Title: To Be, Or Not (To Be Where I Am)

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.

Rating: K+/PG

Summary: Illyria visits another experienced time traveler for a consultation. 1000 words.

Spoilers: Post-series, and post-Star Trek (2009)

Notes: Tag for my Temporal Malfunctions series, because Illyria! And Spock! Possibly makes little sense unless you've spent as much time as I have (a) thinking about the metaphysics of Star Trek and (b) thinking up new fanfictive ways to get around Joss Whedon's Signature Move? Originally posted elsewhere 8/11/2015.

The outer door of the Vulcan's dwelling shut behind the vampires' time displaced mate and her new potential partner, and Illyria emerged from the bedchamber with a perplexed frown.

"You lied to the Slayer," she said, approaching the faintly smiling form of her host.

"And how have I done that?" Selek asked patiently, hands clasped behind his back as he turned away from the door to meet her gaze. He seemed distinctly unperturbed by the charge.

"I have lived seven lives at once; I have walked endless timestreams from the chill of entropy back to the headwaters of their creation; and even after my downfall was able to trace the ripples of one being's meddling from mere premonition on twenty-first century Earth to your presence here," she reminded him. She had already explained as much upon her arrival; why mortal beings seemed to occasionally need such repetition, she had never understood. "This chain of events already exists; to attempt to prevent it would only split the timeline anew, not destroy it."

"Ah," Selek nodded in acknowledgement. "I did not say she would destroy this reality; only that I could not predict the outcome of such a choice," he explained, lips still curling minutely upward at the corners.

"Sophistry," Illryia dismissed that, turning away from him to walk toward the narrow, slat-shaded window on the wall to the right of the door. She could see the path back to the port from there, currently occupied by an animated pair of humans with dark blond hair stalking away from the village. "Sentimentality. You did not wish for her to disrupt the synergy of another Spock with his Captain, though that Spock would not be you, and that Captain not your own."

"There being very little difference between that potential Spock and my younger self, and less between that Captain and the one I recall so well, I can nonetheless declare with certainty that he would react the same as I to the prospect," he replied, dryly. "She was an object of fascination to Jim, at best; and he, a symbol of freedom and acceptance to her. Yet at that age and phase of life, he had neither the pliability of mind nor temperament to be content with such a role in the longer term. Three lives would be cast askew in disappointment, to possible catastrophic effect for their Federation and only transitory personal benefit."

He did not dissemble regarding his own role in the universe he had come from; one aspect of their interactions that Illyria approved. For little reason that she could discern, all too many humans claimed to be either more important, or less important than they were, a deplorable lack of accuracy in self-assessment.

She did not approve, however, of the appearance of hypocrisy. She turned back to him with a chill glare. "Yet you encouraged her to accompany this James Tiberius Kirk, to the possible detriment of his Spock?"

"This Spock is not yet to his Kirk as I was to mine, and might never be. While he and I, and this Captain and my Jim share genetic origins, their nurturing, in both cases, was far different from ours," Selek defended himself with one raised eyebrow. "From what I have discerned in my conversations with them, there remains an essential compatibility of mind; but in personality..."

He shook his head and continued. "This Spock has Uhura; and this Jim, a much clearer, and less duty-bound slate upon which to sketch his first impressions of Ensign Summers. While Ensign Summers in turn is likely to find the differences in him challenge and enticement enough to appreciate this Jim for his unique merits as well as those she was attracted to in the timeline she wished to return to."

"And the events of this timeline already range far enough afield to be a surprise even to one who has seen another century pass from this date," Illyria concluded, after a moment's thought. "It is a temptation to you, to be an oracle to those you knew; further differentiating preconditions will widen that divergence, thus reducing the temptation."

The insulting twinkle of an elder lecturing an insufficiently quick youth finally faded from Selek's eyes at her statement. "Their lives must be their own henceforth. I have meddled considerably as it is; I called it an act of faith, but in truth it was, as you say, an act of extreme sentimentality. I was emotionally compromised. Had events miscarried, I would have been responsible for the destruction of two universes, not only one."

Illyria mulled that over, comparing his situation with her own. When she had detected the ripples of a massive temporal shift radiating backward from the point of an incautious time traveler's impact, she had wondered if it might be her own future self; or, failing that, an example to learn from to effect her own shift in her then-present timeline. But the alignment was inexact- there had been no universal destruction, merely the death of one being who'd treated her as the center of his mortal universe. She was no longer annoyed that Selek had asked her to conceal herself at the first sign of any visitor approaching; the conversation she had overheard had, in fact, better informed her decision.

Selek sighed heavily, interrupting her thoughts. "Kaiidth; what is, is, and I must learn to accept as much, even as I counseled our mutual friend."

"I have no friends," Illyria denied, then considered potentialities. "But- perhaps I will prevent the dislocation of the Buffy Summers from my own timeline as well, and see what may evolve."

"Then you have learned what you came here seeking to know?" he asked, inclining his head.

"I accept nothing; I concede nothing; I seek no blessing," she replied, lifting her chin.

"Then I bid you farewell; and may your level of success be greater than my own."

Illyia strode back into the timestream, fording backward toward a battle in late May of 2004.