: Don't worry, the Doctor's in the next chapter in a major way... but in the meantime, here's a little taste.
See, thing is, when the Doctor calls Buffy "Elizabeth", it's sort of turned into a pet name between them. So it would be natural to assume that it had good implications.
Didn't you ever wonder what a temporal fold spell would look like when it hit a Time Lock?
Oh, and don't think that I've just answered all of your questions in this one section. Elizabeth's "destroyedness" and "Sunnydale 2003" and everything else is way more complicated than Angel makes it out to be. But if you've read any of my other stories, you know that nothing is ever as simple as it seems.
(I have twenty-something pages of backstory for this one story, not including the hundred something pages of inner psychology that you're not seeing. So, yeah. As I said. Way more complicated.)
The rest of this story hits the ground running.
"Okay, we have everything we need for a temporal fold," said Willow, as she arranged the items on the floor. "But… if Elizabeth wants us to do this… Tara doesn't know this spell, so Anya's going to have to help me out."
"All right," said Anya. "But if I bring any vampire versions of you guys here by accident, it's not my fault."
The door to Elizabeth's room opened, and Elizabeth and Angel walked out. It was, perhaps, the oddest thing that Willow had ever seen — someone who looked so much like Buffy, holding hands with Angel, and having there be no sexual tension between them whatsoever. At least, not on her side.
Elizabeth looked just the way she always had, albeit a little redder around the eyes, and snifflier around the nose. She gave all of the Scoobies a nervous smile, but it vanished when she saw the magical items arranged upon the floor in front of the coffee table.
"You're starting already," she said.
"You know we have to do it as soon as possible," Angel told her, giving her hand a reassuring pat. "You told me that."
"I just thought I'd have a little more time." Elizabeth went down the stairs, her eyes fixed on the Scoobies. She seemed determined not to cry this time, although her bottom lip was shaking. Then she ran forwards and hugged Willow, fiercely.
"Elizabeth," said Willow. "Are you okay with this? I mean, if you don't want to…"
"I have to," said Elizabeth. "The longer I stay here, the more messed up the universe is going to be. I get it." She pulled away.
"I'm not going to send you back to Hell," said Willow. "I can't do that."
"Will," said Elizabeth, in a soft voice, looking deep into Willow's eyes. "Please."
"I handled Iphidrin," said Elizabeth. "I can handle this."
Willow gave in, and nodded. Elizabeth patted her on the back.
Then she turned, and swept Xander into a great big hug.
"We're going to miss you," said Xander.
"Yeah," said Anya. "You were a really fun Not Buffy. And now we're going to have to deal with an annoying robot."
Elizabeth pulled out of the hug, and gave Anya a small smile. Then she ran over to Tara, and hugged her, as well.
"We'll always remember you," said Tara.
Elizabeth tried to hold in a sniffle.
"Willow," Angel prompted. "It's time."
Tara pulled out of the hug, as Willow and Anya sat down on the floor, facing each other, the arrangement of magical items spread out between them. Bones on either side of them. A number of candles glowing nearby, along with a set of jaws and several jars of pickled animal-entrails.
Willow looked up at Elizabeth. "You sure?" she asked.
Elizabeth looked over at Angel. "Not really," she confessed. "But I kind of have to."
"You'll be okay," Angel reassured her, a kind smile on his face. "You're strong enough to pull through this. I believe in you."
Just looking at him seemed to make Elizabeth feel better. Elizabeth took a shaky breath, then ran to hug Angel, as if she never wanted to let him go. When she finally did pull away, there was the hint of tears in her eyes. She wiped them away, then stood by Willow and Anya.
"Okay," she said, fixing a brave and determined expression on her face. "Let's do this."
Willow gave Elizabeth a reassuring smile, then looked back at Anya. Anya stared at Willow, expectantly.
"Oh, you want me to lead it this time?" Willow asked.
"Well, I don't exactly want Vampire Elizabeth running around this Sunnydale, too!" Anya snapped.
Willow swallowed, then planted a confident look on her face, and extended her hand outwards, palm up. "Erishan kishallow mayan."
Anya extended her hand out in front of Willow's. "Diprecht. Doh-tehenlo nu-Eryishon."
Willow picked up the vial of sacred sand, and Anya put her hand around Willow's.
"The child to the mother," said Willow.
"The river to the sea," said Anya.
"Eryishon, hear my prayer," said Willow.
Both Anya and Willow closed their eyes, and began to pour the sacred sand onto Anya's palm. Bright blue energy flashed in front of them, radiant blue energy, that seemed to wrap around their hands, burning into the eyes of all those around them. And suddenly…
A sharp shattering sound, as the vial of sand exploded into a million pieces. Everyone ducked, arms over their faces, as shards of glass and specks of sand flew everywhere. With a sudden schwoomping sound, the energy vanished, and the room was back to normal.
Willow and Anya opened their eyes, looking at one another.
"Did you feel that?" Anya asked.
"I don't know what it was," said Willow, "but I felt it."
