No rights are claimed over any of the characters, or the stories that they come from, that are used in this fan-fiction.
It was all Angel's fault. They were quite clear on that. He started it. He carried it on. He should have just kept his mouth shut.
It would have helped if he didn't talk about his Irish childhood, too.
"I really like squirrels."
You would have thought that was an innocent remark. In most cases it would be. Unfortunately, Angel said it to Buffy. And, she remembered.
Bits of Angel's childhood had been really bad. At times he'd only got by due to watching where the squirrels hid their nuts, and later stealing them. Yes, things got better. But, he thought, the way the governess had beaten and starved him probably had a lot to do with how Liam'd treated women.
He'd not told Buffy that, though. Just described how he used to watch them as a child, their red fur, their clever eyes, the way they prepared for bad times. Then, when he was in New York, how he used to watch them in the trees. How he envied them their freedom, to be out in the sunlight like that, how they gave a taste of country life to the city.
He didn't explain to Buffy why "They helped me forget the smell of doughnuts". She didn't ask, presumably due to not thinking about their probable lack in 18th Century Ireland. Yes, he loved her, but he knew history wasn't one of her strong points.
"Some days, I wish that I still got help from squirrels."
“Xander, what can I dress in that's squirrel-like for Halloween?”
Xander paused. This was Buffy. BUFFY. Asking him what she should wear?
He shook his head, violently. He noticed Buffy had started tapping her toe. That was a bad sign. Don't upset the Buffinator.
“Come on! You're the comic geek. All those characters wear strange costumes. What can I wear? It's not a difficult question!”
Inspiration struck him.
“I want to make sure it's just right. I'll need to do... research.”
“Well. Hurry up! Halloween's in a few days, and I want to get my costume right!”
He'd mugged Willow. Explained the problem to her. Said he'd done a lot of reading, and the only thing he'd come up with was a good, body-covering, substitute for her ghost costume.
She wasn't sure, but he showed her the old comics. Well, graphics novel. A full-body suit in dark blue, with a mask. Padded upper body, small shoulder pads, leggings. He thought she wouldn't go for it, he could see her uncertainty, but, for some reason, she agreed after he said she had the right legs for it.
The red hair, and the hacker credentials, of Shadowcat, probably didn't hurt, either. In return she insisted that her parents could afford him getting a hero costume. They agreed on a version of Doug Ramsey, Cypher, as Xander wanted a hero who used brains not brawn, wearing a really good force-field belt, customised for him by Kitty and Forge. Xander might have been a bit inspired by Brainiac 5...
Willow claimed his skill with languages would mean he could work with Kitty Pryde on programming. They'd decided that the alien, Warlock, didn't exist in their version of the Marvel Universe. Willow thought he was silly, and a bit pathetic. She was also going to leave-out the shoulder dragon. Xander wasn't going to disagree – it was rare for Willow, these days, anyway, to voice an opinion on comics.
Dying his hair blonde. Maybe, he knew he was mad, that'd get Buffy to look at him? Though, he was pretty sure that was a lost cause. And, they still hadn't found a squirrel costume for her.
Willow's solution was brilliant. Go to a comic shop, and ask a sales assistant. Xander agreed, those were almost always the biggest comic geeks around.
It'd all gone pretty well. The comic shop had provided an instant answer, a sort-of Avengers character. That is, assuming you believed in the Great Lakes Avengers. Willow found a company in LA that made-up costumes, and refused to let Xander see the receipts. Mrs. Summers seemed happy to get Buffy a different costume, than the classic ones, that'd fit in with her friends.
The problem was the belts. When they found this new place, 'Ethans', Willow just junked the painted fabric ones that came with the costumes, and they used chunky plastic ones. They didn't exactly match, but Xander argued that belts were something heroes often changed, so, Willow was happy.
“Too late to grant a child's wish? I'll show them!”
Halfrek thought about it, for a moment, then bit her thumb. Blood would do the trick. This way he'd always have a squirrel to help, protect, him.
The somewhat furry costume hung there, looking innocent.
And, this way, she might be able to upset the plans of the Higher Powers. She thought she could argue it so that she'd get away with it.
“Mom? Are you in my room?”
And she was gone.
“What sort of name is 'Monkey Joe'?” If Buffy didn't know better she'd have thought Angel was whining. All she'd asked him to do was wear a set of squirrel ears, on a clip. They'd been really cheap at “Ethans”.
She knew he'd be lurking, watching her, as she escorted children. Instead of their planned, mostly quiet, evening. This way he'd be 'on theme'.
What could go wrong?
I blame this (planned to be one-off) fanfic on following the chain of logic from a reply to a review of Diane Castle's “The Secret Return of Alex Mack”...
I guess I should put this link here...
And, this link: