Title: Tread Softly, For You Tread On My Dreams
Rating: Nothing worse than the show.
Summary: Fourth in the Dreams series. Crossover. Xander wasn't where he was, but where the hell was he?
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters depicted in this story, nor will I ever, which is a damn shame. I shall make no money from the writing of this story, which again is a damn shame. Please do not sue, as my suit is in the cleaners.
Tread Softly, For You Tread On My Dreams
She was the last of her kind and transcended time and space itself, and yet she had only felt a sensation like the one the young man was currently experiencing once before, and that had been from her companion, someone who had been with her for nearly a millennia, or forever depending on how one perceived such things.
She felt his pain as though it were her own, a pain so strong and so unending that it was beyond even her comprehension, which in itself was enough reason to investigate further. He was caught between moments, invisible to all but her, completely alone to his fate. He had willingly sacrificed himself to ensure his loved ones would remain; unaware of just what he was sacrificing. His soul would be destroyed, but the soul was the most powerful force known to anyone or anything, and it takes a very long time to destroy it completely.
She felt it the moment that the young man's body began to separate one molecule at a time, which only served to increase the pain that he was already experiencing, and decided to take matters into her own hands. He did not deserve an ending such as the one he currently faced, to literally feel his body slowly disintegrate, no one did.
To interfere like she was about to do was against the laws of her people, but given that her people were no more, and that even if they were she couldn't just stand by and let someone with such a pure soul suffer so, she didn't spare too much thought on the decision.
That she would need to change him in order to save him gave her pause, but her mind was set; this man would not be left to such an abhorrent fate if she could help it.
She just hoped he would understand.
"Who the hell are you?"
Xander's eyes snapped open at the question, asked by a male voice more in frustration than in anger, which for some strange reason made Xander feel better. Anger would mean that he was in danger; annoyance merely meant that he was in trouble, and trouble was practically his middle name. It was better than his real one.
The fact that he didn't recognise the voice, and the owner of the voice didn't recognise him, meant that he wasn't in Sunnydale anymore. All he had to do now was work out just where the hell he was, hoping that it wasn't actually hell he was in. The last thing he could remember was triggering the spell to kill the mayor, pain beyond anything he had ever felt before, and then nothing until the question reverberated through his head.
Turning to the source of the question, Xander decided that honesty was probably the best policy, and would help in finding out exactly where he found himself. "Xander Harris, and you are?" he asked politely.
Whilst waiting for the answer, Xander decided that he'd been lying on the floor long enough and stood up. He looked down at himself and noticed that, while his clothes looked like Freddie Krueger had attacked them in a bad mood, he had no wounds. It wasn't all that surprising, as he'd gotten used to his 'gift', but he had hoped that the drain from the spell would have at least been enough to negate that aspect of his physiology.
What he'd really hoped for was that he wouldn't survive the ordeal at all, but it seemed that whatever deity had decided to keep him alive still wanted him around for a while longer.
"People call me Doctor," the man said in reply, causing Xander to return his focus to him and saw that he had a wide smile on his face. Xander wasn't fooled by the smile at all, as he could see the hardness in the man's eyes as he scrutinised him. Whoever this man was, he didn't like Xander's sudden presence, and was trying to use the smile to put him at ease enough so he might give up information more easily. It wouldn't work, but he wasn't about to tell him that.
"Of what?" Xander asked.
The man, or Doctor as he'd called himself, looked at Xander in surprise, which Xander could tell was genuine. "Normally when I say that people say who."
Xander shrugged his shoulders. "I'm not normal," he replied simply. "Where am I?"
Xander looked around the large room he found himself in, careful to keep the other man in his vision at all times whilst doing so, in the hope that he might find something familiar to help work out where he was.
There was a large centre console, with a tall clear cylinder that held glowing blue crystals that interlinked as the upper portion moved up and down. It was, to him at least, quite obviously highly advanced technology, and yet it had a sense of being old as well, like the retro style radios he'd seen in the mall one time. There was a sound that accompanied the movement of the crystals, a sound completely foreign to him and yet somehow familiar as well.
