Chapter Twenty Seven
: For all of you who kept thinking, through this whole story, "Buffy needs to show up and knock some sense into the Doctor", here's Buffy showing up and knocking some sense into the Doctor.
There used to be a very funny conversation where Willow called up Xander and Anya to ask about the Doctor, and Anya completely freaked and ran off. But it just didn't work with the pacing of the story at this point.
And now, without any further adieu: Go Buffy! Go! Fix that Time Lord!--000--
Buffy froze. Completely and utterly froze, like a statue. Every single facet of her expression read fear.
"Yeah," said Willow. "I told him… you'd sort him out. And he said that's what he was afraid of, and then he ran away."
"Okay, okay, okay," said Buffy. "So… he doesn't want
me to kill him, he just feels I should
"I… guess," said Willow.
Buffy grabbed her coat. "Fine," she said. "I can deal with that. What… do you have any idea what it was he did that makes him feel that I need to kill him?"
Willow frowned, puzzling over her last conversation. "He mentioned someone," Willow remembered. "Someone who interrogated him for eight hours. Yeah. 'Eight hours and she couldn't break me'. That's what he said. It sort of sounded like she convinced him that pretty much everything in the universe was his fault."
And then the Doctor had mentioned some other stuff about Willow that Willow really didn't want to think about. About her future. Her own future. Willow didn't want to know what was in her own future. It wasn't sounding all that great right now.
"She?" asked Buffy. "Who's she?"
"You said he mentioned Anya," said Buffy. "Could that be the 'she'?"
"It doesn't really sound like something Anya would do," said Willow.
"No," said Buffy. "You're right." She slumped against the door frame. "But it wouldn't just be torture and interrogation and stuff. He's super stubborn. To get like this, there has to be something else. Something that happened to prove 'she' was right."
"I think," said Willow, "I mean, I don't know, but I think… someone died. One of his companions or something. And he blames himself for her death."
Buffy frowned. "I know he blames himself for Rose," she said. "But she's still alive. And then Martha's still alive. Although something happened to her that he blames himself for. And then…" she paused. "He blames himself for all of them, doesn't he?"
"He sort of… said something like that," said Willow.
Buffy shrugged her coat on, then turned back to Willow. "Okay. I better go and see if I can find him. He mentioned Anya — so call her up, ask her if she's ever vengeance-demoned the Doctor anytime in the past."
"Or maybe he's out looking for Anya right now," said Willow, "because he's feeling so guilty, he's decided he deserves to be vengeance-demoned, and he's looking for someone to curse him. Even if she's human, now, she's probably got friends who aren't."
"With him in this mood, I could see him doing that," said Buffy. She hit her head against the door. "Okay. Okay. If I manage to get him back here… I don't know… find some way to put him to sleep or something."
"You want me to drug him?" asked Willow.
"Just a little!" Buffy protested. "We need to make sure he doesn't run off, again. Which means it's either drugged tea or… I don't know… chained up in here, I guess."
"We don't have a bathtub like Giles," said Willow.
"So I'll chain him to the bed!" Buffy snapped, as she walked out the door.
Willow stared at where Buffy had just been standing, a few seconds earlier. Huh. Chained to the bed. Talk about a Freudian slip.
That was definitely Intro to Psych material!--000--
Never had Angel's words about the Doctor being dangerous rung so true. Buffy just kept remembering what Angel had told her — why Elizabeth had stopped the Doctor from killing him in 1898. Elizabeth had been afraid. Afraid of the Doctor. Afraid that, once the Doctor started, he'd never be able to stop.
Well, it looked like the Doctor had started.
Granted, so far it had just been demon corpses that Buffy had been seeing, along with a few keepsakes from some vampires she'd been hunting for a while. But then she saw the bound and gagged group of thugs struggling to break free, a knife flung, carelessly, onto the ground a ways away. Buffy picked it up. There was blood on it. Human blood. She looked back at the thugs. The leader of the thugs had a long, bloody gash in the side of his throat. Not deep enough to be fatal, or even take that long to heal, but enough to tell Buffy one thing.
