Disclaimers (and crossover) below:
“.. so then Snyder comes in, and I see him, and duck behind the nearest bookshelf just in time, right? Only the G-man’s busy shelving books on the other side of the stacks, and when he turns round … there’s the Troll, all big grin and smugness incorporated.”
“Does Synder have a big anything?” Buffy asked, then grimaced. “Eww. Forget I said that. Correction – forget I thought
that! What was he after, anyway? Roping Giles into escort duty like us?”
“Nope.” Xander was flicking diffidently through the costume rail, looking as if he might
be looking for something, but not really looking at all. “Worse than that. Faculty fundraiser. Theme
party. Attendance and
costume required - or else.”
“Or else what?” Willow couldn’t decide between a nice safe Jedi cloak, or a possibly slightly safer but ‘been there, done that every year’ Caspar sheet. The ghost thing was getting old – or maybe she
was – but the Jedi idea might be a little too geeky even for her …
“Budget cut. As a contribution to the charity fund, of course. No nice new books for Librarian-guy to shelve – and no new shelves to put them on, either.”
“That’s not fair.” Buffy paused with her hand on the Xena costume that Xander had not-so-subtly slid along the rail in her direction. “Those shelves have totally
needed replacing since I threw that Trailmix demon into them …”
“T’Rhalmaxian.” Willow offered the correction since Giles wasn’t there to do it, and Buffy waved her free hand to acknowledge the contribution.
“Whatever. The Troll can’t cut the library budget, can he? Isn’t that a school board thing?”
Xander shrugged. “Maybe. I dunno. Not going to happen though.” His grin was sudden, a gleeful explosion he’d obviously been fighting down for a while. “Giles agreed to go to the party.”
.” Buffy’s exclamation widened Xander’s grin. Willow’s eyes were almost as wide.
Xander nodded. “Uhuh. And guess what?”
“What?” they chorused, Willow curiously, Buffy impatiently.
“The theme?” Xander’s grin turned devilish. He held the moment as long as he could. “Comic book heroes.”
Buffy reacted a second time. Xander nodded.
yes – which kinda distracted me for a moment, because … Miss Calender in spandex ..?”
Buffy glanced at Willow, who rolled her eyes – then broke into a grin of her own. “Maybe that’s why Giles
agreed to the idea.”
Buffy bounced the thought around for a moment, then shook her head. “No. No way. Giles in costume?
Not even for a babelicious Miss Calender. Especially with the rest of the faculty involved.” She paused for a moment. “You think Mr Emerson will dress up as the Thing?”
Willow threw her her best well really
look, then spoiled it with a smothered snort at the image the idea conjured. “He totally could, couldn’t he. Or the Hulk. Green would look good on him.”
“I hope it looks good on Giles …” Xander had pounced on a Buck Rogers style thing, all silver tunic, wide collar and plastic weaponry. “Think this’ll do.”
you talking about?” Buffy frowned at the retro-SF outfit with its dangling holster and bulbous ray guns. “You wanna wear that?
“No way,” he laughed. “This isn’t for me – and before you ask, no I don’t
know what Giles has in mind for a costume. He said something about – one of his
comic book heroes, and it being … what was it? Something of a lark? Anyway, he was muttering about a dress in green, or dressing in greens, or … well, I dunno, really. He was quite misty eyed for a moment. Then
he caught me looking at him, gave me a fifty dollar bill and asked me to pick him some accessories. Said I could use whatever was left, so … “
“Ray guns?” Buffy queried. “You’re sure this is Giles we’re talking about?”
“Positive.” Xander unhooked the weapon belt and put the costume back on the rack. “You know, with this, and the stuffed elephant … I’ll have enough left to upgrade my outfit from grunt to full marine. Space marine,” he grinned. “You know – the guy from Aliens?
Willow instantly quailed. “I am not
dressing up as Ripley,” she warned. “Or Newt. Or
“Spoilsport.” Xander didn’t look too put out by the instant rejection. “Say, Buffy? You ever thought about driving a powerloader …?”
Buffy hadn’t – and wouldn’t. She went for the noblewoman’s dress instead, falling in love with it – or the idea of it – the moment she saw it. The creepy English guy with his smarmy smile helped the idea along a little, but Willow was too busy having fits of nervousness about what Buffy was trying to talk her
into wearing to protest too much. Someone else had grabbed the Jedi cloak while she was prevaricating, so she picked up the ghost sheet ready for the chicken-out moment, and they headed to Buffy’s house to change. Well, she and Buffy did. Xander charged back to school to deliver Giles’ accessories, and promised to pick them both up once he’d sorted out his own costume, the big gun he’d bought tucked under one arm, and the bag with the silly ray guns and stuff under the other. Willow spent a while trying to figure out what Giles might be going to do with all of it, but nothing concrete came to mind. Buffy dismissed it as ‘probably some lame British thing’ and focused on practising her preening – not very difficult in that
dress, although Willow got the sense that Buffy half expected her to preen right alongside her once she was all dressed up and blushing to go.