"That's a Time Lock," said Anya. "I mean, you hear about them, when you're a vengeance demon, but you never think you'll ever actually come across one. And this one…"
"I know," said Willow. "Phew."
"You do realize that none of the rest of us have the first clue what you're talking about," said Xander.
"A Time Lock is when a timeline is considered so dangerous or unstable that it gets locked away," Anya explained. "No one can access it, not even using a temporal fold. D'Hoffran kept warning us that if we didn't do our jobs right, we'd wind up stuck in one."
"My timeline got time locked?" Elizabeth asked.
"That's what it looks like," said Anya.
"Can we unlock it?" asked Tara. "I mean, just to get Elizabeth back?"
"This wasn't some itty bitty little lock," said Anya. "This was more sort of…"
"'Wow'?" Willow offered.
"Yeah, sort of wow," Anya agreed.
"Explain 'wow'," said Xander.
"Well, it was kind of… a bit…" Willow trailed off. "Actually, I'm sticking to wow."
"Basically," Anya explained, "someone sealed this timeline off so that no one would ever, ever, ever be able to open it up again. No matter how powerful a witch they are."
"So I can't go back," said Elizabeth. She sounded a little relieved. "Even if I wanted to, I couldn't go back. We just need to… fix up these temporal jumps, and I can keep living here!"
"You know why that isn't going to work," Angel told her.
Elizabeth looked at the ground, but said nothing.
"Well," said Anya, getting to her feet. "Elizabeth's definitely here to stay. I mean, unless you can find some kind of super key to fit a super lock."
Everyone froze, as Anya said the words, "super key". Anya looked at them, a bit confused. Then, she realized what she'd just said. Her eyes widened.
"I didn't mean that," she put in, quickly.
Elizabeth still looked puzzled. She glanced at the horrified faces surrounding her. "Didn't mean what?" she asked.
"We're not killing Dawn," Willow insisted, getting up off the floor. "Not after everything Buffy did."
"And creating another super big universe destroying portal? Not really the best idea for how to save the world," said Xander.
"There's got to be something else we can do," said Angel. "Maybe if we just used one drop of Dawn's blood, it would make the gateway open for just enough time to get Elizabeth back, and she'd survive that."
"We're not hurting Dawn," Willow said. "That'll just make things worse."
"Then we better find something else," said Angel. "And fast. If we can't do it, someone… else might wind up trying to fix it, someone who'd make things far, far worse." He glanced over at Elizabeth, nervously. Elizabeth just stared straight ahead, a determinedly blank look on her face.
"You think we'll
be able to break a Time Lock like that?" asked Anya. "Not likely."
"There's an entire book of spells having to do with time over there," Angel insisted, nodding at the spell book perched on the coffee table. "Are you telling me there's no way to make any of those work?"
"Against a regular Time Lock? Maybe," said Anya. "But not against something like this. I'm not even sure how Elizabeth managed to get out of it in the first place. It should have been impossible."
"Hang on," said Willow. "We've all been overlooking a really, really obvious solution, here."
Everyone turned to Willow.
"Well, just, think about it," said Willow. "This is a Time
Lock, and we're dealing with time
folds, trying to stop time
jumps. We all know someone who can deal with that."
"Willow," Angel warned.
"Oh, you mean…" Xander trailed off, then frowned. "You really think we should?"
"If she's going to leave anyways," said Willow, "we might as well. I mean, we were sort of being, you know. Selfish."
"Willow, no," said Angel, "bad idea."
Xander nodded at Willow, then looked over at Anya. "Honey," he said, with a smile, walking over towards her. "How about we go home for the night?"
Anya seemed slightly puzzled by this. "Huh?"
"I'm with Anya on the 'huh'," Elizabeth agreed.
"Nothing," said Xander, hooking his arm around Anya's and trying to lead her towards the door. "We're just going back to the apartment, now. Before anyone else shows up."
"No one else is showing up," Angel insisted, sternly. "Willow, Xander. Don't. Just… don't."
"Don't what?" asked Elizabeth.
Willow leaned in towards Elizabeth. "Buffy had this friend," she said, quietly, "who wandered around time and space in this space ship called a TARDIS—"
"A Time Lord," Elizabeth breathed.
Willow tried to shush Elizabeth. "Anya's a bit freaked out by him."
Elizabeth went very still. "The Time Lords!" she cried. She looked at everyone around her. "That's who you're going to call? That's who's going to fix this?"
Anya's eyes widened. "What! No! We're not calling any Time Lords! Ever!"
"It's not like there's an army of them or anything," Willow explained. "It's just one guy Buffy knew."
"Not an army?" Elizabeth cried. "Not an army? I've seen it! Last year, with that portal thingy, I saw them. There are billions of them out there, and each one is super smart and has all sorts of powers. All together, they're — oh, God, if you had any clue, if you had any idea how much power they have over the universe, you'd never even think of this! You can't be thinking of this!" She clenched her fists. "Trust me. If you call in the Time Lords, there's no telling where they'll stop. And if they notice there are vampires on this planet, that's it! Earth goes boom."
