In a different life, maybe this would be easier. Maybe she wouldn’t have to ignore his crimes and maybe he would forgive her frequent departures. Maybe they wouldn’t be so hurt, their relationship a double edged blade.
But in a different life, they likely would never have met. Him dead millennia before she is born, no cursed pocket watch bridging the gap in between.
“I do love you,” she says as a sigh, as a confession, before pressing a soft kiss to the corner of his mouth. His face, cradled between her hands, goes where she leads. Pliant in a way he himself is not.
“I have always loved you,” he says back, breathing against her cheek, “You would have been my princess.”
Leanne can’t help the laugh tearing out of her throat, “You were a brat, then, I highly doubt that.”
Bastian jerks, dislodging from her hold; the fragile peace surrounding the moment shattered into dangerous shards. Accusingly, he asks, “You were that far back?”
“Once,” she says, pulling away, resigned to telling this story, “just once.”
She had only been then for a few hours, a sudden stumble that sent her further back than she’d ever been before. So far back, in fact, that she had no idea what was going on.
A palace and people in strange clothes speaking a language so far removed from what she she could understand, all staring at her sudden appearance.
Until a set of guards tackled her to the ground. She was lucky she didn’t break a rib under the weight of four armored soldiers. As it was, she did hit her head against the marble and black out immediately.
During his lonelier, more lucid moments, Bastian thinks about possibilities. About the past. About how, if he weren’t cursed to live on, he would have died alongside his family.
He thinks maybe there would have been honor in that. To have fallen and been preserved in that moment as a prince.
Better than languishing and festering into whatever he’s become.
But Leanne loves him, even if she doesn’t always like him, and that’s not something he could ever regret.
She woke up in what may have been a infirmary of sorts, though it was unlike the hospitals she knew. If anything, it looked like a high end spa. Open and airy, beds lined up like lounge chairs beside a pool.
The doctor, upon seeing her awake, said something to her, but she still did not understand and didn’t care to. Not when she couldn’t find her watch.
“Where is it?” she asks, a twisting barbed wire of confusion and panic wrapping around her heart, “Where is my watch?”
Since inheriting it from her father, since it claimed her as its own, Leanne has never been separated from her pocket watch.
She doesn’t know what will happen if she’s not holding it when it triggers: if it won’t activate without her there, or if it will simply leave her behind. Or if, somehow, the physical watch no longer means anything, if all along the source of the time traveling has been her.
The thought is too horrific to be true. She needs her watch back now.
Bastian is the oldest human in existence. He’s met beings who are older–creatures that various mythologies would describe as spirits or angels or gods–but they are inhuman despite their appearances. They do not count.
Bastian also has had the honor of meeting Doctor Kaiza, had the pleasure of laughing at her paltry two centuries of extended life. He’s seen ten times that and will likely see another. He has yet to meet Doctor Kaiza’s counterpart, the estranged Professor Greyson, but it’s only a matter of time. Even their brief existences are better than the mayfly lives of normal humans.
He’s a hypocrite, of course, because what is Leanne but a mere blink of an eye in comparison to him. No matter how frequently she pops in and out of his life, she will only last a short while. But god, he loves her so much.
Even with a possible concussion and bruised ribs, Leanne could knock out an unprepared doctor and escape an unsecured infirmary. Her team may have been allies with Cadmium PD, but vigilantes were always outlaws. In order to catch criminals they had to be criminals.
And also, Leanne had been practicing her right hook.
The palace was huge and unfamiliar, but the layout was simple enough to guess. And her watch had always had a hold on her, she could feel its call anywhere.
No one was looking for her but given her appearance she’s a fairly obvious outsider. She’d have to be careful otherwise her ribs might actually break.
Onward, onward, her watch called and onward, onward she went. Until she ended up at a wall; luckily, one with a window low enough for her to reach and climb through.
But the climbing ended up not being necessary because the watch came to the window. Or, rather, the watch was brought to the window instead.
The face was smaller than she was used to, hands chubby with baby fat, and when he smiled she saw two gaps where teeth should be. But it was a face she knew, nonetheless, and she couldn’t help a matching–if bewildered–smile.
“Bastian!” She called out, surprised but pleased, “Give me back my watch,” she said with an outstretched hand, ready to catch.
But Bastian didn’t know her, not yet, and besides his name he had no idea what she said. The watch stayed in his hands.
“Bastian!” she called out again, frustrated, and this time he walked away.
A strange woman climbing into the window of the prince’s room is a very suspicious thing indeed. Especially when that prince is only six years old.
Leanne is stabbed through the shoulder by a guard, but the commotion startled Bastian into dropping the watch. It’s in her hands before it hit the ground, just in time to disappear.
She better end up somewhen with phenomenal healthcare.
A/N: On a bus for eight hours, this is what came out.