All About Spike - Print Version
[Back to Main Site] [Back to Story Page]

The Rescue
By Elsa Frohman

Feedback: elsa@frohman.net
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: Through Never Leave Me
Summary: Six weeks! You can't expect me to just leave him there!



Part 1, The Prisoner

Fingertips glided over his skin as gently as butterfly wings. Her touch healed, closing the wounds and taking away the pain. His eyes were closed, but he knew who was with him. Her scent washed over him as a balm. He tried to speak, but a finger touched his lips.

"Shhh... You don't have to say anything."

The pillows were soft beneath his head, and the bed embraced his aching bones. He was home -- safe in the arms of the woman he loved.

"Rest now," she whispered. "Everything's all right now. It's over."

"Buffy," he said, though drawing breath to speak was a terrible effort. "You didn't have to ..."

"Yes, I did. I couldn't leave you there."

"Not worth it..."

"Stop saying that. Don't ever say it again. You are worth it. Because I say so."

He sighed, overwhelmed by weariness. He felt the weight ... the weight of his own body pulling against the bonds that tied him to the wheel. It was cold, so cold. And it hurt, everything hurt, his arms, his shoulders, the open wounds on his chest and abdomen.

His eyes fluttered open. Not home. At least, not her home. The place was familiar enough, though. He'd spent months here before she'd come and taken him to Harris' apartment.

But at least he was no longer suspended from the ceiling. The wheel had been lowered again. He was upright, his feet touching the dirt floor. He raised his head, though the effort cost him dearly. Buffy stood in front of him, looking at his wounds with clinical interest.

He laughed.

"What's so funny?" she asked.

He could barely draw the breath to speak. Breathing flexed the damaged muscles of his chest and sent streaks of pain through him like electric shocks.

"Won't work," he said.

"No?"

"Can tell the difference now."

"Doesn't matter. She doesn't care about you. At least I care enough to come see you."

"Bugger off."

"She thinks you're one of us, you know. She thinks I sent my Harbingers to rescue you. She won't be coming to save you. She thinks you're on our side."

"Doesn't matter."

"You're lost. Nobody gives a damn what happens to you."

He laughed again weakly.

"You'll be dead soon."

"Too late... by a long shot," he replied, his lip curling in what almost looked like a sneer.

"Really dead. Not undead. You're not long for this world, sweet cheeks."

"Bollocks. Can't bleed to death."

"Right... but there's a lot more in store. Believe me, I can make good on that threat. And it won't be quick. You're mine. All mine. Nobody else cares to claim you."

"You can't do anything to me. Not anymore."

"Think not?"

"You think I care if you kill me?"

"It would be a waste. I think I'd rather make use of you. You know what I think?"

"I think so, Brain, but where are we going to get a duck and a hose at this time of night?"

Buffy's image frowned.

"Inappropriate humor. You think you've broken my hold on you."

"Yeah."

"We'll see."

He was alone again. It was dark. He couldn't see much. Just as well.

When he opened his eyes again, Ian Matthews was glaring at him. Peter Harcourt had his arms pinned from behind. Matthews slammed a fist into his gut.

They were upperclassmen -- he wasn't. He wasn't even sure what the transgression had been this time. Didn't matter.

"Say it!" Matthews snarled. "Say 'I am a pathetic prancing ponce,' you little faggot."

William pursed his lips and tried to glare back at the older boy. Matthews was nearly six feet tall and weighed close to 17 stone. Harcourt weighed at least as much, though he lacked the other boy's height. A slight boy even for his age, which was three years less than these two, William knew he had no chance in a fight with either of his tormentors, let alone both at once. But that didn't mean he would roll over and be their dog.

Matthews hit him again, knocking the breath out of him.

"I think you must like pain," Matthews sneered. "Do you like pain?" The older boy grabbed his chin and forced William to look at him. "Are you one of those perverts who likes to be hurt? Are you?"

Spike shook his head. That wasn't right. Nobody ever said "pervert" when he was at school. Everything was getting mixed up again. Couldn't let himself get confused. He was dreaming. Matthews and Harcourt had been dead for ... how long? Hard to say. Hadn't kept track of them after he left school. Never wanted to see them again.

Matthews hit him again.

"Be careful," he said, giving the older boy a defiant look. "You don't want to miss and hit my face. Then there'll be a bruise and someone will ask what happened. Can't have that."

"Nobody cares what happens to you!" Matthews said, cocking his fist back to strike again.

The blow never landed.

He opened his eyes again. He was in the basement of Sunnydale High School. Alone again.

"You're not alone," said a familiar voice.

Angelus stepped out of the shadows. Or was it Angel? Angelus, Angel -- not like there was a difference.

"So, how's the soul working out for you?"

Spike frowned. He wasn't at all certain he wanted to expend the effort to draw a breath and speak.

"Was in town. Just thought I'd stop by and pay a visit," Angel said. "Came up from LA to see Buffy. We're getting back together, you know. We're soulmates."

Angel gave him a smug look.

"She's one hell of a woman. And she loves me. In fact, she'll never love anything as much as me ever again in this life. So, how could I stay out of her life? We were meant to be together -- forever."

Spike let his eyes flutter closed.

"Maybe we'll invite you to the wedding. I'd let you be the best man -- but you're not," Angel's voice continued.

"You're not real."

"I'm real as I need to be," the voice, no longer Angel's replied. "Real enough to control you. Real enough to make you kill those people. Real enough to destroy you."

"I've got a silly question," Spike said, opening his eyes to find nobody in the room with him.

"Why haven't you?"

There was no answer.

"There must be some reason you don't just have one of your toadies put a stake through my heart."

"That would be too easy. I'd rather play with you some more."

Angel was back -- no, this time it was clearly Angelus. He looked as he looked when Spike had first seen his grandsire -- long hair, mutton chops, cold eyes.

"No, it's more than that. For some reason, I'm important to you."

"Don't flatter yourself. You've played your part. Your blood raised my pet. You've killed a good dozen people. Right now, you're little more than a pleasant diversion."

"I'm going to figure it out."

There was no reply, and he found his attention wavering. He was slipping out of consciousness again.

He came into the common room, only to find Harcourt there. The older boy had him before he could reverse and retreat. The older boy was glowering.

"I told you I wanted my shoes shined, toad."

"I couldn't. I had to stay after maths class," he answered, panic rising as he tried to back away.

Harcourt grabbed him and twisted his arm behind his back.

"When I tell you to do something, you do it, toad."

"It wasn't my fault. I had to stay after," he said.

"Who do you think you are? I'll tell you who you are. You're nobody. Nobody gives a damn about you, toad. The sooner you get that through your thick head..."

He twisted away from the older boy's grip and turned to face him. Harcourt was wearing an AC/DC T-shirt. That wasn't right. Not that it wasn't appropriate. Just not right.

Harcourt was gone. He was back in the high school basement.

"My poor Spike," Drusilla said, her voice full of concern. "They've hurt you. The bad, bad people have hurt you. They've taken away your strength. You need to feed."

"No thanks, pet."

"I'll bring you a nice, tender young girl. Then my Spike will feel better."

"No."

"You have to feed, my darling. You must. If I untie you now, you'll just fall down. You have to be strong again. You're my brave knight. You have to fight for me. The King of Cups will have his picnic."

"Go away."

"Please... pretty please with sugar on top. I'll find you a nice pretty one," she cajoled.

"Go away."

Drusilla stepped back and motioned to one of the robed figures who stood in the shadows. They'd been there all along. Why hadn't he noticed?

"Go catch a girl and bring her here for my Spike. He needs a tasty treat. We must be much nicer to him now. He's ours again. And he's very, very hungry."

"Don't."

"Now don't be greedy, my sweet boy. If you finish all of this one, I'll get you another."

"I won't feed..."

"Oh, don't be afraid, my darling. The nasty little thing in your head won't hurt you. We've fixed that. No more nasty little shocks lying to my Spike."

"Stop it. I know you're not real."

