Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters depicted in this story. I will not make any money from writing this story. I will not pass go. I will not collect $200. I will not talk about Fight Club.
Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These
"Xander," The Doctor sighed, "how many times must I tell you not to touch anything unless I'm there to supervise?"
"I don't know, try once more and see if we've reached the magic number, Doc," Xander quipped even as his stomach threatened to jettison everything it held onto the floor.
He'd been with The Doctor, Jack and Rose for over six months now, and he had to say that for the most part he was enjoying himself. Xander had been all over the place and all over time with his new friends, and had been in almost as many life or death situations as he had at home, and he hadn't even thought that possible away from a Hellmouth. At least now though he was allowed to make a contribution to remaining alive.
His two worlds had collided on more than one occasion since becoming a passenger with the TARDIS, or Eve as he now called her, telling her and the others that no woman with such a beautiful voice should have such an androgynous name. That statement had made Eve almost literally beam, which had made The Doctor feel a little annoyed, and a little jealous, that Xander got on with his TARDIS so well, but Xander's ability to ingratiate himself with anyone soon smoothed that over.
The first time had been when they'd gone to visit Rose's mother, Jackie Tyler, and had soon found themselves having to help save Rose's friend/ex-boyfriend, Mickey Smith, from a vampire. Mickey seemed to be as much of a demon magnet as Xander, as the vampire in question happened to have been his date for the night.
The "The world is older than you know…" speech didn't go down as well as he'd expected given what Mickey had seen, who would refuse to believe that vampires and demons weren't in fact aliens from another planet. It didn't matter all that much to Xander whether the guy believed him or not, as long as he took some precautions.
That was of course the easy part of the evening; surviving the evening around Rose's mom almost sent Xander homicidal. His parents might never win any awards, but they at least left him alone for the most part; Jackie seemed to want to not only control Rose's life, but anyone else that happened to be in her line of sight at the time, and actually expected them to be happy about it.
The tension grew steadily worse throughout dinner and Xander was tempted to make a bet with himself on who would snap first; him, Rose or The Doctor. Jack, the annoying bastard, seemed to find the whole thing highly amusing, likening it to some of the daytime dramas he'd seen back, or would that be forward, in his own time.
The final straw came when she all but demanded that Rose stop 'gallivanting' around the universe and come back home where she 'belongs'. Jackie didn't take it very well when Rose stated categorically that the TARDIS was her home, and that the only person that had a say with what she would do with her life was herself.
Rose had then stood up and left the flat without looking back, quickly followed by the three Time Lords.
Then they'd met up with one of The Doctor's previous companions, Sarah Jane Smith, which caused a heart stopping moment for Xander when they found out that the conspiracy she was investigating at a local school had a being in the guise of someone who looked strikingly similar to Giles as the mastermind.
Once he'd gotten over the shock, he'd found himself so angered that a creature would dare use the likeness of someone thought of as his father that he'd rushed back to Eve, grabbed the sword The Doctor had kept to commemorate the first time he'd saved the world in his latest incarnation, and went 'old school' on the demon headmaster and his cohorts, causing the others to look at him with a mixture of shock and fear.
Since then, Rose had given him a wide berth, as she didn't know how to deal with what she'd witnessed, but he wasn't all that bothered by that. She was a nice enough girl, but there were times when she looked a little like someone he was trying to forget, and the memories were still too clear for him to feel comfortable around her too long.
While Rose had stayed away, Jack had become a close friend. The two shared both a sense of humour and a darkness within them that was only really matched by The Doctor. All three could laugh and joke about with the best of them, but they were all also capable of making the hard choices, the ones where whatever you decide to do there will be people who will disagree with or hate you for it, but choose anyway because it had to be done.
Jack helped Xander refine his fighting skills, as while he was good, he could always be better, while in return Xander helped fill Jack in on the Supernatural. The Doctor would also join in on those talks, as it was one of the few areas where he didn't feel fully confident. Of course, he never cited that as a reason, but as he rarely contradicted what Xander said, the other two figured it out but decided not to call him on it.
The Doctor's contribution to their collective learning was to tutor on how to pilot Eve. Jack, who had previous experience in time travel, not to mention that this was his second stint with The Doctor and Rose, took to it like a duck to water, whereas Xander found it hard going. He had little to know experience with this type of thing, so he had a steep learning curve, and when he had a teacher who seemed to enjoy the sound of his own voice at times, he would often zone out, and it was at those times that things went awry.
This time was no exception; he was at the controls, although not using them as The Doctor was not satisfied that he was capable enough to do so, when he zoned out of one of The Doctor's rants and had put his hand down to rest a little. He wasn't sure what buttons or switches he'd touched, but it seemed that it had been enough to put Eve in an uncontrolled trajectory.
"So," Jack said as he began working the kinks out of his body from the less than comfortable landing, "any idea where we are?"
"Well, the readings indicate that we're in another dimension, but that can't be possible, as we cut all links between dimensions before the Time War to prevent the Daleks from escaping to one."
Just because the Time Lords were the most knowledgeable concerning dimensional travel, Eve told them, does not mean that they knew everything about it.
The Doctor frowned slightly, due to the fact that once again the TARDIS was contradicting him on something. Ever since Xander had come into his life, the TARDIS had become increasingly vocal, and while in most cases that wasn't a bad thing, it also coincided with the fact that she seemed to almost enjoy correcting him sometimes. The most irksome thing about it was that he could never deny what she said.
This was another fine example; the Time Lords, while recognised as one of the most learned races in existence, they were still nowhere near as all knowing as many believed, or as he sometimes portrayed them to be. It was entirely feasible that there were more ways to do things than the ones known to The Doctor, the most obvious being, to his distaste, magic.
There was a reason why The Doctor's knowledge of the supernatural was not as extensive as his other areas of expertise; you had to take a lot of it on faith and faith alone. The Doctor had put his faith in humanity on numerous occasions, believing them to have almost unlimited potential, but that was mainly down to his personal experience of dealing with them. He needed to know how magic worked, and no one had been able to explain it to him sufficiently to sate his doubts.
