Prologue continued: Halloween Part Two
: Dramady, YAHF.Word Count
: Familiarity with Tenth Doctor, and through to “Halloween”, Season 2 of Buffy.Disclaimer
: I do not own Scooby, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Doctor Who, or David Tennant, though I’d very much like to. I am not profiting financially from this bit of silliness. I have included certain lines of dialogue from both Buffy and Doctor Who, notably the aforementioned “Halloween” episode of BTVS and “The Christmas Invasion” of Doctor Who, as well as one particular line between the Fourth and Fifth incarnations.Author's Note
: I'm not 100% sure I'm happy with this part. It seems to be lacking something.
Streets of Sunnydale
“So! We have an unknown chaos magician running around, turning things upside down. Kids in costumes have become their costumes. Right.
Yes. Well.” The Doctor clapped his hands and rubbed them together, looking around intently. “First things first. Is there any tea
in this town?”
Willow wasn’t at all sure what Xander had dressed in. She didn’t remember any manic, cheery-in-the-face-of-certain-death TV actors or comic book characters in his admittedly wide repertoire, but he was the comic book geek, not her. Life was way too surreal without adding fiction to it. She tended to stick to Oprah’s book club in her reading habits, just to get a taste of what normalcy was supposed to be like. “You want… tea?”
“What, superheated infusion of free radicals and tannin? It’s just the thing for heating the synapses. If you expect me to track down this chaos mage, I’m going to need a pick-me-up.” He scrubbed his hair with both hands, blowing out an explosive breath. “I haven’t regenerated, I’m sure of it. Yet here I am, brand new face, brand new everything and where
…” He halted suddenly, looking puzzled. “…did I put the TARDIS?” He paused, scratching his chin. “I didn’t double-park her in front of Downing Street again, did I?”
Willow wondered, as the Doctor rambled on, wandering over to check a tree, if this was what a psychotic break felt like. Hysteria kept bubbling up in her throat, wanting to spill out of her in either a scream or a laugh, she wasn’t sure. She was… dead
, her Xander-shaped friend was some kind of Doctor, or possibly an escapee from a mental ward somewhere, and Buffy…
Where was Buffy?
“What,” the Doctor said, now crouching behind the tree, “do we have here?”
Against her better judgement, Willow drifted over to see what the Doctor was looking at. She rounded the tree and gasped. Buffy, with long, dark hair and a very authentic-looking medieval gown, lay prone behind the trunk. “Buffy!” She hurried to the Slayer’s side, kneeling beside her. Instinct made her reach her hand out, but her fingers passed right through her friend’s cheek. She pulled her hand back as if scalded. “Oh!”
The Doctor gave her a long, assessing look, but a smile pulled at the corners of his mouth. “Tell me, Ginger Ghost. Have you always been disembodied?” oOoOoOo
Willow did not at all feel comfortable with leaving Cordelia in charge of Buffy. Even though Xander seemed to be on vacation, she would have preferred if he had stayed behind. He had, after all, managed to calm Buffy in the middle of her rant about being a proper lady by producing some sort of paper from his pocket that he claimed would explain everything.
Willow didn’t see how a piece of paper the size of a credit card would explain anything
, but Buffy had settled down in a chair, firmed her chin and nodded. So Willow wasn’t going to poke too hard at it. Lady Buffy was a royal pain in the tail.
“You said chaos magic.” She hadn’t been intending to speak to the inhabitant of Xander’s body, but she had never been all that comfy with awkward silences.
“Yes, I did, didn’t I?” The Doctor shoved his hands in his pockets and looked thoughtful. “Ran into a bit of it back in the seventies. Several lifetimes ago for me, of course. Time’s always been a bit wibbly-wobbly when it comes to me. Don’t live it straight. Travel from here to there, hither to yon. Whatever strikes my fancy, really. Don’t pay much attention to the bits in between. I’ll see them sooner or later.”
Willow slowly shook her head. “I don’t understand any of that.”
“I’m a Time Lord. Long-lived, hard to kill. Normally, I have a big blue box somewhere, bigger on the inside than out. It travels in time. Well, anywhere in time and dimensions.” He scratched his head. “Wish I knew where I left it. It would make the getting-around so much simpler.”
Whookay. Time to steer the conversation back to saner waters. “What makes you think it’s chaos magic?”
“Oh, I dunno. There’s a taste it leaves in the air.” His tongue curled out of his mouth again, and he made a face. “Oily. Like custard and fish fingers. Not at all something you want to willingly ingest, let me tell you.”
“And you’ve… run into it before?”
The Doctor nodded. “Oh yes. London, early seventies. There was a group of teenagers running around, very sad sorts. Needed a few more hugs as children, the lot of them. Well, maybe a few less
hugs, in one case. And it’s not exactly magic
, per se. More of an extradimensional energy keyed to respond to certain words, items and phrases in order to alter the underlying principles of reality. It can do all sorts of things, including drawing the attention of every nasty pan-dimensional species in favor of destruction and subjugation. Which is what we seem to have going on here in good old Sunnydale, if my taste buds haven’t failed me.”
Willow knew she was only a novice at the whole magic gig, but that sure sounded like magic to her. “Alright,” she said uncertainly. “What do you do about it?”
“Normally, if the ‘magician’,” and the Doctor included air quotes on that word, “is intelligent, he’ll have an item that resonates with the frequencies he’s attempting to control. It’s absolute havoc on a human body to try and contain that sort of energy. You really don’t want to see the results of that
, let me tell you. It isn’t pretty.”
