An Accidental Meeting
All characters in this fiction are, in fact, fiction. Any resemblance between these characters and real people is completely accidental. Unless it serves the story to be on purpose...
All references to characters or places from the Buffyverse belong to Joss Whedon and/or Mutant Enemy. All characters and places from the Potterverse belong to JK Rowling. All characters from Marvel belong to Marvel Entertainment. Any other verses that get involved will be dealt with later.
I should also mention that the story, so far, takes place mid-Season 7, BtVS.
Dr. Ronald Cole is the ONLY character in chapter 1 that is mine.
Reviews? Please? If you like it, let me know. If you don't, tell me why.
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As a scientist, I pride myself on my powers of observation, on logic and reason. Above all, I believe in what can be proved. Magic and the supernatural have no place in the life of an educated man of science. Now, however, I am no longer certain what to believe. I have seen worlds and people - and things - that cannot possibly exist, yet they do.
I'm just an ordinary guy, mostly. Okay, I have a little more education than average, but that really doesn't change who I am. It only affects what I do. My goals are still the same as anyone else - I want to make it big. I want to make, and own
, a discovery so big that I'll be financially set for life. Not to mention, my name will be remembered with the likes of Newton and Einstein. What could be wrong with that?
I'm a particle physicist. My friends, well, if I had time for any, would probably see me as a kind of 'mad scientist', which really is an unfair stereotype. I have no interest in dominating the world, or crushing competitors, not like all those "B" movie characters.
I worked as an associate professor at Caltech in Pasadena, but my real work was in my own lab, which took years of multiple jobs, budgeting, and scrounging to be able to set up properly. Energy. That is what it is all about: energy. Finding and utilizing new energy sources at a time when petroleum is at the root of most of the world's troubles - and I was at the forefront. My ideas were revolutionary.
Being in my late 30s and single, I was able devote most of my time to my research. I didn't have to worry about fashion, style, or other useless timewasters. Oh, I've had girlfriends, but none could ever understand my dedication to my work. They called it an 'obsession'.
I managed to spend some time working out - keeping in shape is important. At six foot one and 205 pounds, I've kept muscle tone and not put on rolls of fat, unlike so many colleagues. And the great thing is, if I spent an hour or so per day working out, I found that I could get away with two hours less sleep a day, which left more time for work.
Okay, maybe I did spend a little too much time in the lab. But I did so with good reason. Or, so I thought.
But none of that is pertinent to my tale. I think I should start where things first became strange, and quickly progressed to weird. After all, how my story came to be is quite boring compared to what happened. Suffice to say, I was alone in my lab late one night when the most extraordinary thing happened.
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I was examining a defective dimensional timer I had in my hand, when I felt a sudden sense of motion. For the briefest instant, it looked like the lab was receding away from me; but not in a specific direction. Rather, it seemed to move away in all directions. The motion made me suddenly ill. There was a bright flash of light that came from everywhere and from nowhere.
Then, it was dark. I found myself lying on grass - cold, wet grass. I could feel my labcoat twisted underneath me. I brushed my hair back away from my eyes as I opened them, but it was too dark to make out any details. One thing was certain - I was not in the lab. Slowly, I looked around. As my eyes grew more accustomed to the darkness, more detail became visible. The first thing I recognized in the dim light of distant streetlights was a headstone. There were many headstones. A graveyard? How could I be in a graveyard?
I rolled over and sat up, yanking my twisted labcoat out from beneath me. One of my sneakers had been pulled almost off. I fixed it as my vision slowly improved. I still felt a bit nauseated.
The graveyard appeared to be a fairly large one. I could make out a crypt or mausoleum about a hundred feet away. I don't remember a graveyard this big anywhere near my lab. My personal lab was in Pasadena, just down the hill from the Arroyo and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Yet, despite the clarity of the night, I couldn't see the mountains. There were some hills nearby, but nothing as large as the San Gabriels just north of Pasadena.
