Disclaimer: I own nothing except a few oddly named electronics and a falling apart bookshelf.
A.N. (1) I apologize in advance. This is character centric, not fandoms. So even though it is a crossover, it is barely that. It is implied that that Graham is working for SGC now. And there isn’t much Buffy either. Though if I do a sequel, which there is a dust bunny or two kicking around, it will be more in the Buffydom.
She was panicking. Oh god, how she was panicking. The call had come an hour ago and during the whole trip home, she’d imagined all the horrific things that could have happened. The time packing her bag was used to try and untangle the mass of confusion that surrounded the circumstances. Her husband had been in an accident. An accident in Colorado Springs? She didn’t know how that was possible, but it didn’t really matter.
Lauren was halfway to her car before she doubled back and grabbed a change of clothes for him. It wasn’t much, but she knew that if he was able, he’d appreciate his favorite sleep pants and the ratty old shirt from their first and last date.
Her flight was just a blur. She’d sent a few texts while the plane had been waiting for takeoff, to her neighbor asking to just double check her house and a couple to her boss to confirm her time off, the rest was spent mentally reviewing his last few letters. Trying to figure out why he’d been in Colorado. But it was no use.
Before she knew it, the behemoth of tin was taxiing, and the seat belt button was off. The hassle of a rental car was saved for later, when she’d actually had time to think clearly or knew where she was. A line of cabs was a saving grace as she walked out of the doors and within moments she was off to Penrose Hospital.
The room was crowded, chairs filled with families and friends waiting. She’d been ushered here 10 minutes ago by a harried nurse, and it’d been like a cruel game since. Every time someone new walked in, she would tense, then relax, and tense again. Finally a tall man in a lab coated walked in and it was her turn.
“Mrs. Miller? Lauren Miller?” Raising her hand, she stood and quite ungracefully scurried towards the doctor.
“Present, well, um here.” Readjusting her grip on her bag, she shook her head. “I uh, mean, how is he?”
“If you’ll just come with me?” At her widening eyes, the man grinned sheepishly. “It’s nothing bad, sorry. I just thought you’d want to see Mr. Miller. I’m Dr. Havert. Graham is stable. He has a broken arm and his face is a little bruised. The only worrying thing is that he was unconscious when he arrived, but his GCS is good, and the CT scan didn’t show anything abnormal, so we’re just keeping him under observation.” As he finished speaking, they neared a doorway, when she glanced inside, she saw her husband there. Lying on the tiny bed and looking uncomfortable in the paper gown while he spoke to a man whose back was to her.
Without another word to the doctor, she darted into the room and slipped past the guest. Being mindful of the sling and cast which was now fully in view, she buried herself into his chest.
His shock was evident in how his entire body tensed. “Lauren?!” As she pulled back, her grin grew.
“Graham!” Lauren leaned in to give him a kiss on the cheek, but the mass of bruising stopped her. “Well, dammit. What the hell did you do this time?”
Two different laughs reminded her of where she was, and she spun, taking in the man that now stood beside Dr. Havert. He was tall, most likely as tall as Graham. He had dark hair and a dusky complexion. His stance was loose but still tightly enough strung that she suspected he was military of some type. He too had a few bumps and bruises.
“I’m sorry, that was rude.” Giving an innocent grin, she glanced at Graham. “What the heck happened?”
“That would be my fault, Ma’am. I was driving and there was a deer, that added to recent rain and a pole caused the crash.” He looked down, all amusement gone. Lauren raised a brow; obviously he had taken the crash to heart.
“The ma’am isn’t necessary. What’s your poison?” His startled gaze made her smile softly. “What branch?”
“Oh. Devesh Kale, Airman First Class.” The slight jerk of his arm betrayed his reflex of a salute.
Her forehead furrowed at the fact he was Air Force, but since they were in Colorado, it was a given. Reaching down, she gripped her husband’s hand and perched herself on the edge of his bed. “Well Airman, you can rest assured that I blame you for nothing, as I’m sure Graham has told you the same, and if he hasn’t, tell me so I can make a note to kick him later.”
Grinning weakly, Graham spoke from his bed. “You can’t kick me. I’m hurt. You don’t hurt the hurt. Right Doc.?”
Dr. Havert stepped forward. “It would be advisable to avoid any further damage for at least a couple days. As it is, you’ll be here until tomorrow, so Mrs. Miller; I’ll have to have you to refrain from harming him while he is still in the hospital.” He smiled slyly. “Afterwards though, there isn’t much danger of him getting another concussion as long as you are gentle.”
