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Cut to the Venue of the Nazi Party.

Angel is through the door and out on a street. He moves as quickly as he can among a throng of people, all of whom are laughing. Some of the men standing around are dressed in Nazi uniforms. There is an opening in the crowd and then a cobblestone steet. A motorcycle is parked, and Angel jumps on it, kicks it into life, and he takes off. The men, part of a massive audience of people in the square, watch him for a second, and then they go back to laughing, as Adolph Hitler, in German, continues to give another of his vitriolic speeches from the platform. He employs his best histrionics in delivering some truly inspiring German rhetoric, and the crowd laughs and laughs. He stops and is suddenly overtaken by, what seem to be, literally, punches of pain. So, he begins to speak again and the crowd laughs and laughs.

Cut to the other end of the square.

Angel slams on his brakes, dismounts, and goes through another door.

Cut to the interior of a Dumpster outside Ramona's Restaurant in L.A.

Whistler sifts through the garbage and other various discarded items of food. He opens a bag of garbage and rummages through it. With stains on his pants and coat, he is a mess. He is sweating, also, but keeps his hat on. Giles looks over the top and watches him.

Giles: Do you specifically know what you're looking for?

Whistler: Maybe. I believe I saw it once. And the more I think about it, the more I think I know what I saw, but we need to be sure.

Giles: Well, what are you talking about? And who are you, by the way?

Whistler: I told you. I'm a friend of Angel's.

Giles: Well, that could make you animal, vegetable, mineral, or vampire.

Whistler: Animal.

Giles: Ah, yes. Okay, so what if you do find what you're looking for?

Whistler: I'm looking for something the Slayer may have ingested. A foreign substance that may have been introduced into her food.

Giles: (with alarm) A poison?

Whistler: No, if it were a poison, she'd be dead by now, and you'd be interviewing a new Slayer. I'm thinking potion.

Giles: And if you find it, then what?

Whistler: Then we'll know why the Slayer is not recovering very quickly from her injuries. And, then, too, sometimes you can tell a lot about these potions if you can just examine the original bottle.

Giles: I see. So you think she was given some chemical or drug which inhibits her normal recuperative powers.

Whistler: Something like that.

Giles: Well, that would explain the bizarre report Buffy's doctor gave to me earlier. Run down indeed! But who, how, who gave it to her? Maybe if we knew that, we'd know something about . . .

Whistler: I suspect her father.

Giles: Really? Egad! The cad! Really?

Whistler: Yes, but don't go getting all righteously indignant. I know you're suddenly interested in his ex, but calm down. If this is what I think it is, in order for it to work, it had to have been administered by someone who loved her.

Giles: Not knowing what he was doing?

Whistler: Not understanding, anyway.

Giles: Well, that's perverse.

Whistler: You don't know the half of it. Oh, wait. I think I may . . . I think I smell . . . something very familiar. It may be in this particular bag.

He pulls a bag free, untwists a tie, and looks in; then he inserts his arm very deeply and pushes the things in the bag around and from side to side, pulling the bag wider first in one direction, then the other. "Oooh." He reaches in and pulls out the empty vial. He holds it up to the light and yet cups it at the top in his hand so Giles cannot fully see it. He shows Giles that there is yet a little of the yellow-colored liquid remaining in the bottom of it. There is also a crude label taped to the bottle with the letters "HCIHBSS?" typed on it. Whistler unscrews the cap and, using his little finger, he dabs a bit on his tongue. Giles recoils in disgust at the very uncleanliness of the totality of what the man has done. And while Giles is distracted by his own squeamishness, Whistler removes the label from the bottle and puts it in his shirt pocket.

Giles: (cringing and squinting at him) Is that it?

Whistler: Very likely. I'm afraid probably so.

Giles: What do you mean 'afraid so?' That's good that you know what it is, isn't it?

Whistler: Okay.

Whistler begins to pick his footing and step back out of the Dumpster. He heads toward a sliding door along the side.

Giles: What do you mean okay? What is it anyway? You seem to know something about it.

Whistler: Well, to be something with so specific a purpose--let's say its only purpose is to inhibit the special powers of a hyper human--a Slayer, for instance--and render her physically normal or at least less special, perhaps even weaker than a normal human--it can only be one thing I know of: an . . . imp potion--what is, in certain circles, usually referred to, because of its color, as imp piss.

Giles: Oooh. Yes, I've heard stories of the many legendary imp potions: all sorts of wild and wonderful brews with weird and obscure effects; they are, essentially, spells with a liquid delivery system. But, it's almost as though each potion was custom-concocted for only one or two specific persons in mind. I've always wondered the inefficiency.

