The Gift

Starring

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers & The First Evil

Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris

Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg

Emma Caulfield as Anya Jenkins

James Marsters as Spike

And

Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles

Guest Stars

Robin Sachs as Ethan Rayne & The First Evil

Karen Strassman as Cassandra Rayne

Amber Benson as Tara MaClay

And

Eliza Dushku as Faith Lehane

Co-Stars

Tom Wyner as Sid the Dummy

Buffy, Xander, Willow, Spike, and Faith reappeared beside Sid and Ethan at the hospital.

Sid: Geez! Took your sweet time! Demons are trying to whittle me down to a toothpick, and you five are gallivanting around on your nasty little scavenger hunt.

BS: I don't think nearly being eaten by zombie gorillas counts as gallivanting.

FL: Actually, I'm having a blast. Beats prison hands down. Girl can't get this kind of exercise in stir.

S: Right. Look, can we just put the sodding flesh puzzle together and be done with it?

Buffy, Xander, Willow, Faith, Spike, and Ethan put their respective pieces of Cassandra on the floor. At once, they began to merge together until a bright light enveloped the room. When it cleared, a woman with blond hair tied back into a ponytail wearing some kind of battle armor rose from the floor, staring around in confusion at the group of people surrounding her.

ER: It's true. I can't believe it: my own ancestor, a warrior for The Powers . . .

CR: Cold. Why am I so cold?

Everyone continued to stare at her in amazement.

ACT 1: The eight of them approached a castle in the middle of a deserted wasteland.

ER: It's here, The First. I can taste its power in the air.

CR: (Approaching him) You. I sense something about you, some . . . kinship. Who are you?

ER: Ethan Rayne, Madame, decidedly not at your service.

WR: He's your great, great . . . uh, something: a descendant.

CR: I can feel the dark magic in you, the chaos in your soul. I was a soldier of light . . . and this is what my bloodline has come too? You repulse me.

ER: (unaffected) The feeling is entirely mutual. This isn't fair, you know. Technically, I've won! The power I bargained for should be mine! But if you destroy The First, then-

CR: Silence dog! I would silence you myself if I were able.

S: Here, let me get that for you.

He walked up to Ethan and punched him hard in the jaw. He fell down unconscious.

CR: My thanks, kind sir.

XH: Hey! Your chip! Why didn't it go off?

S: Alternate dimension, remember?

WR: But you still hit a human.

FL: Don't worry yourself about it, Red. Vamps can run around in the sun too. Laws of physics don't apply here.

CR: (Not listening) I know this place. This is where I . . . where I died. But who are all of you?

BS: We're trying to finish what you started, Cassandra: Trying to destroy The First. I'm Buffy Summers, The Slayer.

CR: A Slayer? This is good fortune. I am but a lost soul, and can no longer wield Hope's Dagger. But you are worthy, Slayer. It shall be you.

WR: That's . . . that's great and all, so, thanks, but where does Buffy find Hope's Dagger?

CR: (Gesturing to the castle ahead) Inside the fortress. It will still be there. Only one who is worthy may wield it.

FL: You don't gotta be a virgin or anything, right? 'Cause that could be a problem.

CR: No. Only one can go, and it should be a Champion of The Powers. (Looks around at them) There are no Champions present, but a Slayer will more than suffice. Buffy must go alone.

FL: Humph, sucks to be you.

BS: At times: Now, for instance.

Suddenly, a bright light appeared around Ethan and he disappeared.

WR: Ethan! W-what happened to him? He just went poof.

CR: Perhaps The First has plans for my traitorous descendant after all.

BS: Only one way to find out.

Buffy walked toward the entrance to the castle.

WR: (To Cassandra) But how can Buffy fight The First if it isn't corporeal?

CR: This is its dimension. It controls everything here.

ACT 2: Inside the castle, Buffy saw several possible routes that could take her to either The First or The Dagger. She tried the one on the far left, emerging into a room with a banquet hall inside.

BS: So . . . The First has banquets? Even if it could eat, I don't see it hosting any parties.

She back out and tried another door. This one led her to a room with weapons in it. None of the axes or maces looked shiny or important to Buffy.

BS: Nope, no First and no Dagger.

Trying another passage, she came across two Bringers standing guard in front of another door.

BS: Guards. This looks promising. (Approaching them) Excuse me, guys? You want a break?

The Bringers raise their knives and charge her. Buffy took out an axe she had taken from the last room and chopped off the head of one of the Bringers. Then she used it to block the knife of the second Bringer before kicking him in the shin. He hopped up and down in pain until Buffy grabbed him and snapped his neck.

BS: Enjoy your break, guys.

She entered the room they were guarding and saw what she knew immediately was Hope's Dagger; although it was technically a sword. It was hanging on the wall and glowing with power. She removed it from the pegs it was supported on and examined it.

