Chapter 1: Go Straight Long Enough
Buffy remembered the fear in Willow's eyes when her friend gave the briefing.
"That's the form that they take, yeah. There's at least three of them, maybe four, and they're in this house. You're going to want back up. Lots of it."
Buffy hadn't wanted to endanger that many girls. She set out with Satsu and five others. "Fourteen really speedy Slayer eyes, and we've all got nice shiny weapons. Still works if we see ‘em in mirrors, right?" Willow had nodded. "Right. We'll bust them up, and if that doesn't work, have Xander order up a bunch of mirrors. Put enough of them around the house, eventually these creepy statue demons won't be able to look anywhere without seeing each other, and we'll be all be set. In stone even."
Buffy really hoped that Plan B worked better than Plan A had. Plan A resulted in Buffy stuck in 1913. Buffy was not a fan of 1913. She'd never been a class warrior, but after three months, had decided she particularly hated England in 1913.
Buffy had expected a Willow rescue attempt by now.
Buffy was not even entirely sure that this was her 1913, given that this 1913 did not include a Watchers' Council. She really wished that she'd paid just a weensy-bit more attention to Willow's research into the Weeping Angels and whether or not the portals they opened were just temporal, or dimensional as well. Buffy was tossed out of the Drones' Club, the group which occupied the space which should by all rights have been the Watchers' Headquarters.
Buffy examined her pockets. She had only just figured out the decimalized version of British currency. She did not cry. She gritted her teeth.
Buffy, who had no references, no family connections, and an American accent, got a job.
Even when she was in high school, Buffy was never a huge fan of teenage boys, with the possible exception of Xander. None of the boys at Farringham School were even remotely Xander-shaped. And they had really, really, dirty boots that they tromped across floors she'd just cleaned, and Mr. Clean hadn't even been born yet. Wanting to keep her job, Buffy did not break their miserable skulls. Instead, she scrubbed, saved, fended off the advances of Mr. Palmer, the creepy groundskeeper, and patrolled nightly against supernatural forces that never bothered to appear.
Mostly, Buffy waited for some sign that she wasn't going to spend the rest of her life getting back to her own birth. At least once Martha joined the staff, Buffy had someone to talk to.
Chapter 2: Gotta Know Right Now
It only took Buffy and Martha a week to figure out that they were both from the twenty first century. They caught subtle clues. Buffy smelled modern shampoo in Martha's hair. Martha heard Buffy call Baines a 'little Nazi thug' under her breath.
Finally while they were crouched over, waxing the banisters in relative privacy, Martha asked Buffy, "You know what I'd like right now?"
"To use this stuff on the Headmaster's bald spot?" Buffy rubbed harder.
Martha smirked. "No. I want to get a couple of curries, sit down in front of the telly, and maybe watch a couple of Colin Firth movies."
"Make it Orlando Bloom and we're on." Buffy winked, but her heart dropped a bit when Martha made a face.
"He's way too pretty boy."
The reply filled Buffy with overwhelming joy and she grinned at Martha. "So is that fluffy stick of nothing that you showed up with. Professor Smith. He from our time too?"
Martha's smile stiffened. "No, he's not. Don't even really know what time he's from."
"Huh." Buffy moved down to the next step. "So what's your story? Stepped into the wrong sculpture garden? Or is this like Casablanca, except we're all refugees from other times and dimensions?"
"Other dimensions?" Martha shook her head. "I'm pretty sure the TARDIS can't move between dimensions. I mean, it is a 'relative dimension,' but we've never gone to a different dimension before."
Buffy finished buffing her half, and set her hands on her hips, facing Martha. "Well, I guess that just makes me special. Lucky me. If you're looking for a way back, though, I haven't found one, and I've been here three months already."
Martha looked around. "I've got a way home. We can give you a lift. Just sit tight." Martha went back to work. Buffy picked her up by the waist and set her against the wall.
"How tight? How long?"
Martha's eyes widened. "You're awful strong."
"Gotta love those pilates classes. When do we break out?"
Martha looked into the smaller girl's green eyes. "Three more months. Not even. Eleven more weeks. Then we can go home. Or at least, we can get you back to the right time. We'll have to ask the Doctor about getting you to the right dimension." She and Buffy rushed to pick up their rags and get back to polishing as a troop of boys headed back to the dorms, muddy boots ruining the afternoon's work.
After they'd passed and Buffy glared sufficient daggers in their general direction, she turned her attention back to Martha. "Who's this doctor that's going to figure this all out? That Smith guy again?"
Martha sighed. "Sort of." She looked around one last time. "Listen, I know a place with central heat and indoor plumbing. Let's finish this up, take a walk, and we can talk."
"Deal." Buffy went to grab the scrubbing bucket with a new lightness in her step.
Martha wondered aloud, "Maybe the TARDIS even has a copy of 'Pirates of the Caribbean' lying around."
Chapter 3: I Don't Want You to be Alone Down There
John Smith was certain that the entire convoluted dream, with all of its explosions and mysterious devices, would make absolute sense if he only had five more minutes in it. Instead, Buffy walked in his room with the tea tray. "Your class starts in twenty minutes, Professor Smith, if you want breakfast, better be quick about it."
He shielded his eyes as Miss Summers pulled aside the curtains, and sat up. She was an impertinent one, which most of the other teachers found irritating, and having been ripped from his dreams, so did he. "Well then, put it down so that I can eat it." With a sideways smile, she set the tray on his lap. Recalling her appearance in his dream, he asked, "Where's Martha?"
"Your security blanket? Some boys snuck back in through the chicken coops last night and forgot to fix the fence. Headmaster sent Martha and Jenny out to search and retrieve as many as they could." John laughed at the thought before he could stop himself. Buffy smiled, and he thought the room brightened a touch more. "Eat up. I'll see if there's a bastinada somewhere around here you can use to whack the feathers off Hutchinson's shoes."
"Bastinada requires bare feet, doesn't it?" The words were out of John's mouth before he knew what he was saying.
"Look who knows his Turkish torture implements? Your history class must be very interesting." Buffy finished tidying the previous night's tea tray and made to leave.
"And how does a poor, young American girl come by that sort of knowledge? You weren't always a maid, were you?"
Buffy stopped short and turned to face him. "I travel."
John stood, leaving the tray untouched save for a triangle of toast, and regarded the girl. "I've often dreamed of travel myself. Adventure, really."
Buffy looked up at him as he drew closer. "You dream?"
"I dream I'm this...daredevil, a madman. 'The Doctor', I'm called. All in the future." He caught a spark of something other than amused tolerance in her eyes, and halted.
"With little green men from Mars, right?" Buffy held still.
"No, no. But I'm a man from another world, not Mars, but some planet even further away."
Buffy chuckled softly. "I've seen some strange things in my travels, but I've never met a man from another world."
His attention drifted to the mantel. "That watch." He picked it up. "It's funny how dreams slip away, isn't it." He replaced it, unopened, drawn back to Buffy's slim form.
Buffy took the opportunity to turn back to the door. "Well, if you'd bothered to open it, you'd see that you're actually a human who's about to be late for class. I'll let you get dressed, Professor."
When Martha and Jenny returned to the kitchens, they were covered in feathers and mud. "Hutchinson's going to pay," gritted Martha as she pulled more down out of her hair.
"Shhh," said Jenny. "The little bastards will take revenge, they hear talk like that, and you know whose side the Headmaster will take." Her voice lowered further. "Better just to dose their stew with castor oil tonight. Should keep them close to home."
Martha laughed hard enough that Buffy figured castor oil would be suitable revenge. "Jenny, can you hold the fort for a few minutes? I'm gonna take Martha to the washroom and get the rest of these feathers out."
"Ye are, are ye?" Jenny winked at them. Martha stopped laughing and Buffy blushed. "Go on ahead, she got the worst of it."
Buffy dragged a still sputtering Martha to the washroom. "Does she think- I mean, this is Edwardian England – I didn't think people thought this way back then?"
Buffy rolled her eyes. "And you call yourself the time traveler. There's nothing new under the sun, Martha. No recalling former things either, except, of course, for John Smith, who's dreaming about being a time-traveling alien called the Doctor. Did you know about that?" She set about pulling feathers out of Martha's thick hair.
"No. We've got a solid month left before I'm due to open the watch. It's not safe yet." She set some water to warm in the kettle, washing just her hands in the icy water from the basin.
"Another month," muttered Buffy. "Y'know, I've never met this guy, and I'm half convinced he's set this whole thing up to make me suffer."
"You've never met the Family of Blood either, and trust me, even scary slayer girls would be afraid of them."
"John Smith seems more interested in looking down my shirt than saving the world, that's all I'm saying."
Martha turned her head sharply. "He what?"
"Peeks down my uniform every time he thinks I'm not looking. Stupid stuffy old men here, they're worse than the guys at my high school."
Martha looked down. "I'm sorry. The Doctor isn't like that." She pour some of the heated water into the basin and splashed her face with it. "Hand me the borax, would you?"
Buffy pulled a scoop out of the canister. "Sorry. I know that you care about him." Martha took some of the powder and scrubbed her face with it while Buffy used it on her hair.
"Not your fault," said Martha as she rinsed her face and hair.
"It'll be nice to have cream rinse again," offered Buffy.
Martha nodded. "I'm going to go get changed up, okay? You get back to Jenny, we don't need to give her any more ideas." Buffy watched her friend leave, then headed back to the kitchens, where Jenny was busy peeling carrots.
Jenny saw Buffy's concerned frown and clucked her tongue. "Those sorts of things never last. Best to enjoy it and then move on, and don't let it affect the work."
Buffy watched the surface of the stew burble. "Yeah. Right."
