Happy Purim, Willow I
Happy Purim, Willow
Buffy grabbed the doorknob, pulled hard, and yanked the door open without checking to see if it was locked. Fortunately, after the fifth door was destroyed in this manner, Giles had learned not to lock it.
"Wake Duncan with your knocking, I would thou couldst!" quoted Giles from his armchair as the Slayer strode in. As always Giles' apartment had books scattered everywhere with three open on the table for quick consultation.
"Oh, sorry Giles, I didn't know you had a guest. Who's Duncan?"
"Never mind," Giles replied. "Illiterate Americans
," he sighed under his breath. "What brought you to my chambers?" He got up to make a pot of tea.
"Huh?" Buffy looked confused so Giles sighed again and simplified further. "Did something happen on patrol?"
"Oh, yeah, that," Buffy replied, pleased at finally hearing a simple question. "What's the most hated evil?"
Giles took off his glasses, rubbed them, and put them back on his head. "Is there a referent to that quest...; Er, ah. Why don't you start from the beginning."
"I cornered a vampire, knocked it down, and staked it. When it realized it couldn't get away from me, it began blabbering about how his master is gonna resurrect 'the most hated evil' tomorrow and he'd make me pay. Then I staked the vamp."
"In those exact words?"
"Yup, 'most hated evil'"
"And, it didn't occur to you to maybe keep him talking for a little longer?" Giles was exasperated.
"I didn't want to be late for my date with Riley."
"Oh, of course, silly me. I forgot all about priorities." Giles made his tea, took a book off his shelf, checked to make sure it was in English and handed it to Buffy while he checked the Latin texts.
Soon Giles, Buffy, Anya, and Xander, who came in looking for something to eat (despite Giles muttering about everyone mooching off the man they had caused to lose two jobs) were researching away. When Willow walked in, after her 3 o'clock class, Giles summarized, "This seems to be a dark spell, that summons the 'most hated evil' or in the Uiwklhaj text, 'he who is remembered only with hate.' So we know it brings whatever dead person or dead thing, presumably male from the tense used, that is most hated at the time the spell is cast, back to the living in order to continue his evil."
"How eeevil is it?" asked Xander.
"Very evil," Giles replied. "But who would be *the
* most hated?"
All eyes turned to Anya, "Sorry, I didn't keep track of stuff like that. My vengeance stuff was strictly one to one."
"Hitler?" guessed Buffy. "Ghenghis Kahn? Bill Clinton?"
"No way of just guessing," Giles sighed. "Willow, get on that blasted machine and see if you can find any surveys or such that would tell who the whole world hates."
"All right," Willow said, plugging in her laptop. "But I can't stay too long, I have to get ready for Purim tonight. That reminds me, Buffy, I need help with that costume you made for me back at Halloween. I think I'm ready to wear it."
"Costume?" asked Buffy. "You've been invited to a costume party?"
"I don't think this is really a good time for... " Giles was ignored.
"For the Jewish holiday of Purim," Willow explained. "That's when the Jews celebrate the failure of Haman's plot to kill all the Jews in Persia which failed because the queen was secretly Jewish. We go to the synagogue in costume, sing funny songs making fun of Haman, eat cookies called Hamantashen shaped like Haman's hat and whenever the cantor reads Haman's name in the Book of Esther
we make noise with a grogger noisemaker that's so loud that no one can hear that hated name."
"And this Haman guy tried to kill the Jews when?" Xander asked.
"About 2,500 years ago," said Willow as if it were yesterday.
"And the Jews are still at it?" asked Xander.
"Wow!" said the former vengeance demon, awe audible in her voice.
Giles turned to Willow. "And this, shall we say, ritual hating, is going on tonight." It wasn't a question.
"Yes," Willow answered.
"All over the world, Jews are hating this man."
"Yes," Willow barely got out.
"A man whose memory would have be completely forgotten thousands of years ago except that Jews conduct this ceremony to make fun of him. Tonight."
"It's a fun holiday," Willow protested. "Haman is basically a buffoon, and Purim is great for the children and adults who can act like kids for the day."
"Nonetheless, it is fair to say that no one will be hated tonight as much as Haman will be in synagogues all over."
There was silence broken by Buffy, "Well, looks like we've got our man. Willow, do you have a photo of what this Haman guy looked like?" Willow's eyes met Giles'; he in turn looked at Anya as the three struggled to figure out how to explain about time periods before the invention of photography.
Even with the knowledge of who the most hated would be for this particular night, Giles and the others were unable to figure out where the ceremony would be held to bring Haman back from the dead. Finally they split up with Buffy patrolling and Willow went to synagogue as the logical place for the most hated to make his appearance.
- - -
Buffy went wandering around until quite late without seeing any sign of a demonic ceremony, or for that matter Riley which she was looking for equally. Finally, while she was in the park near campus, she heard a strange singing.
