Choices

March 17, 1999 (Pink)

Written by: David Fury

Teaser

INT. MAYOR'S OFFICE - NIGHT (PREVIOUSLY SCENE A)

CLOSE ON

FAITH'S face, her eyes shut. Sleeping? Meditating? Dead?

MAYOR (O.S.)
All right. You can open them now.

Faith opens her eyes.

WIDEN to find her sitting at the Mayor's desk, a small gift-wrapped box before her, nearby a plate of cookies. The MAYOR stands behind her.

FAITH
(scrutinizing gift)
Fab. What's the occasion?

MAYOR
Faith. As if I need a reason to
show you my affection...

She tears away at the wrapping as he continues.

MAYOR (cont'd)
Or my appreciation for running a
small errand at the airport.

FAITH
(her expression sours)
Airport. What's next? You gonna
want me to help a buddy of
yours move a sofa?

MAYOR
(sternly)
This isn't a free ride here, young
lady. I'm beginning to think
somebody's getting a lit-tle spoiled.
(reaching for the gift)
Maybe I should just take this ba-

Faith clutches it to her breast.

FAITH
(reluctantly)
Sorry.
(off his look)
Sir.

MAYOR
(softening)
That's my girl. Another cookie?

He picks up the plate and offers her one. She takes it.

MAYOR (cont'd)
Now, a package is arriving
tomorrow night from Central
America. Something -- and I
can't stress this enough --
something crucially important to
my Ascension. Without it...
(re: plate)
Well, what would tollhouse
cookies be without the chocolate chips?

He looks to Faith expectantly. She shrugs.

MAYOR (cont'd)
A pretty darn big disappointment,
I can tell you. Open your gift.

She opens the box, goes wide-eyed with glee.

MAYOR (cont'd)
There. That look on your face is
my reward.

Faith removes an exquisitely carved HUNTING KNIFE.

FAITH
This is a thing of beauty, Boss.

MAYOR
Cost a pretty penny, so you just
take good care of it. And be
careful you don't put somebody's
eye out with that thing. Until I
tell you to.

He retrieves a box of PLASTIC WRAP from his cabinet, tears off a piece and carefully covers the cookies.

FAITH
(smiling)
Got any particular eyes in mind?

EXT. GRAVEYARD - NIGHT (PREVIOUSLY SCENE B)

BUFFY scraps with a FEMALE VAMP. A roundhouse kick from Buffy sends the vampire careening into

ANGEL, who's involved in his own pas de deux with a MALE VAMP. Angel and the female vamp hit the ground, the Male vamp still staggering from Angel's blow.

BUFFY
Sorry, honey!

ANGEL
That's okay...

He flips the female vamp over as the male makes for Buffy. A quick pummeling from our girl--

--Angel stakes the girl on the ground--

--And Buffy slams a stake into the male's heart, sending him back into a tomb. He explodes on contact.

BUFFY
There's something you don't
see every day.
(wearily)
Unless, of course, you're me.

ANGEL
(joining her)
That was bracing. You wanna do
one more sweep?

BUFFY
It's what I live for. Sad to say...

ANGEL
You too tired?

BUFFY
(to Angel)
No, it's just... Don't you kinda
get the feeling we're in a rut?

ANGEL
A rut?

BUFFY
You never take me any place new.

He doesn't know how to reply at first. Then...

ANGEL
What about that fire demon nest
in the caves near the beach?
Thought that was a nice change
of pace.

BUFFY
So this is our future? Is this how
we're going to spend our nights
when I'm fifty and you're... the
exact same age you are now?

Before he can answer, they both hear

TWIGS SNAP! Their heads whip around to see...

THEIR P.O.V. - TWO MORE VAMPIRES charging them.

ANGEL
Let's just get you to fifty.

BUFFY
Liking that plan.

As they engage in battle...

BLACK OUT

END OF TEASER
Act One

INT. BUFFY'S KITCHEN - MORNING

Buffy's at the counter, breakfasting on toast and juice, as she peruses the newspaper.

JOYCE (O.S.)
Buffy!

Buffy stiffens as JOYCE enters.

JOYCE
When were you going to tell me?

Buffy reaches up to the earrings she's wearing.

BUFFY
Okay, busted. Didn't think you'd
miss them. Here's me taking them off.

Joyce holds up an open piece of official looking mail.

JOYCE
You were accepted to
Northwestern University?
(hugging her)
Honey, I'm so proud of you.
That's wonderful.

BUFFY
Oh. Right. Wonderful.

JOYCE
I mean, it isn't cheap, but I know
we can make it work if your
Father pitches in. Not that
Northwestern's your only option;
it's a great school, though. I'm so
proud of you.

BUFFY
You said that before.

JOYCE
And will again soon.

BUFFY
Mom, you know I can't--

She sees Joyce looking at her, expectantly, prideful... hopefully.

BUFFY (cont'd)
...decide on a school this second.
I have to, you know, sleep on it,
mull it over, raise them up my
inner flagpole and see which one
I salute.

JOYCE
Oh, I know, sweetheart. I'm just
so pleased you have so many
choices. Oo, my cousin Arlene
and her family are in Illinois. I've
got to call and tell them.

As she picks up the phone, an uncomfortable Buffy grabs her bag and books and moves to exit.

JOYCE (cont'd)
Buffy...

BUFFY
(turning back)
You're proud of me?

JOYCE
Don't forget to put my earrings
back in my dresser before you go out.

As Buffy leaves.

JOYCE (cont'd)
(into phone)
Arlene? It's Joyce. Hi! You'll
never guess where Buffy's got in
to school...

EXT. SCHOOL - DAY

Students mill about, in studentlike fashion.

A student hands another student a brown bag. SNYDER appears and snatches it.

SNYDER
Okay, what's in the bag?

STUDENT
(confused)
My lunch.

SNYDER
Oh, is that the new drug lingo?

STUDENT
(still confused)
It's my lunch.

Snyder opens the bag and looks inside. He hands the bag back to the student, saying to the other one --

SNYDER
Sit up straight.

