-- Quotes --
Written by Zinna
Buffy returns home from her bout with April the Robot. She calls out to Mom, but no one answers. She sees Joyce on the couch, eyes wide open and motionless, and continues calling her, but receives no answer. Softly, Buffy cries out "Mommy?"
Flash to Christmas 2000, the Scoobies all gather at the Summers' house for dinner. It appears to be a very happy time. Everyone's talking about how stuffed they are from all the good eatin'. Buffy and Joyce take the dishes into the kitchen. In the dining room a discussion breaks out about Santa Claus. Anya informs the groups that there's actually a Santa Claus but he delivers disemboweled children as opposed to presents like the mythology claims.
In the kitchen Joyce is a bit perturbed that her pie is a little overcooked. Buffy cheerfully tells her that it's blackened like a Cajun pie. Giles offers to open another bottle of wine. Joyce wonders if they dare open another. Buffy says its fine with her as long as the two stay away from the band candy. Joyce playfully calls Buffy a demon child for tormenting them so. They laugh and joke, and as both reach for the pie, it tumbles out of their hands and falls to the floor.
Flash to present day, Buffy's mother still lies with her eyes open starring blankly at nothing. Joyce isn't moving and she does not appear to be breathing. Buffy shakes her and calls to her as if to wake her. When that doesn't work she calls 911. The emergency operator tells her to perform CPR. Buffy, slowly, drifting into panic mode, tries to pull it together to remember how to do it. She performs mouth to mouth and then pumps her mom's chest until she hears a bone break. Buffy stops abruptly and tells the operator that she broke something. The operator tells her not to worry about it and wait for the ambulance that should be arriving any minute. Buffy turns pale and tells the operator she has to make a call. She calls Giles and says "She's in the house. You have to come."
Momentarily, the ambulance arrives. The paramedics are able to revive Joyce. They rush her to the hospital and the doctors are able to correct whatever went wrong in Joyce's head. The doctors tell Buffy it's a miracle. Joyce tells Buffy it was good thing that Buffy was there. Buffy is just glad that her mom is okay.
Flash back to reality -- the paramedics are attempting to revive Joyce, but they realize that the body's cold. They pronounce Joyce Summers dead. They inform Buffy and tell her not to disturb the body until the coroner arrives. Buffy's panicked demeanor turns eerily calm. She wishes the paramedics good luck as they rush off on another call.
Buffy walks aimlessly towards the kitchen and falls to floor vomiting. She then stands slowly and walks to kitchen. She opens the back door and looks out. Her face is sweaty and pale. She grabs a wad of paper towels on her way back to the dining room. She covers up the place where she vomited.
Giles arrives, thinking Glory is attacking. Buffy tells him that she's waiting for the coroner. She says that she should go to Dawn's school and tell her what happened. Giles is confused. He sees Joyce lying on floor and rushes to her. He calls to her. Buffy runs into the living room and tells him that they aren't supposed to move the body. As the words leave her mouth, she begins to cry, realizing that she has just called her mother a body. Giles is by her side in an instant. He holds her with all his might.
The coroner arrives. They place the body in a body bag and take the body away.
At school Dawn is crying in the bathroom as she tells her friend how some Kevin guy called her freak. Her friend, Lisa, comes out of the stall and washes her hands. She tells Dawn not to take it so literally. Then she tells Dawn about some other rumors some awful girl named Kristy has been spreading about Dawn being into cutting and other suicidal things like that. Dawn marvels at how much a bitch this Kristy is. Lisa tells Dawn to pull it together, unless she wants to give Kristy more to gossip about. Dawn dries her eyes and attempts to look as if everything's peachy.
The two walk calmly out of the bathroom down the hall. They pass Kristy, who asks how things are going. Dawn says things are good. She and Lisa go into their art class. Dawn's easel is next to Kevin's. He greets her in friendly manner and he comments that Dawn is doing well with her drawing. Dawn blushes. Kevin tells her that he heard she freaked out and cut herself. Dawn begins to deny it but then Kevin says he can relate. Dawn smiles and they start talk about how intense things can get.
Buffy appears and asks Dawn to go outside with her. Dawn is little annoyed to be interrupted and wants Buffy to wait, at least until her class is over. Buffy asks if she can please come with her now. Dawn obliges her and they walk out into the hallway. Dawn's class watches through the windows, as Buffy breaks the news. Dawn becomes hysterical. She accuses Buffy of lying. Eventually she collapses to the floor crying. Buffy kneels beside her to comfort her, but there isn't much that she can do.
At the hospital, a medical examiner undresses the body.
