Buffy is crouched atop a mausoleum, looking over a quiet cemetery. Sensing something, she jumps down, races across the graveyard, and stakes the ground of a fresh grave just as the arms of a newly risen vampire burst from the earth. A few plots over, a second vamp climbs out of its grave and Buffy attacks it. She is about to slay it when Riley comes out of nowhere and knocks it down. Buffy is surprised to see him and Riley asks what she's doing here. "My job!" He'd thought she was patrolling another area. She's about to warn him about the vampire, who's back on its feet, but he dodges its attack and throws it high into the air, finally staking it. A third vampire climbs out of its grave and before she can get to it... Spike pounces on it. "Why do I even bother to show up?" She demands to know what Spike is doing there. Spike claims to be getting a "nice spot of violence before bedtime." Then the vamp hits him hard in the face, bloodying his nose. Buffy moves in and stakes it, but Spike tasting his own blood comments he softened it up for her.
Buffy warns him she's not going to put up with his interference much longer. Riley is quick to agree that Spike shouldn't be out when she's patrolling. But Spike sees the look Buffy gives Riley and points out that neither he nor Riley are entirely welcome. "You should take him home, Slayer. Make him stay there. I got knitting needles he can borrow." Having just seeing Spike taste his own nose blood, Buffy is too grossed out to listen to anything he has to say and tells him to go home. As they leave Spike, Riley wonders if he got in her way, but she assures him that he just startled her a little. Nonetheless, she does show concern about him patrolling by himself. Riley says that he isn't much for bench-warming, and Buffy knows he can handle himself. He's eager for more patrolling, but Buffy decides to call it a night, not even bothering to kill Spike just for fun.
Spike watches them leave. In a sinister tone, he growls, "I will know your blood, Slayer. I will make your neck my chalice... and drink deep." He turns to stalk away and falls into one of the empty graves. "Oww!"
The next day on campus, Buffy and Willow are actually having a debate about a college lecture. Halfway through their discussion, Willow realizes this and happily points out that she's been wanting to be able to do this with Buffy since they've know each other. "You are turning into quite the student. Should I be watching my occipital lobe?" Buffy doesn't get the "watching my back" metaphor and comments, "Apparently not. Don't worry, Will, you still wear the smarty pants in the family." Willow points out that Buffy has been studying a whole lot; Buffy's not really happy to discover that working hard is turning out to be a lot of hard work.
At the magic shop, Xander is building shelves for Giles' new store and Anya is helping to arrange the merchandise, pointing out that the monkey head should not go next to the styx water. "Do we want to pick exploded monkey out of our hair?" Giles answers the front door of the shop and lets Willow and Buffy inside. Willow is instantly impressed with how the place is looking. "I feel like a witch in a magic shop." She picks up a glass jar and asks him if he got real newt eyes. To her disdain, Giles confesses that is a little expensive for him, but insists that salamander eyes are just as good. "Just a matter of overcoming snobbery."
Asking Buffy if she's ready to train, Giles, Buffy, and Xander head to the back room and Willow joins Tara, who comments that it would be cool to have a real fortune teller in the shop. Willow quickly tells her that Tara should do it and assures her that she's good enough. She offers her palm to read and asks what she sees. "Willow hands," Tara replies, smiling.
As soon as Buffy steps into the back, Riley jumps out at her and tackles her. He says he's just trying to keep her on her toes; just as she's asking what got into him, she's struck speechless by how the room has been transformed into a spacious training area. Riley is eager to try it out with her. Buffy loves it and thanks them. "You're like my fairy godmother and Santa Claus and Q all wrapped up into one." Seeing their expressions, she explains, "Q from Bond, not Star Trek."
That night, Spike is watching Dawson's Creek in his crypt. "Oh, Pacey, you blind idiot! Can't you see she doesn't love you?" There's a pounding on his door and a frightened Harmony barges in, slamming it shut behind her. She tells him she just saw Buffy patrolling with a stake. "She won't give up until she's killed me to death!" Spike is incredulous that Buffy would be looking for her, but Harmony is convinced that she is Buffy's arch nemesis, which is why she's on the lam. Spike isn't impressed. She tells him that he's her only hope and she will do anything for him if he helps her. "Anything, will you?" he asks. It dawns on her, "Oh, you mean will I have sex with you?" She shrugs, "Well, yeah." At Harmony's expense, Spike tells her that Buffy's not the type to give up, that she'll hunt Harmony down day and night until she's too tired and too hungry to run anymore. "I guess you're going to have to kill her." But Harmony whines that she tried and says he should do it. There's nothing he would love to do more, but he reminds her about the chip in his head, and Harmony isn't happy that she'll have to do it after all. She asks, "Can you help with the thinking?"
