The Ted Divergence

Summary: **Part of the 2020 LiveJournal's Twisted Shorts FaD** challenge. Instead of a psychotic robot, Ted has a different backstory.

Challenge: for the livejournal 2020 August Fic-a-Day Challenge

Timeline: season 2 'Ted' BtVS and post-series AU for Three's Company.

A/N: watching a review of Buffy episodes and saw this one and it reminded me of a tribble I had for it

Disclaimer: BtVS/AtS characters belong to Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy. Three's Company character belongs to NRW Productions and T.T.C. Productions, Inc. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.

Summers' house

Sensing the awkwardness in the room after Buffy found her mom locking lips with some strange guy, Willow and Xander quickly said their goodbyes and left for their homes.

"Do you mind if I talk to Buffy for a minute?" Ted asked Joyce. "Then I'll leave so the two of you can do some mother/daughter bonding – i.e. talk about me."

Joyce nodded, "I'll just cut up some veggies for the pizzas."

They went to the living room and sat in uncomfortable silence for a minute until Ted broke the ice by saying, "I like your mother-"

"I would hope you didn't kiss people you didn't like," Buffy snarked, interrupting him.

Smiling at her sass, he continued, "…and I know how cringe-worthy it is to think of your parents as having romantic lives." She narrowed her eyes dangerously at the euphemism, almost daring him to say that they had sex so she could beat him up. "But spending time with Joyce reminds me that it's okay to let yourself feel something for another person. See, my long-term girlfriend died several years ago and for the longest time I was angry about it – both that she died and also that I didn't die with her. Since then, I've just been going through the motions…doing my job, eating, sleeping, not making any friends or personal connections because I was afraid of going through that pain again."

"Those plans fell apart when I went to install the computer system at your mother's gallery. A lot of the things I found attractive about my girlfriend, I could also see in your mom. It's not that they look alike or anything, but they're both strong, independent women who have this sense of self-confidence that is very magnetic. Without realizing what was happening, I found myself wanting to spend more time with Joyce. So, I asked her to lunch. I don't know where this is going, but I do hope you'll give me a chance to make her happy, whether it's for a couple months or longer…if things work out. Anyway, I can leave now or finish making the pizzas while you two talk, then I can go – whichever you'd prefer."

Part of her really wanted him to leave and never return, but when he talked about his dead girlfriend…she could feel the anguish rolling off of him, and that did more to reassure her than all the friendly smiles he could give. Plus, despite the dream that her parents would reconcile one day, she knew it was unlikely to happen – and possibly a very bad idea for them to try, based on the last couple years of their marriage. "Are you any good at cooking?" she asked, hoping they wouldn't end up with food poisoning.

He gave her that grin again and assured her, "It's a hobby of mine."

"I guess you can stay and finish the pizzas," she responded with a half-hearted shrug.

Ted's home

Later that night…

"What were you thinking, spending the evening at that woman's house with her and her daughter?" Agent Scott demanded as soon as 'Ted' walked in the door.

Ted glared at him before answering, "I was thinking that, for once, I could have something that made me happy!"

Scott kept on, "You know it's dangerous to make any personal ties. If Zantinski's people finds out where you are, they could put at risk."

"I thought that's what you people were here for," Ted snarked. "To keep him from finding me. After all, isn't that why I testified at his trial after he killed Vicki and her father? Why I can't be a professional chef anymore, despite it being my passion? Do you know how much I hate computers?"

Agent Kramer interjected, "Which is surprising when you consider how talented you are with them." He turned to his partner and added, "Jack – sorry, Ted – has a point. If he isn't allowed to have a life, what's the point? I know it's easier to keep him safe when it's just him, but he's not the bad guy here…he shouldn't be punished for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or for doing the right thing by putting a crime boss behind bars."

"Just don't do anything to draw attention to yourself," Scott commanded before storming out of the room.

A/N: Yes, Ted is really Jack Tripper in the Witness Protection Program!