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A Sort of Homecoming

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Into the Rush". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Buffy stood in front of the blood bank, glaring at the door standing between her and possibly the answers she was looking for.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Dr. Who/Torchwood > Buffy-CenteredkerrykhatFR1317,8430112,3712 Dec 112 Dec 11Yes
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and related characters; the BBC owns "Doctor Who" and related characters; I own nothing.

Author's Note: Contains dialogue from "Anne".

~*~*~
Buffy stood in front of the blood bank, glaring at the door standing between her and possibly the answers she was looking for. The door hadn't really done anything to her other than being closed and locked, but it was the only thing Buffy could take out her frustration on. Lily not taking the news of Rickie's death well was the understatement the month, dismissing Buffy and storming out of the apartment into the night. Refusing to let go of the mystery of Rickie's sudden aging, Buffy had returned to the place that had aroused her suspicion, determined to take her frustration out on something, even if it was this flimsy piece of wood. Giving the door one last glare, she lifted her leg and sent the door flying inwards with a powerful kick. Grinning at the satisfying sound of wood splintering, Buffy walked inside.

The darkened room was eerily silent and as cliche as it sounded, she could hear her footsteps echo loudly in the empty room. After taking a quick glance around the room, Buffy walked over to the filing cabinets, breaking the lock with a sharp jerk. Grabbing the files inside, she took them over to a nearby desk. She was about to start going through them when the sound of footsteps reached her ears. Head snapping up, she gaped at the figure in the doorway.

"Now, did you really need to break the door?" the two-hearted man asked, looking at the remains of the door in dismay. "Any reason why you couldn't wait until normal hours to come visit?"

"What are you doing here?" Buffy hissed at him. "Who are you?" There was something off about him, but she couldn't place it, and that scared her more than being confronted with a ravenous vampire. "What are you?"

"What am I? Now that's an odd question. Why would you ask that?" the man asked in a curious voice. He was still standing in the doorway, rocking back and forth with his hands jammed into his pockets. Buffy stared at the man, running through several lies before deciding to go with the truth.

"You have two hearts," she told him curtly. "Now, who are you and why are you here?"

"Oh, that's brilliant," the man grinned, walking towards her, a smile on his face. "Now how did you figure that one out? It normally takes people longer to find that out. How did you do it?"

"I have x-ray vision," Buffy answered in snarky voice. "No, I could hear them in your chest that night the car hit me, and the sound of two heartbeats is a little bit on the distinctive side." Glancing around, she reassured herself that nobody else was in the room before turning her gaze back to the man.

"Interesting," he said, putting emphasis on each individual syllable. "You could hear my heartbeats. Very interesting." Buffy stared at him for a moment before turning her attention to the folders. She didn't know how long she had before somebody showed up to investigate and she had already wasted enough time. She doubted that the man was actually going to turn her in, given that all he was doing was standing there. Starting with Rickie's file, she flipped it open and scanned the latest donation sheet. Everything looked normal, until she reached the comment section.

"Candidate for what?" she muttered, putting Rickie's folder down and grabbing another one at random. The word "candidate" was also written in the comment section.

"Now that's the mystery," the man commented, approaching the desk and opening a third folder. "What exactly is this place looking for? What makes a person a candidate?"

"Maybe the nurse sneaking up behind us could tell us?" Buffy asked, not looking away from the file.

"What are you doing here?" the nurse demanded. The man looked up at the nurse before putting his hand in his jacket and removing an item.

"Social services," he answered, flashing what looked to be an identification of some sort. "Inspector John Smith at your service. So, what exactly are these people candidates for?"

"If you're really an inspector, why couldn't you have come during the day? And why is she here?" the nurse asked. "I'm calling the authorities." Buffy, not taking her eyes off of the files in front of her, casually ripped the phone off of the wall.

"Whoops," Buffy mock-apologized, turning around to face the nurse and ignoring the inquisitive look from the two-hearted man. "Now, you've got a whole bunch of candidates here, and I wonder if any of them are missing like Rickie is. Oh, gee, I bet they are."

"You're getting yourself in a whole lot of trouble," the nurse warned in a worried voice.

"We don't want any trouble, we just want to know what they're candidates for," the man answered in a quiet voice before Buffy could make a snide reply. "Just tell us what you're doing with these people."

"Nothing!" the nurse protested before quailing under the joint glare from Buffy and the man. "I just... I give him the names of the healthy ones, OK!"

"Who?" Buffy demanded, stepping closer to the nurse. "Who are you giving the names to?"

"Ken," the nurse whispered. "From the Family Home."

