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Synopsis



In a Sunnydale funeral home, two men put the finishing touches on a woman's make-up. They close up shop, leaving her coffin open. There are three other coffins in the room. One of them opens and Buffy gets out of it. Xander gets out of a second, and remarks that it seems like a lot of trouble to go to for one vampire, to which Buffy points out that vampire-by-vampire is the only way she knows how to do it. There is a knocking sound, and Buffy and Xander help Dawn out of a child-sized coffin, which Dawn believes had a child-proof lock. Dawn complains at having had to go in the child-sized coffin despite not being the shortest one there. After Buffy shares her worries about work, the three of them look at the dead woman. Dawn comments that she looks peaceful. The woman's eyes open, her face vamped out. "I am not peaceful!" Buffy dusts her.

Buffy

At Sunnydale High, Buffy starts her first day of actual counseling, a bit nervous. She organizes her desk and sharpens some pencils until her first student arrives. There follows a montage of students speaking to Buffy, which takes place over the course of three days. Her first student is Amanda, a somewhat gawky girl who talks about a bully who harasses her, then describes how she beat him up. She asks if Buffy thinks she should do it again. A Hispanic boy refuses to talk to Buffy, merely sitting silently in front of her desk. Another boy, Peter, waffles about why he's there, saying first that it's about divorce, then that his parents are happily married and this makes him feel left out. Finally he admits that he was just bored, and Buffy sends him back to class.

Somewhere In Sunnydale, Xander and Willow walk together through what looks like a park. They discuss Buffy's insecurities about her job, the impending badness in Sunnydale, and Willow's magicks. Xander makes an analogy between using magic and using a hammer, which Willow says is pretty accurate. Willow turns off of the path, and we see that they've arrived at a cemetery. Xander asks Willow if she's ready. She nods, and walks alone to a grave and sits down, setting some small stones on top of the headstone. She traces the words "Tara Maclay" with her fingers and finally says sadly, "Hey. It's me."

Back at school, the boy who didn't want to talk admits that he's afraid that his brother, who joined the Marines, is going to be killed. A rather geeky boy tells Buffy that he thinks he might be gay. She tells him there is nothing wrong with that, and he assures her that he knows that, but he wonders if she'd go on a date with him so that he could know for sure whether he's actually gay. Buffy then talks to an unseen student about dealing with her older sister, who's controlling and doesn't let her make her own decisions. The camera turns to reveal that the student is Dawn, who adds on that the troublesome sister also borrows her clothes without asking.

Cassie

Finally, a girl with purple-streaked blonde hair, Cassie, comes in to talk to Buffy. She hasn't been doing her homework, and explains that she doesn't see the point since she isn't going to graduate from high school. Buffy tries to encourage her to graduate, and go to college, but Cassie explains that she can't because she is going to die on Friday. Thinking that she is going to commit suicide, Buffy presses her to talk more, and Cassie explains that she wouldn't do anything stupid. She says that some things she just knows, for example, that she's going to die on Friday, there will be lots of weird coins involved, and Buffy will try to help and will go someplace dark underground. Cassie insists that Buffy can't help. She then heads back to class, after mentioning to Buffy that she likes her blouse and suggesting she cover it with a sweater so it doesn't get stained. Buffy goes to Principal Wood for advice on how to handle the situation. He doesn't think there is much they can do, and explains that students often say things that don't really mean anything, though they will of course instigate the normal locker searches and whatnot. He pours Buffy a cup of coffee. When she spills some on her blouse, her spidey (er, Slayer) senses go off. She arrives at Dawn's locker and asks for her help.

In the library, Cassie sits talking with her friend Mike, who tries to convince her to go with him to the dance on Saturday. She says she can't. Dawn arrives at their table and introduces herself, asking what the homework assignment was for the ceramics class they have together. Mike excuses himself to study for a test, which Cassie tells him he'll get a B on. Dawn is impressed that Cassie is reading Slaughterhouse Five purely out of her own desire, and not for a class. Cassie realizes that Dawn is Buffy's sister, and the two chat a little about Mike.

In the Summers' home the next night, Buffy, Willow and Xander are researching Cassie. Willow suggests looking for medical records, and Buffy reveals that she already had the doctor send them over; they reveal nothing interesting. Willow's next suggestion is to "google" Cassie, and she runs an internet search for "Cassie Newton," turning up the girl's poetry site, which is filled with poems about death. Willow admits to having posted some angsty love poems in high school (which interests Xander until Willow says she is over him, though he's still proud), and to have posted fanfiction based on Doogie Howser, M.D., a television show. Dawn comes home and tries to tell the gang that she suspects Mike of being Cassie's would-be killer, but they have found police records indicating her father's violence and heavy drinking. Buffy and Xander leave to pay him a visit. They speak to Mr. Newton, who is annoyed at their implications, and insists that though he may not be perfect, he doesn't beat up his daughter. He thinks his ex-wife sent them, and complains that he only gets to see his daughter once a month as it is. When Buffy realizes that this means he won't be seeing her on Friday, they leave. Cassie is outside. She thanks Buffy for her concern, but insists that she can't help. She says that she doesn't know how it will happen (though she does know that it's not her father who does it), just that she will die. She begins to cry talking about all of the things she'll miss, but seems to have accepted her death.

