Capes and Other Accessories
October 31, 1997
2704 Kentwood Terrace
Tonight was a big night.
Warren Meers smoothed the last of the make-up on his forehead, concealing the line of the bald-cap he had bought from the little costume shop the week before. Carefully he pulled the protective tissue from the collar of his dress suit and wiped the residue from his fingertips.
He had finished his conversion of Tomb of Horrors
to the 2nd edition rules and was ready to surprise the rest of his gaming group with the results. To Warren's mind, there was no better time to do that than on this Halloween.
The group had shrunken a lot in the last year. Dave and Fritz committing suicide, within a week of each other, last year had been a huge blow to the group, but this year, so far, had been worse. The deaths of Chris and Eric in the science building fire a month ago followed by Rodney running away two weeks later had left the group with just himself, Tucker and Tucker's irritating little brother.
The three of them had decided to recruit more members to their group after this year's Halloween costume party/game night. Warren could think of no better time to kill off the others players' high level characters than just before new players joined the group and that was just what Tomb of Horrors
was designed to do: Kill off characters.
Double checking the lock on his work room door, Warren mentally went over the shortlist of candidates he and the Wells brothers had agreed on. Jonathan was a shoe in. He knew the rules well enough that the others wouldn't have to explain everything, but lacked the confidence to be a rules-lawyer.
James, or 'Diego' as he insisted everyone call him now, was another matter. It wasn't that Warren didn't like him. Even the vampire fetish wasn't that big of a problem. It was his girlfriend. Mushroom girl really got on his nerves. Even after only having met the girl once, Warren wanted nothing more then to punch the bitch in the mouth.
Warren ran his fingers over his bald-cap to make sure it was secure. He never noticed the red sparks that followed his hand's motion.
No mortal could have.
October 31, 1997
1630 Revello Drive
“No,” Buffy said as she circled Willow inspecting her costume.
“No?” Willow asked, turning her head nervously back and forth trying to keep Buffy in view. “What no? Why no?
“I don't know, no,” Buffy said with a small frown. “It just doesn't seem very superhero-ee.”
Willow looked down at her outfit with some confusion. “But, Buffy, this is what the character wears in the comics now. I mean that he had a red body suit at first, but this is how he's drawn now. Just a jacket that I admit is kinda tacky because it's all shiny and plastic-y, the the real one is leather and probably not as bad with the shiny, and a t-shirt and jeans.”
The light of inspiration flashed across Buffy's face along with her smile as she grabbed Willow's shoulders briefly with excitement. “That's it, Wills!” Buffy exclaimed. “You're a genius!” before she turned and rushed across her room to begin searching through the bottom drawer of her dresser.
“I am?” Willow blinked a few times until her mind rebooted after the change of tone in the conversation. “I mean, of course I am. How am I a genius?”
“It's the jeans,” Buffy explained as she dug through the contents of her dresser. “Oh sure, a meat-headed boy hero would wear just a t-shirt and jeans and think he looked good. But a super-genius girl-like superhero wouldn't be caught dead in something like that. I've got a pair of bicycle shorts that are way to big for me, but they should be perfect for you.”
With her back turned, Buffy never saw the flash of shock and betrayal that crossed Willow's face at her last statement and continued on with her explanation unaware. “I mean the legs go way past my knees. So not a good look. You're what, two, or three inches taller than me?”
“Um, I guess,” Willow said tentatively.
“Ah ha,” Buffy exclaimed having finally found the object of her search and holding up the pair of shorts in question. “They're even the right shade of blue and red.”
Willow's faced had cleared at the realization of her misunderstanding only to be replaced by signs of nervous worry. “Ah, Buffy, I'm not real big on the fashion, but isn't a jacket and shorts like a big no-no?”
“Like superheroes have any kind of fashion sense,” Buffy scoffed with a wave of her hand. “Superman wears his underwear on the outside and my skirt is so short I'm going to have to wear tights underneath like I did when I was five. And it's not like the real-life heroes are any better. Have you seen what Hawk-guy and Miss Marble wear? And don't even get me started on that yellow and brown thing that that mutant Wolf-Marine goes out in public in. So, hurry up and change. Xander's going to be here any minute.”
As if on cue the front door-bell rang.
“I'll get it,” Buffy shouted in the general direction of the rest of the house before turning back to her friend. “Hurry up. I'm going to go and protect the candy bowl from Xander.”
She took a step towards the door before sticking her hand behind her small bookcase and retrieving the white paper bag that Willow had thought she hadn't noticed.
