Notes: the characters and concepts belong to their respective owners. No profit is made from this. Feedback is appreciated, though I don't actually check the e-mail associated with this account too often. It should also be noted that this is just a teaser, more of an idea than a full story.The Lonely Assassin
The Doctor knows he shouldn't be surprised that River is gone when he gets back, but he still feels a pang. He pauses a moment at the open door of his TARDIS. Maybe it's time to change the wallpaper. This one brings up nothing but painful memories.
The Doctor steps inside and closes the door behind him. Against the background hum of the TARDIS, the noise goes almost unnoticed. The Doctor's back goes a bit straighter.
"Don't turn around! I just want to--!" The voice is young, female, and there is a note of urgency there. The Doctor is already turning though. He catches sight of it out of the corner of his eye.
An Angel! A Weeping Angel stands frozen, quantum-locked just in front of the door. It has its hands raised. "This is bad. This is very, very bad. How did you get in here?" He marches up to it determinedly. "You can't be in here."
The Doctor pulls out his sonic screwdriver. A high pitch buzz fills the air and he gives it a bit of a wave. He flicks it back and takes a look at the readings, one eye always on the Angel.
"Good. You're alone," the Doctor says. Usually, where there's one Angel there's more. The Doctor takes a closer look at the Angel. There's something about it, something he's missing. He circles it, giving the sonic another go.
The Angel is just standing there. Alright, it doesn't have much of a choice, being quantum-locked at the moment. At first, it looks like most of them do, female, wearing a toga, made of stone, but when he looks a bit closer, he starts to see differences. It looks younger, like a teenager, and, with a start, he realises that this Angel is also painfully familiar.
His jaw sets unconsciously at the recognition. This is the Angel that killed the Ponds.
"What are you doing here?" His voice is louder now, more confrontational.
The Angel can't answer of course. Not unless he shuts his eyes or looks away. He should just pilot the TARDIS away, phase her out from around the Angel and go somewhere where he would never have to see it again.
The Doctor's hands hover over the controls, and for a moment, he seriously considers it, but he stops. He looks thoughtful. "You didn't attack. You could've and I probably wouldn't have been able to react in time, but you didn't."
The Angel's body language is all wrong. Its face is all wrong, now that he really looks. It looks almost worried, a far cry from the bestial monster that lurks beneath the stone facade. Its hands are raised too and not like its reaching out for him either. No, it's a disarming gesture.
He really should just leave. This Angel especially doesn't deserve mercy or kindness. But it didn't attack. He keeps coming back to that and he just can't ignore it. There's only one way to be sure.
The Doctor takes a deep breath, then shuts his eyes hesitantly. For a long, tense moment, he worries he's made a mistake.
"I'm sorry," the Angel says quietly.
"You should be!" The Doctor snaps angrily. He almost opens his eyes again but stops himself just in time.
"I..." The Angel starts. She sounds as young as she looked. Insecure. She. Funny that. When did the Angel become a 'she' instead of an 'it.' "I couldn't help it. I... I was... so hungry. God, listen to me! I sound--"
"You sound human," the Doctor says grimly.
"Once upon a time," the Angel responds with a sigh. "I had a name, a family even. Buffy Summers." She breaks off into silence and just when the Doctor is about to ask, she continues. "I miss my mom so much. It feels like a lifetime. It's been longer."
"What happened?" The Doctor asks, running his hand through his hair, a gesture of frustration he picked up in some past regeneration.
"It was Halloween," the Angel says after a long moment. "Our troll of a principal made us 'volunteer' to chaperone a bunch of sugar-hyped little rugrats."
"Interesting definition of volunteer," the Doctor says. She sounds American, he notes absently. Possibly from the West Coast.
"Tell me about it," Angel-Buffy chuckles bitterly. "Costumes were mandatory, of course. I went as this."
"A Weeping Angel," the Doctor says.
"I didn't know it was some kind of monster that fed off people's time energy," the Angel says. "It was just a statue. There were like dozens where I used to live."
"But a costume can't just change what you are. It's just a bit of make-belief."
"The guy that owned the store where we bought our costumes did something," the Angel says. There is a weariness to her voice now. She's tired, the Doctor realises, so tired. "We became our costumes. My friend Willow became a real ghost. My friend Xander became a real soldier. And I... I turned into an Angel. After, everyone else went back to being normal, but not me."
"The image of an Angel becomes an Angel," the Doctor realises.
"Yeah," the Angel says quietly. He feels her sit down next to him and tenses up.
"What happened next?" The Doctor asks. His curiosity has replaced his anger.
"I tried to talk to my friends," the Angel says. "Tried to figure this out. Then I... I touched my mom a-and..."
"You sent her back in time," the Doctor says. His voice is accusing, he belatedly realises. "You fed off her."
"I didn't mean to!" Angel-Buffy cries out and she is crying now, the Doctor realises. A Weeping Angel actually weeping... Not funny at all. "I didn't know what had happened to me! My mom was going crazy trying to find me and I couldn't do anything!"
"Oh Angel-Buffy..." the Doctor sighs sadly.
