Disclaimer: I own nothing. All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters and Speed Racer characters are the property of their original owners.
Author's Note: This is a follow-up to my previous story also on TtH, known as "Ethan's New Toys" where it's explained how the whole thing started. Since the following is much longer than the usual single chapters, I put it out on its own as a separate tale.
While being dragged along by iron-hard fingers digging deeply into her shoulder, Dawn Summers nevertheless maintained an air of offended dignity. On the inside, however, this twelve-year-old schoolgirl was gleefully congratulating herself for making Buffy finally lose it.
Previously, a solid five minutes of snarking at her big sister during the start of their search for Halloween outfits in a just-opened costume shop hadn't made Buffy do anything but steadfastly ignore Dawn. Instead, the older sibling continued to look through the racks of holiday attire for something great there to really impress a certain mysterious boyfriend which Buffy had so far concealed from their mother. Beginning to be a bit discouraged at failing to get under the skin of someone she truly loved to torment, Dawn trailed along after the blonde (who was now one whole inch shorter than her!).
At that point, Buffy found and fell totally in love with an eighteenth century French noblewoman's ornate costume. Which in turn lead to Dawn being struck by a truly fiendish inspiration. She waited until Buffy finished joyfully crooning over that ultra-fancy gown. Right after the scarlet dress was removed with the greatest of care from its mannequin and the sisters were headed towards the store counter, Dawn cleared her throat.
In the most innocent voice she could manage, Dawn suggested, "Say, Buffy, I really don't think that red will be the best color for you tomorrow night on Halloween. Maybe you should keep looking, until you find something all in white instead."
Stopping dead in her tracks, Buffy turned around to stare in disbelief at her annoying-to-the-max, not-so-little, sister. Still possessively holding the gown against her body, a wary Buffy asked, "What, you mean a bridal
dress? Are you nuts?! I'm not going to risk scaring away Angel like that!"
"Yeah, right, the never-seen secret boyfriend with the really cool name," Dawn scoffed.
Smirking into her sister's sudden scowl, Dawn next toned down her sarcastic manner somewhat to point out, "Listen, you want to show him you're totally special, unique, one in a million?"
Pausing to examine this closely for any possible conversational booby traps from that pest having a completely unfair growth spurt in the last month, Buffy cautiously nodded in agreement.
"Well, then, you need to get a Halloween costume of the only one of her kind in existence," beamed Dawn, who lived
for opportunities like this to really stick it to Buffy.
"Put it back, and we'll find you another dress in solid white plus a big bucket of blue paint you can pour all over yourself before you wear that one. Just explain to Angel you're going as Smurfette-- OWWWW!"
Ten seconds later, Ethan Rayne guardedly eyed the two young ladies now standing in front of the store counter. He'd been in the middle of taking a break from selling his Chaos-imbued attire of characters from all kinds of 20th-century popular culture, until those newest customers had come into the otherwise empty shop. This pair was clearly related, with the slightly taller one on the left giggling to herself while in the angry grip of the second girl.
That latter female then irately snarled at the surprised proprietor, "Okay, mister, what's the most boring costume you've got here? I want some totally dorky outfit that isn't from the comics, movies, or anything else people will get right away! No, better yet, the most perfect thing for Dawn to wear would be the rear half of a horse--"
"Hey!" indignantly came at once from the young lady shrugging out of the other's clutch. The girl apparently called Dawn ignored a mature man observing them both in his sardonic amusement to crossly snap, "Don't I get a say in this, Buffy?"
From someone else whose parents had made a truly unfortunate choice for their older child's first name, a crushing "NO!" was delivered by this Buffy person.
Equally disregarding the entertained shopkeeper, she then bestowed a supremely evil smile towards a pouting Dawn. Next came, "Before she left for LA, Mom gave me the money for both of our costumes and she told me to make sure you didn't go too crazy for yours, remember? So, you wear what I pick, Dawn, or else we head home right now and I tell her on the phone you wanted to be Elvira or a Barbara Eden Jennie, or somebody even naughtier than them!"
Dawn's lips thinned in sheer outrage over that unfair threat. She got right into her sister's face, hissing, "You wouldn't dare!"
"Try me," icily returned Buffy.
