Chapter Twenty One
: If you think this is a jip, you have to remember that 2003 still doesn't make sense, yet.
"Exactly," said Elizabeth. "No power source. That thing hasn't been working the entire time I've been here. All that stuff you did — not defending the Doctor, rallying for support in fighting off the monsters, this notebook whatever — that was you. I had nothing to do with any of it."
"But… we would have helped the Doctor, if we'd been not-mind-controlled," said Tara.
"Then why didn't you?" asked Elizabeth.
Xander had a slightly guilty expression on his face. "Okay, if no one else wants to admit it, I will," he said. "I didn't help, because I was afraid of him. There. I said it."
The others all looked down at their feet, a little embarrassed.
"You are kind of terrifying, sometimes," Willow admitted to the Doctor. "And anyways, Buffy — I mean, Elizabeth — sort of… you know." She shrugged.
A spark of understanding dawned in the Doctor's eyes. As if he'd just put the last puzzle piece in, and could see what was truly going on. Then he turned back to Elizabeth, resuming his previous seriousness. "I know that device was active before," he said. "I felt it. There was
a power source."
"Of course it was active when you touched it!" Elizabeth said. "It's feeding off of you. You're
the power source!" She gave an annoyed sigh. "Don't you get it, Doctor? I keep telling you, over and over again. I don't want to control mass numbers of people." She glared at the Doctor. "Just one person."
"What?" cried the Doctor. "You used me as the power source? How?"
"How do you think?" said Elizabeth. "I learned a lot when I was with you. This thing's powered by temporal radiation. And you're covered with it." She folded her arms. "I'm not evil, you know. Yeah, I was trying to trick you, but I wasn't going to hurt anyone else. If you'd done what you were planning, tried to deactivate the device, you'd have locked it on yourself. The only people that could have even been affected were you and me. After all, we're the only ones who've travelled through time."
"You were trying to mind-control me? With that?" The Doctor pointed at the device. "That sort of mind control device wouldn't even dent the sides of a Time Lord psyche! To fully control my mind, you'd need a device at least the size of…" He trailed off, a growing horror on his face. "Sunnydale."
Elizabeth raised her eyebrows at him, pointedly.
"But… wait, why would you need to brainwash the Doctor to change your own future?" asked Dawn. "If you wanted to change your own future, why didn't you just do it yourself?"
"She couldn't," said the Doctor, his voice quiet and flat. "2003 was a paradox. By witnessing Future-her's actions, Past-her became Future-her. She created herself. It's a fundamental part of the Web of Time. That's why Elizabeth's arrival here was causing so many problems. Elizabeth has to be in the other timeline, in Sunnydale, in 2003. Twice. There's nothing anyone can do to change that."
"Says you," said Elizabeth. "Time Lords have all sorts of ways to deal with paradoxes. But he wouldn't use them. Not to save 38,000 lives. Not to stop himself from killing everyone in Sunnydale. He wanted to make sure it happened. He wanted to make sure everyone died and I turned into a monster."
"Ah, yes," said the Doctor, with a sigh. "Paradox Machine. Of course you'd want to build one of those. Course, what with there still being Time Lords in your timeline, that would have worked for all of about two seconds, until the Time Lords detected the machine and destroyed it."
"Which is why I needed you, and not just any Time Lord," said Elizabeth. "Because if there's one guy who knows how to evade the Time Lords, it's you."
"I don't get it," said Tara. "Who was the Big Bad in 2003?"
"He was," said Elizabeth, pointing at the Doctor. "He killed everyone in Sunnydale."
"You wanted me to kill everyone," said the Doctor. "You created yourself. That's the paradox. Maybe you weren't trying to control the world, but that doesn't alter the facts. Future-you sabotaged the device. Future-you wanted
to make sure I killed everyone in Sunnydale, so your past-self would hate me. You weren't
trying to change the future, Elizabeth. You were trying to make sure it happened!"
"I'm not going to listen to you anymore!" Elizabeth hissed. "I'm not turning back into your monster! I'm not going to be a murderer, again! Just because you have some twisted view of how history happened doesn't mean you can turn me into a cold-blooded killer! What you made me do when we were travelling was wrong, and I won't do it! Not again!"
"Wait," said Willow, still examining the mind control device. "There's something wrong. Right over here. See?"
Elizabeth frowned, and went over to Willow, examining the wiring inside the device. Her eyes widened. "I… didn't mean to do that," she said. She looked up at Willow. "I really, really didn't mean to do that. That was a mistake."
"Mistake?" asked Giles.
"Yeah… it's just like in the Buffy-bot, that first day she arrived," said Willow. "Except, you know, more fatal and stuff. I mean, if the Doctor had rewired the mind control device the way Elizabeth wanted, this little thing here would have short circuited. Elizabeth wouldn't have controlled the Doctor's brain. She would have fried it."
"Fried it…" said Dawn. She looked over at the Doctor. "Isn't that what you said happened in 2003? That everyone got their brains fried?"
"So in 2003, in the other timeline, Elizabeth is going to try to trick the Doctor into becoming her mind-controlled zombie," said Xander. "Except there'll be a design problem, so she'll actually wind up tricking the Doctor into frying the brains of everyone in Sunnydale." Xander reflected. "Wow. You know, that sort of sucks."
"So it was an accident!" said Anya. "See? Aren't you two happy you didn't kill each other, now?"
"Yep, looks like it was no one's fault!" said Xander, pointedly addressing the Doctor and Elizabeth. "Which means you're both
heroes, fighting for justice and hope and all sorts of good things, and no one has to go crazy and kill anyone else!"
The Doctor's face went very pale, as he stared at the mind-control device. A look of complete horror sprung up in his eyes, and his hands shook. Elizabeth noticed, her keen eyes fixed on him.
"It's my fault," said the Doctor. "I did it. I killed everyone in Sunnydale. 38,000 innocent human beings. For no reason."
Elizabeth had a self-satisfied smile on her face. "Told you."
The Doctor's gaze shifted to Elizabeth. "You were right."
"I was right," Elizabeth agreed.
The Doctor ran a hand through his hair. "I'm sorry," he said. "I am so, so sorry."
He turned on his heel, and ran off in the direction of his TARDIS.
Xander stared after him, confused. "Okay," he said. "I guess 'it was no one's fault' is alien for 'you should blame yourself for everything'."
"He should," said Elizabeth, tucking the device under her arm. "It was his fault it happened."
And as they all turned and headed for the Summers residence, Willow stayed, a few moments longer, in the park, the wind rushing through her hair. Tara noticed, and came back for her. She caught Willow's arm.
"Willow?" she asked.
"Just like he said, before," said Willow. "Eight hours, and Elizabeth couldn't break him. Three words from me, and he fell apart." She looked over at Tara. "Knowing the future sucks."
Tara tucked Willow's arm in hers, and let Willow cuddle into her. Then they followed the others home.