Xander and Anya drive to Willow's dorm. Willow freaks out trying to find an appropriate shirt for visiting the morgue. She really wants a blue sweater that Joyce liked, which they've torn the room apart looking for, but to no avail. Tara tries to calm her. She kisses her and tells her, "We can do this." Willow takes some comfort in that.
Xander and Anya arrive. Willow still can't decide on a shirt, and she continues to fuss about in her closet. She stops to hug Xander. Xander wants to know the plan. Tara tells them that they are to meet Buffy at the morgue. She says Buffy's gone to the school to tell Dawn. The whole group shudders at the thought of telling Dawn. Xander become livid. He starts asking if it has something to do with Glory. No one thinks so. Giles thinks it happened naturally. So, Xander goes off on how the doctors are to blame. Willow tries to explain that things like this just happen then she realizes Xander isn't really blaming the doctors. He's looking for a fight. She tells to put up his dukes. He realizes he's acting like an ass and kisses Willow on her forehead.
Suddenly Willow decides that she needs to change. Tara offers to check the laundry room for the blue sweater. While she's gone Anya asks if they have to be in the same room as the body and if they are going to cut the body open. Willow can't handle Anya asking such blunt questions. She tells Anya it's not okay for her ask such things. Anya proclaims that she doesn't understand. She becomes very emotional and weepy and explains how confusing and traumatic this all is for her. She doesn't understand how they are supposed to go through this. She doesn't know what to do with all the hurt and all the pain. She doesn't how to think, now that she'll never see Joyce again. She covers her face and begins sobbing. Xander attempts to comfort her but she refuses him and collapses into a chair. She turns around to move a stuffed animal pillow thing and comes across a blue sweater. Not knowing that Willow's been frantically searching for a blue sweater this entire time, Anya just tucks it away in the drawer and hugs the pillow thing to her chest. Suddenly they are startled by a loud sound.
Xander has punched his fist through the wall. The two girls rush to his side. Apparently, his hand is stuck. They scold him, because such a thing is dangerous. Then they help him out of the wall. He says that it made him feel better for a second. Tara didn't find the sweater in the laundry room. Willow says it doesn't matter; she throws something on and they leave.
At the hospital, they all find Buffy, Dawn and Giles. They all hug each other and express their condolences to Buffy and Dawn. Soon the doctors come to tell Buffy the cause of death.
Joyce died of an aneurysm. She most likely suffered no pain because it happened so quickly. There was probably nothing anyone could have done. Buffy has a flash of her mother being revived by paramedics and going to hospital and everything turning out okay. Mostly, imagining her mother alive. She asks if the doctor is sure that there wasn't a lot of pain. He says absolutely, but she hears that him say he has to lie to make her feel better.
The doctor wants Buffy to fill out some forms, but Giles explains that he'll take care of all the paperwork. He leaves with the doctor.
Buffy goes back to the group. She tells them that Giles has gone to take care of the paperwork. They ask if she needs anything. Buffy says she wouldn't know. She does think, however, that Dawn should eat something. They go off to rally snacks leaving Dawn, Buffy and Tara behind. Dawn then says she has to pee.
Tara and Buffy sit awkward still. Buffy tells Tara that she's sorry that she has to go through all of this. Tara assures her that she should be the least of Buffy's worries. Buffy tries to explain how she feels like she isn't even there. Like she doesn't even know what's going on around her. She tells Tara that she's never been through this before. Tara says that she has. Tara's mother died when she was seventeen. Buffy is surprised. Buffy says that she is sorry. Tara tries to explain that she didn't mean to make it about her. Tara was just trying to say that she had some idea of what Buffy was feeling, but she stumbles through the explanation. Buffy doesn't have any words.
The gang comes back with arms full of snacks and beverages. Buffy doesn't want anything, but she realizes that Dawn should've returned from the bathroom by then.
Buffy goes to check on her. At first she looks at the bathroom door, but then somehow she knows that Dawn has gone to the morgue. She gets there to finds Dawn struggling with vampire, who has just risen from one of the tables. Buffy goes in to save her but the door is locked. Buffy breaks through. She fights the vamp. He isn't so easy to kill but Buffy is able to behead him with a surgical saw. Out of breath Buffy lies on the ground. In the commotion Dawn was flung to the ground was lying directly underneath the table that holds Joyce's body. Buffy looks helplessly as Dawn stands and sees her mother's lifeless body. Buffy tells Dawn that the body is not their mom. Their mom is gone. Dawn asks, "Where did she go?"
Not that you would care but I just have to say that this episode is very touching to me because my father died unexpectedly when I was seven years old. I remember exactly how it felt and no other TV show has captured the way it feels like this episode did. Just thought you should know.