“Buffy,” Willow protested. “That's my...”
“Ghost costume that you didn't think I saw?” Buffy interrupted with an accusing glare. “I don't even want to think about all of the detention Snyder would give us if we showed up as Superboy, Supergirl and Caspar the Friendly Ghost. Now, hurry up and change, Connie, before we have to face the wrath of Principal Zod.”
Buffy smirked at Willow's surprised look at her comic book reference. “What? Movie; Christopher Reeve; Much with the hotness.”
With that she was out the door, leaving Willow staring balefully at the shorts in her hands.
October 31, 1997
5023 N. Carnegie Pl
Randal 'Randy' Callaghan pushed his long, brown hair out of his face to get a better look at his costume for the party at The Bronze that night.
Randy was one of the increasingly rare members of the student body that didn't pay attention to high school cast system. Granted, he knew he fit in best with the title of slacker which, for the most part gave him a pass with the 'toughs', 'goths' and 'stoners' and his grades were good enough for him to be tolerated by the 'brains', 'nerds' and 'geeks'. The only groups that would normally have a problem with him were the elite school cliques made up of the cheerleader and jock groups, but his dad had stumbled into a fortune with his special blend of surf-board wax so the other rich kids didn't come down on him as hard as they may have normally.
As a result, Randy was capable of gossiping with Cordelia Chase and Harmony Kendall one day and discussing the virtues of the lunch-room hotdogs with Xander Harris the next.
In a sense, he was a gateway between two worlds.
The costume wasn't impressive. More of a funny idea and a bunch of bits and pieces. An old wet-suit brushed over with model paint, and old overcoat, a cheap beard from a costume shop and a large card-board box.
The idea for the costume was probably only funny to him. After seeing heroes like Tony Stark and Reed Richards, and even the made-up heroes in the comics, living in their mansions and highrises the thought of a hero with amazing power who wasn't rich, and was in fact homeless, struck Randy as— funny was the wrong word—Maybe a phrase like 'satirical social commentary' was better.
It must run in the family. His dad had heard his idea and supplied a pair of suspenders to hold the box in place and his mom had burst into laughter and pulled a magic marker from the kitchen's junk-drawer and scrawled the words “Secret Base: Don't tell anyone” on its front.
He never noticed the sign that his mom taped to the back of the box that read “Access Denied”.
His mom had a weird sense of humor.
October 31, 1997
1630 Revello Drive
Joyce Summers checked her make-up one more time in the mirror. It was bright, flashy and looked like it had been applied with a spatula: Perfect.
She had found one of her party outfits from before she had been married while cleaning out the attic a month earlier and had decided to wear it one last time for Halloween. Looking back from the perspective of twenty years later, she had to laugh that she had ever thought that wearing these clothes had been a good idea. The top that could have doubled as a disco ball was bad enough, but the leather jacket hadn't deserved to be—really, defiled was the only word for it—by the hundreds of very tacky rhinestones she had spent hours applying all those years ago. The bell-bottoms were a pleasant surprise though. The rhinestones on the pockets and along the seams were just as horrible as the were on the jacket, but the pants had still fit after all this time, even if they were a bit tighter then she remembered and she would have to be very careful if she needed to pick up something from the floor. Obviously, the years since she had last worn them had made the pants smaller and less bendable.
The platform shoes didn't help either.
The old make-up routine had been surprisingly easy to remember, but Joyce didn't remember styling her hair being nearly as time consuming, or painful. Her arms were still a little sore from all the time she had to spend with the tease and flip needed to recreate Gidget's wind-swept, surfer-girl look.
“I'll get it,” her daughter's voice thundered down the stairs after the doorbell rang.
Joyce Summers rolled her eyes as she scooped up the candy bowl and walked through the living room to answer the front door. Super strength; super agility; super combat skills: Apparently becoming 'The Vampire Slayer' didn't include super manners, or super maturity.
Thinking back, Joyce could admit that, at first, she and her, now *very*, ex-husband had been in denial when Buffy explained that she had burned down the high school gymnasium to stop a vampire attack, but watching her child bend a tire-iron into a knot had cleared up any doubts about Buffy's abilities. And Buffy complaining about paying for a new tire-iron out of her allowance cleared up any lingering doubts that she was still their little girl.
The denial concerning Buff's 'Destiny' was still a work in progress however.
