Into the Rush Now
"So how far into the future are we going?" Buffy asked the Doctor. "Near-future, far-future, or way-way-off-future?"Disclaimer:
Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and related characters; the BBC owns "Doctor Who" and related characters; I own nothing.Author's Notes:
Written for avamclean for the 2011 wishlist_fic challenge. She wanted more of the "Two Hearts Beat Loud" verse. This is set at the beginning of the Doctor Who audiobook, "The Day of the Troll".~*~*~
Holding on desperately to the center console, Buffy thanked whatever Power was out there that she didn’t get motion sick, although this was pushing it. She didn’t want to think what the Doctor would do if she hurled in his nice time travel machine. Although, from the way this thing was moving and the way the Doctor was compensating for the movement as if from experience, it probably wouldn’t be the first time somebody lost it and threw up.
The room soon stopped jerking around, much to Buffy's relief. She gingerly let go, not sure if she could trust the lack of movement-age just yet.
“Sorry ‘bout that,” the Doctor apologized, dashing around the console, twisting this knob and flipping that switch before hitting the console. "Come on, stop stalling," he told it in a tone that somehow combined admonishment and affection. "Buffy, can you push that flashing green button--yeah, right there. Perfect, you can let go now. She’s just nervous about having a new companion on board."
"So how far into the future are we going?" she asked the Doctor, straightening up slightly and shaking out her hands to remove the cramping. Fortunately, whatever the railing was made out of seemed more Slayer resistant than ordinary metal and there were no dents to be seen. "Like near-future, far-future, or way-way-off future?"
She wasn’t quite sure what to make of the Doctor’s statement about the TARDIS being nervous around her. It was just that she was a new traveler, right? Or “companion” as the Doctor had put it. Not because she was the Slayer, and magic and whatever the TARDIS was were un-mixey things? Before that train could gather too much steam, she reined it in and put a lid on it. Worry later,
she told herself quietly, watching the Doctor as he paused whatever it was he was doing and peered around the console at her.
"I don't know," he answered, a manic grin coming to his face. "That's part of the fun. You never really know when or where we'll end up. You don't have a problem with that, do you?" he asked, his smile suddenly losing some of its brilliance and a worried look coming to his eyes.
Buffy did have a problem with surprises, now that the Doctor mentioned it. Surprises meant undiscovered prophecies, vampires jumping out from behind corners, and finding out your boyfriend lost his soul after a moment of pure happiness. Surprises were bad, bad things in Buffy's experience, but she wasn't going to let the Doctor know that. She didn't want him to regret taking her along with him and drop her right back off in LA. And, maybe, surprises while traveling with the Doctor wouldn’t be so bad as her previous experiences with them. A girl could only hope, right?
"No, not at all," she lied, trying to match his grin with one of her own. "Surprises are great."
The strange whirring that had accompanied their departure from Los Angeles started again and the TARDIS lurched slightly before settling.
"Good, we're here!" the Doctor exclaimed as he rushed to the door. "Wait, you should go first, since this is your first experience with time travel," he continued, stopping and gesturing for Buffy to come to the door.
Buffy, not needing a second invitation, quickly joined him and put her hand on the handle. Taking a deep breath she opened the door... only to be greeted by the smell of dust and the sight near impenetrable darkness lightened only by a scattering of stars.
Buffy paused for a moment, taking it all in. She hadn’t been sure whether or not to fully believe the Doctor when she had taken him up on his offer to travel with him. As much as she wanted to believe what he was saying, her recent luck with life had made her wary of offers that seemed too good to be true. But this unfamiliar, almost alien-looking landscape looked like a mark in what he told her being true.
"Where are we?" Buffy asked, turning to the Doctor with confusion on her face. "Better yet, when are we?"
The Doctor stepped outside the TARDIS past her and turned around with a thoughtful look on his face.
"We're on Earth, that's for sure," he muttered, gesturing for Buffy to join him. “England would be my guess, but there’s something off…” His voice trailed off as he looked around, a slight frown creasing his face.
She hesitantly exited the TARDIS, closing the door firmly behind her, before going to stand by the Doctor. His stick-thin frame towered over her petite form as they gazed out into the night. She gave a small shiver and rubbed her arms to warm up. California weather, this was not, and it a little too cold for her with just her thin shirt on.
"Before we go wandering, do you mind if I grab a jacket or something?" she asked him, interrupting his study of the stars.
