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Quinta Temporada - 5X09 Listening to Fear

Listening to Fear

(October 20, 2000)

Written by: Rebecca Rand Kirshner

 

Teaser

INT. JOYCE'S HOSPITAL ROOM - NIGHT (NIGHT 1)

Bright with fluorescent light. A tired-looking Joyce is propped up in her hospital bed wearing pajamas. Buffy and Dawn cuddle up on either side of her, wearing their street clothes. All three pick at a tray of hospital food. They're trying to make the best of a scary situation.

 

JOYCE
Listen, you two, I know this creamed
spinach is pretty delicious, but I promise
I won't be offended if you go out and
get some real food.---

 

 

BUFFY
Are you kidding me? This is the good
life. Relaxing in bed while people
bring you food on trays--

 

 

DAWN
And I like the Jell-O.

 

 

JOYCE
Help yourself. There's something
about a food that moves all by
itself that gives me the heebie-jeebies.

 

Dawn and Buffy both pick up small cubes of Jell-O with their fingers, pop them in their mouth.

 

BUFFY
(mouth full)
Mmm. Good 'n wiggly.

 

 

DAWN
This girl at school? She told me that
gelatin is made from ground-up cow's
feet and that every time you eat Jell-O
there's some cow out there limping
around without any feet. But I told
her that I'm sure the cow is dead
before they cut its feet off, right?

 

 

BUFFY
(deadpan, to Joyce)
You're the one who insisted on
teaching her to talk.

 

Joyce smiles, enjoying her daughters. DR. AARON KRIEGEL enters, 50ish, doctor-looking.

 

JOYCE
Oh hello, Dr. Kriegel. You've met
my girls, Buffy and Dawn.

 

 

DR. KRIEGEL
Yes, of course. You two are becoming
part of the regular crew around here.

 

 

BUFFY
Just keeping her company.

 

 

DR. KRIEGEL
Good for you. Just be careful you
don't wear her out.

 

 

JOYCE
Don't worry about that. I woke up
exhausted, there's really no more
exhausted to get.

 

 

DR. KRIEGEL
Well, maybe some good news will
help. The bloodwork has come back
from the lab and everything seems fine.
So, we've gone ahead and scheduled
your surgery for the day after
tomorrow at ten in the a.m. How does
that sound to you?

 

 

JOYCE
I think they have me scheduled for
volleyball, but I'll work around it.

 

 

DR. KRIEGEL
Alright then. Joyce, you take care.
Make sure to get some good solid rest.
And I mean that.

 

He smiles at them, and exits. Joyce's face slowly drops.

 

JOYCE
The day after tomorrow? I don't know if
I can stand to be stuck here for two more
days just waiting.

 

 

BUFFY
Waiting? Gimme a break- We've
got tons to do-

 

 

DAWN
Yeah, we've got soap operas to watch
and trashy magazines to read ...

 

Buffy looks around, spots the bed-controls.

 

BUFFY
Ooh, and an adjustable bed to fiddle
with. That alone'll keep me going for
the next four hours or so.

 

 

JOYCE
Now Buffy, I really don't need you to
stay here all night. I know you've got
patrolling to do.

 

 

BUFFY
Not tonight. Tonight I have Mom
taking-care-of to do. Besides, Riley
is filling in for me with the others.
I'm sure they've got everything under
control.

 

EXT. GRAVEYARD - NIGHT

Willow, Xander, Giles are in the middle of an intense fight with TWO WOMEN VAMPIRES. The Scoobies are working hard, decidedly overmatched, and growing tired.

Willow moves to stake one of them, but before she can deliver the fatal blow, the second vamp grabs her by the waist and flings her to the ground. Giles and Xander each take on a vampire, dodging the blows dealt as best they can.

Willow scrambles up from the ground and DUSTS Giles' vamp from behind. An exhausted Giles rests with hands on knees for just a second, nodding at Willow by way of thanks.

Then, together, they go to help Xander. And just in time too, because Xander has been cornered up against a tomb.

Giles raises his stake, charges at the vamp. The vamp DUCKS OUT OF THE WAY. Giles almost stakes Xander.

 

XANDER
Hey! Human chest! Human chest!

 

 

GILES
Sorry.

 

Willow has lunged after the vamp, and POOF... she stakes her second one of the night. It DUSTS.

 

GILES
My god, a rough night.

 

 

WILLOW
Whoa, I did two of 'em! Yay on me!
Pretty cool except for the part where I
was really terrified and now my knees
are all dizzy.

 

Giles and Xander take Willow by the arms. They start walking out of the graveyard together.

 

XANDER
Not so much a big success-night for me,
but I think I should get points just for
showing up. Unlike some Riley Finns
who shall remain unnamed.

 

 

GILES
Yes, that was disappointing. Things
would've been much easier with him here.

 

 

WILLOW
Oh piffle. Who needs him when I'm
slaying two at a time-- woops!

 

She stumbles and the others hold her up.

 

WILLOW
Okay, it might have been good if
he'd showed.

 

 

GILES
I suppose he just forgot.

 

INT. ABANDONED TENEMENT - NIGHT

A large and filthy room. Graffiti covers the walls.

In the foreground Riley sits, sprawled on a stained bare mattress, a STRUNG OUT-LOOKING VAMPIRE CHICK wearing ratty pants and a bra has her fangs imbedded in his arm. A few dollar bills are strewn on a table. She drinks from him.

CLOSE ON RILEY as she feeds.

BLACK OUT.

 

END OF TEASER
Act One

INT. JOYCE'S HOSPITAL ROOM - DAY (DAY 2)

Joyce sits up in bed, a book on her lap. Willow enters and crosses to Buffy and Dawn who sit at a small table near the window.

 

WILLOW
Care package! Special delivery for
the Summers girls.

 

Willow plops a large tote bag on the table. She's high energy, eager to bring cheer to the others.

 

WILLOW
Now let's see what I have in this sack
of mine...Oh, I feel just like Santa Claus.
Except thinner, and younger, and female,
and well, Jewish.

 

Dawn pokes into the bag.

 

DAWN
What's that, a vacuum cleaner?

 

 

WILLOW
Hey, watch it, Missy, or it's coal in
the socks for you. This is something
extra-special for your mother. 'Cause
I knew she would need a ...

 

As she pulls out several disconnected pieces-of plastic and tubing:

 

WILLOW
Beer hat! See, it's got cup holders and
straws that go straight to your mouth and
you can fill it with other things than beer...
and somehow when I was in the store this
seemed like the most important idea and
now there's this whole part where I'm crazy...

 

 

JOYCE
It's perfect. Thank you, Willow.
You're so sweet.

 

Joyce puts the beer hat next to her on the bed and smiles.

 

WILLOW
Let me see, who's next? Dawn, I believe
I have something in here for you.

 

Joyce puts her hand to her head and winces.

 

BUFFY
Headache?

 

 

JOYCE
A little one. A biggish little one.

 

Buffy and Dawn grow silent, thinking.

 

JOYCE
I'm fine. Now go on, what else is
in that sack of goodies, Willow?

 

 

WILLOW
Alright. Dawn, to keep you busy ...

 

As she extends a book to Dawn. The cover reads "SPELLS: AN INTRODUCTION". Dawn's face lights up:

 

DAWN
Spells! Wow, cool. Thanks Willow.

 

She immediately begins reading.

