Disclaimer: I do not own either Doctor Who or Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
AN: I'm aware that Rose is not the Doctor's girlfriend. However, Dawn thinks she is his girlfriend, which colours her thoughts. Also, Dawn will be capitalizing God, while the Doctor will not. This is a philosophical distinction between the two characters, not a typo. The Last Two in The Universe
The man was obnoxious, annoying, couldn't take a hint and clearly had no respect for personal space. There was no helping it. She'd just have to slap him the face.
A moment later, the tall, eccentric man had finally backed away from her, holding his now reddened cheek with his left hand. In his right hand, he was still carrying his little beeping rod thing with him. She assumed that he'd bought it at Toys R Us, although, even for them, it was a bit tacky.
“Hey! What'd you do that for?”
Dawn simply raised her left eyebrow. Sure, she had only just turned fifteen, and he was a grown man, but she was so not going to get intimidated by Mr. I shop in the toys section of the dollar store for my accessories. Besides, she had the Buffybot with her, so if he turned out to be a rapist or something, Robo-Buffy could always break his arms. He probably wasn't a rapist anyway. He seemed a bit too geeky, and, if she wasn't mistaken, the bottle-blond with him was his girlfriend. Honestly, if she had a boyfriend who acted like this guy, she wouldn't even let him go outside.
Dawn could not believe that he had the gall to act offended that she'd slapped him. If what he had been doing didn't qualify as sexual harassment, then nothing did. Besides, couldn't he see that she was a minor. Hitting on her like that was practically illegal. Of course, if he'd been a bit cuter, better dressed and way less creepy, she could have totally done anything someone who wasn't a minor could do, but that was not the case here.
“Honestly, Doctor,” the bottle-blond spoke up in what sounded to Dawn like a pretty jealous tone. “What did you expect? You licked her.”
“It was a scientific test!” he protested, offering quite possibly the silliest defense Dawn had ever heard.
The blond just raised an eyebrow sceptically, adopting a blatant 'Is that so' expression.
Suddenly realizing that his actions might have been misconstrued by his significant other, the so-called Doctor began to verbally back-pedal.
“No, wait! Rose, it's not what you think. My sonic screwdriver had just detected the presence of the time vortex in her, and I was just making sure of the readings.”
He continued more confidently with a grin, “Come on, Rose. You know I wouldn't do anything with some stupid ape.”
Apparently, this was the wrong thing to say.
“So human girls are stupid apes, are we? Well fine. Then this stupid ape is going back to the TARDIS. Try not to get thrown in jail on sexual harassment charges.”
Having said her piece, the girl stalked off before her companion could get in another word, opening the door to what looked like a blue, wooden box, and stepping inside.
The creepy licking guy looked briefly frustrated at her departure, but quickly recovered his composure and turned back to Dawn.
“I'll have to apologize to Rose later, but this is important.”
The man held out his hand to shake. “Hello. I'm the Doctor.”
Dawn was a bit hesitant at first, but, after a few seconds of thought, decided to take the offered hand. Sure, he seemed a little special, but she shouldn't hold people responsible for the mental handicaps with which they were born.
“I'm Dawn. I'm not going to say sorry for slapping you because you totally deserved it. Also, when you're introducing yourself, you should try to use your real name or at least a more believable fake name. Obvious aliases just make people suspicious.”
“It's not an alias,” the man protested in vain. “It's my name. Ask anyone.”
Dawn turned to the Buffybot. “Hey, Buffy. Does 'Doctor' sound like a real name to you?”
The Buffybot replied in its usual informatory manner: “Doctor: a title given both to medical professionals and some pocket-protector wearing nerds who've made it big. This word is not commonly used as either a given or family name.”
Okay. Part of that explanation had been weird. Then again, Willow had been programming the Buffybot to act like Buffy instead of a walking dictionary/sex-bot, and that part did sound a little bit like something which Buffy might say, so maybe it was working as designed.
“Hah!” the weirdo exclaimed at the Buffybot's explanation. “You'll note that she only said 'not commonly.' There's nothing forbidding me from being named Doctor, is there? It's just the sort of name for an uncommon sort of man.”
Well, Dawn had to admit that he was an uncommon sort of man.
“Anyway,” he continued, starting to frenetically pace in front of Dawn. “I'm not here to defend my name. I'm here for something far more important.”
“Dawn,” the Doctor stated seriously, looking directly into her eyes. “I'm not sure if you're aware of this or if you'll believe me, but you're actually one of the last two of your species.”
