Withdrawal

Act Four

Flashback To Four Years Ago:
Ext.
San Francisco – Front Steps of School – Night

"Do you believe in fate?"

Two girls in formal dresses sat on the front steps of their private school, a towering old brick building. Dawn was in a beautiful blue dress, Skye in slinky black.

"Nope." It was Skye who answered Dawn's question. "Nobody says what I'm going to do next."

Dawn cracked a smile. "Is that why you put rum in the punchbowl?"

Skye leaned back on her hands. "Just trying to liven up the party a little. Everyone was just too…formal, for my taste."

"Yes, that is why they call it Winter Formal," Dawn pointed out. "But I was serious."

"Serious about what?"

"Fate, destiny," Dawn clarified, "that we don't have any choices in this world."

"Oh, that," Skye nodded. "Important stuff. Stuff we should discuss some place less cold." A shiver shook her bare shoulders. "What brought this on?"

Dawn looked up at the night sky, the stars obscured by the city lights. "I haven't really told you everything, you know."

Skye looked over at the other girl. "Yeah, I know."

Dawn's gaze moved down to her shoes. "Maybe we should just go back insi –"

Skye pulled Dawn's face towards hers and planted a kiss on her surprised lips. Dawn's eyes widened at first, but after a moment she closed them and let herself go, returning the kiss with equal passion.

It was several moments before Dawn finally came up for air, breathing hard.

"That was…wow." It took a moment for Dawn's brain to catch up to her body. When it did, a crease appeared on her forehead. "Why did you…?"

"I was disproving your theory," Skye told her huskily. "You have choices. You've got one right now. Option A, you slap me in the face. Option B, we have a big, serious discussion about how you're not a lesbian and I misread things. Option C –"

Skye never did get to say what the third option was because Dawn silenced her with another kiss. It went on longer than the first.

Cut To:
Int.
Cleveland – Abandoned Warehouse – Night

An old door flew off its rusty hinges, sending a cloud of dust into the air when it landed. Shannon stood in the opening she had created, slowly lowering her right leg to the ground. She looked back to where Dawn stood watching her, hands in her jacket pockets. The watcher gave a small nod to her young slayer.

"You're not going to tell me about how my ankle wasn't locked?" Shannon asked warily.

Dawn shrugged. "I was going to wait until after we took out the vamps, but, if you insist…"

"No, I'm good." On full alert, Shannon took a few steps forward onto the creaking floor of the warehouse, slowly removing a stake from her back pocket. Dawn entered behind her, far more lackadaisical in her manner. Shannon's careful steps echoed through the cold, stale air, her face lit only by the distant yellow glint of a streetlight through one of the place's dirty, translucent windows.

The sound of a tower of cardboard boxes tumbling to the floor brought Shannon twirling, eyes wide. She came within an inch or so of putting her stake up Dawn's nose.

Dawn looked calmer than one might expect with the weapon hovering in front of her face. She shrugged. "Sorry."

Shannon took a few deep breaths before lowering her stake. "Be careful!" she hissed. "You're the one who taught me all this stealthy stuff, remember?"

"Great job, by the way," Dawn told her.

Shannon cocked her head, puzzled. "Is there something going on? With you, I mean?"

Dawn avoided her slayer's eyes. "No, nothing."

"Are you sure?" Shannon took a concerned step forward. "I know you're supposed to be in charge and everything, but you can tell me stuff if you want. I'm here if you –"

With cat-like reflexes, Shannon reached out with her right hand and grabbed a fist that had been destined for her head.

"Hold that thought," she said to Dawn, who nodded. With a grunt, Shannon twisted her arm and flipped the vampire that the fist belonged to, sending him to the ground. Several more vampires in demon face melted out of the encompassing shadows.

One of the group stepped forward, a tall, bald African-American. When he spoke, his voice was almost too deep to be real. "A slayer. She's so little. Maybe we should keep her."

