“Giles, this is Rose. Rose, this is Giles, my Watcher.”
Giles attempted to glare at Buffy, but she waved a dismissive hand at him. It was not yet eight in the morning, and he was still recovering from the carnage Buffy’s Thanksgiving dinner had wreaked upon his flat and his digestion. He’d napped for hours after that turkey, and awakened to find that she had stuck him with the washing up, the little beast.
“Really, Buffy,” he began.
“Naw, don’t worry about it. Rose already knows about things that go grrr, though she wasn’t clear on Slayers per se. Right?”
“Oh yeah, no problem there. I’ve seen some stuff that makes you go hmm, know what I mean?”
“No,” Giles said. London by her accent, not educated. He’d have guessed that from her clothes anyway, though four years Stateside had undone most of his automatic clothing prejudices.
“We were both in the Black Friday crush just now downtown and oh my god, people are lining up at four in the morning can you believe it? At crappy stores, too. Anyway, we met in the Bath Indulgences store when Rose got her bath bombs mixed up with my salt scrubs.”
Giles tugged at the collar of his robe, suddenly reminded that he was entirely unbathed. “Er, what?”
“Anyway, it turns out that Rose needs a Slayer. Vamp problem.” Buffy bounced on her toes.
“Not me, exactly, but the guy I sort of travel with, you know? Only I guess it is us. If there is an us, if you know what I mean.”
Rose gave Buffy a significant look, and Buffy nudged her with an elbow and said something Giles couldn’t catch. He stared at the pair of young women, wondering if they’d gone out of their minds.
“Anyway, we need you to come outside, and to not freak. There’s a guy we need you to meet.”
There was no point arguing with Buffy. She’d get her way eventually. Giles nipped upstairs and got dressed, then allowed Buffy to drag him outside his flat into the too-bright California day. Just beyond his fountain was-- It couldn’t be, but it was. A blue police box that had seen better days. Completely familiar. He’d stopped hoping he’d see it again.
“Dear Lord. Is it him?”
Giles’s hands were trembling with excitement. He thrust them deep into his pockets to conceal it. “The Doctor. Is he here?”
Buffy pouted at him. “Don’t tell me you know him. Is there anything you don’t know? Do the Watchers have a book on him?”
“Goodness, no. I met him years ago, when I was still a schoolboy. Ethan and I-- Never mind that now.” Giles turned to Rose. “Is it the Doctor? Truly?”
“Yeah.” She looked pouty as well, as if some secret had been spoiled.
Just then the TARDIS door creaked open, and a man with close-cropped hair stepped out. He had a bony face and big ears, and was wearing a leather trenchcoat. Giles peered past him, but no one else emerged. Giles’s heart sank. This was not the Doctor.
The man stopped in front of him and crossed his arms. “Hullo 'ullo, have we met before? I think we have.”
“I think not. I’m Rupert Giles, Watcher to the active Slayer.”
“Rupert Giles. Yeah. I remember you. Schoolboy, thin as a lath, traveled with me along with your troublemaking friend.”
He flashed a toothy grin. “Oh, yes, I am. I’m the Doctor. Had a bit of a, what’s the word, reconfiguration.” He pointed to his face and grinned again. “Several, in fact. Perfectly normal, if you’re me.”
“And I’ve got a vampire problem. Or London does, anyway.”
Giles dear-lorded again, under his breath, then thought to ask the salient question. “When, exactly?”
“About four hundred years from now. Come on, then. Back by teatime.”