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PROLOGUE: The Bronze. A girl is screaming. A vampire is advancing on Buffy as she backs into a pole. She throws a solid right to his face followed by a left. The vampire isn't fazed, and he grabs her and throws her onto a pool table. He leans over her to bite. Xander comes up behind the vampire, grabs him by the shoulders and pulls him off of Buffy. Xander: May I cut in? He bashes the vampire's head into the pool table, turns him around and punches him in the gut and the face. The vampire falls to the floor, unconscious. Buffy is impressed and gives him a big smile. Xander offers her his hand to help her off of the pool table. Xander: You alright? Buffy: (exhales) Thanks to you! She slides off of the table and notices Xander's hand. Buffy: You hurt your hand! Will you still be able to... Xander: ...finish my solo and kiss you like you've never been kissed before? He gives her a wink and starts back to the stage. The vampire gets back up and growls at Buffy. Xander sees him, breaks the leg off of a chair that's been knocked over and throws the makeshift stake at the vampire. Buffy watches the stake fly into the vampire's chest, and he falls dead. She turns her gaze back on Xander. He jumps up onto stage and grabs his guitar to continue his solo. Buffy looks up at him adoringly and advances to the stage as he plays. Buffy: You're drooling. Xander gives her a confused look. Cut to science class. It's dark because Dr. Gregory is giving a slide show. Buffy: Xander! He wakes up from his daydream and shakes his head. Buffy indicates the corner of her mouth. Buffy: You've got a little... He picks up on her gesture and quickly wipes the drool off of his mouth and chin. Dr. Gregory: Their ancestors were here long before we were. Their progeny will be here long after we are gone. The simple and ubiquitous ant. He turns off the projector, turns the lights on and begins walking up the aisle. Dr. Gregory: Now. If you read the homework you should know the two ways that ants communicate. He stops at Xander's lab table and leans on it to face Buffy. Dr. Gregory: Miss Summers. Buffy: (on the spot) Ways that ants communicate. Dr. Gregory: (nodding his head) Mm. Buffy: With other ants. Dr. Gregory: From the homework. Behind him Willow tries to get Buffy's attention. Dr. Gregory: Ants are communicating... Buffy: (sees Willow's signals) Um, uh, uh... Willow strokes Xander's back, indicating "touch". Buffy: Touch... Dr. Gregory: (nodding) Mm-hmm. Buffy: And, um... She looks at Willow again. She is sniffing Xander, indicating "smell". Buffy: (confused) B.O.? Several students laugh. Willow gives her a disappointed look. Blayne: Thank God someone finally found the courage to mention that! Dr. Gregory: That would be 'touch' and 'smell', Miss Summers. Is there anything else Miss Rosenberg would like to tell you? Willow quickly turns away in her seat. The bell rings. Dr. Gregory starts to move back to the front of the class. Dr. Gregory: Alright, chapters six through eight by tomorrow, people. (stops and looks back at Buffy) Can I see you for a moment? Buffy nods. Cut to after the other students have left the room. Buffy leans against a lab table. Dr. Gregory idly reviews his slides. Dr. Gregory: I gather you had a few problems at your last school? Buffy: Well, what teenager doesn't? Dr. Gregory: Cut school, get in fights, burn down the gymnasium... Principal Flutie showed me your permanent record. He walks to the front of the class, and Buffy follows him. Buffy: Well, that fire, I mean, there was major extenuating circumstances. Actually, it's, uh, kinda funny! Dr. Gregory: Can't wait to see what you're gonna do *here*. He goes to the closet, gets his other glasses from his coat and cleans them. Buffy: Destructo Girl. That's me. Dr. Gregory: But I suspect it's gonna be great. Buffy: You mean, 'great' in a bad way? Dr. Gregory: (looks at her, then back at his glasses) You have a first- rate mind and you can think on your feet. Imagine what you could accomplish if you actually did the... Buffy: ...the homework thing. Dr. Gregory: The homework thing. I understand you probably have a good excuse for not doing it. (closes the closet and walks back to his lab table) Amazingly enough, I don't care. I know you can excel in this class, and so I expect no less. Is that clear? Buffy: Yeah! Sorry. Dr. Gregory: Don't be sorry, be smart. (looks at another slide) And please don't listen to the principal or anyone else's negative opinion about you. Let's make 'em eat that permanent record. Whadaya say? He looks up at Buffy and gives her a little smile. She smiles back. Buffy: Okay! Thanks. He nods his head. She grabs her bag. Dr. Gregory: Chapters six through eight! Buffy looks back at him with a smile and leaves the classroom. Dr. Gregory puts the slide down, goes over to turn off the lights and comes back to his slide-viewing plate. While he concentrates on the slides, the closet door opens. Cut to a view of Dr. Gregory from the closet. The camera advances on him. Cut in front of him. He's concentrating on the slides. Cut behind him. A large, green mantis claw goes around his neck. Dr. Gregory looks up behind him and screams. The claw drags him off of his chair. His glasses hit the floor and break, and an instant later so does he. Opening credits roll. Buffy's theme plays. PART 1: The Bronze. The live band is Superfine, playing "Already Met You". Xander dances lamely through the crowd. Lyrics: The first date's the worst date / It's hard to know just what to do / And I take you to dinner / You don't eat, you just play with your food Xander is on the dance floor and looks around. He makes his way to the stage and gives the singer an acknowledging nod and grin. Lyrics: And there's something familiar... The singer gives him a "get outta here" look. Lyrics: About every word you say Xander is