Disclaimer: I own nothing. To prevent spoilers, a further disclaimer is at the end of this story.
Rupert Giles dazedly stared at the recent crater in the apartment’s lower wall, which just several moments ago had been the point where his telephone was prosaically hooked up to an electric outlet. This was no longer the case. Without any advance warning at all of such a bizarre occurrence, the entire instrument had been violently yanked off the side table and then through the air. This ended with the telephone smashing into the wall, where it'd been further pulled inside this partition before wholly disappearing from sight.
To the shocked high school librarian still sitting in his drawing room armchair, it'd been almost as if some unbelievably powerful person had laid their hands upon the other end of the wire connecting his telephone to the rest of Sunnydale's electrical system, and next abruptly hauled onto this with incredible strength. However, that was totally ridiculous, even for the Hellmouth....
Pausing in his stunned thoughts, Giles glanced from the corner of his eye at the handset he was still holding up to his right ear. The man's disbelieving gaze subsequently traveled downwards to where the remnants of the plastic-covered flexible wire coil dangled forlornly from the bottom of the handset. A mere instant ago, that wire had been connected to the handset right before the rest of the outmoded appliance was so rudely removed from Giles' presence.
Numbly depositing the truncated receiver onto the side table, an Englishman recollected the frantic call he'd just taken in the middle of a rare peaceful night at a demon-infested California city. But then, Halloween was normally the least dangerous time between dusk to dawn on the Boca del Infierno, as Giles informed those skeptical children earlier this week in the Sunnydale High library. Apparently from what had now taken place, that same declaration hadn't been the most accurate of assertions. This was vividly proven by the desperate message shouted directly into his ear by another man from his homeland who Giles had long ago parted ways as bitter enemies:
"RIPPER, I'M BEGGING YOU! GET TO MY COSTUME SHOP AT BROADWAY AND THIRD AS FAST AS YOU CAN! BREAK THE JANUS BUST! I CAN'T DO IT BECAUSE THEY'RE HAVING TOO MUCH FUN WITH ME! NOOOOOO!
STAY AWAY! NOT THE--!"
It was at that point when the telephone had been so implausibly destroyed.
Yesterday, outside on the sidewalk in front of the short-term place of business labeled Ethan's,
a petite Slayer laid down the law. Glowering at a smirking Xander while Willow herself looked rather concerned, Buffy said in her best no-nonsense tone, "It's got to be a real group, an authentic threesome. Xander? Xander?"
The Slayer sighed at seeing the sudden glazed expression which was spread over Xander's entire visage. She grumpily eyed Willow now appearing equally annoyed, before telling the redhead, "That'll be a two, I'd say, Wils."
Nodding, Willow lifted up her right hand and then she swung it sharply against the side of a fantasizing teenage male's skull to give him a good, solid slap there with her palm. Whack!
Buffy unsympathetically growled at Xander rubbing his aching ear, "Quit channeling Beavis and Butthead when I say something like that. Now...we're not wearing anything with cleavage, spandex, hot pants, leather, harem outfits, slit skirts, or costumes specifically meant to cause guys to drool. This includes you copying Hugh Hefner and us as his Playboy bunnies. Xander? Xander?!
Heaving another and much deeper sigh, Buffy ordered, "A five, and make it count, Wils!"WHACK!
"OW! Okay, okay, but you two still have to dress up as whoever I pick, or pay the bet’s forfeit!" Xander crankily finished, swaying slightly on his feet from the sudden attack of dizziness caused by his yellow-crayon friend's robust chastisement.
Shaking her stinging hand, Willow sent towards the Slayer her own exasperated, "Buffy, why on earth did you make such a bet with him in the first place?"
Buffy tried to appear apologetic to assuage Willow's justified displeasure, but this effort was spoiled by a loud giggle escaping from between the blonde's lips. She went on to rationalize, "Please, you can't say you wouldn't have enjoyed watching mind-in-the-gutter here wearing a Little Bo Peep costume tonight, down to the white petticoats and crooked stick, while he tried to herd along a bunch of excited kids going trick-or-treating!"
Xander stuck his tongue out at both Willow and Buffy, only to hastily withdraw that portion of his body when this latter girl made an ominous wiggle of her fingernails in anticipation of a swift grab and a painful pinch with these.
This potential confrontation was interrupted by Willow grousing, "What did I
do to deserve this? More important, you'd better go along with what Xan picks no matter how stupid it is, Buffy! Because I'm not putting on a cheerleader costume and doing a routine in front of the whole school on Monday that ends with us kissing for a full minute!"
"Aaaahhhhh, however it turns out, tonight's gonna be the greatest night of my life!" proclaimed Xander, who then made a quick dash for the shop entrance when his female friends advanced on him with murder in their eyes.
Five minutes later:
"NO! NEVER! NOT A CHANCE! NO, NO, NO, NOOOOOOOOOO!"