Suddenly, I heard movement behind me. I stood quickly and turned around. Everything spun a bit, as I still felt ill from whatever had just happened. Three men approached. In the poor light and with my head still spinning, I couldn't see very well, but their manner made me nervous, although I wasn't quite sure why. I started to back slowly away.
"Don't bother running. You can't get away."
"Oh, don't tell him that. I like it when they run."
"Shuddup. I'm too hungry to chase 'im."
One of them moved quickly, much too quickly, and suddenly was standing next to me. He stood at least six inches shorter than I, yet he grabbed my left arm and threw me against a tree like a rag doll. I hit the tree and stumbled away while holding my wrenched arm in my other hand.
Then I heard a voice, a young woman's voice, from my right. She sounded bright, cheery, and oh, so innocent. "Hey, guys. Whatcha doin'?"
"God damn it! It's the slayer!"
'Slayer? What the hell is a slayer?' I thought to myself.
"Slayer! Join the party! It's three against one and it's time we end your meddling forever."
"Oh, like I haven't heard THAT before! So, do you guys all have to take the same lame correspondence course in corny dialog before you can join the undead union? You should get your money back."
I turned to look at the girl. I saw her only briefly before she moved. She was petite and slender with long, light-colored hair. She moved too fast to follow, and she had the grace of a cat. She jumped right in the middle of the three men. She kicked one, and then hit a second while dodging a punch thrown by the third.
I was completely dumbfounded and rooted to the spot in shock and amazement. I mean, she was so small I should be helping her, but it was the three guys who needed help. She moved faster than I have ever seen anyone move. After pounding those three men mercilessly for a couple of minutes, she pulled something out of her jacket, and hit one of them in the chest with it - and the guy exploded into dust. Then she did the same to the remaining two, and they, too, vanished in clouds of dust.
She stood for a moment, looked around her, then said, "You three definitely should get your money back." Then she turned and started to walk towards me.
My paralysis ended in a panic as I tried to back away from her. "What ARE you? What did you do to those men?" I stumbled backward, fell, and the world went black.
This experience, with the world suddenly going black, was new to me. Little did I realize as I lost consciousness, that the feeling would become all too familiar in the coming months.
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I was aware that my head hurt. For a few minutes, that was all I was aware of.
I could hear voices in the other room. They were distinct, but not clear enough to understand. There were four, I think: two women, and two men. I wasn't sure. As I slowly opened my eyes, the soft yellow glow of a nearby lamp washed the surrounding room with a welcome warmth. Of course, after the graveyard, most anything would have seemed welcome and warm.
I opened my eyes further and found myself face to face with a teenage girl, a girl with the biggest blue eyes I think I'd ever seen. Her long, silky, brown hair cascaded over her shoulders and down her back.
"Hi." She said as she smiled. Then, she stood up and yelled, "Buffy! He's awake!"
She saw me wince, and then said, "Oh! Sorry! Your head must hurt loads. I know mine does whenever I... never mind. I'll go get Buffy."
Buffy. What a strange name. Of course, I've heard it a few times, like Buffy Sainte-Marie. Still, it was unusual.
Several sets of footsteps came my way. I only wished they walked a bit more quietly, at least until the throbbing died down.
The young girl came in first and stood nearby, arms folded across her chest. She was followed by a young man, fairly large and well-built, with somewhat unruly, dark hair. Why did he look familiar? Two others followed him in: a middle-aged man with thinning, sandy-colored hair and glasses, and a second young women. The young woman caught my attention immediately. She was petite, pretty, and had a flowing mane of long blonde hair. She was wearing a tank top and tightly fitting jeans, which only accentuated her perfect figure. I had last seen her in the graveyard.
However, that she was pretty and blonde wasn't what got my attention. Okay, it was, but what REALLY got my attention was that I recognized her. It was the young actress that played some kind of superhero on that television show - what was it? Oh, yes. 'Buffy, the Vampire Slayer'.
Now I recognized the others as well. All but the young teenage girl, anyway. The other two were Giles and Xander, or rather, the actors that portrayed them. I had seen the show a number times a few years back.
The blonde smiled slightly, a small smile, not heartfelt, but meant to reassure. Then she said, "Hi. You got a nasty bump on the head. How do you feel?"
