Sunnydale Cemetery. Evening. A body once known as Andrew Hoelich rises from its grave, ready for a new life as a creature of the night. Standing in his way is not the Slayer, but rather her closest friends: Willow, Xander, and Oz. Unfortunately, without the powers that make Buffy special, the three friends are unable to kill the vampire before it can escape into the night. Afterwards, the group prepares themselves for the new school season, which begins the very next day. They also wonder if and when Buffy will return to Sunnydale after her unannounced absence since saving the world from the Acathla threat. What they don't know is that Buffy is currently living alone in an apartment in downtown Los Angeles. Buffy's dreams are haunted by Angel, reminding of her of what she had to do in order to stop Acathla.
The next morning, Willow learns that Oz flunked his senior year and needs to repeat it, Xander and Cordelia's anticipated reunion has no sparks whatsoever, and Giles gets the latest in a long line of leads concerning Buffy's possible location. Meanwhile, Buffy is working as a waitress in a diner, under the alias of Anne. During work, she serves a romantic couple of runaways. The girl's name is Lily, while the guy's is Rickie. They both have each other's name tattooed to their forearms. When Lily recognizes the waitress, Buffy denies any familiarity with the girl. At one point, Rickie says to Lily the exact same words that Buffy heard from Angel in one of her dreams. The next day, on the way to work, Buffy passes by an old homeless woman who repeatedly says, "I'm no one." Back in Sunnydale, Giles pays Joyce Summers a visit to inform her that his latest search turned up empty-handed. Joyce expresses her resentment toward Giles, blaming him for Buffy's distance from her own mother.
On her way home from work, Buffy runs into Lily again. Lily gets Buffy's attention by calling her by her real name, then reminds Buffy that she once went by the name of Chantarelle and was involved in a vampire-worshipping cult. Buffy explains that Anne is really her middle name. During their conversation, an old man rudely bumps the both of them aside as he walks towards the street. When asked if he's okay, the old man turns to them and says, "I'm no one." With that, he walks into the middle of the street, then stops in the path of an oncoming car. Buffy dashes into the street and pushes him aside just in time, but not before the car collides and sends her slamming into the pavement. A few locals offer to help her and call an ambulance, but Buffy quickly leaves the scene without even a limp. On the way, Buffy meets a relatively clean-cut man. His name is Ken, and he's handing out flyers for a shelter called the Family Home. Meanwhile, in the Bronze, Xander chats with Willow and Oz about their failure at vampire slaying. Seeing Cordelia enter the Bronze with a few of her friends, Xander hatches a plan to use her as bait.
The next day, Lily visits Buffy at work and tells her that Rickie's been missing for a while. Buffy reluctantly agrees to help, and they first visit the local blood bank where Lily and Rickie often donated in order to make some money. According to the doctor, Rickie hasn't been there in the last few days, so Buffy and Lily agree to split up and meet up later at Buffy's apartment. During a search in an abandoned building, Buffy finds a dead old man with a bottle of Drain Cleaner next to his head. Since the bottle is empty, the old man must have killed himself with it. However, that's not the most disturbing thing: Buffy notices a familiar tattoo on the man's forearm. It says "Lily", which means that this dead old man was Rickie. Back at her apartment, Lily cannot believe the news. She blames Buffy for bringing along some evil from Sunnydale, causing her boyfriend's untimely death. Lily exits the apartment and meets Ken, who tells her that Rickie is alive and staying at the Family Home. Relieved, Lily follows Ken to the shelter. Determined to get to the bottom of things, Buffy breaks into the blood bank after closing hours and finds Rickie's personal file. Alarmed by the word "Candidate" stamped in it, Buffy questions the doctor, who has just arrived on the scene. Buffy gets the info that leads her to the Family Home, where she finds Lily alone with Ken in a room. Before Buffy can find out what's going on, Lily is pulled into the floor through a strange black pool. Buffy struggles with Ken before they both fall into the pool. On the other side of it, they crash down hard on the floor. While Buffy takes care of Lily, Ken removes his mask to reveal the face of a demon underneath. He calls the guards, and Buffy grabs Lily and tries to escape. As the guards give chase, Buffy and Lily run into an enormous factory room. Hundreds of missing runaways work slave labor, while the demonic guards watch them, whips in hand. Ken and the guards catch up to them. With a swift swing of his club, Ken knocks Buffy unconscious.
Back in Sunnydale, Xander, Willow, and Oz try to dust the vampire again, this time with Cordelia as bait. While everyone assumes their hiding positions, Xander and Cordelia argue over what they did or didn't do during the summer. Their fight is interrupted by a scream, for the vamp has snuck up behind Willow and attacked her first. Oz runs in to the rescue, but the vamp quickly knocks him to the ground. Xander tries to drive his stake into the vampire's chest, but they get their arms locked up, preventing Xander from thrusting the stake any further. Cordelia charges the vampire from behind, and all three of them fall to the ground. The vampire lands into the stake, and immediately explodes into dust. This causes Cordelia to fall into Xander's arms. They finally give in to their desires and kiss right then and there.
Buffy regains consciousness inside a prison cell. Lily, who's sitting inside the same cell, believes they're in Hell. Buffy denies this, but that becomes irrelevant as Ken explains their situation. Apparently, they are in some alternate dimension outside of Earth, and time passes differently here. According to Ken, one day on Earth equals one hundred years in this dimension. Buffy puts the pieces together and realizes that the disoriented old people she saw on the street must have been former slaves in this dimension, including Rickie. Buffy, Lily, and several other runaways are then led into a room. A demon guard tells them that they no longer have any individual identities. He then asks a boy to identify himself. When the boy responds with his own name, the guard beats him with a club. Lily's next, and her answer is "no one". A few more slaves respond in the same manner. The guard then asks Buffy. Instead of giving the expected answer, Buffy finally comes to terms with who she is and responds with her true identity, that of the Slayer. With that, Buffy proceeds to fight and subdue the guards in the room. After telling Lily to lead the others to the exit, Buffy runs out into the middle of the factory and battles an endless number of demon guards. One after the other, Buffy defeats them, until Ken grabs Lily and threatens to slice her throat with a knife for Buffy's disobedience. Surprisingly, Lily pushes Ken off the balcony while his back is turned, enabling Buffy to fight off the guards holding her and climb to safety. At the exit, they encounter a heavy gate which Buffy uses all of her strength to lift. Just as she's about to escape herself, Ken tackles her. As he does so, Buffy is knocked towards the outside of the gate, which comes crashing down on Ken's legs. Buffy then takes Ken's club and smashes it onto his skull. After Buffy, Lily, and the other runaways climb through the black pool, it seals itself.
Deciding it's time to go back home, Buffy gives her apartment and her job to Lily. Buffy is confident that Lily can take care of herself from now on. Before Buffy leaves, Lily asks her if she can use Buffy's middle name, Anne, as her own. Buffy agrees and leaves. Back in Sunnydale, Buffy knocks on the door to her home. After Joyce opens it, they stand there, completely speechless. Finally, they embrace. For Giles and the rest of the Sunnydale, the Slayer has returned. For Joyce Summers, someone more important is finally home: her only daughter.
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