 

BUFFY
You got her a book of spells. The girl
who can break things by looking at
them now has a book to teach her
how to, you know... break things by
looking at them.

 

 

WILLOW
It doesn't actually have the spells. It's
just history, anecdotes, stuff like that.
Oh Buffy. Here. I have this for you.

 

She pulls a textbook out of her tote bag for Buffy.

 

BUFFY
Homework? Ugh. I don't believe in tiny
Jewish Santa anymore.

 

Willow smiles apologetically and hands something else to Buffy.

 

WILLOW
And a yo-yo.

 

Buffy accepts the yo-yo and the textbook.

 

WILLOW
(re: the textbook)
The book is just in case you get a chance
to look it over. We're doing World War
One now. The last exam was really pretty
easy, all underlying causes and trench foot.
It should be no hassle to make up--

 

 

BUFFY
Will. Thank you. But to tell you the
truth, school is just about the last thing
on my mind right now.

 

 

WILLOW
I know.

 

 

BUFFY
I mean, I don't even know if I'll
take that exam.

 

 

JOYCE
(loudly)
I'd rip it in half and then put it
in bed with me.

 

Buffy, Willow, and Dawn all look at Joyce: what did she just say?

 

BUFFY
Mom?

 

Joyce looks at her innocently, apparently not aware of what she just said.

 

JOYCE
I think I'll take a rest now.

 

The girls are a bit wigged. Joyce smiles at them and nestles into her pillow, closing her eyes. Dawn and Willow look to Buffy: 'What the hell?'

 

BUFFY
Okay. We'll be right outside if you
need us.

 

Joyce nods into her pillow and the girls exit, flipping off the light.

INT. HOSPITAL CORRIDOR - CONTINUOUS - DAY

Buffy, Dawn and Willow walk down the hallway.

 

WILLOW
She seems... She's gonna be fine.

 

 

DAWN
What was she talking about?
I mean, that was weird.

 

 

BUFFY
It's okay. The doctor warned me about
it. I should've told you. It's just the...
it's the thing in her brain, it sort of...
presses on something and it can make
her say weird things.

 

 

DAWN
Does she know she's saying it?

 

 

BUFFY
Not really. I guess it's sort of like a flash.
You saw, the second after she said it, she
was normal.

 

 

WILLOW
And after the operation... no more pressing...
all normal, all the time.

 

 

DAWN
(to Buffy)
Is that right?

 

 

BUFFY
Hey, Santa doesn't lie.

 

They pass a FAMILY walking in the opposite direction: A middle-aged MENTAL PATIENT; his concerned-looking WIFE; and their TWO YOUNG DAUGHTERS. The Patient is swerving a bit as he walks; he nearly crashes into Buffy.

 

BUFFY
Excuse me.

 

As they cross paths, we shift directions and pick up on the family.

Getting a better look at the patient, we recognize him as the older NIGHTWATCHMAN whose brain was sucked by Glory in episode 5.

 

NIGHTWATCHMAN
Careful. The facts say
a picnic is in order.

 

He swivels his head, trying to get a better look at the girls. Then he stops and suddenly charges after the girls, waving his pointed finger at them.

 

NIGHTWATCHMAN
(scared)
What is this thing? There's no facts...
no pictures on this one.

 

Buffy, Willow, and Dawn turn around. The Nightwatchman confronts them, pointing his finger in Dawn's face.

 

NIGHTWATCHMAN
There... what is the data? 'Cause there's
no one in there--

 

 

DAWN
Buffy?

 

Buffy puts an arm around Dawn, shielding her a little bit as she tries to steer her away from the man.

 

BUFFY
Come on, Dawn. It's okay.

 

The Nightwatchman whimpers. His wife catches up with them. She puts her hand on her husband's shoulder steers him away.

 

NIGHTWATCHMAN
I'm going home. Home, home, home.

 

The Nightwatchman's wife hustles him off, their two worried daughters trailing behind.

Buffy and Willow move Dawn farther away.

 

DAWN
What's wrong with him? Is it like
Mom? A thing in his head?

 

 

BUFFY
I don't think so. It's different.
Don't worry about it.

 

Behind them, the intern Ben approaches.

 

BEN
I guess I missed that.
Was he bothering you?

 

 

BUFFY
Oh hey, Ben. Um, this is
my friend Willow.

 

 

WILLOW
Hi.

 

 

BEN
Hi.

 

 

BUFFY
And, yeah, the crazy guy was a little bit,
you know... crazy. But it's okay now.
Are they really sending him home?

 

 

BEN
Don't get me started. The Mental
Ward's booked way past capacity at
this point. Literally nowhere to put 'em.
So the ones with families, they're sending
'em home. Like that guy's family's s'posed
to be able to take care of him? He needs
someone to watch him twenty-four seven.
(then)
What was he saying to you anyway?

 

Dawn looks upset.

 

BUFFY
(quickly)
Just babbling.

 

Ben shakes his head, watching the Nightwatchman disappear down the hallway. Off his expression:

CUT TO:

EXT. ROOFTOP OF DORM - NIGHT

It's a clear night and the sky is lit with stars. Willow and Tara lie on a plaid wool-blanket staring up at the night sky. Willow seems a little sad.

 

WILLOW
You know what's weird?

 

 

TARA
Japanese commercials are weird.

 

 

WILLOW
Yes. And also... you know some of
the stars we're looking at don't even
exist anymore? In the time it takes
for their light to get to us, they've
died, exploded, poof.

 

 

TARA
Were, um... were things rough at
the hospital?

 

Willow gives a little half-shrug.

 

WILLOW
I used to love to look up at them when
I was little. They're supposed to make
you feel all insignificant but they made
me feel like ... like I was in space.
Part of the stars.
(points)
There's Canis Minor.
(points)
Cassiopia.

 

 

TARA
(points)
The Big Pineapple.

 

 

WILLOW
Um... you know... not sure I
remember that one.

 

 

TARA
Oh, it's a major one. See those
three bright stars right there?

 

Tara presses her head close to Willow's so that they share the same line of sight, tracing the outline of the three stars with her pointed finger.

 

WILLOW
Yeah...

 

 

TARA
And see those stars along there?
That's the bottom of the pineapple.

 

 

WILLOW
It's big.

 

 

TARA
Hence the name.
(then)
The real ones never made sense to
me. I sorta have my own.

 

 

WILLOW
Teach me.

 

 

TARA
See those stars over there? 'Cow With
Three Udders'. And that's 'Moose
Getting a Sponge Bath,' 'The Short Man
Looking Uncomfortable'. 'The Little
Pile 0' Crackers' ... That one's a bit of
a stretch. You do it. What would you
call that one?

 

 

WILLOW
Hmm... I see ...

 

A HOT RED STREAK SLASHES ACROSS THE SKY. A meteor of some kind passing awfully close to Willow and Tara.

 

WILLOW
A huge flaming meteor about to
crash into something.

 

SFX: The sound of an EXPLOSION as the meteor lands nearby.

Willow and Tara scramble to their feet. Off their looks of awe we:

CUT TO:

INT. INSIDE METEOR - NIGHT

CREATURE'S POV: It's pitch black in here. The SOUND OF SHARP TEETH CHIPPING away at a hard material echoes through the meteor. And then a piece of the shell begins to give way, CRACKING open and creating a hole leading outside.

