Disclaimer: I own nothing. All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters and Charles Dickens characters from whatever media are the property of their original owners.
Hmmm. It appeared as if Vi had finished off her third bag…
From behind Rupert Giles then heard the sound of paper being crumpled. Softer, less-distinct noises led the New Council Director to unerringly guess what was happening next. Without looking around from where he was propping a video camera on the upper wheel rim of a parked wagon while aiming this recorder in the proper direction, Giles sternly ordered in a cloud of frosty vapor puffing from his breath, “Put it away, Vi. You’ve had your share, and the rest of the treats stored in Willow’s book are for the others at home.”
“Aw, c’mon, Giles,” wheedled his game partner surreptitiously returning to the pocket of her outing jacket the small magical object having a far vaster capacity than its tiny size seemed to warrant. Giving an awed look at somebody who seemed to have eyes in the back of his head currently topped with a warm coachman hat, Vi coaxingly tried again, “They won’t miss a couple more. I mean, you bought a whole cartload!”
“I’m more than familiar with Slayer appetites, young lady,” dryly responded Giles. He said this while never taking away his steady watch on the upper front window of the dingy counting house across the street. There, the first rays of the winter morning sun were catching the very highest roof shingles, unlike lower down in the side lane off the main concourse where he and Vi were waiting in the pre-dawn gloom.
Still keeping his gaze fixed there through the cold air of the last week of December 1843, Giles continued, “Besides having to sign off on the food bills for the castle every month, Buffy used to end her Sunnydale patrols with myself by entirely cleaning out my apartment refrigerator before going home. You’re quite capable of consuming to the very last scrap all of the roast chestnuts I just purchased, Vi.”
Instead of replying to this sardonic rejoinder, Vi naughtily stuck out her tongue at Giles’ back in his full-length woolen coat. Leaning against the brick building wall on her right in the narrow side lane, the warrior woman crossed her arms, putting her hands inside the knitted gloves she was wearing into the armpits of her own ladies’ jacket. Shifting her booted feet in the inch or so of new snow lying on the lane’s cobblestones, Vi took another sniff at the chilly atmosphere containing various strong scents. She easily identified the reek of burning coal from house fires, cooking stoves beginning to produce the day’s breakfasts, and among the basic neighborhood sanitary system the overpowering odor of horses and these equines’ natural byproducts. Vi tried to imagine what it smelled like at the height of summer in Victorian times, and she shuddered at the very thought.
Hopefully smacking her lips for a remaining crumb of that really delicious snack she’d just eaten, Vi asked, “Hey, Giles, how come nobody’s selling roast chestnuts in London any more? I don’t remember seeing any in the shops or food carts when I did my Christmas shopping here last year.”
“Oh, they do, but you have to know where to look,” absently replied the older man. He still held the camera ready, since it could happen any second now…
At the sudden, impatient grunt of interest coming from further back in the side lane, Giles was forced to expand on his explanation. “Roast chestnuts were much more common back then-- I mean, now. But a worldwide blight wiped out all those trees in your country, and it did some damage here, too. Those nuts stopped being a regular treat sold on the London streets and in other English cities. Now, they’re a more upmarket snack food. You can buy them from the stores, though from all accounts, they’re reputed to be a mere shadow of their former flavor.”
Vi sadly shook her head. “Too bad,” she commiserated towards her companion.
“Yes, well,” Giles admitted, “that’s why I brought them all from that man pushing his cart with its roasting oven. So, if you don’t mind, please refrain from devouring any more. Let the others have their own chance.”
“Okay, okay,” agreed Vi a bit grumpily. She soon brightened after a moment’s thought, telling Giles, “Maybe I can cadge a spare bag from one of the girls. Some of ’em owe me a couple favors, and this’ll pay it off.”
After those last optimistic words, Vi wandered towards where the somberly-clad man was still intently peering across the street. She stopped by him to also look through the gap between the left side of the lane and her boss’s body wearing his own winter clothing provided by Willow when they were transported here to fulfill their latest scavenger hunt challenge.
As if Giles had just been thinking about this, he asked without taking his eyes away from the house beyond, “I don’t suppose your Slayer essence senses anything unusual occurring over there?”
“Nope,” came from Vi also shaking her head. She went on thoughtfully, “Anyway, it’s only a couple of ghosts, right? No vamps or other demons, so I don’t think even Buffy or Faith could do it. At least, that’s what the Sunnydale stories say.”
Giles himself lifted his shoulders in an acknowledging shrug. “We did run into several spirits at one time or the other back then. Among these encounters were a student and a teacher haunting the school after dying years before. I can’t remember offhand if Buffy was aware of those ghosts’ presence prior to them taking over the bodies of her and Angelus. Still, from what the book mentions, it should have already been finished, with him waking up and beginning the story’s closing moments.”
Vi and Giles continued to watch together the quiescent house across the street, whose sole living inhabitant seemed to be stubbornly sleeping in today. Eventually, the Slayer asked, “Who do you think he’s going to be? If we’re in a film or tv movie, and not the book, I mean.”
“I still have no idea as to which,” confessed Giles. He further noted, “Our surroundings certainly aren’t as hygienic as presented by any cinematic adaptation, but it doesn’t necessarily suggest the short novel, either. Though, if it’s the former, I wouldn’t mind seeing Alistair Sim, since he was the first actor I ever watched who played the role. That version’s even now one of the best ever among the numerous remakes.”
Vi had to grin while reminiscing, “It was the guy from Patton
for me. Uh, what was his name… Oh, right, George C. Scott.”
“A fine performance, indeed,” Giles allowed. The Englishman then grimaced, “Thank God we’re definitely in Victorian times and in real life, because I would really prefer not to witness Bill Murray or a Disney animated character walking around as--”
All around the pair of New Council members, church bells started to loudly ring, drowning out whatever Giles had been about to say. This former Watcher instantly became alert at the sudden recollection of what one of the greatest writers ever born had put down in his story long ago. Giles quickly turned on the video recorder, just in time to catch the upper floor window being opened in haste. There, standing for all to see, was a man dressed in his bedtime cap and nightgown, joyfully staring out at the golden sunlight; heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious. Glorious!
Standing by her game partner, a happy Vi put a hand resting lightly on his shoulder, and while Giles continued to get everything on tape, they both witnessed Ebenezer Scrooge celebrate Christmas Day.