Jenny handed her a knife. "Unless of course, she's just got that impossible dream of Professor Smith in her head. Don't know why she's so sweet on him. Head in the clouds half the time..."
Buffy shook her head. "And the other half staring at me."
Jenny blanched. "Ah. I see."
Chapter 4: You've Got the Perfect Disguise
Buffy could have kicked herself. She'd heard Martha talking about the Doctor. For the last two months, it was her favorite topic of conversation. But it was so hard to associate the heroic Doctor who Martha sang praises of with John Smith, who put her in mind of Xander and Giles' love-child.
Now that was a disturbing thought. Buffy giggled.
"What is out that window that could be so amusing, Miss Summers?"
Buffy bit her lips together. "Nothing, Professor Smith. Just thinking of some friends from home." She turned to him, and saw him juggling a pile of books. One fell from his hands and she snatched it out of the air. John goggled at her reflexes, and Buffy took advantage. "Here, let me." She took the bulk of the pile, leaving him with just one in each hand.
"You're quite strong, Miss Summers. And quite agile."
"Used to hang out in a library," Buffy deflected. "Where are these going?"
John turned about, then decided on a corridor that was completely out of his way. "Ah, yes, this way, my office. So, I was right then. You're educated, not a maid at all."
Buffy kept her eyes down. "I made it through school just fine. After my mother died, I decided I needed a change. Just ran out of money, that's all. Once I've got enough saved up, I'll find my way back home."
"So why didn't you find some more genteel work? As a governess, perhaps."
Buffy smiled. "I don't think I had the right education for that. Anyway, you English, you hear an American accent, and you automatically assume I'm Cletus the slack-jawed yokel."
John laughed. "That's quite the expression. We're not all that bad, are we?" Buffy just gave him a pointed look. "I suppose we are. Well, I shan't again make the mistake of underestimating you simply because you wear a maid's outfit and speak in a colonial patois."
"Gee, thanks Professor." They arrived at his office, and she set the books on his desk. He stood in the doorway, blocking her exit.
"You don't always have to call me Professor."
Buffy put a hand on her hip. "What exactly should I call you?"
He faltered. "Well, Mister Smith is slightly less – although, I guess, not more, I mean, as a maid, I could talk to the Headmaster about your situation."
"What situation is that?"
John took a step back. "I mean, you're working below your station."
"I have a station?" Buffy took two steps towards him. "Let me get this straight. You think that I'm too good to scrub floors?"
John swallowed roughly, and replied in a slight squeak, "Well, yes."
"Okay, but most of the time Martha's your maid."
Her eyes narrowed, and John suddenly felt like a hunted animal. "And of the two of us, you think that I'm the one who's too smart to be scrubbing floors?"
"Well, Martha's obviously a bright girl, but-"
"But what," barked Buffy.
"What exactly did I say to offend you? I apologize, honestly and sincerely," he tried, feeling pinned against the wall by her stare. After what seemed like an eternity, she looked back towards the window.
"You're just very... English. Product of your circumstances. I shouldn't blame you either."
John caught his breath. "I suppose I'm simply trying to understand you, Miss Summers."
She looked very tired all of a sudden. "Just call me Buffy. And I'll call you John when the boys can't hear, if that's what you want."
"I'd like that very much." He dared to walk around her to his desk. "If it's not too familiar."
"No, it's not," murmured Buffy, leaning heavily on the back of a chair.
"Would you like to sit a moment? I won't tell the Headmaster, but you look unwell. Should I call the Matron?"
Buffy wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. "No, I should get back to work."
John shut the door, then took Buffy's hand and pulled the seat out for her. "It will mean no trouble for you, I promise."
"Why do I not trust promises of 'no trouble' from you?"
"I've no idea," replied John with a smile. An item on the desk triggered his memory. "You were the one I spoke to about my dreams."
Easing into the chair, Buffy sighed. "Yes, I was."
He picked up a slim journal from the desk. "I have written down some of these dreams in the form of fiction... um... not that it would be of any interest."
Buffy exhaled the breath of someone about to jump off a cliff. "I'd love to read them." She took the book and leafed through it. "It looks very exciting." He spent a few minutes explaining a number of the illustrations, and Buffy seemed very understanding of the strange terminology he used. She was just so comfortable to talk to, even if she was a maid.
Afterwards, Buffy slipped out of the office, the journal in her hand. Martha lurked in the shadows, but Buffy knew she was there. "He wrote it all down, here. All the things you told me about, he dreams them." She offered the book to Martha. "Would you like to read it?"
"Not really. I've lived it." Buffy flinched at the harshness in Martha's voice. "Anything else interesting happen?"
"No. Not really."
Martha turned away. "Fine. We're late for supper service." Buffy's heart broke a little bit, but she straightened her shoulders and followed the best friend she had.
That night, Buffy pulled on her boots. "Where are you going," asked Martha from beneath the sheets.
"There's never anything out there."
Buffy finished with her laces. "Keeps me in practice. Maybe the Family of Blood's lurking out there tonight."
Martha rolled over. "Buffy, I'm sorry about this afternoon. It's just – I've never seen him look at anyone the way he stares after you."
"He's got lousy taste," offered Buffy.
Martha laughed, then sobered. "No he doesn't."
Buffy laid a hand over Martha's. "He's not even him right now. And I'm not going to encourage him. It's just he turns on those damn puppy-dog eyes-"
"I know exactly what you- what was that?" A flash of green swooped across the sky. Martha grabbed Buffy's arm as she moved towards the window. "Don't go on patrol. You don't know what you're dealing with."
Buffy pulled Martha's hand off gently and swung one leg over the sill. "Well, neither will they. Don't wait up." With a wink, she dropped out of sight.
Chapter 5: Hands and Knees Felt Cold and Wet on the Grass
The clearing near Cooper's Field was disappointing, until Buffy spied Baines emerging out of nowhere, in a very literal sense. He sniffed the air a couple times, and Buffy checked to make sure that she was downwind. Yep. She sniffed a few times herself. Baines no longer smelled of turn-of-the-century acne cream and smug superiority. Now it was smug superiority and something else, something alien and other that made her feel slimy inside.
She kept an eye on his departure, and moved towards the blank space he'd emerged from. As she grew closer, though, she was hit by an intense case of vertigo. She dropped to her knees, and was sick in the grass. "That's new." She crawled back to the woods, feeling slightly better every inch she moved away from the clearing. Keeping her ears open, she followed Baines back to the school. He didn't do anything more suspicious than usual, so, making sure she wasn't being watched, Buffy scaled the wall, climbing back into the window.
Martha stood up. "What was it?"
"Couldn't figure it out. Once I got close enough, I got sick. The space was all wrong. But Baines came out of it." The vertigo returned with a vengeance, and Buffy doubled over. Martha straightened her out and sat her down on the bed.
"Hold on, you're worse than the Doctor when he gets going properly." Martha handed Buffy a glass of water from the basin, then lit the lamp. "Now, what's this about Baines?"
"Don't think he's Baines any more. Probably an improvement, the racist shit head. But he was giving off weird alien-vibes." Buffy took a long swallow of water. "At least I think they might have been alien-vibes, I don't have that much experience with them."
Martha sat down on the bed next to Buffy, feeling her forehead. "You're all sweaty."
Buffy smiled bitterly. "Not used to being sick. It was – strange. There's this clearing, and there's nothing in it, except for the invisible thing Baines came out of, and when I tried to get near it, I popped." She finished the water. "I can't remember the last time I was sick like that. The whole space, it was – wrong. There's no other word for it." She shuddered, and Martha gave her a tight hug.
"I don't like the sounds of this. And you claim that you never get sick."
"I don't," replied Buffy. "Except for right now."
Martha stood, crossing her arms. "Are you good for a quick hike to the barn? I'd rather have you inexplicably ill there than here. And maybe there's something in the Doctor's instructions-"
Martha bit her lip. "It's no warmer in here than it is out there, and you've got to be a couple of degrees warmer than normal. You'll feel better in the TARDIS, and I'll feel better about everything in there."
Buffy looked up at her. "Well, I'm the one dressed for going out, not you. Grab your coat." While Martha got dressed, Buffy got to her feet, still shifting her weight from side to side. She was glad when Martha came over and she could use her friend as a crutch. Together, they tiptoed downstairs, out the courtyard, and down the road to the barn where the TARDIS lay concealed.
As they passed through town, a familiar voice called to them from the shadows. "Anything wrong ladies? It's far too cold to be wandering about in the dark." The light fell on their faces. "Ah, Buf- I mean, Miss Summers, and Miss Jones, lovely night, isn't it?"
"It is, Professor Smith," responded Martha. "Did you see the meteorite earlier?"
John tilted his head. "I must have missed it."
"It looked like it fell close by, sir. Buffy and I were just going to see if we could find where it landed."
"They always look close, but they're usually miles away, and even then, there's nothing left but a cinder." He peered closer at Buffy. "I do say, Miss Summers, are you feeling quite all right?"
"Right as rain, Professor."
Martha discretely propped Buffy up higher. "She's the one who had this foolish idea for an adventure."
"Can't ignore rocks falling from overhead, all your crazy-folk will start dropping dead," muttered Buffy.
Martha pasted on a taut grin. "Buffy, I love your American folk verses, but I doubt the Professor here has time for them."
John cast them a skeptical look. "Are you certain that I cannot escort you ladies home?"
"No, we're fine," replied Martha. Buffy nodded vigorously for good measure.
"Then I shall bid you goodnight."
Martha curtsied both of them. "Good night, sir."
Buffy felt a pinch. "Good night, Professor."
