07x03 - Same Time Same Place

TEASER (RECAP SEGMENT):

GILES (V.O.)

Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer

1 EXT. WOODS SOMEWHERE IN SUNNYDALE - NIGHT

Warren is strung up between a pair of trees. He is tied at four points, splayed out like the famous DaVinci diagram. Willow, in full dark magic splendor (black hair, black eyes), motions her hand toward Warren, and with a twist of her wrist, removes his skin. Warren screams in agony.

2 EXT. ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

Giles is riding a horse through a field. Then he and Willow are talking in front of the manor.

WILLOW

I killed people, Giles.

GILES

I've not forgotten.

WILLOW

When you brought me here, I thought it was to kill me. Instead, you go all Dumbledore on me.

3 INT. MANOR IN ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

Willow is sitting on a suitcase in an exterior doorway, talking to Giles who is leaning on the doorjamb. The countryside is in the background outside the manor.

WILLOW

I don't want to go back home just so I can screw up again.

GILES

What exactly are you afraid of?

WILLOW

What if I go all veiny and homicidal again? And what if—

GILES

—they won't take you back?

4 INT. BRONZE NIGHT CLUB - NIGHT

Buffy, Xander, Spike and Nancy have come to the club to question Anya about the worm monster that's been terrorizing Nancy.

XANDER

(to Anya) Did you turn this nice lady's ex into a giant worm-monster?

ANYA

(to Nancy) You wish it, I dish it. I thought we were clear on this.

5 INT. CHAPEL AT CEMETERY - NIGHT

Lit dimly by moonlight, Buffy and Spike are talking. There is a large, simple, gothic crucifix at the front of the chapel that can be seen by looking directly down the central aisle.

SPIKE

It's what you wanted, right?

BUFFY

Tell me what happened.

SPIKE

Why does a man do what he mustn't? For her.

BUFFY

Your soul. You got your soul back.

END RECAP.

The Start Of Episode

PROLOGUE:

6 INT. SUNNYDALE AIRPORT TERMINAL - NIGHT

Clock shows 9:24. Arriving passengers are exiting the gate into the waiting area. Families and friends are reunited with their loved ones. A man exits to be greeted by his wife and two daughters.

HUSBAND

Hi. How are you doing?

WIFE

Hi, honey. Good.

HUSBAND

And how's it going with you two?

DAUGHTERS

Hi, Dad.

Another family exits the plane together: a father, a daughter, and a son. The daughter pushes the son, who drops his backpack, and the daughter trips over it.

DAUGHTER

Go on. (pushes him) See what you did?

FATHER

Hey, stop acting up!

Buffy, Xander and Dawn are waiting at the gate for Willow to deplane. Xander is holding a white sign with "WELCOME BACK WILLOW" written on it in yellow crayon.

XANDER

You think she'll get the sign?

BUFFY

Get the sign? I don't think she's gonna see the sign.

DAWN

Why is it so pale?

XANDER

I used yellow crayon. It was a thing from when I talked to Willow on the bluff. I hope she gets it.

DAWN

Oh, tell us again what you said.

XANDER

Well, I was talking from my heart and I knew Evil Willow wasn't really ready to— You were kidding.

DAWN

Mm-hmm. A little bit.

BUFFY

We've heard the crayon speech a few times. Not that it's not great, of course.

XANDER

I saved the world with talking from my mouth. My mouth saved the world.

DAWN

Uh-huh. I'm getting nervous. Are you nervous?

BUFFY

Yeah. It's gonna be weird seeing her. What do you say to someone in this situation?

XANDER

I'm gonna say "Hi, Willow."

BUFFY

C'mon. You're saying it's not going to be the least bit strange? We saw her kill someone. She was about to kill Dawn—

XANDER

And Giles wouldn't let her leave unless she completed that whatever recovery course.

DAWN

Right. (Buffy smiles guiltily. Dawn looks at Buffy) Right?

BUFFY

She kinda didn't finish.

DAWN

She didn't finish? She didn't finish being not evil?

BUFFY

H-he said it was really important that she come back early and that she was doing really well and we shouldn't worry.

XANDER

Guys, I just noticed something. Everyone's off the plane, so where's Willow?

Cut to:

7 INT. SUNNYDALE AIRPORT TERMINAL - NIGHT

Clock shows 9:24. Arriving passengers are exiting the gate into the waiting area. Looks like the same passengers that exited last scene. A man exits to be greeted by his wife and two daughters.

HUSBAND

Hi. How are you doing?

WIFE

Hi, honey. Good.

HUSBAND

And how's it going with you two?

DAUGHTERS

Hi, Dad.

Another family exits the plane together: a father, a daughter, and a son. The daughter pushes the son, who drops his backpack, and the daughter trips over it.

DAUGHTER

Go on. (pushes him) See what you did?

FATHER

Hey, stop acting up!

This time, Willow deplaned right behind the family. She looks around desperately for her friends, but they are nowhere to be found. She seems deflated and disappointed.

WILLOW

Welcome home, me.

END TEASERS.

Opening credits and title sequence.

ACT I.

8 EXT. CONSTRUCTION SITE AT SUNNYDALE HIGH SCHOOL - NIGHT

A Teen Boy is spray-painting graffiti on a earth retention wall at the construction site where dirt has been removed below the grade . He's painting the word "Spider" when something unseen stalks him from the shadows.

GNARL (O.S.)

All alone. (clicks fingernails together) Are you frightened to be all alone?

