-- Quotes --
Written by Zinna
You would think that after all these years of averting apocalypses and defeating super villain after super villain that Buffy would get cocky, that she wouldn't bother with small things like checking the newspaper for unnatural deaths, hiding out at funeral homes to check the recently deceased's neck and the such. But that's exactly what we find her doing - hiding in a coffin until the funeral home closes, checking a deceased woman for teeth marks and staking her just as she opens her eyes and puts on her vamp face. Why would she go through all this trouble for one measly vampire? Why would she need Xander and Dawn as back-up? My guess, Xander came along for moral support (in the midst of checking the deceased woman's neck, Buffy expresses apprehension about her counseling capabilities and Xander gives her a good old-fashioned pep talk. He's really good at those - see various episodes such as The Freshman, Into the Woods, Grave, etc.). Dawn came along as part of her training. As for the other question, Buffy still takes patrolling very seriously. With the "Beneath You" thing coming to devour, she can't really afford to be careless, even with the little details. Giles would be very proud.
The next morning finds Buffy at her desk, sharpening pencils, and soon a young woman (yw), about Dawn's age, is sent in for counseling. Apparently, this young woman has some issues with a bully. Buffy advises her to stand up for herself only to find that the yw was sent to her for pummeling her tormentor in the first place. Buffy doesn't really know what to say to that. This yw sets off a slew of young people coming for help, some sent and some of their own free will. There's a few young men (ym) among the seekers of Buffy's help, one who has problems expressing his feelings and another who is overly sensitive or so it seems until it is apparent he's just trying to get a date. For fun, Dawn comes in for some advice on how to deal with her overbearing sister.
Finally, we get to a truly perplexing troubled-teen that is sent to Buffy because she refuses to do her assignements. Buffy inquires further and the yw, Cassie, explains that she knows she will die the following Friday. So, you see there's really no point to finishing the homework.
At first, Buffy thinks Cassie is planning to kill herself, but Cassie assures her that she is not suicidal, just clairvoyant. She tells Buffy that she isn't sure about the details but she knows that Buffy will try to help and that there will be coins. Buffy isn't completely convinced until later when she's asking Princi for advice about how to help kids like Cassie, and in her excited rant spills coffee or tea or something all over her pretty white wife-beaterisk tank top - Cassie warned Buffy that she would spill something on her shirt earlier. Once this premonition comes true Buffy decides Cassie's imminent death vision is on the up and up, which means Buffy's going to have to get involved. First stop, Dawn's locker. Buffy asks Dawn to befriend Cassie and see what she can find out.
Dawn spies Cassie and a ym, Mike, having a playful conversation about the dance on Friday. Mike wants Cassie to go with him but she refuses because she knows she won't be around for it, though she doesn't tell Mike this. She just refuses as a politely as she can. Mike doesn't give up though; he just keeps trying to convince her to say yes. Eventually, Dawn approaches them, claiming to need their pottery assignment (Cassie's in her pottery class). Cassie, who's been a little distracted lately, isn't sure what the assignment is but is happy to chat. Mike excuses himself to study for test. Cassie tells him as he's leaving that he will get a "B". Mike is confident he'll get an A+, as apparently he doesn't know about Cassie's gift.
Cassie figures out that Dawn is Buffy's sister and was probably sent by Buffy, but she doesn't mind. She appreciates Dawn's company and Dawn seems to enjoy Cassie's friendly demeanor.
That night, Willow hacks around in the school computer files looking for some insights on Cassie. Cassie appears to be a normal teenager with pretty good grades until recently, presumably when she got the premonition of her death, she started skipping class and opting not work on assignments. Cassie's teachers attribute this to depression. Willow, then googles Cassie to find that Cassie has a website dedicated to dark poetry about death and feeling isolated.
Buffy falls back on her original theory - Cassie's planning to kill herself, but Willow thinks the poetry is your average-everyday-teenage-angst-ridden poetry. Willow admits that at Cassie's age, she was posting depressing poems of her own. So the gang keeps digging and brainstorming. Dawn offers a theory indicating Mike might want to hurt Cassie because Cassie rejected his many many invitations to the dance, but Buffy doesn't hear it because she is distracted by police records revealing Cassie's father as violent and prone to drunken disorderly conduct. Buffy and Xander are at the door to Cassie's father's house seconds later.
At the drunkard's house, Buffy and Xander act like concerned teachers, there to inquire if something's going on at home at they should know about… After some indignant rants and raves about child-support and visitation rights, drunken dad (who isn't actually drunk at the time but there are bottles of booze all around) wonders what they could be worried about. Buffy just states plainly that they are concerned he may get drunk and hurt Cassie. Daddy claims that he would never harm a hair on Cassie's poorly bleached hair. Then he goes on to explain that he barely gets to see her because the custodial arrangements only allow him every other weekend. He saw her last weekend so he won't be seeing her until the weekend after the one coming up, if she's still alive. Because of this arrangement, Buffy quickly figures that Daddy is not the one to kill little Cassie. She and Xander make with the quick departure statements and leave Daddy to wonder what the hell their conversation was all about.
Outside, Xander and Buffy run into Cassie, who is presumably on her way to spend some quality time with her dad before she kicks it. Cassie isn't surprised to see them. She knows what they were trying to do, so she quickly explains that her father will have nothing to do with her death. Buffy wants to know who does or will have something to do it, but Cassie doesn't really know. Buffy is frustrated with Cassie's resignation to the whole situation.