--as he walks off, passing us off to:

Buffy, Willow and Oz on the lawn; Xander, under a shady tree, reading a book.

WILLOW
Sounds like your mom's in a
state of denial.

BUFFY
More like a continent of denial.
She's got to realize I can't leave.
U.C. Sunnydale. At least I got in.

WILLOW
Well, maybe not now.
But soon. Maybe.
(off Buffy's look)
Or maybe I too hail from
Denialland.

BUFFY
Faith's turn to the dark side of
the force has pretty much put the
proverbial kibosh on any away
school plans for me. But, you...
I can't believe you got into
Oxford!

WILLOW
It's pretty exciting...

OZ
You're into some deep academia there.

BUFFY
That's where they make Gileses!

WILLOW
I know! I could learn and have
scones! Although I don't know
how I feel about going to school
in a foreign country.

XANDER
Everything in life is foreign territory.

The others look at him.

XANDER (cont'd)
(holding up his copy
of "On the Road")
Kerouac. That's my teacher. And
the open road is my school.

BUFFY
Making the open dumpster your cafeteria.

XANDER
Go ahead, mock me...

OZ
Think she just did.

XANDER
We Bohemian, anti-
establishment types are
used to being persecuted.

OZ
Well, sure. You're all so weird.

Cordelia passes through, hearing:

WILLOW
I think it's neat, you doing the
back-packing, trail mix, happy
wanderer thing.

XANDER
I'm aware it kind of scores a bit
high on the hokey-meter, but I
think it'll be good for me. Help
me to find myself.

CORDELIA
And help us to lose you.
Everyone's a winner.

The others look up at her.

XANDER
Well, look who just popped open
a fresh can of venom. Hey,
Cordy, hear about Will gettin'
into Oxnard?

WILLOW
Oxford.

XANDER
And MIT and Yale and every
other college on the face of the
planet? As in your face I rub it...

CORDELIA
Oh, whoopie. Oxford. Four years
in Tea Bag central sounds like a
thrill. MIT is a clearasil ad with
housing, and Yale's a dumping
ground for people that didn't get
into Harvard.

WILLOW
I got into Harvard.

XANDER
Any clue what college you'll be
attending? So we can start
calculating minimum safe
distance...

CORDELIA
None of your business. Certainly
nowhere near you losers.

BUFFY
Remember to breathe between
insults, guys.

CORDELIA
I'm sorry, Buffy. This
conversation is reserved for
people who actually HAVE
a future.

This hits Buffy hard. Cordy, sensing victory, exits.

OZ
(re: Cordy)
Angry young woman.

WILLOW
Buffy, she was just being
Cordelia. Only more so. Don't
pay any attention to her.

But Buffy obviously is. We hold on her as her friends continue:

XANDER
She's definitely got a chip going.

WILLOW
Well, if you didn't goad her so much-

XANDER
I can't help it. It's my nature.

WILLOW
You need a better nature.

INT. LIBRARY - DAY

Wesley and Giles face Buffy. Wesley is perturbed -- Giles, pensive.

WESLEY
I don't understand.

BUFFY
I don't think I can talk any
slower, Wes. I want to leave.

WESLEY
What -- now?

BUFFY
Not now -- after I graduate! College!

WESLEY
But you're a Slayer.

BUFFY
I'm also a person! You can't just
define me by my slayerness;
that's... somethingism.

GILES
Buffy, I know we talked about
your going away--

BUFFY
I got into Northwestern.

GILES
(warmly)
That's wonderful news.
Good for you.

WESLEY
All right, everyone: Monsters,
Demons, world in peril...

BUFFY
I bet they have all that stuff in
Illinois.

WESLEY
You cannot leave Sunnydale.
With the power invested in me
by the Council, I forbid it.

GILES
Oh, yes. That should settle it.

WESLEY
With Faith gone bad, and the
Mayor's Ascension coming up--

BUFFY
I know it's complicated. I'm
aware that my graduation may
be, among other things,
posthumous. But what if I stop
the Ascension. What if I capture Faith?

GILES
I very much hope you will, but--

BUFFY
I do that, then all you two have
to do is keep the run-of-the-mill
unholy forces at bay through
mid-terms. I'll be back here in
time for homecoming, and every
school break after that... Can we
at least think about it?

Wesley makes a conciliatory attempt at sympathy.

WESLEY
Perhaps if circumstances were different...

BUFFY
I'll make them different.

WESLEY
What?

BUFFY
I'm sick of waiting for Mayor
McSleaze to make his move,
while we sit on our hands
counting down to Ascension
Day. For once, let's take the
fight to them.

WESLEY
No, no... Much too reckless.
We're at a distinct disadvantage.
We don't know enough--

GILES
She's right.

Wesley shoots a look at Giles.

GILES (cont'd)
Time is running out. We need to
launch an offensive.
(to Buffy)
So, what's your plan?

Buffy's satisfied grin disappears in a microsecond.

BUFFY
I gotta have a plan? Really? I
can't just be pro-active with pep?

Giles can't help a small smile.

GILES
You want to take the fight to
them. I suggest the first step
would be to find out what
exactly they're up to.

BUFFY
I actually knew that. I thought
you meant a real specific plan,
you know, with maps and stuff.
So. Great. Find out what they're
up to.

EXT. SUNNYDALE MUNICIPAL AIRPORT - NIGHT

A tiny, community airstrip, brightly lit.

CLOSE ON

BOOTS - snake skin, stepping down from a small prop plane. As the feet touch the ground, we see

AN ORNATE LEAD BOX - numerous engravings and etchings, a latched lid, and a carrying handle handcuffed to the wrist of the man holding it.

PAN UP as he crosses the tarmac. The COURIER is an unsavory sort -- a serpent tattoo staining half of his face, pockmarked skin, bad Hawaiian shirt.

SWING AROUND as the Courier stops in front of one of the Mayor's vampire lackeys who waits near a limousine. The VAMP-LACKEY holds a briefcase.

COURIER
He in the car?

VAMP-LACKEY
(opening the car door)
No. I'll take you to him.