"Miss Summers," Shannon said quietly and evenly, "stay behind me."

Cut To:
Int.
Skye's Cell – Same Time

Given Skye's weakened state, it didn't take much for Grace to pull Rowena up and out of her grip. In fact, she pulled a little too hard, sending both watchers sprawling backwards to the ground, Rowena on top, coughing as she tried to catch her breath.

Vi kicked the vampire in the side with the toe of her boot. Skye began to curl up in a fetal position, but Vi grabbed her by the back of her shirt collar and hauled her to her feet, slamming her into the wall of the cell with a thud.

Cut To:
Int.
Cleveland – Abandoned Warehouse – Night

Dawn's training with Shannon had not been wasted. The girl was everywhere, limbs flying. She simultaneously executed a leg-sweep on one of the vampires while staking another. Then she let her momentum continue, sending the stake into the side of the leg of another attacking vampire. He yelled in pain.

Dawn watched the events, her back to a pile of cobwebbed cardboard boxes. She wore a blank expression, passive even.

Cut To:
Int.
Skye's Cell – Same Time

Vi landed a right-left combination to Skye's gut. Skye doubled over in pain, but was straightened up by an uppercut to the jaw.

Cut To:
Int.
Cleveland – Abandoned Warehouse – Night

Dawn winced, as if in response to what was happening across town.

Shannon ripped the stake out of the vampire's leg. Without so much as a glance behind her, she disabled an attacker at her rear with an elbow to the crotch as she rose to her feet. As he doubled over in pain, Shannon staked the first vampire before turning to summarily finish off the one behind her.

Meanwhile, Dawn had remained totally still. The remaining vampires left her alone, concentrating on the more immediate danger of the slayer.

Cut To:
Int.
Skye's Cell – Same Time

Vi raised her fist to deliver another blow.

"Vi!" Rowena suddenly shouted. "Wait!" Vi tensed, fist still raised, but didn't throw the punch.

Skye, blood trickling from the corner of her mouth, stared blearily back at her. Skye was barely able to stand on her own two feet.

Cut To:
Int.
Cleveland – Abandoned Warehouse – Night

The corner of Dawn's mouth quivered slightly, and she brushed a stray strand of hair from her forehead. With a deep breath, she strode forward.

Cut To:
Int.
Skye's Cell – Same Time

"She attacked you!" Grace argued, crawling backwards on her hands and knees.

"I'm fine," Rowena said. She was sitting up straight, looking like she had regained her composure. "Vi?"

Vi bit her lip for a split second, sizing up the situation. Then her fist slammed into Skye's nose. The vampire's head hit the cement wall of the cell, and she slid to the floor, unconscious.

Cut To:
Int.
Cleveland – Abandoned Warehouse – Night

"No!" Shannon shouted between the punches she was trading with two vampires. "Miss Summers, stay behind me!"

Dawn found her path blocked by the huge vampire leader, a smile on his face. He grabbed her, one broad hand on each arm.

"She wants to leave us," he boomed. "It's much too soon for that. Much too soon." Dawn looked up at him resolutely, almost daring him to take what he wanted. He laughed gleefully before driving his teeth into Dawn's throat.

Shannon had gotten rid of her immediate attackers, but she wasn't in a position to save her watcher.

"Miss Summers!" she screamed. "DAWN!"

As Dawn's life ebbed from her veins, she did not look unhappy. She might even have been smiling.

Cut To:
Int.
Skye's Cell – Same Time

"I told you to stand down," Rowena said angrily.

"You didn't tell me to do anything," Vi pointed out. "Anyway, I just wanted to put her to sleep for a while, get her out of the way. She'll be fine."

Rowena glared at Vi, but accepted her outstretched hand and got to her feet.

Grace had managed to do the same without any assistance. "So," she asked, "what now?"

