Radio Shack Has Everything
: Dramady, YAHF.Word Count
Season 2, “Halloween.” Doctor Who
: Series 2x09/10 (“The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit”). Series 5 just after ep08/09 (“The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood”). Torchwood
, general first season. Disclaimer
: I do not own Scooby, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Torchwood, Doctor Who, or David Tennant, though I’d very much like to own David Tennant. I am not profiting financially from this bit of silliness. Author’s Note
: Gotta credit dogbertcarroll for inspiring the title to this chapter.
Since some of the language has increased in maturity, the rating of this story has risen appropriately.
Also, due to a misunderstanding of site rules on my part, my request/poll is no longer available. To avoid making this a too-long author’s note, if you made a suggestion on that story in a review, I have it in my email. If you didn’t see it, the TARDIS is coming, and I’m opening the floor for recommendations of companions. The only ones I’m disqualifying are Buffy and Dawn, Kendra, Amy Pond, Martha Jones, Rory Williams and Rose Tyler. Anyone else is open. Leave me a review, or hit me up with a PM detailing your choice. By the time I get to the 5th chapter, I’ll have selected the companions. Those I don’t choose will get spin-off what-if one-shots of varying lengths.
Chapter One: Radio Shack Has EverythingNovember 1, 1997
It was slightly more complicated than an old AM/FM radio, in the end. Xander could gather together only a quarter of the parts necessary to broadcast a signal strong enough to pierce the shrouding effects of the Hellmouth as well as wide enough to span the timeline. He had cannibalized every part of junk electronics in the Harris household he could, and even with his spiffy new Time Lord brain, he was still dozens of parts short.
Still, he tried his best to put everything together without having to venture outside the house. His first problem had been to find a place to work uninterrupted. As solitary as the basement was, his parents still wandered down on occasion. He needed somewhere he could work uninterrupted.
It made sense to use the garage. Half the stuff he cannibalized was in there anyway, and once a few boxes were shifted around, he had plenty of space to work.
He worked through most of the night, too keyed up with his grand idea to really get any sleep. But by the time eight thirty rolled around, he knew he wouldn’t get any farther in his work without more specific parts.
He tossed the welding mask aside and stretched, working out the kinks in his back that had come from being bent over a table soldering wires all night. The Gallifreyan musculature didn’t render him immune from knots and strains, after all. He slid a hand through his hair, making a face at the dampness of his bangs. Or sweating like a pig, apparently.
He flicked through the sonic settings and ran a quick cleaning pulse over himself, feeling immensely better when it was done. At least his hair wasn’t plastered to his forehead anymore.
He turned back to regard his creation, or what would be his creation with a few more additions. He scratched his head, considering. He could start raiding the working electronics in the house, but somehow he thought that his dad might notice, even in a drunken state, that the television was suddenly not working. Or picking up millions of channels. If he broke open the television, he wouldn’t be able to resist tinkering about. He never could.
And there might be questions he really didn’t want to answer if Mom suddenly got reception for Coronation Nebula
Giles might enjoy it though.
Hm, there was an idea. Would the Watcher let him rip apart the telly if he promised, cross his hearts, that he could get dramatic soaps from across space and time?
He filed that idea away for later, under G for “Last Resort: Giles”.
There was nothing for it. He was going to have to go shopping.
But how to pay for it? Xander had a few hundred dollars put away in a savings account for his post-high school wanderings. He was leery to dip into it – a lifetime of having next to no resources chafed fully at the idea of buying expensive things with it – but at the same time, willing to sacrifice it if it could help him get ahold of his … He really had to decide what to call him. Tenth? Other-Me?
Xander shuddered. No. Definitely not.
He was gambling a lot, he knew . He was gambling that he could create a properly working beacon. He was gambling on it being able to broadcast over the shroud of the Hellmouth. He was gambling on it being able to reach far enough in space and time to be heard.
He was gambling on the Doctor being intrigued enough to answer the damn thing to begin with.
Then he was banking on the Doctor helping him acquire a TARDIS, though how Xander was going to go about that was currently beyond him. As far as he knew, he – Other Him – had the last working TARDIS in all of existence that wasn’t Time Locked in a bubble of galactic war.
Xander didn’t gamble, it often cost people their lives or souls. The Doctor didn’t either, for much the same reason.
But it was worth a shake of the dice.
Well. If he was seeing this through, he’d better go all the way. Screw it. What good was money on a TARDIS anyway? oOoOoOoRadio Electronics Emporium
Jim hated the early shift, which is why his manager usually gave it to him. It was a relationship of mutual despite, but the difference in authority really tipped the scales in Pat’s favor. Jim got all the scut shifts: early morning openings, Black Friday, Boxing Day, the week before E3. He hated it, but he wasn’t all that qualified to do anything else but flip burgers, and he’d done the McJob thing in high school and would do anything short of murder to avoid going back.