"As though I have a bump that's worse than nasty. But I don't understand. Why are you here?"
The blonde, looking quizzically at me, said, "What do you mean?"
"Aren't you - oh, what was the name - Oh, yeah! You're Sarah Michelle Gellar."
"Who? No. I'm Buffy. Buffy Summers. And you are?"
I shook my head. They were playing games with me, or I wasn't awake. Speaking to the two men, I inquired, "And you are Giles and Xander, right?"
"Quite." Was the terse reply by Giles.
"Hey. How does he know who we are? It's not like we're wearing nametags or anything." Asked Xander.
Starting to feel more than a little irritated and having no patience left due to my pounding head, I said, "Right. And I'm the goddamn King of England. Okay, I've had enough. Who the hell put you up to this? Because it isn't funny. Not funny at all."
Giles frowned. Xander opened his mouth to say something, but was stopped by a look from Buffy. Buffy leaned over, fixed me with a surprisingly cold and steely gaze, and said, "You know, we've been really nice to you because we KNOW how hard you hit your head. But just so you understand, we don't have to be polite. In fact, time's up. Now you get to meet Cranky Buffy." She paused, then fixed me with a glare that scared the hell out of me. "Who are you? What were you doing in the cemetery, and how did you just appear out of a ball of light?"
Giles continued, "Yes. Where did you come from, and why are you here?"
My anger overcame my pain, at least briefly. I sat up and started to yell, "I don't know what the fuck you people are talking about! I don't know who put you up to this, and I'm not going to tolera..."
My tantrum was interrupted by Buffy, who picked me up by the collar of my labcoat and lifted me right off the couch. Too stunned to speak, all I could do was listen, and try not to choke. I put both hands on her arm to pry her off me. I might as well have tried opening the Jaws of Life by hand.
"Okay. Now you've done it. I save your sorry ass from some hungry but brain-deprived vamps, let you recover on Xander's couch, and you have the nerve to yell at me? Start talking NOW or I'll toss you back out in the cemetery and let some of Spike's former buds have a hearty, if overly sour dinner!"
I looked down, and realized this 'little' girl was holding all 205 pounds of me in the air, and doing it with little or no effort on her part. I shut my mouth, and looked into steely blue eyes blazing with fury. Pretty and petite she might be, but she officially scared the shit out of me.
Giles, in a very calm voice said, "That's enough, Buffy. Put him down. You don't want to break him."
But she put me back on the couch anyway, still glaring fiercely. Giles then turned to me, "But I suggest you start answering our questions." The unspoken threat hung in the air, just about where I so recently had been hanging.
I began, "I d-don't understand. Y-you act like, like Buffy and G-giles from a TV show. You picked me up as though I weigh nothing. I was just in my lab in Pasadena when something went wrong with the timer and I tried to fix it but then the lab just moved away from me and there was this flash of light wet grass and three nasty charactersyouturnedintodustand..."
Xander interrupted my babble, "Hold on, fella, slow down. Now breathe. Come on, breathe again. That's better. Let's try that again, only this time use a little punctuation. God. Did I just criticize someone's English?"
Dawn giggled, then said, "Don't worry, Xander, we won't tell anyone. Your secret's safe with us."
Giles said, "Yes, yes. Very amusing. Now, slow down. First, why don't you tell us your name?"
"I'm, um, Ron. Ronald Cole. Dr. Ronald Cole. I'm a physicist. I was working on some experimental equipment concerning vacuum energy. I believe I accidentally tapped into another dimension because I lost several pieces of equipment. They simply vanished. After looking over my calculations, I realized that the only place the equipment could go was another dimension. So I built a much smaller, more portable trigger that included a timer. The timer would activate it again five minutes later and return it to my lab. If I was right, the timer would return.
"It did. I got the timer to return several times. However, the amount of time it was away from the lab wasn't always five minutes. It varied from 32 seconds to over 2 hours. Then, it didn't come back at all. So I built another, much smaller one and attached it to a stand with a camcorder that was set to film whatever was in front of it.
