Immortal Beloved..." LXXV...



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..."



***



Los Angeles...New offices of Angel, Burkle-Wyndham-Price, Gunn, and Walthrop at the old Wolfram-Hart Tower...One week after the defeat of the Senior Partners...

"You Walthrop?...the Spike guy?..." the dark-sunglassed man in overcoat eyed William as he stood next to Angel's desk...Angel looking their visitor over from his chair, in proper CEO mode...Illyria watching in Fred dress from a seat on the opposite side of the desk...

"Walthrop's the name...William Soames...Spike's for old enemies and the dearest of friends..." Will grinned...

The man nodded...Looking a tad less confident as he looked at the three... "I guess you and I should talk...Having a mutual problem...That is if you're still concerned about Ms. Summers' fate..."

"I might be..." William replied coolly...The two now sizing each other up...

"I'd wonder...Considering what Mr. Giles told me in London about you leaving her alone with that...Thing..." the man gave a hard stare...

"At least I didn't let my own wife..." William began angrily..The man flushing, for the first time looking almost like a boy in what was clearly a mixture of shame and embarrassment...

"I didn't know who or what...I thought...She was just..." he began, stumbling in his words...Will shook his head, raising a hand... "I didn't understand the situation either..."

"This concerns our entire firm, sir..." Angel cut in... "Not to mention our friends at the Watchers' Council who referred you to us...If what we've been told is true, there's quite a bit a stake here besides your and William's interests, not to mention...Theirs..." he paused...Will glancing at him briefly... "I think you'd best have a seat and we'll go over this situation in detail..."

"Right..." the man nodded curtly... Illyria carefully looking him over as he sat...Trying to valiantly to repress the overwhelming Fredian thought...

God...He's as cute in real life as he was in...

"In any case, we've got to act quickly...From the information I got from the firm I hired, and what your Mr. Giles told me...Our 'friend' has been working on this for months...She sent me a letter last week saying she wasn't coming back..." the visitor put a tense hand on his chair arm...

"They may both already be..."

"Not my Buffy..." William shook his head firmly...Angel frowning a bit at the 'my Buffy'...

***

Rome...One week before...

Dawn looked at Buffy as they entered the apartment...The Immortal, immaculately groomed and flawlessly, darkly handsome on the Slayer's opposite side... "Buffy, what are you going to do?..."

Buffy raised a hand... "I'll deal with things, Dawn...Don't worry..."

"Are you gonna go?...There's not much time, if Giles was right..." "I'm sure Angel and his comrades will succeed...If they truly are fighting the Partners..." His Benevolence broke in from the seat on their sofa he'd taken...A cool glare from Buffy...

"Leave it to me, Dawn...I'll handle it..."

"I want to go with you, if you go..."

"I'll let you know what I decide...But no, it's too dangerous for you in any case...But if I go, for once I'll go with plenty of support..."

A frown, then a brightening...That's for sure...Dawn nodded with a faint smile... "Half the Slayer Corps was ready to get on the first plane..."

But if you're going... "Well, as Henri says...Angel...And William...Can probably deal...But I will let you know what I decide...Now, I wanna talk to Henri a moment, ok?..."

Fine...Dawn frowned again.... "But you're not going without me..."

"I haven't said what I'll be doing...And you are not going, if I have to have Willow keep you in stasis till it's over..."

"We should've gone to LA months ago..." a glare... "He didn't come to Rome...I left things as I thought...He..." Buffy paused...A slightly confused look... "Maybe...We should've..." she eyed Dawn..."I don't know..." a vague shrug...Henri watching her quietly... "Anyway..." she waved a hand... "This is my decision and I'll make it myself...I'll be back in a little while...Henri?..." she looked at him and with a smile to Dawn he rose and followed her out...

***

In the hallway outside their apartment, Dawn having sulkingly departed for her bedroom...

"It's over, Henri...This little game of ours has ended..."

"Buffy, my dear...I sense you are disturbed...Clearly the meeting with Giles has left you a bit rattled...Calm yourself, Slayer and you'll again see where your and William's best interests lie..."

