Buffy Logo 'Into the Woods'
Story Code '5ABB09'

by Marti Noxon

Buffy and Dawn, together with Giles, Willow, Xander and Riley, anxiously await news of Joyce’s brain operation. Doctor Kriegel appears and informs Buffy that her mother’s operation was a success, and she should make a full recovery; relieved, the gang excitedly hug each other. Later, Xander and Anya baby-sit Dawn so that Buffy and Riley can have some time alone; the two of them make the most of the opportunity, unaware that Spike is watching the house. Time passes, and as Spike is about to leave he sees Riley sneaking out of the house; curious, the vampire follows him to an abandoned building downtown. The next day, Buffy helps Joyce cover her surgery scar using headscarves, and her mother is happy to learn that everything between her and Riley is going well. In a hotel room, Graham and Major Ellis discuss a demon situation in Belize; Graham suggests Riley as a good recruit for the mission, but is unsure that he will want to join them; Ellis wonders what there is in Sunnydale to keep him there. Buffy is asleep in her room when she wakes to find Spike standing over her; he tells her that there is something that he has to show her, and takes her to the building that Riley previously entered. Inside, Buffy is appalled to find humans paying to have their blood drained by vampires. Spike leads her upstairs, where she discovers Riley encouraging a female vampire to feast from a wound in his arm; looking up, Riley and Buffy stare speechlessly at each other, before a distraught Buffy turns and runs. Spike runs after her to offer his help, but she does not look grateful. Riley arrives home to find Graham and Major Ellis waiting for him; they offer him a place on their team, telling him that if he chooses to go he must to meet their helicopter at midnight. At the ‘Magic Box’, Willow and Xander reminisce about their childhood Christmases, but Anya accuses them of making fun of her demon past; she and Willow begin to bicker, Anya becoming upset when she thinks Xander that is siding with Willow. Buffy rushes in and tells Giles about the feeding nest, getting angry when Giles comments that he knew such things existed, as some humans are attracted to the thrill. He, Willow and Xander accompany Buffy to the feeding nest, but the vampires have gone. In frustration Buffy sets the building alight. Meanwhile, Spike is relaxing with a drink in his crypt when Riley bursts in and begins punching him; as the vampire tries to remind Riley that his problems are his own fault, Riley pulls a stake and drives it straight into Spike’s heart. Spike howls in pain before realising he is not dead - the stake is made of plastic. Riley warns Spike to stay away from Buffy, but Spike admits he has feelings for her, pointing out that Riley must know he has know future with Buffy, or he would not be letting vampires feed off him. Buffy is letting off steam in her training room at the ‘Magic Box’ when Riley arrives at the shop and asks Anya and Xander to leave. When Buffy grudgingly agrees to hear Riley out, he admits he was trying to get even with her for letting Dracula bite her; the female vampire made him feel needed, something that Buffy never did, keeping him at a distance, and did not even calling him when her mother went into hospital. After Riley admits that he insecure because she is the strongest one in their relationship, Buffy argues that she has given him everything that she is, but it does not seem to be enough for him. Riley tells her about Major Ellis’s offer, stating that unless she can give him hope for their love, then he will leave. Later, Buffy is attacked in an alleyway by the vampires from the feeding nest; she quickly decimates them, but is then surprised when Xander steps out from the shadows. Following Buffy to a warehouse, Xander accuses her of running from her problem, then realises that there is something wrong between her and Riley; Buffy tells him about the vampires, and that Riley is going to leave. Xander replies that if she truly loves Riley, she should do anything to make him stay, remarking that he has given up everything to stay in Sunnydale with her, while she has just treated him as a rebound boyfriend, and will be petty if she will not ask him to stay with her. Xander tells Buffy that if she needs and loves Riley, then she had better go; his words get through to her, and she runs from the warehouse. Riley waits at the helipad, while Buffy runs as fast as she can - but she is not fast enough. With no sign of the woman he loves, Riley boards the helicopter, which takes off scant seconds before Buffy arrives, but Riley cannot hear her shouts over the sound of the helicopter blades. Xander arrives at Anya’s apartment, and tells her that he loves her and everything about her. Buffy goes home, but halfway up the stairs she just stops and numbly stares off into space…

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), Nicholas Brendon (Xander Harris), Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg), Marc Blucas (Riley Finn), Emma Caulfield (Anya), Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn), James Marsters (Spike), Anthony Stewart Head (Rupert Giles), Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers), Bailey Chase (Graham Miller), Nick Chinlund (Major Ellis), Randy Thompson (Doctor Kriegel), Rainy Jo Stout (Junkie Vampire Girl), Emmanuel Xuereb (Vamp), Adam G. (Tough Vamp)
Directed by Marti Noxon

TX (US): 19th December 2000
TX (UK - Sky One): 9th March 2001

*Featuring Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles, Riley, Anya, Tara and Dawn