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September 3, 2002 (WHITE)

Written by: Rebecca Rand Kirshner

Directed by: Rick Rosenthal

Teaser

FADE IN:
INT. FUNERAL HOME - NIGHT

TIGHT on a WOMAN'S FEET clad in black pumps. Her toes point to the ceiling. The CAMERA PANS up her body. Over this, we hear MORTICIAN #1 and MORTICIAN #2.

MORTICIAN #1 (O.S.)
She looks so peaceful.

The CAMERA reaches the woman's neck, which is covered with thick make-up. And then her face: She is a sweet older woman with a faint smile on her lips. PULL BACK to REVEAL she's in a plush coffin.

MORTICIAN #2 (O.S.)
She does, doesn't she? So the family
gets here at ten in the morning.

MORTICIAN #1 (O.S.)
Want me to bring coffee?

PULLING BACK reveals more of the room: Comfortable decorations, nice wallpaper, etc. In the corner, two full- size coffins and one child's coffin. The LIGHTS ARE TURNED OFF before the morticians are in our scope. It's dark.

MORTICIAN #2 (O.S.)
Can you make mine a Chai latte?

We HEAR the door close and lock. Everything is still. Dark.

Suddenly, one of the coffins CREAKS OPEN. The lid falls back and a SHADOWY FIGURE steps stealthily out of the coffin. And then a second CREAK! Another coffin opens. Another OBSCURE FIGURE emerges and flicks on a FLASHLIGHT, shines it right at: XANDER. Who covers his eyes. He's irritable.

XANDER
Hey!

BUFFY, holding the flashlight, moves the beam.

BUFFY
Sorry.

A KNOCKING. Buffy's beam finds the noise: coming from the child's coffin. Xander lifts the lid, revealing a squashed DAWN, who climbs out, looking crabby.

DAWN
I think that thing had a child-lock.
(stretching)
I'm all cricky. You know, I'm not
the shortest one here. I don't know
why I was in the kid coffin for--

XANDER
(re: his watch; sour)
Thirty-three minutes. Since when did
we go to all this effort for one
lousy vampire, make that one lousy
potential vampire?

BUFFY
(quiet and serious)
Vampire by vampire. It's the only
way I know how. Look, I know it's my
job and not yours--

XANDER
No, no, I'm sorry. I want to help.
I guess I'm a bit stressed out these
days. Sorry to take it out on you.

BUFFY
No big. I'm kinda stressed myself.

DAWN
Well, the whole Willow sitch is not
unstressifying. She's here. But not
here, "part of the gang" here.
(then)
And hopefully not here, "under my
feet 'cause she's in another time-
dimension" here.

Surreptitiously, she checks the bottom of her sneakers.

BUFFY
There's Willow, there's the looming
humongo bad, and.. it's a school
night. I should be home in bed,
cuddling up to my insomnia and
worrying how I'm going to mess up
tomorrow.

As they make their way towards the open casket:

DAWN
You'll do fine. You'll be a great
counselor.

BUFFY
But this week is going to be my first
time really talking to kids. What if
their problems are all weird and
tricky? What if I can't help them?

XANDER
I think you underestimate your
familiarity with the world of weird
and tricky. You're perfect for this
job.

BUFFY
Yeah, right. Check out perfect me
taking my sister on a fun,
educational outing to the--

As all three look at the Dead Woman in her coffin.

DAWN
Dead body.

XANDER
I dunno, amateur opinion here, but
she looks dead. I mean, like natural
causes dead.

BUFFY
The paper said she had unusual cuts
and contusions on her neck.

Buffy looks closer at the dead neck. Reaches out and tentatively touches the TINY STITCHES on the body's neck.

XANDER
Maybe she cut herself shaving. And
then died, naturally, of
embarrassment.

BUFFY'S POV: The Dead Woman's face. So placid.

DAWN (O.S.)
She looks --

BUFFY (O.S.)
Peaceful.

A beat. And suddenly, the woman's EYES POP OPEN!

The VAMPIRE WOMAN grabs Buffy's hands in hers, pulls her close. Her pale eyes intense.

VAMPIRE WOMAN
I. Am. Not. Peaceful.

Buffy struggles, eager to get the stake from her belt. But the Vamp Woman clings no her desperately. In the struggle, the flashlight drops.

Xander grabs the flashlight from the floor and CLOCKS THE VAMP OVER THE HEAD. The Vamp releases her grasp.

Buffy snags the stake and, in one swift motion, stakes her.

BUFFY
That I can help with.

DUST! The coffin is empty. Buffy holsters her stake and lowers the coffin lid.

BUFFY (cont'd)
I always thought closed caskets were
more tasteful anyway.

END OF TEASER
Act One

INT. BUFFY'S OPFICE - DAY

Buffy sits at her desk. [She's in outfit #1 of this montage] She checks the coffee can of freshly sharpened pencils. She straightens the papers on her desk. Looks up. No kids yet. Checks the pencils again. She's ready. Nervous, but ready.

Then AMANDA, a shy girl, pokes her head into Buffy's cubicle.

AMANDA
Hello?

BUFFY
(too loudly)
Come in!

Buffy stands; then sits; smiles real big. Amanda just looks at Buffy, wary of her enthusiasm.

BUFFY (cont'd)
Hi!

Tentatively, Amanda makes her way to the chair and sits down. She looks up at Buffy, her eyes as pitiful as a hound dog's.

AMANDA
Mr. Miller sent me here.

BUFFY
Do you know why?

AMANDA
I'm not sure.
(then)
Maybe 'cause this guy was picking on
me.

Off BUFFY'S sympathetic expression:

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE - DAY

A new kid, MATTHEW, cute but grim, sits facing BUFFY. He plays with the baseball hat in his hands.

MATTHEW
I don't want to say I was popular or
whatever, but you know, people liked
me. It sucks being new.

ANGLE on Buffy [Outfit #2]

BUFFY
But this is a new school. Everyone
here is new.

MATTHEW
Yeah, but lots of them know each
other from before. I don't have
anywhere to sit at lunch.
(then)
It's stupid. I don't know why I came
here--

BUFFY
It's not stupid. It's like the
teacher's lounge for me. I don't
know what I'm supposed to do in
there. I mean, lounge of course, but
it's weird. I feel awkward, just
like you do.

She smiles at him, confident. He stares at her blankly.

MATTHEW
So, what you're saying is, it doesn't
get any better?

Her face drops. She's going to have to try another tack.

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE - DAY

A jaded-looking hispanic boy, TOMAS, wearing a hooded sweatshirt. His hood is pulled tight to conceal as much of his face as possible. He looks at Buffy and shrugs.

TOMAS
(tough)
I don't want to talk to you, okay?

Buffy looks back at him. [Outfit #3]

BUFFY
Okay. That's fine.

They sit in silence.

TOMAS
I'm serious! I'm not talking to you!

BUFFY
Okay.

Off Buffy, cut to:

OMITTED

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE - DAY - BACK TO.

Amanda, hunched up in her chair.

AMANDA
He said all sorts of things. Stuff
about how my clothes are all cheap
and I look like a blue-light special.

BUFFY
I'm sorry Amanda.

AMANDA
And then my mom had to go and call
him at his house. Telling him that
he shouldn't make fun of me, just
'cause she's not rich and she's a
single mom and all that. I don't
need him knowing my life story.

BUFFY
It's awful being teased. But the
thing is, bullies like that? They're
just--

AMANDA
Insecure?

Buffy shrugs, that is what she was about to say.

AMANDA (cont'd)
Yeah, everyone says that.

Amanda shakes her head. Tears welling.