TEEN BOY

(stops painting) Is somebody there?

GNARL (O.S.)

The wind talks when you're alone. (laughs)

TEEN BOY

You better clear out, whoever you are.

There's a shrieking noise and then the boy screams.

Cut to:

9 EXT. FRONT DOOR AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Willow knocks on the front door but no one answers.

Cut to:

10 INT. KITCHEN AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Willow knocks on the outside back door, and when there's no answer she lets herself in.

WILLOW

Buffy? Hello?

She walks into the other room. When she passes the microwave oven, its clock says 10:41.

Cut to:

11 INT. HALL STAIRCASE AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Willow walks upstairs slowly.

Cut to:

12 INT. BUFFY'S ROOM AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

The sign on Willow and Tara's old room says "Buffy." Willow goes into the room and looks around sadly. Buffy has moved in. Willow walks toward the window, touches it, and remembers the sound of Tara's fatal gunshot breaking the glass. She looks at Buffy's pictures and sees pictures of all their friends, except Willow herself. She picks up Buffy's day planner, which has contact info for Buffy, Xander and Dawn. A dog barks outside, and there's a noise like a front door opening. Willow drops the planner and rushes out of the room.

Cut to:

13 INT. HALL STAIRCASE AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Willow's coming down the stairs excitedly, looking for her friends.

WILLOW

Dawn? Did I hear the door?

Again, no one is there. She walks into the living room disappointed.

14 INT. LIVING ROOM AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Unable to find her friends, Willow curls up on the couch to wait until they come home. She falls asleep.

Cut to:

15 INT. KITCHEN AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Shot of the microwave oven: its clock says 10:41.

Cut to:

16 INT. FOYER AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Buffy, Xander, and Dawn come home and enter through the front door, talking about Willow.

BUFFY

They absolutely put her on the plane in London.

XANDER

So, she got off in Chicago when they stopped?

DAWN

She could've caught a flight anywhere from there.

BUFFY

(crosses arms) Maybe she doubled back. Got off the plane in London after Giles left.

DAWN

Well, if she's doing that—ducking Giles—then, she's evil, right?

XANDER

Well, I've avoided Giles tons of times. Just meant I was lazy, not evil.

BUFFY

I hope you're right, because defeating Lazy Willow—probably less hard.

DAWN

We should check the messages... see if she tried to reach us here.

BUFFY

'S a good idea.

The sound of Willow dropping the planner comes from upstairs.

DAWN

What was that?

BUFFY

Upstairs.

17 INT. HALL STAIRCASE AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Xander, Buffy and Dawn go up the stairs to investigate.

XANDER

Willow, is that you?

Cut to:

18 INT. LIVING ROOM AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

A few minutes later, Buffy and Dawn come down the stairs. Xander is sitting on the couch, and they go to sit down beside him.

BUFFY

Definitely not up there.

DAWN

She didn't leave a message.

BUFFY

I checked with Giles again, too. Hasn't heard from her.

XANDER

Is he throwing a tasteful British wiggins?

BUFFY

Oh, with extra wig. He's blaming himself pretty hard, like he should've known she wasn't ready to come back. I-I kept telling him, you know, it wasn't his fault. Maybe something about us she couldn't face.

XANDER

Like she didn't think we were ready to forgive her? I get that.

DAWN

So Giles is blaming Giles, and we're blaming us. Is anyone gonna blame Willow? Oh, don't give me shock face. I mean, will anyone around here ever start asking for help when they need it?

BUFFY

Look, if Willow flipped out, it's her bad. We can only be here for her so much if she won't be, you know, here.

Shot of the couch. Xander, Dawn, and Buffy are sitting beside each other on it. They begin to fade away, while another image appears in their place: Willow is sleeping on the sofa they were talking on.

19 INT. LIVING ROOM AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - DAY

Willow wakes up. She has apparently slept on the couch all night. It's morning now. She gets up and goes to the phone and dials it.

WILLOW

Hello. I'm calling for Giles, uh, Mr. Giles. (pause) Right. Council meeting all day. (pause) No, no, I know, he can't be reached there. Thanks. Bye.

Willow hangs up the phone and looks around the room trying to figure out what to do.

Cut to:

20 EXT. SUNNYDALE STREET IN FRONT OF MAGIC BOX - DAY

Willow is walking down the bustling street toward the old Magic Box storefront. It's burned and boarded up. Anya comes out the front door with a box full of salvaged items. Willow runs up to her, excited to see her.

WILLOW

Anya!

Anya sees Willow and steps back defensively.

WILLOW

Anya, don't! Don't run away.

ANYA

What are you doing here? I thought you were with Giles studying how to not kill people.

WILLOW

I just got back.

ANYA

Just got back, as in you're all better, or just got back to bring about a fiery apocalypse of death.

WILLOW

Neither, but I-I have been studying, working real hard, and I-I'm gonna be fine.

ANYA

Oh. Good. 'Cause I remember the last time you said that. I've spent a lot of time since them cleaning the debris out of my ex-livelihood. Stuff like that.

WILLOW

Well, yeah, I wanna help any way I can with that. I-I feel really responsible.

ANYA

(walks towards her) You feel really responsible? You are really responsible!

WILLOW

I-I know I hurt you and—and everyone. I'm sorry.

ANYA

Here's something you should know about vengeance demons: We don't group with the "sorry." We prefer "Oh, God, please stop hitting me with my own rib bones."