Xander came back, the chicken out moment came – and she spent the early part of the evening
draped in white with Buffy’s disapproval as an additional decorative pattern. Then the whole Hellmouth weirdness happened; she found herself discorporate and dealing with a bemused Corporal Hicks, along with his smart gun and a whole slew of children turned into demons. They rescued Buffy, persuaded Hicks not
to level half the town, and helped him rescued a ‘not-turned-into-a-cat’ Cordelia. After which Angel arrived, and Willow – with, it has to be said, a distinct sense of relief - fled in search of Giles.
She found the school in a state of disarray, a somewhat flabby Incredible Hulk slugging it out with a diminutive Superman in the carpark, while three Spidermen, Batman, and at least two Green Lanterns battled what looked suspiciously like whatever it was the canteen had served for lunch that day. She dived past the fray and through
the building, ignoring doors and walls in favour of desperate haste – and arrived in the relative peace and quiet of the Library almost before she was aware of it.
Two things immediately struck her.
The first was the startled reaction of an oddly blonde Miss Calendar, who was wearing a rather fetching yellow jumpsuit.
And the second was the equally startled shriek of the small furry animal that had leapt from Miss Calendar’s arms and run squealing across the library floor. A small, furry elephant
– with zebra stripes …
“Good Lord,” a familiar voice announced, in equally familiar tones. “Do people do that a lot around here?”
“Do what?” Willow asked, turning to smile at Giles in relief. Her smile immediately froze.
“Walk though walls. I say …” The man who should
have been Rupert Giles looked her up and down with slightly bemused appreciation. “Aren’t you a little – cold, dressed like that?”
Willow shook her head, staring at him. He was wearing some sort of uniform – a military cut green jacket, a matching pair of pants, white shirt, red tie - and there was a peaked cap lying on the Library table beside him. There was also a suddenly not-at-all
silly raygun holstered at his hip, and his eyes, freed from the usual restraint of glasses, held a distinct, and disconcerting twinkle. The eyebrows above them had each developed an odd quirk at the end, almost like a question mark.
“No,” she said faintly, her internal panic at finding Giles – well, absent
- oddly reassured by the clearly competent and decidedly unflustered man who’d replaced him. “California. And – oh – ghost
. Umm … you’re not Giles, are you … and you’re not Miss Calendar, either,” she realised, seeing the woman step in beside the man, her hand resting on another of those bulbous ray guns. The animal – and yes, it did
have a trunk, along with those zebra stripes - bounced out from behind the man’s legs and squeaked at her.
“Behave yourself, Stripey,” the man admonished. “And Jocelyn – I suggest we not resort to violence until we have some
idea of the young lady’s intentions. She doesn’t look
like a Treen …” ‘Jocelyn’ – who ever she thought she was – nodded, but didn’t entirely relax her stance. Not-Giles took a moment to assess Willow’s anxious expression, glanced thoughtfully at Jocelyn, nodded at her
nod, and then returned his attention to Willow with a warm and apologetic smile. “I’m sorry we’re not who you’re looking for, Miss, but – ah – perhaps we could be of some assistance? For that matter,” he frowned, “maybe you could help us
. We appear to be – a little displaced, for some reason.”
“Oh,” Willow said, realising she’d managed to pass some undefined assessment for trustworthiness, then “oh …
Yes. Of course.” She sought wildly for a plan of action, realising that Giles’ books weren’t going to be much help without Giles around to consult them. “ I’m Willow, and we could .. erm …” ‘Joycelyn’ had picked up the stripy elephant, which obviously felt reassured enough to offer Willow a friendly wave of its trunk. “Maybe if we … oh
.” She couldn’t figure this on her own – but Angel might have had some further thoughts – which meant taking not-Giles and Jocelyn back to Buffy’s house. At least there’d be safety in numbers. Not to mention having someone with military bearing on hand to keep Xander’s trigger happy marine in order. “We should get back to Buffy, before Xander … I mean Hicks
… shoots anything he shouldn’t. Then we can figure things out. I guess. Umm,” she paused, turning back from her turn to lead the way. “Just who are
He’d paused to sweep up his cap, jamming it back on his head with a well practiced manoeuvre. “Oh – I’m sorry. Highly remiss of me. This is Professor Peabody – that’s Stripy - and I’m Colonel Dare. Daniel MacGregor Dare, as a matter of fact, but … “ A casual tug adjusted the peak of the cap, bestowing a jaunty angle that perfectly complimented the smile beneath it. “You can call me Dan …”
(Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future
first appeared in Eagle
comics back in 1950 - and probably explains Giles' long abandoned ambition to be a fighter pilot. Neither he, the determindedly efficient Professor Peabody, or Stripey belong to me, alas. Stripey actually belongs to Dan's loyal batman, Spaceman First Class, Albert Digby, who didn't manage to make an appearance here, and they all belonged to Frank Hampson at one point. None of the Buffy
gang belong to me either, as Joss and the other guys have first claim ...)