Angels and Drums (The Doctor and Buffy)
Five Times The Doctor Met Someone New
A Dr. Who crossover series
: Five people the Doctor talked into going on the TARDIS (in that saucy crossover way). Part II: Buffy (BtVS)Disclaimer
: Russell T. Davis and the BBC own the Doctor. The rest belong to their respective creators.
This part: Setting:
Post BtVS, after Dr. Who's Last of the Time Lords
and major spoilers
: The Doctor (Ten) and Buffy Summers~~~
Three in the morning in Venice was unlike three in the morning in any other city in the world, Buffy always thought. People still moved about the city's narrow streets, not all of them legally, but it left the feeling that no one in Venice ever slept.
It wasn't true, strictly speaking. There were people who lived their lives in the daylight hours, went to work and shopped for groceries and drank coffee and ignored the tourists. There were the brash tourists who flocked to the squares and cathedrals with their cameras and ready pocketbooks. All forms of humanity, living their day-to-day lives in the light.
Buffy wasn't one of them. Not anymore. Not ever, really.
Her boots sounded a soft rat-a-tat on the paving stones as she crossed a street in shadows. A cafe on the corner, full of laughing teenagers and cozy couples, held the promise of normality, if only for a few minutes.
Her steps never faltered. She had lived through too much for 'normal'.
She passed a hidden passageway. Down the bend in the alley, hidden from the street, lay a cafe of another kind. Demons and vampires sat at its tables enjoying a quiet drink. No humans came to harm within its walls, and so the Slayer did not pass its threshold on business. That was the agreement Buffy had with the owner.
Some nights, however, Buffy was one of those who sat in the dark, drinking, holding all the anger and violence inside with the pounding of angels and drums in her head.
But not on this night. She could not bear to spend an hour with those who did not remember
A faint scraping on the stones caught Buffy's attention. She stopped, straining Slayer senses to gauge the danger.
The noise came again, from the blackest corner of an unsavory alleyway. There was no panicked breathing, no whimpers of distress, no scuffling to hide from the Slayer. Just the tiny scraping of claws against stone.
In past, Buffy would have been cautious in her approach of a potential danger. But after that forgotten year of angels and drums...
"Hello?" she called. "Is anyone there?"
The scraping stopped for a moment, then a scurry of movement along the wall.
The creature was in the light for only a moment, but Buffy knew instantly what it was. She backed up, giving it room. And almost walked into a man on the street.
"Are you all right?" he asked, reaching a hand out to steady her. She slid out of his grasp like quicksilver. "Sorry to be in your way--"
She shook her head. He spoke Italian with a British accent that she would have called lovely, once upon a time. "Nothing to see here, you can leave," she said quickly in English. She'd been in Italy long enough to speak the language, but on nights like this, her tongue twisted into knots and nothing came out right.
The man didn't move. "Are you all right?" he asked in English. Even his hair seemed to frown as he examined her in the faint light.
"Just peachy." The sound came again, scrabbling against the far wall.
The man arched an eyebrow at the sound. "What's that?"
"Go away!" Buffy crossed the alley. She crouched down to look under the scooter parked against the wall.
Scared little eyes looked back at her.
"Hey there," Buffy said in her softest voice. "What are you doing up here?"
It squeaked and hid its face behind tiny webbed hands.
"Aww," the man said in Buffy's ear, making her jump. How the hell had he moved so fast? "It's a baby!"
"Someone needs to put a freaking bell around your neck!" Buffy said. "Go away!"
"But it's so cute," the man gushed. Then his face fell. "What's it doing all alone?"
Buffy stared at the man. He wasn't freaking out over seeing the creature. He hadn't even referred to it an animal. He had called it a baby, a child.
Which was exactly what it was. A little lost child, and no one else had ever understood that.
"The adults live in the water of the canals, under the city," Buffy told the man. "They never really come up here, but sometimes one of the little ones will get caught up in the lights and sounds and make their way up to the surface."
"Poor little thing." The man held out his hand to the creature. "Can you talk?"
The thing squeaked again, peeking out at the humans. Curiosity seemed to win out, and it crept forward on flippery feet.