He turned his head to the left and noticed that there was a large walk-in style wardrobe area that seemed to have clothing of every time period he was aware of, and some that he didn't. There were also a couple of doorways, leading to who knows where, and there was another door that actually looked out of place from everything else in the room.
The sound of someone clearing their throat brought Xander's gaze back to the Doctor.
"This," the Doctor said, indicating the room they were in, "is my home."
The answer was truthful, Xander could tell that much, but it was by no means complete. He wasn't all that bothered by the omission, as Xander was by all intents and purposes an uninvited guest.
To be frank, the guy had been more welcoming than Xander would have been had their roles been reversed, as he would have bound and gagged the man before he'd known what hit him, and would no doubt have been more 'persuasive' in retrieving the information he required.
A sudden revelation hit Xander, which caused him to drop to his knees where he stood. He realised that he no longer felt the deep, abiding sadness that had been the mainstay of his existence for the best part of a year. He still felt saddened that what he'd experienced hadn't in fact been real, and that he would probably never experience the reality, but it wasn't the oppressive, destructive sensation that he had somewhat grown accustomed to.
It was as though his despair, and not his soul, had been used to empower the spell.
A moment later, the Doctor was crouching down next to him, a look of genuine concern on his features. "Are you alright?" he asked.
Xander said nothing for several moments, still trying to get over the shock of his discovery. Finally, he shook his head and placed a small, but genuine, smile on his face. "Yeah, I am actually," he replied, his tone showing his surprise at the truth of that statement.
"Right. Good. Now, how did you get here?" the Doctor asked as he stood back up, although his tone indicated it was more of a demand than a question.
"Not that I'm aware of just where this is," Xander replied as he too got back to his feet, "and even if I did I couldn't be certain, but I'd guess that it has something to do with the spell I cast."
The moment he said the words, Xander winced, knowing that he'd said too much. He'd been so used to being alone, or only talking to people that were in the know mystically wise, that his mental filter wasn't fully active. Even if he hadn't been a hermit in training for the best part of a year, and that any time he had talked to anyone it had something to do with the supernatural, he should have known better than to make it sound that he was insane.
Taking a look into the other man's eyes, Xander noticed that he didn't seem shocked or dubious by what he'd said, in fact his expression was more curious if anything.
"Hmm, perhaps, but generally the TARDIS doesn't let just anyone inside." The Doctor started pacing, mumbling to himself as he did so. He wasn't taking so low that Xander couldn't hear him, but the words he used were going so far over his head it wasn't funny.
Xander then felt a presence in his mind, and unlike other presences that had done so, he didn't feel afraid that it was there. Alexander.
The lady's voice was calm and melodious, and a warm feeling flowed through Xander's body, as though something that he had been missing had finally been found.
Who is this? he asked, trying to ignore the feeling that he should trust the voice implicitly and instead garner more information.
My name is unpronounceable by your methods, but the Doctor calls me TARDIS, the voice responded.
Doesn't sound like the name for a lady, he remarked, which was rewarded with the psychic impression of a smile from the lady in question.
Thank you, the voice replied, and the tone actually caused Xander's cheeks to pink slightly. TARDIS stands for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. You are, for want of a better term, in a time machine.
"Yes, very cool," a voice said sarcastically, cutting into the conversation. "Now, how the hell can you communicate with the TARDIS?" the Doctor asked, apparently having listened in on their conversation.
"Can't everyone?" Xander asked in return, not seeing what the problem was.
"No," the Doctor snapped, his anger rising to the surface, "hence the question. Well?"
Have you thought of asking me Doctor? the TARDIS asked. Considering that I started the conversation, a conversation you listened in on, I would have thought it the obvious choice.
The Doctor had experience with the tone the TARDIS had just used with him, and knew that he was not in her good books. Before he had the chance to say or think anything in response however, someone appeared from one of the doors at the far side of the room.
"Hey, when did you stop to pick up another passenger, and how come you didn't tell me?" she asked, her curiosity warring with her annoyance at being left out of the loop.
