jesterladyfic: (Default)
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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 www.tvtropes.com and all of the chapter titles are a play on tropes found there. Written for the [livejournal.com profile] scifibigbang 2011.
A/N: Many thanks to my beta, [livejournal.com profile] exmanhater and to [livejournal.com profile] rainyrocket for her artwork.





Chapter Six: The Resolution Will Not Be Televised


The Doctor fiddled with the console a little more than necessary. At that particular moment he wanted nothing more than to be alone in his Tardis and away from the prying eyes of Cordelia Chase. It had only been two days since they'd lost Cecily and in that time Cordelia had hovered around him as if on suicide watch. She'd been short-tempered and fought with Logan constantly, who also seemed to be on edge. Maybe they were discovering life onboard the Tardis wasn't all fun and games. He could and had told them that, but the silly humans had been too busy having fun with the wonders of space and time travel. It was really too unfortunate considering he'd been getting used to them and their idiosyncrasies. No, they were much better off leaving now if he could only figure it out.

“Marvello time?” he asked, gesturing toward the door.

“Finally,” Logan said, almost running toward the door. Cordelia followed and if the
Doctor's hearts sank a little, he wasn't admitting anything, thank you kindly.

“Carefully,” he snapped, coming after them.

Marvello was a red hot planet with a nasty smell in the air and way too much volcanic
rock for anyone's liking. The inhabitants had been forced to evacuate over fifty years prior
due to the gradual pull of the sun making it unlivable. It was surprising and yet obvious that
the Trikini would take up residence there. Short term exposure would be preferable.

But when the Doctor stepped outside the Tardis he found it approximately forty degrees
cooler than it should have been. They had landed in the middle of a city and there were
Marvellians. Real Marvellians, not Trikini. He bounded over to the nearest and accosted them,
ignoring his companions.

“What year is it?”

The answer annoyed him as much as the sneer that accompanied it. Marvellians were
ridiculously snobby. Their orange noses could be looked down with astonishing alacrity despite
their lack of height. He'd miscalculated when bringing them here and they were about a hundred
years too early for when the Trikini would be here. Nothing to do but gather his companions
and try again. He started to explain it to them when there was a massive explosion that threw
them all to the ground.

“What the hell?” Logan shouted, crawling over to the Doctor. The Marvellians were
running around like chickens with their heads cut off and the Doctor had never thought an
expression so apt, considering the short, squat figure of a Marvellian.

“We're here too early,” he said, as another explosion rocked the street. “We should

leave.”

“We have to help them,” Cordelia said, looking at him with extreme disapproval. He
couldn't have cared less, really. She got up and started to examine prone forms lying around.
What she thought she could do, he didn't know, but he admired her compassion. At least she
hadn't started running toward the explosion.

The Doctor was rather curious about that himself, actually, so he stealthily made his
way toward the center of the disturbance, bringing Logan and Cordelia along behind him. What
he saw astonished him – a black robe, long, blue streaked hair, a red molecular dissolver and
steel gloved hands. The tall figure had his back to him, but the Doctor wasn't so well-versed
in every single fictional program ever for nothing and thus, he recognized Rachini the
Devourer. Unfortunately, it wasn't only good people who were being affected by this trope
business.

“We should not be seen,” he hissed behind him.

“That one of our syndrome victims?” Logan asked, sensibly keeping very quiet. The
hysterical cries of Marvellians helped to mask their presence.

“A nasty one,” the Doctor confirmed. “The arch nemesis of the Dragon King on the
program of the same name.”

“Arch Nemesis?”

Dragon King, keep up. That's a rough translation of course. It's broadcast in
the Stein Galaxy. This man is very bad. You know how they like to give villains sympathy
back-stories? Not this one. He was born evil, is evil, and will die evil.”

“Then this is part of our problem and we can't just come back in whatever number of
years?”

“Got it in one, Logan.”

“Fine, what's the plan?”

“I'll let you know when I come up with one,” the Doctor said, his mind racing. His
considerable mind, that is. Before he could finalize his thoughts, there was another explosion
and the sound of guns. Before his eyes, the Middleman and Wendy Watson aimed their weapons on Rachini and opened fire.