"They bite," Buffy warned. She felt in her pockets for something for the little creature to play with. "Do you have anything shiny? There's an entrance down the canals by the plaza."
"Shiny?" the man repeated.
"Yes, shiny. Made of the shiny. Reflective in all sorts of light," Buffy ground out. "I need to lure it along."
"Why not just pick it up?" As he spoke, the man dug through various pockets, emerging with string, half of a Christmas cracker, a jam jar, a jumble of keys, and what looked like a space-aged pen. He shoved everything else back in the pockets and fiddled with the pen. A blue light appeared on one end.
"The adults get hardcore violent when they see a human carrying their children."
"That sounds like the voice of experience," the man said. He pressed on the pen, and the light softened. "There we go, set to benevolent." He stood, pointing the light at the ground. The little creature scampered out from the shadows, trying to catch the light with its front paws. "Where's this entrance you were talking about?"
"This way," Buffy said. She rose from her crouch, watching the man carefully. It didn't matter if the little creature wasn't human, or couldn't talk. If the man made any threatening move towards it, she was going to kick his ass into the ocean.
But he didn't do anything wrong, and that was what disturbed Buffy the most. He had spoken of the creature as if it was human, as if it mattered. As if it were a lost child that needed to get home. It didn't matter if it had gills, or claws that could rip out a man's throat. The man acted as if the creature had value, and that sort of behavior wasn't human at all.
"Here we go," he was saying to the creature. He guided the light along the street, even stopping to look both ways before crossing a deserted intersection.
For its part, the creature followed, happily intent on the light. False and treacherous memory flitted through Buffy's head, of seeing so many of these creatures dead as she sought refuge by the water, floating in pieces by the spinning blades of the--
Bile rose in Buffy's throat at the memory. She balled up her hands, nails slicing into her palms. The sudden scent of her blood on the air pulled her back to the night, away from the drumbeat of angels in her head. Her eyes met those of the strange man. His eyes held so many questions, so many shadows.
Buffy tried to breathe around the remembrance of slaughter. "We should keep moving," she said.
He followed her in silence.
The entranceway was really only a rusted gate blocking the steps to the canal, out of the way of the tourists. The gate was ever-so-slightly ajar. Buffy stopped the man from getting any closer. She could sense the shivering stillness behind the door, of the creatures waiting in the darkness. For them to venture so close to the surface was extremely unusual. Buffy had discovered how unusual the first time she'd carried one of the creatures' babies to this doorway.
"Stay here," she whispered. "It can go the rest of the way on its own."
"How do you know it's the right place?" the man whispered back.
From behind the gate came a low, moaning call. Buffy didn't know what they were saying, if anything at all, but whenever she heard the sound, she wanted her mom back.
The little creature perked up. It fell onto all fours and scampered across the empty yard to the doorway. It slipped through the crack in the gate, and the call turned joyous for a moment, then vanished in a splash of water.
"Oh my," the man said reverently. "They sounded so sad at first."
"You'd be sad too, if you thought you'd lost someone you loved," Buffy said around the lump in her throat. "Anyway, thanks for using your glowing space pen."
"Glad to help," the man said. He shoved the pen back into a pocket. "But it's not a pen. It's a screwdriver."
Buffy gave the man a look. "A glowing space screwdriver?"
"A sonic screwdriver."
She wasn't sure if he was mocking or not, but she'd had enough of standing in this less-than-fresh yard. "That one of those tourist things?" she asked as she headed down the street. As she expected, the man trailed along with her.
"I guess you could say that," he said, hands in his pockets as he sauntered along. "I'm sort of a tourist. You?"
"I work here." It was almost four in the morning, and the sun was coming. Buffy could feel the shift of the earth in her bones, the rising sun like a curse on her tongue.
"Like saving little non-human babies?"
The still-bleeding palms of her hands ached to hold something solid, a stake or a knife, anything to still the drumming heartbeat pulsing a tattoo under her skin. She hated conversation these days. With friends and family, and strangers. She still couldn't talk to Dawn without falling into a panic attack.
"So," the man said into the stillness of the night. "Who are you?"
"Buffy," she said automatically. "Who are you, Captain Sonic?"
