: Hurray! Someone finally stands up for the Doctor!
I just want to point out - parallels. Look for parallels. I'm planting them all over.
Actually, on second thought, maybe I should just say, when you read this section, think. Think really, really, really hard. Think through everything you know, everything you've heard, everything that might be at all relevant. Because the next section, you're going to start getting answers. And not all of those answers are going to be correct.
The Doctor was still on the couch, unconscious, when Elizabeth walked through the door. The Scoobies all stood in front of him, in the living room, watching her as she entered. Elizabeth examined all the angry faces surrounding her.
"Something wrong?" she asked.
The Scoobies moved aside, to reveal the Doctor.
Elizabeth looked him over. Her expression didn't change from the steady, determined countenance she'd worn before. Then she turned to Angel. "I wasn't actually going to kill him," she said.
"Weren't you?" asked Angel.
"No," Elizabeth insisted. "He's fine. Not even that badly injured — for him, at least. I've seen him way worse." She gave a half-shrug. "Besides. You know I won't kill him. For one, I don't want to kill you, and for two, I need him to fix the time jumps." Her eyes skimmed across the room, and for the first time, her lips quirked down into a frown. "Wait. Where's Dawn?"
"Why do you want to know?" Willow asked.
Elizabeth's eyes widened, and she started pushing through the Scoobies, looking around her, frantically. "Dawn? Dawn!"
Dawn popped her head out of the kitchen, and Elizabeth breathed a sigh of relief.
"Thank God," said Elizabeth. She ran over, and put her hands on Dawn's shoulders. "Dawn. No matter what happens, stay away from the Doctor. Don't even let him speak to you. The Doctor doesn't have to touch you to kill you. All he has to do is start talking, and by the end, you'll want to kill yourself for him. You got that?"
Willow mouthed the words, "kill yourself for him," still looking slightly dazed.
"Um, is this little exchange just for exclusive members, or can anyone join in?" asked Xander.
Elizabeth spun around. "The Doctor wants to kill Dawn," she explained. "That's why I had to get him out of the way. I found the extra Vamp-Away in his pockets, and used it to make sure he didn't get… you know. Vampirized." She faltered. "Okay, and because I don't like him and it seemed like a really great way to get rid of a huge number of vampires all at once. So sue me."
"Why does the Doctor want to kill Dawn?" asked Xander.
"Why do you think?" said Elizabeth. "The Doctor's got a Lock. Dawn's the Key. To open the Lock, he has to kill Dawn. And before you say that he wouldn't because Dawn's a living person and whatever, let me tell you. The Doctor's done a lot worse to preserve his precious 'Web of Time'." Under her breath, she muttered, "Iphidrin."
"I told you!" said Anya.
Giles fiddled with his glasses. "Yes, well, it's not unheard of," he conceded. "Buffy might have mentioned to me that the Doctor was trying to kill Dawn early last year, and that she stopped him."
"I think he did try," said Dawn. "Because I'm, like, super dangerous and can make the universe fall apart. But that whole thing that happened was kind of… weird. Buffy knocked him out, and I guess she beat him up or something, because after that, he stopped trying to kill me."
"So… that means Buffy was the only thing stopping him from killing Dawn," Tara said.
"And now that Buffy's not around anymore…" Xander cringed.
Everyone else digested this, looking between Elizabeth and the Doctor. Digesting what it told them — that this was exactly what Buffy would have done. That Elizabeth really was right. Anya and Xander began edging away from the couch. Tara caught Willow's hand, trying to lead her away, too, but Willow didn't notice. She was just looking at Elizabeth, a dark expression on her face.
"What else did you say to him?" Willow asked Elizabeth, in a voice so quiet, it was barely above a whisper. It was a voice that was far more cold, far more demanding than any Willow had used before when speaking to Elizabeth.
"Huh?" asked Elizabeth.
"I have a friend," said Willow, "who wanted me to give you an earful for this. So I'm giving you an earful. Because you interrogated him for eight hours. You didn't just talk about Dawn for eight hours! What else did you talk about? What did you try to convince him of?"
Elizabeth's eyes blazed. "What do you think?" she asked. She pointed at the Doctor. "He won't admit the truth! What he's doing to me! To all those other planets and people out there in the universe! What really happened in 2003! That he murdered my mother!"
