"Immortal Beloved..." XCIX...

.

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: Though the standard IB format, one of (99!) versions of events following the end of Angel S5 episodes from "Girl in Question" through to "Not Fade Away" and beyond, this one's sorta notoriously south by southeast...(C'mon, you're a Hitchcock fan, you get it...)



Credit for this one goes to Ms. Angela Dawson's suggestion...Thanks...

Archived (soon) 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

***

Prologue...



Play theme

"Smile though your heart is aching... Smile even though it's breaking..."



LA...Night...Heavy wind and rain barely muffling the cries of the warriors and the screams of the badly wounded and dying...

A large, massive, thick-skulled gray demon is seeing flying through the air across the Wolfram-Hart Boulevard, leading to the famed, though now rather battered Wolfram-Hart Tower building...Flight not being his normal mode of transport, judging by his ineffective flailing of arms...

"When...There are clouds...In the sky, you'll get by..."

A horde of hulking, fur-covered demons gathers in a football huddle, then breaking up, all move to take up a line of assault as more huge creatures reel back towards them from the last failed charge...Many of them, in typical demon fashion, blindly following their orders to charge straight on, having missed the tiny party of the enemy entirely and ended by assaulting their own comrades...



"If you smile through your fear and sorrow... Smile and maybe tomorrow... You'll see the sun...Come shining through...For you..."



A chilling, vibrant war cry is heard...Issued by a rather lovely 'woman' all in blue, including rain-flattened hair, but for the heavy spattering of blood, demon entrails, and mud...As she raises a large piece of metal above her head in triumph over the killing of several large creatures at her feet...Instinctively moving to cover the groaning, badly injured, black man on the ground by her and whirling to skewer the two charging comrades of her last set of victims...

"Spike!!..." A weary male voice calls... "What is it, now, Poof-boy?!!...Busy here!!!..." Sounds of agonized screaming immediately at hand are suddenly cut off...

"Just wanted to tell you to watch your..." Ooof...Angel is struck and lifted into the air by one of the more valiant survivors among those fleeing back...

"...back?..." Will eyes the Brooding One as he lances the demon from the side with a pole and it collapses as goo...Over the fallen Angel... "Thanks for the tip!!..." Pulling the demon glop-covered CEO to his feet...

The massing demon line steadily gathers more strength in the driving rain, some of those fleeing said last failed assault rallying to their more stalwart mates, others coming up, rather startled, fresh from Hell, to find the battle still not over ...

Thought we outnumbered these guys 16,000 to 4?...

"They're starting to crack!..." Angel's voice trying to sound confident... "Just hang on a little longer, people...!"

"Before or after they throw in that next ten thousand?!!..." William calls back...Waving at the massive line facing them... "Don't suppose you could just threaten to demote or fire all of them?...You're still CEO here, right...?"

"I think the shareholders have decided they don't like my management style!...Go tell Illyria to get Charlie back while they're regrouping!...Spike?!!...Will ya stopping looking back there?!...She hasn't come...Spike?!!!...."

"Yeah, yeah...I'm going!..."

"No..." Angel paused, trying to keep his footing in the slippery mud, guts, and blood... "Well, yeah...But just wanted to say...If she does come..."

She could do worse...a wry grin...

***

"Light up your face with gladness... Hide every trace of sadness... Although a tear...May be ever so near..."



"Spike!!!...Oh..." Angel switched to somewhat lower tone, seeing William next to him...

"Right here, bloss-man...." William eyed Angel...Then the demon line...Still holding back deliberately at the urging of their few reasonably competent demonic commanders as all their available forces on the field moved to the massing point...For the final, winner-take-all charge, this time focusing on target...

"Illyria agreed to get the kid back!...She'll be back in a sec!..."

I told her...Will smiled at Angel's face...Huh?... "That ole Wes would be pleased...And Fred proud..."

"She must've liked that...Thanks..." Angel nodded...Say...

"You did see when I nailed that dragon?..." he beamed...Will glared at him a moment...Then, glancing again at the overwhelming odds...

"Yeah..." he smiled...Rather kindly... "You were poetry in motion, Poof...Ever consider trying out for the ballet?...Lots of nice, athletic young guys for you to date when doggie-girl is out howlin' at the moon..." Then another long look over his shoulder...

Buffy...Angel sighed, watching...Somehow I never thought I'd be wishing this...But I wish you'd do this for William...Hell, just as a friendly gesture towards the guy who did so much for you, no commitment necessary...

***

"That's the time you must keep on trying... Smile, what's the use of crying? You'll find that life is still...Worthwhile... If you just smile..."



"Bite me..." Angel turned to his junior...Aw, Hell...Well who else have I got? he looked around...Partner...

"Love to...Later..."

"Spike!...I've got blood from Marcus in me!...Wolfram-Hart blood...Supercharged..."

Ah...I thought he had a drug assist...He was ...Nearly...Matching my body count...

"Hurry, bite me before they finish massing..." he waved at the line forming...

"Never thought you'd ask, Angel...Shall we go somewhere quiet for this tender moment?..."

***

"That's the time you must keep on trying... Smile, what's the use of crying?..."



"Angel?!..." Illyria called...

What the hell are they doing?...Her startled Fred side blinked at the boys, her Illyria taking things a bit more in stride...William in demon face, bent over a kneeling Angel...

After all, not uncommon among male demons in her day...Even a few of her mates, she frowned a bit at the thought...



"What's up Illyria?..." Angel staggered to his feet...

"We have some help..." she waved a hand...

"Harmony?..." the boys blinked at her companion...

"Human-souled Harmony..." Harm gave her best, beaming 'go, team' smile...

Courtesy that bastard Marcus...she frowned...His last little joke, via a slow-acting spell, though I think he thought he'd live to see me suffer...

"Thanks for killing him, boss...You are the best...The very best..." she beamed...Laying it on a tad thick...

Lovely...And I'll bet she's curse-free, too...Angel thought, frowning a bit...Is every vamp on Earth getting a free soul, no waiting, no strings attached this year?...

Worst of all, it still leaves Spike the One who did it voluntarily...And for Love, no less...He eyed a smiling Will who was quite obviously thinking the same thing...Damn...Why didn't I ever tell people the gypsy king had seen something worth reclaiming buried in me?...A little enhancement of the story, maybe, but...

"All right..." he sighed to Harm's anxious, still innocently beaming...The very, very best...Boss...look... "You're rehired...Pending confirmation of that soul..." a stern eyeing...

"Well, nice of you to die with us girl..." William offered a pat... "Like I had a choice, being trapped here in town, and having a conscience again...and the stupid agonizing remorse thing..." she frowned...Then grinned...As did Illyria...

"What?..." William frowned...

"What were you two doing just now as we came up...?"

"Exchangin' bodily fluids...Though I did it under protest, Angel being CEO of the firm...I'm filing a complaint come Monday...Such abuse of the workers must cease..."

"I'm supercharged with Marcus' blood..." Angel explained... "Figured I may as well stretch the odds in our favor..."

"Oh, can I have some?..." Harmony, eagerly...

"Don't think doggie-girl's gonna like that..." Will chuckled... "Though I really gotta say Angel...Your blood is just dreamy..."

"They're ready to charge!...Hold on, people!!..." Angel pointed at the demon line, now thickened to many times it's original size...

"I want you all to know..." he began...

Poof...Will sighed... "You can forego the 'we happy few, we band of whatevers' speech, Angel...There's only the four of us..."

"We're gonna be ok..." Harmony smiled serenely...Illyria nodding...Angel and Will staring at them...

"Well, sometimes that new soul does manifest in insanity..." Will noted...

"No...We are...Look!..." Harmony twisted William around, Angel turning as well...To see a counter-horde bearing down on them...

An overwhelmingly female counter-horde...Most waving solid, well-sharpened, wooden sticks in the air...



"You'll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just smile..."

***

Play theme...



Part A...



Switzerland, not far from Geneva...Two weeks later...





The fabulous estate of the d'Vestigy family...Home of the famed last of the line, Count Henri Faucomb d'Vestigy...Better known to those in the know in the world at large as "the Immortal"...His mother, the equally immortal if, at least in the more obvious ways, less afflicted with egotism, Marie-Josephine d'Vestigy...

And the new Countess d'Vestigy, nee Buffy Summers, Greatest Slayer of all Time...And therefore, at least to the thinking of the Count, worthy of bearing his name...

Though perhaps not to the thinking of the older Countess...

The family car, a classic Stutz-Bearcat, beautifully maintained, emerges from the ancient gate onto the main road to Geneva...Bearing the young Countess, elegant in white casual dress, large white Audrey Hepburn hat with blue scarf, and dark sunglasses; the Count, as always superbly dressed, today in a dark and crisp Italian suit; and their driver, one Eric Matisse, a reasonably handsome, intelligent, and capable-looking man in his early forties who seemed somehow far too capable to be employed either as a driver or even an estate manager...Both of which positions he held...

***

Geneva...

The American embassy...

The tall, well-built man at his desk, just informed by his secretary on the arrival at the main gate of his two, rather anxiously awaited, guests, nodded to his secretary to bring them to his office...

By official title, a mere assistant to the ambassador...

In fact, chief of US Intelligence for this highly sensitive region...Made only more so by a recent resurgence of right-wing groups, including some with substantial footholds in legitimate political parties in several of the surrounding countries ...As well as ties to a number of the world's leading terrorist cells...

And tempting as it might be to contemplate the joys of having an excuse to nuke...Or stake, he grinned to himself...A bunch of smug neo-EuroNazis...In the cautious world of human politics, one had to proceed carefully and patiently to properly unmask said footholds and ties...

***

"I'm telling you, Spike..." Angel insisted as the two were led down a long hallway to offices that as William pointed out with a frown were increasingly less grand...Think two ultra-heroes and masters-of-the-universe corporate types like us would rate a meeting with the ambassador, not some flunky...

"It was a good sign...You can't deny it..."

"She didn't come..." William frowned... "The Slayers said she's gone and married the Immortal nancy-boy...How can it have been a 'good sign', you idiot?..."

"She approved their being sent...The ladies...And Giles later...Said so..."

"Great...She didn't want us to go complaining to future historians after she's long dust..."

She might have come...For ole times' sake...he mumbled...Angel eyeing him...

"I still say it's a good sign..." he insisted...Will rolling his eyes...

"We're here, gentlemen...One moment..." the secretary leading them disappeared into the office...Inside, her boss looking expectantly at her...

"Your eleven-fifteen, Mr. Finn..." she announced... "Gentlemen?..." she waved the two in...

"Thanks..." Will murmured quickly to his companion as they entered...

***

The man at his desk rose to greet the visitors, ushered in by the secretary...Who, after offers of tea or coffee were declined, politely bowed out and shut the door...

"Gentlemen, welcome...Spike...Long time no see...Which I hope will no longer be our preferred state of affairs, post-soul at least..." Riley smiled, offering a hand first to William, then Angel... "Mr. Angel?...I think I can honestly say I feel as if I know you...Well..."

Have a seat, fellas...

"Finn..." William nodded, taking a seat...Angel doing likewise...

"Thanks for coming...That's an official US thanks by the way..."

"Hardly a lot of choice in the matter..." Will noted dryly... "Seein' as we were politely threatened by your boys-in-black...Green eyeshade and calculator department..."

"Sorry about that...It wasn't my idea..." Riley shook his head... "I know those tax boys are killers...And I mean that..."

"It wasn't necessary...If the government needs our new firm's help, they've but to ask...We are 100% naturalized Americans you know...Even if our documentation is phony..." Angel frowned...

"I know..." Riley put up a hand... "But I felt the sit was urgent and I guess the boys back home chose not to mince words...I am sorry if they were abrupt...We honestly do appreciate any help you can give us here..."

"So...?" William eyed his old rival...And looked about the room a little...

"I am still married, Spike..." Riley grinned... "Don't worry..."

"If you mean my natural squeamishness at your gay vibes, Finn...I can deal..." Will glared... "As for anything...Or anyone...Else...I would say I have no reason or hope to worry..."

"You might be surprised on that score..." Finn grinned now... "And yes, this does concern Buffy...In part..."

"Oh...?" William frowned as Angel sighed...Not again...For God's sake, I've got a girlfriend, have moved on...

Though...I know some of us...he looked at the frowning William...Need a bit more time...

"And what could possibly be troubling the smooth and placid existence of our dear Countess d'Vestigy?...Sunnydale's own lil' Princess Grace?..." Will sneered...

"She and Giles did send those Slayers to help you..." Riley noted...

"Yes...Nice of her to give it that... 'hope you don't die boys but if you do, I've moved on'...impersonal touch...Though I tend to think it was all Giles' idea..."

"Nope..." Riley shook his head... "I was there in London at the Council that day to discuss their dope on 'His Benevolence'...His idea was to let the two of you twist in the wind and see if the Partners became a threat later..."

Charmin'...Will glared...Angel frowning darkly...

"Never thought I'd live to see Rupert Giles look...Well, not frightened..." Riley pondered... "But at least mildly disturbed...When Buffy grabbed him and threw him against the wall after Andrew burst out crying and told us you were alive in LA with Angel and that Giles had known for months..."

"She never did like to be kept out of the loop..." Will shook his head...Tossed ole Rup against the wall, eh?...he smiled at the thought.. Oops...Married... Right...Well, so much for that...

Spike...Riley sighed...

"Mr. Finn..." Angel cut in... "We're here...What help does the US government need from us...?"

"We've still got the Wolfram-Hart death-ray satellite and a slew of choppers on hand if you'd like us to destroy the d'Vestigy estate..." William suggested hopefully...

"While no one's home of course..." Unless we get really lucky...he thought...

Not yet...Riley shook his head....

"Guys...If I may presume on the fact of your human souls to call you guys..."

"Sure...But heroic, world-and-individual-saving guys ...Who run a legal/investigative firm at which even I make more now per year than you'll ever see..." Will noted...Bet he does at that...Riley frowned...

"All right...For years now, the United States embassy here has been keepin' tabs on our Count d'Vestigy...Naturally we left the occult stuff the Watchers' Council in London, but not only is he a special case...He's the type who likes to operate in this world on a grand scale...Fingers in many deep pies..."

Hmmn...So, something tells me Buffy's screwed it again in romance...And big time too...both thought...

Well, no big surprise there...

My poor Buffy...Will thought...The little blonde idiot...

"How's His Benevolence... 'a special case'...?" Angel asked... "He's undead, right?..."

"Yeah...But he's not only the oldest surviving vamp, excepting his mom, the old Countess...He...And she...Retained their souls and repressed or merged with their demons on transformation...They're voluntary vamps via magics, guys..."

Better and better...Will beamed...Any soul choosing on vampirism voluntarily has to be a Warren Mears/Mayor level morass of filth..Ummn...My poor Buffy...What an embarrassment to be swept off by yet another charming Prince of Darkness...And one who did not go and win back his soul for her, becoming a Champion of Good in the process...

"Is that possible?..." Angel eyed Riley... "Wouldn't the soul be overwhelmed and expelled during the initial transformation?...And what kind of soul would voluntarily accept vampirism...?"

I mean...he noted hastily... "If all the details on mass murder and the infliction of hideous suffering were spelled out to them...As they never were to us...Or Harm and Dru..."

"They're said to have found a way..." Riley shook his head... "As to the quality of their souls, I think we can safely say after what we've learned, that they're the sort who wouldn't be too bothered by the fine print you mentioned...Though they're no fools...They long ago made the wise decision that Evil- Supernatural, Inc just wasn't likely to pull off the Big One and to, at least publicly, come over to support the Human side...He has a record of cooperation with the Watchers and their Slayers, and with other groups...Never anything risking his precious self personally of course, but enough public gestures to win him his title, keep his and Mom's asses safe, and protect their investments in the human world...His people at least have performed a number of rescues...You may have heard of how he once intervened to save a few dozen nuns..."

"My nuns..." Angel fumed...

Hmmn?...Riley stared...

"Nothing...We're aware of his sterling record, etc...What's changed?..."

"He go openly evil and start using fiendish magics?..." Will asked eagerly...

"Like love spells and mind control?..." A hopeful tone...

"'Fraid not, Will..." Riley shook his head... "However...We do suspect him of having ties to some of the radical right-wing and neo-Nazi groups that have emerged strongly here in the last twenty-five years or so...Our psych boys believe they appeal to his and Mom's aristocratic sensibilities and the usual racial and elitist notions these types always seem to have..."

He may support the victory of Humanity over the Underworld...But he'd like to see that Humanity ruled as serfs with a iron hand...By his concept of the 'right people'...

"Frankly I think I'd prefer dealing with your demons, fellas...At least they just wanted to kill a lot of folks, not establish the Fourth Reich...No offense intended..."

Angel waved a hand...

Great...Thank God und der Faderlund...Which I guess in this case would be eastern France...Will beamed contentedly... Hmmn?...Riley eyed him... "I mean...Thank God you called on us to help end this hideous, if more everyday, evil...Angel, lets get moving and go bag Adolf Jr..."