AMANDA (cont'd)
You know, I'm really tired of
everyone being so insecure.

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE - DAY - BACK TO:

Tomas faces BUFFY. Silence. He glares at her. She waits.

OMITTED

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE DAY - BACK TO:

Matthew facing BUFFY.

MATTHEW
So what am I supposed to do, stick a
sign on my back that says, "Befriend
me?"

Buffy smiles. Matthew doesn't.

BUFFY
Nothing so drastic. Just tomorrow at
lunch, you look for someone who's
sitting alone. And you sit down next
to them.

MATTHEW
Yeah? I don't know.

BUFFY
You could picture them in their
underwear, but it might ruin your
appetite.

He rewards her with a small smile. Then pauses, thinking.

BUFFY (cont'd)
So, maybe?

MATTHEW
Yeah, maybe.

Buffy smiles, encouraged.

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE - DAY - BACK TO:

Amanda facing BUFFY. Buffy talks confidently.

BUFFY
You've got to stick up for yourself.
Let this bully know that you won't
take any sh--guff, from him. Any
guff.

AMANDA
I'm glad you said that.

BUFFY
Well, it's true.

AMANDA
(quietly)
Well, 'cause that's what I did.
stood up for myself.
The other day after class? I jumped
him in the parking lot and slammed
his stupid-ass insecure face right
into the pavement.

Buffy is stunned. This little hound-dog girl heat the guy up?

BUFFY
You, what?

AMANDA
I guess that's the other reason Mr.
Miller wanted me to see you.
(smiling at BUFFY)
I'm glad someone understands me.
(then)
Do you think I should pound on him
some more?

Off Buffy's frozen, wide-eyed smile.

EXT. FIELD NEAR GRAVEYARD - DAY

WILLOW and Xander walk together through a pretty field. (We can't see any gravestones in the distance.) We join mid- conversation:

XANDER
I bet she's giving them great advice.

WILLOW
Absolutely. Those kids are lucky to
have Buffy looking out for them. I
just wish she believed it. She's
stressing over the whole "college-
drop-out-not-actually-qualified"
thing. Plus, knowing there's a
salivating hellmouth right under
their feet... and the whole...

XANDER
"From beneath you it devours."

She nods. He shudders.

XANDER (cont'd)
(grim)
It's not the friendliest jingle, is
it? It's no "I like Ike" or "Milk:
it does a body good."

WILLOW
I know. It's going to be bad. Real
bad. And I wonder, will I... If it
comes, when it comes, will I be able
to help?

XANDER
I think you will.

WILLOW
I don't know. I don't know what I
can do. And frankly, I'm scared of
what I might do.

XANDER
I get that. Figuring out how to
control your magic seems a lot like
hammering a nail.

She looks at him, dubious.

XANDER (cont'd)
Hear me out. You're hammering, right?

Xander demonstrates with a pantomime hammer in the air.

XANDER (cont'd)
If you hold the hammer at the end,
you have power, but not control. It
could take two strokes to hit in the
nail. Or you could hit your thumb.

WILLOW
Right. Ouch.

XANDER
So you choke up, then you have
control, but no power. It could take
ten strokes to knock the nail in.
Power, control; it's a trade-off.

WILLOW
That's actually not a bad analogy.
(beat)
Except, I'm less worried about
hitting my thumb and more worried
about going all black-eyed baddy and
bewitching that hammer into cracking
my friends' skulls open like coconuts.

XANDER
Right. Ouch.

WILLOW
(off his look)
Sorry.
(then)
I don't know, Xander. Being back
here? I'm not sure I'm ready.

XANDER
You are, I mean it'll take time.

He indicates the area ahead with a nod of his head.

XANDER (cont'd)
Are you sure you're ready for this?

She nods. He touches her arm. And lets her go on alone.

He walks back. She walks forward and we MOVE WITH HER, revealing for the first time that she's walking amid GRAVESTONES. If we want to CRANE UP at this point we'll see we're in the CEMETERY...

OMITTED

NEW SHOT, level with Willow. The CAMERA tracks with Willow as she finds the gravestone she is looking for. Willow kneels. The CAMERA moves CLOSER still. Until we're close on the marker itself. Tara's name and dates. Slowly, Willow's pale finger traces Tara's name in the stone. And then the dates. As she reaches the year of Tara's death, the hand begins to tremble.

ANGLE ON Willow as she brings her trembling hand to her lips. She slumps; sits between her bent knees, like a child. She begins to quietly cry. After a moment, she forces herself to smile through her tears as if not wanting to upset Tara. Reaches out and touches the stone again, holding her hand there, like she's touching Tara.

WILLOW
Hey.

Then she takes some pebbles from the ground and puts them atop the gravestone. (This is Jewish tradition.)

WILLOW (cont'd)
It's me.

Then silence, as we hold on Willow with Tara's gravestone.

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE - DAY - BACK TO:

BUFFY, looking sympathetic. Facing her is Tomas. Silence. A long beat.

Then Tomas looks at BUFFY, his expression stoic.

TOMAS
I'm scared.

Tears well in Tomas' eyes. He blinks them away.

TOMAS (cont'd)
I don't want to be left all alone.

Off Buffy's empathetic expression:

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE - DAY

A new kid, PETER NICHOLS, good-looking, rich, confident.

PETER NICHOLS
I hate to miss Bio., but I thought it
was best that I come talk to you.

[BUFFY in Outfit #1]

BUFFY
So, what's on your mind?

PETER NICHOLS
On my mind?

He looks at her blankly.

BUFFY
(leading)
Are you worried about school,
friends, girls, your parents--

PETER NICHOLS
Yeah, that's it. My parents.

BUFFY
What about them?

PETER NICHOLS
Um... issues of divorce.

BUFFY
Divorce is terrible. My parents got
divorced when I was a kid.

PETER NICHOLS
Mine are still happily married.
(a beat)
It's hard. I feel left out.
(off her look)
And...uh, I'm also concerned
about... girls!

Buffy just looks at him.

PETER NICHOLS (cont'd)
Okay, I'm just bored.
(off her look)
I guess I should get back to Bio.

BUFFY
Yeah.

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE - DAY - BACK TO:

Tomas talking with BUFFY.

TOMAS
My brother's joining up with the
Marines.

He begins to tear a little. Wipes at his face angrily.

TOMAS (cont'd)
If he knew I was making a fool of
myself like this, he'd smack me in
the head. I'm being stupid.

BUFFY
He sounds like he's pretty tough,
your brother.

TOMAS
Yeah. He's, you know, a man. And
I'm just, messed up.

BUFFY
You're not messed up. It's not
messed up to worry about your brother.

Tomas looks up. Nods begrudgingly.

TOMAS
Yeah. I mean, what if he... doesn't
come back? What if he gets blown up?
I can't sleep 'cause of this.

BUFFY
Have you talked to your brother?
Told him how you feel?

Tomas shakes his head.

TOMAS
Nah. I don't want to. I don't want
to talk to him, okay?

BUFFY
Okay.

TOMAS
I'm not going to talk to him!

Off Buffy:

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE - DAY

JOSH, a wild-eyed geeky kid, faces Buffy. He smiles at her. [She's in outfit #2]

BUFFY
So, Josh, what's on your mind?

JOSH
Um, I'm worried that I'm gay.

BUFFY
Okay, first of all, I think it's
great that you would talk to me about
this. And you should know there's
nothing shameful about being gay.
Nothing.

JOSH
I know. It's just, I'm not positive.
So I was thinking, why don't you go
out on a date with me and I can find
out for sure?

