The Manuscript Conscript Crisis
A/N: Disclaimer, crossover, spoilers, etc. are all given in chapter 1.
Sheldon Cooper was having the best Saturday night in ages. Leonard was off somewhere, maybe on a ‘date’ with that girl Alice he met in the comic book store. Raj was out of town. Howard was on the International Space Station and couldn’t possibly call to bother him for another six point four hours at a minimum. Amy was working in her lab. Bernadette was taking Mrs. Wolowitz to some distant B’Nai B’rith event, and had somehow convinced Penny to go along. His annoying upstairs neighbor Buffy Summers – who had to be cheating at Wii bowling because no one had kinesthetic skills like that, and who drove like an insane stunt driver – had taken her little college coed friends off to some aerobic workout or something, since he had seen them leave a couple hours ago in their skimpy exercise outfits with their ridiculously large gymbags that were probably packed with ridiculous items like oversized hairdryers and silly aerobics toys. So no one was going to interrupt his evening.
For the forty-seventh time, he told himself not to accept a ride from Buffy Summers ever again, no matter the circumstances. His sphincters still reacted every time he thought about that drive. And it was in a convertible, so when she took that quick detour onto a freeway and managed to hit ninety miles per hour before she cut through traffic and slid sideways into the exit ramp while he screamed the entire time… He shuddered in horror at the memory. And then he had been so shaken that he could hardy walk away from the car, and she just smiled at him as if she had merely driven the speed limit and obeyed all traffic laws and only driven a few blocks. His gastrointestinal tract had demanded Pepto-Bismol for a day and a half. It was a good thing Pepto-Bismol was his second favorite pink fluid.
At any rate, he didn’t have to worry about Buffy, or anyone else, bothering him for hours. He had a big glass of cherry Kool-Aid, with the rest of the pitcher still in the refrigerator and no fear of Leonard or Raj consuming it behind his back. He had a new package of Redvines, and he was using one as a straw. He had three different colored pens. He had a review copy of a paper by Henrich and Rosenberg, which was using the Rosenberg Postulate to TRY to create a conceptual framework for integrating quantum gravity with superstring theory. He was going to go through every equation and find the flaws in their arguments, and he was going to demonstrate once and for all that the Rosenberg Postulate was a weak-minded threat to all serious theoretical physics. This was going to be the best evening since he and Amy went and made fun of that moron Greene’s concepts on ‘alternate dimensions’. He picked up the manuscript, and-
BAM! BAM! BAM!!!
He had heard loud knocking on his door before, usually associated with someone who for some arcane reason was mad at him
if you could believe that. But this was going to rupture an eardrum. Or shatter a window. Was someone hammering on the door with a sledgehammer?
He considered ignoring the pounding, but then he assessed the probability that repeated impacts hard enough to make that kind of noise would likely incur some damage to the front door. Leonard would, of course, blame him. As would the landlord, who really needed to see someone about his anger management issues.
He reluctantly clambered to his feet and opened the door.
Buffy Summers was standing there with one petite fist raised to knock. Surely that level of noise couldn’t have come from those tiny little arms.
Buffy Summers was standing there with a two hundred sixty pound man draped over one shoulder. Surely that was impossible even if the man had been completely immobile.
Buffy Summers was standing there holding a two hundred sixty pound man who appeared to be hogtied with what looked like half inch steel cable, and gagged with approximately ten lengths of duct tape wrapped completely around his head.
Buffy Summers was standing there and casually holding an angry two hundred sixty pound man, even though she was standing there in high heels and was bleeding from her forehead, the corner of her mouth, several places on both arms, at least three places he could see on her legs, and a long diagonal slice across her abdomen.
He opened his mouth, but nothing came out. What could he say that was relevant in these circumstances? He managed, “I do believe that tying someone up with cable and carrying them on your shoulder constitutes kidnapping, and could also be in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1203, colloquially known as the Hostage Taking Act.”
She sighed heavily, apparently ignoring the man struggling on her shoulder. “Is Leonard around?”