We crawl out of the meteor, low to the ground, skittering out into the moonlit clearing. SMOKE from the meteor rises up around us.

EXT. CLEARING IN THE WOODS - NIGHT

A craggy meteor has grounded itself in the clearing. Its density and velocity driving it several feet into the earth. Smoke hisses out. We see the Creature creeping away from the meteor. Moving slowly at first, like a fawn trying to find its balance.

The Creature is spidery and agile. It quickly scrambles across the field and up a small tree.

CREATURE'S POV: A human figure is walking across the field. As it gets closer we see that it is the recently released Nightwatchman. He looks angry and he's half-talking, half-singing to himself.

 

NIGHTWATCHMAN
I said I won't go away far. A person's
got to trust a man when the facts say
a man's got to get some fresh air and
fresh space and he needs to walk to
get where's he's going.

 

NEW ANGLE: The Nightwatchman approaches, walking closer until he passes directly under the tree where the Creature is hiding. SUDDENLY, THE CREATURE DROPS from the tree and lands on the Nightwatchman's face. And we:

BLACK OUT.

 

END OF ACT ONE
Act Two

EXT./INT. HOSPITAL ENTRANCE - NIGHT

We look out through a set of automatic sliding glass doors. Out on the curb we see a DOCTOR IN SCRUBS smoking a cigarette. An ORDERLY pushes a WHEELCHAIR-BOUND PATIENT through the doors which open automatically as they approach.

After they pass though, before the door can close again, something skitters through... ON THE CEILING. The random passing patients and medical personnel don't see it as it continues to make its way along the ceiling, down the hall.

INT. JOYCE'S HOSPITAL ROOM - NIGHT

CLOSE ON: A call button with an icon of a nurse. It's being pressed repeatedly.

ANGLE ON: Joyce in her hospital bed, looking agitated -she's the one hitting the button. Buffy sits by her side. Dawn sits in the nearby chair, holding a book, looking at her mother nervously.

 

JOYCE
This thing doesn't work!
It isn't working!

 

Buffy gently pulls Joyce's hand away from the call button.

 

BUFFY
I'm sure they heard you, Mom.

 

 

JOYCE
I bet it's not even hooked to anything.
Like those push-buttons at the crosswalks
that are s'posed to make the signal change.

 

 

BUFFY
I'm sure someone's on the way--the push-
buttons at crosswalks aren't hooked to
anything?

 

The door opens and Dr. Kriegel enters.

 

BUFFY
Doctor--

 

 

JOYCE
Tell him, Buffy. Tell him, okay?

 

 

BUFFY
Dr. Kriegel, we want to go home.

 

 

DR. KRIEGEL
Well, of course. You can come back
and visit your mother first thing in the
morning.

 

 

BUFFY
No. We, meaning all of us.
My mom too.

 

 

DR. KRIEGEL
Oh, well, I understand that. But it's not
necessarily the first thing I'd recommend--

 

Joyce is tired and frustrated. She fusses at her hospital bracelet, halfheartedly trying to rip it off.

 

JOYCE
I can't, I can't wait here two days before
the operation. I just can't... It makes my
head hurt to be here, can't you tell that?

 

 

DR. KRIEGEL
Joyce, there's no reason to get upset--

 

 

JOYCE
No reason to get upset?! Oh, right, sorry,
I must just think there is because of my
brain tumor!

 

 

BUFFY
Um. Hey, Dawn? You wanna get a
soda from the machine?

 

Dawn nods, and exits gratefully.

 

JOYCE
I'm sorry I said that.
I'm just so tired.

 

 

BUFFY
Listen, Dr. Kriegel, I don't see
why we can't take Mom home until
the...thing. I mean, wouldn't it
maybe be good to let her rest
where she feels, you know, safe
and comfortable?

 

Dr. Kriegel pauses, considering her request.

 

DR. KRIEGEL
Even if it would mean some work
for you? Taking care of her.

 

Joyce relaxes, realizing she's going to get to go home.

 

JOYCE
Oh thank God.

 

 

BUFFY
(quickly)
I can do it. Anything.

 

 

DR. KRIEGEL
There are medications to administer, I'd
have to go over those with you. And
I'd need you to check her vitals, watch
her pretty closely... I'm afraid you won't
get a lot of sleep.

 

 

BUFFY
I'm not really a sleep-person anyway.

 

 

JOYCE
Let's go now. Can we go now?

 

Joyce is already tugging at her covers, ready to get up right now.

 

BUFFY
Mom, wait, I need the stuff... the
medicine, and instructions how to
do everything.

 

 

DR. KRIEGEL
(to Joyce)
She's right. Let's do this right.
We don't want to forget anything.

 

INT. HOSPITAL CORRIDOR - NIGHT

Momentarily forgotten, Dawn plunks herself down right on the floor outside her mom's door. She sips from her soda and pages through her book, trying not to get upset. Feet pass her but no one pays her any mind, she's just another scared face all alone in a busy hospital.

Then, over Dawn's head, THE CREATURE CREEPS BY. She remains oblivious as it passes, continuing down the hall.

EXT. CLEARING IN THE WOODS - NIGHT

Willow and Tara are leading Riley, Giles, Xander, and Anya out of the woods into the clearing. Riley and Xander walk side-by-side.

 

RILEY
Everyone stay close.
(to Xander)
Glad you called me in on this.

 

 

XANDER
(pointedly)
Glad you answered.

 

 

RILEY
Oh, yeah. Sorry 'bout last time.
Heard I missed out on some fun.

 

 

XANDER
Oh yeah, fun was had. Also frolic,
merriment and near-death hijinks.

 

Riley spots something.

 

RILEY
There, look. There it is.

 

There, at the edge of the clearing is the meteorite. The ground around it is charred and its impact has left it half buried. They stare at it in awe.

 

TARA
Wow.

 

 

WILLOW
We have meteorite.

 

Riley has moved in for a closer look. Xander follows.

 

ANYA
Is it hot? 'Cause if there's radiation
you'll go all sterile.

 

Xander backs away.

 

RILEY
It's not hot. It's... broken.
And... sort of...

 

Willow leans over his shoulder.

 

WILLOW
Hollow. It's hollow.

 

 

ANYA
So we're all thinking
the same thing, right?

 

 

XANDER
Festive pinata, delicious candy?

 

 

WILLOW
Something evil-crashed to earth in this.
Then it broke out and slithered away to
do badness.

 

The others nod, ad lib agreement.

 

GILES
Well, in all fairness, we don't really
know about the "slithered" part.

 

 

ANYA
No, no, I'm sure it frisked about
like a fluffy lamb.

 

 

TARA
Let's look around.

 

As all but Riley spread out... looking...

 

TARA
Maybe we can figure out where it went.

 

 

WILLOW (O.S.)
(shaken)
It went here.

 

CLOSE ON WILLOW, looking down at something. The others gather around her.

ANOTHER ANGLE reveals a dead body. The corpse of the nightwatchman. Riley kneels beside the body, puts his fingers to its throat.

 

RILEY
No pulse.

 

 

ANYA
Yup. The space lamb got 'im.

 

 

XANDER
I don't see any marks on him.

 

Angling around to look for marks, Willow gets a good look at his face and gets a shock:

 

WILLOW
I know him! He was at the hospital,
a mental patient. They released him
today.

 

 

GILES--
Riley? What are you doing?

