: I'm glad you're all so worked up about Elizabeth. I love it when my readers have such a strong emotional investment in my stories. And you'll get more about Elizabeth as a character as the story goes on.
I'd like to add, really quickly, that Anya is insanely fun to write. I didn't realize how much fun she was to write for until this story, but she's just great!
The moment Angel entered the house, Anya nearly pounced on him. "Angel, you said that it would work," Anya told him. "You said if I was straightforward and repentant, he wouldn't wipe me out of history. But now he knows I'm here, and he knows I used to be a vengeance demon, and he doesn't sound very forgiving."
Angel surveyed the Scoobies, who had huddled around the Doctor. They now seemed quite concerned about him, icing up his bruises and arranging him so he was comfortable on the couch.
"What happened, earlier?" Angel asked.
"Elizabeth came up to us," said Willow, "and she said we had to fight this evil monster, and then the Doctor showed up and it all went sort of crazy, and…" Willow shrugged. "Then you came."
"And you all hated him that much, that you just stood around and watched Spike beat him senseless, without doing anything to help him?" Angel asked. "Elizabeth has a reason to hate him. What's yours?"
"He wants to kill me," Anya put in.
Tara frowned. "I don't think he ever actually said that."
"I thought he did," said Xander. He stepped away from his spot beside the couch. "In fact, why are we even helping him, now? Shouldn't we be throwing him out of the house?"
"He didn't say he wanted to get rid of Anya," said Willow. "He just said he thought he'd gotten rid of the vengeance demons."
"So why didn't you do anything?" Dawn asked them.
Tara, Willow, Anya, Xander, and Giles all looked at one another.
"I don't know," Willow admitted. "I just… didn't think of it."
"Neither did I," said Tara.
"It's rather odd, isn't it?" said Giles. "But the thought never occurred to me, either."
"Well, we were probably just in shock," said Xander. "I mean, Spike could punch the Doctor without the chip activating. That makes the Doctor evil, right?"
"Not necessarily," said Tara. "The Initiative would have programmed the chip to only recognize humans. Good humans are just the same as evil humans. Good demons are the same as evil demons, and good aliens are the same as evil aliens."
"Where's Elizabeth?" asked Willow. "Is she all right?"
"She's fine," said Angel. "She's trying to cool down. She's had some bad experiences with the Doctor." Angel shook his head. "And after the last thing I found out, it's going to be harder than ever to get her not to kill him."
"What last thing?" asked Willow.
"The Doctor," said Angel, "murdered Elizabeth's mother."
Everyone looked at everyone else.
"Mom?" Dawn asked. "But she wasn't murdered. She had that tumor thing."
"In this timeline," said Angel.
"Ah, I see," said Giles, getting up from his spot by the couch, his brow furrowing in thought. "In this world, Joyce died of natural causes, but things are a little different in Elizabeth's world. It could be that, in Elizabeth's world, Joyce was murdered."
"The two timelines are linked," Angel explained. "I don't understand how or why, but I know that every time a big event happens in one, the other struggles to catch up. And Joyce… died very quickly and suddenly, in this timeline."
"You really think the Doctor murdered Joyce?" asked Willow.
"I have to," said Angel. "It makes sense. And Elizabeth is usually right about these sorts of things."
And all the Scoobies could remember the way that Buffy had reacted, when she'd first thought that someone was after her mom. The way she'd said she'd find whoever it was, hunt him down, and kill him.
"I'm starting to feel less bad about the beating up thing, now," said Xander. "I mean… Buffy would have actually killed him for something like that."
"Or worse," Dawn said.
"Maybe Elizabeth was right all along," said Willow. "Buffy would have done exactly the same thing."
Tara nodded, and Giles gave a vague murmur of agreement.
"Great!" said Anya. "So we're going to kill him, and no one will get erased from history!"
Angel gave a small sigh. "We can't kill him. For a large number of reasons."
There was a groan from the couch, and a sign of movement.
"Guys, he's waking up," Dawn called out.
Everyone turned to the Doctor, who snapped his eyes open. He looked around himself, at all the different faces, with hazy brown eyes. "Blimey, that hurt," he complained, as he sat up.
"You okay?" asked Dawn.
"Been better," he said.
Anya opened her mouth to ask about Elizabeth's mother, but Xander, noticing the danger, clapped a hand over Anya's mouth. "Don't upset the scary alien," he whispered to her.
The Doctor peered at the Scoobies around him, his eyes looking lost, confused, clouded. "The other — Buffy. You said…?"
Everyone looked at everyone else.
"I'm terribly sorry," said Giles. "But Buffy is dead."
"Right, yes, got that bit," the Doctor confirmed. "But when you say dead, how dead would that be? Temporal stasis dead? Brain-dead vegetable dead? Intensive care dead? Stuck in another universe dead?"
"We can show you where she's buried," Tara offered.
The Doctor said nothing for a long moment. "Ah." He rested his hands on his knees, and stared at nothing, his face completely blank.
"But, on the plus side," said Anya, "we do have a robot. And we have Elizabeth."