Whistler: Well, the imps just have a lot of time at their disposal. A classic example of 'Idle hands do the devil's work.'

Giles: But how do you know so much about the imps?

Whistler: If you can keep a secret, and I think you can, I used to be one.

Cut to a scene riding back in Oz's van.

Willow has gone back and is sitting with Buffy as Oz drives. Willow holds Buffy's hand and wipes her forehead.

Oz: (over his shoulder without being able to see Willow) How is she?

Willow: Hard to tell. Still unconscious, though.

Oz: You know, I've been thinking about that FiFi chick.

Willow: (sighing heavily) Oh, yeah? What about Dominique-a-deek-a-deek?

Oz: There's something funny about her showing up as the new Slayer. Makes no sense. Unless it's like L'Andrew. Do you know L'Andrew?

Willow: Okay, yes, I see where you're going. L'Andrew--Star Trek--a computer that blindly repeats the mistakes of the past without sensing that conditions have changed. In our case, a new Slayer being called when we already have a perfectly good Buffy.

Oz: Exactly. And I ask myself the question, why are we so willing to accept the idea that, all of a sudden, the guiding force of the universe can MAKE A MISTAKE and send us a superfluous, a redundant Slayer? Had this universal intelligence erred previously, I ask myself? No. Was Kendra's calling, for instance, in error? I respond: no, there was no error; Buffy was dead, fair and square, so go ahead--call another. No error. So, then, now: error? I say no. There should not be an error. So, then, what gives? I say our François WAS NOT CALLED; she has GOT TO BE an imposter, a plant. Spock would have said, 'When you eliminate all possible logical explanations, then what you are left with, however implausible, must be your answer.' So, she's an imposter. Pure and simple

Willow: But Buffy IS disabled.

Oz: Yeah, she is now. But she wasn't when Simone first showed up. Willow, you stay away from her. Even Xander thought there was something fishy about her. Remember his Coneheads comment. The Coneheads WERE French.

Willow: Let's try not to talk about Xander in the past tense. I am praying for him. (changing subjects) But you analyze the world in terms of Star Trek? That's interesting.

Oz: Yeah, I do--the original, though, of course. I believe it's like: we've seen each of those episodes so many times in repeat syndication, that they've actually become the morality tales of our generation. Like our Mother Goose Rhymes or our Brothers Grimm. And those were classic episodes which taught morals and ethics and loyalty and friendship and tolerance and, above all, clear thinking.

Willow: Well, Oz, I never looked at it that way, but I suppose you're right. Also, I'll warn Giles about . . . Michelle.

Oz: Just YOU stay away from her.

Willow smiles to herself at hearing him say that.

Oz: (continuing) Funny, but I keep feeling that there's another contradiction somewhere in our Slayer assumptions. But every time I think I'm going to get a grasp on it, it slips right through my mental fingers. Know what I mean?

Cut to a scene riding back in Joyce's car.

Joyce is in the back seat, sleeping. Giles drives. Whistler sits in the front passenger seat, his clothes still spotted and stained. Giles's nose involuntarily twitches and he sniffs; he looks over at Whistler and then opens his window a crack. But it's difficult for Giles to hide his curiousity; he looks a little anxious and then he speaks.

Giles: I don't suppose you are going to tell me anything about what you are and where you've come from.

Whistler: No, I cannot discuss that aspect of my existence. I am closely monitored. If I divulge too much, I can be snatched out of here in a flash. Therefore I do what I can, but I will be the sole judge of what that is.

Giles: Okay, okay, thanks for your help, though. (incredulously) But, then, you're saying, then, that the only way to reverse the potion's effect is if someone actually risks their life for Buffy. How can that be?

Whistler: Not so loud. I don't want Buffy's mother to hear. It's important that no one else know.

Giles: She won't hear. The doctor assured me the seditive he prescribed would be strong enough to allow her to get some rest, despite the pain of the twenty stiches. So, she should be out like a light for two days. Isn't she something? But, getting back to what you said? Someone must risk their life for Buffy in order to reverse the potion's effect?

Whistler: Not exactly. I said a person must believe they risk their life. They don't actually have to. That, if I remember correctly, is not a prerequisite requirement. So, not the same. See, these potions, interestingly, are sensitive to emotions and various frames of mind; they can be caused to operate, or they can be disabled, by the expression of certain specific human emotions.

Giles: So a person must believe they place their life in mortal danger for Buffy, and that's the antidote? But no one need get hurt?

