A Matter of Time
A bit of a different take on YAHF. It's another "Only took a few hours" write so please forgive the quality but enjoy the idea.
Summary: Buffy and Willow have an important talk with Faith.
Title: Matter of Time
It was a few days after Kakistos and Faith's confession when Willow and Buffy pulled her aside saying they were going to initiate her into the group. This at first caused a few mixed emotions that leaned towards the amused side. Well after she got out of the way that she wouldn't take any hazing.
But after that she found herself generally excited.
For once, after a very long while, she was being accepted into a group. Not pity project, or eye candy to spice up things, but a genuine part of something.
And then she found out what their initiation entailed. Two long hours of watching some stupid British show at Buffy's house.
She tried to leave, she tried to bitch her way out, she even attempted a stealthy escape but they kept her there. They mostly used words, putting emphasis on how important watching the show was, but Buffy seemed perfectly willing to push her fellow Slayer back down into her chair.
With a huff she stayed in the chair understanding that she wouldn't be leaving without a serious fight, something she didn't want to get into the two girls who could be her friends. Why they were treating the situation so seriously she didn't know but they were. So she resigned herself to watching the damn thing and trying not the twitch as they spent more time watching her then the pre-recorded show, making sure she was watching and judging her reactions.
At least things started to pick up when those scarecrows started to come to life.
As she watched the show she felt a vague pain in her chest. The same one she got when Giles did something so up tightly British that it reminded her of her own Watcher. God she missed her. No fashion sense and all.
Blinking away a few wayward emotions and shoving them down deep in her stomach she continued to watch the television, ignoring everything in favor of the show. It was actual a decent distraction and not as torturing as she thought it was going to be.
Though she did feel for that guy finding out his whole life was a lie, that he was really just a cover identity for his real self. That had to be rough. She wasn't even sure if she could even think about opening that pocket watch and losing all that was her.
And when the real him showed up she could see why he was scared. Dude was intense.
What she still didn't know was why she was forced to watch two entire episodes of Doctor Who like it was the most important thing in the world.
"So… Are we done now?" She asked briefly wondering if this really was a pathetic attempt at hazing.
"Not quite." Buffy said as she none to subtly nudged Willow and jerked her head towards the kitchen. Nodding almost solemnly Willow got up to do whatever Buffy wanted her to. Almost as soon as the red head got up Buffy opened her mouth to say something and then closed it, allowing a rather unsettling look to fall on her face.
"Faith… we're going to trust you with something big here, alright? And we, I, need you to promise me something."
The brunette shifted, feeling really uncomfortable with how serious things had seem to have gotten. One second they're watching some foreign show the next it seems like life and death. "Depends on the promise. Ain't agreeing to shit til then."
The request came quick, "You have to promise never to mention this to Xander."
She blinked, and then did it again. So stunned she couldn't help but blurt out, "Why?" Xander was goofy and more than a little weird but he seemed like an overall good guy from what she could tell. She wasn't sure how good he was in a fight, hadn't seen him do too much yet but he's been a part of the Sunnydale group for a while now so why couldn't he know something they were showing to someone they only knew for a little over a week?
"Because we're not sure how he'd react." Willow answered for the blonde as she came into the room with an unsettling box in her hand. It shouldn't have disturbed her as much as it did, or at all really. It was just a simple wooden box, barely bigger than the red head's hand and yet she felt… something.
Rage, fear, compassion, all burning. All spiraling.
All never ending.
What the hell was in that thing!?
As Faith stared at the box warily Buffy decided she knew where to begin explaining things. "Last Halloween a man came to town and set up a costume shop…"
Willow and Buffy would talk for a few minutes more about how the man's plan was to change everyone into their costumes to cause chaos and gain Giles attention, as they were ex-friends, and how afterwards the victims could remember bits and pieces of their costumes life.
Eventually though Faith had to cut them off, her curiosity and wariness getting the better of her, "What does that have to do with the box?" Seriously, the thing was making her Slayer senses stand on edge and she wasn't sure what to make of it. It was like seeing a gun on a table, you know it was dangerous but at the moment it wasn't going to hurt you. Or at least that's how she could best describe it.
Buffy sighed, "I knew we should have brought Giles."
"No, you said it was probably best if we left this conversation up to us girls."
Buffy looked like she was about to chastise the girl for contradicting her but let it go in favor of continuing the conversation. "Anyway, after that whole mess ended we all remember something except Xander. He said it was like he had passed out for hours, he didn't even know how he got downtown with us. We figured he was just repressing or something because, well, his character was pretty intense. But the next day we found out we were wrong."
She paused again for reasons unknown to Faith, "You see, Xander borrowed some clothes from Giles to complete his costume, something about looking properly British and a bowtie, and Giles kind've got into it too since he liked the character, giving Xander a bunch of knick knacks and stuff to go with the costume." Buffy rambled before catching herself, "Anyway, after we checked in with Giles he returned the stuff he borrowed and inside one of the pockets he found this."
