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Giles has started Buffy on her new and improved Slayer training. In an empty gym he is speaking zenfully to her as she stands with her eyes closed leaning her palms on a small four by four, on its end. In complete concentration, she flips herself up into a handstand. The board doesn't even waver as she lifts one of her hands away from the board, keeping perfect balance until a subtle, but deliberate, noise breaks her concentration and she comes tumbling down. Lying on her back she sees...

Her little sister, Dawn, staring down at her, wondering, "Can we go now?"

The next morning Dawn is on her bed writing in her diary about how nobody knows the real her. She complains that they never ask her what she wants to do with her life, or what her opinions are, and they don't understand what it's like having an older sister who's a Slayer. As she continues to write, her voice narrates the episode. Both sisters and their mother are in the kitchen fixing breakfast for themselves. Dawn feels that everybody cares what Buffy thinks just because she can do backflips and has superpowers, and her mother lets her get away with anything. After Dawn steals Buffy's bowl for cereal and uses the last of the milk, Joyce asks Buffy what her plans are that day. Buffy tells her that Giles is taking her to the magic shop for training supplies, and Joyce thinks that's a perfect opportunity for Buffy to take Dawn shopping for back-to-school supplies. The sisters are less than thrilled with this idea, but Joyce has an exhibit showing at the gallery and can't take Dawn herself. Buffy is trying to get out of this when Riley arrives. Joyce goes upstairs and Dawn observes Buffy and Riley showing affection, thinking to herself that they're always all over each other — she figures they've had sex. "Hey kid," he greets her; Dawn leaves the room telling him she's not a kid.

Buffy thinks this is a surprise visit, but Riley reminds her how she told him yesterday to come over to hang out. Buffy apologizes and tells him that Giles is taking her Slayer shopping, but he's understanding, thinking it's great that she has a new mission. As he leaves, he shouts to Dawn, "See ya, kid!" to which, somewhere in the house, Dawn replies, "I'm not a kid!"

Later, in Giles' brand new red convertible, Giles is telling Buffy how he sympathizes with her but that Riley should understand better than anyone else the importance of training and she shouldn't let personal concerns interfere with — but Dawn suddenly interrupts them by trying to change the station on the radio. Dawn doesn't think Giles likes her that much and figures it's because he's so old. Unaccustomed to an automatic transmission, Giles accidentally shifts the car into neutral and rants about how this is never going to work out. "Giles, are you breaking up with your car?" Buffy asks. He accuses the vehicle of seducing him, "being all red and sporty." "Little two door tramp," she says. Dawn spots Willow and Tara, and Giles pulls to the curb, commenting, "Oooh, that haven't seen my new car!" Turns out they're heading to the magic shop as well.

Willow and Buffy

Dawn thinks Willow is the coolest person she knows, and thinks being a witch and doing spells is way cooler than slaying. She notes that she once told Joyce how she wished Willow and Tara would show her some of the things they did together, and then her mother got quiet and sent her to her room — Dawn figures her mom isn't cool with the witchy stuff. As they walk to the magic shop, Buffy explains to Willow how they've scheduled her training around her classes. Willow is proud that Buffy is developing a work ethic, but her excitement fades when Buffy tells her that she won't be taking Drama with her after all. Willow tries to get her to blow off training on the two days they have Drama, but the two are interrupted when Tara notices that the shop looks closed.

They go inside and see the place has been ransacked. Willow suggests this may have happened when nobody was here, and suddenly trips over the corpse of the shop owner. Before Dawn can get a good look, Buffy quickly drags her outside. Dawn is not happy with this, but Buffy orders her to wait right there and goes back inside. As Dawn tries to peek inside the window, a crazy man walks up to her telling her she can't loiter around here. He starts rambling about being quiet and cats in a cupboard. Frightened, Dawn tries to call out for Buffy but he stops her. Then he tells her that he knows her and what she is. "You don't belong here!"

Tara steps out of the magic shop looking for Dawn but doesn't see her. She finally finds her sitting on the curb around corner. "Is that guy dead in there?" Dawn asks, which Tara confirms. She tells her that the others are going to be in the shop a little longer. "Best non-Scoobies like you and me to stay out of their way." Tara sits down beside her. After a period of silence, Tara asks, "Do you want to thumb-wrestle?" The two thumb-wrestle.

