Withdrawal

Act One

Starring:
Lacey Chabert as Skye, Elijah Wood as Jeff Lindquist, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers, Steffani Brass as Shannon, Rachel Hurd-Wood as Lorinda, Caroline Dhavernas as Grace Hatherley, Christy Carlson Romano as Hope Lehane, Gale Harold as Jim Pollan, Alicia Silverstone as Heli, Helen Shaver as Becca Giles, Michelle Rodriguez as Kadin VanHelsing.

Guest Starring:
Gary Oldman as Mr. Felix

Flashback To Four Years Ago:
Int.
San Francisco – School Library – Day

In the middle of a large private school library, Skye sat down at one of several reading tables. She began taking books out of her book bag.

"Are you ever gonna finish with that?" Dawn asked, pointing to a particularly thick volume with a red cover.

"What?" Skye looked up at the girl standing in front of her, confusion on her face.

"This…" Dawn picked up the book. "I've been waiting weeks for this, and you're hogging it."

"Oh," Skye said. "Sorry…um…"

"Dawn," she replied and sat at the table. "Dawn Summers."

Skye smiled. "I'm Skye Talisker."

"I know," Dawn absently replied, opening up the book and flipping the pages.

"You know?" Skye asked, surprised.

Dawn looked up, caught. "Um…I mean…hi?"

Skye looked at her and started to laugh. "Nice," she said and then motioned toward the book. "I'm finishing up my paper, so you can have the book tomorrow. That okay?"

"Yeah," Dawn said. "Shall I meet you here?"

Skye thought a moment. "Nah, it's dead here on Fridays."

"Yeah, I've spent enough Fridays in the library."

"Then how about dinner?"

Dawn's eyes widened. "Dinner?"

Skye shrugged. "Yeah, you know…two people, you and me being the people, eating together someplace, hopefully with a nice ambiance."

"Oh yeah…dinner," Dawn said. "Okay."

"Great," Skye said. "Meet me at the Wharf at six."

"The Wharf?" Dawn asked.

"Fisherman's Wharf," Skye explained. "You're new, huh?"

Dawn nodded. "Yeah, my sister and I just moved here a couple of weeks before school started."

"Cool," Skye said. "Just take the cable car down to the Wharf. I'll meet you at the big sign that says Fisherman's Wharf. Right now though, I really need to finish this paper."

"Okay," Dawn said. "See ya. Tomorrow…six…at the Wharf."

A dazed look on her face, Dawn left the library in a hurry.

Cut To:
Int.
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Morning

"I don't see why I have to do this. I'm fine." Dawn sat on the end of one of the beds in the infirmary, wearing a standard-issue doctor's office paper shirt. She looked as unhappy as she sounded.

"I have to say that I agree," Dr. Miller said, scratching his head. Buffy and Shannon stood nearby, listening with interest. "If you hadn't told me you'd had your blood drained, I wouldn't have been able to tell." He glanced at Dawn's chart. "Your cell counts are normal, and you don't have any signs of the neck wound."

Shannon looked confused. "I know Dawn's supposed to be immortal or something, but…I saw him bite her. You're saying you can't even tell?"

With a sigh, Dr. Miller shut the folder he had been reading from. "I've been around here long enough to know magic when I see it, and Dawn here is out of my league. You can put your clothes back on now." With that, he turned and walked into his office.

Dawn looked at Buffy. "See? Told you this was a waste of time."

"Waste of time?" Buffy asked, incredulous. "Dawn, I go to the morning briefing and you know what I hear? Kill counts and rebuilding plans and mission tactics and oh by the way your sister died last night." She paused, and when she continued, her voice was low and even. "You died, and you didn't even tell me."

Dawn tilted her head significantly in Shannon's direction.

With a little eye-roll of realization, Buffy turned to the young slayer. "Hey, Shannon, Dawn's okay, so you can go to class now."

Shannon looked at Dawn for a moment before answering. "Okay."

Once Shannon left the room, Dawn turned back to Buffy. "You know, it's hard enough being her watcher without you undermining my authority like that."

"Under…" Buffy scoffed. "Dawn, why didn't you tell me?"

"You were asleep," Dawn said, shifting a little on the bed. "I didn't want to bother you."

