"Immortal Beloved..." XCVI...

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: The usual-One of (96 now) multiple versions of the outcome from "Girl in Question" or further in Angel S5 to "Not Fade Away..."

This one being of course in part a little tribute to one of my favorite Asimov characters…

Archived at the 'Normal' Buffyverse page of the Buffy Rebecca verse at -<https://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/index.html> , scroll down to

"Immortal Beloved" series...



***

Rome...

"I have to go…" Buffy softly noted…The divinely handsome figure next to her sighed but nodded… "Of course you do…He's your beloved, Buffy…I'm glad for you and I understand…"

"I'm sorry…" she began… "It has been very nice these past…"

The apartment front door was thrown open…The couple on the sofa looked to see a fuming Dawn and rather miffed Andrew coldly staring at them…

"All right, you!..." Dawn cried…Waving a charm of some sort… "You're had it!..." she tossed the charm, a chain of antique metal balls like a bracelet at Buffy…

"Your Evil power is broken…Thanks to Chairman Giles and the Watchers' Council…!" Andrew struck what he took to be a defiant Watcher's pose…

"Hardly Evil, my friend…" the Immortal shook his head as Buffy stared at him…My God…

"And your token there would only have a temporary effect…If I wished to oppose you…" the now little and rather deformed man smiled at the charm on the floor…

"He's not what he seems, Buffy…Never has been…He's been deceiving us with some kinda telepathic power…" Dawn glared at the Immortal… "Giles' spell has made us see him clearly…" A nervous glance... "You better get him in case he's right…"

And tell me…Please…You never went all the way with this guy…she thought, eyeing the shocked Buffy…Who'd fled the sofa and was now standing, facing the little man who looked up at them with sad, quiet eyes…

"You tricked me…Tried to…" Buffy fumbled for the stake in her pocket…

"No, Buffy…It is true I used my power to conceal my true form…As I have for centuries…And I did try to lessen your grief over William…I couldn't bear seeing you suffer so…"

But I was perfectly willing to let you go today…he noted… "And you know yourself you've never been made to stop loving him…Or to love me…"

"You were in my mind…Made me…"

"No, only the lightest on your mind's surface…And again, I never moved you to change your feelings…Only to help put a little distance between you and grief…"

"I would have gone to him…When Andrew told us…"

"No…" he shook his head… "I never stopped you from going…You feared to face him and learn why he hadn't come straight to you…It was your fear not any control of mine…"

Must be damned good power to get us to not see that form for so long…Andrew noted…

"Don't trust him, Buf…Giles finally got the dope on him…He's a mighty telepath…God knows what he really was doing to you…" Dawn moved to her sis' side…

The Immortal sighed and shook his head…

"Did Mr. Giles also tell you that I only use my ability for the cause of peace and to protect the helpless and spare the suffering pain?…Though I must be sparing in its use to prevent the evil, or those who would deem me a monster if they knew of my power from destroying me…As, obviously, I have little but my power to defend me…"

"Sure you do…You're His Benevolence…" Dawn sneered… "Make everyone worship you, make my poor sis love you, and then…"

"No…" Buffy shook her head…Eyeing the little man, who carefully adjusted his twisted, badly deformed arms with what was now, clearly, great pain…And settled, a hair more comfortable, as he sat… "He didn't make me love him…"

"Thank you…" the Immortal nodded…

"Though you did influence me, I know that now…" she eyed him coolly…

"Only in the mildest way, Buffy…And if I chose, I could, even now with Mr. Giles' toy there opposing me…Reduce the three of you to mindless servitude…Or blank the memory of all these events from your minds…" he smiled…

But I am not a monster, merely a wreck of man with a gift he's slowly learned to try to use in what ways he can to help Humankind…Please, listen to me…I do want people to understand me…

"It was only after many years, centuries ago, that I discovered Nature had not only trapped me in this miserable form you see before you for all eternity…But, perhaps in recompense, given me the ability to bend wills to mine…It took even longer for me to realize that no other, even among the supernatural, had my power…"

And the responsibility that came with it…Which I must admit took me a good number of those intervening centuries to acquire…I did indeed have my time of petty conquest and power, lording my ability over others until the slow lessons of Time taught me to care for my fellow humans and to admire…and desire…genuine, unforced feeling above all else…

"Not that I never use my abilities today as you know…The millions who admire me and perhaps in a way, love me, would never love what you see before you…They see what they want to see in their hero…But I don't put anything but what they themselves desire in their minds…And of course I have used my mental powers to protect others…"

"You've been controlling me..." Buffy began coldly…"Trying to make me love you…"

"No, Slayer…At least not in the way you think…Your kindly feelings for me, the friendship we've developed over these past months is your own emotion…"

A feeling I cherish…And will continue to…he smiled wanly at her… "Though I know you've never loved me, even in my rather charming illusion…"

"Damned right!…My sis'll never be yours…" Dawn raged…

"Dawn, I never expected she would…And it would have been pointless to force her to be…I only wanted to help her…First with her grief, then…When he came back…Until she was ready for this moment…When she'd go back to face him and reveal what is in her heart…Which she is going to do, now…" he looked at Buffy…

Though it will be a very tough fight, she will…he smiled sadly…

"You never…That's all you wanted?..." Buffy eyed him…

"It's all I could ever hope to have…Nature having played me one last little trick…" he shook his head…

"Certainly I could have made you very happy, Buffy…But though I may have tried to ease your pain in the past months, I've never forced and have no wish to force the emotion on you…And it would be necessary for me to do so to keep you with me now…"

He eyed the three…And they could feel the faint touch of his mind, revealing its vast latent force…

"So, Slayer, you and your friends go in peace, in the name of what I choose to call…Friendship…And save your beloved…"



Buffy paused at the door, Dawn and Andrew waiting, a bit nervously, outside…

"Who are you…Really?..."

"I have been many names…" the little man sighed…Rubbing his twisted nose…

"But perhaps the one that truly suits me…Is that of 'The Mule'…"

Not, obviously, for my physical strength…A rueful smile…

***