At Riley's apartment, he and Buffy are in bed, having just finished a round of nookie. Buffy comments on how relaxing it was. "You want to relax some more?" he asks. She's a little surprised that he wants to do it again so soon and he teases that she may be too tired, but she points out that she has the endurance of ten men. "Let's make it women, okay?" he says. Then the WB censors step in and we don't see what happens next.
The next morning, Dawn is explaining to Joyce that making the substitute teacher cry is like a right of passage. Joyce notices all the bowls of cereal Dawn is pouring, and wonders how she's going to eat all that. Dawn is just trying to get the prize from the box, "Anyway, I want eggs." Joyce makes a comment about Dawn growing up and is about to serve breakfast when she seems to become dizzy. Looking at Dawn, she asks, "Who are you?" then collapses to the floor. Frightened, Dawn quickly dials 911.
Later, Buffy and Riley rush into the emergency room and find Dawn sitting in a chair with a stethoscope hanging from her neck. Buffy hugs her sister and asks how their mother is doing. An intern, Ben (who lent Dawn his stethoscope), walks up and assures her that Joyce is doing fine. As he explains that the doctors don't know what caused Joyce's collapse, Dawn puts on the stethoscope and listens to Ben's heart beat. He assures Buffy that it's very unlikely that it was anything too serious, but they will be running tests for the next couple of hours. Dawn listens to Buffy's heart beat, a bit quicker than Ben's. Ben thinks it shouldn't be long before they can take Joyce back home. Dawn then listens to Riley's heart beat, and hears it racing at an incredible rate.
Later, after having been examined, one of the doctors is having little success in getting Riley to stay in the hospital he is determined to leave. After the doctor leaves, Buffy demands to know what's going on and expresses fear that he might have a heart attack. Riley tries to calm her down. "Me, calm down? I'm not the one with a pulse of a hundred and fifty." He tells her that his heart works differently than hers and points out that he was used as a lab rat for months. At that point, Joyce and Dawn walk into the room and Buffy hugs her mother. Joyce tells Buffy she's doing fine, although a bit embarrassed, and says they can take her home now. Riley is eager to leave.
Later at home, Buffy, Dawn, and Willow are making Joyce comfortable on the couch, determined to keep her from moving around. Joyce, however, is more concerned about Riley than she is about herself. Buffy assures her that if Riley isn't worried than they shouldn't be either. But later in her room, Buffy is pacing, worried about Riley. "Why isn't he worried?" Willow tries to reassure her that Riley is in good shape but this does nothing to alleviate Buffy's concerns. She has a strong feeling that the Initiative has something to do with this. Dawn tries to contribute by telling them her theories about how the CIA tried to kill Fidel Castro. Willow suggests that Buffy call the Initiative but Buffy points out that the Initiative never claimed to exist even when they did exist. She is frustrated that the government could be spying on them but when she has something to say no one will listen. "If they're really spying on you all the time," Dawn says, "just say something so you know they'll hear you." Pondering that thought, Buffy suddenly excuses herself.
Buffy arrives at Riley's apartment, but he isn't there. She walks over to the phone and picks up the receiver. Over the dial-tone, she says, "Riley's in trouble. He needs help." She hangs up.
That same day, Riley is on a basketball court, playing hard. When something catches his attention, he leaves the game and walks by one of the park benches. "Graham," he says, as he walks past. Graham follows him and introduces Riley to a couple more agents in civilian clothes. He tells Riley that he needs treatment and they need to get him into an operating room, but Riley is more than skeptical about putting himself in the government's care again. Graham tries to convince him that he wouldn't try to trick him. "You know Walsh pumped all those chemicals and crap into us. You got more than anyone. She messed us up bad." Riley's still not convinced that the government is going to make things better. Graham insists that Riley doesn't want what's going to happen to him and tells him they have a doctor waiting at the hospital for him and they're taking Riley to him now. "I'm not giving you a choice." This Riley believes, so he punches Graham out. The other two agents have little luck in trying to subdue him and Riley easily escapes.