"Guys...Wait..." Riley rose as Will did... "It's not that simple..."

"I knew it..." Will sighed, sitting back down... "Ever since I got the blasted soul nothing's been simple..."

"I coulda told you that..." Angel frowned at him...

"So...What is it?..." William leaned back in his chair with resignation...

"Buffy adores him and the air he pretends to breathe, so we gotta take him out with care?..."

"Not quite..." Buffy's voice behind him...

***

Part B...

The boys stared at her...Riley, with a rather puckish grin, watching...

"Nice to see you too, William..." she frowned at him... "Angel..." a rather cool nod...

"Yeah?...Well, Angel..." Will turned to his partner...Angel now a tad miffed...She still with the 'not trusting me' bit, even now?...

"You're the idiot who signs everything...Why don't I leave you to negotiate with Grace Kelly and The Quiet American here while I head over to our office and try to sort things out there...You can fill me in later..." he rose, turned, and started off...

A sudden look on Buffy's face that shocked Angel, though she wiped it in an instant...Not annoyance, anger...Utter devastation...Despair...And something of shame...She resumed a cool pose...Only her trembling hands suggesting anything else...

"Don't go Spike..." Riley called to him...Will...Angel went after him...William pausing with a frown...

C'mon, Will...Angel hissed...Give her a chance...Sighing, William reluctantly came back with him...

"William!..." Buffy eyed Riley sharply... "He's William...Spike's back in Hell...Lets get that straight, Riley..."

He stared at her and nodded... "Right, sorry...William..."

"Anyway, we need you most of all...Buffy has to have a contact who can meet with her without raising suspicion..."

"And who better than my ole lover..." she gave William a faintly coy smile...

Oh?...

"Will, our thinking is...If Angel were to transfer you to Europe for a while to reorganize your firm's operations here from the old Wolfram-Hart, Geneva office..." Riley noted... "It wouldn't be too far-fetched that you and Buffy might meet and..."

"Ah...I see.." a tight little smile... "So you do need me...Only this time 'stead of the ultimate sacrifice, we're cheating on your husband eh?..."

"Hey..." Buffy eyed him, shrugging... "You of all people should know what a cheap, selfish slut I am..."

"If you're expecting my effusive denial..." he shot back coldly...

"Guys..." Riley sighed..."If you two aren't up for this...Buffy you can pull out any time and just tell d'Vestigy things aren't working out..."

"Never seems to for me in romance..." she gave a wan smile...

That wasn't giving her a chance, Will...Angel eyed him...Leave this to me, pal...a hard return glance...

"Riley, can I have five alone with lover boy here...?" Buffy turned to him...

She mean Will or...? Angel thought...

***

A small office room where Riley'd led them after she'd requested a mo alone...

"With William, Angel..." an unmistakable glare to him as she pointed to the door...

"Sorry, thanks for coming now and to Rome before..." she eyed the somewhat miffed Brooding One... "But if I ever hear again that you had William's soul at your place and didn't call me...And nearly let him get pulled into Hell..." she frowned...Closing the door...

"That was for you, you know...You cowardly son of a Dru..." she eyed Will...

Riley eyed his companion in the hall... "It's that bad..." he nodded, sheepishly grinning..."Even worse back in the fall, according to Giles..."

How's 'bout him?...he eyed his former...Well, nah...It wasn't Angel he'd been worried about back then...

"The same..." Angel nodded...

***

"God, God...William..." she sobbed against his chest, crushing him against her..."If you'd just trusted me, come to me in Rome..." she shook her head...He pulled from her...

"Why?...So you could make me a noble speech about how you'd always care....But...?" he eyed her... "Or would I get a line about cookies and dough?...My somewhat literarily-challenged partner was impressed by that one..."

She slammed a hand to his chest which sent him flying across the room to the accompaniment of a loud crashing sound...

"Everything ok in there?..." Riley's worried voice...He being responsible for any damage to government property during the mission...

"Fine..." a duet through the door...

"What do you want from me, girl...?" Will hissed to her as she stood over him, breathing hard...

"Everything you gave me before...And more..." she told him, face dark... "You son of a bitch...You made me love you...You're not backing out of it now...Not now..." the rage fading..."William, if you knew what I went through after..." tears beginning to run again...

"I wasn't on Pluto or in the nether regions..." he began...

She waved impatiently..."Hell would've been easy, I was ready to chase after you there...Until Willow confirmed your soul hadn't left this plane of existence...Then Andy ups and tells us...The day I finally decided not to let Angel die at the Partners' hands for bringing us that damned amulet...That you've been in LA, at Wolfram-Hart, all this time...And corporeal..."

God, I hated you for doing that to me...she said quite calmly... "Though I'd already guessed you were deliberately not coming to me from wherever in this existence you were..." she glared... "Of course I nearly killed Giles when he suggested we wait and see if you'd reverted to evil or really were taking on the Partners with Angel..."

"So I heard..." he grinned for the first time...Rising... You ok?...she asked...

Yeah... "Too bad, I shoulda hit you harder..." she growled...

"How could you let me suffer like that?...How could you not come the first day you could?...God damn you..."

"You made out ok, Countess..." he eyed her...

"That's a job, you miserable...Didn't Riley tell you?..." she stared...

A what...?

"They needed someone in the house...I offered..."

"Now that's what I call true dedication to the mission..."

"Why not?...I betrayed and killed my lover for a mission, didn't I?...Told him the soul he'd won back for me didn't matter, I needed the maniacal killer demon...Left him to roast to death alone, believing I didn't love him...Why should I hold back on this one?..."

She startled him by bursting into full, heavy sobs...Pulling at him till he was tight against her...

"They wouldn't help me find you after the first tries I forced Willow to make to check if your soul was safe proved you were still around, somewhere...Giles, Willow, the new Council...They suspected the Partners might have you but wouldn't let me go to LA or contact Angel to confirm it...Thought he and they might be planning to use you and your damned soul as bait for me..."

Willow threatened to blank my memory of you on Giles' order if I tried to slip off and check...Even Dawn watched me for them...My family and friends...Bastards...

Well, ok...she grinned through tears... "I was a little crazy the first weeks...Nearly jumped off the Sunnydale crater that day...Then I threatened Willow when she refused to try and bargain with Osiris to get you back...Threatened him too when he tried to throw us out of his dimension..."

He's damned powerful, by the way, ever meet him?...No?...Well, Willow's no longer a 'goddess' after what it took to get us out of there safely...

"Giles then decided I was a danger to myself and convinced the others I required a little 'tough love'...That's when they all started watching me...I had to agree to wait and see or face a memory wipe...And that's how I first met Henri...I'd heard about him at the Council and heard he might have access to the kind of people I'd need...I was ready to do whatever it took to get out from under Willow's tender care and find you...Somehow...Whatever it took..." she frowned...

Some on the new Council had guessed his "Benevolence" act was so much PR hooey...And suspected that he had ties to the Partners...Which I soon found out he did...

"So I played up to him for weeks...He was smart enough to be cautious...For a while...But, before I could convince him I really was ready to do anything and make my offer...Giles called me to London to discuss Angel's sit and Andrew spilled the beans about you..."

"Offer?...Ah, to have and to hold..." he coldly smiled...

"To put myself on the Partners' side against the Council and the Slayer Corps..." Buffy eyed him coolly... "Not that I...Entirely...Meant it...I knew you weren't with them...But it woulda got me to you...He could've slipped me over..."

But if push had come to shove...she eyed him, shrugging... "Guess we'll never know...Though no need to mention that to Riley or Angel...They at least still have their noble illusions about their Slayer girl..."

But after that day in London I knew for sure that you'd never come to me, safe or no...You didn't believe me...

"So, when it turned out Henri had other things on his mind than a military alliance...And Riley called me in to explain the US concerns with him...I figured..."

"Why not?..." he shrugged...

"Why not..." she returned the shrug... "Since I hadn't had the chance to bring my initial plan up I was able to convince him I was interested...And glad to be rid of you...An annoying pest whom I'd felt sorry for but who was..."

"Beneath you...?" he eyed her...

"Yeah..." she nodded...Closing her eyes... "Why couldn't you have believed me, Will?...Trusted in me...?"

Shown a little Spike and come to Rome to try and turn the screws on me emotionally?...

"Guess I've grown..." he said coldly...

"You still don't want to believe me?..." she clasped her hands in an appeal...

"Tell me...What'll it take?...What do I have to do?..."

"You don't have to do anything, Slayer..." he replied quietly, an icy tone... "I've said I'll do my duty and cooperate...Alls fair in war, after all, right?...There's no need for all this overact..."

With a harsh cry, she slammed him back against the wall again...Rattling everything in the room...

Uh, guys?...Riley called...

"It's fine!..." another duet...

"You rotten coward!..." she hissed... "You bastard!..."

You ok?...she nervously eyed his bleeding lip...

"Sure..." he nodded, rising... "Don't worry 'bout it...As always, you hurt the one you..."

"I do...Please!..." she pleaded..."Please, why can't you believe me?!..."

He looked away... "I can't be hurt like that again, Buffy...I can't...Soul or no, I'm not strong enough...I won't take the chance..."

"Is there someone else now?...Dru, maybe?"

"There might have been..." he eyed her... "There was one girl who did reach out to me after I came back...No demented sacrifice on my part required...But with my usual luck, she's dead...And was in love with someone else..."

I see...Buffy looked away...Silent a long time...Then she turned, speaking without looking at him..."Sorry to have dragged you over here...I'll tell Riley we'll need someone else, maybe Angel if he's willing...He'll find somebody to fit the bill..."

"I've said I'll go along...Ole times' sake and good citizenship and all that..."

"Lovely...You know I should take that charming offer and shove it down your throat...But I want this to come off..."

"Always that noble dedication..." "I don't mean the mission..." she frowned...

"I said I'd help, Slayer...I meant it...Forgive me if I was a little bitter, I guess that was unfair...It was my decision not to go
pestering you...I knew what the score was and..."

He paused as she stared at him, red-eyed, gulping a bit...Her face reddening with rage even as a few tears began falling...

"You...Knew..." she repeated grimly... "What the hell did you...Know?..."

The rage fading quickly, she eyed him coolly now...

"I love you..." she said suddenly, still not looking at him..."If I could go back and change everything, I wouldn't have left
you...Or I'd've dragged you out, whatever the consequences...But I can't... And whatever you think, I did try to find you..."

It's killing me, Will...Tell me you want me to give it up...she whispered...Tell Riley you won't do it, you won't let me do it, and
lets go...Anywhere...

He stared at her face a long time... "And is that really an option here, Slayer?..."

***

Part C...



A well-furnished upper apartment in a fashionable quarter of Geneva...

Buffy snapped a light... "C'mon in ..." she called over her shoulder...William giving a slight whistle as he entered, looking round at the antique furniture and beautifully decorated walls, a light touch on the moldings to balance the furniture but clearly expensive...

"Very nice...Countess...I see the d'Vestigys have continued to do well..."

Yeah...she tossed her large hat in a chair and pulled her scarf... "Have a seat...Care for a drink ?..."

"Love one...Scotch if you've got it..."

"We've got everything..." she went into the large living room, a fully-equipped bar at the side...

"No servants about, eagerly snapping to her Benevolence's orders ?..."

"I prefer not to have 'em here and we're not in Geneva that often...The maid comes once a day, but we shouldn't have worries on that score..." she fussed about the bar quietly...

He looked round again, glancing at several points about the room...As she returned, shaking her head as she offered him his drink... "No bugs...I've had Riley's boys sweep for them..."

"Great..." he nodded a thanks, taking the drink and setting it on a small table by his elegant, yet comfortable-looking overstuffed chair ... "So it won't be necessary to..." She came to him...Looking down at him as he sat, trembling as she moved close...Finally embracing him, he responding slowly, gradually...

"William...William...Please...You can trust me...You can..."

"You mean the way your husband..."

She pulled back... "You were gone when this started...I needed some kind of work..."

"Slaying and training Slayers..."

"I can't kill vamps anymore...At least not on a hunt..." she cut him off... "As for the training, Giles is better at it, though I still help out on occasion..."

"You? Can't kill vamps?..."

"I look at them...and I see you now..."

"I want to trust you..." he whispered... "Buffy, I want to...But..."

"I've told why I couldn't get to you before...What else can I do...?" She pressed her head to him...Kissing his chest...Then pulled back... "Or do you think I'm lying ?..."

A sigh...

"Buffy, if I let go...If there was even the remotest chance that I'd have to go through what I've been though again at the end...Love, I can't bear another Cicely...It's not meant to hurt you..." he eyed her sad face..."It's a statement of fact...Regaining my soul's come at a cost...I know what it is to lose it now...I can't let it happen again..."

"I won't let it...I won't hurt you..." she pleaded, pulling him to her again... "Will...I meant what I said at the embassy...We don't have to go through with this...We can just go, tonight, now..."



"And you'd abandon the mission...Just like that...For me...?"

"For you, yes..." she looked up at his face... "I would...Ask me to...Now..."

The beautifully crafted antique phone on a table in a corner rang...She went to it...Watching him sit down again as she put the receiver to her ear...

Yes...she told the phone... "We're here, no problems...I don't know, nothing's decided yet...Ok, we'll try to drop by later..." she hung up...

Riley checking in... she noted...And sat...Looking at the wall across from her...

"Are there lives at stake ?...Hmmn, can't seem to avoid that word..." he smiled faintly at the end...

"I suppose..." she nodded... "There always seem to be...And he is fronting for a pretty unsavory crew, even if most are human..."

"Well then...As Bogie would say now 'The problems of two little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy, mixed-up...'..."

"Is that your answer ?..." she eyed him...

"It's your call, Slayer..." he replied... "Just want to make it a little easier for you to do the right thing..."

"Screw the right thing...Tell me to quit and say you'll go with me...Or take me with you to LA..."

"You know you'll do what needs to be done...You already have been doing it..." he said simply...Watching her a moment... She not looking at him...

"Great...Then we're settled, we'll tell Riley I'm out this evening...Lets get dinner started..." she got up hastily..."You may be amazed to find that I actually have learned to cook a full meal..."

He followed her into the small kitchenette... "Hope you like chicken..." she noted...

"Buffy..." he paused...

"Can you get that pan from the rack up there ?..." she pointed...Opening the refrigerator...

"You don't owe me anything..." he began...

"Pan?..." Here...he reached and handed it down to her...

"Damned right I don't..." she eyed him, setting the pan down and placing the small chicken she'd taken from the refrigerator in it...

"But I don't like eating alone, so you get a free meal..."

He grabbed at and caught her hand...Noting with a faint smile as he stared at her a long moment that he'd never have caught it if she didn't want him to...

"You know what I..."

"So it's a favor now..." she pulled her hand away... "Right, the Slayer feels an obligation and is ready to pay up...One 'I love you' being nice but hardly full recompense to the guy who...

Damn you!!..." she shrieked... "You threw everything to the winds and chased me for two years and maybe, God knows, longer and the minute you got that soul!..." she burst into tears...

"You didn't exactly welcome me with outstretched arms, girl..." he noted quietly...

"They are now..." she stared at him... "They have been since that day...Waiting for you..."

"You mean...Just as soon as we finish the latest job?..." he eyed her... "Or will it be the next..."



"You son of a bitch!...You left me alone all this time!...Never gave me a chance..."

"There are no amends to be made, Buffy...You do not have to make me happy..."

"Happy?!...I'd like to kill you, you stinking, selfish, cowardly..." she gasped a moment...

"You like a lot of herbs on your chicken?..."

Ummn...Sure...he nodded...She dusted the bird and placed the pan in the oven...He helping her by holding the oven door without a word...And as she rose, put his hand on hers...

"You really would say no...?"

"Ask me to..." she looked at him...Pulling his hand to her cheek...

Ask me, ask me...she embraced him...

***

The well-guarded, though by all accounts, utterly open to all inquiries and investigations, offices of the Immortal...In a large tower building in downtown Geneva...

A somewhat less open to the world conference room in the subbasement...Seven men round a table...All experienced-looking men of the world, three rather exceptional-looking either by outstanding handsomeness, in the Immortal's case, the wise, penetrating, and at times, kindly look of a profound intellect, in the case of the man to his right, a Dr. Bauman...And cold smoothness and a hauteur that did not match his status in the outer world, in the case of the third...Eric Matisse...

"Gentlemen...And my dear Henri..." Matisse smiled coldly at his 'employer' who eyed him coolly back... "Our monthly progress report..."

"Felix..." he turned to Bauman...Who rose...

"My friends...I believe our operations have reached a critical stage..." Bauman eyed the group...One, a portly, balding man, rather nervously blinking at him...

"Have you succeeded, Felix?..." the Immortal stared at him...

"The results to date are conclusive..." Bauman nodded... "I can obtain what we require..."

"Excellent..." Matisse beamed... "Our heartiest congratulations, my dear Felix..."