The Courier kicks the car door closed.

COURIER
The Mayor was supposed to be
here in person. With the money.

VAMP-LACKEY
(showing him the briefcase)
Got it right here.

COURIER
Uh huh. Well, the price just went
up. I don't like surprises.

Suddenly, there's a SHARP WHISTLE. The Courier barely has time to acknowledge it as his face registers shock. The tip of an arrow sticks out of his chest, the shaft sticking in his back. He topples, ever so dead.

ANGLE: FAITH

Clutching her long bow, on the roof of a small, adjacent, building.

FAITH
(almost to herself)
Surprise.

She jumps down from the roof onto the tarmac and crosses to the body.

VAMP-LACKEY
You killed him.

FAITH
What are you, the narrator? Get
the keys to the cuffs.

The vamp-lackey rifles through the dead man's pockets. Finding nothing, he looks at Faith and shakes his head. She gives a sigh of exasperation, reaches into her jacket and pulls out her new KNIFE.

VAMP-LACKEY
That won't cut through steel.

FAITH
No. But it'll cut through bone.

As she kneels out of frame...

BLACK OUT.

END OF ACT ONE
Act Two

EXT. CITY HALL - NIGHT

The street's damp and empty. The quiet suddenly broken by a car turning onto it. Stepping out from the shadows, across the street, is

BUFFY, who watches as the limousine pulls up in front of city hall and comes to a stop.

BUFFY'S P.O.V. - Faith gets out of the car, carrying the ornate box. She tucks it under her arm, takes a quick look around, then climbs the steps and enters the building. The limo then pulls into an adjoining alley-way.

ON BUFFY, as she quickly checks the coast and starts off across the street.

INT. MAYOR'S OFFICE - DAY

Faith enters the Mayor's office, box in hand. Gleeful, the Mayor jumps from his seat and takes it from her.

MAYOR
Hey ho! There it is.

The Mayor places the box on his desk, turns as he withdraws an envelope from his jacket pocket.

MAYOR (cont'd)
What happened to the courier?
I'm supposed to pay him.

Faith slips the envelope full of money back into the Mayor's jacket.

FAITH
I made him an offer he couldn't survive.

A beat as the Mayor gets her meaning. Then he grins.

MAYOR
You are one heck of a girl, you
know that? I mean, geez. The
initiative! The skill!

FAITH
(pleased protest)
Go on...

MAYOR
I will! I tell you, if Buffy
Summers walked in here and told
me she wanted to switch to our
side? I'd say - "no thanks, sister!
I've got all the slayer one man
could ever need."

Faith's expression darkens at this.

MAYOR (cont'd)
What?

FAITH
Nothing.

MAYOR
It's cause I said the "B" word,
huh? Don't tell me you're still
sore about that whole Angel and
Buffy thing?

FAITH
Naw. I'm over it. She can have him.

But the Mayor's not buying it.

MAYOR
Better believe she can. She
deserves that poor excuse for a
creature of the night. You, on the
other hand, can do better.

Faith starts to reach for the lid of the box to peek inside. The Mayor reacts strongly - quickly pulling her hand away.

MAYOR (cont'd)
Don't touch that.

EXT. ALLEY BEHIND CITY HALL/INT. LIMO - NIGHT

The limo pulls into a parking space. As the vamp-lackey shuts off the ignition, he hears a noise behind him and whips his head around to find...

Nothing. After a beat, he turns to face front again and...

SMASH! A FIST comes punching through the window, grabs the Vamp-lackey by his tie and YANKS him halfway out of the car. He looks up to see

BUFFY, stake-in-hand, poised to strike.

BUFFY
(all cheerful and friendly-like)
So, what's in the box?

INT. LIBRARY - DAY

Buffy, Wesley, and Xander stand around the table on which are strewn various research books.

BUFFY
The Box of Gavrok. It houses
some kind of great demonic
energy or something which His
Honor needs to chow down on
when A-Day rolls around.

Giles and Willow enter, unrolling a floor plan, which Giles lays out on the table, weighting the corners with textbooks.

WESLEY
What's that?

GILES
(to Buffy)
Maps and stuff.

WILLOW
Plans for city hall. They were in
the Water and Power mainframe.

BUFFY
The box is being kept under
guard in a conference room on
the top floor.

She scans the blueprints and points.

BUFFY (cont'd)
There. Unfortunately, that's all I
could get out of my informant
before his aggressive tendencies
forced me to introduce him to
Mr. Pointy.

WESLEY
(taking charge)
Well, now ... Here's what I think
we should--

BUFFY
I figure best to hit it from the
roof. I'll take Angel with me.

GILES
Agreed.

XANDER
(re: blueprint)
There's a fire-ladder on the east-
side of the building of the building.

WESLEY
Yes, fine. But you'll still need--

GILES
It won't be enough to simply
gain possession of the box.

He starts to look through a book.

WILLOW
Right. We have to destroy it.
Not just physically, but ritually.
With some down and dirty
black magic.

WESLEY
Hang on, we don't know what
such a ritual would require--

Giles shows the book to Wesley.

GILES
I think the breath of the
Entropics is standard for this sort
of thing. Fairly simple recipe.

Wes starts to look, but Giles hands the book to Xander.

GILES (cont'd)
Xander...

XANDER
(taking the book)
I know. I'm ingredient-gettin' guy.

Xander starts to exit.

WESLEY
All right. Stop! I demand
everyone stop this instant.

Xander stops and looks at Wesley, as do the rest.

WESLEY (cont'd)
I am in charge here! And I say
this is all moving much too fast.
We need time to fully analyze the
situation and devise a proper and
effective stratagem.

Buffy gets nose to nose with him.

BUFFY
Hop on the train or get off the tracks.

WESLEY
The Mayor will most assuredly
have supernatural safeguards
protecting the box. Oh, we all
forgot about that.

BUFFY
Looks like a job for Wiccan Girl.
What do you think, Wil? Big
time danger.

WILLOW
Hey, I eat danger for breakfast.

XANDER
But oddly enough, she panics in
the face of breakfast foods.