"I activated it, but nothing happened. I picked up the timer to find out what was wrong, when my lab suddenly started moving away from me. Then there was a flash of light, and I found myself in your cemetery about to be assaulted by those three men. That's all I know.
"Oh, yes, that, and I have a world class headache. Do you have any Tylenol or aspirin?"
Xander was the first to break the silence. "Vacuum energy? Like, stronger vacuums? That Oreck thingy doesn't do a good enough job, or what?"
A new voice, a young woman's voice, came from behind me, "No, Xan. Energy of vacuum, energy of space. I've read about it. Like it could be a source of unlimited, clean energy. Except for the part about blowing up the world if it is mishandled."
Then she stepped into view. She was young, red-haired, and had the most striking green eyes. Willow. She was dressed in a dark green blouse and black slacks that gave her a very somber appearance. And, there was something else in her eyes. There was sadness, and there was pain. The sparkling green of her eyes hid the pain, unless you really looked closely.
"Dawnie, would you get Dr. Cole some aspirin?"
The teenager replied, "Sure thing, Willow." And left the room.
"Please. No one calls me Dr. Cole. Well, except students - and my mother when she's trying to fix me up with someone's daughter. I'm Ron."
"Okay, Ron. I'm Willow. What did you mean when you said Buffy and Giles were acting like someone from a television program?"
Buffy started to interrupt, "Willow, I don't think that's important right now..."
"No, Buffy. It's VERY important. Go on, Ron."
I watched the exchange with growing interest. Buffy, although she seemed like the leader, had backed down quickly when Willow got a little agitated. I also noticed that I had started to think of them as actually being Buffy and Willow. When had that happened? I started to answer, "Well, there's a TV show I've watched a few times called 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'." At this, Buffy and Giles exchanged glances. I continued, "I watched it a few years ago, but I don't know if it is still on. In it, Buffy was played by an actress named Sarah Michelle Gellar, and you," looking at Willow, "were played by an actress named Alyson Hannigan. I don't remember the other actors, and," I said, motioning to Dawn, who had just returned, "I don't remember her at all."
Willow said, "This isn't television, and it isn't a joke."
"I'm beginning to realize that, but I do not understand how." Looking at Buffy, I added, "How did she pick me up?"
"It's pretty obvious, isn't it?" Willow replied. "You know you were connecting to different dimensions. You're in one now. We've dealt with dimensional travelers before, but they tend to be all demony or hellgodish."
Giles broke his silence, "Where did you say you were from?"
"Pasadena, not far from JPL. Where am I now?"
"Where, exactly, is that?"
"We're just north of Los Angeles."
"But I know LA pretty well, and I'm sure there is no Sunnydale."
Dawn, with an exaggerated eye roll, "Hello? Pay attention much? We've been discussing this other-dimensiony thing. Where you're from, there probably isn't a Sunnydale, but you're in Sunnydale now. So, deal."
Willow, who had been standing with eyes closed for about a minute, said, "He's telling the truth." Then, she abruptly turned and walked away.
Buffy called after her, "Wills, how do you know?"
"I just know." Was the answer Willow called back.
Buffy, watching her go, said, "You'll have to excuse Willow. Things haven't been good for her since... Well, something bad happened a couple months ago."
"So, why didn't you return to your dimension when your five minutes were up?" Asked Giles.
"Well, first I have to be in contact with..." Suddenly sitting up straight, I exclaimed, "The timer! Oh, my god! It's still in the cemetery." Then, I slumped and added, "Unless it went back to Pasadena without me. Oh, god. Then I'm stuck here."
A new voice chipped in, "My, my. Aren't we the cheery one."
I looked up to see a tall thin man with short, bleached hair and a very pale complexion. Eyeing the black leather duster, I quizzically said, "You look familiar, but I can't quite remember."
"I look familiar, do I, mate? I've never seen YOU before." Turning to Buffy he said, "Who is this wanker, Pet, and why does he smell like fresh blood? And does he have to be dressed like some bleedin' Poindexter?"
