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No Place Like Home

Two months ago: in a monastery somewhere, two monks are running away from an unseen danger. They rush into a large temple and barricade the door. They sit in a circle on the floor where a third monk was waiting and, speaking Czech, begin to chant. The danger they were running from starts pounding on the door, trying to get inside and, just as they complete the ritual, the door is blasted inward.

Now: Buffy is fighting a large, biker-looking vampire in front of a closed factory. Their fight takes them onto the empty lot and Buffy finally stakes it, but as she's putting away her stake, a security guard shines his flashlight in her face. He tells her she won't find any rave parties at the factory tonight. Feigning disappointment, Buffy is about to leave when the guard stops her, picking up a glowing orb he thinks she dropped. He asks her what it is. Turning to leave, she mumbles, "I'll let you know as soon as I find out."

Dawn and Joyce

The next morning, Buffy has fixed her mother breakfast, and warns Dawn not to touch anything. As Buffy puts everything away, Joyce walks into the kitchen and assumes they both prepared it for her. "Buffy helped," Dawn says. Buffy tries to explained she didn't just help, but an oblivious Joyce says, "Oh, I'm sure you did." She wonders if her daughters are in any trouble to rate breakfast in bed, but Buffy says, since Joyce hasn't been feeling well lately, that she deserved a non-instant breakfast for once. The headaches the doctors said would go away have returned, and Buffy feels that they should take Joyce back to the doctor. Joyce reminds her that she is still the mom and it's her job to worry about her daughters since Buffy is a Slayer and Dawn is her little "pumpkin belly." Seeing Joyce cuddle Dawn in her lap, Buffy asks if her mother ever had any kid names for her when she was young. "No. I think you were always just Buffy." Dawn slyly remarks, "I got a few names for you." Joyce asks Buffy why she's still there,as today is Giles' grand opening for the magic shop. Buffy feels a little left out to discover that Joyce and Dawn have book club that night. She also wants their mother to relax so she decides to take Dawn with her to the magic shop.

With the jingle of the customer bell, Buffy enters the Magic Box where Giles is the only person inside. He stands quietly, smiling, wearing a ridiculous tall wizard's hat and cloak. Buffy just looks at him, not saying a word, until he takes them off. Behind her, Dawn hurries in the shop, breathing heavily. "I told you you couldn't ditch me." Then, spying the empty shop, she asks Giles when it opens for customers. He informs them it's been open for over an hour and, a bit downtrodden, assures them customers will be lining up around the block in no time. As Dawn browses the shop, Giles notices Buffy's less than happy expression and asks how her mother is doing. "We have a highly trained medical staff working 'round the clock to tell us diddly," Buffy says. A giddy Willow enters the shop with Riley and immediately asks Giles where his hat and cloak are. Buffy tells them that she has a Scooby-centric deal to put before the group, and shows them the glowing orb she found last night. Giles suspects it to be paranormal in origin; when Willow asks how he can tell, he replies, "Well, it's so shiny." Riley suggests he and Buffy go back to where she found it to see if they can find anymore. Dawn is quick to point out that Buffy said Riley couldn't patrol because of his recent ordeal that left him "weak and kitten-y." "So, welcome to the club, she'll never let me go either," Dawn says. A clearly offended Riley goes to the back training room to alleviate his frustration.

Upset with her, Buffy tells Dawn that they are going, but Willow stops her, asking Buffy to go easy on Dawn. Buffy wants to know why she should. "She is so annoying. Especially now that Mom's sick. She's all over her while I have to be the grown up, and the two of them are like the giggle-twins and why can't I ever be little 'pumpkin belly'!?" Not feeling qualified to comment on the "pumpkin belly" part, Willow reminds her that Dawn isn't just the youngest, she's the baby, and Joyce might need that right now. Buffy is about to tell Willow that Dawn doesn't care what her mother needs, but stops and says, "You just have no idea how much I wish I was an only child these days." Something on the other side of the shop is dropped and shatters, followed by an "oops" from Dawn.

Walking through the front door at home, the sisters are still arguing about what Dawn broke but stop when they see Joyce lying on the couch in pain. Buffy tells her that they're going to take her to the doctor, but Joyce pleads to Buffy that she just needs her prescription. Reluctantly, Buffy heads to the hospital to get it filled.

