"The Sire of Slayers," Buffy whispered.
"Ankhtutomen," the Doctor breathed.
"Oh," said the Father blandly, with just a touch of concern. "I meant to arrive after this."
The Doctor looked at him sharply, then winked at Buffy.
"Doctor?" Ankle recognized the Time Lord. "Is that really you? How polite of you to come back for me to kill you."
"What was that wink for?" Buffy said.
"Tell you later," said the Doctor.
"Are you ready, Slayer?" said Ankle. "Are you ready to become that which you most hate?"
"First you tell me I'm your mother," Buffy griped, "then you start flirting with me."
"I never!" said the Doctor. "Aside from the other consideration, you're centuries too young for me."
"Forget it! Don't explain! See if I care."
"Ignore me, will you?!" Ankle roared. Like a flash he rushed them - or almost. He was brought up short by someone who leapt on him from behind, by dint of surprise halting him when Buffy expected mere strength probably wouldn't have been enough.
"This Slayer's mine," Drusilla whispered into his ear.
"Run!" the Doctor shouted to Buffy.
Buffy was into the corridor after the Doctor before she noticed it was only the two of them. "Where'd your father go?"
"Somewhere safe, I hope," said the Doctor. "He can't help us. Come on! We need room to maneuver!"
The Doctor led her to the rear exit of the medical clinic. Just as they got to the crash-barred door they - and it - were bowled over by an irresistable force that came from behind. Buffy found herself facedown in the alley behind the clinic. She rolled over onto her back and found Ankle standing over her.
"And now, young Slayer," he said, "you will die." Then the Doctor tackled him.
He threw the Doctor off while Buffy scrambled to her feet, and turned into her kick. He fell against some cardboard boxes - and Drusilla dropped on him.
Buffy pulled two stakes from her bag and tossed one to the Doctor. "I thought you and Giles said he has ten times the strength," Buffy shouted as the two vampires grappled.
"Not that way," said the Doctor, and that was the end of the conversation for then, for Ankle was strong enough at least to flip Drusilla some ten yards away, even if he lost his footing doing so. He stood up and glared at the two vampire hunters - and a crossbow bolt seemed to grow instantly from his chest.
Buffy spun to look back toward the clinic. From a hastily opened window Giles was lowering the crossbow. He must have been following her and the Doctor; good old Giles. The Father stood behind him looking on - that explained his disappearance; Giles had pulled him away.
Buffy relaxed and turned back to the alley, expecting to see Ankle blowing in the wind from the wooden shaft through his heart. Instead she faced him again just in time to see him grasp the arrowshaft and pull it out of his chest.
"'Durability' might be a better word than 'strength'," called the Doctor. "Or 'stamina' might be."
"Now you tell me!" shouted Buffy, suddenly fighting for her life. The barrage of Ankle's attack left her no opportunities for offensive strikes between parries, and knocked the stake from her hand. Finally he slipped through her guard and knocked her down.
The Doctor brought down on Ankle three thicknesses of fruitcrate slats he must've found in the alley garbage. They broke over his head.
Buffy's mind was racing. How do you kill a vampire you can't stake? It was beyond her experience. What else works against them? Garlic ... that just gives them hives. Crosses - no, not crosses, according to the Doctor: faith. Crosses were only, like, the focus. In the forties a girl companion of the Doctor had once held off a superevolved vampire from a possible future Earth just with her faith in the Doctor - Giles had found that in the annals. At the bottom it was good faith versus evil faith. Good faith had an edge, but in three thousand years Ankle must have stockpiled a crapload of evil faith.
The Doctor had tried a Venusian karate immobilization hold on Ankle and been thrown. It must have been a measure of desperation; even Buffy already knew Venusian karate couldn't paralyze vampires, whose nerves were dead. Drusilla was on Ankle again, by accident or design not until the Doctor was clear. Buffy had only a few moments to marshall this faith thing before it'd be her turn again.
What did she have that kind of faith in? Or who?
Two weeks earlier she'd've said Angel. Not Angel.
Giles? Xander and Willow? Certainly not Cordelia. She loved them and couldn't bear to see them hurt, but they were only human.
The Doctor wasn't human.
Or, he was. Half human. The half, apparently, that came from her. What had he been saying about the genetic heritage of Slayers? She and the others had joked, but he had it all in spades. And now to learn it all came from her. It had to, if that cold fish was his father.
Which meant that she had it in her too.
Giles fervently wished he didn't know that if he rushed into the fracas he'd accomplish nothing but his own death. That is, he wished it wasn't true, but it was and he knew it. If it weren't for Drusilla's interference, the Doctor would probably already be dead instead of groaning half-conscious on the ground, and Buffy would be a vampire by now.