As soon as John was out of earshot, they continued down the road. "Just a few short blocks to the barn. Could you have played the damsel in distress card a little harder," teased Martha.
"Sorry. Not feeling so hot here." Martha looked down and saw the sweat pouring down Buffy's brow.
"Right then." Martha basically carried Buffy the last fifty meters to the TARDIS. "C'mon, stay with me." She got the door unlocked and pulled Buffy in. Heaving breaths, she whispered, "Hello, TARDIS."
The warmth was a delightful change. Buffy rested her head against the railing, thawing out. "I think I can get to the captain's chair."
"Good, because at least one of us in here doesn't have super-strength." Martha headed to the console while Buffy hobbled to the bench and laid down. "Here." Martha pulled the Doctor's coat over Buffy's shivering body.
"Thanks. Smells good." She curled up and dozed off.
Martha checked her temperature, which was 39. Not a good sign. She pricked Buffy's finger and put a slide into the mostly-dormant TARDIS. The TARDIS sleepily diagnosed aubertide allergy, a reaction to one of the chemicals in the exhaust from a certain class of cloaking devices, and prescribed a sort of anti-histamine. Martha found the spray in the first-aid kit, and convinced Buffy to wake up long enough to inhale it. She returned to her reading, and found that humanoids were not, typically, allergic to aubertide; in fact, the only life forms the TARDIS knew of that experienced aubertide allergies were energy-based.
Martha looked back at the smaller girl. She hadn't been crazy when she went on about Baines appearing out of nowhere. Now it looked like she wasn't crazy when she talked about being a Slayer. Martha wished, not for the first time, that the Doctor was here to explain what all of this meant. She listened to his message again. "Not a word about slayers, or aubertide allergies. Lucky for me I watched you work this machine a time or two. Lucky for Buffy I'm a quick study." She played the last bit again.
"It's all down to you, Martha. It's your choice. Oh – and thank you."
Martha stepped back and slumped onto the free bit of the bench, and patted her friend's head. "He looks down your shirt again and I'm feeding him pears." She sighed, leaning her head back. "I just wish that he'd come back."
Chapter 6: Laugh Hard, It's a Long Way to the Bank
Martha consulted with Buffy in the pre-dawn hours over a breakfast of frosted chocolate sugar puffs from the TARDIS kitchen. "You think we should open the watch now," repeated Buffy in between slurps of sludgy, chocolate sweetened milk.
"Yes I do. The ship is obviously the Family, they've found us, time to bring the Doctor back and have him bring the hammer down." The sight of Martha munching on sugary cereal while talking about aliens was a little surreal to Buffy, but then again, how many times had she discussed the apocalypse over doughnuts?
On the other hand, Buffy could only have been ten the last time she ate choco puffs. She pondered Martha's statement for a minute while pouring her third bowl. "What happened to 'we have to wait until it's safe'?"
"Well, it's obviously not safe anymore. And you can't get within twenty meters of their ship without tossing your lunch across the meadow."
Buffy gave Martha a cross stare. "Eating right now."
"Sorry. Anyway, you're out of commission, and I'm lacking in the super powers department. Sounds like time to bring back the Doctor to me." Martha let the spoon slip out of her fingers.
Buffy looked down at her bowl. "You're not wrong." She breathed out. "So, what's the deal then? We sneak into his room and I hold him down while you open the watch in his face?"
"I doubt it will be that dramatic," Martha made a face. "We'll grab the watch while he's off at class, then we can show it to him when he returns for lunch."
"Then he can come up with a better plan. And we won't have to spend any extra energy trying to save him from himself." Martha set her bowl in the sink, turned and watched Buffy, who seemed to want to say something, but simply nodded. "You sure you're fully recovered?"
Buffy held up her spoon, grasped it by the handle, and drove the bowl of it through the table. Martha flinched. The table was two inches of solid hardwood thick. The spoon's handle quivered for a few seconds. "Looks like my strength's back."
"I just feel a little groggy, that's all."
Martha tipped her head. "Impressively built spoon."
Buffy looked at it. "Nice craftsmanship," she agreed.
Together they walked back to the school, arriving just a few minutes after sunrise. Buffy apologized to Jenny for being so late for breakfast service.
Jenny snorted. "Barely takes one person to put the student slop together, don't mind you. You two have another one of your special ladies' late nights?" she asked with a waggle of her eyebrows.
Martha clucked her tongue, tying on her apron. "Jenny, I told you to stop that. Buffy was simply sick last night. That slimy git Baines coughed on her deliberately. Try to steer clear of him today. If he gets sick like Buffy was, he'll be an even more miserable prat than usual."
"As if that were possible," chuckled Jenny. "Now, Buffy, if you're feeling under the weather, there's warm porridge and hot tea already made up for the Headmaster. I can put another tray together in a flash if'n you'd be served better by it."
Buffy collected the tray in question, along with two others. "Thanks, Jenny, but we already ate. I'll be fine, just need to get back to work. I'll take faculty service today, though, if that's okay. I don't think I can face Baines this morning." She gave Martha a pointed look, then headed off. Martha busied herself with the student service, chatting merrily with Jenny for what she was afraid might be the last time. The saucy maid was one of the few things she'd miss about this stopover.
Martha was just putting the last of the dishes into the wash basin when Buffy found her. "You're still looking pale, Buffy. Maybe I should get you another dose-" Buffy cut her off by holding up her hand. "What?"
"John Smith had already gone to class by the time I showed up with his tray."
Martha frowned. "So?"
Buffy grabbed Martha's hands, squeezing them painfully. "The watch wasn't there," she hissed. Martha felt the blood draining out of her face. "It's gone."
Chapter 7: I Might Disintegrate Into Thin Air If You Like
They finished preparations for lunch, then Buffy pled illness. "I just need to get some fresh air, I think." Jenny sent her off to town with a shopping list, and Buffy took a brief detour to the firing range. Her mission: keep John Smith from returning to his room while Martha tossed it for the pocket watch. She also had to keep him, and herself, away from Baines, in case the Family's sense of smell could detect anything odd about them. Until the watch was safely located, she was forbidden to confront him unless cornered. Martha had been very firm about that, and Buffy was willing to concede the point, for now.
Buffy covered her ears as she approached the range, and pondered the surrealism of her situation. This school had a firing range. When she thought of the amount of grief Jonathan bringing a single gun to campus had given her... she sent up a short, silent prayer to wherever Jonathan's soul had gone off to. She was almost fond of Andrew these days; Jonathan never had a chance to redeem himself.
The boys here might not either.
Martha's second favorite subject of conversation over the last two months had been the fact that most of these boys were destined to die in the Great War that loomed just around the corner. It was downright heartbreaking, and almost enough to make Buffy forgive them for their rude behavior towards the maids, and especially towards Martha.
She malingered on the path until the class finished session and the boys filed out. One of the younger boys looked at her oddly, but the rest ignored her as per usual. Thankfully, Baines appeared to have skipped artillery practice, or at least skipped out early to do dastardly deeds. Finally, Professor Smith made his way towards her, tossing a confiscated cricket ball as he walked.
"Miss Summers! May I ask what brings you out of your way?"
Buffy put on her best simper. "I'm on my way to town with the weekend's shopping list. I was wondering if you'd like to join me?" She leaned in closer. "I'm still not feeling so great, John, and I'd enjoy the company."
The sudden puff in his chest would have been sweet and very charming if she hadn't manipulated him straight into it. "Buffy," he said softly, offering her his arm, "it would be an honor." She looked up into his eyes, and admitted deep inside that it was still a little bit sweet.
"Thank you." She kept her strides small, maintaining the hilarious illusion of feminine weakness. If only Willow and Xander could see her now. Or worse, Spike and Angel. If the prank with the Immortal had been bad, she could only imagine their reactions to her fawning over hapless John Smith. Actually, given Spike's past, he might take it as a sign of hope.
John kept peppering her with questions about her past. Buffy found herself enjoying finding ways to word her responses that were true, but still time appropriate, and which didn't give up her identity as a slayer. She bought herself time by turning his questions back on him. Even though she knew the real him, the Doctor him, through conversations with Martha and by reading his journal, Buffy hadn't realized how much history the TARDIS and the chameleon arch-thingy had provided to this John Smith identity.
By the time they reached the end of her list, Buffy learned that John wanted to go tour the Napoleonic battlefields he taught about, but hadn't yet, even though he swore he could actually picture the battles in his mind's eye. His favorite color was green and he despised beets. His loved Byron's poetry, but he had a private weakness for Poe. He could imagine working at Farringham the rest of his life, it was satisfying work, but there was something off-putting to him about the concept that he couldn't put his finger on.
He'd also never dated a girl, or in his phraseology, courted anyone.
Buffy shook her head as she loaded several loaves of bread into her basket. "I find that hard to believe."
John's blush somehow found a way to deepen. "Well, Buffy, you may find it equally hard to believe that I sometimes find it difficult to speak with women."
"Ah, now that makes a little more sense. But still, you've got to be thirty years old. There wasn't even a high school sweetheart?"
John frowned. "Can we please talk about something else?"
"Fine," laughed Buffy. "So, other than tromping around old battlefields, cramming teenagers' heads full of history and helping me with the grocery shopping, what do you want to do with yourself?"
"I'm not sure. I'd like to do something worthwhile. Make a small difference, you know, nothing too ambitious." For the first time in the conversation, he appeared distracted from her. "But something, special, in its own, small, way..." Buffy turned towards where he was staring, and saw how it was all going to unfold. The rope lifting the piano was frayed, the baby carriage was rickety and slow, and the brim on the mother's hat was too damn wide, she had no idea what she was walking into. Buffy dropped her basket and started running towards them. It was too late, but she had to try.