Lauren sank lower into the bed. “So he’s going to be alright? Like really alright?” The panic that had held rein over her heart so tightly loosened then finally gave way as the Doctor nodded. “Fantastic.” Stroking her thumb over the back of his hand, she calmed down as the adrenalin that had surged through her drained, and weariness fell over her. As it fell, it brought to the surface her worries. About why he was in Colorado and why he didn’t tell her and what the hell had happened to make him look scared when he saw her.
It hadn’t been overt, but she’d caught it, right before she’d hugged him. He looked completely frightened, which scared Lauren. What about her would be able to freak out her big bad army ranger? Shaking it off momentarily, she pulled his hand up to her face and held it against her cheek. The warmth made her smile. Turning it softly, she kissed his knuckles and gently put it back on the bed.
“Since the heart attack you caused has worn off, I’m going to get a cup of coffee from whatever is called a canteen here. Then I’m going to come back and you and I are going to have a talk.” Lauren raised her eyebrows and pinned him with a look. “One that is long overdue.” She tapped his bed once then stood. “So does either one of you two mobile gentlemen know where it is?”
After the doctor delivered her to the cafeteria, she spent a few minutes trying to find the coffee and to pick out snacks for her and Graham and maybe even Kale that is, if he was still there when she returned. Another handful was used to locate the register. Breathing deeply, she sat at one of the back tables and just stared at her coffee. She knew she would have to go back to his room soon, but she couldn’t help it. She needed a couple of seconds to herself.
Wiping away the stray tear that fell, she laughed. He was alright. He was alive and in the states and everything wouldn’t fall apart; at least not for these few moments. Because right now? Her husband was 2 floors above her and breathing, breathing and safe. And so going to explain a few things, but that wasn’t for now, because for right now she was going to savor this. Screw the fact that her crazy laughing-crying episode was causing her get a few odd looks.
Pulling herself together, she gathered her things and stood. Making her way back to his room she only got turned around twice. Feeling proud of herself, she was grinning down at her spoils as she entered. “Guess who didn’t need help? This girl!” Lauren looked up into an empty room and sighed disappointed. “Crap.”
When she looked into the hall, the nurses’ station caught her eye. Walking slowly, she waited until the woman there looked up. “Hi! Uh… I may have gotten lost. I’m looking for Graham Miller’s room. I could have sworn it was that one.” She pointed down the hall, when she turned back, she saw the nurse nod.
“You’re right. That was his room. He checked out AMA a few minutes ago. You must be Lauren. He left you a note. We tried to persuade him to stay, but your brother is one stubborn fool.”
“Ha, that he is. Wait…. Brother?” Her brows furrowed. What the hell?
The nurse looked down at the paper she held. “For: Lauren Miller.” She read. “You’re Lauren, right?” Nodding slowly, Lauren took the note. “He said it was for his sister.” She absent mindedly thanked the woman for her time.
Still confused, she managed to make her way to the bottom floor, but didn’t get past the front doors. Sinking down onto one of the benches, she opened the note. Lore, I had to go. I can’t explain now. But if you’ll meet me at my apartment tonight around 6 I’ll explain. I hope you understand. Graham.
Ignoring the rest, which just held his address, she fumed. Explain?! How would he explain this? She flew to him and after maybe 5 minutes spent in her presence he had left. Dropping her arms she stuffed the letter in her pocket. It was then that she saw the person standing across from her. It was the spinach guy. Kale!
Lauren jumped up and walked to him. He looked at her sympathetically.
“He just took off in a cab. I’m sorry. I don’t know why he had to go. He told me to go as well, but I couldn’t just leave you here with only a note.” He crossed his arms and leaned back. “I don’t think I’ll ever understand that man.”
Groaning she dropped her head toward her chest. “I’ve known him my whole life and I still don’t understand him.”
Kale grinned down at her. “I don’t get his hasty retreat. He talks about you a lot, his little brainiac Lauren. He hung up some of your Cyrillic writing in his house; calls it art. If we weren’t dating I’d think it was annoying, but it’s just too cute how he’s so proud of you.”
Her world froze.
“DATING?! You and Him?!” Her eyes were wide, and her mouth open.
His stance shifted quickly, he had been slouched, but now he was straight as a board and with just as wooden an expression. “Shit. He hasn’t come out to you yet. Dammit! Why didn’t he tell me that?!” Spinning he walked away. She couldn’t move to follow him, even if she wanted too. Dating? Graham?