After having her mother's prescription filled, Buffy is walking through the emergency room where a patient is being wheeled in on a gurney. Ben is the intern in charge of the patient and he recognizes Buffy from the last time she was there. The patient suddenly tries to get up from the gurney and struggles as Ben and the orderlies try to restrain him. Buffy recognizes the man as the security guard who found the orb. He rants about not belonging there and having important instructions. "I met this guy," Buffy tells Ben, "He's not crazy." The guard grabs Buffy by the wrist of the hand with which she holds her mother's medication, telling her that it won't help. He continues, "They're coming at you! Don't think you're above it, missy! They come through the family! They get to your family!" This alarms Buffy, and before she can ask what he meant by that, he is wheeled away. Noticing the medication, Ben asks her if her mother is feeling any better. Not yet, but Buffy assures him she will be. Mindful of the guard's words, she says, "I'm starting to figure out what's wrong."

Meanwhile, at the closed factory, one of the monks who performed the ritual is on the third floor pouring over a map of Sunnydale, looking for something. Finding what he needs, he is preparing to leave when the large steel door on the other side of the enormous chamber is pounded by something very powerful on the other side. "The Beast," he says, full of dread. The booming blows continue until the heavy door is blown inward. Amidst the cloud of dust walks forth a young blonde woman wearing a tight red dress. She sees the monk and smiles. "There you are," she says, "I have been looking all over for you."

At the Magic Box, behind the register, Giles is handing his first customers their bag of purchases and bidding them farewell. Once they leave he shows the money of his first sale to Willow, gleefully saying, "Real live customers! They came in and I gave them things and they gave me money and then they left! It's brilliant!" Willow congratulates him on becoming a capitalist running dog, but informs him she's having no luck finding out what the orb is. More customers walk in, including Anya, who offers her opinion that his conjuring powders are grotesquely over-priced. She then actually apologizes, explaining that the fact that she's never had to afford things before and nearly being out of money is making her bitter. Giles tells her that they don't come cheap and she offers to hook him up directly with the troll that sheds the ingredient.

Buffy comes running into the shop, proclaiming that she has an idea of what is making her mother sick. She picks up of the orb, telling them that the guard who found it went crazy overnight. When they all step away from her, Buffy assures them that it won't hurt them because she had it with her all night. She tells them what the guard told her about something coming after her through her family, but she doesn't know who or what. Buffy figures that whatever touched the guard made him see through what the rest of them are seeing. Giles admits that the ramblings of a mad man is not much to go on, but it's a start for Buffy. Willow asks her what she's going to do when she finds out who's hurting Joyce; her plan is to hunt them, find them, and kill them.

The Beast and the Monk

Back at the factory, The Beast has the bruised and bleeding monk gagged and tied to a chair. She tells him that from her perspective, she's really the victim here, declaring that she doesn't even want to be there, in the whole "mortal coil." "It's disgusting! The food... the clothes... the people. I could crap a better existence than this." Then, seemingly on the verge of tears, she tells him she's hurt by his selfishness, that all she wants is The Key, and pleads with him to tell her where it is. Then, chuckling, she apologizes for forgetting that he's gagged and rips the duct tape from his mouth. The monk starts speaking in Czech telling her to kill him, and this angers The Beast. In his language, she tells him they are in the New World now, and in English says, "Speak American!" And he does — "I will tell you... nothing!" She seems hurt once again and wishes that he could feel what she's feeling right now. Then a second security guard, who is on his knees, tied up, tries to plead with her, but she ignores him, telling the monk she doesn't know how much more of this she can take. The guard tells her that he's married and has two daughter,s but The Beast continues to ignore him, accusing the monk of thinking her situation is funny. She wants to know why he's torturing her like this when he doesn't even own The Key. Crying now, her voice is growing louder, "And I want it! I need it! And I've got to have it now! And you keep refusing to tell me where The Key is!!

"And it's typical! It's typical--it's typical! The whole mortal meatsack comes complete with stink and bile, sweat, and protein — yes, I said humans!! — Not now, Mommy's talking! — Wriggling, piling, prowling, crawling, clowning, cavorting — Doing it over and over and over and over `til somebody's gotta sit down on their tuffet and make this birthing STOP!!!" At the crescendo of her raving rant she viscously melds the finger tips of both her hands into the security guard's head and the monk can just watch the bright flash of light as she seems to draw some kind of energy from her victim. She finally releases him and he falls over, still alive and physically unharmed, but whimpering incoherently. She is now more calm as she stands, sighing in relief. "That is so much better."