Was he really trying for a 'last two on Earth hook-up' less than a minute after his girlfriend had walked out on them? His eyes continued to bore into hers seriously, and Dawn realized that yes, this guy was that much of a sleaze. Now she wished that she hadn't shaken his hand. She'd probably encouraged the jerk.
“You know, your girlfriend is like right in there,” Dawn replied, feeling that she was being quite magnanimous in not slapping the sleaze again, as she pointed at the blue box less than ten feet away.
“Girlfriend? Oh, you mean, Rose! No, she's not my girlfriend. She's just this girl who's my friend and travels with me in my box.”
The two-timing jerk then proceeded to point in the direction of his blue box, as if Dawn might have mistaken it for some other box hanging around the street. Moreover, for two people, Dawn was fairly sure that his little box would be more than a bit intimate. Who did he think he was kidding here?
“Anyway, what does she have to do with anything? This is about you and your future.”
Had he seriously just propositioned her? Okay, if he went any further, she'd kick him in the nuts. If he didn't get the message after that, she'd have the Buffybot kick him in the nuts. Once that was done, sexual reproduction should be impossible, so hopefully he'd reconsider.
“You see, the two of you are the last TARDISs in existence. You're the only chance to reintroduce genetic diversity into your species. I know that you're a bit of a more advanced model capable of interdimensional travel, Type 104 or 105 unless I miss my guess, but, even so, beggars can't be choosers.”
Now, Dawn was confused. She'd figured that he was trying to sleazily hook up with her himself, but apparently he was here on behalf of someone or something else. In fact, wait, he'd said something about dimensional travel, hadn't he? Did that mean he knew about the Key?
“Buffy, he's dangerous! Stop him!”
Moving with lightning speed towards what her sister had identified as a threat, the Buffybot took action in order to subdue her target without killing him, uncertain as to whether or not the threat was human. Choosing to initiate a grappling hold which should subdue her target, the Buffybot charged at her maximum velocity, seeming to blur to Dawn's human eyes. The Doctor was faster.
Pointing what Dawn had assumed was a toy at the Buffybot, the suddenly threatening man quickly depressed a few buttons, and, barely a foot from its target, the robot collapsed to the ground, clearly deactivated.
“Whew. That was close. If I hadn't known she was a robot, I would have probably been in trouble.”
By this point, Dawn was terrified and starting to shiver in fear. This guy knew something about the Key, was looking for her, and had used what must be some sort of magic wand to knock out the Buffybot before it could even touch him. What should she do now? She could scream, but would he attack her if she did? Was anyone even close enough to help?
Apparently noticing her fear, the man started trying to reassure her.
“Um, hello,” he waved, as she pressed herself into the wall of the alley he'd trapped her in, trying to get as far away from him as possible. Why of why had she thought that she'd be safe in the alley because of the Buffybot? Now, she couldn't even try to run.
“So, um, why are you shivering and shrinking back like that?” he asked, apparently having decided to mock her before finishing her off.
God, she wished Buffy were here. Tears started leaking from her eyes at the thought of her sister. Buffy was dead now, like Mom, because of her. Now, she was going to die too. At least she'd be with them again, unless of course Key things didn't go to Heaven. God, she didn't want to die.
“Um, hello,” the man tried again. “I'm not going to hurt you. Your robot friend will be alright too in an hour or so once her system reboots. I just want to talk. I'm really not actually sure why you're so scared.”
Now that she was listening to him more closely through her tears, this Doctor guy actually sounded kind of nice. Even if it was just a trick, he already seemed to know about the Key, so it probably wouldn't hurt to talk with him. Maybe she could even find out how much he knew, or stall him until someone awesome and powerful like Spike or Willow arrived.
“You-you know about the Key, don't you?”
The man looked honestly confused. “Um... the Key? What key? You don't mean the Key to Time, do you, because I destroyed that ages ago.”
“But-but you said that you knew about how it tears through dimensional walls.”
Now, the Doctor had switched from confused to honestly concerned.
“Tears through dimensional walls? You have some key that does that? You should destroy it. That sort of thing – tearing through the walls between dimensions – is extremely dangerous. If you someone misused it, all of existence might be destroyed.”
Dawn was finally starting to wonder if the Doctor really knew her secret. He was obviously powerful and knew something, but his confusion seemed just a bit too genuine to be feigned. Of course, now he was talking about destroying the Key, but he didn't seem to know what it was. She probably shouldn't tell him, but now that she'd stopped thinking of him as some creepy pervert, she was starting to get a vibe which indicated he could be trusted. Of course, even so, telling him about the Key would be stupid considering that he wanted to destroy it.
