: And the end!
Oh, Seo is so smart in this story. Especially what she does here. She's so close to succeeding, but... as one reviewer put it... the overall Whoverse plot is not on her side.
(Poor Jack, too.)
For our next story, entitled "Boyfriendish", we're going to depart from the real universe, and take a trip into an alternate timeline. The next story focuses on Seo's parents - her actual birth parents, namely the alternate versions of the Doctor and Buffy. It will be much more of an "Adventures of a Line Hopper" type story than a "Child of Balime" type story. But will be essential for understanding "the Years that Never Were."
"Hindsight" very nicely sets up what Seo and Buffy's situation is, in the real universe (which I call "Martha's World") at the beginning of "the Years that Never Were".
"Boyfriendish" will set up the alternate Doctor and alternate Buffy's situation in the alternate timeline universe (which I call "Seo's World") at the beginning of the same story.
Don't worry! This story might be a downer (I labelled it a tragedy), but Boyfriendish is actually has a pretty happy ending. And the Doctor and Buffy are such a cute couple together! I totally love Seo's parents!
They locked Seo up in the interrogation room, the moment she awoke.
Now she sat there. Slumped over, sitting on the chair. Her hands clutching the seat. Her head bent. Her back sloping in an arc. Not saying a word.
"Why?" Gwen demanded.
"We trusted you!" said Gwen. "And you betrayed that trust completely."
Gwen felt her anger melting, a little, as her own sense of guilt crept up on her, again. She'd shot Seo down, hadn't she? No wonder the girl didn't want to talk to her. Yes, Gwen had only shot her in the shoulder, but… at that moment, when Gwen had done it… she'd really, really
wanted to shoot Seo dead. Everything inside of her was screaming at her to kill Seo outright.
No! That… just… didn't feel like something Gwen would think. Something she'd feel.
Gwen sat down at the interrogation table, trying to look into Seo's eyes. Trying to give her a sympathetic look.
"I know you feel like the outsider, sometimes," Gwen said. "But… we've always thought of you as part of the team. If you—"
The door opened, and the rest of the Torchwood team walked in. Stood along the far wall of the interrogation room, arms crossed, eyes glaring.
"Okay," said Buffy. "We've turned off the cameras. Now talk."
Gwen looked back at them, confused. "You—?"
Buffy nodded over at Seo. "That," she said, "is Seo's instinctive 'I don't want cameras to see me' routine."
"So go on," said Owen. Shooting Seo a challenging look. "Answer. Why'd you do it?"
Seo just remained slumped over, her hands clutching the seat of her chair, her eyes fixed down onto the ground, her body forming a perfect arc.
Then, in a barely audible voice, "I don't blame you, Gwen."
Gwen seemed puzzled. "You…?"
Seo shot her head up, snapping her eyes up to the rest of them, suddenly. The look in her eyes, the look on her face, everything about her seeming suddenly… alien. Different. Unnatural.
"I'm alien," she told them, in a louder voice. "The enemy. You should lock me up."
Everyone stared at her. Their jaws falling open.
"You're not Seo," Tosh said. Her eyes narrowed. "Who are you? What do you want?"
"I told you what I want," said Seo, her voice calm, even, and deadly serious. "I want you to lock me up. And guard me. Very closely. In person."
Buffy sighed, slumped against the wall. "No, that's definitely Seo," she said. "That's her trying to pull something." She glanced over at her daughter. "So what is it? What are you up to?"
Seo didn't answer. Just dropped her head down, again, eyes on the floor.
"Just tell us," said Gwen. "We're your friends. Don't you trust us?"
Still, no answer.
"Was this some… mistake of yours?" Tosh asked. "Or an external influence inside your mind? Or is someone making you do this, by threatening your mum or Alison?"
"All right, that's it, I've had enough of this," said Owen, turning on his heels. "Fully functional or not, I say it's the freezers for her."
"I'd rather you just killed me," Seo replied.
Owen stopped in his tracks. Spun back around, staring at her.
Everyone else, nearby, stared at her, as well. Equally shocked.
"I know you all want to," said Seo. She looked over at Buffy. "Except… maybe Mom. But the rest of you want to kill me. A lot. And you still don't understand why."
"What's wrong with you?" Tosh said.
Seo just gave a small, humorless laugh. One that almost sounded like a sob. "What's wrong with me
," she whispered. "What's wrong with me
Buffy frowned. Opened her mouth to say something, but stopped. Thought better of it.
"Do you know what I am?" Seo asked. A glimmer in her eyes. "Do you have any idea how my brain works? Every single time I see something new, my mind tries to figure out how to destroy it."
"Seo, don't—!" Buffy started.
"I could destroy this world fifty thousand different ways," Seo cut in, before Buffy could go on. "With no weapons or tools at all. Just using me, my knowledge, my intellect. My abilities. That's it. And none of you would have the first idea how to stop me."
All eyes had fallen on Buffy, who was standing at the side of the interrogation room, a look of utter horror on her face. Not sure what to say, what to do.
"They should know, Mom," said Seo. "After all, I'm not just part alien. I'm part Hell Goddess." Her eyes bore into them, a fire burning inside of her corneas. "So lock me up. Arm yourselves. Prepare your strongest weapons. Get ready for the apocalypse I've been planning, because — it's coming. And Torchwood won't be clever enough to stop it."
Gwen analyzed her, closely. Then leaned in, across the table. Asked, in a very low voice, "What are you afraid of?"
Seo jerked her head over to Gwen, a wide eyed look on her face. She was breathing heavily, steadily, the exact same determination set into her jaw.
"You want us to lock you up," said Gwen. "Guard you. I don't think you're trying to end the world at all. I don't think you ever wanted that plan of yours to work. I think this is all just some act, so you can make sure we protect you."
