The Doctor Calls.
This little, short story, came up basically because I wanted to write for this specific Doctor in the Buffy universe. Simple as that. I've set it between Buffy seasons 5 and 6 for reasons that will become obvious. As for Doctor Who, it's set before An Unearthly Child, so before the first ever series.
I do not own any of the characters from Doctor Who or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They belong to the BBC and Mutant Enemy respectively. I'm not making any money from their use here nor do I intend to.
Dawn tossed and turned in bed before punching her pillow in frustration again. She hadn't had a good night sleep in weeks, every time she closed her eyes Dawn could almost feel the tower and empty air beneath her. Unconsciously her fingers found the scar on her stomach and Dawn heard her sister's words ringing in her ears. Telling Dawn to live for her.
Like every night since then Dawn couldn't help but feel betrayed. Live for her, she couldn't do the same? Looking at the wall her room shared with her sister's Dawn could feel it's emptiness like a open wound. It was hollow, even from here. Missing the very thing that was needed.
Her mom's room was almost worse. When Tara and Willow had offered to stay with her Dawn thought someone, anyone, with her would help. It didn't, it felt more like a betrayal. Replacing someone that could never forgotten.
It wasn't the first time she'd had these thoughts, they came every night. Every day. When the world crowed in around her and her loss came tumbling down she knew there was an easy answer. If anyone was justified in loosing her self to grief it was her.
No mother, no sister. Dawn's whole life was a lie, spun out of thin air to hide some stupid Key. There was nothing to lose because she never really had it in the first place. All she was was a burden to her friends, they had to go out of their way for her. Dawn could see it in their eyes, they weren't very good at hiding it.
Outside her open window Dawn could see out onto a clear night. throwing the bead covers off she looked up and over the town that had taken it all away from her. The full moon hung above it all in the starlit sky, shining down on everyone remorselessly. It just hovered there, dancing across the endless night. It was the same moon that had shone down when Buffy left. The same one that was hidden when mom was taken. It looked different, but it never really changed. How many deaths had it seen? What had happened under it's gaze? What would it take for that disk to blink, to ever turn away from it's course and never look back. What horror would it take to make it flinch and would it even notice that she wasn't there.
The answer was right there, before her. No. It wouldn't change. In that moment Dawn knew that no matter what she did the important things would always keep going. The gang were always going to be there, she wasn't even a dust-bunny in comparison.
It was strange. As soon as all the pieces slotted into place Dawn knew it was the easy way out. It was also for the best. She never really belonged here after all.
Dawn would never remember really leaving the house, or how she got to the junkyard. Somewhere along the way she had thrown a coat over her shoulders and a pair of shoes on her feet. Looking back later she did know that she was lucky, Glory had kicked most of the demons and vampires out of the place and word had gotten around that the Slayer had killed a Hell Goddess. It left the streets quiet, for now at least. All Dawn really could remember was the way the moon-light cast shadows on her as she climbed the tower and out onto the ledge. Across this vista a strange grinding noise was carried by the wind, but it failed to impact through the chaos of her thoughts.
All to quickly the suicidal girl was on the edge of the platform. Looking out over the closed portal where Buffy had fallen. What was on the other side? Was there really going to be angels, with wings and all that? Did balls of green energy get a heaven or did they just vanish like sounds in an empty room? Dawn stood there before the majestic sight of street lights and dark houses asking herself those questions for god knows how long.
'What are you doing?' Someone called out. Dawn practically jumped out of her skin. Turning quickly she kept her balance and saw who had sneaked up on her.
'Stay back, keep away.' She screeched. He looked old but not in a creepy bad guy way. More a grumpy old man with his longish white hair slicked back. He had a posh jacket over a checked shirt and baggy checkered pants. He held on to one of the supports with one hand and a clean looking cane with the other.
'I have no intention of going out there, risking my life, child.' he barked in a grumpy English voice. Grumpy seemed to be 'Now come back here this instant.'
Dawn gaped at him, there wasn't anything she could think to say. She'd heard of some stupid things, about to do one of them, but what level of reality was this guy on? 'Don't come any closer!'