BUFFY
Let's get to work.

They disperse.

EXT. DRESS SHOP - DAY

Xander glances into the store and sees:

CORDELIA, returning a dress to its hanger.

Xander starts to continue on his way, then hesitates, unable to help himself.

INT. DRESS SHOP - DAY

As Cordelia hangs the dress on the rack...

XANDER (O.S.)
I have a theory...

She looks up to see Xander coming toward her. She briefly gets the "deer in headlights" look, though Xander doesn't notice.

XANDER
Your snide remarks earlier?
I'm guessing grapes a little
on the sour side.

Now her eyes narrow, her blood boils.

XANDER (cont'd)
Didn't get into any schools did
you? Grades were there, but -- oo
-- if it weren't for that pesky
interview. Then minutes with
you and the admissions
department decided they'd already
reached their mean-spirited,
superficial, princess quotas.

CORDELIA
(reaching into her purse)
And, once again, the gold-medal
in the Being Wrong Event goes
to Xander "I'm As Stupid As I
Look" Harris.

She retrieves a few envelopes and waves them in front of his nose.

CORDELIA (cont'd)
Read 'em and weep, creep. USC,
Colorado State, Duke...

XANDER
(seemingly humbled)
Wow. Those are great colleges. I
guess they must have seen a
different side of your father's
money.

She hesitates, unable to come back at him with anything. As she shoves the envelopes back into her bag, all she can offer is:

CORDELIA
Go away.

XANDER
Sure. If you'll excuse me, I have
to get back to helping to save
lives. Carry on, I know you have
important accessorizing to do.

Xander heads for the exit and Cordelia watches him go. Her angry expression now tempered with sadness and hurt.

EXT. ALLEY BEHIND CITY HALL/INT. VAN - NIGHT

An unmarked van pulls into the alley. A door slides open and Buffy, Willow and Angel get out, carrying some cable and rigging. They approach the front passenger window where Giles is sitting; Wesley, next to him, at the wheel.

GILES
Remember, if something should
go awry, Wesley and I will try to
create a diversion.

WESLEY
Let's synchronize our watches. I
have exactly eleven six...

He stops when he notices Buffy, Willow and Angel holding up their wrists, illustrating that none are wearing watches.

WESLEY (cont'd)
Yes. Typical.

WILLOW
Maybe we can just count one-one
thousand, two-one thousand...

GILES
Be careful. All of you.

Buffy nods as Angel pulls down the ladder to the fire escape and gives Willow a boost.

INT. LIBRARY - NIGHT

Oz sets up a small pedestal in the center of the room. He makes reference to some hand-written instruction he holds, then places a ceremonial bowl on top of the pedestal as Xander enters with a bag of stuff from the magick shop.

XANDER
Hey.

OZ
Hey. You got the goods?

Xander moves to him. Holds up bags, looks in them.

XANDER
Essence of Toad.
(holds up another)
Twice Blessed Sage... or maybe
that's the toad.

OZ
We'd better be sure. Destroying
this box is supposed to be a
pretty delicate operation.

XANDER
Then they shouldn't leave it in
the hands of the lay people.

OZ
Will's got it pretty well laid out.

Xander gets a look at the instruction sheet Oz holds.

XANDER
Wow, she even drew helpful
diagrams. That's the pedestal?

OZ
And all the ingredients. And us.
See. There's me - and that's you.

XANDER
How can you tell which is
which? They both look kinda
stick-figure-y to me.

OZ
That's me. That's my guitar, see?

XANDER
Oh. Got ya.

They both look at the picture for a beat. Appreciating the sweetness of it.

OZ
(proudly)
Nobody like my Will.

XANDER
No sir, there is not.

Another beat. Then they get back to work.

OZ
Okay. Toad me.

Xander hands over a bag.

EXT. CITY HALL ROOF - NIGHT

The three of them are crouched around a skylight, looking down.

THEIR P.O.V. - THE BOX, directly below them, sitting in the middle of a conference room table.

INTERNAL TIME CUT:

EXT. CITY HALL ROOF/INT. CONFERENCE ROOM - MINUTES LATER

The skylight now open, Angel helps Buffy into her rigging. Willow kneels, book in hand, following instructions, as she sprinkles a fine POWDER down through the opening...

The powder settles on some invisible force field encircling the box, causing soft BLUE SPARKS to shoot off it.

The sparks increase in intensity, as Willow begins her incantation:

WILLOW
(Latin)
Sis modo dissolutum exposco,
validum scutum! Diutius nec
defende a manibus arcam, intende!
(English)
Be now dissolved, I demand, o
powerful shield; no longer defend
the box from our hands. Hear us!

With a FLASH, the field vanishes and the powder falls onto the box and table.

EXT. CITY HALL ROOF - CONTINUOUS (NIGHT)

WILLOW
Oh, yeah, I'm bad.

BUFFY
Four stars, Wil. Now take off.

WILLOW
Taking off.

Willow crosses to the fire escape and climbs down as Buffy and Angel make their way to the lip of the skylight.

INT. CITY HALL CONFERENCE ROOM/ROOF - NIGHT

Buffy appears at the TOP OF THE FRAME, slowly REPELLING down into the room.

PAN UP the cable attached to her and find Angel lowering her with a pulley system.

As Buffy's feet are about to touch down on the table, she lets herself fall forward, effectively hanging upside down. Inches from the box, she carefully moves to touch it, anticipating an alarm to be triggered. She grips the box, lifts it off the table, and...

WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP (there it is!) AN ALARM BLARES!

BUFFY
Got it!

Angel starts to pull her up until...

THE RIGGING JAMS. Angel struggles with it as Buffy continues to hang upside down.

BUFFY (cont'd)
Angel?!

ANGEL
It's jammed.

Buffy HEARS RUNNING FOOTSTEPS, approaching, GETTING LOUDER.

BUFFY
Like very much to come up now, please.

Now the JANGLE of keys, as the door is hurriedly unlocked.

BUFFY (cont'd)
Angel!

ANGEL
I know!