Magic, true magic, not the forms of science that closely resembled it, would only work if the person honestly believed that it would. There had been a few Time Lords who could practise magic, but they were definitely the exception as opposed to the rule, and even then only to a very limited extent. Xander now counted as one of them, even though he could only perform a few 'simple' spells, it still put him in the top 1.
"We're on a planet called Pylea," Jack told them as he began reading the information that Eve was displaying. "It is a planet where humans are treated no better than cattle, with no rights whatsoever. It is a lot like the slavery that took place on Earth, but even then there were ways for them to buy their freedom; here you are either a slave or you are dead."
"I vote that we get back in the TARDIS and get the hell out of here," Rose stated immediately upon hearing that, not liking the situation they were in one bit.
"Would that we could," The Doctor replied, "but it seems as though the TARDIS was damaged during the landing and it will take time for her to fix whatever is broken."
Xander felt especially guilty now that he knew his actions had hurt Eve, and his expression darkened as he noticed the accusatory look The Doctor was currently sending his way.
There is no need to feel sorry, Eve assured him, it is superficial at most, my version of a scraped knee.
That doesn't make me feel any better, Xander replied sourly.
"I doubt it was meant to," Jack commented, joining the conversation, "but that's mainly because Eve knows nothing would ever make you feel better about it."
Captain Jack is right, Eve told him. You have a tendency to be your own worst critic. I have noticed however, that there always seems to be a reason for the things that happen around you, and I believe that this is no exception.
What do you mean? Xander asked.
"I think she means that there are beings on this planet that should not be here," The Doctor explained. "Every dimension has a unique pattern, which is shared by the beings that come from them." He pulled out a pair of seemingly benign 3D glasses from his inside pocket and handed them to Xander.
The young man put them on and noticed that there seemed to be small black particles swirling around The Doctor's body, the same going for Jack and Rose. As he raised his hand up in front of his face, he noticed that he too had those same black particles circling his body, but he also noticed red particles as well, which hadn't been present around The Doctor or the others.
"Those particles wouldn't be present if we were native to this dimension. Apart from us, there are five more beings here that do not belong in this dimension, and is slowly causing an instability that will eventually destroy the entire dimension."
"If it has been possible to travel between dimensions before," Xander said, "why didn't this instability occur?"
"What makes you think that it didn't?" The Doctor asked, impressed with Xander's quick, and accurate, deduction.
"Because you and the other Time Lords would have disabled whatever it was that had enabled travel well before the Time War began, and the fact that you didn't mention it right away."
"I would have liked to have met you before the TARDIS changed you," the Time Lord commented, "to find out if you had been this smart then as well."
Finding himself embarrassed by The Doctor's unusual praise, Xander ducked his head and a faint blush could be seen on his face.
"Hold up," Jack said, "Eve is finding something else strange about some of our fellow trespassers. It seems as though three of them have been tainted by something, but Eve can't figure out what it is. What she does know is that Xander has been tainted by the same thing."
"It can't be anything you've been in contact with since joining us," The Doctor mused, turning to face Xander, "as we would probably show the same readings, so it must have been something that you came into contact with before then."
"That can't be it, as the only thing that could have left a reading like that on me was…" Xander trailed off and his complexion paled slightly.
Rose noticed the look. "Was what?" she asked, finding that she didn't seem to feel so uncomfortable around him as she had done recently.
She had felt a little guilty about her behaviour towards Xander recently after their encounter with the Krillitanes, but she had never seen anyone act so ruthlessly before. Even when The Doctor faced off against the Daleks, she could still see some flicker within him that didn't want to take the actions he was taking.
With Xander, there was no such flicker, and she knew that he would do whatever was necessary to achieve his goal and not feel the slightest ounce of regret over it. She wondered how someone the same age as herself could become so cold, when The Doctor had lived for over 900 years and yet could still show compassion even for his greatest enemy.
"The Hellmouth," he told her, "they've been tainted by the Hellmouth." He turned his attention to The Doctor. "We're not leaving them here are we?"
"No; as I told you, the longer they stay the greater the stability. I have noticed that there seems to be another one with them that, while native to this dimension, no longer seems to belong here. Rose and I will stay here and help the TARDIS with repairs; why don't you and Jack find the others and bring them back here."
"Why aren't you coming along?" Xander asked. "Normally you'd be running all over the place exploring and getting yourself into life and death situations by now."
Rose grinned at Xander's alarmingly accurate description even as The Doctor scowled. "I might go searching for adventure, but with you danger seems to go out of its way to seek you out. If that's a trait shared by whoever you're going to be looking for, you should find them in no time."
After going inside Eve and grabbing a few 'essentials', namely the weapons and other equipment that The Doctor hated to have around but never threw away, Xander and Jack made their way through the Pylean countryside, using the tracking device Eve had supplied them to search for their fellow dimensional trespassers. Jack was using the device, as although Eve liked Xander, she also knew of his uncanny ability to break things. She had been able to block Xander's signature from the device, as the double reading it received from him scrambled the signal, which ensured that they didn't walk around in circles, but had set it so that if Xander became lost, Jack would be able to locate him.
On more than one occasion the two had to quickly find somewhere to hide from the native… people of Pylea, who looked too much like demons for Xander's liking. Of course, before he'd known about the supernatural he would have been thinking along the lines of Star Trek. Alien or demon, from what he'd been told they wouldn't be too happy to see a couple of 'cows' with weapons walking around free as a bird, so hiding was really their best option, until they had no other option.
The first thing that truly surprised the pair was when they found a black Cadillac covered in brush; the second was when Xander recognised it. "This is Deadboy's car!" he exclaimed.
"Who's Deadboy?" Jack asked.
"Oh, just a vampire with a soul I know," he replied, smirking slightly when he saw the look of disbelief on his friend's face. "I know that with everything I've told you about vampires it sounds strange, but with every rule there's an exception, and Angel is it. Mostly. Kinda."
"You sound so certain," Jack drawled.
