Buffy's old boyfriend, Riley Finn, shows up unexpectedly as he tracks a demon about to hatch eggs that could wipe out Sunnydale.
Riley returns to Sunnydale while pursuing a demon and seeks Buffy's help in killing it. He also comes with a surprise... he is married. His wife, fellow demon hunter Sam, befriends the entire Scooby Gang and gets along quite well with all of them, but Buffy's own "relationship" with Spike comes into question when her ex's perfect romance shows her just what she doesn't have.
- Buffy cleans the grill with a fellow worker, Todd, who talks non-stop and then leaves Buffy to finish cleaning alone. On the way home from work, Buffy runs into a vampire, but once the vampire finds out that Buffy was working at Doublemeat Palace and smells like it, he tries to escape and instead is staked by an offended Slayer. Finally home, Buffy finds Spike waiting in front of her house. She knows what he's there for, but with Dawn waiting inside, she refuses to let him follow her into the house. Instead, he persuades her to stay outside with him and they drop to the grass together.
Later, Buffy apologetically presents the not-so-appealing bag of Doublemeat Palace food to Dawn for their dinner. Dawn can't stand another meal from the fast food place and is saved from having to eat the burgers when Willow arrives to take Dawn to the Bronze. Willow notices Buffy's rough appearance and grass stains on the back of her outfit, but Buffy blames it on work and a battle with a vampire. Tired and a bit depressed, Buffy allows her sister to go, but doesn't join them. At the Bronze, Anya and Xander snack on chips while agonizing over the seating arrangements for the wedding reception and other jobs that need completing before the big event.
Dawn and Willow sit and have drinks while discussing Xander and Anya's wedding and Willow's newly changed relationship with Tara. Although the two are far from getting back together, there's an open door on communication. Meanwhile, at home, Buffy works to remove the grass stains from her coat. The next morning, Buffy wakes up amidst her unfolded laundry to the sound of the garbage truck. She rushes to get the garbage outside in time, but the truck drives away.
Dawn prepares to leave for school as Buffy returns inside and finds a letter from UC Sunnydale waiting for her. As her sister leaves, Buffy reads the letter and finds that her application has been rejected, because she missed the deadline. At work, Buffy tends to the grill like a depressed robot with life offering her little more than her fast food job. Todd sends Buffy up to the front counter while he takes to preparing the food. Her first customer though is not someone she expected to see: Riley.
In a hurry, Riley requests her help with a mission he's on and Buffy willingly steps away from her paying job to help him. Still clad in military-like clothes and armed with state of the art weapons, Riley briefly explains the demon he's after and how close it is. The demon appears on the streets and people run for cover, except for Buffy and Riley who immediately start a fight with the large demon. The battle continues in an alley and Riley manages to tag the demon with a dart before it gets away, yet again. This time though, the Slayer and her ex follow it in a car and talk about all the catching up they need to do when time permits while Buffy changes into some more fight-appropriate clothing courtesy of Riley.
Elsewhere, Anya and Xander continue their chip-eating fest as they sit in traffic, needing to pick up some of Xander's family from the airport and Anya's friends from a demon portal. They are both incredibly stressed out and take it out on each other. Riley and Buffy come to a stop at a dam where it seems the demon has gone down to the bottom. Riley attaches a rappelling cord to the dam and with no weapons or other gear, rappels down the side of the dam with Buffy clinging to him. Quickly after they reach the bottom, the demon attacks them and a fight ensues. When the demon gets ready to attack Riley alone, Buffy gets Riley out of the way. As the two recover and hold onto each other, a woman enters the scene, curious as to what Buffy's doing with her husband.
Sam, as Riley later introduces as his wife, quickly jumps into a fight with the Suvolte demon. Buffy recovers from the shock of Riley being married and Riley starts to catch her up on his life since he left as they watch Sam deliver quite a beating to the demon. The demon strikes Sam and Riley rushes to help her as Buffy approaches the demon from behind and snaps its neck. Riley's shocked that she killed it and Buffy soon finds out from Sam that they weren't trying to kill it. Improvising, Sam takes a knife from Riley and cuts into the demon's gut as Buffy watches on, still confused. Sam observes that they're too late and the three head for Buffy's home where it should be safe. Riley mentions that Sam's good cutting skills are because she's a doctor and promises Buffy that he'll take the time to fill her in on everything.