Mondays were slow, so slow Corporate occasionally complained about the lack of profits stemming from opening so early in the beginning of the week. And, of course, the snark came back on him, since it was his shift. Why wasn’t he promoting or upselling products? Why couldn’t he manage to move items out the door? Why this, why that, why why why? Jim didn’t bother telling him it was hard to upsell or promote or move when there were no customers to interact with, but he didn’t bother explaining himself.
Pat knew, and Corporate would never understand.
He yawned as he climbed out of his truck, keys jingling in his hand. He was half an hour late, but the next employee wasn’t due in until eleven, the laughable “lunch rush” hour, so who would tattle on him if he did some creative timekeeping? It wasn’t like anyone was so desperate for ham radios and RAM sticks this early they’d be waiting for the doors to open.
Needless to say, he was somewhat surprised to see a dark-haired guy leaning against the side of the building.
His first thought was it was that creepy little Warren dude, looking for more wires and cables and doohickeys for whatever it was he did in his mom’s basement, but a second glance put the lie to that assumption. Maybe the guy was just waiting for someone?
“Good morning,” the guy said with a small wave. “Thought you guys opened at nine.”Shit, a customer.
“Uh, yeah,” he said, ducking his head to flip through the keyring until he found the key that opened the store front. “Sorry, dude. I’m running late this morning.” Inwardly, he was cursing. There went his morning round of EverQuest. He couldn’t get his MMO on if he had a customer wandering around the store. Hopefully, this guy was just here to buy a CD player or a part for a computer, he looked the nerdy computer type, and he’d leave Jim alone again. “If you give me five minutes, I’ll have the store opened, and you can come on in.”
“Fantastic,” the guy said, and Jim did a double-take. He thought the only British guy was that Gillespy librarian guy at his little brother’s school.
Jim flicked the lights on, swiped in (being careful to reset the clock for the proper time, he’d almost gotten caught last time he got creative with the computer system) and opened the register. It took less than five minutes, so he finished his coffee before he went back to the door and flipped the sign to “Open”.
The dark-haired dude came in with a big smile and a small stack of papers in his hands. Jim got the sinking feeling that he wasn’t going to get any EQ time anytime soon. “Excellent,” he said, scanning shelves and floor displays. “Just what I was looking for.” He consulted the list, then looked at Jim with a smile that was way too wide for this hour of a Monday morning. “Tell me, whereabouts are your toroidal frequency boosters?”oOoOoOoStreets of Sunnydale
When Xander still hadn’t appeared by eleven, Willow was officially worried. He’d come into class late before – even being fray-adjacent took its toll on sleeping habits – but if he was going to oversleep, he usually managed to wake and get to class by ten. Eleven was unheard of, especially since he hadn’t told Willow he was sick or injured or anything like that.
She scurried along the streets, clutching her books to her chest and generally feeling like a delinquent. Cordelia might mock her for being a nerd, but Willow never felt comfortable breaking school rules. Willow felt terrible for leaving school grounds before the day was over, and the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach kept her glancing over her shoulder for truancy officers coming to arrest her and throw her in detention. But Xander was missing and, after the previous night, she needed to see he was okay.
She made it to the top of his street unmolested by any officers of school law, and sighed in relief. She was almost to Xander’s house. Once she was there, she would find him, no doubt sleeping off the weirdness that was Halloween, wake him, drag him back to school and pretend like she’d never had to slip off the campus in the first place.
She was somewhat surprised to see Xander coming from the other end of the street, arms filled with bags that had the red logo of the electronics shop on them. She gaped as he got closer; what the heck was he wearing? He actually looked… Willow blinked, considering. He actually looked pretty suave. The teeny tiny crush she’d been harboring on him for a while now suddenly roared to life.
Xander looked good.
Not that he hadn’t looked good before! He was just… less hidey in the new clothes. The blue sports coat stretched across his shoulders far more tightly than the loose shirts ever had, and oh god, she remembered the last place he’d worn it, at Jesse’s funeral and she remembered commenting on it because it hadn’t been black but it had been all Xander had and he wished he could have afforded a nicer suit and…
“Hey Will,” Xander said and Willow jumped just a little. When had he crept that close to her? “It’s not even lunchtime yet. Why aren’t you making with the schoolage?”
Willow firmed her shoulders. “Why aren’t you, mister?”
Xander blinked, and Willow got the sudden feeling that he never even considered going to school today. “Oh, um… Yeah. I, ah…” He made a motion to scratch at the back of his head, and seemed somewhat startled when the rustling bags prevented him. Willow frowned; they looked like they were heavy. “I just needed a day off,” he said. “You know. Hellmouthy weirdness last night, kinda rattled me. I’ll be by later. Gotta make with the research and the donuts.”
