Giles came into the library to find Xander sitting amidst a large pile of books. He was leaning back with his feet on the table as he quickly turned the pages.
“Xander,” Giles said, “you can’t be planning to read all of those today.”
“Oh, hello Rupert,” Xander said, smiling at him. “Actually, I wasn’t planning to read them,” he closed the book on his lap and stood, “I already have.”
“You, um, you read them?” He frowned, “how long have you been here?”
“Oh, a few hours,” Xander answered. “It seems I can read very, very fast.”
“You seem to be adjusting well to the, uh, changes,” Giles observed.
“Not a lot of choice in the matter,” Xander told him. “I dress as the Doctor, I become the Doctor, I get killed as the Doctor.”
“But you’re you again. Well,” Giles plucked off his glasses and started to clean them, “in a way.”
“I look like me, uh, Xander Harris.”
“And, I have his memories and it seems that his personality is the dominant one. Especially with how much I enjoyed the Twinkies I had earlier. But how did that happen?” He sighed and frowned. “It could be that, since I was in the TARDIS, I was cut off from the spell. So, I was trying to revert to my real form at the same time that the regeneration energy was being released. At least,” he shrugged, “that’s the best answer I could come up with.” He rubbed his chest. “Beats staying dead, though.”
Giles replaced his glasses as he gave Xander a smile. “I must admit it was a shock to discover that you and Willow had seen the program.”
“The two of us and Jesse use to watch it all the time,” Xander told him. “We’d go over to Willow’s since her folks had the best tv.”
“I’d watch it with my father,” Giles told him. “It was one thing we always agreed on. No matter how much we might be arguing we’d put it aside to watch Doctor Who.”
“He’d like that,” Xander said. “Even if it was a temporary peace, he’d like the fact he could bring some into your lives.”
“There’s some of him left, then? Or is it just a residual feeling?”
Xander sighed as he frowned. “It’s more than some,” he admitted. “I have all of his memories up to the ending of the movie they made.” Seeing Giles’ mouth drop open, he gave a sad smile. “He’s almost 900 years old, Giles. And I remember every year.”
“I thought he was almost two thousand years old,” Giles said.
“He lied about his age a lot,” Xander explained. “On Gallifrey age is a symbol of status. The only one he really bought into. So he fudged a bit.”
“Nice to know he has weaknesses.”
“Oh, he’s got a lot of them,” Xander admitted as he began to pace around the table. “It’s just that most of them never made it to the screen. For example,” he continued, “he has a rather strange fascination for certain foods.”
“Like jelly babies?”
“Exactly,” Xander said, pulling a small bag from a pocket of his jacket. “Care for one?” he asked as he pulled one from the bag.
“Um, no thank you.” Giles looked at Xander. “You have old eyes,” he observed. “It’s like I can see all of those years in there.”
“Not every memory is a happy one, Rupert. Sorry,” he said with a shake of his head, “Giles.”
The Watcher decided to ask the question that had bothered him since discovering what had happened to Xander. “What will you do now?”
“Don’t know.” Xander sighed as he looked at the books. “Put these books away, of course. After that, I don’t think going to class is going to help, but I don’t have anything else to do since,” he stopped.
“The TARDIS vanished,” Xander told him. “The only thing left is this,” he held up the key.
“So that’s a TARDIS key?”
“Yeah.” Xander handed it to him. “It was the spare over the ‘P’.”
“Ah, from the film.” Giles looked at it intently before holding it between his hands. “Rather warm.”
“Hmm.” Xander took it back then looked at it. “Don’t know why, the poor old girl just evaporated. Not even the cardboard was left.”
“That’s truly too bad,” Giles mused. “It would have been nice to step inside and see it for real.”
“Cardboard,” Xander repeated, holding the key up in front of him.
“I beg your pardon?”
“I made it from cardboard.” Xander looked up and met the Watcher’s eyes. “I made if from cardboard.” He grinned. “It should be cardboard!”
“You’re not making sense, Xander.”
“Don’t you see?” Xander waved the key then looked at it. “If the TARDIS had simply turned back into itself it would have turned into cardboard. Then this key would have as well. But!” He looked up again. “But it didn’t! That means the TARDIS didn’t either. It’s made from the same thing! So,” he whirled and began to circle the table again, “where is it? Well, it’s not on Earth or in the normal material plane or it would be where I left it, right?”
“Um, I guess.”
“So, it must have been kicked out of the material plane by the ending of the spell. But it still exists.” Xander tapped the key on his chin a few times as he thought. “Of course,” he finally said, “it would have been thrown into the time stream.” He grinned at Giles. “Time to make magic.”
Buffy and Willow came into the library then stopped. Giles was calmly putting books away even as Xander finished attaching wires to the key in his hand. The other end of the wires were plugged into a nearby socket. Sparks were flying as he used what looked like cafeteria tongs wrapped in electrical tape to lift the key.
“Um, Giles,” Willow asked, “what’s Xander doing?”
“I’m summoning the TARDIS,” Xander said as he moved to the center of the room. “The electricity will stimulate the key, drawing the TARDIS to it.”
“What’s a TARDIS?” Buffy asked.
“It’s a blue box,” Giles provided.
“Looks like a police call box from London,” Xander said, kneeling.
“T-A-R-D-I-S,” Willow explained. “It stands for ‘Time And Relative Dimension In Space.’”
“You mean that box thing from two nights ago?”
“You remember that?” Giles asked, coming down from the upper level.
“Just a few images,” she replied.
“Almost there,” Xander said more to himself than the others. The other three gave each other a look then moved closer.
Xander carefully brought the key to the right level then waited. The sparks seemed to be drawn for a moment to empty air but then a piece of round metal with a slot in it began to appear. Again, Xander took great care as he slid the key into the slot. Standing, he swallowed once before saying, “Don’t touch anything.”
“What’s supposed to happen?” Willow asked as she moved next to Xander.
A wind suddenly kicked up in the library, followed by the same sound Buffy remembered from Halloween. A blue box slowly took shape in the middle of the library. As it did Xander moved to where the wires were plugged in and pulled them out. A few seconds later the TARDIS was silent.
“Hello, old girl,” Xander told it as he ran a hand over the door. He let out a deep breath then reached for the key. “Come on in,” he invited as he vanished into the box.
“With pleasure,” Giles said as he followed close behind.
“How are we gonna fit in there?” Buffy asked as Willow vanished inside.
Xander stepped out and held his hand out to her. “Come in and I’ll explain at the beach.”
“The beach I’m about to take you to.”
“But what about school?”
“Buffy,” Xander said with a grin, “it’s a time machine. We’ll be back before Snyder knows we’re gone.”
Slowly, Buffy’s grin grew to match Xander’s. It fell as she asked, “What about swimsuits?”
“Well, either you can do without or I’m sure we can pick some up along the way.”
Her grin reappeared as she took his hand and stepped inside. Then, the door closed, followed by the sound of the TARDIS as it vanished.