He explained, “No, and I don’t believe he would be interested in becoming an accessory after the fact in a felony, either. Unless this is some manner of ‘kinky’ sex I have managed to avoid hearing about, in which case, Leonard has not participated in the ‘bondage and discipline scene’, as the young people call it these days.”
She muttered something under her breath. Then she said, “You read classical Greek, right?”
“Well, of course I can READ it, but I haven’t taken enough coursework to be able to translate it fluently, given the peccadilloes of Greek grammar and idioms.”
She said, “I don’t need a translation. I just need someone who can read it and pronounce it correctly.”
He said, “Of course I can do that. But what does that have to do with…” The man had turned his head to face Sheldon. He had turned his head roughly one hundred eighty degrees, which was impossible without doing critical damage to one’s spinal column. He was glaring up at Sheldon. And his eyes were red.
Not bloodshot. Not red-tinted. Not even red irises. The man had eyes which were a pure, gleaming red without even a trace of white anywhere.
“That is simply not natural,” Sheldon insisted. His voice did not rise most of an octave as he spoke. It really didn’t. He was certain of that.
“Well DUH!” she snapped. “You’re going to follow me upstairs, do what I tell you, and read a paragraph of Achaean Greek. That’s all. Now get moving!”
“Now wait just one minute,” he carefully said.
“I don’t have a minute,” she growled.
He had never really noticed before that Buffy Summers could be extraordinarily threatening. Maybe it was the bleeding injuries that she seemingly ignored. Maybe it was the way that she ignored hundred of pounds of struggling individual writhing on her shoulder.
She reached out with her other hand and yanked him into the hallway. Unless he was mistaken, she had actually lifted him off the floor as she did so, which ought to be impossible unless she had roughly the strength and size of an Olympic weightlifter. A large male Olympic weightlifter. Which she most certainly wasn’t.
She pointed up the stairs and said, “Get moving, Sheldon! NOW.”
He got moving. He hurried up the stairs, even as he realized that she wouldn’t be able to follow. A one hundred pound girl with hundreds of pounds on her shoulder? She wouldn’t be able to step over to the stairs at all, and-
Buffy Summers sprinted past him like he was standing still. And she hadn’t released the hogtied man yet.
She had her door open by the time he reached her floor. That was simply not feasible!
He started to explain why she couldn’t sprint up a flight of stairs while burdened with a weight of two to three times her own mass, when she grabbed him by his shirt and practically hurled him into her apartment. He demanded, “Don’t damage my Green Lantern shirt! It’s not as important as one of my Flash shirts, but it is extremely important, and could easily be damaged by-”
“Stop!” she insisted. He stopped. He might have gulped also.
She slammed the door and stalked over to a bookcase he hadn’t realized she had, even though it covered one wall of her apartment. It was wall to wall books, and most of them looked like antiques. She yanked an odd-looking one off the shelf and slapped it into his hands. Then she turned to one of several bookmarks. “Don’t tell anyone I put a bookmark in this book. Giles would kill me.”
He insisted, “You can’t put bookmarks in rare antiquities! What are you going to do next? Dog-ear the pages? Use the book as a coaster?”
She pointed out a section where the Latin text stopped and an indented passage in ancient Greek began. She snapped, “I’m going to slap Brian down on the floor and hold him there. You stand right here, clearly outside the circle, and read that passage with no mistakes, three times in a row. Then you can leave.”
“What? This makes no sense!” he complained.
She stomped over to a sofa and kicked it over with an ear-splitting crash. He could see from the overturned base that it was a hide-a-bed. There was no way that one could simply ‘kick over’ a piece of furniture that weighed as much as a hide-a-bed sofa. There was no way one could lift a hide-a-bed sofa. And yet she had flipped it over with one hard kick. She had also shattered the wooden support where she had kicked it. That wasn’t possible either!
She kicked the edge of the rug, and it flipped over. She kicked it again, and it rolled several feet. She kept kicking it until she had rolled it up into a cylinder.
Sheldon goggled at what was under the rug. He had been right. There had been scratching on the floor when they moved in! They had inscribed a massive circle with a pentagon and pentagram within. He managed to say, “You do know that they’re never going to return your deposit with that cut into the floor.”
