Earlier that morning, Joyce Summers had hung up the phone a little harder than necessary, and said such a naughty word that if her daughter had been there, Buffy would have been scandalized, admiring, or going into a fit of giggles. The business meeting in Los Angeles the woman had been getting ready for had just been cancelled, and all her plans for her trip were now pointless. Glumly, Joyce got herself a cup of coffee, and sitting at the kitchen table, she sipped her drink and wondered what to do now.
Idly looking over the paper, Joyce lifted this up, and a leaflet fell out. Picking up this sheet, the woman glanced at it, reading an advertisement for a new costume shop in Sunnydale, offering special last-minute discounts for Halloween shoppers. *Ethan’s? Isn’t that where Buffy said she got her Halloween outfit?*
Joyce was about to toss away the leaflet, along with the rest of the newspaper, until an absurd thought struck her, making her sit up straight with a chuckle. *Why not dress up for Halloween, and surprise Buffy? No! Dress up, and check on her when she’s escorting those trick-or-treaters! It’ll be hilarious seeing how she has to deal with a bunch of excited kids when I’m not around.* Joyce put down her coffee cup, and gleefully chuckled, reaching again for the leaflet. *Let’s see now -- it’s not all that far….*
An hour later, Joyce called a cautious “Hello?” Standing in the open doorway of the costume shop, the woman looked around the store empty of customers, but filled with numerous costumes from history, books, movies, comics, and television. Joyce frowned at not seeing anybody at the counter, and then she shrugged. *The door was unlocked, so it’s open. Let’s look around, see if there’s anything I might wear.*
For the next several minutes, Joyce wandered throughout the shop. She was impressed at the variety of costumes, but the woman unhappily noted that most of these were for children and teenagers, with not all that many for adults. Particularly adult women her size. Even when she ran across something she could actually wear, there were objections to these costumes: not interested, don’t know who it’s supposed to be, you have to be joking, needs to be worn with a partner. One of the latter examples did catch her eye.
Joyce sighed with real regret, running her hand over the purple velvet smoking jacket hanging from a clothes pole and eyeing the sleek, black, floor-length dress with tendrils trailing from the bottom of the skirt that was next to the jacket. She’d really liked watching Morticia Addams on that black-and-white television show, but that costume did need to be paired with somebody who could pull off being Gomez Addams. The woman giggled, imagining Buffy’s school librarian wearing the jacket while stroking his newly-applied pencil mustache and calling her “mon cher!” *I wonder if he can actually dance the tango….*
“May I be of assistance?” an unctuous voice with a British accent spoke next to her ear.
“Eeeee!” shrieked Joyce, flinching away and spinning around, to see a very startled man standing there in the row between the costumes. Her heart hammering away in her chest, Joyce blinked at who surely had to be the proprietor, and felt a little foolish at her extreme reaction to somebody who was now watching her a little warily.
“I’m sorry,” apologized Joyce. “You just took me by surprise. Um, the door was open, so I came in to find something for Halloween.”
“Ah, yes,” nodded the man, who really did sound a lot like Rupert Giles. “I thought there would be some customers, even this close to Halloween, but, as you can see….” His voice trailing away, the man ruefully waved his arms around the empty shop.
Joyce nodded in sympathy, telling him, “I own an art shop. I know what it’s like to have no customers. Listen, I really do want a costume, so I’d like to look around a bit more, if that’s all right with you.”
Giving Joyce a slightly oily smile, the man murmured, “Certainly, madam. I’ll be at the counter if you need me, or wish to purchase something.” At that, the man glided off towards the front of the shop.
Shaking her head in amusement over the way things had just happened, Joyce started checking out more costumes, though she couldn’t help thinking about the pair of Englishmen she’d now met in this town. The mother of Buffy Summers had always wanted to visit Britain, but she’d never been able to get closer to that place than watching episodes of ‘Masterpiece Theatre.’ At least she’d managed to have some chats with Rupert Giles about his home, with the man describing places in London that she might find interesting if she ever traveled there.
Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, the British Museum, Big Ben, etc., etc. Those, and others had been spoken of at great length by a man who clearly missed his birthplace and enjoyed telling stories of--
*Wait a second!* Joyce stopped short in the shop, her mouth open in surprise, until her face changed into a wide grin, and the woman’s eyes sparkled with delight. As told by Giles, there was one particular place in London, and something specific there at that location, that she could actually dress up as! And what’s more, there was even something in her own art shop that made it absolutely perfect! Spinning around and briskly stepping towards the storefront, Joyce searched for the proprietor.
Patiently waiting for that American woman to find whatever she wanted and buy it, so he could then close up and start getting ready for the ceremony that was certainly going to leave her with quite unforgettable memories of whatever she got up to while wearing her new costume, Ethan Rayne quirked an eyebrow over seeing his customer rapidly come towards him with evident purpose showing on her face.
Joyce’s first words to Ethan were, “Do you have a Greek or Roman woman’s robe in my size? With sandals, I think….yes, those have to come with that! Oh, and a wig, too!” After those hurried words, Joyce wheeled around and disappeared back into the stacks to find that hairpiece, calling after herself to the proprietor her clothing and shoe sizes.
Now both of Ethan’s eyebrows had risen to their full height. A woman’s robe from pre-Christian historical times? Who the devil was she planning to be? As a matter of fact, he thought he did have one of those in her size, or close to it, so Ethan simply shrugged, and went off into the back room to hunt for it. Oh, and the sandals too, though those were easy enough.
Happily holding the perfect wig for her costume, Joyce headed back to the store counter, only to stop short along the way, to stare at the white scarf around the neck of one of the costumed mannequins. Reaching out to pull free the scarf, the woman keenly examined this filmy strip of cloth, and then nodded in satisfaction. She’d been thinking about using a length of cheesecloth from her kitchen, but this was much better. Carrying both of her chosen objects, Joyce went on to pay for her purchases.