'Whatever is a child like you doing out on this dangerous place at this time of the night?'
'I'm going to jump...' She said, saying it aloud it rang all sorts of alarm bells in her head. Looking down, far beneath her, all she saw was scrap metal straight from her nightmares.
He just looked at her for a long second. 'Go on then, what's been keeping you?' he barked and stomped his foot down. Hard.
The whole tower shook. As he stomped again bolts and lashings spun lose. 'What are you doing?' Dawn screeched at him again.
'If you want to jump I say jump. This is hardly the time to change your mind, now hurry up. I've got better things to do than watch some silly girl try to fly.'
'I'm not trying to fly!' Dawn shouted, she dropped to her knees, holding on with her fingertips. 'I'm trying to kill myself!' God, she was going to kill herself. What had she been thinking?
Dawn gasped as whatever insanity that had gripped her fled quickly. She owed this strange old man her life. 'You're taking enough time about it.' he said sharply.
'But I don't want to die.' Dawn admitted. Hot tears started rolling down her face as it twisted in anguish. 'What's wrong with me? I don't want to die. Why did I come up here?'
The stranger bent down until he could look her in the eye. 'Look at me.' he said his voice suddenly soft. 'You're very confused dear child. Now carefully craw back here.' he pushed his stick out to her. 'This will help you, just don't look down. Can you do that for me? Hum?'
Dawn nodded, feeling her way across the span an inch at a time. She was mortified, what had gotten into her. 'What was I doing, I could have...'
'You've got to calm down.' He said calmly. 'Panicking never helps. I'm here and I can help you. You just have to trust me my dear.'
'Trust the strange old man that's on the tower built by crazy people at half past two in the morning?' She snapped.
'I see you're feeling better already.' He chuckled warmly and Dawn just couldn't help but laugh with him at how silly it was. She did trust him, it wasn't just that she didn't have a choice, the real problem was she couldn't trust herself anymore.
With painful slowness she finally made it back and off the precipice. The old man took her arm at the wrist and she held on to him like a life raft. 'Good girl, come on. You don't expect an old man like me to climb down this thing all on my own now do you?' He smiled at her reassuringly.
'No.' she admitted. 'I'll help you.'
'Well come on then, I don't think this structure is all that safe.' he said. Dawn agreed with a nod and made it back to her feet.
It was a painfully slow journey down the tower. The stranger was sure on his feet but Dawn couldn't stop shaking, her knees almost buckling with every step she took. Everything was blurred by the tears in her eyes and she spent most of the time feeling her way down. In the end it was the old man that helped her down.
As they got to the bottom Dawn could barely even walk she was shaking so much. Suddenly another person was there, helping her off the tower. 'Grandfather!' They shouted, again they were English, but this time a girl. About Dawn's age, maybe a little younger. Dashing the tears from her eyes Dawn looked at her and shed away from the angry look in the other girls eyes. The old man didn't let her though and shot his granddaughter a dark look.
'Susan, help me with her.' he barked. If Dawn was in her right mind she would have been insulted by his tone. Like she was nothing more than an a dead weight. But right now that's all she was.
Susan only needed to take one look at Dawn's face. She quickly nodded and the two of them helped the distraught girl to sit down on some rubble. 'I... I almost... but he stopped me...' Dawn managed to say, shaking uncontrollably.
'What's wrong with her Grandfather?' The girl asked, somewhere between confusion and sympathy.
'Shock. I believe our young friend here has had a terrible time of it of late. Her sanity couldn't take it and snapped.'
Dawn tried to say something but her mouth just flapped up and down, teeth chattering . The stranger took off his jacket and put it over her shoulders. 'It's all right now.' He said soothingly, brushing Dawn's hair from her face. 'You're safe now and you won't try anything like that again, will you?'
Dawn shook her head fiercely.
'Good girl.' he smiled warmly sitting on the pile of scrap next to her. His finger tips still feather light on her head pushing uncombed hair out of the way. 'Now what's your name child?'
'D... Dawn.' she stammered, her shaking began to stop and for the first time in weeks she actually felt tired.
