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Summary: Rose Tyler discovers vampires, a quick slay opens doors to possibilities of which Xander never conceived, and the Doctor gains a new companion. May contain future slash Nine/Rose/Xander.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Dr. Who/Torchwood > Xander-Centered(Past Donor)gleefulmusingsFR15314,7517437,8186 May 1027 May 10No

On A Night Like This

Rose continued peppering Xander with questions as she rolled over in her mind exactly how she was going to explain the Doctor and the TARDIS, not really understanding the need to explain anything. She knew without a doubt that the Doctor would go barmy when she showed up with another cute boy in tow – the memory of Adam and his aggressive ignorance still annoyed them both – and it wasn’t like she was thinking of bringing Xander with them.

Was she?

But she didn’t even know him!

Still, he had saved her life – for no other reason than that he had determined it was the right thing to do – and he was awfully cute, though not pretty as Adam had been, nor as debonair as Jack. Still, he seemed a good sort, with a decent head on his shoulders. She gave him a sidelong appraisal. Okay, more than decent.

She sensed his loneliness, a longing to be delivered to something which mattered, and while she was quite sure that his association with Buffy and their friends, that the work they did, was important and compelling – far more so than anything she herself had known before the Doctor – she felt rather than knew that Xander was horribly unfulfilled. He was starving, as she had once been.

And if Xander’s cuteness sparked a flicker of jealousy in the Doctor, she wasn’t opposed to that.

“There’s my car,” he said, nodding to his right.

She winced. “Condolences.”

“Hey! It’s not that bad!” He sighed. “Yeah, it is.”

She smirked and grasped his hand more tightly as she eyed the TARDIS, conveniently sitting on the sidewalk next to said car. Well, she had wanted a sign, and the bright blue of the ship dazzled like neon under the sulfur streetlamp, which lit it artfully.

“What’s that?,” Xander asked.

She turned and grinned at him, pleased when his eyes narrowed. This wasn’t a stupid one, that was for sure. For all his intelligence, Adam had been woefully ignorant about so very many things, as if common sense had waged a war with intellect and been decimated. Xander, she was sure – and again, she didn’t understand why she was sure – was far more discerning than that for which he was given credit, and his inherent cynicism buoyed by a sense of the fantastic was endlessly appealing. And familiar. She told herself to stop that nonsense right then and there, looking for justifications for her interest in him by unfairly comparing him with the Doctor, rationalizing thoughts which bordered on adulterous when nothing could be more ridiculous.

“What’s what?,” Buffy chirped.

Xander pointed toward the big honking blue box.

Buffy’s face screwed up. “Oh. I didn’t notice. Was that there a minute ago?”

“Huh,” Willow said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.”

Xander’s mouth fell open, but the duh went unvoiced.

“That’s my ship,” Rose blithely said. He raised a brow, and she could all but see the gears turning in his head, recalling her earlier statement that she had seen ‘all sorts of things’.

“You’re human,” he said slowly. Of that he was now sure, holy water or not.

She nodded.

“You’re…,” he paused, “you’re not…you don’t belong here.”

She shook her head, keeping her eyes locked on his, ignoring the fact that Buffy and Willow were now quietly and hysterically babbling to each other. Perhaps she wouldn’t have to bother formulating an explanation.

Xander cocked his head, his gaze never wavering, the quiet pressure of her hand in his an admission he didn’t quite understand. They turned as one when the doors of the TARDIS were thrown open and out strolled a man in a leather jacket which Xander instantly envied.

Whoa,” Buffy and Willow breathed, which only exacerbated Xander’s envy of Sexy Older Guy With Awesome Jacket Who Managed To Make Huge Ears Hot.

“Oi!,” the Doctor called to Rose. “It’s about bloody time!” His brow furrowed in confusion as he looked down at her hands, one of which was empty, the other decidedly very much not. “Where are the chips?” His brows raised. “You didn’t eat them all again, did you?,” he demanded through pursed lips. Which was quite a remarkable feat, really.

