Disclaimer: I do not own BtVS, nor do I own anything else easily recognizable in this story. The only thing I own is what I believed to be an original plot idea. Thanks, *misterq* for proving once again that "there is nothing new under the sun". It's nice to know someonce else out there thinks like I do.
“Xander, would you mind picking a few things up for me at the costume place?” Giles asked offhandedly, waiting for what he knew would come.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” The teenage boy made the ‘time-out’ sign. “G-man, you’re…dressing up?”
“Yes, well, I’ve been invited to several small parties, and I-I feel obligated to attend at least one of them, if only for a few short minutes.” Giles pulled off his glasses. “Besides which, you didn’t think that you young people were the only ones with social lives outside this school?”
The three teenagers exchanged glances. “Ah, Giles, you don’t even have a social life inside
this school,” Buffy said skeptically. “And, hanging around moldy books with us so does not count.” The Slayer paused, and then frowned. “Do I
have a social life inside this school? ‘Cause, pretty much all my time here at Sunnyhell High is spent either in class or in here with the moldy books and you guys.” She pouted. “Life as the Slayer sucks.” Xander and Willow grinned at each other, familiar with the complaint.
“So, Giles, what’s your costume going to be,” Willow asked curiously, stacking books on the table. “Oh, oh! You could go as a vampire! I think you’d make a great vampire.” The Watcher arched a single eyebrow in the redhead’s direction and the girl flushed in embarrassment. “Or not,” Willow conceded.
“So…what do you want me to pick up for you at the costume shop,” Xander questioned eagerly. “Boo sheet…Superman outfit…tacky plastic armor…”
“No, a simple toga will suffice,” the British librarian said. “I’ll be dressing as one of the Roman Pantheon.” Xander’s face crinkled in confusion. “A god, Xander,” Giles clarified. “I’m costuming myself as the alleged patron god of librarians.”
“Well, someone’s having delusions of grandeur,” Buffy grinned. “Good for you, Giles. I’m glad someone’s going to have fun tonight, now that Snyder the Troll has stolen our joy from the three of us.”
“Oh, I’m sure there will be plenty of enjoyment to go around, Buffy. After all, you have the night off from hunting demons. I don’t see how anything could go wrong.” Giles froze in mid step. “Oh, dear lord, did I actually say that?” he asked in horror, pinching the bridge of his nose.
“You!” Buffy pointed a perfectly manicured finger at her Watcher. “If anything happens tonight, I know just who to blame! Honestly, Giles, how long have you been running this gig, and you still said something like that?!” The Slayer stormed out of the library.
“’Gig’?” the Watcher repeated, wincing. “It’s incredible how she manages to reduce the sacred role of a Watcher down to such a degrading and common
“That’s Buffy,” Willow shrugged with a grin. “She’s good at simplifying things. When she’s not complicating things, I mean.”
“Yeah, you definitely just described Buffy to a T, Wills,” Xander said cheerfully as he headed for the doors. “You want I should drop the sheet-dress at your place after I pick them up, G-man?”
“A toga, Xander, and yes, that would be very nice,” Giles answered absently, not even lifting his head from the book he was perusing. Xander grinned, and was inches from the doors when the librarian’s sardonic voice rose. “And, Xander, don’t call me that infernal nickname.” Willow’s giggles followed the chagrined teenage boy out of the library.
“Those two,” Giles shook his head in fond exasperation as he watched the two teenagers exit his realm. “What horrible deed did I do to deserve them?” He then gave a self-deprecating smile. “What great deed of goodness did I do to deserve them?”
Xander watched as Buffy and Willow drooled over the eighteenth century pink gown of Angel-worship. As embarrassing as it was to be included as ‘one of the girls’, this was worse…much worse. Buffy had practically glowed
when she spotted the dress, and Willow had been so sympathetic to her friend’s joy that she’d flushed a deep pink as well. The two girls were obviously getting off on the dress.