Whistler: Yeah. That's it, essentially. They must inject themselves with just a little bit of her quote-unquote tainted blood, BELIEVING it may kill them, but it won't.

Giles: Well, okay, then. That's okay.

(pause.) Giles drives, distracted, thinking.

Giles: Wait, wait a minute! I can't do it, myself, now, because I KNOW I'm not risking my life. Holy hell, the only way, then, that this can work is if I lie to someone about this.

Whistler: Now you're catching on. See, the imps always add a certain catch, a perverted twist--it's almost like their signature--to all of their handiwork; they will allow their spells and potions to be broken, nullified, as long as SOMEONE is corrupted in the process.

Giles: (angrily) Whaaat?

Whistler: See, YOU have to lie to someone, and when you lie, at least to the extent this requires, your relationship with that person is forever changed. You can't relax for a moment thereafter--you have to constantly remember the lie in order to keep your story straight with that person. You can't just forget about it tomorrow. As long as you care about that person, that is. And, actually, I believe if you don't care, the antidote can't work. I'll have to verify that last point.

Giles: Well, I can't lie to these people--Willow, Xander, Oz, Joyce, even Cordelia--I'm just so terribly chuffed that they accept me as a friend--wait, maybe I COULD lie to Cordelia.

Whistler: I don't see that you have a choice.

Giles: Right. Well, since, as you say, they don't need to be hurt, perhaps I can muddle through something. Let's see. I suppose I could play upon the greatest delusion of the young: that they are invulnerable, indestructible.

Whistler: Yes, that's the ticket.

Cut to Venue of the back seat of Conrad Bettlesman's car.

Xander opens the door and begins to move forward but he finds he has to duck very quickly and also he finds he must step up; he ends up scooting into the back seat of a car alongside a little boy and girl. He looks back and the car door is actually the other side of the door he has just passed through. There is a man at the wheel, balding, heavy, hairy forearms, short-sleeved shirt. He seems to be driving down a highway with cars on either side. This is rush hour traffic and the car ahead only moves forward inches. The driver doesn't move quick enough, and another car blows its horn. He still doesn't move and he is struck in the rear, and at the same time he is physically overcome with a searing dose of pain. He moves. A woman sits beside him in the front seat and intently switches the stations on the radio, one after the other, non-stop. "Blare" "(Non-descript Music)" "(Part of a news report on an earthquake)" "(Part of a Beatle song)" "(Etc.)"

The children: (piping up in unison) Are we there yet? (Twenty-five seconds later the children repeat in exactly the same high pitch with exactly the same inflection.) Are we there yet?

The Driver: Shut up, shut up, already.

The children: (intoning in unison) Are we there yet?

The wife switches the radio stations one after the other, after the other.

Xander: (timing himself to join the children) Are we there yet?

This Box is smaller and is on the ledge of the rear window. Xander pushes the Venue button. Action ceases.

The Voice: Conrad Bettlesman was sane when he did away with his wife and two children. Here he is on their vacation to see the Civil War battlefields at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. His wife didn't want to go there and his kids were bored after two minutes, but he never considered their feelings. That was typical of him. He has been driving this car (pause - different voice) thirty-seven (back to normal voice) years so far. This site won a Golden Palm Award for Meritorious Merit.

Action begins again.

Xander: (joining in with another falsetto) Are we there yet? (then he says to the children) Excuse me, kids. (He climbs over them and goes out the other door of the car.)

Cut to Xander in Hell at the Tree Chopping Venue

Xander comes through a door and finds himself not in a room but in an endless forest of trees or, rather, the forest is ahead of him. Behind him trees have been cut down as far as the eye can see. What immediately facinates Xander, however, is that the door he has just come through is right in the middle of an open space and it has only one side; Xander examines it closely, reopens the door and looks back into the Bettleman car, closes the door again, and then he goes around behind the door where it is totally transparent and doesn't seem to exits; from the other side he can walk right through the same space the door occupies and then it suddenly appears behind him. Xander is eventually distracted by the constant noise. The one lone lumberjack chops until he stops, and then he is inflicted with a wrenching pain, and so he starts up again and begins to chop some more. This is the same exact site that Angel was at, earlier, although Xander can't know that.

The lumberjack stops and Xander watches him force out a "Hi," through waves of the pain that is so intense it finally brings him to his knees. When it eventually subsides, he manages to rise and begins chopping again.

Xander: Hi. Say, excuse me, I know this is your home and all, but there's something I've been wanting to do for quite a while. Do you mind?