He smiled, but Willow wasn’t so sure. He had Xander dodge-face, which only came out when someone asked him something he really didn’t want to answer. She’d been on the receiving end of it a few times, enough to recognize it when it was given again.
Her gaze flicked down again, to the multitudinous shopping bags. “What’s in the bags?” she asked.
“I’m just working on something,” he said. “Shop class. You know, the only class I’m pulling a solid B in. It’s just all stuff for my end of term project. You know how Mr. Arejo gets about end of term projects. All snarly and red-faced and stuff. I think we might want to look into him at some point. He might just be evil.”
Having never taken shop class, no, Willow didn’t
know how Mr. Arejo was. “Oh, okay. For a moment there, I was starting to wonder.” She chewed on her lip, hugging her books tighter. “You’re really okay?”
Xander’s smile softened. “I’m really okay, Will,” he said.
“And you’ll come by the library after school?”
“Be there with bells on. Cross my hearts.” He grinned and Willow couldn’t help but feel muchly relieved by the fact that it was the usual Xander grin. She watched him head into the house, navigating awkwardly around the doorframe with his festoonment of bags, then turned to make her way back to the school. If she hurried, she could make it back before the lunch bell sounded.
She was halfway back when she suddenly stopped dead, a puzzled frown creasing her forehead. Wait, had he said hearts
?oOoOoOoHarris Household Garage
“Aaaaand… we’re done
! Ha! Take that, science!” Xander pulled the face mask off with a flourish and grinned down at the sleek, silver device quietly pulsing with blue and green lights. “Quantum mechanics said it couldn’t be done,” he told it, giving into the urge to do a little two-step around the table. “Yet here you are, you beautiful thing.” He picked it up in both hands and planted an exuberant kiss on its surface. “Fantastic.”
He took a deep breath and let it out, shaking his arms all the way down to his fingertips. “Okay, here we go.” He bent over and, with great delicacy and being sure to doublecheck the setting on the sonic screwdriver, gave it a quick buzz. He jumped back, just in case it exploded, and held his breath.
The watermelon-sized orb lay silent for just a moment, long enough that Xander felt his hopes start to plummet. But then, the displays lit up, the LED lights started pulsing, and Xander felt the distress beacon begin its broadcast.
“Ha! Yes! It worked! Of course it worked. I’m a certifiable genius!” To celebrate, he danced a little more, but stopped when he caught sight of the clock. “Bugger! I’m also late. A genius and not on time, that’s what I am.”
He whirled back around, framing the distress beacon between his palms for a moment, then kissed it again. “You keep right on doing what you’re doing, beauty,” he told it. “I’ve got to get to the library before Willow gets any more suspicious.”oOoOoOoStormcage Containment Facility
The message was a simple one, broadcast throughout time and space. There were no words, no speech, no pattern discernible beyond S.O.S
in a very old dialect of Gallifreyan. The woman in Cell 8A, the most unrepentant murderer in the universe, received it on a handheld comm the guard passed her through the bars of her cell.
She took it to her bed and sat back down, pulling her foot back up on the spread. She thumbed the display as she painted her toenails, listening to the steady, rhythmic beeping play over and over again. She closed her eyes and tilted her head to the side, swaying as if listening to a symphony. And perhaps she was. Gallifrey had the most musical language, part sonata, part mathematical proof, and even an S.O.S sounded like an aria to her ears.
On the fifteenth iteration, her eyes snapped open and a smile curved her lips. She glanced down at the message pad and ran a finger over the edge of it. “Hello, darling,” she murmured. “I’ve been wondering when you’d pop up.”oOoOoOo
Guard Bailey was due off shift at eleven, and when he didn’t show up to clock out, Guard N’bara was sent to find him. N’bara was old hat at this, and he knew what he was going to find long before he found it. Sure enough, Bailey was slumped across the hall from Cell 8A, a dreamy smile on his face. The cell stood empty.
He checked on Bailey perfunctorily, thumbing back the man’s eyelids to check his pupils. They were dilated, irises hazy and shining. All symptoms of the prisoner’s hallucinogenic lipstick. He sighed and rose to his feet, strode to the phone alcove and picked up the receiver. There was no point to doing this anymore; the high muckety-mucks of Stormcage had long since given up on trying to keep the prisoner locked up. She came and went as she pleased, and N’bara got the idea she only came back because it amused her to plan her next escape.
But protocol was protocol.
He listened for a moment to the voice on the other end of the line. “Control, this is N’bara. Bailey’s knocked loopy, but he’s alright. Yes, sir. Doctor Song’s escaped. Again.” oOoOoOoSomewhere
“Doctor, there’s a beepy thingie.”
