Fandom: Torchwood/Buffy: the Vampire Slayer
Spoilers: Brief references to early season 2 of Torchwood. Goes AU after "Adam."
Word Count: 4,123
Written For: supfreud for sonichellmouth
Prompt: Buffy's Swan-Dive into the Portal in 'The Gift' spits her out into the rift in Cardiff and she's picked up by the Torchwood team.
Betad by: historianheidi
AN: Yes, I know there's a difference between English accents and Welsh accents, and in fact many different kinds of accents in the British Isles, but Buffy doesn't.
The first time she opened her eyes, there was cold, wet pavement under her cheek. Every inch of her body screamed with pain. Is this Hell, then? she wondered. Or did I fail? There was something about that—shouldn't she be worried? But holding her eyes open took so much effort ….
The second time she opened her eyes, she couldn't keep them open—her eyelids felt heavy as lead. Heavier—she could lift lead, she thought, then wondered why it mattered. As she was drifting off again, she heard voices ...
"Come on, Owen, you must have something."
"Every test I've done came back the same. She's human, all right."
"Except a human couldn't have survived that."
"That's rich, coming from you, that is…."
"…still can't make sense of the readings from the Rift …"
"…no record of a 'Sunnydale' …"
Captain Jack Harkness looked down at the woman lying in the hospital bed. Pretty face, good body, and a mystery to occupy his team. Perfect. They needed something normal. Well, normal for them, which meant standard Rift activity, instead of missing time, alien sleeper agents wreaking havoc, or rogue Time Agents on killing sprees. It'd been a rough year, and a nice, easy case of a time orphan—one who probably wouldn't be going back, unless Tosh worked a miracle, so no problem when someone got attached to her—was just what they needed to give them breathing space.
"Anything?" he asked as Owen walked in with the latest test results.
"Nothing." Owen scowled. "She appears to be human. Except for the fact that she shouldn't bloody well be alive right now. I've run every test at least three times now, and they all come back the same. I want to take her back to the Hub, see what I can get from my own equipment."
"And what if she has a relapse, then?" Gwen asked, scowling. "You've got all the equipment for an autopsy, but not for surgery on a human. That's why we let them take her to hospital in the first place."
"You can run tests to your heart's content once she's been released, Owen," Jack said. "For the moment, she's not going anywhere. Is there anything else we can learn standing around here?"
Owen scowled but didn't say anything, which Jack took to mean "no."
Tosh shook her head. "The readings haven't changed since she came through. I don't understand them, but there's nothing more I can do."
"All right then!" Jack said brightly. "Gwen, you stay here and let us know when she wakes up. The rest of us will go back to the Hub and make sure nothing's gone cataclysmically wrong for Ianto while we've been trying to figure out what the deal is with Buffy Summers."
The third time she opened her eyes, a dark-haired woman sat across from her, staring out a window. They were in a private hospital room, fairly non-descript except for a bank of expensive-looking equipment along the wall, some of which was connected to Buffy or the bed she was lying in.
This didn't look like a hell-dimension, and it didn't look like the heaven she had vague memories of being told about the few times she'd been to Sunday School as a kid. And if the world had ended, she doubted there would be hospitals left. Or anyone still alive to take her to one. Which meant … Buffy closed her eyes, tears leaking out. She wasn't trying to hold them back, there wasn't much point any longer, but … she just couldn't find the energy for the kind of crying that would mean anything.
"Oh! I'm sorry, I didn't see you were awake. D'you want me to get you a nurse with some pain medicine?" It was a woman's voice, oozing with sympathy. It had kind of an English accent, almost like Giles.
"No," Buffy said, dully. Mom gone, Dawn … gone. The two people she cared most about in all the world, the two people she'd tried hardest to save, and in the end even her gift of death hadn't been enough. And if anyone else had survived, she wouldn't have woken without a familiar face. "I don't need anything."
Buffy twisted her head around until she could see the woman sitting by the bed. Her hair was long and black, and she had a worried look in her eyes that belied the smile she wore.