Friday morning (Doomsday), Buffy reads Cassie's poetry via her desktop computer on her lovely little counselor's desk, in hopes of finding another lead to chase down. She comes up with squat and decides to visit the loony bin below.
Spike sits as still as possible, being extremely quiet, in an effort not hear any voices. Buffy asks about Cassie and wonders if there's evil things in the basement. Spike covers his ears. Then he starts freaking out and talking about being evil and hurting the girl, by girl it appears he means Buffy. Buffy starts to leave and Spike asks her stay and help him be quiet. Buffy declines, saying that she thinks it is worse for him when she is there.
Elsewhere, Xander walks Willow to the cemetery. They discuss Buffy's work stress and the impending "from beneath you" doom. Willow admits that she is worried about veiny-Willow rearing her ugly head when it comes time to face yet another apocalypse. Xander does his best to comfort her and then leaves her so that she can have alone time with Tara's grave. Willow gingerly traces Tara's name with her finger and whispers, "It's me." It's a really touching.
While Princi Wood and crew check lockers (because of Buffy's warning that a student is in imminent danger), Buffy corners Mike. Buffy wants to know if he has any sore feelings about his lack of date for the dance. Mike, seemingly the easiest-going guy ever, cheerfully admits that he's a little bummed that his first choice declined his offer but he has back-up-Dawn. Buffy is relieved for a moment, realizing that Mike is not the hurt-because-rejected guy, but then she realizes he wants to date her sister. Worse than that, Dawn's his SECOND CHOICE! So, she's like, "Hey DUDE! what's your problem?! Dawn's no one's second choice! Buddy!" She doesn't really say this verbatim but you get the point. Oh and Mike's holding his test with a big fat "B" on it. Cassie's right again.
Moments later, Buffy hears then sees strange looking coins fall out of this other dude's locker. She finds said dude and plays bad cop with him until he confesses the origin of the coin and its relation to the Cassie-situation.
Meanwhile, Dawn and Cassie walk hand-in-hand down some stairs leading out of the Hellmouth High. Dawn is reluctant to let Cassie go home alone, for fear the doom will strike. Cassie assures her that it's ok to let her go. Cassie says she knows that Buffy told Dawn about her… Dawn is like, "Yeah but I really liked hanging with you anyway and being your friend and stuff." And they have this extra-special tender moment of love and friendship… that is until this Jock-head (a chunkier version of the oldest son on Home Improvement and hey, did I tell you Cassie is played by Azura Skye - best known, by me, for her pretty name and being Jane on the short lived WB sitcom with Selma Blair called ZoeyDuncanJackandJane or something like that not to be confused the other short lived and equally silly WB show Jack and Jill) distracts Dawn, by asking her if she found a date for the dance. Dawn, feeling flattered, blushes, bats her bambi-eyes at him and tells him no. Jockhead retorts that he was just taking a poll. Dawn turns to tell Cassie what an ass Jockhead is but Cassie has vanished. Jockhead's buddies must have nabbed her while Jockhead was talking to Dawn.
That night, some guys in robes gather for a demonic-summoning ritual in the school library. The head robed guy, Jockhead, comes in dragging Cassie along (her hands are tied and her mouth duct-taped). They need a human sacrifice to call the demon, who will supposedly make them rich for their efforts. The dudes begin to chant until one of them disrobes and calls them lame, and by one of them I mean Buffy. She tells them they are stupid to think a demon's going to come because of their lame ritual. They all look kind of down-in-the-mouth until the demon actually appears. Buffy and demon fight it up while Jockhead tries to finish off Cassie. Buffy can't deal with both the demon and Jockhead so it looks like it's going to be curtains for our Cassie, but then Spike comes carrying a torch. He hands off his flame to Buffy, who uses it to get rid of the demon while he deals with Jockhead. Jockhead is no match for crazy-vampie-with-a-soul-that's-not-Angel-but-has-a-chip-in-head-that-hurts-him-everytime-he-hits-a-human especially since the other boys leave Jockhead to fend for himself. So, the day is saved and Cassie is not sacrificed, but check this out: when Spike removes Cassie's bindings, she tells him, "Someday, she'll tell you." (I don't know what she's talking about but I have a good hunch that she means Buffy will tell Spike that she forgives him or something like that).
Outside in the corridor, Cassie is nearly skewered by an arrow (the result of the booby trap the boys set up to keep unexpected guests from crashing their ritual), but Buffy catches it milliseconds before it reaches its target. Having saved Cassie yet a second time, Buffy tells Cassie something like they can change their destinies (though Buffy knows better) then Cassie dies - cardiac arrest. Buffy should have knocked on wood.
The next day, Buffy, Dawn, Willow, and Xander sit on the living room couch and look sorrowful while drinking hot beverages. They discuss Cassie, of course, and how her mom said they had a history of heart failure. So Cassie's mom wasn't exactly surprised, though very sad. Buffy then brings it back to her issues and how bad she feels about not being to able to stop it. Dawn tells Buffy that Buffy did what she could and that's what matters. Buffy wonders then how is she supposed to deal with things that she can't change, people she can't help. Poor Buffy.
Regardless of her doubt about her ability to help, Buffy gets up and goes to work on Monday morning.