Sometime later, in the student lounge, Graham has told Buffy what happened, evoking her anger. "And when are you even going to tell me what's wrong with him?" He tells her he's not permitted to say. She orders him to say. "Hyper-adrenal overload and a bunch of other stuff that sounds even worse than that." He explains that it means Riley is stronger than he should be and feeling no pain, and that they've already been trying to get Riley to come in and have it taken care of for weeks. He tells her that they have a specialist waiting for Riley in the hospital on the fourth floor, Neurology, and that they need to get him there fast. Buffy lets him know that she'll get Riley there. She turns to leave but Graham calls out to her. "If you tell me to hurry, I'll kick your ass!" she warns him.
That night, Riley is walking alone in the woods and enters a cave.
At the Magic Box, the gang has gathered, trying to form a plan. Buffy has already checked all the places Riley usually hangs out and tells them he's gone somewhere where he doesn't want to be found. Xander thinks that Riley may just need some time alone, and says that Riley reminds him of this "friend" he knows that liked this girl one time and was worried that she didn't like him back. Willow asks, "What are you talking about?" Anya tells Xander that he doesn't have to feel insecure and that she also has a "friend" who really likes Xander's "friend." Buffy interrupts, reminding them that Riley is in danger. She tells Anya and Xander to check out the docks and Willow suggests that she and Tara can try the ruins of Sunnydale High, since Riley hid there before and might find it homey. Buffy realizes that Riley may also find the Initiative caves homey, but she's not very familiar with them. Giles points out that she does know someone who is. "I so don't want to deal with Spike right now," she says. "Guy's really starting to bug me in that special 'I want to shove something wooden through his heart' kind of way." Willow figures Spike is probably a little twitchy because of all the not-killing. Plus, hanging out all day in his crypt, Buffy just knows he's doing something nasty.
Spike and Harmony are playing Twenty Questions. With five questions left, Spike asks if it's bigger than a bread box, which it isn't. He asks if it's smaller than a bread box and Harmony tells him no, giggling that he only has three questions left. Annoyed, Spike asks, "Harmony, is it a sodding bread box?" She happily tells him it is. There is a loud pounding on the crypt's door and Spike quickly hides Harmony inside a sarcophagus just as Buffy breaks the door open. She walks up to him saying she has a proposition for him. Spike has his own proposition. "Knocking. Seems only fair since we vamps can't enter your flat without an invite, you can at least" (sees the money she's holding) "say hello to those pretty pieces of paper." Buffy explains that Riley's sick with some Initiative thing and may be hiding out in the caves. If Spike can find him and bring him to the fourth floor of the hospital, and if the doctor gets to him in time, Spike gets the cash. Spike mocks concern that Riley might die. Buffy slaps him hard. Pissed, Spike says that he should get half of the money up front if it's so important to her. Buffy rips the money, gives him half and storms out. Harmony pokes her head out. "So? What'd she say about me?"
At Sunnydale General, Graham enters the guarded operating room where the Initiative doctor is waiting. He informs the doctor that Riley should be there any minute and asks if that will be soon enough. The doctor replies, "I'll be honest. I'm not sure it's soon enough if you brought him in yesterday." There's a tapping on the door and Graham is relieved, but when he opens it, Harmony shoves the unconscious guard into him, knocking him out cold. Spike follows her in, tossing her a crossbow which she threatens the doctor with. "You got yourself a new patient, doc," Spike says.
Buffy is out in the woods and walks into a cave entrance.
Spike and Harmony have taken the doctor to a medical classroom on campus, and the doctor tries to explain that he's never performed the procedure that was done to Spike. Spike tells him that all he has to do is whatever the Initiative did to him only backwards. The doctor points out that the chip is deeply embedded in Spike's cerebral cortex and removing it could leave him a vegetable, but Spike is confident that the doctor's survival instincts will keep that from happening. "C'mon, doc! Do me right and nothing bad will happen to you." That's when the crossbow arrow is released and hits the wall, barely missing the doctor. A sheepish Harmony says, "Oops. String was slippy."