"You took an awful fall, just yesterday," the woman continued. "The doctors were surprised you lived to make it to hospital. You're doing much better now," she hastened to add. "But you probably could use some more pain medication, now you're awake."
"No," Buffy said. Slayer healing seemed like a small thing to make up for the loss of everyone she'd ever loved. "I'm just tired." She closed her eyes.
The woman took the hint. "I'll let you sleep, then. Someone will be here if you need anything."
The fourth time she opened her eyes, Buffy realized she must really have been tired; she didn't remember drifting off, but judging from the light coming through the window, several hours had passed. She craned her head, looking for the woman.
"Hello, Miss Summers. My name is Ianto Jones."
She turned to see a man in a neat suit watching her seriously. "Hello," she said, swallowing past the sudden lump in her throat. There was no tweed, and his accent wasn't quite the same, but the only man she'd ever known who regularly wore suits was Giles. "What happened?" she asked. "My sister, Dawn—how is she? And my friends?"
Ianto frowned. "I'm sorry, but you were the only one we found."
"Found? Where?" she asked.
"Actually, let me get the others," Ianto said. "They've been working on this while I've been here; they may know something more than I do. And we have some questions to ask you, if you don't mind."
Buffy nodded, heart sinking. Explanations, good. Questions, not so good. Somehow, she didn't think this man would take "gangs on PCP" for an answer.
She didn't fall asleep this time, as she waited for Ianto to return with "the others," whoever they were. It didn't take long, and honestly she would have preferred a little longer to figure out what she was going to tell them. Of course, she couldn't figure out what she needed to explain away until she knew what they knew.
All too soon, the door to her hospital room swung open with a flourish. It wouldn't have dared do anything else, given the handsome man who strode through the door, wool trench coat billowing out behind him. Normally she would have appreciated the view, but right now she couldn't muster the energy.
"Hello, Buffy. I can call you Buffy, right?" he said with a cheerful wink. She felt herself blush slightly despite herself; he really was cute.
An Asian woman entered behind him and started unpacking a laptop. She was followed by a white man in scruffy jeans and a t-shirt who went over to the monitors and began inspecting them with a few sidelong glances at Buffy. Last of all came the dark-haired woman from before, who smiled at Buffy, revealing a huge gap between her two front teeth. "Hello," she said. "It's good to see you're awake again."
"Hi," Buffy replied. She looked over at Trench-Coat Guy. "You can call me Buffy."
"That's great." He stuck a hand out.
Buffy shook it, ignoring the pull of the IV in her arm as she reached across.
"I'm Captain Jack Harkness," he said, with an American accent Buffy was glad to hear. What was with all these English people? He gestured to the gap-toothed woman and the guy in the suit. "You've already met Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones. These other two are Toshiko Sato and Doctor Owen Harper."
The Asian woman nodded with a slight smile, while the white man merely grunted. "All these tests came back human, Jack. I don't have any explanation."
"Of course they came back human," Buffy said, surprised. "What did you expect?"
"Alien," Doctor Harper said sourly. "Or at least some evidence of alien technology. You were in bloody bad shape when they found you—didn't think you were going to live, falling from that height. Didn't even think you'd make it to the hospital, but you did. They got you in to surgery and you didn't die on the table, either, and now it's two days later and you should still be touch and go and here you are sitting up in bed. That's not normal, not for a human."
Buffy looked away. They'd saved her life. They'd made her sacrifice be for nothing. "Why?" she whispered, face twisting. "Why couldn't you just have left me? God, was it too much to ask!" She welcomed the bubble of rage; it was so close to her normal Slayer mode, warm and comforting, pushing away the dark.
"But, you would have died," Gwen protested, face open and honest and so not understanding that Buffy wanted to shove her through a wall. "It's a miracle you're alive, Buffy. Shouldn't you be glad?"
"Miraculous survival isn't always a good thing, Gwen," the captain said before Buffy could explode. He caught her eye, and she could see a depth of sadness in his eyes, the kind that only came from experience. He knew. Maybe not exactly what had happened to her, but what it was like when death was the best alternative.