BS: Hope's Dagger. The First better have its eternal life insurance policies paid up.

She swung it around experimentally and liked how it felt in her hands. She moved on to the next hallway and saw a few more Bringers ahead. She swung the blade at them. One slice decapitated three of the five Bringers.

BS: Wow! I really like this thing. Too bad it only exits in this dimension. (The other two Bringers slowly backed away, then ran off) What a bunch of sissies.

Entering the next room, which had an open ceiling showing the stormy sky above, she saw a door with a hole in the wall next to it. She looked at the hole and saw that it was the exact width of the Dagger. She lifted the blade and inserted it into the hole. There was a click and the door opened as a symbol glowed around the blade. It looked like a pentagram with a goat's head on it.

BS: Creepy.

She went through the door and saw a final door ahead. She pushed it open. She was now at the top of a stairway in a wide, elaborately styled, stone room. On the floor below her were three more of those pentagram symbols, shaping a triangle. In front of the triangle of pentagrams was stone platform. Standing on it, facing her across the room, was Ethan.

ER/FE: Well, somebody's not as sneaky as they think they are.

Then Buffy understood: The First had found itself a corporeal body to battle her with.

ACT 3: Buffy jumped down the stairway and charged at Ethan/The First, but her way was suddenly blocked by several things: Three bringers ran to the pentagrams and began chanting on them. Then a force field of power appeared around The First, who started shooting burst of magickal power at her. Buffy raised the blade and blocked the first burst of power, then stabbed one of the Bringers. As she ran to the next one, another burst of power hit her and she fell down next to the Bringer, who stood up and began to attack her. She swept her leg around to knock the Bringer down, then stabbed him too. The last Bringer was sitting directly in front of The First. She approached the Bringer as The First sent another burst of power at her. The Bringer had stood up to fight Buffy at exactly the right moment for The First's power to hit him instead. He burned up and died as the force field around The First vanished. The First prepared to throw another source of power, but Buffy had already swung the blade and stabbed Ethan in the chest. A burst of power emanated from Ethan/The First, knocking Buffy backward. Ethan fell to his knees, made some kind of bubbling, choking sound, and fell down. Buffy go back to her feet and gasped for breath. Then Cassandra appeared next to her.

CR: It is over, Slayer. You have accomplished what I could not.

BS: Is it dead?

CR: The First cannot die. It is an integral part of the universe. But you have dispersed its evil across all realities and dimensions. It will be centuries before it can coalesce again.

BS: What about Ethan? I . . . it was the only way. But I can't just let him die.

CR: (Bending over him) Nor can I. Despite my revulsion at his cruel nature, I know that he was but a pawn here. I will share my essence with him, my spirit with his. I have touched the purest light in creation. Perhaps my touch will illuminate some shard of decency in him.

She lifted her hands over Ethan. A bright light surrounds them both. Then Cassandra vanished, apparently ascending into heaven at last. Ethan grunted, then got onto his hands, looking up at Buffy.

ER: From beneath you, it devours.

Then he fell down again.

BS: Weird.

Turning around, she saw Spike, Faith, Xander, Willow, and Sid enter the room. They looked around at the aftermath.

FL: You did it, B. Thanks for the ringside seat.

XH: So what now? How do we get back?

WR: It will happen on its own. (closes her eyes) I can . . . I can feel this place unraveling.

BS: What about you, Sid? What happens now?

Sid: Now? Now I get to rest at last. I've heard it said that heaven's different for everyone. Heh, for me it's gonna involve cards, babes, and whiskey. Maybe I'll try looking up that doll Cassandra when I get there. Fella like me could show a girl like that a real good time.

Then Sid vanished in a flash of light.

BS: I bet you could, Sid. I bet you could.

S: Right, so how long until this dimension kicks us back to the real world?

WR: It shouldn't be too long from now.

Behind them, Ethan stirs and stands up again.

BS: So, Ethan, have we learned our lesson about messing with things bigger than us?

ER/FE: You stupid girl. Did you really think I would be that easy to take down?

BS: No. I banished you! Cassandra said I'd banished you!

ER/FE: Yes. But did any of you tell Cassandra that there was another Slayer with you?

FL: What does that have to do with anything?

ER/FE: Everything. You see, with two of you here, the power of the Slayer is split between you. So in order to truly defat me . . .

FL: I'd have to fight you too.

XH: What? Come on!

S: She ain't fighting you alone.

WR: You want Faith too, you'll have to fight all of us together!

ER/FE: I don't think so.

The First raised its hands and sent Spike, Xander, and Willow flying backwards onto the stairway. Another wave and magical bars appeared, preventing them getting back to them.

S: Hey!

Buffy and Faith glared at The First.