"His name is Ron, and we're trying to find out why he's here."
Xander added, "And don't get too excited about the blood. He was injured a little, that's all. He'll live. No free meal for the freeloader."
A retort by Spike was cutoff before it started when I said, "Spike. Spike. I remember. Some kind of bad guy. A vampire, that's it." Then I looked at him again, and he was wearing a little half-smile and looking very amused.
"Yeah. The big evil. Well, I've changed hats, mate. Don't eat people anymore. Well, at least not when the Slayer's around." At this, Spike looked at Buffy, who glared back at him. Spike just smirked.
I had finally had enough. My veneer of acceptance shattered leaving me in full-blown denial. "Okay. Other dimensions, I understand, sort of. Somehow I'm here when I should be in Pasadena. But TV show characters? Vampires? Come on! This HAS to be an elaborate joke!"
Buffy said, "Just what do you think happened to those three in the cemetery?"
I stopped and frowned realizing something was going on that made no sense at all. Then Spike leaned forward to look me in the eye. He uttered a low growl. His face shifted. His forehead changed shape, and his eyes turned yellow. But it was his teeth that got my attention. They grew longer and sharper with two very nasty looking canine teeth.
Now, I'm not prone to fainting. In fact, I don't remember ever fainting before going to Sunnydale. But for the second time that night, the world turned black. Of course, I didn't hear what happened after I passed out, at least not until much later.
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The Scoobies looked at him with more than a little sympathy as Spike put him back on the couch. Willow joined them as they moved into the kitchen where they could talk without disturbing Ron.
"I've already told Giles, so the rest of you need to know what else happened in the cemetery when sleeping beauty dropped in."
"Right then. Buffy, you fill them in. I'm going home to do some research. I have a couple of ideas I want to pursue." Giles said, as he headed out the door.
Buffy nodded, then turned back to the Scooby Gang, most frowning in anticipation of yet more bad news. "Okay. Here goes. Just before he arrived..." nodding her head in the direction of the unconscious Dr. Cole.
"He?" Spike queried.
"Ron. Dr. Ron... something. Don't remember his last name."
Willow interjected, "Cole."
"Right. Anyway, just before he arrived, I was having an unpleasant one-on-one with the First."
"The First? God, Buffy, are you alright?" asked Willow.
"Yeah, the First. And, I'm fine. Although it really sucks when It visits me AS me. It's really creepy and I wish it would stop."
"Which of course, is why it does that, because it knows you hate it."
"Thanks, Xan. That makes me feel ever so much better. Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah.
"So the First was being, you know, all Firsty, trying to manipulate me, and doing a pretty bad job, I might add. Well, maybe not so bad... Anyway, then it got this weird look on its face - on my face - never mind. It looked like surprise. Almost pain. Then there was a flash of light, and the First vanished, still looking surprised.
"I was just stunned for a second. So I looked around expecting the First to be laughing at me from somewhere else. But, no First. Then I saw this guy," gesturing toward Ron in the other room, "laying on the ground in all his geeky glory. I KNOW he wasn't there before, and I know he didn't walk up while I was being molested by the First."
"So, Captain Courageous just showed up, eh?"
"Give him a break, Spike. Besides, how did YOU react when you saw your first vampire?"
"I got bit. I became one, remember, Pet? Never really had time for the whole disbelieving bit."
"Right. Anyway, that's when the moron triplets decided to invite him for dinner as the guest of honor. Right after I sent the triplets to a dusty nothing, I started to walk over to him. He panicked, fell down, and banged his head against a headstone."
"Oh, hey! Hit his head on a headstone! How about a new book, 'One Hundred and One Uses for Headstones'..." Xander suddenly realized everyone was looking at him. "Okay, I'll shut up now."
The silence was broken by a question. "So?"
"So - what, Spike?"
"So, who cares if some git banged his bloody head?"
Willow, much more quiet and reserved than usual, stepped in, "Because somehow his appearance in the flash of light and the disappearance of the First are related. We have to know how, and why."
"Do you think the First is, you know, like, gone completely? That would be way cool." Dawn said, with a big smile.