"Right," said Xander, shifting uneasily. "And it took you eight hours and torture to convince him that he did those things?"
"Torture? I didn't even touch him!" Elizabeth protested. "I only tied him up so he wouldn't hurt me. And we talked."
"In a blown up building, by the Hellmouth," said Willow. "You talked. For eight hours."
"I barely got in a word!" Elizabeth cried. "He did most of the talking."
"Look, Elizabeth, we're not blaming you," said Xander. "We just want to know what's going on. I mean, Anya always says you can convince anyone of anything if you talk long enough, and… eight hours? Kinda long."
"I picked up that skill from him," Elizabeth spat. "You haven't seen the way he talks to people. I'm nothing next to him. Even the First Evil is nothing compared to this guy! When he's talking — really talking — he can make anyone do anything. I should know! He's done it to me!"
"Elizabeth," said Willow, very softly, looking into Elizabeth's furious eyes, trying to understand. "I trusted you."
The ferocity of Elizabeth's expression melted, and she seemed suddenly — tired. Just so very, very tired. "Look," she said. "I know this looks bad. It always does, when the monsters look human. But… he's not human, Will. I know. Everything you're thinking now, about how the Doctor's a good guy and he doesn't deserve it and no one should ever harm him — I've thought that, too. I'd have given my life for him a few years ago. I almost did — more times than you can count."
She looked over at him. "I loved him so much, once," Elizabeth continued. "I thought he was the sweetest, kindest, most wonderful person in the universe. Brave, noble, heroic, willing to throw himself into danger in order to save innocent lives, always wandering around, saving countless worlds. Everything he did was right, everything he did was justified. But then, one day, I just… noticed. What he was doing to me. How he was…" she breathed, a little faster, "…hurting me."
She shuddered, as she turned back to Willow. "Will, he tore me apart from the inside out," Elizabeth told her. "Like I was nothing. His tool, his puppet. His Little Slayer." She clenched her hands into fists by her sides. "I thought… if I left, it would stop. But it never stops. Even now. The Doctor won't ever let it stop."
Willow glanced over at the unconscious Doctor, some of the hardness leaving her face. "Let what stop?" she asked.
"I can't describe it," said Elizabeth. "It started… that first time we kissed. Just after the CPR thing. And ever since then… it's like he's put a monster inside of me, and it's eating me alive. I told him to stop. I asked him so many times. He never admits it. He keeps saying he didn't do anything. But he did! I know he did!"
"He's admitted it to Buffy, since then," said Angel. "He said he was sorry."
"Then why won't he stop it?" asked Elizabeth. "Why's he still doing it? Why does he keep making it worse?" She took a shaky breath. "I just need it to stop. Please. It's killing me."
"Elizabeth, we'll do anything in our power to help you," said Giles. He glanced over at the unconscious Doctor. "But murdering an ensouled creature is not the right way to go about it." He leaned against the desk, and turned back to Elizabeth. "Please, explain to us. What, precisely, is happening to you?"
"I'm fighting," said Elizabeth. "Every single second of every single day. None of you can see it, but I'm single-handedly fighting a never-ending war against the forces of darkness. All the time. Because I know if I don't fight the Doctor, I'll have to give in. And I can't give in. If I let myself go, even for a second… you don't want to know what would happen. I'm tired, Giles. I'm just so tired." Tears sprung into the bottoms of her eyes, like tiny little jewels. "If you knew, if you had any idea what the Doctor wants me to do, you'd help me destroy him. Please. I just want to be myself again. Make the world a better place. That's all I ever wanted."
"And what do you believe the Doctor wants you to do?" asked Giles.
Elizabeth's eyes filled with terror at the very idea. "You don't want to know," she whispered. She shook her head. "Please. I don't want anyone to die! Not even him. But I'm desperate. He's tearing me apart, and I need him to stop."
"Have you tried just asking him?" asked Dawn. "That usually works."
"What do you think I've been doing for the last eight hours?" Elizabeth cried. "He's in denial. He doesn't believe it really happened. I'm dying from the inside out, and he won't help me! I have to kill him, it's the only thing left!"
Giles sighed. "I'm sorry," he said. "We'd like to help, but we can't kill a creature with a soul. It's immoral."