In the shop, Buffy and Giles estimate that at least four vampires did this, and figure that someone has put together a new gang. Checking the inventory, Willow discovered that most of missing items were books, one in particular about the Slayer. Realizing that's one of the books on her list, Buffy says, "Shoot! Was that the only copy?" Giles tells her this is very serious, since these vampires seem interested in learning more about her. Looking at the records, Giles notices the high profit margins for the magic shop and comments on how there's never any trouble attracting new owners to the place. Giles says Buffy should start looking for the vampires' lair right away, but Willow reminds Buffy that she's on "Dawn duty." Buffy knows her mother will not be happy with this. Giles is commenting about how the death rate must keep the shop's rent down when he sees that something was taken from a glass case and is concerned that it might be something containing great power, but Willow checks the inventory and informs them it was just a small ceramic unicorn, valued at $12.95. Giles wonders, "what kind of an unholy creature fancies cheap, tasteless statuary?"

In a cave, Harmony is congratulating her new gang (Mort, Brad, Peaches, and Cyrus) on a successful raid on the magic shop and thinks it was especially sweet of Brad to pick up the small unicorn for her. Cyrus and Peaches accuse him of being sire-whipped. She is telling them that the books they got for her are full of useful information (which she determined by skimming the book jackets), when Cyrus asks when are they going to "do it." Thinking he means something else, Harmony "eewws" and points out that she hardly knows him, but a more serious Mort demands to know when they're going to do "The Plan." Harmony tells them tonight. "We kill the Slayer tonight."

Back at home, Dawn is listening from her room as her mother and Buffy argue in Joyce's room. Joyce is upset that not only did Buffy not take Dawn shopping, but she took her to a murder scene. "It's not like she saw the body or anything," Buffy tries to defend herself, but Joyce continues, accusing her of bringing Dawn back here so she can go out with Riley. "To patrol," Buffy tells her. "I'm working. It's not like I want to go to the sock-hop!" Joyce says she has to be at the gallery in half an hour and wants to know who's going to watch Dawn. "I don't need anyone to watch me!" Dawn calls out, to which Buffy and Joyce reply, "Yes, you do!" Buffy puts forth that if she can find a suitable baby-sitter than she can go out on patrol. "I'm fourteen! I'm old enough to be a baby-sitter!" a peeved Dawn shouts. Joyce wants to know who Buffy can find on such short notice. "Xander," Buffy says.

A few seconds later, Dawn appears in the doorway with a new attitude. "Okay."

A short time later, after getting dressed up, Dawn greets Xander at the front door. He's brought pizza. As Joyce talks to him, Dawn just stares at him dreamily, thinking how he is so much cuter than anyone — and smarter, what with how he skipped college and got a construction job. He's also brave because he "went undercover" to stop Dracula last week. As she leaves, Joyce tells Dawn to be good. "Oh, we will," Xander tells her. "We're just going to play with matches. Run with scissors. Take candy from . . some guy. I don't know his name." Dawn likes how Xander doesn't look down on people. Anya suddenly enters the house carrying board games. "Even when he should," Dawn thinks.

Tara and Willow

Willow and Tara are unpacking things into a new dorm room. Tara is concerned about Dawn, and how tough it must be for her not being allowed to help the gang out. Willow thinks Dawn is a little young, which Tara agrees with, but she knows what it's like being an outsider. "Tara, you're not an outsider," Willow tells her, but Tara says that she is — Willow and the others have this tight bond that is hard to break into, and she's not sure she wants to. But Willow, putting her arms around Tara affectionately, is sure. "You're completely one of the gang now. You're one of the good guys." Tara becomes a little uncomfortable at that and continues to unpack. Tara still worries about Dawn, but Willow reassures her, "You don't have to. She's got big sister Buffy happily looking out for her."