She snorted. Oh yes, and she was the one with chips fixation? She rolled her eyes.

The Doctor then stared down at the occupied hand, annoyingly joined to that of some boy, and sighed. “Another pretty, Rose? I thought you learned your lesson.” His tone dripped with exasperated disappointment. “Oh! Hello!,” he chuffed at the others, waving.

“Pretty?,” Xander repeated.

“Hey!,” Buffy bellowed, before pointing at her friend. “He’s not pretty!”

“Oh, thank you.”

“Yes, he is!,” Willow barked back at her.

“Not that again,” he muttered.

“That’s not what I meant, Willow!,” Buffy shouted.

The two girls began arguing while Xander halfheartedly refereed.

Rose eyed the Doctor, whose lip was curled in derision. She didn’t need the TARDIS to translate the appalled look which appeared whenever something domestic reared its head. Well, she wasn’t about to be so easily deterred from what she wanted. She blinked. Wanted? She wanted Xander to come with them? Well. Yeah. Right. Sorted, that. She glared at the Doctor. It was time to remind him that she was the daughter of Jackie Tyler; he knew what that meant. She stomped toward him, her nostrils flared and eyes breathing fire, unceremoniously dragging a now-squeaking Xander with her.

The Doctor’s eyes widened and he took an involuntary step backwards, horrified when the TARDIS swung shut her doors. Conspiracy! Collusion!

“Now you listen to me, you great berk!,” Rose thundered, thrusting a finger to his chest. “You land us here, on the mouth of bloody Hell, and send me off into the great yawning night to fetch us some takeaway – with no money, I might add – and some sodding vampire tries to kabob my neck with his fang.”

He opened his mouth to protest, unsure of that to which he would be protesting, but she barreled forward.

“And now, here I am, you don’t ask me what happened or if I’m all right, or who these people are, instead nattering on about bloody chips and pretties! Just you wait till I get you back in that box, Time Lord!”

Like a deer caught in headlights, the Doctor stared at her before swallowing heavily and panning his vision to the others, startled yet pleased when the three children appeared just as cowed as he was sure he himself must have looked. He was also inordinately furious with himself for allowing a nineteen-year-old human female to redress him in such a manner, even though he perhaps deserved it. That was when her words began making sense, and he blinked.

“Mouth of Hell?”

Oops. Now, how had that happened?

Rose nodded impatiently. Honestly, for all his knowledge and intellect, for someone over nine-hundred years old and who had been navigating the entire bleeding universe for centuries, he never seemed to know when or where they docked! Time Lords! She then debated if it was yet time for her righteous indignation to segue into a guilt trip of mind-numbing proportions. Had to play this carefully, after all.

Xander wasn’t exactly sure what was going on, but he had several impressions. First, while he knew Rose was human, he figured this guy was not; the nature of the man eluded him, but he didn’t sense any kind of demonic…oh. Rose said the box was her ship. Spaceship? Aliens? Well. That was new. And where the hell was Sigourney Weaver? And why wasn’t he freaking out, running around in circles, waving his arms and screaming like a virgin in a horror movie? Second, Rose was hot with a great sense of humor and a good head on her shoulders, but it was apparent this guy – whoever he was – was in charge. And he was an alien. Not of this earth. Third, the dynamic between Rose and…Mork…was interesting, because he couldn’t exactly get a read on it. It was alternately playful, fraternal, parental, friendly, and that between student and mentor. Weird. Was Mork Rose’s Watcher-like person? Was Rose Mork’s doyenne? He felt a migraine blossoming behind his left eye.

The Doctor puzzled for a moment before the rest of Rose’s rant infiltrated his thoughts. Vampire? Vampire! Concern, regret, and fear instantly appeared on his face. “Are you all right?,” he quietly asked, voice fraught with tension.

