: Sort of looks like no one cared for that last chapter. So... maybe you'll like this one, better?
Right now I'm sort of trying to build Elizabeth's character, although I'm probably taking too long to do that. But I need to build Elizabeth's character before I bring in the Doctor. Otherwise, the story won't work.
Have you noticed that Elizabeth's saying slightly different things to different people?
(Also, remember that Willow was around for the Dalek incident, so she does know who the 'Dark Lord' of Anya's prophecy is.)
I'm going on vacation for a few days, so this will be the last update until I get back.
"I think there's something wrong with Dawn," Willow told Elizabeth, as they walked towards the Magic Box. They passed a green car, and, across the street, an old woman Willow knew as Mrs. Cadamar waved at them. Willow waved back.
"Really?" asked Elizabeth, kicking a stray rock so that it skipped across the sidewalk in front of her. "She seems okay to me."
"Well, usually, she's all loud and attitudey and stuff, but lately, she's just been kind of quiet and reserved," said Willow. "I mean, maybe we aren't spending enough time with her."
"She said she wanted independence," said Elizabeth, kicking the rock again. "I'm just giving her what she wants."
"I guess," said Willow.
"Look, I know she's upset about Buffy," said Elizabeth. She kicked the rock a third time. "I get that. I mean, she comes into my room crying some nights because she misses Buffy so much. And I know I'm not going to be able to make her completely better again. I'm just doing my best."
"No!" Willow cried. "Elizabeth, I'm not saying you're at fault, here, or anything. I mean, you're amazing, and we all love you and—"
"I'm still not Buffy," said Elizabeth, her eyes fixed on the ground. "I know." She kicked the rock a little too hard, this time, and it skittered off into the side of a trash can.
"But that's okay," Willow insisted. "I mean, you're okay with it, right?"
Elizabeth looked up. "Willow," she said, "Buffy sounds amazing. I know I'm not a superhero, I know I can't give that back, but… if she was like that, then I can be like that, too." She gave a smile. "You've got no idea how liberating that is! To live in the shadow of someone who was so wonderful, after so long living in the shadow of someone who…." The smile dropped off Elizabeth's face. "Never mind."
Willow frowned. She wanted to ask whose shadow Elizabeth had been living in in her world, but Willow knew, by now, that there was no point in asking. Elizabeth never answered those kinds of questions. It was part of that big section of her life that she wouldn't talk about, no matter what, and none of the Scoobies had gotten her to open up.
Except that they were pretty sure Elizabeth had been in Hell.
"That's why tonight's so important," Elizabeth continued, her eyes imploring Willow. "Because this is what Buffy did to the people around her. She gave them hope, and courage, and determination. I want to do that, too. I might be a normal human girl, but I was still born Buffy Summers. And I'm making sure this town has a long future ahead of it. I'm here, I'm not going anywhere, and even the worst monsters have to realize that. If I've got an army behind me, they'll go running. Together, we can beat back anything."
"I just don't think I want to go to the meeting," said Willow.
Elizabeth nodded. She stared straight in front of her, as she walked, her hands in her pockets. "I get that," she said. "Just… think about what it would mean if you did. People are scared of stuff they don't understand, but if you're there to explain, show them how magic can help — they'll love it. They won't try to kill you, Willow. They'll adore you. Little kids will all try to be like you. You can be a role model, an inspiration. Can you imagine that?"
"Oh, but that's never…" Willow trailed off. "You really think so?"
"JK Rowling is richer than the Queen," Elizabeth pointed out.
Willow took a deep breath. "Okay," she said. "Maybe I will."
Elizabeth gave Willow a one-arm hug. "Thanks," she said, a little quieter. "You've got no idea how much that means to me."
"Tara might be a little upset, though," said Willow. "I mean, she says I use too much magic."
"You have used more since I first arrived," Elizabeth noted. She pulled out of the hug. "Not that I'm trying to be pushy or anything. I've just noticed, since I've been here, you've been all with the magic and less with the high tech."
"That's nothing to do with you!" Willow protested. "I just… like magic. You know." She looked over at Elizabeth. "You don't think I'm using too much, right?"
Elizabeth gave a small smile. "You use as much as you want," she said. "I'll still be your friend, no matter what."
Willow grinned, because she'd missed this so much since Buffy died, and it was wonderful having it back again. Having Buffy back again.
"So, what's up with Anya, anyways?" asked Elizabeth, stuffing her hands back into her jeans pockets.
