Word Count 1,950 words
Character: Dawn, Buffy, The 10th Doctor, Rose Tyler, and a few surprises
A/N: Post-Chosen: When Doctor Who tries to cure Dawn's mystical illness, he unintentionally opens her mind to a greater universe -- one she might not want to return from. A sequel to "House Call"; and who the hero actually turns out to be may surprise you.
“Is this going to hurt?” Dawn asked, lying back on a sofa in what she’d learned was a Time And Relative Dimension In Space machine. Whatever that was.
“No, not at all.” The Doctor whipped a pair of – were those 3-D glasses? – from his pocket, and gave her a careful once-over. “Well … I’ve never actually done this before, mind you – but why should it?”
Not overly comforting. But since the strange dark haired man had convinced them she was going to wipe out Chicago if they didn’t bleed off the excess energy that was making her sick, she wasn’t in a position to argue. Instead she was in a supine position, her legs dangling over the end of the only piece of furniture in the strange, domed control room.
Dawn watched curiously as The Doctor dug still another wire from the innards of the TARDIS control panel, using a piece of tape to apply it to her forehead. It was the fifth such connection he’d made, including a tube wrapped around her left bicep, two wires that Rose had helpfully connected to her chest, and one clipped onto her right ring finger. Frankly, his comment that she should relax was beginning to sound ludicrous.
Still, Buffy hovered nearby, leaning on her scythe while her alert gaze took in everything that went on, and The Doctor’s blonde companion was nothing but helpful. As for The Doctor himself, he seemed too young, and half crazed, and she got the distinct impression he was improvising everything as he went along.
And yet, Dawn couldn’t help but trust him. Maybe it was how sick she was feeling, but ever since she’d walked into this place – which was way bigger inside, by the way – she’d dutifully followed his every direction. The fact that she wasn’t complaining or asking The Doctor lots of questions seemed to worry Buffy to no end.
To make her sister feel better, Dawn used the moment when The Doctor took a strange little device from his pocket and directed it at her chest to act more like herself. “Are you seeing through my clothes?”
He whipped off the 3-D glasses. “Not at the moment, no.”
“What is that thing?”
“It’s very versatile,” commented Rose, who was hovering almost as much as Buffy.
Dawn nodded, and rested her head back on the pillow Rose had improvised from her jacket. “I’ve got a Sonic toothbrush.”
“Fantastic, I should add that to my toolbox.” The Doctor put his screwdriver away and stepped to the control panel. “Ready, then? We’ll drain the excess energy you collected into a neutron star.”
“What? Can I see?” Dawn started to sit up, but The Doctor raised a cautioning hand.
“Later. You’ll be asleep for this, but no worries – I’ll show you the star and anything else you want after you’re well again.”
“Cool.” She tried to relax, and wondered how she could possibly fall asleep when she was this stoked. “And ice cream – chocolate …“
As soon as Dawn’s eyes closed, The Doctor cracked his knuckles and started working at the controls. “Right, then – she won’t remember a bit of this.”
Dawn looked down at the little blue box orbiting the neutron star, but it was so tiny she had trouble concentrating on it. She opened up, seeing the entire system, then the stellar cluster around it, then the whole galaxy. There were so many of them, so many glittering lights. she started wondering if she could see the whole universe, or beyond –
Buffy stared down at her sister, then at the console, trying to make sense of the wiggling lines and graphs. She was on edge, still nervous about handing her sick sister over to this guy who’d suddenly appeared in the middle of the Council Headquarters with a crazy story about being a Time Lord. She wanted this done, but above all she wanted to remain on The Doctor’s good terms until she had Dawn back. “Sorry about leaving Mickey behind. My friends can be a little over protective.”
Without looking up from the console The Doctor said, “That’s what we bring him along for – to act as hostage. Anyway, I think he liked staying behind in a building full of girls.”
Rose said nothing, but she looked a little offended.
There were other Keys, scattered across the universe like sparkling diamonds in a gravel pit. Mostly they were all alone, but she saw two close together, and focused in on a little blue ball that she suddenly realized was Earth. It was so tiny – why had she ever wished to remain there in the first place, when there was so much else to see?
The Doctor stared hard at his readouts, eyes narrowing.
“So this will just bleed off all that magical energy she’s been zapped with over the years, and she’ll be fine?” It wasn’t the first time Buffy had asked, but this was the first time he showed irritation in his answer.
“Yes, yes – she’ll still be a key, but she’ll still be herself, too – no supernatural overdose. You should all be more careful about throwing those energies around, you know – they don’t belong on your Earth.”
Dawn didn’t belong on Earth. And yet there were two more like her, and she realized they were the mystical portals for the other two gods that had once battled Glorificus. Was Earth just the location of the doorway between dimensions, or were the three keys somehow magically attracted to each other?
She leaned closer, and discovered one key had been used. It had opened a door from another reality, and now resided inside a blue tinged former human, along with the god Illyria. Was Illyria one of the three gods? She didn’t know – she didn’t know a lot of things.