"We're not calling in any Time Lords," Angel said, pointedly.
"Why not?" said Xander. "It's the only way I can think of to save the world and not kill Dawn. Anya can hide until the Doctor's gone, and Elizabeth will be returned—"
"What?" Elizabeth screamed. She looked around the room, at all of them, her eyes blazing with anger and hurt and terror. She rounded on Xander. "You! What did you say?"
"I… said Anya could hide?" Xander tried, backing away.
"After that!" Elizabeth shouted, still advancing on him. "Who'd you say? Who were you going to call?"
"Just… Buffy's friend," said Willow. "The… you know… Time Lord. The only one there is?"
"The only…" Elizabeth spun around, her eyes dark, an angry expression crossing her face. "Oh, I get it!" She gave a laugh that sounded so hateful and angry that it ground into the bones of all those standing nearby. "He killed them all, didn't he? He got pissed off with their stupid rules, and genocided them out of the universe! That's so him!"
"Genocided who?" Anya asked.
"I… I think it was a little more complicated than that," said Willow. "I mean, I never really found out the details, but Buffy told me—"
Elizabeth turned on Willow. "And what did she know?" Elizabeth shouted. "What do any of you know? I travelled with him for years. I've seen what he's done! To me, to the rest of the universe! He's a monster, a terrible monster, worse than anything you've ever faced before, and… you just wanted to hand me over to him!"
"No, wait, we didn't… the Doctor's not a monster!" Willow insisted. "Angel, tell her…" Willow faltered, as she noticed the stern look on Angel's face. Angel wasn't going to defend the Doctor to Elizabeth, wasn't going to negate anything Elizabeth said about him. That was a little weird.
Elizabeth's breath started coming faster, and there was a look of such pain and torment written across her features that everyone felt uneasy. "I'm not going back," Elizabeth said, her voice hard and cold. "I'm never going back. If he's here, then this town needs me more than ever. I know what he does to Sunnydale in the future, and I'm not letting it happen again!"
And before anyone could react, she bolted out the front door.
Angel buried his face in his hands. "I warned you."
Everyone else just stood around, gawping for a few seconds, staring at the still open front door.
"Okay," said Xander. "And I thought Anya freaked out whenever we mentioned him."
"No, I'm more freaked out in a general 'he's going to erase me from history if he ever finds me' way," Anya supplied.
"Elizabeth already knows the Doctor?" Tara asked. "Because we were sort of… trying not to let her…" She looked over at Willow, and shrugged.
"Well, see, it was good that we didn't mention the Doctor before now!" Willow insisted. "Or she would have flipped out sooner."
"You didn't know," Angel said, clearly not buying a word of it. He shook his head. "The Doctor always calling Buffy 'Elizabeth' didn't set off any alarm bells?"
Xander, Willow and Tara all looked at one another, hesitating for a little too long. "No," they all replied, decisively.
Angel gave them a pointed stare.
Willow fidgeted. "Well, not an alarm bell, but more of a reminder poke," she admitted.
"We thought if she ever met him, she'd sort of like him too much and…" Tara drifted off, a little sheepishly. "We just wanted Buffy back. To stay."
"She still could leave," Xander argued. "The Doctor Elizabeth knows is obviously some… alternate timeline Doctor, who was actually evil. Once she meets Mr. Suave-with-a-Sonic-Screwdriver, she'll run off and we'll never see her again."
"Or maybe it's the same Doctor," said Anya, "but Elizabeth really is turning into a demon, and the Doctor wants to wipe her out of the universe, too."
"It's the same Doctor," said Angel. "And Elizabeth's not a demon. She's got a good reason for acting the way she's acting. If it were Buffy, in her shoes, Buffy would have acted exactly the same."
"And this reason would be…?" Xander asked.
"Elizabeth travelled with the Doctor for four years," said Angel. "The same Doctor you know, but in his own past. He looked different back then — he had wavy, shoulder length chestnut hair and bright blue eyes, and he looked a little older — but he was still the same guy."
"And he wore a green frock coat?" Willow guessed.
"Yes," Angel agreed. "He did."
"Oh, so Elizabeth's mystery monster guy is actually… the Doctor!" said Xander. "Yeah. Okay. Got it." He frowned. "No, actually. Don't got it. Isn't the Doctor… not evil?"
"He's not," said Angel. "But what he did to Elizabeth was… unforgivable."
"What did he do to her?" asked Willow.
"He destroyed her," said Angel. "He claims he didn't know he was doing it, but… well, you can see the results for yourself. The locking herself away, the crying, the outbursts, the pure raw fear — those are all because of the Doctor. And just when all those things got really bad, the Doctor took Elizabeth to Sunnydale, 2003. Her own future. And that was when bad turned into worse."
"What happened in 2003?" asked Tara.
"The Doctor killed everyone," said Angel. "He demolished her home town, killed off her family, and murdered all of her friends. And when he was done, he killed her, too. Her future self." Angel turned to Willow. "That's the Hell she's really running away from."