BS: Don't worry, Faith. I got your back.

FL: Just like old times, huh, B?

ER/FE: That will not be happening. You see, I realize now what my mistake was before.

BS: Starting this whole mess?

ER/FE: Choosing the wrong vessel.

The First spread out its arms, and then it emerged out of Ethan, becoming the large silver horned demon. Ethan collapsed onto the ground as The First shot toward Buffy and Faith.

BS: Faith, look out!

Faith flinched, but nothing happened. She opened her eyes tentatively. The First was gone. Buffy was crouched on the ground, bending over. Faith crawled over to her.

FL: B? Buffy? You alright?

BS: No.

Her fist shot out and hit Faith in the mouth. Faith staggered backward, clutching her bleeding lip, staring as Buffy rose.

BS/FE: I, on the other hand, have never felt better.

ACT 4: Faith stares as Buffy/The First examines its new form.

BS/FE: Now this is power.

FL: You son of a bitch.

BS/FE: What? Ethan was inferior. I should have realized before.

FL: You can't do that!

BS/FE: Of course I can. She was irrelevant to this fight, so I'm going to use her.

FL: You think just because you're Buffy, I won't try to kill you?

BS/FE: It is pointless to try. The power of the Slayer combined with the power I already have will make me unbeatable.

FL: I'm gonna send your ass back to hell where it belongs, then we're all going back home: Including Buffy.

BS/FE: You don't seem to understand how this works, do you? There are only two way this can end: Either I kill you, or you kill Buffy. Either way, you will lose.

The First walked back onto the stone platform and waved its hand. Three more Bringers arrive and start to chant on the pentagrams, causing the energy shield to emerge again, surrounding The First.

FL: Oh, damn.

Faith picked up Hope's Dagger where Buffy had dropped it, and slashed at the first Bringer. He fell down almost immediately. The First shot a burst of power at Faith, but she dodged it and kept going. The second Bringer collapsed after Faith had stabbed him in the heart.

FL: Sorry. I know you're no vampire, but stabbing the heart's a habit of mine.

The third Bringer was already standing waiting for her. She kicked him out of the way and ran at the shield, but was thrown back. The Bringer raised his knife, but Faith had already stabbed him in the face. The shield went down again. The First shot more magick at her, but she dodged it and slashed the blade. It made contact, but The First only staggered a little, then smiled sinisterly.

BS/FE: Sorry, but I'm a bit more powerful than last time.

The shield popped up again and Faith was flung off the platform. She saw three more Bringers hurrying to the symbols.

FL: This ends now.

She ran at the first Bringer and killed him quickly. The second Bringer fell after she cut his head off. A burst of power hit her full on and she fell down, dropping the Dagger. The third Bringer abandoned his position and approached Faith, kicking her in the stomach. She grabbed his leg and dragged him down to the ground. Then she pummeled him until more magick hit her and she fell off him.

FL: Note to self: Avoid the magic bullets.

She flipped back to her feet and picked up Hope's Dagger. She stabbed the Bringer while he was still on the ground and the force field fell once again. Faith charged toward The First as more flashes of power shot from it. She deflected some with the Dagger and ducked under the rest until she reached The First and swung the blade. But The First shot another burst of magick at Faith, which hit her and knocked her down. The First stood over Faith.

BS/FE: Did you expect it to end any other way?

Then The First shuddered, looking alarmed.

BS/FE: Urggh. What's going-? She's fighting me from the inside!

FL: Buffy's a lot stronger than you thought. She wouldn't let anything happen to us if she can stop it.

BS/FE: But . . . it's not possible . . . how can she . . . ?

The First convulsed again, then abruptly, Buffy seemed to regain control.

BS: Faith, I can't fight it forever. Get the others out of here.

FL: What about you?

BS: I can't escape. The First won't let go of me willingly. The only way to stop it now is for me to-

FL: No!

BS: It's the only way, Faith. This dimension is fading. Willow felt it. The only way The First can save it now is by killing you. But if you kill me first, it will go with me. You have to defeat it too in order to stop it.

FL: But I can't-

BS: You have to. If you don't, The First will kill you and its dimension will bleed into ours, causing it to descend into darkness and pain forever. The only way I can be free of The First is if I die. Please, don't let it make me hurt anyone.

Suddenly, The First's personality resurfaced.

BS/FE: Ergh! That's enough of her, I think.

Faiths stood up and raised Hope's Dagger.

BS/FE: It's disgusting. The amount of love and compassion in her, it's . . . eating me up inside. It's powerful. More powerful than anything I ever . . . Her love for you and her friends is overpowering me! But it doesn't matter. Once I kill you and my dimension enters yours, I can leave her to die and become truly corporeal, bringing the world into darkness. Where Glorificus failed, I will succeed.