Ethan Rayne was a man of the world. Ever since his youth in London, he'd happily wallowed in every form of decadence this anarchist mage encountered, used his supernatural powers for as much fun and gain as possible whether it harmed anyone else in the vicinity or not, and otherwise enjoyed himself to the maximum. Given that Ethan still survived so long during all this, it was evident there were times when he was wise enough to absent himself from whatever awkward event was going on elsewhere at the moment.
In the back room of the costume shop, Ethan made himself a cup of tea and waited patiently for the screaming in the store's front portion to stop. With any luck by the time he went there again, either things would have quieted down or those noisy customers would've departed on their own after leaving behind the proper amount for whatever Chaos-imbued attire they'd picked out for Halloween. Sipping at his cup, Ethan lazily leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes for a second or two.
As for Xander Harris who was considerably closer to that bellowing, this young man removed the pair of index fingers he'd sensibly stuck in his ears. Clearing his throat, Xander lived more dangerously than usual by snarking to the furious Slayer next to him, "You got your pom-poms ready?"
Giving him a scorching glare which indicated exactly what she'd rather do with those cheerleading accessories undoubtedly resulting in the near future with a proctologist's bill being sent to the Harris house, Buffy then irately hissed to the shop at large, "I'm still not dressing up as them!"
"Hey, what's the problem?" inquired Xander, waving his arm in the general direction of the trio of mannequins in a short line abreast that he, Buffy, and Willow were regarding. “In your own words, they're an authentic threesome, with no cleavage, spandex, hot pants, leather, harem outfits, slit skirts, or costumes specifically meant to cause guys to drool."
Once this had been said, the Scooby Gang spent a few moments in shared uneasy silence until Willow nervously admitted, "I think my brain just exploded, due to imagining them that way."
Buffy spun to face Willow now looking a bit greenish, imploring her, "Please, please, please, Willow! Can't we basically pay the forfeit? How about if at the end of our cheerleader routine, I agree to make out with you for two
Ignoring Xander's choked gurgle coming from behind from where Buffy was standing, Willow indignantly began, "Why would increasing the time we kiss make me change myyyyyyy....mmmmmmm...."
Both Buffy and Xander stared in mutual bewilderment at where Willow was gazing off blankly into the distance, a tiny secretive smile now upon her lips. None of the other two Scoobies understood their comrade in arms had just undergone a life-affirming moment when she'd adjusted her sexuality to admit the possibility of not only Xander-smooches but also a good many of these with her Slayer pal. Or even more wonderful, maybe from both of them at once...
Feeling distinctly unsettled at the sudden lustful expression more than obvious on Willow's visage, Buffy instantly cut her losses. She was really sure that things had turned out in ways none of them here had expected, but that could wait for another day. Or not at all. Yep, that'd be much better, totally forgetting everything or hiding from it behind an even bigger potential for personal embarrassment.
Buffy swiftly turned at where Xander was gawking at his bestest bud. The boy's worried attention was disrupted by an iron-hard finger soon poking him in the chest, along with the gritted announcement from Buffy, "Okay, buster, you win! But if I absolutely have
to go out in public as one of them for Halloween, I'm not settling for anything less than the head honcho himself!"
With those last words, Buffy stepped forward to the middle mannequin. A thoroughly sour look now on her face, she began removing the clothing and accouterments from the tailor's dummy. Blinking at seeing this, Xander eventually gave an accepting shrug. He got busy on the mannequin he'd picked out for his own right from the beginning. Both concentrated on this so much that Buffy and Xander managed to successfully ignore how Willow then said sadly under her breath before joining them, "Oh, poo."
Puttering along in his 1963 Citroen on the way to his former friend’s store, Giles stared with absolute amazement at what he was seeing outside the car windows on this Halloween night in Sunnydale.
The entire town seemed to be in an uproar, with numerous characters from books, television, movies and other popular culture running through the streets. Sirens and car alarms were blaring through the night, accompanied by the other sounds of explosions, screams, and maniac laughter. There were numerous piles of dust and just as many puddles of unidentifiable goo on the sidewalks. Every now and then, knocked-over fire hydrants sent columns of water spraying upwards as much as fifty feet high.
Passing by City Hall, Giles caught sight of a cluster of ambulances there. A quick glance by the Englishman had him seeing a somewhat familiar man lying on a stretcher, every limb encased in plaster, and moaning in pain while this now-recognized Mayor was loaded into an ambulance. Shaking his head in bewilderment, Giles urged a little more speed from his faithful automobile while he drove away from that astonishing sight.
Giles eventually pulled up to the proper address. A clue as to his success at being in the right place was that every other building in the entire block was now a heap of smoking rubble.
Getting out of his car, Giles advanced towards the front door there of the costume shop with a decidedly warranted amount of caution. Trying the door handle gained Giles entry into the shop without any trouble. Once he’d taken a step inside, the Watcher stopped short and he looked around at a comprehensively trashed interior which was covered with a thick, heavy liquid splashed everywhere onto the shredded contents, not to mention the walls, ceiling, and floor.
Eyeing with some suspicion the white puddle in front of him, Giles did a careful squat and poked a fingertip into the surface of the puddle. Feeling with his other fingertips the texture of the clinging material there, to next bringing up his hand to his face and giving a short sniff to this sample, Giles muttered dubiously under his breath, “Whitewash?