"Is it time, then...For us to move to the source?..." the nervous man hastily cut in... "If so, we must make arrangements before the Americans learn that we are operating in Russia..."

"All in good time, my dear Emil..." Matisse frowned... "To panic now and fold up our operations here suddenly would not be a good way to celebrate our Felix's success..."

"But if we have the access to weapons grade plutonium..." Emil pressed on... "We've no need to continue here, under the Americans' very noses...With some of us compromising security...Taking such risks..."

He tried not to look the Immortal...Who glared at him now...In the face...

"Emil..." Bauman sighed... "We must be very careful as to what we say...Even among friends..."

"Yes...Of course..." Emil nodded... Noting the slight frowns on the faces about the table... "I'm sorry, gentlemen...But the situation is very dangerous right now..."

"Indeed, Emil...All the more reason to restrain ourselves..." Matisse smiled at him..."Yes, of course..." Emil nodded again...Wiping his face with a handkerchief...



"Though you are quite right...It will soon be necessary to relocate...And a few of us have been, perhaps...Letting our hearts go to our heads..." Matisse smiling faintly at Henri...

"Our operations here are secure...All the more so for our establishing as normal lives as our status and the work allows..." the Immortal noted coldly...

"Perhaps so, my friend..." Matisse smiled again... "But Emil's point is well-taken...To take unnecessary risks now, could endanger this most precious of our operations..."

And put a number of our friends around the world in jeopardy...Not to mention our own lives...

"How much more time will you need, Bauman?..." he turned to their scientific expert...

"The transport route is established...I only need a few more days in Siberia to begin reprocessing on a large scale...I have left the new samples with Henri here..." he nodded to the Immortal... "They should serve to convince our allies of our success...And the quality of our material..."

"Excellent...But gentlemen..." Matisse sighed slightly... "As to other problems...I have heard a disturbing rumor that one or both of those creatures who defeated the demonic leaders, the Senior Partners is currently in Geneva..."

The world's other souled vampires...He smiled at Henri...Who gave a dark look...

"Perhaps 'creatures' was an unfortunate choice of word on my part...Forgive me, my friend..." he nodded to the furious Immortal... "But as to the reason they are in Geneva, just now...After winning such a victory..."

And both have been, I understand...Close...To your dear wife...Another cool smile to Henri...

"I am aware that William the Bloody in is Geneva, Matisse...My wife mentioned she'd heard he was coming a week ago...On the business of reorganizing his firm..."

He and his partner...Like my wife...Deal strictly with the occult...They'd have no interest in a human organization and would leave it to human agencies...

"Yet, my dear Henri...You...And dear madam, your mother, are, sadly, not quite human, despite your human souls...And now we see three of the world's greatest fighters against supernatural evil here in our fair city..."

What is one to assume from this?...

"My people will watch out, but gentlemen...Angel and William the Bloody have enough to do dealing with their own enemies...And though my wife's connections, we will be able to monitor their group's activities as we do the Slayers and their Council..."

The other six pondered...Matisse clearly enjoying the Immortal's slight squirm...

"Your wife is a charming creature..." Bauman sighed... "And yet, she and her Slayers could represent a threat once we seize power and surface in the world..."

"My wife concerns herself with the protection of Humanity...And feels as I do, that its protection depends on the government of an elite of the superior who can best guide it...The right people who will not hesitate at anything to defend Mankind against those who would destroy it..."

"I have heard her sentiments...Laudable...And perhaps believable, given her abilities and record..." Matisse nodded... "And she would, if one could trust in her words, be a fine addition to our governing council when we take power...However...She is an American...And they tend to have ridiculous notions about government..."

"If you're suspicious of her...All the better that I have her with me...Under surveillance...And the same for these other two..."

"Perhaps..." Matisse shrugged... "But I do fear, dear Henri...That your heart may lead you into folly..."

***

"Immortal Beloved..." XCIX...



.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: Though the standard IB format, one of (99!) versions of events following the end of Angel S5 episodes from "Girl in Question" through to "Not Fade Away" and beyond, this one's sorta notoriously south by southeast...(C'mon, you're a Hitchcock fan, you get it...)



Credit for this one goes to Ms. Angela Dawson's suggestion...Thanks...

Archived (soon) 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



***

Part D...

About forty minutes later the antique phone in the d'Vestigys' suite's living room rang...Repeatedly...

As did a similar phone in the magnificent bedroom...By the beautifully crafted bed...

"Damn...I shoulda cut it off..." Buffy groaned, as William rolled over...Phone on his side...He looked at her a moment...Should I?...

"Yeah..." she nodded her head on the pillow...Reaching over...Ummn...She stopped, turning to eye his face as he lifted the headset over the bed to her...

"You...You take it...Tell them..." she hissed...

He stared at her, hand covering the mouthpiece... "Tell them..." she repeated... "We can be outta here for good right after dinner..."

"It might be your husband..." he said, coolly...

She looked at him a long moment...And took the phone...

"Yes?...Oh, sorry...Henri...I was taking a nap...Yeah, I'm ok...How's your meetings going?..."

Spike would have shown me more mercy...And had more compassion...she hissed to Will beside her...Briefly recovering the speaker...

"Great..." she told the phone... "No, I'm not too bored...Did some of my shopping...Sorry your mother couldn't've come in and gone with me...No, I'll be fine...I may do a little Patrolling later tonight...Will you be here tomorrow?...Great..."



Would you like me to tell him I love you?...she whispered harshly...Again covering...

Sure, I'd like to see how you do it with other guys...he returned...

I said...You... she eyed him coldly... "Sorry, Henri...I had to turn off the stove...Had something boiling..."

"Say....Honey..." she told the phone... "That old fighter of mine...The vamp who got his soul back?...You know the one coming in on business...Yeah, that one, William..."

"He's been calling me all day...Got my number at the US embassy and wants to meet for a drink tonight..."

Would you mind?...Just to get him off my back and see if he's managing ok?...

"Well, he did die for me...Yeah, so would a lot of guys..." she chuckled to the phone...Will staring at her... "But if I let see him I'm doing fine and put a little closure on things...?"

Well...she smiled at the phone... "Yeah...He is kinda cute...You worried?..."

Good...she chuckled again... "Glad to know I can keep you on your toes...Yeah, he is a good fighter...Probably would be...Thanks, honey...See you tomorrow...Bye..." she passed the phone to William who put it back on hook...

"Good?..." she looked at him... "First rate...I'd sure be taken in...But hey, I'm desperate and not hard to fool..."

"I didn't do the 'I love you'...Sorry..."

"I'll catch it next mission...I 'probably would be' what?..."

"A helping hand on patrol tonight...He worries...You are a miserable bastard, soul-boy..." she told him coldly... "You know I had to do this...And that I thought there wasn't any hope...Sorry I didn't go ahead and kill myself that summer...But would even that have satisfied you?..."

I'd bet you'd just've said I wanted a vacation in Heaven, not you...

"What do you expect?...Am I supposed to applaud your courage in taking on this reprehensible task with such aplomb?..."

"Yeah, you're right...I lie to him...I probably lied, am lying to you...I do that with my guys...But since this was just a revenge fuck..." she eyed him bitterly... "You really should've taken the phone and said hi..."

He lay back a moment... "Not revenge...Never with you..."

"Then have a little compassion, Mr. Walthrop...Show the one who loves you a little mercy...Your demon always did, once his bloodlust got repressed...Please, William..."

"It will always be another mission...Angel didn't and I'll never matter to you enough..." he said quietly, lying flat on the bed...Nice ceiling portrait, he noted...

"I've...Told...You...' she spoke through grimly set teeth...

"The phone is right here, Slayer...Don't put it on me, so they can pressure me to let you go ahead and do your Duty...You say you were ready to die for me...I did, for you...So you call them and tell them yourself...Show me you're willing to tell Finn yourself you won't do it...I won't even make you face him..."

Well?...he eyed her...

She reached for the phone and it rang before she could take it...

"Hello?...Oh...Hello Maman...Are you all right?...What?...Oh..."

Maman?...Ah...William grinned...



Mum-in-law works fast...D'Vestigy couldn't have had five minutes to call her and beg for help...

"That's great...Maman...Glad you could come after all...Yes, I'll be here, though I was going out to pick up some cleaning...I should be back...Oh...Ok, great...We can pick it up on the way to dinner...Wonderful..."

Yes...I was planning to meet with an old friend for a drink...She eyed Will... "Oh...Fine, I'll see if he can make dinner...See you soon, Maman..."

She hung up...

"Mum-in-law trouble?..." he smiled at her...

"She's coming in...Wants to have dinner..."

"And to protect dear boy Henri from any possible hurts...By that fickle young American Slayer he had to go and marry..."

"Something like that, I suppose...She's been ok, nice enough...Though I know she did oppose the marriage and doesn't like my being a Slayer..."

"Or visiting with old 'friends'...Male ones, anyhow..." he grinned...

"She's close to her boy...Has been for a thousand years or more...Henri warned me she was a mite possessive..."

But then I kinda gravitate to mama's boys...she smiled at him...

"We appeal to your maternal instincts, no doubt..." he nodded... "I know I was screaming for a little maternal care..."

"Then...Let me..." she whispered... "Let me, Will...Look...I gotta get ready and we're gonna hafta have dinner with the Countess...You go over to Riley's, tell im they'll have to get someone else and that I want the quickest divorce the US government can pressure Switzerland to grant...We'll pick you up at your hotel, hve a nice dinner with my soon-to-be-former in-law...And then...We go the hell wherever we want..."

He looked at her anxious face...Then sighed...

"Sure, I'll go..."

He left quietly a few minutes later...She racing about the place, trying to get in proper form for dinner with the Countess...

It was only after he left, on pausing a moment, that she realized he hadn't kissed her or even said goodbye...

***

"Immortal Beloved..." XCIX...



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: Though the standard IB format, one of (99!) versions of events following the end of Angel S5 episodes from "Girl in Question" through to "Not Fade Away" and beyond, this one's sorta notoriously south by southeast...(C'mon, you're a Hitchcock fan, you get it...)



Credit for this one goes to Ms. Angela Dawson's suggestion...Thanks...

Archived (soon) 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

***

Part E…

The US Embassy in Geneva…Riley Finn's office…

"Are you sure?..." Finn eyed his returned visitor…Who'd dropped in to report a somewhat startling sighting he'd just made while strolling the Geneva streets in the twilight…

"As sure as I'm sitting here…" Angel nodded… "It was Drusilla…She's here…As to why or how…?" he shrugged…

Riley frowned… "I'd say this may complicate things…If Will even agrees to go along…"

"He'll go along…If only to keep an eye on her…"

Finn swung his chair a bit as he considered this potential wrench in the works...But, possibly...An opportunity?...

"Thanks for coming in with this, by the way…But what would Dru be doing here?...Could she have come to see Will?...To try and take some kind of vengeance on him or Buffy?..."

"With Dru, it could be anything…Though to her credit, her demon's never been one for the bloody vengeance thing…Crazy as she is, her survival instinct is her dominate driving force…"

Hmmn…

"I suppose she may simply be anxious to see Europe again…It is home for her…" Angel noted, leaning back in his chair… "And Will told me she was always very fond of Italy after they visited in the 50s…She might just be passing through on her way there…"

"Maybe…But I don't like the coincidence…"

"I can't see Dru interested enough in politics to assist a bunch of neo-Nazi humans establish a Fourth Reich…"

Though on the other hand…he thought…She probably would go for that basic black look…

"She worked for Wolfram-Hart for a time, didn't she?..."

"I'd hardly call it holding a steady job…She and Darla massacred their employers…" With my help…Angel, sighing a bit, did not say…He stared at Finn…

"You really think she might be working for d'Vestigy's people?..."

"She'd be an asset…" Riley pointed out… "D'Vestigy, at least, wouldn't have to fear her…As much as his human pals, anyway…And I'd imagine he could pay whatever she'd want…"

"She'd want a lot…Nothing wrong with her sense of her own worth...And she want more than just cash..."

"Which he could provide...She didn't see or sense you?..."

"If she did, she wasn't curious enough to say hi…Though our last get together was not all that friendly for a 'father and daughter'…"

"If she is working for them…With her psychic power…She could blow Buffy's cover…" Riley folded hands tensely, rose and began pacing…

"Though…If she…Or at least d'Vestigy and his people…Thought someone else was the American agent…"

Well, it's tough being a hero, Angel thought...But, hey…

"If Spike…William…Would do it…" Riley paused…

Ummn…Though his role was to be the contact man…Now he gets the Bond assignment, too?...

"It would work…He's a member of your organization and a fighter against evil…They might believe he'd be trying to use his connection to Buffy to get the goods on her husband as well as see her…"

And if it were to get out that he'd been seen coming here, in contact with us…Riley continued…

Geesh I could do this…And I'm the head of that 'organization' as well as a fighter of evil…

"Riley, I could…"

"I'd ask him, you understand…" Riley was picking up a phone… "But if Dru is working for the Immortal's circle…Buffy's life may depend on throwing them off the trail immediately…"

And it doesn't mean he can't catch the first plane home if he wants…he noted… "No answer at the d'Vestigy place…" He dialed again… "Finn here…" he told the phone… "I want you to see that it 'slips' out to the right people in town asap that one William Soames Walthrop aka William the Bloody aka 'Spike' is working for us…"

Lovely…Uncle Sam's clay pigeon…Angel frowned…

"That's right…" Riley continued on the phone… "But not too many loose lips…We want our 'friends' to believe he's for real…Good…" he hung up…

"How to make a reputation in Geneva in one easy phone call…" Finn grinned to Angel… "But look, if you see them...Let Buffy know not to come here, unless it's a real emergency…And let him know, we only want to use his name…If the other part of the operation isn't for him, he can go back tonight if he wishes…It'll be enough that they think he's their man…"

"If he makes it to the plane undust…" Angel eyed him…

"You don't think he'd do it…For her?..."

"I know he would…But we're not chessmen on your little board, Finn…He'll go along with the whole thing for her sake, I know…But it's lousy to do it without even asking him…"

"It's what we have to do sometimes, Liam…" Riley eyed him back… "Which I think you're well aware of, as head of your outfit…"

***

"And you, Mr. Walthrop?..." the elegant if rather formidably beautiful, in appearance just under fifty, Countess d'Vestigy smiled at Will from her seat as the little party of three dined at one of Geneva's most famed, yet secluded restaurants… "I understand that you are now the head of Wolfram-Hart, Europe…"

As well as…she smiled gently…A touch of velvet over cold steel in her smooth voice… "Like my son and myself…One of the handful of the world's truly unique creatures…"

"We've renamed the firm, what's left of it… 'Angel, Burkle-Wyndham-Price, Gunn, and Walthrop'…Afraid I'm only the junior member of the quartet, ma'am…And hardly fit to be called 'head' of anything…More an overpaid errand boy, I'm afraid…"

As for unique…he returned the cool smile… "The world seems a mite crowded with human-souled Undead these days…"

"Indeed…" a gleaming smile… "But a fortunate assistance for our dear Buffy, here…And her new sisters…"

"One should hope so…" he nodded…

"But your story fascinates me, Mr. Walthrop…A vampire demon who gave up his hold for love…And a soul who chose not to press his suit…"

"I loved Buffy, Countess…If that's what you're asking…But I've learned the hard way that that is sometimes not enough…"

A hard stare from the younger Countess…Dazzling in her strapless evening gown and jewelry…

"In any case, what I care about is her happiness…If she's safe and happy, I'm satisfied…"

"A noble soul…But I expected no less from my dear daughter-in-law's description of you…Not to mention courageous...Taking on and defeating the infamous Partners…"

"William's a fine man…I always expected the best from him once he regained control…" Buffy quietly noted…

"Little doubt there, dear…" the old Countess nodded…

"I wasn't alone at LA…Nor was it my idea to fight the Partners head on …That was my partner Angel's show…"

"You are clearly too modest, young man…"

"Hardly…But, if I may say, Countess d'Vestigy…It's your and your boy's story that interests me…"

"Mon Dieu…" she waved a hand… "Nothing particular to interest you there…" But, smiling again… "It was plague time, people were dying all about us, we wanted to live…We had the good fortune and skill to have acquired enough understanding of the occult to retain our souls and yet enjoy the blessings of Immortality…"

"I've yet to encounter any, ma'am…"

"Mr. Walthrop…" the old Countess sighed… "You are sitting here in excellent health, barely in your mid twenties by appearance though blessed with the wisdom gained over a century…Having survived Death at least twice...Wth your dear soul restored, a hero's mantle…And in a rather prosperous condition…Are these not blessings?..."

"My victims would not share your feeling…"

"But they were your demon's victims…You yourself are as innocent of murder…As I, my boy, and our dear Buffy are…Eh, daughter?..." she turned to Buffy…

"William lets his guilt get to him at times, Maman…" Buffy replied… "It's part of regaining his link to Humanity I suppose…"

Something difficult for you to understand having never lost yours…she smiled briefly at the regal dowager…

"Of course I do understand, my dear…And your former lover's remorse does him credit…" she eyed Will briefly…A bright smile for her 'dear daughter'...