The Doctor had thought about it. He'd seriously considered killing them.
But he hadn't. He hadn't done it. That was the important thing. The Doctor hadn't gone from monster killing to human killing. And the more she told herself he wouldn't do that, the more she kept remembering…Where does it stop?
the Doctor had said to her, when she'd first met him. Those without souls? Because there are plenty of humans who are evil, despicable, and soulless. You planning to murder them in cold blood as well?
If, in his mind, there was so little difference between monsters and evil human beings…Do you really think he wouldn't, Buffy?
Angel had asked her.
Buffy didn't want to think about that. She didn't want to think about what she'd have to do if she found out he really had gone off the deep end. And, yeah, she'd met him in his own future, and she knew he wasn't evil, then, but — he'd said the future had changed, right? Buffy didn't know what that meant, but she wasn't sure just causing a regeneration would be enough to change him back, if he really had turned evil.
A vampire darted out of the shadows to her left, but it wasn't interested in her. No, it had its nose in the air, sniffing eagerly, its eyes almost glowing in anticipation. Buffy knew good-sniffs from bad-sniffs, and this was definitely a bad-sniff. This was an I smell a Time Lord
Although, all things considered, that was good for Buffy, because the vampire knew where to find the Doctor, and Buffy's Slayer senses might tell her whether or not the Doctor was around, but they weren't very useful in terms of tracking where he was.
The vampire skulked off into the night, Buffy following it, stealthily. It kept going, its pace increasing, faster and faster as it approached…
Buffy followed the vampire into the burnt-out husk of her old school, the burnt-out halls looking even creepier in the dark shadows of night. And she thought she knew where they were going, even if she didn't understand why.
Sure enough, the vampire nearly sprinted for the burnt-out library, its face in a wrinkly snarl, its eyes glowing yellow in the darkness. Buffy grabbed a stake out of her pocket, and threw it perfectly through his heart. The vampire cried out, and turned to dust, only steps away from the solitary figure, sitting on the ashy floor.
He looked over at her, and even though it was so dark, they could see one another through the moonlight that leaked into the building.
"You do realize this whole building is sort of kerblewy now, right?" Buffy asked.
"You killed for me," the Doctor said.
Buffy took a step forwards. "I saved your life," said Buffy. "That's not the same thing."
"Well, killing for you sort of implies more of a hit-man job," said Buffy, "and saving your life is more like—"
"You mean why did I save your life?" asked Buffy.
"Why did you kill for me?" asked the Doctor, jumping to his feet. "What makes humans do these things for me? Killing yourselves? Killing others? I never want you to do it. I never want…" He began walking towards her, his eyes fixed on hers. "Martha almost ended the world because of me. My double committed genocide because of me. Iphidrin, Karanon and Fortupin were massacred in bloodbaths because of me. Donna. River. Astrid, Jabe, Katarina, and all the rest, all the others that died for me. Killed themselves for me. Because of me. Always, always because of me."
"So why?" the Doctor demanded. "Why'd you do it? What was it this time? What am I doing that makes you humans want to kill? What am I doing that makes you humans die?" He stopped right in front of Buffy, his eyes blazing. "Just tell me, Buffy!" he shouted. "Just tell me why!"
A surge of anger and loss and pain blasted her the moment he said her name.
Buffy said nothing for a long moment. "What happened to you?"
But he wasn't going to answer that question. Buffy knew he wasn't going to answer that question. She'd known it from the moment she'd asked. He turned, and walked back to the large crack in the middle of the room, the crack that lay just above the Hellmouth. He stood beside it, just staring at it.
"What am I doing to make humans act like that?" he asked. "What am I?"
Buffy took a hesitant step forwards. "You're the Doctor," she told him. "You make people better."
"I make people die," the Doctor corrected. "She said so. Over and over again. Don't even need to touch them. Just talk. One word from me, and humans kill themselves. One word from me, and even the most peaceful human can be turned into a murderer."