"Nothing is. Don't you know that by now? It's all just a story. A nasty, nasty story with a bad ending. But we can rewrite it, my sweet boy. We'll be together forever. We belong together. The dark princess and the dark knight. You'll forget the Slayer. She's already forgotten you. She wasn't worthy of you."

"No. I don't want you around anymore."

Drusilla frowned.

"It's the soul, isn't it? Dirty, dirty. All covered with stains. You'll never get it clean."

"Doesn't matter. Nothing I can do about that now."

"I can fix it for you. I'll take the dirty, nasty soul out of my Spike. Then everything will be sweet again."

He laughed.

"See, you feel better already. I'll fix my Spike, and we'll open a vein and drench the world in blood together."

"No, pet. Not gonna happen."

Drusilla stomped her foot. "Don't contradict Mummy! You're a very naughty boy!"

"And you're a liar. If you could remove my soul, you'd never have gone to the trouble you did to get me to do your dirty work. Get lost, bitch."

He closed his eyes and willed himself away from the high school basement. Anywhere would be preferable.

The chapel at school. Stained glass windows, dark wooden pews, the faint odor of incense recently burned. He sat in a pew near the front, a history book open in his lap. The chapel was quiet, and they wouldn't look for him here. He could read his assignment in peace.

He heard the hinges on the door creak. Someone was coming. Please let it not be...

"There you are. Thought you could hide, did you?"

He looked back over his shoulder to find his worst fears confirmed. Matthews was coming up the aisle.

"I told you to wait for me in the common room. You just make it worse for yourself when you try to get away."

"Why won't you leave me alone?" he asked.

"Because I like you," Matthews said, a nasty gleam in his eye. "You're such a pretty little thing."

Spike stood up, a little bit surprised that he could. He wasn't as tall as the upperclassman, but he was a 150-year-old vampire, and if he chose to, he could break the boy in half. No, he couldn't. The chip. But that didn't make any sense. Matthews was dead more than half a century before he got the chip. He was confused. And he wasn't sure the chip worked anyway.

Matthews grabbed two handfuls of the front of Spike's T-shirt, and glared into his face.

"I'm going to make you sorry you were ever born."

"Excuse me," said a familiar, feminine voice. "But you really shouldn't do that."

Spike looked over to see Buffy standing beside them, her hands on her hips. She was wearing jeans and a lace halter top. He had the odd feeling that she was dressed inappropriately for church.

"Who are you?" Matthews asked, looking her up and down in confusion.

"Ian Matthews, allow me to introduce you to Miss Buffy Summers," Spike said formally, the words sounding strange as he spoke them.

"Why is she dressed like that?"

Buffy shrugged. "Whale-bone corsets are so passe. And they ride up when you do a high kick."

As if to demonstrate, Buffy hit Matthews with a boot to the solar plexus. He flew backward and tumbled over the back of a pew. She stalked after him and stood over him glowering.

"You mess with Spike, and you're messing with me," she said grimly. "And believe me, you don't want to mess with me."

Spike opened his eyes. He was still tied to the wheel in the high school basement.

The figure before him was Angelus again -- his face dark with rage.

"You're becoming more trouble than you're worth, boy. Just why is it I don't kill you?"

"Because you can't."

"Can't I? All I have to do is have one of my servants drag your sorry carcass outside. You're not strong enough to walk. The sun will come up, and that will be that."

Spike laughed. "Go ahead. See if I care."

He closed his eyes.

"Aren't you even curious about the vampire your blood raised? Don't you want to know what you're responsible for?"

"What does it matter? It can hardly do any more damage than I've done myself."

"Think again. It's twenty times as strong as you were at your strongest. The blood will flow -- it's already happening. Death, terror, destruction. My pet will make me proud."

"Until the Slayer finds it. I don't expect it's going to last long."

"Fool. The Slayer is no match for a true vampire."

"Wanna bet?"

"You're wrong. He's searching for her right now. She's going to learn some interesting things about vampire nature. He's harder to kill than she knows. And he's going to rid me of the meddlesome bitch."

"Don't count your dead Slayers before they're pushing up daisies."

Angelus shook his head slowly.

"Pathetic. You think that just because you never managed to kill her it can't be done?"

"You can talk all you want. I'll believe the Slayer is dead when I see the body -- and probably not then. She's come back twice already. She's stronger than death. It doesn't matter what you send against her, she'll beat it."

"Sad really. You're allowing yourself to hope again. You believe she's going to come for you. But you might as well hope for a Hanukah greeting from the pope. I hate to break it to you -- she's not going to rescue you."

Spike laughed once more.

"Too late again, mate. She already did."



The "UPN" promo for Part Two

Title: Next week on Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

Voice over: Spike is the captive of First Evil and Buffy has to assemble a crack team to rescue him.

(Clem stands in the doorway of Buffy's living room.)

Clem: I'm in charge of the snacks.

(Two-shot of Buffy and Anya.)

Anya: Dawn can shriek a lot and wave her weapon around ineffectively.

(Close up on Willow.)

Willow: I could do a confusion spell, but, well, it's confusing. (Boing sound effect.)

Voice over: But there are obstacles to overcome.

(Principal Wood blocks the door to the school basement looking stern.)

Robin Wood: I don't suppose you'd like to explain why you and several people -- some of whom don't seem to be students -- are headed down to the school basement packing a variety of medieval weapons?

(Wide shot of Buffy with Xander, Anya, Dawn, Willow and Clem bunched up behind her.)

Buffy: (tentative) We're doing some role playing? Some ... um ... medieval role playing ... with weapons. But it's actually going to be very non-violent.

Principal Wood: This really plays havoc with our zero tolerance weapons policy.

(Two-shot of Buffy and Anya again. Buffy leaning against a door frame looking disappointed.)

Buffy: This isn't working out the way I visualized it.

Anya: Oh? In what way?

Buffy: I thought we'd be competent.

Voice over: Next week on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

(Close up on Xander.)

Xander: I get it. It's all about underwear.



Feedback: elsa@frohman.net
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: Through Never Leave Me
Summary: Now for something completely different. If you were expecting Part 2 to match Part 1, sorry about that. Oh, yes, it follows -- plot-wise -- but we've sacked the production team and the story will be completed in an entirely different style.



Part 2 Act I

Giles voice over:
Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

From Beneath You:
Spike's "I'm just a guy with his ear to the ground" speech.

From Conversations with Dead People:

The end of the Willow/Cassie scene with "Not 'it,' me," and the turning inside out.

From Sleeper:

Xander: Spike's in trouble?

Buffy: I hope not.

Spike bites the brunette.

FE/Buffy: That's my guy.

Shot of axe swinging at Giles' neck.

From Never Leave Me:

Buffy: You risked everything to be a better man, and you can -- you are. I believe in you.

Shot of fighting the Harbingers.

Shot of the empty manacles.

Buffy: They were after Spike.

Shot of Spike bleeding onto the seal and the Ubervamp rising.



TEASER

INT., THE SUMMERS HOUSE, BUFFY'S BEDROOM, NIGHT
She's in bed sleeping restlessly.

BUFFY:
(Mumbling in her sleep) From beneath...


A light begins to grow beside her bed. It elongates and gets brighter, until it's the size of a man. Buffy stirs and raises her head.

BUFFY:
What ... What are... Who are you?


The light begins to coalesce. It's Rupert Giles. He glances around. It's clear he can't see Buffy. It's a one way link.

BUFFY:
Giles? Giles? You're here? Where have you been? I've been trying to find you.


GILES:
Buffy, I don't have much time. The Coven helped me send this message to you. I don't dare use conventional means. It's looking for me.


BUFFY:
Where are you?


GILES:
I can't hear you, and I can't answer your questions. I'm sorry. I know there's a lot you want to know. But I'm going to have to beg you to stop and just listen.


Buffy stops and waits for him to go on.

GILES:
There is a great danger coming. The First Evil has returned. But it's much stronger since the last time we encountered it. You won't banish it so easily this time.

The danger now is greater than you can imagine, Buffy. You must be alert. The First will try to deceive you. You can't trust what you see. I can't be more specific.

