: And the end!
Sorry this is being posted so late. I was sanding stuff all day, today, and had to take a nap after work. But the good news is... I have a power sander! Muahahahaha!
So this is the chapter that I actually got the title from! Even though I think the title applies to basically everywhere in this story.
I love how both Seo and Luke are extremely smart and extremely naive, but in totally different ways. As you'll see, in this chapter. And... as I mentioned before... Luke will be back! We'll be seeing him during the "Years that Never Were".
I hope this story was worth the non-canon-ness of the whole thing!
Next up... we get our two prequels to the "Years that Never Were."
(The "Years that Never Were" tells two stories, concurrently: the story of the year the Master took over the world and the first year of Seo's life in the timeline where the Doctor never regained his memories, following "the Facksisil of Balime". Thus, two direct prequels precede this story.)
"Hindsight" is the prequel in the real universe timeline. It's about Seo's attempts to stop the Master from taking control.
"Boyfriendish" is the prequel in the alternate timeline world with the memory-lossed Doctor. It is about that incident where Faith and Buffy swap bodies, except that instead of wonderbread Riley being involved, the Doctor is involved. And oh, doesn't that turn out differently!
Seo didn't come back to school.
In fact, neither Luke, Clyde, nor Maria spotted Seo around for the next week and a half. She just seemed to disappear from their lives, as quickly as she'd appeared.
Life went back to normal — or as normal as it got on Bannerman Road. Clyde's 'cool' lessons, Luke's studies, the alien activity that always seemed to crop up on a somewhat regular basis. For Maria and Clyde, it was almost like nothing had happened at all.
Luke couldn't forget, though.
He had almost killed someone. An innocent. He'd been sure, with every fiber of his being, that doing so was right. That he had
to kill her.
It haunted him.
Was she all right? Had he caused any lasting damage? What if she couldn't recover from whatever energy drain he'd done using that machine? What if he'd actually driven her to the brink of death?
(What if he never saw her, again?)
He looked through all of his mum's gathered information on Buffy Summers. Managed to track the mobile number, figure out where she lived. The flat where she wound up, at the end of the day.
And went there, to visit.
Seo was the one who answered the door. She froze, the moment she saw Luke.
For a moment, neither one could speak.
"Hello," Luke offered, a little shyly.
"Hello," Seo repeated, in a voice little more than a squeak.
They sat down at a park, nearby, on one of the benches. Seo looking down at her hands, still seeming a little awkward and shy and nervous.
"You… didn't come back to school," Luke offered. "I… was worried. I thought I'd actually—"
"You didn't kill me," said Seo. She shuddered. "You… came pretty close. But I got over it. I'm a fast healer."
"I'm sorry," said Luke.
Seo shook her head. "It wasn't you," she insisted. She met his eyes with her own. "Really. Promise. It wasn't you. At the end — you saved me. Brought me back."
She had truly beautiful eyes. Long, dark lashes. The way they shone, sparkled with energy and enthusiasm and just a hint of mischief. Luke had never really noticed her eyes, before.
"But… what I
did to you
," said Seo. "That was
me. Really me. I reached into your brain. I dragged the energy out of it. I… hurt you."
"You saved my life," Luke argued. "Getting those Furies out of my head. And, by chasing them away, a lot of other people's lives, too."
Seo shook her head. "And then… I nearly killed everyone. Couldn't stop. All those innocent people. I was prepared to just wipe them all out, like they didn't even matter." She took a long, deep breath. "That was me, too. And I hate it. There's a right way to do things, and a wrong way, and that… was the wrong way."
"You're afraid of something," Luke said. "Something out there."
Seo didn't answer.
"Something… that's after your mum," Luke concluded.
A dark look passed across Seo's face, for a moment. A dark, sullen look, as if her entire mind were cast in shadows. Then, in an instant, it was gone, and she looked up at Luke, completely normally.
"It'll be gone, soon," she said. "Whatever it is. Whoever it is. I'm already working on a plan to take care of it." She gave him a small smile. "You don't have to worry. Trust me."
And Luke… found… he did
trust her. A lot
(And, for some reason he didn't understand, he really wanted to vote for Harold Saxon.)
"I really am sorry," Seo told him. "About all of it. I hate hurting people. Especially… kids. Like you."
Luke frowned. Was he a kid? He hadn't ever really thought of it, before. He was less than a year old, technically speaking, so… she was probably right. He was only a child.
And she was a hundred years old.
"And I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to your friends, also," said Seo. "Send them my best wishes, next time you see them."
"You… were only at our school to get rid of the alien," Luke realized. He should have thought of that, sooner. "You're not coming back. Ever."