“Then again, if anyone would be safe keeping something like that around, I suppose it would be you.”
Now, Dawn was confused.
“What do you mean?”
Now it was the Doctor's turn to look confused.
“What do I mean? Well, of course I mean that as you're one of the only things in existence which can seal up dimensional tears since the Time War ended, there's no safer hands for that sort of thing than yours.”
“Seal up the tears?” Dawn questioned. “I can't do anything like that.”
That was when the Doctor realized it. This whole meeting had been strange right from the start. A Type 104 or 105 TARDIS should have recognized that he was a time lord immediately, but this girl hadn't recognized him at all. She didn't seem to even know that she was a TARDIS, having shown no familiarity with the term. Had her memory been wiped, somehow? No one on Earth should have even been able to recognize that she wasn't human with her chameleon circuit engaged.
Pointing his sonic screwdriver at the TARDIS in human form, the Doctor cursed himself for scaring her as she flinched back again.
“No, no, don't do that. I'm not going to hurt you. I just need to check something. You see, when I came here, I assumed that you knew what you were, and not, oh that's interesting.”
As he looked up at the girl in order to share his discovery, he found her glaring heatedly towards him. It was a nice change from the terrified flinching, but still not quite what he had been aiming for.
“I'm not a what. I'm a who. My name is Dawn, and I'm a person just like anyone else.”
Right, right, he should have kept that in mind. If the TARDIS had somehow become convinced that it was human, then he would have to treat it as one, or else it would get offended. It was just like refraining from spilling beverages on his own TARDIS's control panel, in order to keep her in a good mood. He'd done the opposite a few times in his fourth body. It had not ended well, and Romana had never let him hear the end of it.
“Of course, Dawn. I've just discovered something rather odd. You see all TARDISs have a chameleon circuit which allows them to shift between a variety of forms, but yours appears to be quite firmly stuck on human. In fact, when I tried to unstick it, the switch was quite impossibly stubborn, as if some sort of persistent energy field was holding you in your-”
The Doctor dodged, as Dawn tried to snatch away his sonic screwdriver, yelling “Don't you dare!” before he continued in the same tone, “current form.”
Glaring twice as hard now, Dawn was clearly fighting the urge to try and snatch his sonic screwdriver again. Apparently, she was a little bit unhappy that he'd tried to fix her chameleon circuit.
“Right, right, I won't try it again. Anyway, the point is that someone obviously accessed your chameleon circuit and used it to try and turn you into a human being permanently. I'm actually sort of surprised humans were even able to manage that. Anyway, from your reactions, I'm guessing that you actually know something about all this, so would you mind telling me what you know?”
Apparently Dawn did mind, as she simply kept glaring at the Doctor silently. Finally, after a few moments, her look softened into uncertainty as she finally spoke up, “Are you going to try to turn me back?”
“Turn you back?” the Doctor asked, hoping to prod her into providing him with further information.
Dawn bit her lip in indecision for a moment. Whoever this guy was, he obviously already knew a lot about the Key, and everything she knew about it came from books which he could probably find if he looked hard enough, so it probably wouldn't hurt to tell him the basics.
“From what I know, the Key has existed for as long as anyone remembers. It's a glowing green ball of energy which has the ability to tear down the walls between dimensions under very particular circumstances. For centuries, it was protected by the Order of Dagon, a group of monks sworn to keep it safe. However, a little more than a year ago, the Order of Dagon was completely destroyed by a powerful God named Glorificus. As their last act, the monks hid the Key from Glorificus with a powerful protector.”
“Hmmm... I see. So these monks came up with some way to hide you in human form from this so-called god. That makes sense. They would have had to wipe your memories, and probably made new ones for you. They probably also did something weird to the chameleon circuit so that you'd be related to your supposed family, and that's why the chameleon circuit's jammed. The glowing ball of energy thing's a bit odd, but it's probably just a reference to the heart of the TARDIS. My TARDIS's heart glows gold, but I suppose that not every model would be the same.”
Dawn was stupefied. Somehow, he'd figured it all out: even things she'd never guessed, if he was right about whatever this TARDIS things was. Did that mean he had his own Key somewhere? If so, then how many Keys were there?
“Wh-why do you think I'm the Key? I mean, they could have hid it anywhere, right?”
The Doctor blinked, apparently confused by her question.
“Well, it's obvious, isn't it? How many devices capable of tearing down dimensional walls do you think there are on this planet, anyway? Anyway, this Glorificus, she's not still around, is she?”
“No. Buffy,” Dawn suddenly felt choked up, struggling to continue. “Buffy died to stop her.”