Her face softened slightly, though her eyes remained hard, and she nodded. “Thanks to him,” she snapped, holding up their joined hands. “He saved my life. Shoved a stake in its heart and turned it to dust.” Her face cleared, though her eyes suddenly looked ancient.

He cocked his head and considered Xander more carefully, more than a little pleased when the boy blushed, straightened his shoulders, cleared his throat, and shuffled his feet. He narrowed his gaze and almost immediately realized it was a mistake. The boy’s shoulders slumped, his eyes dropped, as did his head, and he tried to shake free of Rose’s grasp. The Doctor’s frown deepened; this wasn’t the behavior of someone who was merely humble or insecure. The boy looked as if he was waiting to be scolded or, worse, punished for some perceived wrongdoing. Why? His eyes darted about, and realized without his knowledge, he had infuriated three young women. Tremendous.

He took the boy’s free hand in both of his. “I owe you a debt,” he said softly. “Thank you for saving her, for bringing her back to me.” The boy flushed more deeply and shrugged. “This isn’t something I take lightly. Rose is…very special.”

Rose looked sharply from Xander to the Doctor, desperately hoping for elaboration which she knew would not be forthcoming.

“Thank you,” the Doctor repeated.

“You’re welcome, sir.”

“Sir? Oi, I’m no sir! Well, not on this planet, anyway. Not yet.” He puffed out his chest. “I’m the Doctor.”

Xander’s lips twitched. “The Doctor, huh? Just one name? Like Cher or Madonna?”

Rose snickered.

The Doctor grinned and bobbed his head. “That’s right. Although, technically, it’s two names. Mustn’t discount the ‘The’. Titles are important, after all. And you are?”

“Xander. Uh, Alexander. Harris.”

“Is that three names, then?”

Xander grinned and ducked his head. Rose seized upon the opportunity to grab the Doctor and haul him away.

“Before you even start,” he whispered, “no.”

“But…”

“Rose, no. One teenager on board is the absolute maximum capacity for a TARDIS. He cannot come with us.”

She gnashed her teeth and spared a glance at Buffy, who was not only staring at them, but appeared to hear every word they were saying. And at this point, Rose didn’t care.

“Doctor,” she said importantly, “I can’t explain it, but I’m telling you, this was meant to happen. We were meant to meet him.”

“Be that as it may…”

“So you agree!,” she said triumphantly.

He paused, considering his words. “The TARDIS brought us here for a reason, yes, and he might well be that reason, but that doesn’t mean he’s coming with us.”

She snorted and tilted her head toward the TARDIS. “Why don’t you ask her? Because with the way she shut the doors, I don’t think we’re getting back onboard anytime soon.”

He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose.

“Excuse me?,” Xander interjected.

“Yes?,” the Doctor asked.

“You’re an alien.”

“Yes.” He cocked his head. “Does that scare you?”

Xander shrugged. “No.”

“Well, why not?,” the Doctor demanded.

Another shrug. “You haven’t tried to kill or mate with me yet, so I don’t think you’re a demon, and, well, I’ve always thought there were aliens.”

“Is that so?,” was the dry response.

“Sure. I mean, what kind of arrogant jerk thinks that, out of the whole big universe, only this tiny planet has intelligent life? And intelligence is debatable.”

The Doctor smirked and turned toward Rose. “I like him.”

“Not a stupid ape?,” she snickered.

The Doctor studied Xander with more scrutiny. Slowly, he began shaking his head. “Ape, yes, but no, not stupid.”

So maybe this bore further consideration. The boy was smart, self-effacing, rather charming, really, but not smarmy like Jack could sometimes be. More importantly, he had saved Rose’s life. That shouldn’t be discounted; couldn’t be. And, really, what could a quick spin around the galaxy hurt? Still, he wanted more information.

“How long have you known this is the Hellmouth?”

Xander blinked. “Four years running.” He turned and gestured to Buffy. “She’s the Slayer,” he said grandly, pride underscoring the pronouncement.

