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Encounters in the Fourth Dimension

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Summary: When the Scoobies meet a rather odd pair, they discover that time does not necessarily have to follow a strict progression of cause and effect.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Dr. Who/Torchwood > GeneralCarnenFR13927,30342814,02717 Mar 0913 Jan 10No

Explanations, sort of

Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who or BtVS. Written for fun, not profit.
A/N: There is a plot in here, somewhere. The character interaction just got away from me at some point. As always, any comments or suggestions are most welcome!

Chapter 2 - Explanations, sort of

"So, you're time-traveling aliens?" Buffy asked in disbelief. After a whole lot of shouting, exclamations of wonder, excitement, mocking, disdain and threats of bodily harm, most of the Scooby Gang and their two visitors had settled down around the central table to hold as civilized a conversation as was possible under the circumstances.

Donna snorted, arms crossed over her chest (which Xander was attempting and failing not to stare at).

"He's the alien," she indicated the Doctor, who was mostly ignoring the events around the table and was muttering to himself while shaking and glaring at his silver flashlight thingy. At times, he would pause and rub his forehead, as though a noise was bothering him.

"I'm just along for the ride," Donna continued. Buffy glanced at the Doctor again, and then took a quick look around the table. Willow was still staring at the Doctor with huge eyes and more than a little embarrassment and trepidation. Giles had retreated into his office, frantically mumbling about checking something in his books. Xander, who had arrived with her, was taking turns tearing his gaze from Donna's chest and looking at both of the arrivals with skepticism (and just a hint of wonder). Oz was safely locked up in his cage, occasionally making his presence known by growling and snarling from time to time.

Buffy frowned and ponderously started tapping the stake she was gripping on the top of the table. She had grabbed it upon seeing the not-so-tense situation on entering the library when her spidey senses had started going haywire. Just as she had identified the source of the feelings to be the Doctor, they had skittered away to hide in some dark and dusty corner of her psyche. Cowards, she muttered inwardly. So the Doctor wasn't human and he didn't really register as a threat (at least, not to them), but she definitively wasn't buying the alien part.

Tap-tap-tap-tap. Tap-tap-tap-tap. The stake was starting to make a mark on the polished surface of the table.

"Stop it."

The voice cut across the chatter at the table and, startled, Buffy looked up into dark, haunted, ancient eyes. The Doctor blinked and the moment was gone. His lips quirked into an apologetic smile.

"Sorry, haven’t had good experiences whenever that rhythm comes up."

Donna glanced sharply at him, but he merely smiled widely and began fiddling with his gadget again.

"But you don’t look like an alien!" Willow suddenly blurted out. Feeling everyone's eyes on her, she blushed furiously and continued rapidly, "Not that that doesn’t make you an alien or anything, but none of the demons we ever fought really looked like humans, well apart from vampires, but they don’t really count because of the whole 'grrr' thing, so I'd always thought if aliens existed, they'd be a bit more-mphrhphmmm…"

"Will," Xander said, his hand still across Willow's mouth, "calm down and take a deep breath."

Buffy and Donna took one look at Willow's horrified expression and couldn't stop snorts of laughter from escaping. The Doctor huffed in fond exasperation, not looking up from his tinkering.

"Humans. You always assume you’re the center of everything. Did you ever think that you were the ones who looked like a million other species out there? The bipedal humanoid form is very common across the universe."

"Yeah," Buffy started, "still not convinced about that part."

The Doctor rolled his eyes.

"You know, this was much simpler when you already believed me when I first met you."

"About that-"

"Oh don't bother asking," Donna interrupted, "He'll go all high and mighty on you with some explanation that'll basically boil down to: Sorry, can't say - spoilers."

"See if I ever get you involved in a predestination paradox again," the Doctor muttered, looking highly put out that Donna had stolen his thunder.

"Wait, so let me get this straight," Xander started waving a finger in the air, making a point, "This is the first time we've ever met you, but since you're some fancy time-traveling alien, this is the second time you've met us, but if you tell us what's going to happen the whole universe will explode because of the paradox."

Buffy was impressed on how quickly Xander had figured it out; all those comic books he read must have finally come in handy for something. As it was, this whole situation was giving her a headache.