***

The subbasement conference room in the tower offices of the Immortal, downtown Geneva...

Where the Immortal, placed in a somewhat embarrassing position owing to Matisse's delicate barbs regards his new Countess, was attempting to retrieve his authority...

Hell, he was the Immortal here, after all...He looked round at the six others, mere humans all...

Yet men, even the nervous little Emil, not quite to be overawed by the mere fact of his supernatural nature...

"Gentlemen..." he gave a cool and flawless smile to the group, focusing on Matisse who causally returned the smile...

Can't wait till this thing is over and he's back to his role as an "employee" once more...I and more importantly, they, all knowing that he agreed to debase himself in the job largely to watch and wait for the moment when I'd slip...

"Our dear Eric's concerns are understandable...And especially at this critical juncture, valid...However...I have taken steps to see that any potential threat from William the Bloody or Angelus is neutralized...Though I must say my wife's position here is not to be questioned by any one...You must leave her to me...I assure you she has no concerns or interests about our activities and her contacts abroad can only be assets to us..."

In any case...She is to be left to me...he noted firmly...

"What...Steps, Henri...?" Matisse asked politely and patiently...Just the faintest note of velvet sarcasm...

"I have secured...A suitable agent to deal with Mr. Walthrop or his employer or both..." d'Vestigy smiled...

Gentlemen...If I may bring her in?...he beamed at the group collectively...

Her?...Bauman looked at Matisse...Emil looking more nervous than ever...

"You brought a new operative here without consulting us?..." an annoyed question from a new speaker, William Fichmer, handsome, distinguished, middle-aged....A prominent politician of the right-wing, though supposedly moderate, persuasion...A handful of votes, sure to be gained in the next Austrian election, away now from taking power...

Several others eyeing their host with coldly appraising eyes...A cardinal violation of their little club...It being an action with the potential to destroy their lives as well as careers should a spy slip in among them...

Matisse watching silently, awaiting his time to pounce...

"You can not do this, Henri!..." Emil rose from his seat... "You endanger us all...Our activities...We know nothing about this woman!..."

"My friends, calm yourselves..." Henri smiled...Rising and moving to the door to the room...

"I assure you, our new operative is not a spy...And will be of great benefit...And, in fact, those of you who worked with the defunct Wolfram-Hart Corporation in the past are probably quite familiar with her..."

The one person most suited to dealing with...And containing any problems we may have with William the Bloody...

He opened the door with a flourish...Hmmn...Looking out into the hall...No one...

Ummn...

"So this...Absent...'person' is she who will deal with your wife's former lover?..." Matisse smiled...Then blinked as Drusilla came rushing to the door...

"Very sorry...very sorry, Your Benevolence..." she hastily noted to the Immortal...She a picture of nervous embarrassment... "Miss Edith took it into her head to go off on a stroll while we were on the way here and I had so much trouble finding her...And then I had to discipline her, of course..." she raised Miss Edith to view, the doll's arms and legs tightly taped together..."

Oh...she looked round the room... "So many people...I do hope they're nice people..."

Are they here for dinner?...

***

"Immortal Beloved..." XCIX...



.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: Though the standard IB format, one of (99!) versions of events following the end of Angel S5 episodes from "Girl in Question" through to "Not Fade Away" and beyond, this one's sorta notoriously south by southeast...(C'mon, you're a Hitchcock fan, you get it...)



Credit for this one goes to Ms. Angela Dawson's suggestion...Thanks...

Archived (soon) 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

***



Part F…



"So, my dear..." Henri eyed Drusilla...Who'd overcome her initial disappointment at being told no massacre of the human members of his little neo-Nazi club was on the evening's agenda...

"We...My friends here and I...Wish you to act for us in the matter of your vampiral offspring...Are you willing to help us?...For the price we offer?..."

"And a little more 'sunshine', Benevolence?..." she eyed him coyly...And hopefully...

Ummn...Henri looked a tad embarrassed as several of those round the table rolled eyes...

Lord, my little black rose, that was one night over a hundred years ago...Though it is only natural she would remember it forever...Ah, my rakish days of the past...

Matisse at the table frowning...What the hell has that pitiful French excuse for a human-souled vampire got, anyway?...Or does the insane lady have a taste for mothers' boys?...

Hmmn...Ah, yes...William the Bloody's mate for a century...

"Drusilla..." Henri sighed, a reproving look... "You know that I am married now, child...And whatever Evil I may sponsor in my business dealings...My home life is impeccable..."



"Married to that bad, bad Slayer..." Dru pouted... "Who took my Spikey boy away..."

"And you now can see him again..." Henri pointed out... "And if he tries to..."

The phone on the desk rang...He picked it up a second ahead of Matisse...

"Yes...?"

"You aren't afraid of me?...Strange little humans..." Dru looked round the conference table at the men who coolly stared back at her, with one nervous exception... "All so dark, so strong...Very strange little humans...Oh..." she smiled...

Very well protected little humans...she realized...Noting the red laser lights emanating from two of the walls coming to a carefully targeted point on the summery blouse of her surprisingly well chosen causal tourist's outfit...Just over her heart...Staying locked on target as she moved...Hmmn...

Matisse offering a friendly, cool smile...The morons of the Wolfram-Hart SPD we are not, lady...

"Such a nice river of fear from you, little man..." Dru smiled at Emil who blushed... "Don't be bashful, little one...I like you...Be more afraid..."

He blinked at her...Looking round at his colleagues...Dru giving an irritated look...

"More afraid of them than me?...You don't know me well, do you, little one?"

"Gentlemen...I don't think this...Woman...Is an acceptable agent for us..." Emil protested...

"Agent?...Like Mrs. Peel?..." she looked round the table...And beamed...

"Wants to be an agent, Dru does...Modesty Blaze, bang-bang..." she folded the fingers of her left hand into a pistol...

Hmmn...The others, while carefully taking mental note of the location of various supernatural and less so protections about their persons should the negotiations...And the laser-targeted arrows... fail, pondered the merits of Emil's point...Which seemed to be well taken...

"Ah, darling..." Henri cradled the phone...Turning his chair away from the table...One moment, gentlemen... "Yes, my dearest..."

Bet you ten-to-one it's his mother, not his wife, he's talking to...One of the group about the table hissed to his adjacent colleague...

"Ole Dru can be a fine spy...'Steed, you take the two on the left'..." Dru gave a arch look with a very good Diana Rigg vocal, pantomiming her Mrs. Peel entering the enemy's lair with wary looks...A swift mimed judo chop to a fantasy enemy...Brushing her hair back a'la Peel while pointing her finger gun at another foe...

"I can kill him..." she suddenly stared at the frowning Matisse in the eyes with a cool hunter's look... "And I do want to see her suffer...Don't underestimate me, gentlemen...I'm the one Angel and Ms. Summers have never been able to take down..." she looked round the table now...The men startled by her sudden change...

"Give me I want and I'll see to my silly boy and his Slayer..."

We're bad...she noted happily to Miss Edith...Scanning the impressed faces...

"Not Buffy, my dear..." Henri called from his spot by the phone... "She is to be left strictly alone and unharmed...As should her friends and family be...Unless and until I decree otherwise your concern is strictly with William ..."

Everyone lets the Slayer spoil poor Dru's fun times...she sulked...Well, Mrs. Peel would be a professional about this things...

"As you wish..." she nodded...

"No, dear..." Henri returned to his call... "Just the usual boring tediousness of business...How is your dinner guest?...Enjoying himself?...Ah...Not at all, not at all..."



Well...Perhaps just a bit...he told the phone... "But I trust Buffy completely, Maman...Would you put her on?..."

What did I tell you?...The one who placed a bet on the call sneered to his colleague...

"Darling?...Did you enjoy your dinner?...Mr. Walthrop not too troublesome?...Yes, it was very good of Maman to join you..."

"Just what are we offering you, Miss?..." Matisse eyed Drusilla...Courteously offering her a chair...Which she accepted with thanks...From Miss Edith as well...

"Ten million dollars a year plus expenses during the period of my employment...An estate in France...All the human blood I can drink...And an occasional playmate when I'm off duty whose disappearance will be engineered discreetly by your staff...Naturally, in the field I will expect your people's full support when I call on it..."

No slouch is ole Dru when it comes to business arrangements...she noted happily to Miss Edith...

Hmmn...Matisse and Bauman reflected, nodding...She does seem able to project a professional attitude when called for...

"We should be finished here shortly, my beloved...Shall I join you at the apartment or see you later at home?...Excellent...Have Rene carry Maman home and rid yourself of our friend, Mr. Walthrop and I shall see you in a few hours...Goodbye, my sweet cherie..."

Oooh...Pulling off a night away from Mummy...The bettor grinned...

"You do realize we may wish to refrain from taking any immediate action against William the Bloody...?" Matisse asked Dru carefully... "If he's not working for the Americans we've no wish to attract undue attention right now..."

"Surveillance..." she nodded shrewdly... "You'll find it's our forte...Voila..." slipping on dark sunglasses and pulling out a tourist's disposable camera... "Right, Miss Edith?..."

***

Speak Low...Kurt Weill...

"Speak low...When you speak love...

Our summer day...Withers away...Too soon, too soon...

Speak low...When you speak love...

Our moment is swift, like ships adrift...We're swept apart too soon..."

"Like the song?...I chose it..." Buffy asked as Will pulled her gently round the dance floor...The Countess watching from her chair with a serene, benevolent smile...

"Weill, eh?...Living with the Immortal has expanded your horizons..."

"Speak low, darling...Speak low...

Love is a spark...Lost in the dark...Too soon, too soon...

I feel...Wherever I go...That tomorrow is near, tomorrow is here...And always too soon, too soon..."

"For your info, my mother liked it..." she frowned... "Will?...What did you tell Riley when you went back?..."

Well?...she hissed...Turning him to avoid the Countess' sharp stare...

"I should tell you..." he paused, swinging her gently round... "Dru seems to have made an appearance in town...Angel spotted her..."



"Dru?..." Buffy eyed him... "Is she here looking for you?..." a definite hard edge in her voice...

"Time is so old...And love so brief...

Love is pure gold...And diamonds..."

"Could be...But she knows your husband..." he smiled pleasantly over at the Countess who nodded benignly back... "Intimately..."

"We're late...Darling, we're late...

The curtain descends...Everything ends...Too soon, too soon..."

"Oh?..." "Long time ago, though..."

"The time he had you two held at that farm outside Rome?...He told me about that...Though he never mentioned knowing Drusilla..."

"And Darla...A twofer..." Will grinned slightly... "I must say, as one myself, he's an inspiration to mama's boys everywhere..."

"Well, you guys tend to know women fairly well..." Buffy gave him a direct look... "And show a little consideration..."

"Does he?..."

"I asked you a question...What's the answer?..."

"If Dru's involved...This thing could get out of control quick...But Riley thinks he can throw me in the works to deflect her a little from you...If they believe I'm here for more than just my lovelorn heart... "

"Not if we leave flat...Tonight..." she pulled back... "You bastard..." she whispered...But flashed a brittle smile back to the Countess... "You said you'd do it...You told them..."

"I wait...Darling, I wait..."

"The mission, Slayer..." he looked at her coolly... "Don't we always put the mission first...?"

"Oh, you bastard..." she hissed at him fiercely... "You rotten bastard...You didn't believe me for a second...You stinking coward..." her shaking, tear-filled voice audible to the couples about them now...

The Countess this time catching a glimpse...

"No need to carry on like that, Slayer...Especially with Maman-in-law watchin'..." William coldly replied... "We're gettin' the job done, right?...What else matters, eh?..."

"Will you speak low to me?...Speak love to me?...And soon..."

***

"Immortal Beloved..." XCIX...



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: Though the standard IB format, one of (99!) versions of events following the end of Angel S5 episodes from "Girl in Question" through to "Not Fade Away" and beyond, this one's sorta notoriously south by southeast...(C'mon, you're a Hitchcock fan, you get it...)

Credit for this one goes to Ms. Angela Dawson's suggestion...Thanks...

Archived (soon) 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

***

Part G...

From her seat the old Countess observed Buffy and Will as they stood on the dance floor, no longer moving to the music coming to a close, a rather grim look on the young Countess d'Vestigy's face...

Which changed to a brittle smile as they turned back towards their table and began making their way over...

"Thanks for the dance..." Buffy said coolly, William nodding as she resumed her seat...He remaining standing...

"Well, Summers...Pardon, Countess d'Vestigy...And you, Countess..." he turned to the dowager Countess... "Thanks for a lovely evening and a fine dinner...I must be getting off..."

"So soon, Mr. Walthrop?...I wish you could stay...Henri would very much like to meet you, should he be able to join us...And I, myself must shortly return home...Poor Buffy here will be quite alone..."

"Have to earn my keep, Countess...Some things to look over back at our place before I turn in..."

"William's a man of dutiful soul, Maman..." Buffy smiled at him...Ice in her eyes... "It's no good trying to swerve him from the path he chooses..."

"Only trying to live up to my Slayer mentor's example..." he smiled back... "Please give my apologies to your son and husband...Good night, ladies..."

"I hope to see you at the house some evening, Mr. Walthrop...I do wish to hear more of your fascinating story...As I'm sure my son would..." the elder Countess extended a hand...

"I'd enjoy that...Buffy, good night..." he nodded to her and left...Buffy staring after him a long moment...Then turning back to her companion with a smile...

"Hope that wasn't too much of an imposition on you, Maman...I'm glad he behaved himself..."

"Not at all...A most charming young man..." a smilingly silky tone... "Well, I should be off...I hope you'll keep after Henri and see that he leaves off work as soon as possible...Good night, my dear..." she offered a cheek which Buffy kissed... "Hopefully I'll see you and Henri at home tomorrow night..."

"Hopefully..." Buffy nodded...Repressing only the slightest of chills at her mother-in-law's rather sudden display of affection...Till now she'd been politely, even friendly at times, but stuck rigidly to the minimum required by her duty as mother and head of the family...

Either she'd been very pleased by what she'd seen tonight...Satisfied that William was no threat...

Or...

Pleased perhaps in another way...

And though she didn't give a damn for her own safety if her cover was slipping or no...William had been right, damn him...The mission mattered...

Just as defeating the First had been the priority...She struggled another moment to repress the wild urge to run out after him...

He was right...He didn't believe me then or now because he knew me better than I do myself...Knew in the end I'd put the mission...

Is that the real reason I let Giles persuade me about not trusting Angel?...Because Angel gave up waiting on me and let himself have a life?...

I could still...I could...I can...She grabbed her cell phone out of her purse and began dialing...

"Riley?...We need to talk...Yes, Will just left...I don't care if it's dangerous for us to communicate now...Yes, he told me about Drusilla...Riley...It's over...I'm through...I want out..."

***

About one hour before dawn...

"Mr. Walthrop, I presume..." a woman's voice came to Will from a car just parked alongside him as he strolled down the last side street toward his hotel, having wandered the Geneva streets for hours...Hmmn...Same car he'd seen a few blocks back...Three men...No, one man, two Unmen...Emerging from the car...

"Dru?..." he looked as she came out and stood, leaning her head on the car roof to eye him with a careful air... "I see you've made some new friends...Or are these yours?..." he nodded at the two vamps now blocking his way...The human having moved to his rear with a small crossbow now pulled up... "If they are, tell them to step aside, girl...Or I will have to hurt them..."

"William...You've been a naughty boy..." Dru frowned..."And someone besides me does not appreciate your attempts to make trouble..."

Four more males...Two human, two vamp...Emerged from the shadows of the street before him...One of the new vamps moving round to his rear with the first human...All the new group well armed with crossbows...Unsportin' mates...Will frowned at the leering vamps...

"So the Immortal's showin' his teeth, eh?...Tell him sorry if I trod his benevolent toes but the girl in question was an ex of mine...And nothing on her part here but a kind thought..."

"No..." she frowned... "This isn't about the little Slayer and her Immortal and you know that, silly little soul William...You've been going where you don't belong, playing secret agent for the Americans...And my employers are not happy..."

"And they would be...?"

"Shhhh..." a finger to her lips, then to Miss Edith's... Say hello, Miss Edith... "That would be telling..."

"Hello, Miss Edith...I can guess anyway...The Immortal for one...And his merry band of neo-Nazis?..."

"Ole Dru is not that stupid, William..." she glared... "Our Spike would never play such a bad game with her...You are a Bad One, little soul..."

"But not an American agent, Dru...I'm here to work for Angel and with luck, make a little domestic disturbance in His Buffoonishness' happy home...You know I've no interest in politics...'Sides if I played for anyone it would be Mother England, you know that..."

"You really do take me for a fool, Walthrop..." she eyed him coolly...

Dru?...he blinked...