disappointed and moves away from the stage. Lyrics: It's hard to believe it's happened again / I already met you / And I already met you / You're like my last girlfriend / Yes, and the girlfriend I had before her Xander goes over to the bar where Blayne and his friend are sitting. Blayne: Seven, including Cheryl. I'll tell you, though, her sister was lookin' to make it eight! Boy: Ooo, Cheryl's sister? The one in college? Blayne: (nods) Home for the holidays and lookin' for love! She's not my type, though. Girls really gotta have something to go with me. Xander: (interrupting) Something like a lobotomy? The two boys look at him. Blayne: Xander. How many times you score? Xander: Well, uh... Blayne: It's just a question. Xander: Are we talking today, or the whole week? The two boys snicker. Xander spots Buffy and Willow coming down the stairs. Xander: Ooo! Duty calls! He leaves the bar and approaches the girls as Blayne and his friend watch. Xander: Babes! The girls look back at him. He comes up to them with his arms wide open and grabs them both around the shoulders. Buffy: What are you doing? Xander: (to Buffy) Work with me here. Blayne had the nerve to question my manliness. I'm just gonna give him a visual. Willow: (throws her arms around him tightly) We'll show him! Xander looks back at Blayne, gives him a thumbs up and puts his arm back around Willow. The two boys seem impressed. Buffy: (distracted) I don't believe it. Xander: I know, and after all my conquests. Buffy sees Angel and goes over to him. Xander: Who's that? Willow: That must be Angel! I think? Xander: That weird guy that warned her about all the vampires? Willow: That's him, I'll bet you. Xander: Well, he's buff! She never said anything about him being buff! Willow: You think he's buff? Xander: He's a very attractive man! How come *that* never came up? Cut to Angel. Buffy comes up to him. Buffy: Well! Look who's here! Angel: Hi. Buffy: I'd say it's nice to see you, but then we both know that's a big fib. Angel: I won't be long. Buffy: No, you'll just give me a cryptic warning about some exciting new catastrophe, and then disappear into the night. Right? Angel: You're cold. Buffy: You can take it. Angel: (takes off his jacket) I mean, you look cold. He puts his jacket around her shoulders. Cut to Willow and Xander. Xander: Oh, right! Give her your jacket. It's a balmy night, no one needs to be trading clothing out there! Cut to Buffy and Angel. Buffy: A little big on me. (notices a series of cuts on Angel's arm) What happened? Angel: I didn't pay attention. Buffy: To somebody with a big fork? Angel: He's coming. Buffy: The Fork Guy? Angel: Don't let him corner you. Don't give him a moment's mercy. He'll rip your throat out. Buffy: Okay, I'll give you improved marks for that one. Ripping a throat out, it's a strong visual, it's not cryptic! Angel: I have to go. (leaves) Buffy: (stares after him) Sweet dreams to you, too. Cut to Sunnydale High the next morning. Buffy and Giles are walking along in front of the school. Giles is eating an apple. Giles: That's all he said? Fork Guy? Buffy: That's all Cryptic Guy said: Fork Guy. Giles: I think there are too many 'guys' in your life. (laughs) They meet Willow sitting on a bench. Giles: I'll see what I can find out. (looks up at the sky) God, every day here is the same. Buffy: Bright, sunny, beautiful, how ever can we escape this torment? Willow gives her a smile. Buffy puts down her bag and sits down next to her. Giles: Really. Xander comes up behind Giles as he turns to leave. Giles: Good morning. Xander: Mornin'. (to the girls) Guess what I just heard in the office? No Dr. Gregory today. Ergo, those of us who blew off our science homework aren't as dumb as we look. He reaches down and flips Willow's book closed. She has to stop it from sliding off of her lap. Buffy: What happened, is he sick? Xander: They didn't say anything about sick, something about missing. Buffy: He's missing? Xander: Well, let me think. Um, the cheerleaders were modeling their new short skirts, that kinda got... Yeah! Yeah, they said missing. Willow and Buffy exchange a look. Xander: Which is bad? Buffy: If something's wrong, yeah! Willow: He's one of the only teachers that doesn't think Buffy's a felon. Xander: I'm really sorry, I'm sure he'll... He looks up and sees Miss Natalie French walking toward them. Xander: I, uh, huh... The girls look to see what's distracting him. Xander: Uh, huh... huh... Cut to a slow motion shot of Natalie walking. She comes right up to Xander, who just stares at her. Natalie: Could you help me? Xander: Uuuuuuhhhhhh... Yes! Willow and Buffy give each other amused looks. Natalie: I'm looking for Science... 109. Xander: Oh! It's, um... He looks around himself, trying to remember the way. He turns back to Natalie. Xander: (smiles) I go there every day! Natalie laughs. Xander: (looks to the girls for help) Oh, God, where is it? Willow and Buffy just shrug. Blayne appears behind Natalie and introduces himself. Blayne: Hi! Blayne Mall. I'm going there right now. It's not far from the varsity field where I took All-City last year. (smiles smugly) Natalie: Oh! Thank you, Blayne! She and Blayne leave. Xander's gaze follows them for a moment, and then he turns back to Willow and Buffy. Xander: It's funny how the Earth never opens up and swallows you when you want it to. The girls nod their heads and give each other a smile. Cut to science class. Natalie is writing her name on the board. Buffy, Willow and Xander walk in. Buffy spots Dr. Gregory's glasses on the floor and picks them up. Willow: What's wrong? Buffy: Dr. Gregory dropped his glasses... Why wouldn't he pick them up? She sets the glasses on the lab table and gives Natalie a glance as she walks to her stool. Natalie faces the class. Natalie: My name is Natalie French, and I will be substituting for Dr. Gregory. Buffy: Do you know when he's coming