The Doctor faced the girl, surprised and respectful when she met his gaze with bland eyes. “I’ve known Slayers.” Her eyes widened. “Four years of holding the title is an impressive feat.”

“Five,” she gently corrected.

He heard the pain in her voice, was able to imagine all she had lost, fighting a battle in which she had no say. He saw something within her which he sadly recognized. Grief. But also something else.

“And you?,” he asked of Willow.

She threw him a little wave. “Witch.”

He looked rather impressed. “A true witch. Rare.” His eyes narrowed. “You’re powerful. I can see it swimming around you.”

“Really?” Her eyed widened as they darted about her person.

“A real witch?,” Rose breathed.

He nodded. “We haven’t gotten to magic yet, but it’s real, Rose. It’s the manipulation of natural forces. It’s physics.”

“More physics,” Rose sullenly mumbled.

“That’s my major!,” Willow brightly said.

That certainly got the Doctor’s attention. Buffy, Rose, and Xander rolled their eyes as Willow and the Doctor briefly held an impromptu geek session, both of them smiling and nodding excitedly like fools.

If the Doctor had his way, he’d invite Willow to join them rather than the boy, but knew Rose and most likely Willow would refuse that option. And why was he rattling on like an invitation to Xander had been extended and accepted? Still, he agreed with Rose that this had happened for a reason, and fate could not be denied. Not without consequences. Fine, so he’d ask. Maybe a short vacation to tour the beaches of Barcelona. Rose would have someone her own age to talk with for a while, and as long as the boy didn’t touch anything – or anyone – he shouldn’t, what was the harm? Sorted.

“Right! Here’s the situation. That,” he said, pointing toward the TARDIS, “is my ship. Moves through time and space, she does.” He looked to Xander. “Fancy a ride?”

He was betting on the answer before it was even processed. If he had judged the boy correctly, which of course he had, Xander would be loath to abandon what he perceived as his duty to the Slayer and the Hellmouth. Admirable if a tad foolish.

Xander, eyes huge, looked at him, then at the TARDIS, and then back at him.

The Doctor saw excitement brimming in those eyes, but more than that he saw appreciation, acknowledgement, a desperate desire to please. His thoughts soured. A boy like that could tend towards neediness, which Rose would lap up like water; of course, that might be desirable – something to distract Rose from focusing all of her attention on himself and feelings which he would rather not yet consider. He was stunned to feel a curious disappointment, and not a little anger, when Xander slowly began shaking his head.

“I can’t.”

“Yes, you can.”

They turned as one to Buffy, whose eyes were wide and shining. She nodded.

“Go. You should go.”

“Gee, thanks,” a stung Xander muttered.

She sighed. “I didn’t mean it that way, and you know it. Don’t play the martyr.” She grinned. “That’s my job.”

He snorted and ducked his head.

She crossed to him and took her hands in his, a gesture which startled him; it felt more final and more intimate than any hug had ever been. “Listen to me; please listen. Of course I don’t want you to go. If it were up to me, I would handcuff you to me for all eternity.”

“Kinky.”

“Shut up,” she smiled, though her eyes remained grave. “Xander, this might be your only chance. Don’t pass it up because of me; I don’t want that responsibility.” She paused. “We both know I’d be dead if it wasn’t for you, but it’s wrong for me to thank you for saving my life at the expense of your own.”

He stiffened. “I’m here because I want to be.”

She nodded. “I know that, and I love you for it. More than I’ve ever said or could find the words to say. But you deserve better than this. I don’t want to be what holds you back from finding your own place in this world.”

He opened his mouth to interrupt, and she held a finger to her lips.

“Your place at my side will always be here if you want it. What I need for you to understand is that it’s okay if you don’t want it, even if that’s just for a while.”

