jesterladyfic: (Default)
[personal profile] jesterladyfic
Title: Chuck Cunningham Syndrome
by Jesterlady
Rating: PG-13
Characters: The Ninth Doctor, Cordelia Chase, Logan Echolls
Fandom: Doctor Who, Angel, Veronica Mars Red Dwarf, Toy Story, Road to Avonlea, The Middleman, Step by Step, Family Matters, Roseanne, The West Wing, Star Trek: The Next Generation, All My Children, Happy Days with special appearances by X-Men, Pirates of the Caribbean, Are You Being Served and a great deal of the cast of Saved by the Bell and Boy Meets World
Summary: The Doctor is just minding his own business when Cordelia Chase and Logan Echolls pop into the Tardis, now they're off on a tv trope adventure to find out what's disrupting reality. If only fictional characters would stop dropping by.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of these fandoms, especially DW, ATS or VM. I owe a great deal to and all of the chapter titles are a play on tropes found there. Written for the [ profile] scifibigbang 2011.
A/N: Many thanks to my beta, [ profile] exmanhater and to [ profile] rainyrocket for her artwork.

Chapter Five: The Other Cecily

The Doctor leaned against the console, suddenly tired.

“Well, I don't know about you two, but I've seen enough clerks from the Men's Wear
counter at Grace Brothers to last me at least one lifetime. I never want to hear about another
inside leg.”

His companions nodded in agreement, but with more amusement.

“When he just expected us to get him a glass of water,” Logan said, chuckling.
“ ’Seniors before juniors!’ That's another show I have to watch. I'm going to start writing
them down.”

“I bet it won't do you any good,” Cordelia muttered, who'd been eying the Doctor rather
fiercely over the last day while they'd been surrounded by British sitcom retail clerks.

“Don't be so glum,” the Doctor said, “or I'll quarantine you.”

“The Tardis wouldn't let you,” Cordelia said smugly, having worked closely with the
sentient ship during the Are You Being Served debacle.

“The Tardis and I are loyal to each other,” the Doctor warned, “never forget that.” He
stopped suddenly and turned as said ship spoke to him. “A huge rip this time,” he said,
starting to run into the interior of the ship. The other two followed him. He led the way to
a bedroom close to the console room and tapped gently on the door before opening it.

The door opened to reveal a typical bedroom on the Tardis, meaning it wasn't typical at
all. This one looked like a turn of the century farmhouse bedroom. There was a fire crackling
in the fireplace and an open window that looked out onto a snowy farmyard. In the bed was a
tiny waif of a blonde girl, swathed in blankets and coughing.

“Not you, Cecily,” the Doctor groaned. She hadn't really appeared to have noticed
them, probably lost in her own head. He closed the door quietly and spoke to his two

“Listen,” he said sharply, “this is a very sick girl and I don't want any of your so
called modernity upsetting her. Cordelia, there's a wardrobe three floors down and two doors
over. The Tardis will show you proper clothes. For that matter, take him with you. Come back
here, but don't go in unless I say so. You got it?”

They gave him strange looks, but nodded.

“What about going to Marvello?” Logan asked. “We'll never get there if these
characters keep popping in and out all the time.”

“Says the original,” the Doctor said sarcastically. “Just do what I say. Cecily's got
to be handled differently, a whole different trope, and we'll worry about Marvello when we get
to it.”

They went back down the hall, whispering urgently to each other and he rested his
forehead against the door when they were out of sight. He didn't have time for this. He
didn't want this responsibility. But there was nothing else for it. He couldn't cheat on this
one, not so far as he could see. And he didn't know exactly how this was going to go. He
hated and loved that feeling, but right now he mostly hated it.

He knocked more loudly this time and heard a weak affirmation to enter. He opened the
door and Cecily looked up at him in confusion and fear.

“It's okay,” he said, walking slowly toward her. “I'm not here to hurt you, Cecily.”