He raises his eyebrows at her, looks at her like, "Am I selling this?" Her sympathetic expression drops. Hold on Buffy as she massages her temples. She's worn out. (This shot carries over to the next scene.)

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE - DAY - CONTINUING

She looks up, talking to a new kid. [Still in Outfit #2]

BUFFY
It sounds like it's difficult for
you. Like maybe your sister makes it
hard for you to establish your own
identity. You said she's
controlling, and that she doesn't let
you make your own decisions--

REVEAL Dawn, who sits opposite Buffy - fidgeting with Buffy's nameplate as she talks...

DAWN
Yeah, and she borrows my clothes
without asking.

BUFFY
I understand. That must be hard.

INT. ESPRESSO PUMP - DAY

Anya is mid-conversation with a sad woman, 30, LULU.

ANYA
It is hard. I know, it is. But,
honestly? I bet you'll feel better
if you talk about it. A lot better.

Lulu looks like she's about to talk, then shakes her head.

LULU
You don't mind?

Anya waves off this notion.

ANYA
Talk to me.

LULU
(deeply hurt)
I just. I just can't believe he
forgot. We've been going out for six
years and he forgot my birthday.

ANYA
Ucch. And he didn't do anything? No
flowers, no card, no dinner at an
extravagantly over-priced restaurant?

Lulu shakes her head:

LULU
Nothing. And all day long, I kept
thinking he was about to surprise
me... And I guess he did 'cause -
Surprise! - He forgot.

ANYA
What a creepazoid. It's like he
didn't just forget your birthday, but
the day on which, in keeping with
modern American tradition, one's life
is celebrated. One's very self.
(then; dire)
He didn't celebrate your self.

LULU
He didn't, did he?

ANYA
You know what? I think you deserve
vengeance.

LULU
(tasting the word)
Vengeance.

ANYA
(an idea)
How old are you?

LULU
What?
(depressed)
I'm... thirty. Why?

ANYA
Just wishful thinking... But imagine
if he was forced, for thirt--

LULU
Please don't say that... number. I
can't bear to think about it.

Anya checks out Lulu's despondent expression. Thinks.

ANYA
Did he know this? That you're
freaked about being--

LULU
Older? Maybe, yeah. I mean, I did
tell him I didn't want to make a big
deal about it.

ANYA
No big deal. Like no cake, no party,
no presents, no big deal?

LULU
I may have said something like that.
But I didn't say no card! I wouldn't
have minded a card.
(then)
As long as it had no specifics, you
know, no mention that I'm...

ANYA
Thirty isn't old.
(off Lulu's look)
Believe me. But anyway, this
boyfriend of yours - it sounds like
maybe he was just trying to do what
you wanted.

LULU
Yeah. But it wasn't what I wanted.
It was what I said I wanted but, I
guess it wasn't what I really wanted.

ANYA
But he tried. I mean, he tried to
respect your wishes.

LULU
Yeah, he did. It's kind of sweet if
you think about it.
(then)
But now I'm sad I didn't have a party.

ANYA
It's not too late. You could just
celebrate being twenty-nine again.

LULU
I could do that. Yeah. Maybe I
could get a piņata.

ANYA
Knock yourself out.

Lulu smiles and then gathers her stuff, heads for the door.

LULU
Thanks, you've been a big help.

She exits. Anya smiles. Until she realizes that she didn't wreak any vengeance, she looks up, but Lulu is gone.

ANYA
Wait...

We hold on Anya, totally confused and pissed at herself.

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE - DAY

Buffy sits at her messy desk. [Outfit #3] She is facing a blonde girl with haunted eyes, CASSIE. Cassie wears a t- shirt for the White Stripes (or some cool band the kids are listening to), jeans and old, paint-splattered Pumas. A beat- up composition book is on her lap.

BUFFY
So you're not doing your homework.

CASSIE
I guess not. It all seems kind of,
whatever.

BUFFY
I know high school can be
frustrating. But if you just get
through it, then you can go to
college or join the French Foreign
Legion or anything you want.

CASSIE
Yeah. Well, I'm not going to do all
that stuff.

Cassie absent-mindedly braids part of her hair.

BUFFY
Okay, so no French Foreign Legion.
I get that. I mean, all the changing
your name and being indentured for
years and occupying Algeria.

CASSIE
It's just, I'm not graduating from
high school.

BUFFY
Why not?

Cassie looks around the room. Then back at Buffy.

CASSIE
I like that shirt. Where did you--

BUFFY
Don't change the subject, Cassie
why wouldn't you graduate?

CASSIE
(resigned)
Because next Friday I'm gonna die.

Off Buffy's reaction.

END OF ACT ONE
Act Two

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE - CONTINUING

Buffy looks at Cassie. Alert now, her voice held steady.

BUFFY
What?

Cassie averts her eyes. Undoes a braid of hair.

CASSIE
Can we talk, about something else?

BUFFY
No. We have to talk about this.

CASSIE
Just, never mind...

BUFFY
Cassie, what makes you feel like this?

CASSIE
Feel like what?

BUFFY
Like you want to... hurt yourself.

Cassie looks up, alert.

CASSIE
I'm not going to commit suicide, if
that's what you're saying. No way.

BUFFY
Okay. Then, what, what are you
saying?

A frustrated shrug.

CASSIE
Look, I don't mean to be a pain, you
seem really nice, and I know you just
want to help, but I'm just wasting
your time.

BUFFY
No, you're not. This is why I'm
here. Tell me why you think you're
going to die.

Cassie looks at Buffy, shrugs.

CASSIE
I don't think it; I know it. I just,
know.

BUFFY
What do you mean, you know? Are you
saying you know someone wants to hurt
you? Has someone threatened you?

CASSIE
No. I just know next Friday I'm
going to die. Some things, I just
know. I don't know how I do, I just
do. Like, I know there's gonna be
coins.

Buffy is mystified. Cassie looks off in the distance.

BUFFY
Coins?

CASSIE
Lots of coins. Weird ones. And I
know you'll go someplace, dark...
underground. I don't know...

BUFFY
What do you mean, underground?

Cassie looks at Buffy.

CASSIE
And I know you'll try to help.

BUFFY
Cassie, I don't understand what
you're--

The BELL RINGS ending the class period.

CASSIE
But you can't, okay?

Cassie stands. Holds her composition book to her chest. BUFFY stands too, not wanting her to go.

CASSIE (cont'd)
(apologetically)
I gotta go. Trig. I don't want Mr.
Corrigan sending me to Principal Wood
again.
(then)
Look, about what I said? Try not to
worry.

BUFFY
I--

CASSIE
Thanks for being nice. And I really
do like that shirt. The color's good
for you. You should put on a sweater
so it doesn't get stained.

BUFFY
Cassie, wait--

CASSIE
I gotta go.

With a light wave she's out the door, leaving BUFFY stunned.

INT. PRINCIPAL WOOD'S OFFICE - DAY

Principal Wood sits on the edge of his desk. Buffy stands facing him, distressed, urgent.

BUFFY
What am I supposed to do?

PRINCIPAL WOOD
You did what you were supposed to.
You reported the situation to me.

BUFFY
And?

PRINCIPAL WOOD
And...

He lets out a big breath, rubs the bridge of his nose.

PRINCIPAL WOOD (cont'd)
It's hard. Kids this age, they're
hurting, they're pissed. And they
say things. Sometimes they say awful
things.

As he talks, Principal Wood goes to pour two cups of coffee.

PRINCIPAL WOOD (cont'd)
When I was in school I got into a
thing with this guy. Real bully.
told everyone he'd better "sleep with
one eye open 'cause I was gonna bust
his ass."