back? Natalie: No, I don't, um, (checks her roster) Buffy. They just call and tell me where they want me. Blayne: (in a low voice) I'll tell you where I want you. Natalie: Excuse me, Blayne? Blayne: Uh, I was just wondering if you were gonna pick up where Dr. Gregory left off. Natalie: (smiles) Yes. His notes tell me you were right in the middle of insect life. She picks up a mantis mounted in a clear plastic box. Natalie: The praying mantis is a fascinating creature. Forced to live alone. Who can tell me why? Buffy? She puts the mantis back down. Buffy: Well, the words 'bug-ugly' kinda spring to mind. There's lots of muffled laughter. Natalie: There is nothing ugly about these unique creatures. The reason they live alone is because they're cannibals! Buffy: Eww! Everyone in class looks disgusted. Natalie: Oh, well, it's hardly their fault! It's the way nature designed them: noble, solitary and prolific. Over 1800 species worldwide, and in nearly all of them the female is larger *and* more aggressive than the male. Blayne: (aside to Buffy) Nothing wrong with an aggressive female. Buffy angles her head and gives him a look. Natalie picks up her notebook and starts to walk around the room. Natalie: The California Mantis lays her eggs, and then finds a mate... She looks at Xander. He stares back. Natalie: ...to fertilize them. Once he's played his part, she covers the eggs in a protective sack and attaches it to a leaf or twig out of danger. Now, if she's done her job correctly, in a few months she'll have several hundred offspring. She has made her way back to the front of the class and puts down her notebook. Natalie: You know, we should make some model egg sacks for the science fair. Who would like to help me do that after school? All the boys raise their hands. Natalie: (pleased) Good! Cut to the cafeteria. Buffy, Willow and Xander are in line. Buffy: Hot dog surprise. Be still, my heart. Willow: Call me old-fashioned, I don't want any more surprises in my hot dogs. Xander: I wonder what she sees in me? It's probably the quiet good looks coupled with a certain smoky magnetism. Willow raises her eyebrows at him. She turns to Buffy and they smile. Xander: Miss French. You two're probably a little young to understand what an older woman would see in a younger man. Buffy: Oh, I understand. Xander: Good! Buffy: The younger man is too dumb to wonder why an older woman can't find someone her own age, and too desperate to care about the surgical improvements! Xander: (taken aback) What surgical improvements? Willow: (to Buffy) Well, he is young. Buffy: And so terribly innocent! Xander: Hey, those that can, do. Those that can't *laugh* at those who... can do. Blayne comes up next to Xander, getting lots of food. Blayne: Gotta carb up for my one-on-one with Miss French today. When's yours? Oh, right, tomorrow. You came in second, I came in first. Guess that's what they call natural selection. (leaves) Xander: Guess it's what they call a rehearsal! (to the girls) Rehearsal... (laughs lamely) The girls smile. Buffy goes over to get some utensils. As she walks back Cordelia comes in through the exit and bumps into her. Cordelia: (to Buffy) Excuse you! She goes behind the counter, showing a piece of paper to the cafeteria workers. Cordelia: Medically prescribed lunch. My doctor ships it daily... I'll only be here as long as I can hold my breath. She opens a refrigerator and screams. Inside is a headless body. Buffy and Willow run to see what's wrong. Cordelia backs away from the fridge. Cordelia: (hysterically) His head! His head! Oh, my God, where's his head?! Buffy and Willow arrive to see what's inside. Buffy stares in disbelief. Xander is close behind and has to look away when he sees. Willow looks squeamish. The name on the body's lab coat is "Dr. Gregory". Cut to the library. Giles pours a glass of water. He brings it over to Buffy, who is sitting on the steps with Willow. Both girls have deeply sad looks on their faces. Buffy has been crying. Giles: (hands the glass to Buffy) Here. Drink this. Buffy: (idly takes the glass) No, thank you. (takes a sip) Xander: (behind Giles) I've never seen... Giles looks back at Xander. Xander: (shaken) I mean, I've never seen anything like... That was new. Willow: Who would wanna hurt Dr. Gregory? Giles: Uh, he didn't have any enemies on the staff that I'm aware of. He was a civilized man. I liked him. Buffy: So did I. Willow: (looks up at Giles) Well, we're gonna find out who did this. We'll find them and we'll stop them. Buffy: Count on it. Giles: What do we know? Buffy: Oh, not a lot, um... (sniffs and wipes a tear from her nose) He was killed here on campus. I'm guessing the last day we saw him. Giles: How do you work that out? Buffy: He didn't change his clothing. Xander: This is a question that no one particularly wants to hear, but... where did they put his head? Willow: Good point. I *didn't* wanna hear that. Buffy: Angel! (gets up) He warned me that something was coming. She takes another sip of water as she walks over to the table. Giles: Yes. Yes he did, didn't he? I wish I knew what he meant. I've been trying to gather more information about the Master, our, uh, local vampire king. There was one oblique reference to a, a, a vampire who displeased the Master and cut his hand off in penance. Buffy: Cut off his hand and replaced it with a fork? Giles: I don't know what he replaced it with. Xander: So, why would he come after a teacher? Giles: I'm not certain he did. There was an incident two nights ago... He walks over to the counter, picks up a newspaper and returns with it. Giles: ...uh, involving a homeless person in Weatherly Park. He was practically shredded, but, uh, nothing like Dr. Gregory. Buffy: (looks at the paper) Fork Guy doesn't do heads. Giles: Not historically. Buffy: And Dr. Gregory's blood wasn't drained. Xander: So there's something else out