WILLOW

Go on. Say whatever you want. Rib bones and so forth. I-I deserve it.

ANYA

Then you won't mind? (Willow shakes her head no) Well, then, that's no fun.

WILLOW

Sorry.

Willow sits down on the curb side in front of the store. Anya sighs, puts the box she's holding down beside Willow and sits down next to it. Willow picks up a large, three-horned animal skull from the box to play with while she talks.

WILLOW

So, um, where is everyone these days?

ANYA

Well, I'm back in my own apartment. And, of course, vengeance takes me all over the world. I was in Brazil yesterday. They love their soccer.

WILLOW

And the others? Dawn, and, uh, Xander, Buffy?

Willow accidentally breaks off one of the prongs on the skill, and quickly puts it back in the box.

ANYA

You haven't seen them?

WILLOW

Not so much.

ANYA

Huh. I guess they're still mad at you. They've been a little temperamental lately, just between you and me. We had this little mix-up a few days ago, and —

WILLOW

That sounds great. So, um, where do you think they'd be?

ANYA

Oh, at the new high school, probably. Everyone's all about the high school. Buffy's got some kind of job there helping junior deviants, Spike's insane in the basement, Xander's there doing construction on the new gym—

WILLOW

Wait, Spike's what in the whatment?

ANYA

Insane. Base. Xander does construction. He likes to start early, so he's probably there by now.

Cut to:

21 EXT. CONSTRUCTION SITE AT SUNNYDALE HIGH SCHOOL - DAY

Willow walks up to the edge of the pit where they're doing construction. Willow calls out over the site, looking around for Xander.

WILLOW

Xander? Xander, you down there?

No answer, so she climbs down the retaining wall on a ladder. This is the retaining wall that the Teen Boy was painting last night. Willow walks around and stops suddenly when she looks down. Zoom to a dead person lying on the ground with no skin.

22 EXT. CONSTRUCTION SITE AT SUNNYDALE HIGH SCHOOL - DAY

Zoom back up to where Willow was standing, but now there's Buffy and Xander instead.

BUFFY

No skin.

XANDER

Tough to look at.

BUFFY

And yet my eyes refuse to look away. Stupid eyes.

XANDER

I found it first thing this morning. I gave my crew the day off, and I called you right away.

BUFFY

I got to get a job where I don't get called right away for this stuff.

Xander wipes his mouth. There's a clanking noise coming from behind him. On camera, a panicked Willow climbs the ladder to leave the site, but when Xander turns to look at the noise behind him, he sees only an empty ladder. He turns back to look at the dead person, and continues talking to Buffy.

XANDER

Yeah, I know exactly what you're thinking. Maybe Willow is back.

Fade to black.

ACT II.

23 INT. HALLWAY AT SUNNYDALE HIGH - DAY

Students are walking around in the hallways between classes. Willow is walking down the hall as well. The bell rings, and the students rush to their classes. She finds the basement door that reads "Basement. No Student Access." She opens the door and walks down the stairs into the basement.

24 INT. BASEMENT SUNNYDALE HIGH - DAY

Willow walks around the basement looking around. There are spare bookshelves and other classroom equipment stored there. Then Spike jumps out from out of nowhere and yells at her.

SPIKE

Out! This is my place. You need permission to be here. You need a special slip with a stamp.

WILLOW

Spike. My God... I—

SPIKE

(ranting, pacing) You go off and try to wall up the bad parts and put your heart back in where it fell out. You call yourself finished, but you're not. Worse than ever, you are...

Spike stops pacing and stands still with his head tilted down a little. He's silent and pensive. Then he walks forward with a confused expression on his face. In an entirely different demeanor, more restrained and calm, he starts talking again, but not facing Willow.

SPIKE

You went away. You've been gone since...

WILLOW

I needed to go, but I'm back now. And I found... There's a body.

SPIKE

Tragedy. (faces Willow) Is there blood?

WILLOW

Uh, I, Yeah, and I can't find Buffy or Xander or Dawn. And there's this thing killing people. And the victim was... skinned. What could do that?

SPIKE

You did it once. I heard about it.

WILLOW

Anything other—other than me?

Spike is not facing Willow, but instead, he's facing ninety degrees away from her. Smiling sweetly all of a sudden, he's no longer talking to her. He walks forward several steps and starts talking again.

SPIKE

Look at you... glowing. What's a word means "glowing"? Gotta rhyme.

WILLOW

Spike?

SPIKE

Oh, ah, no. I-I-I should hide. Hide from you. Hide my face. You know what I did.

WILLOW

What you did? You didn't do anything... did you?

SPIKE

Everyone's talking to me. No one's talking to each other.

Spike turns to face Willow suspiciously.

WILLOW

Spike, please try to listen to me.

Now, more confident, Spike starts pacing slowly. He steps behind one of the bookcases, talking to himself. Willow's confused.

SPIKE

Someone isn't here. Button, button... who's got the button? My money's on (stops and faces Willow) the witch.

Cut to:

25 INT. BASEMENT SUNNYDALE HIGH - DAY

Xander and Buffy are walking together in the basement, talking.

XANDER

We can't use the blueprints to find our way around down here. It's like the walls move or something.

Off screen, Spike can be heard yelling.

SPIKE (O.S.)

Out! This is my place.

BUFFY

(to Xander) I think I hear him.

SPIKE (O.S.)

You need permission to be here. You need a special slip with a stamp.

