Elizabeth bent down by the Doctor, looking him over with a cold detachment.
"You won't be able to rouse him," said Giles. "We've all tried. He appears to be in some sort of trance."
"Healing coma," Elizabeth corrected. "I know how to wake him up out of one of those." She bent down by his ear, and whispered something.
The Doctor sat up, suddenly, his eyes open, scanning the room, as if looking for danger. Then his eyes fell on Elizabeth. He slumped backwards on the couch.
"Should have known," he said.
Elizabeth stood up, and folded her arms. "Well?"
"Well, what?" asked the Doctor.
"Are you going to do it?" asked Elizabeth. "Are you going to admit it?"
The Doctor gave a weary sigh. "We're back to that again, are we?" he asked. "You couldn't win after eight hours. Give it up."
"Not until you admit the truth," said Elizabeth. "Tell them what happened in 2003."
"You know what happened in 2003," said the Doctor. "You were there."
"Everyone died," said Elizabeth. "38,000 innocent human beings."
"Because of what you did," said Elizabeth. "A choice you made."
"An impossible choice," said the Doctor.
"For you, maybe," said Elizabeth. "Some people are all with the self-sacrifice. Buffy was."
The Doctor got up off the couch, and stood to face Elizabeth, staring at her with dark eyes. "I'm done with this," he said. "I'm done playing your games. I know what you're doing, here. I know what's happening to the people in this timeline. And it's going to stop. Now."
"Games!" Elizabeth cried — nearly screamed. "Is that all this is to you? A game? This is my life, Doctor! My friends! My family! This isn't a game!" She clenched her fists by her sides, her eyes blazing. "Don't you dare call this a game."
"I've far, far too many things to feel guilty about," said the Doctor. "Things I've actually done. I don't need any of your faults piled on top of that."
"My faults?" Elizabeth asked. "You killed my mother!"
"I wasn't even there," the Doctor said.
"You didn't have to be," said Elizabeth. "I know what you're doing. You worked out what you believe my future has to be. You're trying to make it happen. Make sure I don't save them."
"All I'm trying to do is make sure time and space don't fall apart," the Doctor told her. "That's it!"
"That's what you always say," said Elizabeth. "Your universal excuse for mass slaughter. Well, guess what, Doctor? You taught me to stick up for what's right. You made me your Little Slayer. And I'm not letting you kill any more innocent people. I'm my own Slayer, now, and if it's a choice between you and 38,000 people, you're the one getting slain."
"I'm sorry you had to see what happened in 2003 — really, I am," said the Doctor. "And I'm sorry I couldn't stop it. But I couldn't. There was nothing I could do. It was a trap right from the start, and you and I both fell into it."
"A trap set up by Future-Me," said Elizabeth. "To control the world?"
Elizabeth looked at him like he was crazy. "You moron! Why the hell would I want to control the world?"
"I don't know, but that's what you were trying to do," said the Doctor.
"Or maybe," said Elizabeth, "I was just trying to undo everything you did! To me, to 38,000 people. Did you ever think about that? Maybe I was the good guy!"
The Doctor's stern expression fell a little. "I'm sorry. I am so, so sorry. But you will be evil by 2003. And it will be my fault. I couldn't change that back when I was still in your timeline, and I can't change it now."
"No, you're just trying to make sure it keeps happening exactly the way you think it did," said Elizabeth. "Even if that isn't actually what happened. Because, guess what? You can't blame Future-Me for everything. You were the one who killed 38,000 people. You're the one who keeps torturing me every single day of my life. You're the one who killed my mother!"
"Elizabeth, I never killed your mother!" the Doctor insisted. "You know that."
"And now that you're in a new timeline, you're doing it all over again," said Elizabeth. "First you killed Buffy off. Next comes Dawn. And right down the list! All my friends. All my family. Everyone I've ever known and loved. Pick them all off, one by one. I mean, you killed them all in the other timeline, why not do it again?"
