FIC: Hellmouth Heroes (3/?)
Giles stared at the wheelchair parked in the centre of his library. “You want me to go as who?”
“Professor Xavier, the leader of the X-Men,” Jenny explained.
”Couldn’t you have found me at least found me the costume of a Brit?” Giles looked towards Wesley. “Who are you, anyway?”
“Um, Union Jack,” Wesley replied, the younger man’s face reddening as he bore witness to one of his and Jenny’s bickering sessions. Sessions he never won. “According to Mr. Harris, he’s some sort of exceptionally skilled warrior who defends England against terrorism and the like.”
Giles shook his head. “Wesley got an Englishman-.”
”I got you Xavier because that’s what you are!” Jenny snapped, the swift crimson in her cheeks indicating the argument had suddenly gotten very serious. “You’re a father-figure to these kids, just like he is to his. I’d have thought you -.”
”Of course,” he raised a hand to forestall any further verbal onslaught. “It’s a lovely idea. And,” he smiled impishly, “I’ll get my own personal nurse to push me around in that all night.”
”Don’t push it,” Jenny smiled.
”I’ll go into the other room and change,” Giles paused and stared at his lover’s costume. “I’m sorry, but I’m not familiar at all with this Marvel universe. Now if you were wearing the outfit of a historical figure I’d doubtless recognise you, but with these Marvel Comics I confess to being at a loss.”
Jenny twirled around, giving him a full show of the blue spandex clinging to her every curve, blonde wig dancing at the movement. “I’m Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman.”
”Ah my dear,” Giles smiled gallantly, “you being invisible is simply an unimaginable crime.”
”Oh good lord. As Xander would say I think I’m going to hurl.”
“Shut up Wesley,” Giles warned.
* * *
“You hid your costume from me all the way home, Francis!” Harriet tried to scold but in the end just giggled. “You have to tell me who you’re going to be.”
“Ah lassie,” Francis grinned at her. “Can’t a laddie have secrets these days? Tell you what, you tell me, and I’ll tell you.”
“Okay,” Doyle drooled as she pulled out a low-cut, tight-bodied black outfit with white fur on the edges, and a flowing white wig, “I’m going to kick ass. I’m the Black Cat!”
”Loving that costume,” Doyle grinned. “And for once my dear,” her husband’s grin widened, “I’m going to know more about demons than you. I’m going as Damion Hellstorm, the world’s finest occultist, dark mage, and son of Satan.” Doyle chuckled. “I got tired of just being a Brachen and decided to aim higher.”
* * *
Kate stared at the costume laid on her bed and shook her head. The red PVC costume was tight and skimpy, little more than a one-piece bathing suit with knee-high leather boots, and a collection of Japanese martial arts weaponry. “Elektra,” she shook her head as she picked up the long brunette wig. She couldn’t believe she’d actually gone to that damn costume shop, much less picked up such a scanty costume, much less that of an actual assassin.
“One night a year,” she suddenly smiled and shook her head again. “One night I don’t have to be a by-the-book cop, one night I can be someone else.”
* * *
Robin Wood smiled as he looked in the mirror. The Black Panther, a powerful king. Yes, the outfit suited him. He’d drop the kids off at their party and then head into school to attend that meal he was apparently coerced into as part of the Humanities Department.
* * *
“Just wait, Oz, I’m tellin’ ya Red’s costume is going to blow your mind…”
Faith’s voice trailed off as Casper the friendly ghost appeared on the stairs. “Hi guys,” Willow nervously greeted.
“Mind-blowing,” Oz agreed with a half-smile.
Faith slapped her forehead. All that time spent looking for Red’s costume, wasted.
* * *
Giles wheeled himself out of his office and back into the library, comforting himself that at least his costume only consisted of a bald headpiece and the chair. His eyes widened as a young girl entered the library. “Hello,” he wheeled over to the young girl, “it’s Tara isn’t it?”
“Yes sir,” the girl looked like she was about to bolt.
“I thought so,” he smiled in what he hoped was a soothing manner. Tara MacClay was one of the few non-Scooby students to frequent the library, always borrowing the classics, Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, and the like. Even a couple of American authors, but he tried not to hold that against her. “I’m sorry dear, but the library is actually closed.”
“O…oh,” the blonde looked hurt, “I…I’m sorry, Faith Lehane said I was to meet her here at half past-. She must have been playing a joke-.”
“I assure she wasn’t,” Giles interrupted. “Faith wouldn’t do anything so unfeeling.” Not deliberately at least, although the girl had an impulsive head and a blunt tongue, beneath her armour of either denim or leather, she hid a caring heart.
”I can wait outside,” the slightly reassured girl offered.
“Of course not dear,” he smiled. “You’re a guest, I’m sure the others will-, ah,” he nodded as he heard the tell-tale bickering in the outer corridor, “they’re here.” A few seconds later and the door flew open. “Faith,” he stood, “please could I see you in office?”
The Slayer stared warily at him before nodding. “Sure, G.”
Once he’d closed the door, he spoke. “Your costume is very nice,” he decided to start gently, “who are you?”
The Slayer shrugged. “Some chick called Spider-Woman, Xan said she kicked ass.” The beauty flashed him a dimple-framed smile. “I figure he just wanted to see me in spandex.”