He hands Buffy a cup of coffee.

PRINCIPAL WOOD (cont'd)
I got suspended. Talk like that is
taken pretty seriously where I come
from-

BUFFY
The hood?

PRINCIPAL WOOD
Beverly Hills. Which is a hood.
(off her discomfort)
The point is - I was talking big
because I was scared. I couldn't
bust a move in high school, let alone
an ass. Most of the time that's what
it is when students act out. Fear,
pain...

BUFFY
But sometimes, sometimes it's not
just talk, right?

PRINCIPAL WOOD
One in a hundred, maybe two hundred,
they're for real.

BUFFY
So what do we do? How do we help her?

PRINCIPAL WOOD
Every time there's a threat like
this, we do the same dance.

He walks back around his desk. Sitting down.

PRINCIPAL WOOD (cont'd)
Inform teachers, search lockers. But
we can't know what's going to happen,
and we can't search their brains. We
just do what we can.

Buffy shakes her head; frustrated. Walks towards his desk.

BUFFY
It's not enough. I want to, I don't
know what. I need to do something.
I need to make this better.

Buffy bumps against the edge of the desk, jerks her cup of coffee, spilling it on her shirt.

BUFFY (cont'd)
Ow! Shoot! I need to...

She stares at the stain as it spreads on her clean shirt.

INT. HALLWAY - DAY

A few kids amble down the hall, passing between classes.

We PICK UP ON DAWN and follow her to her locker. She opens it. Tosses in the textbooks she's carrying and grabs a new one. Slams the locker shut and REVEALS BUFFY - who looks serious.

BUFFY
I have a job for you.

INT. NEW HIGH SCHOOL LIBRARY - DAY

Dawn walks amid the shelves of books. Pretending to look for a title, but really she's watching...

DAWN'S POV: Cassie and a cute boy, MIKE WARBURTON, sit at a library table. Mike wears an army jacket, but he's pretty clean-cut. He's got a history text in front of him. Cassie's got a copy of "Franny and Zooey" by Salinger near her and is drawing in her composition book. Mike tries to look at her notebook:

MIKE
What're you drawing?

Cassie closes her notebook, marking the page with her hand. She smiles at him.

CASSIE
Don't you have a history test to
study for?

MIKE
Why don't you design a tattoo for me?

CASSIE
A tattoo? Yeah, right. I can just
picture that.

MIKE
C'mon, design something and we can
get matching tattoos. Maybe like a
snake with some fire coming out of
it's mouth.

CASSIE
Or a sexy hula girl who wiggles when
you flex?

MIKE
Now you're talking. Like a sexy hula
girl, but a sexy snake hula girl.

Cassie smiles at him.

CASSIE
You're so ridiculous.

She goes back to her drawing. He looks back at his textbook and then, after a moment, looks up again.

MIKE
So... I was kind of thinking maybe we
should go to that dance after all.

She doesn't look up.

CASSIE
What do you mean "after all"? I told
you I don't want to go.

MIKE
I assumed you were kidding.

She looks up, smiles at him.

CASSIE
It'd probably just be lame anyway.

MIKE
Yeah, but lame is funny. And maybe
fun. If we're, you know, hanging out
together.

Dawn approaches. She stands by their table hesitantly. Mike and Cassie don't notice her at first.

CASSIE
We hang out all the time.

MIKE
Right. And therefore, we should hang
out at the Winter Formal.

DAWN
Hey.

They turn to look at her.

DAWN (cont'd)
I'm in ceramics with you? Dawn
Summers. Do you remember if we had
an assignment last week? I spaced.

CASSIE
Right. Hey, Dawn. I like your
ashtray work.

DAWN
Thanks. They can also be used as
jewelry holders.

CASSIE
That's the genius.
(then)
There was an assignment but I didn't
write it down. Something to do with
glazes -

Mike stands - gathers his stuff.

MIKE
As scintillating as this pottery talk
is, I'd better go and actually study.
(to Dawn)
I'm Mike, by the way. Cassie talks
about your ashtrays all the time.

DAWN
Hi. Sorry. I didn't mean to-

MIKE
Don't worry about it. I gotta hit
the books if I'm going to ace this
test like it deserves to be aced. It
was nice meeting you though. Cass,
I'll see you later?

CASSIE
(calling after him)
Hey Mike! You're going to get a B.

MIKE
(without turning)
A-plus baby, A-plus.

Cassie and Dawn are left alone. Dawn notes "Franny and Zooey"

DAWN
Is that any good?

CASSIE
Yeah, actually, yeah.

DAWN
What do you have to read it for?

CASSIE
Oh, just for me I guess. I've pretty
much stopped reading my school
assignments. I just read what I want.

Dawn sits.

DAWN
That's so cool. I'd do that, but my
sister would be down my neck in a
second.

CASSIE
Summers. Hey, is your sister Ms.
Summers the counselor?

DAWN
Yeah, lucky me, huh?

CASSIE
Nah, she's nice. I saw her this
morning actually.

DAWN
Oh yeah?
(casually)
What about?

Cassie's high spirits evaporate.

DAWN (cont'd)
I'm sorry, It's none of my business.

CASSIE
Oh, I don't care.

An awkward moment. Dawn tries to change the subject:

DAWN
So. Mike's a cutie. Are you guys
going to that dance?

CASSIE
I don't think so.

DAWN
Oh, I...I mean, didn't he ask you?

CASSIE
Only like a hundred and five times.

DAWN
You said no?

CASSIE
A hundred and six times. I, I can't
go. I'm not going to be around that
night.

Off Dawn's look.

INT. SUMMERS' LIVING ROOM - EVENING - TWO DAYS LATER

The back part of the room: their new "HQ." Willow is working on her computer, anxious to be helpful. Xander and Buffy look over her shoulder. The table is piled with papers.

BUFFY
Cassie's records all show the same
story - Good grades, good kid. Then
suddenly, not so good grades,
absenteeism, comments about apathy
and depression.

XANDER
So, the question is, what changed?

BUFFY
Right. If she did have some kind of
psychic vision, that would explain
it. I mean, it's hard to do homework
if you think you're about to die.

WILLOW
(skeptical)
You really think this girl is some
kind of precog?

BUFFY
I don't know. Maybe. I told you how
she--

XANDER
Buff, you spilled a cup of coffee.
I'm not saying you don't have Slayer
Grace? But it's not the first time.

WILLOW
Maybe, just maybe, you're trying so
hard to help, that you're seeing
paranormal where there's just normal.
Depressed normal, but normal.

BUFFY
Maybe. But, maybe not.

Willow nods

WILLOW
Want me to check medical records?

BUFFY
Her doctor already sent them.

Xander grabs a folder from her MD from the table.

XANDER
(reading)
Strep throat, ear infections, yeast
infection, none of my business. No
real info here.

BUFFY
We got zip. And we're running out of
days.

WILLOW
Have you Googled her?

XANDER
(aghast)
Willow! She's seventeen!

WILLOW
It's a search engine. Look.

Willow types a few things.

WILLOW (cont'd)
Let's see what Cassie Newton pulls up.

WILLOW (cont'd)
Hey, check this: she has her own site.

XANDER
A day and a half of researching and
we finally try looking up her.

ANGLE from behind, allowing us to see the web site. There are a bunch of drawings, paintings, many of them self- portraits. A lot of them sad and dark. But mostly poems. Lots of them.

BUFFY
Wow. Lotta poems here.

XANDER
Poems. Always a sign of pretentious
inner turmoil.

WILLOW
(ignoring/reads)
The sheets above me cool my skin/
like dirt on a mad woman's grave/

ANGLE ON Willow, reading.