But while patrolling through a cemetery, Buffy doesn't sound all too happy as she tells Riley about how upset her mother was with her, making it Buffy's responsibility to keep Dawn shielded from horrible things. "Like dead shopkeepers?" Riley says. Buffy is quick to say, "She didn't see him! A foot, maybe." Which Buffy admits is still bad, but she complains that she sees dead stuff all the time and her mother doesn't shield her. Riley comments that Buffy is on Dawn's case a lot. Buffy knows that Dawn has always been the baby in the family, but for some reason it's just bugging her. "She's always around." Riley thinks that it's supposed to be that way because Buffy is Dawn's idol, but Buffy points out that you shouldn't like to spill things on your idol's new leather pants. Riley retorts, "You have superpowers. And college. A studly yet sensitive boyfriend—" Buffy adds, "and a pesky life-or-death job I can't quit or even take break from." Riley reminds her that Dawn is just a kid, which is part of the reason why Buffy is peeved — Dawn acts like being just a kid the biggest burden in the world.

At the same time, Dawn is ranting about how Buffy always gets her way and is the favorite, while she, Xander and Anya are playing "Life." Xander assures her that Joyce loves them both equally. "But if I'm wrong, I find money usually helps tips the scales. Slip Joyce a ten or a twenty once in a while and we'll see who's the favorite." Dawn thinks that Xander thinks of her like a kid sister, "but sometimes when he looks at me, I feel like he sees me as I am." She smiles, with ice cream all over her mouth. "As a woman." Anya breaks the mood for Dawn when she complains about being "burdened with a husband and several tiny pink children and more cash than I can reasonably manage!" Xander tells her that means she's winning. Pleased, Anya asks if she can trade the children in for more money.

That's when a rock comes smashing in through the window with a note wrapped around it. Xander reads the note: "Slayer! Come out and die" — complete with a little smiley face dotting the "i." Then they hear Harmony's voice from outside. "I'm waiting for you, Buffy!" and they see her and her gang gathered in the front lawn.


At the front door, an indignant Harmony doesn't believe that Buffy isn't home. Xander tells her that she and her buddies are just going to have to come back later to be killed by Buffy. Harmony quickly points out that her buddies are actually her minions, to which Xander laughs in her face. "What's so funny?" she demands. "Nothing. What could be funny? Just, 'look out, it's the terrifying Harmony Gang! Ooooo!'" Angry, Harmony tries to rush inside and is bounced back by the invisible force, which keeps Xander laughing at her. Then he suddenly recognizes Brad as a boy from high school. "Hey, Brad, who'd have thought when you were beating up kids in gym class, you'd end up Harmony's lapdog." Harmony figures Xander would know what it's like being a lapdog and tells him she heard what a good little puppy he was for Dracula. This angers Dawn and she tells Harmony to shut up. Xander calmly tells Dawn that he's handling the situation and then turns back to Harmony, "Shut up, Harmony!" Harmony challenges him to make her, but he doesn't feel like getting into another hairpulling contest with her. "You're the hairpuller, you big girl!" Again, Dawn takes exception and shouts, "Oh, yeah? Come inside and say that! Xander'll kick your—" Anya tries to stop her, but the damage is done and Harmony, in vampface, lunges in the house at Xander.

As Harmony wrestles with Xander on the floor, Dawn runs upstairs and Anya tries to find a weapon. Harmony's gang tries to rush into the house but can't, and Xander shouts at them, "the invitation was for one!" "Not such a pushover anymore, am I?" Harmony says and starts hitting him, telling him how she's been honing her instincts. Complaining that there should be more weapons laying around in a Slayer's house, Anya arms herself with a lamp, but Harmony demonstrates her new instincts by easily disarming her. Xander uses the distraction to kick Harmony back. She slams back into her minions and they all fly off the front porch. With the door safely closed and Harmony gone, after a parting threat of her return, Xander says to Anya, "Buffy is not going to be happy about this."

However, Buffy later laughs her ass off at hearing this and can hardly speak through her laughter. "Harmony has minions?" she manages to say. "That was pretty much my reaction," says a serious Xander. Apologizing, Buffy tries to calm herself down, then bursts into laughter again. Not even Riley is doing a good job at not laughing. Xander tells her that there is a serious side to this. "I sure hope so, 'cause I'm having trouble breathing!" He points out that Harmony did come here to kill her, which only sends Buffy into more cackles of laughter. Laughing himself, Riley reminds her that the vampires did kill the shopkeeper and could pose a threat to her. "Especially now that she can enter your house whenever she wants," Anya says, which quickly puts a stop to Buffy's laughing. Knowing that only a person living in the house could invite a vampire, Buffy realizes it was Dawn.

