Title: Carry Me Back
Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. All things LotR belong to JRR Tolkien, et al.
Distribution: The normal places.
Summary: A fluke landed Xander in Middle Earth. And a fluke took him home again. What will it take for a third fluke to carry him back to where his heart still lives?
Notes: A holiday prezzie to all of the Xander lovers out there.
Willow said there was no way. Giles said there was no way.
But there had to be a way. After all, he’d not only gotten There in the first place, but he’d also gotten back again from There. How could something that was impossible happen not just once – but twice?
Xander crossed his arms, glaring at the television. Everything was so wrong now. Not right at all. He’d given up hope after the first two months passed with no sign of how he’d ended up There, in Middle Earth.
He’d given up and made a new life for himself. He was a carpenter, after all, and that skill was of great use. He’d gotten a job, helping to rebuild the homes and businesses destroyed during some great war that had just come to pass. It wasn’t an easy life, by any means. Night after night he’d lain awake, wondering what he’d done to deserve the fate he’d been handed. And night after night he’d come up empty, unable to find even half a clue. But eventually he’d given in to it. He’d never see Sunnydale again. Never watch late night television or play video games. Twinkies were far beyond the scope of this place’s skill. The most he could hope for was a bit of sweetcake from the local inn every once and a while, when coin permitted.
But he settled into it. And life once again became just life. Within another month he had started allowing himself to forget what it had been like Before.
Then he met Her.
She was related to the King, touring the countryside to take a visual estimate of the work still to be done to bring the country back to order. Like all women of the time, she didn’t ride alone, but she stood out amongst her companions like a shining star in the dead of night.
He wasn’t sure when she saw him, only that she did and sought him out later that night. Are you the one, she wanted to know, that they say fell from the heavens?
They’d talked for hours about nothing and everything. About his life, about this war that was just completed – in which she’d played an active part. . .and about the impossibility of it all. They’d talked that week, until she left to go on to the next town.
And he’d fallen head over heels.
Not a month went by that she did not find her way back to that little town, just to visit.
Love was what it was called. Plain and simple. Love.
The scariest moment of his life had been going before the King to ask for her hand. Eomer was an intimidating man, and during those hours that he’d been forced to stand there and face interrogation, Xander had found himself holding only to the knowledge that it was this – or lose her forever.
The wedding was held a week later.
Within three months of that time she was pregnant.
And then it all fell apart, and everything in his life did. It was over in the proverbial blink of an eye. One second he was in Middle Earth. . .the next he was back in Sunnydale, laying on his back in the middle of Giles’ living room, staring at the ceiling and silently cursing all the gods that dared listen.
“Xan? More popcorn?”
The dark haired man, no longer young in soul despite his physical age, shook his head. “No thanks, Buff.”
He heard Willow sigh and mutter something, but didn’t dare turn to her. She was frustrated with him. Because he wouldn’t ‘cheer up’ and ‘be happy’ to be back. He’d tried to explain. . .gotten as far as the part where he fell in love before they tuned him out. They didn’t know about his marriage to Eowyn, about the child that was due to be born during midsummer. When he asked if they could send him back, they only said it was impossible. Not that they’d check. Not that they’d look into it. Just that it was impossible. A fluke is what they called it.
And a fluke it had to remain. He knew their reasoning. They didn’t want to lose him, just as he had never wanted to lose –them-. But they had been lost to him for over a year before they tampered with spells they had no business tampering with and brought him back here, to the mouth of Hell. They had missed him, just as he missed them.
Except, now he missed Eowyn and their unborn child. This world was foreign to him, having long since been submersed into the back of his mind. Middle Earth was home. Eowyn was his family.
“I’m going out,” he muttered, standing before they could say a word. Willow called out to him, but he didn’t respond. There was nothing for him to say. They couldn’t understand this sadness. Not because they weren’t capable, but because they weren’t willing. Admitting that he had a legitimate reason to be sad would be like saying they’d done something wrong.
And they didn’t want that. They needed to believe that bringing him back had been the right thing, if for only because they missed him and this was his world. He didn’t resent them. He couldn’t. They were his friends, his family.
But he’d moved on. He’d been forced to get on with his life during that time he’d been in Middle Earth.
He needed to go back.
The streets were dark, but he didn’t care. Dying could only be preferable to what he was feeling at that moment. No hope of seeing his wife again. The child he had helped conceive. At one point he would have laughed at the idea of being a father, made a joke about it and felt just uncomfortable in general. The fact that he was looking forward to it, wanted to be everything his own dad had never been, only proved to him, at least, that he had grown up. After twenty-three years he had finally grown up.
That was the one thing that being brought back to this place couldn’t take from him, that sense of completion he’d finally attained. He was still who he’d became by living that life, no one could change that. The laughing jokester that had left Sunnydale through a fluke was gone.
He stopped walking, looking up at the sky. Even the stars were different here. When he slept at night it was under a different sky than his wife now did. . .or that his child one day would.
“Why?” he whispered. “Why let them bring me back?”
But the stars held no answers, just as he knew they wouldn’t.
He started walking again, hands in his pockets. March in Sunnydale was still pretty chilly at night. In Middle Earth it would be quite cold still. Far colder than this. She would have built the fire up and pulled her blankets around her. If she was still in the house he built for her, that was. A part of him hoped she’d gone back to Eomer’s keep, as would be safer in her state. Proud warrior though she was, she had more to worry about than her own life now. The life of their child was at stake, and the countryside wasn’t the safest place for someone living on their own.
The end of the street came quick enough, and he turned down another, heading towards Main Street. All the stores were closed for the night, something he already knew would be the case without even seeing it for himself. The residents of Sunnydale weren’t stupid enough to stay open this late, even if it meant possibly getting a few more customers that day.
Of course, he considered with a wry half-smile, how could there be more customers when everyone else was already tucked in for the night, too?
He stopped, leaning against one of the storefronts. The street was quiet, the night was quiet. Well, Buffy and Willow had said that the demon activity had died off in recent weeks. He shut his eyes, trying to keep back the pain that threatened to spill forth in all too real tears. Under his shirt, right against his chest, the pendant he’d gotten from Eowyn as a marriage present, hung cold and biting.
“Please,” he sighed sadly. “If there’s any way to get me back there, just let it happen.”
The dark haired man yawned, rolling over in bed. It was so cold, and someone was speaking. He didn’t want to get up. Not yet.
“Few more minutes. . .”
“You’ve slept for a week, Alexander, please wake up now?”
Dark eyes snapped open to look at the woman next to the bed. Her blonde hair was like gold in the firelight.
She smiled, reaching out to run her fingers over his forehead and cheek. “You’ve had me so worried. . .the healers couldn’t rouse you.”
“Healers?” he frowned, attempting to get into a sitting position only to find that he was too weak to do so.
“You took ill, don’t you remember?” she frowned, taking her hand away to look into his eyes. “You were very sick. I. . . we. . . began to wonder if you would wake at all.”
He sighed, a light smile touching his lips. “So it was just a nightmare.”
“What was a nightmare?”
“Nothing,” Xander smiled. He reached out to grab her arm, tugging her into the bed next to him. She fell into his arms, and he snuggled into her neck, a hand going down reflexively to the just barely there roundness of her stomach. “I love you.”
She smiled broadly, her eyes sparkling. “And I love you.”