"Why did he want the names?" the man asked, his tone becoming more insistent and taking on a harsh tone. "Did he tell you anything?"

"All he wanted was the names. It wasn't like he told me what he was using them for!" the nurse snarled at him.

"Normally when somebody starts asking for names of healthy people and they start disappearing, it's a sign that something is all rotten-like," Buffy snapped at the idiot woman. Turning around, she walked outside before she did anything rash, like punching the woman for her idiocy. It was hard, though, and she could feel her nails digging into her palms from clenching her fists together so tightly.

"Hey, wait a minute!" the man called out, coming out from the building. Buffy stopped, turned around, and crossed her arms in impatience. "I think it would be a really, really bad idea for you to run in there by yourself. In fact, why don't you just go home and I'll take care of this."

Buffy glared at the man. "How about no?" she challenged him. "I'm going after this bastard, whether you like it or not. And if you try to stop me... well, you won't really like the consequences." Buffy didn't want to reveal the full extent of her Slayer powers to this man, but she would if she had no other option.

"Look, I really don't like the idea of somebody your..."

"Gender?" Buffy interrupted sarcastically.

"... Age," the man finished as if Buffy hadn't interrupted him. "How old are you? Sixteen? No, no, seventeen? Yes, seventeen, far too young to be doing something like this."

"Twiggy, I don't care if you think I'm too young to be doing this, I'm going in to take Ken down," Buffy snapped at him. "Now, if you don't mind, I have a phony family home director to talk to."

"I don't think that you know what you're getting yourself into," the man protested, walking closer in an attempt to use his height to intimidate her.

"And you do?"

"Well, no, but I have a better guess than you do!" he countered with a glare of his own. "If you absolutely insist on doing this, then lets do this together. You and me trying to find out what Ken is doing to those kids, does that work for you?" Buffy bit her lip and weighed his offer in her mind. She wasn't sure if she necessarily trusted him, but it looked like they were after the same thing right now and a temporary ally was better than nothing.

"Fine, but don't expect me to sit back and do nothing while you're trying to play an action hero," Buffy agreed, somewhat reluctantly. "And you still haven't told me your name."

"Oh, right, that," that man said, walking closer to her. "I'm the Doctor." Buffy raised her eyebrows and tried to process what he had just said. From the way he said the word, she could almost hear the capital letter.

"Just 'The Doctor'?" she asked skeptically. "Not, Doctor Jones, Smith, or any other last name?"

"That's right, just 'The Doctor,'" the man confirmed. "What's your name?"

"Anne," she answered after a slight pause. Even with Lily knowing who she really was, and even though it looked like she was being drawn back into her old world whether she liked it or not, she still didn't feel comfortable with having the Doctor know her real name. She wanted to be able to disappear back into Anne's boring, mundane life after all of this was done, and the fewer people who knew who she was, the better.

"Really? Anne? You don't really look like an Anne," the Doctor observed after studying her for a moment. “And trust me, I’ve met quite a few Annes.”

"Yeah, well, that's my name," Buffy lied, turning away from the Doctor and walking down the street. "So, do you have any sort of plan for getting in to talk to Ken, or are you just winging it?"

"I can just use this to get in," he answered, running a little to catch up with her. Looking over at him, she saw that he had what looked to be a small, brown leather ID holder.

"The thing that you flashed at the nurse that said you were a social worker?" she asked skeptically. "If that didn't work on her, what makes you think Ken or his goons are going to let you in? Are you even a social worker?"

"It's psychic paper," he explained, opening it up to show her a blank piece of paper. "It shows people whatever I want them to see, although it's not completely foolproof. People see through it now and then."

"This sounds like something you would find in a bad sci-fi show or something like that," Buffy muttered under her breath. "That's where the Family Home is," she pointed out, stopping at the corner and gesturing at the building. "You know, we might be able to get in if we try to be all repent-y or something like that."

"Repent-y?" he repeated, raising his eyebrows in confusion.

"Yeah," Buffy answered. "I look like I would be a prime candidate for the repenting, and Ken's already tried to recruit me."

"Let's try the psychic paper first," the Doctor suggested, moving towards the door. Silently wishing that she had turned down the man's offer of help and was flying solo, Buffy followed him, trying not to call too much attention to herself. Going up to the door, the Doctor knocked on it sharply. A few seconds later, it opened to reveal a burly looking man backlit by the interior light.

"Can I help you?" he asked with a note of suspicion in his voice.

"Social services," the Doctor lied, flashing his psychic paper at the man. "We just had a few questions regarding the running of this facility and the recent disappearances. Can we come in and look at your paperwork? It will just be a few minutes."

