: And the end. I just wanted to add that the first time I wrote this, I had the Doctor just decide not to kill Dawn. And it didn't work at all. It took me a while to realize that the thing I had to do was not to have him fail to take action, but to somehow convince him to take action the other way. So "not killing Dawn" is dissatisfying as an ending -- "saving Dawn's life" is far more interesting.
I hope that this ending worked. It took me a long time to get it anywhere near good.
(Is it clear who he couldn't 'destroy again'?)
I guess the next story is "Elizabeth." I do have more stuff about the Key and Glory and all sorts of stuff, but it's seriously rough drafty at this point, and not finished. So far, it's called "the Seventh Segment", and is a series of short stories all about that year, and the Doctor trying to intervene but getting written out of time, over and over again.
So far, I've written: the Doctor meets Riley, Glory beats up the Doctor, and the Truth about the Slayer.
But anyways! I hope you enjoyed this story. "Elizabeth" is the story that will answer a whole bunch of questions. Including: who was Elizabeth? What did the Doctor mean by 'destroy'? What happened in 2003 in the other timeline?
When Donna came to, she found herself back at Buffy's house, lying on the couch, an excited teenage voice buzzing in the air around her.
"And then the Doctor was all like, 'yeah, well you left your crazy spacey sounding control stuff out in the open, where I could break it, what do you think about that?' And the demon was like, 'Aaaaa! I'm going to kill you!' And the Doctor was like, 'You can't kill me, I've got the Annoyinator'—"
"Sonic screwdriver," Buffy cut in.
"Whatever," said Dawn. "And then the Doctor took the chains off, and we started running, and he was all like, 'you better run faster than you've ever run in your life,' and then the entire cave started crashing down on top of my head, and—"
"Donna?" came the Doctor's voice. Donna's eyes panned across the room, and landed on the Doctor. He seemed completely at ease, with none of that previous darkness in his eyes. Or maybe that was him trying to act all normal and reassuring again. No, hang on. What Dawn had just said…
"Did you save her life?" Donna asked the Doctor.
The Doctor grinned at Donna, and winked.
Donna collapsed back onto the couch. She'd done it. She'd guilted him into being unable to kill Dawn. Victory Donna Noble! Score! Except… if the entire universe came to an end. Then she'd be slightly less happy.
"Well, now that Donna's awake, I suppose we should be off," said the Doctor to Buffy.
"I thought you were looking for Excalibur," said Buffy. "Aren't you going to stay until you find it?"
The Doctor gave a small shrug. "Nah. Excalibur's overrated. Not all that important, anyways."
"You know, if you're going to lie, you could at least do it convincingly," said Buffy. "Come on. What's the real deal?" She studied him, carefully. And then her posture relaxed, as she worked it out. What Donna had worked out. That the Doctor had decided he couldn't do it. Buffy gave him a smile, then flung her arms around him. "Thank you."
And that was definitely not a just-mates hug. On either side.
Looked like Skinny was finally getting over his Rose fixation. Bout time, too. Donna didn't know exactly how long it'd been for him since he lost Rose, but it had obviously been way too long to keep moping about it.
Dawn caught Donna's eye, and made a kissy gesture with her fingers. Donna laughed. The Doctor pulled out of the hug, and Dawn shoved her hands behind her back, trying to look innocent.
"Something the matter?" he asked them.
"No," said Dawn. "Nothing."
The Doctor raised an eyebrow. Then he turned back to Buffy, and spoke in a low voice. "Don't investigate this, don't pry any further than you have to, don't try to find Excalibur. Keep your eye on everyone you know, make sure no one suspicious is following you or tracking your actions. And for the sakes of everyone you know and love, don't tell another soul about anything that happened today."
"But if Excalibur is still dangerous—"
"I'll be back," said the Doctor. "I promise. Donna and I will be back, just to make sure everything's fine and dandy." He glanced up at Donna. "Won't we, Donna?"
"Long as you let me treat Dawn to a shopping spree courtesy of your psychic paper," said Donna.
The Doctor gave a small sigh, then flicked his eyes back to Buffy. They stayed that way, a little too close together, a little too touchy feely, a little too… well, a little too not-just-matesy. Then, without having to say anything, they broke apart. The Doctor hopped over to Donna, and offered her a hand up off the sofa. "Come along, Donna," he said. "Time and space await."
Buffy escorted them back to the TARDIS, just to make sure that the Doctor didn't do anything. The Doctor didn't mind. The moment the Doctor and Donna entered the TARDIS, the Doctor began his dance around the central console, as he programmed in their next flight. Donna closed the doors, then sat on the jumpseat, watching him.
"You couldn't do it, could you?" she asked. "I knew you couldn't."
The Doctor gave Donna a long, dark stare, then went back to his work at the central console. It was a stare that reminded Donna that this alien she was travelling with had done things she couldn't even imagine, things that she probably didn't want to know about.
Was that whole thing back at the house just an act?
"You're not going to kill her, right?" asked Donna. She was starting to wonder if she needed to shout at him a bit more, or if she should go all out with the slap offensive.
"I'm not," the Doctor agreed. He sighed, and slumped over the central console. "I can't," he confessed. "It's the one thing I cannot bring myself to do." He stared at the buttons beneath him, a terrible look of defeat on his face. When he next spoke, his words were little more than a whisper. "I can't destroy her. Not again."
"Who?" asked Donna. "Dawn?"
The Doctor said nothing for a long moment. A moment that stretched into a vast chasm of time that seemed to roar with memories the Doctor couldn't forget, with pain and loss and the weight of two different timelines stretching across the universe.
"Yes," he said, at last.
And Donna knew he was lying.