 

Riley has taken out a pen. He is prodding it into the corpse's mouth.

 

RILEY
I'm not sure. There's something…

 

Riley pulls the pen out. Thick ropes of VISCOUS CLEAR GOOP hang off it as thick as molasses with a decidedly worse smell. The others recoil.

 

TARA
Yuck.

 

 

RILEY
It might be toxic, don't touch it.

 

 

XANDER
Oh yeah, touching it was my first impulse.
Luckily I've moved on to my second,
which involves dry heaving and running
like hell. Oh man, does that smell.

 

 

ANYA
What do we do now?

 

 

WILLOW
Well, we can't call Buffy.
(a beat)
I want to call Buffy.

 

 

TARA
We can't. She's got... life stuff.
That has to come first.

 

 

WILLOW
(determined)
So we'll figure this out ourselves.
We're experienced.

 

 

ANYA
Yes. It seems like we're always dealing
with creatures from outer space except
that we don't ever do that.

 

 

RILEY
(almost to himself)
This is definitely new territory.

 

 

GILES
Perhaps we should explore a little
further. Head into the woods a bit ...

 

They look around them into the deep, dark woods for a beat...

 

XANDER
Who votes research?

 

 

GILES
Much better idea.

 

General relief and ad-libbed agreement.

 

RILEY
Yeah, I think that's a good call. There
could have been some other cases like
this. And see if any more of these
were reported in town. I'm gonna
stay here, examine the body some
more, look around a little.

 

 

XANDER
Don't do anything hunterly ...

 

 

RILEY
No, no. I'm just not great at research,
which I'm pretty sure you guys have
noticed. I like me a good crime scene.

 

 

GILES
You'll call us if you need help?

 

 

RILEY
Believe me, something jumps out at me
in the dark... you'll hear me even without
the phone. Now, you guys go get that info,
okay? Call me if you find anything.

 

 

WILLOW
Okay. You got it.

 

Riley watches the Scoobies as they tramp noisily into the woods. From a distance we hear:

 

WILLOW (O.S.)
I don't want to be the one that finds the
bodies anymore.

 

Riley waits until they're out of sight and then unclips his cell phone from his belt. He punches in a number and then puts it to his ear.

 

RILEY (into phone)
I need to speak to the man at the
desk. This is... this is Riley
Finn. You have an agent Miller,
Graham Miller. He'll tell you
who--Yes. Emergency frequency.

 

INT. MENTAL WARD - NIGHT

FIVE MENTAL PATIENTS lie in single beds lined along either side of a mid-sized room. A nurse, NURSE LAMPKIN, finishes tucking them in.

Most of the patients are asleep, but the SKINNY PATIENT starts whimpering slightly.

 

SKINNY.PATIENT
Cold. Cold.

 

Nurse Lampkin adjusts his blanket, pulling it closer to his face. We see now why he couldn't do it himself: the patients are restrained with canvas straps that connect to the bed frames.

Nurse Lampkin goes to the door and TURNS OFF THE LIGHTS. She's about to shut the door when:

 

SKINNY PATIENT
Wait! You can't go. Don't you be that
kind of barn owl...Please don't go --

 

She closes the door, leaving the mental patients alone. The whimpering increases as another patient joins in. A few of the patients start to mutter to themselves in their sleep.

Moonlight illuminates the patients' faces, wide-eyed and vulnerable, strapped to their beds.

SUDDENLY, THE CREATURE EMERGES from the air duct and skitters across the wall behind the patients.

In a flash, IT POUNCES on the face of one of the patients, pinning him. We think it's the Skinny Patient until

ANOTHER ANGLE

Reveals that the Skinny Patient is watching this from the next bed over, his eyes wide with horror.

 

SKINNY PATIENT
(whispered)
No, no, no ...

 

The victim patient opens his mouth in horror and the Creature begins to vomit right onto his face: thick, clear, bile. We can see the patient's distorted face through the goo.. The patient gags; he thrashes futilely as he struggles for oxygen; he pulls at his restraints, bucking the bed, but they do not give.

The Skinny Patient watches from the adjacent bed, too terrified-and crazy to call for help. The Creature begins to creep towards him. He knows he is next. He closes his eyes.

 

SKINNY PATIENT
(whispered)
I can't see you, I can't see you.

 

INT. MENTAL WARD NURSES ROOM - SAME TIME - NIGHT

A small, neat office space. Wildflowers in a vase on the desk. A calendar featuring funny-paper icon "Cathy" hangs on the wall. Nurse Lampkin sips from a cup of tea as she completes some paperwork. There's a BANGING from the ward next door. A normal part of the work-night. She ignores it and continues her paperwork.

INT. HOSPITAL CORRIDOR - NIGHT

Dr. Kriegel stands at the Nurses' Station. He's filling out some forms attached to a clipboard and holding three bottles of prescription medicines. Joyce, wearing her street clothes, stands with Buffy and Dawn.

 

DR. KRIEGEL
Well, I guess we're all set then. You've
got my phone number, pager number ...
And here ...

 

He hands Buffy the prescription bottles.

 

DR. KRIEGEL
Those are the medications I talked to you
about. The sedative and so forth. Pain killers ...

 

Buffy is looking at the bottles, trying to remember which was which.

 

BUFFY
Right.
(unsure)
I remember ...

 

 

DR. KRIEGEL
If this is going to be too much for you,
we can make your mom perfectly
comfortable here ...

 

In the BG, THE CREATURE SKITTERS OUT FROM THE MENTAL WARD, darting along the floor and then up onto the wall.

 

BUFFY
No, no. I've got it.
And I really appre-

 

 

JOYCE
(to Buffy; harsh)
You look like your father
when he cries.

 

Buffy blinks, wounded despite recognizing this as a flash of dementia.

RACKING FOCUS to the Creature, we see it stop moving, pivot its head towards Joyce, suddenly interested in her.

 

BUFFY
(to Dr. Kriegel)
She's... I told you she's been…

 

 

DR. KRIEGEL
I know.

 

He turns to Joyce, focuses on her...

 

DR. KRIEGEL
Joyce? Joyce.

 

Her eyes focus on him as she comes back to herself. He smiles at her reassuringly.

 

DR. KRIEGEL
We're done here. Why don't you take
your girls home now?

 

 

JOYCE
Yes. Yes, thank you. Thanks for
all your help, Doctor.

 

 

DR. KRIEGEL
I'll see you in a couple of days.

 

 

JOYCE
Thank you.
(to the girls, with a smile)
Let's get the hell out of here.

 

Joyce, Buffy and Dawn head for the door.

CREATURE'S POV: As it continues to stare at Joyce, fixated, as she EXITS with her daughters. It watches until they are through the door and on their way ...

INT. BUFFY'S FOYER - NIGHT

Joyce enters their home, supported by Buffy and Dawn. Buffy closes and locks the front door from the inside. Joyce rests with her arm around Dawn's shoulder as Buffy turns on the foyer light.

 

JOYCE
It's nice to be home.

 

 

DAWN
Do you want to get in bed, Mom?

 

Joyce blinks and shields her eyes with her hand. Crouching away from the light.

 

JOYCE
Oh that light.
(beginning to panic)
Oh, Buffy no, it's too bright. It's too
bright! It's too bright!

 

 

BUFFY
Okay, Mom--

 

 

JOYCE
Buffy it hurts, it hurts!
It hurts my eyes!