"Bother me?" Buffy couldn't quite believe it. "You want to talk about bothering me? Try having your sister –"

"Buffy, I CAN'T DIE! " Dawn yelled.

Neither girl said anything for a few seconds. Buffy sighed and leaned against another bed. "You just need to be more careful."

"Why?" Dawn asked.

"Because at this rate, I'm gonna be the one who goes nuts."

Cut To:
Int.
Watchers Council – Rowena's Office – Same Time

Grace walked into Rowena's office and found the watcher already hard at work behind her desk.

"Hey," she said, flopping down in a chair. "Y'know, nobody told me that this gig involved working before breakfast."

Rowena looked up from her notes. "If you want to go get some breakfast, Grace…"

"No, I'm good," Grace assured her, "just as long as you don't expect me to think. So, what's new with our gal?"

"Well, Skye is entering her ninth day without blood, and she has yet to report any change. Other than being unusually hungry, that is."

"I still can't believe they let you keep a live vampire around to run tests on," Grace said. "If my mother ever found out about that…" Rowena's look told her to drop it. "So what exactly are we waiting for? I mean, is she just gonna get really, really thin?"

"I hope we're going to accomplish a little more here than creating a new vampire weight-loss program," Rowena sighed. "Vampires are mystical creatures. Physical laws don't necessarily apply to them. There will probably be side-effects that we never would have predicted."

Grace sized up the watcher behind the desk for a moment. "Does it ever bother you that…well, she's basically a person, and we're experimenting on her?"

"She's not a person, she's a vampire," Rowena told her. "There is a big difference. Plus, she volunteered to do this. Besides which, Grace, have you actually met Skye yet?" Grace shook her head negatively. "Maybe you should. I'm sure it would be an eye-opening experience."

Cut To:
Int.
Skye's Dorm Room – Same Time

Skye lay asleep in her bed. The sun's rays streamed through cracks in her window blinds. Then suddenly the blinds went all the way up, and Skye leapt from her bed to avoid bursting into flames.

An unfamiliar man was standing in her room. He was young, handsome enough, with a smile too wide to be real.

"Who the hell are you?" Skye asked. She stood in a corner to avoid the sunlight filling the room, her hair at all sorts of crazy angles.

"Don't be silly," he said. "I just came by to tell you you're on in fifteen seconds."

"On?" Skye shook her head. "I'm on what? I haven't done pot in years."

The man just grinned. "You're hysterical. That's why they love you." He grabbed the confused Skye and pushed her towards where her closet had been replaced with a lavish red curtain. Skye could suddenly hear applause and cheers coming from somewhere.

"And now, here's the star of our show, America's fangiest friend…" announced a stereotypical announcer guy.

While Skye mouthed the words "fangiest friend", the strange man was counting down. "Five, four, three, two…"

He pushed Skye through the curtain just in time for the announcer to proudly say, "HERE'S SKYE!"

Cut To:
Int.
Television Studio – Day

Skye found herself faced with blinding lights, several large television cameras, and a huge and, judging by their screams, adoring audience. A quick look around confirmed that she was now on the set of a talk show. To her left stood a large desk covered with various knick-knacks, with a couple of chairs in-between for guests. Hanging above the desk was a huge sign that read "SKYE" in big, glittering pink letters. Skye herself was now wearing a freshly pressed blue pantsuit, and her bed-hair seemed to have vanished without a trace.

"Hey, everybody, we, um, have a really great show for you today," Skye said, not really sounding like she was sure what she was doing. There were more screams, and Skye waited for them to die down before she continued.

"So…I'm reading the paper yesterday, and it says that sales of garlic have gone up ten thousand percent in the last few months. Sales of Tic-Tacs, incidentally, have gone up twenty thousand percent." The audience laughed like that was the funniest thing they'd ever heard. Skye cracked a smile.

"Oh, did you hear about this? Faith Lehane complained the other day that she can't patrol anymore because of her celebrity status. And in a completely unrelated story, Robin Wood is having trouble with unexplained soreness and fatigue." More laughs.

"And a heartwarming story yesterday. It seems that Jeff Lindquist has finally found love…with Faith's little sister." Skye waited for the wolf whistles to die down. "Guess that means I don't have to kill him anymore. Faith'll do it for me!"