Back at Giles' shop, the place is busy with customers. Xander breezes inside and a near-frantic Giles stops him, "There's too many of them. People. A-and-and they all seem to want things." Patting him on the shoulder, Xander assures Giles that if he stays British he'll be okay. He leaves Giles to the chaos and joins the others behind the counter. Anya is giving a customer her bag of purchases and telling her to "Please go." Xander points out that "have a nice day" would work better, but since they already have the customer's money, Anya wonders who cares what kind of day they have. "No one," Xander agrees, "It's just a long cultural tradition of raging insincerity. Embrace." He sits down next to Buffy who is paging through books and she tells him about the spell somebody put on Joyce to make her sick. Anya suggests that Buffy try an unveiling spell, a trance, that will let her see spells that others have cast. Giles explains that all spells leave a trace signature that's not perceptible to the human eye. Buffy decides she'll try it, but the others are a little concerned that she might not be ready for that. She replies, "It's my mom. I'll get ready. What do I need?"

Later that afternoon in her bedroom, Buffy has all the supplies for the spell gathered and is thanking Riley for coming over to help her. Riley asks what he has to do and she tries to emphasize that there's a lot for him to do. She explains the spell. "So you need me to light incense and pour sand?" he asks. "Magic incense and spooky sand," she counters. Riley asks if she's not doing this just to make him feel less "cute, weak, and kittenish?" "Kitten-y," she corrects him. He assures her that he is okay even though he's no longer super-guy and he suggests that instead of her trying to take care of him, that they should take care of each other. As he leaves, Riley wishes her luck.

Buffy has everything ready for the trance and is about to begin, closing her eyes, when Dawn knocks on the door asking, "What are you doing?" Impatient, Buffy retorts, "My boyfriend! Go away!" Dawn accuses her of doing magic and begs Buffy to let her watch. When Buffy refuses, Dawn threatens to tell, but, her last nerve being worked, Buffy tells Dawn to do whatever she wants, "Just go!!" Miffed, and a little hurt, Dawn returns to her room and slams her door.


Buffy closes her eyes again and begins to concentrate. It's dark when Buffy opens her eyes again. Her perception seems to be deeper — the light colors are brighter and she is moving in a near slow motion pace as she steps out of her room and heads downstairs. When she enters the empty living room she hears her mother's voice, with an echoing quality, call her name as she walks in the room. Buffy notes that Joyce looks ready to go somewhere and her mother claims that she's feeling better and is going out for a couple of hours. "Nothing," Buffy says, softly, as she sees that there is nothing revealed that could be hurting her mother. Joyce asks Buffy if she's feeling all right, but Buffy's attention is now on a family photo hanging on the wall behind Joyce. In it are Buffy, Joyce, and Dawn, but Dawn's image is fading in and out of the photo. Joyce finally gets her attention and Buffy tells her she just had a long day. "You're so grown up," Joyce says, then leaves the house. Buffy walks around the living room and finds another family photo. Again, Dawn's image is fading in and out. Upstairs, Buffy walks into her sister's room and finds that it too, is fading in and out — from a brightly decorated room of a fourteen year old girl to that of a dark room full of old stuff and furniture no longer being used. "—uffy. Buffy," she hears a fading voice and turns around to see Dawn, who is fading in and out with the room, saying, "Who said you can come in my room?" Buffy just stares at her, realizing...

"You're not my sister."

Buffy snaps out of the trance facing an angry Dawn. "Yeah, like I even want to be related to your nasty— OWW!!" She's stopped when Buffy grabs her roughly by the arms and demands to know what Dawn is. "Let go of me, you freak!" Dawn threatens to tell their mother and this nearly sends Buffy over the edge. "You stay away from my mother!" She shoves Dawn back hard against the wall. The two girls just glare at each other, neither backing down.