there? Besides Silverwareman? Oh, this is fun, we're on Monster Island. Buffy: We're on a Hellmouth. It's a center of mystical convergence. Guess it's the same thing. (walks toward Xander) Giles: Well, unpleasant things do gravitate here, it's true, but, uh, we don't know there's anything besides this chap. He's still our likely suspect. Buffy: Where was that guy killed? Weatherly Park? Giles: Buffy. (advances toward her) I know you're upset, but, uh, this is no time to go hunting, not until we know more. Please promise me you won't do anything rash? Buffy: Cross my heart. Cut to the park at night. Buffy climbs the fence. She walks through the park, carefully looking around. A bum comes up to her, startling her. Bum: Shouldn't be out here at night, little lady. Dangerous. The bum leaves. She notices another bum on the ground in front of a bench, and she checks him out. He's okay, just asleep. Buffy continues stalking. Dogs bark in the distance. Buffy finds some shrubbery covering a sewer access hole. She moves it aside, and Fork Guy jumps out at her. She rushes backward. He swings with his claw, but misses. She slams her straight arm into his gut, then again into his back. He swings again, but Buffy dodges him. She backhand punches him in the face, does a roundhouse kick to his jaw and backhand punches his face again. He takes another swing at Buffy, but she evades it. She front kicks him. He lunges at her, and she grabs his arm and flips him over onto his back. Buffy tries to stake him, but he rolls away and back onto his feet. She kicks him again, and he staggers backward and falls. Buffy hears voices and turns to see people with flashlights coming over the hill. Voices: Hold it! Police! Did you see that? I got nothing here! Buffy looks back and forth between Fork Guy and the posse. The vampire runs off. Voices: I heard it. Spread out. Let's go over here. This way, this way. Alright... Buffy makes tracks after the vampire. Cut to the fence at the edge of the park. Natalie is walking home on the other side with grocery bags in her arms. The vampire stalks her and climbs over the fence. Buffy comes running up. The vampire lands behind Natalie. Buffy reaches the fence and watches. Natalie senses the vampire, stops and turns to face him. Fork Guy hisses and runs away in fear. Natalie watches him go. Buffy can't believe what she's seeing. The vampire crosses the street, lifts a manhole cover and climbs down. Natalie continues her walk home. Fork Guy pulls the manhole cover back into place. Buffy came only stare after Natalie, her mouth agape. PART 2: Sunnydale High, the next morning. Cut to the library. Giles: You went hunting last night. Buffy: Yes. He walks into his office. She follows behind him. Giles: When you assured me you wouldn't. (takes a sip from his mug) Buffy: Yes, I lied, I'm a bad person, let's move on. Giles: (opens his file cabinet) Did you see someone with a fork? Buffy: More like a jumbo claw. Giles: (turns to face her) Oh. Well, uh, at least you're not hurt. Buffy: And I saw something else. Something much more interesting than your average run-of-the-mill killer vampire. Giles: Oh? Buffy: Do you know Miss French, the teacher that's subbing for Dr. Gregory? Giles: (smiles) Yes. Yes, she's lovely. In a, a common, extremely well proportioned way. (puts some files away) Buffy: Well, I'm chasing Claw Guy last night, and Miss Well Proportioned is heading home. The Claw Guy takes one look at her and runs screaming for cover. Giles: (confused) He what? Ran away? Buffy: He was petrified. Giles: Of Miss French? Buffy: Uh-huh! So I'm an undead monster that can shave with my hand... How many things am I afraid of? Giles: Not many. And not substitute teachers, as a rule. Buffy: So what's her deal? Giles: I think perhaps it would be a good idea if we kept an eye on her. Buffy: Then I better get to class. She leaves the office. Cut to Buffy rushing down the stairs in the halls. She is stopped by Principal Flutie. Mr. Flutie: You were there. You saw Dr. Gregory, didn't you? Buffy: Um, you mean yesterday in the cafeteria when we found him... Mr. Flutie: Don't say dead! Or decapitated, or decomposing, I'd stay away from D-words altogether. But you witnessed the event, so this way, please. (starts down the hall) Buffy: (stops him short) Well, no, I'm gonna be late for biology... Mr. Flutie: Extremely late! (starts down the hall again) You have to see a counselor. Everyone who saw the body has to see a crisis counselor. Buffy: But I really don't need... Mr. Flutie: We all need help with our feelings. Otherwise we bottle them up, and before you know it, powerful laxatives are involved. I really believe if we all reach out to one another we can beat this thing. I'm always here if you need a hug, (jumps back) but not a real hug! Because there's no touching, this school is sensitive to wrong touching. Buffy: But, I really, really don't... Mr. Flutie: No, you have to talk to a counselor and start the healing. You have to heal. Buffy: But Mr. Flutie, I... Mr. Flutie: Heal! He sits her down in a chair outside of the counselor's office and paces off. Buffy leans back in the chair and looks bummed. Then she hears Cordelia inside the office. Cordelia: I don't know what to say, it was really, I mean, one minute you're in your normal life, and then who's in the fridge? (the camera pans over to show her inside) It really gets to you, a thing like that. (cut inside) It was... let's just say I haven't been able to eat a thing since yesterday. I think I lost, like, seven and a half ounces? Way swifter than that so-called diet that quack put me on. Oh, I'm not saying that we should kill a teacher every day just so I can lose weight, I'm just saying when tragedy strikes, we have to look on the bright side. You know? Cut to Buffy. What she's hearing is just too weird. Cordelia: Like, how even used Mercedes still have leather