"He may have a soul, but it's an alien soul," said Elizabeth. "Trust me, Giles, I know what I'm talking about. The Doctor will always do what he thinks is right, but his ideas of right and wrong don't match up with ours. They can be… terrifying. Horrifying."
"He fought in the Time War," Dawn protested. "Bad stuff happens in wars. It's not like he had a choice."
"He wasn't in a war when I knew him!" said Elizabeth. "I don't know or care what he did in his war-whatever. I'm talking about what he when I travelled with him. What I saw him do. He doesn't abide by our moral code, Dawn. This one place we visited — Iphidrin — I saw him…" She shuddered. "I couldn't stop him. He started, and he wouldn't stop. And they all died. They died screaming at him for mercy and he just…." She took a few shaky breaths, and tried to get herself back under control. "I've spent so long trying to come to terms with what I saw. What he made me do. His Little Slayer. He made me do so many terrible things, so many horrible, evil things, and I thought they were right. I thought if the Doctor wanted me to do them, I had to be doing the right thing! But… they were wrong. Evil. And I remember what I did. I always remember." She trembled at the memory. "And even when I think maybe I should just forgive the Doctor, move on with my life, I think about what's going to happen in 2003…" She squeezed her eyes shut. "I can't stand by and watch it happen, again. I can't let him kill them all. 38,000 people."
"38,000," Willow repeated, in an emotionless voice.
Elizabeth looked into Willow's eyes. "Listen. Will. If this timeline is linked to my own, if everything I've heard is true, then I know what's coming for you in 2003. I can't let it happen. If I have to die to stop it, then kill me! If he has to die, then kill him! But I can't just wait around and do nothing."
"Hang on," said Xander. "What happened in 2003?"
"In 2003, everyone died," Elizabeth told them. She pointed at the Doctor. "And he killed them. He sacrificed everyone in Sunnydale to preserve his own life. I know. I was there."
Willow shuffled from foot to foot.
Elizabeth noticed Willow's unease. She turned to Angel. "Angel," she said. "In 1905, when I met you, I'd just come back from that. You saw me. You saw the Doctor. Tell them if I'm making it up."
Angel shook his head. "She's not," he said. "The Doctor practically confessed it."
Elizabeth turned back to Willow. "In his mind, he's a hero," she said. "He has to be, because if he ever faced up to the truth, it would destroy him completely. He lies to himself. Over and over again. I've seen him do it before."
"He also blames himself for a lot of things that aren't his fault," said Willow.
Elizabeth nodded. "I know," she said. "Because it's easier to blame himself for the crimes of others than it is to blame himself for his own crimes. It's all an elaborate façade, one he's convinced himself is real. All I've been doing is trying to make him see the truth. If I don't do it, Will, he's going to pick you off, one by one. He's taken away everything I ever had in the other timeline. And now he's moving on to this one. Starting with my family."
"But… Joyce is already dead in this timeline," said Tara.
"Dawn isn't," said Elizabeth, looking over to Dawn.
"You know," said Xander, "the first person the Doctor wanted, when we found him earlier tonight, was Dawn. And he might have been too weak to do anything then, but he was pretty grabby."
"He wouldn't let her go, remember?" asked Tara. "Even when he was unconscious."
Dawn's eyes went wide. "He told me I was the most dangerous girl in the universe," she said. "And then he said he was so, so sorry. That's what he always tells people right before he kills them, isn't it?"
Elizabeth turned back to Willow, who still looked dubious. "Wills, please," she said. "You have to believe me. I'm not just saying this. I know what I'm talking about. He did it on Iphidrin, and he'll do it here."
Willow hesitated. She looked back at the unconscious Doctor. "Buffy believed in him," she insisted.
Elizabeth let go of Dawn, and walked over to the Doctor. Angel stepped in between Elizabeth and the Doctor, placing his hands on her shoulders.
"I don't think that's a good idea," said Angel.
"I'm not going to hurt him," said Elizabeth. "But I need to prove it. I need to prove to you guys that he really is what I keep saying he is."
"Please, Angel," said Elizabeth. "I won't even touch him. I promise."
Angel looked into Elizabeth's eyes, then gave a small sigh, and moved out of the way.