"Immortal Beloved..." XCVII...

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 (97 now) multiple versions of the outcome from "Girl in Question" or further in Angel S5 to "Not Fade Away..."

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...late...The day before the battle with the Senior Partners at LA...

"You're not going...Even now?..." Dawn stared at her sister, seated rather languidly on their apartment sofa next to her latest...The, as always immaculately groomed, divinely handsome, Immortal...

Buffy looked at her with cool, appraising eyes... "Giles only said there seemed to be trouble brewing with the Black Thorn Circle...Angel may be up to something...Or he may have sold out to them after all...We'll have to wait and see..."

But...Dawn hesitated...Buffy smiling at her...

"All of a sudden he matters to you?...After you telling me all year long it was for the best that he didn't come...That we don't see each other..."

I think my sis misses her old babysitter...she turned to the Immortal with a grin...

"He saved our lives, Buffy...And...You..." the girl paused again, eyeing her sis carefully...

She's just afraid to let the feelings break out...That's gotta be it...She looked over to where their surprise guest, one Xander Harris, sat in a chair...Thoughtfully watching them all...But nodding to Buffy...

"I think Buf's right, Dawn...Best to see what happens...If Angel really is moving against the Partners we can get help in there in a few hours or so..."

"He...And Angel...Could be dust by then..." Dawn shook her head...

"I'm worried for them too, Dawnie..." a note of concern now injected... "But we've gotta sensible about this..."

"If he'd been sensible..." Dawn began...

"Spike would still be on Earth...And poor William might actually be happier, safe in Heaven..." Buffy's voice was cool again... "I can't take a team of half-trained Slayers in till we know what's up..."

Take a team?...Dawn looked at her...

Since when would sis ever bother with a team...Or hesitate...For Angel and Will?...

"Things are different now, Dawn..." her sis reading her thoughts... "I have responsibilities...And someone I care about who would worry about me..." a smile to her companion...

"Angel...And William...Are still my friends...I hope...And I care about them...But I hafta be sensible..."

'Sides...she shrugged with a teasing smile... "I go charging in there and what's poor Will gonna think...Be cruel to get his hopes up, don't ya think?..."

"I don't understand why you haven't gone before...Or at least called...At least after Andy came back..."

"He didn't feel like coming here then...And when he did come, he didn't stay and see me...I think it's best to let things be, sis..."

"Absolutely..." Xander chimed in...

His Benevolence seemed a trifle exhausted, he noticed...And somewhat vaguely agitated...

Buffy taking note as well, turned to her latest... "You look tired, Henri...Why don't I call you a cab home?..."

"Not just yet, my dear..." he smiled...And turned to Xander...

"So, Mr. Harris, do you know what Chairman Giles plans to do here?..."

"Just what you guys know...He'll monitor the sit, call us if things seem to be going dangerous..."

And has at least twenty local Slayers standing by...Very eager to meet Spike...er William...

"Exactly..." Buffy beamed... "So, you see Dawnie...No reason to worry...Or to get Will hurt by making him think things that will never be..."

"You said you loved him...You told me you meant it...For months you were acting like..."

"At the time, I did...But that was a different time...I've moved on..." Buffy cut her off, settling back in the sofa... "And as I pointed out, he didn't feel inclined to come to me..."

And, again...I have someone else to think about now...She looked over to a clock set on an end table...

"Time you headed for bed, kiddo..."

"I'm not a kid..." an irritated frown...

"Indulge me..." Buffy gave her a serious look... "Besides I'll sure as heck be heading for bed in a few...And I want a minute alone with my two cuties here..."

Hmmn...Ok, the Big, Dangerous Plan must be kept from lil' Dawnie...Dawn frowned...

Well...Just so long as she is going...This new 'Cautious Commander' Buffy persona may please ole Giles...Apparently even Xander...But I much prefer 'Risk It All for My Loves and Buds' Buffy...

