Disclaimer: I own nothing. All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters and Twilight Zone characters/dialogue are the property of their original owners.
“Doo-doo-DOO-doo,” Buffy sardonically hummed.
Sending over her shoulder a quizzical look at the blonde Slayer back there for making that very strange noise, Chao-Ahn then returned her attention to what she’d been about to do an instant before. Cautiously reaching out with her right hand, the Chinese girl waggled it a few times in front of another woman’s extremely stern face. This action failed to induce any kind of response from the homely female sitting totally immobile in her living room armchair.
Pulling back her hand while straightening up from her slight stoop, Chao-Ahn thoughtfully looked down at the unmoving older woman presently taking no apparent notice of two complete strangers now inside her sparsely-furnished apartment. After a few more seconds, the frozen woman sluggishly blinked, and then she returned to her unnatural stillness, save for the barely perceptible rise and fall of her scrawny chest.
Glancing away from the blank stare of this hard-faced woman, Chao-Ahn turned around and raised an inquiring eyebrow at where a smirking Buffy was standing in the middle of the room. When her warrior sister continued to do nothing but smugly smile, Chao-Ahn finally had enough. She edgily said, “All right, Buffy, what’s the story?”
“Ah!” briskly replied Buffy, lifting a finger at a startled Chao-Ahn in an admonishing gesture. Next bewilderingly came from the former Sunnydale High student a gleeful recital: “You’re traveling through another dimension -- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead; your next stop the--”
” Chao-Ahn irritably snapped, “You sound like you’re having fun, but I’m not! Just please tell me what’s going on.”
The Los Angeles native pouted for a moment at being cut off before finishing her delivery of one of television’s most famous narrations. Buffy quickly became more serious after regarding Chao-Ahn glowering back at her, a clear sign this foreign-born young woman was starting to have her patience come to an end. Sheepishly shrugging, Buffy admitted, “Okay, so you probably don’t know it. I think Willow put us here as a special favor for me, anyway.”
Chao-Ahn had to blink at the last bit of news, but she continued listening while Buffy went on. “This is the short version: about forty, fifty years ago, there was a television show here called The Twilight Zone,
with all kinds of science fiction and fantasy stories. It was really entertaining, so much that people still watch it, and not only on tape or DVD’s. When I was growing up, the local tv channels presented marathons of the whole series, usually during July Fourth or Labor Day weekend. Well, when that happened, I always made sure to watch one very special episode, and we’re in it right now.”
“We are?” asked Chao-Ahn with some surprise. She doubtfully eyed the woman in the armchair, who still hadn’t moved. Chao-Ahn waved a tentative hand at this stranger, venturing, “Is she -- how she’s acting -- part of it?”
Buffy firmly nodded. “Oh, yeah! Don’t worry, Jenny’s aunt won’t remember anything, and what’s happened to her will probably wear off soon. We’ll be long gone, then.”
With more than a hint of exasperation in her tone, Chao-Ahn began, “Buffy--”
Holding up her hands palm outwards in mock surrender, Buffy started to cheerfully explain. “We’re in the episode called ‘The Fugitive.’ The main character’s a lonely little girl with a bad leg who has to live with her cranky aunt.”
Buffy paused to tilt her head in the direction of the unresponsive seated woman, before resuming, “Jenny -- that’s the girl -- has just one friend, a grandfatherly-type guy who lives upstairs and whose room we just visited. He’s called Old Bob, and Jenny and the neighborhood kids know something about him the adults don’t, that he can do all kinds of impossible stuff. Such as changing his body to look like a scary monster from outer space to play Spacemen and Aliens with the kids. Later in the episode, Old Bob tells Jenny his big secret, that he really is from another planet, which is how he can do those things.”
Caught up in the story, Chao-Ahn eagerly waited for more. Buffy took a deep breath and went on, “To prove it, Old Bob fixes Jenny’s crippled leg, but this results in two other aliens catching him while they zapped Jenny’s aunt here to keep her quiet. Jenny herself is protected by Old Bob, who also confesses to his friend he’s not a criminal, but instead the king of their planet. After doing that boring job for so long, he got totally sick of it and sneaked away to take a vacation. The other aliens tell Jenny everyone at home is waiting to have their king back, because they all love him just like she does. Jenny wants to come with Old Bob, but that’s against the rules.”
“So, what happens?” asked an engrossed Chao-Ahn when Buffy had another breather.
A wide smile blossoming on her face, Buffy chuckled to her companion, “Jenny comes up with a great plan. She and Old Bob head off to another room to say goodbye in private, but when other two aliens go to find what’s keeping them, those guys see nothing less than a pair of little girls! Jenny got Old Bob to change into looking like her identical twin sister! And because there’s no way to tell them apart now, those best friends get to stay together when everyone leaves for Old Bob’s home.”
For the next minute or so, the set of Slayers in the living room shared their loud delight at a truly clever scheme. Finally quieting down, Buffy confided to a still-giggling Chao-Ahn, “But the absolutely best part was at the end of the episode, where Rod Serling, the host and creator of The Twilight Zone,
shows us a picture of what Old Bob really looks like: one hell of a handsome young royal guy, who’ll one day marry Jenny and make her his queen!”
Beaming at how Chao-Ahn broke up again in uncontrollable hilarity, Buffy glanced at where the woman affected by alien technology still paid no attention to her visitors. Even if it wasn’t ever mentioned in the television episode, Buffy was sure this uncaring aunt wouldn’t remember in the future about her missing niece, or even that she’d ever had a child staying with her in the first place.
“I can see why you like it, Buffy,” then came from Chao-Ahn happily wiping at her eyes. Turning back to look at the Chinese Slayer, Buffy next heard from her, “Does Willow know about this?”
“Oh, you bet, Chao-Ahn,” Buffy gladly answered. She grinned, “A few Christmases ago, in our first year at the castle, I got a complete set of The Twilight Zone
DVD’s from her with this episode on them. That’s why I knew exactly what we were in when her spell sent us to this dimension, and also in this house. I thought maybe we were supposed to film the whole scene in the park where Old Bob transforms into the space monster, until I read in Wil’s book what I was supposed to do. Sorry for not telling you right away.”
Chao-Ahn good-naturedly shrugged. “That’s all right, Buffy. When the scavenger hunt’s over, why don’t we watch the episode together in your apartment? I’d really like to see it in person.”
Perking up at this chance to fully share one of her favorite shows with a good friend, Buffy enthusiastically agreed, “It’s a date! Not to mention we’ll have a really great souvenir on hand throughout it all, because I’m going to display that on top of the tv when the episode’s running!”
Buffy then proudly pointed, and Chao-Ahn’s gaze followed, towards a specific object lying on the coffee table in the living room. The blonde Slayer had put it there several minutes ago after finding this in an upstairs wastebasket and bringing it along with her and the other superhuman woman when they‘d come down to the aunt’s residence.
Once a representation of pain and limitations, Jenny’s orthopedic appliance now rested unneeded on this apartment furniture. That discarded leg brace from a formerly lame little girl had instead become a symbol of true love for a lonely child, who’d at last found someone to treasure…in the Twilight Zone.