Okay, first off. The Doctor's coming. He's not in here at the beginning for a reason, but rest assured, he'll be here. I sort of think of this as his story.
Second off, I'm having... sort of a lot of trouble with the rest of this story. Which is to say that I read it through, and it sucks. So... ugh. I don't want to leave this story up here half finished, so if I decide it's just too terrible, I'll probably take the whole thing down. But... hopefully, I can work out what to do.
The moment Elizabeth appeared downstairs, Giles said his good nights, and left. Elizabeth just stood around, still feeling a little dazed from the whole experience. Then she glanced over to the living room, noticed the others had gathered there, and walked over to them.
Willow sat on the couch, a computer on her lap, reprogramming the Buffy-bot. Tara stood, nearby, while Anya and Xander were in conversation by the fireplace. They all looked up, as Elizabeth entered the room.
"Did you sort things out with Dawn?" asked Tara.
"I don't know," said Elizabeth. "I hope so. She said I could stay here. So… yeah." She gave a nervous laugh. "Sorry, this whole thing's just… mega-weird." She sighed, then noticed Willow. Her eyes lit up, and she almost ran over to the couch. "Oh, are you reprogramming?"
"Yeah," said Willow. "I'm trying to get rid of that thing where she stakes the gravestones."
Elizabeth leaned across the arm of the couch, and peered at the computer screen. "Hang on, that's not going to be a glitch in the programming," she said. "That's going to be a glitch in the cognitive visual recognition sensors in the mainframe."
Willow looked up at her. "How do you know that?"
"I'm really good with machines," said Elizabeth. "Can I try?" She sprung back to her feet, digging a small, black keychain screwdriver out of her jeans pocket. She raced over to the Buffy-bot, unscrewing a panel in her head and adjusting a number of switches and levers.
"Buffy wasn't good at machines," said Anya.
"Really?" asked Elizabeth, still fixated on her repair-work. "What'd she do in high school, then?"
"Fought monsters," said Xander. "Saved the world. That kind of thing."
Elizabeth glanced up at him. "Yeah, obviously," she said. "I did that, too. I meant besides that stuff."
"Oh, oh, I get it!" Willow cried. "This is one of those things. You know, because Buffy was the Slayer, so she spent all her spare time training and learning to fight and stuff, but Elizabeth doesn't have super-strength or anything, so she spent all her spare time learning to defeat monsters a different way."
"Could you guys please stop calling me Slayer?" asked Elizabeth, as she went back to work. "I hate that."
Everyone looked at everyone else.
"No one called you Slayer," said Xander. "We were calling Buffy the Slayer."
Elizabeth shuddered at the word. "I'm surprised she let you get away with that."
"Well, it's what she was," said Willow. She frowned. "Were you called Slayer, too?"
Elizabeth's eyes shot up at Willow, her entire expression dark and angry. "I am no one's 'Little Slayer', you got that?" she said, waving the screwdriver at Willow. Then the anger dripped off her face, and she gave a little wince. "Sorry," she said. "I've just got… sort of bad experiences with that name."
"Okay," said Xander. "Slayer time is over. Nerd time is starting."
Elizabeth grinned, as she turned back to the Buffy-bot. "I can go with that." She made another tweak with the screwdriver, then started putting the paneling back on. "There. Oh, and I fixed this other thing in there, which was all jumbled and messed up and making the robot act all… sort of… you know. Roboty. But now that's fixed, so it'll act all not-as-roboty."
Willow leapt up, stopping Elizabeth before she could completely replace the paneling. She looked inside, at what Elizabeth had done. It was actually fairly ingenious. Elizabeth had essentially rerouted the power from some systems into others, using a really smart little trick to make the robot work about ten times better. It was fairly incredible.
"You're so…" Tara hesitated. "I guess I just can't believe you're here."
"Oh," said Elizabeth. She drummed her fingers, nervously, against the Buffy-bot's arm. "Did I do something wrong? I mean, I can—"
"No, it's fine," said Tara. "We just… weren't really expecting this."
"Neither was I," said Elizabeth. "But now that I'm here, you know. I can make it work. And it looks like you guys could really use the help." She gave them a smile, then turned to Willow. "So, is it okay?"
Willow looked up from the Buffy-bot. "Yeah," she said. "I mean… it's sort of amazing. Ingenious."
Willow reattached the panel back onto the Buffy-bot's head, and gave the robot a gentle pat.
It wasn't until later that night, when Elizabeth was out of the room, that Willow came back in and unscrewed the panel. Using a flashlight and a screwdriver, Willow fixed the little wiring mistake she'd found earlier. One tiny little flaw in this absolutely ingenious bit of repair work. Willow figured it didn't really matter.
She never mentioned it to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth had nearly drifted off to sleep, when she heard crying coming from the room beside hers. She crept out of bed, and made her way over to Dawn's room. She creaked the door open. "You okay?"
Dawn sniffled, and tried to hide her tears. "Go away."
Elizabeth crept into the room, shutting the door behind her. "I know I'm new at the whole sister thing," she said, "but I've never been a fan of late night cry-a-thons."
"I just miss her," said Dawn, into her pillow. "I miss her, and Mom, and… everyone."
Elizabeth sat down on the edge of the bed, hands in her lap. "I know."
"I wasn't a real person, and Buffy was," said Dawn, "but she still leapt into that portal thingy and… I watched her die, and it was terrible, and I can't forget that."
Elizabeth nodded. "Yeah," she said. "You don't forget something like that."
Dawn sat up. "You saw someone die, too?"
"Yes," said Elizabeth. She gave a small sigh. "And I always just assumed I'd have to see it all over again."
Elizabeth said nothing for a moment. Then she looked down at Dawn. "It's so hard coming face to face with death like that, isn't it? Because you'd do anything to save them, but you know you can't. There's nothing you can do."
"Yeah," said Dawn. "I know. There was nothing I could do. But I still…" She hesitated.
"Have nightmares about it?" Elizabeth asked.
Elizabeth wrapped her in a tight hug. "Me too," she said to Dawn.
"Buffy used to help me, sometimes," said Dawn. "When I got scared. Especially when I was young, and I kept seeing monsters in the shadows. She'd come into my room and say she'd fight the monsters away." Dawn sobbed into Elizabeth's shoulder. "But now she's gone, and there's no one left to scare them off!"
Elizabeth said nothing for a moment. "There will be," she replied, a new determination in her voice. "I'll make sure, Dawn. For you. I'll make sure there's someone around to scare away the monsters."
"Really?" asked Dawn.
"Really," said Elizabeth. "I may not be superhuman, but I promise. I'll keep you safe."
Dawn sniffed. "Will you… stay with me, in here, tonight? Just until I fall asleep?"
Elizabeth smiled at Dawn. "Of course I will."
Elizabeth stayed there, in the dark, rubbing Dawn's back as she cried her eyes out. Eventually, exhaustion over-took her, and the tears ceased, as Dawn drifted into sleep. And as she did, the hint of a smile appeared on her lips.
"I love you," Dawn said.
Elizabeth stopped rubbing Dawn's back. She sat, frozen, her hand resting on the fabric of Dawn's pajamas. For a few long minutes, there was nothing but silence in the room.
"Yeah," said Elizabeth.