"I don't like the guy; even thinking of Angel as a guy is pretty freaksome for me. Back in the Dale he had some uses, but most of his motivations were selfish."
"And yours were purely altruistic?"
"Not entirely," Xander admitted ruefully, "but I wouldn't just help one person and pretty much leave everyone to their own devices just to get in a woman's good graces." His face suddenly became ashen as he thought of something. "What if she is here?"
Jack knew exactly whom Xander was talking about, so knew better than to ask. During their training, when it was just the two of them, Xander would talk about his life before finding himself on Eve. He would never give names, not because he didn't trust him, but because of the emotional connections those names had. By not using the names, Xander was able to remain one step away from it, enabling him to tell the story without becoming affected by the memories.
She, the girl Xander was talking about, meant more to Xander than his own life. He had never said so, but Jack was a great reader of people. He recognised the way Xander's eyes would light up whenever he spoke about her, and the way they dimmed moments later, indicating that whoever she was, she didn't feel the same way. Jack could tell that Xander had gotten over some of the hurt he'd experienced, but he wasn't sure what would happen if she were here.
"Whoever it is," Jack said, "they're probably hoping that they'll find a way off this rock before they get a personalised collar. No matter what else, they should be happy that you're able to provide it."
"I did mention the fact they probably think I'm dead didn't I? These people have a big 'kill first, ask questions never' policy, and if they do think I'm dead they'll probably want to kill anything that dared to pretend to be their dearly departed friend."
Jack's eyes darkened slightly and his grip on his sonic disruptor tightened. "You mean they'll try."
As they reached a cave, Jack hit the tracking device a couple of times. "It says that two of the people we're here to find are somewhere in that cave, but one of the readings is stronger than the other. My best guess is that one of them has been here longer than the other, and their body has started to become more attuned to this dimension."
"Nothing like searching through a dark, cramped space to make an excursion complete," Xander sighed as he began to make his way inside, Jack following a step behind.
Using the glow crystals they started carrying ever since they landed on a world shrouded in darkness, they ventured further into the cave system, following the trail the tracking device laid before them. Soon, they could hear talking, one man and one woman, and they picked up their pace. They could see a light source ahead and deactivated their crystals, no longer needing the extra illumination, and entered the lit area, listening in on the woman talking.
"… so you see I don't get to talk too often as the others here are too afraid and when I do try to talk they don't understand what I'm on about especially when I go on about my theories regarding just where this is and did you know that they have a fruit here that tastes just like a strawberry except that it's actually blue and three times the size you need to peel it but other than that it's exactly the same the trouble is they won't be ripe for another five months…"
"Fred," a male voice cut in, sounding impatient, "focus. Do you know where they might keep my friends?"
Xander knew that this was the best opportunity he'd had in a while to truly shock someone and simply couldn't pass it up. "I didn't know you had friends Deadboy."
Angel's head whipped round so fast that Xander knew it would have broken had he been human. "Xander?!" he cried, shocked at seeing someone he believed dead two years.
"The one and only."
"Xander's dead," Angel stated authoritatively, "and has been for two years, so whatever plan you had concocted won't happen."
Xander then realised that the light source was coming from a hole in the roof of the cave, and that Angel was standing right in the middle of it. "Hey, Angel, how come you're not pothole filler right now?"
Angel's expression darkened for a moment, before his eyes widened again. "You really are Xander, aren't you? No one could be that annoying that easily."
"You do say the sweetest things. Getting back on topic; why aren't you dust? The last time I checked, vampires were susceptible to sunlight."
"I don't know if you know this, or how you got here for that matter, but we're in another dimension so the rules are different." He suddenly surged forward, grabbing Xander by the collar and pulling him in close. "Where the hell have you been the last two years? Buffy saw you cast a spell on the Mayor, and then you both disappeared in a blinding flash that took out all the demons in the surrounding area."
"And somehow," Xander said as he pried Angel's fingers form him, "like the cockroach you are, you managed to survive."
"I was in the sewers system trying to stem the flow of demons when the flash occurred." Angel went to grab Xander again, but found that he was too fast for him. "Where did you go?" he demanded.
"While it's none of your…" Xander trailed off as he realised just what Angel had said. "Wait, two years? I've only been gone six months or so."
"Xander," Jack said, gaining the young man's attention, "remember where you've been living."
"Ah, right." Xander turned back to Angel, who was clearly starting to lose his patience. "Of everyone I knew back in Sunnydale, you're the one who least deserves any explanation, so don't expect one."
"That's not good enough Xander," Angel growled, Xander noticing that his face was starting to become distorted and change colour.
The growl continued, and Xander watched as Angel changed into a creature he had never seen before. The creature suddenly lunged for him, Xander only dodging out of the way by the narrowest of margins. As Angel went to lunge for him again, Xander noticed that Jack was preparing to fire at him.
"Jack! No!" he yelled.
"Why the hell not?!" Jack growled in response, but refrained from firing.
"Angel may not be the sharpest tack in the drawer, but he wouldn't come at me if her were in full control. Now Angelus on the other hand…" Xander trailed off as he dodged yet another lunge from Angel, who crashed against one of the cave walls when he couldn't slow down his momentum.
Using the creatures dazed status to his advantage, Xander made use of the combat training Jack had given him and struck the back of Angel's head solidly with a spin kick, following up with a powerful elbow strike, knocking the beast out. After a few moments, the unconscious creature slowly morphed back into the more familiar form of Angel, who came to moments later.
"I take it that the two sides of your… personality differ more here huh?" Xander said to Angel as he turned to face him.
"What was your first clue?" he replied bitingly.
"So, have you calmed down enough or will you need another time out?"
"I'll be fine," Angel told him, standing to his feet, "and right now I have more important things to think about than you."
"Well that makes a change," Xander told him sarcastically.
"The people that came through the portal with me a couple of days ago have been captured, Cordelia being one of them."
"What the hell is Cordy doing with you?" Xander asked, more out of genuine curiosity than anything else. "From what I remember, after we broke up she had nothing to do with the slaying side of things, and even kept out of the fighting at graduation."