 

Buffy turns off the foyer light, but other lights shine from the living and dining rooms.

 

BUFFY
Okay, hey, don't worry. Dawn, turn
off the lights down here. I'll take
Mom upstairs.

 

 

DAWN
Sure.

 

 

BUFFY
(to Joyce)
We'll turn off the lights up there, too.

 

Joyce starts to calm down.

 

JOYCE
Okay.

 

Dawn starts turning out lights as Buffy leads Joyce up the stairs.

 

BUFFY
Here we go. It's okay now.

 

EXT. BUFFY'S HOUSE - NIGHT

We hold on the Summers' house as the interior lights go out one by one, downstairs and upstairs, until it is entirely dark. All alone, so mournful, so vulnerable.

BLACK OUT.

 

END OF ACT TWO

 

Act Three

EXT. CLEARING IN THE WOODS - NIGHT

The moonlit and star-speckled night sky.

The SOUND of a helicopter's blades slicing through the air.

And then the moonlight reveals a BLACK STEALTH CHOPPER. As it hovers closer to the ground, BRIGHT FLOODLIGHTS attached to the fuselage are turned on, illuminating

RILEY, standing in the spotlit clearing, bracing himself against the bright light, the stirred up wind, and the noise.

As the chopper settles, its blades still whirring, THREE MEN dressed in black field uniforms leap out onto the ground -we recognize the youngest-among them as GRAHAM. Armed with flashlights, they cross to Riley.

MAJOR ELLIS, the oldest and most impressive looking of the lot, emerges and gives a "thumbs up" signal to the pilot. As the helicopter lifts off again, Ellis approaches Riley.

 

ELLIS
You Finn?

 

 

RILEY
Yeah.

 

Ellis nods and extends his hand. Riley shakes it.

 

ELLIS
Major Ellis. I'm in charge of this Op.
What's the situation? Just the one
civilian casualty?

 

 

RILEY
That I know of. Over here.

 

Riley starts to lead them to the scene. Graham sidles up next to him.

 

GRAHAM
(sotto; ribbing him)
Found a stiff in the woods and called
us in. Don't you usually call your
girlfriend for this kind of thing?

 

Riley shoots him a side-ways glare. Graham sobers.

 

GRAHAM
Okay, okay ...

 

As they come to the nightwatchman's body, Ellis kneels by it and reaches toward the guard's mouth.

 

RILEY
I wouldn't touch that stuff
in his mouth if I were you.

 

 

ELLIS
Toxic?

 

 

RILEY
No. Just messy.

 

Riley produces a corked vial containing some of the strange jelly-like substance and tosses it to Ellis, who shines his light on it, studying it. Graham moves off to scope the area.

 

RILEY
Don't think it's toxic. Guy seems to have
simply choked on the stuff. Near as I can
tell, it's some kind of protein alkaloid.

 

He crosses off, Ellis follows.

 

ELLIS
This fit the profile of any
Sub-T you're familiar with?

 

 

RILEY
Not a sub-terrestrial, Major. Extra-terrestrial.
(pointing)
Came out of that.

 

ON METEOR - Graham and the other Black Ops are examining it as Riley and Ellis arrive.

 

ELLIS
(eyeing the vial, to Graham)
Miller, set trackers for a protein
signature.

 

 

GRAHAM
Yes, sir--

 

 

RILEY
No good, Major. This alkaloid's breaking
down at an accelerated rate. It's dissolving
too fast to track.

 

 

ELLIS
You got a better idea?

 

 

RILEY
Thing came from space... there's gotta
be some trace radiation.

 

 

ELLIS
We have Geiger counters in the packs.

 

 

RILEY
Shouldn't be too much background
gamma noise out here.

 

 

ELLIS
(to his men)
Break 'em out.

 

INT. BUFFY'S LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

CREATURE'S POV: Looking from the upper corner of the foyer, through the doorway into the living room. IT CREEPS CLOSER, affording us a full view into the living room.

The room is dark, save for the soft blue light emanating from the TV. It illuminates the faces of Buffy and Dawn who sit on the couch, stony-faced, their untouched homework beside them. A sitcom is on, and the RAUCOUS LAUGH-TRACK BLARES.

As the Creature skitters across the ceiling, we pass over the girls' heads. We watch them for a moment and then continue across the ceiling until we can see back out into the foyer.

The Creature turns and freezes as we see a figure appear on the staircase. It's Joyce, wearing a nightgown and a strange, bewildered expression. She wanders down the stairs, trailing her hand along the banister, unearthly as a wraith, then moves off toward the kitchen. END CREATURE'S POV.

ANGLE ON BUFFY AND DAWN, as they continue to sit, staring at the TV. When suddenly ...

BANG! The girls jump, their nerves frayed.

 

DAWN
What - -

 

 

BUFFY
(calling)
Mom?

 

BANG! Buffy gets up and runs to the kitchen. Dawn at her heels.

INT. BUFFY'S KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT

Light streams from the opened refrigerator, illuminating Joyce as she peers into it.

The kitchen is a mess. Days-old dirty dishes clutter the sink; orange juice is spilt on the counter; an empty frying pan smokes on the stove.

BUFFY appears in the doorway. Dawn behind her.

 

BUFFY
Mom, what are you--

 

Joyce spins around to face the girls, her face a mask of cold disdain.

 

JOYCE
I'm making breakfast.
(to Buffy)
But you shouldn't eat anymore.
You're disgustingly fat.

 

Buffy blinks, absorbing that, but recovers and approaches her slowly, and touches her arm.

 

BUFFY
Mom- -

 

Joyce looks at her, then at the mess around her. She suddenly softens, appearing as bewildered as the girls.

 

JOYCE
(disturbed)
Buffy...I - I don't know
what I'm doing.

 

 

BUFFY
It's okay.

 

Dawn goes to the stove and turns off the burner, moving the smoking pan to a cold burner.

 

JOYCE
(starting to panic)
Oh God, I'm-- I didn't mean to... I
don't know what's happening to me.

 

 

BUFFY
You need to rest. Let's just get
you back to bed.

 

Joyce nods. Buffy takes Joyce's arm and leads her out. Dawn following. They pass the basement door which we see is now slightly ajar. The basement light is on and it casts A STRANGE SHADOW THAT STRETCHES ACROSS THE CEILING. Is the Creature in the basement?

INT. JOYCE'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

The room is dark. Joyce is on the bed as Buffy hands her a glass of water, then twists open a prescription bottle of sedatives. She pours out two pills and hands them to Joyce.

 

BUFFY
Here Mom, these will help you sleep.

 

Joyce swallows the pills with the water. She lies back and slips her legs under the covers. Together, Dawn and Buffy help tuck their mother into her bed like she's a sleepy little girl.

 

BUFFY
There we go.

 

Dawn sits on the edge of the bed, stroking her mother's hair. Joyce turns to look t her, then, out of the blue:

 

JOYCE
(to Dawn; harshly)
Don't touch me, you-- you thing!

 

Dawn draws back as if stung by a bee.

 

DAWN
M-Mom, please--

 

 

JOYCE
(snapping)
Get away from me! You're nothing! You're
a shadow! I don't know what you are or how
you got here.

 

 

BUFFY
Mom, it's Dawn.