"I'm not planning to—"
"In 2003, in this timeline," Elizabeth said, "the Hellmouth is going to open, killing everyone. You said so yourself. Massive rift energy from Sunnydale that made us crash, remember? And that's all the excuse you need to kill them. I mean, let's face it. If Buffy was still alive in 2003, she'd probably have stopped this whole Hellmouth-opening thing. So… better get rid of her! Oh, but wait. More little world-savers. Willow, Dawn, Giles, Tara, Xander. If any of them are still around, they'll probably stop it, too. Better get rid of them, as well. Anything to make sure the Hellmouth opens. Anything to make sure history works out the way you think it should." Elizabeth's hands bunched into fists by her sides, and she screamed, "Why don't you just admit that you're a monster and go die!"
The Doctor sighed. He took a step forwards, and Elizabeth's breathing became faster, panicky, as she stumbled back, away from him. The Doctor stopped.
"Elizabeth, I wish I could help you," he said. "But I can't if you won't accept the truth."
"The truth?" asked Elizabeth. "What about what you told me, earlier today? What about Dawn?"
The Doctor froze.
A terrible look sprang up on his face as he looked at Dawn, a dark, dangerous look, one that set all the Scoobies' teeth on edge. They began circling around Dawn, trying to edge her further away from the Doctor. Dawn stared at him, horror in her eyes.
"Are you going to kill her?" Elizabeth asked.
"Stop it," the Doctor said, through his teeth, snapping his head back to Elizabeth.
"There's no Buffy around to protect her, anymore," said Elizabeth. "You know how dangerous she is. Kill her off, now, and there's no way she'll be able to screw up your precious Web of Time."
The Doctor didn't answer.
"And major bonus! She's also my family," said Elizabeth. "Well, basically. Or are you still in denial about that? Do you still think it's okay to kill her, because she's not real?"
"There's someone in denial," said the Doctor. "But it's not me."
"You know, Giles brought up a good point," said Elizabeth. "You obviously know what Dawn is. You can see it. You know what can happen. You even knew what was going to happen last year. But you didn't kill Dawn last year. Why not?"
The Doctor said nothing, dark eyes fixed on Dawn.
"Well?" asked Elizabeth, with a challenging gaze. "I'm waiting."
The Doctor remained silent.
"Fine, don't tell me," said Elizabeth. "You just killed Dawn's sister. It's not like there's any reason I might be worried about you killing Dawn, too."
The Doctor's expression darkened, even more, tinged with a hint of self-loathing. Then he muttered something, his eyes dropping to the floor.
"Louder!" said Elizabeth.
"Because I was a coward!" the Doctor snapped. "There! You happy, now? I was a coward on Satellite Five, and I'm still a coward, now!"
Elizabeth glanced over her shoulder at Dawn, and raised her eyebrows. Dawn shuddered back a little further.
"See?" Elizabeth said to the others, turning away from the Doctor. "Denial. Scratch the surface, and the truth comes out."
The Doctor gave a bitter laugh. "Oh, and you would know something about that, Elizabeth."
Elizabeth turned on him, and ran over, ready to hit him, but Angel intercepted her. She took a long, steady breath, and stepped away from the Doctor.
"I'm what you made me," she growled.
"Yes," said the Doctor. "You are. But that doesn't make it right. That doesn't mean I'm going to let this timeline become a preview of what will happen in 2003 in your own."
"You're the only one that can make sure it doesn't!" Elizabeth shouted. "You're the one who killed them all!"
"Then I'll make sure it doesn't," said the Doctor. He regarded Elizabeth with cold eyes, then spun on his heels, and walked out of the house.
As the door slammed shut behind him, the entire Scoobie gang took a collected sigh of relief. Willow just stared off at where the Doctor had been standing, a puzzled expression on her face. Tara clutched her hand, tightly. Everyone else was fussing around Dawn, trying to make sure she was okay.