"The souled Champion who saved the world from the First and helped to defeat the Partners shows up in Geneva just when our organization is about to make its bid for world conquest...?...You expect us to believe you're here merely to nurse your pitiful, little souled heart?" a shrewd, appraising glance...Was it not Mrs. Peelish, Miss Edith?...turning to the doll with a content beam...

Very nice, Dru...Will smiled...

A spy extraordinare is our Dru, she happily noted, nodding...Then returning to business, frowned at William...Waving to her...Well, mix of Unmen and men, Will noted... The first human behind him fired his crossbow and he dodged, the arrow striking his arm...

"Not yet, silly boy...We don't want it too obvious..." Dru smiled...He staggered suddenly...Drugged, he realized...

The goons dragged him toward the nearest car door...She entered by her rear side door...

"I think it's time we showed you the sights of Geneva, William...The city at dawn is said to be spectacular..." she eyed him as several of her 'helpers' pushed him into the front passenger seat...One securing him with handcuffs to the passenger door handle and to the steering column...One taking the driver's seat, three squeezing into the rear with Dru...

He turned to look blearily behind at Dru smiling at him from her seat...

"Yes..She will cry for you when you're gone..." she nodded at him as he passed out...

Which is very bad of Mrs. Immortal...she noted to Miss Edith...But then suicide for unrequited love is so tragic...

If appropriate for a romantic poet, even a bloody awful one...

***

"Immortal Beloved..." XCIX...



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: Though the standard IB format, one of (99!) versions of events following the end of Angel S5 episodes from "Girl in Question" through to "Not Fade Away" and beyond, this one's sorta notoriously south by southeast...(C'mon, you're a Hitchcock fan, you get it...)

Credit for this one goes to Ms. Angela Dawson's suggestion...Thanks...

Archived (soon) 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

***

Part H...

Just before dawn...Downtown Geneva...

A pounding on his door brought Angel out of a rather pleasant dream as he dozed in an armchair by his hotel room fireplace...Simple, really...Nina darning his socks in a chair across from him, a newly-caught stag's leg turning on the fireplace spit...Connor and his own father swapping stories by the fire as he watching them, half-dozing...His mother glancing over at him from her seat near the fireplace, a quietly content beam in her eyes...The smells of old Ireland in the air...The smells and shadows of the old family estate...

Home...Heaven...

"Angel!!?..." the pounding escalated...

Buffy?...he looked up as the door slammed open against the wall...

She, still in evening dress, glaring at him...Looking round as she marched in...

"Where is he!?..."

"Buffy?..." "William!!...Get out here!..." she called into what she took for a bedroom... "William!..."

"Buffy..." Angel sighed, straightening in his chair...Eyeing her in her formalwear... "He's not here...His room's down the hall..."

"I've been there...And to your office...He's not at either...Where is he!?..."

"Isn't it dangerous for you to be coming over here?...If your husband..." a killer glare cut him off...

"I told Riley...I'm telling you...I'm done...It's over..." she waved a hand... "Where's William?..."

"If he's not in his room, I don't know...I tried reaching him myself until about midnight...I thought he might still be with you..."

"He left us hours ago...Said he was heading for the office..."

"I can try calling him if you like..." he turned to find his cell...Ah, bedroom... "Let me get my phone from the bedroom..."

"Gimme the number!..." she went to the hotel phone at his desk...

He told her and she dialed, punching the keys hard...He could see tear streaks on her face now, her hair rather bedraggled...

"William?...It's me...Call me...Now!..." she put the headset down on its cradle with a slam...

Antique classic phone $2000...Seeing Buffy going out of her skull over my partner...Priceless...He looked at her, she was trembling a bit now...

"Where is he?..." she repeated...Murmuring now...

"Buffy, whether or not you're continuing the mission, it's crazy for you to take this chance coming here..." he told her gently...

"I'll tell Henri I've decided to leave with Will...It'll be nothing more than the standard breakup..."

"And he'll take that, regardless of whether he learns about your role in this little operation, lying down?..."

"Lying or hurled down and if necessary a pile of ashes..."

"And you'll let his little circle of Nazis get their hands on enough nukes to start the Third World War?..."

"I'll leave it for Riley and his people to handle...I'm the Slayer, it's a mistake for me to get mixed up in politics anyway..."

"This isn't what William..."

"The hell it's not!...He's sitting around here, somewhere, waiting...Putting it all on me...And I..." she stopped a moment...

"I give..." she said, staring at Angel in his chair... "Tell him I give, Angel...Please tell me where he is..."

"I don't know, Buffy...What time is it?..."

"Nearly daylight..."

"Well, he's got to be heading back...Or have found a place to hole up..."

"He didn't...He's not on his way back to LA?..."

"Not that I know of...And he'd've better damned well not have headed off without alerting me..."

"Dru's in town..." she eyed Angel... "Could he have gone to her place?...Whatever sewer or old mausoleum that is..."

"Actually Riley's told me his people confirmed she's booked at the Beau Rivage...Room 221...Using the name Waverly...Not sure, but I think that actually was her..."

"She's booked at a hotel and you didn't go after her?!..."

"Buffy...I can't just smash my way into a five-star hotel and kill what appears to be a young and innocent woman in front of hundreds of guests..." Or try to, anyway...he did not say...

Geesh...We are the cautious CEO these days, aren't we...she frowned at him...

"So call her out and kill her outside the damned hotel!...Crap, I'll do it!...Which way's the hotel?!..." she moved to his desk, searching for a guide to hotels...Ah...Crap, in Italian...She grabbed at the smashed phone...Damn... "Gimme your cell, if you've got one!..."

"The Beau Rivage's on Quai du Mont-Blanc near the lake...What about your husband?..."

"He's still at his business conference, it's fine...Do you have another phone or no?...C'mon, it's nearly dawn..."

"The Immortal...Or at least his other pals could have you under surveillance...This was crazy, Buffy..."

"They have no need...I'm not doing a thing except leaving him now..." she took the phone he held out to her...Looking him in the face a moment...

Sorry...she suddenly whispered, seeing something in that stare...

***

"William?...Wakee, wakee..."

He felt a hand slap his cheek several times...Gently at first, then a solid smash...

"Wake up and see the light of day...For the first and last time, silly boy..." Dru grinned at him, standing just outside the car by the passenger door, an attentive human aide standing by with umbrella just in case though the sky was only just beginning to lighten now... Ah, hello...

"Sorry...I thought you might oversleep and miss everything...Can't have that..."

"Thanks..." he mumbled...Trying to look round...Still too heavily sedated to struggle out...

Just the first faint streaks of dawn in the eastern sky...He felt the handcuffs still round his wrists...

"Ready..." one of the human goons came out from under the car, making an "ok" sign with left thumb and forefinger...Ah...

"You did take care of the brakes and steering?..." she eyed the human minion who'd been under the car... "Yes, ma'am...It's an older model Mercedes, though a classic..." he patted the engine hood... "With all lines cut and the rest, she should lose everything within the first minute..."

"Good, good...Spike always loved old cars...He'd appreciate the gesture...Unlock him and pull him over to the wheel...Hurry, we haven't much time..."

"Dru..."

"You'll love this, Mr. Walthrop...Or my Spikey would've..." she frowned a bit then brightened again... "Miss Edith suggested it...Take a bow, Miss Edith..." she bent the doll to imitate a bow...

Clap for Miss Edith...she eyed her minions still working or standing about the car...Several of whom had rolled eyes on her last statement...

"I said...Clap...For...Miss...Edith...Or you can go along for the ride..." she eyed one vamp coldly who proceeded to hurriedly begin clapping rather feverishly...

Better...

"Now, William..." she returned to her subject...

"Here's the deal as your little Slayer would say...Herman...The whiskey..."

Your favorite brand, I remembered...she noted to Will as Herman, a tall, hulking vamp poured...Somewhat regretfully...A bottle of whiskey over William and the seat where he was now sitting...

"William the love-besotted, soul-encumbered poet-vampire, wandering round after learning his beloved Slayer is lost to him forever, belts down a couple of bottles of premium whiskey..." she eyed Herman who sadly opened another bottle...Several of the others, humans and vamps alike, likewise sighing...

"...And goes for a last drive to view the fatal dawn...Ending in flaming torment and down, down, down the cliffs in flames...Bang, boom, bang, bang...BOOM!..." she rolled her hands to simulate a tumbling car... "Wheeee!..."

Neat, huh?...she beamed... "And our drug...Theodore?...Not too much, just top him off a little..." Ted, a human came over with a syringe in hand, plunging the needle of it into Will's arm...He groaning...

"...Breaks down into the basic components of alcohol...Should by chance anyone care to examine your ashes later..."

Of course...she noted... "Your superiors will know the truth but they'll need a few days to find out what's happened with you and get Angel or someone else on the trail...By then, we'll have things as we want them..."

He groaned, trying to force eyes open...Two of Dru's minions now clearing the car of any traces of their presence, one working to secure Will's foot to the gas pedal...

"And, someone...Perhaps she...May buy the idea that you couldn't exist here without her anymore...Any last messages for Buffy?...I assure you I'm under orders not to meddle with her...Yet...So I would deliver them faithfully?...No?..."

"Dru?..."

"I'm doing you a favor, William...Little foolish soul, you never meant and will never mean anything to her, you know that..." she pulled out a tape and handed it to the minion now jamming a crowbar over his foot to hold the pedal down... "We must have appropriate music..." The minion shoved it into the car's cassette player...A high-pitched, sweet and wistful voice sang softly in French...


Play

"Josephine Baker, 'Nuits de Miami'...Remember we saw her in Paris once, and you loved her singing...But called her, 'poor thing' when you heard the crowd cheer her, but dismissing her as an exotic curiosity as they left...A nigress ... I remember...Even you...Spike...Felt for her, said she'd run from her world to another but would never find peace in either..."

Like you...Dru eyed him..."So you see I do love you, Spike..." He trying to stare back as Ms. Baker's voice sang gently on...

"Don't disappoint me, William..." she frowned, wagging a finger... "No silly appeals to old times' sake or my better nature..."

"Certainly...Not..." he tried to keep his head up...The drug moving swiftly...

"Just...Get bent, girl...And, sorry I didn't...Stake you...Last year, love..."

She grinned..."That's the nicest thing you ever said to me, William...The staking thing was meant to be nice...?" she eyed him...He nodded vaguely... "Thanks...For the song, girl..."

"You always were a kind gentleman, Mr. Walthrop...Goodbye..." she slammed the door...Nodding to her minion by the driver's door who reached in, turned the keys and slammed his door...The car sped off along a road which ran straight about a quarter mile, then twisted as it headed up the cliffs overlooking Lake Geneva...

Hmmn...She eyed the car make a slight veer, just avoiding the road edge...Pity we can't stay and watch the nice flames rise up to Heaven...

"Make sure you take a complete video..." she eyed two of the humans who nodded and headed for their own car...

That for the Boss?...The first of the two humans to reach the car hissed to his short and pudgy partner readying his camera... "I think psycho vamp likes to watch..." the other shrugged... "Well I meant the Countess..." the first insisted as they started out...

"Sometimes a mother's love must express itself in unusual ways..." Dru sighed to Miss Edith as she entered her own car, still looking after William's careening car..."But he'll be happier in Heaven...Less confusion..."



***

"Immortal Beloved..." XCIX...

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: Though the standard IB format, one of (99!) versions of events following the end of Angel S5 episodes from "Girl in Question" through to "Not Fade Away" and beyond, this one's sorta notoriously south by southeast...(C'mon, you're a Hitchcock fan, you get it...)



Credit for this one goes to Ms. Angela Dawson's suggestion...Thanks...

Archived (soon) 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

***

Part I...

A cliff road overlooking Lake Geneva...Dawn just beginning to break...

An early morning stroller in search of an open coffee shop made a wild run for the other side of the road, then watched the racing car that had just missed him veering and wobbing near the edge of the road...

Thought Atlantan drivers were bad...he sighed to his wife waiting for him in her wheelchair on the sidewalk...

The car, its driver apparently a bit disoriented, to put it mildly, and struggling to keep it on the road, disappeared behind a curve...Another car following behind at a rather fast clip as well, though maintaining a sensible distance...

"Was that guy shooting a video of the other car?..." the man looked at his wife... "Maybe it's a movie or something?..."

"They're all weird in Europe...You should call somebody..." she insisted...

"Honey, it's 5:45 am...Whom am I gonna call?..."

"Call 911..." "I don't have my cell...Is it even 911 in Switzerland?..." he began pushing her along...

"You never wanna call..." "If we find a place, I'll call..."

(Hey, Hitchcock does it...)



***

The winsome voice of Josephine Baker continued to float from the cassette player as Will tried to keep himself awake and the car away from the road's cliff edge...The power steering rapidly becoming less so...His eyes closing...Hmmn...He jerked his head up...

He tried pulling his foot from the gas pedal...Too tightly wedged...His fingers and arms too numb to grip and pry away the crowbar holding his foot down...He just barely caught at the wheel as the car raced for the rock face of the cliff on the opposite side of the road, now beginning to curve sharply...He managed to lift his other foot and placed it on the brake pedal, forcing it down...

Nothing...Not even slowing the car slightly...He managed to swerve the wheel to pull the car back from the sheer drop of the cliff facing Lake Geneva...A passing car on the opposite blaring horn as it just dodged him...

And remind me to thank you for smashing the headlights as well, Dru...he sighed...

Well, not enough light to see the road by is hardly my worst problem, he noted the sunlight now beginning to peep through the dawn clouds...Wrenching the wheel as hard as he could to avoid the drop again...

Hmmn, crash into the rock face?...Would stop the car and if I didn't make it I'd certainly never feel a thing with what she's had pumped into me...However...Gasoline or sun...Burning to death is burning to death...And contrary to my dear Dru's belief, though somewhat to my own surprise...I'm not quite ready to go the toast route again yet...

Even if I can't say why and can't see the slightest thing holding me here...Whoops!...He forced his closing eyes open again and jerked at the wheel, forcing it to move, just missing a lumbering bus that nearly clipped his side...

Think the two of us have had a little too much, mate...he frowned at his rear view mirror where the bus was doing a little veering of its own...

I'm being a tad hard on her...he thought...Buffy's earnest face in the D'Vestigy apartment bedroom...Heck, staring at him from the opposite pillow of the weekend and city spree marital bed...Appearing before him...

Could she really have meant it?...That she would give it up?...For me?...A happy vision of them running from the d'Vestigy estate, covered in the Immortal's reeking gore came to him as his eyes closed again...

Whoa...The car's scraping against the opposite roadside's cliff face woke him suddenly from the sleep he'd begun falling into...He barely managed to veer off, tugging as hard as he could at the wheel, arms through the openings, hands clinging as best he could make them to the thicker midsection of the wheel...

Right...After a year with no word from her...Knowing that I was back...

Hmmn...Try an abrupt end?...He eyed the starter, blinking...No key, hot-wired, apparently...

Geesh, Dru...Adding car theft to drunk driving and suicide?...And here I had a clean record for the past twenty...Not counting that time they picked me up in Sunnydale for speeding and DUI after the chip...Which never did get recorded as I had no id and slipped out on them...

Emergency brake?...He managed to find the lever and pulling one arm out, pulled it back, trying to brace...At least they buckled me in...Nothing...Her lads didn't slip up on that one...

He could see that the road, straight for a short distance, twisted wildly just beyond...The light of dawn growing fast now...

Time to do or once again...

True, I could have tried to call her...But she put it on me to call Riley, knowing I'd cave for Duty's sake like the Humanity-saving Champion I am...

Well, he seized the automatic gearshift lever with his free hand...Couldn't grip it...He tried again and managed to get fingers around it, though not feeling it...Hmmn...Always wondered what would happen if one shifted into park at high speed on a cliffside road with no brakes...

Not even Spike willing to try...For sake of the car any way...His foot pushed again at the useless brake pedal and forced his arm and hand back and up, pulling the lever to Park...

The car gave a sudden grinding lurch...Ah, one thing they'd not...But kept moving...Hmmn...Thugs with considerable mechanical expertise...

Ahead of him, on the opposite side, just completing the twisted section and entering the flat stretch of road...A very large truck...

Hmmn...

Well, either over the cliff, into the rock face, or...He forced the wheel round, the car spinning left to take the truck on perpendicularly, on the passenger side...



Hate to admit it but sure wish Dru could have chosen a Volvo, he thought as the truck driver made a desperate attempt to jam his brakes, honking...Impact occurring on the passenger side just before the car would have struck the rock face side of the road...

A Volvo...Christ...He shook his head as the car was smashed along in front of the truck and he lost consciousness...

So I do still love her...A last smile breaking...



***

"Ummn...Dru?..." Angel spoke hesitantly into his room phone... "This is Angel..."

"Where's Will?...Tell her to tell you or we'll kill her!..." Buffy hissed...He waved a hand...You said you'd let me handle this...his look said...

She pulled back...Sorry, sorry...

"I'm looking for William...Is he with you or have you heard from him?...I can make it worth your while to tell me, Dru...Here's my number, call me..." he gave the room phone number and hung up...