"Oh, it's just this prophecy that comes up a lot," said Willow. "You know, one of those things in the demon world that freaks her out. Someone's coming, Dark Lord, yada yada yada, she freaks, we comfort her, everything's back to normal. Although, it hasn't been happening as much, recently. Since, you know. Buffy."
"Wait a sec," said Elizabeth. "'Dark Lord'? That sounds like super Big Bad territory right there."
"No, it's nothing," said Willow. "Nothing ever happens. I mean, actually, stuff happens, but considering it's Sunnydale and everything, it's nothing out of the ordinary. No Super Big Bads or anything. Just Anya freaking out, and someone goes and comforts her, and then, you know, goodness again."
"But you said things still happen," said Elizabeth.
"Well, yeah, but they're little things," said Willow. "Always unrelated."
Elizabeth said nothing for a moment, as a blue bus rushed past them. "I've seen this kind of thing before," she admitted, very quietly. "Back when I was 16, all these little things kept happening, stuff we dismissed. But they were all related. It turned out, they were all because of this super evil guy who was trapped in this weird energy chamber thing and couldn't get out. He nearly killed me. I had to be all CPR-ified and stuff." She shuddered. "He was the first one to call me slayer."
"Oh," said Willow. "Well, but you… don't think this is the same thing, right? I mean, it's a different world and—"
"No, it's not the Master," said Elizabeth. "Can't be."
Willow stopped walking. "Wait, the Master?"
Elizabeth turned around. "You know the Master?"
know the Master?" Willow asked.
"Um, CPR-ified here!" Elizabeth cried. "Of course I know the Master! I hated that guy!"
"I hated him, too!" Willow cried.
Elizabeth just stared at her. "But how?" she asked. "How'd the Master get into this world? I thought you said the… you know, guy with the frock coat never showed up."
"No," said Willow. "No guys with frock coats, and definitely not around the Master. Darla was sort of… well, she was the Master's right-hand-girl. But she didn't have a frock coat."
"Darla?" Elizabeth exclaimed. "Vampire Darla? I-think-it's-great-to-give-living-people-as-gifts Darla?"
"That's the one," said Willow.
Elizabeth just gaped at her. "Seriously. How do you know these people?" she asked. "They were long dead by the time…" She trailed off. "Except if I hadn't… then they wouldn't be…." Her face fell. "And that means…." Her shoulders dropped, and she sighed. "That sucks."
"What?" asked Willow.
"No, nothing," said Elizabeth. "Just, guess he's dead. In this world." She cringed. "Or worse."
"A friend," said Elizabeth. "A really, really good friend."
"Well, maybe your friend isn't dead," said Willow. "I mean, what's his name?"
"I don't know," said Elizabeth. "I always just called him—"
"…with Dawn," Willow found herself saying. She looked around, as she found herself and Elizabeth passing a green car, Mrs. Cadamar waving at them across the street. A yellow Toyota driving next to them slammed on its brakes.
"What? Really?" asked Elizabeth, kicking a stray rock so that it skipped across the sidewalk in front of her. "I didn't see anything…" She paused, and looked around. Then she turned back to Willow. "It happened again, didn't it?"
"Looks like," said Willow.
Elizabeth glanced down at her watch. "Do you know what time it was before the jump?"
"I think we jumped back a few minutes this time," said Willow. "The guy driving that car definitely didn't expect to be there."
"So… they're getting worse," said Elizabeth. "We're jumping back further."
"Yeah," said Willow. "But I guess until Giles figures out what's causing them, there isn't a whole lot we can do. Just, you know, try to avoid cars and always be on your toes."
Elizabeth said nothing, just stared at the sidewalk as she walked towards the Magic Box.
"Are you okay?" Willow asked.
"What?" Elizabeth popped her head up. "Yeah, fine. Just… jump thingies. Weird."
"I think everyone finds them weird," said Willow. "But at least it's just a few minutes."
Elizabeth stared ahead, not saying anything. Her face seemed to be melting into something so terribly sad that it hurt Willow to even look at her.
"You sure you're okay?" Willow asked.
"I'm fine, it's just… Will, the Master. He's not still around in your world, right?"
"No," Willow said. "Buffy killed him." She frowned. "Why? You don't think the Master came back to life and started these jump thingies, right?"
"No," said Elizabeth. "That's not… I mean, I'm just thinking, if the Master existed in this world, then that means…" She shivered. "I know who else exists here. And I bet he
"Who?" asked Willow.