Graham is gay? Graham is married to her! He can’t be gay. Her train of thought looped around this for a few million cycles before she gave up. She’d never be able to figure this out. She didn’t have all the information. Give her a few Russian manuscripts, that’d be easy to decipher but this. No. This was too complicated. She needed him to explain. And explain he would.
Somehow making her way outside, she pulled out the business card for the cab she’d taken before and asked for a car to be sent. For the entire ride over to his apartment, her brain fell into the loop again. Around and around. Gay, not gay, gay, not gay.
When the car stopped she was barely able to fumble out the right change. Finding his door was easy. Knocking on it, well that was the hard part. After her knock she heard movement on the other side and cursing. “Christ Dev, I thought I told...” As he pulled the door open, she looked to the ground. “Oh.”
Tilting her head up, her eyes narrowed and she shoved her way in. It was spartan, but there were still slight touches of home here and there. He just watched her as she looked around. Like Kale had said, her writings were on the walls, her first big project. Translating their vows and writing them down. She’d been so proud that she’d sent a scan to his email knowing he’d get it when he could. The originals were hanging in her living room. Stepping deeper into the space, she noticed there was a light coming from the bedroom.
She followed it and gently pushed open the door. Inside it was almost just as bare, except for a few pictures. The first was of her college graduation, which he’d missed. Another was of him and a bunch of men in fatigues. The last one though, was of Graham and Kale. They were grinning at the camera with Graham hugging Kale from behind.
Lifting the frame, she barely registered him entering the room. “I waited.” Tears rolled down her cheeks as she lowered photo. “I turned into the girl who waited. I was fifteen when I fell for you and then you joined the Army. But I understood that. So I waited. And you came back. A little less you, but it was still enough Graham for me to recognize. You had grown, I had grown. We went on a date, my first one ever. A week later you proposed. So we got married and you left again. I could handle that. I did handle that. 12 months of waiting. Then you re-enlisted again without talking to me. 2 more years… You left me alone for 3 years.” She spun and walked to the window. “We were married for only 2 weeks before you got your orders.” Her voice hardened as she walked to him. “And now I finally see you after all that time. And you have a boyfriend! You expect me to understand?” Glaring up at him Lauren grabbed his lapels and pulled him down so their faces were level. “You are a fucking asshole.” Without another word, she punched him.
Graham fell back, mostly out of shock, though his stomach was slightly sore from the force. Taking a few retreating steps he leaned against the wall and slid down it. Looking up at the woman who meant the most to him, and he just stared. “I’m sorry.”
“Oh. No. You don’t get to say sorry.” She groaned and stomped in frustration, then sat on the bed. “You know? I can deal with the empty home. I can deal with the one letter a month. I can even deal with the gay part. What I can’t deal with the fact that my BEST friend was off to god knows where and I didn’t know how or where he really was. So you know what? You are going to deal with this without ‘sorry’.” Lauren cursed and shook her head before continuing.
“I want a divorce.” She fell backwards onto the bed. “I get the house, which is in my name. And I get the fish, whom you haven’t met.” Sighing softly, she propped herself up and glared at him “Plus I get to surrogate all kids you may or may not have in the future.” Relaxing her arms, she plopped back down again. “Though it is to be done through IVF; you get no more sex from me.”
Rolling onto her side, she gazed down at him; he was still on the floor, which made her lips twitch. The confused look that he gave her made her giggle. And when he just furrowed his brows even deeper, she broke. She laughed so hard she began to hold her stomach. When she finally stopped, she pressed her palms to her cheeks wiping the tears away.
“The other wives thought I made you up.” She could tell without even looking at him that she’d jumped topics too fast, but she pressed on, needing to say this. “The army wives in Fort Lewis. You were transferred around too fast, so no one ever really saw you. When you were deployed the second time, I moved near the last base you were, because I thought you’d return back there.” She stretched her arms and then tucked her hands behind her head. “I used to go there every Friday. I must have been passed around to all the departments. I was trying to find where you were sent. But no one would tell me, or could. After about 4 months, rumors had been sprung up about me. I was the crazy woman who deluded herself into thinking that her love had been in the military.
“There were a few theories on who you were, an ex who left me high and dry, maybe a one night stand who spun a tall tale, but the most rampant one was that I’d made you up.” Lauren chuckled softly. “All their initial sympathy dried up real fast. Yeah sure, you can be a part of the community if you have proof, but if all you have is Name and Rank but no definite proof, you’re the outsider. Eventually, I just left my name and number, so they could call if there was any solid information that came in, about your unit or your orders. But no one ever called.”