"Rose, this is Alexander, apparently the TARDIS thought that we needed another guest," he informed the newcomer, his tone telling Xander exactly what he thought of the situation.
"Look, if you don't want me here…" Xander began, only to be cut off by the TARDIS.
You can stay for as long as you like Alexander, the TARDIS informed him, softly but firmly, the Doctor will not turn you away. I will not let him.
Why? Why are you doing this for me? he asked, still unsure as to what she had actually done.
His memory was becoming clearer now, and he could remember the sensation of being literally pulled apart. It was something he doubted he'd have survived, and was still uncertain as to whether he was happy that he did. However, while he might have wanted to die, he would have preferred it not to be in such an excruciating and drawn out way, and actually felt thankful that she had intervened when she had.
I saw what you did, what you have done, and what you would have experienced had I stayed my hand. It was the least I could do.
"What's going on? Why are you two just staring at each other?" Rose asked, finding the situation odd, but nowhere near as strange as some of the things that had happened to her since joining the Doctor on his journey through time and space.
"We're talking to the TARDIS," the Doctor replied, not turning to her direction while he spoke, which caused the other woman in his life to become annoyed with him.
"You can do that? I didn't know you could do that," she remarked, her tone slightly accusing that he'd withheld information from her, again.
"Well generally I can't," that Doctor admitted, his face starting to show confusion, "at least not in the way we are at the moment, as she has to be the one to initiate communication. I normally just get a sense of what she is feeling; she only uses actual telepathic communication when…"
Both Xander and Rose looked at him with growing frustration as he trailed off and began to murmur under his breath again. Neither he nor Rose was known for their patience, but it seemed that Xander had more than Rose, as she broke the silence.
"When what?" she asked, frustrated by his lack of explanation.
"When she's done something that she shouldn't and she needed to explain to me why."
Are you going to ask me or are you going to just stand there? the TARDIS asked, both men clearly able to hear the annoyance in her voice.
"Sorry old girl, so what have you done that requires an explanation?" he asked, both verbally and telepathically for the benefit of Rose.
The same thing I did for you at the end of the Time War.
The Doctor's face paled, and he moved unsteadily to a nearby seat and dropped down into it heavily. Rose was by his side in an instant, worried for her friend and companion, having never seen him like that before.
"Doctor, what did she say?" she asked.
Seeing that the Doctor was in no fit state to answer, Xander did on his behalf. "She said that she did the same thing for me that she did for him at the end of the Time War, and yes, I did use capitals. Any idea what she's on about?"
"I know about the Time War between the Doctor's people, the Time Lords, and the Daleks, and that the Doctor was the only survivor on his side. We've encountered a few Daleks since then, but the Doctor has always been on the winning side of the equation… in a manner of speaking. As to what the TARDIS did for him, I have no idea, so how about you tell me what she did for you?"
"Apparently, she stopped me from being ripped apart one cell at a time, which was the price I was about to pay for casting a spell to kill a true demon," he told her, not bothering to sugar-coat it. That Doctor seemed to take his explanation before well enough, so he assumed that rose would be the same.
"Oh." Rose looked at him for a second or two before exploding. "What!?" she screeched, causing Xander's ears to hurt. He had thought only Cordelia had that ability.
"Rose, we dealt with a werewolf only last week, so why do you think the idea of demons strange?" the Doctor asked absently, not fully over the shock of what he'd just been told.
"What do you mean you 'dealt' with a werewolf? Apart from three nights a month, they're as human as you or I," Xander said angrily, thinking of Oz and how that hunter had tried to kill him for sport.
"Not anymore," the Doctor replied softly, finally getting his wits about him.
The Doctor trusted the TARDIS implicitly, and she had saved his life so many times that even he would have trouble counting, but he still couldn't believe she would flout the rules so blatantly a second time. He looked at Xander and concentrated, listening for what he already knew he would hear but needed to check anyway for his own piece of mind.