"I think you should come back later," the man suggested, trying to close the door. Rolling her eyes, Buffy stepped forward and kicked it in, hitting the man behind it in the process. He fell to the floor unconscious.

"Was that really necessary?" the Doctor asked in a frustrated voice as Buffy stepped over the prone body and into the building. "Wasn't kicking in one door enough for you? What have doors ever done to you?"

"It's been a long couple of days," Buffy answered, looking around. There wasn't anything in the main entrance that screamed supernatural, but she didn't really expect that. It would be hidden away somewhere so that nobody would accidentally see it. Where did creepy people normally hide things?

"Was there anything particularly off when you met Ken?" the Doctor asked, walking into the big main room and looking around at the various posters scattered along the walls.

"Not that I remember, but I kinda had other things on my mind that night," Buffy answered. She followed him in and began opening the doors that led off a small hallway. Most of them opened easily, revealing mundane things like art and cleaning supplies. One door, however refused to open. "Why, hello, locked door. It's nice to meet you," she muttered under her breath

"Let me handle this one," the Doctor interrupted, appearing beside her and digging through his pocket and grabbing something long, thin and metallic. “You’ve done enough damage to doors today.”

Pointing it at the locked door, it began to emit a blue light from the end closest to the door accompanied by a strange sound. As soon as the latch clicked, he turned off the device and tucked it back into his pocket.

"What's that?" Buffy asked before he could open the door.

"Sonic screwdriver," he replied, putting his hand on the knob. "Now, let's go talk to Ken and see what's down here."

Buffy nodded and took the lead before he could protest. She didn't know how if this guy could hold his own in a fight and she wasn't sure if she could trust his little sonic do-hickey, despite its door opening properties.

The stairwell was dark, but Buffy's eyes adjusted quickly to the lack of light. She could hear the Doctor's faint footsteps behind her as they descended towards the basement. There was another closed door at the bottom of the stairwell. Before the Doctor could do anything, however, Buffy grabbed the handle and used her shoulder to shove it open. It gave easily, much to her satisfaction, and she slowly opened it to reveal a dark, evil-screaming chamber. Directly in her line of vision was Lily, kneeling down on the floor by a pool of brackish looking water, with Ken standing behind her with his hand on her shoulder.

"Excuse me, this is a private moment," he began to protest, turning around to face the intruders. "If you could..."

"How do you do it, Ken?" Buffy interrupted with a glare, walking a few feet forward so that the Doctor could enter the room. "How do you make them old? Do you feed on their youth and suck them dry? What's the deal?" She could hear the tell-tale sound of the "sonic screwdriver" being used behind her, but she resisted the urge to turn around to look.

"Do you really want to know?" Ken asked, taking a menacing step towards the intruding duo.

"What's going on?" Lily asked, turning around to see what was happening. Just then, a hand shot out of the pool and grabbed Lily's arm and pulled her in. Lily's brief scream of terror was cut short as she was swallowed by the liquid.

"Lily!" Buffy shouted, running over to the pool, only to have Ken grab her neck with his arm. "Let go of me," she snarled, stopping and grabbing at his arms to let her go. The Doctor had turned off his screwdriver and was trying to help her. Buffy snapped her head back, hitting Ken on the nose to try and get him to let her go, but the force of her blow only caused him to take a few stumbling steps backwards, falling into the pool and taking Buffy and the Doctor with him.

She bit back a scream when she felt the black liquid touch her skin, only to have it give way to open air. Ken hit the ground with a hard "thump", sending the shock waves through to Buffy's body. His grip around her throat finally loosened, and she managed to roll off of him to the ground. A few feet away, she could see the Doctor getting to his feet.

"Where are we?" she asked nobody in particular, looking around at the brown, rocky room they had found themselves in. Above her head, she could see the faint rippling of the pool that had sent them here. “Are we in another dimension?” she continued, vaguely remembering something Giles had droned on about when talking about the Hellmouth. She fought down a surge of homesickness at the memory. It wouldn’t do her any good here.

"On another planet," the Doctor answered as he turned off his sonic screwdriver. "The pool is a portal, but not like anything I've ever seen before. How did you do it, Ken? Or is that even your real name?"

"Well, finally somebody intelligent on this pitiful excuse of a planet," Ken replied with a sneer, moving to a crouched position.

Buffy looked from the Doctor to Ken in confusion. What were they talking about? There were no such things as aliens. Says the girl who kills vampires, a snide part in the back part of her mind whispered before Buffy silenced it.

"What did you do to my face?" Ken asked, turning around. What looked like normal human skin and hair were peeling off to reveal scaly bright red skin underneath.

