Damn, I'm on a roll! :) I just really love writing this story. Thank you all so much for the feedback and support! You make this all worth while :D
And Arwen - my lovely reader, you make me quite happy! Thank you for the sweet words, and also - I'd quite hoped at least ONE reader would figure out my little secret from the last chapter. ;) *cackles maniacally*
And a big thank you to everyone else who reviewed! You guys are cavity sweet! Listen to:
Faster Babe - 2AM Club (I LOVE this song!)
~ IX ~
He tried to shake the hand off of his shoulder.
"Jesus - what? What time is it?" Sam groaned as he opened his eyes and then startled a bit at the sight of Sayre, whom he'd almost forgotten in his sleep.
"Early morning, I'd warrant."
Sam sat up a bit, grumbling as he reached over to flick on his nightstand light. He wiped a hand over his face. "What is it?"
Sayre ran a hand through his disheveled locks, still halfway rapped in the wool duvet Sam had given him. "I...I'm afraid I find I cannot sleep."
Sam squinted. "Why?"
Sayre bit his bottom lip, then glanced at the bedroom window overlooking the city streets. And he didn't have to answer, because just then a siren sounded from somewhere a few blocks away, and Sam watched as Sayre jumped slightly and backed away.
Sayre gave him a sad smile.
Sam returned a few minutes later, almost surprised by his own generosity as he handed Sayre a pair of earplugs and a glass of water.
"Thank you," he murmured, and as another siren went off he said, "Do you know, it reminds me very much of Wales. Like the birds. The hawks. They would cry in the mornings as they flew over the wood. Yes, they sounded very much like this." And his eyes seemed to become lost for a moment, slipping back into memory.
Sam watched him for a moment. "Get some rest," he said eventually. "You're gonna need it."
Liz wanted nothing more than to keel over and die.
Because she had been sitting at the breakfast table, mindlessly eating her Cheerios while her dad read the Times, when Sam had entered the kitchen, trailed closely by a sleepy looking Sayre.
His dark hair had been adorably mussed, sticking up at all angles, his white T-shirt was practically see-through, and the pair of black sweats Liz had so expertly picked out for him hung gorgeously and tantalizingly from his hips.
She dropped her spoon.
"Morning," Sam yawned, oblivious to his sister's hormonal turmoil, and following suit, Sayre murmured the same.
"Morning, boys," Mr. Carter replied, distracted by his paper. "Sleep well, Sayre?"
"Very well, thank you, Sir." Sayre shot a glance at Sam, looking for permission to sit, and Sam waved him off.
"Yeah, yeah - sit, dude. No one cares. Eggs?"
He looked a bit relieved, eggs likely being something he was familiar with. "You are most kind."
As Sam started scrambling them on the stove, Liz scooted her bar chair closer to Sayre's. He glanced at her, managing a slight, nervous smile.
"How do you say 'good morning' in Welsh?" she asked, grinning full out.
He cleared his throat quietly, eyes flitting from her to the marble countertop and back again, "Bore da."
"Hmm..." Her eyelashes fluttered as she leaned dreamily on her hand, gazing at him.
"Liz, give the boy some space," Mr. Carter said offhandedly, hidden behind a page of the Funnies.
"He has lots of space. Don't you, Sayre?"
"Liz - seriously?" Sam shoved a steaming plate of scrambled eggs in front of him, and Liz pouted, scooting away. "We'll get the guest room cleared out for you," he continued, fork halfway to his mouth. "That way you don't have to sleep on the floor."
"Thank you," Sayre said, slightly pink. "I am very grateful."
He was gazing at the eggs like they'd been scrambled by Jesus himself, and when he took his first bite, Sam watched his features melt a little.
"That good, huh?"
Sayre nodded emphatically, swallowing. "Eggs were a rare occurrence for me in my ti-my family."
"Really?" Sam asked around a mouthful. "That sucks, man. Eggs are, like, my life."
He was a little amazed at how well he'd grown accustomed to Sayre. And not just Sayre, but also the idea of Sayre, and where he'd come from. The more time he'd spent with him, the less able he was to believe that the guy might be lying.
Everything just seemed to make sense, he supposed. Like time travel was the only viable explanation.
