: And that brings us to the end of this story. I hope you liked this one. I loved it, personally. Watch out for Buffy meets the Daleks, up next! It's called "My Weapon" and it's got Buffy + 11. Enjoy!
Buffy found the Doctor, as per usual, talking. He was speaking rapidly and animatedly to one of the physics professors, trying to explain something really complicated sounding. Or maybe he was trying to refute something really complicated sounding. Or maybe he was just making things up. The physics professor seemed to think so. The physics professor cut the Doctor off, and said that he didn't have time for this, he had a class to teach. And left.
That was when the Doctor saw her. He stood there, just outside the lecture hall, his mouth open, but not able to say a word.
"You stayed," said Buffy. "Even without… evil monsters trying to destroy the world. You stayed."
The Doctor blinked, then gave her a smile. "Well, course I did!" he said. "Place like this. Brilliant young minds, churning away. Human. Well, I say human. Mostly human. Met this lovely fellow from Albanotarzani Minor, here on a research grant. Absolutely brilliant, although he does have this mad idea that tachyon acceleration engines are somehow inferior to hyperspacial integration engines. Honestly. Didn't believe it myself. I mean, think about it a tic. Harnessing potential time energy like that and then spreading it through—"
"Doctor," Buffy interrupted him.
The Doctor tensed. "You… didn't come here to discuss tachyon acceleration engines?"
"Not exactly," said Buffy. "I just think we should probably talk. About… you know."
"Ah," said the Doctor. "That."
"No, no!" said the Doctor. "We… talk. Love to talk. Brilliant, talking. Absolutely. Specially this time around. Got a bit of a gob on me this time around. And I love to say all sorts of interesting words, like armadillo. Don't you love that? Armadillo. Or foreign words. Molto bene! Italians, you've got to love the Italians. Absolutely spectacular—"
"I was sort of thinking we should talk somewhere else," said Buffy, looking at the crowd of people around them. "Somewhere… quieter. More private."
Now the Doctor looked downright nervous. "Yes, right, private," said the Doctor. "Amazing concept, privacy. Went back to the Middle Ages with Donna, once — she couldn't understand why the Tardis wouldn't translate the word. Course, back in those days, nothing was private, not even the loo, which upset Donna right well, and she—"
Buffy decided she was never going to shut him up when he was this nervous, so she grabbed him and led him into an empty room. She turned to face him.
"Look, about last night—"
"I know," said the Doctor. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to—"
"No, I'm sorry," said Buffy. "I didn't, either… I mean, I did, but I shouldn't have…. Look, all I'm saying is, I know this is all my fault, and I'm really sorry about it."
The Doctor just stared at her. "Your fault?"
"Well, I pushed you into it, didn't I?" asked Buffy. "I mean, I don't know exactly what I did, but I know what effect it had on you, and I'm not sure you could help yourself."
"What you did was impossible," said the Doctor. "Completely impossible! I told you before, you're not a telepath, not like that. Whatever you'd been drugged with must have upset the balance between your… Slayer self and your human self. When I arrived, that must have set off a primal reaction. You were just acting on instinct, really."
Buffy blinked. "Huh?"
"It's a quirk in telepathic species," said the Doctor. "When there's only two left, and the genders are… compatible…." He shrugged. "Primal telepathic reaction. Make sure the species survives. As I said — instinct."
Buffy felt her face turn red. "So all that was just… an automatic response," she said. "It didn't mean anything."
"You're not to blame," said the Doctor. "You didn't understand what was happening. I should have stopped it."
Buffy was on the point of tears. She wanted to run out the door and slam it in his face. Was it really nothing to him? Just an automatic reaction to knowing there was only one other female telepathic response still in existence? An automatic program in his brain that made him see her as a baby-making machine and not a person?
"So you do this with all the Slayers?" asked Buffy. "You feel them in your head, and you just…"
She stopped, as she remembered. None of the other Slayers had this extra little thing in their heads that let them know the Doctor was around. Just her. And that was another thing — the Doctor didn't feel her presence in his head, either. The automatic response had been triggered in her.
It hadn't been triggered in him.
"Oh," said Buffy.
"As I said," said the Doctor. "I'm sorry."
