Disclaimer: Characters and settings are the IP of their respective owners, which would be Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Kuzui Enterprises, Sir Terence David John Pratchett, OBE, and not me.
Xander looked down at the dinky plastic gun in his hands. He had just picked it up from the bargain bin. Then he raised his eyes to meet their big moist counterparts set in the faceof the kid in front of him.
“Here, take it!” With a gruff grunt he thrust the toy into the hands of the little boy.
Grimacing he watched the kid run off with what was supposed to have be en the final part of his own costume. “I'm such a sap. But now what?”
A further look into the bargain bin revealed all kinds of glittery wands and sparkly plastic jewellery but not a single item not targeted at the pre-teen female demographic.
Looking up again and letting his eyes wander around, on the off chance that they might find something inspirational he only found a Giles-aged man, standing out amongst all the mothers and children and coming down an aisle.
“You look like you require my help, lad. Ethan Rayne, I run this place.”
“Then I guess you'd be the one to know. Got anything here under a fiver that won't make me look like a total dork?”
“I will look but this might be a request I fear I cannot fulfil at such a late date.” Ethan seemed truly saddened by his own words. “Unfortunately this particular price range tends to be the purview of a somewhat younger and smaller clientèle.”
“Right now I'm all out of options and I'm willing to take any chance I get. Doesn't even need to be a full costume. If I can wear jeans or fatigues with it I'm good.”
While Ethan hurried off looking for 'just the thing' Xander idled down the aisles, dodged the occasional ankle-biter with their harried parental unit in tow and aimed to meet up with his two girly friends occupied with finding their own costumes.
Before he reached them though Ethan was back.
“I'm afraid I don't have much of a choice for you.” He held up a sequin-covered jacket for Xander to see. “There's this and a few other incomplete sets where customers have been less than gentle while browsing, I fear.”
“Ugh! I'm so not Michael Jackson. Guess I'll have to look at the other bits then.!
Racks and shelves of garish decorations and make-up crowded the area around the till and Xander found himself half-falling over empty boxes and taking them all down with him trying to get enough space around the small rack that held the sorry remnants of costumes that had lost parts to various bouts of casual unthinking vandalism or plain old theft.
The majority of them were far too small or intended for a wearer of the wrong gender. And as much as Xander seemed one of the girls he had no desire to go that far about it. So that left... not a lot. Well, nothing, really.
“Hey,” Xander said, twisting half around to look at Ethan and then pointed at a battered storage box under the rack, “what's with this stuff?”
“Too damaged to find a buyer, I'm afraid. Have a look if you like.”
So Xander did. He found a cape from a Dracula costume, complete with stiff high collar – and enough cuts and rips for a whole slasher movie. Then there was a 'sexy nurse' uniform with ripped seams...
“She didn't believe me when I told her it wouldn't fit.”
… and a tail-coat that seemed okay.
“What's wrong with this one?”
“It has some large stains somewhere. Something spilled on it. And it might be slightly too large for you I'm afraid.”
“Still, it seems the best so far.”
“You think you can make your costume with that? Worn together with jeans if I recall correctly? I cannot see how such an abomination to fashion could be any kind of serious costume.”
“I've got an idea for a Marty Feldman-inspired butler-type figure.”
“I see.” While his words were placating, Ethan's tone and eyes clearly expressed doubt. “Tell you what, I can't take your money for what I planned to throw out with the rubbish. But neither can I just give it away. So how about you just buy something small, like... some face paint crayons? Two dollars and I throw in the whole box if you want.”
At home alone in his room Xander browsed over the collection of random junk spread out on his bed. There was the tail-coat plus the other costumey things he didn't really have any use for. Dracula's nurse spilling out of her too-tight uniform? No, thanks.
At least with a damp cloth and a bot of elbow grease most of the stains came out of the coat.
So the – the fatigues? No. A pair of black jeans then, good enough for the dark. Then the coat itself... err, really too big, a bit. And it really really didn't work with the tshirt. So something...
Xander's eyes fell on the pack of crayons, then on a rubber hand with one finger almost completely ripped off. That had been in the box too.
“Yethur!” Xander grinned.
Firstly, raid old man Tony's wardrobe, or possibly the attic, for that hideous clip-on bowtie and one of the shirts he always wore to weddings. Maybe there was a vest there too. And then, a bit of creative sewing using that distressed nurse's uniform and the ex-cape.
God! What a load of crap!
Xander rummaged through the assorted junk that still covered his bed.
An alien antenna hairband with one antenna missing? Bin it. A chain of... how the heck had a chain of ice cube fairy lights ended up in a Halloween store? Still, take the ice cubes off, put them in a ziploc bag together with the hand and - voilà – totally unconvincing keeping the transplant-fresh prop.
Next, three squishy eyeballs and a small Douwe Egberts jar, plus some suitably slightly milky liquid. Just hope the lid stays one when it joins the hand in the battered old doctor's bag that had come from who knows where before finding its resting place in the Harris attic.
“Mithtreth, your... Buffy! Lady of Buffdom, Ducheth of Buffonia, I am in awe! I completely renounthe thpandekth!”
Dumbfounded for a moment Buffy only stared at the figure that confronted her in the open door. A face stitched together from various unhealthy-coloured patches, a bowtie in a vomit-inducing shade of puce, surrounded by...
While her mind was still trying to sort out the horrifying image that confronted her the rest of her body kept running on autopilot.
“Thank you, kind si... Xander? Xander, is that you?”