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Standing in the doorway, arms crossed, a careful watch kept over her companion’s sleep. Buffy stirs, and the Doctor steps in another few feet. It’s not so much that she spies on her companion’s dreams as she can feel them, Buffy’s timeline twisting in her mind, compounded by the nature of the TARDIS drifting through the Vortex.

“Having dreams again?” she says, soft so as not to yank the human out of her sleep-sweet mist.

Buffy nods, tired, and starts to sit up, gathering sheets about herself in layers of protection.

“Past or future?”

When her only answer is the hum of the TARDIS, she nods, once, and leaves her companion to her peace.

Unsurprisingly, it started as many stories do, with a chance meeting. Not many involve vampires, aliens, and humans endowed with super-human strength and reflexes, mind you, but that’s the universe for you.

Most stories don’t start with ‘it was a typical patrol of the graveyard’, either. But this one does, along with a rather routine fight with the recently undead. Buffy is two moves and one broken heel from dusting Jimmy Creek, who really wasn’t a very interesting conversationalist when he was alive, let alone dead, so not so much with the entertaining witty banter. One of those yawn-y slays, which made the sudden appearance of a blue police box on the grave belonging to Mrs. Edith Johnson (a very nice lady who used to be a little too fond of potted geraniums. Or maybe it was cats. Or maybe she potted cats, which would explain her sudden and scratch-filled death) a welcome distraction.

Anyway, the air displacement was disconcerting, and distracting enough that Jimmy might have managed to gain the upper hand (specifically one holding a large rock) if the occupant of the blue box hadn’t stuck her head out and shouted duck, advice Buffy’s reflexes apparently found to be very sensible even before her higher brain functions kicked in.

And then she shoved a stake into his heart, so all’s well that ends well.

The Doctor coughed politely at the last mortal remains of Jimmy Creek, fatally failed conversationalist. “Hello. I’m the Doctor.”

She ordered a strawberry-banana smoothie. Buffy watched, somewhere between amused and horrified, at the sheer size of the smoothie, but also at the whipped cream mustache the Doctor managed to get all over her face within seconds of receiving her drink. “Are you sure you don’t want a sip?” the Doctor said, politely.

“No offense,” Buffy said, “but alien cooties aren’t really my thing.”

“I don’t have cooties,” the Doctor said, and for a moment they realized just how childish that line of conversation was, and both politely discarded it.

“So just pretending for a moment that I’m with the alien believing, which I’m not saying we are but we’re pretending like a fun pretend-y game, where are you from, again?”

So the Doctor told her about Gallifrey. The Doctor told her about very old civilizations that fell, and young worlds that burned, and the traveler that survived them all. And Buffy listened, politely at least, and wasn’t sure if she believed a word of it.

And in return, in bits and pieces, Buffy was coaxed into telling about very old magic, and the young people who died fighting, and the creatures they hunted and in return were hunted by.

“You know,” the Doctor said, “in my experience, things that change humans into something they're not aren’t good.”

Buffy glanced out the shop window, then back at the Doctor. “Just what kind of not good are we talking here?”

(They aren’t so very different, when it comes down to it. One a Slayer, one a Doctor, each haunted by their predecessors.)

They’re floating, mostly, for now; drifting aimlessly. Buffy spends a lot of her in-between time watching the future of her favourite television shows. They land on planets, but the Doctor keeps a closer eye on Buffy these days than she used to, so she hardly ever gets to do anything interesting like get kidnapped and surprise the bad guys with her handy collection of weaponry hidden throughout stylish yet practical traveling wardrobe choices. Not like the good old days.

She’s died twice, now. Found a sister fashioned of green light, traded her life for the Key.

The Doctor knows what it’s like, knows it’s painful sometimes, and she’s been trying to ease the pain as best she can. Mostly that involves running. Just ignoring the aliens that usually precede it, it’s easy to lose yourself in the slap of feet against the ground, the rhythm of breathe in, breathe out.

“I’m fine,” she says one day, over a breakfast of cornflakes, strawberries, and milk. “No more sad Buffy for me. Happy Buffy is officially open for business.”

Saving the day is fun, too.

“Can we go shopping today?” Buffy asks, and raises a bunny slipper-clad foot. “Not that this isn’t stylish, but you could use some new additions.”

(“I was in heaven,” Buffy said, once, when she first came back to the mad Doctor with her blue police box, wrapped in sheets paler than her skin and so very small.

The Doctor thought about wars so terrible they had to be locked away from the universe, about armies unraveling the fabric of time, about destruction so mad even your side’s lost sight of their cause. “I was in hell.”)

Naturally there’s Autons in the shops, which is more than a little worrying. It’s one thing to travel with blondes repeatedly like this, and quite another to start repeating adventures. People might talk.

Buffy covers her stakes in antiplastic and takes bloody revenge on them for ruining all the best cute skirts. “And that,” she says loudly and with great relish, “is for the unreasonably stylish yet comfortable shoes I was going to wear to fancy-dress parties with staking opportunities!”

(“You know, I’m always here if you want to talk,” the Doctor said, all awkward angles and concern.

“I think I just need some time,” Buffy said.)

And in the disgusting smell of melting plastic and the distant light of absolutely accidental explosions, the Slayer shines.

“Honey,” she says, “I’m home.”

Community: [ profile] theatrical_muse
Word Count: 1,031
Prompt: 330 - I.O.U. / Over-protective!Eleven for [ profile] gr8muppetyodin
Author's Note: Admittedly this prompt more to do with the fact that I saw "IOU" and went oh yeah, I do owe fic than, er, anything else IOU-ish, but that's what prompts are for sometimes! Or sommat. SORRY FOR BEING SO LATE.
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The Doctor

May 2010

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