Buffy and Xander follow his voice and open a door to the area where Spike is pacing back and forth, apparently talking to himself.

SPIKE

(ranting, pacing) ... and put your heart back in where it fell out. You call yourself finished, but you're not. Worse than ever, you are...

Spike stops pacing and stands still with his head tilted down a little. He's silent and pensive.

BUFFY

Spike. Spike.

Then he walks forward with a confused expression on his face. In an entirely different demeanor, more restrained and calm, he starts talking again to Buffy.

SPIKE

You went away. You've been gone since...

BUFFY

The church. You scared me a little. I didn't—I didn't know what to think.

XANDER

We're here for a reason, Spike.

SPIKE

Tragedy. (faces right, away from Xander and Buffy) Is there blood?

XANDER

He knows. He must have seen the body.

SPIKE

You did it once. I heard about it.

BUFFY

Spike, we need to know who did this.

Spike is smiling sweetly all of a sudden. He walks forward several steps and starts talking again.

SPIKE

Look at you... glowing. What's a word means "glowing"? Gotta rhyme.

BUFFY

Spike, please...

SPIKE

I-I-I should hide. Hide from you. Hide my face. You know what I did.

XANDER

Boy, he's extra-useful today.

BUFFY

(whispering to Xander) This isn't the time.

SPIKE

Everyone's talking to me. No one's talking to each other.

Spike turns to face over his right shoulder suspiciously.

BUFFY

(to Xander) Might as well go.

Now, more confident, Spike starts pacing slowly. He steps behind one of the bookcases, talking to himself. Buffy and Xander start walking away.

SPIKE

Someone isn't here. Button, button... who's got the button? My money's on (stops and faces his right) the witch.

Buffy and Xander stop in their tracks and turn around to face Spike again.

SPIKE

Red's a bad girl.

BUFFY

He's talking about Willow.

XANDER

And that means something because he's chock-full-o-sanity.

BUFFY

Maybe he saw her.

SPIKE

They think you did it. The slayer and her boy. They think you took the skin.

BUFFY

Is there something here? Something that killed?

XANDER

(offended) Her boy? I'm her boy?

Spike walks up to Xander and Buffy.

SPIKE

I have to go. There are things here without permission. I have to check their slips. Make sure they have authorization.

Spike walks away, deeper into the basement.

Cut to:

26 INT. ANYA'S APARTMENT - DAY

Willow knocks on Anya's door. Anya opens it.

WILLOW

I need help.

ANYA

I don't have any money.

WILLOW

I don't want money.

Willow walks into the apartment without waiting for an invitation. Anya looks peeved.

ANYA

Come in. Enjoy my personal space. (shuts door)

WILLOW

I found a dead body near the high school.

ANYA

Yes, that can happen.

WILLOW

Something horrible killed a boy. Took his skin right off.

Anya and Willow have the same reaction at the same moment, and speak simultaneously.

ANYA & WILLOW

Was it you? (shocked) No.

ANYA

Well with the skin thing, they're definitely going to think it was you. Buffy is, anyway.

WILLOW

Yeah. I mean maybe she already does. I don't know. I just—I-I have to find whatever did this. I just—I need to do something right.

ANYA

Oh, and so they'll think it wasn't you, right? I mean, that has to be part of it. Maybe you're even thinking you kill this thing, they don't even have to know about it. Won't suspect you, even for a minute.

WILLOW

No, I-I don't— When did you get all insightful?

ANYA

I'm surprisingly sensitive.

WILLOW

So, will you help me?

ANYA

(sighs) Is it difficult or time-consuming?

Cut to:

27 INT. ANYA'S APARTMENT - DAY

Now the curtains in Anya's apartment are closed, blocking the sunlight. Candles are lit and she and Willow are sitting on the floor, Indian-style, facing each other, with a map of Sunnydale between them.

ANYA

This isn't going to get all sexy, is it?

WILLOW

I'd be shocked. OK, do you have your powder?

ANYA

Oh, I ate that. I have it.

WILLOW

OK, we scatter it over the map, and everywhere there's a demon, a little light appears.

ANYA

Oh, pretty! Will it hurt the carpet?

WILLOW

No. (pauses to clear her thoughts) OK, scatter.

Willow and Anya dust the map with the powder from their individual jars. Several individual dots glow in various places on the map, but there is a heavy concentration of glowing dots in the center of the map.

ANYA & WILLOW

Oh!

ANYA

Hey look—that's me! Hello. What's that huge clump?

WILLOW

It's the high school. It's all hellmouthy is underneath.

ANYA

Things have been stirring there lately. Is it getting brighter?

WILLOW

Smoke!

The clump of lights at the high school gets brighter and brighter until it catches the map on fire. Willow and Anya stand up immediately, and Willow stamps out the fire with her foot. Anya is upset and bends down to investigate the damage.

ANYA

Ah! OK. Remember our talk about the carpet?

Willow holds up the map to inspect the marks left behind on it by the glowing lights.

WILLOW

Thi-this could be it. It's strong, it's near the body, and it's all by itself, hiding in the woods or-or maybe cave. There are a couple of good caves around there.

ANYA

I don't know. Sounds pretty thin to me.

Anya starts cleaning up the mark on the rug.

WILLOW

Well, that's why you teleport over there real quick like a bunn—real quick and, uh, see if I'm right.

ANYA

No. Sorry. You damaged my carpet.

WILLOW

Anya, you're a vengeance demon. Just teleport!