As the crowd howled at her last joke, Skye skipped over to her desk and sat down, now acting as if she was completely in her element.

"So let's get right down to it. How about a big hand for our first guest, huh?"

As Skye led the crowd in applauding, the announcer made the introductions. "She's psychotic, and prooooud of it. Straight from the after-life, it's Dana the Insane Slayer!"

Dana emerged from behind a curtain, looking far more together than usual. She wore a large bandage on the side of her neck. Skye gave her a suspicious look as she settled down in the chair next to the desk. The applause died down, and no one spoke for a moment.

"So, how've you been?" Skye asked.

"Actually, not that great," Dana said matter-of-factly. "I'm dead, you know."

Skye leaned back in her chair. "Yeah, right. How's that going?"

"Well, it sucks," Dana told her, "but that's to be expected. I've been meaning to talk to you about it for a while now."

"I don't…" Skye wiped her forehead and looked out on the audience, but all she could see were the blinding, hot lights. "I'm sorry, I had to."

"You're sorry?" Dana asked, sounding slightly angry for the first time. "Now, that's just nonsense. Skye, you don't have a soul. How can you be sorry?"

Skye had begun to sweat profusely. "I'm sorry…because killing you pissed everybody off."

"That's more like it," Dana said. "Self-interest, that makes sense. Actually, I've been meaning to thank you for something."

"What's that?" Skye asked warily.

"You cured me," Dana grinned. "The fog has been lifted."

Skye looked up and watched Dana's features morph into those of a vampire. Her fangs glistened in the stage lighting.

"Everything is clear now."

Cut To:
Int.
Skye's Room – Morning

Skye's eyes shot open and she quickly sat up in bed. She glanced around the room, but found no evidence of a talk show set. Skye swung her feet over the edge of the bed and took a deep breath.

She flinched when a pair of pale white hands snaked around her mid-section.

"What's going on?" Skye turned her head to see a pretty, college-aged blonde girl behind her. She wasn't wearing any clothes.

"Taina?" Skye asked in a small voice. "What are you doing here?"

"So you did remember my name in the morning?" the girl grinned. "Come back to bed. You were right, this is a great idea." She leaned back on red satin pillows.

"You look pale," Skye said, her voice hollow.

"Just a little…drained," Taina replied, languorously stretching out her legs beneath the blankets. As Skye watched, the girl's flesh turned a sickly shade of green…it was as if she was beginning to decompose.

"I want to be just like you."

Cut To:
Int.
Skye's Dorm Room – Day

Skye's eyes snapped open. From her awkward position face-down on her bed, she glanced around the room. It was empty. The closet was right where it should be. Daylight was peeking through her window blinds, coming dangerously close to Skye's face.

She quickly turned over and sat up. She rubbed her face with both hands.

Cut To:
Int.
Watchers Council – Dining Hall – Day

Kennedy and Vi sat across from each other in the Council cafeteria, a hamburger in front of each.

"I've been thinking about taking the night off," Kennedy said.

"Good for you," Vi said with a smile. "You've been working too much lately."

"And Kadin's back in town," Kennedy added wistfully. She took a big bite of her burger.

"Ah, I see," Vi nodded sagely. "And you confide in me on this scandalous plan because I'm your best friend or because you want me to cover for you."

Kennedy looked a little guilty. "Bof?" she said with a full mouth.

"I'll do it," Vi assured her. "But I claim full gossiping privileges."

Kennedy swallowed and grinned. "Deal."

"Hey, what are best friends for?" Vi asked.

"Helping you out or gossiping about you?"

Vi took a bite of her burger. "Bof."

As she chewed and swallowed, Vi noticed Heli making her way between tables with her own lunch tray.

"Hey, Heli," Vi called. "C'mon over here." Heli nodded and sat down next to the redheaded slayer.

"Where've you been?" Kennedy asked. "Looked for you a couple times lately, but you're never around."

"I keep busy," Heli said.

"Is there a guy?" Vi asked. Heli said nothing, taking a sip of her soda. Vi gasped. "Oh my God, there totally is a guy, isn't there?"

"There's no guy," Heli told her, cracking a smile.

"C'mon, spill," Kennedy insisted. "Is it that new watcher guy, Pollan? I personally am in no way qualified to judge, but I'm told he's a honey of the highest order."

