Chapter Twenty Six
: This scene, between Jack and Buffy, has to be one of my all time favorite scenes from this story. Possibly one of my favorite scenes I've ever written so far. I absolutely love it.
Short, but powerful.
"So," said Jack, leaning against the railing, beside Buffy. "You don't want me dead."
Buffy didn't look at him, just stared out at the city in front of her. The wind in her hair. Up here, on the roof of the Slayer Institute, she could pretend that she was free. Pretend she could leave, retire, live a completely normal life, and never have to see another vampire or evil creature again.
Up here, Buffy could lie to herself.
"I don't want anyone
dead," Buffy corrected. "Not anyone on the side of good, anyways."
"That's why you almost threw a sword through my head," Jack pointed out, "when you found me with your sister."
Buffy's hands clenched a little tighter around the railing. Thinking about… the possibility of Dawn… running off with a mysterious man who couldn't die and invited danger, getting herself into a situation she couldn't handle, getting herself….
No. No. Buffy couldn't even think about it.
(Couldn't get the image of Spike dying out of her head, every time she did — couldn't help thinking, what if Dawn went the same way, what if Buffy lost them all? What if Buffy didn't
die young, like all the other Slayers, and she had to live on while everyone else died around her?)
Buffy felt another gust of wind run across her arms, through her hair, and she forced the tension from her body. Her eyes flicking back towards Jack. "You're immortal. Weird, and… headachey. And you're always all with the flirting. But…" she looked away. "No. I don't want you dead."
Jack said nothing for a few long moments. Then, in a quiet voice, "You know why I'm like this. Don't you?"
"No," Buffy lied.
"Of course not," Jack agreed. "You just happened to know the pure-iron sword wouldn't kill me — randomly. Without knowing anything about my condition."
"Maybe I just didn't want you to try it out and see," Buffy shot back.
"Look, Doctor, give it to me straight," Jack demanded. "What's wrong with…?"
He stopped, as Buffy turned on him. Her whole body completely tense. Her face growing pale. Her eyes wide and round, staring at him.
"What did you call me?" she asked.
Jack, realizing his mistake, hesitated. Then tried to cover it up, with a flirty grin and a wink. "Well, person-in-command. Competent, smart, legendary. Able to defeat invincible monsters. Good-looking. Easy mistake to make."
"You called me…" Buffy stared deep into his eyes. And spotted something in there that she hadn't expected to see. Hadn't realized. "You're attracted to me."
Jack raised his eyebrows. "Can't blame a guy for looking."
"You're attracted to me," Buffy continued, "because I remind you of…" She let the wind catch her last words, and toss them out across the city below.
"What? That's not a bad thing," Jack insisted. "You're both heroes. Both lost your homes. Both wound up in wars against pure evil that made you a little callous. Both impossible, amazing people, who can achieve…"
Before Buffy could stop herself, she'd grabbed Jack up by his coat, and jerked him over the railing, dangling him out over the edge of the roof, her eyes furiously boring into his.
"The Doctor could be dying," she growled. "As we speak. Tortured, beaten, emotionally torn apart and treated like less than an animal — and you want to sleep
with me, and pretend I'm him
Jack opened his mouth to speak, but wisely elected to remain silent.
"I'm not the Doctor," Buffy told him. "I'm never going to be the Doctor. I'm not the one who makes people better. I'm the Slayer — I'm the girl that kills them." Her grip on Jack's coat trembled, and for a moment, it seemed like she was going to drop him. Let him fall.
"I thought… you didn't want me dead," Jack volunteered.
Buffy ignored him. Her eyes angry, a storm inside her face. "Everyone who gets close to me dies," she spat at him. "Everyone that loves me is tortured, killed, or destroyed. That's what my love does to people. It murders them." She shook him. "Do you understand?"
"Yes," Jack muttered.
Not good enough. Buffy dragged him even closer to her, until his face was right in hers, and in a half-shout, she yelled, "Do you understand?!"
"Yes!" Jack shouted back.
Buffy pivoted around, and dropped him, in a heap, back down onto the roof beside her. "Good."
Jack struggled back to his feet, trying to catch his breath.
"Stop loving me, Jack," Buffy told him. "Because, immortal or not, if you love me, you're going to suffer. Everyone always does. I'm the Slayer, it's what happens."
"Thanks for not slaying me, then," Jack said, still feeling a little winded.
Buffy turned, and walked back to the door that led into the Slayer Institution. "I'm not trying to slay you," she said. "I'm trying to save your life."
And she slipped back into the building.
The Doctor never let
himself be caught. But he always knew he would be.
As he fought through the nausea, the sluggishness, the creeping unconsciousness that dragged him down even as he began to run — he knew he'd never get out. These days, they left him with too little blood to be able to get anywhere near the exit. Even if he'd actually been running towards it.
Instead of away from it. As he was, now.
He hit the floor with the weight of two vampires crashing down across his back. Struggled as much as he could, resisted with as much strength as he had left, tried to push them off. But he didn't last long. Never lasted long.