Raised voices sounded suddenly from down the hall, but Sayre appeared to be the only one startled when Clara appeared, her face flushed with anger. She took one look at the table, then snatched a jacket from a coat hook on the wall and stormed out the front door.
Mrs. Carter appeared a moment later, expression chipper but eyes still lit with anger. "How's everyone's morning?"
Distracted and mumbled replies.
"And Sayre - how did you sleep?"
"Well, thank you m'la- Ma'am."
Sam rolled his eyes.
"Sam, you should take him out with you today. Show him the sights. Ellis Island. Broadway. Whatever you want to do." Mrs. Carter smiled brightly as she poured herself some coffee.
Sam looked like he wanted to do anything but.
"Fine," he said eventually, cramming the last of the eggs into his mouth. At least it'd be a good way to get Sayre accustomed to what he'd be surrounded with. "You up for it?" he asked.
Sayre shrugged lightly. "I'd be honored."
Liz had insisted on coming.
Wearing what was likely every shade of pink known to woman, she skipped excitedly ahead of them along the sidewalk, babbling on and on about all the things Sayre needed to see.
"See?" Sam whispered conspiratorially to him as they walked side by side, "This is why I don't have a girlfriend. Women are evil."
"Girlfriend?" Sayre echoed.
"Oh...damn, I guess you'd say..." Sam wracked his brain, "lover." The word tasted awkward to him. "Yeah, lover."
"Ah," Sayre nodded.
"What about you?" Sam sidestepped a forgotten chili dog on the ground. "You have a lover way back when?"
"No," he murmured, getting that far away look again. "No, I was - am - a knight. There was little opportunity for such things."
"Ah, you're shitting me - you? Mr. Charming-The-Crap-Out-Of-My-Female-Relatives? Not even one girl?"
Sayre seemed a bit taken aback by all this. He chewed his lip in thought. "I did steal a kiss from one of my Lord's servants once. Margery. She was a kitchen maid and I found her lips pretty. But then again, I was only thirteen years old."
"How old was Margery?"
"Two and twenty."
Sam whistled high and then gave a bark of laughter. "Damn, dude. Twenty-two? Did you get in trouble?"
He shrugged. "The Head Wench gave me two strikes with a hot poker," and he held out his hand, palm up, so that Sam could see the twin white scars stained into his skin. Compared to some of the other markings on Sayre, however, these were quite mild.
"Damn," he said again, laughter abating. "Worst I ever got was a spanking."
"I deserved it," Sayre said, and he glanced over at him with a sheepish grin.
"Oh my gosh!" Liz suddenly squealed. "Sayre! You have to try M&M's!"
Sam chuckled under his breath. "Ever had chocolate?"
Sayre's eyes lit up. "No."
"Come on, then."
They followed Liz into the abyss of M&M's World.
"You are so gonna regret that later," Sam said, watching in awe as Sayre downed another full bag of the small chocolates. Even he couldn't eat that much, and that was saying something.
"It tastes like Heaven," Sayre groaned, leaning back against the bench. Liz was giggling. "How do you avoid having this for every meal?"
Sam laughed. "The thrill gets old, man - trust me. But when I was a kid, I think I could've taken you on."
"I have questions," Sayre announced suddenly, sitting up straight again.
"What is this 'man' and 'dude' and 'bro' business?"
Liz's smile probably could've split her cheeks. "You are so adorable."
"They're nicknames. You know? I mean - I guess it's hard to explain. They're just stuff we call each other nowadays. You can call me 'dude,' if you want. It's really common."
"Oh," Sayre said. "Very well."
"The cars...what sort of beasts are they?"
"They aren't beasts," Sam chuckled. "They aren't alive. They're made of metal. It goes along with the whole technology thing."
"Oh. Magic, then."
"I also want to know why some of the women wear male clothing."
Liz took this one. "Style changed a lot over time. Now it's perfectly acceptable for a girl to wear jeans, or capris, or shorts, or leggings, or-"
"But yeah, dresses from your time are practically extinct."
"I see." But he still looked hopelessly confused.
"You'll get used to it all," Sam said. "At least...until we figure out how to get you home."
Sayre's bright green eyes locked on his, full of brutal honesty, and Sam was forced to amend his statement.
"If we can figure it out."