"He does look…good," Heli admitted.

Vi grinned. "If it is him, you better watch out. Every straight single girl in the place has her eye on him, and a lot of those have super –"

"What do you want?" Kennedy asked testily.

Vi looked up to see a bedraggled-looking Skye standing next to the table. The vampire's eyes were red and had large black bags under them.

"Have – have you guys seen Rowena?"

"No," Kennedy told her flatly. All three slayers glared at the new arrival.

"Um, okay." Skye began to walk towards a different table.

"Explain to me again why vampires are walking freely through the Council headquarters?" Heli asked.

"Hey, I'm on your side," Kennedy said. "Most of the girls here are."

Vi shrugged. "Skye and I got along okay when she was alive. I kinda believe her…y'know, that she came back for Dawn? It's sorta romantic."

Kennedy just scoffed.

"She killed a slayer," Heli said darkly, watching Skye ask another table about Rowena's whereabouts. "That's not something you just forgive, wouldn't you agree?"

No one answered immediately.

Cut To:
Int.
Office – Same Time

Doctor Harrington showed no surprise when she walked into her office. She barely glanced at the man standing to the side, examining a painting on her wall.

"Maybe I should simply give you a copy of the keys to my office," she muttered.

Felix smiled. "You think there's a lock in this building I don't have the key for?"

She took that in. "Maybe I should have another lock added?"

"Oh, do. Picking locks is a skill that needs practice like any other. You could change the lock regularly. Not only the lock, but the kind. Put it on my bill. It's only fair, after all."

Harrington looked at Felix, taking in his smile, which contained no visible malice and more than a little humor. Both eyes were bright, but surrounded by circles. "What happened this time?"

"We…I…failed."

"At what? When?"

"Months ago, actually. Just the full fruit of it came to light last night. Or to dark, as the case may be. Or to dust. That is actually most appropriate, I think. Yes. To dust."

For a long moment she looked at him, her face softening. "Is this about Arthur?"

"Yes." His voice didn't quite break.

"Sit down."

"I'd rather stand, if you don't mind." Felix took a deep breath as he said this, shuffling his feet. "Right now, if I actually sat down, it feels as if the strings will let go and standing up again might become an issue."

"There are options…"

"Oh, I am enough of a trial to you without adding that. Thank you."

With a sigh, Harrington began making a cup of coffee from the machine behind her desk. "How much caffeine is in your system right now?"

"Let's just say, if coffee were alcohol, I would be a serious danger behind the wheel."

She made a hmmphing noise. "You tracked down Arthur."

He nodded. "Shouldn't have taken as long as it did. I trained him myself."

"But he isn't the same person he was."

"True. Still…" He didn't continue with that thought. Instead he began pacing. "He hadn't turned anyone else. We can be grateful for that at least. But his haven, his lair, that was full of traps and things. Very, very dangerous. We set off as many traps as we could find first. Of course we took no chances. The weapons team even sprayed holy water ahead of us. But in the end…well. He's at peace now. The demon is gone. Like I said, dust."

For several seconds the only sound in the room was the tapping of Harrington's spoon as she stirred cream and sugar into her cup. Felix grinned at the sound of her first slurping taste.

"Strong?"

"Just the way I like it."

"Good. Good."

Another several seconds went by, with Harrington watching Felix pace. Suddenly, Harrington opened her drawer and took out a box. Felix stopped pacing to watch. Now at rest on the desk, the box was roughly twice the size of a pack of cigarettes. The cover gleamed a plastic white, but on the top a square, black button had been installed.

"Toys?" Felix's smile remained identical to what it had been before.

"A tool," she corrected. "Sometimes useful. This button is magic. It grants your heart's desire."

"Really?"

"No. But let us pretend it does."

"Very well."

"You don't get to choose your heart's desire, though. Not for the purposes of this exercise. Rather, I am the one who decides what happens when the button is pressed – or more specifically, what happens when you press it. That is my role. My job. Your job is to listen, to believe, and then to act."

"I'm listening."

"Do more than listen. Listen first, and then believe. Believe that reality can be changed by the pressing of this button. Apply pressure to this tiny device, and consequences follow, as inevitably as taxes or the weather. Pull a trigger, and a gun discharges. Let go of a ball, and it falls to the ground. Press this button…" She pointed and left the sentence hanging.