On the way back to her lair, Harmony is whining about how her first plan was a disaster and she couldn't even kill Xander. But Brad is still in the mood for some action, so, of course, he's then punched in the face. "Happy to oblige," says Spike, "And here I thought it was gonna be a slow night. Step on up, kiddies. Thrashing for all." But Harmony puts a stop to any fight, and Spike is surprised to see her. An angry Mort wants to know why she's talking to him, but she assures him they used to go steady. Mort reminds her that Spike kills his own kind, and Harmony is curious about that as well. "Bloke's gotta have a hobby, don't he?" Spike says. Harmony tells Spike how she has her own gang and that they're going to kill the Slayer. "Singing my song now, are you? You should pay me royalties for that one." Harmony tells him she's not going to make the same mistakes he did, but Spike isn't too impressed by her, instead thinking it's adorable. Harmony assures him she's got a plan. "Let me guess," Spike says, "Snatch one of her friends, use `em as bait, lead her into a trap. That sort of thing?" She insists that her plan is better. Spike insincerely wishes her luck and walks off. "And after Buffy's gone, I'm going to kill everybody in this town that was ever mean to me!" she shouts. Then she turns to her gang with "her" new plan.

Buffy is busy loading up on weapons, which Riley thinks it's a bit much for someone she wasn't sweating twenty minutes ago. "Well, that was before Dawn gave Harmony a backstage pass to kill us all in our sleep," she says bitterly. Xander tells her that he left word with Willow to come back and perform the un-invitation spell. But this does nothing to alleviate her anger, pointing out the fact that Dawn has grown up in the house knowing all the rules, especially about not inviting in blood-sucking dead people. From the door of own bedroom, Dawn listens to Buffy. Xander tells her that people slip sometimes and that it just recently happened with her mother, when she invited Dracula, in for coffee. Buffy says that was different, but fails to come up with a good reason, finally saying that her mother was lonely and she didn't know Dracula was a vampire, but Dawn knew exactly what Harmony was. Again, Riley reminds her that Dawn is just a kid, and Buffy goes off. "Will everybody stop saying that? I was just a kid when I met my first vampire, but somehow, I still managed to remember the rules." Riley points out that she had to because it was her job. "No, it was common sense! But nobody expects even that much from Dawn, do they?" Buffy doesn't feel like they are helping Dawn by shielding her from the world. "We're doing nothing but turning her into a little idiot who's going to get us all killed!"


Hearing this, Dawn runs downstairs in tears.

Buffy's anger fades and her concern for Dawn shows itself. "She just has to be more careful. I can't be there to protect her twenty-four hours a day. I just can't."

Anya is in the kitchen and she sees Dawn run out through the backdoor. She runs after her and finds Dawn in the backyard, crying. "Leave me alone," Dawn says, as Anya tries to drag her back to the house. "It's not safe out here!" Anya tells her, and her point is proven when Mort steps onto the porch and punches Anya, who falls back inside the house out of their reach. The rest of the minions grab Dawn and take her away.

The others come downstairs and find Anya on the floor. Riley suggests they get her to a hospital, and while Buffy's dialing the phone Anya — who can hardly speak — barely manages to let them know that the vampires took Dawn. Buffy tells them to look after Anya and runs out of the house.

Back at the liar, Harmony is congratulating her "minionators" on another job well done. Mort comes back in and she asks him if he's made their guest comfortable. "You told me to chain her to the wall." Harmony tells him she was being sarcastic, but she's feeling really good about the new plan. The gang wants to know when they get to eat Dawn. Harmony tells them they don't; it's not part of the plan — they have to lure Buffy into the trap. Mort says, "So it doesn't really matter if we're actually holding the Slayer's sister? Just as long as she thinks we are, she'll walk into the trap." They figure it wouldn't make any difference if they eat her now. But, again, Harmony insists it's not part of the plan.