“I’m…just going to go find my costume,” the teenage boy excused himself hurriedly. “I’ll just leave you two to finish having eye-sex with the dress.” Willow responded with a half-hearted “Xander!” but Buffy barely even noticed him leave. “Just back away, Xander; just back away,” the teenager muttered to himself, turning and fleeing as quickly as possible. “Man, I thought I was a goner…”
Xander quickly tracked down the owner of the establishment, one Ethan Rayne. “Hey, you’re Ethan, right?” The older man behind the counter straightened up, pasting on an eagerly helpful expression.
“Why, yes, I am,” Ethan grinned. “How can I help you, young man?”
“I’m looking for one of those Roman sheet-dresses for a guy?” Xander’s gaze wandered over the shop, missing the man’s vicious grimace of disgust.
“A Roman toga, eh?” Ethan rubbed his hands together in glee. “I have just the thing.” He led the way over to a bin towards the back of the store. “Planning on going as Aeneas, or even Romulus himself, perhaps?”
Xander, not really listening, nodded absently. “Yeah, something like that.”
“Here we are,” the older British man nodded in triumph, holding up a toga. “This ought to fit you, and-”
“Oh, it’s not for me,” Xander hastened to correct him. “This outfit is for a friend. I’m going as a soldier.”
Ethan’s lips compressed into a thin line. “I…see. Well, please be sure to tell your friend where you bought the costume. Good publicity for next year, you know.” He gave the young man a wink, concealing his annoyance. The boy would have caused such deliciouss
chaos in the outfit of the founder of Rome. Ah, well, he couldn’t have them all. “A soldier, you say? Well, perhaps I could assist you with that.”
“Nah, I already have pretty much all I need for it.” Xander grinned. “Except for a gun, that is. I have my uncle’s old BDU’s and combat boots, so I’m all good there.”
“Weapons are over there,” Ethan waved in the direction of a bin full of toy weaponry. “I’ll just bring these things to the counter for when you’re ready to be rung up.”
Xander watched the man move away, and shuddered. “Creepy,” he muttered quietly to himself as he approached the bin. “I wonder if it’s a British thing…”
Later, the teenage boy stopped by Giles’ apartment to drop off the requested items, juggling the plastic machine gun, white toga and laurel wreath with one hand as he knocked on the Watcher’s door.
“Ah, Xander, there you are.” Giles held his door open in expectation. “Do you have the things I requested?”
“Yeah, I got ‘em, and let me tell you, that shop owner was one serious creep!” The teenage boy tossed the items onto the older man’s couch. “Are all British guys like that, G-man?”
“Xander, would you please not call me that infernal nickname,” the Watcher muttered absently, his attention on a book on the counter. “Oh, here’s the money for the, ah, costume.” Xander took the bill, an eyebrow arching at the other man’s distractedness.
“What’s up, Giles? You’re lookin’ all distracted.”
“Mm? Oh, I was simply looking over illustrations of my costume,” the older man waved the book in the air as he rubbed his eyes beneath his glasses. The teenager immediately went to look out of curiosity.
“Wow, it’s a…dude in a dress…with a stick and a key…OK, well, I’ve seen weirder costumes than that,” Xander admitted, “Heck, I’ve worn
weirder costumes than that…there was one year when Willow convinced me to go as Superman, and the red underwear was too big and kept falling around my ankles…” he trailed off at the expression on the other man’s face. “Right, so, I’m just gonna…go home and get ready for tonight.”
“You do that,” Giles murmured, trying to shake the image of that particular ‘wardrobe malfunction’ from his mind. He barely noticed the teenager leave the apartment as he returned back to the book.
It was sunset by the time Giles’ costume was complete, and the Watcher satisfied with his appearance. The toga, worn over a tunic to protect some of the man’s dignity, had been draped and re-draped until it seemed correct to the librarian’s scrutiny. Sandals such as those worn by the Romans were tied about his ankles, and both props, a slender, golden scepter and large, silver key were close by on the table.
Idly, Rupert Giles thought that few, if any, of the people he would be seeing that night would recognize the character he was portraying. It had been difficult enough to simply decide on a costume; that was, until he came across an article about various librarians over the U.S. had discussed naming a patron god for their profession. So, not only did his costume represent his profession, but also several aspects of his past, a fact which was quite ironic, really.