Cut To:
Ext.
Lush Garden – Day

Dawn couldn't move at full speed, like she was in a dream. Green surrounded her. Green grass, green vines, green bushes, broken up by the occasional flower. Somewhere, the sound of flowing water filtered through the leaves. She was in a lush garden, not a well-groomed one, but one that had been let go. Vines had overgrown the walls, and nearby a statue was missing a head.

She came to a hole in the wall, though it was hard to tell because vines hung down over the opening, small white flowers sprouting delicately from the stem. Dawn brushed the plants out of the way with an outstretched hand and entered a more open area of the garden.

She could see that the water sound was coming from a small waterfall that fed a stream that ran through the garden and out through a culvert in a distant brick wall. Huge ferns competed for space with beautiful flowers of all shapes and sizes. And on a small, soft, grass-covered mound at the foot of the waterfall sat Willow, her flame-red hair flowing behind her in a gentle breeze.

"You…can't be here," Dawn said, shaking her head. "You're not dead."

"You're making too many assumptions," Willow said. She leaned back on her hands. "What makes you think this is the after-life?"

Dawn looked around at the garden. "This is nicer than the other place."

"And none of those annoying dead people." Willow made her hand into a mouth and moved it in a talking gesture. "Blah, blah, blah." She motioned to another small mound next to her. "C'mon, Dawnie, sit down."

Willow grinned when Dawn obliged her. "Little Miss Muffet sat down on a tuffet."

"Eating her curds and whey," Dawn sighed, "I know."

"And where do you know it from?" Willow asked.

Dawn thought about this for a second, the waterfall framing her face. "I don't know…Dreams, maybe? Dreams and madmen. Madmen in dreams. Dreams I remember from before…Dreams that never happened."

Willow leaned forward to talk in a conspiratorial whisper. "Do you know the next line?"

Dawn unconsciously leaned forward as well. She shook her head.

"Along came a spider, who sat down beside her, and frightened Miss Muffet away." Willow sat back, a self-satisfied smile on her face.

"Uggh!" Dawn growled in frustration. Her fingers flexed into claws. "I am so sick of metaphors. I'm sick of hints and innuendoes. Why can't anyone just be straight with me?"

Willow shook her head. "Dawnie, you're a mystic ball of energy. The fact that you're even here is proof that nothing just goes straight."

Dawn sighed. "You're not going to tell me how to stay dead, are you?"

"Doesn't seem likely, no," Willow said.

"I'm just not sure how to do this," Dawn said. "I mean, my family, my friends, you…you're going to get old and die, or worse, not grow old and die, and I'm just supposed to sit here and watch that?"

"Everything dies, Dawn, even you." Willow reached down and picked a tiny purple flower. She held it up to examine it. "In the end, everything fades." The flower suddenly wilted and died in Willow's hand.

Dawn's breath caught as she looked around at the garden. The grass under her feet turned brown, the leaves on the trees and shrubs withered, and the waterfall's flow gradually dried up.

"What's happening?" she asked.

"Everything fades," Willow repeated, letting the dead flower drop from her hand, "even magic."

Cut To:
Int.
Cleveland – Abandoned Warehouse – Night

Dawn's eyes shot open, and she immediately pulled herself up into a sitting position. She was on the cold, dusty floor of the warehouse, several small piles of vampire dust surrounding her. There was no mark on her neck to signal that she had ever been drained by a vampire.

Shannon was sitting cross-legged directly in front of her, completely motionless.

"Shannon, I…" Dawn began.

"Don't," Shannon interrupted flatly, her face still unreadable. "You broke your promise."

The young slayer got to her feet and strode out of the warehouse, leaving Dawn alone on the floor, mouth agape.

"Shannon!" Dawn called after a moment, but there was no response.

Cut To:
Int.
Skye's Cell – Same Time

Skye rocked uncomfortably back and forth in the corner of her cell, her knees pulled tightly up to her chest, her hands curled into stiff claws. Her dark hair hung in a tangled mass over her eyes, and a thin sheen of sweat formed over her pale white skin. Her breathing came in short, labored gasps. The front of her shirt was soaked through with sweat, and her bare toes clawed uselessly at the floor.