“Buffy? You don't mean the robot, do you?”
Dawn shook her head. At this point, exactly what secrets did she have left which were worth keeping?
“No. The Buffybot was made to look like Buffy, but it's not her. Buffy was my older sister.”
“Oh,” the Doctor replied, apologetic, “I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring up-”
“No, it's okay,” Dawn interrupted. “her and Mom are both gone now, but no one ever talks about them. I understand why, but sometimes I just wish...”
Sympathetic, the Doctor took one of Dawn's hands in his own, holding it gently. Seeing her like this, it was hard to think of her as a TARDIS. She just seemed so incredibly human in her grief.
“I suppose you're living with your father, then?”
“Nah. He's off in Spain screwing his secretary: didn't even show up for Mom's funeral.”
“So, you have some other older sister or brother with whom you're staying?” the Doctor queried uncertainly.
“Nope. It's mostly just me and the Buffybot these days.”
The Doctor took that in and contemplated it for a moment.
“So, your guardian is a robot? Is that legal on Earth during this time period?”
“Well, as long as the social services people don't find out that she's not Buffy, it's cool.”
The Doctor's eyebrows nearly rose right off his forehead.
“Alright, then. You're coming with me.”
He grabbed her arm and started pulling Dawn towards his blue box.
“Hey, wait a second! Who says I'm going anywhere with you?”
“There's no way I'm letting the one of the last two TARDISs in existence grow up raised by a robot, while trying to keep one step ahead of social services people who might drag you off to foster care at any moment. You need to learn how to use your ability to manipulate the temporal and dimensional vortices safely, in a controlled and safe environment, and there's no one better to teach you than my TARDIS.”
Dawn blinked for a moment, considering the Doctor's reasoning. Being in Sunnydale without Buffy was really hard, and, in all honesty, the Scoobies didn't need her so much as they needed the Buffybot around to keep pretending to be Buffy on patrols. Besides, this Doctor guy had a time machine, so maybe he could even swing it so she wasn't missing for any time at all.
“Hey, Doctor guy,”
“That's the Doctor, not Doctor guy.”
“Sure, whatever. Anyway, could your time machine make it so no one else even notices I've been gone with you? I mean, I don't want my friends to worry about me.”
“Of course,” the Doctor responded confidently. “My TARDIS can travel to any point in time and space. Getting you back without anyone noticing won't be any problem at all.”
“Okay. I guess there's just one more thing. When am I going to meet this TARDIS guy you were trying to set me up with earlier. I mean, it's not like I'm interested, but you keep bringing him up.”
“TARDIS guy? No, no, my TARDIS is definitely female. Every time I've ever referred to the TARDIS as a he, she's dropped something heavy on my head.”
Dawn cocked her head, bemused.
“But, if we're both girls, then how did you think that we could repopulate the species?”
“Oh, right. Well, for TARDISs, as they can normally transform themselves into just about anything, gender is more of a lifestyle choice then a firm commitment. All that we really need is for the two of you to mix your genetics, so that the future of the TARDIS race is not all just a bunch of clones.”
“Wait, you mean, your TARDIS can look like anything?” Dawn exclaimed, suddenly peering at everything around her as if it might suddenly change form into a time machine. “Is it here?”
“What? Of course, it's here. This is it,” he tapped on his blue box. “Of course, its chameleon circuit's been stuck for a while, so it doesn't really change form much these days. Even so, this look's a bit of a classic, wouldn't you say?”
Dawn was focused on another issue entirely.
“Wait a second. Are you telling me that you came here to try and get me to have sex with your phone booth?”
“Well, maybe not right away, but, you know, once you've gotten to know each other-”
“With your phone booth!?! Wouldn't that qualify as masturbation anyway? How would it even work? Wait. You know what? I don't want to know.”
Noticing that the usually brightly lit 'Police Box' sign atop his TARDIS had dimmed considerably at the incredulous tone in Dawn's voice, as well as her misidentification of its current form, the Doctor zeroed in on what he could fix now. Dawn could get to know his TARDIS better while they were traveling through time together. It would be a little like a honeymoon trip before the wedding. However, there was one thing that they needed to get straight right this instant.
Tightening his grip on her left arm, the Doctor moved to face Dawn, waving his right index admonishingly as he fixed his suddenly sober eyes upon hers.
“Dawn, there's one thing that we have to get straight right now, before going any further. I don't want there to be any misunderstandings about this because it's extremely important, possibly one of the most important things you'll ever learn.”
“Wh-what is it?”
“It's about my TARDIS, Dawn. My TARDIS is not a phone booth. It's a police box.”