Ankle threw Drusilla off for the third time. She must have been tiring; Ankle hadn't even been knocked down. He turned to face Buffy, and they faced each other like gunfighters on Main Street for a moment before he approached her with what could only be described as a stalk.
Then he pulled up short, about eight feet away from her.
Buffy's back was to Giles; he couldn't see her face. But her body's attitude was nothing like the paradoxically easy tension, the poise of the Slayer, that she usually brought to a fight, and had been evincing here until now. She stood with an utter relaxation that Giles had never seen in her. Yet something in her stance or her face was unmanning Ankle, from the expression on his.
His smirk faltered as he took a few more unsteady steps toward her, and came clumsily to another halt.
He seemed to be growing smaller before Giles' eyes.
"Is he shrinking?" the Father said.
Suddenly Giles was certain that Ankle was becoming vulnerable, though he didn't know how it was happening. He hastily reloaded his crossbow, took aim, and fired.
The shaft went straight through Ankle's heart without stopping, imbedding itself in a wooden windowsill of the building opposite the clinic on the alley. At the moment of its intersection with Ankle his flesh turned to ashes and sprinkled on the ground where he'd been standing.
Buffy didn't move for a moment. Then she turned to face Giles and the Father. She was smiling, and her expression was the most at peace Giles had ever seen.
"Perhaps now we can conclude our business," the Father suggested. He was even testy blandly.
Giles had been scanning the alley. "Drusilla's gone, I think," he said to Buffy. "She was a bit the worse for wear. No doubt not up to another battle tonight."
"So she'll miss all the fun," said Buffy. "I'm going to become a mother tonight, Giles - but you know that. If you're here now you must have been eavesdropping before Ankle showed up."
Giles didn't deny it. "This was why you've been so intent on your posterity the past two days," he said. "Well, if it still matters, to have Slain the Sire of Slayers will earn you a unique place in the books."
"Thanks, Giles," said Buffy, "but you're right; it doesn't matter." She walked over to the Doctor, and helped him up off his knees. "And not because I know I have a bouncing baby Time Lord to carry on after me."
"Oh?" said the Doctor. "Then why?"
"Because I have faith," she said, "in me."
The penny dropped for Giles - the way Buffy had held Ankle off in the last moments of the fight. Obviously that story from the annals about the Doctor had made more of an impression on Buffy than Giles had realized at the time, perhaps even than she had.
The Doctor grinned. "I think you'll find that most useful in future."
"But it doesn't mean you can give up your training," Giles warned.
"I know," said Buffy.
"Well," said the Doctor, "this gentleman -" He pointed at the Father. "- has been quite patient with our little pecadilloes, but I for one would like it if he should be permitted to do what he came for."
"Yes," said Buffy, "let's not keep him any longer."
The Father led them all back into the clinic's laboratory, where he performed actions with what looked like a salt shaker that Giles could only assume were advanced technological medical voodoo, which actions the Doctor claimed were the taking of an egg from Buffy's ovary. The Father himself spoke no more word during the rest of his visit to Earth than a farewell, just before stepping into a specimen refrigerator that promptly disappeared into the Time Vortex. The Doctor, of all people, seemed the least surprised at this standoffishness.
"So," Buffy said to the Doctor as the three of them left the clinic, "you promised to tell me why you winked at me."
"My father said when Ankle showed up that he had intended to arrive after this battle," the Doctor reminded her. "Now, the course of history is always subject to the will of individuals, especially events outside the Web of Time - but that was a pretty good indication that you were going to survive."
"Your father came to me now," said Buffy, "because he knows I won't live much longer. Didn't he?"
The Doctor exchanged a look with Giles before he took Buffy by her shoulders and looked her in the eye. "I couldn't tell you if I knew. It's the laws of Time. Surely you understand that."
His mouth twitched.
"Doctor ..." said Buffy.
"I really can't say anything." He struggled to keep the corners of his mouth from turning up. "Er, I think you'd better be off to bed, hadn't you, young lady?" He prodded her down the street while ineffectually hiding a smile.
"Kids today," Buffy groused. But before she was out of Giles' sight she was humming that peppy little tune Oz's band played, and skipping down the street.
"Thank you, Doctor," said Giles, "for letting Buffy know."
"Giles," said the Doctor, "I really don't know what Buffy's future is. She may be right."
"But you just - told Buffy - ... Oh."
"I think, though - for the sake of my family tree - I may just look her up in future the next time I have the chance. Well, goodbye." The Doctor, abrupt with farewells as always (perhaps it ran in the family), strode off.
He stopped and turned back. "Yes?"
"Thank you anyway."
This story is the third in a three-story cycle about the Doctor's father. See a special Father story index.
Back to fanfiction index.
Back to Paul's index.