The moment William and Seo were alone together, their lips met, and they shared a long, passionate kiss. Seo on her tip toes, as he bent down, the two sharing in the passion and excitement that had characterized the end of their last adventure together. Seo let the kiss linger, wanting to extend the moment, wanting to remain close to him.
"Six years," William whispered, when they broke apart. "You have no idea how much I missed you."
Six years. She'd never meant for it to be that long.
"It's only been a week or two for me," Seo admitted.
He stepped away from her, his hands on her arms, his eyes staring into hers. His face soft, gentle, intense, looking at her as if she were everything in the world to him. As if she, alone, could make him crumble.
"You left," he said, very softly. "Before I awoke. You left and never even said goodbye."
"I... got scared," she admitted. Had woken up, realized what she had done, what line she had crossed with someone she'd thought of as a friend, and had completely freaked out. Raced back to Oliver, found Dawn, and left 1820 behind, trying to cover it up like nothing had happened at all.
But it had happened.
She couldn't forget that.
"I was always planning to come back," said Seo. "If I hadn't crashed in 1826, I'd have come back sooner."
"I've never stopped thinking about you," William said. "I can't. I've tried. I…" He took a deep breath, then pulled her closer to him, his arms around her waist. "I can't stand to be away from you, again."
Seo looked up into his eyes. Gave him a small smile. "Well, maybe you don't have to be."
His eyes seemed to glow with anticipation.
"I—" Seo began, but he got in, first.
"Then… you feel the same way!" William cried. "You feel…" He pulled away from her, his hands shaking a little, as he spoke. "I've thought about this for six years. Six long, lonely years." Leaning in closer. "Seo. Will you marry me?"
Seo froze. For a moment, she just stared at him, her eyes wide.
What the hell?!
"You… want me… to marry you?" Seo confirmed.
"I love you, Seo," said William. "With all my heart. Please. Live with me. Be my wife."
He leaned in to kiss her, again, but Seo pulled herself away from him.
"But… but…" Seo spluttered, "but we've only known each other for two days!"
"And those two days were the happiest I've ever had," William said. "Enough for me to know that I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
Seo stepped back. Her cheeks turning red.
"Billy," she said. "You're… brilliant and brave and heroic, and… I like you. Really, I do. But… I… just… can't marry you." She gave him her best sympathetic look. "I'm sorry. Really."
William's face fell. Shattered. Like someone had dropped him across the pavement and smashed him into a thousand pieces.
"It's nothing to do with you!" said Seo. "But marriage is a big step, and—"
"There's someone else," said William, his voice low, glum, dejected. "Someone from the future. Someone you love more than you love me."
"No, it's just… Billy, I'm not even completely human," said Seo. "The way I live, the things I do — it isn't for everybody. You've been exposed to a tiny droplet of my life, and based on that, you're prepared to drown yourself in it."
"So then… you think I'm not up to your standards," William said. "Because I am a human accountant. And you are a Lady of Time."
Seo felt her head spinning. "That's not what I meant!"
"Seo," said William, very quietly, "I've given up everything for you. Given up all I had so we could spend the rest of our lives together." He extended his hand to her. "Please. Spend it with me."
"We can't spend the rest of our lives together!" Seo said. Feeling a wave of utter desperation run through her. "Billy, just listen to me! I'm not human. Do you have any idea what that means?"
William said nothing. Didn't waver. His hand still extended, his face still determined.
"I don't think like you!" said Seo. "I don't act like you! I don't see the world the same way you do! And I don't live like you! You and me… we'll never be able to spend the rest of our lives together! Do you understand? Because you are a human being, with a lifespan of a hundred years or less, and I am an alien, who will live for thousands and thousands of years, changing bodies thirteen times along the way."
"Seo," said William, very quietly. His eyes stared at her, as he stepped forward, grabbing her up towards him. "I've given up everything for you. Don't you see? Everything I have. And everything I am."
Seo felt herself yanked towards him with a strength he should never have had. And stared, her mouth dropping open, as she realized… something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong.
"What's happened to you?" she whispered.
His grip loosened, as he saw the terror in her eyes. "There was… an accident. It's hard to explain." He draped a gentle hand across her shoulders, trying to reassure her, trying to comfort her, as he led her down the street. "Come. Let me show you."
The first thing Dawn saw, when she broke into William's rooms, were the clocks.
Dozens and dozens of clocks. Clocks on the floor. Clocks on the bookshelves. Clocks everywhere, all chiming out a different hour, all set to a different time.
And the face of every single clock was pointed towards a portrait hanging on the wall. One drawn from memory, possibly by William, himself. A portrait… of Seo.
"Okay," said Dawn, closing the door behind her. "That's kind of creepy."
But not nearly as creepy as the books she found, rummaging through his bookshelves. The many volumes of books on the dark arts. Books that Giles, himself, had told Dawn should never be opened. That Willow had always made a point of destroying, back at the Slayer Institute, whenever she happened to come across them.
Dangerous magic books.
Containing spells that should never, ever be used.
And every single one of these spell books had a special focus. A certain, particular kind of magic that it used. A certain magical energy it sought to manipulate.
"Time," breathed Dawn.
She stumbled back, then ran to the next room over. Grabbed up a journal, leafed through the pages. Every single page was filled with words about Seo. Every single line fixated on her. On time. On magic and the manipulation of energies.
"Oh, my God," said Dawn, "he's become obsessed."
She stopped, as she arrived at the final page of the journal. Read the final entry.
Every day I am without her, my heart breaks anew. I have nothing to offer her, nothing she might want. So it is up to me to become the man she most desires. To change myself for her.
Dawn snapped the book 'd just made a really big mistake. Really, really big mistake. Not only had Dawn seen no evidence, so far, of rift instability; she'd left Seo alone with some complete nutcase who was also a powerful telepath, had spent the last five years learning the world's most dangerous magic time spells, had finally arrived at the site of a major rift in space-time, and was completely and utterly obsessed with making sure Seo stayed with him forever.
This was a setup. For Seo.
And that meant whatever William wanted to do to Seo, it sure as hell wasn't going to be limited to lovemaking and a few stolen kisses.
This was way over there in crazy-stalker-land, now.
Dawn jumped to her feet. Sprinted, as fast as she could, out the door. She needed to figure out where Seo had gone, fast. Before it was too late.