"You said if I went along with this game of yours...If I let people, my friends, think we were a couple and vouched for you with the Council...Made no move to contact him or Angel...William would be restored and you'd see your friends in LA left him alone...Safe..." she stared at him...The Immortal returning a suave smile, a languid wave of the hand... "And has he not been restored, has he not been safe all these months...?"

"The Partners are going after him and Angel...You heard Giles' report..." her eyes narrowed... "And I'm going to LA...Our deal is off as of now..."

"My friends among the Dark Powers may not like to hear that..." Henri smiled faintly... "But I don't think they'll have to worry about that...You made an arrangement with me, Slayer...And you will keep it..."



"The hell I will...You broke it when William was put in danger...Why I let this go on for so long, I don't know...If he'd come, like he should've..." she paused... "Or if I'd gone..."

Why I let this go on so long?...she whispered, a bit confused, then sternly... "Anyway...You broke the deal and I'm through with it..."

"But clearly he didn't come because he didn't trust you enough...Or has found someone else..." a cool smile... "Besides, my dear...I don't think you understand that you gave up any choice in the matter when you made our agreement...And accepted the little token of admiration and friendship I bestowed on you..." he smiled a bit more warmly at her...And the necklace on her neck, a large pearl-encrusted pendant hanging on a silver chain...Which now glowed a bit...

"So...Dearest..." he looked at her somewhat blank face... Huh?...she stared...

"Have you made a decision about going to William yet?..." "Will...iam?...Who's dat...?" she asked, her voice a bit slurred...

"William, the poor boy who died for you...So tragically last year...?" Ohhh...Him...she nodded...

"I 'member him a lil'..." she noted... "He ok, honey?..." she smiled wanly at Henri, only mildly curious...

"Your Mr. Giles says he and your old friend Angel might be in danger...You were thinking about whether to go and help them...But you decided it was best not to...Why stir up old problems, eh dear?..." he patted her... Yeah....she nodded... "Ole problems...Dat's bad..." she sighed... "Well, I think you'd like to go somewhere interesting and enjoy yourself tonight, eh my dear?...Keep the sad thoughts at bay...I'm sure your pet vampires will be fine...They're both very strong?..."

"Yeah...Dey'll be ok...Can we go somewheres nice?..." somewhat more eagerly... "I'm hungry...And I wanna have some fun..."

"Of course, Buffy...What am I here for but to make your life happy and fun?...As I have these past months, haven't I?...But lets go now and not let your sister or anyone hinder our...Fun...With sad and troubling things that are of no importance to your new life with me..."

Yeah...she nodded, contentedly...As he offered an arm...

"You decided it was best not to go...Remember that, alright dear...?" Yeah...I 'cided dat...she nodded...

"Of course, tomorrow...You may regret that decision as you did an earlier one...Terribly...But well...ma cheri...Very soon...After a few more exposures...It won't matter to you...And after all..."

Tomorrow is another day...Correct?...he grinned...Giving her a quick kiss...

Uh-huh...she nodded...Tamorrow's 'nother day...Yeah...And kissed him back...

***

On the sidewalk a tall and lovely if somewhat blank-faced woman sunglasses, hat, and nondescript coat somewhat hiding her features, awaited them...A necklace identical to Buffy's briefly visible through the open part of her coat as she turned to them...

"Ah...My dear...Thank you for waiting so patiently..." the Immortal smiled at the woman...Who gave a vague smile...

"Buffy Summers, world-saving Vampire Slayer..." the Immortal smiled...Yeah, dat's me...she nodded and smiled wanly... "Meet my friend and, like you, dear, yet another of my...Soon to be permanent...Acquisitions..."

Who, also like you, made an arrangement with me for the sake of her beloved...A fond smile at the confused young woman...Arrrrange...? "In his case for the continued advancement of his career after he defied some particularly nasty but extremely powerful types back in Hollywood..."

"Don' wanna go back dere..." the woman slowly shook her head... "Bad place..." "That's right, dear..." Henri nodded... "Hollywood, LA, America...Bad, unhappy places...You want to stay in Europe with me now...Forever..." Yeah...she nodded...Furever...

Buffy stared, vaguely recognizing...



"Jennifer, say hello to our friend Buffy..." Friend...s?...Jennifer smiled wanly... "No, dear...Not that kind of Friends..." Henri sighed...

***