"All right..." she sighed... "But if you hear anything..." "We'll drag you outta bed if we have to to wake you..." Buffy smiled... "Don't worry...Will and Angel are big vamp boys, they'll be fine...Right, Henri?...Xander?..."

"They'll be ok, Dawn...." Xander nodded...

She returned the nod and came over for a hug, then to Buffy...And turned to go...

"Hey?..." Buffy's voice was a tad sharp... "No kiss night-night for my feller?..."

"Sorry, nite..." Dawn gave a quick wave at His Benevolence who smiled and waved back as she went into her bedroom...

"I guess Dawn just doesn't like to give up those romantic fantasies..." Buffy smiled at Xander who shrugged and smiled back...

"Yeah, well...She's probably still got the guilts about William..." he said quietly... "She was feeling pretty badly she never got a chance to tell him she was sorry about the way she treated him that last year...And proud of him..."

"Hey, so am I..." Buffy shrugged... "But I have to be the Slayer Corps Commander as well as sentimental Buffy..."

Sure...Xander nodded...

"But it's good to have you here, Xander...I've missed you..." she reached to pat him... "Just why though did Giles send you now...?"

"He didn't...Though he does know I'm here..."

Oh...

Hmmn-hmmn...

"So what was it?...You heard from Giles about LA and wanted to be sure crazy for love Buf didn't do the foolish, headstrong thing?..."

"Something like that..." he grinned...

"Well...No need to worry...I've finally managed to get some of Giles' teachings through my thick, sentimentally romantic blonde skull..."

Great...he nodded...

"That's all I needed to hear..." he smiled at her, rising a little...

"And exactly what An warned me you'd say..." he whirled, then pulled up and fired a gun of sorts...Into the chest of the startled Immortal, who cried out...

An?...the words had barely left Buf's lips when the dart from his gun whizzed at her...She caught it with one hand...

"Nice try…Big Brother…" she sneered, tossing the dart aside and rising… "And I gotta hand it to you, 'one who sees all even with one eyeball missin'…But you're no match for me, boy…"

"Eh..." he shrugged as she deftly moved to dodge his second shot and block his escape...Sorry, but I will have to kill you now...she noted...

"I've learned a few things in my time...Your Benevolence..." he tossed a box at her which opened in mid-air to reveal a net formed of wires and some kind of gelatinous goo...She tried to avoid it but it struck her and adhered at all points of contact...A violent electrical discharge beginning as soon as it had made contact at two places...

She shuddered and collapsed, eyes rolling as she writhed on the floor...The net flowing over her...Glowing with intense energy...

Dawn's door opened... "No, Dawn!...Keep back!.." he put up a hand as she hurried out to them in nightie and robe... "What the...?...Buffy!!..." she cried at the Slayer now shaking and nearly convulsing on their living room floor...

"It's ok, Dawn!...But keep back till it's done!..." Xander pulled at her...She jumping back from him... "What are you doing to her?...Who are you?!..." she backed further, then looked for help to the sofa where the Immortal was now sprawled and either unconscious or...

No longer worthy of his title...

"No, Dawnie...It is me..." Xander sighed as she looked for a way out...No chance, boxed in...She reached in her robe to pull out a cell phone...Trying to dial while watching him and her sis on the ground...Buffy now a bit further away from convulsions apparently, but still shaking as the current or energy of some sort flowed across the net over her...

"You can go ahead and call Giles...He knows about it...Dawn, you know Buf's been acting strangely..." he stopped as Buffy let out a low, painful moan...Both of them looking at her

As something...Rather like a shiny jellyfish...Emerged...Tightly folded at first, then expanding to a large, flat disc, from her right nostril...

My God...Dawn stared...As Buffy slowly opened her eyes, staring round the room...

***

She stared at the jellyfishlike thing as it wriggled on the ground by her…

"Wha…What the hell…"

"Buf…Dawn..." Xander waved at the thing on the ground… "May I introduce…the Immortal…"

Or at least the transfer vessel for his consciousness…

"What?..." Dawn looked at the thing...Buffy struggling to sit up, then, with a hoist from Xander, to her rather wobbily feet...