In the Sunnydale HS library, a group in red hooded robes stand in a circle with lit candles and chant. In the middle of the group is a circle of coins arranged around a small fire. In the fire is a burning picture of Cassie.

At work, Buffy looks at Cassie's website, and Principal Wood empathizes that it's been a long week, but "thank god it's Friday." In the second montage of the episode, we hear Cassie reading her poetry as we see the Scoobies researching and Dawn hanging out with Cassie and Mike.

In the school basement, Buffy finds Spike, who is sitting perfectly still so that the voices will be quiet and he won't feel... much. She asks if there is something evil in the basement. Spike names himself, saying that he is a "bad man" and that he "hurt the girl," meaning Buffy; he begins to punch himself as punishment. She gently explains that she means a different girl, and pleads with him to share any knowledge he might have that could help her save the girl. She turns to leave, realizing he knows nothing. He asks her to stay, but she tells him that it's worse when she is there.

Mike

Upstairs in the hallway, a locker search is underway. Buffy stops Mike and questions him. He says he's a bit angry about getting a B on a test. She asks him if he has a date for the dance. He says a girl (Cassie) turned him down, and Buffy presses the issue, seeing if this angers him. He's not too upset about it, and when he realizes that Buffy is Dawn's sister, he says that he's thinking of asking Dawn. Buffy is indignant that her sister is his second choice, but gets distracted when several coins fall from a locker. She tracks down the boy whose locker it is and threatens to "connect with his face" unless he tells her what he knows about Cassie. He says he doesn't know much, just that some guys want to mess with her and have a plan.

After school, Dawn tries to walk Cassie home. Cassie says she knows that Buffy told her pretend to be her friend, and Dawn insists that she isn't pretending; she does want to be Cassie's friend. Cassie tells her that they are friends, and that's what matters. Peter distracts Dawn by asking her if she has a date for the Winter Formal. When she says she doesn't, he laughs and says he was just doing a poll. When Dawn turns around, Cassie is gone.

Cassie and Peter

In the library, the robed ones are again in a circle with candles, and this time torches (and a cleaver in the middle). One of them removes his hood, revealing himself to be Peter. He asks if the exits are sealed, and a boy says he set a booby trap and no one will be able to leave. Peter pulls Cassie, bound and gagged, from behind one of the stacks and holds the cleaver to her throat, explaining that she will be the sacrifice to a demon, Avilas, that will bring them infinite riches. He explains to her that she was chosen because she has a "suicidal vibe" and no one will miss her. The candles are extinguished, and Peter chants. Suddenly, another of the figures removes their robe: Buffy, who tells Peter that this will go on his permanent record. She knocks him over and gives a speech about how they forgot the heavy metal music that is necessary in lame teenager demon-raising rituals. Peter points to the "lame" demon behind her. Buffy throws Peter's knife at the demon and they engage in hand-to-hand fighting. Just as it pins Buffy to the floor, it rears back in pain. Spike has thrust a torch into its back. He says he is there to help — "no hurting the girl." He and Buffy switch places, she fighting the demon and he keeping Peter from Cassie. He punches Peter in the face, screaming in pain each time but continuing despite it. He picks up the knife. Buffy defeats the demon and Spike cuts Cassie loose. Cassie Cassie looks at him and says, "Someday she'll tell you." Peter complains that he won't get his riches, and the demon, not quite dead, bites him, then explodes. Peter, in pain, asks Buffy to help; she tells him that office hours her office hours are over. Spike has taken off, and Buffy helps Cassie out of the library. When they get to the door, they trigger the booby trap and a crossbow shoots its bolt directly at Cassie. Buffy catches it and breaks it in two, telling her that sometimes you can make a difference. Cassie tells her that she (Buffy) will, then falls to the floor, dead.

At the Summers' home, Buffy explains to Dawn and the gang that Cassie's family had a history of heart problems that her mother had never told her about. The gang comment that it didn't matter what Buffy did, Cassie was going to die no matter what. Dawn cries for her friend, telling Buffy that sometimes, you can't help. Buffy wonders what, then, you can do when you know that you can't help.

Monday, Buffy arrives at work and sits at her desk.

Synopsis written by Bettie.

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