"Fascinating," the Doctor continued, walking past Buffy and closer to "Ken." "A short-term bonded skin graft. Been ages since I last saw one of these."

"Do you have any idea how long this thing takes to glue on?" Ken challenged the Doctor, beginning to circle him and Buffy.

"Where's Lily?" Buffy demanded, not seeing the other girl anywhere in the room and refusing to be distracted from her original mission. "What did you do to her?"

"You're about to find out," Ken leered at her. "Guards!" he shouted. "Guards!"

"Come on, run!" the Doctor yelled at her, grabbing her hand and pulling her off to a side tunnel. Buffy followed him, slightly surprised by how fast he could run. Must be the whole not-human thing working for him, she thought, following him through a twisting set of passages. Abruptly, their escape route ended, opening up to reveal a ledge overlooking a large cavern.

A few feet from the edge and catching her breath, Buffy looked with growing dread at the sight what looked to be a massive forge through the extremely smoky air. The sound of metal hitting metal was deafening, slightly overwhelming her heightened hearing. Through the haze, she could faintly make out what she realized were human slaves, some working in a zombie-like state, others being kept in line by guards with whips.

"Where the hell are we?" Buffy whispered as she took in the sight before her.

"Welcome to my planet," Ken's voice said from behind her. "I hope you like it." Buffy and the Doctor whirled around to see Ken directly behind him, surrounded by several other aliens. "Because you're never leaving." Buffy suddenly realized that he had an upraised club in his hand and it was aimed at her. She tried to raise her hands to protect her head, but it was too late. She felt the painful "twack" of the club hitting her skull before darkness overtook her.

~*~*~
The first thing that Buffy was aware of as she fought her way back to consciousness was the dull pain in the front of her head where Ken had hit her. Slowly opening her eyes, she was surprised to see Lily's concerned face leaning over hers.

"Good, you're awake," Lily breathed in relief.

Buffy blinked slightly and took in the room that they were in. There were a few other people scattered around the cavernous room curled into themselves.

"Yay me," Buffy muttered, sitting up and rubbing the back of her head. There was no sign of the Doctor, she realized with a growing pit in her stomach. Had they killed him? If not, why had they separated him from the group? Was he somebody particularly special in this new alien world she'd been thrust into? She wasn’t sure what to make of that particular revelation, but she’d worry about it later. Escape now, think later.

"You know, I always knew that I would end up here eventually," Lily whispered, looking past Buffy to the bars that covered the entrance to the room. "Hell."

"Well, if my source is to be believed, this isn't hell. It's some sort of alien planet," Buffy corrected Lily, walking towards the entrance and running her hands along the metal bars. She gave it a firm shake and was surprised how flexible the metal was. "Of course, he could just be crazy." Hearing footsteps, she hastily backed away from the entryway and sat down, trying to look inconspicuous and ignore the pain in her head.

"He wasn't lying or crazy," Ken's voice came from the other side of the gate. "Of course, you're friend here isn't wrong either. I mean, what is your planet's concept of hell other than a place empty of hope and full of despair? This is where all you miserable excuses of sentient life have been heading. Just like Rickie."

"Rickie?" Lily whispered, a fearful look on her face.

"He forgot you," Ken told Lily in a cruel voice. "Well, it took him a while, but he eventually forgot you. It took him years, mind you."

"Years?" Lily repeated. "But... but he was only gone for a few days!"

"That's the other thing. Time passes faster here than it does on Earth," Ken explained in a condescending voice. "A hundred years will pass here before anybody notices that you're gone, and even if they do, nobody will care. That's why we chose humans like you, Lily."

"You didn't chose me," Buffy reminded him in a low voice. "And where's the Doctor? What did you do with him?"

"Oh, we may not have chosen you 'Anne', but I know you," Ken said, turning his attention from Lily to Anne. "So pathetically determined to run away from whatever you used to be, to disappear. Congratulations, you've got your wish." Buffy gritted her teeth but refused to look away from Ken. "As for the Doctor, he's in good hands. We just have some questions for him, but you should be seeing him soon." With that, Ken walked away, leaving Lily and Buffy relatively alone.

"Was he telling the truth about Rickie?" Lily asked Buffy in a hushed but slightly hysterical voice. "Was he telling the truth?"

"Probably," Buffy replied, her gaze going back to the bars. From testing them earlier, there was a good chance she could break through them if she was given a few minutes alone with them. Of course, as soon as she did that, she would need to book it and there was a chance that she would have to leave the Doctor behind. He might not be one of the Scoobies, but she was damned if she was going to leave him in this place.

