-- Quotes --
Written by Zinna
Buffy goes looking for the evil trio. She happens upon their hideout (a vacant house's basements), but Warren spies her on their surveillance equipment. Before she has the chance to investigate the house, Warrens tells Andrew to summon a demon. Outside in the alley behind or in front of the house (I'm not sure which), a waxy-looking demon attacks Buffy. It's your regular run of the of the mill opening fight scene on BtVS, until Waxie flicks out a long needle-like bone from his middle knuckle and stabs Buffy…
In the arm, she is pierced by a syringe forcibly administered by orderlies. She appears to be in a mental institution. She is dressed in a patient's gown and is clearly a patient.
A little later she awakes in the alley and the demon is gone.
The next day on the UC Sunnydale campus, Willow practices the best the way to approach Tara for a date. When she sees Tara, Tara is not alone. In fact, Tara is with another woman and they greet each other with kiss. Totally freaked, Willow runs away.
At the palace, Buffy works the fryer. Suddenly she hears someone calling her name…
It's a nurse and she's telling Buffy to take her drugs.
In the next moment, she realizes the nurse is actually her manager Lorraine, asking Buffy if she's on drugs.
Later that night, Buffy sits with Willow, who is checking for e-mail from Xander. Apparently, Willow hasn't received anything. Buffy notices that Willow seems to be a little more down in the mouth than expected under the circumstances. Willow admits that she's freaked because she saw Tara with another girl. Once Willow says it out loud, she sort of realizes the other woman could just be Tara's friend. Buffy's sure of it because once you fall for Willow, you stay fallen. Just then Xander walks through the door.
I want to say that he's trying to act like nothing happened, but there is a hint of depravity on his face. Immediately after he shares in hugs with the girls, Xander asks about Anya. He tells them about closed sign in the window of the Magic Box and how it craved a hole in soul or something like that. They explain Anya left. Xander asks if Anya said anything to either of them. Buffy and Willow tell him that she really didn't say anything with all the sobbing and all. Buffy describes Anya as broken. Xander, a little broken up himself, tells the girls how much he misses and loves Anya. He still wants to have her in his life. The girls are nice enough to refrain from telling him how unrealistic it is for him to think that Anya would consider resuming their relationship after being left at the altar. Xander goes on to say leaving Anya was his biggest mistake to date. Basically, he screwed up real bad. Both Buffy and Willow can relate so they hug him and tell him they've all screwed up at one point or another.
During patrolling hours, Buffy combs the cemetery. She runs into Spike. You might be interested to know that he was carrying a bag of groceries. Anyway, he asks Buffy about the wedding. Buffy tells him about Xander's vanishing act and they begin to chat. Spike says some people can't see a good thing when they have it. He's supposed to be referring to Xander, but we're supposed to get the feeling that he's really referring to Buffy.
Willow and Xander bust in on Buffy and Spike's private moment. Buffy tries to pretend that she has perfectly legitimate reason for engaging Spike in a conversation - a reason other than just feeling like talking to him. But the excuses are all for naught since Xander would never in million years allow himself to think that Buffy would stoop to Spike's level and Willow doesn't really seem to care one way or another. Without even thinking about it, Xander makes some snide remark to Spike for the hell of it. The two exchange low verbal blows including insults about Xander leaving Anya at the wedding. The wedding remark was too low for Xander to handle so he punches Spike in the face. At this point you would think that Buffy would get in between the two and break up the macho bull fest, but she's seized with some mind-numbing head pain that brings her to her knees.
Buffy holds her head in her hands. When she lifts it a doctor asks her if she knows where she is. She replies, "Sunnydale". The doctor tells her that none of that's real. She is in a mental institution and has been there for the past 6 years. On this day in particular, when Buffy's somewhat lucid, the doctor announces that she has visitors. Buffy looks up to see her mother and father there.
Back in the cemetery, Xander and Willow help Buffy up from the ground and begin to take her home. Spike attempts to help but Xander pushes him away, claiming Buffy is their friend so they will take care of her. Once they are out of earshot, Spike suggests with a mix of sarcasm and genuine concern, they put some ice Buffy's neck because Buffy likes that.