WHAM! Two VAMP-GUARDS BURST into the room and momentarily FREEZE at the sight of the strung up slayer. After a moment of awkward silence...

BUFFY
Don't suppose you want to help
get me down.

The vamps SNARL...

BUFFY (cont'd)
Didn't think so.

and are about to lunge at her when...

ANGEL, lands, feet first, on the table in front of them. He gives one vamp a kick to the head, sending him sprawling into the other.

He turns to Buffy, who, in one moves, tosses him the box, deftly PIVOTS her body right side-up and unhooks herself from the cable.

Buffy and Angel square off with the vamps in a big-ass fight, all the while passing off possession of the box.

Finally, Buffy manages to tip the huge conference table on top of the vampires. Angel grabs her hand and they run out.

INT. CITY HALL HALLWAY - MOMENTS LATER (NIGHT)

The two of them careen around a corner and down the twisting hallway. After a beat, the vamp-guards appear, in pursuit.

EXT. CITY HALL - NIGHT

Angel and Buffy emerge from the front entrance and immediately escape into the shadows. As they hear the SCREECH of tires. They turn to see...

THEIR P.O.V. - THE VAN, peeling out with the vamp-guards running after it.

Diversion successful, Buffy and Angel retreat further into the darkness.

INT. CITY HALL CONFERENCE ROOM - A LITTLE LATER (NIGHT)

The Mayor, in street clothes, stands amid the debris, looking up at the shattered skylight, addressing the two chagrined vamp-guards. He's not happy.

MAYOR
Well, this is VERY unfortunate.
I just had this conference room
redecorated, for Pete's sake. At
taxpayers expense!

He straightens a tipped over chair and slumps into it.

MAYOR (cont'd)
And, oh, yeah...
(losing it)
THEY'VE GOT MY BOX!

FAITH (O.S.)
Yeah. They do.

The Mayor swivels to see her standing in the doorway.

FAITH
But lookee what we got.

She roughly yanks a captured Willow into view. On the Mayor's now pleasantly surprised expression and Willow's not-so-pleasantly fearful one...

BLACK OUT.

END OF ACT TWO
Act Three

INT. LIBRARY - NIGHT (PREVIOUSLY SCENE C)

Wesley, Giles, Buffy, Xander, Angel. All in mid freak. Oz totally silent, watching them.

In the midst of the room is a set up not unlike the living flame deal from ep 7: a small pedestal with a bowl in middle, various herbs and magick crap sitting on it.

BUFFY
How did you -- you -- how did
this happen?

GILES
We thought she stayed with you.

ANGEL
They must have grabbed her
when she hit the ground. Buffy,
I'm sorry --

BUFFY
It's nobody's fault; we just gotta
focus and deal. Oz, I swear I
won't let them hurt her.

XANDER
We go back. Full on assault.

GILES
They'll kill her.

WESLEY
We're assuming they haven't already.

BUFFY
No. They know what she means
to us. She's too valuable, and as
long as we've got the box --
(a thought)
The box. We trade.

WESLEY
We can't.

BUFFY
(to Giles)
It's the best plan, it's the safest
way, right?

GILES
It might well be --

BUFFY
We call the Mayor, arrange a meeting.

WESLEY
This box must be destroyed.

XANDER
I need a volunteer to hit Wesley...

WESLEY
Giles, you know I'm right about this.

BUFFY
Wes, you want to duck and cover
at this point.

WESLEY
Dammit, you listen to me!

There's balls in them thar twit. His voice has genuine authority.

WESLEY (cont'd)
This box is the key to the
Mayor's Ascension. Thousands
of lives depend on our getting rid
of it. Now I want to help Willow
as much as the rest of you but we
will find another way.

BUFFY
There is no other way.

WESLEY
You're the one who said take the
fight to the Mayor and you were
right. This is the town's best
hope of survival -- it's your
chance to get out!

BUFFY
You think I care about that? Are
you made of human parts?

GILES
All right, let's deal with this rationally --

Which naturally, sets every one off. They speak over each other, voices rising:

BUFFY
I can't believe you're taking his side!

GILES
Nobody said I was taking his side!

ANGEL
None of this is helping.

XANDER
I'm still for the "let's hit Wesley"
movement, if anybody cares--

Wesley's voice is the last heard:

WESLEY
Listen to you people! You'd
sacrifice thousands of lives --
your families, your friends? It
can all end right here! We have
the means to destroy this box--

Except that at this moment Oz calmly moves to the pedestal and very quietly and violently hurls it across the room, causing emphatic breakage.

This shuts everyone up. When it's clear he has everyone's attention he turns to Buffy, effectively giving her the floor.

BUFFY
Giles, make the call.

INT. CITY HALL VACANT OFFICE - NIGHT (PREVIOUSLY SCENE D)

PAN ACROSS the room, empty -- save for a banged up desk and the dingy LAMP bolted to it -- and quiet -- except for the occasional GRUNTING of

WILLOW, who struggles to unlatch a window that's obviously sealed tight. Failing, she backs away, eyeing the glass. Can she break it?

She crosses to the desk and begins pulling out drawers, looking for something, anything, to use. Pulling too hard on one, the drawer falls to the floor, a few paper-clips, rubber bands and a pencil spill out of it.

She continues looking until she HEARS someone UNLOCKING THE DOOR. One of the Vamp-guards enters.

VAMP-GUARD
What are you doing?

WILLOW
Oh, um, just looking for a
sucking candy. My mouth gets
dry when I'm nervous, or held
prisoner against my will...

The guard licks his lips and moves in on her.

WILLOW (cont'd)
...and I'm suddenly thinking that
"sucking's" not a good word to
use around vampires.

Terrified, Willow backs away until she's pressed up against the wall. The vamp's almost on her.

WILLOW (cont'd)
Hey, did you get permission to
eat the hostage? I don't think so.
You're going to be in some
trouble when the Mayor--

The Vamp-guard grabs her.

WILLOW (cont'd)
No!

VAMP-GUARD
Just a little taste.

