It’s like the vampires aren’t even trying to blend in anymore, Buffy Summers thinks as she lunges at the man bending over the corpse, her stake aimed right at his heart. This one looks like he just walked out of an old horror movie, with his dark cloak and and black velvet and jeez, is that a ruffled shirt? Seventies, much? Way to embrace the cliche.
Oh well. He wouldn’t be lingering in undeath fashion hell for long after Buffy was done with him.
He’s surprised when he sees her coming towards him, but Buffy has to give him credit; he reacts quickly and well. He dodges, surprisingly quick for someone who looks his age -- of course, vampire, but still -- and she ends up flying past him, the point of the stake plunging only through air. Of course, Buffy’s not so bad at reacting herself; she turns what could have been an awkward fall into a roll, flips back onto her feet and spins around nimbly, springing back towards him and swiping at him with the stake once again.
Hey, Slayer genealogy. Her entire life may be screwed up as a result, but never let it be said she doesn’t kick ass at gymnastics.
The vampire feints, dodges again -- purely defensive moves on his part, he’s strangely un-fighty and un-bitey for a vampire -- but it doesn’t take her long to force him to open a kill-window. She lunges again, and this time there’s no doubt, she has him -- except he does some weird thing with his hands, and oh my God, he actually yells out “Hi-yaaa!”, and once again Buffy finds herself flying forward into empty air, except this time the vampire’s which sends Buffy tumbling much less gracefully this time around.
She recovers quickly, however, gets back on her feet, and readies her stake for the kill once again -- only to realize she’s suddenly holding a banana.
Buffy looks at the vampire -- who is turning Mr. Pointy over in his hands, examining it critically, like he’s never seen a stake before. At this point, Buffy would be happy to let him inspect it closer. He looks over to her, curiously, and Buffy guesses this must be the witty-but-pointed banter part of their battle. Fair enough; he wants to play witty, she can wit.
“Give that back!”
Okay, apparently she can’t. Inside, Buffy is dying; she sounded twelve just then.
The vampire raises an eyebrow. “Well, that wouldn’t be very wise of me now would it, my dear? Given you’ve tried to stab me with it twice.”
And yes, he has a British accent, my God, could he possibly embrace the vampire cliche any more than he is right now?
“Fair enough; I’ll just kick your ass and take it back after I’ve rammed it into your chest anyway.” Wow, Buffy. Zing. This whole witty interplay bit’s working really well for you tonight, isn’t it?
“You could,” the vampire allows. “You could try, certainly. As impressive as your fighting skills are, however, I think you’ll have to allow we’re rather evenly matched. Tell me, do you normally introduce yourself to people by trying to stab them with bits of wood?”
“I dunno; do you normally kill people, drain their blood and rip their hearts out? Somehow I’m guessing yes.”
The vampire frowns. “Surely you don’t think I had anything to do with what happened to this poor man?” He demands, waving his hand over towards the dead guy Buffy had caught. Buffy doesn’t quite follow the hand. She’d rather not. The guy... isn’t exactly in good condition. “If nothing else, look at the state of the poor fellow. I’d be absolutely covered in blood if I’d been involved in his death.”
Okay, Buffy doesn’t want to but she can’t help but admit the guy’s got a point. Even vampires, demons and the forces of darkness aren’t exactly immune to blood splatter. And there’s his whole fighting technique, all defensive moves and disarming, not to mention the fact that he’s standing here chatting to her like he’s at a tea party instead of at a murder scene.
Buffy sizes him up; old, but not ancient, maybe fifties or so (okay, so kind of ancient). Silvery hair in neatly permed curls around his head. Aside from the frankly weird dress sense -- he wears a cape, seriously, a cape -- he all in all seems about as British as Giles, which is to say about as British as the most Britishy British person who ever Britished. It must be something in the water over there. Or the tea. Most likely the tea.