She looked away, ashamed. They couldn't know what had happened, why she should have died. They were just doing their jobs. They'd thought they were helping. It wasn't fair to take it out on them. "What happened to Dawn?"
"Your sister?" Captain Harkness said.
"We don't know." He glanced at Toshiko. "In fact, we don't even have any records of her existence. Yours either."
"What?" Buffy said, blankly. She would have understood if they couldn't find Dawn; maybe the monks hadn't made her permanent, and everyone had forgotten her now that she was dead. That was so much worse, that no one but Buffy would even remember her … but why couldn't they find Buffy's records?
"You had a California driver's license and a student ID for University of California, Sunnydale in your pocket." Buffy turned to face Ianto, who was looking at her with an apologetic frown. "Except there's no such place as Sunnydale, California. Not in this universe, anyway. And there's no record of a Buffy Summers in California, either."
"What do you mean, there's no such place as Sunnydale?" Buffy heard her voice rising. "I lived there for five years!"
"Cardiff is built on a rift in time and space." That was Harkness, again. "Things come through here, mostly from other times and places in this universe. You came through it, too."
"What?" Buffy said. "So where am I? When? And how can I get back?" Although, if she'd fallen through Glory's portal—her blood wasn't in her home dimension any more. Could that count as stopping for the purpose of the portal? Might Dawn be still alive? She felt frozen with hope.
"You're in Cardiff, in Wales, in February of 2008," Harkness said. "But getting you back home—that's a bit of a problem. Tosh?"
"Opening the Rift is very dangerous," Tosh said earnestly. "Even with our equipment and everything, the last time it opened fully the world was almost destroyed." She shot a glance at the guy in jeans—Allen? Owen?—before continuing. "Things are even worse in your case, because we're not sure exactly where you're from. You seem to be from Earth, but … the Rift was going crazy when you came through. I've never seen it do anything like that. And the type of Rift energy I'm getting from you now isn't like anything I've ever seen, either. Even if we could open the Rift safely … I'm not sure how we'd ever get you home. Not if we can't figure out where "home" is supposed to be for you." She gave Buffy a sympathetic smile. "I'm sorry about that."
"We'll help you get settled in here," Gwen put in quickly. "You don't need to worry about that."
"And in this dimension, you have aliens?" Buffy said.
"Yes, we do," Harkness said with a smile. "Some come through the Rift—although at least when we get aliens through, we know they're from this reality, not from wherever you are that has Tosh all worked up—and some come in space ships."
If they believed in aliens and rifts, maybe they'd believe her about demons, too? "No demons?"
"Demons?" Harkness shot her a strange look. "Well, a few centuries ago, some of the aliens might have gotten mistaken for demons, but there's nothing hellish about them. Well, in the sense that they don't come from hell. Some of them aren't very nice, but they're still just aliens."
"Why?" Allen—Owen?—asked. "Is that how they try to explain away aliens in your world? As demons?"
"No," Buffy said. "Sunnydale was built on a Hellmouth. It had what you called a Rift, except instead of going through time and space, it went to various hell dimensions. We had demons, in the real sense that they came from a hell-dimension. Also a lot of vampires, some witches, a trapped hell-goddess, and some other stuff every now and again. Smart people generally didn't go out alone after dark."
"But there's no such thing as demons or magic," Tosh said. "So it was probably just a Rift like ours, with aliens coming through. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, after all."
Buffy stared at her. "You think there's a technology out there where a guy can put a few things like newt eyes in a cauldron, chant over it for a few minutes, and make every girl and woman in town fall madly in love with him? 'Cause that happened to one of my friends, once. Or how about vampires. You think that's alien?"
"Vampires," Harkness said. "As in, Count Dracula vampires?"
Buffy winced. "Well, yeah, but he's a lot more showy and theatrical than most vampires. And more powerful. Usually, they're pretty stupid, just out for a quick bite. Easy to kill. Stake them, behead them, set them on fire, splash holy water on them—no big deal. Except they often come in big packs, and if you find one that's managed to survive for a couple centuries, that can be tricky."
"But that's impossible," Tosh said. "There's no such thing as demons or magic. Or vampires, the Dracula kind, anyway."