“What's happening?” she asked. “Where am I?”

“It's all right,” he said. “You were just at the sanitarium, weren't you?” She nodded
a yes. “You're very sick,” he said, coming closer. “You already know that. I'm the Doctor
and I'm going to try to help you, okay?” He glanced out the window and saw it now represented
the sanitarium yard.

“Where are my parents?” she asked, before starting to cough. He poured her a drink of
water from the pitcher by her bedside.

“They're at home, remember? They want you to get well so they sent you away until you
can go home again.”

“But she didn't say goodbye,” Cecily said, almost panicking. “Why?”

“She did now,” the Doctor said, kneeling by the bed. “You just don't remember. But
I'm going to help you, okay? I just need you to rest and be strong for me. I've got a couple
of friends who are going to try to help too. We'll bring you in some food, are you hungry?”

She nodded, clutching at the bedspread and obviously still fearful of the unknown. He
didn't know how he was going to break it to her that she was fictional. Maybe he wouldn't have
to. Oh, he hoped he wouldn't have to.

“I'll go and get you something,” he said. “Any requests?” She shook her head and he

“Okay, I'll do my best to get you something you'll like. I'll just be a minute.”

When he got back outside, he headed for the console room and put them in the Vortex.
That wouldn't stop other fictional characters from getting aboard if the Tardis managed to
catch them, which was harder and easier to do the more rips in reality there were. But being
in the Vortex would protect them from anything else and give him time to figure out what to
do. He just wanted to make her disappear, but he couldn't do that.


Cordelia was still having trouble getting over how incredible the Tardis was, but she was less concerned about that right now than about how strange the Doctor was acting. She hurried along the corridors with Logan, without even thinking about where she was going. They made a left turn and found themselves in the most amazing room in the universe, she was positive. It was huge, with curving staircases and hidden coral nooks and crannies and absolutely bursting with clothes from every era in every planet in the universe. Her mouth dropped open.

She only closed it when Logan started laughing at her.

“This is the place I've been waiting for my whole life,” she said, eyes lighting up at
the sight of a shoe rack high on the wall.

“Typical,” Logan said, sighing, and started forward. Cordelia followed him, ecstatic
and quite willing to never leave. The Tardis must have known what to do because they found
themselves in the early twentieth century Earth section or something like that. The Doctor
didn't seem to be very organized because a clown suit was next to a Regency style dress and a
suit of armor.

Cordelia selected a simple dress of lavender hue with the tiniest waist and the least
constricting collar she could find. Logan was nearby, complaining loudly about having to wear

“Would you like the corset instead?” she asked, flashing it at him.

“I guess I'll survive,” was his response before they each slipped into a little coral
dressing room. Cordelia loved this place.

“So, who do you think is in the bed?” Logan asked, his voice muffled.

“I don't know, but it seemed to make the Doctor really unhappy. Even more so than

“Agreed. Which is an astonishing thing in and of itself.”

“Come on,” she groaned. “Stop trying to be clever. This could be really serious.”

“In what way?”

“The Doctor going psycho and a) killing us all, b) killing himself and leaving us
stranded, or c) blowing up the universe in a grand combination of a and b.”

“Drama, thy name is Cordelia,” Logan said. “Have you ever read King Lear?”

“Only in auditions,” she said. “Shakespeare doesn't help with the demon hunting much.”

“Probably not, maybe a witch hunt, but not demons.”

“I wouldn't say that around some of my friends,” she said, stepping outside and looking
at herself in the mirror.

“You have witch friends?”

“I grew up on a Hellmouth, I acclimated.”

Logan joined her, looking rather humorous in his suspenders and knee socks. It must have been summer in that outfit. She was too busy looking at herself to worry about him. She looked amazing and she never wanted to change. That is, until she got to try on some more of these clothes.

“This is so awesome,” she said. Looking down, she saw some hairpins that weren't there
before and an instruction manual on how to do her hair. She laughed and started to try and
manage it.