But there’s something funky about him. Something off. It’s like Buffy’s senses are crackling around him, and she’s not sure whether it’s vampire or demon or what, but there’s just something wrong about him. Something almost alien.
And besides, he can not be dressed like that and not be a vampire. No way.
“Yeah, nice innocent act. I suppose you’re gonna say you just happened to come across him like this. Funny; it’s been a while since I heard that from one of you guys.”
“One of you...” the vampire frowns, narrows his eyes. “Exactly who -- or what -- do you think I am, young lady?”
Buffy’s about to open her mouth for another quip when she hears a voice down the other end of the alleyway, and footsteps striding towards them. “Doctor!”
Buffy spins, immediately on the defensive, only to find herself looking at a short brunette woman, possibly in her mid-to-late twenties, and okay, if someone’s holding a seventies-theme party and forgot to invite Buffy, she’s gonna be miffed. That haircut and the pant-suit she’s wearing practically have ‘disco’ written all over it. She’s striding down the alleyway towards them, a newspaper clutched in her hand and irritation written all over her face.
“The TARDIS got it wrong,” the woman sighs, obviously exasperated. “It’s nineteen ninety-seven, not nineteen seventy--”
It’s at that exact moment that the woman catches sight of exactly what Buffy and the vampire (who Buffy, if she’s honest, is beginning to suspect isn’t a vampire, but she’s a bit too stubborn to actually give up on her theory yet -- hey, she nursed that theory like a baby, cut her some slack) are standing beside, and whoa, Buffy’s definitely sure that this lady isn’t a vampire. She’s never seen anyone go so green before. And what's a 'tardis' anyway?
“Oh...” the woman blurts out, eyes as wide as dinner plates.
“Yes,” the ‘vampire’ murmurs (yeah, okay, she’s adding internal finger-quotes to the ‘vampire’ bit, shut up). He sounds almost apologetic. “Probably best not to look, Sarah.”
He walks over, puts a fatherly arm around her shoulder, and guides her to rest at a part of the alley wall that’s not as wet, stinky or covered in trash -- or gore -- as the rest of it. The woman -- Sarah -- shoots him a mildly annoyed look, as if she doesn’t entirely appreciate the paternal thing but is a bit more preoccupied with trying not to throw up to tell him off for it. Buffy has to admit, she’s doing a very valiant job of keeping her lunch down; Buffy herself is very pointedly trying not to look at the wreckage of what was once a man behind them.
“What... what did this?”
What. Not who. And it takes Sarah only a couple of moments to recover her voice, and most of her composure, and okay, these two might not be vamps -- Sarah definitely has a human vibe -- but there’s a tickle of suspicion in Buffy’s mind nonetheless; Sarah has definitely never seen anything like this, but she’s also clearly seen things like this, if you get the drift.
“I’m not sure,” the man responds -- and yeah, fine, okay, he’s not a vampire, but rest assured, that ‘man’ is only there as a placeholder until Buffy finds out who or what this guy is. “Nothing human, at any rate. I was just discussing the matter with this young woman.” At this, he shoots a rather amused look at Buffy.
Sarah notices what’s in the guy’s hand, looks at it strangely. “Is that a stake you’re holding?”
The man’s eyes widen. “Oh, so that’s what it is!” he exclaims, delighted, standing up and looking over it again, apparently forgetting his friend, Buffy, and the rather messy dead guy behind them in the process. “I was wondering. Yes, it belongs to this young lady. She tried to stab me with it.”
“I thought you were a vampire!” Buffy blurts out indignantly. Bad enough everyone at school thinks she’s psycho, she doesn’t need complete strangers spreading the word as well.
Sarah looks at her strangely. Okay, apparently that might not have helped the ‘not a psycho’ argument.
“What on earth could possibly make you think I was a vampire?” the man replies indignantly. Not 'I don't believe in vampires and think you're crazy', but definitely 'I happen to know vampires exist and am offended by the comparison'. Put another notch in the 'suspicious' column.