She looked away. “I don’t know what’s out there, but there has to be more than this, and no one deserves it more than you. I’m going to be fine, and that’s because of you.” She stood on her toes, grabbed the lapels of his jacket and pulled his ear down to her mouth.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned through all of this – all of the loss and the death and the triumph – it’s that I had to learn from you,” she whispered before placing a gentle kiss on his cheek. She heard his breath hitch and pulled away.

He stood staring at her for a moment. “Will?,” he finally asked.

She nodded frantically. “Go. What she said. Don’t live your life for me, Xander. I love you too much to allow you to do that. We’ll be fine.” She turned to the Doctor. “Time machine, right?” At his nod, she added, “I don’t know if I believe that, but if it’s true, that means you can be gone for years and he can bring you back here five seconds after you’ve left.”

Tears slipped from his eyes. “I’ve never spent more than two days apart from you in my entire life.”

“And you won’t have to. Time machine, remember?”

He barked out a peal of laughter. “But Giles?”

“It’s a good thing he’s not here,” Buffy drawled. “We don’t have enough Kleenex.”

He snickered and then sighed. “You’re making it really hard for me to say no.”

“That’s kind of the point,” Buffy said, nodding.

“But what if something happens?,” he demanded. “What if you need me?”

“They can call me,” Rose piped up. She charged toward Willow. “Cell phone?” The witch blinked and nodded, withdrawing her phone from her pocket. Rose grabbed it and inputted her number. “Right. You can reach me whenever or wherever we are. Doctor rigged it so. You need help? You call and we come.”

“We?,” the Doctor repeated. He was ignored.

Willow took back possession of her phone and nodded again. “Okay,” she said shakily. “Wait! Whenever and wherever?” She cocked her head. “Are you telling me your phone receives reception throughout time and space?!,” she demanded.

“Yep.”

Willow looked at the Doctor, who appeared very smug. “Wow.”

He beamed.

Xander turned toward the Doctor, but couldn’t meet the man’s penetrating gaze. “Are you sure about this?”

“Yes.” The immediacy of his answer surprised even him. He was annoyed to find Rose adopting some smugness of her own. Just a quick jaunt and nothing more. Right.

The doors of the TARDIS flew open. Rose laughed.

The Doctor looked sternly at Buffy and Willow, not quite believing they were surrendering their best friend so easily. “I anticipated more resistance.”

“Resistance is futile,” Xander, Willow, and Rose intoned. The Doctor and Buffy rolled their eyes.

“No resistance,” Buffy added, “but let me make something crystal clear. If anything happens to him – and I mean anything – I don’t care who or what you are or what that ship is. I will find you and I will make you pay in ways even an alien can’t imagine.” She put behind her words all of the force of the Slayer, and the result was quite horrifying.

“Understood,” the Doctor said quietly and evenly, not about to cede any sort of victory to this wisp of a girl, Slayer or not.

“And that’s after Willow or my mother gets a hold of you,” she added darkly.

He waved her off but his eyes told her that he was not ignoring her threat. He wasn’t scared of her, of course, but neither was he about to underestimate her. In terms of brute strength, she was superior to him, and with the added menace of magic which Willow promised, he knew they could bring upon him serious repercussions. And he respected that they were looking out for their friend.

The TARDIS whirred.

“I guess that’s our cue,” Rose said.

The Doctor nodded once to her, and then to Buffy and Willow. “Say your goodbyes,” he said to Xander. “We’ll be ready when you are.”

“Thanks.”

The Doctor strode toward his ship, a gleeful Rose skipping after him. “Nice meeting you!,” she cheerily called over her shoulder at the girls.

“Yeah, okay,” replied a distracted Buffy.

“Ditto,” Willow added.

“Gotta say,” Xander began once the Doctor and Rose climbed aboard the TARDIS, “I’m feeling a little abandoned here.”