Unfortunately, before Buffy could get to her feet, a pair of guards appeared at the doorway. "Follow us," one of them ordered, brandishing his whip menacingly.

Buffy stared at them through narrowed eyes for a moment before slowly getting to her feet. Making sure that she was towards the middle of the group with Lily, she followed the lead guard to an elevator of some kind. Even though she was keeping her eyes focused on the person ahead of her, she surreptitiously glanced around in an attempt to find potential escape routes. She refused to believe that she would grow old and die here, no matter what Ken said.

The elevator doors opened and its occupants slowly filed out onto the factory floor. Buffy looked around, and was semi-relieved to spy up on a ledge ten feet up, the Doctor standing next to one of those aliens. He spied her and gave her a little smile before glancing down at the guard's hands. Buffy squinted and could see that he was holding the Doctor's sonic doodad. The alien with the Doctor grabbed his arms and yanked him out of Buffy's line of sight.

The lead guard's voice brought Buffy back down to what was going on in front of her.

"You work and you live," the guard grunted, walking back and forth at the front of the crowd. He was even more red and raw looking than Ken, with no lips covering his pointed teeth. "You do not complain or laugh or do anything besides work," he continued. "Whatever you thought, whatever you were does not matter. You are no one now. You mean nothing." Walking towards a boy two people away from Buffy, the guard stopped in front of him. "You, who are you?"

"Aaron," the boy whispered, looking at the alien's feet. The guard's club hit Aaron's head, causing him to fall down with a grunt of pain. Everybody stilled as the guard moved to the next person in line, Lily.

"Who are you?" he demanded threateningly.

"No one," Lily answered in a wavering voice, never taking her eyes off the club. The guard gave a satisfied grunt and walked over to Buffy.

"Who are you?" he repeated. Buffy looked up at his face for a moment before giving him a deadly smile. This may not be a demon, this may not be the Hellmouth, but there was no way being “Anne” was going to get her out of this mess. It was time to stop running, if only to escape from here alive.

"I'm Buffy. The Vampire Slayer," she answered in a friendly, conversational voice. "And you are?"

With a roar of fury, the guard raised his club to bring it down on Buffy's head, but she sidestepped its downward trajectory and grabbed the guard's arm. She slammed her free arm down on his forearm, hearing the sharp "crack" of the bone breaking. Leaving him moaning on the ground in pain, she grabbed his club and quickly took care of the remaining guards.

"Anybody who's not having fun here, come with me," she told the stunned group grimly, adjusting her grip on her stolen weapon. Finding a passageway in the dim light, she began running and soon she heard the sound of the other prisoners following her.

"We should be trying to go up," Lily whispered to her. "From what I remember, the room we came in is at the very top."

Buffy nodded and kept moving. Soon, they found themselves underneath a metal staircase. She was about to lead the group up it when she heard the sound of heavy footsteps. Flattening herself against the wall, she held her breath waiting for them to fade.

"OK, so there's no way we can get back up there without meeting new people," she explained, turning around to face her fellow escapees. "Lily, I want you to take these people and get them out of here while I take care of the remaining guards. Do it fast and do it quietly."

"You're leaving us?" Lily asked in a worried voice, grabbing Buffy's arm

"Lily, you can handle this," Buffy reassured her, putting her own hand on top of Lily's and giving it a firm squeeze. "Because I say you can." Suddenly, the shrill screech of a siren blasted through the air, causing a few people to jump. "We've gone public," Buffy announced grimly, straightening up. "Lily, go now! Fast and quiet, remember."

Lily nodded. "Look, about what I said before, that this was all your fault... I'm sorry," she apologized. Buffy turned around to look at her.

"Lily, can this wait?"

"Well, just in case that we die..." Lily continued before the sound of more people approaching interrupted her.

"Just go!" Buffy yelled at her. Lily took the hint and sprinted up the stairwell, leaving Buffy alone. Planting herself directly in front of the stairs, she waited until the guards could clearly see her before making a dash to the main factory floor, dodging the older slaves. Seeing an exposed pole, she grabbed it and used her momentum to swing herself around and take out one of the guards with an aerial kick. She let go of the pole and hit the ground running. Looking over her shoulder, she nearly ran into somebody before she caught herself.

"You!" the Doctor shouted, grabbing her arm with a smile on his face. "Good, you got out."

"Yeah, reunion time later," Buffy yelled back at him, starting to run again. "Those nice guards are still chasing me."

"Right," the Doctor agreed, following Buffy. They continued weaving their way through the factory until Buffy sighted a platform ahead of them. Buffy sprinted ahead, lowering her shoulder to roll herself on top of the raised platform. Turning around, she offered her hand to the Doctor so that he could pull himself up.

