remember doin' it...she grinned at herself... Not even sure if maybe you did do it....Cause you been gettin' so testy recently...And havin' all those scary dark dreams?...That made you take His B's offer and give up killin'...William's kind...

"He's here...And you don't control me...I can stop you...You won't pull me down..."

Hard to do...When you don't even remember I'm here...Hey, Buffy, you don't remember I'm here, ok?...Til the next time I wanna play with your head, sis...

Have some fun with Willie boy...He's such a cute, simple-brained moron...Maybe you can get him to screw you before you send him back to LA for good...Not that he matters anymore, the fight bein' over...But he is hot...And probably loaded, via Wolfram-Hart...Bye, sister...

She blinked at herself...Wan and a bit confused was the face staring back...Then a slow smile...Hey, pretty face...

What a shame Reinhart got so hot and bothered...But Henri was happy with the way things worked out...Just...Might've been fun...And profitable...To get to know that one better...

Maybe another time...Anyway, looks like I'll be occupied tonight...She scanned her face, then hair and dress carefully...Perfect...

So cute, that William, if a little moronic in the romance department...Gotta see if he might go for a little fun before he heads back...

Another blink...William...No...I...

Wonder how he and Angel made out with Wolfram-Hart?...Bet he could manage a little something nice for his Slayer girl...Till I cut him loose again...

Can't let him drag me back to the ole days...That ole life...No, I'm free of it now...

"Free..." she repeated, whispering to the mirror...Her face smiling back...

***