Elizabeth just shook her head, and continued walking.
That evening, Elizabeth gathered her weapons together into a duffle bag, then swung the bag over her shoulder. She checked her reflection in the mirror, and wiped a bit of smeared mascara from the corner of her eye. Then she grinned, and stepped out of her room.
"Willow? Tara? Anya? Xander? Dawn?" she called. "You guys ready?"
"I've been ready for hours," Anya complained.
"Dawn's at Janice's, remember?" Willow called back.
"She is?" asked Elizabeth. She thought a moment. "Oh, yeah. She mentioned that, didn't she?" She shrugged, then raced down the stairs, and found herself face-to-face with the Scoobie gang. "Total vampire-staking fun-time anyone?" she asked, raising the bag a little.
"Sounds good to us," said Willow, as they all piled out the door.
Outside, on a moonlit suburban street, the Scoobies and Elizabeth walked, in a group, down the sidewalk, occasional cars rushing past them. Elizabeth led the group, her excitement bubbling into her every action, trying to contain herself from bursting into a sprint.
"So," said Tara. "We're finally doing this."
"I know!" said Elizabeth. "I mean, not to be all major spaz or anything but… it's great! All the lives I'm going to save, the people I'm going to help! I told Dawn, when I first got here, I was going to get rid of the monsters, and now I can really do it. Make this town safe. Even the mayor is supporting me!"
"And considering the last mayor of Sunnydale tried to eat us, I think that makes this mayor of Sunnydale extremely progressive," said Xander. He hesitated. "Unless he tries to eat us."
"You didn't meet the guy who founded Sunnydale in the first place," said Elizabeth. "Richard Wilkins? Complete nutcase. I…" she looked around, a little nervously, "researched him." She cleared her throat, and her nervousness melted into her previous happy excitement. "But okay, you gotta hear this. Wilkins? He had this thing about wanting to turn into a giant snake in, like, a hundred and fifty years, and needed some weird immortality thing to make it work. Seriously. A giant snake! I mean, who sees a snake and thinks, 'Ooh, slithering around on my belly, that's definitely a life goal'?"
"Giant snake?" asked Tara.
"Don't worry," said Elizabeth. "Immortality thing didn't work. Wilkins was long dead before he could go through with any of this stuff."
Willow and Xander looked at one another.
"Well, I think the meeting is a good idea," said Anya, completely ignoring the change in topic. "Getting all the people in Sunnydale to help us patrol. The whole keeping it a secret thing always seemed a little silly to me. All the demons know. All the people who matter know. The only people who don't know are the ones who wind up getting eaten."
"But they won't get eaten," said Elizabeth, "because we'll show them how to fight back. We'll inspire them, show that all the uber-evil stuff isn't unstoppable. That's what I was telling Willow, earlier this morning. Fear makes a mob, but hope makes an army."
"I'm surprised you got the Willow-Meister to go at all," said Xander. "I thought she was staying behind."
"She was," said Elizabeth, beaming, "but I talked her into going." She gave two little skips, the weapons clunking in the bag over her shoulder in time to her footsteps, her feet almost floating across the ground with every sashay.
Tara wrapped an arm around Willow's waist. "You sure you're okay with this?" she asked.
"Fine," said Willow. "I mean, still nervous and stuff, but Elizabeth's right. I should go. Make sure people see that magic is a good thing. You know, so they don't go all witch-hunty again."
"Just tell them you're fighting Lord Voldemort, and you'll have pretty much every kid in the world beating back vampires with overpriced Harry Potter books," said Xander.
"Well, I think I'll just stick to vampires," said Willow. "I mean, Giles is taking that vampire we caught yesterday to the meeting, right? Maybe I can do something to it. Like make a shield around it or something."
"Just don't do anything you're not comfortable with," Tara told her.
"No, I can do this," Willow insisted. "If the crowd starts getting all freaked out, Elizabeth will make them stop. Right?"
"I won't have to," said Elizabeth, with a grin. "Because you're going to be all Willow-Super-Awesome." Then, noticing the worry on Willow's face, her grin melted into a sincere smile. "I'll step in. If you have any trouble. I promise, I'll make them see reason."
"Yeah," said Anya, "because Elizabeth can talk anyone into doing anything. The way she talks people around, you'd think she was secretly a demon or something."