seats! Cut to science class. Natalie is giving a pop quiz, and is walking along the aisle. Natalie: Keep your eyes straight ahead on your own test. She comes up behind Xander. Natalie: (in a low voice) I think you meant 'pollination' for number fourteen. (puts her hand on his shoulder) I'll see you here after school. Cut to the hall. Buffy comes running to class and looks in through the door window. Buffy: Oh, great, a pop quiz. Cut inside. Natalie suddenly straightens up. Buffy looks in. She sees Natalie turn her head around 180 degrees. Her eyes go wide with amazement. She quickly rolls away from the window. Cut to the library. Buffy and Willow come in. Buffy: No, I'm not saying she craned her neck. We are talking full-on Exorcist twist. Willow: Ouch! Buffy: Which reminds me, how come Blayne, who worked with her one-on- one yesterday, isn't here today? Willow: Inquiring minds wanna know. Buffy: (to Giles) Any luck? Willow sits down in front of the PC and begins a search. Giles: Um, I've not found any creature as yet that strikes terror in a vampire's heart. Buffy: Try looking under things that can turn their heads all the way around. Giles: Nothing human can do that. Buffy: No, nothing human. There are some insects that can. Whatever she is, I'm gonna be ready for her. She turns and hops up the stairs to the stacks. Giles takes off his glasses. Giles: What are you going to do? Buffy: (turns back to answer) My homework. She continues up into the stacks. Willow looks up at her and smiles, then continues her search. Buffy comes running back. Buffy: Where are the books on bugs? Cut to the science classroom. Natalie is at the desk spreading butter on a slice of bread. She's about to open a plastic container when she hears Xander come in and looks up. Xander: Hi! Natalie: Oh, Hi! I was just grabbing a snack. Can I fix you something? Xander: No thanks, I never... eat when I'm making egg sacks. (sees the model) Wow, if this were real the bugs would be... Natalie: ...as big as you! Xander: Yeah! So! Where do we start? Natalie: Oh, Xander! (gets up) I've done something really stupid. I hope you can forgive me. Xander: Oh, forgiveness is my middle name! Well, actually it's LaVelle, and I'd appreciate it if you guard that secret with your life. (laughs) Natalie: (laughs) I have a teacher's conference in half an hour, and I left the paint and papier-mâché at home. I don't suppose you'd like to come to my place tonight to work on it there? Xander: (swallows) Come to, uh... your place? He flashes to his guitar solo for a moment. Natalie: 7:30? Here's my address. (writes it down) Xander can't believe his luck. Natalie: (hands him her address) I'll see you tonight? Xander: (in a high, squeaky voice) Yeah! Cut to the hall. Xander comes out of the classroom. Xander: (pumping his fists into the air) Ooo, yes! Cut inside the classroom. Natalie opens the container now. It's full of crickets. She dumps them onto the buttered bread and folds the slice in half. She takes a bite. Crunchy! Cut to the library. Buffy comes out of the stacks with a book. Buffy: Dig this: 'The praying mantis can rotate its head 180 degrees while waiting for its next meal to walk by.' (slams the book shut) Ha! (silence) Well, c'mon, guys. Ha! Willow: Well, Miss French is sort of big. For a bug? Giles: And she is, by and large, woman shaped. Buffy: (makes her way down to them) Okay. Factoid 1: Only the praying mantis can rotate its head like that. Factoid 2: A pretty whacked-out vampire is scared to death of her. Factoid 3: Her fashion sense screams predator. Willow: It's the shoulder pads. Buffy: Exactly. Giles: If you're right, then she'd have to be a shape shifter or a perception distorter. On a helpful note, I had a chum at Oxford, Carlyle, advanced degrees in entomology mythology. Buffy: Entoma-who? Giles: Bugs and fairy tales. Buffy: I knew that. Giles: If I recall correctly, poor old Carlyle, just before he went mad, claimed there was some beast... Willow: (the PC beeps) Buffy, 911! Blayne's mom called the school. He never came home last night. Giles: The boy who worked with Miss French yesterday? Willow: Yeah! If Miss French is responsible for... Xander's supposed to be helping her right now! He's got a crush on a giant insect! Buffy: Okay, don't panic, I'll warn him. But I need you to hack onto the coroner's office for me. Willow: Well, what are we looking for? Buffy: Autopsy on Dr. Gregory. I've been trying to figures out these marks that I saw on his corpse... I'm thinking they were teeth. And, uh, these cuddlies? (points to a picture of a mantis) Should definitely be brushing after every meal. (Willow types) (to Giles) And you were saying something about a beast? Giles: (gets up to go to his office) Oh, uh, yeah, I just need to make one transatlantic telephone call. (stops and turns back) Um, this computer invasion that Willow's performing on the coroner's office, one, one assumes it is entirely legal? Willow and Buffy answer simultaneously. Willow: Entirely! Buffy: Of course! Giles: Right. Wasn't here, didn't see it, couldn't have stopped you. Buffy: Good idea. Cut outside. Buffy catches up with Xander. Buffy: Hey! Xander: Hey! Buffy: So, how'd it go with Miss French? Xander: Well, it's a bit demanding being her absolute favorite guy in the universe, but I'll muddle through. Buffy: Xander, she's not what she seems. Xander: I know, she's so much more. Buffy: Okay, um... I'm gonna have to tell you something about her, and I'm gonna need you to really listen, okay? Xander: Okay. Buffy: I don't think she's human. Xander: I see. So if she's not human she's...? Buffy: Technically? A big bug. Xander laughs. Buffy: This sounds really weird, I'm aware of that... Xander: It doesn't sound weird at all, I completely understand. I've met someone, and you're jealous. Buffy: What? Xander: Look, there's nothing I can do about it. Uh, there's just this certain