"You shoulda threatened her..."

"A threat would just get her excited...And really get her after him if she wasn't before..."

"I'll go over..." Buffy rose... "I'll make that waif maniac talk..."

"Buffy..." Angel sighed... "If you go, your cover is blown...Assuming...Hoping...She didn't hear you just now...Or at the very least, your husband will know there's something between you and William on your part..."

"I've told you, the charade is over...I'm gonna tell him regardless as soon as I go back...If I go back..."

You think maybe a message on his answer machine...? she eyed him...Then the phone...

"Buffy...Millions of lives may hinge on this one..."

And the answering machine idea is a little cold...he did not say...

"Millions of lives always hinge on the next one...William was right, there's always a new one to pull me away...But wrong about one thing...I am through with this one...I was a bad choice for the job from the start..."

"You were the perfect choice and you know it..."

She bridled a bit..."Meaning?...Nobody does vamps like Buf?..."

"Meaning no man could resist loving you...And no Unman if he has even the slightest spark of Humanity..."

"So, I'm a lying, heartless bitch as well as a killing machine capable of throwing her lover to the four winds to win one for the home team..."

"If the Immortal is up to what you and Riley believe he is, he doesn't deserve any pity, Buffy..."

She stared at him a moment...Then suddenly sat in the chair by the door...A forlorn, even desperate look...

"He doesn't believe me, Angel..."

"He's afraid of being hurt again..."

She twisted in the chair...

Please not another ruined antique, Buf...Angel sighed to himself...

"Was...Was it very bad?...When I didn't..."

"I think he expected it...And didn't want you to know about him...But, when he heard you'd gotten involved with the Immortal..."

"If I had known...The first day...I swear..." a pleading look...

"Why didn't you try to contact us?...Whatever Giles said..."

"I told him..." she looked at him carefully... "He didn't tell you?..."

"Only that Giles assumed we'd both sold our souls to the Partners...I'd hoped for more trust than that from you, Buffy..."

"After you brought that damned amulet to us?!..." she rose, fists tightened...

"I offered to use it myself..."

She relaxed a little... "Sorry..." She sat down...

"I tried everything to reach him, bring him back, at first...I even learned a little magics...They tolerated it for a week, then when I tried to push Willow, they threatened me...Willow and Giles...For my own good, of course...If I kept on with this crazy obsession to try and reach William in the beyond...They'd take measures...Magics measures, including if necessary a memory wipe...That's how I took up with the Immortal..."

I knew what he was...But I didn't care...If he could put me in touch with Will somehow...

"I would've let him and his friends take the world...Though luckily for my Slayer honor all he wanted was me..." she stared at Angel... "Joke on me, William being at your place all the time I was working to convince Henri he could trust me...If I'd not been so eager to have you to blame and accepted Giles' pronouncement of your being beyond the pale..."

"But after we came to Rome?..." Angel looked at her...

"I didn't know until Andrew told me in London...The day Giles decided you might possibly be a tad worthier than pond scum if the stories of the Black Thorns' destruction were true...The day I finally learned Will'd been a few thousand miles away with you all the time I'd been preparing to offer to betray everything I'd ever fought for and join the other side to get him back..."

He stared at her... "Again, lucky me...All I had to do in the end was screw another human-souled if despicable vamp...And marry him..."

"If you were really willing to do all that...?"

"He didn't want me...All this time and he'd never tried to reach me...Had no intention of coming to me, never believed what I'd told him that day...That's all I knew..."

Does he hate me?...she asked him quietly...

"He loves you...Everything he's done...And he's done good work...And everything he's endured...And he has endured a lot this year...Has been for you...Watching him try to live up to what he figured you'd expect from him..." Angel paused...

"I can guess now what he went through to get that soul back...And amazing as it may seem...I'm proud that we're friends, of a sort...Again..."

"But he doesn't trust me..."

"I think he wants to...More than anything in the world..."

"If I give this up...Will he believe me?..."

"You and he can't run from what you are Buffy...You're heroes...And heroes have duties to perform..."

It's in the fine print of the job description...he grinned wryly...

"You can say that...You have a life now...One you found quick enough after me...A son...A wife..."

"A son and a wife...Who both know...And accept...That they could lose me anytime...Just as I accept that someday I may lose them...In the most horrible way one can imagine..."

After a moment, she nodded slowly...

"Funny that we couldn't manage that...You and I...We could have bit the bullet and said to hell with it, curse or no...I could've tried to have Willow remove the curse when she started getting powerful..."

"We had the chance once...I suppose I shouldn't tell you but...When we went through the W-H archives, we snapped all spell strings detected on us as a precaution...One was..."

"You mean when you became human and we agreed not to follow through...And did the time reversal...?"

Giles had every member of the Council and Slayer Corps go through our own spell clearance...she explained...

"Then you know...We chose not to take our chance with each other...And yet, though the same arguments apply, I took the chance with Nina...And you with William..."

"And I lost..." she sighed...

"It's not over till it's over, Slayer...You of all people know that...And whatever hell he's putting you and himself through...His one dream, his whole focus is you..."

"I know..." she looked at her hands... "I know and it terrifies me...It did from the day I realized Spike had meant every word of love he'd ever said...That the soul had fought its way back for love of me... Had died for me..."

What can I ever give him that can compare to that?...Me, the Slayer?...I couldn't even try to help him, give him peace...She covered her face with her hands, Angel moving to her...

"Buffy..." he lifted the hands away gently and raised her chin to face him... "You didn't kill Spike because you knew it wasn't 'peace' he wanted..."

"Angel...What can I do?..."

"Well..." he smiled... "Walthrop's a Brit...They appreciate endurance, staying the course...You oughta know that after Giles..."

She grinned slightly back... "I dunno...I'm Californian...Instant gratification's our motto...But I can give it my best shot...If you think..."

"I do..." he paused... "But, Buffy...You can't do it by running away from your lives...Even if you got him to go with you...Your destiny will catch up with you..."

"I won't let it come between us...I've done my duty and then some...So has he..."

"Then don't let it come between you...Just don't run away from it...If you try to run, it will come between you and haunt you forever...Buf, William's not looking for you to give it all up for him...He's looking for you to take him along...This whole year has been about him trying to prove he's ready to stand with you, Slayer...And to accept whatever comes for whatever joy you can share..."

She gave him a sidelong look and wry smile... "Uh-huh...He sure seemed more like he didn't think there was a real chance in Hell..."

"But he hopes there is..." Angel grinned... "And your task, Countess Slayer...Is to make him a believer...If you're up to it..."

"Riley should have them hire you for Voice of America broadcasts..." she frowned at him... "So in short, I should do the damned job and convince him while doing it..."

Literally...she carefully eyed Angel... "Henri being of a romantic nature..."

"It's your call, Buffy...But I honestly believe the way isn't running...I've tried that, believe me..."

"Would Nina let you screw around...Again, literally...With Dru?..."

"Not to save the world..." he grinned... "But that's since we were married...And she let me go and try it with the Partners and would now, if it had to be..."

Though she might spit in my funeral urn if things went South...In time she'd accept it and after a period of prolonged separation punishment, agree to a reconciliation in Heaven...So long as I let her do her own thing in the heroine department...

"I still kinda prefer the romantic sacrifice bit myself..." Buffy noted...

"The sacrifice...Romantic enough...Is making the commitment...If you can do that, whether you keep your job or no, you'll find him content, I think..."

"I am committed...I made the commitment...Whether he thought it was the feeblest 'I love you' ever or no...It was for real..."

"Then, Slayer...Tell him what the deal is...And make him buy..."

She nodded a little...Then looked at the clock...Just before 6 am...

"Gotta find him first..." she rose...

Angel's phone rang...

***

"Immortal Beloved..." XCIX...



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: Though the standard IB format, one of (99!) versions of events following the end of Angel S5 episodes from "Girl in Question" through to "Not Fade Away" and beyond, this one's sorta notoriously south by southeast...(C'mon, you're a Hitchcock fan, you get it...)

Credit for this one goes to Ms. Angela Dawson's suggestion...Thanks...

Archived (soon) 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

***

Part J...



The cliff road above Lake Geneva...

A scene of pandemonium...Wailing sirens, a steadily swelling crowd , many in rather casual dress including robes and slippers for those living nearest the scene on this early Sunday morn...Police trying with slow success to restore order and drive the curious back from the area of the burning wreck...Rescue workers, either intensely busy at the center of the site or milling about like the rest of the crowd, waiting to be summoned to assist...Fire trucks at two sides of the ruined vehicles, with firemen busy trying to spray down the wreckage, preparatory to seeking remains and anything useful as evidence for the police...

All too busy to note the two cars, halted just a short distance back up the road, one having waited for some little time, the occupants presumably enthralled by the human tragedy...The other newly come up...Pulling away...

Inside the car...A barely conscious William wryly, if blearily noting the humor of the situation...Rescue teams of humans trying to reach him...And pull him to the safety of the morning sun...

Mercifully, he passed out as the flames reached him...And the crews of workers and firemen raced back from the car, an explosion imminent...

Deja-vu all over again...His next-to-last thought as the flames began licking his body...

A sad-eyed, desperate Buffy in bed next to him, imploring him to believe in her, the last image in his mind...

His hand involuntarily reaching to take hers...

***



In the early morning, at the Immortal's palatial office, the rest of their secret inner circle having retired several hours before, Henri and Matisse awaited word of the success of their new agent's activities of the night before...Henri rather impatiently, anxious as any good husband to rejoin his waiting wife...

Matisse, to the Immortal's irritation...Does that human never tire?...Still fresh and alert after a night without sleep, watching his...Current...Superior with a fair degree of concealed amusement...With an eye on the television monitor in the room, tuned to the local news...

Sadly, no reports as yet of a tragic accident on the cliff road...But they'd need a little time for word to come in, Henri noted...

Perhaps...Matisse thought...But I would lay heavy odds that his major concern is whether Drusilla found his wife with our dear Mr. Walthrop...And that tonight's operation was suspended because she did...

The phone rang...Henri just beating Matisse to it...Matisse politely deferring just at the last second... As always giving the very clear impression that he'd've had no problem taking it first...

"Yes?...Ah, Drusilla...Well, and how did things go with your meeting with your old...Colleague?..."

Ah...A broad smile...

Hmmn...I lose one bet...Matisse frowned inwardly...

"And you are quite sure he was destroyed?...In a manner that could bear investigation?..."

Hmmn...A frown...

Ah...So your hand-picked operative has failed?...Matisse thought contentedly...Pasting a noncommitally alert look...

"That is unfortunate..." Henri sighed... "However you were pressed for time with the dawn, I quite understand, dear...Have your assistants learn what they can from the police and report to me as quickly as possible at my apartment here in the city...And...Thank you, my dear girl...I'm very hopeful...What?...I see...Well, he was bound to suspect...Again, thanks...We'll be in touch..."

He put down the phone...Still frowning...



"Well...?" Matisse eyed him...

"The car was almost completely destroyed on impact with a large truck...It burst into flame a few minutes after...He is very likely no longer a concern...However..."

"She cannot confirm his death?...Destruction?..."

"The police arrived too quickly for the humans in her group to check...She had to remain under protection owing to the dawn..."

"Most unfortunate..."

"Yes...And given his reputation...Still, a good effort...Her heart is definitely in her work...Hardly her fault she was left with so little time to act...And she was careful to leave no link to us...Though he indicated before she sent him off that he was inclined to believe I was behind it..."

"Natural...Though if he survived..." Matisse was thoughtful...

Hopeful might be the better word...

"He'll do nothing so long as I am Buffy's husband...And he and his people can prove nothing...Drusilla hardly needs a motivation behind her actions..."

"Yes, but if he suspects you...And his presence in Geneva as a likely American agent already suggests that you are compromised...Sir..."

"If he's survived, what can he do?...Call me out?...Nonsense..." Henri waved a hand, shrugging... "As for his suspicions, jealous husbands are not an unusual commodity..."

***

The American embassy...Two hours later...

"Well, Pumpkin, to bring you up to speed..." Riley Finn, ambassadorial aide/clandestine spymaster, spoke into his room phone...A teasing tone as he lay in bed, in pyjamas, sitting with head and back propped up on several pillows, a breakfast tray and a stack of half-read reports divided by his side on the mattress...Nothing like the quiet of an early Sunday morning for getting caught up on things... "First, you know who has come into town...Yep, with him...Yep, they seem to be getting along...Yeah, well, guess they have something...A coupla things...In common now..."

"Yeah, you know who else was floored to see him...Yeah, looks like things are still pretty sparky between them from what I could see...But they're professionals...All-in-all, I'd say things were going pretty smoothly so far with you know what..."

A sudden smash at his door belying that last remark... "Honey, someone's just come by, lemme put you on hold a min..." he reached for the gun under his pillow and taking aim at the door, pressed the hold button on the phone... The voice of his worried wife Sam cut off... "Ril...?" as the door was smashed open...

To the accompaniment of loud calls and shouts further down the hall...

"Hold it!..."

"Riley! You son of a bitch!..." Buffy cried as she entered...

"Buffy?..." he looked at her fuming face...So angry as to make him forego the "have you lost your mind?" that had sprung to his lips...

"Drusilla tried to kill him tonight!..." Buffy came to his bedside...Tossing papers to the side...

"Dru?...Who?..."

"William, Goddamn it!...And you know why, you bastard!..." she stood at his bedside, fists clenched...

"Angel told me!...You set him up!...You put it out all over town that he was working for you clowns!"



"Buffy..." Riley sighed...Eyeing his scattered reports as he swung his legs out over the edge of the bed...She backing off a bit...

"First...Is he ok?...You did say 'Tried'..."

Yeah...She grimly nodded... "No goddamn thanks to you..."

"He agreed to let us slip the word on him...Mainly to protect you, I think..."

Oh?...she brightened momentarily...Then returned to full glare... "You set him up you..."

"Look..." he waved a hand...And rose from the bed as she pulled back a bit further... "If we 'set him up' as you say...We did it with his permission...And I can help him...And you...A whole lot better if you tell me exactly what happened and where he is..." He went to a chair and pulled the robe which had been thrown on it up, putting it on...Have a seat, he offered...Turning back to his phone on the bedside table...

"Gotta let my Sam know I'm not under assault before she calls in the Marines...Hey, honey...Nothin's happened, sweetheart, I'm fine..." he spoke into the phone...Buffy frowned and remained standing...He moving to drag another chair over and taking a seat, while holding the phone...

"Yeah, it's you know who else...Yep, a little trouble..."

"One min, Pumpkin..." he turned back to Buffy...Who was staring...She knew it was me?...

Well?...Riley eyed her...

"He's at Angel's...Burned and banged up pretty badly, lucky to be Undead...Dru tried to drug him and send him off just before dawn in a car set to fail...On the road over by Lake Geneva...You bastard, why weren't your people watching out for him?..."

"They were as much as we could risk it...Buffy, William made this choice for the sake of the mission and you..."

"Screw the mission...It's over..." she blinked a second...Then smiled, surprising him...

God it wasn't that hard at all...

"Yeah..." she nodded... "We're through, I'm going to LA with him today...Or as soon as he can go...Get someone else..."

"Is that what he's saying?..."

"He's only the fall guy...Your fall guy...I'm the lead operative and I say, it's over..."

"Wish your husband and his buddies felt that way..." Riley eyed her...

"Except for Henri and his mom...They're all just human..."

And now Dru...Riley noted...

"I got faith in you and your guys, Riley...Besides what do I pay taxes for if you and your folks can't deal with a few neo-Nazis with vamp connections?"...

Noises in the hall...Riley looked over...

Took 'em long enough...I'd be dead by now...he frowned as three burly men in black suits wearing dark sunglasses entered...Guns at the ready for two, the third at least prepared with crossbow...

"Mr. Finn!?..." the first called to him...

"It's fine, Termin...Countess d'Vestigy...My old friend..." he eyed the agent carefully... "Just came by with some serious news about a mutual friend of ours who was injured last night..."



She thought, him being an American...Of sorts...The embassy might be able to help arrange any medical care he might need...That's all...A hard look...

"And gentlemen...A little more haste next time...I might really have needed you..."

"Yes, sir..." Termin nodded...The others nodded to Riley as well, scanned the room carefully, and backing out slowly, turned and headed off down the hall...

"Aren't those your own guys?..." Buffy looked after them...

"Best to keep a story going, especially with Drusilla on the other side...If one's ever taken for interrogation by the enemy, all he can tell them or her is what I've told him..."

"She'd cut to the chase..." Buffy shook her head... "And did..." she glared again...

"But he's ok?..."

"Undead, thank..." she paused at the somewhat ludicrous addition of "god"... "He's in one piece, barely..."

Barely...she repeated... "God, what do you people want from us?...Why can't you, all of you..." she shook her head... "Haven't we performed enough for you?...What does it take to satisfy you?...Why can't you leave us alone?..." she burst into tears...

"Buffy...I'm sorry..." Riley rose and moved to her chair...