For now, however, Buffy just gives him the look. It is her special, patented look, which breaks the will of man and demon alike. Okay, so it only breaks Xander’s will at the moment, but he counts on the ‘man’ front and practice makes perfect. For there is no way she is letting this stand.
“Seriously,” she retorts. “You are going to stand there, dressed like that, in a dark alley, over a dead guy, who’s been torn apart, and wonder why someone might think you’re a vampire.”
Sarah cocks her head, looks her friend over. “Actually, she’s got a bit of a point there, Doctor,” she concedes. “You do a bit like Bela Lugosi in that get-up. Or Christopher Lee.”
Buffy has no idea who any of these people are, but the man -- doctor? -- looks at her, as wounded and betrayed as if he’d just stabbed him in the heart from behind, or spilt wine on his jacket. “I thought you liked this bow-tie, Sarah.”
“I do,” Sarah replies in what Buffy instantly recognizes as the ‘oh-no-the-fragile-male-ego’s-been-damaged-now-I-have-to-put-it-together-again’ tone. “I’m just saying, maybe the green jacket might have been a wiser choice in hindsight.”
The ‘Doctor’ huffs. “Humans,” he sniffs. “Positively lacking in style, you lot are.”
And okay, using ‘humans’ like that? In a tone that suggests he’s kind of not? And oh, the dead guy Buffy found him with? Buffy’s ‘suspicious-o-meter’ towards this guy is going ‘ding-ding-ding’ again. She narrows her eyes, steps forward. “Okay, how about this; less style talk, more ‘who the hell are you and what the hell is going on’ talk. I find you standing over a dead guy, and there is definitely something weird about you two.”
Something occurs to Buffy. “And she called you ‘doctor’, and you’re British. Wasn’t Jack the Ripper a doctor? And British? Is this a Jack the Ripper thing? You kind of look like Jack the Ripper too. Are you Jack the Ripper? Is that it?”
The man looks at her, incredulous. “First a vampire, now Jack the Ripper?” he retorts. “You have quite the taste for the supernatural, I see. Not to mention what appears to be a rather low opinion of me and my dress sense.”
Okay, make Buffy feel stupid -- way to endear yourself, weird guy who apparently likes dressing like a vampire. Or Jack the Ripper. “Not the point. Point is, I have questions, you have answers, start talking.”
Sarah raises an eyebrow. “And who, exactly, are you to be asking the questions in the first place?”
“What are you talking about?”
“My young friend has a point,” the man says. “You come across someone standing over the body of a person who’s obviously been brutally attacked, and instead of raising the alarm, you instead attack him with lethal intent. Unless the local authorities have started hiring schoolgirls, you’re obviously not a police officer or an agent of law enforcement, and yet you seem comparatively unfazed by the scene in front of you, as if you’re not entirely unfamiliar with such sights, and I can’t help but note that you’re not exactly rushing off to alert anyone as to what’s happened here. Your presence and actions here aren’t without suspicion either, you know; we could be asking the same questions of you. Who are you, anyway?”
Buffy opens her mouth, intending to retort. After a few seconds where nothing happens, she closes it again.
Crap. She hates it when other people make sense.
“I’m the Slayer,” she declares eventually declares, as dramatically and boldly and forcefully as she can. It takes all her effort not to add “so there” to it.
“And I’m the Doctor,” the man replies smoothly, “and my friend here is Sarah. Nice to meet you.”
Buffy raises an eyebrow. “Seriously? You actually call yourself ‘the Doctor’? It’s not just a title or anything?”
“You call yourself ‘the Slayer’,” the Doctor points out, sounding slightly put out.
“Yeah, but I don’t use it as my name! My name’s Buffy.”
The Doctor and Sarah exchange a glance that Buffy does not like.
“Well,” the Doctor replies diplomatically, “I can see why you introduced yourself as ‘the Slayer’ first.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?!”
