Marvel owns Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, and any other comics characters you might recognize here. Joss owns Buffy. I own nothing. Please don't sue me. Author's Note:
This story takes place in the same Marvel-verse as the normal comics. Time line is shortly before “Civil War.”
Buffy raced up the staircase of the tower towards her sister, the troll hammer clutched in her hand. Reaching the top, she saw the demonic 'Doc,' clutching a knife. With an effortless backhand swipe of the hammer, she sent him flying off the tower, to crash on the ground far below. Reaching Dawn, Buffy immediately saw the blood seeping from cuts over her stomach. Terrified eyes met Buffy's as she tore the ropes binding Dawn's wrists. Thank God, Buffy thought, I got here in time and everything's going to be okay. Unfortunately, as she led Dawn away, there was a flash of light behind her. As both sisters turned back, they saw a tear in the sky, jagged and strange. With a mournful cry, a reptilian flying shape burst through the tear, flying away into the early dawn light. Dragon wings beat under a new sky.
Mute, frightened eyes met Buffy's and she grabbed Dawn as she saw her move towards the portal. “Buffy, I have to.” The anguish in Dawn's voice tore into Buffy. She shook her head. Buffy would not let her sister die, not when she had done so much to try to save her. Buffy remembered what she'd told Giles, that she would kill anyone attempting to harm a hair on Dawn's head. Now the die was cast. Now she had to back up her words. Dawn's life or the world's. Buffy felt so tired and defeated. All she really wanted was to rest. Suddenly, Buffy had a realization. Their blood. It was the same. Buffy could take her place. She met Dawn's eyes, sharing her understanding. “Buffy, no! It'll kill you.”
“Dawn, it's what I have to do. Tell Giles... tell Giles I figured it out. Tell the others I love them. Dawn, I love you. The hardest thing in the world is to live in it. Please, live. For me.” With that, Buffy turned and raced to the end of the platform, leaping off it, using the momentum of the hammer to pull her into the tear in space. As she felt consciousness fade away, Buffy was ready for her final rest...In an alternate New York City...
Stephen Strange looked up quickly from the scroll he was studying. Something had just struck all of creation, making it ring like a great bell, peals sounding throughout reality. Again and again it struck. Even as he quickly entered into a meditative state to send out his astral form to hunt the source, Stephen knew it was futile. The world was going to end. All of reality was going to crumble. Nothing he did would be able to stop it. It was the most frightened he had ever been in all of his life. Across town, at the Baxter Building...
Alarms shrieked throughout the Baxter Building. Inside, its inhabitants moved quickly both towards and away from the noise. Reed Richards turned and ran to the panel monitoring the gateway into the negative zone. Quickly scanning the various readouts, he came to a horrified realization. The gateway into the negative zone was breaking lose from its moorings! Tearing, rumbling sounds emerged from the metal frame of the gate. Somehow the locus of the gateway had become unstable. Frantically he made adjustments to the various instruments in an effort to lock it back down. Nothing appeared to be working.
“Reed, what's going on?” Unnoticed, Sue Richards and the other members of the Fantastic Four had arrived. Instantly, they took note of Reed's frantic efforts, as well as the steadily intensifying sounds surrounding the gate to the Negative Zone.
“It's the gateway to the Negative Zone, something's destabilizing it! Its breaking away from its moorings!” Reed had to shout to make himself heard over the steadily increasing noise. “Ben! See if you can hold the end of the gate in place! Sue! Be ready with a forcefield to contain the end of the gate, otherwise it's going to start pulling everything in! Johnny! Be ready to weld the cover closed if necessary!” With quick nods of understanding, the Fantastic Four burst into action. Reed turned back to his instruments. With a sense of futility, he saw something else. Something far worse than even an out-of-control gate. He moved to another instrument panel. The readings were clear. There was a change in the quantum state of matter, signaling a collapsing universe. From the readings, it would affect everything. In all realities. Reed looked at his team, working together to stop the threat. He should tell them. But for what gain? Fear for the last few moments of their lives? Reed wished he could see his boys one more time before the end. That wouldn't happen. Grimly, Reed resolved he would die like he'd lived, doing his best.