"So, instead of a world without shrimp, this is a world without vampires, demons, and magic," Buffy said impatiently. "But in my world, we've got all three."
"Shrimp?" Gwen asked.
"Yeah." Buffy remembered Anya, and was struck with a surprising amount of loss at the thought she'd never see her again. "One of my friends used to be a vengeance demon. She's been to a lot of different dimensions, and once she told us there's a world out there that has no shrimp, and another where it's always Tuesday, and just about anything you can imagine, there's a dimension out there like it. Some are just harder to get to than others."
"You're talking about parallel dimensions, not just realities?" Tosh said.
"There's a difference?" Ianto asked.
Tosh shrugged. "I've always wondered. Most of the realities we come in contact with through the Rift are very similar to ours—same laws of physics, for example. But if there really are multiple universes and realities out there, surely somewhere there should be ones that aren't as similar to ours. Ones that don't have the same laws of physics, for an example."
"Ones where magic and vampires are real?" Ianto said. "I can see different laws of physics, but that seems a bit far-fetched to me."
"To me, as well," Tosh said. "But …" she shrugged.
"But this is Torchwood, where you learn to believe six impossible things before breakfast every day." Harkness shrugged. "I don't know I believe it really is demons and magic, but I'm certainly willing to believe it's close enough for all practical purposes."
Gwen shook her head. "I'm not sure what I believe, but that's good enough for me."
"Thank you," Buffy said.
"If you have a Rift where you're from—" Tosh started.
"It's a Hellmouth," Buffy corrected her.
"Sorry, Hellmouth." Tosh grimaced as she said it. "Do you have any idea how you ended up here in our reality?"
Buffy flinched. She'd almost managed to forget, while they were arguing about the existence of demons. "I jumped," she said.
"Why?" Tosh asked.
"There was a hell-goddess named Glory," Buffy said, slowly, considering how much to tell them. How much would they believe, and how much should they know about Dawn? "She was trapped in our world and needed to a blood sacrifice to open a portal back to her own dimension. But the portal would have stayed open and let hell into our dimension after she was gone—it would have destroyed the world. She used my sister to do it." Buffy swallowed. "Once the spell was started, the only way to stop or disrupt it would be to stop the blood from flowing. But my sister and I shared the same blood—if I died, if my blood stopped flowing, that would close the portal and save the world. And Dawn. One of us had to die, and I wanted to protect her. So I jumped. And woke up here."
Someone patted Buffy's hand. It was Gwen, she saw. "That's why you didn't want to live," she said. "You wanted to save the world, and your sister."
Buffy nodded. "I hope … I hope being in another dimension is good enough to stop the spell," she said. "After all, my blood isn't flowing there anymore. If that doesn't work, they'll kill Dawn. They'll have to." Her jaw clenched. "She could already be dead, and I'd never know."
Gwen leaned over and put an arm around her. Buffy tensed, at first, at a stranger getting in her personal space. She hadn't had someone hug her since Mom had died. Not to give comfort, anyway. Everyone had her to be strong for them, that whole hellish year with Glory and Mom dying and Giles almost dying and Dawn being sacrificed…. Buffy let out a choked sob and turned in to bury her face in the other woman's shirt, as if she were a child. She shifted a little as Gwen sat more comfortably on the bed, wrapping her other arm around Buffy, too. God, she'd needed this.
It was such a relief to be held that she hardly noticed when the others left the hospital room.
"So what do we do with her?" Owen asked once they were out in the hall.
"We'll have to do tests, to see if there's any residue of whatever makes her universe different from ours," Tosh said.
"You just want to take apart this 'magic' thing," Owen said.
"First, get her oriented like any other temporal refugee," Jack said, breaking into their bickering with the ease of long practice.
"I'll get started on the paperwork," Ianto said. "She won't need much orientation about early 21st century life, but she'll probably need time to recover mentally and emotionally before she's up to striking out on her own."
"That's a luxury we could all use, sometimes," Tosh said quietly.
"You just said a mouthful," Jack said. "Let's get to it, people."