chemical thing between Miss French and me. Buffy: I know, I read all about it, it's call, um, a pheromone. It's a chemical attractant that insects give off. Xander: She's not an insect! She's a woman, okay? And hard as that may be for you to conceive, an actual woman finds me attractive. I realize it's no mystery guy handing out leather jackets, and while we're on the subject, what kind of a girlie name is 'Angel' anyway? Buffy: What does that have to do with... Xander: Nothing! It just kinda bugs me. Look, I really gotta... He walks off. Buffy turns and watches him go. Buffy: Wha...? Cut to Natalie's house that night. She pours two martinis. Her dress shows lots of cleavage. The doorbell rings. She smiles and goes to open it. Natalie: Hi! Come on in! Xander stares at her cleavage as he comes in. Natalie: Should I change? Is, is this too... (she closes the door) Xander: No, no, it's, the most beautiful chest... dress I've ever seen. She smiles and goes back into the living room. Xander follows. Natalie: Thank you. That's sweet. Martini? (offers him one) Oh, I'm sorry, would you like something else? Xander quickly accepts the drink. Natalie: (laughs) I just need to relax a little, I'm kinda nervous around you. (she sits down) You're probably cool as a cucumber! Xander: (sits down) I like cucumbers. Like in that Greek salad thing with the yogurt. Do you like Greek food? I'm exempting Schwarma, of course, I mean, what's that all about? It's a big meat hive. They laugh, he nervously, she playfully. Xander gulps the martini. Xander: Hhhhhhho! Hello! Natalie: Cheers! (clinks their glasses) Can I ask you a personal question? She puts her glass down and gets closer to Xander. Natalie: Have you ever been with a woman before? Xander: You mean, like, in, uh, the same room? Natalie: You know what I mean. Xander: Oh, that, uh... Well, let me think. Um... Natalie runs her fingers though his hair and around his ear. Xander: Yeah, there was, uh... several! She continues her stroke down to Xander's chin. Xander: I mean, and, uh, quite a few times... And then there was, uh... Oh, she was incredibly... No. Uh-uh. Natalie: I know. I can tell. Xander: You can? Natalie: Oh, I like it. You might say, I... *need* it. Xander: Oh! Well, needs should, uh, y'know... Needs should definitely be met, as long as it doesn't require ointments the next day, or... Muffled yelling can be heard from somewhere. Xander: Do you hear... Natalie: No... Xander: Sounds like someone crying... Natalie: I don't hear anything. (takes his hand) Your hands are so hot! Xander flashes to his dream. Buffy: Oh, you hurt your hand! Xander comes back. The drink is beginning to affect him. He leans back on the couch. Xander: Buffy. I love Buffy. Wow! So that's a martini, huh? Natalie: Mm-hmm. Xander: (sits back up) Do you hear... Natalie: (interrupting) Would you like to touch me with those hands? Xander: (looks at Natalie's hands) Your hands are sss... really... (her hands morph) serrated! Oh, wow, that martini, I... I really think I have to... Xander falls to the floor unconscious. Two mantis claws drag him away by his feet. PART 3: Natalie's basement. The camera pans down from the window above the stairs to Xander. He's lying unconscious in a cage. There are squishing noises. Xander wakes up, looks around, grabs the bars and pulls himself up. He sees Natalie as a giant mantis preparing her nest. Xander: Miss... French? Natalie: Please, call me Natalie. Xander backs away into the cage. Cut to the library. Giles is on the phone. Giles: Frankly, madam, I haven't the faintest idea what time it is, nor do I care. Now, unlock his cell, unstrap him, and bring him to the telephone immediately. This is a matter of life and death! Cut to Willow typing. Willow: Got it! Coroner's report, complete with... Yuk! ...color pictures. Buffy: There *are* teeth marks. Which match perfectly the one insect that nips off its prey's head. Willow: Okay, I-I don't like this. Buffy: Huh! It's the way they feed, head first. It's also the way they mate. The female bites off the male's head while they're... Willow: No, no, no! See? Xander's, I like his head! I-it's where you find his eyes, and his hair, and his adorable smile... Buffy: Hey, hey, take it easy, Willow. Xander is not in any immediate danger. I saw him leave school. He's probably safe at home right now. Cut to Natalie's basement. Xander backs up in his cage and is surprised by Blayne when he reaches the far corner. Xander: Ah! Blayne! Blayne: (terrified) Oh, God! Oh, God! Xander: Are you all right? Blayne: Oh, God! (breathes) You gotta get me outta here! You gotta! She, she, she gets you, and, uh... Xander: What? Blayne: ...she, she... Xander: What does she do? Blayne: Oh, God! Oh, oh, no! Xander: Blayne! What does she do? Blayne: She, she... she, she takes you outta the cage, and she ties you up, and, and... she... she starts movin', and throbbin', and these eggs come shootin' out of her! And then... Xander: What? Blayne: And then... Xander: Then what? Blayne: She mates with you! Xander: Sheeee... Blayne: That's not the worst part! Xander: That's not? Blayne: You seen her teeth? Right while she's, you know, right in the middle of... I saw her do it! I don't wanna die like that! Xander: Blayne! Blayne! Chill! It's okay. It's gonna be okay. We'll get outta this. Blayne: (hopeful) You gotta plan? What is it? Xander: Just, uh, let me perfect it! Blayne: (gives up hope) Oh, God... Oh, God... Oh, God... Cut to the library. Giles is talking with Carlyle on the phone in his office. Giles: I-I understand, Carlyle. Yes... I-I'll take every precaution. Uh, absolutely, i-i-it sounds exactly like the creature you described. Y-you were right all along about everything. Well, n-no, you weren't right about your mother coming back as a Pekinese, but... uh... Try to rest, old man. Yes... Ta! Bye now! He hangs up and comes out of his