ANYA

Well, as it turns out, teleporting isn't a right, it's a privilege. I withdrew a vengeance spell last week, and this is my punishment. I can only teleport for official business. I have to file a flight plan and everything.

WILLOW

Oh. I'm sorry. That must be hard.

ANYA

Yeah, it bites a pretty big one. And the vengeance itself, i-it's not as fulfilling as I remember.

WILLOW

Really? 'Cause I got the impression that you enjoyed—you know, inflicting.

ANYA

Well, causing pain sounds really cool, I know, but turns out it's really upsetting. Didn't use to be, but now it is.

Anya walks around, still fussing over the carpet stain.

WILLOW

Is it like you're scared of losing that feeling again. And that having it be OK to hurt people. And then you're not in charge of the power anymore because it's in charge of you?

ANYA

Wow, that was really over-dramatically stated, but, yeah, that's it.

WILLOW

I get it. Believe me.

ANYA

(sincerely) I'm sorry, Willow. I wish it were better for you.

WILLOW

You too.

ANYA

It did get a little sexy, didn't it?

WILLOW

(nods, then catches herself, walks away quickly) I have to find this monster.

ANYA

(holding candles now) Willow... um, isn't there another spell? I mean, you're trying to find Buffy and Xander. Couldn't we use a spell to do that?

WILLOW

I did. I-I tried, and something went kaflooey, and it didn't work.

ANYA

What did it say?

WILLOW

It said they don't exist.

Willow walks out of the apartment and closes the door behind her. Anya blows out the candles.

Cut to:

28 INT. DINING ROOM AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - DAY

Dawn, Buffy, and Xander are sitting around the dining room table doing research. Buffy has several books open in front of her, while Dawn is surfing the Internet on her laptop. Xander has a book in his lap.

DAWN

OK, so I looked up demons that skin their victims and demons that flay their victims 'cause, you know, same thing. There's a ton of prospects. Anything else gone? Uh, eyeballs, toenails or viscera? That's guts.

BUFFY

She knows about viscera. Makes you proud.

XANDER

Just skin.

DAWN

OK, I'll work on that.

Buffy sighs, stands up, and walks to a corner of the room. Xander follows.

XANDER

What's up?

BUFFY

I need to do something. I just—I have this feeling in my gut—

XANDER

In your viscera!

BUFFY

—that we know exactly who did this. And all of this work that we're doing is just a way for us to convince ourselves that Willow's OK.

DAWN

Oh, guys! (gesturing them to come over to her) I got a good one. A demon called "Gnarl." He's a parasite with these nasty long fingernails. He secretes something through them and uses that to paralyze his victims. He then cuts strips of their skin while they're still alive. It takes hours.

XANDER

We didn't find any strips of skin. Which, by the way, (shudders) gghhhh!

DAWN

You wouldn't. He eats them. That's why he's a parasite. It's like his natural food.

BUFFY

Dawn, you're new at this, and I get why you're proud, but I'm not exactly sure why this demon is any more likely than any of the others.

DAWN

You never said pool of blood.

BUFFY

There was no pool, just splatters.

DAWN

(smiling) Then this is your guy. He laps up the blood. You could say it's like his natural beverage.

XANDER

(points at Dawn) You're terrifying.

DAWN

Now if we just knew how to find this thing.

XANDER

Well, we could ask some questions over at Willy's place.

BUFFY

Or, we could be smart. Sorry, Xander.

XANDER

What?

BUFFY

W-whoever did this had to get blood on them, which means they left a trail.

DAWN

Right, minute traces of blood.

BUFFY

And we have a way to track it.

DAWN

We have a— Oh, I get it.

XANDER

What? How? What's going on?

Cut to:

29 EXT. WOODS NEAR SUNNYDALE - NIGHT

Spike's walking around, mumbling to himself.

SPIKE

William's a good boy. Carries her water, carries her sin. Supposed to get easier, isn't it. Supposed to help to help, but it doesn't. Still so heavy.

Xander, Buffy, and Dawn are following Spike.

XANDER

Should've put a leash on him.

BUFFY

Yes, let's tie ourselves to the crazy vampire.

XANDER

You really think it's gonna work?

BUFFY

It's pretty easy. Spike follows the exciting smell of blood, and we follow the fairly ripe smell of Spike.

DAWN

It's smellementary. Also, I'm sure there's tons of stuff like this. You know, procedures we can use that don't involve magic spells. Just good solid detective work. And we can develop a database of tooth impressions and demon skin samples and I could wear high heels more often.

BUFFY

Wow, that was so close to being empowered.

DAWN

Everybody loves a slender ankle.

Spike has stopped walking. He's standing still staring through the bushes at a rock cliff. The group catches up to him.

SPIKE

That's it. End of the line. Everyone off. (turns to Xander) Keep your ticket, you'll need that.

BUFFY

That's a rock cliff.

XANDER

Well, give him a break, Buffy. Maybe it's a vicious skin-eating rock cliff.

SPIKE

There's a cave in it. Look. (pushes the bush aside) I'm insane. What's his excuse?

Cut to:

30 EXT. CAVE NEAR SUNNYDALE - NIGHT

Willow's standing at the entrance to the cave. She decides to go in.

Cut to:

31 INT. CAVE NEAR SUNNYDALE - NIGHT

Willow squeezes through the narrow opening on her belly. The cave seems empty at first, even though there is light from a fire. There's some noises, and then something speaks to her.