Oh, thank god. There was the school. Giles would know what to do. This was almost over. “So how do you stop the, er, frequencies?”
“Let me see…” He tilted his head back and stared at the sky. “Off the top of my head… broadcast an oscillating frequency to nullify the original vibrations caused by the key language, which would require knowledge of engineering and quantum physics this sad little wonderful planet hasn’t yet accomplished… You could change the frequency being broadcast to slowly reverse itself over time which,” he added, staring significantly at the monstrous kids running amok further down the street, “I personally wouldn’t advise, given the immediacy of the situation. And you can break the focal point, which has immediate effects, but can cause some backlash, if you’re not careful. Top of my head, tip of my noggin. Give me time, and I’ll think of something else.” He flashed that quick, easy grin. “Usually do.”
She wasn’t sure whether or not to be horrified, or reassured.oOoOoOo
Cards flew as Giles jumped, then he slowly turned around. It was Xander, in a rumpled blue pinstripe suit, his hair mussed and a wide, bright grin. “Rupert bloody Giles. Oh, it’s been forever since I’ve seen you! Should have known you’d be eyes deep in all this chaos magic business. Don’t suppose any of the old gang is still about? Sutcliff or Deirdre or that delightfully sociopathic Ethan Rayne chap?”
Giles’ mouth opened and closed several times, and the blood drained from his face. “Good Lord,” he whispered. “It can’t be.”
Xander strode forward and clapped him on the shoulder. “Oh, don’t look so worried, mate. As I hear it, you’ve reformed. Straight and narrow, all on the up and up. Dipped your toe well into tweedy waters, so to speak.”
He pulled his glasses from his face and began polishing them furiously with a handkerchief. “You’re the Doctor?”
The boy in question rocked forward and back on his feet, smiling bemusedly. “That’s what I told the pretty discorporate girl. I suppose it’s possible I inhabit the body of some poor boy unlucky enough to live in Sunnydale on Halloween with chaos magic in the air. It’s equally possible I’ve undergone a regeneration I can’t remember. So tell me, Ripper. With all this chaos magic in the air, which do you think is more likely?”
Giles was saved from having to answer by nearly having a heart attack when Willow walked through the wall right in front of him, gave him a tired smile and said, “Hi.”oOoOoOo
The Doctor could feel the energy coursing through the back room of the costume shop, sticky-icky wibbly-wobbly reality-altering energy that did not taste like fish fingers and custard, but more of peanut butter and cod liver oil. He glanced at the man standing beside him, a far cry from the rebellious, troubled youth he had very briefly known decades ago. Well, not as much of a far cry as he normally was, not now. Not tonight. Not with Ethan Rayne in town, toying with forces he wasn’t interested in understanding and reminding Giles of all the things he’d tried very hard to forget.
“You can’t kill him,” he said quietly, and Giles gave him a sharp look. “Oh, I know you want to, and I know you’re planning to. But you know how it works, Rupert. There are changeable events and there are fixed points.”
“Halloween is a fixed point.” Another man would have been intimidated by the flat tone in Giles’ voice, but the Doctor wasn’t any other man. He wasn’t even technically a man.
“Noooo,” the Doctor said slowly. “But you are. Or, rather, you will be. And if you kill him, Rupert, that will change a great many things that need to remain the same because it will change a great many things about you
that need to remain the same. So you can’t kill him.” A quick grin, ever present. “You can, however, hurt him just a little bit.”
The answering grin on Giles’ face was quick, vicious and gave the Doctor a shivery sort of feeling that had absolutely nothing to do with all the timey-wimey stuff he could feel floating around the room.
It was only after Giles disappeared into the back room that the Doctor remembered he hadn’t told Giles how to end the spell. Well, no matter. Giles would figure it out.
A few minutes after the thudding and the groaning, there was a heavy, reverberating crash from inside, and the Doctor felt a feeling not unlike the onset of regeneration come over him. It was the end. But the moment had been prepared for.
The cramps hit him first, as they always did. His insides were rearranging themselves, as they had to. The ginger ghost had been right after all, this wasn’t his body. Not his original, not any of his incarnations’ forms. This body belonged to a sixteen-year-old boy living on the Hellmouth in a very important location filled with very important people. The Doctor wasn’t at all sure what would happen to him, but he knew that this was not a fixed point. Events were in flux here, and whatever would happen would change the course of history. Whether or not it was a major change or a minor one remained to be seen. He bent double, cradling his midsection and breathing through his nose. Bracing himself for what was going to come.
This was going to hurt.
It did. A lot.oOoOoOo
Xander straightened up, mind swimming with the brief but violent agony that ripped through him. “That was weird,” he groaned. It didn’t even come close to describing the sensation of sharing a body with a nine-hundred-year-old Time Lord’s consciousness. It didn’t come close to describing the vortexes of golden light wrapped around everything, with having seen the fall of Pompeii with his own two eyes, with the memory of the Daleks and the Cybermen and the Slitheen and everything else.
It came nowhere near
describing the sensation of two hearts still pounding away in his chest, the taste of peanut butter and cod liver on the air, the traces of gold he could sense in the corner of his eye. The sonic screwdriver weighing down his inner pocket, the psychic paper pressed against his leg in his pocket. The memory of constructing and reconstructing the TARDIS until she was almost a brand new blue box several times over.
It came nowhere remotely near being able to describe any of that.
But “that was weird” was all he had.