"Don't like this much, do you?" Skye looked up to see Dawn seated on the edge of her cot, her hair immaculately combed. The small, plain sundress she wore was clean and pressed.

"What do you want?" Skye demanded, her voice shaking.

"Wrong question," Dawn replied, coming forward to crouch in front of the vampire. "The right question is: 'What do you want?'" She reached out, gently running a finger down the bridge of Skye's nose. "Why are you doing this?"

"Because they asked me to," Skye told her.

"And you make it a habit of doing everything you're asked to do?" Dawn countered. "That's new. I mean, look at you…you look downright uncomfortable there. So, why are you doing this? Is it to prove a point, prove that you don't need blood to keep going? Are you trying to prove once and for all that you're not like the others, not a killer, a predator?"

"This isn't my choice!" Skye snapped. "It's that bitch!"

Dawn didn't respond to this. Instead, she looked a little more deeply into the vampire's eyes. "Or maybe there's something more to it. Maybe some part of you, some part that you keep buried deep inside thinks that you deserve this. I mean, you killed Bonnie without a second thought; Dana, you needed a pick-me-up; a co-ed because you needed a snack." Dawn gestured around the dank room. "Is that what this is? Some kind of penance?"

Skye looked up sharply, glaring at Dawn. "Is that what you think?"

"No," Dawn said with a tilt of her head, "it's what you think."

"It's not," Skye said lamely.

Dawn rolled her eyes in exasperation, letting out a long-suffering sigh. "You know, Skye, you're a smart girl, and I can't for the life of me figure out why I need to keep explaining this to you."

"I'm a smart girl," Skye repeated softly.

Dawn's tone of voice became slower and more patronizing, as if she were talking to a two-year-old. "I'm not actually here. I don't actually exist anywhere except inside that twisted gray mass of murderous intent you call a brain. So if I am here, it's because you want me to be here. If I think something, it's because you think something. So if I say something that ticks you off, I'm sorry, but it's not me who's saying it. It's you." Dawn offered a one-sided smile to the vampire. "Sorry sweetie," she said playfully, "I'm the one person that you can't lie to. I'm you."

The duo sat in silence for a moment.

"You know," Dawn said, "don't think that I didn't notice that you didn't actually answer my question."

"What question?" Skye asked idly, dropping her forehead to rest on her knees.

"Why are you doing this? Seriously, you're here voluntarily. I doubt the Council would keep you here if they thought you wanted to leave. They're kinda finicky with that whole 'human rights' thing," Dawn told her. "And even if they wanted to hold you here, it's not like they're holding you in a fortress. A little elbow grease, a dose of preternatural strength, and you're out of here. Hell, if you can stay in the Council for months without anybody really realizing who you were, imagine how easily you could get out."

"You gonna get out of my way this time?" Skye asked her, looking up.

"And again, you're missing the point," Dawn told her.

"Which is?"

"I'm not in your way," Dawn said gently, "you are."

Cut To:
Int.
Watchers Council – Hallway in Guest Wing – Night

Kennedy hesitated a little before knocking on the door to room 412.

At first, she got no response. Then: "Whaddaya want?" A female voice called blearily from within.

"It's Kennedy."

There was another pause. "Go away."

"I really think we should talk," Kennedy said, her voice raised slightly so that she could be heard through the door. After a moment, she added, "Please?"

When the door finally opened, it was a rather rumpled Mia who appeared. Her hair was all over the place, and there was a small glass of something brown in her hand. She looked Kennedy up and down.

"Okay," she said, pointing awkwardly at Kennedy with her glass hand, "but you…you have to be nice." She produced a lopsided grin.