“Maybe I should just go,” Logan said, apparently bored out of his mind.

“Wait for me,” she said. “Not because I enjoy your company but because I don't want to
unhinge the Doctor. He's about ready to blow. Let's just try to watch him. It's funny how
much I do trust him, and even you, but we can't be too careful.”

Logan watched her with a funny look in his eyes, but he agreed with her and she nodded,
satisfied. Also being satisfied with her hair, they left to go join the Doctor.


The Doctor's next stop was the kitchen and he heard Logan and Cordelia walk past. He poked his head out and motioned them into the kitchen.

“Well, you two clean up almost nicely,” he said, inspecting their clothing choices with

Logan clutched his suspenders with true 1910 pride and managed to look impressed.

“That wardrobe is seriously cool, Doctor.”

“I want so many of the things in it,” Cordelia said, almost squealing. “It's like the
best shopping mall in the universe!”

“It's not a mall,” the Doctor said sternly. “And you're not to go back in unless I say

“You're like the enemy of fun, did anyone ever tell you that?” she asked and stuck out
her tongue at him, swishing her dress as she sat down in a huff. She looked spectacular, the
Tardis even managing to help her hair look somewhat like the style of her supposed era.

“We've got a lot more trouble than clothes,” he said, whipping up a quick shepherd's
pie while he explained Cecily King, tuberculosis, and the Road to Avonlea.
Unsurprisingly, Logan had never heard of it and Cordelia had only caught a few reruns.

“There's no way she'll understand being fictional,” he said, putting some final touches
on top. “There, fit to come from Janet herself. Now, we’ve just got to keep her as healthy as
we can until I figure out what to do with her. I know where and when to send her, but not how
to do it without messing up established events.”

“I still don't understand why fictional events are so important,” Cordelia muttered.

“It's not the show, you megalomaniacal harpy,” Logan said. “It's the world that
watches it. If they're all used to it one way, changing it would be bad.”

“Like you know so much,” Cordelia snorted, but didn't say anything else.

“We settle that?” the Doctor asked, incredibly patiently, he thought. “Good, now come
with me and meet our new guest.”

When they got back to Cecily's room, her eyes were wide with alarm, softening when she
saw the other two in normal clothing and the incredible looking dinner tray that Logan was also
eying enviously.

“Hello,” she said nervously. “Doctor...what's your name, sir?”

“Just the Doctor will do fine,” he said, setting down the tray. “This is Logan and
Cordelia and they're going to be helping me take care of you.”

Cordelia practically oozed sympathy and tact as she sat down and started spooning out
some food.

“I'm so glad you're here with us, Cecily. Do you feel strong enough to eat something?”

“Yes, I think so.” Cordelia helped her sit up and put the tray on her lap so she could
start eating.

“Well,” she said, looking at the men. “Don't just stand there. Go do Doctor-y
things. I've got this.”

They looked at each other and the Doctor sighed, knowing Cecily would probably be more
comfortable with a woman, even one who didn't know a thing about medicine.

They left the room and the Doctor decided to go see if he could do any work on the
Tardis, watching Logan stand alone for a moment before the young man started off in the
direction of the room he'd had only brief time to see and hopefully falling into the bed.


Cecily was a great patient, never complaining, but eating less as time went on. She was coughing up more blood than the Doctor would like and he wracked his brain to decide what to do, feeling how incredibly cruel it was to have so many medical advancements on board the ship and not give them to the long-suffering girl. She wrote a lot of letters to her parents with Cordelia's help, who'd become almost maniacal about helping Cecily. The Doctor didn't throw them away. Logan had taken to wandering the halls outside of Cecily's room, obviously feeling useless. When Cecily was feeling up to it and Cordelia slept under orders, the boy would sit by Cecily's side and tell her jokes, making up letters from her brother to read her, though the Doctor doubted Felix would write about some of the things Logan was writing about.