The man looks puzzled, but then he smiles. He points to the trees ahead of him and waves his hand to indicate a distance. Xander looks relieved and hops away. After a while Xander returns. The man smiles and points to his Box. It seems almost to be suspended in mid air. Xander pushes the Venue button.

The Voice: All his life Bob Crandall loved our friends the trees. He was what used to be termed a quote-unquote Tree Hugger. And he truly hated to see them cut down even under the most controlled circumstances, such as in the harvest of timber by responsible logging companies under careful mandates by the US EPA. So he joined a group of environmental terrorists and he hammered spikes into some trees that were to be harvested. Two family men--with small children at home--were killed trying to chop down these spiked trees. Their power equipment hit those iron spikes and kicked back and those men virtually cut themselves to shreds. Now, none of the trees Bob is currently cutting is spiked, we assure you; that might add some novelty to his monotonous task and we wouldn't want that. Also, you can bet that no one will ever replant the devastation he is causing because that, also, would probably please him--a no-no down here. Bob has been chopping these trees for (pause - different voice) eighteen (back to normal voice) years so far.

Xander stands for a moment watching the man work.

The man: (looked over at Xander) She had a big ass.

Xander: (startled; the he looks puzzled). Excuse me?

Bob: I'm Bob. Ever see a movie called The Front with Zero Mostel and Woody Allen?

Xander shakes his head no.

Bob: Well (continuing to chop) part of the movie is about the Zero Mostel character who has to admit that he joined the Communist Party in the US of the 1950's and he tells Woody Allen that he joined just so he could get close to this girl with a big ass. Seduced, you see?

Xander shakes his head, not understanding. He finds the man interesting, though, as the man continues to try to carry on a conversation even though shudders of pain pass through him in irregular intervals.

Bob: And that's why I'M here. I was in this protest group and I was trying to impress this girl with a big ass and so I did something--to try to be bold and daring and earn her admiration--and I spiked the trees, only I really should have warned the loggers.

Xander looks up sympathetically.

Bob: Your girl have a big ass?

Xander: Not exactly. She IS one. Sorry, no, she's not; she's nice--that's a joke. Funny, but I never really thought of her as my girl before you asked me that question. But maybe I should get another girl, you make big asses sound so good. Look, (changing the subject) have you seen another guy recently? About my age, maybe a little older, not quite as good-looking.

Bob: What's recently? Recently has a funny meaning down here.

Xander: In the last day or so.

Bob: You're not from here, are you?

Xander: What makes you say that?

Bob: For one, you don't have the intermittent pain shiver shakes we residents have, two, we don't get ANY others down here with broken arms, and, three, you're the first person I've seen in eighteen years who had to go to the bathroom.

Xander: Nobody's perfect. Well, Bob, I guess you're onto me. Yeah, I'm not quot-unquote assigned here. I'm just here looking for a friend. And I may not have a long time to locate him.

Bob: Reminds me of another movie, The Deer Hunter. You must be an awfully good friend. How long do you have to get him out?

Xander: Not long.

Bob: You'd better keep a close watch on the time. Eternity is slow, but watch time passes very quickly down here. I've heard other tourists complain about it. Something about these Venues: the fruitcake creators--they've got time rigged so that you almost have to spend a third of a day viewing each; otherwise you supposedly can't vote fairly for their aesthetic splendors.

Xander: (looks at his watch and IS horrified.) You're right. Almost a day and a half has gone by, and to me it only seems like a couple of hours.

Bob: See what I mean? And yeah, I did see another kid go by here. He was headed in the same direction you're going but he had the usual pain cramps and thing going on, so you should be able to catch him.

Xander: Okay, Bob. Thanks.

Suddenly the giggle begins again and Xander covers his ears but can still hear it.

Bob: Say, is that for you?

Xander: I'm afraid so.

Bob: Well, I'd say you got the big guns out after you. We don't usually get that kind of system-wide broadcast unless there's a VIP down here.

Xander: No. I don't think I'm all that important to them.

Bob: You must be wrong.

The giggle begins again. Xander puts down his backpack and pulls some cotton out of his first aid pack. He squirts it with his squirt gun and inserts a piece of it in each ear. The sound dies and is gone. The man says something and Xander pulls his cotton out long enough to understand that the man had said, "Good luck." He listens and finds that the giggling has stopped again, so he removes the ear plugs. Then, Xander finds the other door and exits, only to pass some a man heading in the other direction.

The tourist: (to Xander, in passing) Comment allez vous?

Xander: Chevrolet cou-pay.

Cut to Buffy's house.

