AN: All credit for the characters is due to Russell T. Davies and Joss Whedon, and many thanks for being able to play in their sandboxes. This starts up after "Human Nature" for Doctor Who and "The Gift" for Buffy, and goes from there. Enjoy!
The darkness of space shimmered and glittered green, yellow, blue and violet, simultaneously beautiful and disturbing. “What did you say this is?”
“Wish I knew exactly, Martha. It’s sort of a loose string in the fabric of the universe. A snag. Like something’s pulling on the other side.”
“Got a pair of scissors?”
“Nah, though I’m very good at darning.” The Doctor donned his spectacles while scanning the data. “First, though, I always like to know what’s on the other end.”
“Ah. Well, probably another universe.”
“Very good, Martha.”
“So you’re seeing if you can find Rose?”
His lips pursed. “Uh, the thought may have occurred to me.”
Martha shrugged. “It’s okay. You miss her. I understand. Is it that universe then?”
“I’m not sure. The snag actually looks like it goes deeper than that.”
“Through a couple universes.”
“Maybe, a couple hundred… thousand. My, this is just an enormous amount of energy. But, yeah, the TARDIS should recognize if it finds the dimension Rose went to-“
The whole TARDIS shuddered then listed and the pair were dumped onto their backs. “What’s going on, Doctor?”
He’d pulled himself back up to the console. “It’s impossible. It’s gone. Closed, just in a flash. Where the hell could all of that energy have gone?”
Martha paused for a moment to catch her breath, then rolled over and pulled her knees beneath herself. “We need to install soft fluffy carpets.” Then she noticed something out of the corner of her eye. “Hello there?”
The Doctor, staring at the panel as though a Dalek had just popped out of it, rubber mallet in hand, snapped “What, Martha?”
“No, not you, Doctor. Her.” Martha moved unsteadily towards the slight blonde girl who had landed face down near the wall of the TARDIS, and the Doctor felt his hearts catch, the mallet dropping out of his hand. It almost looked like her…
And then the blonde was on her feet, her hands in the ready position, eyes scanning the room wildly. “Is this Hell?”
Martha shook her head. “No, it’s not.”
The girl’s eyes widened as she swallowed and nodded. “Oh. Good. Is it heaven?”
She smiled. “No, I don’t think so.”
“Oh. Okay.” The girl glanced around again, before horror overtook her face. “The gateway? Did it close? I’m not there to stop them! Do you know if it’s closed?”
The Doctor had finally recovered enough to approach the women. “It’s closed. Nothing else will get through.”
“Oh thank God.” Green eyes closed and her arms wrapped around her body. “She’s safe. And I’m…” The eyes shot open. “I did it. I saved the world again.” She looked up at them. “Why aren’t I dead?” Then she crumpled, sobbing as the Doctor caught her.
Martha knelt by them helplessly as the girl wept and the Doctor held her. She noticed the bruises on the girl’s neck, but saw no cuts. Meeting the Doctor’s eyes, she could tell he was as lost for an explanation or anything to do or say as she was. After several moments, he began to repeat, “You’re safe,” to her like a mantra, and stroked her back and shoulders.
Finally, the sobs eased, and with one last shudder, she fell into sleep.
Wide-eyed, the Doctor turned to Martha. “Well, looks like we’ve got a guest. And she’s nearly broken my ribs. Give us a hand would you?” Martha took the girl’s legs and helped to carry her to one of the rooms that usually had a bed in it. They laid her down, and the Doctor pulled out the sonic screwdriver which he handed to Martha while he set about getting a wash cloth and water, groaning as he bent over.
“Well, she’s not feverish, and it’s just sleep. I wonder what this poor girl’s been through. Why would she have to save the world?”
“I dunno. Then again, I don’t know how she nearly squeezed the life out of me just now either.” He moved stiffly towards the bed.
“Let me see.” Martha blushed. “Err, I mean, if you’d like.”
The Doctor gave her an askew glance as he sat down with great care, removed the girl’s shoes, and began to wipe the grime off of her face and hands. “Well, I mean- I can- well, they’re ribs, they’ll heal all right. Don’t worry about that. I’m just curious where a girl who wouldn’t weigh seven stone soaking wet got the foot-poundage to give a Time Lord a hematoma. We don’t bruise easily. I don’t know that she’s human.”