"What do you mean, not anymore?" Xander asked, oblivious of the Doctor's inner musings and confused by what he meant.
"At the end of the War," the Doctor began, seemingly ignoring Xander's question, "I nearly died, as my human half was reacting to the radiation caused by destroying the Dalek fleet."
"You're half human?" Rose asked, surprised that he hadn't said anything to her before.
"No," he replied, shaking his head slightly, "not anymore. The TARDIS saved me by changing my human half so that I was completely Gallyfreyan." The Doctor turned to Xander. "She did the same thing to you Alexander. You're now one of only two Time Lords left in existence."
Actually Doctor, he's one of only three Time Lords left in existence.
"WHAT!" the Doctor roared, incensed that the TARDIS would keep such information from him. "Why didn't you tell me someone else survived the War?"
They didn't; you were the only Time Lord to survive the War.
"Then who are you talking about?"
Captain Jack Harkness.
Jack was alive, and this time he was thankful for what had happened to him. As absurd as it sounded, even to his own ears, Abaddon had actually been helpful in a way, as it had been the first time in a long time that Jack had actually felt scared about dying.
For too long he had wanted to die a final death, instead of the momentary loss of life that he'd felt on numerous occasions. He'd felt himself become a little less Jack-like every time he revived, and while he didn't like it, he also knew there was nothing he could do about it. However, when he'd been faced with what he truly thought would be his end, Jack had found himself wanting to live. And live he did.
He felt lighter in heart, although he was almost positive he sometimes heard two hearts beating within his chest, than he had in a long time, since he'd helped the Doctor and Rose battle the Daleks all those years ago. That was something else he doubted he would ever get used to, how his perception of time differs from almost everyone else.
To him, it had been almost twelve years since he'd been left on that space station, either intentionally or not, and yet that had actually happened centuries from now. He'd actually spent more time, chronologically speaking, in Cardiff than almost anywhere else, of his own free will at least.
He knew that Gwen was watching him like a hawk, which given the fact that she'd stood vigil next to his dead body for the last several days wasn't actually a surprise, but he was already starting to feel uncomfortable by her need to remain within close proximity of him. it was for that reason he was glad she had decided to take a couple of days off to be with her boyfriend, seeing him die making her want to reconnect with him, as it meant he was alone in the compound.
Under different circumstances, he might have flirted with her, but for some reason he didn't see her that way. That was odd in itself, as he generally felt that way about everyone man or woman, but the closest sensation he could attribute it to was family, like she was related to him in some way.
Of course, as he came from far into the future, she might well indeed be one of his ancestors, but until he was able to speak to a certain u-boat captain look-alike, he wouldn't be able to find out.
As though his thoughts had been heard, the very distinctive sound of the TARDIS filled the underground base of Torchwood 3, and a small but genuine smile appeared on his face. He had always wondered what he might do when faced with the Doctor and Rose, whether he would be happy to see them again or angry that they left him in the first place, and was happy to discover that it was most definitely the former as opposed to the latter.
As the familiar shape of the blue police box appeared before him, Jack wondered whether this was just a fleeting visit, or whether they were arriving with the offer of rejoining them. Despite his promises to those in Torchwood, those that had allowed him to front Torchwood 3 and run it as he saw fit, he still didn't feel comfortable. He'd always felt comfortable on the TARDIS, and with the Doctor and Rose. It was as though he had finally found a place he could call home.
It didn't hurt that they were both hot either.
The doors opened and… three people got out, and of those three he only recognised Rose. The other two, well in a way they looked like brothers, the same general height and weight, the same colour eyes and hair.
One was wearing a brown pinstripe suit with a raincoat, while the other was wearing faded jeans and a shirt patterned from something you'd normally see after overdosing on acid. When the doors closed behind them and the doctor didn't appear, he looked at them in confusion.
"Jack!" Rose squealed, rushing over to him and jumping into his arms almost before he had a chance to prepare. "It's so good to see you!"