Once, Logan came to him while he was tinkering with the console and started questioning
him about consumption. After his fumbling and speaking in innuendos for awhile, the Doctor
felt like he should intervene in Logan's obvious discomfort.

“What's your point?” he asked. “You're obviously worked up about something.”

“How dangerous is tuberculosis?” Logan asked. “It's not something we deal with a lot
where I'm from.”

“It was devastating back then, highly contagious, and swept through a lot of good

“Then should...” Logan scuffed his shoes on the floor and then looked up, finally
asking as if annoyed with himself, “should Cordelia be so close with Cecily?

The Doctor looked closely at him and smiled.

“I believe the boy cares,” he said.

“Not as much as you seem to think,” Logan said. “I don't want to die like that either,
you know.”

“Don't worry,” the Doctor said, becoming grim again. “You're safe. The Tardis will
protect you and even if it didn't, I could cure you at first contraction.”

Logan nodded, and went back to the library the Doctor had shown him a few days before
when he'd first started having questions about the disease.

“It takes a terminal illness to get that boy to study,” the Doctor said, turning back
to the Tardis and ignoring his own feelings on the matter.


Cecily had been on the Tardis for a little over a week when they had the argument. Only one other character had come in during that time and was dispatched quickly. Cordelia's common sense had gone missing the longer she spent with Cecily. A mother hen if there ever was one, that girl. Logan had also developed over-protective big brother tendencies. That left the Doctor with the role of bad guy who had to make the tough decisions. Not that he didn't normally have that role, but he absolutely hated it this time.

Cecily was sleeping, actually comfortably, the Doctor having used some advanced
sedatives to help her. They were sitting around her bed and Cordelia was fiercely whispering
about how he needed to do something. It didn't have to be what she thought was right so long
as he did something.

“Would you have me kill her?” the Doctor finally asked openly. “Because that's what
sending her back will do. I've nowhere to send her without doing that and if I let her stay
here, she'll die anyway. I can't cure the disease, I could only ease her. What is it exactly
you want me to do, Cordelia?”

“You can do anything,” she said, several tears falling. “I've seen it.”

“I can't break the rules,” he said. “I'd like to, but I can't.”

“You're a heartless alien,” Logan said. “And I know that's not true, but I don't care
at the moment. Look at her.”

The Doctor didn't need to look at her to see the too brilliant bloom of scarlet in
Cecily's cheeks and the way her lungs struggled to breathe properly. It was painful to watch.

“I know it would be difficult,” Logan said finally. “But maybe we could let her make
the choice by letting her know the truth.”

“I can see how that would go,” the Doctor said. “ ‘Hello girl from the early
nineteenth century, you're not real. You were made up by a nice woman named Lucy Maud
Montgomery who decided to write you with an incurable disease. You're stuck on a spaceship in
the middle of the Vortex of space and time with some other made up time- traveling characters
and an alien who’s got a century on you.’ What do you think she'd say?”

“Probably nothing so sarcastic,” Cordelia said, wiping her eyes with Logan's
handkerchief that seemed to come with the outfit. “I know she'd be scared and wouldn't
understand. I still don't - it just seems wrong to deceive her.”

“I know that,” the Doctor said. “But listen to me, I can't send her home. She's not

“Then how am I here?” Cecily asked without opening her eyes. Cordelia opened her
mouth, but the Doctor hushed her with a look.

“Do you want to know the truth, Cecily? Will you believe me no matter how strange it

“I don't know,” she asked. “I don't understand this place, but I've seen from the
beginning it was not the sanitarium. I see a lot more than people think I do.”

“I bet you do, sweetheart,” Cordelia said, smoothing the covers around her.

“I learned a lot by listening to my brother and sister and cousins,” Cecily said,
sitting up further. “It helps to pay attention. And your differences cannot be explained by
being a Yankee. You talk of things I cannot imagine. And you're not even real.”