"According to Giles, he…it…can keep a human host in almost perfect condition, exactly as it was the day it entered for upwards of a thousand years before a new host is required…The guys who finally fingered him in the archives after I got to London the other day say His B has switched genders a number of times in the past...I guess this host was reaching its warranty expiration and he...It...Figured the greatest Slayer would be a definite trade up…"

Entered?...Buffy looked at the writhing mass…Which reared up a bit…Appearing almost…Enraged?...

"Careful!..." Xander threw a sofa cushion over the raging little mass as it fired out a long tentacle towards her…Both she and Dawn backing off...He threw several books on the cushion and then set a heavy table, marble side down on top...The stack quivered then was quiet...

"That tentacle must be how it first gets its hooks into a host…The process takes weeks to months of preparation, Giles' boys in London said…Though he gains a measure of influence over the new host preety quick...Which is why you didn't tell us when he inserted it...And weren't quite the romantic idiot Buf we all knew and fretted over all those months back after Sunnydale... "

Dawn nodding, with a smile now...That's our big bro...

"But…" Buffy eyed the handsome body on the floor by the sofa… "He was still…"

"The final move is telepathic...He gains more and more control but doesn't do the actual transfer until the body is completely prepped and the brain ready…Though he tried a rush job when he realized I was on to him..."

She sat down, still stunned…

Oh, my God...she looked up to them...

"William!...He's..."

"Yeah...He's alive...Well, you know...And in LA..."

"I remember..." she nodded...Frowning at the body... "He...It...Is allied to the Partners...Or was...He was hoping...I think...His buddies and Angel and Will would kill each other off in the final battle, with a little help from us, leaving him free..."

As me...she sighed... "To enslave the Slayer Corps using his little parasites..."

Eehew...Not that I disapprove of Willow's lifestyle choices... she hastily noted...

"But we can't stand around here!..." She staggered a bit then straightened... "I've gotta get to LA!...Now!!...Dawn, give me your phone!!...Oh God, I'll never make it, now!!!!" she eyed Xander rather desperately...

And somewhat annoyed...I mean, not ungrateful to have that thing outta my skull, but geesh...Couldn't you have come a day or two sooner?...

"Don't worry..." Xander grinned... "Giles is sending every Slayer he can get hold of to LA and I've got an orb of Callistos in my bag...We can teleport as soon as you rest a little..."

"I gotta call him!..."

"You gotta rest first, Buf..." he shook his head... "And let me make sure all of...It..." They all eyed the Immortal's past human form... "Is outta you..."

Yeah...Definitely...Dawn nodded, looking at the sofa cushion...Which still quivered slightly...Buffy eyeing it as well...

"Well...Let me make sure of It, anyway..." she frowned...And with a quick, hard shove, crushed down on the upturned table and book stack...

A squishing sound...And a very faint, high-pitched shriek-like sound...

Followed by a seeping of...Eehew...Dawn twisted her mouth at the green mush...

Our landlord is not gonna like this...

"That outta settle His Benevolence..." Buffy coldly frowned at the remains...Then staggered again a little, Dawn and Xander steadying her...

Guess I better rest a mo at that...she noted wearily... "If I'm gonna show my Champion the way the Slayer proves her 'I love yous'..."

Uh-boy...Dawn sighed...Oh, well...Knew I'd wind up with a vamp in-law one way or the other someday...

"But..." Buffy looked at Xander... "How did you...Did Giles?..."

"An old friend told me the other night...And finally got me to go to London about it..." he smiled... "Actually she's been trying to warn me for weeks now but you know me...She had to practically take material form and toss me outta bed to make me believe it wasn't just a dream..."

By the way, if you could ask William about that corporealization spell after you save him in LA?...

"She did want me to apologize though..." he grinned at them... "She knows you woulda preferred her reaching Will and sending him straight to ya..."

But An's the romantic idiot type too...

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