Cut To:
Int.
Watchers Council – Mia's Guest Quarters – Moments Later

Mia gestured expansively at her suite. There was a separate kitchen and bedroom, in addition to the central living room where she and Kennedy now stood. "I gotta say…the new guest bedroom kicks the old guest bedroom's ass." Her attempt at a laugh turned into an abortive snort, and she took a sip from her drink instead.

"I see you found the mini-bar," Kennedy deadpanned.

Mia nodded. "God, I missed American whiskey."

"Mi…where did you go?" Kennedy asked, sitting down on the arm of the big blue couch in the center of the room.

"Europe," Mia told her. "England. France. Prague." She frowned. "Prague was weird."

No one said anything for a long moment. Mia took another sip of her drink, and Kennedy looked down at the new carpeting.

"This is weird too, isn't it?" Kennedy asked.

"Where is she?" Mia replied darkly.

"Who?"

"You know who." Mia drained the rest of her glass in a long gulp and slammed it down on the top of the wooden mini-bar.

"Well, at least you're not going to kiss me," Kennedy sighed.

Mia looked confused. "What?"

Kennedy rubbed her forehead. "Nothing. Look, I'm sorry you had to find out like that. It wasn't something either of us was planning. It just kind of…happened."

Mia nodded. "Right. Right, it just kind of happened. I figured. Ken, I know I was the one who left. I didn't think you'd just be waiting for me, not really. You've moved on. I get it." Mia's knuckles strained against the cabinet she was leaning on. She suddenly burst into tears, her veneer of composure completely breaking down. "But did you have to do it with her?"

"Mia –" Kennedy stood up, brow furrowed in concern, and walked toward the other woman.

"I knew," Mia continued tearfully. "God, I knew it."

Kennedy put a hand on each of Mia's shoulders. "Listen, the last thing I ever wanted to do was to hurt you. But Kadin and I are together now, and if you're going to stay around here, you're going to have to deal with that, hopefully in some way that doesn't involve getting really drunk alone in your room."

Mia tried to bring herself under control a little, trying to wipe away some tears with her hand. "I feel like such a bitch."

Kennedy shook her head. "Not a bitch."

"I know that all I should want is for you to be happy," Mia continued, "but what about me? Can't I be happy? Can't we be happy together?"

"We can," Kennedy told her, "but not together together."

Another sudden laugh from Mia turned into a snort. "Together together."

"Aaaand you've had too much to drink," Kennedy said, slapping Mia on the back.

"You think?"

Kennedy nodded sagely.

Cut To:
Int.
Watchers Council – Buffy's Office – Night

Buffy sat silently in a chair behind her desk, leaned forward with her elbows on her knees. The only light in the room was the television she was staring at. Colors flickered on the polished metal of the Scythe hanging above the mantle behind her.

Jim Pollan was on the television, standing behind a podium framed by the Council coat of arms. The Fox News Channel logo was in the bottom left corner of the screen. "We can't force girls to leave home, if that's what you're asking."

"So you're saying that the Council doesn't know the exact whereabouts of many of the world's slayers?" a reporter's voice asked.

Pollan hesitated, looking down at the podium for a moment. "We aren't Big Brother, so…the short answer is yes."

Buffy rubbed her mouth with one hand, eyes fixed on the screen.

"But isn't the Council worried that random, unknown members of the general population have superpowers?"

"We're trying the best we can to –"

"Does the Council know if there are any slayers working for al Qaeda?"

Pollan smirked. "Given the views on women's rights held by Orthodox Islam, that doesn't strike me as incredibly likely."

A large-print graphic appeared at the bottom of the screen, reading "COUNCIL SPOKESMAN CRITICIZES ISLAM".

"So Mr. Pollan messed up, huh? I'm flabbergasted." Buffy looked up to see Rowena standing in front of her, face half-hidden in shadow.

Buffy raised a remote control and muted the television. When she spoke, she sounded very, very tired. "Could you two at least try to get along? Occasionally?"