Right after this, loud crashes, excited yells, and howls of pain came from the back of the shop, past a curtained entryway into a rear room beyond. Getting quickly to his feet, Giles strode into this direction, albeit while attempting to avoid at least the bigger pools of whitewash in his path. He paused at the store counter with its cash register, giving a very thoughtful glance to the small stone bust of a double-headed Roman god which was also perched upon the counter.
Another noisy shout from the other room then diverted Giles’ attention from the Janus statue, and he warily pushed aside by a fraction the curtain blocking his vision of whatever was occurring inside the rear room. A mere second later, a now utterly dumbstruck Giles continued to watch what he was witnessing, being totally unable to tear away his eyes from this sight.
Moe Howard of the Three Stooges was bestowing upon Ethan Rayne a vigorous rubbing with his right knuckles onto that unfortunate man’s head with one hand while keeping him bent over and held captive with the other arm in an unyielding clamp around Ethan’s neck. The Chaos mage, in between whimpering for mercy, also squealed an agonized yelp every time Larry Fine standing on the other side of Moe continuously gave Ethan a vicious twist of the Englishman’s nose.
All of the above was done in conjunction with Curly Howard lying onto his side on the floor and kicking his legs to spin around in an endless full circle there, all while exuberantly whooping, “Woo! Woo! Woo!”
Discreetly taking his leave of the comedic trio tormenting Ethan Rayne, Giles collected the bust of Janus on his sticky way out of the costume shop. Once he was again on the sidewalk, Giles lifted to his chest the small representation of pandemonium and turmoil, about to hurl it down at the concrete slab where it’d shatter into countless fragments and end Ethan’s latest attempt at malicious mischief. Just before he would’ve acted so decisively, Giles instead halted in his tracks and he began to think a good many second thoughts about this.
Obviously, when the spell linked to this statuette was broken along with the stone sculpture, those who’d been affected by their costumes would return at once to normal. This included tonight the three young people back there who were giving Ethan a right setting-to. Giles was quite sure of that, since Xander hadn’t earlier been able to resist telling the librarian of his plans for getting Buffy and Wils to dress up with him as the Three Stooges if the new costume place in town had those exact characters’ regalia for sale. At the time, Giles was about to express his misgivings concerning this, in connection with the opposite sex’s usual disdain for a 20th century slapstick trio specializing in low comedy set in numerous black-and-white short film features. However, Xander had referred to the older man by the detested nickname of ‘G-man’ yet again.
Fine, just for that, the little sod deserved whatever he got. Willow and Buffy, on the other hand…
Hmmm. Ethan the pillock always had been careless about his castings, so it wasn’t too hard to believe that bloody idiot overlooked or simply never considered how dangerous it was to perform a Chaos spell with those three particular archetypes of disorder. On a Hellmouth, to boot. It was no wonder the Stooges unerringly located whoever had summoned them and then proceeded to show Ethan just what it was like to earn their dire attention. This suffering wouldn’t cease either for him once the spell was destroyed, seeing how a furious Buffy finding herself the Slayer once more and in the same place as the culprit responsible for her becoming a Stooge for real would then immediately beat Ethan Rayne into a quivering pulp.
In fact, the longer this young woman stayed in her altered body, the more enraged Buffy would be after changing back, and a far greater amount of pain had the likelihood of being pitilessly inflicted upon Rupert Giles’ dear old chum.
A slow, supremely evil smile parted Ripper’s lips.
Leaving pale footprints behind, Giles ambled to the edge of the sidewalk curb and he took his time there in scraping off the whitewash stuck to his shoe soles. Once he was sure every speck of paint was gone, the Watcher got into his car. Carefully placing the Janus statue in the passenger seat so that it wouldn’t fall off and possibly break during his trip back to the apartment, Giles started his Citroen and drove away from the costume shop.
Scrupulously obeying the speed limit and all other vehicular laws of the land (including coming to a full stop at every octagonal road sign mandating this), Giles made his unhurried return to the Watcher’s residence. He was already making plans to conduct the most meticulous study possible of his prize, just like any other member of his millennia-old organization would accomplish this as well. Perform the correct measurements, carry out a sufficient quantity of photographs, go through his personal library in order to research thoroughly any other item sharing the same attributes of Chaos, etc., etc.
Why, it could take hours.
Of course, Giles mentally admitted to himself while halted at a street intersection where he observed across from his car the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse chase after the Fellowship of the Ring (who’d luckily caught the green), sooner or later he’d have to break the statuette and turn things back to normal for Sunnydale. Ah, well, it’d probably work out all for the best. A few flicks of a rag, and everything would be as good as new. Plus, judging from how it normally went here, nobody would even remember tonight’s Halloween as being any odder than usual for this locale’s outrageous nocturnal activities.
The traffic light ahead of Giles changed from red into emerald. He put the Citroen in gear and leisurely crossed the intersection, soon disappearing into the darkness.