There was a total silence in the costume shop for several moments. The Summers sisters' battle of wills, as expressed by their deadly glares aimed directly at each other, were then interrupted by a polite cough. Turning their heads in shared surprise at the man behind the counter, Dawn and Buffy saw he was now holding a bundle of clothes in his hands. The two girls blinked at realizing the third member of their trio had evidently just left and came back without either of them noticing this.
Placing these garments onto the counter, the shopkeeper politely informed his latest patrons, "I think this is what you're looking for, ladies. Throughout my transactions here ever since I opened up for business, nobody seems to have any interest in purchasing this costume worn by a somewhat famous young girl. Don't worry, she always dressed in a most proper and demure fashion throughout her association with an animated cartoon hero."
Buffy sent a quick, all-inclusive glance at an unfamiliar set of female clothing consisting of a pink blouse and red pants. Like the guy with a British accent remarkably resembling that of her own Watcher had just said, these looked to be not only perfectly decent, but best of all in Dawn's exact size.
Before her sister had a chance to object, Buffy reached into her pants pocket as quickly as she could. Yanking out the wad of cash there, the Slayer slapped this money onto the counter while declaring, "Great! That should take care of both our costumes!"
"Wait a minute!" Dawn wailed in vain, particularly when the shopkeeper snatched up the small heap of currency almost as fast as Buffy had produced it.
The cheerful ding!
of the cash register swallowing up the dollar bills put the final nail in the coffin for Dawn bitterly witnessing it all. Directing a glower of serious dislike at both Buffy and the jerk in cahoots with her sister by selecting for the younger girl some absolutely mundane Halloween costume, Dawn nonetheless snatched up the clothes. She next promptly flounced off in her eagerness to get away from them both.
After a few steps took her out of sight among the racks of clothes, Dawn realized she was heading deeper into the shop instead of towards the exit. Looking around to find her way out without meeting Buffy again, Dawn edged down the nearest cross aisle, grumpily shifting the newly-bought costume under her arm. The girl's elbow abruptly rubbed against something small and hard concealed within the fabric she was holding at her side. Halting in the middle of the aisle, a puzzled Dawn fumbled with her free hand inside the red pants. After a few unsuccessful gropes, she pulled out from a pocket a...toy car?
Gaping at the little vehicle lying in the palm of her hand, a baffled Dawn studied a sleek racing car dazzling in its pure white paint scheme. The only other color shown on this toy was a brilliant red capital letter 'M' painted upon the hood of the car. Holding onto the unexpected plaything, Dawn juggled with the clothes in her other arm, trying to see or feel if there was some sort of explanation in there of why this costume had come with the odd miniature automobile model. The only thing which Dawn discovered was that the blouse had upon its front another 'M' monogram.
Shaking her head in mild bewilderment, something else then caught Dawn's attention from out of the corner of her eye. Glancing further down the aisle, this girl momentarily stared with astonishment at what was there, before striding towards a specific rack of costumes.
In the far end of the rack, there was at present an empty space with an unused hanger dangling from the upper horizontal pole. Next to this hanger was another one, but it currently held a man's outfit of a blue shirt and white pants with also a pair of leather gloves and a red silk scarf clipped to the hanger.
Dawn wasn't interested in this. Rather, her eyes were fixed on the shelf at the top of the rack, where a snowy-white racing helmet rested. Above the clear faceshield, the identical 'M' letter as shown on the toy car was embossed in bright red onto the helmet.
Nibbling at her lower lip, Dawn hesitated for a few seconds, before furtively looking around. She was alone in the aisle, with only muffled sounds of conversation coming from the shop counter hidden several rows away. Buffy was probably still there, talking with the shopkeeper.
Immediately coming to a petulant decision, Dawn stuffed the toy car into her own pants pocket. She grabbed at the helmet with her now free hand, lifting it off the rack and holding it by her side. Surreptitiously sneaking towards the front of the store with her latest plunder, along the way Dawn mentally justified in her head what she was doing right now.
Her new costume must have something to do with the helmet and the toy car, okay? They had to match, and the guy back there (who darned well took Buffy's side and so deserved everything he got) probably just forgot to mention this or bring the helmet along with the rest of the clothes. So, she was definitely keeping it!
A minute later free and clear outside the store, Dawn Summers, master criminal, was on her way home to get ready for Halloween.