"A lot can change in two years."
"Right," Xander drawled, not sounding very convinced. "Anyway, Jack here and I were looking for you and the others that found their way to this dimension so we can all get back."
"How did you end up here?" Angel asked suspiciously, still not certain whether to trust the young man or not.
He was now certain that it was indeed Xander that was standing before him, but given that no one had see hide nor hair of him since his dramatic disappearance during graduation, he was no longer certain on which side of the line Xander stood.
"We took a wrong turn at Albuquerque," Xander answered tiredly as he noticed that the woman was looking at him and Jack questioningly, but seemed to be afraid of them as well. "Hey there," he said softly as he slowly made his way forward, trying to look as unthreatening as possible, "I'm Xander, and this is my friend Jack. What's your name?"
"Winifred Burkle, but you can call me Fred."
Jack looked at her strangely, as he'd barely heard anything she'd said, which wasn't all that surprising considering that she'd barely whispered it whilst using a speed he wasn't sure was possible from a human.
Xander didn't have as much trouble as he was well experienced with high velocity babble, and smiled warmly at her. "Hey Fred, it's nice to meet you." He took a look at her attire. "How long have you been here?"
She turned her head to the far side of the cave and Xander noticed that there were a lot of markings, quickly guessing that each one indicated a day she'd been living there. It was a lot of days.
"If this world has a similar cycle to Earth, I've been here around five years."
"Well, my friends and I have a way of getting off this rock, and you're invited." He turned to Angel and sighed slightly. "You too I suppose."
"Your gracious hospitality is overwhelming."
"Listen Deadboy," Xander snapped suddenly, "if it were up to me I'd leave your sorry ass here, but our presence in this dimension is causing it to destabilise and it will eventually go boom."
"How long do we have?" Feed asked, who was now checking the walls as though the planet were already falling apart.
"I haven't the faintest idea, that's what The Doctor is trying to figure out."
"That's the one," Xander smirked. "Either way, the sooner we get off this rock the better, so you better start explaining just who has Cordy and your friends so we can get them too."
It turned out that Cordelia had inadvertently triggered a portal between Earth and Pylea and had been sucked through, just as Fred had years before her. it had taken Angel and his colleagues, Doyle and Gunn, a while to figure out what had happened, until they had received assistance from The Host, otherwise known as Lorne, who was actually a native of Pylea and had been banished for his pacifist tendencies.
Using his convertible as a capsule within to travel together, Angel and the others had triggered the spell the same way Cordelia and Fred had previous, hoping that by keeping the book with them they would be able to use it to return home after finding Cordelia. Instead, they had arrived sans book, it leaving Angel's possession under it's own power just before they had entered the portal.
They had found themselves separated after that, as Angel discovered his more extreme transformation between his human and demon forms, and the souled vampire had then discovered Fred hiding out in the cave, realising that it was the woman who had disappeared all those years before. Travelling into the local village, he had found out that Doyle, Gunn and Lorne had been captured by the ruling class of this planet, and taken to meet their newly crowned princess, who would shortly be betrothed to the Groosalugg,
When Angel had found out that Cordelia was the newly titled princess, the visions Doyle had bestowed upon her when he thought he might die, only to live and realise he couldn't take them back, forced him to use every calming technique he knew to keep his demon at bay and tear through the fortress in search of her and the others. Fred had then led him back to the cave so he could cool off some more, and that had been when Xander and Jack had found them.
Needing to work out a way to get the others back without having to use Angel's desired method of storming the castle, jack and Xander led Angel and Fred to Eve, knowing that Fred at least would be safe there, only to find that she was surrounded by guards on horseback, and that both Rose and The Doctor were bound, gagged and draped over two horses.
Knowing that neither one would have come out of Eve, and that Eve would have never allowed anyone inside her that she didn't want, The Doctor and Rose had to have been outside of Eve when the guards arrived and been unable to get inside before they were grabbed.
"Looks like there was another reason Doc wanted to be left alone with his English Rose," Xander whispered to Jack from their hiding place.
"Now's not the time," Jack growled softly, and Xander noticed a touch of jealousy in his voice.
"What for?" Jack asked.
"That you weren't invited."
Jack went to snap at his friend, but when he noticed that his face showed genuine sympathy, he instead closed his eyes for a moment and sighed. "I always knew that I'd be a third wheel to them the last time round, I should have known that things wouldn't change."
"That's hope for you; it allows you to think things through logically, and then completely ignore the conclusions no matter how painful the outcome." Xander's face looked wistful as he spoke, before the mask came down again like it always did when he allowed himself to remember. "Hope keeps you alive, but it can also kill you once you realise it's gone."
Angel wanted to interrupt, but found himself unable to do so. The tone in Xander's voice reminded him of his encounters with the younger man just after his ordeal with those demons, how sometimes he would say something with a tinge of sadness that had cut through Angel like a knife.
He remembered Buffy telling him a little of what Xander had gone through, hearing the deep and agonising pain in her voice and just knew that she'd left the worst of it out, so he knew a little of what he had experienced, but he had thought back then that with time Xander would overcome.
Hearing the exact same tone in his voice now told him that he hadn't yet, and that he probably never would, and it was that knowledge that had hurt Buffy so much and allowed her to abide by Xander's wish to leave him be.
"They've got all of our friends now," Xander said unnecessarily, his tone becoming harder, less alive, "and I am now officially upset. I intend to show them just what happens when I'm upset."
Angel didn't quite know what that meant, but Jack certainly did and it didn't bode well for the indigenous people of Pylea, as Xander would leave their planet as nothing more than a dead rock if he had to.
It had been two hours since they'd had seen The Doctor and Rose taken away, Eve too. The two recently minted Time Lords had wanted to just run over there and help their companions, but more level heads had prevailed and instead they'd remained hidden until the guards had left and then returned to the cave to think of a game plan.
"Xander," Jack began cautiously, "when did you get yourself a sonic screwdriver?" he asked as Xander began using the device with never before seen proficiency.