Rowena sat down across from Buffy, hands in her lap. "This whole thing would be a lot less depressing if you would turn on a light."

"And ruin the mood?" Buffy sat back in her seat with a sigh. "I swear to God, if somebody dies in a riot because of this, I'll –"

"You'll what?" Rowena asked reasonably. "Buffy, you do your best. We all do. The rest takes care of itself."

"Not in my experience," Buffy said softly. "Left on their own, things just suck even more." She looked up at Rowena, as if for the first time. "Did you want something?"

"You called me here, remember?"

Buffy shook her head, as if to clear the cobwebs. "Right, right. I did." She finally did switch on a small desk lamp and opened a folder sitting on the desk in front of her. "Where are you with Skye?"

"The experiment is still ongoing," Rowena told her.

"Why?" Buffy asked shortly.

"I'm sorry?"

"Explain to me why the experiment is still going on?" Buffy held her hands out wide, gesturing expansively. "What are you still hoping to learn?"

Rowena took a deep breath before she replied. "The longer she goes without blood, the more data we will be able to collect."

Buffy leaned forward in her chair. "I'm not a scientist, Ro, I'll admit that, but…my job is to decide what's best for the organization. And Skye roaming the halls all bug-eyed psycho is not good for the organization."

"She's not roaming the halls," Rowena insisted. "We've taken –"

"Ro!" Buffy shouted. She scratched her forehead in the ensuing silence. "You're not hearing me," she said, her voice normal once again.

"Then what are you saying?" Rowena said softly. "Skye has the option of stopping this at any time, and she hasn't mentioned stopping to me."

"I'm saying that…I think you're too close to this," Buffy said. "I'm not sure why, but you are."

"She's your sister's ex-girlfriend," Rowena argued. "If either of us is too close…"

"It needs to be over," Buffy told her sternly. "One way or the other, it needs to be…" She hesitated, running a hand over her mouth. "It needs to be over."

Rowena stood and nodded. She turned to leave, but stopped after a few steps.

"Was there something else?" Buffy asked.

A small smile appeared on Rowena's face. "I knew I made the right call."

Buffy returned her smile, but the expression faded as she watched Rowena exit the office.

Cut To:
Int.
Skye's Cell – Same Time

Rowena stood outside Skye's cell to see her sitting on her cot.

"Skye?" she called out. When she didn't get a response, she repeated it in a louder voice. "Skye?!" The vampire looked up. "I'm ending the experiment," she told her.

"No," Skye protested. "If it ends, I'm dead…er. I'm not gonna let you run a lotto to stake me."

Rowena got a peculiar look on her face. "No one's going to kill you Sk –"

"I heard what you said!" Skye replied as she began to rock back and forth on the cot. "If I end this, I die. It's a deal – I have to help or else. You said it yourself."

"No, I said you could stop anytime if you asked," Rowena corrected her. "But you haven't asked me."

Skye seemed to totally ignore the remark when she answered, "And I promised her forever. I promised her."

"That's it," Rowena said firmly. "I'm going to get you some diluted blood to drink so it's not a shock to your system. It's obvious you need blood for more than nourishment. When I come back, I expect you to drink it."

"So you can kill me?" Skye said quickly. "I'm not gonna do it, so forget it. Just forget it."

"You're hallucinating," Rowena told her. When Skye didn't reply, Rowena seemed to pause in thought. "Look, if you won't take it from me, will you at least drink a little if Dawn gave it to you?"

"Not so you can kill me. I said forget it!"

Rowena sighed. "I'll find Dawn to bring it," she told her. "Just sit tight."

Rowena walked back down the hallway.

Cut To:
Int.
Skye's Cell – Same Time

Skye got up, and her hands slowly wrapped around the bars of her cell; her fingers drummed on the metal. Her breath came in short, labored gasps. She jumped at the sudden sound of her cell door slamming open.

Bonnie Terea was standing just inside the cell, arms crossed across her chest. "Strange, isn't it?"