WILLOW (cont'd)
I rise into the moonlight white/ And
watch the mirror stare/

ANGLE ON Xander, listening.

WILLOW (cont'd)
Pale fish looks back at me/ Pale fish
that will never swim/

ANGLE ON Dawn as she enters the front door. She slows, realizing she shouldn't interrupt, quietly puts down her backpack. Listens.

WILLOW (cont'd)
My skin is milk for no man to drink/
my thighs unused, unclenched/ this
body is not ready yet/ But dirt waits
for no woman/ And coins will buy no
time/

ANGLE ON Buffy. Listening, moved by the girl's words.

WILLOW (cont'd)
I hear the chatter of the bugs/ It's
they alone will feast

A beat. (ANGLE includes all of them.) Dawn approaches.

XANDER
Okay... Death really is on her brain.

DAWN
We all deal with death...

XANDER
But this girl isn't just dealing.
She's giving death a long sloppy word
kiss. She has a yen for the big dirt
nap.

WILLOW
I don't know. A lot of teenagers
post some pretty angsty poetry on the
web. I even posted a melodramatic
love poem or two back in the day.

XANDER
Love poems?

WILLOW
I'm over you now, Sweetie.

XANDER
(flattered)
Love poems.

WILLOW
Look, all I'm saying is this is
normal teen stuff, You join chat
rooms, you write poems, you post
Doogie Howser fan fic. It's normal.
Right?
(quickly)
Let's see if there're any other sites.

Dawn shakes her head.

DAWN
(cocky)
You guys are way off track. I got a
hunch on this one.

Willow is back on the main page.

WILLOW
I think we've seen most of this.
Here's something, oh no, it's
"Phillip Newton."

BUFFY
That's her dad. Open that.

DAWN
I'm telling you I got this case
cracked wide open. I got the suspect
fingered. I told you about Mike
Warburton, right?

BUFFY
The one who asked her to the dance?

DAWN
Right. The one who keeps asking her
to the dance. I'm thinking, who
likes to be rejected? Nobody. I'm
thinking, some people can't handle
rejection. I'm thinking--

WILLOW
I got something here!

They all turn to look at the screen. A page titled "Sunnydale Police Records." "Phillip Newton" is highlighted. A list of charges follows: "Drunk and Disorderly;" "Disturbing the Peace;" "Disorderly conduct."

WILLOW (cont'd)
Drunk and Disorderly. Disturbing the
Peace...a lot of charges here.

BUFFY
Her dad's a drunk.

XANDER
A violent drunk?

BUFFY
We better find out. Here's his
address. Xand, you got your keys?

Xander and Buffy rise and prepare to head out.

DAWN
You guys! Listen up. I'm telling
you, I'm liking Mike Warburton for
the perp. Let's collar him before he
lawyers up!

But they're gone.

EXT. MR. NEWTON'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Buffy and Xander stand on the stoop of a small, sort of crummy house. The porch light FLICKERS. They KNOCK.

BUFFY
Buffy the Vampire Slayer would just
kick down this door.

XANDER
And Buffy the counselor?

BUFFY
Waits.

They KNOCK again. The door opens as far as the security chain will allow. A big man, PHILLIP NEWTON, looks out.

BUFFY (cont'd)
Mr. Newton?

MR. NEWTON
That's right.

BUFFY
I work at your daughter's school. I
need to talk to you.

Off Mr. Newton, looking less than thrilled at this.

INT. MR. NEWTON'S HOUSE - CONTINUOUS

We're inside Mr. Newton's place now. It's a mess. A table with a bottle of Scotch and a drinking glass is in plain view.

MR. NEWTON
Is she screwing up her grades again?
She's not the sharpest apple in the
barrel.

BUFFY
She's having some problems. But it's
kind of you I want to talk about.

MR. NEWTON
What about?

BUFFY
I know you got picked up by the
police a couple times. Are you still
drinking a lot?

MR. NEWTON
What's that got to do with Cassie?

XANDER
You tell us.

MR. NEWTON
What's this, "You tell us"? Who do
you two think you are, McMillan and
Wife?

XANDER
(to Buffy)
He looked at me. He just said "wife"
and looked at me.

BUFFY
Xander.
(then)
Mr. Newton, I don't know exactly how
to ask this...

MR. NEWTON
Ask what? Look, I let you into my
house, but I'm tired and I got things
to do.

Xander glances over at the bottle of booze:

XANDER
Yeah, you look real busy--

BUFFY cuts him off. She's got to do this.

BUFFY
Frankly, we're worried that you might
drink too much and hurt Cassie.

Silence.

BUFFY (cont'd)
That's all.

Mr. Newton smiles a slim smile. Nods repeatedly. But his eyes are lit with anger. As he talks, his temper rises:

MR. NEWTON
Oh, I see. That's all, You come in
here in the middle of the night, into
my home, and start accusing me of
beating on my daughter? That's all?

BUFFY
We just want to make sure--

MR. NEWTON
Well, that's a lie. Who told you--
Did Cassie's mother put you up to
this? 'Cause I pay my support, okay?
To the dime. She just wants to take
away the one weekend a month I get to
see my girl.

BUFFY
Which is when?

MR. NEWTON
What?

BUFFY
Which weekend is it?

MR. NEWTON
I just had her. Last weekend. Look,
I may not be the greatest dad in the
world. But I don't beat up my girl.
I don't-

BUFFY
Will you see her this Friday?

MR. NEWTON
Not unless my ex-wife gets a
personality transplant.

BUFFY
(thinking)
Okay.

MR. NEWTON
Okay, what? Okay, now you'll yet out
of my house?

BUFFY
Yeah. Yeah, we will.

She heads to the door. Xander follows. Buffy turns:

BUFFY (cont'd)
You know, I'm not going to let
anything happen to Cassie.

MR. NEWTON
Is that a threat?

BUFFY
Shouldn't it be a comfort?

Mr. Newton is taken aback; his indignant expression drops. Buffy and Xander quietly exit, closing the door behind them.

EXT. MR. NEWTON'S HOUSE - CONTINUOUS

Buffy and Xander exit onto the poorly-lit stoop.

Suddenly, Cassie emerges from the shadows. Looking haunted as a specter. Startling them both.

CASSIE
It's not him. He's not the one who
does it.
(to Buffy)
Thank you for trying. But I probably
shouldn't have told you anything.
You're making such a big deal and I
want it all to just...go away.

XANDER
Are you talking about... killing
yourself?

CASSIE
No! Of course not.

BUFFY
Then fight. Try.

CASSIE
There's no point. I told you-

BUFFY
See, that doesn't sound like someone
who really wants to live.

CASSIE
How can you say that? You think I
want this? That I don't care?

She looks up for a minute, trying to keep back tears.

CASSIE (cont'd)
Believe me. I want to... be here, do
things. I want to graduate from high
school. I want go to the stupid
Winter Formal. I have this friend,
and it would be fun to go with him.
Just to dance, hear lame music, to
wear a silly dress and laugh and
stuff. I'd like to go. There's a
lot I'd like to do.

She is crying a little now.

CASSIE (cont'd)
You know, I'd love to ice skate at
Rockefeller Center. And I'd love to
watch my cousins grow up, see who
they become - cause they're really
mean and I think they're gonna be
fat. And I've never been to the
Louvre. I'd love to see the Mona
Lisa. Or meet Peter Falk. Or
backpack across the country. Or, I
don't know... fall in love.

She shrugs; looks at them with clear, shining eyes.

CASSIE (cont'd)
But I won't. I just... never will.

Buffy and Xander are both shaken.

