Note: I hold no rights over any copyrighted material. All characters and creations belong to their original owners. The fandoms that I am using are: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Doctor Who.--000--
"The prophecy is very clear," Giles insisted. "I'm quite certain. Last night, the world ended."
Buffy, Willow, and Xander all looked at one another. Then at Giles' living room.
"Got to say," said Xander, "in terms of apocalypses, this one's a pretty big disappointment."
"Yeah, if I'd known that this was what you meant by apocalypse, I wouldn't have gotten so worried all those other times," Willow chimed in.
"Okay," said Buffy. "First off, great going on the advanced warning, Giles. Always love hearing about apocalypses the day after they happen. And second off… are you sure it's not, like, tonight or something?"
"I'm quite certain!" Giles insisted. "The red crystal and the Kalenford of Corcheck were both stolen, and the prophecy states the ceremony can only be performed at one time. See? Here. 'On the eve when the moon is at its fullest, and Jupiter is in direct alignment with Mars — at that time, the red crystal shall be brought forth, along with the Kalenford of Corcheck, so that the Facksisil of Balime emerges, and Hell devours the world.' And that was last night."
"Well, these hokey astrology things are always a bit inaccurate," said Willow. "Maybe the demons have some wiggle room."
"I… suppose it's possible," Giles admitted. He stared at the page. He didn't look like he was admitting it was possible. He looked like he was trying to will the words into changing before his eyes.
"Maybe we're actually in a Hell dimension and we just haven't noticed, yet," Anya volunteered.
"It's a pretty cushy Hell dimension," Xander said.
"Look, I'll go patrolling tonight, keep my eye out for any red crystals or misplaced Hell Dimensions, and at the end of the patrol, I'll stop by here to see if Giles has worked out when the end of the world really is," said Buffy. "Completely easy." She checked her watch. "Drat. I've got to go. I promised Riley I'd meet him about five minutes ago."
"Maybe we did save the world last night, but we were all in a trance or something, and we didn't notice," Xander offered.
"You know, I think Sleep-Slaying is a bit beyond me," said Buffy, as she walked out the door. "But I'll keep that in mind."
Willow went over to Giles, who was still slumped over the book, peering at the ancient text. "It's okay," she told him. "I believe you."
"That's very kind of you, Willow," said Giles, massaging his forehead. "But Buffy's right. If the world had ended, yesterday, we would certainly have noticed."
Willow thought about this for a moment. "There is one possibility that Buffy didn't consider," she offered.
Everyone looked up at her.
"What?" asked Xander.
Willow shrugged. "Well, I know we didn't save the world last night," she said. "That doesn't mean no one else did."--000--
Tara had been wandering through the halls of her dorm building, books under her arm, when she noticed someone running down the hall towards her. A man. He looked a little too old to be in college — maybe he was a graduate student? He had spiky brown hair, and wore a brown pinstripe suit with red trainers, and a tan trench coat. He was clearly trying to sprint as fast as he could, but he looked like he'd been running for nearly a day, and could barely stand. There were bags under his eyes.
And he was running straight for her.
Tara stood, nervously, trying to decide what to do. She knew she should help him, but she wasn't really comfortable around strangers. She wished Willow was there. Willow was good at this stuff.
The man glanced up at her, and for a moment, their eyes met. His were large, sparkling, brown, and seemed to pick her apart, as if trying to work her out. Perhaps he shouldn't have looked, however, because he stumbled over a chair he hadn't noticed in front of him, and tumbled, head over heels, over the chair, smacking, back-down, onto the floor.
Right next to where Tara was standing.
Tara looked down at him, not really sure what to say. She hugged her books to her a little tighter.
He just kept examining her, with an intensity that put her on edge. Then he gave a very large grin. "Hello!" he said. He popped up to his feet, and examined himself. Then he looked over his shoulder, at the chair, and frowned. "They shouldn't place things like that there. It's a safety hazard."
"Are… are you okay?" Tara asked him.
The man examined himself. "I appear to be. Not really sure." He scratched the back of his neck, then beamed at her. "And who are you?"
Tara huddled back away from him, a little. "Tara," she offered.
"Lovely to meet you, Tara," said the man. "Brilliant, really. I think I like meeting new people."
"Who… are you?" Tara ventured.
"Ah," said the man. He shifted from foot to foot, scratching the back of his neck. "Not exactly sure of that, at the moment. Seem to be having a wee bit of trouble in the memory department. But I'm fairly certain I'm supposed to be running." He reflected. "Yes. I'm definitely supposed to be running." He grinned at her. "Good meeting you, Tara. Better run!"
He turned to run, but tripped over his own feet, and landed, face down, on the floor.
"Ow," he said.
He turned onto his back, and Tara noticed how scuffed and scarred his skin was. That couldn't possibly just be from running so long that he was falling over. Those looked nasty, vicious. Tara thought he must have been in some kind of fight or something.
"There's… there's a hospital…" Tara started.
"No!" said the man, very quickly, holding up a hand in protest. "No hospitals. Very, very bad, hospitals."
He got to his feet, and stumbled, staggering.
"Maybe you should just… lie down or something," Tara suggested. "Go home?"
The man's cheerful demeanor dropped a hair. "Ah. Slight problem." He tapped the side of his head. "Memory."
Oh, right. If he'd lost his memory, he wouldn't be able to remember where he lived. "Well, do you have some kind of… I don't know… ID on you? We could call… your family, or something, and—"
"No family," the man told her. His eyes seemed very sad, very alone. "Certain of that."
Tara was sure she was going to regret this, but… the sun was going down, outside, and whoever this guy was, he was going to be a sitting duck for vampires in a very short amount of time. She had to get him somewhere safe.
"I… have a dorm room," Tara offered. "You could always sleep for a while in there."
"Well, I'd love to," said the man. "Really, I would, but, see, thing is, I should really keep running. It's quite important. At least, I'm fairly certain it's important. I…" He paused. "You wouldn't happen to have any food in your dorm room, would you?"
The man beamed at her, his smile making his entire face dance with glee. "Well, then," he said. "Dorm room it is!"