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Older and Far Away
Older and Far Away

-- Quotes --

Written by Zinna

It's that time of year again - Buffy's birthday. Wonder what trouble she'll get into this year? For the most part things seem to be pretty normal. Dawn is all excited about party planning and asks Buffy how she can help with preparations, but as usual, Buffy doesn't have time. She's got a big bad to fight in the cemetery. After apologizing for her hasty departure, Buffy rushes off to fight a demon. This demon is little different in that he keeps disappearing during their fight. Eventually Buffy takes his sword. She stabs him with it, but somehow fails to notice that the stabbing causes his essence to be sucked into the sword. Buffy does, however, notice that the demon left the really cool sword and takes it home for her private collection.

Meanwhile the others gear up for Buffy's birthday bash. Xander asks Willow if she would be okay with them inviting Tara because Buffy really wants to have her there (I guess Buffy and Tara really bonded when Buffy told Tara about her Spikey secret - Dead Things). Willow's more than okay with the prospect of facing her former lover. Dawn appears, wanting company for her mall browsing, but everyone's busy. As usual, Dawnie, has to go at it alone.

Later that night, Dawn returns home and no one seems to be around. Dawn tiptoes to her room, where it is revealed her trip to mall proved to be rather profitable in that she came home with a leather jacket hidden under her coat.

The next day at school, a creepy new guidance counselor summons Dawn to the guidance office. The overly concerned guidance counselor asks Dawn how things are going. Dawn says she's fine. The counselor admits she knows Dawn has experienced a lot of loss. Dawn explains that everyone she loves has keeps to abandoning her and sometimes she just wishes she could make them stay put.

Back at the Summers' house, Xander and Anya discuss with Buffy her Birthday party's guest list. Buffy explains that she invited her friend, Sophie, from work. Apparently, Buffy is trying to show the Scoobies that she can make friends outside of them and the cemetery. Anya gives Buffy a hard time about her new "best bud" Sophie and then gleefully explains that she and Xander have invited someone, a nice single attractive male someone from Xander's work. Before Buffy can object to being set up, Tara arrives to distract her.

Buffy is really happy to see Tara and Tara expresses the same sentiments. Tara asks if Spike will be attending. Buffy explains that he was not invited because she's not ready to come out to her friends about the sexual nature of her relationship with Spike. Tara understands.

Willow comes downstairs to greet Tara, and while their greetings are quite amiable they both seem really hesitant. They exchange awkward small talk and compliments, until Tara can no longer stand the pressure and breaks the tension to get a drink.

In the kitchen, Spike arrives with his demon gambling buddy, Clem (Life Serial), who looks like a cross between a wrinkly dog and dumbo the man-demon. Just as Buffy tries to understand why Spike is there, Buffy's blind date, Richard, arives. He's cute and Tara makes no bones about pointing that out to Spike as Buffy leaves with Richard (to show him where to park his car). Richard is of course little freaked by the "dumbo" demon, but Buffy explains he just has a skin condition.

Spike catches Buffy in the hall a little while later and asks her to slip away with him. She tells him not in house. Spike thinks it's because of Richard. In fact, he kind of does a jealous boyfriend thing, by which Buffy seems to be a little amused.

On to the presents, Willow gives Buffy a massager to work out those post fight muscle aches. Dawn gives her a beautiful and expensive black leather jacket with the security tag still on it. The tag sounds a little alarm in Buffy's head but she doesn't have time to grill Dawn about it. Her breath is taken away as Anya and Xander wheel in a Xander-custom-made weapons/hope chest. Buffy is glowing with appreciation. Meanwhile, Dawn sulks in the corner because Buffy wasn't more impressed with her gift.

Sophie is the last party guest to arrive. Once Dawn closes the door, Halfrek is shown lurking around the front porch. Halfrek says in the most sinister way, "Wish granted."

Later when the party's at full-swing, Anya, Xander and Willow argue over whose going on the beer run, but no can seem to bring themselves to leave.

Hours later its monopoly fun for everyone and people realize that they are up for pulling an all nighter.

The next morning, Richard tells Xander they've got to get to work, except that he doesn't really feel like leaving. Xander doesn't really seem to care about leaving either. They all sort of notice that it's weird none of them has any inclination to leave. Spike starts teasing Richard, sarcastically insisting he leave. Buffy tells Spike in joke-code to back off. Their banter leads to a Spike to saying a thinly veiled joke about eating Richard. This pisses Buffy off and she grabs Spike and takes him into the hall to insist he leave but he says he can't - daylight. She says she'll leave, but then she realizes that she literally cannot. Instantly, Buffy figures out that something mystical is afoot and it's holding them there.

She tells the group and they all start complaining about all the places they need to go but can't. Dawn takes their complaints to mean that they don't want to be stuck in the house with her and she tells them as much right before storming up to her room. They all become suspicious that it's Dawn fault, like she inadvertently cursed them or something. The party-goers, led by Buffy, follow Dawn and gently try to pry information from her. Dawn exclaims that she didn't do anything (though she wishes that she had) and kicks them all out of her room.

Downstairs, Buffy wonders why Dawn's so angry and why she didn't tell Buffy that she was so unhappy and lonely. Xander points out that Buffy hasn't really been around for Dawn to tell her anything. Tara takes charge of the discussion, saying that they have to figure out what is going on. Someone suggests she do spell, but Tara says that she doesn't have anything with her to do a spell.

Willow reluctantly admits she might have kept one or two things, just in case of an emergency. Tara becomes a little peeved and tells Willow to bring her the stuff, but Willow must stay away while she performs the spell.