 

Dawn's been pushed too far; too many people have said too many weird things to her, she's tired and scared. She runs away into her bedroom. A suddenly coherent Joyce calls after her.

 

JOYCE
(concerned)
Dawn, honey, what's wrong?

 

 

BUFFY
(gently)
She's... tired, Mom. We all are. You
get some rest. I'll check on you in a bit.

 

Buffy exits into Dawn's room and closes the door behind her.

INT. DAWN'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Dawn is sitting on the bed, hugging her pillow, when Buffy enters. The pink lamp on the side table is on. Dawn is severely freaked, on the verge of tears. Buffy sits down next to her.

 

DAWN
She hates me ...

 

 

BUFFY
No--

 

 

DAWN
She-- she called me a thing.

 

 

BUFFY
She loves you. She's just not herself.
I told you what the doctor said. It's the
tumor. She--

 

 

DAWN
No, not just Mom. People. They keep
saying stuff like that... about me.

 

 

BUFFY
You mean that man in the hospital.

 

 

DAWN
He-- He called me "a thing," too. And
there was another one. A weird guy,
outside the magic shop. Said I didn't
belong... I wasn't real ...

 

Buffy takes this in as Dawn continues...

 

DAWN
Why does everybody keep doing
that? What's wrong with me?

 

 

BUFFY
(reassuring)
Nothing. It's not you. It's ... It's just ...
I think there's something that happens in
people's brains when there's something
wrong. Like a... short circuit. And... it
makes them feel like nothing's real except
them. That's all it is.

 

 

DAWN
So, what's wrong with your brain?

 

 

BUFFY
My--?

 

 

DAWN
You said stuff, too. Said I-- I wasn't
your sister--

 

 

BUFFY
Dawn. I was... It was stupid. I was
upset. About Mom. And I was tired and--
(evenly)
Look... It's not you. So, if anyone says
anything like that again -- including
me -- don't listen. Okay? Even if it's Mom.

 

Dawn eyes her a moment, skeptically, then, resigned...

 

DAWN
I hate it.

 

Buffy hugs her, holding her tight.

 

BUFFY
I know. Just don't listen.

 

INT. U.C. SUNNYDALE LIBRARY - NIGHT

ON WILLOW at a computer terminal, typing away, concentrating. WIDEN TO see the Giles sitting behind her at long table, looking through astronomy books. A few scattered STUDENTS move among the shelves and tables behind them. A large solarsystem-mobile hangs from the ceiling. Xander is on his feet, looking at the mobile.

 

XANDER
Look how teeny Mercury is, compared to,
like, Saturn. Whereas in contrast, the cars
of the same name--

 

 

GILES
Xander. Please. We've work to do.

 

Xander joins Giles at the table, picks up a slim book, pages through it.

 

XANDER
I still don't get why we came here to get
info about a killer snot monster.

 

 

GILES
Because it's a killer snot monster
from outer space.
(catching himself)
I did not say that. What I said was,
there are demons who approach our
world in all sorts of different ways.
This one came from above ...

 

 

XANDER
And the university library's astronomy
section is the home of aboveness... got it.
Loving the study materials, too ...

 

Xander holds his book up so we can see it's a slim "junior library" kind of book called "Meteors and You!" Giles sighs.

Tara and Anya approach the table.

 

TARA
We've scoured all the International
periodicals for any other meteorite
landings in the last week.

 

 

ANYA
Big zippo.

 

 

GILES
Well, then. It would appear the world's
not being invaded.

 

 

TARA
I'm very pleased about that.

 

 

WILLOW (O.S.)
Guys ...

 

They turn and move to where Willow is at the computer.

 

WILLOW
I've got some stuff.
(reading off screen)
The most recent meteoric anomaly
was the Tunguska blast in Russia
back in 1917. Some witnesses
claimed the meteor was hollow.

 

 

XANDER
Hmm... maybe with a chewy demon
center like ours.

 

 

GILES
How far back does this list of
anomalies go?

 

 

WILLOW
Pretty far. Back to the Queller Impact
in the twelfth century.

 

 

TARA
The what?

 

 

WILLOW
Queller. I don't know why it's called that,
it didn't hit a place called Queller or anything.
It landed just outside Reykjavik in Iceland.

 

 

XANDER
Wait. I just saw… Quell ... Queller ...

 

He picks up "Meteors and You!", pages frantically

 

XANDER
Here. "Primitive people used to believe
that the moon was a cause of insanity.
Sometimes they would pray to the moon
to send them a special meteor to fix the
problem the moon had caused. These
meteors were expected to 'quell the madmen'"

 

 

ANYA
Nicely read, honey.

 

 

GILES
Oh come, it's more likely to be
named after someone called Queller.

 

 

TARA
The man in the woods. He was a
mental patient.

 

 

XANDER
And he got pretty well quelled.

 

Willow is typing frantically on the computer.

 

WILLOW
Okay, I'm looking in history now.
(a beat, then)
It says here in the middle ages
there were these sweeping plagues.

 

 

GILES
Right. Like the Black Plague.

 

 

WILLOW
No, these were different. More like
plagues of madness. People were
losing their marbles everywhere but
then it would suddenly subside...
and some of these dates look pretty
close... like maybe it happened after
each one of the meteor events ...

 

 

GILES
So perhaps something emerged from
those meteors and killed the madmen.

 

 

XANDER
Seems like that's what happened here.
Meteor goes boom, crazy guy goes
bye-bye.

 

 

TARA
Xander's little book made it sound like
this Queller thing had to be summoned.
So who summoned it?

 

 

XANDER
Who else? My money's on Glory.
our resident beastie summoner.

 

 

WILLOW
We should call Buffy.
Except we can't call Buffy.
(to Giles)
Can we?

 

 

GILES
No, but we'd better call Riley.

 

INT. MENTAL WARD - NIGHT

CLOSE ON RILEY, as he is on his cell.

 

RILEY
A Queller demon?

 

INT. U.C. SUNNYDALE LIBRARY - MEANWHILE - NIGHT

 

WILLOW
Yep. That's our perp. It's a sort of a
scavenger that can be summoned to kill--

 

 

RILEY (V.O.)
Crazy people?

 

 

WILLOW
Yeah. How did you--

 

INT. MENTAL WARD - MEANWHILE - NIGHT

CUT WIDE to reveal Riley and the Black Ops have secured the mental ward. All five of the mental patients are now dead, still secured to their beds, with the familiar clear ooze dribbling out of their mouths.

 

RILEY
'Cause I got five corpses here in the mental
ward at Sunnydale Memorial.

 

Under the watchful eye of Ellis, Graham and the others are examining an open air duct, its grate having been torn away.

INT. U.C. SUNNYDALE LIBRARY - MEANWHILE -.NIGHT

 

WILLOW
You're at the hospital? Riley, listen... I
saw Buffy's mom before and she was
acting kind of wacky. Insane wacky,
if you know what I mean ...

 

 

RILEY
It's okay. Joyce was released earlier today.
That intern Ben told me. They're safe at home.

 

 

WILLOW
Oh, good. And the thing, the Queller,
is it still there?

 

INT. MENTAL WARD - MEANWHILE - NIGHT

Riley glances over at Ellis, who signals for him to hang up and join them.

 

RILEY
We-- I think I've got it cornered in the
air ducts. Look, Willow... Keep at what
you're doing. Call me if you find out
how I can kill this thing.