John Smith, on the other hand, apparently had an eye for the bigger picture. Buffy saw the ball hit the poles, and the chain reaction that stopped the carriage short of where the piano landed explosively. She slid feet first in the mud to stop herself, and shielded her face from the splinters and ivory shards that flew in her direction.
When she drew her arm down, she saw John, holding her basket and extending his hand to her. She took it, pulling herself up.
"You're very fast," he said softly, his eyes wide.
"Not as fast as you, I guess." Buffy couldn't quite bring herself to look up at him, and fussed with her muddied skirts instead. "I wouldn't make a very good lady," she admitted.
He tilted her chin up towards him with a finger. "Buffy, it occurs to me that I don't care." Buffy realized that his eyes went on for forever, and his lips looked gentler than she dared to imagine. "There's a dance tonight, in town. I agree with you, it's about time that I 'dated' a girl. Come with me."
Buffy struggled to find words, and she stepped back, looking down, breaking the spell of his eyes. "I- uh, I'm a maid, people will talk. Bad talk. Besides, I don't have anything to wear, and bad, bad things happen when I go to dances, wild packs of angry dogs being the least of them."
John's courage faltered. "Oh. All right then." They walked back towards the school in awkward silence while Buffy's mind raced at a million miles a second.
Around the corner from the school, there was no one around, and Buffy tugged on his sleeve. "Yes?"
He looked down at her. "You will?"
She nodded. "Yep. I thought of a place I can find a dress."
"I see. And the wild packs of angry dogs?"
"After that display back there? I'll pack a cricket ball in my purse just in case." And a sharp knife in her bodice, but he didn't need to know that part. She just grinned at him. In turn, a rather dopey-looking smile blossomed across his face.
John took her hand and wrapped it around his arm, covering her fingers with his other hand, until they reached the gates, and Buffy drew away. "This is our stop. I've got to head to the servants' entrance."
She turned to go, but his hand on her shoulder stilled her. She turned back. "What?"
The word had barely escaped her lips when they were covered by his, and after a moment's pang, she let her eyes close, and her fingers drift to the silky hair at the nape of his neck. A few sweet seconds passed, and at just the right time, but entirely too soon, he pulled away. "I look forward to seeing you tonight," he murmured, and with a tilt of his head, he walked away.
Buffy took a few minutes to catch her breath. "Sonovabitch says he's never had a date? God help us all." When she felt sufficiently recovered, she walked over to the servants' entrance and into the kitchens. Jenny wasn't there, so she unpacked the groceries and started fixing supper. About a half hour later, Martha wandered into the kitchen.
"Any luck," asked Buffy, already knowing the answer from her slumped shoulders and dour expression.
Martha simply shook her head and started slicing bread. "I'm going to start searching the dormitories tonight. Do you mind playing body guard for a little while longer?"
"No," Buffy replied, weighing her options before deciding that Martha should know the truth. Or at least most of it. Maybe she should wait until Martha wasn't holding that knife. She sighed. "There's actually something I should tell you."
Chapter 8: Not the Gravity Plan
Martha froze in her tracks as she heard creaking boards behind her. She'd been so distracted, looking in vain for the watch among bootlegged beer bottles and candy bars in the boys' chests; all of it overlaid with the image of Buffy walking out into the night on the Doctor's - no, not the Doctor's - John Smith's arm in that awful lacy slip of nothing dress. Now she was screwed, caught pawing through the dormitories, and probably fired.
She peered back over her shoulder and let out a sigh of relief. "Jenny! What are you doing here? Where have you been?"
Martha twisted her hands together. "Well, we'd best get out of here before anyone else wanders through. Scared me half to death, you did."
"Were you searching for something?"
"Me? No. Just trying to distract myself from thinking about Buffy and Professor Smith." Martha noticed that Jenny was having no trouble keeping up with her long, nervous strides.
Jenny had circulation problems and bad ankles.
Martha smiled weakly. "Oh, well, she's almost saved up enough to go home. Booked herself passage for next month, she's already purchased the ticket. It'll be sad, that's all. I'll be stuck picking up the pieces yet again. Last time he had his heart broken we had to move, we probably will again."
They'd arrived at the servants' quarters. Martha leaned back against her door. "Where shall you move to?"
"Oh, we've traveled all over. Lots of places."
Martha felt behind herself for the knob, her mind racing. "Oh Jenny, I will. But first, I've got to take out my contact lenses."
"Certainly. Do come right back," said Jenny, or rather, the thing that looked like Jenny. Martha's heart sank, but she shut the door behind her and grabbed her coat off the hook. No time, not enough time, and where the hell was the damn watch? She pulled the window open and looked down the two stories to the courtyard. Martha drew in a deep breath as she swung one leg over the sill. Buffy did this all the time, it couldn't be that bad.
The knob on the door began to turn, so Martha squeezed her eyes shut and pushed off. There was a ledge above the first floor window that she used to slow her descent, but she basically bumped off of it as she heard the laser blast hit the window frame above her. Martha wound up doing a rolling landing, all of the air coming out of her, but she had no time to catch her breath, and she rolled into the shadows. She looked up. The thing wearing Jenny's face was scanning the courtyard, but turned back with a disappointed huff.
Martha waited three beats, then crept out of the courtyard. Watches be damned, there had to be some other way to wake up the Doctor's memories. On the way out, she bumped into Tim Latimer, one of the younger students who, if he hadn't exactly been kind to her, had never been deliberately cruel. "Oh, sorry!"
The boy stepped back a bit more than was necessary to regain his balance. "Martha?"
But she waved him off, beginning to run. "Not now Tim, I'm busy!" Her left ankle felt wobbly, her knees were going to be bruised, and she may have dinged a rib or two. Buffy did it every damn night. She was so going to pay for making it look easy, among other things.
Martha ignored the pain, and booked it to the barn and the TARDIS. It was so lifeless but so normal inside. Martha felt a twinge in her ribs and leaned against the captain's chair, staring down at the Doctor's coat. The Doctor and the dance - and Buffy - were just up the road, if she could just find the right thing to trigger him, they might come through this okay. A thought occurred to her, and she began rifling through his coat pockets. When she finally found it, she clutched the sonic screwdriver to her chest.
She wasn't afraid for her life. Martha had seen Buffy's talents, her strength, and her determination. Buffy was every ounce a hero. But if Martha couldn't get the Doctor back...
She locked the TARDIS behind her, checking the lock twice. This would work. It had to.
Chapter 9: Wild Packs of Family Dogs
"You're not looking at me."
Buffy started for a moment, then looked up at John while they swirled together across the floor. "Oh? Sorry."
"Still looking out for those wild dogs, are you," laughed John, glancing at the entryway. "Yet somehow you manage to float on the floor."
Buffy pressed her lips together. "Yeah, well, waltzing is - I used to ice dance as a kid. This is a lot harder on skates."
"Ice dancing? Sounds like a wonderful past time, it's a pity it hasn't come to Britain yet," said John. "Is that where you developed those remarkable reflexes of yours?"
"Sort of." Buffy was starting to feel a little queasy. Martha was going to find that watch any moment now, and then John would be gone, and then they would kick some alien butt, and then she'd go home, and this would all be a horrible nightmare, and she'd be back at the castle all alone again without this stupid, priggish, handsome, tender-hearted man looking down at her with those stupid gentle eyes and that ridiculous sweet smile on his face. She couldn't look at it anymore. This was wrong, and she felt her stomach turn over as she remembered Martha's brittle smile as she helped Buffy search the TARDIS wardrobe this evening.
They weren't dancing anymore. "Are you feeling ill again, Buffy?" asked John, his hands on her elbows.
"No, I'm peachy keen. Can we sit?" She gently guided him to a corner table where she had a clear view of all the entrances. He excused himself to get them drinks, and Buffy kept one eye on him and one eye on the doors. As she saw Martha rush in, she leapt up and dragged her friend to the corner. "Did you find it?"
"No!" hissed Martha, "they got to Jenny and I think I may have been followed."
Buffy blanched. "You led them here? Look at all of these people! If things get ugly, we are totally screwed!"
"Here is where you were, that's not my fault!" snapped Martha. Buffy looked down, and Martha's whisper softened. "I didn't know where else to go, they were shooting at me, and I think I have an idea to get the Doctor back."
Buffy blinked. "How?"
Martha pulled out a small pen-like device. "Sonic screwdriver. Next to the TARDIS, I can't think of anything else in the universe he loves more. He'll remember it."
Buffy stared at it. "Where did you get that?"
"In his coat, in the TARDIS"
Buffy palmed her face. "So you didn't just lead them here, you showed them where the TARDIS is?"
Martha felt her heart drop into her stomach. "Oh. Oh no."
"No, no, we'll get there first. It'll be fine. I've just got to get these people out of here before the Family comes looking around. Is there a fire alarm anywhere?"
"There you are -" John came up from behind Buffy. "Ah, and Martha, it's ah - a pleasant surprise to see you here."
Buffy turned around slowly. "Oh, John. You're here. And there's drinks." She took the glass out of his hand and downed the punch in one swallow. "How many people would you say are in here? Forty maybe," she muttered, pulling her hair up and tying it behind her head.
"Fifty-three," he replied without thinking, a stunned look coming across his face as he realized what he'd said.
Buffy nodded, leaning down. "Great. So, John, listen," and she paused while she tore a slit up the center of her skirt "Martha's got something really important to tell you, pay really close attention, and I - I'm just going to go, uh, do something about this crowd. Don't-" she pointed her finger at him, "run off anywhere without me." She glanced at Martha. "No matter what." She poked John in the chest one more time for emphasis. "And don't talk to strangers. I'll be right back." She nodded to Martha, then skirted to the side of him and disappeared down the hall. John simply stared after her, his mouth slightly ajar.