“She looks human. I mean, so do you, but-“
He held her right wrist up. “And are you watching those bruises heal right in front of us? This is an odd one. Super-strong traveler from another dimension? The anticipation’s just fantastic.” Sure enough, the bruises Martha had seen were fading with unnatural speed, while beside the bed, a familiar light danced in the Doctor’s eyes.
Buffy shifted in the bed, reveling in the softness, warmth, and comfort. Not quite awake, she knew nonetheless that nothing was urgent now, and that she was safe. As she stretched and yawned, the memories came swarming back, and suspicion crept in, but she did not panic, and she did not cry out. Instead, she opened her eyes and slowly sat up in the bed.
The lights were dim, but the man was there, still dressed in his suit, sitting next to the bed, eager yet serene. “Hello there,” he said with a smile. It was a good smile. He sounded British. Hopefully he was Giles-British and not Spike-British.
Giles. Spike. She would never see either of them again. Who would have ever believed she’d feel horrible about never seeing Spike again? She wondered if he would really keep his word and take care of Dawn. Pushing the thought away, she nodded at her host. “Hi.”
“How are you? Can I get you anything?”
“Ah. Um, out the door, to the left- well, maybe I’ll just walk you there.”
“Okay.” He offered her his hand, and helped her out of the bed. She was barefoot, but still in the clothes she’d worn for battle, and everything ached.
“I, um, well, I’m the Doctor, and you’re on the TARDIS, that’s my ship.”
“Thank you for having me. I’m Buffy Summers.” She had to crane her neck up quite high to look at him in the eye, and he bowed his head to her in return.
“Well, Buffy Summers, you’ll have to tell me all about saving the world. After, of course, you use the facilities. Here we are.” The ship must be enormous, because they’d stopped in front of a bathroom that would have been at home at the luxury suite of a Four Seasons. “There’s towels in there, and a toothbrush, and um, if you check the closet on the right of the tub, there’s a dressing gown that should fit you. You can do a tour of the wardrobe later.”
“Okay, Doctor. Thanks.” Buffy shut the door as he waved. Strange man, but a very nice host.
She used the toilet and toothbrush, then rejoiced in the hot shower, letting it wash away the sweat and grime from the tower, and the blood…
“Buffy?” The girl from before had entered the bathroom.
“Are you okay? The Doctor says you’ve been in here nearly half an hour.” Buffy yawned, looking at her wrinkled fingers
“I may have fallen asleep a little bit. Thanks, I’m sorry.” She cut off the water and wrapped a towel around herself. “What was your name?”
“I’m Martha Jones. The Doctor and I will be outside, and there’s food too. By the way, what year is it?”
“2001, last time I checked.”
“Pretty close then.” And with that cryptic remark, the door shut. Buffy got out of the shower, noticed that Martha had brought some clean clothes in, and put them on. The pajamas fit well. Martha was waiting for her out the door. "You okay?”
“I’ll be all right. Give me about six more years of sleep, I’ll be all shiny and new.”
“Well, we don’t get a lot of guests here. Normally I barely even see these back rooms. Hope everything’s been comfy, the TARDIS is usually good for that. Although, all I could get out of the kitchen was what looks like someone’s leftover tea.”
“Tea? Great. That’s okay. You’re all British then?”
“Um, well, I am. The Doctor is a slightly different story. You?”
“Californian. I’m like an alien.” Martha smiled and chuckled, but said nothing.
They arrived at the bedroom, where the Doctor was waiting, the tea tray sitting on the bedside table. Buffy was grateful to crawl back onto the bed. “Thank you. Oooh, chocolate chip scone!”
The Doctor smiled. “It’s nothing.” Martha continued to look amused. “You’re not feeling up to explanations yet, are you?”
Buffy swallowed a hunk of scone. “Sort of. I mean, I guess this is probably another dimension, seeing as I’m not dead in a heap at the bottom of a tower.” She sighed. “There was a hell god, trying to break through to her home world. Long story. It’s always a long story…” She trailed off, choosing to nibble instead.
Martha was surprised, something she didn’t know could still happen. “’Hell god’? Never met one of those.”
The scone pointed at the Doctor. “You can vouch for the fun-ness that is, then.”
“Well, at least you won’t have to give her that “new dimensions” speech you had prepared then, Doctor.” Martha grinned then looked at Buffy. “He’s actually got a shortcut he can use to get your end of the story if you don’t mind. He’s just feeling a bit shy for some reason.”
“Telepathic magic or something? Feel free to use the shortcut. I’m not feeling so much the yente right now.” She paused and looked around the room. “Is there someone else in here or does somebody have an extra heart?”