"Well, that's bull," said Buffy. "You don't make people into killers. If they're killing stuff now, they probably were already psychopaths before they met you."
"You weren't," the Doctor told her. He looked over his shoulder. "Not until I made you the Slayer."
Buffy didn't really know what to say to that. She wanted to tell him that no, it wasn't his fault — except it sort of was. He'd let those Shadow Whatevers create the Slayer in the first place, hadn't he? He'd gone back in time, and let them create her. And Buffy couldn't say she was happy about that, because she wasn't.
But where was the use in placing blame? The Doctor had done what he'd thought was right, what needed to be done for the Earth. And it wasn't like there was anything Buffy could do about it, now.
Besides, the truth was, Buffy had sort of come to terms with her fate and her destiny more after she met the Doctor. And he had a lot to do with that. Whenever she felt frustrated or angry about being the Slayer, whenever she wanted to shout at the world to smite the person who'd done this to her… well, she couldn't. Not anymore.
The Doctor gave a dry laugh. "You see?" he asked. "She was right. Eight hours, and I didn't want to admit it. But she was right. All along. Right about everything."
"Who was right?" Buffy asked. "What happened?"
The Doctor stared at a ceiling beam that hung across the roof of the burnt-out library, the moonlight shining dark shadows across his face. "Do you know who I am?" he asked. "Do you know who I really am?"
Buffy said nothing.
"I am the universe's worst nightmare," said the Doctor. "The origin of evil. The creator of all things terrible and deadly. I destroy everything and everyone I touch, I trick and lie and deceive to get what I want. I destroyed my own home, I've committed genocide multiple times, and I don't know if I'll ever stop. That's what I am. The greatest evil this universe has ever known." His eyes flicked down into the Hellmouth. "I deserve to be down there. Caged for all eternity, along with the other monsters. You should throw me in. She wanted to."
Buffy sighed, and grabbed him by the back of his shirt collar, dragging him backwards. The Doctor, for a moment, was too startled to even speak.
"Oi!" he said, when he regained his voice. By then, Buffy had already dragged him back outside. "What are you doing?"
Buffy threw him onto the pavement. "You want me to cage you and beat you up, because it'll make you feel better? Is that why you came here? Or are you just here to convince yourself that you're worse than every monster that ever crawled out of Hell?"
The Doctor said nothing.
"Because I'm good at beating people up!" Buffy snapped at him. "And if you did manage to get stranded here, yeah, there would be a part of me that's overjoyed that you were staying. But you know what? I've faced monsters. I've fought them professionally for three years. And you're not one."
The Doctor still said nothing.
Buffy threw up her hands in the air. "Are you a total idiot?" she cried. "If I kill something that's trying to eat you, it's not because you have some crazy voodoo magic that's making me go all psycho killer. It's because I don't want you to die!"
"Perhaps you should," the Doctor said. "You're the Slayer. It's your job. Eliminate the monsters." He jumped to his feet. "Well, here I am, Buffy Summers. Just get rid of me, already."
Buffy crossed her arms. "You're angry you make your friends into killers," said Buffy, "and now you're asking me to kill you. You've got to see the irony, there."
"You wouldn't be killing me," said the Doctor. "You'd be slaying me. No different than getting rid of a vampire or a demon."
Buffy gave him a long stare, but he met it with his own.
"Just get it over with," he demanded.
Great. This was obviously going nowhere. Time for a change of tactic.
"Okay, fine," said Buffy. "So you're evil and I should slay you. All right, then. I'll do it. On one condition. You give me a really, really good reason. And I don't mean a reason like, 'I'm a monster' or 'I deserve to be in Hell' or 'I'm the origin of all evil' or anything. Because I've met the origin of all evil, and he's pretty non-corporeal at the moment." She watched him, in the moonlight, his skinny form illuminated against the sidewalk. "Go on. One reason killing you would be slaying and not murder."
The Doctor looked her right in the eye. "You slay nonhuman life forms who kill innocent humans," he said. "And I've just killed 38,000."
Buffy felt her heart sink.