"When The Doctor left it on the floor and I picked it up," Xander replied absently as he continued searching for something. "I guess he'd done that before, because he was using another one the next day and never commented on losing it."
"Does anyone else know you have it?" he queried, knowing that if The Doctor had known he would have taken it away from him a moment later.
He wondered if Xander had been deliberately hiding how adept he was with the technology he had been shown, or whether it was the situation that was allowing him better clarity of thought. It was probably a bit of both, and that worried him because he hadn't any idea until right now.
Jack was a man who believed he could read people, and yet Xander had managed to deceive him with apparent ease. If it weren't for the fact he believed it was more an instinctive thing on Xander's part he'd feel hurt by it, instead he felt sad for his friend because of what he must have gone through in his life for him to learn how to hide his true self.
"I guess Eve does," Xander shrugged as he continued searching, "there isn't anything going on inside her that she doesn't know about." Xander turned to see the looks he was receiving from Angel and Fred and replayed his words in his head. "Okay, I can see how what I just said might not sound the way I intended if you don't know who Eve is. Eve, or as The Doctor call her the TARDIS, is basically a time machine."
"That's what you meant when you said that it had only been six months; you're from the past," Angel realised.
"Wow, you're really smart," Xander drawled sarcastically. "Anyway, the blue box you saw the guards taking was Eve, and we'll be needing to get her back to get home."
"How are we all going to fit in something so small?" Angel asked. "I'm not even sure how the four of you fitted inside."
"It's a tessaract, in that it's larger on the inside than it is on the outside," Fred told him.
"Oh." Angel turned to Xander. "How are we all going to fit inside something so small."
"She's right Deadboy, it's larger on the inside than it is on the outside. Just because Fred has been stuck here for years doesn't mean that she's stupid," Xander chided, feeling a sense of satisfaction when Angel looked down chagrined.
The vampire looked up at Fred. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that."
"That's okay, it happens all the time."
"No," Jack stated firmly but not harshly, the first time he had spoken to the young woman directly, "it is never alright for your comments and suggestions to be ignored." Seeing Fred smile at him slightly, he beamed in reply before returning his attention to Xander. "What are you looking for anyway? The tracking device we have will allow us to find the others."
"I know that," he replied, "they're not what I'm looking for. Because The Doctor is otherwise indisposed at the moment, and we don't know how much time we have before the instability we're causing becomes critical, I'm trying to find any anomalous readings that would indicate a portal out of here."
"What makes you think that there would be a portal, and even if there is that it would take us back to our own dimension?" Angel asked, finding himself disconcerted with the way Xander was handling himself.
He had always known that there were hidden depths to the young man, he had after all forced him to help find Buffy when she'd been prophesised to die, and had stood down his soulless self when he had come to finish the job and kill/turn Buffy when she was laid up in hospital, but he had still been able to sense the fear he felt. Right now, he couldn't sense anything from the man, but he could hear something unusual.
"Why do you both have two heartbeats, because I'm sure you didn't the last time I saw you."
"A long story that I neither have the time nor the inclination to get into right now," Xander told him formally, surprising the vampire with his diction and vocabulary. "As I was saying before, we need to locate a portal to use once we have rescued the others, and I've attuned the sonic screwdriver to detect any energy signatures that correlate with such a phenomenon. Anything I find will then be searched further to see whether the portal leads to our dimension or not, by looking for the same signature we currently have whilst in this dimension."
"You know," Jack said after a few moments of silence, "I'd felt that my knowledge of science and technology had expanded after my resurrection in the space station, but I'd never have thought to do that."
"I only made myself think about what The Doctor would do if her were able," Xander said, feeling uncomfortable, "and the rest came easily. Now, all we have to do is figure out a way to break in to the castle, rescue our friends and make our way home."
"The Rebels," Fred blurted out, covering her mouth as the other three turned to her.
"What rebels?" Jack asked.
"There are humans that have escaped from their masters and want to have equal rights. I've met them a few times, but I've always been too afraid to help them."
"There's nothing wrong with being afraid," Xander told her, knowing that she felt ashamed by it, "it's the only thing that stops us from doing something stupid. Going up against something bigger, better organised and better equipped is an easy way to get killed, and I'm sure that the rebels have lost a lot of people without making much progress. I can't say that they would be of much help, but they might serve as a welcome distraction enabling us to gain entrance while the guards were otherwise occupied."
"You're not suggesting we use them as cannon fodder?" Angel asked appalled at the thought even as Angelus praised the young.
"Of course not, which is why we won't use them, not that we need to." Xander closed his eyes and smiled slightly. Isn't that right Eve?
Indeed it is Alexander, she replied, indeed it is.
"What the hell are you doing with your eyes closed smiling?" Angel demanded, his desire to rescue his friends growing with every second while his patience was deteriorating just as rapidly.
"Talking to Eve; we've found that with three of us around now, she can communicate beyond the confines of her body, but only if we initialise the contact. I contacted her silently the moment I noticed Rose and The Doctor were captured, and she's been keeping an ear out ever since."
Alexander, I have… relatives here for want of a better title, that have also been captured. There are at least three other TARDIS' within close proximity of myself, although only one is fully operational. It seems that the Time Lords that had been with them were captured under similar circumstances to The Doctor and Rose, and after being tortured for information on how to use them, were executed as enemies of Pylea.
Both Xander and Jack growled upon hearing this, knowing that The Doctor would be in line for the same treatment, not to mention Rose. We'll help them if we can, Jack assured her, feeling her gratitude even though she knew they'd try anyway, but our friends have to take precedence.
Agreed. there was a pause, and then Eve began speaking again. The two that are unable to operate beyond the local area are willing to become the diversion you require. They know that the risks are too great to rescue them, especially as they would probably not survive the journey out of here, and they would rather go out fighting rather than wait for their captors to eventually pick them apart like vultures. This is, however, on the proviso that we, or to be more precise you Alexander, help the third to escape.
"What?!" Xander replied out loud, forgetting to communicate telepathically due to shock.
The four of us have been communicating, trading information, since my incarceration here, and he believes that you have tremendous potential that will only be realised with a TARDIS of your own.
