AN: Set post-Chosen and post-Journey's End, in very nebulous ways that aren't very spoilery at all, with characters I've never made any pretensions to owning.
This is for MissJulie, who asked why I never do one-shot Ten/Buffy fics, and caused me to articulate my rant about the difficulty of getting to two of them in the same 'verse, and to then realize that mere mechanics are a silly obstacle. In other words: because it's all her fault.
He doesn't know how he got here. Neither of us is any stranger to inter-dimensional portals, so it wasn't hard for us to figure out what had happened, but he still doesn't know how
it happened. It drives him insane. He’s one of those people who always needs to know.
Willow found him. Whatever it was that pushed him into our world, our world was not very happy about it, and she has that trippy Earth-mother connection thing going on. Wills said it was like the worst migraine you could ever imagine, all compressed into about three seconds of unbearable pain. She pulled herself back together, then came and found me. We flew over, and there he was, curled up in the grass, sleeping like a baby. I don't think I've ever seen him that still and serene since.
It didn't last. He woke up at the castle, started poking around, getting into everything. Words were exchanged. He blamed us for "messing about with cosmic forces we couldn't possibly understand." I questioned Willow, but she insisted that he was not, in fact, a demon. “Demons,” he kept proclaiming, loudly, were "obviously just aliens and had we at least tried having a nice sit-down chat with them before attacking them with pointy sticks?" I got used to punching walls instead of him.
He worked days and weeks with Willow, trying to figure out a way home. Nothing came of it. Nothing ever even came close. The ranting died down. He took to spending his time sitting on the ramparts and just staring at the horizon. After I found him out there during a roaring thunderstorm, Xander sat down with him and they had a long talk, in that way that Xander has. He started bathing and eating again.
He decided to earn his keep. He built us a reliable communication network: it's the kind of quiet thing that saves lives. He organized the research teams, and became fluent in all sorts of demonic languages. One night I sleepily called him Giles. We laughed.
I remember the first time that he saw a vampire, in the early days. His cabin fever had achieved epic levels, so I brought him along with me on a trip back to the States. I left him in the hotel bar while I went on patrol with the local Slayers in Boston. When I got back, he had wandered off. I went searching for him, only to have him run straight into me. He’s good at running.
"Vampires exist! They bite!" he cried as he tried to pull me along, punctures in his neck bleeding onto his shirt.
"Well, duh!" I snatched my hand away and pulled a stake out of my belt.
It was a blonde. Of course it was a blonde. I staked her, and took him back to the room. I just wanted to go to sleep, but he wouldn't let me, keeping me up all night telling him every encounter I'd ever had with vampires. It wasn't like he hadn't read about them before, but for whatever reason, he needed to be told. With his gentle words and prompts, I told him everything. From the day I was called, to Angel and high school, to the Initiative, to Glory, to the First. I told him about Dracula. I even told him about Spike. We watched the sun rise over the Atlantic. It cast gold flecks in his eyes.
When we got back, he started sitting in on training sessions.
"You're impossible," he announced to me, as I pulled him to his feet after a fencing lesson.
"So are you, Mister 'Time Lord'! You should hear some of the things the girls call you down in the kitchen. Or are you just trying to distract me from the fact that you didn't practice this week?"
He made that frowny-face he always makes when he thinks I’m deliberately misunderstanding him. "No, I mean it. There's no way that you can produce that kind of force without breaking your bones. You completely violate all the laws of physics."
I replaced my blade against the wall. "Never took physics."
When I turned around he was staring at me, his shoulders slumped. "But it's just wrong."
I shrugged. "Sorry.” As I walked by, I squeezed his shoulder. “Get used to it. And practice for next week, please."
He saved my life using physics. A tellingree demon had me and two other girls cornered with its venomous tentacles. He created a targeted sound wave that made its eyeballs pop out of their sockets. Tellingree demons have rows and rows of eyes. It set a new benchmark for “gross”. When we found him afterwards, he hugged me so tight I thought my eyeballs might pop out too.
I got used to him being there when I fell asleep over battle plans, and there with coffee when I woke up a few hours later, along with whatever prophecy we needed translated, ready and waiting. Willow started making comments, and then Xander. But he was an alien, and that was just weird. He was simply the alien-guy that I spent most of my waking hours with. Every once in awhile we stopped an apocalypse together. It was our thing.
I noticed how long his eyelashes were while he fixed my cell phone for the umpteenth time, clucking his tongue and chiding me in his unbearable know-it-all voice. When we were captured and hogtied by chaos demons, I counted his freckles: twenty-eight, though they vary with the season. I forget when his smiles became a highlight of my day. I do remember the night I woke up with my head on his knee while he absently ran his fingers through my hair. He knew I'd awoken, but I kept my eyes shut and we never spoke of it.
The world was about to end so I kissed him. I didn't know that Dawn and Giles were going to swoop in and save the day at what was so nearly the last second. But I kissed him, and after a moment he kissed back. After many more moments went by, we eventually figured out that they were going to keep happening. The kiss broke, and we kept our gazes down.
It was awkward for a little while. But then it was my twenty-ninth birthday, and he gave me chocolates, and roses, and told me that I wouldn't be old until I hit the century mark. I kissed him again. This time, he didn't wait to kiss back. I was happy enough that I didn't mind Willow and Xander's "We Told You So" chorus the next morning.
As I listen to his hearts beat in steady rhythm now, I realize that was almost two years ago. The longest, most stable relationship I've ever had, and I only needed to find an alien from another universe to get it.
I don't know where he goes when he looks so far away at the stars. Maybe it's to the home world he couldn’t save, maybe it's to the ship that he sometimes still talks to under his breath. There are names, too, from his past: Susan, Romana, Adric, Ace, Rose, Jack, Donna, River, and others he’ll never tell me. He has unbelievable amounts of past; entire worlds survive only in his memory. I've made sacrifices in my life, and deaths, but will never understand what he's lost. At times I worry that he just clings to me because he needs something, anything, to be his again. But it's okay. I’ll be his. Sometimes lately, it's my
name that he cries out when the nightmares take him.
I don't know what brought him here. I don't care. I just hold him tight against me and dare it to try to take him back.