“No, no,” he shouted. “That's no good. It won't work.”

He was right, as usual, when Rachini simply pushed a few buttons on his wrist and
vanished from sight, leaving some bewildered Middlemen behind, diving out of the way of a vast
explosion aimed directly at them. They picked themselves off the ground gingerly.

“What the f-” Wendy started to say when the Doctor cut her off.

“Stop that,” he said. “You're going to get yourself killed and until I know when you
come from, that would be very bad.”

Wendy just stared at him and the Middleman put out an assuring hand.

“Thank you for your concern, sir, but I'm going to have to ask you to stand back. The
situation is under control.”

“None of your useless posturing here,” the Doctor said sharply. “I know who you are
and I know your name, so be quiet and listen to me. The Middlemen and O2STK don't exist here.
You're dealing with things you've no idea how to handle.”

“Crispy fried toads, Dubbie,” the Mdidleman exclaimed. “We are in a parallel
universe. You owe me two glasses of milk.”

“I'm the one who's been to a parallel universe, bossman,” Wendy said. “This is nothing
like that.”

“They're not all the same.”

“Obviously.”

“There are wounded...aliens,” the Middleman said, sheathing his gun. “Personal
concerns take second place to medical needs. I wonder if there's some kind of hospital around
here.”

“Sounds like they're on their way,” Logan said, cocking his head to the sounds echoing
around the panicking city.

“If we stay here, we're gonna be blamed for all this,” the Doctor said. “We should
hide.”

“Nonsense,” the Middleman replied, looking less confident than usual. “We'll simply
explain what happened.”

“I'm with him on this one,” Wendy said, pointing her thumb at the Doctor. “We're not
in Kansas anymore in case you hadn't noticed.”

“Astute, yet obvious, observation,” he said. “Very well. What action do you suggest
we undertake?”

“I think the man already said,” Cordelia said, beckoning them all down an alley.
“Hide!”

They all ran for several minutes and Cordelia's course led them away from the Tardis,
but the Doctor wasn't as concerned about that as getting his hands on some rocksalt. It was
the only thing he could use against the villain. There'd be no talking to this one. There'd
be no sending him home. He didn't even want to. Rachini was responsible for endless
fictional, and now real, suffering.

“So, what's the story with this dude?” Logan asked, jogging alongside the Doctor.

“I already told you.”

“No, what are his strengths, his weaknesses, his backstory, how does his show end, what
trope is he?”

“Classic syndrome,” the Doctor answered. “At the end of series eight he was wounded
and backed into a natural cave formation. He never came back out and the Dragon King never
mentioned him again. It was always thought the producers realized he was too evil to be a good
villain and didn't want to have to deal with him. But I'm guessing not. And that makes our
job very easy.”

“It doesn't matter how you send him back?” Cordelia guessed.

“Nope.”

“Am I to understand that that man is a fictional character?” the Middleman asked,
behind them, not even sounding winded.

“Three guesses as to what you are,” Logan shot back.

“Hold up now,” Wendy said, stopping in her tracks. As they were far enough away from
the disturbance, the Doctor stopped too, figuring they'd get the usual explanations out of the
way. “Are you saying we're not real here?”

“That's right,” the Doctor said. “Out of the five of us, I'm the only real one. These
two come from shows from Earth, just like you. Logan and Cordelia. I'm the Doctor.”

“Just Doctor?” Wendy asked sarcastically, looking curiously at Cordelia as if now
recognizing her.

“That's right again, just the Doctor and I'm the only one who knows how to defeat that
man so I suggest you keep your eager little Sensei Ping trained hands to yourself and not get
in my way.”

“Courtesy isn't all that hard,” the Middleman interjected. “I'll have to ask you to
keep a civil tongue in your head.”

The Doctor rolled his eyes. “Oh, there we are. Heroism at its best, I admit it, but
it's a bit much to take in real life.”

“Doctor, remember that patience thing we talked about?” Cordelia said, pointedly.

“Like you're one to talk,” Logan muttered.

“Pull up a piece of rubble,” the Doctor said, ignoring both his charges. “I'll
explain. Again.”

And he did. The Middleman was somewhat excited and Wendy only a little less so when
the Doctor told them he could send them back home.