"She's a very strange woman."
Martha snorted. "You've no idea."
Meanwhile, Buffy had found the kitchens, a tin washtub, and some rags. After scaring the kitchen staff out, she piled the rags in the washtub in the center of the floor, poured some lamp oil onto them, then lit a match and tossed it in. There were some vegetable scraps, and she dumped them on top. After a few short minutes the whole kitchen began to fill with a very satisfying if slightly stinky black smoke, that hopefully wouldn't catch onto anything. She ran back to the dance hall shouting, "Fire!" Several of the partygoers in the parlor were already rushing out the door. The smoke was only just beginning to leak into the main hall.
A blond head lingered in one of the corners. It was that kid who'd stared at her earlier in the day - what was his name? Jim or something? Maybe Baines had gotten to him. She noted his position, but first she had to retrieve John and Martha. John was shouting at Martha, who looked like she'd been sucking on a series of lemons.
"It's just a storybook, you see, Martha-"
"No, it's not! This is a sonic screwdriver. Now hold it, Doctor, and remember who you are!" Martha tried to pull his hand up to place the screwdriver in it, but he snatched his hand away.
"Martha! I am John Smith, and I see how you could have gotten confused."
Martha's shoulders squared off. "I'm very sorry, Doctor." Buffy flinched when Martha pulled back and slapped John across the face. "Remember!"
John recovered, rubbing his cheek. "Buffy. Can you help me get your friend under control?"
Buffy looked to Martha who just shook her head, the beginnings of tears threatening to spill over her cheeks. "Martha's fine. It's a dance, I'm here, and so according to tradition, I've just set a fire. We need to go, now would be good." She took his hand and tried to pull him along, but he pulled back, his eyes wide.
"Do you believe in her nonsense?"
Buffy tilted his chin down towards her. "I've never met the Doctor. All I've got is Martha's word, and yours that he's some kind of hero. But she's my friend, and so are you, John, and in case you didn't notice, I set a fire and this room is starting to get a little smoky. So can we please continue this conversation outside?"
Martha coughed twice. "I agree."
John nodded, then paused, frowning. "Why did you set a fire?"
"No time. Now is the time for the running." Buffy took his hand and turned to run.
Unfortunately, Baines, Jenny, a portly old guy, and a genuinely creepy little girl with a red balloon were standing between them and the exit. A number of scarecrows were somehow lurching in behind them. Buffy dropped John's hand as the creepy girl pointed at him. "Him. He's the Doctor. I heard them talking."
Baines sniffed. "He took human form." Then a puzzled look crossed his face and he sniffed again. "And what on Earth is she?"
Buffy had the sudden feeling of being the center of attention. She simpered and batted her eyelashes. She drew her right hand to her chest, toying with her decolletage, and finding the handle of her knife. Martha, eyes watering from the smoke, wanted very badly to laugh as Buffy said sweetly, "Oh, I think you're about to find out."
Chapter 10: Everyone's Afraid of Their Own Life
Timothy Latimer hunkered in the opposite corner. The smoke had essentially emptied out the building, but if he stayed low, it didn't bother him. Also, it meant that no one noticed him. Well, except for Miss Sum- Buffy, who'd looked him in straight the eye when she'd come back in, screaming about fire and her dress in tatters. Almost everyone out, not enough time - there's that kid again, what's his name, Jim or something? Is he one of them? Get him after I get John and Martha. Timothy would have been more surprised about hearing her voice inside his head at that moment, but then again for the past day a watch had been talking to him about Time Lords and traveling through time and space. Consequently, his tolerance for the new and strange was quite a bit higher than it had been twenty-four hours prior.
Despite that, even he wasn't quite prepared for the scene unfolding in front of him. In just a few seconds, Buffy had thrown Mr. Clarke across the room and sliced apart two of the scarecrows with a knife that appeared far too long to have been concealed from where she'd removed it. But now the other maid, Jenny, who was part of this Family of Blood that was chasing John-Smith-who-was-actually-the-Time-Lord-called-the-Doctor, had pulled out some kind of pistol and grabbed Martha as she tried to run by.
Baines tried to pull his pistol out, but Buffy threw a chair that hit him in the head. "I've always wanted to do this."
"Enough!" shouted out the little girl one. She too had a gun, this one pointing at Buffy, who dropped the chair she'd been wielding. "Father-mine, are you recovered?"
Mr. Clarke's body had risen and was rubbing his head. "So I have, Daughter-mine. I think we gave you the wrong body. Imagine what you could have done with such power." He came and stood next to her. "Would you still like it?"
"Nobody, and I mean nobody, gets to take over my body!" shouted Buffy. "I never know what you're going to go and do with it." She cheated for a moment and looked over at John, who seemed completely paralyzed by shock. Another pair of scarecrows went to grab him, and she brandished her knife, setting herself between them. "And nobody gets to touch his body if I haven't gotten to do it first!"
Jenny shoved Martha hard, and she fell down to her knees. Behind her she heard the weapon charge, "Choosing your lover over your friend are you?" asked Jenny in a sick parody of her old teases.
"No." Buffy's knife lowered a fraction of an inch. "You don't get to have either of them." Baines, having gotten back on his feet, was sniffing again. "Got a cold or something? I can fix that with a quick decapitation."
Baines ignored her and moved forward, so Buffy went on guard, but he stopped short. "Your friend. He's human. The Time Lord is elsewhere, and it's the Time Lord that we want." Baines raised his gun towards John. "Where is it?"
John shook his head. "I - I don't know what you're talking about. What do you mean, Time Lord?"
Baines frowned and pointed the gun at Buffy's head instead. "Tell us where the Time Lord is, and you can keep this idiot and you can even have the maid."
"No!" shouted Martha, lurching forward, but Jenny stepped on her spine, pressing her to the ground.
Buffy shook her head. "I've done this way too many times to fall for that. You never take the bad guy's deal when he's pointing a gun at you or your friends. This is the first sign that they're offering you a bad deal." She held the knife up by the handle, point down. "What's going to happen is that you're either gonna go away in peace, or else I'm going to kill you all." She smiled and tossed her hair. "Now, I'm a big fan of the first option, because it means fewer broken nails on my part. But make no mistake, me and my friends are getting out of here. The only question is whether or not you do."
The watch showed Tim the next several seconds before they happened: Buffy was going to flick her wrist and the knife would pin Baines' foot to the floor. She'd manage to incapacitate him, but would not be able to stop Jenny from shooting Martha. Jenny wouldn't survive much longer, but John Smith would be seized by the scarecrows while either Mr. Clarke or the little girl would finally get a kill-shot on Buffy. There were just too many enemies and too many people for Buffy to protect. The words, don't let them die, echoed in his head.
He didn't have time to think, all he had was that terrible other voice in his mind telling him what to do. And there was nothing else he could think of, so Tim squashed down his terror and opened the watch. All the Family members snapped their heads towards him, as did Buffy. Her eyes widened, and Tim snapped the watch shut and ran into the back parlor. Baines moved to go after him, but Buffy pulled Baines' arm around his back, grabbed his gun, and held it to his head.
"Now listen. I'm still willing to go the route where some of you survive." She lifted his arm up just a few inches more and Baines shouted in pain. "But I'm really not if you guys do not let Martha up, now!"
Jenny looked up at Baines, who nodded. Jenny lifted her foot, and Martha got to her feet. "Martha, you get behind me. Take John and follow that kid, Tim. I'll be right with you."
"Buffy, what's going on?" asked John.
She turned back. He looked so lost. "I'm sorry, John, I told you I wasn't a lady. Run!" He finally let Martha pull him out the door, leaving Buffy alone with the Family. "So, you're a bunch of life-sucking aliens."
"And you're an impertinent little girl," said Mr. Clarke, "Who is going to suffer for her lack of respect."
Buffy stepped back towards the wall. "What exactly have you done to earn my respect?" Then she threw Baines at the Family. With them safely on the ground, she grabbed the lamp off the wall, and threw it at the scarecrows, who went up in flames like sacks of hay.
"I really didn't want to set this place on fire," murmured Buffy. Then she dashed through the door, slammed it shut, and stuck a chair under the handle. Tim was trying to pull a window open while John was trying to get answers out of Martha. Neither was having much luck.
"Let me." Buffy pulled Tim backwards, and easily slid the window open. He went to jump out of it, but Buffy stopped him. "Watch first."
He eyed her. "Do you know what it is?"
"Fire, ice, and rage." Buffy knelt down, ignoring the pounding on the other side of the door, putting her hands on Tim's shoulders. "Do you know what I am?"
"No, and neither does the wat- the Doctor." Tim was shivering with fear. Martha and John had stopped arguing and watched Buffy.
"I'm the Slayer. I'm the bogeyman that bogeymen tell their bogeykids about." The banging on the door was starting to get worse, and new smoke was seeping through the cracks. "I'm probably the only thing here half as scary as what's in that watch. And I swear to you, I'm going to keep you, and the watch, safe. Okay?"
Tim nodded, and handed the silver fob watch over to Buffy. She patted his head. "Now, out the window." He started to climb out, and Buffy stood, turning the watch over in her hand. "What are you two waiting for?"
"An explanation," said John.
Martha stared at her. "Open the watch."
Buffy tucked it in her bodice. "Not yet. The building is now actually on fire, so first we run." She motioned with her hand. "Out."
Martha glared daggers at Buffy, then jumped out.
Puppy dog eyes was next. "Buffy, just - please."