Everyone stopped in their tracks. They turned their heads to stare at Anya. Elizabeth's smile looked as if it had tripped over an unforeseen hazard and sprained its ankle.
"What?" said Anya, looking around at the others. "I'm just saying what we're all thinking."
"None of us were thinking that," said Tara.
"Yeah, we don't think that Elizabeth's a demon," said Willow.
"You don't?" asked Anya. She looked at each of the Scoobies, in turn, then over at Elizabeth. "Really?"
Now the smile really did come off Elizabeth's face. She crossed her arms, and gave Anya a pointed glare. "I'm not a demon," she said. "You want Spike to try to hit me again, just to prove it?"
Anya looked down at the ground. "No."
Elizabeth gave a curt nod, then turned around and started walking again, her ponytail swishing against her back. The group followed her. Anya drifted to the back of the group, still staring down at the sidewalk. She scuffed her shoes along the ground as she walked.
"I'm just saying Buffy wouldn't have done this type of thing," she mumbled.
Elizabeth swung around, and stomped over to Anya, her eyes blazing, her fingers twitching. "Okay, that's it," she said. "You're going to listen to me, right now! I know I'm not Buffy. I get that. But that doesn't make me a demon. And if you don't feel like hanging out around me, then go ahead and leave. I'm not stopping you!"
Anya gave a little pout. "Buffy wouldn't have yelled at me, either," she said.
"Yeah, she would!" said Willow.
"Except there would probably have been a lot more punching involved," added Tara.
Xander put his arms around Anya. "Guys, she didn't mean it," he said, softly. "She just… doesn't think before she talks, sometimes." He looked over at Elizabeth. "I mean, you know it's hard, not to compare you to—"
"I know," said Elizabeth. "I'm not Buffy. But that doesn't make me evil." Her entire body tensed, as she glared at Anya. "I wasn't evil on Iphidrin. I'm not evil, now. And I will never
be evil, anywhere, not to my dying breath! Do you understand?"
Anya opened her mouth to reply, but Xander cut in, first.
"She understands," he said.
Elizabeth lifted her head, the tension draining from her. "Good." She turned on her heel, and marched to the front of the group, leading the others to the meeting.
"I'm surprised Dawn isn't coming," said Tara. "Anyone else think she's been acting weird, lately?"
"She's just upset about losing her sister," said Xander. "It's understandable."
"Tara's right," Willow said. "I'm worried about her. She's been spending more and more time away from us."
"She's just enjoying her newfound independence," said Elizabeth.
"Or maybe she's just trying to get away from you," said Anya.
Elizabeth clenched her fists by her sides, breathing heavily.
"Or," Xander cut in, hastily, "maybe she's just being a normal teenage girl. Anyone think of that?"
"Oooh, maybe she has a secret boyfriend!" Willow said. "I mean, it's about the right age, isn't it? She could be sneaking off, somewhere, to go and make out."
Tara frowned. "Isn't that sort of dangerous in—"
"…I think that show might be a little gory for you, Dawny," Willow found herself saying. She blinked, and looked around. They were back in the kitchen, Dawn still eating her cereal, Elizabeth still standing by the counter. Tara had just left.
Dawn looked about as startled as Willow felt. Elizabeth, on the other hand, seemed completely composed. Normal. Perhaps vaguely interested in her new surroundings, but not ruffled in the slightest. She felt for the bag that had, a few seconds ago, been draped across her shoulder. It was, of course, no longer there.
"Woah," said Dawn. "Major head-rush."
"Wait, but this… this was this morning," said Willow. "How'd we jump back to this morning? That was hours ago!"
The screeching of car brakes rang through the air, and Elizabeth's eyes went wide, a spark of fear igniting inside of them. "None of those guys were driving two seconds ago, were they?" she asked.
They all heard the shattering of metal and glass, as a series of collisions happened outside. Without a second thought, Elizabeth ran towards the front door.
"Wait!" Dawn cried.
Elizabeth hesitated, the door open in her hand, and glanced back over her shoulder, meeting Dawn's eyes.
"I… um… just… be safe," said Dawn.
Elizabeth looked at Dawn one second longer, no expression on her face. Then she slammed the door behind her, with a loud bang that seemed to echo through the entire house.
"She's really upset," said Willow. She wanted to run out and help Elizabeth, but she didn't want to leave Dawn alone. Dawn noticed Willow's unease.
"Go ahead," said Dawn. "I'll be fine."
Willow gave Dawn one last glance, then ran out to help Elizabeth.