Joyce shook her head and took a deep breath to banish these darker thoughts as she opened the door to find Buffy's friend, Xander, waiting on the other side. She was mildly surprised by how much Xander seemed to fit into the look of his Superman costume. Or at least the look of the actors who had played the Man of Steel in the past. Of course, that was mostly due to his height and hair color. He wasn't as barrel chested as the man who had played the roll in the forties, nor was he as sculpted as Christopher Reeve had been in the seventies. Instead, Joyce decided, he looked the way that she envisioned the hero had looked the first time he had worn the costume: ready and willing to become a hero, but not really quite sure how to go about it.
“Hey, Mrs. Summers,” Xander greeted her with a smile and a wave. “Are the girl's ready?”
“Do you mean to say,” she asked in mock disbelief. “that you didn't hear the cultured tones of my demure daughter when you rang the doorbell?”
“That I did,” he said as his eyes flickered to the top of the stairs behind Joyce and his smile altered to a more teasing angle. “But I wasn't sure whether, or not that was an air-raid siren.”
Joyce turned to see her daughter standing on the stair landing with a feigned scowl and shaking her fist dramatically. Buffy said something about testing Xander's invulnerability and he responded with something about Joyce's rhinestones distracting him, but Joyce didn't really hear the exchange. Joyce didn't understand why she was suddenly feeling so misty.
Of course, The Slayer would have a big 'S' on her uniform.
“My little girl: The superhero,” she whispered.
“Mom,” Buffy groaned with all of the teenaged embarrassment she could muster.
“Where's Willow?” Xander asked.
“She's dawdling. She dawdles.” Buffy answered as she joined him at the door. “Dawdle. Dawdle? What kind of word is dawdle?”
“Watch and learn,” Xander said in a confiding tone before clearing his throat and pitching his voice to be heard up the stairs. “Oh no, we're late. I think we're going to get detention.”
Though not really faster than a speeding bullet, Willow's worried appearance was certainly very quick. Quick enough that she was half way through the door before the maternal clearing of Joyce's throat brought her, Buffy and Xander to a halt.
Looking back, they saw Joyce's very red lips had curved into a very suspicious smile while she waved an instant camera very suggestively in their very direction.
“Oh,no,” groaned Buffy.
“Oh, yes,” Joyce said in response. “Buffy, I have pictures of every Halloween costume you have ever worn. And that includes the three costumes that you wore two years ago to make sure that nobody else had the same outfit. Now, smile and look heroic.”
“B-but, detention,” Willow said pleadingly.
Joyce scoffed and waved the objection away. “The three of you have more than enough time for a few pictures.”
“Um...Three of us?” Xander asked nervously.”
Joyce's smile stretched into a grin, and if it seamed that she had a evil glint in her eyes, that was probably just a trick of the light.
The following few minutes could only be described as a photo shoot. What it lacked in duration and equipment it more than made up for in the imagination and enthusiasm of the photographer. Joyce was extremely satisfied with one of the pictures that featured Xander standing in a classic heroic pose while the two girls knelt to either side hugging his legs. Her favorite pictures, however, had been the ones she had taken a moment later that featured Xander cowering away from Buffy and Willow, while the two girls rained slaps down upon his arms and shoulders.
After the film in the camera had run out, Joyce stood by the window and watched as Buffy, Willow and Xander walked off to school, talking and laughing together as the went. As the trio moved out of sight, her smile faded away.
“Oh, Hank, you fool,” she whispered to herself.
Her and Hank's marriage had already been suffering problems -- serious problems – but the breaking point had come when Buffy had been Chosen as the Slayer. To be fair, it wasn't the powers themselves that had caused the problem. Hank never stopped loving his daughter and Joyce knew that he never would, but Hank believed, that to a lot of his clients, a teenager who gained superpowers could only be a mutant. And Hank had felt that he had to make a choice between his business and his family.
Not only could Joyce not agree with his decision, she couldn't even comprehend it. And she also couldn't foresee a time where she could ever forgive that decision.
Moving over to the hallway mirror, she spent a moment readjusting her make-up. Carefully she cleaned away the tracks that the few tears she couldn't hold in had made on her cheeks. After taking a few minutes to fix her mascara she gave her reflection a watery smile. So what if she had to delay her buying trip for her gallery? It was worth it.
Her little girl had finally dressed like a superhero.
Tonight was a big night.
Two quick notes
First: The title of this chapter is a nod to one of the two seed inspiration stories for this tail 'Capes and Other Accessories' by Greywizard.
Second: I've never found and official name, so I named the guy seen gossiping with Cordy and Harmony in 'Welcome to the Hellmouth' and who had his hotdog stolen by Xander in 'The Pack' Randy.