Skye couldn't quite look the woman in the eye. "You're dead."

"No, really?" Bonnie smirked. "Because I didn't know."

Skye nervously scratched at her upper arms. "You said something was strange."

"You," Bonnie said. "Vampires in general. You're having trouble breathing, right?"

"Blood…I need…" Skye suddenly turned and kicked the side of her cell as hard as she could, sending tiny chunks of plaster skittering in all directions. "DAMMIT!" She slammed her foot into the wall a few more times, losing herself in the rage.

Bonnie watched this outburst for a few moments. She raised a single eyebrow. "Are you done?"

Skye said nothing, but she had stilled physically. Her eyes darted randomly in all directions.

"You're having trouble breathing," Bonnie repeated. "So why are you even trying? It's not like you need the air."

Skye bit hard into her lower lip. "Why are you here?"

Bonnie sat down on Skye's cot, crossing her legs and putting her hands in her lap. Her demeanor was completely business-like. "Well, I was just really bored. I was hoping that maybe we could finally have that snark-off."

Skye was holding her right hand in front of her face, her face scrunched up as she tried to keep it from shaking. It kept shaking anyway.

Bonnie's sigh sounded particularly put-upon. "Right, sarcasm is probably lost on your addled little brain at this juncture. They sent me to finish you off."

"Who's…they?" Skye managed.

"They with a capital T. Y'know?"

Skye cocked her head slightly as she thought that one through.

Bonnie rose to her feet. "Of course, I volunteered. You've done some bad, bad things, little girl." She wagged her finger in admonishment.

Skye brought her eyes up to hold Bonnie's gaze. "So did you."

"And you never tire of telling everyone that, do you?" Bonnie was slowly walking in a circle around the vampire, like a shark. "Like they're going to forgive you because they didn't like me?"

Skye held her chin high, putting the last tattered shreds of her dignity on display. "I'm different from you. I didn't have to turn myself in. I'm trying to change."

"We're exactly the same," Bonnie snapped back. "It's never been about anything but what we want. The difference is, I knew how to get it. You're nothing but a selfish screw-up."

"Managed to kill you, didn't I?" A tiny, shaking smirk appeared at the corner of Skye's mouth.

"Which brings us to the other reason I volunteered," Bonnie said, slipping a hand into her pocket. "It's time to return the favor.

There was a sharp snikkt noise as Bonnie buried a stake deep in Skye's heart. Skye opened and closed her mouth twice before letting out a pained gasp. Bonnie took two steps backwards, a self-satisfied smile on her face. Skye watched her hand gradually disintegrate, starting with the tips of her fingers. When her arm had disappeared down to the elbow, she let out a deep, panicked scream.

Skye's hand suddenly reappeared when another hand grabbed it at the wrist. Her horrified eyes rose to see Dawn standing in front of her, an expression of concern on her face. Bonnie, of course, was nowhere to be seen.

"Dawn?" Skye asked in a tiny, shaky voice.

Without replying, Dawn tried to embrace the trembling vampire in front of her. Her skin covered in sweat, Skye writhed at Dawn's touch. She grabbed Dawn's head with both hands, digging her fingernails into Dawn's hair.

"Dawn," Skye repeated, almost in a whisper. One of her hands slid down to Dawn's cheek, cradling it softly. Dawn did not shrink away; she leaned into the contact.

"What are you doing to yourself?" Dawn asked plaintively.

"I'm doing it for you," Skye told her. "Even when I've gone completely loco, it's still all about you."

Dawn reached up and took the hand on Skye's cheek in her own hand, pulling it away. "I died today," she said shortly. "A few times. Sort of on purpose."

Skye looked down at the floor for a split second before looking back into Dawn's eyes. "Why?" It came out in two syllables.

Dawn took a deep breath. "Your soul…Skye's soul, it…when I went to the other side to try to bring it back, somehow…it was destroyed, or so I've been told."