Willow can feel his hot, stinky, undead breath. She closes her eyes tight. A moment later, behind him, we RACK FOCUS to reveal

A PENCIL rising into frame, hovering in mid-air.

Willow opens her eyes, staring dead into his.

The pencil slams into his back. He explodes into dust, the pencil exploding with him. Willow stumbles back, breathing hard, overwhelmed by what she just did. A moment of this, then she makes for the door.

INT. HALLWAY IN CITY HALL - NIGHT

Willow runs to a door. It's locked. She is forced to go down the lit hallway. She moves quickly but casually, trying to look like she belongs there.

INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE MAYOR'S OFFICE - NIGHT

Willow stealthily creeps through the hallway, then hears:

FAITH (O.S.)
They're not going to be brain-
damaged enough to come back
here tonight.

Willow ducks into a darkened doorway and sees:

WILLOW'S P.O.V. - A SLIGHTLY AJAR DOOR with a NAMEPLATE reading "Mayor Richard Wilkins III" suddenly opens. Faith and the Mayor appear.

MAYOR
Ever have a dog?

FAITH
What?

MAYOR
(rhapsodically)
I did. Rusty. Irish setter. Swell
little pooch. A dog's friendship
is stronger than reason, stronger
than its own sense of self-
preservation.

He and Faith exit down the hall, the Mayor's voice fading.

MAYOR (cont'd)
Buffy's like a dog. And, hey,
before you can say "Jack
Robinson", you'll get to see
me kill her like one.

The coast clear, Willow crosses to...

INT. MAYOR'S OFFICE - NIGHT (PREVIOUSLY SCENE E)

Willow peers inside the sparsely lit office. Finding it vacant, she quickly slips inside, and almost completely closes the door behind her.

Her eyes search the room, his desk. She notices the WOOD CABINET and carefully opens it, revealing its macabre display. Willow stares at it all, dumbfounded.

WILLOW
Whoa.

In the midst of this, she notices a small LEVER in the inside of the cabinet. She reaches up to pull it down and...

A PANEL in near the base of the cabinet falls open. Crouching down, Willow can make out the bindings of FIVE LARGE BOOKS. Excitedly, she starts pulling them out, knowing she's found...

WILLOW (cont'd)
(whispering to herself)
The Books of Ascension. Yay.

She immediately opens the tomes and scans its pages, absorbing whatever she can.

STEADICAM SHOT clears the opens door of the cabinet and finds Willow, seated in a chair, her back to us, flipping pages. As we move closer...

NEW ANGLE on Willow's face.

FAITH (O.S.)
Check out the bookworm.

Willow swings around to look up at...

WILLOW
Faith!

FAITH
Anybody with brains, anybody
who knew what was going to
happen to her, would be trying to
claw her way out of this place.
But, you, you just can't stop
Nancy Drewing, can you?

She slams the open volume, narrowly catching Willow's hand in it.

FAITH (cont'd)
I guess now you "know too
much." And that kinda just
naturally leads to killin'.

As Faith takes a step closer, Willow looks increasingly worried.

WILLOW
Faith, I want to tell you something...

FAITH
Oh, yeah, please give me the
speech again: "Faith, we're still
your friends, we can help you,
it's not too late."

WILLOW
It's way too late.

Willow allows that to sink in, as Faith's grin fades.

WILLOW (cont'd)
It didn't have to be this way, but
you made your choice. I know
you've had a tough life. I know
some people think you've had a
lot of bad breaks, and that you've
hardened your heart to protect
yourself from the pain.

Faith softens, listening. Then Willow moves in and attacks.

WILLOW (cont'd)
Well, boo-hoo. Poor you. You
had a lot more in your life than
some people. You had friends
like Buffy. Now you've got no
one. And you were a slayer!
One of the Chosen. Now you're
nothing. Just a selfish,
worthless, waste.

A beat. Faith punches Willow in the face, sends her flying back to the floor. Willow gets groggily back up, holding her nose, tears streaming down her face.

FAITH
You try to hurt me, I try to hurt
you. I'm just a little more efficient.

WILLOW
And here I thought you just
didn't have a comeback.

FAITH
You're begging for some deep pain.

WILLOW
I'm not afraid of you.

Faith pulls out her new knife.

FAITH
Let's see what we can do about that.

MAYOR (O.S.)
Girls?

Willow notices the Mayor standing behind Faith.

MAYOR (cont'd; O.S.)
I hope I'm not gonna have to
separate you two. Faith, you can
play with your new toy later.
Something's come up...

Faith doesn't move, her knife still held firm, glaring at Willow. She's really going to do it.

MAYOR
Faith, you know I don't like
repeating myself.

Another moment of consideration, then Faith complies.

FAITH
(sotto, to Willow)
I got someone. I got him.

She crosses away as the Mayor crosses in to Willow. He plops into an easy chair and grins at her.

MAYOR
I just received a heck of an
interesting phone call.

INT. CAFETERIA - NIGHT

Xander and Oz are checking the side doors -- they're locked. Buffy stands by the kitchen, facing the front doors opposite her. Angel beside her with the box, Giles and Wes to one side.

OZ
The place is locked down,
except for the front.

XANDER
Gives me that comforting
'trapped' feeling.

BUFFY
One way out means one way in. I
wanna see them coming.

At that moment, the lights go out.

XANDER
I guess they're shy.

ANGEL
I can see all right.

Xander and Oz pick up a couple of weapons, hang on the sidelines (opposite Wes and Giles.)

They wait.

ANGLE: THE FRONT DOORS

Swing slowly open as two vampires enter, steeping aside to allow the Mayor in. He is followed by Faith, who holds Willow.

The two groups eye each other from across the room. They are laid out almost identically, chess pieces waiting for the first move.

The Mayor takes a step forward -- Buffy mirrors him.

MAYOR
Well, this is exciting, isn't it?
Clandestine meeting by dark of
night, exchange of prisoners, I
just, I feel like we should all be
wearing trench coats.

BUFFY
Let her go.