"So, what's the plan?" she asked him, hoping that he had one. Hers pretty much consisted of taking out all of the guards that she could so that the others had a chance of getting out undetected. It might not be the best of plans, but it would be effective.

"Well, there's always this," the Doctor answered, grabbing his sonic screwdriver and pointing it at the ground. "Good thing I managed to grab this before running out on our hosts."

A couple of guards managed to climb aboard before the platform began to groan and slowly move upwards. One of the guards swung a hammer at Buffy, who dodged it easily. Grabbing his arm, she flipped him over off of the platform before the foot of another guard caught her in her side. Grunting in pain, Buffy fell to her knees, but managed to get her hands up in time to block the downward swing of his hammer.

"Any help here would be great!" she called out to the Doctor, who was dodging a third guard's more erratic swings.

"I'm more of a runner," the Doctor explained, coming perilously close to the edge of the platform before getting back on safer ground.

"Great," Buffy complained, swinging her leg out and sweeping the guard's legs from under him. He fell, letting go of his hammer as he rolled off the platform. Buffy grabbed the free weapon and immediately used it to shatter the remaining guard's kneecaps. "You could have mentioned something earlier." With a shove, she sent him to join his buddies down on the ground level.

"Well, you seem to have everything under control," the Doctor replied, using his screwdriver to stop the platform as it became level with a ledge. Rolling her eyes, Buffy walked off the platform and onto the the stone floor. "Although you didn't need to push that last one off the platform like that."

"What else was I supposed to do with him?" Buffy demanded, squinting her eyes on the darkness and waiting for them to adjust. "I couldn't just leave him there so that he could follow us or anything!" The Doctor didn't answer, and Buffy sighed in exasperation. "Let's get moving. I don't want to have to deal with more of those guys in closed quarters."

"Just how strong are you, Anne?" the Doctor asked as they hurried though the corridors. "Just, I noticed how you fought with the guards, and you appear to be stronger than your size would lead somebody to believe."

"I'm as strong as I need to be," Buffy answered, stopping at an intersection and glancing around. "And I was lying before. My name isn't Anne." Deciding that straight was a good way to go, she started running again.

"What is it then? And why would you lie about your name?" the Doctor asked, doing his best to keep up with her.

"It's Buffy," she told him, skidding to a stop at the sight of a cavern full of guards. "And, well, I was trying to hide from something." The guards, taking notice of the two of them, turned away from the direction they had been heading and towards Buffy and the Doctor. "Go find the other group and help get them out of here. I got this."

"You're sure?" the Doctor asked in a skeptical voice. "There seems to be an awful lot of them and only one of you."

"Tell them to get a few more and then it'll be a fair fight," Buffy told him, stepping forward. She could hear the Doctor take a step towards her before running back the way that they had come. "So, boys, anybody care to dance?" she asked the group of aliens with a grim smile on her face.

The room quickly turned into a huge brawl with Buffy at the center of it all. She used her position at the edge of the corridor to her advantage--backing in to lure one or two of them away from the crowd and taking them out as quickly as she could. Soon, all of her opponents were either unconscious or on the ground moaning in pain. Taking advantage of this, Buffy sprinted to where the corridor branched off. Looking around, she breathed a sigh of relief when she saw a small pile of rocks a few feet into the tunnel on her right. Hoping that this wasn't a trap, she kept running, trying to remain alert for the sound of somebody following her.

Buffy was just starting to put on a little more speed when the sight of Ken standing in the middle of the corridor holding somebody with a knife to their throat stopped her short. It was the Doctor, she realized with a start. He wasn't struggling, just standing there calmly. Two guards came running from behind her and grabbed her arms and forced her down to her knees.

"One of you fights, you all die," Ken growled at her, tightening his grip on the Doctor. This failed to elicit a response from him other than a slight grimace. "That was not permitted."

"Yeah, but it was sure as hell a lot of fun," Buffy retorted, never looking away from Ken's face. There was movement behind him, but nobody other than Buffy seemed to notice it.

"You've got guts," Ken told her, shoving the Doctor aside. "I think I'd like to slice you open and play with them." Buffy made a face, but otherwise remained silent. The figure was coming closer now and she was able to make out Lily's terrified but determined face. The other girl was creeping along silently with a metal pipe clenched in her hands.

"Let everybody know, this is the price of rebelli..." Ken's crowing was cut short by the pipe Lily was holding making contact with the back of his skull. He fell forward, stunned. Buffy took advantage of this distraction to punch one of her guards in the head and another in the groin. Both of them let go of her arms, and she quickly dispatched them.