I hope Stretch knows what he's doing, Ben Grimm thought, as he ran to the thick metal frame supporting the gate keeping the Negative Zone closed off. It was shaking violently as if it were about to leap from its position. Grabbing it, he dug his immensely strong, blunt fingers into the metal of the frame, struggling to reduce its vibrations. Despite his enormous strength, it was at best a delaying effort. The vibration continued to increase. Just then, the heavy metal seal covering the portal exploded outward, fortunately stopped by Sue's forcefield before it could tear through the wall opposite.
Johnny grabbed Reed's arm. “Reed! I don't think the portal is supposed to be green, is it?!”
Turning from his futile attempts to lock down the portal's loci, Reed stared at the revealed gateway. It should lead to the Negative Zone. It should be pulling everything through, as if a vacuum lay on the other side. However, none of these things were happening. Instead, the surface of the portal was a brilliant green, wavering and oscillating like the surface of the sea. Strange bolts of energy burst from the glow, damaging the surrounding equipment. The metal frame was shaking so hard that Ben was being thrown around like a child. It was seconds away from tearing away from the building, hurling the mouth of the portal across the city below. Its potential for destruction was immense, especially if any of the matter from the zone came out of this end. Of course worrying about the potential destruction of the portal seemed rather like worrying about a grenade about to explode, when a star was moments away from going supernova.
Just then, a figure, holding something in its right hand, burst out of the portal, crashing to the floor at the foot of it. Immediately, the shaking and vibrations ceased. Reed quickly checked his instruments. Everything was back to normal as if nothing had ever happened. The quantum destabilization ceased. Everything appeared to be back to normal. That's impossible, Reed thought numbly. Doctor Strange's Mansion...
Stephen Strange struggled to meditate. It was testament to the sheer terror he felt that something he'd learned as a youth and practiced for many years was suddenly so difficult. Slowly, he mastered himself. Just as he was entering into a meditative state, it was over. Just like that. The multi-verse was suddenly back to normal. Still, Stephen launched his astral form. He had to find the source of this potential for destruction. Before it had the opportunity to strike again...Baxter Building...
“Reed! It's a girl!” Quickly, Johnny checked the still figure. She wasn't breathing. He started CPR. It did not appear to be helping.
Reed reached the first aid kit in seconds. Hesitating briefly, he grabbed one of the special syringes full of adrenaline he stocked in case of a problem with Ben, as well as a defibrillator. Elongating, then contracting his flexible body, he arrived at the girl's side within seconds. Quickly taking the cover off the needle, he gestured Johnny to stop for a moment. Raising it up, he jabbed it down into her chest, injecting its contents straight into her heart. The adamantium needle penetrated, although not as easily as it should have. Johnny began CPR again. With a gasp, the girl started breathing again. Suddenly her eyes opened and she sat up. Taking one look at first Johnny, then Reed, her eyes appeared frantic and sad. However, when she saw Ben, her eyes went from sad to furious. Struggling to rise to her feet despite Johnny and Reed's efforts to hold her down, she shouted something that sounded like “Demon!” Grabbing the object dropped when she'd fallen through the portal, she swung it hard at Ben, who was so surprised, he didn't really try to dodge. Which turned out to be a mistake, as the blow knocked Ben through the wall behind him and into the hallway beyond. The girl looked shocked and surprised at the results of her blow, just before her eyes rolled up into her head and she passed out.
“Ben!” Sue hurried over to gaping hole in the wall through which Ben had been hurled. Beyond it there was a pile of rubble, which halfway buried a groaning Ben Grimm. Sue squatted next to him. He looked stunned and a little out of it, but his eyes were open. “Ben, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I'm good. Least I will be once I get the feeling back in my legs. Who the hell was that girl? She hits like a damn freight train. She could give lessons to the Hulk.” Ben was only just kidding. She was at least as strong as him, if not stronger. The blow from the hammer felt like it may have cracked a rib, an especially difficult thing to do to him with his mutated physiology. He might not be as strong as the Hulk or even Thor, but Ben Grimm, known to his adoring public as the Thing, was one tough guy. Except he'd been knocked ass over end by a five foot tall, hundred pound blonde. Ben wasn't sure which hurt more, his ribs or his pride.