I can only offer you one piece of advice. Don't allow yourself to be confused. Keep your mind on the mission. That's all. I'm sorry, I wish it was more.


The light begins to fade.

BUFFY:
Giles, don't go. Wait. Where are you? Are you OK? Please, don't go! Don't leave me! I need your help. It's got Spike...




OPENING CREDITS



INT. SUMMERS HOUSE
Willow is sitting on the floor, across from Anya, similarly seated. Between them is a map of Sunnydale. Xander and Dawn stand over Anya and Willow. There are glowing dots on the map.

The following additional credits run over the beginning of the scene:
Guest starring: David Boreanaz
Saverio Guerra
Anthony Stewart Head
James B. Leary
Camden Toy
D.B. Woodside
Mary-Kate Olsen as "Giselle"
Britney Spears as "Val"
and
Luke Perry as the Fourth Harbinger from the left

ANYA:
Pretty! But I can't find me.


WILLOW:
You're not a demon anymore. This spell only locates demons. We're looking for Spike.


XANDER:
Lotta demons showing in and around the high school.


DAWN:
Maybe the spell went wrong, and it's showing teenagers, not demons.


XANDER:
Demons, teenagers... what's the difference?


DAWN:
Hey!


XANDER:
(To Willow) How do we know which one of your little glowbugs is Spike?


WILLOW:
(Reproachful) Give me a minute.


Beat



Goddess Thespa, hear my plea.
My heart and hand I give in your service.
Reveal to me the one I seek.


Close up on the map. One of the dots glows blue.

DAWN:
Cool...


WILLOW:
The high school.


XANDER:
The hellmouth.


Willow snatches up the map as it starts to catch fire, so it can't damage the carpet.

WILLOW:
Andrew said the seal he uncovered was in the high school basement. That's got to be connected.


ANYA:
So, is the little twerp over his fright?


XANDER:
I don't think he's going to be over his fright of you anytime soon, but he's stopped weeping. Don't know what we're going to do with him in the long run.


WILLOW:
By the number of demons showing in the high school, I hope Buffy finds us some reinforcements.






INT. WILLY'S BAR
It's midday, and there aren't many customers. Willy is polishing the bar. Buffy walks in.

WILLY:
Hey, Slayer. What's up?


BUFFY:
I'm looking for anyone who might be friends with Spike.


Willy looks annoyed.

WILLY:
He don't hang out here too much anymore. So, if you're thinking about waitin', won't do you any good.


BUFFY:
I'm not looking for Spike. I'm looking for people who might be his friends.


WILLY:
You're waiting at the wrong taxi stand, Slayer. He ain't got too many friends that come in here -- not since he started workin' with you. People who come in here don't take kindly to killin' demons.


BUFFY:
There must be somebody. He's lived in this town for years.


WILLY:
If he's got friends, they don't come around here.


Willy stops polishing for a moment and thinks.

There is one guy...






INT. THE SUMMERS KITCHEN, DAY
Willow and Xander are plating sandwiches for the gang.

WILLOW:
Peanut butter and banana for Dawn. Turkey on rye for you. Turkey on wheat with goat cheese for Anya. Alfalfa sprouts and tofu cheese for me.


XANDER:
How can you eat that -- I mean, all that green fuzz!


WILLOW:
All full of veggie goodness.


XANDER:
I refuse to eat anything that looks like it came into being in a Tupperware container of leftovers at the back of the refrigerator.


WILLOW:
(Takes a bite of her sandwich) Mmmm... You don't know what you're missing! (Makes a face) Except... eww... I think these sprouts have been in the crisper too long.


XANDER:
See? They've reverted to their natural state.


Willow puts her sandwich in the sink.

WILLOW:
(Serious now) Xander, I just wanted to say (pause) thanks.


XANDER:
For what?


WILLOW:
For agreeing to help ... I know you aren't that fond of Spike...


XANDER:
(Frowns) Yeah...


WILLOW:
It looks like there are a lot of demons under the high school. This is probably going to be pretty dangerous.


XANDER:
Well, I can't let my friends go do something dangerous without coming along, can I?


WILLOW:
(Sad smile) Is that why we do it?


XANDER:
I guess... For the thrill of fighting evil, over and over, even though it will never go away no matter how many vampires you stake and demons you kill.


WILLOW:
You know that's not what I meant.


XANDER:
Yeah. I care about you. I care about Buffy -- and Dawn. Where you guys go, I guess I'll always follow.


WILLOW:
But it sort of pisses you off that this time we're rushing in to save Spike...


XANDER:
(Looking down. Doesn't want to meet Willow's eyes) If you mean, does it piss me off that last time, when it was Anya, I begged and pleaded, and she still went off determined to kill her? But now it's Spike, and he can kill just as many people, if not more, but this time it's different? Yeah, sort of...


WILLOW:
Have you considered that maybe, just maybe, Buffy learned something last time?


XANDER:
Don't fool yourself, Willow. It isn't about right and wrong -- it's about Spike. It doesn't matter what he does; she'll always find an excuse not to put an end to him. She's completely blind where he's concerned, and she has been for a long time. (bitter) It's not about redemption; it's about washboard abs.


WILLOW:
She cares about him...


XANDER:
(Shaking his head) Cares? How can she care about a ... (Closes his mouth and decides not to say it.)


WILLOW:
Maybe the same way someone can care about a vengeance demon.


XANDER:
That was different.


WILLOW:
If you say so...






EXT. THE SUMMERS HOUSE, DAY
Buffy is coming up the walk with Clem who is carrying a grocery sack.

BUFFY:
You're sure there's nobody else?


CLEM:
There's Gah. He's a Fyarl, and he'd be pretty useful in a fight -- but he's off on a retreat.


BUFFY:
They have retreats for Fyarl demons?


CLEM:
It's sort of a writers' workshop. He wants to become a poet.


BUFFY:
Fyarl poetry? I wonder what rhymes with 'crush.'


CLEM:
(Earnestly -- this has come up before.) Mush, flush, rush, shush.


Buffy gives him a "look."





INT. SUMMERS LIVING ROOM, DAY
Buffy is standing near the door from the entry hall. Willow and Xander are seated on the sofa. Dawn is perched on the arm of the sofa. Clem sits in the chair at the end of the sofa. Anya is standing on the other side of the doorframe from Buffy. The big window behind the sofa is still covered with plastic. (We'll hope the audience doesn't notice that the front windows were intact in the exterior establishing shot in the previous scene.) Anya is chairing the planning meeting -- very much into being the leader.

ANYA:
The problem, as I see it, is that there are a lot of demons down there, and there aren't very many of us.


XANDER:
A significant problem...


ANYA:
This would be a lot easier if Spike hadn't alienated practically every demon in Sunnydale. Or, conversely, if he had more human friends.


BUFFY:
This isn't helpful.


ANYA:
(Annoyed at Buffy's interjection, taking control back) We'll simply have to make the best possible use of the resources we have. That's the key to success -- efficient allocation of resources.


CLEM:
I brought snacks.


Clem picks up the grocery sack and takes out a bag of Cheetos, opening it to offer around. Anya frowns -- this wasn't what she had in mind.

ANYA:
Clem, what would you say is your best combat skill?


CLEM:
(Pauses to think.) I don't fight much. It's better to make friends.


ANYA:
Ah... Willow, what about magic?


WILLOW:
Well, I could...


BUFFY:
(Interrupting) I don't think combat magic is a good idea...


WILLOW:
Not all magic is bad. There are things I could do that might help -- without using the Dark Arts.


ANYA:
(Brightly) That's right. Like your ball of sunshine spell! If any of the demons are vampires...


BUFFY:
(Arms crossed, impatient) That's not going to be too good for Spike.


WILLOW:
I could do a confusion spell, but, well, it's confusing. I mean, it wouldn't just confuse the enemy -- it would get everyone in range. So we'd be just as confused as they were.


Buffy rolls her eyes.