"Well, technically only two thirds, but yes, that's it in a nutshell. Isn't it brilliant?" The wide grin on the Doctor's face wasn't really appropriate for the seriousness of the situation. Then again, the Scoobies regularly failed to take apocalypses seriously either. Well, mostly.

"So you have a time machine?" Xander looked positively gleeful.

"Took you long enough to catch up," Donna smirked.

"Yes, I do," the Doctor beamed, pointedly ignoring Donna, "the TARDIS - best ship in the universe!"

"You travel in a blue box?" Buffy asked.

"It's bigger on the inside," the Doctor and Donna said simultaneously.

"Of course it is," Buffy said flatly. She looked over to Willow for eye-roll support, but Willow looked positively entranced by the possibility. So did Xander for that matter. A moment later, they were off, pestering the Doctor with questions which he seemed only to happy to answer. In hindsight, really, Buffy should have known that would happen.

As terms like 'dimensionally transcendent', 'temporal buffers' and 'dimensional stabilizers' flew over her head, she shared a commiserating look with Donna.

"Science geeks," they chorused and shared a grin. Buffy took it as an opportunity to study Donna more closely. She somehow seemed way too normal to be traveling around with an alien.

"So how'd you get involved in all of this?"

"My fiancé was going to feed me to some giant spider alien that wanted to release her offspring to eat the Earth. He saved me," was the matter-of-fact reply.

Buffy blinked.

"Oh," she groped for something to say, "You sure it wasn’t a demon?"

Donna looked at her strangely as though Buffy was the crazy one.

"It had a spaceship."

"Right," a pause, "So he does that a lot then?"

"All the bloody time. Seems like we can't go anywhere without something to fix or save."

For all that Donna looked put out about it, she couldn't quite hide the small smirk that emerged. It was the same look of satisfaction that Willow and Xander sometimes got after helping to save the world. Okay, so maybe they did travel through time, but she still wasn't ready to believe the alien part.

"So he saves you and you just decide to tag along over all of time and space?"

"Hell no," Donna snorted, "I ran off, quick as you like, tail between my legs, all ready to get back to my normal life."

Buffy looked confused.

"But," she looked back to the Doctor, who was now enthusiastically telling Xander and Willow about something that seemed to require quite a lot of hand waving and gesticulating.

"I couldn't, in the end," Donna continued softly, "get back to my normal life, I mean." Buffy watched her silently. "There was so much out there to see, to experience. And after getting a glimpse of that, how could I go back to bills, Pringles and trivia? So I found him again," this time she smiled mischievously, "and hopped on board."

"Just like that?" Buffy laughed.

"Just like that. Of course, I laid in a few ground rules first, but it's been brilliant. Best mate I could ask for."

"Mate?" Buffy's eyes widened. Donna scoffed.

"Why does everyone always think that? Mate as in friend? You Americans, honestly!"

"Right, I knew that." She really should have remembered that was a British thing. But, well, when your only indicator of all things British was Giles, slang was the last thing you were likely to learn.

She and Donna were silent for a moment. They watched the others talking animatedly.

"Must be nice though," Buffy began, trying not to poke a hole in the table with her stake. At Donna's questioning look, she continued wistfully, "just going off exploring into time and space."

"It is. It's brilliant and mad and damn scary sometimes, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. It changes you, seeing all of that. Just knowing that there's something so much bigger than you out there."

"Is it dangerous?"

"No more than a bunch of teenagers saving the Earth from the forces of darkness," Donna said knowingly, eyebrow raised. And for the first time since this conversation began, Buffy realized that if these two were telling the truth, they'd be from sometime in her future. The urge to ask, to find out if she was still alive, if she had managed to save Angel and stop Angelus, if all her friends were still alive and still by her side, was overwhelming.

She had opened her mouth to ask, but at that moment, Giles burst out of his office, book in hand, glasses askew. He looked rather harried. And his timing, as always, was impeccable, she thought sarcastically.

"I-I must say that this is rather unprecedented," he muttered, flipping through his book, "aliens you say?"

"Didn't we just have this conversation?" Xander noted wryly, distracted from his talk with Willow and the Doctor by Giles' sudden arrival.

"I'm still not convinced," Buffy said stubbornly. The Doctor looked rather exasperated.

"Oh, and I suppose thinking that demons exist is so much more logical."

"I've seen demons," she shrugged, "Never seen an alien before."