“Hm,” the Watcher mused, looking himself over in the mirror, “Not bad, if I do say so myself, old boy.” Giles then grimaced. “Bloody hell, now I have to actually go to a party. American alcohol is abominable stuff…Perhaps I should bring my own gin…”
Across town, a man lit tapers around the room, then began to chant…
All over the town, various children convulsed for a brief moment in the grips of the Chaos magic, then Changed. In an apartment, a middle-aged Watcher became something quite different…and quite powerful.
And Chaos reigned.
Across town, a man sat in the dimly lit room, and laughed as he stared at the two-faced bust across from him.
The figure of one who only moments ago had been Rupert Giles looked at himself in the mirror. His features were familiar, rather like to the ones found on so many now ruined statues in Europe, but seemed to lack the full life that their owner was used to. The figure shrugged, the motion causing the delicate fabric of the toga, now minus the tunic, to ripple as though blown by a stray breeze.
The…man, perhaps…smiled at himself in the mirror, steel gray eyes twinkled with the mirth of old, old wisdom. This was a novel experience after millennia of tediousness. He had needed a brief holiday, after all. And it wasn’t as though the event had come as a surprise…he was a god, after all, and one of the higher gods, at that. Old men, though man he was not, did love to meddle every once in a while. It was always so amusing to mess with mortals’ minds… But first, to tend to a small misdemeanor by a devout follower of Chaos.
The ancient Roman god strolled through Sunnydale, paying little to no attention to the chaos around him. Occasionally, the majestic figure would pause to smirk over a particularly clever costume that nearly parodied one of his fellow gods, but would inevitably continue on through the streets toward his goal.
A young woman dressed in a billowing pink atrocity fled by him in utter terror, dark curls bouncing almost comically. A ghost followed her, frustration evident in the redhead’s slightly translucent face. To the side, a very confused young soldier spun around, trying to assimilate all the obviously ‘enemy’ monsters. One street away, several preteen girls fled from a large, hairy creature. One of the precocious children threw a stick at the creature, yelling at it to leave, or
“I’ll sic my sister on you! And she’s the Slayer, and, and she’ll slay your ass!” Several of the child’s companions gasped out a horrified “Dawn!”
The ancient god paused in his tracks, taking in the scene. “Hm. What is this?” The tall figure gestured idly at the hairy creature, returning it to its original state as a very shy, easily embarrassed young man. The young man stared about himself in stunned confusion, then fainted dead away. Neither child nor god paid the man any mind.
The god towered over the group of girls, eyeing one in particular. “Well, well, what have we here?” He moved to touch the dark haired child, only to have his hand move right through her head as though through thin air. “A memory? Hm.” He moved his hand through her body once again and gave a satisfied grunt. “A memory that does not yet exist, eh? That really isn’t something you normally see here in the mortal realm. And I didn’t even see you until now. I must be slipping.” He smiled kindly at the young girls. “Tell me, child, what is your name?” The young brunette took a step back, crossing her arms stubbornly and pursing her lips. The ancient god simply waited patiently for the answer.
“I’m Dawn,” she finally spoke. “How did you put your hand through my head like that? Are you a demon? What kind of demon are you? Do you drink blood? Do you kill humans? Do you have horns? Do you speak a different language-” the tall figure raised a hand, halting her babble.
“Truly, you were made well,” the god spoke in amusement. “You will be much like the Slayer, child, when once you are made to be what you are.” Dawn frowned up at him in confusion. “Dawn, what a lovely name. It is the period of change that opens the door between night and day. It is fitting that the Key would be named such…” he smiled down at the girl. “But you know nothing of that yet. Perhaps, in such a case as this, I can bend the rules…just slightly.” With a small gesture, Dawn Summers vanished, to reappear safely asleep in her own bed, doomed to miss the rest of the excitement of the evening. “Hm,” the god remarked again, “Dawn is a truly lovely name for one of mine. I’ll have to keep an eye on her…” The ancient one continued on his way down the streets.