Willow and Tara are searching for Riley at the Sunnydale High ruins. The dark interior is creeping Tara out. "You should have been here when it was a school," Willow tells her. Tara says they should've brought a flashlight. Willow does a small spell with large effect, and Tara is surprised when the darkness is replaced with light, asking Willow how she did that. Willow reminds her that Tara taught her the spell, but Tara points out she only taught teeny Tinkerbell light. "Okay, so I tinkered with the Tinkerbell," Willow says. "And besides, isn't this better than using a flashlight like some kind of doofus?"
Meanwhile, Buffy is searching the caves using a flashlight for Riley. She follows a sound and finds Riley methodically punching the rock wall with his bare fist. He idly comments that it doesn't even hurt and she points out that his hand is bleeding. "Don't feel a thing," he says, and is about to continue hitting the wall. She stops him, telling him she's going to take him to the doctor, but Riley's still not eager to trust the people who did this to him in the first place. Buffy tells him that this doctor is the only one who knows what's wrong with him. Riley asks her what is so wrong with him. "I'm more powerful than I've ever been. Most people would kill to feel this way." Buffy tells him it is going to kill him, but Riley says he can handle it and tells her to back off.
Buffy wants to know what's really going on with him, and Riley tells her that if he lets the government start experimenting with him again they can do whatever they want at best, turn him normal again. Buffy asks if that's not enough for him. "Not enough for you," he counters. She's taken aback by this, and Riley reminds her that her last boyfriend wasn't exactly a civilian. Near tears, Buffy is also angry. "You're going to die over some macho pissing contest?" But Riley insists it's not about Angel, it's about himself and Buffy. "You're getting stronger everyday. More powerful. I can't touch you." He feels that Buffy is getting a little further out of his reach each day. "I'm not the one running away," she tells him. "Not yet," he replies. He tells her it's human nature that she would, and Buffy warns him not to Psych 101 her. "Nobody has ever known me the way you do," she confesses. "I've opened up to you in ways I've never opened up to" She accuses him of thinking that it means nothing to her and asks if Riley thinks so little of her as to think that she would spend the last year with him just because he had superpowers. "If that's what I wanted then I'd be dating Spike!"
She tells Riley that she needs him with her. "But if you wanna throw it all away because you don't trust me, then... then I am still gonna make you go to that doctor!" Riley can't say anything for a moment, then, "Take me to him." She starts to leave, but he stops her. "Loving you is the scariest thing I've ever done, Buffy." Her response, "I don't know why." She tells him the doctor said they didn't have much time.
At the medical lab, Spike is lying on the table with his eyes closed as Harmony watches the doctor cut into his skull. She tells the doc how she read that some women think that a man's real sex organ is his brain. Seeing Spike's brain, she proclaims, "Yuegh! No contest." Nonetheless, she asks, "Can I touch it?" Spike's eyes pop open as he and the doc say no. The doc explains to Harmony (who's surprised at the realization that Spike is awake) that he gave Spike a local anesthetic. She asks Spike how it feels. "Like someone is cutting into my brain with a knife, you silly bint." Harmony tells the doc that because he can't hurt a living thing, Spike can't even pick flowers. "What?!" Spike quickly defends, "Yes I can!" The doctor asks Harmony to keep quiet, but she keeps bugging him. Spike warns her that if she messes up the operation he's going to yank out her tongue.
Buffy and Riley enter the operating room at the hospital and find Graham. Riley asks him how many fingers he's holding up. "17," Graham says. He tells them that it was Hostile 17 and a blonde girl who attacked them, and Buffy realizes it's Spike and Harmony together again. She also guesses that they took the doctor so they could force him to remove Spike's chip. Riley seems to experience pain but assures them that he's okay. Graham warns her that if they don't find the doc soon Riley isn't going to make it. Buffy tells him to get his people to start searching all the places that the operation could be performed. As he leaves, Riley stops him, ready to apologize, but Graham responds, "Apologize later, if you're not dead." Buffy tells Riley he is not going to die, but there is one peroxided guy she knows whose number is up. "When I get my hands on Spike, I'm going to rip his head off! I'm going to"
"bathe in the Slayer's blood," Spike is telling them, as the doctor continues the operation. Spike tells them all the ways he's going to swim in Buffy's blood, including the backstroke. Harmony, who is smoking in the doctor's face and on Spike's brain,- happily announces that she can see the chip, describing how it's nestled in his brain like an egg in an Easter egg basket. The doc informs Harmony that smoking is not allowed in there; when she challenges him about it, he points to the "No Smoking" sign. "Oh, god! Sorry! Didn't see the sign!" And as she puts the cigarette out, the doctor announces that the chip is out. Harmony cheers for Spike. "Stitch me up, doc," Spike says, "Got places to go. And Slayers to kill."