“Well,” Buffy said, “here’s the part I didn’t say: if you find yourself in trouble, you take that girl’s phone and call us. I don’t care where you are, we’ll find a way to get to you. Are you hearing me, Xander? And you better not die, because if you do, Willow will resurrect you so I can kick the hell out of you.” The force of her tirade was somewhat diminished by the tears streaking down her face.

“I promise,” he said quietly.

She threw herself at him and held him as tight as she could without breaking his ribs. “I love you so much,” she whispered.

“I know that,” he said. “I always have.”

She nodded and pulled away, covering her face with a hand and stepping back to allow Willow room.

“I’m going to call you every day,” Willow swore, “and you better pick up the phone. I’m not going to talk to some British chick’s voicemail.”

“Doesn’t she sound like Drusilla?”

“Creepy! That was the first thing I thought of.” She fell silent for a moment. “I like her, though. I think you can trust her.”

“And the Doctor?,” he asked cautiously.

“Him too. Just be careful. He seems prickly.”

“Well, so did Giles, before I won him over with the force of my personality.”

“This is true,” she smiled. Her eyes widened. “Think of everything you’re going to see! And do! And the people, uh, things you’ll meet! First contact! It’s just like Star Trek!,” she trilled.

He laughed and held her tight to him, breathing in her scent.

“You’ll tell Giles and Joyce I love them?”

“Of course I will,” she nodded.

“And you’ll call if there’s badness?”

“You’re on speed dial.”

He sighed. “Okay.” He crossed toward his car and popped the trunk, retrieving the duffel he hadn’t bothered unpacking since his road trip.

“What do you want me to tell your parents?,” Willow softly asked.

“Nothing. They won’t even notice I’m gone,” he said bitterly.

She nodded sadly. “Okay.”

“Well,” he said, “I guess this is it.”

“No it’s not,” Buffy said sharply. “This is ‘see you soon’.”

“Yeah,” he grinned. “Yeah, it is. So…see you soon.”

“You bet you will.”

Willow came to stand next to Buffy, wrapping her arm around the other girl’s shoulders. “Have fun! And be careful!,” she admonished.

“You know me,” he smiled.

“Exactly.”

“Ha ha.”

“Go,” she said. “Go before I can’t stand it anymore.”

He nodded and waved as he entered the TARDIS, the doors swinging shut behind him.

Buffy and Willow collapsed against each other, weeping, and were startled when the doors once again flung open.

“Buffy?,” the Doctor called.

“Yeah?”

“Please do give my best to Joyce, won’t you?” His face softened, his smile gentle. “I imagine she’s only grown more lovely with time.” With that, he disappeared and the doors closed.

Buffy stared. “What?”

The TARDIS disappeared.



* * * * *



The Doctor leaned his head against the doors of the TARDIS and took a deep breath, wondering if he had perhaps just make a huge mistake, but then he thought of Rose and that this perhaps might be a good opportunity for her, and felt better. He reminded himself that Xander was not Adam; far from it. Truth be told, he had never liked Adam, who had carried an air of smarminess about him, while Xander seemed a very decent sort. For a human. And it was just a short trip. He closed his eyes, centered himself, and prepared to deliver a very stern lecture. He turned around and charged up the dais, wondering what all the chattering was about. He couldn’t stand it if he had picked up another passenger who insisted on speaking as much as Rose.

He was confused when he saw Rose standing to the side of the console, her eyes wide and her brow furrowed. Then he realized Xander was talking to himself.

“You’re amazing,” the boy whispered reverently. “I’m Xander.”

“Well, of course you are!,” the Doctor declared with exasperation. “We know who you are!”

“Shh. I’m not talking to you.”

“What! Well then who the bloody hell…” He then heard the TARDIS respond, but not to him. The TARDIS was talking to Xander. Well. That was new. “Rose.”

“Doctor? Is he talking to the TARDIS?,” she asked with incredulity.

“He is.”

She turned to him, jaws agape. “Is she talking back?”

“Apparently.”

“And he can understand her?”

“Apparently.”