“I am,” the Doctor said. “But they aren't and you, you're fictional.”

“From a book?”

“Originally,” he said. “A wonderful book, Cecily and you're loved and golden in it.
And you might not be as appreciated as you could be in other mediums, but you're very important
and your family loves you very much.”

“I know that,” she said, beginning to cough again. “They mean very well and I love
them too. But I'm going to die.”

“No-” Cordelia began, but the Doctor stopped her.

“Yes. I can't help you with that. I wish I could. But you've heard enough to know
there are rules I have to follow. I can't just heal you when you're supposed to be sick. And
on the program - it's like a magic lantern show, only far greater - you come to the sanitarium
and when they talk about you again, well, it's not you anymore but somebody else playing you.
Do you understand?”

“A little bit,” she answered. “It's rather confusing and it scares me.”

The Doctor hugged her gingerly.

“I know, little one, but you're doing well.”

“Does my family know?” she asked. “About it not being me?”

“No, they think it's you and they go on loving you and you get well and strong and take
care of your horses and one day you'll take care of the farm.” The Doctor was going a bit off
canon there, but he didn't care.

“It's still me,” she said. “And I get well?”

“Healed,” he said. “It won't be perfect and I'd give Janet King a kick if I were the
new you.”

She smiled.

“Mother is very overwhelming sometimes when it comes to us.”

“Mothers are,” he agreed. “Wonderful creatures. Now, what do you want to do, Cecily?”

“If I stay here?” she asked. “Will I die?”

The Doctor nodded, ignoring Logan and Cordelia's angry looks.

“But there will be a new me that my family can love and will get healed?”


“Then I want to stay here. Because if you send me back and I know you want to, Doctor,
I can see it, then I'll die anyway and they'll be unhappy. I want them to be happy.”

“You blessed child,” the Doctor said. “Alright, Cecily. We'll do it your way.”

“You can't,” Cordelia cried. “You can't let her die.”

“I can't heal her,” he said, snapping at her. “I could give her more life, but at what
quality? Would you have her suffer even more? Stop being so selfish.”

Cordelia just stared at him, then bowed her head and turned to Cecily.

“Do you really understand what you're doing?” she asked softly.

Cecily took her hand.

“I don't know who you are, but you've been so kind to me. I want to do this. It will
be okay."

“Giving up, huh?” Logan asked with a wry smile. Cecily shook a weak finger at him.

“And you, you would give Felix a run for his money. But I think you would be friends.
And I thank you for being him for me.”

“No problem,” Logan choked out. Cecily turned to the Doctor.

“That book you mentioned, do you have it?”

“Got every book,” he said, winking at her. “Would you like me to read it to you?”

“I would like that.”

So the Doctor got out The Story Girl and The Golden Road and read it out loud to his make-believe charges. They read it for a few weeks while Cecily got weaker. The Doctor had to deal with a few emergencies in the meantime, but despite how fond she was of Cordelia and Logan, Cecily would only have the Doctor read to her. She seemed to like it, asking questions and making astute observations about the changes, subtle or otherwise. She mourned the loss of her Aunt Hetty and relished the comradeship of the little troupe of children. When he finished the last page, she smiled and said she'd like to have a nap. The next morning she was gone.

The Doctor wrapped her up gently and he and Logan carried her to the
Tardis doors where they sent her out to float among all of time and space. Cordelia's expression was very hard when the act was done, but she did not berate the Doctor again. Logan took her hand without saying anything and Cordelia didn't protest.

The Doctor stood, unblinking, looking into the Vortex for what felt like
an eternity and only five minutes.

“I'm the lord of space and time,” he whispered, knowing they could hear
him. “All of Gallifrey lives on in me and yet I can't save one human child from
making the choice for her own death.”

Cordelia went forward to him and, without letting go of Logan's hand, put
her arm on the Doctor's and leaned her head on his shoulder, shutting her eyes
against the glory of the Vortex.


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