"John," sighed Buffy. She went to him and kissed him lightly on the cheek. Another loud pound at the door startled him. When he looked back down he realized that Buffy was close to tears. In a throaty voice she told him, "There's going to be explanations, and you're not going to like me so much after, so right now, please just hold my hand and run with me."
He nodded, and together they climbed out into the dark.
Chapter 11: The Dark Center of the Universe
By flickering firelight the group made their way to the barn. Buffy felt John's grip tighten as the TARDIS came into view. "Buffy," he gasped.
Her lips thinned. "I know, John. Come on." Martha had unlocked the doors, and she was shoving Tim in front of her. Buffy tugged on his arm one more time, and John followed her inside.
Martha shut and locked the doors behind them. "Can we please open the watch now?" Her eyes bugged open wider as Buffy went to the console. "What are you doing?"
"I don't really know!" shouted Buffy. Her hands, meanwhile, were dancing over the controls. "My head is killing me, my thoughts are starting to burn, but there are images, I can see them - the Family will be right behind us and they have some kind of technology - please don't try to explain it to me," she interjected, looking up into the air, "that can penetrate through the TARDIS' shields. So I just need to buy us some time."
As Buffy and Martha argued, John and Timothy explored the console room. "I know this place, the blue box that's bigger on the inside," murmured John. "I've dreamed it."
"This is your home," replied Tim. "I've seen you, here. The watch showed me."
Martha blinked. "The watch, it's talking to you, like it spoke to Tim?"
Buffy shrugged, not stopping her manipulations. "All Slayers are minor psychics, it's what lets us have the Slayer dreams. Tim has some sort of low-level tele-" Buffy grunted in pain. "Please, don't tell me anything else, God, it hurts."
Martha touched Buffy's arm. "What hurts?"
Buffy's eyes opened bloodshot. "Tim can shut off the flow. I can't. Slayers are open receivers. I don't have any off switch, and the Doctor didn't know what I was. I'm listening to him figure all of this out in my head. He's telling me how to fly the TARDIS. I can see all of his thoughts, and memories, and he's just-" Her eyes lost focus. "I can't even explain. It's too much, don't you understand?" Martha watched Buffy compress a pump and then flip a final switch. The TARDIS trembled with motion.
Tim stood behind her. "He's like the night and the storm in the heart of the sun." Buffy nodded, falling back into the captain's chair. "He's ancient and forever. He burns at the center of time and he can see the turn of the universe."
"Yes," said Buffy. "But he's also beautiful, and a hero, and everything you ever told me he was." Her gaze settled unhappily on John, who was standing terrifyingly still. "After we land, we have to open the watch again."
"But what's wrong with that?" asked Martha.
"If the Doctor lives, I die," responded John in a low voice. Martha's mouth opened slightly as she considered it from his perspective for the very first time.
Her heart broke a little as Buffy whispered, "I told you that you were going to hate me once I explained. I'm sorry, John. I'm so sorry."
John's eyes never left Buffy's, his voice rough. "But if we don't open the watch?"
"I can't move us across time, or even off the planet, it's too dangerous. I can't go near their ship, I can't stop them." Buffy pulled the offending article out, but still held it to her chest. "They'll find us, and they'll leave a wake of destruction and horror behind them. We can't let them do that."
John approached her. "No, before that. What happens if we don't open the watch?" He knelt beside her and wiped the sweat from her brow with his handkerchief.
Buffy couldn't meet his gaze any longer. "I'm stronger than you or even he could ever understand."
John shook his head. "I know, Buffy, but you don't look so very strong right now."
"I'm not usually sick like this, John, I swear."
"You're not sick." He took her hand, holding the watch between them.
"This isn't about me," Buffy insisted.
"How long?" he demanded.
Buffy cringed and admitted. "Not long."
Martha caught her breath. "It's killing you. The thoughts of a Time Lord in a human brain, they're killing you. As long as he's in the watch- oh my!"
"I don't hate you," John whispered. He looked back at Martha. "Is there any way...." his voice trailed off, and Martha understood the request.
"I'll show Tim the kitchens."
John smiled at her, but it didn't reach his eyes. "Thank you, Martha." Martha took Tim by the hand and they disappeared down the hallway, leaving John and Buffy alone.
Buffy looked down at their linked hands, the watch cold and hard within. "We could try - I could see if getting distance between me and the watch would sever the link."
"Then who would guard it?" John got up onto the captain's chair beside her and gathered her in his arms. "Can you work this thing without it? Who's going to stop those monsters? Me? Martha? Tim? Maybe the Headmaster?"
"I know." They held each other for just a short time before the TARDIS settled to rest. Buffy bit her lip. "This isn't fair."
"Oh, I'm well aware. But I'm not a hero. This Doctor fellow, he's a hero. You, you're a hero." John rubbed a tendril of her hair between his fingers. "You deserve a hero."
"I knew you were doomed, John, this whole time. So I wouldn't let myself love you." Buffy pulled him closer. "But you are a hero, and I do love you."
They kissed, and the kiss contained a lifetime. John paused for breath, murmured, "I love you," in the shell of her ear, then went back to her mouth for more. After a few more precious seconds, John pressed the button, and the watch sprang open against his palm.
Chapter 12: It's Hard to Remember to Live Before You Die
It took the Doctor a bit less than a millisecond to realize that he was back inside a body. He stretched the time to give himself a chance to assess his situation, then discovered that he was in two bodies. Both physically and metaphysically. Stray thoughts of his were still steadily frying the girl's synapses - Buffy's synapses - and his tongue was still snarled with hers in the warm enclosure of her mouth. Skeins of their thoughts intersected, and she gasped. With a sigh, he finished the kiss, but continued to hold her close. She must have trusted him, because there was no way to force this girl to do anything that she didn't want to, at least not physically.
He caught his breath as his second heart finished regrowing and began to beat again. "Yes?" A stray thought brushed against his retreating ones. She'd been seventeen and there'd been a man - no, a vampire - and she'd saved the world with a kiss and a betrayal then too. "You didn't betray anyone." He cringed as he saw the anguish in her eyes. "Sorry, I just meant - I didn't mean to intrude."
"No, it's fine. It's good to know." She pressed those feather soft lips together. "John?" It was both a question and a plea.
The Doctor tapped a finger to his temple. "Safe inside."
"We appear to be fully disentangled." Buffy's eyes flickered down. "Uh, mentally, that is. You just look like you might need a hug." He held her a bit tighter, and for a fleeting second, she felt just as relaxed as she was when they'd been John's arms around her. He liked that feeling. When he released her to stand, he kept their hands joined around the watch. "Are you-"
"Tired. That's all." She pulled her hand away and massaged her temples.
The Doctor stared down at her, his gob, for once, failing to run at all. "Well, I have a thing-" There was a distant rumble from outside the TARDIS. "That would be the Family, then, so predictable, lose me and then threaten to bomb the town - well, I guess that means that I'm predictable too - anyway, I'm just going to nip out for a second, shouldn't take too long. You -" he stammered, "you should stay here, get some rest. Quick kip. Right. I'm going." He skipped off towards the door, then turned as he opened it. "And, if Martha comes out, tell her - oh, nevermind, that's something I'll have to do myself." Buffy could barely hear his last words. "Just, stay safe."
About five minutes later, she'd processed that he'd gone. She eased herself out of the chair, looking around the TARDIS, all of the images from the watch, from his mind, swirling through her head. Buffy stepped back, grabbing onto the railing for support. He'd taken the watch with him. He had a plan, didn't he? Quite a plan.
Martha and Tim emerged from the back hall. "They must have gone off. I swear I heard the doors shut," said Martha, looking towards them, then catching sight of Buffy out of the corner of her eye. "Oh, he left you behind."
"Had to. Aubertide allergy."
Tim approached her. "So that's it then. The Doctor's back."
"And John Smith is gone," finished Buffy. Several beats of silence passed before Martha brought herself to look Buffy in the eye.
"Buffy, I'm-" But Buffy had gone pale. "What is it?"
"I know what he's going to do." Buffy's shoulders snapped back. "Martha, can I borrow your coat?"
Martha was shrugging it off of her shoulders before she was quite sure what she was doing. "Sure, why?"
Buffy pulled the coat around herself. "I need to go. I'm sorry, no time to explain. Can you get Tim back to the school?"
"Get back there and lock the school up tight. Take a knife, and watch out for the scarecrows. They shouldn't bother them, but just in case. Stay there, make sure it's safe, and I'll come find you in the morning." Buffy ran to the doors. "I'm sorry for sending you back there, but I need to stop him, and someone needs to protect the school."
"I can do that," said Martha with a nod.
Buffy smiled sadly. "I know you can." She looked down. "Thank you, Tim. Stay safe."
Buffy ran off into the night. Martha sighed, biting her lower lip.
"She still sounds a bit like him," remarked Tim.
"Yeah, I know."
The Family's ship wasn't too far from where the TARDIS had reappeared, and Buffy held her breath as long as she could while she approached the clearing. The explosion made Cooper's Field a lot more exciting than the last time Buffy'd seen it. The Doctor worked quick. Heat from the blast created a low-pressure zone that the chilled night air rushed in to fill, helping to disperse the aubertide more quickly, allowing her to breathe freely. Buffy shook her head at the voice in her mind that informed her of these facts, wondering exactly how much of himself the Doctor had left behind. But she put the thought aside, squashing down her twinge of nausea from the remaining aubertide as she strode forward to put a stop to the one thought he'd left that had troubled her the most.
"Give me the gun, Doctor." Her voice rang out clear across the clearing, the Doctor standing over the huddled Family only a few dozen paces away, the portrait of a wrathful god framed by flames. "You hate guns."
He twisted towards her voice, the laser still trained on the villains. "You don't like them either." He turned back to the Family.