Oz, Willow, and Cordelia sit on the sofa. Willow is wearing one of her slouch hats pulled down on her head. Giles sits in the chair across from them. Whistler sits off to the side.

Giles: Mr. Whistler, who knows something about these matters, has diagnosed that our Buffy has been given a potion that prevents her normally-very-strong recuperative powers from functioning. I have looked this potion up in my books--which I'm certain Xander would find amusing if he were here--and have verified that such a potion--an imp potion--is known to exist, and Mr. Whistler pulled a vial of it out of a Dumpster situated outside the restaurant where Buffy ate. So, we seem to know that much. Are you with me so far?

Cordelia: Oh, that's why this poor man smells this way. Sir, may I suggest my uncle's dry cleaning establishment. I can let you have some loaner clothes in the meantime--you're about the same size as my father.

Whistler: Sounds good. Thank you, ma'am.

Cordelia: Okay, Giles, continue.

Giles: (patiently, acknowledging he has the floor back) Okay, so as I was saying, Buffy has been badly injured, but it's nothing she wouldn't shake off in a day or so under normal circumstances, but since she is under the influence, SPELL, of this potion, her injuries are fairly--no, VERY--serious, and she could even die because of them. I've had a doctor I know look at her, here, and he says she's stable for now, but she's not improving; I'm not certain how safe she would be out in the open in a hospital, so we don't have much time. Now, there is a way to reverse the effects of the potion, and I'll tell it to you because I believe this knowledge effects all of us in our fight with Buffy against the forces of evil here in Sunnydale. Buffy's affliction can be reversed if someone her age will inject themselves with this blood that has been withdrawn from her. (He shows them a hypodermic needle with blood in it and places it back into a plastic case, which he then sets aside on a lamp table.) Now, there's a small chance that this may prove fatal, but it's just a small chance and the risk passes in an instant, kind of like Russian Roulette. Now, I'm going to put this in Buffy's room for safekeeping.

Cordelia: I can't stand it any longer. (She stands up.) I just can't for the life of me fathom it. Why, answer me why, Willow, do you insist on hiding your richly-colored, natural, long, wonderfully-straight hair under these horribly unbecoming, misshapen hats? (She turns and removes Willow's hat, hands it to her, and smoothes Willow's hair down.) You have a nicely shaped head. The only thing is, possibly, you could use some height here (she points to the very top of Willow's head) which, I think, we could fix with some strategically placed curlers left in overnight.

Willow: Really? And you would help?

Cordelia: You bet. Since we've become associates, I've decided to make YOU my special improvement project. I've been thinking of subtle things we could do to enhance your . . .

Giles: (fuming) Cordelia, sit down. Did you even hear what I said?

Cordelia: About what?

Giles: About helping Buffy get better.

Cordelia: Oh, yeah. Someone's got to inject themselves with her bad blood, there, and it may kill them and it may not. Well, so, if there's nothing else, I've got to go. I've got an appointment today to have my car detailed- -isn't that going to be neat?--plus this is the day I have MY hair done.

Giles: (clearly flustered) Okay, then, run along. I did want to talk about this Xander thing, though.

Cordelia: Okay, I guess I can stay a while longer. For that. Go ahead.

Giles: I talked to Xander's parents and recovered a book that Xander had borrowed from me; it offered several theories on the composition of hell. Now, evidently, from what Oz told us--after having talked to Xander in the Master's Lair--and what we've learned from Xander's parents, he bought two heavy leather travel belts. And then he visited his parish priest Father Clemons--to whom I talked on the phone--and it seems Xander tried to obtain from him some consecrated hosts. See, the old theory was that hell could only confine Jesus Christ for three days and then he got ejected. Now, in the Roman Catholic liturgy, the belief exists that, through their doctrine of transubstantiation, the ritual of the mass changes the communion hosts--those wafer things--into the actual body of Christ. That's Xander's belief. So I believe that Xander probably filled his travel belts with some of these hosts, thinking that his belt would, likewise, pull him out of hell in three days. There IS a potential problem for even him, though, beyond the obvious--which Xander doesn't know about. You see, when the priest would not give Xander what he wanted, Xander took his hosts from Buffy.

Willow: But, why is that a problem?

Giles: Well, because, he didn't know this but the hosts he took from Buffy had not yet been consecrated. I had an arrangement with another priest and we were going to have them sanctified in a mass next week. So, his talisman, charm, whatever, is simple bread--nothing more, nothing less, and nothing special about it. So, his plans, tenuous at best, have another very significant glitch in them. Xander may just be stuck in hell.

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Unbecoming2: Lies Told by a Child (Part 3 of 4)

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