Der Zauber Kasten. Anya, Xander, and Willow make some small talk about the plans for Buffy's party. Xander drops the "T" bomb -- Tara is coming to the party. Willow over-enthusiastically agrees, "Tara should totally be there. It'll be great. I'll wipe her mind and then she'll come back to me and never ever leave again!" Well, she doesn't really say that last sentence, but I bet she was thinking it. Enter Dawn. She's looking for a mall buddy. Willow says something about having to attend "Spellcasters Anonymous," which I will not even deign to comment upon, except to point out that the existence of such a group is exactly what we've suggested on the boards -- if only in the most cutting, sarcastic, "the writers would never stoop that low" way. Xander is also unable to frolic at the mall because he's working on scheduling his crew for next week; Anya bows out because she has to fondle the money. Dawn bites back her tears and turns to go to the mall all by herself. Geez. When I was a teenager, you couldn't have paid me enough to make me hang out with my hypothetical older sister and her hypothetical friends. Plus, I know Dawn isn't feeling very nurtured and all, but the Scoobies are busy people, and maybe she should have made plans in advance with them, instead of dropping by right before she had to head to the mall.
Later Dawn creeps through the front door at home. She goes up to her room and then empties her coat pockets of some jewelry, tags still dangling. She takes off her red coat to reveal a black leather blazer underneath and as she models it in front of the mirror we see that it too still has a tag on it. But not the security tag we see on it later in the episode. Oops, did I give something away? Like you care. You're as bored as I am at this point -- admit it.
School. Dawn's in class. The class is interrupted by a message for Dawn; she's to report to the guidance office. Dawn sits across the desk from a new guidance counselor. The counselor quizzes her on her slipping grades and reminds her that "the most important part of [her] job is looking out for [Dawn]." And the way she says it, she seems so sincere and not at all like a demon on a vengeance mission that will cause Dawn to be locked up for an eternity in her house with her narcissistic sister and maladjusted freak friends when there's a hungry demon on the loose. Dawn isn't very communicative, but after a bit more prodding she admits that people keep leaving her, and sometimes she "wish[es] [she] could just make them stop."