Jack didn't spend much time with the newcomer over the next few weeks. Ianto got her settled in, and Gwen befriended her, and Owen and Tosh ran every test they could think of and grumbled over the results. Jack was pretty sure there were things she wasn't telling them, but he didn't think her secrets were dangerous and wasn't about to start casting stones. Besides, Gwen said something about a program Buffy had mentioned on her world that sounded like the bad old days of Torchwood, or the worst of the Time Agency, so he couldn't really blame Buffy for being a little leery. But really, he had enough to take care of managing his team and the Rift that he didn't pay much attention to her.
That changed one night when the team got called out for a Weevil hunt. Something had stirred up a number of them, drawn them up out of the sewers; they had reports of multiple attacks throughout the south of the city. The team got split up in the alleys—and Jack was going to have words with them about it when they got back to the Hub—so Jack was alone when he turned a corner and almost got hit by a flying Weevil. It was snarling, fangs bared, and managed twist itself around to land roughly on its feet. This one wasn't wearing a Torchwood boiler suit; it must be one they hadn't caught before. "Found 'em," he said into his radio, rattling off the street address.
"You're not the only one," Owen said over the radio.
"We'll be there when we can." Gwen was panting hard. It was a sound he'd much prefer to hear in bed than in a combat situation.
The Weevil was coming up on his right, arms raised in a better fighting position than most Weevils usually managed. Jack swung around and got it with the anti-Weevil spray mark 2, hoping that Owen's new formulation worked.
The Weevil shook its head, snarling, but kept coming.
"I think that's a no on the spray, then," Jack said, going for his gun.
"No kidding." Buffy Summers stepped out of the shadows and gave the Weevil a roundhouse punch that knocked it across the road. "What were you expecting it to do?"
"Stop it so we can take it in to the Hub," Jack said. He watched her beat up the Weevil—"You're a lot faster and stronger than a normal human."
"No kidding," Buffy said, dodging the Weevil's swinging fist, using it to slip inside its guard and give it a kick to the torso. "What does Torchwood do to Weevils?"
"Mostly, we ignore them, unless they come out of the sewers and start attacking people," Jack replied. "Then we try and capture them, take them back to the Hub."
"Experiments?" Buffy asked suspiciously.
"Some," Jack said. "Nothing major. Mostly we're trying to find out who they are and where they're from. And some way of subduing them without hurting them." He waved the spray bottle. "But mainly they spend time in cells, getting three square meals of Weevil chow a day."
"No torture?" Buffy asked as she flipped the Weevil over her back.
"Nope. I'm not into that—not even if you ask nicely," Jack said, admiring her form. Her fighting wasn't bad, either.
"Here I was, missing the witty banter, and you show up to provide it. That's what I call service."
"I live to serve," Jack said with a slight bow and a wink.
"I just bet you do," Buffy said. "No Frankenstein creations? Mad scientists?"
"Frankenstein turned on his creator," Jack returned. "And the only mad scientist we've got is Owen."
"Fair enough," Buffy said. Her next punch laid the Weevil out unconscious. "All yours."
Jack stepped forward with restraints and began securing it for transport. "You could have done that a few minutes ago, couldn't you."
"Yep," Buffy said cheerfully. "But I haven't had a decent fight in a while. I was getting antsy."
"Antsy, right." Jack looked her up and down. "Y'know, the rest of my team could probably use some backup right about now."
"Let's go," Buffy said.
Jack finished up and called Tosh. "One Weevil secured, waiting for pickup. Anyone need help?"
"Owen's in trouble, two streets south and one east."
"Right." Jack took off, trusting Buffy to follow. She caught up to him within a few strides, and he glanced at her sideways. After that incredible fight she still wasn't sweating or breathing hard. "Gonna tell us about your fighting skills?" he asked, timing it with his breathing to avoid gasping.
"Let's wait 'till we're back at the Hub," Buffy said.
"Could use a good fighter on the team."
"I'll think about it."
They turned the corner, and saw Owen barely staying in one piece, fending off two Weevils as best he could. Buffy threw herself into the fray, and Jack watched in admiration as bodies flew.
He always did love nice moves.