She just said, “I don’t have time for this.” She slammed the man into the center of the circle hard enough that Sheldon felt the vibrations through his shoes. She growled, “Read! Now! I can’t hold him here in the center of the pentagon and read from outside the circle at the same time!”
He was going to refuse. But the hogtied man growled behind the duct tape, and turned his head again. Only this time, there were horns tearing through the skin at the man’s temples.
There was red light gleaming from the man’s eyes. They weren’t just red. They were like red flashlights.
“Th-that’s not possible.”
“SHELDON! JUST READ!”
He was shivering. He was a man of science who laughed in the face of superstitions, and he was shivering in terror. He read. He read the entire paragraph perfectly three times over.
The man suddenly convulsed. Buffy ripped the duct tape off the man’s face.
That wasn’t possible, either. Ten undamaged strips of duct tape should have enough tensile strength to thwart a football lineman.
Sheldon watched in horror as the man convulsed again, and then heaved. A thick, black semi-solid oozed out of his mouth and nose and eyes, collecting in a shuddering pool in the center of the circle.
“Wh-what is that?”
Buffy Summers proceeded to untie the knotted steel cable like it was string. “You don’t wanna know.”
“No, I’m a man of science. I collect facts. I want to know. And I want to know if it’s contagious! Has a reputable CDC team studied whether the contagion is airborne?”
The man choked and then said, “It’s not contagious. At all. It’s not… Well… It’s the remnants of a demon. It was trying to use my body to move into this dimension so it could wreak vengeance on-”
“Brian!” Buffy growled.
Sheldon took an involuntary step backward. Maybe two or three. He bumped into the bookcase. “That… that… You’re sure it’s not contagious?”
Buffy said, “No. It’s not. And in a few minutes, it’ll be completely gone.”
“It can’t just be GONE. Matter doesn’t simply disappear,” he insisted. “It could dissolve or evanesce or evaporate, although it can’t technically sublimate because it’s not a solid form, but it can’t be ‘completely gone’.”
‘Brian’ looked at Buffy and said, “Look, he saved my bacon. He deserves to have his questions answered.”
Buffy huffed and then said, “It’s not technically ‘matter’ in the sense you mean.”
Brian said, “It’s only physically substantial in this dimension as long as the magic that invoked it holds up. Once Buffy got me in the protective circle and you read the Spell of Disruption, it lost its… connection to its power source.”
Buffy said, “Sheldon? Thanks. But I think you’d be better off if you just went back to your apartment and told yourself you’re having a nightmare. Or a hallucination.”
Sheldon said, “M-maybe I was hit on the head with a cocoanut by Tiny Spock.”
Buffy looked at him like he had gone crazy. Maybe he had. He whispered, “I have to go.”
He dropped the book, even though it was an antique, and he ran.
* * * * *
Knock-knock-knock. “Amy?” Knock-knock-knock. “Amy?” Knock-knock-knock. “Amy?”
Amy Farrah Fowler pulled on her bathrobe and went to see why Sheldon Cooper was knocking on her door at… She glanced at one of her clocks. Two fifteen in the morning?
She opened the door. “Sheldon?”
He ran in, slammed the door behind him, hastily locked it, and curled up into a ball on her couch.
“Sheldon? What happened?”
She assessed his state. His clothes looked undamaged and not in disarray. He appeared to be unhurt. But she had never seen him look so obviously terrified.
He whimpered, “Amy, can I stay over tonight? I’ll sleep on the couch. I’ll sleep on the floor! Just don’t send me back to the apartment!”
She wondered, “What’s wrong? Is Leonard engaging in some manner of particularly disturbing sexual gymnastics with that girl Alice? Or perhaps Alice and her twin sister? Or perhaps Alice and her twin brother?”
“It’s not Leonard. He’s not home! Just when his presence would be useful, he’s not home! And Penny’s not home either!”
“Then what’s wrong?” she asked. She gently smoothed his hair back off his forehead. The mere fact that he didn’t object told her that he was far more distraught than she had ever seen him.
He choked, “Buffy Summers. It’s Buffy Summers!”
“What did Buffy do?” she wondered aloud.
“SHE MADE ME READ ANCIENT GREEK!”