"Come on," she said, giving the Doctor a hand to pull himself to his feet. He smiled at her and the three of them took off running the way Lily had come from. They found the other escapees struggling with a heavy-looking metal gate.

"They'll be coming," Lily commented nervously, looking over her shoulder.

"Hold on just a second," the Doctor called out, pointing his screwdriver at the top of the gate. With a groan, it began to slowly rise. Not waiting for any more encouragement, people began to rush through towards the steps that led to the portal that had brought them here. Buffy waited on the other side with the Doctor, just in case there were any problems. Finally, everybody except them was through the gate.

"You go," he told Buffy. Buffy nodded and walked under the gate. She could hear the Doctor started to follow her before the sound of a body hitting the floor and the sound of screeching metal reached her ears. Turning around, she saw the Doctor sprawled out on the floor, the sonic screwdriver just out of his reach. Behind him was Ken, screaming in pain. Her eyes widened when she saw the reason: without the Doctor holding it up, the gate had come crashing down on him, with two of the bars impaling his calves. Seeing his club on the ground, Buffy picked it up and walked towards him.

"You've ruined..." Ken grunted out at her through bloodied lips. "You..."

"Hey, Ken, wanna see my impression of Ghandi?" Buffy asked, raising the club. Before Ken could answer, she brought it down hard, crushing his skull.

"Ghandi?" Lily whispered from behind her.

"Well, if he was having a really bad day," Buffy clarified with a shrug.

"What... what did you do?" the Doctor asked, getting to his feet and surveying the scene before him. "You killed him," he added in an accusatory tone.

"Yes," Buffy answered simply, dropping the club and standing a little straighter. "What did you expect me to do, let him go so that he could start this little racket up in some other town, only this time with nobody around to stop him?"

"There are other ways to handle this!" the Doctor snapped at her. "I was going to report them to the Shadow Proclamation as soon as I reached my TARDIS and let the authorities deal with them. Your actions weren't needed!"

"It's not like you told me this plan before Ken decided to show his ugly face again," Buffy pointed out matter of factly.

The Doctor's mouth thinned, but he remained quiet. Lily had gone through the portal while she and the Doctor had been talking, which just left them. "Ladies first," he said, gesturing at the stairs. Buffy snorted but stepped up and thrust her hand through the slime. Somebody on the other side grabbed it and Buffy found herself being yanked back into the basement of the Family Home by Lily. Buffy rolled onto the tiled ground before turning back around to grab the hand that had just poked itself out. With a firm tug, she pulled the Doctor out to join them.

"What are we going to do about that?" Buffy asked, gesturing at the pool. "I think it'd be a little dangerous to leave it all active like that."

"This should do it," the Doctor said, turning on his screwdriver. After a few seconds, the pool shone brightly before dimming. Looking at it, Buffy was surprised to see that it had tiled itself over, leaving a six-inch deep ceremonial looking pool.

"Is there anything that thing doesn't do?" Buffy asked, getting to her feet.

"This and that, and normally at a somewhat inconvenient time," he answered. Lily was waiting for them at the bottom of the stairs and they walked out into the muggy Los Angeles night together. "But for the most part, it's fairly reliable."

"Hey, Lily, if you need a place to crash for the night, you can use my apartment," Buffy offered. "I need to clear my head."

"Are you sure, Buffy?" Lily asked, a concerned look on her face.

"Yeah, I'm sure," Buffy answered with a half-smile. The Doctor had wandered off somewhere, not that Buffy was all that sorry to see him go. She didn't need him judging her actions back on that alien planet. Lily returned the smile and started walking away, leaving Buffy alone.

Exhaling, Buffy looked up at the purplish night sky. I can't go back to being Anne, she thought to herself as she began walking in no direction in particular, somewhat wistfully. Not after tonight, anyways. Before everything had happened, she had been running from who she was, what she was meant to do. But then, back when she had been fighting the guards and helping the others escape, it had felt liberating. Right. She was doing what she was supposed to be doing and it felt great.

That didn't mean that she was ready to go back to Sunnydale, though. There were too many bad memories, too many things that she wasn't sure she was ready to face just yet. Everything was still too raw for her when it came to what had happened with her mom and Angel. There hadn't been enough time for her to truly heal and move on, and she needed that before she was ready to go back and face her friends. To face the fact that her mom had told her to leave.

Looking down, Buffy gave a short laugh at the sight of the diner. It was still open, and she could see Mitch inside. It was like the universe was telling her it was time for her to leave Anne behind and to return to being Buffy. She was about to go in to talk to Mitch when she remembered that mysterious blue box from earlier in the day. Glancing around, she could faintly make out its shape in the dim light from the nearest streetlight. Quickly crossing the street, she walked up to it once again.