 

INT. U.C. SUNNYDALE LIBRARY - MEANWHILE - NIGHT

 

WILLOW
Well, okay, but shouldn't
we come help--
(a dial tone)
O - kay.

 

INT. JOYCE'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Joyce lies twisted in her sheets, her forehead damp with sweat. She twists and turns, moaning and muttering to herself. Her eyes are fixed on the ceiling.

 

JOYCE
I wish... I wish someone had bothered to
tell me ... because I didn't know there'd be
tennis being played, I just didn't know...
oh, why? Those eyes, they're like gasoline
puddles ... tell me because I need to know ...
why, why are you staring at me? I wish
I knew...

 

As Joyce continues babbling, louder and louder, we cut to:

INT. DAWN'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Where Dawn lies in bed, trying to read by the light of her pink bedside lamp. Through the door she can hear her mother babbling and it scares her. She puts her pillow over her head, clutching it to her ears, blocking out the sound of her mother's rambling.

INT. BUFFY'S KITCHEN - NIGHT

Buffy is cleaning up the messy kitchen. The radio is tuned to some random Spanish music station. At the sink, Buffy scrubs at the burnt pan.

Suddenly, it's all too much for Buffy. She lowers her head and begins to cry. She turns up the radio so no one will hear her. There, in the privacy of the kitchen, she lets go, all her fears and all the pressure releasing in her tears. The enthusiastic salsa music continues to play.

INT. JOYCE'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Joyce is starting to panic. The sheets are now snarled around her. Her babbling is much louder.

 

JOYCE
No...don't do that! Stop! Stop staring! I
don't like that. I have to rest now. I don't
like the way you're looking at me...

 

Joyce's eyes are wide with panic, still fixed on the ceiling directly above her. Joyce continues MOANING and MUTTERING as we see:

JOYCE'S POV: There, directly above her head, is the Queller. It draws its lethal mucus through its teeth. Leers at her with its big, murky eyes.

BLACK OUT

 

END OF ACT THREE
Act Four

INT. HOSPITAL CORRIDOR - NIGHT

Riley and the Black Ops charge down the hallway, following the Creature's invisible radiation trail along the ceiling and walls using the CLICKING GEIGER COUNTER. The radiation trail leads them to the Hospital Entrance.

EXT. HOSPITAL ENTRANCE - NIGHT

Graham steps outside and uses the Geiger counter. He calls back to the others.

 

GRAHAM
The trail stops here,
edge of the parking lot.

 

 

ELLIS
It stops?

 

 

RILEY
A car. It hitched a ride. Probably underneath.
So much for containment.

 

 

ELLIS
So some poor mental patient checks out of
here today and drives away with this thing...
took it right to his own home.

 

 

RILEY
Checked out today...

 

 

ELLIS
(barking orders)
Get me a list of all patients discharged
in the last--

 

But Riley cuts him off, a dead certainty in his eyes.

 

RILEY
(cutting him off)
No. I know where it's going.

 

Riley takes the lead again, heading out.

 

RILEY
We've got to move. Now.

 

The men follow him.

INT. JOYCE'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

The Creature lands on Joyce, the ooze dripping from its mouth like drool. Joyce is now hyperventilating, tears spilling from the corners of her eyes. She SCREAMS as loud as she can, and SCREAMS again.

 

JOYCE
It's on me! Help me!
There's a bug!

 

INT. DAWN'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Dawn listens to her mother screaming, unsure what to do. Deciding, she leaps out of bed and throws open the door that connects her bedroom to her mother's.

Just in time to see the Creature begin to vomit the clear goop all over her face --

Dawn only hesitates a second before taking action: she grabs the COAT-RACK by her door and hefts it like a bayonet, charging at the Creature.

INT. JOYCE'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT

Dawn jabs the coat-rack at the Creature, hitting it squarely and knocking it off the bed. It falls back onto the floor, out of sight.

Dawn looks to her mother, who's desperately trying to pull the sticky bile off her face so she can breathe.

The Creature suddenly JUMPS back onto the bed, scampering across Joyce's legs, and SPRINGS at Dawn.

Dawn runs back into her room.

INT. DAWN'S BEDROOM - CONTINUING - NIGHT

Dawn races through her room and out into the hall.

INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT

Where she's about to bolt for the stairs when THE CREATURE bounds from Joyce's bedroom and blocks her path. Dawn's only recourse is to head for the bathroom. Which she does.

INT. BATHROOM - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT

Dawn tries to shut the door but the Creature has gotten a claw in. Dawn struggles to close it, throwing all her weight against the door. But the Creature doesn't relent. Dawn tries to call for help:

 

DAWN
Buffy! Buffy!

 

But she's out of breath and her plea is barely audible. She pushes on the door, trying to keep the Creature at bay.

INT. BUFFY'S KITCHEN - SAME TIME - NIGHT

Buffy has cried herself out. She turns the water to cold and splashes it on her face. Breathing deeply to calm herself. Then she turns the faucet off. She begins to scrub the dishes with a new vigor, as if focusing on cleaning will keep her mind from thinking about anything else.

INT. BATHROOM - NIGHT

Dawn races through the bathroom into Joyce's bedroom.

INT. JOYCE'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT

Dawn comes through the bathroom door, SLAMMING it shut. She pushes up the nearby exer-cycle, barricading the door. She runs around her mother's bed and SLAMS the door to her bedroom. She YELLS through the door to the hallway:

 

DAWN
(with all her strength)
BUFFY! !

 

And SLAMS that door too.

 

BUFFY
Dawn?

 

INT. BUFFY'S KITCHEN/STAIRS - SAME TIME - NIGHT

This Buffy hears. Immediately, she runs out of the kitchen and charges up the stairs.

 

DAWN (O.S..)
(through the door)
Buffy!

 

Buffy goes to the door of Joyce's bedroom, opens it.

 

BUFFY
What is it?

 

 

DAWN (O.S.)
There's something out there Buffy.
It's after Mom!

 

 

JOYCE
Make it stop looking at me Buffy...
it chokes me ...

 

 

BUFFY -
(shutting the door)
You two stay in there.
Do not leave that-

 

Suddenly, WHOMP! The Creature drops on Buffy from above, knocking her to her back.

BUFFY WRESTLES WITH IT. They get to the edge of the staircase and then begin to tumble down, still fighting, entwined in each other's arms.

Buffy and the Creature come tumbling down. They land hard and Buffy loses her grip on the Creature. It scrambles away, quick as lightning. Buffy gets to her feet and pauses, listening hard.

INT. JOYCE'S BEDROOM - SAME TIME - NIGHT

Joyce and Dawn hold each other tight, terrified. Dawn grips an African sculpture - ready to use it as a weapon if
necessary. Joyce, lucid for the moment, tries her best to comfort her.

 

JOYCE
It's okay, my baby. It's okay.

 

INT. BUFFY'S DINING ROOM - NIGHT

Buffy enters, silent and coiled. Her eyes scan the room, darting from shadow to shadow: where is the Creature?

INT. BUFFY'S KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT

Buffy enters the darkened kitchen. Her eyes continue to scan, flicking from corner to corner. Smoothly, she pulls a CARVING KNIFE from a knife block and cocks her arm back, ready.

She walks towards the stove, her eyes missing nothing.

SUDDENLY, SOMETHING SPRINGS OUT from the basement behind her!