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the man smile. "No, I'm not a Captain. I've had enough of those." He stopped, turning to look at her. Against her better judgment, Buffy faced off against the man in the deserted Venice street. "I'm the Doctor."
His face had an air of expectance, as if he were anticipating a question he'd answered a million times, but the world had dropped out from under Buffy's feet and what he wanted didn't matter at all.
"The Doctor," Buffy said dully. The air in her lungs turned thick with the stench of remembered gore, the rotting bodies of the Slayers, all slaughtered in the first attack wave of the Toclafane in the year that never was.
She took a step back, gagging on memory. Everyone she'd ever loved, cut down to the sound of drums by the Toclafane before anyone knew what was happening. Willow, Giles, every single one of the Slayers, hacked to pieces by the spinning blades of the spheres before they could do anything to stop it.
Dawn had died screaming and Buffy hadn't been able to do a thing to stop it.
Buffy hadn't been able to stop any of it. Not a single thing, in that entire year. All that death and destruction, and Buffy had been helpless in the face of the rage.
Then the drums stopped, the year unraveled like a string, everyone came alive again and no one knew or remembered or cared
and Buffy had fallen undone with the memories of an apocalypse from the skies that she hadn't been able to stop.
All that year, she'd heard whispers of Martha Jones, the stories of the Doctor, but Buffy hadn't let herself feel any hope. Then the year unraveled like a string and Buffy hadn't been able to forget anything, least of all the Doctor who had saved the world.
"Buffy?" the Doctor said, and it wasn't the voice of a savior at all, just that of a man who had a sonic screwdriver in his pocket and who had helped a little scared water-demon baby get home to its parents.
A man who had undone so much death and destruction shouldn't sound normal.
"Is something wrong?"
Her back hit the wall, shadows dancing on the edge of her vision. "Martha Jones said you'd save the world from the Toclafane," she choked out in a whisper. "That you'd make it all stop
. Not that you'd take the year away
His face went blank, and then, slowly, horrified understanding crept into his eyes.
"You know about the year," he breathed. "How..." He broke off, swallowed hard. All the pain and terror that Buffy had felt in that year, all that loss and torment, was echoed in his shadowed gaze. "I'm sorry. I am so, so sorry."
Buffy turned and ran away from the Doctor who had saved everyone in the world and taken that year away.
Had taken the year away from everyone but her.~~~
He found her again at sunrise, perched on the edge of the pier overlooking the sea. Vampire dust and demon blood covered her dark jacket and the sun hurt her eyes but she couldn't calm down enough to breath around the memory of drums.
"It's not possible that you remember," he said, continuing the conversation as if she hadn't run off into the night to find things to slaughter, hardly better than those she had killed.
"Fuck possibility," Buffy said. Her throat felt like she'd swallowed broken glass. "Fuck everything. I watched everyone die and all anyone had was that stupid hope that you'd save us. And they just kept on killing everyone."
The name stuck in Buffy's throat. "The Toclafane," she spat out. Vampire dust and demon blood tasted foul in the air, and she smelled like death. "How did you do it?"
Her cheeks were wet with silent tears, just as it had been when Buffy had tried to gather all the pieces of Dawn's body together, tried to pull together the broken meat that had once been her baby sister. "How did you stop the drumming?"
The man let out a sigh as he sat on the end of the pier beside Buffy. "It was the Archangel satellite network. We destroyed it after the year unwound."
An early morning boat drifted across the horizon. A young boy raised his hand in a wave. Buffy returned the gesture without thinking. How many times had she sat on the end of this pier, in the six months since everything had been made right again? How many times had that ship drifted past, had that boy waved to her?
"Did it work? Martha Jones' plan? To bring you back to us?" Buffy let her hand drop to her lap. The cuts in her palm were long healed, dried blood the only thing left to mark her pain.
"Yeah." The Doctor rummaged in his pocket and emerged with a handful of candy. "It worked."
Sometimes, Buffy woke up remembering that year, and she couldn't stop screaming. She'd run as far as Venice before the drumming in her head had stilled long enough for her to stop trying to outrun a year that had never been.