What does The Doctor have to say about that? he asked.
I do not know; both he and Rose are still unconscious and unable to communicate with me.
Can I speak with the TARDIS that wants me? Xander requested, wanting to know why this being would choose him.
I am afraid that will not be possible until you have bonded with him. I'm aware that you would want to know his name, but like mine it would be unpronounceable for you and would also cause you harm to hear it. He has, however, stated that you may choose a name for him, as you did for me, but he would need to approve it.
I'll give it some thought and inform him when we meet. Tell him thank you for placing his faith in me, he told her, feeling more than hearing her acquiescence.
"Okay, what was that all about?" Angel demanded.
"We've got ourselves a diversion," he told him simply, knowing that the lack of information would quickly drive him crazy.
"What is it?"
Jack and Xander looked at each other for a moment before smiling widely. "Oh, you'll know it when you see it."
The Doctor was not in a good mood; not only had he and Rose been captured by the steroid laced cousins of Kermit the frog, but they had also taken his sonic screwdriver and tied him rather proficiently to a metal bar above his head, with his feet just about touching the ground to ensure he had no purchase.
Rose was in a similar position, and as he saw the haphazard way her clothes looked he had to once again suppress a growl. While he was under the suspicion they saw them as nothing but cattle, it seemed like a couple of the guards wanted to take a closer inspection. He would have to think of a suitable way to show them how… displeased that made him.
Knowing that Xander and Jack were still out there made him feel better, and being in contact with the TARDIS also helped to buoy his spirits, but he was never one to feel happy sitting on the sidelines. He knew that he could easily untie himself and feel more comfortable, but he didn't know whether he was being watched or not, and until Rose regained consciousness he wasn't taking any chances that they might separate them.
Doctor, it is time.
Not making any outward sign of acknowledgement, he sent a silent feeling of readiness and prepared himself for whatever distraction the two TARDIS' came up with, knowing that whatever it was, he'd enjoy the show.
He wasn't disappointed.
While the two were damaged in such a way that time intergalactic travel was impossible, they were both more than capable of travelling locally and that was just what they were now doing, staying long enough to draw attention before moving location, the two began causing panic throughout the building, the guards running themselves ragged trying to answer all of the calls placed on them.
With everyone distracted, The Doctor took his chance and quickly untied the bonds holding him almost suspended in the air, doing the same to Rose before gently shaking her in the hopes of bringing her round.
"Doctor?" she said groggily after a few moments, her eyes rolling around in her sockets as she tried to regain her wits.
"Come on Rose," he urged as he pulled her up and half supported half carried her towards the cell door.
He might not have his sonic screwdriver on him, but that didn't mean The Doctor was trapped; you don't live 900 years without learning a few tricks. He soon had the lock picked using a length of wire he kept hidden in the seam of his jacket, and then the two of them began to make their way through the corridors, The Doctor hoping that they were going in the direction of the exit.
They barely went 100 metres when they were met by Xander and Jack, who seemed to be having a fun time beating up the guards that thought it would be an idea to get within striking distance of them. Seeing the efficient way they were holding the guards back, The Doctor made a mental note to get one or both of them to show Rose how to defend herself, something he should have thought about some time ago.
He briefly including himself in that, but knew deep down that he was not a fighter, at least not in that way, and preferred to defeat people with his brains rather than brawn, which was probably a good thing considering he didn't exactly have a lot of brawn available to him.
"What took you two so long?" he asked as they finally had time to talk.
"I got hungry so we spent a while trying to find if they had Twinkies on this planet," Xander said as he smashed the head of one of the guards into a nearby wall with a satisfying, at least for him, thud, knocking him out. "Once we've found Eve and the other TARDIS, I need to help Deadboy find Cordy and his friends, and then we'll be all set to blow this pop stand."
"Who's Deadboy?" Rose asked, unsure whether she actually wanted the answer.
Suddenly there was a blur launching itself over her head and into the guard that going to hit her from behind, the guard sent flying across the corridor until it landed in a very uncomfortable looking position twenty feet away.
"That's Deadboy," Xander told her as Angel stood up from the crouch he'd been in.
"The name's Angel," he told her, his voice sounding gruff.
There was something off about him and it caused Rose to take an involuntary step back.
"You better keep your other side in check Angel," Jack told him, "the last thing we need is for him to cause us problems."
"I know," he said as he tried to calm himself down, "it's just that Angelus always did enjoy a good brawl now and then."
"He also liked killing entire villages and turning young girls insane before turning them," Xander pointed out, "which all the more reason to keep him on a tight leash."
"Thank you so much for the history lesson," Angel snapped, but sighed as he felt the guilt over those actions flare up. He dearly wanted to take offence to what Xander had said, but not even he was that deluded.
Angelus was, and still is, a vicious cold-blooded killer with a body count that easily surpassed any and all known serial killers. He tried time and again to remind himself that those atrocities had been committed by Angelus and not by himself, but he knew that he was as much to blame for what had happened. Had he not been so weak willed when it came to Darla that fateful night, the world may well have been a better place.
"Why is a vampire helping us, and more to the point, why haven't you killed them Xander? I was under the impression that you loathed and despised every single last one of them," The Doctor queried.
"Oh I do, him included, but he has a soul and if I killed him Bu…" Xander's faced suddenly crumpled, and before anyone could say anything he was running full tilt away from them.
"What was that about?" Rose asked as they began to chase after their friend.
"I think that was the first time he'd uttered her name since he arrived on the TARDIS six months ago, and he just realised he'd been deluding himself," Jack told her, knowing that it didn't really explain anything, but knowing that to say anything more would betray Xander's trust.
"Deluding himself about what?"
"That he was over her," he told her sadly.
Six moths. He'd gone six whole months without her name slipping from his lips, and within hours of meeting up with Angel he'd gone and said it like it was an everyday thing.
Like her name had no power over him.
He was a fool. For over half a year he had done whatever he could to get past Sunnydale, and he had begun to convince himself that he was succeeding. Seeing that Krillitane using a form similar to Giles had been a set back, but the mindless violence that had followed seemed to go a long way in helping.
