Jake brooded over the loose set of information he had. His cases, though not piling on his desk, were starting to gather. But he wasn't focused on them just yet. No, it was the enigma he couldn't quite solve. He wasn't obsessed with Buffy Summers; that wasn't it. He was still a homicide detective, doing his duty. And he would continue to fight for those whose voices would not be heard because someone didn't value their lives. But no, he wasn't obsessed with Buffy Summers; he was just highly suspicious. His partner of the last few years gets into a coma all because of her involvement with this Buffy, an unremarkable person by normal standards.

He had seen her police records. Though her town of Sunnydale had inexplicably sunk into the earth, the county in which she had lived still had them. He had seen them, as well as her LA record. She hadn't racked up the rap sheet of any of the suspects he normally dealt with, but he was still taken aback by the amount of trouble she got into as a teenager. Still, though, that didn't necessarily explain what she was involved in that it would cause Sara to go into a coma.

Then there was the matter of Kate, his new partner. Not one, but two partners of his were keeping big secrets from him, both concerning one Buffy Summers. This petite woman was at the center of it all, for some reason, and Jake was perplexed. He thought back to what Kate had said, that when she got involved with Buffy's ex, she found out about things that went "way beyond her job description". Not only was it ominous and cryptic, but downright disturbing. He had known Kate a bit and had heard about how she had gotten into weird cases, cases that were almost 'X-Files' fodder.

Then he remembered something, something in the deep recesses of his memory. It was years ago. He had been paired with a detective who wanted him on a case, to which Pez strenuously objected. Though he was excited at first to be working with the guy, it turned out that the guy was as dirty as they came. He robbed some criminals of their drug money and pinned it on Jake, drugging him and leaving him for dead. The pair had later been captured by the crooks and interrogated. In his drug-induced haze, he swore he saw Pezzini taking out the criminals like they were nothing, like she was some kind of superhero. When he asked her about it, she brushed it off as some hallucination of his.

He began to think about it more seriously. Given all he was dealing with, he was sincerely starting to doubt that the whole episode was a hallucination. He was piecing it together. If Sara was doing nearly impossible feats that night, then whatever abilities she had may have been directly related to her coma and to Buffy. It was time to get answers.

Dawn was starting to believe her luck was running out. There was the fiasco with the patrol night with Buffy and, just recently, her heated encounter with Stacy and Illyria. She had begged them not to tell Buffy about where she was. They didn't know where she was going, but sooner or later they would spill her whereabouts and she would have no end of trouble. It would only be a matter of time then before they were following her and practically interrogating her. She looked in her mirror as she pondered the likelihood of that scenario.

"But why should you care? You're not doing anything wrong," Dawn's reflection remarked.

"Exactly," Dawn said.

"You're becoming a better fighter, a better… 'Slayer'.

"And why shouldn't I? I'm more powerful than any Slayer. Buffy should be welcoming my help with open arms. Is it my fault I was given such an awesome gift?"

"Ingrates, all of them. You get to change the world in a way they never could."

"And sooner or later, they'll understand what I'm trying to do, what I was truly born to do."

Tina had been walking through the hall to put some toilet paper in some of the bathrooms when she heard Dawn in her room. She put her ear to the door and it almost sounded like... like she was talking to herself. Hesitantly, Tina knocked on the door.

"Dawn, are you okay?"

Dawn opened the door and stared at the girl intensely, and Tina began to squirm under her gaze.

Insolent child. You don't even understand how weak you truly are, what power truly is until…


Dawn snapped out of it. "Sorry, Tina. I was rehearsing what I'd say to Dr. Simmons. There's this piece I wanted to work on but I'm not sure if he'd think I'm up to the task. Just trying to make my case."

"Oh… okay. Just… just thought I'd ask," Tina replied sheepishly.

"No problem. I'll talk to you tomorrow." She abruptly closed the door and Tina was left somewhat perplexed standing in front of the door.

Dawn's heart was racing and she leaned against the door. They need to understand. I'll make them understand.

"Giles, we need to talk," Buffy said as Giles was working with one of the girls with the quarterstaff.

"Buffy, I told that I'm perfectly…"

"No," she said as she looked at the girl. She whispered to Giles. "It's about Dawn."

"Yes, I'd heard about the patrol the other night."

"Well, I'm trying to figure out why she's acting the way she is. Ever since then she's been more distant and she hasn't spoken to me once."

"I know."

"You know?"

"Yes," Giles remarked. "That's why I've been working on a way to get the Witchblade from her, if necessary. From what I've researched, it can bring out undesirable personality traits, unless one is strong enough to fight it. However, because of Dawn's… special nature… there might be some side effect that no one could have foreseen. Let's try and talk to her first. I don't want to scare her off… or worse."

"And if she isn't in a talkative mood?" Buffy inquired.

"Then we move on to Plan B," Giles responded.