BUFFY
Cassie, no. You will. You will.
You just have to tell us what you
know. Everything about this...
Please, please, help us.

CASSIE
I can't. I just know. It's going to
happen. I don't know why and I don't
know how. But something out there is
going to kill me.

CUT TO:

INT. NEW HIGH SCHOOL LIBRARY - NIGHT

Ten RED ROPED FIGURES walk slowly in a circle. Hoods cover their faces. Each holds a BURNING CANDLE. They each point their candles towards the center of the circle.

An OVERHRAD SHOT reveals what the robed figures are circling: STRANGE FOREIGN COINS are laid out in an intricate arrangement of concentric circles. At the very center of the arrangement is a paper shrine consisting of an enlarged YEARBOOK PHOTO OF CASSIE and some print-outs of her POEMS.

The flames leap from their candles and the paper begins to burn. The photo of Cassie is devoured by flames.

END OF ACT TWO

Act Three

EXT. SUN RISING - DAWN

Establishing a new day dawning. The day of Cassie's predicted death.

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE - DAY

Buffy at her computer. Principal Wood pokes his head in the door. Buffy doesn't notice, still intent on the screen.

PRINCIPAL WOOD
Hey, how we doing?

Buffy starts

BUFFY
Oh!

PRINCIPAL WOOD
Sorry, didn't mean to...

BUFFY
It's okay. I just didn't sleep much.

PRINCIPAL WOQD
It's been a long week, huh?

Buffy nods.

PRINCIPAL WOOD (cont'd)
Thank god it's Friday.
(realizing)
I can't believe I just said that.
I'm such a principal. See you later.

BUFFY nods, already looking back at her computer screen.

ANGLE ON Buffy and the computer screen. She's on Cassie's web site. Reading her poetry. She reads quietly for a long moment. Starts to read out loud:

BUFFY
(softly)
I sit alone at my window sill/ Trees
Crackle/ sunshine blares...

Cassie's VOICE takes over:

CASSIE (V.O.)
and children laugh like death/

As we show a brief MONTAGE of the past few days:

EXT. PICNIC BENCH ON SCHOOL GROUNDS - DAY

Cassie eats her lunch with Mike Warburton, Dawn and a couple other kids. Everyone is laughing. Cassie smiles too. Dawn watches Mike Warburton, closely. Suspicious.

CASSIE (V.O.)
Their sharp happiness is a knife to
me/ One jealous snake on a window
sill/

INT. SUMMERS' HOUSE - DINING ROOM - NIGHT

A different day. Buffy, Dawn, Willow and Xander sit at the table. The food on their plates untouched. They're all absorbed in research material: a yearbook; a book on teenage violence; photos of Cassie; school papers she wrote.

CASSIE (V.O.)
They will be here, trees and Sun/ and
children with canes and pruney skin/

INT. CASSIE'S ROOM - NIGHT

Cassie lies on her unmade bed, writing in her composition book. Posters (The Velvet Underground; Tom Waits) are taped to her walls, along with art postcards (Francis Bacon; Max Beckman) and photos of Cassie with Mike Warburton.

CASSIE (V.O.)
When I am but a memory/ A laugh in
the trees of time.

INT. SUMMERS' HOUSE - BUFFY'S ROOM - DAY

Willow stands near the window, looking out, thinking of Tara. She touches the glass, rubbing her fingers along its smooth surface.

CASSIE (V.O.)
I sit alone and try to love them/ I
sit alone, a snake/

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE - CONTINUING

Buffy stares ahead, thinking.

CASSIE (V.O.)
I sit alone and try to love them/ I
sit alone and laugh.

INT. SCHOOL BASEMENT - DAY

Dark and dank. A pile of discarded crates. On one sits SPIKE. Spine straight, eyes staring forward. Still.

From the darkness, Buffy approaches. He doesn't react. She's standing right in front of him. Waves her hand in front of his eyes. Nothing. Snaps her fingers. Nothing.

BUFFY
Spike! What are you doing?

No response, then:

SPIKE
Nothing. If I don't move. If I
don't think. If I don't listen to
the voices. Then I won't hurt. Much.

BUFFY
I've got to ask you something.

SPIKE
Don't. Can't hear any more voices.

BUFFY
Spike, there's a girl. She's in
danger and I need your help. Now.

He blinks several times, agitated.

BUFFY (cont'd)
Time is running out--

SPIKE
I can't, I can't hear you.

BUFFY
Do you know anything? Spike? Is
there something, something evil, in
the school... down here maybe? Do you
know anything?

He blinks more. His neck strains. Trying not to listen. He nods.

SPIKE
Yes.

He closes his eyes. Trying to block out the pain.

SPIKE (cont'd)
There's evil. Down here. Right
here. I'm a bad man. William is a
bad man. I hurt the girl.

He starts to sob, soundlessly. Starts hitting his fists against his head. BUFFY grabs his wrists, stopping him.

BUFFY
Spike! Stop it! What did you do?

He looks up at BUFFY.

SPIKE
I hurt you Buffy and I will pay. I
am paying. Because I hurt the girl.

BUFFY
Spike. No. Not me.

She releases his wrists.

BUFFY (cont'd)
A girl called Cassie Newton. Do you
know anything specific?

Spike shakes his head, "no" several times. She backs off.

SPIKE
Don't! Don't leave me! Stay here,
and help me be quiet.

BUFFY
(quiet)
No, I'm not... I think it's worse when
I'm here.

She walks away from him.

SPIKE (O.S.)
Don't let him hurt the girl!

INT. SUNNYDALE HIGH SCHOOL - HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS

Mike Warburton walking quickly down the hall. His face is dark. He carries a paper in his hand.

In the BG, a JANITOR opens lockers, which Principal Wood and another TEACHER search.

BUFFY (O.S.)
Where's your hall pass?

Mike looks up and sees Buffy in front of him, arms folded.

MIKE
No hall pass. I got a free period.

BUFFY
You look kinda upset. Something on
your mind?

MIKE
Nah, not really.

Buffy stares at him, not relenting. Mike shows her the paper. It's a test with a big "B" circled in red pen.

MIKE (cont'd)
A lousy B in Egyptian History. I
knew this stuff cold. Pisses me off.

BUFFY
Do you get pissed off a lot?

Mike smiles slowly; this seems ridiculous.

MIKE
What? No--

BUFFY
(impatient)
Let me cut to the chase here,
alright? I hear you can't get a date
to the Winter Formal.

MIKE
Um, okay. Look, I know it's your job
to talk to kids with problems, but
honestly? I'm not one of them. I'm
fine.
(off her stern look)
Anyway, it's no big deal. I got this
friend I really want to go with
... but, I don't know. I guess she
doesn't see me that way. She makes
me crazy--

BUFFY
Crazy?

MIKE
Yeah, Sometimes I wanna -- Hey,
that's funny, you're Dawn's sister,
right?

BUFFY
Dawn is my sister, That's right.

MIKE
That's so weird. I was just thinking
about her. I was thinking, if Cassie
won't budge, maybe I'll ask Dawn.

BUFFY
You wouldn't be mad at Cassie? With
her rejecting you like that?

MIKE
Nah. She's a girl. Making boys
crazy is like her job description.

Buffy is relieved. She smiles at him. Then her smile drops.

BUFFY
You're asking my sister to the prom?
(then)
And she's your second choice?

A CLATTER OF METAL ON TILE makes BUFFY turn.

ANGLE ON a mass of FOREIGN COINS as they clatter out of a searched locker on to the hallway floor.

BUFFY (cont'd)
(to Mike)
I'll be keeping an eye on you.