At the house, almost everyone greets Riley with open arms--Dawn is upset with him because of the way he left the last time. Privately, Willow offers to hate the new wife for Buffy and, unable to really hate her herself, Buffy agrees. Sam and Riley begin to describe the gory details of the demon and the mission and although Riley's concerned about Dawn hearing about it, Sam sticks up for the teen and she gets to stay with the "grown-up's." Sam explains that the deadly Suvolte Demon multiplies quickly and can destroy towns full of people in no time at all and has come to Sunnydale to lay a nest full of its offspring. A demonic dealer in Sunnydale by the name of "The Doctor" is suspected of holding the eggs in exchange for money. The topic of Willow doing magic to help is raised, but Willow explains that she cannot.
Riley directs Sam and Buffy to search for the nest while he investigates the Doctor. In the kitchen, Sam tells Willow about a couple of shamans she knew that got addicted to dark magic and literally didn't survive it. She's amazed that Willow is strong enough to beat the addiction and Willow says nothing, but really takes the words in. Buffy and Sam patrol and talk about Buffy's honorable reputation as the Slayer and of course, Riley. Sam explains how she met Riley for the first time and how much Buffy mattered to him for so long. Sam questions whether Buffy regrets losing Riley and although Buffy does a little, she certainly wouldn't try to change things now. After Sam tells Buffy that Riley did get over her--after a year-- she brings up the subject of Buffy's current love life and the Slayer dodges that subject.
Buffy suggests they split up and as Sam heads off to find Riley, Buffy aims directly for Spike's crypt. Upon arrival, she questions his knowledge about "The Doctor," but when he has no immediate answers, she changes the subject to his feelings for her and eventually pulls him to her for some physical comfort. Later that evening, Buffy and Spike sleep under a blanket together and Spike wakes to find Riley has walked in on them. The vampire takes the opportunity to emphasize his having Buffy with him. Riley pretends not to care although he clearly does; he identifies Spike as "The Doctor" and demands to know where the eggs are.
Spike denies knowing anything about the code name "Doctor" or the whereabouts of the eggs, but Riley is confident with his information and starts to tear the place apart. Buffy is unable to believe that Spike could be involved, but as she and Riley go to the bottom level of the crypt and find the eggs everywhere, Spike's cover is blown. Spike and Buffy exchange harsh words and as Spike leaves, the eggs begin to hatch. Little demons crawl out and begin to attack Buffy and Riley. The two escape and Buffy throws a live grenade down where the demons are, effectively destroying them and much of Spike's underground lair.
With family and friends causing mayhem in the apartment, Anya and Xander huddle together in the bathroom. Anya's bugged by the fact that Xander's so interested in Riley and Sam's marriage. Xander reassures her that while he's scared of the wedding, he's confident that the marriage will be great and last forever. Buffy and Riley talk privately and Riley asks her if she wants "The Doctor" to be taken out. Verbally admitting to her involvement with the vampire, Buffy denies his offer and accepts the fact that her life sucks and her ex-boyfriend is there to see it. Riley, though, tells her that struggling with life like a human being doesn't make her any less of a woman. Buffy tries to apologize for what happened when he left, and again Riley acts stoic, hiding his feelings.
The whole gang gathers to say goodbye to Sam and Riley. While Riley explains to Xander where and how his wedding took place, Sam and Willow confirm that they have each other's e-mail addresses for future contact. A helicopter arrives and carries the married couple off into the night. The next day, Buffy finds Spike at his crypt and, although she doesn't care about his being "The Doctor," she brings with her news he does not want to hear. Buffy tells Spike that although she has feelings for him, she can never love him; it would be wrong to keep using him the way she is, so it is over. Spike thinks that this is her usual routine of playing hard to get, but Buffy is serious and walks out with a final goodbye.