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It's Time For Another Exciting Episode of... Barb!Brain Theatre!

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INT. BARB'S BRAIN

The Great and All-Powerful Author, hereinafter referred to as BARB, is sitting in front of a moderately messy desk, playing Minesweeper and listlessly checking her e-mail. There is a cat asleep on the scanner. A door slams open, and SPIKE storms in and throws the results of the SOS poll down in front of the monitor.

BARB: HEY! You made me explode!

SPIKE: What's this about dark and fucking angst-ridden? We had a deal!

[SPIKE reaches into the recesses of his coat and produces a CONTRACT, which he unrolls, reavealing a forest of official-looking stamps and seals]

SPIKE: Section four, paragraph twelve: in any work in excess of twenty thousand words you get to torture me, chain me up, beat the shit out of me an' have me commit acts of [whips reading glasses out of coat pocket] 'dubious morality and occasional evil incuding but not limited to gambling, petty theft, burglary in the first degree, trespassing, breaking and entering, grand theft auto, assault, torture, vandalism, animal cruelty, accessory to demonic possession, crimes of passion, manslaughter, attempted murder, murder in the first degree, etc. such as to create substantive conflict between the party of the first part heretofore referred to as Buffy Anne Summers, vampire slayer, and William the Bloody, that would be me--

BARB: Now wait just a cotton-picking minute, what are you complaining about? You LIKE doing all that stuff!

SPIKE: Bloke's got to have a hobby. Point is, in the novels you get to fuck me over any way you like. Short stories I'm supposed to get shagged regular and have a few beers, and not that American horse piss, either. My lawyer says--

BARB: Since when do you have a lawyer?

[LILAH MORGAN sashays in, looking professionally gorgeous]

LILAH: Since you've never seen fit to give me anything to do, I have to make my own fun. We're filing a breach of contract suit with the Tribunal. Hopefully you have one of those little medallion thingies lying around, because if not--

BARB: [looking nervous] Now wait a minute, it's just one option. And it might not even win, anyway.

SPIKE: It had bloody well better not! You haven't got a sodding plot! You only put the bleeding thing on the list because you were feeling sorry for yourself and wanted an excuse to take out your case of the fuck-offs out on your hapless characters, namely me!

BARB: (thoughtfully) Actually, Buffy's much better suited to an oh-poor-me story than you are...

BUFFY: [from the next room] LEAVE ME OUT OF THIS!

BARB: [whines] But all the cool kids do angst! And I do so have a plot!

SPIKE: [raises The Eyebrow] Yeah? Let's hear it.

BARB: Well, uh, there's the multi-Buffy story. It's going to be angsty.

SPIKE: In case it's escaped your notice, I'm not in that one. Next?

BARB: Hah! The Boxer Rebellion Incident!

SPIKE: [smirks] Angel's the central character, I'm supporting at best and you haven't sussed out a plot other than "Angel shags Spike and feels really bad about it."

BARB: [sullenly] Fine. I can come up with something new. How about what happens to Warren?

SPIKE: [cheerfully] Ate the bastard. Billy No-Angst, me.

WILLOW: [poking her head in hesitantly] Well, I have some angst about that. Would that help?

SPIKE: [pats her shoulder] Have a lie-down, pet, it's probably just indigestion.

[BUFFY peers around the corner. She is wearing a towel on her head and has turquoise goop smeared all over her face. A cucumber slice is sliding down one cheek.]

BUFFY: OK, wait a minute, do I find out about that?

BARB: I'm not sure yet.

[BARB pulls up a file full of story notes. BUFFY and SPIKE crowd around the monitor, looking over her shoulder.]

BARB: I originally just figured you two ate him while Buffy was in the pocket dimension and she never found out for sure, but then I thought that wouldn't make any sense, because you'd want to try and make him bring her back, right? So then I thought--

LILAH: Excuse me, but we do have a court case to prepare for...Spike, can you ride a horse?

SPIKE: [distracted, glasses sliding down his nose] Oh, sod off. Changed my mind. This is more fun. Now, how buggered do we want this? I'm not going to be that keen on biting first and asking questions later after what happens in Chapter 18, am I?

BARB: Probably not, but what I figure is Warren's not a fluffy puppy himself. He's gonna --

BUFFY: There's not going to be more robots, is there? I draw the line at robots.

[LILAH rolls her eyes, sighs, opens her briefcase, and pulls out a cell phone.]

LILAH: Mr. Mears? No, you don't know me. But you're going to want to real soon.

End