The doctor has just finished stitching Spike up, and Spike comments that his stomach is growling and that he's going to have to have a little snack. But Buffy and Riley rush into the room, interrupting that plan. Spike tells Harmony to get her game face on and they vamp out. The doctor tries to leave, but Buffy shoves him to the floor, telling him they're going to need him later. Spike tells Buffy that he no longer has the chip in his head. "Means I get to kill you," she says. "You get to try," he counters. Harmony's crossbow slips again and the arrow hits Riley in the thigh, but he doesn't even flinch. "Oops."
And the fight is on. Riley does well against Harmony, knocking her around the room as Buffy takes on Spike. Spike succeeds in getting Buffy on the floor, but as he's about to bite her, excruciating pain in his head stops him and Buffy knocks him away. Riley suddenly clutches his chest and collapses. As Buffy rushes to him, Spike looks in the dish and sees the "chip" the doctor "removed." It's a penny. "I told you I couldn't do it," the doctor tells him. Buffy calls out to the doctor and Spike and Harmony make their escape.
Spike is fuming about Buffy as he and Harmony are running through the cemetery. "Everywhere I turn she's there! That nasty little face! That bouncing shampoo-commercial hair! And that whole soddin' holier-than-thou attitude!" He rants to Harmony about how he's Buffy's pet project: drive Spike around the bend, making every day torture for him. He rips a headstone out of the ground and smashes it, then grabs a frightened Harmony by the arms. Suddenly calm, he states, "This has got to end."
Back at the medical lab, the doctor has finished with Riley and he leaves Buffy alone with him. A hand over his heart, she asks "How's it going in there?" He tells her he's back to normal. She touches his hand to her own chest. "See," she says, "I'm still touchable." She wants to know for sure that he's okay and tells him she needs to check on her mother. He assures her he's fine and Buffy leaves. Riley may be fine physically, but he doesn't look fine emotionally.
A short time later, Riley is walking through the empty campus with Graham, who's telling him how lucky he was that Buffy found him and that she's pretty impressive. "But you know you don't belong here, right?" Graham tells him that he's nothing in this town. Taking offense, Riley asks what Graham is trying to say, and Graham points out that there's nothing for him in Sunnydale. He concedes that there is Buffy, but Riley used to have mission, and he asks what Riley's mission is now. "You're what, mission's boyfriend? Mission's true love?" Not happy to hear this, Riley walks off, but he can still hear Graham say, "You belong with us."
Spike is resting in his easychair when Buffy storms into his crypt again. Tiredly, he stands up. "Should've know it's you. Been nearly six hours." Buffy tells him she would have gotten there sooner if she didn't have to clean up his mess. Spike blames Buffy and Riley for the mess, claiming that he was just borrowing the doc. "I'm done," Buffy tells him pulling out a stake. "I should've done this years ago." Spike doesn't back off and tells her just to do it. This takes her off guard. "End my torment," he orders her. "Take me out of a world that has you in it!" Taking off his shirt and presenting his bare chest, he orders her, "Just kill me!" Buffy moves to strike but stops. He suddenly grabs her by the arms and kisses her hard on the mouth. Buffy pulls away in as much shock as Spike. Then she steps forward and kisses him. "Spike," she moans as they continue to kiss, "I want you." He outdoes her with, "Buffy, I love you. God, I love you so much."
Spike wakes up in bed with a start. Harmony is still sleeping soundly next to him. Truly terrified, Spike prays, "Oh, God, no!
Synopsis written by Joseph B.