An evidently puzzled man was waiting for her, a package resting on the counter. When Joyce stepped up in front of the proprietor, he waved a hand at what was on the counter, and said, “That’s what you wanted, madam. Is there anything else?”
Firmly nodding, Joyce placed the wig and the scarf on the counter by the package, saying, “These-- Oooo, and that, too!” During that excited outburst, Joyce shot out her hand to eagerly point at something on the store wall directly behind the man.
Turning around, Ethan’s mouth dropped open in utter surprise, as he looked at what the woman clearly wanted. After a few moments, impelled by the impatient clearing of her throat behind him, Ethan stepped forward, and reached out--
“No, the one next to that!”
Ethan bewilderedly obeyed the order, to take from the wall the long, straight, scabbarded sword hanging there, along with the belt needed for this to be worn on the wielder‘s hip. Holding this and turning to return to the counter, to place the plastic weapon by the other parts of the woman’s costume, Ethan bemusedly informed his customer of the total price for all of the items.
Joyce didn’t even haggle, just pulling out her credit card from her purse, and watching as the proprietor finished the transaction and placed the items into a shopping bag, even though the sword stuck out from the top of this bag. Picking up the bag and preparing to leave, Joyce stopped when she heard the man clear his throat, and say with evident bafflement in his voice, “Ah, madam, before you go, could you please tell me who -- or what -- exactly you are going to be this Halloween?”
Smiling, Joyce told the confused proprietor, “Oh, it’s going to be a surprise for Rupert--”
“Do you mean Rupert Giles?!” gasped the Englishman.
“Why, yes-- What, you KNOW him?!” stared Joyce at the man across the counter now snickering to himself.
“Oh, yes indeed, though he doesn’t know I’m here. I think he’ll become aware of my presence quite soon, anyway,” answered the more-calmer man, though there was a rather evil smile now on his face.
“That’s….nice,” uncertainly said Joyce. Rallying, she told the waiting man, “Well, I’m going to dress up as a figure from London history that he told me about, that’s shown as a statue there. I hope he’ll like it.”
“Er, quite,” replied the still-puzzled man. He politely inclined his head in goodbye as the woman smiled at him, took her shopping bag, and left the store. After a few moments, Ethan also went to the front door, locked it, and placed the CLOSED sign in the shop window. Turning around to start towards the back room and the beginnings of the ceremony, the man stopped short, an extremely mystified look on his face.
“A statue?! Who the blazes were you talking about, Ripper?” muttered Ethan to himself. He shook his head with bemusement. From what he remembered during his carousing with the other man decades ago in London, neither of them had been exactly interested in history or works of art back then. Booze and bints, that had been the ticket.
A sudden look of inspiration appeared on Ethan’s face when he considered the time they’d both spent searching for women around London in the hopes of a really good party. There had actually been one occasion, while strolling near Big Ben, checking out the birds of the human female species, they’d come across a magnificent statue of charging horses pulling an ancient British chariot with spiked wheels, this wagon carrying three figurines of women. Back then, Rupert and Ethan had admired the tits on the bare-breasted crouching handmaidens on either side of the main figure standing haughtily in the chariot, arms raised in energy and determination, a truly awe-inspiring woman who symbolized…..
In his shop, Ethan leaned against the counter, and laughed so hard he actually cried. “Oh, Ripper, you’ve outdone yourself! Because of what you told her, that woman -- tonight she’ll become one of the fiercest warrior women of all time! She’ll be Boadicea, the queen of a British tribe who really hated the Romans and she led her army against these, slaughtering entire cities and came as near as a toucher throwing all of them completely out of dear old Blighty!”
Still chuckling and wiping away tears of mirth, Ethan headed to the back of his shop, a spring in his step at the prospect of even more anarchy brought to Sunnydale by that woman when she appeared in her new aspect in tonight’s Halloween. He was quite cheerful as he disappeared into the back room.
The chaos mage might have been more thoughtful, if that man had somehow been informed that he was totally and completely wrong.
Much later, just after it had become dark outside, a thrilled Joyce Summers examined herself in the antique, full-length mirror in her art shop. She’d had to change there, to avoid spoiling the surprise waiting for Buffy and the others if they’d seen her at the Revello house when they came to change into their own costumes. Plus, Joyce needed to pick up from her place of business the final item of her Halloween costume.
Giggling, Joyce turned and preened at her reflection in the mirror. Her robe fit perfectly, and the sandals were comfortable, though the sword belted at her hip had required some practice in walking around without that toy weapon catching in her legs or banging into things. Joyce leaned forward to the mirror, examining her head. The dark wig had somehow changed the shape of her face, giving her a quite different appearance, and of course, the white scarf had also helped in concealing her identity, and it wasn’t all that uncomfortable wearing that item of clothing.
Turning away from the mirror, Joyce squinted around the lit shop. Yes, she could see quite well, even if a bit dimly. The woman was sure it would be all right outside, though it would be wise to stick to well-lighted streets. Which was always a good thing to do in Sunnydale, anyway. Now, time to get the last thing, and leave!
Walking over to one of the wall display cases holding works of art, Joyce unlocked this and held open the small door as she delicately pulled out the antique there, closing the case door after herself. As she held this object in front of her impaired vision, the woman admired the valuable, solid-silver object d’art, and firmly reminded herself to never lose nor damage it tonight while carrying it. “You break it, you own it,” dryly muttered Joyce to herself.
Carefully holding her prize, Joyce turned out the lights of the shop, and going to the front door, she set the lock and stepped out, closing the door after her, and hearing the lock catch. In the darkness of the Sunnydale night, Joyce Summers started walking in the direction of the high school--