Spike is trying to adjust the reception on his "new" TV, telling himself he needs to steal a satellite dish, when Buffy storms inside his crypt. Lacking time for banter, she immediately punches him in the nose and slams him up against the wall, demanding to know where Harmony's lair is. He lies and tells her he hasn't seen her in months. Buffy punches him in the nose again and repeats the question. "At least lay off the nose!" She's about to punch him again when he gives in and tells her where Harmony probably is. Buffy punches him in the nose again and heads out. In pain, he shouts, "I was telling you the truth!" "I know," she replies.

Meanwhile, Harmony is taking Dawn into her confidence, telling her how her minions don't really respect her, that deep down they think she's nothing. "I'm the one who put this group together. Me! But they treat me like I don't even matter." She asks Dawn if she has any idea how that feels like. "A little," Dawn says. Then Mort and the others walk in, and Harmony is peeved that they didn't knock first. Mort informs her that they've been talking and have decided that they don't like Harmony's plan (except for the sire-whipped Brad, who abstained). Their new plan is to feed on Dawn and kill Harmony. "Maybe not in that order." Harmony whines that this isn't fair and that she just needs time grow into her leadership role. Mort tells her that her time is up and grabs her by the neck. Cyrus approaches Dawn.

Frightened, Dawn tells him, "Touch me and my sister's gonna kill you." Cyrus taps her on the chest with his index finger and they all laugh, until a stake flies into Cyrus' back and turns him into dust. "Can't say she didn't warn him," Buffy says. Buffy warns Dawn to close her eyes against the imminent slayage. "So Slayer, at last we meet," says a smug Harmony. Buffy reminds her that they've already met and calls her a half-wit." "I'm the half-wit?" Harmony scoffs. "Excuse me, but looks who's fallen into my—" (brief interlude while Buffy kills Peaches and Brad) "—trap." Buffy tells Harmony, "When you tried to be head cheerleader, you were bad. When you tried to chair the Homecoming committee, you were really bad. But when you try to be bad, you suck!"

Peeking, Dawn warns Buffy as Mort attacks her and he succeeds in knocking the Slayer down. Harmony starts to cheer for him, but remembers that he was going to kill her and decides to escape. After a brief fight, Buffy finally stakes him, using the horn of a large wooden unicorn. She picks up an ax and tells Dawn that she is going to be in so much trouble. "Yeah, well, I'm telling Mom you slayed in front of me," Dawn retorts. Buffy says that's fine and starts listing off as she strikes at Dawn's chains with the axe. "I'll just tell her that you ran out of the house in the middle of the night. That you got Anya hurt. Invited a vampire in. Got kidnapped..."

The sisters return home through the back door just a few seconds before their mother walks in front door. Not suspecting a thing, Joyce enters the kitchen and asks them how things went. Buffy tells her everything is fine. "I got the vamps and we watched some TV." Being past her bedtime, Joyce sends Dawn upstairs.

The next day, in the magic shop, Dawn is writing in her diary. She's sure Buffy would have gotten in more trouble than Dawn would have, but thinks it was okay that she didn't tell Joyce what really happened. Anya's going to be okay and Xander isn't mad at her. Meanwhile, Buffy's expressing her concern to Giles about him buying the magic shop, pointing out that most magic shop owners in Sunnydale have the life expectancy of a Spinal Tap drummer. She asks if he ever ran a store before. "I was a librarian for years. This is exactly the same, except people pay for the things they never return." He thinks it'll also help him gather resources and keep Buffy and co. from "trampling all over my flat at all hours." There may even be some space in the back for training. As they go to take a look, Buffy asks him how bored was he last year. "I watched Passions with Spike. Let us never speak of it."


They disappear into the back room, but a few seconds later, Buffy pops back out to warn Dawn not to break anything. She returns a few seconds later and tells Dawn not to touch anything. "Not that Buffy's really changed at all," Dawn writes, "Like she ever would." Buffy pops out again. "What you're doing right now — not moving — good. Keep doing that." Dawn gives her a look and continues to write. "She still thinks I'm little miss nobody. Just her dumb little sister."

"Boy, is she in for a surprise."

Synopsis written by Joseph B.

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