Seo gritted her teeth in frustration. "No," she said. Her hands clenching around the seat of her chair. "You're not listening. Why aren't you listening?! I am an evil alien threat. I'm going to end the world." She spoke her next words slowly, pointedly. "So stay here, guard me — or just kill me, I don't care — and prepare to stop an apocalypse."
"Who's after you?" Gwen asked. Then, with a hint of hesitation, "Is it someone… human? Because you're alien?"
"This isn't about me!" shouted Seo, pounding her fists on the table. "Don't you get it? Every single one of you, you're all in…!"
Seo stopped herself. Bit her lower lip. And retreated back into her slumped over form.
Buffy just kept staring. Her brain working overtime. "You don't want us to go to the Himalayas."
Seo didn't answer.
"That's what this is about, isn't it?" said Buffy. "It's why you're delaying us. Trying to make us stay behind and guard you. Or kill you. It's because… you don't want us to leave."
"I told you, I'm an alien threat," said Seo, frustration edging her voice. "And I need you to stay here and prepare for the end of the world. Why won't you listen to me?"
"Why doesn't she want us to go—?" Tosh asked.
"Because she's worked something out," Buffy answered. Eyes lingering on her daughter's slumped over form. "Something we all missed. And, for some reason, she can't actually tell us about it, directly. This is her current strategy, to try to make us understand what's going on."
A tired, worn smile touched Seo's lips. "Finally," she whispered.
Gwen studied her, carefully. Noting the way Seo's hands still shook, just that little bit. The tension in her shoulders. The way her eyes moved. It was enough to tell Gwen something important.
Whatever this thing was that she'd worked out, it had something to do with the Himalaya trip.
And it terrified
They left Seo in the interrogation room. Then sat around, trying to figure out what to do. Trying to work out what they could do, in the little time they had left before their flight.
"So… Seo's worked something out," said Owen. "About our Himalaya trip. And she can't tell us… why, exactly?"
"Either it's a hunch she's sure of, but can't explain how she knows," said Buffy, "or she doesn't feel she actually knows enough to be able to tell us anything definite."
"Or she's been taken over by an alien mind parasite," said Gwen, "who's making her unable to tell us."
Buffy shook her head, elbows resting on the table, in front of her.
"Gwen's theory actually does make a lot of sense," Tosh put in. "We all know Seo would never do anything like this, normally."
"I think whatever landed in the Himalayas sent a scout ahead," Gwen proposed. "A scout that infected Seo's mind. It made her try to destroy the world—"
"Which is why she kept telling us we had to kill her to stop her," Ianto added.
"—and now she's frantically attempting to warn us of the danger, before we get to the Himalayas," Gwen concluded. "So we can be fully prepared."
Buffy sighed. "No, the killing thing is… just… another delay tactic."
If Seo regenerated, the entire Torchwood team would go major on the freak-out. They'd try to figure out what happened, whether it was normal or some weird outside influence, and whether or not Seo was still the same person.
Plus, the regeneration sickness.
Yeah, there was no doubt about it. If Seo regenerated, no one at Torchwood was going to the Himalayas. End of story.
"She's definitely afraid of something in the Himalayas," Buffy confirmed. "Some big threat that she thinks is going to end the world. But… I don't think she's trying to warn you to be prepared." She fidgeted, uneasily. "I think she honestly doesn't want you to go. She wants you to stay here."
"Why?" said Tosh.
"Oh, that's going deep into Seo-mindscape-land," said Buffy, with a laugh. She shrugged. "Because she thinks you wouldn't be able to handle it, yet? Because she wants to keep you safe and out of the way while she figures out a plan to get rid of it, herself? Because it doesn't operate in the way we think it does? Who knows?"
Gwen checked her watch. "Well, if we leave, now, we can all make it to the Himalayas and get rid of this thing. But we've already cut out our Seo-failing-airport-security time."
"If Seo's been compromised, it's probably best if we don't bring her along, anyways," said Ianto.
They all moved towards their luggage, grabbing up their gear and everything they needed for their trip.
Buffy tapped on the table, uneasily. Still feeling like there was something about this… she was missing. Something really important. Something…
A deep shudder ran through her.
And she didn't know why.
Buffy got up. "I better go get Seo," she said. "So you can lock up the Hub. I'll keep an eye on her. Make sure she stays out of trouble."
"And make sure she doesn't do anything else that will end the world!" Gwen added, as Buffy raced off towards the interrogation room.
For a few seconds after Buffy left, everyone was silent.
"So," Owen began, with a planted smile on his face, "what do you think Seo meant by the phrase, 'I'm part Hell Goddess'?"
... xxx ...
After the Valiant, 2008.
"Until the announcement about the Toclafane, I was positive Seo was warning us about the thing in the Himalayas," said Buffy. "I didn't even think… it was something here."
Jack said nothing.
"I gotta give Torchwood credit, though," said Buffy. "I figured the moment Seo revealed how alien she really was, they'd kill her on the spot. But they didn't." A faint smile crept up Buffy's lips. "In the end, it didn't matter if she wasn't fully human. They still thought of her as one of them."
Memories bombarded Jack. Memories of that Year…
Of all the screams of his team. All the ways they'd died. All the ways the Master had thought up to torture them, torture Jack. The sick, twisted games the Master had played…
That broken window, on the flight deck. Jack peering out at the ocean waves rolling about, beneath them, his eyes searching frantically…
Ianto's pale, sickly, scarred face, when the Master… had… had…
"Maybe Alison really can
get them to understand," said Buffy. "Maybe she…" Buffy stopped. Trailed off, staring at Jack, a little surprised. "You okay?"
Jack realized, only then, that he was crying.
And couldn't stop.