"We got the call...They called Angel cause he's Will's boss...His number was in his jacket...And the moment the phone rang..." she closed her eyes... "I was sure they'd taken him away from me again...Like they always do...Like you always do, you people..."

"But the worst of it was..." she sighed... "I've seen him hurt worse..."

I've hurt him worse...

"Damn you people...What are we, your guardians?...Your parents?...Leave us alone..." she was sobbing now... "Leave us alone, leave us..."

"Buffy, I want to help..."

"Sure you do..." she lifted her head... "You wanna keep the troops in there, keep us idiots happy and committed...Ready to charge like half-assedly dimwitted members of the Light Brigade

..I know the routine..."

I've used it...I've used it...she shook her head...

"Listen...Did anyone see you at Angel's hotel?...Buffy, it was crazy for you to go there..."

"I went to see two old friends, one who'd been hurt..." she eyed him...

Fair enough...he nodded...Suppressing a smile...Damn, I knew she was cut out for this line of work...

"I'll get him into a hospital we use...I'm sure he'll be back to normal in a day or two, given his physiology..."

"Right...Vamps being worthless whether souled or no, lets throw him right back in..." she said coldly...

"He's doing this for good reasons...Besides you..." Riley pulled the phone over... "Pumpkin, it's ok...You know who got hurt but he'll be ok...Yeah, Geneva can be a rough place...I am always watching out for any 'accidents', sweetie...I just have to finish here, hon and I'll call you back...Love, ya..."

He pressed another line... "This is Riley Finn at the American embassy...A US citizen, Mr. William Soames Walthrop, is coming in for treatment... Please see his case expedited...And he is a special case, please pull his file beforehand and have the right people assigned to him...Call me when he's brought in..."



Thanks...she nodded as he hung up and turned to her... "I'll get back to Angel's and bring him over..."

I'm sorry, Riley...she stared at him... "I hope you won't have too much trouble replacing me..."

"It'll be impossible..." he said flatly... "The mission will fail and thousands, maybe millions, will die..."

She turned beet red..."Goddamit...! Who the hell are you to lecture me?!...I've saved the world...A lot..."

And so has William...With little enough thanks...

"Which is why it would be a shame to let it all go to waste..."

"I'm going to William...I'm taking him to your hospital and the moment he can leave, we're gonna do just that...Get Giles to send you a thousand Slayers and hit their HQ while Henri is still reading my goodbye note..."

"They're not the prize here...You know that...We have to know where they're planning to obtain the weapons and who is helping them...We hit them like that now and we lose everything...The survivors'll go underworld and take the stuff with them..."

"You expect me to go back to Henri, that bastard...After he tried to sic Dru on William?...And go on playing Buffy the loving newlywed?..."

He's probably guessed about me and Will in any case...Knows I've been yankin' his chain...

"It may not have been his order...In any case, I doubt he suspects you...I rather get the impression he'd prefer..." he hesitated...

"Yeah..." she nodded... "So did Will...And he's ashamed for me, rightly...After all, in the old days all I did was kill 'em...Now...I pretend I give a damn about 'em..."

But then I had a whole year's practice with William before I started on Henri...No wonder I've done so well...

"I don't believe Will is ashamed of you, Buf..."

"He should be..." she whispered... "Look at what I've become...Worst of it is, I can't even blame you, you son of a bitch..."

"Thanks..." Riley eyed her coolly...She stared back a moment...

"I have to get out of this, Riley..." she said quietly... "Please let me get out of this...Before I lose him again...Before it destroys me..."

He sighed and nodded, smiling now... "All right...It's up to you, Buf...And I guess, in the end, we will find a way if we're meant to...With or without you..."

"Gee...Thanks for trying to ease things..." she frowned..."As for Henri's poor lil' heart...That's too bad for him but at least he gets off unstaked...By me, anyway..." she rose... "I'll see you around LA sometime...Bring Sam, we'll all do the town..."

"It's always been your call, Summers...But what if he chooses to finish the job?...With or without you?..."

"Eh...I'm very experienced at knocking him out, no problem..." a faint grin...

***

"Immortal Beloved..." XCIX...



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: Though the standard IB format, one of (99!) versions of events following the end of Angel S5 episodes from "Girl in Question" through to "Not Fade Away" and beyond, this one's sorta notoriously south by southeast...(C'mon, you're a Hitchcock fan, you get it...)

Credit for this one goes to Ms. Angela Dawson's suggestion...Thanks...

Archived (soon) 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

***

Part K...

"I cannot tell you, Mr. Walthrop..." Henri's aristocratic voice sighed... "How distressed I am to hear of this horrible attempt on your person by that tormented fiend..."

A terrible thing to have such a monster loose here...Tragically pathetic as her case may be...he shook his head... "Naturally I must be cautious in contacting our local law-enforcement authorities on a matter like this but I assure you I'll see that every effort is made to find and destroy this creature..."

"I'll find her..." Buffy noted grimly...Standing at D'Vestigy's side in a quite stylish casual suit and unbuttoned overcoat...Her rather jaunty hat and scarf at odds with her manner...

Hard to believe she'd spent most of the last few hours helping Angel find, then tend to me after the cops called him, before racing off to the embassy and then home to change and prepare to meet the hubs...William thought as he stared up at his two visitors...Aside from her anger, she looked fresh as a daisy...Though perhaps just a tad pale...

"Angel shoulda taken her out years ago...But I'll settle her hash once and for all..."

"Darling..." Henri looked at her set face... "Little as I doubt you could 'handle' Drusilla, I want you to leave this to my staff...I'm sure Mr. Walthrop would agree..."

"Yes..." Will nodded, wincing slightly as several badly burned, newly bandaged areas on face and neck moved... "But I'd rather you'd not kill her if it's possible...Poor lamb can't help what she is...Angel and I may still be able to help her..."

"I'll help her...To eternal bliss in the next world..." Buffy replied...Then shook her head... "Maybe you're right Henri...I'll try and leave it to your people...If they can handle it..."

Guess I'm itching for a little Slayer work these days...she noted to William...Patting his hand a bit absently a moment...

"I can have my people try to take her Undead...If that's what you wish, my friend..." Henri smiled faintly at Will... "But have you any idea why she chose to assault you here...?"

"Not a clue unless she's come up with some anniversary or something important about the place to her that I've long forgotten...Perhaps she simply came to town by chance and couldn't pass up the opportunity of expressing her feelings towards me...In any case, don't have your people take any risks...Just if they can dart or stun her, you can call our people in...We have Angel's curse and could try that if we can get to her...At least to see what her soul wants..."

"Yes...Angelus' curse..." D'Vestigy nodded... "Excellent...I'll give the orders and we shall hope for the best...If she's still in Geneva, Switzerland, or Europe my people will find her eventually..."

"Angel's got our guys and gals on the hunt as well...I'm sure between us we'll take her..."

Indeed...A benevolent beam......

"Are you feeling any better, Will?..." Buffy asked...

"A bit...Nothing like that ole vamp physiology to pull one to a quick recovery...And Angel's had some 'special' medical care in...I expect I'll be fine a few days..."

"That's very good to hear..." Henri smiled warmly...

"Yeah..." Buffy was a bit preoccupied...

"As soon as you're better, you must come out to our place in the country...The views are quite spectacular...My mother tells me she's already invited you, so I hope you won't stand on ceremony but come at your leisure..."

"Thanks...Love to..." Will nodded... "Maybe in a few days..."

"We'll arrange a party...Perhaps your Mr. Angel can attend as well...What do you think, dearest?...About time we brought the old place to life again..." Henri turned to Buffy...

"Why not...?" she waved a hand...Staring at William a moment... "No shortage of room...You should see the place, Will..."

"Soon as they'll let me out of here..." he agreed...

"Well...Henri?...I think we'd better let Will get his rest..." Buffy turned to the door...Avoiding eye contact with her husband who was still regarding William...And maintaining his trademark warm and benevolently welcoming air...

Impressive acting ability, William thought...But I'd say my Buffy wins out, hands down...Considering she was bent on killing him when she left me at Angel's...

Interesting she wound up instead threatening poor ole Finn at his digs...Or so Angel said when he brought me over here...And we found things remarkably well set up to deal with the relatively unusual case of William Soames Walthrop...

Workin' for Uncle Sam...Even if only by rumor...Has its advantages, obviously...

"Yes, I suppose we should...I will be in contact with your office and Mr. Angel regarding our lady friend..." Henri nodded decisively to Will...

'Lady friend' indeed, if my memories of our little encounter with your minions in 1894 are correct...Will thought...

"It was very good to meet you at last, William...Even if the immediate circumstances were unfortunate..." the Immortal offered a firm handshake...And departed the room, his devoted wife on his arm...Will looking after them...

Should I clap for both of them or what?...he wondered...

Buffy came running back, a sheepish expression... "God, left my purse..." she smiled at him, picking the purse up from the chair she'd set it down on ten minutes before... "Need anything before I go?...How about some water?..." she pulled a half-filled glass over from the bedside table...

"Take some...I've told Riley we're through..." she whispered harshly, holding the glass by his head ... "Tell me you think Henri was behind this and I'll kill him right now in the stairwell before I tell his ashes it's over..."

A unique way to correct a marital mistake...Will thought, lifting head with some effort to reach the glass' straw and dropping back on the pillow after a short sip...

"I don't know Buf...But I don't think Dru was acting on her own..."

Fine...she nodded, setting the glass down and looking through the open door, down the hall... "Got it, honey...Be right there!..." she held the purse up to where D'Vestigy, now stopped partway down the hall could see and shook it...

"I'll just tell his Undead walking corpse it's over and after I find Dru, I'll rent a room as close to here as I can..."

"Buffy..."

"Don't...Don't you dare...We're done, it's over...You want me to shout it down the hall?..." she turned... "Henri!..."

"Then I'll do the job without you...You know I'm rather fancying this James Bond stuff...Maybe Riley or our people can fix me up with some gadgets as along as everyone thinks I'm their man in Geneva..."

She stared at him...Face reddening..."You...You'll never believe in me?...Fine...Henri!..." she called, turning...

After slamming something, a small, thin book down on Will's bedside table...A rather old volume he casually noted...

"Dearest?..." the Immortal returned, rather quickly... Looking a bit puzzled...And concerned...

"Sorry...William's being noble and wanted to tell you..." she glared at Will in his bed... "Again, to go easy on Drusilla..."

"Certainly, if that's your wish, Mr. Walthrop...I assure you, we will proceed as carefully as possible..." he nodded...

"Thanks..."

"Some guys are just morons for love when it comes to old girlfriends..." Buffy said coolly... "Well, lets hope she doesn't get another crack at you...I'll call you in a day or so and see how you're doing..." Turning away and hurriedly moving down the hall before a somewhat startled Immortal followed after her...

William turned to the table, taking up the old, thin book...On the cover... "The Collected Poems of William Soames Walthrop..." He stared a moment, then opened...To see on the inside cover...

"For my beloved William...Always in my heart...

Cicely..."



Underneath, in fresh ink...A hasty scrawl...

"Love is not a word I use lightly...Love, Buffy...

And, yeah...It did cost a fortune...

PS. Who is she?..."



***

"You think I'm being too hard on her?…"

"Yep…"

"You think I should believe she'd quit, for me?…"

"I would…"

"You believe she'd give up the mission?...For my sake?..."

"Not really…" Angel sighed… "But she wants to believe that…And she wants you to believe it…And damn it Will, since you know she can't…For damned good reasons…Why can't you cut her a break and try to believe she would if she could?…"

"You wouldn't give up a mission?…For Nina?..."

A sigh… "I sure as hell wouldn't tell you…If I would throw one, it would be for her alone and something I would not share with anyone else…If I wouldn't, it would only be because I'd honestly believe it was worth it, for her sake as well as the world's…"

"So I'm asking too much?..."

"You are…And you could get her and a lot of people killed if you go on pushing her…She will end up doing something to blow the mission, her cover or both…Unfortunately, though, if you pull out now, she'll feel obligated to do that…"

"Fine kettle of fish…"

"You wanted the job…Slayer's mate I mean…" Angel smiled as Will stared at him…"I couldn't handle it myself…But if you can get over the bug stuck up your ass, you might just do…"

"Sorry, I'm not the noble self-sacrificing type… 'Darling the problems of three little people doesn't amount to a hill of beans…' line doesn't work for me…"

"God knows I know that…And maybe it's why she loves you…You appeal to that side of her that hates everything about the Slayer and Duty…"

"Jury's still…"

"Don't be a fool, Will…She will die for you, don't make her prove it…"

"Where is she now?…Home?...With her hubby?"

Angel sighed again… "Will, I've told you…When we got that call, when we weren't sure about you…She was ready to follow you…Utterly calm, totally ready to go with you wherever you'd gone…I knew it without her saying a word all during the trip over and back with you…"

"It's killing her what you're doing to her…I'm beggin' you to stop…"

"And do what…?"

"Tell her you believe her then go on and get the job done…"

"Then what?..." William eyed his employer, pulling back a badly burned hand on the sheet… "Go back to LA like a dutiful, noble ex and never trouble her again?...I've already tried to…"

"Then it will be you and her…And up to the two of you…"

Silence…Then a smile…

"So you couldn't hack it?... 'Mr. Buffy Summers' not quite your cup, eh?…"

"That and knowin' she'd never put me before the mission…Much as she'd've loved me…" Angel looked at Will directly…

"And I'm supposed to…?"

"I think you know you have to…If you want the job as much as I think you do, you will…But if you don't, if you can't hack it…Tell her now and let her move on…"

She's only human, if super…Don't make her die for you, Will…You might not get her back this time…

***

"Immortal Beloved..." XCIX...



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: Though the standard IB format, one of (99!) versions of events following the end of Angel S5 episodes from "Girl in Question" through to "Not Fade Away" and beyond, this one's sorta notoriously south by southeast...(C'mon, you're a Hitchcock fan, you get it...)

Credit for this one goes to Ms. Angela Dawson's suggestion...Thanks...

Archived (soon) 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

***

Part L...

Sounds of sobbing...

"Now, there there..."

"Oooohhh!..."

"It's really quite..."

"Ahhhhh..."

"Drusilla...Please..." Henri tried a gentle pat...

"I'm soooo...Sor...Sorry..." she sobbed...

"Now, now...We all know it wasn't your fault...All of us...Gentlemen..." he eyed the video monitors where the members of his inner circle could be seen...This time dear Maman included as the sole female member...

"Really?..." Dru looked at the faces...

"Of course, my poor child..." Bauman spoke kindly from his screen... "The Immortal has explained the incident to our satisfaction...We understand you did everything you could..."

"Certainly..." Matisse echoed from his screen... "And we do value your services highly..."

"Emil?..." she looked at the somewhat less nervous, thanks to being a reasonable distance away, portly man... "Yes, indeed...I myself have known such disappointments at times..." he nodded with rather charming smile...She smiling back vaguely...

On her own screen the Countess rolling eyes...Merde...

"Mademoiselle...Drusilla?!...Since your failure what have you done to rectify the situation?...Are you keeping track of Mr. Walthrop?..."

Maman...A bit harsh...Henri eyed the Countess' screen as Dru blinked at the rather comfortless voice...

"I've told the Immortal's people to watch Angel's hotel and their office building...And the hospital he was taken to..." she replied in somewhat nervous voice...

The job...All the little people following Dru's behests without even a stare...And especially the pay...Having become somewhat attractive to her...

"And have they learned...Anything?..." the exasperated lady frowned at her...If only Henri would have taken my advice and our dear Buffy, then we might have had trustworthy competent help for this one...

Sadly now, even if she were to go and risk upsetting poor Henri...With his ridiculous notions of being loved without compulsion...Walthrop would detect her transformation...

Though still if this bizarre fool failed again...An option...

"No one from the embassy appears to have tried to contact him there..." Dru offered... "So he may be communicating through Angel..."

"Excellent...Very well done..." Bauman noted, encouragingly...The other gentlemen all nodding...

"We need a little more than that, dear..." the Countess glared at the smiling faces on her screens back at the D'Vestigy estate...What a load of moronic dolts...

Excepting of course my poor boy...She glanced to the main screen on which Henri remained at Dru's side...Who is merely exquisitely sensitive to feeling...Perhaps to his detriment at times...

Though it is so like him and his gallant soul to defend the miserable wretch...

"We need Mr. Walthrop disposed of, before he can interfere with our plans..."

And wreck my poor boy's happiness...she grimly thought...

Enough that I've accepted a Slayer into my home...Now that's she a member of the family and as long as my boy wants her...Whether I trust her or no...

She stays a d'Vestigy...

Though it would be so much easier to insure her absolute fidelity with a bite and perhaps a few drugs...she sighed...Well, too late for that now...

"Yes, ma'am..." Dru had grasped the nature of power in this little circle...

"I think I should have a chance...He'll be searching for me, if what he told Henri..."

A very hard glare registering on the Countess' monitor...

Uh... "The Immortal...About wanting to take me Undead is true..."