MAYOR
Not till the box is in my hands.
(looking her over)
So you're the little girl who's
been causing me all this trouble.
She's pretty, Angel. Little
skinny... Still don't understand
why it couldn't work out with
you and my Faith... Guess you
kinda just have strange taste in
women.

ANGEL
Yeah. I like 'em sane.

Faith grips the knife to Willow's throat, pissed. Oz registers this.

OZ
Angel, chill.

MAYOR
Well, I wish you kids the best, I
really do. But if you don't mind
a bit of fatherly advice, I, well
gosh I don't see much of a future
for you two. I don't sense a
lasting relationship, and not just
because I plan to kill the both of
you. You have a bumpy road ahead.

BUFFY
I don't think we need to talk
about this.

MAYOR
You kids, you don't like to think
about the future, don't like to
plan but unless you want Faith
to gut your friend like a seabass
you'll show a little respect for
your elders.

ANGEL
You're not my elder. I gotta lot
of years on you.

MAYOR
And that's just one of the things
you're gonna have to deal with.
You're immortal, she's not. It's
not easy. I married my Edna Mae
in aught three and I was with her
right until the end. Not a pretty
scene. Wrinkled and senile and
cursing me for my youth, it
wasn't our happiest time.

Buffy and Angel both stare steely-eyed at the Mayor, neither admitting that he is making sense. He moves slowly toward Angel.

MAYOR (cont'd)
(to Angel)
And let's forget the fact that any
moment of true happiness will
turn you evil. What kind of life
can you offer her? I don't see a
lot of Sunday picnics in the
offing. Skulking in the shadows,
hiding from the sun -- she's a
blossoming young girl! You
want to keep her from the life she
should have till it's passed her by
and by God I think that's a little
selfish. Is that what you came
back from Hell for? Is that your
greater purpose?

He's face to face with him now, and dead serious. Nobody says anything. Angel stares at him but has no comeback. Nor does Buffy. He's hit the mark, and in front of everyone.

MAYOR (cont'd)
Make the trade.

Faith steps forward, bringing Willow. Angel steps past the Mayor and meets Faith in the middle. She passes Willow off to Buffy and Angel hands her the box. Lots o' eyeballin'.

MAYOR (cont'd)
Well, that went as smoothly as
could be --

BAM! The side door opens and Snyder strides in with two security guards. One locks the door behind them as a third enters from the front and locks those doors.

The Mayor takes a step into the shadows.

SNYDER
Nobody moves. I knew you kids
were up to something.

BUFFY
Snyder, get out of here.

SNYDER
You're not giving orders, young lady.

He goes up to Faith and takes to box. She looks to the Mayor, not sure what to do.

SNYDER (cont'd)
I suppose you're going to tell me
I won't find drugs in this box.

He hands it off to the guard with him. Faith pulls out her knife--

BUFFY
Wait.

FAITH
Boss?

MAYOR
Principal Snyder, I think we have
a problem...

Snyder reacts as the Mayor steps out of the shadows.

SNYDER
Mr. Mayor, I... I had no idea you
were -- I'm terribly sorry.

MAYOR
It's I who should apologize,
coming here at night, what
must you think...

Unnoticed by anyone, the guard opens the box.

MAYOR (cont'd)
See, I just needed to --
(sees the guard)
Oh. Don't do that.

Everyone turns to look at the guard as he peers into the box.

A black spidery thing comes shooting out of it and attaches to his face. As he SCREAMS:

BLACK OUT.

END OF ACT THREE
Act Four

INT. CAFETERIA - MOMENTS LATER (NIGHT)

For a second nobody can move. The guard drops to the ground, spider on his face. The box also falls to the ground, remaining open. A second later the spider skitters off the guard into the shadows, and we see that it has taken the guard's face with it.

The guard is very dead.

WESLEY
Oh, God.

XANDER
Where did it go?

SNYDER
(to the security guards)
Get that door open.

GILES
No! We can't let that thing
out of here.

The guard fumbles for his keys, dropping them in his panic.

XANDER
I still want to know where it went...

BUFFY
Listen.

She cocks her head. Then slowly looks up.

ANGLE: POV OF THE CEILING

It's too dark to see if there is something crawling up there.

CLOSE ON: THE MAYOR

As he took looks up at the ceiling. The spider lands full on his face.

FAITH
Boss!

She runs to him, wrenches the spider off his face and throws it to the ground. It skitters into the corner where Wesley and Giles stand. They scramble to high ground.

The mayor stumbles back against the table, his face also having been ripped off.

A moment and it begins to reform.

ANGLE: SNYDER

Is staring at the Mayor as this happens. Snyder is completely wigged and takes a step back, unable to speak.

ANGLE: THE CROWD

Are all still intense, looking around for the spider again, as we see in the f.g. the open box and another spider crawl out, disappearing into the shadows unnoticed by anyone.

ANGLE: THE MAYOR

His face back on, he shakes off the experience and looks at the box.

MAYOR
I wouldn't leave that open...

Buffy turns and dives for the box. Slamming it shut as the third spider is about to crawl out. She severs two (spider)legs in the process. Almost in that instant the second spider drops on her back from above. Without thinking Buffy throws herself hard onto the ground on her back squashing the spider beneath her.

ANGLE: GILES AND WESLEY

Look below them for the first spider. Wesley is on the table by the wall. He looks down as the spider climbs up the wall right beside his head.

ANGLE: FAITH

Seeing this she throws her knife directly at Wesley's face. Wesley manfully screams like a woman and ducks, the knife pinning the spider against the wall.

ANGLE: SECURITY GUARD

Finally gets the front door unlocked, the vampires bolt out taking the guard with them. Our gang is still looking around.

OZ
Is that all of them?

ANGLE: THE MAYOR

Has taken the moment to grab the box. He holds it, ready to open it.

MAYOR
Not really. There's about fifty
billion of these happy little
critters in here. Would you
like to see?

Buffy makes a move for him -- and he cracks open the box.

MAYOR (cont'd)
Raise your hand if you're
invulnerable... Faith. Let's go.

Faith throws a glance back to:

ANGLE: HER KNIFE

Which is in the wall by where the white hats have congregated. She doesn't want to let it go...