FL: I don't think so.

BS/FE: You can't kill her. You just got over your killing spree. Do you really want to risk awakening it again?

FL: This isn't murder. I'm saving her from you!

Faith impaled The First with Hope's Dagger. The First gasped in surprise, then glared at Faith.

BS/FE: You think you've won . . . but I'll never go away. I'll always . . . come back.

Then with a roar, the horned demon emerged out of Buffy and disintegrated as Buffy fell forward onto the ground. The First was truly gone, for now. Faith stood there, shocked by what she'd done, then turned Buffy over onto her back, staring at the wound she'd made in her chest.

FL: B? Oh god, what have I done? B! Wake up! I know you're not dead!

Spike, Xander, and Willow ran over to them. The bars blocking them had vanished along with The First.

XH: What happened? Faith?

FL: I . . . I had to.

WR: Oh my god.

S: No!

As they gathered around Buffy, they reappeared in Giles' hospital room in Sunnydale. Anya and Tara bolted upright in their chairs.

AJ: Xander! Where were you? I was panicking and sweating with dread!

RG: Buffy?

Giles, realizing what he was seeing, looked down on his Slayer in disbelief and horror. Faith had finally broken down.

FL: I'm . . . I'm so sorry. The First . . . took her over. I had to . . .

XH: (Numbly) But . . . Ethan was possessed and killed, too, and he was brought back. Why can't Buffy . . . ?

FL: Cassandra had restored Ethan with the last of her power. She'd already ascended to heaven. Why did she have to waste her strength on him? She could've . . .

Faith couldn't continue. She hadn't been this traumatized since she had witnessed Kakistos killing her first watcher. Tara came over to Willow and they hugged, crying into each other's shoulders. Anya patted Xander sympathetically on the back as he wiped his eyes. As Giles reached down from his bed and touched Buffy's face, her eyes opened.

RG: Buffy!

BS: (Weakly) Giles?

FL: Buffy . . .

BS: No, don't feel bad, Faith. You . . . did the right thing.

RG: Buffy, I . . . I . . .

BS: It's okay, Giles. This is what was supposed to happen. I get it now. I figured it out.

Flashback to "Intervention", showing Buffy's conversation with the Spirit Guide.

Guide: You are full of love. You love with all your soul. It's brighter than fire. Blinding.

BS: I'm full of love, which is nice, and . . . love will lead me to my gift?

Guide: Death is your gift.

BS: Death . . .

Guide: Is your gift.

BS: (Cont.) This is . . . what I was meant for. Death is my gift . . . because it prevented The First from succeeding.

WR: Your love for us . . . overcame The First's possession of you.

RG: (Choked and bitter) Ethan, on the other hand, never truly loved anything.

TM: Then the P-powers that Be must've planned for Buffy's love for us t-to banish The First forever, through her death.

Spike grabbed Buffy's left hand and squeezed it.

S: Buffy, please don't go. Not yet.

AJ: That wound is fatal, Spike. She can't decide what will happen to her.

S: (Looks up at Anya with angry tears in his eyes) Don't you realize what is happening? She's dying! Like Joyce!

Anya looked startled, then broke down into Xander's shoulder. Buffy looked up at Giles and her friends.

BS: Tell Dawn . . . that I love her. I love all of you.

AJ: Even Spike?

TM: Anya, not now. Please.

BS: Take care of each other. Promise me . . . you'll look after each other. The . . . hardest thing in this world . . . is to live in it. Please . . . live . . . for me.

She grabbed Giles' hand and squeezed it. Then her hand went limp and fell back to the floor. Giles broke down and sobbed. Spike lowered his head and covered his face with his hands. Everybody mourned silently.

Later, Faith is shown walking into the police station in Los Angeles and returning to her jail cell; In Xander's apartment, he, Willow, Anya, and Tara sat in silence, looking hopeless and sad; Spike sat on a tomb in his crypt, drinking whiskey, trying to drown his sorrows. Empty bottles surround him; Giles sat in his apartment, looking at a picture of Buffy, Dawn, and Joyce together. Wiping his eyes, he got up slowly and prepared to deliver the terrible news to Dawn.

Cut to a gravestone sitting alone in a clearing of trees that reads:

BUFFY ANNE SUMMERS

1981-2001

Beloved sister.

Devoted friend.

She saved the world. A lot.

Cut to a containment cell in Nevada. A portal opened and Ethan Rayne fell through it. He got up and looked around him.

ER: No. That's not fair. This isn't fair! You cheated! You betrayed me! IT'S NOT FAIR!

The End

Sidenote: The First is banished with Buffy's death and would've stayed gone if Buffy stayed dead (which was the original intent of TPTB). When she is revived, it came back with her (Since they were merged together) and lays low until S.7.