Mike shakes his head, smiling and continues down the hall.

ANGLE ON Buffy as she joins Principal Wood, the Teacher and Janitor by the opened locker.

PRINCIPAL WOOD
Looks like someone's got a coin
collection.

ANGLE ON the odd coins all over the floor.

Buffy picks up a coin, turns it over in her hand. The Janitor and Teacher are scooping the coins up, putting them back in the locker. Buffy closes the locker door slightly, getting a look at the number: "174." She pockets the coin and heads down the hall.

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE - DAY

BUFFY perches on the edge of her desk. A small kid, MARTIN WILDER, enters.

MARTIN
You wanted to see me?

BUFFY
You have locker number 174?

MARTIN
Yeah.
(then; nervous) Why?

Buffy holds out the foreign coin.

BUFFY
I want you to tell me what this is,
and what it has to do with a girl
called Cassie Newton.

MARTIN
I-I don't know. It's late. I'm
going to miss my bus.

BUFFY
I know it's late. That's why I don't
have time to mess around. You need
to talk to me. Now.

EXT. SCHOOL STEPS - DAY

Dawn and Cassie exit the school and walk down the steps. Students are everywhere, heading home, catching buses. At the bottom of the steps, Cassie stops, looks at Dawn.

CASSIE
Well, I guess this is good-bye.

Dawn's eyes flash with panic.

DAWN
No!
(recovering)
I mean, hey, I'll walk you home.

CASSIE
That's okay. I'm going to my mom's.
It's kind of far.

Cassie starts to walk again. Dawn keeps pace.

DAWN
Far sounds good.

CASSIE
(looks at her)
Dawn. I know what's going on here.

DAWN
Uh, what?

CASSIE
Buffy told you about me, didn't she?
She told you to pretend to be my
friend.

DAWN
No!
(then)
Maybe? Cassie, she was scared. She
wanted to help you.

CASSIE
Well, she can't--

They reach the corner. Stop.

DAWN
Maybe she can. She's... different
than you think. She's got
powers... of helping and she was
worried. And now I'm worried. But
I wasn't. Pretending. At all. I
wanted to be your friend.

A beat. And then Cassie gives her a smile.

CASSIE
You are my friend.

DAWN
Yeah?

CASSIE
Yeah. Just remember, I'm not as
stupid as I look.

DAWN
I'm glad.

PETER NICHOLS (O.S.)
Hey, Summers!

CASSIE
Listen, Dawn, what happens now? It's
not your fault, okay?

PETER NICHOLS
Summers.

Dawn, torn, moves away from Cassie. Leaves her standing at the corner alone. [Note: Because there's a building there, we can't see around the corner.]

DAWN
What is it, Peter?

PETER NICHOLS
I was just wondering if anyone asked
you to the Winter Formal.

DAWN
What? Um, no. Not exactly.

She gives him a shy smile.

PETER NICHOLS
Oh yeah? Well, I was just doing a
poll. See ya!

He gives her a cocky smile. Sucker. He saunters off.

DAWN
That guy is such an ass-- Cassie?
Cassie!

Dawn looks around frantically. Cassie is gone.

DAWN (cont'd)
Cassie!

INT. BUFFY'S OFFICE - DAY

Buffy talking to Martin Wilder. He looks upset.

MARTIN
Believe me, I'd tell you it I knew
anything. I just... don't.

Buffy slides off the edge of her desk. Gets in Martin's face.

BUFFY
You know why I came back here to
Sunnydale High?

MARTIN
To creep me out?

BUFFY
(with growing
intensity)
To help. I'm a counselor here
because I want to help. I know what
it's like to walk these halls and
feel lost. Alone... All I want to
do is make things better. Connect.
And I'm gonna connect with your face
if you don't stop wasting my time and
help me do my job.

A beat as Martin takes this in. He's caving.

BUFFY (cont'd)
A girl could die.

MARTIN
I, please...

One more glance at Buffy's face and he caves:

MARTIN (cont'd)
I guess I know who you're talking
about. She's some weirdo suicidal
poet girl. These guys I know want to
mess with her. They've got this plan.

INT. NEW HIGH SCHOOL LIBRARY - NIGHT

The Red Robed figures hold lit candles and circle the arrangement of coins as before. Then one walks to the front of the room where there is a LARGE CEREMONIAL TORCH.

LEADER OF THE CULT
All present?

As they kneel on either side of the coin arrangement:

RED ROBED FIGURES
All present.

The Leader's hood falls back a bit: He is Peter Nichols.

PETER NICHOLS
Then we begin.

With his candle, Peter lights the torch behind him. One of the cult members GIGGLES with excitement.

PETER NICHOLS (cont'd)
Mandel, shut up.

RED ROBED FIGURE #1
Sorry, dude. It's just so cool.

PETER NICHOLS
O'Keefe, did you take care of the
fire exits?

RED ROBED FIGURE #2
Yeah. Anyone tries to bust in here's
getting a nasty surprise. I set up
this booby-trap that my cousin Ben
used to--

PETER NICHOLS
Fine. No one's getting in.

He goes behind a bookshelf and drags out the heretofore unseen Cassie. She is bound in ropes, her mouth taped with duct tape, a blindfold over her eyes. She can barely move.

PETER NICHOLS (cont'd)
And no one's getting out.

The cult boys audibly suck in their breath.

RED ROBED FIGURE #1
Du-ude...

PETER NICHOLS
The sacrifice.

He pulls off Cassie's blindfold.

CASSIE'S POV: She looks at Peter, the robed figures before her. Her eyes stop on the arrangement of coins.

ANGLE ON PETER as he picks up a big MEAT CLEAVER. He puts it to Cassie's throat. Looks her in the eye.

PETER NICHOLS (cont'd)
Extinguish.

The cult boys wet their fingers and extinguish their candles. There's an audible SSSS.

PETER NICHOLS (cont'd)
(ceremonial)
Almighty Avilas, please accept our
sacrifice. Appear before us, oh
mighty soldier of the dark. Appear
and grant us infinite riches and we
will pay with our sacrifice. We kneel
before you with your gift of flesh.

ANGLE on the cult members. One suddenly stands, throws back the robe's hood: It's BUFFY.

BUFFY
Okay, that is going on your permanent
record.

PETER NICHOLS
It's that counselor. What's she--?

RED ROBED FIGURE #1
(to Buffy; pointing
at Peter)
It was his idea!

The other cult boys JUMP Buffy. She fights them easily. A few PUNCHES knock them back on their asses. Buffy gets up to Peter who threatens her with the cleaver.

PETER NICHOLS
Back off!

She doesn't.

PETER NICHOLS (cont'd)
Stupid bitch!

Buffy turns back and then wheels, HITTING him smack in the face. He falls back against the wall. His nose starts to bleed. He staggers towards her, swinging the cleaver.

PETER NICHOLS (cont'd)
You're gonna die.

BUFFY
Okay, do you know how lame this is?

She kicks Peter in the nuts. He crumples, dropping the cleaver. Buffy steps on it.

BUFFY (cont'd)
Bored teenage boys trying to raise a
demon. Sorry it was a no-show. You
know, I bet it's 'cause you forgot
the boom box blaring... some heavy
metal thing like.. Blue Clam Cult!
I think that's the key to the raising
of lame demons--

From the ground, Peter points:

PETER NICHOLS
That lame demon?

Buffy turns where he's pointing and sees:

A huge, nasty, drooling AVILAS DEMON. [Details TBD) Not exactly lame.

END OF ACT THREE
Act Four

INT. NEW HIGH SCHOOL LIBRARY - CONTINUOUS

Where we left off. Buffy faces the Avilas Demon.