ANYA:
Well, maybe not that -- but it's the right sort of idea. When you're fighting a superior force, you want to create as much confusion as possible -- to make your forces seem greater than they are. Let me see, we want to go in as noisy and wild as possible. Dawn can shriek a lot and wave her weapon around ineffectively. Xander can shout and use a battle-axe -- he's very effective with an axe.


Xander looks embarrassed, remembering attacking Spike with the axe. (Insert brief flashback to axe hitting doorframe above Spike's head in Entropy.)

Willow, maybe you have some sort of noisy spell, like bag pipes or something. And I'll yell and use a broad sword. I think the broad sword is my best weapon. And Clem -- what weapon would you like to use?


CLEM:
(Thinks about it.) I'm in charge of snacks. Anybody want any Orange Crush?


Holds up a 2-liter bottle from the grocery sack. He gets up.

Got any glasses, Buffy?


BUFFY:
(Resigned) In the kitchen.


Clem exits through the door past Buffy with the bottle of soda.

Camera angle changes to just Anya and Buffy on either side of the doorframe.

BUFFY:
This isn't working out the way I'd visualized.


ANYA:
Oh? How so?


BUFFY:
I thought we'd be competent.


Camera goes back to the interior of the living room.

BUFFY:
(Uncertain about how to say this.) There's something else I need to tell you. (Beat) I saw Giles last night.


WILLOW:
Saw? As in, he's in town? (She's suddenly hopeful.)


Buffy shakes her head.

BUFFY:
More like a vision. But it wasn't a dream. I didn't go back to sleep after. He appeared in my bedroom.


WILLOW:
(Worried.) Could it have been the First again? It seems to show us what we most want to see.


BUFFY:
That's what worries me. It wasn't the way you've described your encounter, or like Dawn's. He couldn't hear me. It was sort of a projection, I think. But that doesn't mean it was really Giles, either. I think the First is smart enough to keep changing the way it appears to us. I can't be sure.


WILLOW:
There's been one thing in common in all the visitations...


BUFFY:
(Nods) I know. Spike told me that sometimes it appeared to him as me, but mostly it looked like Spike when it was talking to Spike. I've been dead. He is dead. You saw Cassie Newton -- who is dead. Dawn saw...


Dawn looks uncomfortable.

WILLOW:
But that doesn't necessarily...


BUFFY:
I've been checking everywhere I can think of. The Council says they don't know where he is. I think we've got to accept the possibility...


ANYA:
(Distressed) No! No, that can't be. Giles can't be...


DAWN:
What did he tell you? I mean, if it was something helpful, maybe that means it was really him. If he told you the truth...


BUFFY:
He didn't tell me much. He told me the danger we were facing was the First Evil, but we already knew that. Then he told me not to get confused. That's pretty neutral -- anybody might tell me that. So, I can't really tell. What he told me wasn't that helpful, so it might have been a deception -- something to give us false confidence. Or, it might have been him, and that was just the best he could do...


WILLOW:
We've got to be very careful about advice from people who shouldn't actually be here...


Clem returns with a tray of glasses of orange soda.

BUFFY:
So, what I wanted to say was, we may be all alone in this. There may be nobody to fall back on. So, more than anything else, I want everybody to know that we've all got to come through this alive. Nobody gets left behind. No noble sacrifices. We can't afford to lose anybody else. We're all we've got, and every one of us is important. We go in together, and everybody watches everybody else's back. We pair off. You make sure your partner makes it -- that's the first priority. This is one battle, and when it's over there will be more. We've got to make sure we'll be strong enough to fight again.


ANYA:
(Trying to take back control.) OK, Xander, you and Dawn. Willow, you're with me. And Clem can back up Buffy.


BUFFY:
When we get into it, you guys are running interference. Don't go commando on me. I'll do most of the fighting. You guys clear a path for me, keep them from getting around behind us, make lots of noise to keep them off balance. But I'm the one who fights -- got it?


DAWN:
(Snickering) She said 'Don't go commando.'


XANDER:
I get it. It's all about underwear.






EXT. AN ALLEY IN SUNNYDALE, NIGHT
A young couple turn the corner and slip into the alley, clearly with making out on their minds.

BOY:
(Whispering in the girl's ear.) You make me so hot.


GIRL:
(Giggling) I bet you say that to...


BOY:
No! Only you.


He backs her against the wall, and they start kissing. The camera backs off, and we see the First's Ubervamp creeping up on the couple. It comes close and runs a clawed finger down the boy's back. He turns, startled.

BOY:
What...


His face is contorted with horror as he sees the Ubervamp. He doesn't have time to react. It grabs him and tosses him aside like a rag doll. The boy smashes into the opposite wall and slides to the ground unconscious. The girl screams. The camera switches to her POV, and we see the Ubervamp's jagged-toothed mouth descending toward her.

BLACK OUT -- to commercial break.



Act II

SUMMERS HOUSE, INT., AT THE WEAPONS CHEST
Anya is handing out weapons.


ANYA:
(Handing an axe to Xander) Battle-axe for you.


She thinks for a moment then picks out a crossbow for Willow.

ANYA:
You're pretty accurate with this, aren't you?


WILLOW:
Can hit a bulls-eye from as much as ... three feet away.


Anya takes back the crossbow and gives her a baseball bat.

ANYA:
Dawnie... Sword or crossbow?


DAWN:
I'll take...


BUFFY:
She's not coming.


DAWN:
Hey!


BUFFY:
This is too dangerous.


DAWN:
(Angry) You can't leave me out!


BUFFY:
I don't want to have to worry...


ANYA:
I think she should come.


BUFFY:
(Looking daggers at Anya) I didn't ask you!


DAWN:
What's the point of teaching me to fight if...


ANYA:
(Determined to be in charge.) We need everyone. We're going to be outnumbered enough as it is! Dawn will be quite valuable in creating confusion.


Buffy glares at Anya.

XANDER:
Time out! (Buffy and Anya both glare at him.) We don't need to start out by fighting each other.


BUFFY:
(With false sweetness) Will everyone please excuse us for a moment?


She takes Dawn by the arm and drags her into the kitchen.





SUMMERS KITCHEN, DAY
Buffy enters dragging Dawn by the arm.

BUFFY:
(Trying to be reasonable.) Dawn, I know you want to be a part of this, but I need to know you're safe.


DAWN:
No, that's not it. You just want me out of the way. You should have kept the box the monks delivered me in! Then you could just pack me away when you don't want to play with me! You want me to go upstairs and crawl under your bed ... go play with the dust bunnies? I could name them and everything.


BUFFY:
(Trying to keep her temper.) That's not fair, and you know it. I'm responsible for you. It would be irresponsible to take you into a situation like this.


DAWN:
So when you took me out and taught me how to stake vampires, that was just something to keep me busy, so I wouldn't demand to do anything real.


BUFFY:
Dawn, you're the most important thing in my life. Is it so unreasonable that I want to protect you?


DAWN:
(Crossing her arms and glaring at Buffy) That's a lie! Everything is more important than me. Everything! Even the guy who tried to ...


BUFFY:
Dawn! How can you say... (Stops to compose herself. She's speaking carefully when she starts again.) You've got to stop using that as a weapon. It was me -- not you. Spike has never raised a hand to harm you, and he never would -- even before he got his soul... even if he didn't have his chip. What happened between him and me... it doesn't have anything to do with you. You've got to let go if it. I have...


DAWN:
(Tearing up.) So it's that easy. He gets a soul, and all is forgiven. Well, I can't go out and get a soul. What do I have to do?


BUFFY:
You? Why would you need forgiveness? I love you. You're everything to me.


DAWN:
Oh yes, sounds real good doesn't it? But it isn't true. I didn't ask to be shoved into your life. Nobody asked me if I wanted to be the bowling ball hung around your neck. Mom died, and you had to give up everything to take care of me. And not a day goes by that I don't get reminded. (beat) I'm sorry you had to grow up and be the mom overnight. I'm sorry I'm always between you and what you really want to do. I'm sorry, but there's nothing I can do about it!


Buffy is shocked. She never considered Dawn could feel this way.