He could feel her shoulders begin to shake, and as he looked down at her he could see tears in her eyes. He suddenly realised that she, and probably the Doctor wherever he was, had no idea until recently that he had actually survived the Dalek attack. Speaking of the Doctor…
"Rose, where's the Doctor?"
Rose, who had started to collect herself from her impromptu blubber session, pulled back from Jack's arms enough to look him in the eyes. "He's right over there, next to Xander."
The Doctor watched as Jack looked at him and Xander blankly, no sign of recognition in his eyes, and knew that this was going to be a long conversation. Add the explanation as to why he didn't look like he had the last time Jack saw him to the revelation he was about to drop on his friend, the Doctor quickly decided that they needed to have the discussion in the safety of the TARDIS.
The Doctor stepped forward and smiled warmly at Jack, preparing himself for his re-introduction. This was one of the reasons why he didn't go back for a companion after he regenerated, as he knew that even though he knew them, they didn't know him anymore.
For want of a better term, when he regenerated he literally became someone else. At his core he was the Doctor and always would be, but his personality could, and usually did, change quite drastically. While it hadn't happened, there was also a chance that he might not even remain the same gender when he regenerated, and although the chances of that actually happening were very small, he didn't rule it out. He'd beaten the odds far too many times to rule anything out anymore.
"Hey Jack, long time no see."
"And you are?" Jack asked.
The Doctor tried not to let his complete lack of recognition hurt, but some things are unavoidable. "It's me Jack."
"It's true," Rose said, still in his arms, "he really is the Doctor."
Jack looked into Rose's eyes and could see the sincerity in them, and then he looked into the man who claimed to be the Doctor and saw a similar expression. There was also something almost familiar in the man's expression, which despite his penchant for cynicism since his journey back to Earth, did give credence to their position.
Ignoring that for the moment, he turned to the third in their group, the only one he was certain he hadn't met before. Letting go of Rose, he strode up the young man, Xander if he remembered correctly, and extended his hand. "Captain Jack Harkness, nice to meet you."
Xander looked at the man they had come to, hopefully, collect and saw the almost genuine openness in his expression. He didn't blame him for being a little closed off, as he would be in his place, and decided to wait on his opinion of the other man until all explanations had been made. "Xander Harris, I've heard a lot about you."
Jack looked at the other two, wondering what they might have said, admitting silently that he was starting to believe that the man was indeed the Doctor. Xander saw the look and smiled slightly. "Don't worry, they didn't say anything that put you in a bad light, just the opposite in fact."
Now Jack was really intrigued as to what they had said, but set that aside for the moment, going back to the main point at hand. "So, Doctor, why did you leave me stranded on that Spacestation?" he asked, having already gathered he hadn't, but needing to hear it from his own lips.
"I honestly didn't know you survived the attack, and if it hadn't been for Rose being so obstinate…"
"Hey!" she cried indignantly.
"… I wouldn't have either," the Doctor continued, completely ignoring rose's interruption. "I don't want to go into too much detail while certain ears can hear," the Doctor said, indicating the 'hidden' surveillance equipment in the area, "so I was kinda hoping that you'd want to come with us."
Jack looked at the doctor and Rose's hopeful expressions, and also noted that while Xander wasn't showing much in the way of an expression, he didn't look like he was against the idea.
Yes Captain, it's time to come home.
"What the hell was that?" Jack instantly demanded, looking around frantically for the source of the new voice.
It's me Captain, the feminine voice said warmly, calming Jack despite himself, the TARDIS.
"How is the TARDIS talking to me?" Jack asked the others.
"That's something else we need to explain, and something we definitely need to tell you somewhere no one else can hear."
The conviction in the Doctor's voice told him that whatever he was about to be told would rock his world, and would no doubt put his deal with Torchwood in jeopardy. That didn't really bother him, given that he knew that he'd already outlived his usefulness to them now that he'd dealt with Abaddon, but he didn't relish the thought of being stuck in a cell next to a Weavil if what he was about to be told was something they would want to 'study'.
Taking one last look around at the place that he could have called home given enough time, he turned to the Doctor and smiled. "What are we waiting for?"