"And…what happens?"

"Every vampire on Earth dies. More, every vampire dies in agony. Each and every vampire finds itself in a dungeon, tortured slowly for year after year after terrible year, until at least each one of the creatures yearns to die. Begs to die. And only after decade or more of such begging is their wish granted. Unspeakable suffering, to repay for the unspeakable suffering they have inflicted. Believe that. Believe it, and recognize also that you are entitled to press this button." Her voice lowered. "More than any other man I've ever known, you see the toll vampires have inflicted. These monsters ripped open your life into a bleeding wound. How many times has the healing begun, only to have the same scars re-opened, more salt rubbed into the flesh? You endure that because you see the consequences, feel the horrors any failure on your part might spark. No one has a greater right than you to press this button. Think about your wife. Your children. Your brother. About Arthur."

She pushed the box in his direction. Felix, whose face had grown still during her speech, now had his eyes fixed upon the box. Without blinking he stepped to the edge of her desk. His hand reached out. The forefinger was extended.

He pushed the box back to her.

"I've been thinking," he said, voice hoarse, "maybe the Council's experiment might have some merit." He swallowed.

Dr. Harrington leaned back, eyes bright and fixed upon his face. "What experiment is that?"

"Oh. They…that is, Rowena Allister…she wants to find out more about vampires. About how much free will they actually possess. Can any of them live peaceably, or will instincts always take over? I'm skeptical, but on reflection that might be something worth knowing. For sure."

"This," Harrington said, pointing to the box, "is called the Catharsis Activator. At least that is what it is supposed to do."

"Probably," Felix continued, "the experiment will come to nothing. Probably. But maybe not. Dangerous. Risky. But perhaps immoral not to at least try. I think so."

"Felix."

"Hmm?"

"I suppose I should stop being surprised when you don't respond the way anyone else would, but – why didn't you press the button?"

He looked at her for what seemed like a long time. "I think I need to get some sleep."

"Do you want something?"

"No. I'm very tired. I'll probably sleep for days. Might have to set my alarm clock." He grinned again. At least it looked like a grin. Almost. Then the almost-grin faded. "I'm not a monster."

"No one said you were."

"It isn't enough."

"What isn't?"

"For people not to say it. Not enough."

Harrington nodded at that and watched Felix turn around and leave her office. As the door shut behind him, she picked up the Catharsis Activator and put it back in her desk drawer.

Cut To:
Int.
Watchers Council – Rowena's Office – Later

"So, you've been experiencing vivid hallucinations?" Rowena asked from behind her desk.

Skye sat across from Rowena. "Yes," she nodded.

"Well," Rowena replied thoughtfully, leaning back in her chair, "it sounds to me like you've moved on to the next phase."

"The next phase?" Skye asked. She held up a hand. "Wait, are you saying that you knew this was going to happen?"

"We don't really know what's going to happen," Rowena told her. "That's why we're doing this. But there have been documented cases in the past wherein vampires who went a length of time without drinking blood began to hallucinate." She opened one of her desk drawers and pulled out a pen and notepad. "So is this happening when you're asleep or when you're awake?"

"Both," Skye said impatiently. "You should have told me that this was going to happen."

"If I'd told you, then your report would be biased," Rowena said, a little exasperated. "Could you describe your experiences for me?"

"No! Look, maybe we should stop the experiment. I'm not really comfortable with where this is going."

Rowena sighed, rubbing the bridge of her nose. "Skye, what do you think your role is here?"

"I'm your test subject," Skye said.

"Right," Rowena nodded. "And what do you think is going to happen to you once you stop fulfilling your role?"

Skye silently glared at Rowena for a moment. "You're making me hungry."

"Don't let Buffy, or any other slayer, hear you talking like that," Rowena said, looking back at her notes. "She'll end this project, and you, if she heard you making threats."

Skye stood up from her chair and pointed an angry finger at Rowena. "Look, Dawn needs me, now more than ever. It's our destiny and –"

"Skye," Rowena sighed, "you're a smart girl. I shouldn't have to spell this out for you. You are not in control of your own destiny anymore. The only way you're going to be there for Dawn is if you're very useful to me. I'm trying to keep you alive, or undead in this case. So are you going to work with me here or not?"