Buffy whirls, knife ready... only to find Spike, who holds something in one of his hands. Buffy glares at him.

 

BUFFY
Spike.

 

Spike - caught - tries to play it cool.

 

SPIKE
Yeah. Listen, did you hear a noise?

 

 

BUFFY
(cold)
What the hell are you
doing in my house?

 

 

SPIKE
Right then, you caught me. Your
basement's full of junk and, me
being in need of... junk ...

 

 

BUFFY
You were stealing?

 

 

SPIKE
Well, yeah. Can't exactly work the counter
at Burger Barn, now can I?

 

But Buffy's not listening. She notices what Spike is slipping into his jacket - photos of some kind. They almost look like photos of her.

 

BUFFY
Wait. Are those pictures of-

 

But she doesn't get to finish before - WHOMP! - the Creature drops on Spike from above, knocking him to the ground.

Spike lets out a SCREAM! He wriggles under the Creature, KICKING at it with his arms and legs.

Buffy readies her knife, waiting for a clear shot at the Creature. But before she gets her chance, one of Spike's thrashing legs KICKS THE KNIFE OUT OF HER HAND. It goes skittering across the kitchen floor.

Without a weapon, Buffy has no choice but to tackle the Creature. She and the Creature tumble out of the kitchen and into the dining room.

Meanwhile, Spike goes after the knife, he grabs it and follows Buffy into the:

INT. BUFFY'S DINING ROOM - CONTINUOUS- NIGHT

Where Buffy and the Creature FIGHT, crashing into the dining room furniture - making much mayhem.

 

SPIKE
(re: knife)
Buffy!

 

Spike tosses Buffy the carving knife. She catches it deftly, just as the Creature POUNCES ON HER. Buffy lies on her back with the Creature atop her. She holds the knife with two hands, pointing the blade inwards, and THRUSTS IT TOWARDS HER OWN CHEST, as if she were committing Hari-kari.

The blade impales the Creature. It stops moving. Buffy lies there, the Creature heavy on her chest, goop oozing from its body. A horrified beat ...

Then Spike extends a hand to Buffy, offering to help her up. She accepts and stands up, covered in filth, exhausted. It's going to be okay. When:

BANG! BANG! Suddenly, the front and back doors are kicked in simultaneously. Spike and Buffy react as Riley and the Black Ops charge into the house, weapons drawn. A few (which we will assume includes GRAHAM) fan into the living room while the others enter the dining room with Riley.

His eyes take in everything: Buffy and Spike; the wrecked dining room soaked with ooze; and the Creature, dead on the floor.

 

RILEY
(to Buffy)
Are you okay?

 

She doesn't answer. She just runs up the stairs, Spike looks at Riley.

 

SPIKE
You just missed a real nice time.

 

The Black Ops holster their guns.

INT. JOYCE'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Buffy enters the room and runs to Joyce and Dawn. She climbs onto the bed with them and the three embrace, holding each other tightly.

 

BUFFY
It's gone. I killed it.

 

 

JOYCE
Oh, God...

 

 

DAWN
It's gone? You promise?

 

 

BUFFY
I promise. Everything's alright.
Everything's alright ...

 

The three continue to rock and hold each other, wanting to believe it.

FADE TO:

EXT. HOSPITAL PARKING LOT - NIGHT

The street lamps that surround the parking lot cast their yellowed light into the night. Ben walks briskly across the shadowy parking lot. He looks a little messed up, sweat beaded on his forehead.

As he walks, Ben reaches into his coat pocket and removes a prescription bottle. He shakily opens it and pops a few pills.

He approaches his car and fumbles in his pants pockets for the keys, looking over his shoulder to see if anyone is behind him. There's no one. Ben finds his keys and hurriedly unlocks the car door.

INT. BEN'S CAR - CONTINUOUS - NIGHT

Ben slides in, closes the door, and locks it from the inside.

SUDDENLY, A VOICE:

 

DREG
A body might ask what exactly it
is you think you're doing.

 

Ben spins around. There in the back seat, is a molting creature in a hooded garment: DREG, Glory's minion from episode 8.

 

DREG
He might ask what all this was meant
to accomplish. Because to a humble
postulant it looks like chaos. Like
unnecessary attention drawn where
it ought not be-

 

Ben stares at Dreg. Says in a deadly voice.

 

BEN
Get out.

 

 

DREG
Sir.

 

Dreg opens the passenger-side door but pauses, turning to Ben:

 

DREG
Forgive me. I just want to understand.
Why summon the Queller?

 

 

BEN
Why do you think? Because I'm cleaning
up Glory's mess. Just like I've done my
whole damn life.

 

With that he pushes Dreg out onto the pavement and yanks shut the passenger-side door. He twists the key in the ignition and tears off into the night, tires screeching.

INT. JOYCE'S HOSPITAL ROOM - MORNING (DAY 3)

Joyce is back in her hospital bed. Buffy sits at her side, holding her mother's hand. A NURSE swabs Joyce's arm with alcohol and inserts an intravenous needle. Joyce winces, keeps her focus on Buffy. As the Nurse starts to exit.

 

JOYCE
Buffy?

 

 

BUFFY
Um hum?

 

 

JOYCE
I…

 

The Nurse exits and Joyce draws closer to her daughter.

 

JOYCE
I want to ask you something... And if I'm
being crazy - you just tell me. Okay?

 

 

BUFFY
You got it.

 

 

JOYCE
The other day... Actually, I'm not sure
when. The days all seem to bleed
together ...

 

 

BUFFY
It's not important.

 

 

JOYCE
No, I guess it isn't. I do know I was
pretty out of it. And I had - not a
dream exactly. More like, I had this
knowledge. It just came to me - like
truth, you know? Even though it didn't
seem possible. Even though I shouldn't
think such things.

 

 

BUFFY
What, Mom? It's okay.

 

Joyce says the next with difficulty.

 

JOYCE
That Dawn...
(pained)
She's not mine, is she?

 

Buffy takes this in for a long beat. Finally-

 

BUFFY
No.

 

Joyce labors to understand.

 

JOYCE
She's - she does belong to us though.

 

 

BUFFY
Yes. She does.

 

 

JOYCE
And she's important. To the world.
Precious ...

 

Buffy nods. Joyce takes her hand.

 

JOYCE
As precious as you are to me?

 

Buffy nods again - trying to hold it together.

 

JOYCE
Then we have to take care of her.
Promise me, Buffy - if anything
happens to me, if I don't come
through this-

 

 

BUFFY
(cutting her off)
Mom-

 

 

JOYCE
No. Let me finish. No matter what
she is, she still feels like my daughter,
and I have to know you'll keep her safe.
You'll love her like I love you.

 

Buffy fights tears.

 

BUFFY
I promise.

 

 

JOYCE
Good. Good...

 

Joyce seems to relax a bit. Lays back and pulls her daughter to her. Holds her tenderly.

 

JOYCE
My sweet, brave Buffy.
What would I do without you?

 

CLOSE ON BUFFY

Scared. Silently asking the same of her mother.

INT. HOSPITAL CORRIDOR - DAY

Buffy and Dawn stand in the foreground holding hands, watching as Joyce is wheeled away towards the OR. Joyce smiles at them and they return her brave smile.

In the BG, Riley, Xander, Anya, Willow, Tara and Giles wait and watch.

BLACK OUT.

 

END OF SHOW