Buffy said, "Dawn, if the First was shoved into another dimension by whatever this Ron guy did to get here, then we still have to stop It from creating holy hell there. If it is gone, we didn't defeat it, it was sicced on some innocent dimension. We have to find it and destroy it."
"Oh, come on, Pet. We didn't 'sic' it on anyone. It got moved, and not by us. If it's gone for good, then bully for us, and we should be bloody well glad."
"Gawd, I HATE agreeing with Spike, but he's right, Buf. If the First is gone, we need to celebrate, not chase it."
"I wish I could agree with you guys. But you're wrong, and Buffy's right. We have to find it." Said Willow.
"Oh, so that's what Giles was in such a hurry for - he's going to research dimensional portals."
"See, Xander. Hang around with us long enough and you won't have to pretend to be dumb anymore." Willow said as she smiled.
"What makes you think he's pretending?"
"That's enough, Spike. We have a lot of work to do. First, I need for you to go out, put your ear to the ground, and see if there's any sign of the Big Evil. Find out if his creepy little minions are still around. Xander, you stay here and keep an eye on our 'guest'."
"Uh, thanks. Since this IS my apartment."
"Oh, and Spike, take a flashlight and look in the cemetery for his 'timer' thingy. If it's still there, we'll need it."
"Right. So, what does it look like, and where in the cemetery. And while you're at it, which bloody cemetery? Or would you rather I spend 'til dawn trying to suss it out?"
"Oooo. Aren't you the moody one today. Is it that time of the month already?"
"Sod off, whelp."
"Can it, both of you. We don't have time for this crap. It's the cemetery off 24th St., next to the big oak near the Smythe mausoleum. Look for something that doesn't belong, something high techy. I don't know. Just find it. Willow, I need for you to get all researchy, too. But I want you to approach it from the opposite of Giles. Try to find out what Mr. Wizard was up to, what exactly he was doing. See if we can't approach this from two different directions. But before you do, check with the Coven. See if they know anything that might help us."
Spike said, "Right. I'll head out straight away. Where's that torch?"
"Xander, give Spike a flashlight."
"Okay. Just tell Bleachboy not to lose it." Xander started to walk away, then turned back to Buffy. "Uh, Buf? You know, Anya travels between dimensions. Maybe we could use her help."
"Good idea, Xan. Okay, everyone, let's go."
"Buffy? What about me? What do you want me to do?" asked Dawn.
"You're going back to the house with me. We have to check on the Potentials. Make sure Faith isn't having some wild orgy while we're away."
Xander looked up with a lopsided grin, and said, "Hey, Buf. Maybe little Dawnie should stay here and I'll help you out at the house... "
Buffy raised one eyebrow at him.
"Yeah, yeah, okay. I'll go get that flashlight, now."
As the Scoobies began to disperse, Spike pulled Buffy aside. "Buffy," began, Spike. "You can't go off chasing after the Big Bad all by yourself. You need help. My help. After all, I'm done being its bitch. It's payback time."
Xander, walking back in with a flashlight in hand, said, "Right, Spike. Some help you'll be. You're going to travel between dimensions, but you don't exactly know where you'll end up. First stop, the Mojave Desert. At noon. In three seconds, Buffy's 'backup' becomes a pile of ashes just big enough to fill an urn. Not too smart."
Then Xander smiled wide and said, "Wait, no! That's a GREAT idea! Buf, be sure you bring a camera - it'll be SUCH a Kodak moment."
"Xander, shut up! Give Spike that flashlight." Then, turning to Spike, she started to speak, but Spike cut her off.
"The only thing worse having to hear that git speak at all, is for him to be right. A pile of ashes won't do you much good. But I want to help - I need to help in any way I can."
"You will, Spike. It's going to take all of us to get through this. If the First has gone to another dimension..."
Willow interrupted, as she stepped through the doorway into the room, "It may find much stronger allies and find a way to cross dimensional barriers at will. Buffy, I've been in touch with the Coven. They've sensed something new, something they can't explain or even describe. And, they're terrified."