“Children,” Sarah interjects, in a voice that suspects she’s used to acting as the voice of reason, “we seem to be forgetting something.” She waves in the general direction of the corpse, obviously not wanting to look at it again. Buffy can relate.
The Doctor looks at the corpse, begins to walk over to take another look. Buffy feels torn between stopping him, looking over beside him, pushing him out of the way and looking first, and throwing up. She’s supposed to be the Slayer, yeah, and this is kind of her thing and she kind of feels like her territory is being trampled on. But still... ew.
“Shouldn’t you call the police, like you said?” she settles for calling over.
The Doctor looks back over his shoulder. “Shouldn’t you?” he calls back, sounding amused. Buffy has to restrain a sudden urge to stick her tongue out. She wanders over to him, trying not to get too close to the body. Sarah elects to remain seated where she is. Buffy kind of envies her. Yet one more reason to go on the list of ‘why the Slayer lineage sucks’ -- 100% more dealing with corpses than she’d ever have liked.
“Well, you’re right about one thing,” the Doctor comments after a moment. “Whatever did this was definitely not quite human. Nor any kind of wild animal that I’m familiar with, unless wild animals have taken to harvesting organs. His heart’s been taken, plus a few other things that I’ll spare you from having to know about. Intelligent, but savage. Someone obviously knew what they were looking for, and went about getting it in the most vicious manner possible.”
“The heart?” Buffy shrugs. “That sounds about right. Very culty. Also cliche. You’d think they’d try something different for a change.”
The Doctor looks over at her, almost approvingly. “Quite so, my dear. If there’s one thing these types inevitably lack, it’s a sense of imagination.”
“As interesting as this is,” Sarah calls over, “could we possibly do this somewhere where there’s not a horribly dismembered corpse? Or which is dry? My bum’s getting cold.”
“Seconded,” Buffy agrees. “Except not the ‘bum’ thing.”
“Very well.” The Doctor stands up, brushing the sleeve of his jacket down. “I suggest we notify the proper authorities about this poor fellow and adjourn somewhere more comfortable to continue this discussion.”
“I know just the place,” Buffy replies. And yeah, okay, she seems to have gone very quickly into trusting Mr. Vampire Jack The Ripper Dressing No Other Name Than ‘Doctor’ (Which Isn’t Even A Name By The Way, But What Ever) person here, and she’s still got this wiggy vibe about him, but she’s reasonably certain he and his friend aren’t vampire demon thingies, he seems to know what he’s talking about and the more she has her eye on him, the more he isn’t going to be possibly brutally killing people and stealing their organs for God knows what purpose.
Besides, she has to get this guy and Giles in the same room. The sheer overload of Britishness might punch a hole in the universe or something.
“My Watcher’s waiting for me in the library,” she continues. “And if anyone knows who’s celebrating Ripping Out Hearts Day this week, he will.”
The Doctor nods approvingly as he chivalrously holds an arm out for his companion. Sarah rolls her eyes, but takes it anyway. “A library. Excellent. No finer weapon in the known universe than a book. The more we know about this foe, the better prepared we’ll be.”
Definitely the tea.
Buffy rolls her eyes and begins to lead them out of the alleyway. “Plus, you can hit people with them. And other things.”
“I’m still completely lost by all this, by the way,” Sarah complains, following her. “Vampires? Jack the Ripper? What sort of place is this, anyway?” She shoots a mock-glare at the Doctor. “I thought this was California; I was expecting sun and sand. Where’ve you brought me to this time?”
“Welcome to Sunnydale,” Buffy replies. “If it’s weird and murderous, we got it.” She sighs. “And knowing my luck, it’s probably something to do with the Master again.”
The Doctor whirls round, a look of shock on his face that would almost be comical if it weren’t so deadly serious. “The Master?” he echoes, alarmed. “Did you say the Master is here? Good heavens!”
And boy, does that one take some clarifying.