“Well, what the hell is that?!”

“An excellent question.”



* * * * *



For the next several minutes, Rose and the Doctor stood off to the side and stared as Xander stood at the console and held a one-way conversation with the TARDIS, his hands running along the railing in awe, his voice filled with veneration.

If nothing else, the Doctor was pleased that the boy was so respectful of the wondrousness of the ship. He was certainly not pleased that Xander could for whatever reason communicate with the TARDIS, and he was deeply annoyed that the TARDIS had blocked him from the dialogue between she and Xander.

It wasn’t long before Xander ceased speaking altogether, instead nodding or shaking his head in apparent answer to questions posed only to him. He also indulged in frequent bursts of snickering and outright laughter, which made him look rather mentally deranged.

The Doctor frowned and turned toward the hall.

“What’s happening?,” Rose whispered.

“She’s creating a room for him.”

Her eyes widened. “Like she did for me?”

“Yes. I believe she’s trying to infer from his answers his preferences about what he’d like in a bedroom.”

Rose blinked. “Did she do that with me? I mean, I don’t remember. My room is what I always wanted, but I never told her or anything.”

He nodded. “She was able to ascertain your likes and dislikes because of the link you share with her.”

Her nose scrunched. “Well, that makes sense, right? I mean, she was in my head almost as soon as I stepped on board, wasn’t she? Even though I didn’t realize it at first? Isn’t that just what she does?”

He nodded again. “But never before has someone been able to communicate directly with her.”

“I’m sorry.”

He looked at her and frowned. “For what?”

She shrugged. “It’s upsetting you.”

He started. “Well, yeah. Shouldn’t be, but it is. I’m a bit jealous, I suppose.”

“Doctor?,” she asked hesitantly. “Is there, I mean, could he be like you?” She winced and waited for the inevitable explosion. She was surprised when he instead took her hand.

“It’s a good question, and I’m not angry. I’ve never known any TARDIS to communicate with anyone who was not a Time Lord, which Xander is not. I have absolutely no idea what’s going on.”

Finally, Xander cottoned on that the Doctor and Rose were angry and perplexed, respectively. Blushing, he ceased speaking and looked at the floor. “Sorry. That was rude, huh?”

“A bit, yeah,” the Doctor barked.

Rose elbowed him. “Just ignore him. How did you do that?”

Xander shrugged. “I don’t know. I walked in, she said hi, and we just started talking.”

“She. Said. Hi,” the Doctor sneered.

Xander nodded again, still unable to meet his eyes.

“It’s not his fault,” Rose hissed. She stomped away from him and toward Xander, picking up his bag where he dropped it and linking her arm through his. “Come on, I’ll give you the whole tour! You won’t believe this place!”

He relaxed and turned to concede to her dragging him toward the hall, before stopping and looking back at the Doctor. “Um, is that okay?”

The Doctor sighed and nodded, waving them off. “We’re suspended in the Time Vortex just now, which means…”

“A place between dimensions?,” Xander guessed.

“Did the TARDIS tell you that?”

“No, sir. I just guessed. I mean, it makes sense, right? The TARDIS has to exist somewhere, even when it’s not traveling or stationed at once place.”

The Doctor stared briefly. The boy was not unintelligent, but he guessed Xander was more intuitive than anything else. Regardless, it was impressive.

“I can feel us moving,” the boy added.

The Doctor’s eyes widened. “Yes. Well, yeah. Good. Go on, now. After you’re settled in, we’ll figure out where to go.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you.”

“Oi! I’m not a sir!” He suppressed a grin as Xander smiled and allowed Rose to yank him down the hall. He turned and looked down at the console. “I think you and I should talk,” he said to his ship. He placed his hands on the controls and closed his eyes. “Yes. Yes, I understand that,” he said impatiently, “but…” He fell silent as the TARDIS whirred and twittered at him. “The One Who Sees? What the bloody hell does that mean?”
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