Long enough, he hoped.
"The girl!" came Leandra's voice. "Who's chasing the girl?"
The sudden rush of footsteps surrounding him, as a group of vampires — chasing him — turned around and ran off in pursuit of the latest hostage, Audrey. The Doctor stopped struggling. No point, now. He'd given her as much time as he could, given her the chance to escape. As best a chance as he could give her. Now, it was all up to her.
"Vampires," the Doctor muttered, as the familiar boots appeared in front of him. "Always chasing the food. You never change."
Razor stopped, just in front of the Doctor. "Neither do you," he agreed. "Running away from the exit. Giving your new human friend time to escape. A distraction."
"Never know," the Doctor put in. "This might be another one of my deviously clever plans. Maybe you're playing right into my hand."
Razor made a motion, and the vampires dragged the Doctor up from the floor, making him kneel right before Razor. Hands behind his back.
"Explain this," Razor demanded, lifting up a small metallic object.
"Used it to pick the locks," the Doctor replied. "Took a while to get around the other restraint systems, but, well. Lucky for me, I'm a bit clever."
"My belt buckle," Razor said, waving it at the Doctor. "You picked the lock with my belt buckle
The Doctor didn't answer him.
Razor threw the object at him, and it bounced off his forehead. Ouch! Really, Razor should have known better. After all, it had been right there, dangling in front of the Doctor's face, in easy reaching distance — and Razor had been highly distracted, at the time...
"Shouldn't have forced me to do something that gave me the chance to get it, then," the Doctor muttered.
Razor regarded the captured Time Lord with cold, black eyes. His entire posture angry, yet trying to appear calm. The posture of a man who knew the Doctor was right. And wouldn't be able to help himself from making the same mistake again.
"We'll have to punish you, of course," said Razor. He gave a small, feral grin, pacing towards his prisoner. "That's the fun part." He held out a hand, and ruffled the Doctor's hair.
The Doctor tried to jerk away, but was held fast.
"You can punish me without killing Audrey," the Doctor told him.
Razor's yellow eyes gleamed. "Do you really expect us to show her mercy?"
No. Not 'expect'. He'd never expected that of them, even back when he'd hoped for it.
"She's no threat to you," the Doctor explained. Using cold, logical, rational sense. "She can do nothing to compromise your plans. You don't need her blood — you're already drinking mine. Her life ensures my cooperation. Let her live."
"There are always more hostages," said Razor.
"And that means allowing me time to talk to and befriend a new hostage," the Doctor countered, "when you could be spending that time torturing me and trying to break me. Keep her alive, and you'll enjoy yourself more."
The vampire the Doctor knew as Oliver entered the corridor, approaching him and Razor from the side. Back from his hunt, with Leandra.
"What is he offering us this time?" Oliver asked.
"A logical argument," said Razor. "A new approach. But not something I'm interested in." He yanked the Doctor by the hair, forcing their eyes to meet. "You know what I want you to offer."
Not this, again. Like a broken record, this one.
"Everything," Razor demanded. "Give me everything."
"All right, fine!" the Doctor said. "Everything! Go ahead. Take it. But leave Audrey alive."
Razor gritted his teeth, shoving the Doctor away with a strength that nearly bowled over the two guards restraining him. Not that the action gave the Doctor the slightest chance to break free.
"Lies," Razor said. "You'll never give me everything. You'll always try to stop me."
"Never know," the Doctor replied, wheezing a little, as he tried to regain his breath. "Might have actually broken me, this time."
Razor glared at the Doctor. Struggling to keep his anger in check, behind his calm, ordered, in control veneer. He looked over at Oliver and Leandra. "The hostage?"
"Captured," said Leandra. "Dead."
Razor turned back to the Doctor. "You hear that?" he said. "Your pleas will go unanswered. Your human is already dead. You know what that means." With a hint of eagerness and excitement in his eyes. "You know what comes next."
Yes. Yes, the Doctor knew. And he hated it more than anything.
"Accept it," Razor commanded. "Who you are. What you've become. What you've allowed us to do. This is your life, now and forever. And there's nothing you can do, except surrender. Let us destroy the human race."
The Doctor said nothing for a long moment. Then, with a vehemence that came from the bottom of his hearts, he gritted out a word that was a promise.
The TBV attacks had changed, since the failed attack on the Slayer Institute.
Still always on small towns, but there were more attacks, now. Many more. And every time an attack was planned, the nearest world-saving organization always worked out — just
before it happened — that it was going to.
Enough time for that organization to dart out and fight the TBVs themselves. But not to call for backup.
"They're doing it on purpose," said Jack. "Strategic."
"Picking off their opposition," Buffy agreed. "Decreasing our numbers, slowly but surely, while their numbers grow."
Buffy and the others planned. They strategized. They tried to improve communications between the organizations. But, in the end, they all knew it wouldn't help. What they needed was to strike back in full force. A heavily concentrated attack, aimed right at the center of the vampires' power.
And to do that, they needed to find the Doctor.