“We don't know. Right after she hit you, she passed out. Reed's checking to see if she can be identified some way.” Sue was relieved that Ben seemed to be in one piece. She was actually more worried about Reed. He'd seemed extremely grave, more than could be accounted for by what had ultimately, turned out be just another emergency similar to hundreds of others the Fantastic Four had dealt with in the past. From Reed's demeanor, you would think the world was about to end, Sue thought.
With another groan, Ben sat up, chunks of reinforced concrete falling off his body. Yep, something hurt inside him. He felt the support of an invisible forcefield as Sue helped him to his feet. Sometimes he really loved that gal. After getting to his feet, the two of them walked side by side back into Reed's lab.
“So Stretch, figured out who Blondie is yet?” Ben queried.
“Unfortunately, no. Her clothes look normal, their labels no different than any others you could buy on Fifth Avenue. They're somewhat worse for the wear. The girl herself has dozens of cuts, bruises, and scrapes. Wherever she came from, she's been in a fight. That wouldn't explain the heart failure, although her trip through the portal might have done so.” Reed calmly touched another key on the touchpad he carried. “Her aeytheric signature shows she's not from this reality. I've never encountered any readings like this. She's from unimaginably far away in the transspatial continuum. I'm not sure...” His next words were drowned out by the growing argument between Johnny and Ben.
“I can't believe you got knocked through a wall by Barbie! I am so glad I was here to see that!” Johnny Storm laughed his ass off as he contemplated how much mileage he was going to get out of the situation. He dodged a half-hearted swipe by Ben.
“Buzz off, punk. I'd like ta see how you'd fair against Blondie. She'd mop the floor with you.” Great, Ben thought. Now I'm going to be getting shit from the flaming pansy for the next six months. Why me? He briefly contemplated laying the smack down on his laughing tormentor, then decided to play it cool as he caught the look on Stretch's face.
“Settle down, both of you! We need to get to the bottom of this. I'm going to take her to the medical wing. Ben, grab that hammer, please. Sue, if you'd come with me. You can undress her and maybe clean her up a bit. We've all had standard medical training. That should be enough to make sure her wounds don't become infected.”
Sue looked concerned. “You're not going to call an ambulance, Reed? What if she has internal injuries?”
“Sue, this girl is a meta-human. One that is almost certainly extra-dimensional. She's strong enough to knock Ben around. The circumstance surrounding her... arrival need to be investigated thoroughly. I don't think a hospital is the right place for her. I would rather keep her here under observation. Ben, you coming?” Reed hated dancing around the truth with his team, but he'd rather assume the burden of the investigation into what had just happened. Am I becoming too arrogant, he wondered?
“Stretch, if I could lift this hammer, I would. I can't. What the hell is thing made of?” Ben wasn't enjoying yet another knock on his masculinity. Since becoming the Thing, he'd prided himself on his strength and toughness. Now some tiny girl had knocked him on his keister, and he couldn't even lift the instrument she'd used to do it. Very embarrassing. And painful, as his cracked ribs attested.
“Reed, I can't lift it with my forcefield either. How heavy is this thing?” Sue was surprised she couldn't budge the hammer. She couldn't even move it sideways along the floor.
“That doesn't make sense. Anything that small, which at the same time couldn't be moved by someone as strong as Ben, would possess a density so immense, the floor itself wouldn't support its weight. I suspect that it would sink to the center of the earth.” Reed knew his analysis was logical, but since the object in question wasn't currently sinking to the center of the earth, there had to be more information which he wasn't privy to. There must be an unknown component, possibly mystical, he thought. Unfortunately, the mystical tended to be notoriously difficult to detect even with the most modern instruments. Looking down at the peaceful face of the girl he held, he grimly contemplated the circumstances of her arrival. Reed wondered just how much her presence would affect his agenda. Hopefully, he wouldn't need to do something he regretted to deal with her.