A short time later, the phone is ringing and Buffy answers it downstairs. It's Giles calling to inform her that they may have underestimated what they're dealing with. Checking to make sure Dawn hasn't come downstairs, she continues to listen to Giles, who tells her that the orb she found is called a Dagon Sphere, centuries old, used as a protective device to ward off ancient, primordial evil. Unfortunately, accounts on what the evil looks like are vague, but they found that the Dagon Sphere was created to "repel that which cannot be named." Buffy informs him that she's returning to the factory to look for whoever left the Sphere. Giles warns her that anything that goes unnamed is usually an object of deep worship or great fear, maybe both. He asks if she completed the trance to see what was harming Joyce, and Buffy is about to tell him what she saw when she suddenly senses Dawn standing behind her. She tells Giles that it didn't work and quickly hangs up. Dawn asks her what she was talking about. Buffy just tells her it was Slayer stuff and that she's going out. "Do you really think I care you're the Slayer?" says Dawn. "What's that supposed to mean?" demands Buffy. Dawn doesn't reply but reminds Buffy that their mom is coming back. "I'll be back first," Buffy says as she leaves.

As she crosses the front yard, Buffy stops, sensing something. Reaching behind one of the trees in front of her house, she yanks Spike out from behind it. Acting a little nervous, he says, "Hi, Buffy." Buffy punches him in the face and wants to know what he's doing there, allowing him "five words or less." Counting with his fingers, he says, "Out... for... a... walk," Then with his thumb, "Bitch." Buffy isn't convinced that he would just happen to be out for a walk by her house at night and tells him she doesn't has time for this. Spike says she should be on her merry way then, and unconvincingly explains that her house happens to be between parts and other parts of town. "And I would pass by during the day, but I feel I'm outgrowing my whole 'burst into flames' phase." In a hurry, Buffy tells him she'll cut him a break this time, but Spike stops her, unimpressed by the whole "crowd pleasing threats and swagger routine," and reinforces that he is only passing through. "Satisfied?" He's about to leave but then adds, "I really hope so. 'Cause god knows you need some satisfaction in life, besides shagging Captain Cardboard." Then more timidly, "And-and I never liked you anyway, and... and you have stupid hair." He walks off leaving behind a perplexed Buffy. She looks at the spot he was standing in, seeing it littered with cigarette butts. She continues on her way and does not notice Dawn watching her from the second floor window.

Buffy breaks the padlock on the factory's gate and walks inside, searching until she reaches the third floor, where she finds the large steel door lying destroyed on the floor.

Joyce returns home, not looking as well as she did when she left, and calls out to her daughters. There is no immediate answer and she is startled when Dawn steps out from the kitchen behind her. Dawn assures her that she doesn't have to worry about Buffy and her mother tells her she called off her big night out because she was feeling — the medical term — crappy. Dawn tells her she made her some tea and Joyce smiles at her.


Buffy has rounded the large door and is still searching when she spots the tortured monk tied to the chair. She quickly starts to untie him, telling him she got the Dagon Sphere. As she's telling him that she's had experience with this kind of stuff, the frightened monk is watching The Beast tip-toe playfully up behind Buffy. "Best of all," Buffy is saying, and suddenly spins around and grabs The Beast by the neck, "I'm not stupid." The Beast, looking annoyed, knocks Buffy's hand away and backhands the Slayer across the face. Buffy flies to the other side of the chamber putting a large crack in the stone wall. Stunned, and in a little pain, Buffy is surprised by the young woman's strength. "You sure about that last part?" The Beast asks smugly.

At the Magic Box, the last customer is leaving with the sound of the bell on the door. Slouched at the table, an exhausted Giles asks, "Would someone please rip that bloody bell off its hinges?" An equally exhausted Xander asks if that would require moving. Willow tells them that her feet are numb. "I'll see your numbness and raise you a lower back pain." Giles comments that it seemed so much simpler when demons would just crash in the shop and tear the place apart. Anya is behind the register, happily arranging all the money in the drawer, informing Giles that he's out of crystal balls and that he should restock and raise the price ten percent. After a thought, "Make it fifteen." Giles tries to get her attention, but Anya seems on a roll, "Your cash register looks like squirrels nest in it." He calls her name again as she tells him the Hand of Glory packs serious raw power and he should institute a seven day background check. "Anya!" he shouts, finally getting her attention. "Would you like a job?" "Okay," she says, taken off guard. Giles says they can talk shop tomorrow then. Pleased with her new position in life, Anya replies, "Okay... boss." Willow asks Giles if there's been any word from Buffy and Giles tells them that Buffy said the spell didn't work and she's now investigating whoever left the Sphere. "You're not worried about the Slaymaster General, are you, Big G?" Xander asks. Giles says he's not concerned, he just hopes Buffy isn't doing anything too rash.

