Not A Sword
: Okay, because there were some issues with reposting my modified "Not a Sword" as a part of this story, I've edited the original story, and am just posting the very beginning, and the very end, here. (The end is what's different). So... hope this fixes all the problems!--000--Not A Sword
"So you're saying we're looking for a sword," said Donna.
The Doctor was flitting around the TARDIS, removing panels of grating and pulling out different items that looked (to Donna) like things you'd find in a rubbish sale back on 21st century Earth. He'd then examine every item using his 'brainy specs', rotate it in his hand, then chuck it aside.
"Possibly," said the Doctor, darting to another panel of metal grating. "But possibly not. It could be anything, Donna! Anything!" He pulled out an item that very much resembled the engine car of a model train set. "A grain of sand, someone's left shoe, maybe even a snowflake — but not a snowflake." He chucked the model train over his shoulder, and then continued searching. "Southern California. Very little snow. Almost certainly not a snowflake."
"So we're not looking for a sword," Donna clarified.
"Might be a sword," said the Doctor. "Might be anything. Um, not a scythe, though — that's hidden round about the same place. Know about that one. But yes. Possibly a sword. Like I said before, could be anything."
Donna wondered, sometimes, how exactly it was the Doctor's brain worked. "Doctor, you said we were looking for Excalibur."
"Ah, yes, well, not really Excalibur, just the nearest equivalent thereof," said the Doctor. "In this universe, at any rate. Last Excalibur I found was from the Arthurian Universe. Nearly wound up destroying modern England with a nuclear warhead, that did."
Donna had little or no idea what that could possibly mean, so she decided to ignore it.
"And we're looking for Excalibur," continued Donna, "which is a mythical sword once wielded by the King of England, in California. In the year 2000. AD."
"Exactly," said the Doctor. He finally lifted out a device that looked a little like a toaster, if said toaster had been designed by both Albert Einstein and Frank Lloyd Wright. The Doctor grinned at it, and put the grating back. "There you are! Good as new. What did I tell you?"
Donna crossed her arms. "Doctor," she warned him.
"Oh, yes, sorry," said the Doctor, standing up to face her. Then he hesitated, as he realized he wasn't quite sure why she was mad at him. "I, er…" he raised up the device. "Psychic augmentation detector?"
"I want to know," said Donna, in her best don't-mess-with-me voice, "exactly what it is we're looking for, why we're looking for it, and why we're looking in bloody California!"
The Doctor hesitated. "We're looking for a segment," he admitted. "A segment to a very powerful Key. It could be disguised as anything, anything at all — but it has the power to crack open the walls between dimensions. Just like Excalibur! See?"
"No," said Donna.
"Well, Excalibur wasn't actually a sword, it was a key to a trans-temporal, trans-dimensional, trans-universal gateway which could—"
"Doctor," Donna cut in, before the techno babble could start up again in full. He looked at her, a single eyebrow raised. Donna cleared her throat. "We are looking for a mythical English sword. In California. A sword that doesn't look like a sword. And doesn't act like a sword."
The Doctor shrugged. "Suppose so."
"So if it doesn't look like a sword and doesn't act like a sword, then what about it makes it a bloody sword in the first place?" Donna demanded.
"Ah," said the Doctor. "It's… actually… not a sword. At all. Just a segment."
Donna decided that this was Spaceman talk for 'stop asking me stupid questions, Donna, and play along.' Fine. She'd do that, then. "Okay," said Donna. "So, assuming we can actually find this 'sword that isn't really a sword', what are we going to do with it?"
"Destroy it," said the Doctor. "Best thing, really. You don't want to go messing with trans-temporal, trans-dimensional, trans-universal portals, Donna, take my word on it. Daleks, Cybermen, nuclear bombs — never know what'll turn up, really. And if that segment ever leaves this solar system, if it destabilizes the Lock — well, best not even think about that."
"And you've got the toaster because…?"
The Doctor raised up the super-toaster. "Not a toaster," said the Doctor. "Psychic augmentation detector. Whoever's hidden this thing really didn't want it to be found. Memory alteration, psychic manipulation, the works. Even a fair amount of matter transmutation, actually. Not to worry, though. This'll pinpoint the locus of the psychic interference matrix."
"We're looking for something that has suddenly popped into existence," explained the Doctor. "Except no one in the town knows that it's popped into existence, because someone's cast a magic spell to make everyone believe this object has always been there."
Donna thought she actually understood that. She must be learning to speak Spaceman. "So all we have to do is jog these people's memories so they'll realize the sword isn't actually supposed to be there in the first place. Then they'll give us the sword, and we can destroy it."
"That's the plan," said the Doctor. "And, well, if they still don't feel like giving it to us, we'll just nick it."
"We're going to wind up running for our lives again, aren't we?" asked Donna.
The Doctor grinned. "Oh, yes!"
Donna looked down at what she was wearing — a tasteful skirt with beautiful black high-heel shoes. "All right," she said. "Let me get changed."--000--
This is where the rest of the story is. But the rest of the story is unchanged, so you can read it somewhere else.--000--
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.