The Doctor jumped to his feet. "Quite right," he said. "Elizabeth is here. Elizabeth shouldn't be here. And that means we haven't a moment to lose. I've been using my TARDIS to stabilize this timeline as a stopgap solution, eliminate the temporal quakes, but it won't work forever. As soon as the temporal quakes reach a certain magnitude, the TARDIS won't be able to hold them back. Entire years or even centuries might be unwritten from the universe." He paused, then looked at Anya. "Sorry, you are?"
"No one you need to delete from time!" Anya insisted.
"She's human," Xander confirmed. "One hundred percent human. And she's very, very nice, and wouldn't harm a fly, and she is extremely sorry about the things she's done in the past."
"Oh, yes, you're the vengeance demon!" the Doctor said.
"Former," Anya supplied.
The Doctor's lips quirked into a vaguely amused smile. "You tried to change something you shouldn't, didn't you?"
"I didn't know that you were close to Buffy when I came here," Anya snapped. "If I'd known she was friends with a Time Lord, I'd never have gone anywhere near her."
The Doctor stuffed his hands into his pockets. "And that's the only reason you wouldn't have wanted to harm her, then, is it?" he asked, his eyes boring into her own.
"Anya's been trying to help us," Willow chimed in, "to do a temporal fold and get Elizabeth back to her world. You know, so we could save the universe. But when we tried it, the timeline was—"
"Time locked," the Doctor said, breaking eye contact with Anya. "I know. I was the one who put the lock there in the first place. And if you break it, the time skips will be the least of your problems, believe me."
"Sorry; what, precisely, is a Time Lock?" Giles asked.
"We'll fill you in, later," Willow told him.
"You're the one who made the mega lock?" Anya asked the Doctor. She seemed impressed. "You know, that's a pretty vengeance demony thing to do. Locking your ex-girlfriend out of time."
The Doctor looked at her, his clever eyes trying to work her out. "Sorry?"
"Well, you and Elizabeth obviously had a thing, right?" asked Anya. "I mean, I don't know what Time Lords call it, but you guys were definitely a couple. Trust me, I've seen enough terrible breakups to know what's really going on. You guys were dating, you broke her heart and destroyed her and stuff. Elizabeth, the innocent victim, decided she hated you, and now she's trying to kill you out of revenge. Most relationships end in a bloodbath."
Xander tried to clap a hand over Anya's mouth again, or just nudge her to get her to stop talking, but Anya pushed him away.
"Do they, now?" asked the Doctor.
"Well, yeah," said Anya. "And I should know. That kind of thing is a vengeance demon buffet." She paused. "When there isn't a Time Lord involved."
"Which is why it's good that Anya's not even remotely a vengeance demon anymore!" Xander put in. "And… did we mention the sorry thing?"
"You think another vengeance demon is going to jump out at Elizabeth, grant her wish, and destroy the world?" Angel asked the Doctor.
The Doctor gave Anya another thoughtful glance. Then he grinned, and look back at Angel. "Nah," he said. "Elizabeth's a trans-temporal, bilocational anomaly. Any temporally aware being worth its salt should know to stay away from her."
"Didn't get any of that," said Xander.
"Elizabeth and Buffy are part of two timelines that have been fused together," the Doctor explained. "The moment that Buffy jumped into that portal, she connected this timeline with the other one — along her own time-stream, essentially. Across the past, present, and future, any major event that happens to Buffy in this timeline happens to Elizabeth in the other one, and vice versa." He examined them all. "Don't tell me you haven't noticed."
"How, precisely, do you mean?" asked Giles.
"You mean like the Master?" asked Willow. "Because Elizabeth said she knew the Master. And I thought the Hellmouth didn't exist in her world, so how could she have known him?"
"She did," said the Doctor. "Not a vampire, though, in that timeline. The Master. Hypnotic Time Lord friend of mine — well, I say friend. More like enemy. He was trapped in the Eye of Harmony, and tried to use Elizabeth to get out. Nearly killed her, doing it."
"Oh," said Willow. "I… think I get that."
"Met the Mayor, too," the Doctor said. "Richard Wilkins. Way back in 1851, of course, but, well, still the same bloke you lot faced a few years ago. Wanted to use me to gain immortality so he could turn into a giant snake in 150 years. Seems Wilkins doesn't get any less crazy over time." He paused, and looked over at Dawn. "Although… you didn't happen in the other timeline. Glory, the Key — none of that happened in the other timeline. Seems you're unique, Dawn Summers. What do you think about that?" He gave Dawn a dazzling smile, and a wink.
The Scoobies all swarmed around Dawn, trying to make sure they could leap in and protect her, just in case the Doctor tried anything. Dawn crossed her arms, and tried to give them a defiant glare.
"Doctor," said Angel, trying to draw the Doctor's attention away from Dawn. "Can you get Elizabeth back?"
The Doctor turned on his heel to face Angel, and scratched the back of his neck. "Well, technically speaking, it's impossible," he said. He grinned. "But lucky for you, I'm quite good at impossible."
"She's going to try to kill you," said Angel. "And I don't know if the possibility of my death is going to be enough to stop her."
The Doctor's cheerful expression drained off his face, and he looked solemn and serious. He strode towards the front door. "Then I suppose I'd better hurry," he said, as he left the house.