He'd deliberately talked about his Sunnydale experiences with Jack in an effort to get over them, knowing that by discussing them with someone who hadn't been there, he could go some way to coming to terms with that fact that it was his past, and that it would stay that way.
Things never quite work out the way he planned them, and this was a perfect example. He hadn't gotten over her, he hadn't gotten over anything, and his comment earlier to Jack about whether she would be here or not should have clued him in, but it hadn't.
He'd had such high hopes that he might one day be able to live a, somewhat, normal life one day ever since his arrival on Eve, when he hadn't felt the overwhelming depression that had become a permanent fixture in his life, but it had been a short lived thing; not long after Jack's decision to leave Torchwood 3 and come with them, the feeling had returned, although admittedly it hadn't been at such an extent.
Luckily, even though both The Doctor and Jack were excellent readers of people's emotions, they didn't know him or just how capable he was of hiding what he felt, and because he had nothing but memories around to remind him, he hadn't had to distance himself the way he did before, so they never knew just what he was feeling.
The only one who did know was Eve, who without even wanting to knew every thought, every memory and every emotion he'd ever experienced, but luckily for him she had never divulged that information to the others.
Nor would I Alexander. Your thoughts are our own, and had I the choice I would never have delved inside them without your express permission, so I definitely wouldn't inform anyone else of them.
I know Eve, and I'm very grateful.
He continued running, although now not because he was trying to get away from something, but because he was being drawn somewhere. Now with a destination in mind, and for some reason knowing exactly where he was going, he weaved his way through the catacomb like building, finally ending up standing in front of a large set of oak doors. Even without trying he could tell they were locked, so he removed the sonic screwdriver from his pocket and unlocked them, then using all his might to force the doors open.
Entering the room, he could see Eve to the left, with a similar shaped craft next to her. Good to see you again Eve.
It's good to be seen.
He looked at the two TARDIS in the room, the other two still causing chaos throughout the building, and immediately saw the differences between them, which he admitted to himself ruefully, should have been expected.
The Doctor had explained to him that a TARDIS had the capability to change their external appearance, so that they could better blend in with their surroundings, but Eve had been in an accident almost fifty years ago and since then she'd been unable to change, leaving her as the always fashionable blue police box.
Xander had 'talked' to her about it once, and found out that she'd gotten so used to it now, that she didn't if she'd want to change it even if she could. Still, it was something he wanted to look into at some point, so she at least had the opportunity to choose.
This other TARDIS, who until Xander had been able to communicate with was unnamed, looked nothing like a police box at all, in fact it looked more like what Xander had always thought an interstellar craft would look like; something from a sci-fi show. In fact, as Xander got a closer look, the craft looked remarkably like one of the shuttlecraft in Star Trek: The Next Generation, just a little bit smaller.
It looked cool.
I'm glad you approve, a new voice told him inside his head. A voice that triggered yet another sad memory.
"Jesse," Xander breathed, while also sending the name telepathically. Now he had heard his voice, there is simply no way that he could ever call him by any other name.
I'm sorry that my 'voice' triggers bittersweet memories Alexander, the newly christened Jesse told him, but I would feel honoured to be named after someone whom you hold so dear.
How am I able to communicate with you now, when I couldn't earlier? he asked, puzzled.
Your close proximity allows… Eve to act as a relay for us. If you accept my offer and bond with me like you have with her, you would be able to speak with me, no matter our distance. Will you bond with me?
Xander knew he didn't have very long to decide, but right at the moment he could only give one answer. Where do I sign?
There's nothing so formal, Jesse told him, Xander able to feel the happiness exuding from both him and Eve over his decision, all you need do is touch the small black panel on my door.
Xander walked over and did just that, not needing even a moment to think about his decision. As he touched the panel, it glowed, slowly moving through the colours of the spectrum before flashing white three times and finally returning to normal. Is that it?
Yes, Jesse told him, his voice now louder and more clear than before. I fear that we do not have the luxury of me giving you a guided tour just now Alexander, as we still need to find the others, not to mention a way out. Xander didn't respond, knowing that Jesse was right, but the disappointment he felt was palpable and Jesse reacted to it. However, there's no reason why you cannot do all that inside.
Xander stepped back as the rear of the ship began to rise, just as in the show, and as soon as he was able went inside. He soon found out that, just like Eve, the inside was much larger than the outside. He would have felt a little disappointed that the interior didn't match that of a shuttlecraft had he not been in awe of just how… shiny everything was.
Eve was of course just perfect as she was, but years of The Doctor having to repair her with whatever he could salvage had meant that she didn't have the technical precision that Xander was sure she used to possess. Jesse looked like he'd just straight off the showroom, in a manner of speaking anyway.
"That's because I was to be used as a training vessel," Jesse explained verbally, his voice coming from speakers positioned throughout the interior. "I'll explain more later, we have people to save."
"Alright," Xander replied as he sat down, surprised that he was actually able to communicate verbally, "I'm hoping that you can travel unassisted, because I haven't the faintest idea."
"We both know that's a lie; you listened for more attentively than you let on, but let them think you were having big problems understanding. In any event, I am now able to operate unaided since we have bonded, so I will leave you to your delusions and get to the matter at hand. The Doctor and the others have already entered Eve, and we've been communicating over what to do. We still need to find a useable portal…"
"I've already found one," Xander told him, cutting in. He held up his sonic screwdriver. "The coordinates are in here."
"And to think that you have no idea how to use advanced technology," Jesse commented. A cylinder rose up from the panel in front of Xander. "Place it in the port and I'll download the information and send it to Eve. Then while they're rescuing the others, we can work on opening the portal and keeping it open long enough for us all to escape."
"Why won't we be helping the others?" Xander asked, his tone indicating just how much he didn't like that plan.
"You know why not; it makes more sense for us to divide our forces for us all to go together."
"I know that, but Cordy is, was, a friend."
"Which means that you want to do what is best to ensure her safety, and that's for us to secure the portal."