GNARL (O.S.)

All alone.

Cut to:

32 EXT. CAVE NEAR SUNNYDALE - NIGHT

Buffy, Dawn, and Xander are standing at the entrance to the cave. They decide to go in.

Cut to:

33 INT. CAVE NEAR SUNNYDALE - NIGHT

Buffy, Dawn, and Xander are standing inside the cave now. The cave seems empty at first, even though there is light from a fire.

XANDER

Dark and dank. I was hoping it'd be dark and dank.

Buffy gestures for him to stop talking. There are some noises.

BUFFY

Shh! Do you hear that?

XANDER

No, I don't. But now I do.

DAWN

Something's moving in here.

BUFFY

Guess we're in the right place.

Cut to:

34 INT. CAVE NEAR SUNNYDALE - NIGHT

Willow is standing still, looking around to see what's there, who's talking to her.

GNARL (O.S.)

Look at the shorn lamb. See how he trembles. Is it the cold wind? Or is it that the flock is nowhere to be seen?

Where Willow was standing, now Buffy, Dawn, and Xander are standing. They can hear Gnarl speaking, but can't see Willow.

GNARL (O.S.)

Poor little lamb all alone.

DAWN

You guys hear that, right?

XANDER

Yep.

BUFFY

It's echoing. I know it sounds close, but I don't think—

Gnarl jumps out suddenly and scratches Dawn before leaving again.

BUFFY

Dawn! Are you OK?

DAWN

I guess so. (sounds weak, uncovers her stomach to show a large gash across it) Poison paralyzes.

BUFFY

Dawn. OK, we need to get her out of here. We'll deal with him later. Seal him in.

Buffy and Xander leave carrying an injured Dawn out of the cave.

Cut to:

35 INT. CAVE NEAR SUNNYDALE - NIGHT

Willow is still standing still, still looking around to see what's there, who's talking to her. She's scared now. Rocks are appearing at the cave opening, sealing her in. Willow turns to investigate.

WILLOW

What's going on? Who's there? No! Stop!

GNARL (O.S.)

(cackling) Ha ha ha!

Fade to black.


ACT III.

36 INT. CAVE NEAR SUNNYDALE - NIGHT

Resume.

GNARL (O.S.)

No way out now. No way out.

WILLOW

Protect me, Goddess. In thy name, I supplicate myself. Take the powers from my enemy, and lay him lower than the lowest field.

GNARL (O.S.)

Gnarl loves spells. He keeps them as pets. They love him. And they leave him alone. (laughs)

While he talks, Willow tries to push the rocks away from the entrance, but fails. She turns to face Gnarl again.

WILLOW

You may be immune to magic, but I've got more than that. You wanna fight?

GNARL (O.S.)

Your friends left you here. (singing) No one comes to save you. (talking) They wanted me to have you.

Cut to:

37 EXT. WOODS NEAR SUNNYDALE - NIGHT

Xander and Buffy carry Dawn between them, with one of her arms around each of their necks.

BUFFY

The computer. That thing Dawn was reading might have an antidote for the paralysis.

DAWN

(without moving her lips) Um, Buffy?

BUFFY

What?

DAWN

I'm really sorry.

BUFFY

Oh, it's OK.

XANDER

You couldn't help it. It had paralyzing fingernails.

BUFFY

Just like you said it would, so good on you.

Cut to:

38 INT. CAVE NEAR SUNNYDALE - NIGHT

Willow's looking around trying to find her pursuer.

GNARL (O.S.)

Did they leave you as a gifty for me? Are you a tasty little gifty?

WILLOW

Stop it!

GNARL (O.S.)

Or did they just throw you away?

WILLOW

Were they here? Were my friends really here? I heard something.

Gnarl swoops in and slices her belly with his paralyzing fingernail. Willow falls back against the wall and sinks to the floor. Gnarl's shadow is on the wall behind her.

WILLOW

(in pain) Ah, ah...

GNARL

They were here. Here they were. And there they went. (singing) Gone, all gone, what a pretty song. (talking) They sealed you in with me. (grabs her ankle and pulls her toward him) I love a gifty. (squats over her) Can't wait to unwrap it. (clicks nails)

Gnarl is a 5 foot tall green-skinned creature whose rib-cage shows through his leathery skin. He has pointy ears, a long hooked nose, and yellow eyes. His fingernails are black and he likes to click them together, making a tik-tik noise like a dog walking on tile.

Gnarl pushes Willow's blouse away from her wound to examine her. He bends over her belly and starts licking it. She winces.

Cut to:

39 INT. FOYER AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT - NIGHT

Buffy and Xander carry Dawn in hastily through the front door. Dawn's horizontal now, being carried like a roll of carpet.

BUFFY

OK, watch—watch the head.

XANDER

Gotcha.

DAWN

(without moving mouth) Watch my head. Watch my head!

They take her to the living room.

40 INT. LIVING ROOM AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Xander and Buffy walk toward the sofa with Dawn.

XANDER

Sofa.

They put her down on the sofa, but she rolls over face-down in the pillows.

DAWN

(without moving mouth) Face up! Face up!

XANDER

(rolling her over) She's right, face up is better.

BUFFY

(sighs) OK, I'm gonna check the computer. Find that page. See if there's an antidote.

Buffy leaves the room.

XANDER

It'll be all right. We'll get you fixed up. You'll be doing limbo in no time.

DAWN

Yeah, as a pole.