BUFFY:
Dawn... You're not a burden...


DAWN:
You jumped off that tower so you wouldn't have to stay and keep looking after me! And when Willow and the others brought you back, you hated it. You spent all that time screwing Spike so you could get away from me. That's why you kept it a secret! If I knew about it, you'd have to let me in...


BUFFY:
(Struggling to keep from crying) I know I was terrible to you. I was terrible to everybody. I was worse to myself. I really hated myself, Dawn. I loathed myself. I hated what I was doing to you. But you're wrong, so wrong, about one thing. I never, ever hated you. Never! I could have packed you off to Dad. I could have let Social Services put you in foster care. But if I did that... I'd be losing the last family I had left. You're my family. And even when I hated everything else around me and in me, I could never hate you. You're all I have left.


DAWN:
(Cold now. She's not buying it.) Then prove it. Let me be part of your life. For once, just for once, Buffy -- choose ME!


Buffy is speechless.

BUFFY:
(Slowly) Take the sword -- I don't want arrows flying around when I least expect it.






INT., THE HIGH SCHOOL BASEMENT
We seem to be in the same room as where the bleeding took place, but it has changed. There are fires burning out of the floor in several spots. The lighting is flickering orange and yellow. It's the same room, but transported to Hell. Spike is still on the wheel and looking the worse for wear. FE in Spike guise stands before him.

FE:
My pet has fed. I just thought you'd like to know. He's as much yours as mine -- your blood raised him, after all. Our child has done us proud -- a lovely young girl for his first victim. He doesn't have your style, mind you. Nobody can seduce a young girl out into the dark the way you do. He's more into brute force. But the ending's the same, innit?


Spike looks disgusted.

FE:
There will be many more... this is just the beginning. And he's going to be doing a lot of siring. Doesn't that just give you a lovely warm feeling? Your legacy carried on. You're the source.


SPIKE:
Sod off.


FE motions to one of his Harbingers, who brings a red-hot poker over and holds it close to Spike's face.

SPIKE:
This is getting boring.


FE:
You know why I don't just kill you?


SPIKE:
(Disinterested) I'm sure you're going to tell me.


FE:
Because you want it. If I kill you, it's over. You would't have to know what carnage is being wrought by the creature your blood raised. No such luck, you're going to see it all. You know what? I've got something special planned. I've managed to arrange it so the Slayer can fight our pet right here! You'll get to see him tear her to pieces.


SPIKE:
You hope.


FE:
(Amused.) He will. No question about it. No Slayer can kill him. It is written: From the blood of the vampire that turned from evil shall rise the Old One. And the hand of the Slayer shall not be sufficient to strike him down. He shall rage upon the earth and feed upon mankind.


SPIKE:
You just make these prophecies up as you go along, don't you?


FE:
We'll see.


FE nods to the Harbinger holding the poker. We see him lower it out of the frame. Then we see Spike's reaction -- howling in pain.





INT, THE MAIN HALL OF THE HIGH SCHOOL
Buffy and the gang come down the hall. Buffy's on point. Behind her are Dawn, Xander, Anya, Clem and Willow, all carrying large, unconcealable weapons. Clem has a mace, which he's handling awkwardly, bumping the others with it accidentally every now and then. The hall is empty except for the Scoobies.

Principal Wood, dressed casually for the weekend in jeans, a T-shirt with an open plaid flannel shirt over it, steps out of his office and takes in this troop with a look of disbelief.


PRINCIPAL WOOD:
Excuse me?


He hurries around to get ahead of them, blocking the door to the basement.

Miss Summers... I don't suppose you'd like to explain why you and several people -- most of whom don't seem to be students -- are headed down to the school basement packing a variety of medieval weapons?


Wide shot of Buffy with Xander, Anya, Dawn, Willow and Clem bunched up behind her, everyone trying to look casual, but managing to look very guilty.


BUFFY:
(tentative) We're doing some role playing? Some ... um ... medieval role playing ... with weapons. But it's actually going to be very non-violent.


PRINCIPAL WOOD:
In the school basement?


BUFFY:
It's like a catacomb down there... very good for ... medieval... non-violent role-playing.


PRINCIPAL WOOD:
I hope you realize, this really plays havoc with our zero tolerance weapons policy. And excuse me for asking, but what is he? (points at Clem)


BUFFY:
(Sotto voce, as if she is trying to spare Clem embarrassment) He has a skin condition.


PRINCIPAL WOOD:
Tell me about it.


BUFFY:
We'll be very careful not to break anything...


PRINCIPAL WOOD:
This is against my better judgment, but all right. Let's go.


BUFFY:
Um...


PRINCIPAL WOOD:
Let me make this perfectly clear, Miss Summers. This is a school -- my school; and nobody is going to play with weapons here unless I'm right there making sure it's safe. If there's anything I hate, it's explaining to the school board how someone got an arm lopped off in the basement of my school.


BUFFY:
Um...


PRINCIPAL WOOD:
Two choices: I'm in, or you're out.


BUFFY:
If you put it that way...


PRINCIPAL WOOD:
Wait here. I'll go get my sword.


BUFFY:
You have a sword? The principal has a sword?


PRINCIPAL WOOD:
For Civil War re-enactments. It's a great hobby.


Principal Wood goes back toward his office.

XANDER:
(Watching Wood go.) Funny, I wouldn't have figured him for a 'Sons of the Confederacy' type.






THE BASEMENT, A CORRIDOR
The Scoobies plus Clem and Robin Wood are working their way along, checking shadows and generally jumping at every sound. Robin Wood seems to know that they're not role-playing. He has a military saber and holds it as if he knows how to use it. He moves like someone with a lot of combat experience.

Clem is the first to make contact with the enemy. A Harbinger steps out from between some stacked crates as the group is passing and raises a dagger to strike Clem. Robin Wood steps in and grabs the Harbinger's wrist, twisting the dagger out. He then clubs the attacker with his sword hilt knocking him unconscious.

PRINCIPAL WOOD:
(Directed to Buffy) Non-violent? Safe?


BUFFY:
Apparently safer since you're along.


The noise has alerted the enemy, and they converge from all directions at once. The battle is on. Buffy is fighting several at once. Xander knocks Dawn aside and stands in front of her defending with his axe. Anya and Willow manage to avoid being stabbed or captured though they aren't doing much damage to the enemy. Clem manages to get off several good swings with his mace, once things get going. He's more effective than even he would have expected. He warms up to fighting -- until he nearly gets Xander with a poorly aimed swing.

CLEM:
Sorry...


XANDER:
Think nothing of it.


Xander swings his axe, looking like he's about to chop down on Clem, but he's actually going for the Harbinger that was charging up from the side. In the moment when Xander is distracted, Dawn gets out from behind him and joins the fight. She's trying to use the classic moves Buffy has taught her, but finding that actual combat requires more flexibility than that. A Harbinger gets the drop on her from behind, but Robin Wood takes him out before he can harm her.

PRINCIPAL WOOD:
(Sternly) There will be detention for any student who gets killed.


Dawn moves off, giving Robin Wood a shocked look. She's stunned that the principal is actually a pretty effective fighter.

The tide of the battle changes, and the gang finds that most of its foes are behind -- herding them along the corridor. Buffy and Robin Wood are the rear guard, doing most of the fighting. The group finds itself outside the door where Buffy first saw Spike. They're gathered with their backs to the door, defending.

XANDER:
Do you get the feeling we've got them right where they want us?


BUFFY:
Yeah, I think we're supposed to go through this door.


PRINCIPAL WOOD:
You think that's a good idea?


BUFFY:
Better than trying to go back the way we came.


They're pretty tightly pressed back against the door. Getting through is going to be a problem, unless they can push back their attackers.

PRINCIPAL WOOD:
OK, I'll create a diversion...


BUFFY:
No, that's my job -- community liaison. This is a lot like dealing with parents.


She hands him her broadsword, and wades into the Harbingers taking them on hand-to-hand with a series of kicks and somersaults.