The box was still sitting there, just like she had left it--oh god was it really only hours ago? Buffy stood at the entry studying it for a moment before walking up to it and grabbing the handle. It was still locked.

"You better not be thinking about breaking that door," a familiar voice warned. Buffy turned around to see the Doctor standing at the front of the alley, hands in his pockets. "She's made of stronger stuff than what she looks like."

"This belongs to you?" Buffy asked, pointing at the blue box. "What is it? Other than a non-functional police box, that is."

"That's a TARDIS: Time and Relative Dimension in Space," the Doctor explained, walking up to it and running one of his hands along the grain of the wood. "She's my spaceship."

"That's... not how I pictured a spaceship would look like," Buffy replied, not quite sure how to answer. Sure, there had been the whole alien planet deal, complete with crazy aliens, but spaceships?

"Oh, let me guess, you were thinking little green men and flying saucers as large as a city block," the Doctor answered, digging through his pocket and fishing out a key. "Well, let me tell you that she..." he paused to unlock the door, "is a far cry from that." He pushed the door opened and gestured at Buffy. "Go on, take a look."

"Wow," Buffy breathed as she took a few steps inside, craning her neck to catch a look at everything before rushing back out. She took another good long look at the police box shell before running back inside, trailed by the Doctor. "It's bigger on the inside."

There was a large, open room with a center console surrounding a tall, clear pillar with a softly pulsating green center. There was an almost organic feel to the room, like it had been grown from some strange alien coral and carved into this place. She could also see various corridors branching off of the main room. "How big is this thing?" she asked, turning back around to face the Doctor.

"I don't even know, and I've been traveling with her for centuries," he answered coming inside to join Buffy. She kept walking around, not sure if she could really believe her eyes.

"Wait, centuries?" she asked, her brain catching up with the conversation. "How old are you?"

"Old enough," he answered, moving towards the center of the room. "I've been on my own for a while--and I like it that way, mind you--but it gets a bit lonely in here when it's just me. Sometimes it's nice to have somebody to talk to, even if it's just for a trip or two."

"Are you asking me to come with you? Into space?" Buffy asked, her head snapping around to look at him. This was... wow, she couldn't even begin to process. It was a sudden mood-swing for his earlier anger at her killing Ken and she wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.

"And time. Did I mention this is also a time machine?" he asked, bouncing on the balls of his feet. "What do you say, Buffy? Do you want to come with me?"

Buffy stood there staring at him, letting his words sink in. "So, let me get this straight," she said, crossing her arms and staring at the Doctor. "You're asking me to come travel with you through space and time even though you don't really know me and I don't really know you, and you were just almost yelling at me for killing Ken, and you're making it sound like it's some normal, everyday thing for you?”

"Well, it's not every day I ask somebody to travel with me," the Doctor answered, leaning against the railing surrounding the center console. "And you saved my life back there, which means I owe you at least one trip. Rules of the game and all that."

Buffy bit her lip, mulling the offer over. She had just been thinking that even though she was ready to leave LA, she wasn't ready to go back to the Hellmouth, and here was her chance. It was almost too good to be true, and ever since Angel, she didn’t trust things like that. But... Looking around again, the sheer number of possibilities for places that she could visit if the Doctor was telling the truth about this TARDIS thing's capabilities were overwhelming. Making up her mind, she turned back to the face the Doctor.

"Do you think you could give me an hour?" she asked, pointing at the door. "I need to settle some things here first." The Doctor nodded and the smile on his face got even bigger.

"I'll be here waiting," he told her. Buffy shot him a smile and walked out of the TARDIS and back towards the diner to settle things with Mitch.

Less than an hour later, Buffy was back in front of the blue box, her lone duffel bag slung over her shoulder. She had given her apartment, her job, and even her name to Lily so that the other girl could start over. She had returned Lily’s--well, now Anne’s--enthusiastic hug before leaving the apartment for the last time. And now it was time for her to move on from Anne and start being Buffy again.

"Everything all set?" the Doctor asked her as she walked in. Buffy nodded and set her bag down on the floor before going to join him at the console. "Where do you want to go first?" he continued, fiddling with a couple of buttons and dials.

Buffy thought about it for a moment before smiling widely. "How about the future?" she suggested. "I've always wanted to see the future."

"The future it is." And with that, the Doctor pulled a lever and the entire room jerked and started to shake violently and she grabbed a railing to stabilize herself. "Welcome aboard, Buffy."

The End

You have reached the end of "A Sort of Homecoming". This story is complete.

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