office. Willow and Buffy are at the PC. Giles: Dr. Ferris Carlyle spent years transcribing a lost pre-Germanic language. What he discovered he kept to himself until several teenage boys were murdered in the Cotswolds. Then he went hunting for it. Buffy: It being... Giles: Uh, he calls her a She-Mantis. This type of creature, the Kleptes-Virgo, or, or virgin-thief, appears in, in many cultures. The Greek sirens, the Celtic sea maidens, who, who tore the living flesh from the bones of, um... Buffy: Giles, while we're young! Giles: Uh, well, basically the, uh, the She-Mantis assumes the form of a beautiful woman and then lures innocent virgins back to her nest. Buffy: Virgins? Well, Xander's not a, uh... I mean, he's probably... Willow: (quickly gets up, worried) ...gonna die! (goes to the phone) Buffy: Okay, okay, (walks around Giles) so this thing is breeding and we need to find it and snuff it. (faces Giles) Any tips on the snuffing part? Giles: Uh, Carlyle recommends cleaving all body parts with a sharp blade. Willow is on the phone in the background behind Buffy talking to Xander's mom. Buffy: Slice and Dice. Giles: Well, whatever you do, it had better be certain and swift. This beast is extremely dangerous. Buffy: Well, your buddy Carlyle faced it, and he's still around. Giles: Yes, in a straitjacket, howling his innards out day and night. Buffy: Okay, Admiral, way to inspire the troops! Giles: Sorry... Willow: (off the phone now) Xander's not home! He told his mom he was going to his teacher's house to work on a science project. He didn't tell her where. Buffy: (to Willow) See if you can get her address off the substitute rolls. (to Giles) And you need to record bat sonar, and fast! Giles: Bat sonar, right. What? Buffy: Bats eat them. (leads Giles to the stairs) The mantis hears sonar, its entire nervous system goes kaplooey. Giles: Where am I gonna find the... Buffy: In the vid library? There're no books, but it's dark and musty, you'll feel right at home, go! (exhales) (to herself) I guess I'll handle the armory. Cut to Natalie's basement. Xander and Blayne are in their cages. Xander is working on one of the bars. Blayne: Don't do anything to make her mad! Xander pulls the bar out. Blayne: (brightens) Hey, alright, now I can get outta my cage! (bummed) Into yours. What'd you do that for? Xander: A weapon! Blayne: (sees Natalie coming) I think you're gonna need it. Xander looks up and is startled. He drops the bar. Cut to the library. Miss French's record is coming out of the printer. Buffy comes in the door. Willow: Getting the address. Buffy: Great! Giles? Giles: (holding a tape recorder) Recording bat sonar is something soothingly akin to having one's teeth drilled. Buffy: (takes the tape recorder) Let's roll! They all head for the door. Willow: According to Miss French's personnel records, she was born in 1907. She's, like, 90 years old! Giles: And extremely well preserved! Cut to Natalie's basement. She is looking back and forth between the boys. Blayne: Oh, God! (goes through the hole into Xander's cage) Uh, he did that, he broke the cage, take him, not me, take him! Cut to Giles, Buffy and Willow driving up to Miss French's house. They get out and run up to the door. Giles: What now, exactly? We can't just kick the door down. Buffy: Yeah, that *would* be wrong. She gets ready to kick, but the door opens. An old lady is there. Miss French: Hello, dear! I thought I heard... Are you selling something? Because I'd like to help you out, but... You see, I'm on a fixed income. Buffy: I'm looking for Miss French. Miss French: I'm Miss French. Buffy: Natalie French, the substitute biology teacher? Miss French: (laughs) Goodness, that's me! I taught for over thirty years. I retired in 1972. Buffy: (to Giles) I can't believe this! She used Miss French's records to get into the school. She could be anywhere! Miss French: No, dear! I'm right here! Cut to Natalie's basement. Xander: What's she doing? Blayne: I think it's eeny, meeny, miney... Xander: Moe? The camera closes in on Xander's terrified face. PART 4: Natalie's basement. She opens the door to the cage. Xander crawls out on his butt, bar in hand. Xander: I'm comin', I'm comin'. When he's just out of the cage he swings the bar and hits Natalie as he gets up. She staggers. He runs for the stairs. Halfway up Natalie trips him with her claw, and he tumbles back down the stairs. Cut to Miss French's house. Giles, Willow and Buffy are going back to the car. Willow: What do we do now? Giles: Abject prayer and supplication would spring to mind. Buffy: I saw her walking past this park with her grocery bags. She lives in this neighborhood. Willow: I'm gonna start banging on doors. (heads for the next house) Buffy: (stops Willow) Wait, no, we do *not* have time for that! Willow: We have to do something! Buffy: We will. Cut to the manhole cover where Buffy saw Claw Guy go in. Buffy lifts it off and starts to climb in. Buffy: I won't be long. (goes down) Giles: W... Buffy? Cut to Natalie's basement. Xander is tied up with leather straps. Natalie is in his face. Blayne: Oh, yeah, here it comes! Xander: What? What's happening?! Blayne: How do you like your eggs, bro, over easy or sunny side up? Xander: Eggs? She's gonna lay some... He sees her lay some eggs. He flashes to Natalie's lecture in science class. Natalie: The California Mantis lays her eggs, and then finds a mate to fertilize them. His flashback is over, and he's scared. Cut to the manhole. Willow: (into the hole) Come on, Buffy! Cut to some bushes. There are sounds of Claw Guy swinging his arm and ropes whipping through the air. Buffy pushes Claw Guy out of the bushes. His arms are tied behind his back. Claw Guy: You! Buffy: Me! She shoves him down the street. Cut to Natalie's street. Buffy is pushing Claw Guy down the sidewalk in front of her. Giles and Willow follow. Buffy: Come on! Come on, where is