At the same time, Buffy is being thrown into another concrete wall, creating another large dented crack. The Beast is annoyed with the fact that she has to take time out of her day to beat Buffy to death. Buffy finally manages a counterattack, but The Beast easily dodges, grabbing both of Buffy's arms and pinning them at her sides. "I always wanted to try this. You know that thing with worms, where if you have one, you rip it in half, and you get two worms?" she smiles at Buffy, "Do you think that'll work with you?" Buffy headbutts her in the face and The Beast reacts with shocked indignation, demanding to know if Buffy's crazy. As Buffy continues to hit her, she tells Buffy, "You can't go around hitting people! What, were you born in a barn?!" She grabs Buffy's next punch and says, "Fine! Be that way!" The Beast swings Buffy against a concrete column and punches two large chunks out of it in her efforts to smash Buffy's face. She succeeds in grabbing Buffy by the throat. "Just noticed something. You have superpowers. That is so cool! Can you fly?" The Beast sends Buffy flying across the chamber and she hits the floor, sliding past the monk. Buffy is a little slower in getting back up but she starts heading for The Beast again when the monk's moan gets her attention and she thinks better of the situation and lifts him out of the chair. This upsets The Beast. "Hey! Hands off my holy man!" Buffy is half dragging the monk with her to the large window and they dive through it. They fall three stories to the empty lot below and Buffy takes most of the impact with her body. On the third floor, The Beast runs after them but stops when the heel of her shoe breaks. This infuriates her and she starts stomping on the floor, which creates a network of cracks in the concrete leading to support beams. The roof starts to collapse on top of her.

Both of them hurting, Buffy is dragging the monk away from the factory as a large cloud of dust explodes from the broken window above. The monk is unable to go on and collapses against the gate. "My journey is done, I think." He tells Buffy that she must protect The Key and that many more will die if she doesn't keep it safe. Buffy asks what The Key is and he explains that it is energy, a portal that opens The Door. "For centuries it had no from at all. My brethren, it's only keepers . . . then The Abomination found us. We had to hide The Key. Gave it form... molded it flesh... made it human and sent it to you." Buffy realizes... "Dawn." He tells her that Dawn is The Key and they knew the Slayer would keep it safe. "You put that in my house," Buffy says, accusingly. "My memories, my mom's?" He tells her they built them and Buffy, angry, demands that he unbuilds them, but the monk starts coughing, fading fast. "You cannot abandon..." he tries to say. "I didn't ask for this!" Buffy says, "I don't even know— What is she?" With a peaceful expression, the monk replies, "Human. Now, human... and helpless." He tells her that Dawn is an innocent in this and she needs Buffy now. "She's not my sister?" "She doesn't know that," he says, just before he dies.

Buffy returns home and finds Joyce and Dawn sitting on the couch together. Dawn immediately gets up and storms upstairs, snapping, "I wasn't bothering her," as she passes Buffy. Joyce asks what that was about. Buffy tells her it was nothing. "Sister stuff." Upstairs, Buffy knocks on Dawn's door and her sister tells her to go away. Buffy opens the door anyway and finds Dawn sitting on her bed. She apologizes. Dawn tells Buffy that she hurt her arm, then adds, "Butthole." Buffy apologizes again. With tears in her eyes, Dawn begins, "I tell you I have this theory. It goes where you're the one who's not my sister, 'cause Mom adopted you from a shoebox of baby howler monkeys and never told you 'cause it could hurt your delicate baby feelings." Buffy isn't angered by this, even as Dawn adds that it would explain Buffy's fashion sense... and smell. Buffy apologizes again and Dawn replies, "Broken record, much?" Now Buffy does become a little impatient, "You can't even take an apology. You always do that. Ever since—" But she stops when she realizes there never really was an "ever since."

Buffy and Dawn

She sits down on the bed beside Dawn and tells her she just had a bad day. Dawn says to join the club. "Can I be president?" Buffy asks. Dawn declares that she's president — Buffy can be the janitor. They fall silent and Buffy brushes Dawn's hair away from her face. Dawn finally asks, "What's wrong with Mom?" Just as worried as Dawn, Buffy answers, "I don't know."

Buffy continues to stroke Dawn's hair.

Synopsis written by Joseph B.

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