It's difficult to stay angry at her, even after what she's done. Why'd she have to be so... human?
"I ran away," the Angel says after a long moment. The Doctor hears her sniffle quietly, hears her wiping her nose. No-one's ever seen a Weeping Angel in its natural form. Do they even have noses? "I ended up in New York eventually and there were others, like me."
"No," the Doctor says, shaking his head, his jaw fixed again. "Not like you."
"I thought about going hungry. Starving myself," Angel-Buffy says. "I tried so hard after mom... I didn't want to kill anyone! I wasn't strong enough. I couldn't... You have no idea what it feels like to have to..."
Angel-Buffy doesn't know, the Doctor thinks darkly. The blood on his hands...
There is real disgust in her voice when she speaks again. "I sent people back. To the... to the farm, I guess."
"And the Ponds? Rory and Amy?" The Doctor asks.
"I'm so sorry," the Angel whispers after a long moment.
"Why now?" The Doctor asks, standing up. He opens his eyes, careful not to look at her, and paces furiously about the console. "Why are you telling me this?"
"When I'm stone," the Angel says hesitantly. "I can still... sense, I guess? I can still sense what's going on around me."
"Because you still need to be aware of your surroundings to move in that split second when someone looks away," the Doctor says.
"Yeah," the Angel says. There's a pause. "You've lost a lot of people, haven't you?"
"What?" The Doctor asks, frowning at the sudden change in topic.
"I heard you scream," the Angel says. The Doctor thinks she might've shrugged and wonders for a moment what it looks like for a stone girl with wings to shrug. "In the graveyard, after I... after. I don't have to... feed a lot. One or two people a year maybe? The Ponds... did something. I know it's not an excuse, but suddenly I was so, so hungry and Rory was right there. I couldn't stop myself. I tried. A-and then Amy... She was in pain and for once I could help! It doesn't make it right--"
"No it doesn't," the Doctor agrees snappishly.
"I could still send you back?" Angel-Buffy offers. It is an offer, the Doctor realises, not a threat. "You could see them again?"
"No," the Doctor says firmly. He's run away before, but he couldn't do this.
"Okay," the Angel says quietly. "What happened? I've never felt anything like it before. Time just..."
"They created a paradox," the Doctor says. "Rory was supposed to die there, in your farm, as an old man, but they stopped it."
"How?" The Angel asks curiously.
"They jumped off a building," the Doctor says, as if it's the most obvious thing in the world. A fond smile coming to his face, despite the hurt he feels when he thinks of his most recent companions.
"Huh," the Angel says. He gets the impression she's considering things from a different angle now. "That really works?"
The Doctor nods his head. "This time."
There is a long silence. The Doctor sneaks a peak and of course Angel-Buffy turns to stone right away. He quickly looks away again. She looked thoughtful, he thinks.
"Please don't do that," the Angel says, sounding annoyed.
"Sorry," the Doctor says sheepishly.
"If you could, you'd save them, right?" Angel-Buffy asks.
The Doctor sighs. "I can't ever take the TARDIS there again. It would burn New York."
"So don't," the Angel says. He hears her stand up, moving closer to him, stopping just short of being able to touch him. "Take me home. To the night before that Halloween."
"What?" The Doctor asks. He stops pacing, almost turns to glare at her.
"I can stop myself," the Angel says. "If I don't become this... this monster, then I--"
"Do you know what you're asking?" The Doctor demands. "The paradox would destroy you."
"I kill people!" Angel-Buffy nearly-shouts. It's the first time he's heard anything but self-pity in her voice. "Every time I feed, I kill people! And the people left behind live on in uncertainty and misery, never having any kind of closure! Do you think I want that? Do you think I want to be like this? Doctor, I don't want to die... but I can't live like this either!"
"How would you even--"
"I'll make younger-me change costumes," Angel-Buffy interrupts. She's probably thought about this a lot. Humans. Always thinking 'if only this' or 'if only that'. "I never go as an Angel, I never feed off my mom, I never run away to New York, and I never have to feed off Rory and Amy. Simple."
"Not simple," the Doctor argues. "You don't understand. It's very, very bad to cross your own timeline."
"I don't care," Angel-Buffy says stubbornly. "Isn't it worth it? All those people I killed... Think about it, Doctor: we could save them all."
The Doctor considers it for a moment. There's a very real chance that this could work. Could he--? Could he sacrifice her to save those people?
The Doctor thinks back to the last page, Amy's last words to him. They were happy, in the end.
"Why not?" Angel-Buffy asks, obviously frustrated.
"What's done is done," the Doctor says. His voice is firm, his jaw stubbornly set. "You can't change a fixed point in time. I've seen what happens when you do."
The Angel collapses behind him. He turns and looks at her and she freezes in stone. She looks so pitifully small and despondent and the Doctor realises that he can't be angry at her anymore. She's as much a victim as the Ponds were. He'll find a world for her, somewhere out of the way, where she can survive. He turns away for just a moment, but when he looks back, he's alone again. He has a sinking feeling that this will mean trouble.