Dawn could barely speak.
"He… actually wants to kill me," Dawn said, at last. She hadn't fully believed it until just now.
"Dawn, he doesn't think of you as a real person," said Elizabeth. "If it wasn't for Buffy being around to scare him off, he'd have killed you last year. You heard him."
"But… last year… he told me I was real," said Dawn. "He said I was more real than he was. Why would he say that if he didn't think it was true?"
"The Doctor lies," said Elizabeth. "All the time. I keep telling you. He's not the guy you think he is. He has his views of what should and shouldn't happen. As long as his reality matches with the world, he's okay. The moment that doesn't happen… that's when he goes all killy."
"He always acted so nice to me," Dawn said. "And that whole time…" She shuddered.
"He's always planning something," Elizabeth explained. "This one girl he used to travel with — Ace. I met her. He screwed with her, manipulated her, used her as his puppet. He doesn't tell you he's doing it, but every action he takes is meant to ensure that one specific outcome occurs. His 'Web of Time' or whatever." She gave Dawn a sympathetic look. "I'm sorry."
"Buffy really thought the Doctor was a good guy," Willow said.
"I guess she was wrong," said Xander.
"I knew he'd show up here, eventually," Elizabeth told them. "Even though this was a different world. That's why I've been gathering an army. That's why I've been doing all of this! I needed to make sure that you guys were safe. I needed to save innocent lives." She looked over at Dawn. "I needed to save you."
Dawn ran over, and threw her arms around Elizabeth. "I love you," she said.
The moment the words passed Dawn's lips, Elizabeth froze. A flash of anger passed across her face, burning in her eyes, and she shoved Dawn away. "Get away from me," she growled.
Dawn blinked. "I… just meant…"
Elizabeth flew at Dawn, and smacked her across the face. "I don't care!" she shouted. "I hate you! Don't you get that? I hate you! I hate you! I hate you! I—"
Angel, Xander, and Giles all dove at Elizabeth, struggling to get her away from Dawn. Angel shouted, "Elizabeth!"
Elizabeth froze, and stopped fighting them. Her eyes went wide, and her face went pale, as she stared at Dawn.
Willow and Tara ran over to help Dawn. Dawn just kept staring at Elizabeth.
"You hit me," said Dawn.
"I hit you," Elizabeth breathed. There was a tremor of pure fear in her voice as she said it — a fear more raw and powerful than even the fear she'd shown when she faced the Doctor. She squeezed her eyes shut. "No! No! It wasn't me," she insisted. "I swear, it wasn't me!"
All the Scoobies just looked at her, not really sure what to say to this. They'd all seen it happen. They'd seen her do it.
"It's him," said Elizabeth, her every word more panicked and fearful. "It's the Doctor! He's the one making me do it. I can feel him. Inside my head. All the time. He's making me his Little Slayer, just like I'm supposed to be. Just like he wants me to be in 2003!"
Dawn rubbed at the spot on her face where Elizabeth had struck her. "The Doctor warned me!" she said. "He said if you returned, I should run."
"Dawn, he wants to kill you!" Elizabeth insisted. "He's trying to kill you so he can send me back. I don't want to kill you! I'd never — I swear, it's not me!"
"But if Dawn died before the Doctor could use the energy," said Giles, "then you would have to stay here. Forever. And that would match your plans quite well, wouldn't it?"
Elizabeth started struggling again. "No!" she screamed. "I'm not evil! I'm not a monster! I'm not! I'm not! I'm not!" With this last cry, she shoved her way out of their grips, and bolted out the door.
Xander made to follow Elizabeth, but Giles put a hand on his arm. "Let her go," he said. "Best she stay away from Dawn."
"Oh," said Anya, in a loud, chirpy voice, from several feet away. "So that's what it is! It's 'I love you'." She beamed in triumph, as if she'd just worked out something that had been bothering her for a while.