Skye kept glaring, but she sat back down.

"Good, let's try this again," Rowena said, pen in hand. "Describe your experiences for me."

Cut To:
Int.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Later

Skye punched the down arrow and waited for the elevator to arrive. When the doors opened with a bing, Skye stepped in, pressed the button for the lobby on the panel, and waited for the doors to close.

"You're a smart girl, Skye," she mumbled in a high-pitched, mock version of Rowena's voice. "I shouldn't have to spell this out for you." She switched back to her normal voice. "I'll spell something out for you, you self-righteous –"

It was then that Skye noticed something on the floor of the elevator. She knelt down to examine what looked like a growing red pool of liquid. She touched her fingers to the liquid and held them under her nose. "What the…"

Skye stood up to find that blood was now seeping from every large crack in the elevator. Skye quickly pressed the emergency button, but it didn't seem to do anything. Panicking, she pressed the button repeatedly until it came off in her hand. The blood began to fill up the bottom of the elevator, soon reaching almost to Skye's knees.

She crouched down and cupped her hands, scooping up a handful of deep red blood. She brought her hands up to her face, but did not drink. Skye stared deep into the liquid, her eyes wide.

"No," Skye whispered, and she let the blood drain between her fingers. She rose to her full height and tried to pull herself upwards, away from the ever-rising blood, which was now to her waist. Skye's fingers scrabbled against the side of the elevator, but found nothing to hold onto, and she fell backwards into the blood.

When she scrambled to her feet again, she was completely drenched, and the blood was up to her chest. "Help me!" Skye yelled. "HELP ME! " The blood rose ever higher, and soon it was up to her neck. Skye struggled to keep her head above the surface, but it was a futile gesture, and in a moment the elevator was completely filled.

Cut To:
Int.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Same Time

Kennedy and Vi stood in front of the bank of elevators in the Council lobby, waiting for one of the sets of doors to open.

"I can't get used to the waiting," Kennedy sighed, tapping her foot. "Why aren't we taking the stairs again?"

Vi smirked. "Because you like pressing the buttons."

"Oh, right."

The nearest set of doors slid open with a bing and Skye tumbled out onto the lobby floor, gasping for air despite not technically needing any. Kennedy and Vi looked cautiously into the elevator, which seemed to be empty, and back at the vampire lying prostrate at their feet. The two girls looked at each other and exchanged simultaneous shrugs before stepping into the elevator.

"May I?" Kennedy eagerly asked Vi.

"Be my guest," Vi replied, and Kennedy emphatically pressed their floor number before the doors closed.

Skye was left face-down on the floor of the lobby and was drawing a small crowd of gawkers. She rolled onto her back, her hair in her face and her eyes wild.

"I'm going crazy," she said, her voice strangely calm.

Cut To:
Int.
Watchers Council – Training Room – Later

With an audible thud, a crossbow bolt penetrated the red bull's-eye of a target.

Nearby, Dawn happily clapped her hands. "Great job, Shannon!"

"Thanks, Miss Summers," Shannon smiled. She turned to Lorinda, who was standing next to her. "Beat that."

"Don't you worry, Shannie," Lorinda told her acerbically, "I will."

As Lorinda tried to aim her crossbow, Dawn leaned over to whisper something to Jeff. "Are you sure this is a good idea, a joint training session with these two?"

"They'll need to work together in the field," Jeff said, "which means they need to learn to at least be civil with each other. Besides, I can't get Faith to put Lorinda back on field duty, and I think she needs some outside competition."

Lorinda finally released her crossbow bolt. It glanced off the side of the target and embedded itself in the wall. Shannon smirked.

"Okay," Jeff said, "let's try that again. Try bringing your arms in closer to your body for support."

"Maybe you should get Hope to talk to Faith," Dawn said with a grin. "Not everybody has the connections in the Head Slayer office that you do."

"Actually, this thing with Hope and me is probably a minus in my column with Faith," Jeff replied. "Faith and Hope…I'm not sure I have a handle on their relationship."

"And that works on a metaphorical level, too," Dawn noted, as Shannon once again drilled her target right in the center. "So, how's the sex?"

Jeff's coughing fit broke Lorinda's concentration, causing the slayer to shoot him a look before beginning to re-set herself. "What?" he asked.