At home, Buffy explains to Willow, Xander and Dawn that she's been hallucinating. She tells them about her mental institution flashes and the waxy demon that poked her in the arm. She even tells Dawn about seeing their parents together like they were before Sunnydale. If the three Scoobies didn't think it was serious before Buffy's explanation, they are quite worried after it. In fact, Willow suggests they make quick with the research so Buffy can be sane again.
In the doctor's office, Buffy and her parents sit in a row before the honorable doctor as he describes her mental illness. Buffy has an undifferentiated type of schizophrenia, but this isn't news to Buffy's parents (remember they've been dealing with this for the past 6 years). The reason the doctor is bringing it up this time is to announce there's a possibility of Buffy having a full recovery. He goes on to explain that she's made a multi-layer world of demons and superhero friends that are as real to her as reality is (if that makes sense), but recently Buffy inserted Dawn to accommodate a need for a familiar bond. Dawn's presence has created some inconsistencies that are making Buffy's world fall apart. This is evidenced by the villains she's currently facing. The doctor says that Buffy used to make up these grandiose monsters with apocalyptic powers to go up against. These days, she's fighting three pathetic little men she used to go to school with.
Speaking of pathetic men, Warren and his two merry twits are giddy at Buffy's reaction to the demon's injection. Well, actually Warren's the only giddy one. There seems to be some dissent in the group. Warren and Andrew have been lugging in a lot of boxes, but are unwilling to tell Jonathan what's in them. When Jonathan innocently asks them about the boxes they assure him that they are not plotting against him, which is very suspicious since Jonathan didn't ask them accusingly. Jonathan picks up on their suspicious behavior and decides to storm out of the house, claiming to have a secret mission of his own. Warren doesn't even let him get up the stairs, telling him that it's too dangerous to go out alone. It is apparent to all three of them that Jonathan no longer trusts the other two and the other two (especially Warren) don't care because they are plotting against him and know Jonathan can't escape them -unless he grows a new set of balls.
Back at the Summers' house, Willow's research turns up the name and origin of Waxie the demon. He's a "Glarghk Guhl Kashma'nik" demon and his needle bone can be used to create an antidote for Buffy's mental. When Willow offers Buffy the good news, Buffy sighs and says that she feels lost. Willow tries to assure her that it will only be temporary, but Buffy goes on to say that she's been feeling this detachment for a while now. This isn't exactly news to Willow, but she sees how much this is affecting Buffy, so she sternly insists to Buffy that she is not in an institution and never was. Oh, but that's where Willow's wrong. When Buffy saw her first vampires, she got so scared she told her mom. Well, that turned out to be a big mistake because Joyce promptly took her to a clinic. They let Buffy go after a couple weeks or so because Buffy stopped talking about it. Willow thinks that's horrible, but Buffy seems to be considering the possibility that she never left the clinic (considering the content of her hallucinations, who could blame her). Willow tells Buffy not worry because Xander's out hunting the demon as they speak. This worries Buffy because the demon is too strong for Xander to fight alone. Willow tells Buffy that he's not... alone that is.
As they hunt in the woods, Xander and Spike do a little chatting. Spike rambles on about how funny it would be if they were all figments of Buffy's imagination. Since it would explain why his character ended up with a chip in head and as Buffy's "sodden sex slave". Xander almost begs Spike's pardon about the sex slave business, but Spike quickly pretends that he didn't say it and Xander lets it go (because as we know from previous behavior, Xander's just not willing to open his eyes to the millions of clues Buffy and Spike let slip out). Suddenly they are confronted with Waxie and after some tag team punching (Spike punches and Xander shoots with a tranquillizer gun) they haul the demon back to the house, where they tie him up in the basement.
Back at the house, Buffy sits in her room spacing out until Dawn approaches with some type of hot beverage. Buffy, in her semi-lucid state decides it's the perfect time to deal with Dawn's various problems. Buffy even points out that she knows Willow has been doing Dawn's chores. Dawn tells Buffy that it's the fever, cooking her brain, which would be funny if Buffy's brain wasn't really getting cooked, but it seems like it is.
In Buffy's hospital room, Joyce tells Buffy that she doesn't have a sister. Buffy tries to explain that she didn't grow up with a sister, but that she's real because the monks made her. Buffy's dad tells Buffy her mind is playing tricks on her. Joyce pleads with Buffy to reasonable because all they want to do is take Buffy home. Buffy reaches out to touch her mother's face.