“Only, it seems like you're a rather late version of yourselves, if Little Miss
Middleman's clothes here are any indication,” he said. “You wouldn't be going back to a life,
just fandom.”

“We're staying right here until we help you take down that man,” the Middleman said
firmly. “A Middleman has his duty no matter what his existential identity.”

“What he said without all the weird stuff,” Wendy agreed. “But you can send us home
again? Back to horrible, slandering robots and adorable roommates and perfect boyfriends?”

“As much as you're going to get,” the Doctor said.

“Fine, how can we help?”

“Right,” the Doctor said, slapping his hands together. “We couldn't have landed on a
better planet. I bet there's loads of natural rocksalt deposits outside the city. That's
Rachini's only weakness. When he was little and building his first weapon of mass destruction
he got trapped in a mine and acquired an allergy - a rather feeble plot device that is going to
come in real handy. Now, somebody needs to alert the city as to what they're dealing with. I
need to nip back to the Tardis and get some materials to neutralize his wristwatch. He's got
enough armament on that thing to bomb the whole city.”

“Doctor?”

“Yes, Cordelia, now what is it?”

“Shouldn't we find out where he is?”

“Again, I need the Tardis for that. I can trace him through the watch. But I need to
do it fast, so any more stupid questions?”

“Yeah, I got one,” Wendy asked. “You always have that stick up your ass?”

The Doctor hid a smile.

“Watch it, Dub-Dub,” he said. “Now, you and Cordelia run along outside the city, head southwest. I'll bet you three glasses of milk you'll find rocksalt there. Take that wheelbarrow thing lying over there.”

“That doesn't belong to us,” the Middleman objected.

“They can put it back when they're done,” the Doctor said. “We've got devastation and
mayhem here.”

“You're right,” the Middleman said, “but need is no motive for theft.”

“I'll bear that in mind. Now, you and Logan go present yourself to the city council.
Take this,” he said, throwing Logan the psychic paper. “Tell them you're intergalactic cops or
whatever lame excuse you normally use and get them to not arrest us on sight. Have them issue
alerts for everyone to stay in their homes.”

“There some reason why I'm doing the heavy labor?” Cordelia asked.

“Come on, crybaby,” Wendy said, shouldering past her. Cordelia's eyes narrowed and the
Doctor was glad he wouldn't be around to see that catfight.

“Will you be all right?” the Middleman asked Wendy.

“Yes, yes. Remember I can take care of myself. I've got it.”

“Yes, I'll be fine too,” Cordelia said, glaring at Logan.

“I never had a doubt,” he said, smirking. He fumbled in his pocket, pulling out his
cell phone which the Doctor had upgraded several weeks prior and tossed it to her.

“And whom exactly am I supposed to call?” she asked.

“I bet MiddleHero here or MiddleGirl has one.”

“Here,” the Doctor said, grabbing Wendy's phone out of her hand as she pulled it out
and sonic-ed it quickly. Cordelia tossed Logan's phone back to him and they all went their
separate ways.


***

“So, give it to me straight,” Wendy said as they jogged. “Who is that guy?”

“You don't even want to know his issues,” Cordelia answered. “Trust me. It's like
Angel on steroids and that isn't pretty either.”

“I do know you,” Wendy said. “I never really watched Angel, but I've been a
Buffy fan for way back.”

“That's way too weird, even for me,” Cordelia said, shaking her head. “I feel like an
insect under a magnifying glass just talking to the Doctor. I never saw your show, it was
after my time, I guess. Let's leave it at that.”

“Whatever,” Wendy said. “Let's just get this incredibly stupid salt.”

“So stupid,” Cordelia agreed, detracting her desire to see this other woman obliterated
into tiny fictional pieces. She had enough going on without starting a rivalry over who was
Queen Bee in the Testosterone Poisoned Hive.

They made their way outside the city with a wheelbarrow and Cordelia had never wished
for her old convertible more. It was rough terrain and despite her daily workouts, she was
hurting by the time they reached somewhere Wendy declared rocksalt-heavy. She used a very
cheesy skull-covered device to do so, but Cordelia wasn't going to argue with the chick from an
obviously tech-heavy show.

“Let's get loading.”