'Dawn, a nice name.' He said soothingly, not moving his fingers from her forehead. 'It's well past time you had some rest Dawn.' Then his voice wasn't coming from him, it was inside her head, whispering. She was too tired to care how, just glad that someone cared. Even a stranger. As her thoughts slowed down she got the strange feeling something or someone was in her head. Making sense of the madness. Thoughts and fears that had raced through her mind just faded away. 'Sleep now Dawn, when you awake everything will be just a little bit better.'
Before she could thank him the gentle suggestion took hold and Dawn fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.
Tara was worried. She had gotten a little sleep in Willow's arms, but no where near what she wanted or needed.
It was Dawnie, the girl just wasn't handling things well. Tara could only begin to imagine what she was going through. While she might have also lost her mother at a young age losing a sister that was willing to sacrifice themselves for her well being was just a bridge too far. That wasn't even touching on the whole used to be a ball of energy thing.
Looking at all that it was hard to imagine anyone taking it well but Dawn's complete lack of emotion worried Tara. It was like, after the first couple of days, she had just shut down. No crying, fits of rage or emotion. At night she just wouldn't sleep. Tara sometimes heard her trying to cry, or even worse staring at a wall blankly.
She didn't know what to do, or how to help. Just be there for her when she needed her. Sliding her arm out from under Willow' sleeping head the young wiccan pulled a dressing gown over her shoulders. It was close to being early. Dawn was usually asleep by now but if she wasn't... Well Tara would have to see. She wasn't good at talking but she could listen.
Opening Dawn's door a crack she didn't hear any snoring. The Slayers sister might have been a lot of things but lady like wasn't one of them, some times Tara thought she could snore the house down. 'Dawnie?' She whispered as she opened the door into the empty room.
Not ten minutes later a search party had gathered in the living room. Between them there probably wasn't a single traffic law that Xander and Mr Giles hadn't broken at least three times over to get there that fast. They almost had to hold Spike back from turning the whole town upside down.
'What happened?' Mr Giles half shouted before he had even come through the front door.
'Tara got up to check on Dawn, but she wasn't in her room.'
'How'd she get out?' Xander asked. 'Did someone take her?'
'N... No.' Tara shook her head. 'We would have hea... heard them. I th... think she sneaked out.'
'Bit probably went out the window and down the wall.' Spike growled. 'Caught her doing that a while back. Thought she'd given it up.'
'She was probably just saving using it for now.' Anya shrugged as Willow came down the stairs with her arms full of spell ingredients.
'The question is why would she leave?' Mr Giles asked 'And where would she go? Spike, she feels safe in your crypt fro some reason...' They all knew she'd sneaked off to Spike's crypt more than once, but the bleached blond just shook his head.
'She wasn't there and I looked for her on the way here.' He pointed out. 'What you up to magic girl?'
Willow was arranging a map of the town on the floor with candles and power. 'It's a locator spell. I've worked out the kinks. Tara, sweetie, I'll need your help.' It didn't take long before a tiny twinkling light fluttered on the map. Hovering just over the junkyard.
No one had said it was a race. They didn't have to. Spike was out of the door before the spell was complete, Xander and Giles waited long enough for the two witches to get to their feet before dragging them to the Englishman's sports car.
The junkyard was the same. After Glory's minions had taken it over the place had been abandoned. Sooner or later someone might try to take it over, but for now it was an empty wreck. Full of bad memories and broken hearts. Buffy was Tara's closest friend, losing her had been almost too painful.
Willow was more than that, she was a lover and part of her but Buffy had become a genuine friend. Not just Buffy but all the Scoobies were her friends, all because of Willow. She had been the door and given her everything she ever needed. Buffy's death had hurt. It had hurt more than Tara had expected.
Even now the place just held too many bad memories. While the others jumped out of the bright red car Tara hung back. As much as she wanted to help Dawnie she couldn't go back in there. Then something caught her eye, or didn't.