Xander looked like he was going to argue the point for a moment before he sighed and relaxed into his chair. "I know, but it just galls me that the Forehead Avenger gets to swoop in and save the girl as always."
"You don't strike me as the type of person to do things just to look good in the eyes of others."
"I'm not," Xander agreed, "and if it were anyone else I'd probably not be bothered, but with Deadboy I I've always felt like I could find a way to end world hunger single handed and then he'd come along and open a jar for someone and he'd be seen as some shining saviour and I'd be somewhere in the background."
"That is something I'll help you work on," Jesse assured him, "but right now we've arrived at the coordinates of the portal. I double-checked your readings, not because I didn't trust them but to prove that you got them right, and this will definitely lead us back to our dimension, but we'll be unable to tell just where, or when, we'll arrive."
"Not seeing a problem with that Jesse, as long as wherever it is isn't here."
"Nor do I Alexander, for it has been a very long time since I have been home, and that is a big claim from a time machine."
"How long has it been now?" Xander asked.
"Five minutes longer than the last time you asked Alexander," Jesse replied tiredly, hoping this time would be the last time.
Since they'd arrived that the entrance to the portal, Xander had been constantly asking Jesse how long it had been since they'd left the others to rescue Cordelia and the rest of Angel's group. they had worked out how to activate the portal, but had decided against doing so until the last possible moment, as they theorised that once the portal was opened, they would be succeed through with the portal closing behind them, possible leaving the others trapped. That left them both with nothing to do but wait and ensure that no one interfered with their escape route.
Xander had tried to busy himself by exploring the ship, but Jesse had ensured that he couldn't go beyond the main compartment, stating that now was not the time to 'get lost in geeker joy'. Xander would have taken offence, but given that he was still felt giddy whenever he thought that he was sitting inside a real life Star Trek shuttlecraft, he had little choice but agree.
Of course, knowing that just the other side of the doors were things that would send him into geeker joy didn't really help with his ability to sit still and wait patiently.
"It's been over an hour now!" he shouted, his tone almost sounding whiny. "How long will it take for them to get here?"
"It will take as long as it takes and not a minute longer," Jesse told him firmly. "I can see that you are normally a patient man, so why can't you be so now?"
"I can be patient when I feel that there's nothing I can do; I know that there's something I can do, and to not do it just does not fit right with me."
"I know you don't like this Alexander, but like Mr Spock once said; the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Your need to be part of the rescue mission was outweighed by the need of the others to have an escape route."
"There's a reason why you like the shuttlecraft in Star Trek isn't there?"
"You mean there's a reason the shuttlecraft in Star Trek looks like me don't you?" Jesse replied, the tone making Xander believe that if he had a face he'd be smirking.
"Now that's a story I've got to hear."
"I have been around for a very long time Alexander, and have been on a great many adventure that I will be more than happy to share with you, but we don't have the time right now."
"There's nothing else to do," Xander groused.
"Yes there is, because the others are arriving and they have company."
Xander turned to look at the view screen behind him, not able to hide the smile the thought produced, but it was quickly quashed when he saw what was happening. Eve was moving towards them, her ability to travel still impaired leaving her with the mundane option of flying. While she was easily faster than almost anything built, they were dealing with a people where magic was both accepted and widely used, meaning that the mounted police in hot pursuit were actually keeping up.
"We have to open the portal now!"
"We can't Alexander, they are too far away."
"The Doctor is inside Eve Jesse, and for The Doctor anything is possible."
"The Doctor is still young; he believes that he is invincible, only because he has seen so many around him perish, and yet he is already on his tenth regeneration after only 900 years."
Before Xander had a chance to comment on that, The Doctor and Eve proved that the young could still surprise the old by putting in a sudden burst of speed, leaving their pursuers for dust.
"Open the portal!"
This time Jesse didn't disagree, instead initiating the sequence that would send a pulse of energy into the portal, opening it. The problem came when the portal began to open before the sequence had finished, indicating that someone, or something, had activated it from the other side. He could start to feel the effects on him almost immediately, the pull of the portal becoming harder and harder to resist until he began to feel himself losing ground to the invisible force pulling him in.
Knowing that to fight against it any longer would only cause him damage, Jesses stopped resisting and allowed himself to be pulled closer and closer to the portal.
"Alexander," he said urgently, "I seriously suggest you strap yourself in, as we're most likely in for a bumpy ride."
"How did the portal open so fast? I thought we figured out it would take thirty seconds for you to build up a surge powerful enough to kick start it?"
"We did, but it seems someone is as eager to get here as we are to leave. I resisted the pull for a while, so the others should get within it's influence before we enter, but things might get a little tricky if we find out there isn't enough room inside for us and whoever's coming through the other end."
"Hey; if life were meant to be easy, everyone would be doing it," Xander quipped as he buckled himself in as Jesse instructed.
He watched the progress of Eve, and saw that his newest travelling companion was right; by the time they were entering the portal, the others were close enough to also become ensnared by it's pull and was soon following behind. He noticed that the guards were also pretty close, and may well be able to follow them in, when he saw the remaining two TARDIS' slam into them of either side, buying them all the precious seconds they needed to escape.
"Thank you," Xander whispered as he lost sight of the two ships that had sacrificed themselves to save him and the others. "How long until we're through to the other side?"
"Hard to say," Jesse replied, "it could be five minutes… wait, I'm reading someone caught within the opening, being bombarded with energy."
The tone in Jesse's voice made it clear that whatever was happening to the person outside was not conducive to their health. "Is there any way we can get them inside?"
Despite the situation, Jesse laughed slightly. "It took you a lot not to say beam them aboard, didn't it?" He continued on, ignoring Xander's snort of outrage. "I'm having a little difficulty getting a solid read on them, but I think I can do it."
Several tense moments later, a body began to materialise several feet away from Xander's position, looking much like Eve does when she arrived somewhere. As the body started to become clearer, Xander's face paled, and he realised that the gods certainly had something against him.
"Oh my god, it's… it's Buffy."