"You're the Doctor, I'm the Slayer. The gun fits in my world better than yours." She planted her feet in front of him, looking up to his face, and the fire behind him reflected in her green eyes. "I know what you're going to do. The chains, the mirrors, the black hole, even the scarecrows. But it's not eternal justice; it's eternal vengeance. So give me the gun, Doctor."
His eyes narrowed. "Why?"
"I'm the Slayer. I'm another kind of law. I don't see eternity. I see endings. I'm here to stop you, because this has to end." She held out her hand. "You know me now better than I know myself. Do you trust me?" Wordlessly, the Doctor placed the laser in her hand. She spun about. "You, the Mother. How much time do you have left? Two weeks? Three?"
Jenny's heavily lidded eyes turned up towards her. "Three."
"What would you do in those three weeks?" Buffy's aim shifted towards Baines' body. "Tell me!"
The Son stammered, "I-I don't know."
"You killed my friend for the promise of eternal life and you can't come up with anything to do with three weeks?" shouted Buffy.
"Spend it with my family," cried the Daughter.
Buffy eyes softened as she regarded the youngest victim, and she nodded. "Good answer." Now she turned to the Father. "You're all in this together. You've spent two months killing. How would you spend three weeks living?"
"We'd bask in the light of our sun, Augon, on the shores of the Perylian River."
Buffy smiled. "Of course you would. You're mayflies." Her lips thinned. "Murderers don't get peaceful retirements." She glanced back at the Doctor. "Do you know a place?"
It was difficult to make out his reply over the noise of the fires. "I do." He went and stood beside her. "The ruins of the Kannemarra mines. It's dark. It's cold. They'll live."
"And they'll die. That's how it works." She motioned with the laser, and the Family slowly made it to their feet. "That's mercy." Following the captives back to the TARDIS, right before they entered, the Doctor squeezed Buffy's hand.
His hearts skipped a double beat when she squeezed back.
Chapter 13: I've Got This Thing That I Consider My Only Art
The sun had risen, and Buffy and the Doctor weren't back yet. Martha looked down on Tim, whose sleeping head rested on her shoulder. Her slight movement prompted him to snap back to alertness, raising the shovel that had been slipping out of his fingers. "Ah-ah – no worries, there aren't any scarecrows at the gates," she reassured him.
Tim sank back against the wall. "Oh, good."
There had been scarecrows on the road back to the school. The knife prescribed by Buffy saw good use when Martha used it to slash apart one that had tried to strangle Tim. She eyed the marks on his neck. They would fade in time, impermanent, the welts already devoid of any sign that something extraordinary had acted as the ligature. Only she and Tim would know.
Still, she pulled his scarf over them. It wasn't like he could explain them away as razor burn at his age. But he'd shown courage and resolve beyond his years, staying here with her in the courtyard. Together they watched the gates long after the Headmaster returned, stating that the "brigands who'd burned the community hall had obviously fled into the moors." The townspeople would dismiss those who claimed to have seen scarecrows walking around as a student prank, or the panicked imaginings of people fleeing from the community hall fire. If there was one thing she'd learned from her travels with the Doctor, it was that anything could be explained away like that.
It also meant that the Headmaster would be expecting breakfast promptly, rejecting her excuses as the, "irrational fears of a foolish woman from an inferior stock." Martha sighed as she stood. She'd been hoping the Doctor would arrive in time to save her from one last breakfast service. Then she shook her head. She'd been wishing for the Doctor to come save her a little too often lately. It was time for her to start taking matters into her own hands again.
This didn't mean that she said no when Tim offered to help out in the kitchen. It was important to accept help when you needed it. And with neither Buffy nor Jenny liable to show up for work, ever again, she could use an extra, willing set of hands. So Tim stirred the vat of porridge while she set the tables in the dining hall. When she returned, he asked, "So are you going to keep traveling with the Doctor?"
"I don't know." She set a rack of bread slices over the fire to toast. "I enjoy the exploration. But I don't know if it's making me a better person."
Tim tilted his head. "But you do such great things. You saved my life. You've saved lots of peoples' lives."
"You know so much about me, you should know that in my home, I'm studying to be a doctor myself." She waited a few more beats, then flipped the toast. "There's plenty of lives to save doing that."
"Oh." Tim rocked from side to side. "Right."
Martha regarded him honestly. "At home I hardly ever ask for help from anyone. I'm the one who raises my hand first and gives the answer. Sometimes I'm wrong, but I always try to figure it out on my own. I'm smart, and I'm good at fixing things. But, with the Doctor, he has the answer first. I never know enough, and he knows so much. I've been traveling with him for close to six months now, and it's changed me." She pulled the toast off the fire. "I wait for him to give me the answer first."
"So would I. That mind-" and Tim's eyes widened while he shook his head, "Well, he's seen everything. And I really wouldn't want to do anything wrong in front of him."
Martha took spoon out of his hand and ladled some of the porridge into a bowl for the Headmaster. "That's the problem." She frowned. "He didn't show you anything... inappropriate, did he?" The slow blush that crept across Tim's face told her everything. "I'll have to rap his knuckles for that," she announced, turning to hide her smirk and the bottle she pulled out of her apron. She mixed a small amount of its contents into the bowl, then corked the bottle and slid it back into her pocket. Martha turned back to Tim and leaned forward. "See anything he'd rather me not know?"
He grinned. "He wears some funny clothes sometimes. If I were you, I'd ask him about the celery."
Martha raised her eyebrows. "Celery?" Tim nodded deeply. "As clothing?" He raised his hands in the air, shrugging. Martha laughed. "Well, if that's what it takes." She finished the trays with a pair of teapots. "I'll have to start faculty service now, but if you watch things until I get back, I'll cover your escape so that the other boys don't know you've been doing servants' work."
"Can I take some biscuits?"
Martha balanced a tray on either hip. "Take whatever you like, just don't let the place burn down."
She was almost to the door when he cleared his throat. "Martha?"
"Yes, Tim?" She wasn't sure why she felt the need to brace herself as she turned back.
"The Doctor – he showed me a lot of things, and I saw a lot of his memories. A lot of them were things about the future. I used to dream about the war, but now I know it's coming." Her mouth dropped open as her breath came out of her. He shook his head and raised a hand towards her. "Oh, no! It's not that, don't worry about me. He let me know that I'm going to survive. It's just –" and now he looked down. "You mean an awful lot to him. Not like, y'know, kissing or uh, inappropriate things-" Martha nodded. "More like he counts on you to know the answers sometimes when he doesn't. So you should keep exploring with him. He's not ready for you to go yet."
Martha bit her lip. "It will be different with Buffy around. He won't need me the same way."
She didn't expect Tim to laugh at this. "Buffy? I think she needs more answers than he does." He reached back towards the baking sheets to grab a ginger snap. "And the inappropriate things that the Doctor thought about, well, they weren't hardly anything compared to what she was thinking."
"I don't want to know, do I?" Martha couldn't resist smiling.
"Probably not," replied Tim with a grin full of crumbs. Martha finally started the breakfast service, and received the exact tongue lashing that she'd expected from the Headmaster. After two months, she'd figured out how things worked around here, and some people, like the Headmaster, were never going to change. Once last time, she silently tolerated more insults to her character, intellect, and heritage than she cared to ever hear again. With a curtsey and a, "yes, sir," she left his rooms, continuing on to deliver the other tray to the Matron's office. Matron Redfern, bent over a patient, didn't acknowledge her. All the same, Martha left with a lighter spirit, and apron, than when she'd entered.
"Thank you, Martha," said Joan Redfern, removing the stethoscope from her ears a few seconds too late to catch the maid. Martha was such a flighty young thing; she never remembered to knock. Joan turned to the shelves, then blinked. These boys were aging her prematurely: she simply didn't remember getting out the castor oil that morning.
Chapter 14: Everyone's Life Ends But No One Ever Completes It
The Kannemara mines were as dark and cold as the Doctor promised. Buffy dutifully hauled a barrel of water out of the TARDIS while the silent Family carried bundles of food to their final resting place. She didn't look back, because if she did she wasn't going to be able to stop herself from taking bloody revenge on that monster wearing her friend Jenny's face. Not to mention the little girl one-
But this wasn't a Slayer problem. This was a Doctor problem, and Buffy was Doing The Right Thing. If he couldn't have his cold-served revenge, neither could she. So she sat on the bench, and the Doctor handed the Father a lantern with one final nod. Buffy even clamped her snark down when the Father said, "Thank you," as the doors shut.
Enough was enough. As the Doctor turned towards her, she jumped to her feet and announced, "Wasn't that fun?"
He cocked an eyebrow at her. "Fun?" he repeated.
"Oh yeah. Danger, violence, fires and explosions, and in the end we all learned a valuable lesson."
"And what, pray tell, was that?"
Buffy bobbed her head. "Procrastination is bad."
The Doctor pursed his lips. "Right." He headed towards the console, and Buffy followed him.
"Hear me out. You procrastinated about dealing with the Family-"
"I did not-"
Buffy held up her hands. "I'm not saying I blame you. I didn't want to deal with them either. Anyway, you put off dealing with them-"
"They hadn't done anything wrong yet!"
"They had evil genius laughs! Plus, they shot at you." The Doctor glared at her, then moved around to the other side of the console. "You procrastinated, so Martha got stuck playing serving girl to the wannabe Klan brats for two months."
The Doctor picked up his mallet, whacked it against the controls, then pointed it at Buffy. "Okay, but if we hadn't shown up, who exactly was coming along to rescue you from a long life of inglorious servitude?"
"Fair enough." Buffy straightened her back. "Do you think that little girl was going to be pretty when she grew up?"