“Undoubtedly,” he’d have to make a note to thank the young man personally.
”So,” the Slayer’s dark eyes narrowed. “Why did you call me in?”
“Faith, don’t you think it’s a tad risky inviting people who aren’t ‘Scoobies’,” god he could strangle Xander for coming up with that word, “on group outings?”
The Slayer glared at him. “She ain’t got any friends, I figured I’d hold a hand out, there’s nothing wrong with that is there?”
“Of course not,” he replied. It had been Faith who’d dragged Amy and Jonathan into their group, reasoning if Amy was a witch she’d be an asset, he was never quite sure of her rationale for John’s inclusion. “However our secrecy should be of paramount concern-.”
“Screw that, G,” the brunette’s eyes flared. “I ain’t gonna let someone like Tara be left alone.”
”Someone like Tara?” Giles stared at the teen beauty.
The Bostonian’s expressive eyes grew haunted. “She’s got a vibe, she needs friends, people who care about her.”
A vibe? Giles heart hollowed as the penny dropped. Tara’s shyness was the result of abuse, something Faith as a fellow victim had sensed. Rather than run away from the reminder, she’d sought to in some way help the girl. “Very well, just be careful.” The brunette nodded brusquely before turning to the door. “Faith,” the teen turned back towards him, “never forget you have an extraordinary heart.”
“That a line?” Faith stared suspiciously at him. “’Cause Miss Calender’s kinda cool for a teach and I ain’t gonna do nothing that hurts her.”
Giles ignored the girl’s distrust, accepting her past had caused it, and that only time would cause her to realise she could trust him. “No, it’s a compliment, now get out of here and enjoy yourself.”
Giles smiled as he watched the transplanted Bostonian stride over to Tara, take her by the elbow, and guide her over to the others. “Yes,” he smiled, “a fine heart.”
”What did you want with Faith?”
Giles glanced at Jenny. “Just to compliment her on her friendliness towards Tara but to also warn her about the need for secrecy.” His eyes narrowed. “Is it me or is Tara-.”
“A witch?” Jenny nodded. “Stronger than Wesley, you, or myself, and perhaps Amy, but not as strong as Willow.”
”Still three witches as strong as Willow, Amy, and Tara in one place,” he shook his head, “that’s extremely rare if not unheard of.”
“Perhaps the Hellmouth acts as a magnet, a lodestone attracting those of talent here,” Jenny murmured.
“Perhaps,” Giles muttered before raising his voice so that it carried to the students, “didn’t Snyder want you at the front entrance five minutes ago?”
* * *
“Now kids, there are a number of techniques for getting the most candy,” Xander explained. “My lovely assistant, Spider-Woman will demonstrate.”
Faith shook her head as she stepped forward, grinning down at the dozen or so kids that her trio would be looking after. Tho’ Cor was her best pal, she’d grabbed Xan and Tara for her partners, Xan ‘cause he was just so damn funny, and Tar ‘cause she’d invited her so she was her responsibility. “Harris,” she warned in a whisper, “if one of these techniques is strippin’, they’ll be finding your severed body-parts all over town for years to come.”
“Spoilsport,” Xander grinned back at her. “I’ll have to change my tactics.” The young man raised his voice. “The first is the smile. Spidey?” Faith beamed at the kids. “Then there’s the sulky but still appealing pout, Spidey?” Faith stuck out her bottom lip so far a parrot could perch on it. “And the killer, if the candy you’ve got just isn’t enough, the tears.” Xander looked and bowed towards her. “My lovely assistant?”
”Baw! Baw! Baw!” Faith cried even as she winked at Tara.
“You got all that?” Xander asked. The kids nodded. “Great, let’s go.”
* * *
Ethan smiled as he made his way into the flat at the back of his shop’s ground floor and knelt before the two-faced statue there. He sliced his palms open, wincing at the pain, and pressed them to the statue, covering its cheeks with his blood. “The world that denies thee, thou inhabit. The peace that ignores thee, thou corrupt. Chaos. I remain, as ever, thy faithful, degenerate son.” Ethan gasped as the statue’s eyes somehow illuminated, glaring back at him with blinding intensity. This wasn’t supposed to happen, somehow an unknown outside force had taken over.
* * *
“Look at all the children,” Harriet giggled as she looked left and right, past the High Schoolers to their charges.
Francis shuddered. He hoped she wasn’t getting broody, he knew from grim experience what a handful kids could be.
* * *
“Now Rupert,” Jenny muttered as she wheeled him through the corridors to the assembly hall, “at least pretend to be enjoying yourself.”
“It’ll be difficult,” he replied through gritted teeth. “Not only will Snyder be there, but also Wood and Wesley. That’s what I’d call a bloody hat-trick of boredom.”
”Actually,” Wesley sniffed from behind Jenny. “You seem to forget I’m already here.”
Giles sighed. It was going to be one of those nights.
* * *
The blood in his veins suddenly igniting with power, Ethan crashed to the floor, sweat pouring from his shaking body, his chest heaving as he struggled for breath, heaven’s white fires roaring in his ears and the galaxy’s stars crowding his eyes. As Ethan lost his grip on consciousness, he somehow realised that he would never be able to cast a spell again, every spark of magic within him had been completely and utterly burnt out.