April 22, 2003. Spencer stood on the other side of the glass of the nursery looking in. He couldn’t help it, he had tried to stay away but the temptation was just too great. He had waited until his younger self had moved away when he slowly stepped-up to the glass to look inside. His eyes landed on the infant and his breath hitched as he laid his head against the glass.
Aaron was there next to him. He had tried to talk Spencer out of coming but nothing he said got through.
“Which one is he?” Aaron asked him as he settled next to Spencer.
“The one in the TARDIS blanket of course.” Spencer shook his head as he looked at the man he had been with for over forty years now.
“Of course, he is.” Aaron said playfully. “He’s beautiful Spencer.”
“I know you think I shouldn’t have come, but Aaron, I couldn’t not come. I had to see him.” He held back the tears as he looked at his newborn son. “I wish I could warn them, but I know I can’t. I see him here and he’s so perfect, so beautiful and I’m trying not to get angry at the universe for taking him away.”
Aaron just kept a comforting presence next to Spencer. They stood there for a while until a nurse looked up at them and smiled. Spencer almost flinched back; he wasn’t used to someone smiling at them like that.
“Spencer, come on love you know we can’t stay.”
Spencer nodded his head as he was pulled away. He took one last look back to see his younger self entering the nursery and being given the tiny infant to feed. He could almost feel James in his arms as the memory was so vivid in his mind. One last look he turned back into Aaron’s arms; he couldn’t help the tears that slipped down his face. He was grateful that Aaron didn’t say anything as they left the hospital and drove to their daughter’s house to celebrate their granddaughter’s graduation.
Spencer stood on the other side of the glass of the nursery looking in. His eyes immediately went to the little boy in the TARDIS blanket. Smiling softly, he leaned against the glass and didn’t stop the tears that fell. He had arrived at the hospital a few minutes earlier and had just seen his younger self walk back into the room with Maeve, and his older self being led away by Aaron. He thought it strange how time-travel worked and that Dr. Who was wrong about one thing, he was in the same place, three different versions of himself and nothing bad had happened.
“James,” he whispered against the glass as too many emotions filled his heart all at once. Even though he had his children with Aaron, James would always hold a big part of his heart. He couldn’t help it, he just had to see him on this day. The difference now was he had no Maeve and no Aaron to help him. He was alone and that was how he wanted it to be. The nurse looked out and frowned slightly and Spencer could see the confusion on her face. He just smiled, waived shyly to her then walked away.
Spencer found an unoccupied room and wrapped his hand around the amulet after setting the year to 2030 and thought of his Uncle’s house. He chose that year because, if he ran into Maeve, they would be closer in age. He wasn’t sure what he would find, he’d never gone ahead in the future, only to his own time. He was pleased when he got there, he saw that his old car was still there. He moved through the house and saw the keys hanging on the rack with an old note stuck inside.
Maeve thought that maybe you’d come back someday. She left the car for you just in case.
Spencer shook his head and went out and hoped the car started. When it turned over, he knew that Rob had kept it in good working condition just for him. After that, there must have been someone to come look after everything and Spencer would have to investigate that. He knew his Uncle was gone, no one lived forever. The car and house were in excellent condition which meant there was a caretaker. Spencer chuckled to himself before he backed out of the driveway and headed towards the one place he hadn’t been to in years.
Spencer pulled into the cemetery and noted the changes that had taken place over the years. He pulled up to the side of the children’s section and stepped out. Standing next to the car he looked up at the twilight sky and took a deep breath. He smiled to himself as he thought back to just an hour ago when he looked, once again, into the face of his son. Though the ache never really went away, it would always be there, that hole in his heart that was forever reserved for James had lessened over the years. Slowly he walked towards James’s grave and let the cool air settle around him.
Spencer knelt, closed his eyes and tilted his head slightly as memories came unbidden to his mind. A soft smile played on his lips as he remembered all the good times and pushed the bad away. He didn’t want the bad, not today.