The mallet lowered. "Below the belt," muttered the Doctor.
"I know. You thought it first." Buffy approached him cautiously, but she wasn't very surprised when he reached out and grabbed her, hugging her close. He leaned down, burying his head in her hair, long breaths tickling the skin of her neck. "We can't save them all."
"Revenge is never as good as being there in time."
"Procrastination is bad."
The Doctor looked her in the eyes, then rested his forehead against hers. "Procrastination is bad," he murmured, letting his eyelids drift downwards. "It's always going to be like this, isn't it?"
"Difficult. Maddening. Embarrassing. A faint chance of being ultimately rewarding." He pulled away and his eyes opened. Beyond the pain and exhaustion, she saw real mirth dancing in them.
"You spent fifteen minutes inside my brain. What do you think? How much do you remember?" She raised a hand to her temple.
"Quite a bit. There were some, uh, interesting speeches. And outfits. Your quipping is excellent." Buffy kept her expression straight. "Wait. How much do you remember?"
"Not as much as you, probably," she replied, arching just one eyebrow.
He allowed himself one quick peek. "You know my name!"
"It's not like I can pronounce it," she deflected. He was smiling again, relaxed. She missed his smiles. Not that it made this any easier. But procrastination was bad. Buffy backed away, leaning against the console. "You said John was safe inside. That means he's part of you, right?"
"But you're not him."
His expression tightened. "I can be everything he was, but no, I'm not him."
"I loved him." Buffy looked down, fingers brushing against buttons and switches. "He was sweet, and brave, and he thought I was pretty."
"You are pretty." She saw his hand move to touch her, reassure her in some way, but the Doctor controlled the impulse. He rocked backwards on his heels. "I – I understand. I'd like it if you came with me – with Martha and me. If you traveled with us. You... make me happy. Less lonely. And maybe even a little more insane, and you're one of very few people who can appreciate that statement." He drew another breath, looking past her. "And you know my name. But that means, well, you know other things. Everything." And now he did tuck his fingers under her chin, pushing her face up. "If it's too much, if you hate me for that, or for taking John away, or - I can – well – I can take it back. You don't have to remember." He drew his hand away.
"It would kill me, but it would be better than you hating me."
Buffy grabbed his wrists and saw the shock in his eyes. "Ow!"
"I told you that I'm strong. And you're an idiot."
"You've read my thoughts. So, tell me, when are these hordes of women who know about all the skeletons in your dimensionally-transcendent closet but love you all the same gonna start pounding down the doors? Or am I still the only one?"
The Doctor blinked. "Just you."
"Good." She released his wrists, and he rubbed them. "It's not going to be easy. I won't say that I'm the world's easiest date, or that I have the best taste in men."
She eased off of the console, taking his lapels in her hands. "That's right. Eventually. We're taking baby steps here. I know it's been awhile for you." She'd seen a long dry spell in his dating history. He wasn't panicking or pulling away. Either he was reacting better than she expected or he'd proceeded directly to shock. It was her turn to tilt his chin towards her. "I'm going to look at you sometimes and miss him, and I just wanted to say right now that I'm sorry if it makes you jealous, but I won't apologize for the feeling."
He nodded. "Okay."
Now the hardest part. Buffy dove straight in. "I'm human. I come with an expiration stamp. Even worse, I'm a Slayer. Procrastination is bad."
"Procrastination is bad," he repeated.
She got on her tiptoes and brushed her lips against his. "Now you've got it." Buffy sighed as he pulled her back for a deeper kiss. He really was good at this part. Later, they would not procrastinate on the two dimensions problem, because while she liked him, she did miss her sister and her friends. Even before that, when they landed in a few minutes, she was going to have to figure out how to explain all of this to Martha, and maybe, because she was a really nice person, Martha wouldn't mind and Buffy wouldn't be an evil, crush-poaching, Bad Friend. His fingers ran up her spine. She was a bad person, who did not deserve wonderful tingles from Time Lord caresses. Bad Buffy. Naughty Doctor. Nice tingles.
Oh, to hell with it: she'd had a really long night. She let her hand cup the curve of his bottom. This never would be easy, but damned if it wasn't going to be good.
Chapter 15: The Motions and the Things That You Say
The Doctor opened the TARDIS doors and found Martha and Tim standing in the clearing, playing catch with a cricket ball. Martha kept her eye on the ball and didn't turn. "About time you got here. You'd think a Time Lord would be more punctual, wouldn't you, Tim?" The boy just rolled his eyes.
"What, and ruin your fun? How'd you know we'd land back here?"
Martha shook her head. "It's where you let Buffy park it. Also, the community hall fire spread and she burnt down the barn too."
"That sounds about right for her, yeah." The Doctor scratched his head and caught Martha's throw one-handed. "I'm pretty good with one of these, you know," he mentioned, tossing it off to Tim.
"I heard something like that." Martha sauntered up to him, and they hugged. "Good to see you."
He patted her back. "Same to you." She stepped away. "Thank you."
"Not a problem," replied Martha. "The Family?"
"Not going to bother anyone else ever again." Buffy emerged in clothes borrowed from the wardrobe.
Martha looked her friend up and down. Rosy cheeks, swollen lips, bit of an effervescent glow about her. Then she gave the Doctor a once-over. Brown pinstripes, blue shirt, and just a hint of pink lipstick behind his ear. "Oi! You two! Already? Really?"
Buffy was winning the blushing contest, but only just. "Martha – I, er, we-"
"You see-" started the Doctor, but Martha held up her hands.
"Not in front of Tim, you two have corrupted him enough already."
Tim had wandered over between Martha and the Doctor. "She says she's going to rap your knuckles."
Buffy and the Doctor looked at each other. "We, uh-"
"You've both earned it." Martha scowled. "You deserve each other, and I don't know how I'm going to survive with two of you bouncing around in there." She looked down at Tim. "The universe is doomed."
Buffy swallowed. "Martha-"
Martha pulled her into a hug. "Seriously, it's fine. It's... better even. I'm happy." She released Buffy and pulled her purse out. "I'm handing our wages over to Tim. He carried your bag over from the school, and those boots of yours are heavy."
"Oh, thanks, Tim! I never could figure out what the heck a sovereign was anyway," said Buffy.
The Doctor nodded. "Quite right then." Martha handed over the purse, and the Doctor pulled the watch from one of his pockets, extending it to Tim. "You should take this too."
Tim eyed it. "Should I?"
"Yep. Just a watch now, but it's fine Gallifreyan craftsmanship. Keeps perfect time."
He and Tim shared a significant look, then the boy took the gift. "Thank you, Doctor. And you too, Martha, for everything." He turned to Buffy last, but she was already chuckling.
"I know. 'Thanks for keeping me safe by being really scary and kind of weird.'"
A smattering of pink appeared on Tim's cheeks. "Yeah. That's about right. Thank you for showing me how to fight."
Buffy patted his shoulder. "It's not the fighting. It's the surviving that's the trick. Actually, it's rule one. 'Don't die.' So, yeah, just remember that rule," she finished, turning into the TARDIS.
"That's an order," added the Doctor, grabbing the bags before heading in.
"And stay clear of the Headmaster for the next few days," said Martha with a twinkle in her eyes. She turned back and winked at him. "You'll like this bit." When she shut the door, Tim was still standing there, smiling. Martha leaned her head against the doors until she heard the TARDIS finish its dematerialization sequence. "So where are we headed?"
"Home sweet home," announced the Doctor, zooming about. "Well, for you anyway."
Buffy was holding onto the handrail for dear life. Martha smirked at her. "Novice."
"She'll get used to it."
"Is it always like this?" she hissed.
"Yep!" The Doctor and Martha replied in unison.
"Time travel tends to be just a little bit rougher. Remember that time we landed in the swamp," recalled Martha.
The Doctor grinned. "Which one?"
Buffy was starting to earn her vortex legs and relaxed just in the time to fall off the bench as the TARDIS came to a sudden halt. Martha grinned. "So, London, 2007?"
The Doctor nodded. "That's right. Your kind of town, and your kind of time. Buffy's kind of time, too, if I'm not mistaken, or roughly about there at the very least in an alternate-dimension sort of way?"
He was kneeling just a few steps away from Buffy, who took the chance to turn her head and check out his crouching profile. "Yeah, I was going to ask you about that. I mean, not really running away from here quite yet, but it would be nice to at least know how to get home, and maybe leave a note. Willow's family was apparently really big with the note-leaving."
"All in good time, Buffy, we've only just landed." The Doctor rose, grabbed his coat off the ground, dusted it off, and pulled it on. "Martha, have you got my sonic screwdriver?" Martha produced it, and it was tucked into its proper pocket. "All is right with the world."
Martha smiled at him. "That's right."
"And we've already got a mystery to figure out. Come on, Buffy, this is the fun part." He and Martha were already outside when Buffy got to her feet and headed towards the door. The Doctor called back. "Not the best weather for it, but with any luck we'll figure out how the dimensional modulation works!"
Buffy reached the doors and looked out. It was dark and foggy, but she followed the Doctor's light. "Hurry up, Buffy, I can't even see you. Oh, this is so Scooby Doo," laughed Martha. As she got closer, she could start to make out a building. After a few more steps, she froze.
Buffy knew this mansion. Wester Drumlins. Dammit. Procrastination was bad, yes, but repeating Plan A was worse. Her eyes raced around. One pair of stony wings in the garden. Another pair of petrified eyes in the bay window. One playing gargoyle on the outside of the spire. That made three.
Which left one weeping angel she couldn't see.
The once reassuring white glow ahead of her disappeared without a sound. "Oh shi-"