It was strange, she was trying to look elsewhere. Anywhere that wouldn't remind her of Buffy's broken body, the terrible look of pain on Dawn's face, Spike's tears of loss, but like a magnet facing the wrong way her eyes kept wandering back there. Like something was pushing her attention back, away from itself. What ever it was it was just off to one side. If she concentrated she could force her self to look at it.
Then she saw them. Two people hanging around just out side the junkyard, hidden in the terrible shadow of the tower.
One was an old man and the other a young girl. At least that's what the looked like on the outside. Tara, however, could see so much more. Their auras shone like suns, the girl's was bright and innocent. Full of untapped depths and power.
Tara crept closer to them, they were watching Willow and the gang gather around Dawn. At a glance Tara could tell the surviving Summers girl was fast asleep as the others hovered around her.
Looking back at the strangers Tara found herself looking directly in the eyes of the older man. It was something she would never forget. In that instant she saw it all, she felt it. The world beneath her feet spinning like some giant carrousel, the sun burning so bright and flying aimlessly though space. Tiny webs of coincidence and hope threading through everything. Guiding it and woven into a vast tapestry. A tapestry that had a clear beginning and an end.
He could see the threads and read the tapestry at a glance. In that brief moment so could Tara. While the girl was untapped but strong he was more. He was fully realised and knew how to use it. Whatever it was. Tara could feel it in her soul as it seemed to shrivel in her heart.
Falling to her knees Tara needed something, anything, to hold onto. To be reassured that something was eternal. She was drowning in the tapestry, searching for the dry land of certainty. Finally he broke the eye contact, smiling sadly to her. Tara couldn't hear anything over the sound of her heart beating like a drum, just watch as the man put a restraining hand on the girl, stopping her from coming closer.
A shake of his head and a quiet word and they were gone. They were just gone. Finding her feet Tara could feel that strange reverse magnetic pull forcing her to look away, only stronger. Only now she knew it was coming from something there, if she only focused hard enough she could see it. Like something coming into focus Tara could, at last, see it.
The strange thing was it was only a blue box. It had a light on top and was a lot like a wardrobe. Just sitting there next to where the two strangers had been. As she looked at it the light on top began to pulse, picking up a slow rhythm. As the light grew brighter the air began to whisper with the sound of grinding gears. Tara stared in open mouth shock as the box began to disappear.
It wasn't the trick that stopped her from seeing it this time, the box faded in and out of existence. Out of time with the sound and light until it was gone, leaving faint echoes behind.
Dawn woke up. Not just that she woke up refreshed, her tear stained pillow was dry for the first morning she could remember. Sitting up Dawn saw her room brightly lit by the midmorning sun and almost cringed. It was so dark and depressing, almost as if she'd been revelling in the sadness. No wonder she had almost jumped.
Blinking hard Dawn had to grip the sides of her mattress as the memories of the last night came back. 'God, what did I almost do?'
'That's what we'd all like to know.' Giles said. Dawn hadn't seen the Watcher hovering at her door.
Dawn gaped at him, trying to think of a reason. 'I... I must have gone crazy. I... I almost jumped.'
'You what?' he practically jumped into the room. 'What were you doing out there Dawn?'
He was concerned, so was Dawn. 'I couldn't take it and I thought there was only one thing I could have done...' She held her head. That sort of thinking wasn't just wrong, it had huge neon lights and it's own Broadway show of wrongness.
'Dawn.' Giles swallowed. 'I want you to listen to me. Okay? ...'
Xander shared a look with Willow, but his best bud had already ran. The two of them were behind Giles and listening to Dawn as soon as she woke up.
When the Dawn patrol admitted she was going to kill herself Willow had just ran. Following her downstairs and into the kitchen Xander grabbed her and pulled his longest and bestest friend in for a massive hug.
'We should have seen it.' Willow said into his chest. 'We were so hurt we never thought to help Dawn.'
'Yes we did, she didn't want it and we didn't push.' Xander corrected pulling back.
Willow nodded and then looked up at him, resolve face at full force. 'We have to do something.' She said dangerously.
'What can we do?' Xander asked, more than a little worried. When Willow got like this there was no arguing with her.
'We can bring her back.'
End The Doctor Calls