The Doctor’s jaw had dropped. “Ooh, you are good.”
Martha laughed. “He’s the alien.” Buffy nodded with wide eyes as the Doctor recovered and sat on the bed next to her, placing his hands on the sides of her face.
“Well then, Miss Summers, what do you have to tell us?” Buffy felt his gaze reaching into her and then sudden and complete relaxation, as though his fingertips at her temples were her only connection to the world as she fell, once more, but this time gently and forever. “A pretty girl, popular and loved, but then… you were called. One girl in all the world. Such strength, and suddenly everything was death and demons and fire and the vampires, and always the ones you couldn’t save. New places, Hellmouth, so alone, but then you met an Angel… oh, oh God, that’s horrible, you had to save the world and he had to go to hell, and that look as you shoved the sword into his chest; he still loved you, still loves you but you never could be together, and you wonder still how he was allowed back, wonder if you could ever love anyone alive, wonder if part of you started dying even then, if death is truly your only gift, and these past few months, the things that kept death away kept slipping, and slipping, your lover, your mother, and finally, when they asked you to plunge the sword in again, this time to your own blood, your own sister, you said no, you knew you could make it stop, make it all stop, and even that hasn’t worked, and now you’re here.” Buffy opened her eyes as the tears leaked out, and saw the Doctor looking down at her, his mouth slightly open, eyes wide and ever so old. “Oh, Buffy. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I had no idea.”
“That’s me. I’m the Slayer.”
“What’s a Slayer?”
He turned slowly to Martha. “Our new guest was the defender of her world, Martha. She gave her life for it.”
“Twice,” whispered Buffy.
The Doctor smiled. “So you did.” He realized that he’d continued to cradle her head in his hands, and let them drop; as he did, she dropped into sleep. He wiped the tear trails from her cheek. “Such a burden.”
“Sounds like it. You two may have a few things in common.” Martha gazed down at the Slayer. With her eyes closed, she looked like one of those girls from American television who would ride around in Mercedes convertibles and steal the nice brunette’s boyfriend. But Martha had seen those eyes, in those moments after Buffy had arrived, and only the road the Doctor had described could have left that look in them.
“I’ve been around a long, long time. She’s only twenty years old, but through her I could see down the entire line. The world she’s from, it’s a crossroads of some sort, other dimensions breaking through everywhere, full of venom and malice and terrifying things. They infused her with strength, Martha, the powers in her world, created this seed of power from the same source as their enemies, it used the bodies of young girls, made them into their warriors. And then sent them against the horrors, one by one, to die, for millennia.” His hand pushed Buffy’s hair back from her face. “She’s never been anything more than a pawn, and she sacrificed again and again.” His face hardened.
“What do we do for her?”
“I don’t know.”
This time when Buffy awoke there was sunshine on her face. Martha was there, her head buried in a medical textbook.
“Okay, you’re familiar, but what happened to the big cave-y ship thing?”
“We figured you could use some calm and fresh air. And the TARDIS isn’t for everyone.” Martha stood. “Well, I mean, I’m sure you’re more than welcome there, but here there’s a proper kitchen that actually cooks the food you put into it and sunshine and birdsong and almost ninety-five percent fewer alien attacks.”
Buffy sat up and swung her legs off the bed. “Alien attacks, huh? Got any demons?”
“No.” But then Martha considered it for a moment. “I mean, at least, not that I’ve seen. The Doctor may know more about that. Mostly it’s just aliens or deranged humans, and they’re bad enough.”
“I see.” Buffy did a handstand, just to make sure that her slayer-strength hadn’t been left behind at the portal. “Well, I’ll keep an eye out. Does that Doctor have a first name? Or a last one?”
Martha watched Buffy push off and then land back on her feet. “No, he’s just the Doctor. I see he wasn’t kidding about you having super-strength.”
“It’s a Slayer thing.” Buffy shook her head. “Great. He goes by a title. That always means excitement in that ‘Oh my God, we’re all going to die’ kind of way. And I should know.” Martha nodded knowingly. “So, you’re not alien?”
“Nah, just an adrenaline junkie I guess. You’re right. Life’s never boring with the Doctor. Otherwise, I’m a medical student. Then I met him on the moon-“
“Regular people travel to the moon here?” Maybe this world was a lot different
“No, it was a weird alien thing. Although, I meant to ask, does this world look much different than your Earth?”
Buffy shrugged. “I don’t know. Never been to- where are we?”