They worked in silence for awhile before they felt awkward and exchanged the mindless,
social questions people asked at such a time. Not that said people were usually hauling
rocksalt to stop a power-mad villain when those times occurred, but Cordelia would take her
normality when she could these days.

Cordelia relaxed more and more as Wendy explained how she'd been recruited by the
Middleman, and worked with a secret identity and a cranky librarian robot and barely got time
to see her best friend and boyfriend anymore.

“Your show sounds a lot happier than mine,” Cordelia commented. Wendy had been doing a
lot more of the talking since she already knew most of Cordelia's history.

“It's a good life. I'm really lucky. But it can get dicey and it's tricky doing the
darting into phone booths thing.”

“Trust me when I say,” Cordelia assured her, “that secret identities are way
overrated. Practically everyone in the world knows Buffy's little secret. And I don't know
anyone in LA who isn't aware of what Angel does.”

“It's a Middleman thing,” Wendy said. “He takes the whole identity thing very
secretly. I don't even know his name.”

“I get it, I do.” Cordelia straightened up and wiped sweat off her forehead. It was
way too hot to be doing this kind of thing. “But I'm just saying that the people close to you
who aren't total idiots deserve to know. Don't start broadcasting it on the streets, but your
best friend and boyfriend are going to find out. It's like the fictional law of secret
identities, and it's going to be messy when they realize you didn't tell them. That's all I'm
saying.”

“I believe you,” Wendy said. “I think about that kind of stuff a lot. I'm pretty much
just bound by my Middleman oath at the moment. Not that I actually swore an oath or anything.”

“I bet your boss did, or made one up so he could.” Wendy laughed.

“I bet he did. Something your boss would never do judging from his attitude.”

“Firstly, he's not my boss. Secondly, something's off with him,” Cordelia said.
“Don't ask me what, but something bad happened with his planet and there was some kind of war
and he holds himself responsible and believe me when I tell you that he should be in some kind
of counseling. We had someone die recently and I keep expecting him to snap, you know?”

“And we're taking orders from this guy?”

“Don't get me wrong, he's a genius and he knows things I can't even imagine, but he's
got survivor's guilt or PTSD or something.”

“I'll watch out for that then.” Wendy stood up and stretched. “You ready to blow this
salt stand?”

“You want first turn or shall I?” Cordelia returned. Wendy's face frowned as she
looked back down at the loaded wheelbarrow.

“Oh, phooey.”


***


Logan was having a hard time keeping up with the Middleman. A lifetime of surfing and drinking coupled with a month of running around with the Doctor did not serve to help him keep up with the comic book type hero who was also an ex-Navy Seal, as the man informed him. He did his best and he got a chance to rest when they'd finished dealing with the local politicians who had, understandably, taken a lot of convincing. That was where the Middleman's skills had really come into play and Logan didn't think the Doctor could have done better. In fact, he'd probably have done worse, especially with how on edge he'd been since Cecily died.

Logan didn't even want to deal with that. In fact, what he wanted to do was go home,
somehow convince Veronica to take him back and get lost in her forever. She was the only
person who'd ever understood him, even though she was also the only person who never accepted
him as he was. He was a bonafide masochist, but he'd accepted that a long time ago. He was
willing to take a little hardship to gain the greater good, and he knew Veronica was that
greater good. He'd felt it in his bones ever since she'd kissed him at the Camelot. But
instead of that happening, he was on an alien planet with alien villains and strange heroes and
the Doctor. And it had been exciting at first and it still was, but now he feared he was in
over his depth and the Doctor might just cast him further out to sea.

How he had the mental capability to think about all this, and answer the Middleman's
probing questions and dodge accusations from the resident aliens, he would never know. But the
human brain was an amazing thing, even the Doctor acknowledged that. Logan wondered if he
might be going crazy.

“A fascinating idea,” the Middleman mused. “You say the dimensional proportions of the
inside are inordinately larger than the outside? I would love to see it.”

“Most fictional characters end up doing just that,” Logan told him. “The Doctor always
seems to be at the center of anything weird.”

“I know the feeling,” the Middleman said, actually patting Logan reassuringly on the
back. “It's a hard life fighting evil. But it's well worth it.”