“Maybe it's like Thor's hammer or something? No one can lift that. Except Thor.” Johnny thought his suggestion a good one. After all, it was a hammer that couldn't be moved except by one person, the slight blonde Reed carried.
“Yeah, right. In case you haven't been paying attention, Flame-brain, she ain't over six feet tall and muscled like a god. Course, she's blonde, so you have that part down right.” Ben's sarcastic voice roused Reed from his train of thoughts.
“Wait, Ben. Johnny may be onto something. Whatever that hammer is, it may have mystical properties. That would explain why you can't lift it. I can probably run a scan...” Reed stopped in mid-sentence as he contemplated the problem. Maybe if I use the plasmatic phase integration recyclotron that I rigged up last month...
“I don't want to interrupt your fun, but I really think we should get her into bed. After that, you can do all the analyzing you want. Johnny, go get something for her to wear.” Sue looked at the three men, each of them appearing somewhat abashed at her slightly scolding tone. They moved off to complete their tasks.A few hours later...
Buffy swam back up through layers of consciousness. She was feeling wonderfully comfortable as she lay in bed. Buffy tensed slightly as she wondered how she'd got to bed. Finally, she opened her eyes. The bed in which she lay was inside a white-walled room. A big window dominated the wall opposite the bed. Pale gauzy curtains diffused the sunlight flowing in from it. The bedspread matched the curtains. A table next to the bed held a glass of water, making Buffy aware of how dry and scratchy her throat was. Sitting up, she reached over and picked up the glass, taking a sip. It tasted fine. Before she knew it, the glass was empty. Which made her aware of another need. Her bladder was full to bursting. Deciding not to pee on the bed, Buffy sat up. Which made her aware of what she was wearing. Her sweater and pants were gone, along with her bra and panties. All she had on was a thin nightgown, probably made for someone taller and more... robust than her, based on how it bagged around her slight form.
Cautiously, Buffy swung bare feet over the edge of the bed. She carefully set them on the floor. Cold tiles chilled her feet. Standing up, Buffy took one slow step after another, holding up the nightgown to keep it from dragging on the floor. There were two doors, one to her left and one to her right. Arriving at the nearest door, the left one, she opened it. It turned out to be an empty closet. Passing the window, she paused and looked out. She was high up in some building in a big city. Skyscrapers dominated the skyline. Buffy shrugged. She'd figure it out later. For now, she had to pee, really, really bad.
Turning to the other door, Buffy tried it. It was locked, but the lock snapped with a quiet 'ping.' Buffy stared at the remains of the knob in her hand, surprised by how easily it had broken. Shrugging, she dismissed the thought. It wasn't the first time she'd broken a door. It didn't look poorly made, instead appearing fairly thick and solid. But breaking like that? It couldn't be too well made. She decided to be especially careful with the rest of the doors in the building. The last thing she needed was for someone to send her a bill for damages. Pushing open the door, Buffy tentatively stepped out into the hallway. The floors of the hallway were marble or marble-like. Anyway, they were polished and shiny. Also, cold. Buffy slowly walked down the hall, looking for a bathroom. Spying another door, Buffy opened it, to the sight of a naked man, who turned at the startled sound that emerged from her mouth.
Johnny was drying off after a wonderfully hot shower. The near-boiling water had felt great. Hanging up the towel, he was just about to put on his robe, when he heard a startled 'Eep'. Turning towards the sound, he saw the blonde girl from earlier standing in the doorway. Upright and conscious, she looked damn cute. He smiled, but didn't elicit any answering smile. Instead her eyes got even bigger. Looking down, Johnny realized that he was still naked from his shower. “Shit!” Grabbing his robe, he quickly covered the important parts.