“My flat. London.”
“I’ve never been to London before. Hell dimensions, all sorts of sewers, Los Angeles, but not London. But it’s probably just swap out the demons for the aliens and we’re at about the same place. Are there shrimp here?” Martha gave a puzzled nod. “See, not so bad. But who knows what else is different?” No Angel. No Spike. No Anya. They would have died peacefully hundreds of years ago, without vampires or demons to intervene. Would have had families and kids, or possibly syphilis in Angel’s case, if his stories were true. Buffy wondered if there was another her, wandering around, never called, never asked to give up everything.
“Oh, yeah. You said it was 2001 when you, um, were in the other world?”
“Well, there’s probably some long explanation about bends in time and space, but nobody except the Doctor would understand it, so, anyway, it’s 2007. That okay?”
“Is Britney Spears still popular?”
“Shaved all her hair off.”
“Then it’s all good.”
When the Doctor returned, he found the girls still chatting on the bed. “Hello. Not interrupting am I?”
“No. Martha was just explaining to me the ins and outs of traveling through time and space with the Time Lord.” Buffy looked him up and down. “You look about as much like a Time Lord as I look like a Slayer.”
He smiled. “Ah, what’s in a title anyway? But, glad to have you with us.”
“Yeah.” Buffy nodded and looked around. “Here. With you. And there’s no going back?”
The Doctor thought, leaning against the wall and crossing one leg before the other. “I can’t say impossible, though it’s more than a little bit unlikely. The amount of power that was piercing through at that point, I mean, we could blow up an entire galaxy and not get that far through again.”
“Mom always did say Dawn was a force of nature.” Buffy smiled. “So yeah, I’m here, ready to start a whole new life. Again.” Staring at the sunshine out the window she asked herself, “How am I supposed to have a love life without vampires?”
“Love life with vampires?” Martha hadn’t heard this part.
“Long story.” Buffy and the Doctor spoke at the same time, then he stopped and appeared to blush. After an awkward pause, Buffy changed the subject.
“Anyway, are you two off in your ship?”
The Doctor jumped on this topic. “Yes, well, I mean, I don’t want to interrupt your first vacation from defending the world since you were called, but you are invited to come along. See this universe. I’d like that. If you don’t, we can set you up here, or someplace back in America if you’d prefer. Start over. Have a nice, demon-free existence.”
Buffy’s mouth curled. “With a white picket fence?”
He shrugged. “Something like that, I suppose.” Then he thought a moment and added, “Of course, aliens invade every Christmas, but that’s the way things work out sometimes.” The Doctor looked down on her, hands in his pockets, and she couldn’t quite meet that steady gaze.
“Yeah. It’s a nice thought. Settle down, find a guy with a pulse and a cute butt, make babies, get fat and old. Problem is, I can’t even remember the last time I imagined it. The guys with pulses all think I’m insane, I don’t even know if Slayers can have babies, and the getting fat part, eww.” Buffy couldn’t keep her eyes off the window. It was all so bright. “And if I know anything, it’s that the worst things in the world will always find me. I’m the thing scary things are scared of. It’s all I know how to be.” She turned and looked at the Doctor and Martha, who had developed the cautious beginnings of smiles. “So if you don’t mind, I’ll come along. Make a name for myself. After all, it’s been such a long time since I met an enemy who didn’t know me.”
“Very good then.” The Doctor’s pleasure and excitement was contagious, and Buffy found herself energized by his smile.
“Cool. Where’s the ship?”
“It’s just through here. You didn’t tell her, did you Martha?”
“And spoil your fun? Never. Come along Buffy, this is his favorite part.” Martha pulled her off of the bed and into the next room, where the TARDIS stood in all of its blue glory.
After Buffy had wrapped her head around the whole “it’s bigger on the inside” concept, the Doctor shut the door and headed for the controls. “So, Miss Summers, when are we headed?”
“Yeah, when? Forwards or back?”
Buffy edged toward the console, choosing to stand slightly closer to Martha than the Doctor. “Um, forwards. Never was much of a history… person thing. Definitely forwards.”
“Forwards it is.” The Doctor began to manipulate controls and ramble on about them, which Buffy wasn’t able to follow.
Martha nudged her towards the railing. “Hold on. He’s not the best driver ever.”Something else we have in common,
thought Buffy. She took the advice, discreetly clutching the rail with one hand for dear life. Maybe I should have tried the picket fence approach.
“Are we ready girls?”
“Anytime you are.”