ANGLE ON Buffy, shocked, as she looks up at the Demon.

ANGLE ON the Demon, drooling, fixated on Cassie.

ANGLE ON Cassie, closing her eyes.

ANGLE ON the cult boys. A couple of faces of amazement.

Some of pure horror, fear.

RED ROBED FIGURE #1
Dude... help.

Buffy grabs the meat cleaver and charges. HURLS it into the Demon's belly.

Where it sticks. The Demon SNORTS, as if laughing. It SWATS at Buffy, hits her square across the face.

She is KNOCKED ACROSS THE ROOM. Her head CRACKING against a bookshelf.

The Demon rips the cleaver from its own flesh and HURLS it to the ground. Then charges towards prostrate Buffy

ANGLE ON Peter Nichols, blood dripping from his nose as he scrambles for the cleaver. Picks it up and heads through the chaos toward Cassie.

ANGLE ON Buffy lying on her back, her hand searches for a Weapon, any weapon. Nothing. The Demon leans down to her... and suddenly, she KICKS UP, pushing off her arms so that her feet hit the creature RIGHT IN THE FACE. It backs off a step. She scrambles to her feet. PUNCHES the creature in the gut.

ANGLE ON Peter Nichols, who is almost upon Cassie now. He is breathing hard, his face distorted, determined to kill her.

ANGLE ON Buffy as she sees Peter nearing Cassie.

BUFFY
No!

She starts to run towards him. A couple of the cult boys, including RED ROBED FIGURE #2, get in her way, trying to stop her. Buffy shoves them aside.

PUNCHES #2 in the stomach and sends him sprawling into Peter Nichols - who is temporarily thwarted in his effort to kill Cassie.

Buffy moves toward Peter, but the Avilas GRABS HER and FLINGS her to the ground.

ANGLE ON Red Robed Figure #1. His nose is running, his eyes tearing, definitely wigging out

RED ROBED FIGURE #1
Stop this! Somebody stop this!

ANGLE ON Buffy. On the ground again. Kicking her legs up at the Demon. She's not in great shape here.

The Demon STEPS ON Buffy. Its giant foot CRUSHING her chest. It leans in, jaw widening, ready to feed. When suddenly it SCREAMS, turns to snap at something, or someone, behind it:

Spike, holding the torch, BURNING the Demon's flesh. Buffy gets to her feet.

BUFFY
Spike!

SPIKE
Here to help. No hurting the girl.

BUFFY
You untie her. I'll take...

She grabs the torch from Spike. Spike heads for Cassie.

Buffy hits the Demon across the head with the burning torch It reels, flesh on its face SIZZLING.

BUFFY (cont'd)
...care of this.

ANGLE ON Peter, who has made his way back to Cassie. He holds the cleaver back like a baseball bat; about to cut off Cassie's head... when Spike takes him to the ground. The cleaver drops. Spike begins to PUNCH him silly. Between blows:

PETER NICHOLS
Who... are... you?

SPIKE
I'm a bad man.

HITTING HIM again and again.

ANGLE ON BUFFY. Holding the torch against the Demon. Its flesh starts to BURN. It SCREAMS... in great pain.

ANGLE ON Spike, Cassie and Peter. Peter is MOANING on the ground. Spike uses the cleaver to cut Cassie free from her bonds. Pulls the duct tape off her mouth. She gasps for air. Looks at Spike. Seems to recognize him.

CASSIE
She'll tell you. Someday she'll tell
you.

ANGLE ON BUFFY and the Demon. It's burning and SCREAMING and melting before her. It crumples to the ground. Seems dead.

Buffy runs to Cassie.

BUFFY
Are you okay?

Cassie nods shakily.

Spike, stunned by what Cassie just told him, backs away.

ANGLE ON Peter Nichols, dragging his bruised and bloody body towards the body of the Demon.

PETER NICHOLS
You can't be dead! Where's my
infinite riches?

And then with it's dying breath, the Demon SNAPS at Peter, biting his shoulder.

PETER NICHOLS (cont'd)
AAAAA! It bit me!

And the Avilas Demon explodes in a BURST OF FLAME. Which then disappears. Leaving no trace of the monster. Except for the blood and mayhem in the library.

PETER NICHOLS (cont'd)
(to BUFFY)
I'm bleeding! Help me!

BUFFY
Sorry, my office hours are ten to
four.

Red Robed Figure #2 runs over to Peter, kneeling, staunching the wound on Peter's shoulder.

ANGLE ON Buffy: her arm around Cassie. They walk towards the exit, passing the beat up, terrified cult boys. All of them are either unconscious or huddled on the ground.

INT. NEW LIBRARY - EXIT - CONTINUOUS

BUFFY AND CASSIE GET TO the exit door, which is in a private, alcove-like area of the library (You can't see the cult boys.)

BUFFY
(to Cassie, gentle)
It's all okay now.

They open the door and the booby-trap is sprung! A CROSS-BOW releases an arrow which SHOOTS RIGHT TOWARDS CASSIE! Buffy snaps out a hand and CATCHES IT! Millimeters away from Cassie's temple. A stunned beat. Everyone is frozen. Cassie's eyes shift from Buffy to the arrow and back again.

Then, with one hand, Buffy snaps the arrow in two.

BUFFY (cont'd)
See? You can make a difference.

Cassie looks at Buffy She blinks, smiles: seeing something.

CASSIE
And you will.

And then Cassie touches her own heart. Her eyes go flat and she collapses, falling into Buffy's arms.

BUFFY
Cassie! Cassie!

Cassie's eyes are still. Buffy cradles her in her lap, feels for her pulse. Nothing. She's dead.

BUFFY (cont'd)
Cassie! No! Cassie, please...

INT. SUMMERS' HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - DAY

The other side of the living room. The one we're used to seeing, with the couch, etc. Buffy, Dawn, Xander and Willow sit in silence. Dawn's eyes are red from crying. Buffy is stunned, full of self-loathing.

WILLOW
How was her mother?

BUFFY
(almost toneless)
Okay. As okay as... she said their
family had a history of heart
irregularities... but that she never
told Cassie. Cassie didn't know that
she had, a hole, a hole in her heart.

WILLOW
Cassie didn't know? Then it was
fate?

XANDER
She was going to die no matter what,
wasn't she? No matter what you did.

BUFFY
She just knew. She was... special.
And I failed her.

WILLOW
Buffy, you tried to help.

BUFFY
And I couldn't, I didn't.
It's... there're all these kids, you
know, and they hurt so bad. I almost
forgot, somehow, I almost forgot how
much high school hurts.

Dawn buries her head in her lap, starts to sob.

DAWN
She was my friend.

BUFFY
Oh, Dawnie, I'm so sorry. I failed
for you too.

Dawn looks up, tears running down her face. Shakes her head.

DAWN
Uh-uh. No. You didn't, 'cause you
tried. You listened and you tried.
She died 'cause of her heart, not
'cause of you She was my friend
'cause of you. I guess maybe
sometimes you can't help.

BUFFY
So then what? What do you do when
you know that? What do you do when
you know maybe you can't help?

A beat: as they all look at each other, unable to answer.

INT. HALLWAY/BUFFY'S OFFICE - DAY Monday morning. A LONG SHOT. WE'RE IN THE HALLWAY LOOKING THROUGH THE WINDOW TO BUFFY AT HER DESK. Her desk is a mess. Slowly, she begins to straighten it. Organize her papers. Sharpen her pencils. Readying to begin again. The camera doesn't move.

BLACK OUT.

END OF SHOW