"You are dating the sister of one of history's horniest slayers, and you're telling me you're not hitting that?"

"There's no hitting!" Jeff exclaimed. "What is that, like, street slang?"

"You are the most uncool person ever," Dawn told him, laughing.

Being a little distracted, it took the pair a moment to notice that Shannon and Lorinda were fighting instead of aiming. Shannon had grabbed Lorinda's crossbow arm and pointed it toward the ceiling.

"You don't get to say that about my grandpa!" Shannon yelled.

"I get to say whatever I want about trash like you," Lorinda returned. "You think just because you can shoot a crossbow that you're so great."

"At least I'm on field duty!" Shannon kicked Lorinda in the shin, and Lorinda broke their hold on each other to step back.

"Dammit girls, knock it off!" Dawn shouted, trying to get between the two slayers. Jeff grabbed Lorinda, who still held her crossbow in her hand, and held her back.

"Did you hear what she called my grandpa?" Shannon asked.

"Look at me, I'm Shannie," Lorinda said in a high-pitched voice. "I spend all my time whining about my dead evil dog and my stupid, dead, trailer-trash grandpa. Boo h –"

Dawn found herself unable to restrain her determined slayer. Shannon leapt into Lorinda, sending both girls and Jeff to the ground. As the two girls traded punches, Jeff managed to extricate himself. He noticed Dawn lying on the floor.

"Dawn?" he asked, concerned. Getting no response, Jeff crawled over to Dawn. A large, growing pool of blood surrounded her head and shoulders, and a crossbow bolt was stuck through her neck. He didn't look up to see Shannon and Lorinda on either side of him, apparently having broken off their brawl when they realized something had happened.

"You killed Dawn," Jeff said, sounding like he was in shock.

"You bastard!" Shannon shouted.

"I don't see what the big deal is," Lorinda said. "She's just gonna wake up again, like she always does." She looked down at Dawn's body for a long moment. "Any second now," she said, sounding a little less sure.

Cut To:
Int.
Golden Corridor – Same Time

Dawn found herself in the golden-walled hallway, outside the same plain wooden door. Slowly, she reached out once again to try the polished brass doorknob. To her surprise, this time the knob turned easily, and when Dawn let go, the door slowly, extremely slowly, swung open. The room beyond was too bright to see into. After a moment, Dawn walked through the door.

White Out.

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

Slowly, the light resolved itself into a pair of large, cushioned white leather chairs. In one of them sat a rather bored-looking Anya.

"You're not supposed to be here," she told Dawn. "Not ever. Not that I suppose it matters much…you won't be here long."

"I figured as much," Dawn said. "It takes a moment for them to realize it, I guess. So…this is the after-life?"

"You've seen the after-life, Dawn," Anya said severely. "I don't know what the hell this is. Probably some weird fantasy from your little girl mind."

"But you're here, right?" Dawn asked. "I mean, really?"

"Do you honestly expect me to give you a straight answer?"

Dawn sat down in the chair across from Anya. "I want to see Skye," she said eagerly.

"You can't," Anya told her, still sounding rather bored.

"I don't care!" Dawn exclaimed. "I'm dead, and I'm talking to dead people. No offense, but there's one dead person in particular I'd like to talk to, and it's not you."

Anya leaned forward in her chair, looking at Dawn very intently. "Listen to me, Dawn. I didn't say that you may not see her. I said that you can't."

"Please, I don't need a grammar lesson from you of all people."

Anya made an exasperated scoffing noise. "Fine, don't find out what happened to your girlfriend." For a long moment, Anya ignored Dawn's surprised look.

"Anya," Dawn began very softly. "What happened to Skye?"

"Oh, she's gone," Anya said, very matter-of-factly. "Her soul was destroyed by that little teenage stunt you pulled. That vampire that looks like her is all that's left."

Cut To:
Int.
Watchers Council – Training Room – Moments Later

Dawn woke up with a gasp when Shannon pulled the arrow out of her neck. Jeff and Shannon stood over her, watching the wound immediately close.

"Take it easy," Jeff said. "I sent Lorinda to go get the doctor."

Dawn did not move, staring blankly off into space.

Fade Out.

End of Act One
On to Act Two