"Blimey, where've this lot been?" Donna muttered. The Doctor spared a fond eye-roll in her direction.

"Oh, you're one to talk, Donna. You've managed to miss three invasions so far."

She opened her mouth to argue and then closed it.

"S'pose you're right," she mumbled.

"Anywho – ooo, don't let me say that ever again - the really obvious invasions won’t really be starting in America for another few years yet, 'cept in Hollywood of course, but nobody ever notices that place anyway. But I'm surprised you never noticed anything," he indicated Giles accusingly, "Weren't you in Britain during the 70's? Or was it the 80's? In any case, must've been an invasion every week," he recalled with an unsettling degree of wistfulness. Buffy didn't really want to think of the day she would be going on like that about apocalypses past if she managed to survive that long.

Giles coughed, rather uncomfortably. He started wiping his glasses.

"I-I'm afraid I was…otherwise occupied at the time," he muttered, failing to meet anyone's eye.

"Giles, personal exploration of your dark side through demon worship and magic abuse is no excuse for missing visits from little green men," Buffy mocked.

"When did Agrians visit Earth?" the Doctor blinked at her in surprise, while everyone stared at him like he was mad, "Don't get me wrong, they're a great bunch, but I can't recall them ever managing to get off their home planet. They were quite attached to it – literally and figuratively speaking. Lovely opera though."

The silence brought on by that statement was only broken by a few growls from Oz and a sudden beep from the Doctor's silver device. He'd called it a sonic screwdriver in his explanations to Willow and Xander, if Buffy had heard correctly. That had prompted Xander to crack a joke about making a screwdriver sonic to which the Doctor had strangely only replied with a pained 'not you too'. Buffy was growing increasingly convinced that, alien or no, the Doctor was completely insane.

"Ah! Brilliant!" he snatched the screwdriver from the table and jumped to his feet, waving it around slowly.

"So, G-man, what did the books have to say about ET?" Xander piped up brightly, leaving the Doctor to his…whatever he was doing.

"Xander, never call me that again," Giles said with a long suffering sigh, "And as for the books, well, I-I-I found some references in the Watcher's diaries about some institute that had shoehorned in on some of the Council's operations in Britain in the late 19th century, but there was nothing definite. Apparently, after extensive a-and very secret negotiating, an agreement was reached between the two organizations. But there had only been rumours of involvement with extraterrestrial life. Th-there's no evidence to speak of, however, and not a lot of effort had been put into finding out about the institute on the part of the Watcher's Council. In fact, suspiciously little effort had gone into the project. A-apparently, there were even indications of the Queen becoming involved. I-I'll have to research this further, of course."

"Wow, so the Watcher's Council doesn't know everything! What a shock," Buffy quipped.

"Indeed," Giles said dryly and continued in a more excited voice, "But just imagine! If what they are saying is true, there are whole worlds out there teeming with life, unexplored planets a-and wonders one couldn’t possibly imagine!"

"Look at Giles, getting his Kirk on," Buffy smiled.

"This is a moment that should be recorded for posterity," Xander agreed.

"Should we make a plaque?" Willow grinned, "Here were first said the words of Giles, who boldly went where no Watcher had gone before."

"Y-yes, well, plaques aside, we've got quite enough to contend with here, not in the least to figure out the purpose of Ms. Noble's and the Doctor's visit."

As one, the Scoobies turned towards Donna, who had remained in her seat, absently picking at her fingernails. She looked up with a bored expression when she felt their stares.

"What? Don't look at me. Martian boy is the one you'll be wanting for the answers," she gestured towards where the Doctor had been standing. Keywords – had been. Buffy straightened, all of her senses immediately on high alert. And he'd seemed like a nice guy. Crazy, but nice.

"Where'd he-?"

"For the last time, Donna! I'm not from Mars! I don’t look even vaguely reptilian!"

"Is he-?" Willow started to ask, but broke off uncertainly. Exchanging bewildered glances, as one, they all looked under the large table.

"Wha-what are you doing?" Willow asked. The Doctor was on his hands and knees under the table, peering intently at the readings coming from his sonic screwdriver.

"I'm trying to locate the source of these disturbances," he said absently, "they're giving me a headache. Seem to be originating from here." He waved the screwdriver only a couple of inches from the floor before he tucked it away in his breast pocket. He leaned forward to look at the floor. He frowned and ran a hand over the wooden flooring. Buffy frowned. Wasn't that where the Hellmouth beastie had cracked open the floor last year? He was acting as if he could sense it. It was not a very comforting thought.