Tara does a spell to release them from the house, but all it succeeds in doing is releasing the sword demon, who of course wrecks havoc on Buffy's party guests. The disappearing trick he can do makes it really hard for Buffy to fight him efficiently. In the commotion the demon slashes Richard's chest. Richard does not die but is badly wounded. Meanwhile the demon seems to have disappeared inside the walls.

The gang takes Richard upstairs to wrap his wounds. Buffy assures him that they will figure a way to get him to the hospital in no time.

Night falls, and they've made no progress. Everyone is at their wit's end because there's a demon in the walls that may strike at any moment and cabin-fever is really taking its toll. Anya, especially, is feeling claustrophobic and is about ready to kill if it will get her out of the house. Xander does his best to calm her down. He goes to get Anya a glass of water and he is attacked by the wall-demon. Buffy and Spike come to the rescue, and are able to scare the demon back into the wall, but not before the demon slashes Xander's arm.

Buffy asks Dawn if she's okay and Dawn's reply is snippy! So, Buffy dismisses it (she's not really in mood to deal with Dawn's attitude). Dawn sort of explodes with pleas for attention. She starts to follow Buffy around trying to make Buffy understand how lonely she is. Buffy takes her up to her room so they can talk privately. Buffy can't believe that Dawn thinks she wouldn't understand loneliness and feeling like the odd one out. Buffy also has a hard time grasping that Dawn's been feeling abandoned and she has had no idea. Well, maybe she had some idea, but Buffy just didn't know that Dawn felt so alienated.

Downstairs, Anya starts verbally ripping into Willow, trying to bully her into trying a spell. Anya's point being that Willow is much more powerful witch than Tara and could probably do make more progress than Tara. Willow remains steadfast and tells Anya in no uncertain terms that she cannot do anything magically. Xander chimes in taking Anya's standpoint that this is an extreme situation that is worthy of Willow breaking her no-magic vow. Willow says that she doesn't even know what she'd be able to do. Anya begins to reach her boiling point and lets Willow have it, accusing her irrationally of being at fault for getting addicted to magic in the first place. Finally, Tara stands in between Anya and Willow telling Anya that if she's going to do anything to Willow she's going to have to go through Tara first.

Upstairs, Buffy and Dawn's heart to heart continues. Buffy tells Dawn that looking out for Dawn is her most important job, and this reminds Dawn of the guidance counselor (the counselor said something very similar). Buffy's slayer-sense starts tingling and she asks about the counselor. Dawn explains that there's a new guidance counselor at school that asked Dawn about her home life. Dawn goes on to explain that she sort wished that she could stop people from leaving her all time. Buffy puts two and two together (considering her wish experience compliments of Anya - The Wish) and figures that Dawn must have made a wish to vengeance demon. Just then, Anya breaks into the room looking for something, and starts pillaging through Dawn's things. Eventually, she makes it to Dawn's jewelry box. Dawn screams NO, hoping that Anya's crazy pillaging won't expose her for the little thief that she is. Alas, Anya finds all the stolen goods. Anya feels deeply betrayed because a lot of the loot came from the magic store. She starts yelling at Dawn and Dawn retreats to the living room, with Buffy and Anya following her. Buffy seems to think it's all some big misunderstanding.

In the living room with all the guests watching, Anya rebukes Dawn out for shoplifting. Dawn doesn't deny it. Meanwhile, Buffy tries to get Dawn to tell Anya that she didn't steal all those things. Dawn, of course, does not and then Anya starts ranting about the trust Dawn has violated. Buffy tries to tell them that it's not Dawn's fault because the guidance counselor tricked her. It was a very confusing exchange. Anya, Buffy and Dawn were all talking at same time. Anya somehow hears the part about Dawn making a wish to a guidance counselor and figures the whole thing out, but this doesn't end her rage, it just diverts it to Halfrek (Doublemeat Palace).

Anya summons Halfrek and she appears, but then the wall demon immediately impales her with his sword. The others fight the demon with Anya leading the effort. After some blows Buffy gets the demon with his sword, which sucks him into it again. This time Buffy realizes it and breaks the sword over her knee.

Anya makes a break for Halfrek's pendant (which must be her power source), but Halfrek is not dead. She is a demon after all. Spike recognizes her and I get the feeling Halfrek recognizes him but is embarrassed so she pretends not to know him (note: the actress who plays Halfrek, Kali Rocha, also played Cecily Adams in Fool for Love). Anyways, Halfrek wakes up and begins to lecture the gang about how they've been neglecting Dawn. Tara interrupts to say that she thought vengeance demons only took vengeance on men who have wronged woman. Halfrek explains that she is a different kind of vengeance demon (and they prefer to be called justice demons) that specializes in children that have been neglected or mistreated by their parents. Halfrek continues her lecture emphasizing that she could hear Dawn crying out (metaphorically) in pain from everywhere she went in the town. She goes on to say that they all deserve to be stuck in the house because of how awful they've made Dawn feel. Little does she know that the all of which she speaks now includes her. After several attempts to make a grand exit, Anya points out that Halfrek is stuck by her own curse. Halfrek seems a little disappointed, but she breaks the curse so that everyone can leave.

A little later, Willow privately explains to Tara why she kept a couple of magical instruments. Willow explains the things were just a safety net that she didn't plan on using, but kept just in case things got really bad. Tara tells her it's time to move on with out the net especially since things did get really bad, and Willow was still able to just say NO!

Even though the curse was lifted the cabin-fevered partygoers are all a little hesitant about approaching the door for fear they may still be stuck. Everyone gathers around for support and work up the nerve to try the door. It works! Everyone except Buffy flees the house with a new found appreciation for the great outdoors. Buffy, on the other hand, is content to stay indoors and spend some more quality time with Dawn.

The Usual
The Usual

Random Quotage:

I do not babble. I occasionally run-on, every now and then I yammer...
-Xander (Phases)

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