"Yeah, go right ahead," the Doctor said, going back to gazing at the night sky with a perplexed look on his face. Buffy hurried back into the TARDIS and grabbed the warmest jacket she had from her duffel bag, a leather jacket that had seen some better days. There was no demon goo stuck on it or knife slashes tearing the worn leather, though, which made it a rarity in her wardrobe. Slipping it on, she was surprised to find a spare stake in the pocket when she was empting it out of the odds and ends inside.
Making a face, she still put it back in, not willing to take any chances in the treeless, windswept night landscape. Plus, there was something strangely comforting about having that piece of wood within easy reach, even if she didn’t have to use it.
"All set then?" the Doctor asked when she rejoined him, rising from where he was crouching down and brushing dirt off of his hands. Buffy nodded and he held his arm out to her. "Allons-y!"
"Is there any place to go to?" Buffy asked in a half-serious tone, looping her arm through his as they set off. Even with her keen eyesight, she couldn't distinguish any sign of human habitation in this bleak landscape. The only thing that broke up the otherwise flat, barren ground was a ravine about twenty feet away from the TARDIS.
"I'm sure if we follow that old riverbed we'll find someone or somebody or something," the Doctor answered in a way too cheery tone of voice. “The old girl has never brought me to a place that wasn’t interesting in one way or another.
Buffy raised her eyebrows but remained silent. She was fine with the somebody or someone, it was running into something that she was worried about. She didn't want to think of all the creepy crawlies that were roaming the night in this place. Even with the reassuring weight of the stake in her pocket didn’t make her feel any less naked without her normal assortment of weaponry, even if it had been months since she’d gone on patrol.
"Onwards and forwards then," she replied, putting on a grin she didn't exactly feel. This place unnerved her more than any empty cemetery ever did. At least in those there was some sign that she wasn't the only thing moving around. Hordes of vampires were easily less creepy than this place.
"At least we aren't at the end of the universe," the Doctor commented quietly. "Been there, done that, and it's not something I'd really like to repeat."
"How do you know we aren't at the end of the universe?" Buffy asked. “And you never did answer my question of when were we.”
"The stars," the Doctor answered her first question, jerking his head towards the sky. "Different positions than what you're used to seeing, but they're still there. The sky would be dark if we went that far into the future. I would say somewhere in the forties, but I could be wrong by a century or two."
"Like fortieth century?" Buffy asked again, feeling like the Doctor was moving almost too fast for her to catch up.
"Yeah. Isn't it exciting?"
"Sure is," Buffy answered. "Almost as exciting as a major shoe sale when they have everything in my size."
"Oh, you're a shopper, aren't you?" the Doctor asked, turning to look down at her. "Do..." He paused for a second before continuing, "One of my former companions was like that. Always had to stop and shop around, Donna did." His voice was slightly raw and he turned his face away from her with a distant and pained look in his eyes.
Buffy remained silent, wondering who exactly this Donna person was and what had happened to her. They continued walking in silence along the dried-up riverbed until a scream pierced the air somewhere ahead of them.
“Where did that come from?” the Doctor asked, pulling up short.
“Over there,” Buffy replied, pointing to the left, squinting to see if she could identify the source. “It sounded like a woman.”
“Oh, you’re brilliant,” the Doctor muttered as he started to run in the direction that Buffy had indicated, Buffy semi-sprinting to keep up with his insanely long legs. They quickly came upon the screamer: a young woman who looked to be in her late twenties to early thirties collapsed in the dirt in the fetal position. She was shivering and her breaths were coming in short, quick bursts. It didn’t take a medical expert to see that she was in shock.
The Doctor knelt down to check on her while Buffy warily scanned the surrounding area, one hand curled around the stake in her pocket. But there was nothing in sight. No trees, no creatures, just the riverbed winding its way through the desolate landscape next to them.
“What scared her?” Buffy forced the words out of her suddenly dry throat.
“I have no idea,” the Doctor said after a brief pause. “There’s nothing here.”
“What do we do now?” Buffy asked, kneeling down next to him. Despite the cold, she slipped off her jacket and lay over the woman. It wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing for keeping her warm.
"We wait,” the Doctor answered, lifting his gaze from the woman to study the surrounding area.
"For how long?”
"Until she comes to or until the sun comes up.” He met her eyes and gave her a half-grin that did nothing to erase the worried crease on his forehead. "Whichever comes first.”
Buffy shivered again, and this time it had nothing to do with the cold air.