MAYOR (cont'd)
Faith!

But she does, following the Mayor out.

Everyone watches them go. Buffy looks over at Snyder, sees a man in mental crisis.

BUFFY
Snyder... you alive in there?

SNYDER
You... all of you... why couldn't
you be dealing drugs like normal
people?!?

He takes off, distraught. Buffy crosses to the knife, past Willow who is being held by Oz. Buffy pulls the knife out, looks at it.

WESLEY
(bitterly)
Well, that went swimmingly.

BUFFY
(looking at Willow)
We did all right.

INT. LIBRARY - NIGHT (SAME NIGHT)

Buffy and Willow sit on the counter. Buffy still has Faith's knife. Giles hovers nearby, impatient with their conversation.

WILLOW
So Faith is like, "I'm gonna beat
you up", and I'm all "I'm not
afraid of you", and then she had
the knife so that was less fun but
oh! I told her, "You made your
choice, Buffy was your friend..."

GILES
Yes, that's fascinating. But let's
get back to the point -- you
actually had your hands on the
Books of Ascension?

WILLOW
Volumes one through five.

GILES
Is there anything you can
remember that might be
useful to us? Anything at all?

WILLOW
Well, I was in a hurry, and what
I did read was kind of involved.
If you ask me, it was way overwritten.

GILES
Oh.

WILLOW
There were a few pages that
looked interesting, but I didn't
have time to read them fully.

She pulls ten or so torn pages out of her pocket, the personification of casual.

WILLOW (cont'd)
See what you can make of 'em.

Giles takes them eagerly.

BUFFY
(to Will)
This is your night for suave. You
should get captured more often.

WILLOW
No thank you.

WESLEY
Well, let's hope there's
something useful in them. The
Mayor has the Box of Gavrok.
As of now we're right back
where we started.
(to Buffy)
Wouldn't you say?

This registers with her.

EXT. SCHOOL - DAY

Buffy sits in contemplation (hopefully somewhere with a bit of elevation and/or a view of the town). Willow joins her.

WILLOW
Deep thoughts?

BUFFY
Deep and meaningful.

Willow sits.

WILLOW
As in?

BUFFY
As in I'm never getting out of
here. I thought maybe if I stop
the Mayor... but... I'm kidding
myself. There's always gonna be
something. I'm a Sunnydale girl.
No other choice.

WILLOW
It must be tough. I mean, cause
here I am, I can do anything I
want, I can go to any college in
the country, and four or five in
Europe if I want.

BUFFY
(somewhat appalled)
Please tell me you're going
somewhere with this.

WILLOW
Nope.

She holds a letter of acceptance in front of Buffy's face.

WILLOW (cont'd)
I'm not going anywhere.

Buffy takes the letter.

BUFFY
U.C. Sunnydale?

WILLOW
I will be matriculating with the
class of 2003.

BUFFY
Are you serious?

WILLOW
Say, isn't that where you're going?

Buffy throws her arms around Willow, tackling her with joy.

BUFFY
I don't believe it!

She stops, sits up again.

BUFFY (cont'd)
What am I saying? You can't.

WILLOW
What do you mean, I can't?

BUFFY
I won't let you.

WILLOW
Of the two people here, which is
the boss of me?

BUFFY
But there's better schools --

WILLOW
Sunnydale's not bad. And I can
design my own curriculum.

BUFFY
There's safer schools. There's
safer prisons. I can't let you stay
here because of me.

WILLOW
Actually, this isn't about you.
Although I'm fond, don't get me
wrong, of you. The other night,
getting captured and all, facing
off with Faith... things just got
kind of clear. I mean, you've
been fighting evil here for about
three years, and I've been helping
out some, and now we're
supposed to be deciding what we
wanna do with our lives and I
realized that's what I want to do.
Fight evil. Help people. I think
it's worth doing, and I don't
think you do it 'cause you have
to. It's a good fight, Buffy, and
I want in.

Buffy looks at Willow a moment.

BUFFY
I kind of love you.

WILLOW
Besides, I've got a shot at
becoming a bad ass wicca,
and what better place to learn?

BUFFY
I feel the need for more sugar than
the human body can handle.

WILLOW
Mochas?

BUFFY
Yes please.

They rise, start to walk off.

BUFFY (cont'd)
It's weird. You look at
something, you think you know
exactly what you're seeing, and
then... you find out it's
something else entirely.

WILLOW
Neat, huh?

BUFFY
Sometimes it is.

INT. DRESS SHOP - NIGHT

Cordelia stands before a mirror, holding a lovely dress up in front of her, posing dreamily. Then, an older, matronly store MANAGER with to much make-up appears over her shoulder.

MANAGER
Chase, what are you doing? Your
break's been over for ten minutes.
I still need you to restock the
shelves and sweep out the storage
room. Let's go!

Cordelia nods and the Manager moves off. She looks unhappily at her reflection for another few moments then picks up a box and heads for the storeroom.

EXT. GRAVEYARD - NIGHT (PREVIOUSLY SCENE F)

Buffy rests in Angel's arms as they lean up against a large gravestone. Both are a tad troubled, and at great pains to avoid admitting it.

BUFFY
It's gonna be fun. Will and I are
gonna go visit the campus
together on Saturday. I'm hoping
Mom'll let me live on campus --
it's too far to go home every
night, plus the lack of cool
factor... either way I'll be close to
your place...

She smiles at him. He smiles back, kisses her. Still something missing, though.

BUFFY (cont'd)
I don't know what that stupid
Mayor was on about; talking
about our relationship like he
knows anything about us.

ANGEL
Well, he's evil.

BUFFY
Big time. He doesn't know what
a lasting relationship is.

ANGEL
No.

BUFFY
Probably the only lasting
relationship he's ever had is
with... with Evil.

ANGEL
Yeah.

BUFFY
He sure doesn't know you...
stupid evil guy... We'll show him.

ANGEL
We will.

She snuggles deeper into his arms, facing away from him. Worry on her face, that matches his own.

BLACK OUT.

END OF SHOW