Lauren let the silence stretch on. She heard him get up from the floor. She felt him sit next to her on the bed, but still she said nothing. It wasn’t until he hugged her that she realized she was crying. By then it was too late to stop it. The sobs were coming hard and fast and there was no stopping them.
His meaningless platitudes rolled off her as she just clung to him, her shoulders shaking and her mind flailing, trying to make sense of her emotions. There was only one thought in her head. It took a few moments before she could choke it out.
“I started to think that… that I made you up too.” With that said, she just burrowed in deeper as he froze. His words stopped and his hand only continued to stroke on reflex. As her tears tapered off, she pulled back, and sat up. Tucking her knees up under her chin she tried to wipe her face again. It was useless as her face was all blotchy, so there was no point in attempting to hide the evidence of her emotion, but she still tried.
His voice made her start. “I knew I had to leave. When I asked you out, I knew. I think I was trying to find something. And I did. For a little while, I found it in you. So I clung to you. I bought the ring an hour after our date.” He moved so he was sitting beside her on the bed, his legs swinging off the edge. “I probably shouldn’t have done it. I think the main reason I wanted to marry you was that I wanted something solid, someone alive, to come back to; not that I didn’t love you, but I’m pretty sure it was just me reading too much into my love of you as my best friend.”
Scrubbing his good hand over his face, he stared forward. “I had just come through a… a bad operation. I can’t tell you about it, confidentiality and all that shit, but it went FUBAR. Friends died. My best friend Forrest died. And I just didn’t really cope, couldn’t. I bottled it up. When I came back home for a bit, you were there. And it was just like before I’d left. I wanted that to stay. When I left again, you kept me sane. I was on another operation just like the one before, but this time it was different, I was different. I had someone. I had a home. So it wasn’t hopeless.
“I’d worked with most of these guys in the other project, so we all knew a bit about each other, and I’d explained my letters to you as that you were my sister. It just stuck. It didn’t matter that you were now my wife, I didn’t want to try and explain it. You were mine, my piece of normal. When I got asked if I wanted to transfer to Colorado, I agreed. I’d base from here, but be sent elsewhere. And… the story stuck. I didn’t have a wife. I had a sister, the Russian translator. That fact helped me interact with some of the scholars, let me tell you. But I still couldn’t share you. You were my outside connection, outside of the fighting and weapons and disaster. I didn’t think too much about how that affected you. And I apologize for that. I put you in an untouchable bubble without even getting your consent.”
It was him who fell silent this time. He turned his head and watched her. Hoping she would understand.
Lauren had. And she got it. She wasn’t ready to forgive, but she understood. So she nodded. He breathed a sigh of relief at that. But something still nagged at her. “Now… Explain the gay part. Because I remember the honeymoon, and you didn’t really have an issue there.”
Her blunt words startled a laugh out of him. “Aww hell, Lauren. You really didn’t change did you?” Smiling softly she shook her head. Raising her eyebrows, she motioned for him to continue. “I really have no clue. I don’t think I’m really gay.” Realizing his words he backpedaled. “I mean I really really like Devesh but it’s not that he’s a guy that made me like him. Just like the fact that you’re a girl didn’t make me want you. It’s the person for me. I loved you. Love you still, but just not in the same way. Or it never really was that way.”
Lauren sighed. “Ok. I get it.” Standing she tugged him up then pulled him down for a soft kiss. “My epic-romance-that-never-was is over. But just because that part of our relationship is done, doesn’t mean you’re rid of me yet Sargent Miller. I’ll still expect my letters, and the divorce papers. Quit making Kale be a mistress.” She picked up her purse and slung it over her shoulder; as she reached the door jamb he stopped her.
“Just like that?” His words were soft, almost disbelieving.
She turned on her heel and hugged him. “Yeah, just like that. I’ll still be your normal if you need it. I’ll be your sister, just give me a little bit. To be honest, my love for you never changed. It is still the same as it was when I was 4 and you were 12, and you carted me around in your wagon because I broke my leg on your dare. There were misunderstandings on my part too. You’re not always the one at fault. I’m not going to stand in the way of your happiness. So, I’m going to go back to Seattle. And I’ll adjust to my new role; sister to SFC Graham Miller, U.S. Army Ranger.” She dropped her arms and exited the room, and his apartment, and for the moment; his life.
A.N. (2) I hope you enjoyed it. I really liked writing it, and I think this is actually the fastest story I’ve written. Which is kind of sad since it took, like a week. Eh pickers can’t be choosers. As I said before, I do have a few ideas for a sequel, but if you have anything you’d really like to see, review and I’ll try my best to see if it’ll fit. See you all next time!
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