"Well, I mean, if that whole thing was just you, maybe we could…?" Buffy asked.
"No," said Buffy, quickly. "Not that. I mean, just…" She faltered. If she asked him out on a date… what if he just bolted? What if he freaked out, and never saw her again? She could see him doing that. How could she phrase this so that it worked?
"We're friends," the Doctor insisted. "I'm sorry, but that's all it can ever be."
"Is… it because of me?" Buffy asked. "Am I…?"
"Elizabeth," the Doctor told her. "You're brilliant. Always. But I've been given a second chance. And I'm doing things right, this time. This is as far as we can ever take things."
Buffy stared at him, for a second, confused. And then it clicked. Oh. Oh
. That… wasn't exactly what Jack had thought, was it?
"How close were we, in the other timeline?" asked Buffy.
"Close," said the Doctor. He paused, then added, "Very close."
And that's what he'd meant last night, about how he'd hurt her. Because he was afraid it would happen again. That he'd 'destroy' her the way he 'destroyed' Elizabeth. Whatever that meant.
Buffy stared down at the floor. "I really do miss you," she said. "When you leave. And it's not because of, you know, the telepathic thing, or any romantic thing. I just… miss you."
"I know," said Buffy, looking back up at him. "You can't stay, and I can't leave. Can't escape destiny."
The Doctor gave a short, humorless laugh. "Suppose not."
"Do you miss…" Buffy faltered. She wanted to ask him if he missed her, but she thought that kind of question might scare him away. "…Elizabeth?" Buffy corrected. "You know. The other-me?"
The Doctor sighed. "I missed her long before she ever left."
"What… happened?" asked Buffy. "I mean, I know about the destroying and stuff, but what… what happened in 2003?"
"How do you know about 2003?" the Doctor asked.
"The Concurrence-you told me," said Buffy. "He said Elizabeth found out everything in 2003."
The Doctor said nothing for a long moment. "There were some horrible, horrible things that happened," he said, at long last. "Some truly terrible things. A lot of people died. People who didn't deserve to die." He took a shaky breath. "Elizabeth was there. Twice. Earlier her saw enough to know… well, what I did. She was willing…" He sighed. "She was willing to kill me over it, I suppose."
"She blamed you?" asked Buffy.
"She was right," said the Doctor. "It was my fault. What happened. The town. The deaths. Her. Everything."
"I can't believe that," said Buffy. "I know you too well for that. You might be all guilt-trippy, but you always do the right thing."
"Not everything in the universe is your fault," Buffy insisted.
"No," said the Doctor. "Not everything is my fault. But this one was."
"As long as you're blaming yourself for an entire other timeline," said Buffy, "and throwing in pretty much every other bad thing that's ever happened in this timeline, can I go ahead and take the blame for last night?"
"But you're not even responsi…." He looked up at her. "You're making fun of me."
Buffy put a mock horrified expression on her face. "I'd never!"
"Well," said the Doctor, "before you mock, remember this. I
wasn't the one trying to stake the Tardis last night."
"Okay, that made sense," said Buffy. "I mean, in a sort of cave-womany not-exactly-logical kind of way. It's just… I mean, the Tardis… she's always—"
"Taking me away," said the Doctor. "I know."
"—in your head," Buffy continued. "And I'm… not. And that really, really bothered me for some reason. Because... I know it's wrong, but I like having you in my head. You're warm and fuzzy and nice. And last night, when I got into your head, it was just amazing and I didn't want to leave and… why does your head look so bright, anyways?"
"It's my mind," said the Doctor. "The neurotransmitters fire across the synapses too rapidly for you to process, and your mind blanks out the informational overload into what you might think of as white light. When you used the Dalek Infiltration device, it wouldn't have looked like that. The weapon would have compensated."
"No, but… when I went into your head, it was more than that," Buffy said. "Just… being in there, seeing all that light and hearing all that music, I felt… I don't even know how to describe it. And then, at the end, when you went into my mind at the same time as I was in yours, it was just… I've never felt that way before, I mean, not unless I'm…" Buffy's face turned red, as she realized. "Oh, my God. That was mind-sex. I had mind-sex with you!"