Seo grinned at him. "I'm pretty rubbish at school," she confessed. "I tried it, once. Flunked out of all my courses before the term was even over." She gave a small laugh. "The headmaster at my old school told Mom I was too thick to ever amount to anything. And… he was right. You're the clever one. Not me."
Luke shook his head. "You're as clever as I am," he said. "Maybe… even… more so."
Seo shook her head. "I'm not, really," she said. "All those equations you were solving, the calculations you were doing — I don't know how to do any of that."
"You still got the right answer," Luke argued. "You always get the right answer."
"I just… know what feels right, and guess," Seo told him. She tucked some hair behind her ears. "I'm a very good guesser."
Luke looked down at the ground. He could still feel something odd whenever he looked at Seo. Something powerful, pulling him towards her. A… fire, inside, that seared through him.
"You said… you were like me," Luke said, after a few awkward moments of silence. "Created."
"I was," Seo agreed.
"Created… by… humans," Luke recalled. "Monks."
"Scared, desperate people," said Seo, "who didn't know how I was supposed to be put together. They created me as a combination of two of the cleverest, most legendary, most undefeatable planet savers in the entire history of the universe. Except… I don't save planets. I'm a weapon. Designed to kill gods." She looked away, her eyes growing sad, her shoulders slumping. "Glory used me to shatter the whole universe when I was just a baby."
Luke stared at her.
"It wasn't this universe," Seo assured him. "You don't have to worry. This reality is going to be fine."
It was a stark departure from Luke's own story — the boy who saved the world the day he was born. The boy who had spent his first day of life being hailed as a hero.
Both created. Both clever. Both outsiders. Yet both so different.
"The Bane," Luke said.
Seo quirked an eyebrow at him.
"It was the Bane," Luke explained. "Who created me. A race of aliens. I was… their archetype, their way of ruling the world. I foiled them the day I was born." His cheeks went red. "And… you're right. I don't have a bellybutton."
Seo beamed at him, as if applauding her own cleverness.
"Do you?" he asked her.
Her happiness fell, just a hair. "I… yes," she confessed. "It's… complicated."
They both said nothing, fishing around for some topic that wouldn't be awkward.
"Listen," said Seo, and her voice trembled, a little, as she spoke. "About… what I said to you. When I was… acting… differently."
"You said you liked me," said Luke. "A lot."
Seo bit her lower lip. "I… did say that."
She kicked her feet against the ground, hands in her lap, entire body tense. "I… might." She looked up at him, a little panicked. "But that doesn't mean you have to—"
"I like you, too," Luke told her. He frowned. "At least, I… think I do. I'm not quite sure."
Seo stopped. Froze. Her eyes wide. "Oh."
For a moment, neither of them said anything.
Then Seo sighed. "The thing is… I'm not human," she said. "Not inside. You're telepathic, so at least we'll be compatible, but… the really intimate sorts of things… it's not going to be the same as with a normal human person. What satisfies me isn't going to be the same as what satisfies you."
Luke had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. "What?"
"And, besides which, I'm ninety-nine, while you're not even a year old," Seo continued. "And Buffy — Mom — says there's laws about that kind of thing, because really old people can't date really young people, and…"
Luke, acting on an impulse he didn't quite realize he was having, turned her around and kissed her. Really kissed her. Like he'd seen in movies and read about in books. Like he'd seen other people do, around school.
She seemed to almost melt beneath him.
When he pulled away, Seo's cheeks were bright red. "You… just did that without thinking!"
Yes. Yes, he did. Which was odd. Luke never did anything without thinking. "I just… knew it felt right," he told her. "And… guessed. Like you do in maths."
Seo gave him a guilty grin, glancing around herself. "I'm a terrible influence on you!" she whispered.
Luke decided he liked the kissing. So he leaned in to do it again.
Seo stopped him, before he could.
"I… can't," she said. "I'm sorry."
Luke frowned. He'd thought it was going so well.
"I… thought I could do this," Seo said. "I thought I was over Xander. I thought…" She shook her head. "But I'm not. Not really. I still love him. And it still hurts, trying to move on." She sighed. "Maybe sometime in the future."
Luke just nodded. Not really sure what else he could say.
Seo smiled at him. Took his hand in hers, as they got up off the park bench. "I enjoyed meeting you," she told him. "Thank you for saving my life."
"Will we ever meet, again?" asked Luke.
Seo raised her eyebrows, a hint of mischief around her. "Oh, I'm sure we will. Luke Smith."
Then she turned. And a sad, lonely expression drifted onto her face as she walked off. Past the park, past the streets, into the city beyond. Out of Luke's life — for now — and into her next adventure.