EXT. A PARIS STREET, DAY
TITLE: PARIS, FRANCE
After several stock establishing shots, we see a matte Eiffel Tower in the background over the back-lot European street set. A young girl, Giselle, is running for her life through a crowd. She's a brunette, with shoulder-length hair, dressed in jeans and an oversized sweater that emphasizes her small frame. She has to push people out of her way and squeeze between others. There are robed Harbingers chasing her. People step out of their way; the Harbingers are using their bizarre appearance to their advantage. Giselle breaks free of the crowd, and puts on speed. She turns a corner into an alley. She pulls herself up short as she comes face-to-face with Rupert Giles. There is something odd about Giles' posture. He seems detached, maybe too stiff.

Giselle doesn't know him. She only sees that there is something strange about him. She starts to back away.

GILES:
Come with me if you want to live. (Tony should try to evoke Terminator 2, without doing the Austrian accent.)


Giselle isn't sure. She hesitates.

BLACK OUT -- to commercial break



Act III

EXT. A PARIS STREET, DAY

TITLE: PARIS, FRANCE

Picking up exactly where we left off before the commercial break: Giselle is looking at Giles suspiciously. She takes a tentative step backward.

GILES:
(Exasperated -- sounding completely like the Giles we know.) I've got a cab waiting.


He motions to her to follow and they run down the alley to the opposite end, where a cab waits. He motions for her to get in. (Note: We don't see him open the door, or actually move anything solid.)

We see the cab pull away, hopefully, taking the girl to safety.





INT: THE SCHOOL BASEMENT
Robin Wood gets the door open, and everybody piles through, Buffy last. She breaks away from the fight and dives through the door, Robin slamming it behind her. Everybody takes a deep breath, thinking they're safe for the moment.

The room is as we last saw it, except Spike and the wheel are not here. There is a large hole in the middle of the floor, around which the gang will have to navigate in the coming fight.

Xander turns around and is first to see the Ubervamp. It's standing at one side of the room, hunched over, just watching everybody. At first, it's not clear it's even alive.

XANDER:
Oh God...


WILLOW:
What? (Turns and sees what he sees.) Buffy...


BUFFY:
(Turning and getting her first look.) I guess this is what we were supposed to come in here for...


Buffy walks toward the Ubervamp -- cautiously. It raises it's head and its eyes follow her.

CLEM:
Be careful. I don't like the looks of this.


ANYA:
It reminds me of that movie... Noserfer, Nostralfor... something like that.


PRINCIPAL WOOD:
Nosferatu.


ANYA:
Yeah, that one.


BUFFY:
If it's a vampire, I stake it. That's simple enough.


Buffy pulls a stake out of the back of her waistband.

XANDER:
That's what I always say...


Buffy gets within striking distance, stake held high. The Ubervamp pounces, grabbing her stake hand and bending it back so suddenly that she drops the stake. It snatches her back toward itself, opening its mouth to bite. Buffy head-butts him, then does a back somersault away. The vamp comes after her, but Robin steps into its way, spinning and running it through with his sword with a backward thrust. The vamp screams, but pulls the sword out and throws it away. It's after Robin now, leaping after him and grabbing him. It picks him up and throws him across the room. His head hits the wall, and he falls down unconscious.

Xander swings his axe, hoping to behead it. It grabs the shaft, under the head, and wrenches it out of Xander's hands. It swings the axe around and swings at Xander. Buffy tackles him and gets him down just in time to avoid beheading. She's back up in a heartbeat and attacks with a series of vicious kicks that seem to be forcing the creature back. But the Ubervamp only gives so much ground before it stops and grabs Buffy's foot as she comes up to kick again. It throws her off balance, and she recovers with a back flip. It advances on her.

Willow steps into the way.

WILLOW:
(Her eyes go black.) FREEZE!


The Ubervamp stops, seemingly paralyzed. But the effort shows on Willow. She strains to hold the spell in place, but can't. The spell breaks, and she screams, holding her head in pain.

Xander catches her and drags her away, though the Ubervamp is following.

WILLOW:
(Moaning.) It's too close ...


XANDER:
What? That thing?


WILLOW:
The First. When I use magic, it can reach into me.


Clem runs in and tries to attack the vamp. He swings his mace, but the vamp ducks under it, coming up and grabbing Clem by the neck and biting him. Clem lets out a terrified scream that dies as he collapses, dropping his weapon and falling to the floor in a heap. 

DAWN:
(Distressed, shouting) Clem!


Buffy attacks the Ubervamp again, keeping it away from Xander and Willow. She's no more than keeping it busy. It allows her to drive it back, until it's ready to attack again, when it comes after her and swipes at her with its claws, leaving a scratch on her arm.

Dawn attacks with her sword from behind. She brings her sword down toward his shoulder, but the blow slides off over its arm. It swings around and grabs the sword by the blade, twisting it out of her hand and breaking it.

The Ubervamp tosses the sword away and leaps toward Dawn.



PARIS, A HOTEL ROOM, NIGHT
Giles is there with two young women. One is Giselle. He's pacing. He's worried. The second girl is sitting on the windowsill with one foot up and knee bent. She has short hair, except for a few dreadlocks. She's a bit of a punk, with a North London accent. Her name is Val. When we hear Giselle speak for the first time, we find she has a French accent.

GISELLE:
I need to call Carl. Please! I have to let him know where I am!


GILES:
No.


VAL:
It's no use. Your Watcher is history, doll. Just like mine.


GISELLE:
No!


GILES:
If the Harbingers were in your flat when you got there, they'll have killed him. I'm sorry. We have to face facts. And if you call back to the flat, you'll only be giving them a way to find us.


GISELLE:
(Crying) He can't be... Carl could fight. He taught me.


GILES:
I'm sorry.


VAL:
(Grim) Took six of the buggers to take Tommy down.


GILES:
We have to make preparations to leave Paris.


GISELLE:
Where will we go? Shouldn't we be fighting the ones who ...


GILES:
We will, but not until we have help. 


VAL:
(Cynical) Know where there are more of us? Maybe we could get to somebody before her Watcher gets made into dog food?


GILES:
(Shakes his head) I can't risk it. They may be finding the Slayers in Training by following me. It seems like too much of a coincidence that I've arrived just in time to find three Watchers murdered. We leave tomorrow morning.


VAL:
Where to?


GILES:
The Hellmouth.


GISELLE:
(Plaintive) What is happening?


GILES:
(Ominous) It may be the end -- of everything.






THE HIGH SCHOOL BASEMENT
We return to the moment we left the Scoobies. The Ubervamp is advancing on Dawn. She lets out a high-pitched shriek, which stops the vamp in his tracks as he raises his hands to protect his ears.

Buffy uses the distraction to attack again. The Ubervamp goes for her and grabs her. She manages to knock a leg out from under it, but it doesn't do her any good. It falls on her, forcing her to the ground. It gets its claws around her shoulders and is about to bite her, but she holds him away. It's taking all her strength to keep its mouth away from her neck.

Xander picks up the stake and tries to stake the Ubervamp from behind, but its body is too tough. The stake just bounces off. Xander isn't strong enough to force it in. He makes several tries.

The camera comes in close on the Ubervamp's mouth slowly descending toward Buffy's neck as her strength fails.





INT, ELSEWHERE
FE, still in Spike guise, is leaning casually against the wheel where Spike is still tied. Spike's head is hanging forward.

FE:
(Annoyed) Wake him up.


A Harbinger grabs Spike by the hair and yanks his head up. Spike's eyes open.

FE:
That's better. You're no fun if you're sleeping.


SPIKE:
(Groggy) Time to go home yet?


FE:
Aren't you interested in how your Slayer is doing?


SPIKE:
She can take care of herself.


FE:
Really? Well, what do you think of this?


FE makes a gesture, and a circle begins to glow in the air. It's a projection of the fight between Buffy and the Ubervamp. The view shows Buffy on the floor, with the Ubervamp on top, his mouth descending toward her neck.

FE:
Looks bad for the home team.


SPIKE:
If you think she's beat, you've never watched her fight.