she? Which house is it? I know you're afraid of her, I saw you! Come on! Claw Guy begins to react to Natalie's presence. Buffy: Come on. What? What is it? This is her, isn't it, this is her house? This is it! Better than radar! She lets go of him. Claw Guy cuts the ropes with his blades. Willow: Buffy! He swings at Buffy, but she leans back in time, only to trip and fall backward over the miniature picket fence running along the walk to the house. Claw Guy jumps to follow. She crawls backward on her butt until she hits the fence on the other side of the lawn. She rips a picket from the fence and thrusts it into Claw Guy as he takes another swing at her. He falls over dead. Giles breathes a sigh of relief. Cut to the basement. Natalie advances on Xander. Natalie: Kiss me! (laughs) Kiss me! Xander: Can I just say one thing? HEEEELLLLP! HEEEELLLLP! Buffy smashes the basement window and slides in. Blayne: Uh, hey, o-over here, hello! In the cage! She pulls her bag though the window. Buffy: (to Natalie) Let him go! She runs down the stairs and sets the bag down. Willow climbs in the window, too. Buffy pulls two cans of insect spray from the bag and sprays Natalie in the face. Giles climbs in as Willow runs behind Buffy to open the cage. The spray disorients Natalie. Giles comes down the stairs now too. Buffy points him at Xander. Blayne: Help me! Help me! Buffy: (to Giles) Get them outta here! She pulls the tape recorder and a machete from her bag. Blayne: Hey, help me! Help me! Giles undoes the leather straps holding Xander. Natalie retreats to the back of her nest. Buffy starts to close in on her. Buffy: Remember Dr. Gregory? You scarfed his head? Yeah, well, he taught me, you do your homework, you learn stuff. Like what happens to your nervous system when you hear this! She plays the tape. It's Giles' voice. Buffy stares at the machine in disbelief. Tape: ...extremely important to file not simply alphabetically... Buffy: (back to Giles) Giles! Giles: (on the floor pointing at Natalie) I-it's the wrong side! Natalie knocks the tape recorder and machete from Buffy's hands. Giles watches the recorder fly over him, hit the ground and slide under a refrigerator. He scrambles to get it. Buffy turns her attention back on Natalie. Natalie tries to trip Buffy, but she jumps over her claw. Xander comes up next to her with a can of bug spray and sprays it into Natalie's face. Buffy pushes him away from danger, and Natalie takes the opportunity to knock her down. Buffy raises herself onto her hands and one leg, and with the other does two crouching side kicks to Natalie's legs to keep her at bay. Giles searches under the refrigerator. Buffy kicks again. She sees the machete on the floor and grabs it. Giles has the recorder now, jumps around on the floor with the recorder in front of him and plays the tape. The sounds of bat sonar severely hurt and disorient Natalie. She flails her claws around. Buffy: Bat sonar. Makes your whole nervous system go to Hell. You can go there with it! She slashes at Natalie fiercely and repeatedly with the machete, hacking her to pieces. She's winded afterward. Giles gets up. Willow runs over to Xander. Blayne is out of his cage. They look at the carnage. Giles: Well, I... I'd say it's deceased. Willow: And dissected. Xander: (to Buffy) You okay? Buffy: Yeah. Xander: Just for the record, you were right, I'm an idiot, and God bless you! Buffy lowers her head. Xander: (to the others) And thank you guys, too. Blayne: Yeah, really! Giles: Pleasure... Willow: I'm really glad you're okay. It's so unfair how she only went after virgins. Xander laughs and looks back and forth between the girls. Xander: (to Willow) What? Willow: I mean, here you guys are, doing the right thing, the smart thing, when a lot of other boys your age... Blayne: Flag down on that play, babe. I am *not*... Giles: (interrupts) Well, you see, that's the She-Mantis' modus operandi. Uh, she only preys on the pure. Xander: Well, isn't this a perfect ending to a wonderful day! Blayne: My dad's a lawyer. Anyone repeats this to anybody, they're gonna find themselves facing a lawsuit. Xander: Blayne! Shut up! Willow: I don't think it's bad, I think it's really... Xander holds up the machete. Willow: ...sweet! It's certainly nothing I'll ever bring up again. Xander takes the machete over to Natalie's nest, looks it over and starts hacking away at it. Cut to the Bronze. Buffy is at the bar wearing Angel's jacket. Angel comes up behind her. Buffy senses him and looks up at him. Angel: (smiles) I heard a rumor there was, uh, one less vampire walking around making a nuisance of himself. Buffy: There is. Guess I should thank you for the tip. Angel: Pleasure's mine. Buffy: Course, it would make things easier if I knew how to get in touch with you. Angel: I'll be around. Buffy: Or who you were? Angel just smiles and moves around to the other side of her. Buffy: Well... Anyway, you can have your jacket back. Angel: It looks better on you. He turns and leaves. Buffy stares after him. Angel gives another look back and disappears into the crowd. Buffy: (to herself) Oh boy! Cut to science class the next day. There's a new science teacher. Teacher: All midterm papers will be exactly six pages long. No more, no less. One third of your grade will be dependent... The camera closes in on Buffy, daydreaming. Teacher: ...on those papers. No more, no less. The bell rings. Buffy comes back to Earth. Everyone gets up and leaves. On the way out Buffy sees Dr. Gregory's glasses still on the lab bench where she left them. She picks them up and remembers him. She sees Dr. Gregory's jacket still hanging on the hook on the closet door and goes over to put the glasses in a pocket. Cut to inside the closet. As she closes the door the camera pans down from Buffy to a lower shelf and stops on a cluster of She-Mantis eggs attached underneath. One of the eggs hatches.