"Which is…?"

"I'll let you know when I figure it out."

"Not making me feel any better, Giles."

Outside of the base, a young man was standing out in an alley about a block away with a video camera. He had been, boringly, observing people going to and fro from the place. While the gig was crappy, the fact that he had to watch pretty girls all day made things a little tolerable. He had been there since early afternoon, waiting for a particular girl, one Dawn Summers, to emerge from the place. From what he was seeing, the girl who supposedly lived there didn't seem to live there at all.

He was about to call the night a wash until someone called him out.

"What are you doing, kid?"

He turned around and found himself face-to-face with a cop. Detective McCartey to be exact.

"Me?" he nervously replied.

"No, the other guy holding the camera."

"Look, man, I ain't doing nothing wrong."

"Well, it kinda looks like you're being a peeping Tom. So I'll ask again: what are you doing here?" Jake asked.

"Look, someone paid me to track some girl, that's it."

"Who paid you?"

"A girl I knew awhile back: Stacy Keller."

"And who did she pay you to track?"

"Some chick named Dawn Summers. Here's her picture." He handed Jake a photo of her. It was Buffy's sister alright.

"Why'd this Stacy ask you to track this girl?"

"I don't know. Said it was personal. Thought maybe she was involved in something shady. Stacy lives with her in there but says the girl's been acting weird lately."

Jake looked at the target location. So this Stacy was involved with Buffy and was worried about Buffy's sister. Jake was there to follow Buffy; he wasn't concerned about her sister, although it seemed like he would have to be sooner or later. He made a mental note to deal with it later. He looked back at the young man.

"What's your name?"

"Desmond Parles, but people call me Dez," the man replied.

"Look, Dez, I want you to do something for me: keep filming and you report what you find to me."

"Come on, man…"

"Do it, or I start hounding you. Technically, I can't charge you with anything, but I can certainly make your life difficult. All you have to do is tell me what you saw and that's it."

Dez let out a loud sigh. Stacy's little project just made him a cop-magnet. Last time he was going to do her any favors.

"Okay, man, you win."

"Good. And don't breathe a word of this to anybody, even Stacy." Jake left, intending to return to his primary task: tailing Buffy.

Buffy left the building, intently focusing on patrolling. It helped when she needed to clear her head. She and Giles both agreed that something needed to be done about Dawn. The question was what. They barely saw the girl over the past few weeks. Based on what Buffy had seen that patrol night, Dawn was already taking it upon herself to patrol on her own. Her skills were formidable, no doubt, but she cared nothing for her comrades when she was out there, which wasn't like Dawn in the least.

In some strange way, Buffy was proud that her sister was strong enough to take on some vamps by herself, but she knew that even the best of skill only got you so far. Sometimes you had to know when you were in over your head, to know when to make a hasty retreat and, by the way Dawn was acting, it seemed like she would rather go down fighting than regroup. Whatever the Witchblade was doing, it was making her reckless and potentially unstable. Unless she could help her sister, she knew that things would only get worse.

Jake had been following Buffy for awhile. It seemed like she was going about to random places, nothing of particular note. It'd been about an hour and a half and he was starting to wonder whether he was wrong about her. It was then she journeyed down an alley. He peered around the corner to see where she went. She had already been halfway down before he made his way to the entrance. He heard sounds of an altercation going on and ran to its source. Turning the corner he saw Buffy fighting someone, only a light above them illuminating the scene. He pulled out his weapon and was about to try and stop the fight when he saw who she was fighting… or rather, what she was fighting.

The figure had noticed him briefly and was distracted when Buffy punched him in the face and pulled out her stake. She plunged it into his chest.

"No!" Jake yelled out.

The figure immediately began to whither into dust as Buffy turned around and saw the man who had been following her.

"Crap," she muttered as she looked at a stunned and bewildered Detective McCartey. Seeing his confusion she took advantage of the moment and sprinted down the alley.

"Freeze, Buffy!" She didn't comply. Despite his animosity toward her, he didn't plan on shooting her, even as he pointed his piece at her. He only wanted to detain her to have her explain what he just saw.

Seeing that there was no point in giving chase, he went over to the spot where the disfigured… thing had turned to dust. He touched the ground where the dust was and felt it with his fingers.

If there was ever a night he needed a drink, this was one of them.

Jake wandered around the city for a bit before stopping at a small flat. He slowly walked up to the door, not knowing what to make of his night. Some of it was a blur and none of it made any sense. As he stood in front of the door to the flat, he hesitated, then rang the doorbell. The door opened.

"Jake? What's up?"

"Kate… I, uh… you said that if I pursued this thing with Buffy, I could talk to you when I needed to. Well… I need to talk to you."

She looked into his eyes. She had seen that look before; she wore that look before.

"Whiskey?" she asked.

"If you got it."

She gave him a small, sympathetic smile. "Come on in, Jake."