"It wasn't… close to that." He considered. "Well, it was close, but it wasn't… that."
"You mean there's more?" asked Buffy. She felt her face get a shade redder. "What's the next part?"
The Doctor scratched his ear. "It's — why are we talking about this? It's not—"
"—going to happen," said Buffy. "I know." She paused. "If I say I'm academically curious, will you tell me what happens next?"
"There have to be other telepathic species out there," Buffy argued. "What if I run into one of them, and they try to… you know? Take advantage?"
"Then you call Captain Jack," said the Doctor. "He's the expert on that sort of thing."
"Captain Jack is an expert on telepathic sex monsters?" asked Buffy.
Buffy considered. "Yeah, okay," she said. "I could see that." She raised her eyebrows at him. "But you'd better hope I don't. Because if I tell Jack I almost had mind-sex with you, he's going to want serious details."
The Doctor sighed. "He would," he said. "Fifty first century human. That's what you're all like by then."
Buffy felt her jaw drop. "You mean the future of humanity is… Parker?"
"Can't say," said the Doctor. "Never met Parker."
"But Jack's not like…" Buffy trailed off. Okay, maybe he was a little less superficial than Parker, but he was still seriously flirty and, judging by his stories, not one for monogamous relationships. "I mean, he cares about people and stuff. Parker's just… you know. Parker."
"Well, Jack was a little rougher around the edges when I first met him," said the Doctor. "Tell you what, though. This Parker of yours ever tries to turn the human race into gas mask zombies, give me a call, and I'll set him straight."
"I'll keep that in mind," said Buffy. She gave a small shudder. "It's just… creepy. That we turn into… you know. I mean, if I had to choose between a future of super-flirty Parkers and battling telepathic sex monsters, I'd choose the sex monsters."
The Doctor raised an eyebrow at her.
Buffy bit her lip, and looked away. "Sorry, how'd we get on this topic?"
"Not a clue."
"Can we change it?"
"I'm rather partial to the subject of tachyon acceleration engines, myself," said the Doctor. "I mean, really, do you have any idea of the amounts of power required to—"
"Can we change it to something I actually know about?" asked Buffy, glancing back at him.
The Doctor paused. "Oh," he said. He gave her a sideways smile. "Have you been looking up more names in Giles' books?"
Buffy's face went even redder than before. She must look like a tomato, now.
"How long did you know?" she asked. "That I was making them up, I mean."
"Oh, since the Demon of Uncarthongal, I should think," said the Doctor.
"So… since the very beginning," said Buffy.
"Don't feel too bad," said the Doctor. "I'm a bit of a genius. And I happen to know that the Demon of Uncarthongal is caught in a time loop on the other side of the universe right now." He gave a wink that told Buffy just who, exactly, had been the one to trap the demon there in the first place.
"Then why did you stay?" asked Buffy, scarcely daring to meet his eyes. "Why'd you help me track down the made-up monsters, if you knew they weren't real?"
"Aw, well, I had to, didn't I? You'd put in so much time and effort!" the Doctor said. "Couldn't let good work go to waste. And besides. I got up to all sorts of trouble on my own when you weren't looking. I'm very good at sticking my nose into things that are none of my business."
But Buffy could tell from the way he stood, his posture a little too tense, his eyes a little too fixated on her, that it was more than that. The same way she also knew that the Doctor would never, ever admit it.
"Tell you what, though," said the Doctor. "Nice little town like this teaming with interdimensional sorts — there's got to be all sorts of actual, non-made-up trouble around, if you know where to look. And it would certainly make your life easier, having a bit of help." He extended his hand to her. "What do you say?"
"Are you asking me to save the world with you?" Buffy asked.
The Doctor scoffed. "Save the world?" said the Doctor. "I bet you five pounds we can save at least a galaxy by lunchtime."
Buffy took his hand. "Fine," she said. "As long as you're the one buying lunch."
The Doctor grinned at her, a twinkle in his eye. And Buffy knew that things were going to be okay. Even if the world nearly ended and time nearly collapsed and monsters nearly tore them apart, things would still be okay. Because it wasn't about the monsters.
For either of them.
Together, hand in hand, they walked into the sunlight.