“I'll take your word for it,” Logan said, restraining from rolling his eyes.

“Well, Mr. Echolls, it appears we should be getting back to your interesting friend.
The alien authorities are informed and ready to deal with the situation, and now it's up to us
to stop this fiend.”

“Your back-story must be an amazing thing to behold,” Logan said, jogging to keep up.

“I wouldn't know, having never been privy to seeing it myself. But what I do know of
myself is important to me. Why wouldn't it be? A purely rhetorical question, mind you.”

“Uh huh,” Logan said, going faster.

“You're quite adept at this kind of thing,” the Middleman said, almost with
admiration. “A great Middleman-in-training.”

“I wouldn't let your girl-child hear you say that,” Logan said. “She seems awfully
confident. And possessive.”

“She's a true whiz-kid, that one,” the Middleman said proudly. “We've been through
quite a lot. Which reminds me, I need to record a Code 47 for her. You don't mind, do you?”

“Uh, no?” Logan said, confused.

“Good man.” The Middleman stopped in the middle of the road and Logan leaned back
against a wall, glad for a reprieve. The Middleman started speaking into his watch.

“Wendy, if you're watching this, then we have failed in our attempt to stop the
fictional villain, Rachini the Devourer. I hope you fared better in our battle. By now, if he
has not destroyed the alien planet Marvello and our new friends, the Doctor, Mr. Echolls and
Miss Chase, Rachini will have been put down by your joined efforts. I know you'll have done me
proud. I suggest you seek the aid of the Doctor and figure out a way to get home where Ida
will have all the particulars necessary to promote you to full Middleman. Perhaps Mr. Ford
could become your new Middleman in training, although, I warn you, Dubbie, office romances can
often come back to kick you in the pants. Still, I trust your judgment and I know you'll do
your duty to the end. It's been a privilege and an honor to serve with you.”

Logan simply stared for a moment as the Middleman clicked some buttons on his watch.

“You do that often?”

“Every mission. You'll see this gets to Wendy should I suddenly become molecularly
dissolved, won't you?”

“Sure,” Logan said. “I'll be sure and give her your undying love. That and the
molecularly dissolved watch.”

“That's perfect. Now, let's get back to the Doctor and let him know we're legal and
set to go.”

“I'm not sure legality is his first priority,” Logan murmured.

“You seem upset. Is there anything I can do?”

“No offense, but you're just as fictional as I am and just as far from home.”

“Homesickness, huh?” The Middleman's eyes started to look far off. “I know the
feeling. There's nothing quite like bunking in your own home. It puts your equilibrium off to
be anywhere else. But you're young and this is quite exciting.”

“Home's exciting enough for me. Being arrested every other week and having a
rapist/murderer movie star father is enough notoriety for me.”

“Well, that does sound rather strenuous. Perhaps this could be more like a vacation?”

“A vacation where I’m on the run from comic book villains with guns and china
shepherdess figurines pop up every other day? Besides, it's the Doctor. At home I know the
darkness, half of the time it's me. Here, I understand nothing, and he's rather unpredictable.”

“I'm afraid I can't advise you, son.” Logan's head snapped up at that. The man was
what? Ten years older than him? “But my gut tells me the Doctor's okay. He's a hero and
sometimes a hero has to make the hard decisions. That won't make you miss home any less, but
at the end of the day, I hope you know you're in good company.”

“Uh, thanks,” Logan said, deciding it was useless to talk to the noble, morality-driven
man with the most ridiculous jacket he'd ever seen. The man's words resounded in his head, but
it was still useless to talk to him.

They'd arrived near to where the Tardis was and Logan spotted the Doctor's telltale
leather jacket. He was rummaging around behind the Tardis and fiddling with several
mechanical, technical, alien things that Logan had no clue as to what they were. Before he
could let the Doctor know he was back, he felt his phone go off and knew it could only be one
person.

“Logan,” Cordelia's voice screeched through the phone, “find the Doctor and get over
here fast! He's here! We're-”

Her voice cut off and Logan found himself staring at the phone, more concerned than
he'd ever thought he'd be for her.

“Doctor!” he called, his first instinct, as was obviously hers no matter their
concerns, to get the help of the alien who always seemed to have the answer.

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