“Hello Spencer,” a female voice said to the side of him. Spencer opened his eyes and looked up at Maeve. She had aged as he did, but while he was in his sixties, she was in her fifties. There were soft lines around her eyes and mouth, her hair was dotted with gray, but her eyes sparkled as they once had when they were first dating. Spencer stood and turned to her and pulled her into his arms. All the anger, all the pain he had let go of years prior. Here stood the woman that had once been his best friend and lover.
“Hello Maeve,” he said as he pulled back from her. He reached up and pushed her hair behind her ear, like she used to do when she was stuck on a problem and smiled at her for the first time in years.
“How have you been?” She asked as a sad smiled played across her lips. “I’ve seen your stories and heard about some of the art shows.” She was hesitant as they stood together. Spencer could tell that shew as trying to figure them out, he couldn’t blame her. He was doing the same thing.
“Good. Very good actually.”
“So, are you still with him?” She looked down at her hands.
“Yes, we’re still together. We adopted two children soon after we settled in together. Well, technically I adopted them because at the time gay couples couldn’t. I’m getting ready to retire from teaching, but I’ll still publish an article here and there. Maybe do an art show.”
“Wow. Where are you living?”
“New York. We’ve been there since the beginning and never left. I’m here just for a quick visit.”
“You’re Uncle told me about the time-travel thing. Not so sure I believe it, but he seemed so sincere.”
Spencer raised his brow and just shook his head. He thought that he should have known that his Uncle Rob would eventually tell Maeve the whole story. He didn’t think that he could convince her of the truth, but it didn’t matter if she believed him or not.
“It’s quite true, like I tried to tell you years ago. I met Aaron by going back to 1963. Right now, for us, it’s 1993. It’s been hard, we’ve had friends pass, attacks against us were always a threat but we learned to protect ourselves. Aaron and I are monogamous, so we never had to worry about disease or AIDS.”
“So, thirty years. A part of me wants to be jealous. I thought that would have been us, but you were right. We didn’t love each other for who we were. I wanted you to be something you weren’t, and it took me a long-time to come to terms with it. I never stopped loving you though.”
“Maeve,” Spencer murmured as he looked down and took her hand in his and held it for a moment. When he looked back-up, she had tears in her eyes as they both stared at each other. “A part of me will always love the wide-eyed inquisitive girl I met in a little coffee shop in DC. I don’t ever regret our life Maeve. I don’t regret having James even though losing him broke us I don’t regret one minute of it.” Spencer lifted her hand and softly kissed it, his lips lingering for just a moment.
“I did find someone. A researcher. We have three girls. He helped me understand what happened to us, made me see that what I loved was an idea. I’m so sorry Spencer. I’m sorry for the things that I said and did-“ Spencer stopped her when he kissed her.
“Don’t. You’ve already apologized, and I accepted it years ago. We both have better lives now Maeve.” Closing her eyes, she stepped into his arms once again. They stood like that for what seemed like ages, two people who had once thought their love would carry them through anything. Spencer had come to the conclusion many years before that it just wasn’t mean to be. He was the first to pull back. He smiled at her as he cupped her cheeks and wiped away her tears with his thumbs. “We’ll always have James.”
Maeve opened her eyes to see him smiling at her, “We’ll always have James,” she repeated in a soft voice. “Goodbye Spencer.” She turned and walked back to her car and Spencer watched as she drove away. He somehow knew that they would never meet again. He didn’t know quite how to feel about that as he turned to look at his son’s headstone once more.
“Goodbye James.” Spencer frowned as it all felt so final. He knew he had something better to go back to, the husband of his heart, children and grand-children that he adored and a life that he loved. He looked back up at the sky as it darkened and thought of Maeve and James. He stood there until stars began to dot the sky and as he stared up at them he released those from his past. He knew, because he saw it for himself that he’d go to James’s birth one last time. However, he knew he’d never come here again. He didn’t want to dwell on his son’s death anymore, he would only remember his life.
Finally, when it got too cold Spencer went back to his car and drove to Rob’s house. He didn’t want to go inside so under cover of darkness he re-set the amulet and thought of home.