“Sheesh, naked much? Some people have no consideration.” Buffy was mortified. Finding a naked man, fresh from the shower, especially an extremely good-looking naked man, was not something she did too often. Okay, this was actually the first time, although there was that near-miss with Graham... She was unable to look away. Muscular arms, a flat, rippling stomach, and other... bits, were all exposed to her view. He was the first naked man Buffy had seen since Riley left. A naked man built even better than Riley, she absently noted, albeit a couple of inches shorter.
Johnny was dumbfounded. Of all the things he'd expected, it hadn't been a California accent. Granted, Reed had indicated the tags on her clothes appeared to show them to be of American manufacture. It just seemed so... pedestrian for her to not speak in a strange language or with an exotic accent. Finally, he found his voice, “No consideration? I just got out of the shower to find someone barging in on me. Couldn't wait to see me naked, huh? I get that a lot.” Nice recovery, he thought, with a flirtatious grin.
Buffy hid an answering smile. He really was extremely hot. But he made her even more conscious that she was only wearing a thin nightgown, which was probably clearly showing her erect nipples, based on the formerly-naked man's intent look. Buffy crossed her arms to hide her chest from view. The man looked slightly disappointed, although he dropped his eyes to check out her legs, visible through the thin material. Rolling her eyes, Buffy snapped her fingers under his nose. “Hey! Eyes up! This isn't a peepshow.”
Johnny felt vaguely embarrassed. He had been looking at the girl's chest, her erect nipples and the shape of her breasts clearly visible through the thin material of the nightgown. It was the nightgown he'd provided when Sue'd told him to get the girl something to wear. Johnny decided he preferred the way this girl looked in it more than the one who'd left it. The little blonde looked adorable, blonde hair mussed and sticking out in all directions, green eyes intent and sparkling. She had delicate features and smooth golden skin. Her body was slender and lithe, with curves in all of the right places. He decided to hit back, “Hey! You're the one who saw me naked. At least you've got a nightgown on. I was hanging out in the wind there.”
“I know, I saw. Don't worry about it. It wasn't anything to write home about.” Buffy forced herself not to blush again. Getting herself under control, she continued, “Not to change the subject from all of the nudity, but where am I? And how did I get here?”
Nothing to write home about? Johnny was a bit offended. “Ugh, you're in the Baxter Building.” At Buffy's blank look, he continued sarcastically, “In New York City? United States? Planet Earth?”
“I don't need a geography lesson. I'm in New York City? How'd I get here? The last thing I remember...” She stopped. Buffy didn't dare tell him the rest. Who would believe she'd come through a mystical portal after battling a Hellgod for the life of her sister, the Key?
Johnny caught the girl's hesitation. Deciding to put her at ease, he introduced himself. “I'm Johnny, by the way. Johnny Storm.”
“Buffy Summers.” Buffy caught the amused look in Johnny's eyes. “What?”
Johnny laughed. “I can't wait to see the look on Ben's face when I tell him he got his ass kicked by someone named 'Buffy.'”
Buffy was startled. She'd had a weird dream before waking up, where she'd fought some big rocky demon. Except maybe it wasn't a dream. “That was real? I thought I dreamed it.”
“Well, err... yeah, it was real. Look, Buffy, Ben is harmless. He was exposed to cosmic radiation, which is what caused him to become all rocky 'n stuff. But he wouldn't hurt a fly. Really.” Johnny got the impression from the surprised look she wore that wherever Buffy was from, there weren't any big, rocky superheroes. Maybe no superheroes. No superheroes. Weird.
“Okay, the big guy, harmless. Check. Umm, I really
need to pee right now, but after that, I wouldn't mind some food and a phone.” With that, Buffy pushed Johnny out the door, ignoring the warmth of his bare skin under her hands.
Johnny leaned against the wall opposite the door. He stayed there a moment, then started to walk away. Behind him he could hear the toilet flush and the shower start. Well, that was... interesting. Who knew that the mysterious blonde who fell through the Negative Zone portal would be so hot? Johnny was definitely looking forward to finding out more about her.