She gets Dawn's face instead, but she is just as eager to touch Dawn. Dawn, on the other hand, is a little upset because she realizes she's not in Buffy's alternate reality. In fact, she sort of yells at Buffy for not being in what she refers to as Buffy's ideal reality (though I don't know how 6 years in the loony bin would constitute as anyone's ideal reality - even if that person had recently spent lots of time wishing she were still dead). Buffy tries to apologize but Dawn won't have it (since it would mess up her storming off in an indignant huff).
In the basement, Xander and Spike tie Waxie to the beam while Willow breaks his pointy bone off his hand. Willow takes the bone to the campus lab, where Xander is supposed to meet her later, once he's obtained all the proper ingredients (for the antidote) from the Magic Box. Spike sticks around the house to keep an eye on Waxie, Dawn and the Bufster.
The following morning Willow gives Buffy a cup of antidote sludge. Just then Spike happens by Buffy's room. Willow gives him the responsibility of making sure Buffy drinks the sludge. Instead of encouraging Buffy to drink up, Spike opts to give Buffy a verbal thrashing, accusing her of being addicted to misery. Mostly, he wants Buffy to tell her friends about them because they would either understand and help her, or they would kick her out into the cold where she could peacefully pursue her romantic feelings for him. Buffy, of course, is too preoccupied with losing her mind that she doesn't poke a trillion holes in his crappy rationale (Okay, maybe she should tell the Scoobies about Spike so she wouldn't have to hide, but does he really think that if they kicked her out into the cold, which they would not, she would be content toiling away the rest of days with William the Bloody?). Finally, Spike ends his speech demanding that Buffy spill or he will tell them himself. Then he leaves without even knowing if Buffy finished her drink. By the way, she doesn't drink a drop. She throws the antidote away.
"I don't want to go back there. I want to healthy again. What I have to do?" an insane Buffy asserts to her doctor and parents. The doctor explains that Buffy needs to rid herself of things that support her hallucinations, i.e. her friends. He also points out that when she made a breakthrough last summer (you know, when she was dead) it was her friends that pulled her back into the world of pain. Buffy's mom chimes in, telling her to do whatever she has to do to convince herself that they are not her real friends.
A less distant, more determined Buffy returns to Sunnydale reality to clobber all of her loved ones, i.e. Xander, Willow and Dawn. She drags them down to the basement and ties them up. Then she lets the Waxie loose so that he can have his way with them. During this madness, Buffy keeps transitioning back and forth between the realities. In mental illness reality, the doctor encourages Buffy to figure out the easiest way to get rid of her friends (let Waxie kill them). All the while, Buffy tells herself in Sunnydale reality that her friends and Dawn are not real and it would be preposterous for her to think that she was superhero instead a girl a severe case of insanity.
Just as Waxie and tied up Xander are getting into tussle mode, Tara arrives. She hears the commotion and sees Willow and Dawn tied up, so she magically rids them of their bindings. At this point Buffy is hiding in the corner trying not to be horrified by the sight friend fighting for their lives.
In the hospital room, Buffy is also in the corner horrified as her mother tries to comfort her and tell her that what's Buffy's seeing isn't real.
Tara ventures down the stairs further and Buffy trips her so she tumbles down the rest of the stairs. Willow and Dawn rush to see if Tara is okay, as Xander continues to struggle with Waxie.
As Buffy becomes more and more upset, Joyce bends down close to her face and tells Buffy that she believes in Buffy because Buffy is a survivor. Buffy can do this. She just has to find strength within herself. Buffy has to believe in herself. Buffy looks at mom and tells her mom that she's right. Then she says goodbye.
Buffy stands up and gets in the battle with Waxie. After a few seconds, she rips into his chest with her fist and he goes down for the count. She turns to her battered posse and says she's so sorry. They assure her that they are fine and everything's going be all right. They try to get her to sit down, but she refuses, claiming that she cannot sit until she has the antidote. Willow gets ready to make some more.
The doctor appears and shines a penlight into comatose Buffy's eyes. After some examination, he turns to Buffy's parents and explains that they've lost her.