Some days, she'd thought she'd gone mad.
"What are you?" the Doctor asked. "Are you human?"
"I'm the Slayer," Buffy said. "And I don't know."
He slowly unwrapped a mint and popped it into his mouth. "The Slayer," he repeated. "I've heard of you. I've heard a lot about you." He shook his head. "I don't think that would be the reason--"
"I'm dead," Buffy blurted out suddenly. Xander's words, sparse and few after the Toclafane came, drifted back to her. He'd lasted almost three months before the Toclafane cut him down as they tried to run to the safety of the salt mines in Germany. "Maybe that's why. I'm dead."
The Doctor stared at her with his mouth hanging open. "You're not dead."
The memory of clawing her way out of her grave, hands scrabbling against the coffin lid, warred with the thick feel of Dawn's cooling blood. "I was. Maybe that's why the Toclafane didn't see me, not at all in that year. Why they never..." She couldn't breathe. She was going to choke to death on the stench of memory and no one would ever know what she'd seen. No one but the Doctor. "Why the Toclafane never came after me."
The Doctor looked out at the sea.
Buffy stared down at her hands. Vampire dust and demon blood covered her skin, smudged over Slayer blood. She had killed that night, and if it was to save the lives of others, no one would know.
"Will it happen again? A year just turning back on itself?"
The Doctor offered her a candy, and she accepted without really thinking. "No," he said with a finality that hurt to hear. "It won't."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. I'm sure."
And in his words was as much pain as Buffy had ever felt, and she didn't understand, and she wasn't sure she wanted to but the faint memory of drums told her that she was never going to be free from the sound.
"How long were you dead?" the Doctor asked suddenly. "If you don't mind me asking. Was it like your heart stopped and you got zapped back to being, or was it something a little more interesting?"
Buffy placed the candy in her mouth, letting the sweet mint melt away the blood and ash on her tongue. "I'll show you mine if you show me yours," she said, pulling flippancy around her like a familiar coat.
The Doctor's eyes went wide. "Excuse me?" he sputtered out.
Buffy sighed. "I'll tell you a story if you tell me a story."
"Oh." He seemed to consider. "About what?"
Buffy felt herself smile. "I want you to tell me about Martha Jones."
He frowned. "Why?"
"Because she saved the world," Buffy said. "Girls who save the world should be remembered."
Silence fell between them. The parade of boats continued out on the water, early shouts drifting back to the city.
"Do you really want to know about Martha Jones?"
"Do you want to know what's out there," he motioned at the sky, "Beyond here, beyond what you know? To see more than you've ever seen?"
"I've seen a lot." Too much
, the thought skittered around in her head, but she ignored it.
The Doctor climbed to his feet "Come on, then, Buffy Summers. Come see what's out there."
Buffy's head jerked up. "I never told you my last name."
He shrugged. "I know. But I know of you, Buffy Summers, last of the lonely demon Slayers. And I know that I'd like you to come with me."
"I don't know you."
"No, you don't," he agreed.
"Where are you going?"
He pointed up at the early morning sky. "Second star to the right."
Buffy slowly stood. "Did that Peter Pan and Tinkerbell crap really work?"
"What?" His expression was almost comical.
"You know. Everyone on earth clapping their hands at the same time and saying, 'I do believe in the Doctor' so you could come back and save the world."
For the first time in their conversation, the Doctor looked distinctly disgruntled. "It's not like I was trying
to be derivative--"
Buffy looked at him.
"Fine, think what you want." He held out his hand. "Come on."
"Where are we going?"
"Back to my place. I've got a story you want to hear, remember?"
Buffy looked at him. Nothing in her Slayer sense was going off, but logically, she could think of a million reasons to start running.
Well. Logic had never really been her strong suit.
She took the Doctor's hand. He didn't flinch away from the dust and blood covering her skin, and she breathed easier.
He smiled suddenly, sharp and brilliant as the sun. "Come along, Ms. Summers. Your tale of ordinary girls doing extraordinary things awaits."
Buffy gripped the Doctor's hand a little too tight, and let him draw her off the pier and back into twists of the Venice streets.
In the midst of his words, the remembered pounding of drums had faded.