The other key resided across the continent. It too had been turned into a human, a bright but otherwise normal young girl named Rory Gilmore. She brushed the girl’s consciousness, and realized she knew nothing of her supernatural origins.
Rory raised her head from the journalism book she’d been studying. “What was that?”
“Are you all right?” her mother asked. “You look a little green. Not a good Kermit green, but more like a bad ‘Kirk invented another health food’ kind of green.”
The strange touch of consciousness had already faded. Shaking her head, Rory mentally brushed the feeling away and ignored the way it made her skin crawl. “Maybe I shouldn’t have gone for that fourth Ho-Ho.”
Her mom shrugged. “It’s way too late to clean the cobwebs out of the oven now, kid.”
Across the country, Illyria paused for just a moment, pondering the power that had brushed her mind. Concluding it was neither a threat nor something she could use to her advantage, she went back to throwing Spike across the room. She’d learned to enjoy these moments.
Should she make contact? Or would it raise the ire of the other two gods, who had imprisoned Glory in the first place? For that matter, could Glory come back somehow? With a quick, almost effortless mental push, she used the energy of the TARDIS to permanently seal shut the door she’d once almost opened.
Inside the TARDIS, all the lights dimmed, and the machinery let out an almost human moan while red lights flashed and alerts bleeped. “What?” The Doctor spun from his controls to Dawn, then back again. “What?”
How horribly boring and routine life on Earth was! There were huge, teaming civilizations, astronomical wonders, even new universes to explore. Her natural curiosity made her pulse with excitement, and Dawn realized all she had to do was expand out of her physical body, become a mystical ball of energy again, and spend eternity exploring the cosmos.
“She’s glowing!” Rose shouted.
The Doctor worked his controls frantically. “I don’t understand. She’s reversed the flow – instead of bleeding out energy, she’s sucking it in!”
Hefting her heavy scythe, Buffy took a threatening step forward. “Give me something to kill.”
But The Doctor shook his head. “There’s nothing to kill, Buffy – Dawn’s doing this.”
Buffy didn’t need her. No one really needed her – they’d grieve, but they’d move on. All the things she could see – all she was ever curious about – all there, waiting for her –
“Dawn –“ Buffy reached out, but her hand passed right through her sister’s body as it glowed brighter, and started to expand. “Do something!” she demanded, now threatening her host with the weapon.
The Doctor didn’t see her. He was staring at Rose, eyes, wide, shaking his head while an unspoken “no” appeared on his lips.
Buffy spun around, to see Rose’s eyes glowing. The Doctor’s companion ignored them both, and reached down to place her hands on either side of Dawn’s head. A tendril of glowing energy formed between them.
The voice was in her mind, and Dawn almost ignored it. A mind was just a puny human thing, after all.
“Curiosity is part of being human, dear. So is wonder. If you give up your humanity, you’ll be able to wander the stars – but you won’t care. You’ll just be mindless energy again.”
Now Dawn turned, wanting to argue, wanting to believe she could be this great thing and still maintain her consciousness. Then she saw the speaker, and forgot all of what she’d been about to say.
The glow faded. Dawn lay there, whole again, and as a normal looking Rose slid lifelessly to the floor the lights came on again. The Doctor went to his charge, and Buffy to hers.
After a moment each opened their eyes, and breathed out:
“The TARDIS did it,” Rose explained, as the four sat in a circle later. “I remember thinking someone needed to reach Dawn, and that’s when the ship just – reached into me. I was able to find her and guide her back.”
“I was going to start smashing the console,” Buffy admitted. “It was all I could think of to do.”
“Wouldn’t have helped.” The Doctor had been uncharacteristically quiet, ever since checking both women and declaring them to be free of foreign energy. “The TARDIS had been draining energy from Dawn, using what it could of it, and ejecting the rest into the neutron star, where it would be harmless. By the time you were ready to start destroying things, she’d already reversed the process and drawn so much energy that she didn’t need the ship anymore.”
“That’s when the TARDIS reactivated its connection with me,” Rose murmured.
Dawn looked at the floor, her face coloring.
“But who wouldn’t have been tempted?” Rose added. “Was it any different from me going with The Doctor? It’s all about curiosity, isn’t it?”
“I suppose so.” Buffy sighed, then reached out to take her sister’s hand. “I’m just glad everyone’s cured, and Rose was able to guide you back to us.”
“I don’t understand one thing,” Dawn said to Rose. “I saw you there, ready to lead me. But what made you think to pose as my mother to convince me to come?”
Rose gave her a blank stare. “What do you mean? I didn’t do that.”
“But – it was just like mom was there, giving me a good talking to. If it wasn’t you, who was it?”
They looked at each other. “I would suggest,” The Doctor said quietly, after a moment’s contemplation, “That the TARDIS isn’t the only being that can do things beyond man’s understanding.”
Feeling overcome, Dawn reached out to hug her sister tight. “Thank you,” she said.
But she wasn’t speaking to Buffy.