Skye dropped her other hand from Dawn's head, still trembling.

"You're all that's left," Dawn continued quietly. "This is it."

For a long moment, the cell was completely silent. Skye turned ninety degrees away from Dawn, facing the back of the cell.

"Why are you telling me this?" she finally asked.

"I guess I just thought you deserved to know," Dawn said. "Since you…since you look like her."

"I am her," Skye said edgily.

"You're not her!" Dawn screamed. Her words echoed in the otherwise empty cell-block.

Skye took in a small, sharp breath. Dawn looked shocked, eyes wide, breathing hard. Neither girl moved for a full two seconds. Then Dawn leaned forward and took Skye's head in her hands, pulling her into a deep kiss. Once Skye's initial surprise wore off, she closed her eyes and returned the kiss with gusto.

Eventually, Dawn came up for air. Skye didn't need to breathe but was still gasping. "Don't st –" was all she got out before Dawn roughly planted another kiss on her lips. Her momentum sent Skye stumbling backwards into the wall of the cell, bringing Dawn with her. Dawn progressively moved down to Skye's neck, delivering a long, hard lick to her pulse point. Skye made a noise deep in her throat, somewhere between a growl and a groan.

Suddenly, Skye grabbed Dawn by the shoulders and maneuvered the pair around so that Dawn now had her back to the wall. Dawn responded with a feral grin, and their lips found each other again. Skye shakily worked on Dawn's blouse buttons as Dawn nibbled on her ear, but soon gave up hope and simply ripped the blouse open, exposing the bra underneath and sending buttons flying in all directions.

"Now," Dawn told her breathlessly.

Skye needed no further instructions and ripped off Dawn's belt, throwing it across the cell where it hit the opposite wall with a clang. After a moment of positioning, Skye's shoulder began to move rhythmically. Dawn leaned her head back against the wall, eyes closed, and bit hard into her own lip. She let out a grunting noise through gritted teeth.

A moment later, Dawn's eyes shot open. She leaned forward, positioning her mouth inches from Skye's ear. "Drain me dry," she whispered. Skye froze. "Drain me," Dawn repeated.

"The spell –" Skye began.

"The spell isn't a curse," Dawn said huskily. "You can do anything to me…if I want you to. And I want you to." She took Skye's earlobe into her mouth.

Skye gasped. "Dawn, I –"

Dawn grabbed Skye and brought her face to her neck. "Shut up and do it."

Skye smoothly morphed into her vampire face and slipped her fangs into Dawn's neck. Dawn's free arm scrabbled around as if searching for something on the cell wall to hold onto, but found nothing. Skye lost herself in Dawn, taking in long, deep, loud gulps. Dawn gritted her teeth in pain, but let out a long, low moan at the same time. The moan turned into a scream of ecstasy and her body stiffened in pleasure as her eyes rolled upwards. Then, as Skye continued to drink, Dawn's features completely relaxed. The look on her face was one of total peace as her eyes slowly fluttered closed.

White Out.

Fade In:
Int.
All-White Sitting Room – Same Time

Dawn found herself standing in the center of the completely white room. Directly in front of her, perhaps ten feet away, was Skye, the non-vampire version, wearing a comfortable blue sweater and jeans.

"You're gone," Dawn said.

"Yes," Skye replied, "but you're not..."

Cut To:
Int.
Skye's Cell – Same Time

When Dawn opened her eyes, she was lying on the floor of Skye's cell, wearing only a bra and a pair of jeans with the zipper undone. Skye lay next to her, a trickle of blood coursing down her cheek.

"Is this real?" Skye asked quietly.

Dawn smiled. "God, I hope so."

Fade to Black

Special Guest Stars

Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers, Navi Rawat as Dana, Emma Caulfield as Anya, Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia, Stephanie March as Bonnie, and Norika Fujiwara as Mia

End of Withdrawal
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