The Doctor looked up from the wires he was soldering in the guts of the TARDIS console, squinting to make out the shape of the woman standing above him through the dark lenses of the goggles. “What sort of beepy thingie?” he asked suspiciously.
“I dunno. It’s a beepy thingie.”
He shoved his welding goggles to his forehead and swiped his hair back from his face. “Is it more of an oscillating whoop whoop whoop
, or a staticky sort of beeeeeep be-bebe-beep, be-bebe-beep
“The second one.”
“Ah.” The Doctor replaced his goggles and bent back to his blowtorch. “No matter then.”
“It seems important.”
“It’s not. Or rather, it is
. Just not for me.” The Doctor stuck his tongue between his teeth and gave the uncooperative rod a good yank. He smiled with satisfaction when it clicked back into place and slid out from the wires.
Amy leaned over the guard rail, red hair swinging loose. “What is it then, this important-not-important beepy thingie you’re not answering?”
“Time Lord distress beacon,” he said, grunting as he hopped back up to the passenger platform.
Amy blinked. “What, like in the junkyard House bubble universe?”
“Not as such, no. Now!” The Doctor clapped his hands and rubbed them briskly. “Get out your sunscreen and floppy hats, Amy Pond. We’re going to Rio
Amy Pond very much wanted to go to Rio, but she wanted to know about the beacon more. “Aren’t you at all curious about the beepy thingie?”
The Doctor sighed. “You’re not going to leave this alone, are you, Pond?”
Her eyebrow quirked, and a smug smile tugged at the corner of her lips. “Nope,” she said, popping the P.
“Fine. Alright. Since you insist… Yes
, it is a Time Lord beacon, a very crude one. It doesn’t broadcast above the most basic frequencies and was cobbled together out of spare bits and geegaws purchased from the local electronics shop. No
, it is not a trap like the one the junkyard entity set. And no
, it doesn’t interest me, because I’ve already seen the signal. I’m there already. Or, rather, the other me is. The last me. And he is much better equipped to deal with the source of the broadcast. I’ve no interest in do-overs, Pond, so I won’t be answering this time. Do-overs are terribly boring. If that answers all your questions..?”
It didn’t, not by a long shot. But Amy Pond had nowhere to be that the Doctor couldn’t bring her in the nick of time, so she had days and weeks to winnow the rest of the story out of him. And winnow she would. If there was one thing she was good at, it was winnowing. “So. Rio?” she said.
The Doctor grinned. “Rio.”oOoOoOoSomewhere Else
Some Other When
“Doctor, there’s a beeping thing, there on the screen.”
The Doctor glanced up from the monitor he was current squinting at, pulled out his glasses and squinted at the monitor Rose pointed at. “Well, that’s odd,” he said, fiddling with a dial. “Give that knob a turn, Rose, second from the left, third from the top. See if we can’t clear it up a smidge.”
Rose ran her hand over the console, fingers resting lightly on a dial as she counted. “This one?” At the Doctor’s affirmative, she gave it a twist and the signal on the screen grew clearer.beeeeeep be-bebe-beep, be-bebe-beep
Rose winced as the sound drilled into her ears and reverberated in her skull. She grimaced, pressing both hands to her ears. “What is it?” she asked loudly, turning to look at the Doctor for answers.
The Doctor had an expression on his face she’d never seen before: absolute gobsmacked shock. “What?”
Rose let go of her head with one hand and reached down to flick the dial back to its original setting. The beeping died down to a manageable buzz, and the pressure on Rose’s ears eased up. But she had no mind for that. She whirled back to her travelling companion, worry creasing her forehead. “Doctor?”
“What?” he breathed, head tilted to the side, eyes distant.
It was shrill and it was nasally and Rose winced to hear that high a pitching coming from her throat, but it seemed to break the Doctor from whatever trance he’d been in. He blinked, shook his head, and turned to Rose with a look so serious it made her stomach shivery with fear. Then an exuberant grin split his face and his eyes lit up. “That, Rose Tyler,” he said with deep delight, throwing out an arm to point at the screen, “is a Time Lord distress beacon.” He leaped around the console, slapping at the controls. “A genuine, one-hundred-and-ten-percent authentic Time Lord distress beacon, broadcast in old Gallifreyan across all time and space. Do you know what this means?”
His excitement was catching; Rose felt herself smiling hesitantly. “We’re going to find ourselves a Time Lord,” she said.
The Doctor scooped up a spanner and hammered at the part of the column that always seemed to stick before rabbiting around to the other side to flick a series of toggles. He stilled for only a moment, long enough to say, “We’re going to find ourselves a Time Lord.”