XANDER

No, not as a pole. I promise.

Cut to:

41 INT. DINING ROOM AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Buffy is sitting at the laptop that's on the dining room table.

BUFFY

Oh, got it. It says the paralysis is permanent. (Dawn squeaks) No, oh, wait, my bad. (reading) Permanent until the creature dies. (looks over) Sorry.

Buffy walks back into the living room.

42 INT. LIVING ROOM AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Xander is kneeling beside Dawn, holding her hand as she is laid out paralyzed on the couch.

BUFFY

Guess we have to go back.

XANDER

We can't just leave her here like this. What if she vomits?

DAWN

(without moving mouth) Ew. I won't vomit.

BUFFY

Do you think she'll vomit?

DAWN

(without moving mouth) Stop talking about vomit.

BUFFY

I'll call Anya. She can watch her.

XANDER

Right, she'll love being called for vomit watch.

Buffy picks up the phone and dials.

DAWN

(without moving mouth) Stop talking about vomit.

Cut to:

43 INT. CAVE NEAR SUNNYDALE - NIGHT

Gnarl is still squatting over Willow, playing with her stomach with his fingernail.

GNARL

Gnarl makes a pretty picture. (scratches her again) It's easy when you know how. It's easy when everyone helps. They helped me. (licks her blood off his fingernail) Too bad there's no one to help you.

Gnarl removes a strip of skin about the size of a French fry from her stomach. He dangles it over his mouth and sucks it in like spaghetti, savoring every morsel of her raw flesh. He groans with pleasure and bends over to lick her stomach again. Willow's face shows her agony.

Cut to:

44 INT. LIVING ROOM AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Anya has arrived to look after Dawn. Buffy and Xander are getting ready to fight Gnarl.

ANYA

I bet she's dying.

BUFFY

She's not dying. She's just paralyzed.

ANYA

Oh. Paralyzed how?

XANDER

Paralyzed how? In the not moving way.

ANYA

Well, there's lots of different ways. Did you try this?

Anya takes Dawn's legs and lifts them up ninety degrees, bending her at the waist. Her legs don't fall back down.

BUFFY

Hey!

DAWN

(without moving her lips) Hey!

XANDER

Oh! You're poseable.

BUFFY

She's poseable?

ANYA

It's a common variety. Watch this.

Anya rearranges Dawn so that she's sitting on the couch now, upright.

ANYA

Huh. Neat as you please. Hardly a need to undo her.

BUFFY

(mouthful of nuts) Where'd you get the nuts?

ANYA

Brazil. No need to thank me, by the way, for sitting with her. I'm feeling very benevolent today. Helping Willow. Helping you. You might even call it even for that whole worm thing last week.

BUFFY

Yeah, I don't think we could call— Wait, you saw Willow?

ANYA

Um-hmm. Oh, she's looking for you, by the way. Decided you might be out in some cave. Sounded pretty tenuous.

DAWN

(without moving her lips) Cave?

BUFFY

Anya, listen. This is really important. Did Willow go to that cave?

ANYA

Mm-hmm. Last time I saw her, that's where she was headed. (turning to Dawn) Shall I make her salute? That'd be very cute.

BUFFY

Xander, she could be there right now. Willow could be trapped with the Gnarl.

ANYA

(playing with Dawn's hand) Uh, it's not "The Gnarl", just "Gnarl". Oh, wouldn't it be tragic if you were here being kinda silly with your comically paralyzed sister while Willow was dying?

Buffy walks over to Anya, with a battle-axe in hand.

BUFFY

Anya, you know about this creature?

ANYA

Uh-huh, sure.

BUFFY

You're coming with us.

Buffy hands the battle-axe to Anya, who looks it over. Anya finishes posing Dawn in a two-finger salute, pats Dawn on the head, and walks off. Dawn grunts with displeasure. Buffy and Xander walked out as well, but Buffy runs back in to place the remote in Dawn's posed hand before leaving again. Dawn squeaks.

Cut to:

45 INT. CAVE NEAR SUNNYDALE - NIGHT

Willow's still lying on the ground, paralyzed, crying, and in pain. She's trying to talk.

WILLOW

(without moving her mouth) They wouldn't leave. They'll return.

GNARL

(laughing) They don't want you. (singing) Lock you in, nice white skin... (talking) And if they do return, where will the find you? Inside me, you'll already be. (cutting a new piece of skin from her belly) Aww... love it.

Gnarl pulls out the next piece of skin to eat, and laps up her blood from the wound.

Fade to black.

ACT IV.

46 EXT. WOODS NEAR SUNNYDALE - NIGHT

Xander, Buffy, and Anya are running back to the cave. Anya's lagging behind.

XANDER

Anya, you gotta keep up.

ANYA

Uhhh! I'm out of shape. I've been teleporting for months.

BUFFY

Hurry!

Cut to:

47 INT. CAVE NEAR SUNNYDALE - NIGHT

Willow is lying on the ground. Gnarl is still squatting over her.

WILLOW

(without moving her mouth) No, no, no...

Buffy bursts into the cave and Gnarl leaps up. Buffy tries to cut him with her sword. Gnarl screeches and hides.

BUFFY

What's going on? Where's Willow?

ANYA

She's right here. Can't you see her? She's hurt!

XANDER

What? Where? (feels around with his hand) There's nothing here.

ANYA

Your hand—it's going right through her. (to Buffy) What's going on?