FE:
You certainly are optimistic for a pathetic, doomed bastard.


SPIKE:
I figure if that lame vampire wannabe is the best you can come up with, I may not be so doomed after all. I mean, it's not very bright, is it? Sort of like bringing out a Model T to race a Ferrari.


FE:
Why don't you give it up? You know you're not leaving here, unless it's under my terms. Why not give in and join me? As long as you resist, there will be pain and more pain.


SPIKE:
Pain 'n me'r old mates.


FE:
Oh come now, you forget. I know you. I know all of you. You like your comfort as much as the next guy. But you persist in defying me. I can torture you for 100 years, and make sure you never lose consciousness. I can make you watch as every mortal you've ever known and cared about is devoured -- slowly. You have no power to defeat me. If I untied you, you wouldn't be able to stand up. You're weak. You're exhausted. You're beyond hope. So, why do you keep fighting?


SPIKE:
Because I can. Because today is Saturday. Because the Queen expects nothing less of her subjects. Because M&Ms have added purple to the mix. (Significant) Because you talk a better game than you play.


FE:
Touching ... You still believe in the Slayer...


SPIKE:
No. She believes in me.




INT, THE SCHOOL BASEMENT
We're back to the moment we left Buffy's fight with the Ubervamp. It's on top of her and it's mouth is descending toward her neck as it overpowers her.

ANYA:
Dawn! Scream!


DAWN:
What?


ANYA:
SCREAM! That's what you're here for.


Dawn lets out an ear-piercing shriek and Anya and Willow join in. The Ubervamp's concentration is broken and Buffy kicks him off, propelling him across the room. The three women keep up their screaming and Buffy leaps across the hole to launch a new attack.

Xander covers his ears.

Anya and Willow's voices give out, leaving only Dawn keeping up the caterwaul, but a moment later, she stops with a cough.

Buffy has the upper hand now. The Ubervamp seems stunned by the noise. She drives him back toward the center of the room, and he teeters on the edge of the hole and Buffy leaps up to give him one more kick in the center of the chest. He falls backward into the hole.

DAWN:
(voice hoarse) Cool! You'll write an excuse for school for me, won't you? I've got a sore throat now.


BUFFY:
(Nodding over her shoulder to where Robin Wood is just waking up with a headache.) Take it up with the principal.


XANDER:
What now? I suppose the mad monks are still between us and the way out.


BUFFY:
We're not ready to go yet. We don't have what we came for.


XANDER:
But we're sort of at a dead end...


Buffy looks down the hole. There is nothing to see. It's just black.

BUFFY:
I'm going down there.


WILLOW:
Buffy, that isn't just a hole in the floor. It's a dimensional portal. A dimensional portal that is stable right now, but we don't know for how much longer. If you go down there, you may not be able to get back.


XANDER:
Except for Mr. Sensitive Ears, we don't know what's down there. 


BUFFY:
Spike's down there.


ANYA:
You don't know that. He could be anywhere. This could have been a wild goose chase.


BUFFY:
No, I'm certain of it. He's down there. And the only way we get him back is for me to go after him.


Robin Wood is back on his feet. He's holding his head and looking a bit disoriented. He joins the group standing at the edge of the hole.

PRINCIPAL WOOD:
(His tone is neutral. We should wonder what side he's on.) I think you're right. The point of this exercise would seem to be getting you to go into the portal.


XANDER:
Then that's what the First wants you to do. Don't do it, Buffy. You're putting yourself at it's mercy -- and we know it doesn't have any.


BUFFY:
I'm going.


DAWN:
I'm going with you. I can scream again so you'll have a chance against that SuperVamp.


BUFFY:
No...


PRINCIPAL WOOD:
Your voice is shot, Dawn... (pointedly) though I'm certain it will be just fine by Monday morning. You wouldn't be any help.


WILLOW:
I'll go with you. I may be able to help.


XANDER:
No, you can't. You'd be even closer to the First. You wouldn't be able to do magic at all!


Willow realizes this is true.

ANYA:
I'll go. I have more experience with alternate dimensions than anybody. I might be able to help you get back.


XANDER:
I'd go with you, Buffy; you know I would. But I don't think I'd be helping, and you'd just have to protect me.


Buffy looks around at her friends, affected by their willingness to risk themselves for her.

BUFFY:
Guys -- you're all great. Sticking together -- that's what we've got to do if we're going to beat this thing. We can't let it separate us. But that's not the solution right now. I've got to go, and I've got to go alone. I'm the one the First wants down there. So I've got to go. I'll just have to make sure his plan doesn't work out.


Buffy looks around again.

If I can't make it back, remember that your only chance is to hold on to each other. You've got to stick together to beat this thing.


She steps forward and falls through the hole.

The camera pans around the worried faces of the Scooby gang.

BLACK OUT to commercial break.



Act IV

INT, THE HIGH SCHOOL BASEMENT
We're where we left off before the break. The gang is standing around the portal, looking down.

DAWN:
What do we do now?


WILLOW:
We wait.


There is a moan. Everyone turns around and finds that Clem is still lying where he fell.

DAWN:
Clem! You're alive!


Dawn rushes to his side and kneels down.

The loose-skinned demon sits up and puts his hand to a wound on the flaps of skin on his neck.

CLEM:
I think I fainted.


DAWN:
The SuperVamp had you. I thought you were dead!


Dawn hugs Clem, who reacts with embarrassment.

CLEM:
He only got some skin. Advantage of being me. Takes really long teeth to bite me. My kind are pretty much vampire-proof.


Willow has joined them.

WILLOW:
That's a nasty bite you've got there. You might need some stitches.


CLEM:
(Unconcerned.) Nah... It'll heal. Scars are sexy...






INT. ELSEWHERE
Buffy has landed on the other side of the portal. She looks up and sees the portal on the ceiling, out of her reach. She looks around and scans her environment. She seems to be in the same room, but a lot of it is on fire. It's dark, but she can see by the flickering light of the fires. The seal, as we first saw it in Conversations with Dead People, is in the center of the floor, below the portal.

She whirls when she hears a movement behind her. FE/Spike steps out of the shadows, dressed as he was when he was kidnapped, black T-shirt and jeans. His face is bruised.

FE/SPIKE:
(Flirtatious) Hello cutie.


BUFFY:
Spike?


FE/SPIKE:
None other than.


BUFFY:
Are you all right?


FE/SPIKE:
Never better. Let's go.


BUFFY:
(Suspicious, something's not right here.) Why did they take you?


FE/SPIKE:
(Shrugs) To get you down here.


BUFFY:
That's it? And we can just leave now?


FE/SPIKE:
We've got to hurry. Before the First gets back.


BUFFY:
(Just about certain this isn't right now.) Before we go -- kiss me.


FE/SPIKE:
What? This is hardly the time...


BUFFY:
While it's just us. Kiss me, Spike. Show me that you still love me.


FE/SPIKE:
As much as I would like to, don't you think we'd better make our escape first.


BUFFY:
(Triumphant) Ha! You can't. You're not real.


Buffy swings her sword, and FE/SPIKE dodges. He spins and kicks the sword out of her hand.

FE/Spike changes. He's wearing the leather duster now, completely Evil!Spike. The bruise we first saw is gone. He claps his hands slowly.

FE/SPIKE:
Very good. You're smarter than you look.


BUFFY:
And you're just as dumb as I remember.


FE/SPIKE:
We're not in your world anymore, sweetheart. I'm stronger here -- corporeal. And frankly, you're no match for me.


BUFFY:
(Annoyed) So stop posturing and show me what you've got.


FE/SPIKE lunges. Buffy drops and rolls, coming up with her sword in hand again. She and FE/SPIKE circle. He's smiling and laughing, enjoying every minute of the confrontation. She's grim. She feints and he dodges. He doesn't have a weapon, but seems supremely confident that he can beat her. He leaps and kicks, knocking her down. She's back up before he can take advantage.

FE/SPIKE:
Show you what I've got? How about this...


He points to the side of the room, where Real!Spike is revealed.