Soon, he reached his destination. Silently, the figure crept into the store, raising his eyebrows at the sight of miscellaneous costumes lying about. Truly, the worshipper of Chaos had been creative in the outfits he put out to sell. The god followed the current of Chaos magic to the back room, and stood for a moment looking down at the man who had helped bring about the god’s presence at the occasion.
Ethan was no average man, for he could sense the presence of another person almost immediately. Grabbing up a ceremonial dagger, the Chaos mage whirled around, only to face the very
last person he ever expected to see.
“Greetings, Ethan,” the figure stepped further into the light, enjoying the slack expression on the man’s face. “I see you weren’t expecting my…personal
presence tonight?” He raised a hand to forestall any stuttering, staggered excuses. “Well, there was no way you could know that your little escapade could call me to the mortal realm.”
“I was called to the mortal realm because a very intelligent, very remarkable man decided that he would costume himself as myself.” The god watched with some delight as Ethan Rayne paled dramatically. “Don’t concern yourself over that, you couldn’t have known. I’ve had a great deal of amusement out of the incident already. Nevertheless,” the god leaned forward, and his head suddenly spun, bringing the other side of his head to the front, “Ethan, follower of Chaos, you go too far in your plans here.” The god’s face, now that of a young woman, glared coldly at the mage. “I am the god of change, yes, even of chaos. However, I am also the god who watches over the transition between childhood and adulthood, over the balance between youth and old age, and, to some extent, over the balance between life and death. You have used my power to upset that balance, in ways that you cannot, perhaps, understand. Chaos is a balancing agent; what you have done here has tipped that balance, and in so doing, tipped your own balance.” The god’s head whirled around again, showing the terrified mage the visage of a bearded man.
“M-my lord, please, I-”
The Roman god waved a hand to silence him. “Do you know whose body I occupy, mortal?” The god’s face slowly shifted to the features of Rupert Giles. “This man took my form out of respect for who I am. In return, I permitted my form to take his body.” Ethan began to look ill. “I will leave this body here when I depart.” The god grinned rather nastily. “I will likewise leave some…remnant of myself with him. Thus your punishment will be dealt out by both myself and the humans against whom you committed the crime.” The Chaos mage swallowed hard. “Have fun,” the god spoke, even as his features began changing, hardening, stiffening.
A moment later, a hand rose to lift the mask away from the wearer’s face. Rupert Giles looked across the small room at his former friend, and gave a very ‘Ripper-ish’ grin. “Hello, Ethan. I’m not quite certain what you’ve done, or precisely how I got here, but I find myself utterly pissed off at you.” The Watcher stepped forward, his grin widening. “Perhaps you can explain yourself to me?” Ethan brought up a tremulous smile, struggling to regain his composure. “No?” Giles asked casually. “Oh, good. I’m feeling rather up to a good scrap right now; haven’t felt this good in ages. Perhaps you could accommodate me?” Ethan, backed up against a wall, actually felt the urge to start praying…to someone other
Half an hour later, the bust of Janus lay in pieces on the floor…rather like Ethan was.
Word Count: 2,948
----Author's Note: Hopefully, you enjoyed reading that as much as I enjoyed writing it! There's something about torturing Ethan Rayne that just makes me giggle like a little girl...perhaps that was too much info? Sorry.
Anyway, to clear up any questions you may have about my version of Janus, I would like to refer you to several sites:
---The last site is a translation of Ovid Fasti, an ancient series of books about the gods. It can be interesting if you're an Ancient Lit geek like I am.
Also, in reference to the appearance of Dawn:
Dawn is the Key, once a swirling ball of energy, that opens interdimensional doors.
Janus is the god of doors, and the symbols that he carries with him are keys.
I played with it a little, but I see some definite correlations there. I could get into it more, especially with some of the descriptions of Janus before he 'became' a god, but I won't. If you're genuinely interested, I can send you a whole list of interesting facts about Janus. Also, as to the reference as to Janus being the patron god of librarians, that is not an actual fact, it's just something that a few librarians have expressed a desire for.