"Oi, Spaceman! Please tell me you aren't going to-" He licked the floor. "…again," Donna sighed and sat back in her chair, shaking her head and muttering something about stupid Martians.

"Eww, gross!" Buffy grimaced. That was just…so unsanitary.

"Okay, I've heard of the three second rule and I live by it religiously, but that's just nasty," Xander said.

Willow only managed to look vaguely queasy, while Giles, who hadn't deigned to look under the table, nevertheless let out a muttered 'good Lord'.

"Oh, that is disgusting!" the Doctor crawled out from under the table, tongue sticking out of his mouth. He had an expression of extreme distaste.

"I could've told you that without the floor licking," Buffy told him helpfully, a nauseous expression still on her face.

"What?" he seemed distracted, "Oh, no, I didn't mean that, although it wasn't the most pleasant taste, I'll admit," he smacked his lips briefly, "processed and polished wood, nothing else quite like it in the universe. But I meant the taste of the energy emanating out from there! I can't believe I couldn’t taste it before - sense it, of course, would have had to be dead not to, but that is just-"

"You can taste the Hellmouth?" Willow asked, eyes wide.

"Is that what it is? And you've built a school right over it?" he dragged a hand through his hair, "That can't be good," he muttered.

"What's it taste like?" Willow pressed, curiosity coming to the fore.

"Eh," he pulled a face, thinking for a moment, "kinda chalky."

"Er…quite," Giles interrupted, a little flustered, "however, if we could get back to the main problem, no matter how fascinating your ability to…taste the Hellmouth - we still only have your word that you are who you say you are and-"

"Oh!" the Doctor smacked a hand over his forehead and pointed at Giles, "hold that thought!"

Derailed, Giles only gaped slightly as the Doctor started rummaging through his pockets. Buffy felt her eyes widen. Did his arm just go in to his elbow?

"Now, where did I put that…?" the Doctor muttered, pulling out a pair of glasses. He put them on and continued rifling though his pockets.

Buffy watched in growing amazement as he pulled out an increasingly unlikely succession of things. The table was soon littered with yo-yos, rocks, unfamiliar coins of all types, a book-like thing with 'Don't panic!' written on the cover in large, friendly letters ("So that's where that disappeared to!"), dog biscuits, a key, a thin leather wallet, the screwdriver, a flashlight, a half-eaten cupcake, a 12-inch sandwich, something that looked like an ostrich egg ("Oh dear, shouldn't let that hatch, be Jurassic park all over again"), a mouse trap, a rubber duck, a letter, a bundle of newspapers with dates from the 1900's all the way to 2134, various electronic gadgets Buffy couldn't recognize, a mobile phone and a heap of other junk before the Doctor let out a triumphant "HA!" and produced a small, neatly wrapped package.

"That. Is. The. Coolest. Thing. Ever!" Xander was in awe as he stared at the pile of junk that had recently inhabited the Doctor's pockets.

"Bigger on the inside!" the Doctor said smugly, bouncing on the balls of his feet.

"So's his head, but that's empty compared to his pockets," Donna rolled her eyes with a smile, watching the whole thing from her seat.

"Oi! No need to get abusive!" he grinned at her.

"Is that a goldfish?" Willow tentatively poked a plastic water-filled bag. The Doctor lifted the bag to eye-height and peered at it.
"I think so. Would you like it?" he offered with a smile.

He held it out to her. Willow squeaked happily and carefully took it. She beamed at the Doctor.

"Thank you so much!"

"Aw, don't mention it. 'Course, I can't remember where I got it, so if it starts changing colours on you, I wouldn't be too worried. There were some subspecies of goldfish on New Earth that liked to do that sometimes." He started stuffing everything back into his pockets as he spoke. He wasn't particularly paying attention to what he was doing so half of the stuff managed to fall to the floor instead.

Giles cleared his throat, awkwardly holding the small package that the Doctor had unceremoniously thrust into his hands upon finding it.

"This is undoubtedly quite fascinating, howev-"

"Oh!" the Doctor interrupted him again, gleefully picking up a small white bag from the table.

"Jelly Baby?" he offered, grinning widely.

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