"Oh, but you must be careful, Drusilla..." Emil cut in...Anxious... "He plans to use the Angelus curse on you..."

"Which would hardly be of help to us..." the Countess glared... "Under such circumstances I prefer to terminate your service with us..."

Maman...Henri reproved...Dru looking extremely anxious herself now...

"We cannot risk exposure, my son...If the young...Lady...Here were ensouled and revealed what she knows of us..."

"I'd be quite insane, you know...Angel...Angelus did a very through job on me..." Dru noted eagerly...

"Besides the curse requires a little time and focus...I would detect its employment and could escape..." she tried... "In any case William's kind interest in sparing me does offer us another opportunity..."

As does...This...she pulled out a magazine...Turned to a page where an ad was prominently displayed...

"Drusilla?...Is that..." Matisse stared at her face smiling warmly from the page, Dru? decked out in elegant gown, an attentive man at her side...

"No..." Dru beamed... "She's an actress...And the reason I initially came to Geneva, before..." she stopped as the Countess frowned slightly... "the Immortal contacted me...This is Ms. Juliet Landau...And she is here in Geneva, filming a commercial...At night..." she smiled...

"I was hoping to finally meet her...I've followed her career for years...But was never able to catch up with her at night..."

Not meaning her any harm...she hastily noted... "I just thought it would be fun to meet her and get her autograph...She's worked with Johnny Depp you know...I'm also a big fan of his..." she went on...

"And how, may I ask..." the Countess cut in, annoyed at the indulgence of as well as the silly chatter of her son's rather less than brilliant choice of new chief lieutenant in the field...

"If William learned a young woman identical to me was here, working at night..." Drusilla smiled... "At the very least he'd check her out..."

Spike was never caught up much by individual actors, he preferred following the film's story...

"I don't think he's ever heard of her...She's quite underrated...He'll want to know if it's me, disguising myself...Or if he does know of her, at least make sure the young lady is all right...Too much coincidence my being here at the same time...He knows me very well, you see..."

"When...?" Matisse asked...

"A few evenings from now...Just in time for William to have recovered...And for me to see that he learns of her presence in Geneva..."

Hmmn...A collective ponder on screen...

"I can employ my staff until the right moment in case he tries the curse first...Then one of several options will be available..." she beamed... "None of which will leave a track back to us..."

"It will be after our party on Thursday?..." Henri cut in...

Buffy is so looking forward to it now...I would hate to mar it...

***

William's hospital room...The next afternoon...

"So, how's the patient...?" Buffy strolled in, a warm smile to the seated Angel, not a care in the world...

"I'll be out tomorrow..." William told her from his seated position in bed...Where he'd been watching TV fitfully, Angel likewise...

"What's on...Oh, 'Gilmore Girls' rerun..."

"Rory's having trouble fitting in again at school..." Angel noted...

Sounds like Dawn..." Buffy eyed the screen briefly... "But what's Mom wearin'?..."

"Rory and Grandma'll straighten her out..." Will shook his head...

"I suppose...So, you're just about ready to leave?..."

"And resume my critical duties as junior paper-signer at our firm, yes..." he nodded... "Angel's tried to sign as fast as his wrist would allow but it's a desperate sit...A Champion, junior level, is required..."

"I'm sure you'll make out well..." she said, noncommitally... "You got our formal invite today?...The party's set for Thursday if you're up to it..."

"Right here, delivered by messenger...Tres elegant..." Will held up the monogrammed envelope and card...

"Great... 'Fraid it's formalwear, boys...Hope you can bear up..."

"We'll be the belles of the ball..." Will nodded...Eyeing her bland and untroubled face a moment...Hesitating...

Either she doesn't want to or is afraid to...But as Angel noted, by note, to me...We probably are being watched by now...

"I'm sorry Nina can't come...No chance she could fly out by Thursday, I'm dying to meet the one you finally went into a noose and chain for?..." she grinned at Angel...

"Her sis is sick...She hates to leave her...But she'll try to come if things improve...She definitely will come out within the next week if I stay that long..."

"Great...We'll do something whenever she comes...Well, so long as you got him in hand and he's not climbin' the walls...I'd best be going..." she came to the bed...

"Thanks for the book, Buffy..." Will told her, staring into her eyes...

"Just a token of my affection for the guy who helped me out a few times..." she stared back...

"I believe you..." he whispered as she bent to kiss his cheek... "And she was the girl I tole you about...From that night Dru found me..."

"Careful, I saw at least one guy keeping a watch outside...They may have people in here..." she whispered back..."No, you don't...Ironic, huh?..." pressing something, a square of paper he realized, into his hand...

"And no girl rejects you like that and then goes and does a thing like that book unless she loved you or is crazier than Dru...Or both..."

She got up with a smile, and with a quick kiss to Angel, headed out, waving... "Thursday at seven-thirty!..."

Angel looking at Will as William felt and carefully unfolded the paper square under the sheet...Something hard inside...

Three keys...

***

."Immortal Beloved..." XCIX...



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: Though the standard IB format, one of (99!) versions of events following the end of Angel S5 episodes from "Girl in Question" through to "Not Fade Away" and beyond, this one's sorta notoriously south by southeast...(C'mon, you're a Hitchcock fan, you get it...)

Credit for this one goes to Ms. Angela Dawson's suggestion...Thanks...

Archived (soon) 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

***

Part M...

The American embassy, Geneva...

"Sure there was no surveillance on them?..." a firm look...

No, sir...All clear...The two men-in-black who'd picked up and brought the three visitors in nodded...

"All right, but keep a look out...We have to assume they're being watched constantly..." Riley dismissed the two who gave renewed nods and headed out...

"At least we hope so..." he smiled to his three guests, fixing on the last... "So, things went ok?...No problems?..." he eyed the two male members of the group...

"And I trust you boys do appreciate that I assigned my most valuable operative to assist you?..."

"Thank God we had her..." Angel noted... "We'd never have made it..."

"I expected no less..." Finn nodded, winking at his most valuable operative...Busily fussing at Angel's cufflinks...

"The mall was a little busy...But we found the tux shop no problem...There, you're all set..." she smiled...

"Well...?" Riley grinned at his newly arrived Samantha, she eyeing the two formerly foul creatures of the night in front of them...

Both now twisting in exquisite discomfort in formal tuxes...Angel trying to twist his collar a bit wider with inserted finger...

Maybe Nina's right about my weight...he thought, a bit embarrassed...A few too many two-hour corporate lunches...

William trying to pull his sleeves down...Tole' 'em it was too short in the arms...

"They look great...You look great, boys..." Sam kindly lied... "But then being from your eras, you'd know how to wear a suit..."

Really?...Both beamed...

"Here's your stuff..." she handed them what looked like two sets of earplugs... "The 'plugs' are micro earphone receivers, your shirt sticking..." she offered Angel one, then William...Each with a large black top... "Are the transmitters, micro video recorders, and radiation detectors...You'll hear the Geiger clicks through the earphones..." She assisted the fumbling Angel in securing the pin...Will, a bit more experienced with that sort of thing..."Like this, poof...", grinning as he adjusted his...

"Ok, now as to the point of this thing..." Riley cut in... "Have you two got a plan?..."

"I've got the keys Buffy slipped me...Angel will keep a lookout and while showing the monkey suit round, will try to keep His Worthlessness busy...I'll try to get off and meet her alone...Or at least slip off and have a look round..."

"Is it wise for you and Buffy to meet alone there?..." Sam asked...

Will shrugged... "I'll have to get some directions from her as well as get the keys back to her...If we get caught together, she can just say I'm pestering her with my undying Undead devotion again..."

Or maybe I'll just tell ole Henri she couldn't keep her hands off me...a grin...

"I still can't quite believe he buys her act..." Sam shook her head... "Is she that...?"

She broke off at Will's hard stare...

"I mean, I know she does her best...What I mean is..."

"He seems to..." William replied curtly... "And our Buffy is quite good at getting men to believe in her..."

Sam looked at Riley who sighed...

"Will..."

"She givin' her all for the mission, I know the song...I've heard it many times...Don't worry about it..."

Well, he'll certainly be convincing as the unable-to-let-go-exlover...Sam thought...

"What about Drusilla?..." she tried a deflection...

"I doubt she'd try anything at her boss' party...No, I think we'll have a break from her attentions tonight..." Angel noted...

"Poor thing, hope he'd had the courtesy to explain the sit to her, she'll be sad not being invited...Dru always loved parties..." Will sighed... "So, Finn...What exactly am I looking for tonight?...I don't imagine dear Henri keeps a bunch of nuclear warheads in his basement..."

"With Buffy's help we've traced and identified every shipment his companies have made from the Middle East, Central Asia, Siberia...All have been clean...But we know his group is acquiring weapons-grade material from corrupt or renegade Russian groups...The only possible storage point is the D'Vestigy estate itself, probably brought in by his own private vehicles..."

"He wouldn't need a fleet of trucks...?"

"Not for this stuff, but it's got to be very well shielded in some way...He'd have to bring it in small amounts, store it there, and ship it out to wherever, again in small amounts...It's the shielding that's puzzling us, but he has some of the best scientific minds on the planet, including this fellow..." Riley put a image of Dr. Bauman on a projection screen across from them...

"Dr. Felix Bauman...Top nuclear physicist...An expert on plutonium production for weapons...And in methods for storage and transport...Many ties in the former Soviet Union...And we believe, the key man in the Immortal's nuclear effort...You can expect to see him tonight...Old friend of the family..."

"Convenient..." Will nodded...

"And this fellow, you may have seen him with Buffy or the Countess, Will?..." William eyed the image on screen, shaking his head...

"Eric Matisse...Supposedly the Immortal's estate manager and driver, in fact the Circle's number two man...Who from all accounts believes he's the better choice for number one...Human, but don't underestimate him, fellas...A top agent who's worked for both sides during the Cold War and is quite up on all things occult as well..."

More important, maybe...Riley paused... "He's the best man in place to eliminate Buffy if her cover gets blown, assuming ole Henri would prefer not to do it himself...He's around her most of the time and I'm sure is pretty well briefed on her abilities..."

"So kill him first if things go south..." Will gave the image a careful stare...

So Pumpkin's right...He does still love her...God, don't let him screw things up...Sam thought...

"And this is Emil Krupka...Top metallurgist..." Emil's round face appeared on screen... "A long-time employee of the Immortal's various companies, heavily involved in this project with Bauman, though Buffy hasn't been able to get much specific on what they're up to...He'd probably be the one doing the technical work on shielding the material Bauman obtains..."

"Nice that the Immortal and his Maman let the staff into their parties..."

"And the Circle's political front man...William Fichmer, a supposed moderate conservative, very capable, says all the right things, very likely the next Chancellor of Austria...Their ticket to a national base if he wins..."

"Nothing so nice as having the people vote them into power..." Will frowned...

"They don't know him like we do...But exposing his hand here could torpedo his chances..." Riley stared at the image...

"Not even the Germans ever voted Hitler into power..." Sam noted... "It was a backroom deal after the 1932 elections...If you guys could get the stuff to prove where this one really stands..."

"Don't suppose Osama will be at the party?..." Angel tugged at his collar again... "Getting him on camera shaking hands with this one or the Immortal in some back room over their nukes deal would probably clinch things..."

"Fraid not...Though he's probably got a representative here, ready to deal..."

"Not at Buf's party...Henri's far too good a hubs to spoil things bringing his sordid business dealings home..." William said coldly...

"Will...You've got to be cool-headed on this...It's not a simple kill-or-be-killed operation this time..." Riley turned off his laptop projector and Fichmer's image faded out...

"I'm quite cool all over, Finn...Goes with the vamp bod...Take your wifey out for a nice dinner on Angel's expense account and don't worry your all-American head about me..."

Really?...Sam beamed...



***


Play


"Moon over Miami

Shine on my love and me

So we can stroll beside the roll

Of the rolling sea



Moon over Miami

Shine on as we begin

A dream or two that may come true

When the tide comes in



Hark to the song of the smiling troubadours

Hark to the throbbing guitars

Hear how the waves offer thunderous applause

After each song to the stars



Moon over Miami

You know we're waiting for

A little love, a little kiss

On Miami shore..."



"Someone's got a finely weird sense of humor..." William noted to Angel as they stood just within the vast front hall of the D'Vestigy estate north of Geneva...An orchestra playing from the far back wall, a vast crowd of the elite of Europe and several other continents milling about before them...

"It's the song Dru played for me on my little would-be ride to Eternity..." he explained...

"Gentlemen, the Countess is waiting for you...This way, please..." the distinguished butler who'd gone to announce them had returned...

"Ah, poof...If only Grandma Darla could see us now..." Will hissed, a grin as they strode through the magnificent hall...

"She'd tell me...Before trying to kill us both...I still hadn't learned how to wear a suit..." Angel replied... "Though she'd rip you apart, even her soul in Heaven, for that 'grandma' bit..."

"Fellas..." the waiting Buffy, decked out in simple, yet elegantly stunning white gown with hair bunned and crowned by a shimmeringly beautiful tiara, extended white-gloved hands to them...

"You look like idiot waiters..." she grinned...

***

"Henri will be with us sooner or later...He's making the rounds..." Buffy noted in answer to Angel's polite question as to their host...

William looking about the hall... "You like my new digs...?" she grinned to him

"Bitch to heat in the winter..." he noted...

"Eh, we go to the Rivera or Rio then..." she waved a hand...

"So, Angel...We've had no time to catch up...How's things?..." she turned to him... "Had to kill much of the remaining W-H staff or they been accepting the new sit with survivor aplomb?..."

"Mr. Walthrop..." the elder Countess came to Will from a knot of guests as he moved a bit off from Buffy and Angel... "I am so glad you felt well enough to come...It was so distressing to hear of your accident..." she pulled him off to one side, away from other guests...Throwing a quick smile at Buffy and Angel as Buffy nodded and waved slightly to her...

"Thanks, I'm quite recovered...More of an incident though, I'd say..."

"Yes, that horrible creature...Have you and Henri had any fortune in tracing her?..."

"Not as yet...Angel's had our people out but Dru is a survivor and quite clever for all her mental problems...Haven't caught up with your son yet so I don't know what his folks have come up with..."

"Well, I feel sure you will locate her and give the poor thing the peace she deserves..." the Countess nodded... "Have you seen much of the house and grounds yet?..."

"We've just arrived..."

"Well, then..." the Countess offered an arm... "As our Buffy has things well in hand with our other guests, allow me the pleasure...I rarely tour the whole place myself these days..."

"By all means, Countess..." Will bowed slightly...

Odd the way the old manners come right back to one, he thought...Almost like being back in London in the old human days...He let the Countess lead him through the hall...

"Countess..." Bauman nodded to her, with several others in his knot of guests, as she halted by him, Will in tow...

"Mr. William Walthrop, this is Dr. Felix Bauman, a dear friend...And Emil Krupka..." she smiled at the now-somewhat-less-relaxed Emil...Who eyed Walthrop with a certain nervous suspicion...

"Mr. Walthrop...The Countess has told us a great deal about you..." Bauman smiled pleasantly, extending a hand...

"Indeed...I wouldn't think there was that much to say about me...Are you a medical doctor, Dr. Bauman?..."

"No, no...My interest is not professional, my boy...No, I'm a physicist...On the Immortal's scientific team...Though I must confess I do have a great interest in metaphysics and the occult..."

"Occult?..." a lovely, well-dressed young woman in the group asked...

"Mr. Walthrop is quite an expert on the occult, my dear..." Bauman smiled... "Personal experience, one might say..."

"Only within a very narrow range, doctor..."

"And have you other interests, Mr. Walthrop?..." Emil asked, a bit tense....Blushing slightly as both Bauman and the Countess eyed him...

"One has to, Mr. Krupka...How's about you?..."

"Ah, our Emil has only one passion..." Bauman cut in... "Metallurgy...He is one of Europe's greatest..."

"But you work with the former Wolfram-Hart firm, don't you, Mr. Walthrop?..." Emil pressed, hoping to recover a bit of ground with his perturbed superiors by a clever query or two...

"It's a totally new organization now, sir...But yes, for some bizarre reason, I've been appointed head of the European branch...Are you that familiar with us?..."

"The world knew Wolfram-Hart..." Emil replied... "It was quite an amazing change, your and Mr. Angel's take-over..."

"Distinctly hostile, I'm afraid...But it seems you too have an interest in the occult, sir?..."

Ummn...Emil blinked, blushing more deeply... "No, not at all...Just that your story, from the Countess..."

"What's the Wolfram-Hart company got to do with the occult?..." the young lady asked...

"Well, you see..." Will grinned, winking at the Countess... "It was an evil firm, run from Hell...I'm a vampire who regained his human soul, as did my partner over there...And together, with some help from our hostess over there's organization of vampire slayers, we overthrew the demons running the old place, drove them from Earth, and ..."

"Very funny..." the lady frowned...Emil now sweating profusely, Bauman and the Countess smiling indulgently...

***

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