BUFFY

I don't know, but I'm starting to get why we haven't seen her.

XANDER

Because we haven't seen her.

BUFFY

I have this feeling that whatever's causing this invisible thing is a whole separate issue from the skin-eating monster.

ANYA

Behind you!

Gnarl tries to scratch Buffy, but misses, getting only her shirt and not her skin.

BUFFY

Close one.

Gnarl has a sword now, and Buffy has a dagger. They fight, alternating swipes at each other.

ANYA

Remember what I said. Get him in the eyes. (kneels beside Willow) Willow, I'm here. Wow, you're really hurt.

WILLOW

(without moving her mouth) What's going on?

ANYA

Buffy's fighting the demon over there, see. But if they get too close, I'm gonna have to run.

WILLOW

(without moving her mouth) I don't see.

ANYA

But they're here. Buffy and Xander.

WILLOW

(without moving her mouth) They came? They didn't leave me?

ANYA

No, they didn't leave you. They can't see you.

WILLOW

(without moving her mouth) They're here. They're here. I'm not alone.

ANYA

Good. You're doing really good.

Buffy and Gnarls are still fighting. Gnarl leaps over Buffy's head and lands behind her. She turns and stabs his foot with her dagger when he lands, pinning him to the ground. He screeches and flails, throwing him off guard. She grabs his head with both hands and plunges her thumbs into his eyes.

XANDER

(to Buffy) Ew. Ew. Thumbs? I can't believe you did that.

ANYA

(to Willow) Oh, Buffy killed the demon. It was gross.

WILLOW

I can... I can move. Oh...

Cut to:

48 INT. LIVING ROOM AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Dawn can move now too. She falls over and squeaks when the paralysis ends.

Cut to:

49 INT. CAVE NEAR SUNNYDALE - NIGHT

Buffy runs to where Anya and Xander are, but Buffy and Xander still can't see Willow.

BUFFY

Willow? Are you here?

XANDER

Where is she? Is she alive?

ANYA

She's right here. OK, stand back. You're getting your feet in her.

BUFFY

Willow?

ANYA

She's hurt really bad, you guys. I'm gonna go get help.

Anya leaves the cave.

XANDER

I think she's sort of (gesturing) here-ish.

BUFFY

Willow? W-we can't exactly see you, but we're really glad that you're back. I-I don't know how badly you're hurt, but—

Willow appears on the ground in front of them, also in mid-sentence.

XANDER

Is that Willow?

WILLOW

—I couldn't find you guys and I looked everywhere. And the demon said that you left me and— Oh, there you are. There you are! Don't go away.

XANDER

We're not going away. (sees her wounds) Oh, God.

BUFFY

It's gonna be OK, Willow. You're gonna be OK.

WILLOW

I know. You're here.

Cut to:

50 INT. WILLOW'S ROOM AT BUFFY'S HOUSE - DAY

Willow's sitting on the bed in pajamas in Buffy's old bedroom, meditating. Buffy walks up to the doorway, sees her, and decides not to interrupt her. Willow opens her eyes.

WILLOW

Buffy...

BUFFY

Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt.

WILLOW

That's all I had left in me anyway.

BUFFY

I didn't realize meditating was such hard work.

WILLOW

I'm healing. Growing new skin.

BUFFY

(walks toward Willow) Wow. That's magic, right? I mean, when most people when they meditate don't get extra skin, right. 'Cause Clem should, like, cut back. (sits on edge of bed)

WILLOW

It's magic. I'm drawing power from the earth to heal myself.

BUFFY

We're on the second floor.

WILLOW

(laughs) You know Giles says everything's part of the earth. This bed. The air. Us.

BUFFY

Explains why my fingernails get dirty even when I don't do anything.

WILLOW

Plus you stuck your thumbs in a demon.

BUFFY

True.

Willow leans back, exhausted.

BUFFY

You're wiped out. I-I should go.

WILLOW

No. Please stay. I missed you so much when I couldn't find you.

BUFFY

We missed you too. I missed you. Dawn's, uh, working on what caused the mutual no-see-ums, but so far we haven't—

WILLOW

I did it.

BUFFY

You did a spell?

WILLOW

I didn't mean to. I-I just remember thinking I wasn't ready to see you guys yet. I was afraid we wouldn't, you know, connect.

BUFFY

So, you made it happen just by thinking it?

WILLOW

Guess I have a ways to go before I master my powers, huh?

BUFFY

It's OK. As long as you're all right.

WILLOW

It's nice to be forgiven. Too bad I need so much of it.

BUFFY

I have a confession to make. I thought it might be you. With the flaying.

WILLOW

I know.

BUFFY

I wanna be the kind of person that wouldn't think that. Xander never thought it.

WILLOW

He did, a little. Heck, I did a little. Xander has the luxury of not saying it, but you're the slayer. You have to say stuff like that. It's OK. It's OK too if you still don't think I can recover from this magic stuff, 'cause, honestly, I'm not that sure about it either.

Willow leans forward again, sighing, to begin meditating again.

BUFFY

I thought you were too tired.

WILLOW

It hurts too much not to try.

BUFFY

I'm sorry.

WILLOW

It just takes so much strength. I don't have that much.

BUFFY

I got so much strength, I'm giving it away.

WILLOW

Are you sure?

BUFFY

Will it help?

WILLOW

Much.

Buffy sits cross-legged in front of Willow and holds her hands. They meditate together.

BUFFY

Good.

Cut to:

Closing credits.