< /TR>


Chapter Five

After much prodding and poking, the demon was eventually squeezed through the TARDIS’s door and dragged into the chamber. Another round of negotiations between the Doctor and the Minosian’s ensued, and Tara watched, bemused, as they villagers once again hefted the demon onto their collective shoulders and the Doctor led them through another door on the far side of the chamber.

Curious, Tara trailed after them and discovered that the TARDIS wasn’t just bigger on the inside; it was absolutely enormous. The corridors and doors seemed to go on forever.

“Yes, this is the place,” the Doctor eventually pronounced, throwing open a pair of double doors to reveal a large, Spartan white room. “Stronger than a fortress.” The unconscious demon was dumped unceremoniously in the middle of the floor and the Doctor slammed the doors shut and pointed the sonic screwdriver at the lock. “There, that will hold it,” he said cheerily, before shooing the Minosians back up the corridor.

“But what will you do with it when we get to Sunnydale?” Tara asked as they reached the main chamber gain. “You can’t exactly let it loose on the streets.”

“Oh, something will come up,” the Doctor said, as he ushered the Minosians out of the TARDIS. “It usually does, I find.” He rubbed his hands together gleefully. “So… let's getting cracking, shall we?”

Tara watched as, once again, the Doctor prodded at the TARDIS’s controls, pushing and pulling at the levers. Fascinated, she watched the central column, as it began to move, and listened to the throbbing whine. A living ship, it boggled the mind.

“You said she was the last the last of her kind,” she said, as she joined him at the console. “What happened to the others?”

The Doctor’s face grew still. “There was a war,” he said, eventually. “Only the TARDIS survived.”

Some instinct told her that she floundered very close to a touchy subject. “And they were others, like you, with them?” she asked cautiously.

“Yes, others, like me,” he said tersely.

Tara didn’t ask if they’d died, she already knew the answer. “You lost.”

“Oh no,” he said sadly. “We won.”

Tara decided not to push it any further, he’d tell her when he was ready. “So,” she said briskly, changing the subject. “Sunnydale.”

“Ah yes, I was meaning to ask you about that,” he said, the grin reappearing on his face. “Nice place to live, is it? Good amenities, great schools, own little Hellmouth handily located near the bus and trains?”

“It’s a difficult place to live,” Tara admitted. “There is so much darkness there, it’s sometimes hard to remember there is good in the world.”

“So why live there,” the Doctor enquired. “You’re a bright girl; shouldn’t you have picked up sticks long ago?”

Tara shrugged. “It’s complicated,” she muttered, pulling at her cardigan.

“Ah,” the Doctor said knowingly. “What’s her name?”

“W-w-willow,” Tara said uncomfortably.

“Pretty name,” he observed. “What happened?”

The urge to tell him was overwhelming. She’d had nobody to confide in since she and Willow had broken up. Even the few casual friends she had, who were willing to listen, wouldn’t really understand. How could they understand?

Her time with the Scoobies had effectively set her apart from the rest of the students in college. While they were taking weekend trips to LA, or hanging out at the local bar, she had been killing demons and protecting lives. Her life was filled with darkness and magic, and her girl…ex-girlfriend was addicted to both.

“It’s a long story.”

“We’ve got time.” He grinned. “Plenty of it.”

So she told him everything. How they met, when they fell in love, her family, her mother, Glory, Buffy, the spell, everything.

“Well,” he said, at last. “That’s quite a mess.”

Tara nodded silently.

“Not unfixable, though.”

“I-I’m not so sure of that,” she said. “I can’t seem to forgive her. Every time I see her, I get so angry that-that—”

“You want to scream and rant, and tell her you hate her,” he said. “Understandable, but you still love her, don’t you?”

“Yes,” she admitted softly.

“Well then, as I said, not unfixable.” His face grew sad.

“What about you,” she rushed out, unable to stop herself. “What’s her name?”

The Doctor went silent, and Tara wasn’t sure if he was going to answer. “Rose, he said. “Her name was Rose.”

Tara’s heart sank at the tone in his voice; there was such a finality to it. “How did you lose her?” she asked gently.

He smiled wryly. “Long story,” he said, straightening up. “We’re here.”

Tara opened her mouth to protest, then shut it again. He obviously wasn’t ready to talk. “So, what’s the plan?”

“The plan?” The Doctor smiled engagingly. “Well, first off we have to find someone with an extensive knowledge in demonology. Shouldn’t be problem. As luck would have it I know have a friend with contacts.” He threw an arm around her shoulder and grinned.

Tara grinned back. “Anya,” she said. “If there’s anyone in Sunnydale who knows anything about demons, it’s Anya.”

“Ah yes, the ex-demon, right?” he drawled. “The one who’s about to get married?”

“To Xander,” Tara confirmed.

“My, my, Tara Maclay, you do have the most interesting friends.”

Tara snorted. “Look who’s talking!”

“Who, me? I’m as normal as bread and butter, I am,” he said as he sauntered down the ramp. “Real salt of the earth, ask anyone.”

“But what sort of earth?” Tara teased as he pushed open the door.

“Trick question.” He said, grinning as he held out his hand. Laughing, Tara took it and they strolled onto the street. “See?” the doctor said, waving an arm. “Right back where we started.”

Tara sighed. “Yes, we are, aren’t we.”

The Doctor squeezed her hand. “Just stick with me,” he said. “Everything will be okay.”

Tara found herself believing him, and her heart lightened as they walked down the street. “It’s not far,” she told him as they turned a corner.

He nodded absently as he peered around the street. “Strange,” he muttered. “I still can’t get over the fact they built a town here…I mean, the missionary was bad enough.”

The magic box came into to view and Tara resisted the urge to drag her feet. She steeled herself and steered them towards the door.

“The magic box,” the Doctor said, reading the sign over the shop. “How appropriate.”

“It was Giles’s idea,” Tara explained. “He figured that, if nothing else, he could keep an eye on who was purchasing what in town.”

“I could see why a Watcher would do that,” he said enigmatically, and Tara briefly wondered how much he knew about Watchers and Slayers. A lot more than he was saying, she suspected.

The bell chimed as she opened the door and Tara stepped inside, the Doctor at her heels. Anya was busy at the counter, ringing up a purchase. Shyly, Tara descended the steps and coughed to get her attention.


Tara staggered back as she suddenly found herself with an armful of Anya, squeezing her tight. “Anya…can’t breath,” she managed.

“Tara, I’m so glad to see you,” she squealed. “We thought you’d been eaten, or run off with a cult or something.”

Tara frowned. “Anya, what are you talking about? I was here only a few hours ago.”

“A few hours ago?” the ex-demon said disbelieving. “Tara, nobody has seen you in over three weeks!”

The Doctor smiled guiltily. “Oops.”