Buffy freezes. Spike is in bad shape, bloody, burned, bruised and hanging limp from the wheel.

Spike raises his head slowly.

SPIKE:
(Mumbling) Buffy...


BUFFY:
So here's the deal. I beat you, I get to take him with me...


FE/SPIKE:
(laughing) Nothing so ... competitive. You made it this far. You can have him. He's no use to me anymore.


Buffy frowns. That sounds too easy. It can't be that simple.

FE/SPIKE:
If he's what you really want, that is...


FE/SPIKE gestures and another figure is revealed.

It's Angel, tied to another wheel, just like Spike. He's stripped to the waist, wounded and bleeding.

ANGEL:
(Mumbling) Buffy...


BUFFY:
That's not real.


FE/SPIKE:
Are you sure? Phoned up Angel lately to see how he's doing? Didn't hear about how he went missing last spring? If I could get this one (motioning to Spike), why not that one? Would I try anything as lame as showing you an illusion? (Gestures at Spike again.) You sure this one is real?


Buffy bites her lip. She's not sure anything is real -- or not.

FE/SPIKE:
What about your Watcher? Was he real?


FE/Spike circles around behind Buffy. He kicks her in the small of the back, knocking her to the ground. He begins a vicious attack, kicking her in the ribs and head while she's on the ground. She curls up to protect herself.

FE/SPIKE:
(Continuing his attack) What's real? Is anything? Does it matter if you keep trying, when the little sister you sacrificed yourself for hates you? When your best friend can lose hope and try to destroy the world? When the only man who dares to love you is that pathetic, broken excuse for a vampire? What have you got that's worth living for? Are you even alive?


ANGEL:
Stop! Stop hurting her!


Buffy kips to her feet and counterattacks, driving FE/Spike back.

BUFFY:
I've got one thing. I (punches FE) know (kicks) you're (another punch) full of it.


FE falls back and disappears. She's alone with the two captives. She goes straight for Spike.

ANGEL:
Buffy! Help me!


BUFFY:
Sorry.


ANGEL:
How can you choose him? I am your first love -- the love of your life. Our love is eternal.


BUFFY:
(Clenches jaw.) That was then. This is now. I came for Spike.


She uses her sword to cut Spike's bonds. He collapses forward onto her. She tries to get him positioned so she can carry him, but he raises his head.

SPIKE:
(Barely able to speak) Buffy, look out.


Buffy looks around. The Ubervamp is coming at her. She drops Spike and turns to meet it. He collapses in a heap on the floor.

Buffy fights the Ubervamp again. It hits her and sends her flying. She gets up to attack again and punches it several times in rapid succession, having little effect. It swipes at her with its claws, forcing her to jump back. It is driving her back across the floor, toward the wall where she will be cornered. Just as it seems the vamp has her trapped, Spike tackles it from the side, pushing it away from her and letting her get into a better position.

BUFFY:
You've had a quick recovery...


SPIKE:
Always willing to get it up once more for my girl...


The Ubervamp attacks again, for some reason concentrating on Buffy, and trying to avoid Spike. Buffy is doing better now, with Spike harassing the vamp from another angle and keeping it off balance. He's obviously running on pure adrenaline. If he stops, he's going to collapse.

Buffy and Spike start attacking in concert, and the vamp falls back. Then, suddenly Spike steps in front of Buffy and roars into the vamp's face in game face. The Ubervamp stops, momentarily stunned, then screams back at Spike. Spike roars again, and the Ubervamp backs down, first taking a tentative step backward, then turning to run away. Spike falls to his knees.

BUFFY:
It's afraid of you.


Spike shakes his head.

SPIKE:
It was raised with my blood. It's almost like I'm its sire. It's a dominance thing...


BUFFY:
Can you walk?


SPIKE:
(Stumbles) If you help me.


Buffy puts an arm around him and helps him up. They move off, with Spike leaning on her heavily.





INT., THE HIGH SCHOOL BASEMENT
The gang is still waiting -- looking very worried. Then a hand comes up through the portal. Xander grabs it and hauls a very worse-for-wear Spike out of the floor.

XANDER:
Where's Buffy?


SPIKE:
(Gasping) Help her.


Anya and Dawn each reach a hand into the hole and pull Buffy up together.

XANDER:
So we've got Spike. I take it we now go back out there and wade through the Brothers Grimm?


PRINCIPAL WOOD:
(Peeking out the door) I think they've gone. And if you think I'm not coming down here with the police for a security sweep before school starts Monday morning...


XANDER:
Take my word for it, you won't find a thing. You'll just end up feeling silly.






INT., THE SUMMERS BASEMENT
A cot has been set up, and Spike is lying on it asleep. He's still showing bruises, but the blood has been cleaned off his face and as much of his shoulders and chest as we can see above the blanket. The scars from the bleeding are prominent. Spike stirs then wakes with a start. He sits up, dizzy and disoriented.

Buffy steps into the frame.

BUFFY:
(Soothing) It's all right. You're safe.


Spike blinks and looks around.

SPIKE:
You saved me...


Buffy doesn't want to make a big deal of that just now. She gives him a little smile, though, and picks up a mug off a shelf nearby.

SPIKE:
How did you know only I was real?


BUFFY:
I didn't. But Giles told me not to get confused... to keep my mind on the mission. You were the mission.


SPIKE:
Giles? He's here?


BUFFY:
(Shakes head.) I don't even know if he was real. But what he told me was right -- so I have hope.


She gives him the mug.

Here, drink as much of this as you think you can keep down.


SPIKE:
(Starting to get his bearings) I should be restrained... I might...


BUFFY:
No need.


SPIKE:
Don't be foolish... If I...


BUFFY:
Willow has put up wards around the house. The First can't get in. She says she's sure they'll hold -- for now. You're safe.


SPIKE:
It -- the vampire you fought -- wasn't destroyed...


BUFFY:
No. It will be back. I'll have to fight it again. But we're doing the research thing. Next time I meet ... that thing, I'm going to know how to fight it.


Spike drinks some then gives the mug back to Buffy. He lies back down.

SPIKE:
(Looking at the ceiling.) It was a pure vampire, Buffy. You won't kill it with a stake.


BUFFY:
What do you mean 'pure'?


SPIKE:
All the vampires you've ever known, and killed, we're hybrids. The last of his kind sired a human and began our line.


BUFFY:
I think Giles told me something like that once... I wish I'd paid better attention.


SPIKE:
It's incredibly powerful. I don't know what it's capable of -- nobody does. Its kind hasn't been seen on earth for thousands of years.


BUFFY:
Kind of a cave vampire...


SPIKE:
It's not funny. I felt a bit of what it feels... the hunger. It's going to be feeding soon. It's going to kill and kill again...


BUFFY:
But it backed down when you screamed at it...


SPIKE:
That won't last. It has my blood in its veins. We're connected, and my mind was stronger. But as it feeds, it will have less and less of me in it. It will get stronger, and then I won't have any more influence on it than anyone else. If I'm going to be any help to you, we'll have to act soon -- very soon.


BUFFY:
You're not strong enough. You have to rest.


SPIKE:
It doesn't matter. My blood raised it, Buffy. I'm sure you understand the implication...


BUFFY:
No. Out of the question. (frowns) You've got to stop trying to think of ways to get me to kill you.


SPIKE:
You can't let it feed. It's only going to get stronger. We have to stop it now.


BUFFY:
You don't have enough blood left in you at the moment to stain the sheets. And we don't even know how. Even if I was going to consider using you to destroy it -- and I'm not -- I don't have a clue to how to go about it. We're going to work out a way to stop it -- and the First. We will... we always do.


SPIKE:
You can't rule out ...


BUFFY:
(She takes his hand.) Spike, we're going to beat this thing. The First has been trying to separate us. Not just you and me. The First has been trying to drive a wedge between me and all my friends. And that tells me that if I want to win this, I have to hold on ... to everybody. That includes you.


The camera moves in on their hands clasped together.

BLACK OUT -- to closing credits.