She gestured to the box and Willow, who slightly hesitated at the que, opened the box.
It should have been a simple pocket watch. An ordinary, out of date and style, pocket watch but still it made her breath catch as she saw it. The faint sound of ticking resonating loudly in her ears like a heartbeat.
But beyond that she could hear something. Something that whispered, muttered, and mumbled, into her in eleven different voices.
"Do not open me"
"Keep me dark"
"Keep me closed"
"Keep me safe"
"The time is not right"
"W-what?" She questioned at first and then slowly dots connected themselves. Why they made her watch those episodes before showing her this, why Xander could never be told. Not to mention how important this was to the group.
Xander had dressed as the Doctor and somehow a part of the Doctor stayed and was waiting to be let out.
That scary, vengeful, son of a bitch was real. That put a totally new perspective of shoving someone into a collapsing galaxy, trapping their daughter in some messed up mirror world, her son into an unmoving scarecrow, and wrapping her husband in unbreakable and heavy chains.
"Yeah, I could hear it too when I looked at it. Guess it's a Slayer thing." Buffy said with an understanding nod. "Other people can hear him if they hold it."
"How?" She asked numbly, trying to sort things out in her head.
"We don't really know…" Willow said honestly, "Some stuff from other costumes stayed too but that was mostly swords, stuff cats turned real, things like that. Nothing really… big."
Faith nodded almost absently.
God, the whole situation just seemed so messed up to her. Did that mean Xander was like that John Smith guy now? Just someone waiting to be written off as soon as the watch opens?
"Why didn't you break it?" She asked thinking of a rather blunt solution to help one of her budding friends.
Again it was Willow who answered, shaking her head as she did so, "We don't know what would happen if we did that. Maybe it all just goes away, or maybe it goes right to Xander." Her tone indicated that she thought of the very same thing numerous times. "And we can't just chuck it to the bottom of the ocean cause the same thing might happen there too."
"Then bury the stupid thing!"
"Tried. It attracted the night life." Buffy said with a bitter tone.
She tried to think of something else, anything else. Someway to help Xander and keep that scary bastard from existing but she came up empty. Breaking it wouldn't work, hiding it wouldn't work, all they could do is lock it up and hope for the best.
The whole situation was just messed up.
Giles knew what the girls were doing at the moment and could only hope their judgment was sound. They had only known Faith for a short time and, Slayer or not, they didn't know if they could fully trust her. This was the life of one of their trusted companions after all.
He hadn't even shared the information with the Watcher's Council. He contemplated but he realized for every half way decent reason to tell them a dozen more horrible reasons appeared. He couldn't even trust them to lock it up in the Vault without them poking at the damn watch.
He took a sip of the whiskey he had become so found of over the past few months while he damned Ethan to a hundred kinds of hell. The life of a boy, one who has helped save the world, literally hanged in the balance because of a stupid pocket watch.
Still though a part of him, a deep and twisted part that he felt confident in blaming his Watcher upbringing on, was grateful for what he had done. As horrible as it sounded it was true.
Ethan had inadvertently given humanity a great asset. A powerful ally that they could truly trust. But as always as soon as that thought comes to his mind guilt riddles through him as remembers the cost. The steep price for such a powerful champion.
He could only hope that guilt would help him hesitate in the coming days because, oh, how often had he wished to open that clasp. To let that man step forward and erase all their problems as he did on the telly, as he did on Halloween night.
So many times in less than a year has he been tempted to shove the watch in the boy's hand and open it. Each time such a threat appeared his first thought, the watch. That blasted watch.
And each time, to his ever growing shame, he felt less guilty for thinking of it. Less hesitant to weigh the cost benefit. Maybe because it seemed like a logical thing, maybe even the right thing in the big picture. But this was the life of a young man he thought of, grudgingly at times, as a friend he was thinking about. Not something to take lightly, ever.
To all heaven he hoped he could keep his hesitance but life on the Hellmouth as it was he feared that someday he would truly have no choice.
This is the obligatory part where I say I do not own Doctor Who or Buffy.
Anyway the basic idea around this one is that Xander isn't the one keeping his change a secret but everyone else around him keeping it a secret from him. He's still the same Xander but every once in a while you'll see bits of the Doctor leak through. He also has dreams, like John Smith in the episode. Other than that, he's Xander.
Until the watch is opened and let me tell you the Doctor is going to be pissed when it opens. He LIKED being Xander Harris.
Now for the Doctor who series and how it's so caught up, imagine no hiatus after Seven, at least that's how I'm going to try and play it. Also this Doctor thinks he's number 12 and regenerated that Halloween night to his current face (Willow finding him making faces in the mirror getting used to it).
Now peace and please tell me what you think.