"Purim Day, Purim Day," the voice was singing, "Gladsome, joyous holiday. Happy throngs, singing songs. Masks and drinking games." It was Willow.
"Why, Willow you're drunk," Buffy accused. "I've never seen you like this. Don't you remember, beer bad?"
"Spozed be drunk," Willow giggled. "Religious dooty." Buffy shot her a glare. "Spozed to be so hammered can't tell difference tween 'Blessed be Mordechai' and 'Cursed be Haman'"
Buffy was still skeptical. "Maybe they sound more similar in Hebrew."
Willow giggled, started to shake her head, than reached up with her hands to hold it. "Nope."
Buffy's eyes widened. "Religious duty?"
"Can I convert?"
Willow giggled again. "Butter you than a guy. Nothing to cut off." She laughed while Buffy stared, clearly she was missing something.
"May the schwartz be with you," Willow giggled again, backing up and stopping as something soft went "wumph"
"Whoa there," came a male voice. Willow and Buffy looked up and saw Riley in full commando gear.
"Nice costume," Willow laughed at him. "Didn't know you were Jewish."
"Freshmen aren't supposed to drink," Riley said with disapproval. "Glad to see you don't indulge," he said to Buffy.
"Not since the stone age," Buffy replied, ignoring Willow's giggled "stoned age"
"Anyway, I'm glad I ran into you. The Initiative just got a new military advisor. Colonel Haman."
Willow reached into her pocket and pulled out a metal toy on a little stick and gave it a spin. As it spun it made a growling noise. Buffy realized it was the grogger or noisemaker Willow had told her about. Riley ignored Willow's strange behavior, focusing more on Buffy.
"I just wanted to let you know in case you ran into him on patrol," Riley continued.
"Oh, I suspect I'll have dealings with this Colonel Haman," Buffy replied as Willow twirled her grogger again.
- - -
"I still say that's cheating," Buffy complained to Willow as the two climbed the steps to Giles' apartment the next morning. "It's part of the whole experience. You're supposed to suffer." Willow gave her a sweet smile.
"Hi Willow!" Xander yelled in her ear as the two walked into Slayer HQ, also known as Giles' place. "Are the lights bright enough? Do you want some scrambled eggs?"
"Sure," Willow said, "Breakfast would be great, thank you."
Xander looked at her. "Hey Miss, you're not supposed to have slayer healing. Shouldn't you be hung over? Last night you looked like you drank more than your weight in wine."
Buffy sighed. "The first thing she did when she got up was drink some bits of herbs she had already prepared. She was bright-eyed and cheerful a few minutes later."
"Hey, I'm a witch. We're supposed to be good with potions. It's part of the job."
"Working some serious mojo there Will," Xander said.
"And that doesn't count as abusing your powers for personal gain?" Anya asked. "Not that there is anything wrong with personal gain..."
"I had to be fresh today to deal with the Haman thing," Willow rationalized. "You don't have anyone else who knows as much about the Jewish holiday of Purim."
"Ah, speaking of Haman, could we please get back to business?" Giles gave up waiting quietly in the hopes that someone would remember they were in the middle of a crisis, yet again.
He held a thin book up in front of Willow. The title, in Hebrew letters, read, "Megillah Esther
". "That's the Book of Esther
" Willow explained. "It tells the story of Purim."
"Then the book has a name, damn it. The prophecy I found said to follow the book of the missing name." Giles dropped the book to the table and began rummaging through a different pile.
Willow picked it up. "Actually, this might be it. The Book of Esther
is the only book of the Bible that doesn't mention the name of God." Noticing everyone staring at her Willow explained, "The rabbi mentioned that last night. I don't really have the whole Bible memorized."
"Anything in that book about the Initiative?" Buffy asked. "Riley said they have a new advisor, a Colonel Haman."
Willow shook her head. "Maybe they're the king's guards."
"So Haman's running the Initiative now," Xander said. "It's too bad we don't have a man on the inside, someone who could tell us all their secrets." He looked pointedly at Buffy.
Buffy raised her hand signaling stop. "I already called Riley. He said the Initiative is doing some sort of hush hush campaign to capture all supernatural creatures and those with the 'taint of magic'"
"Are we sure this is a bad guy? Nothing wrong with that."
Anya, Willow, and Giles locked glances again. Finally Giles explained, "Except that the taint of magic would probably include magic users like Willow and myself, werewolves like Oz, ex-demons like Anya, and probably Slayers like Buffy. That's all."
"Oh," Buffy exclaimed. "Bad news then."
Willow was flipping through the pages, refreshing herself with the story. "Okay, the Colonel's Haman. Who's King Achasverous?"
"God bless you," Xander said in response, thinking Willow sneezed.
"No, the king in the story, the one who Haman advised. Noble birth, gave orders obeyed by his men, a little simple."
"Riley," Anya said firmly. "Isn't he some sort of officer in the Initiative?"
"Right, then that makes Buffy Esther," Willow was slightly disappointed. Couldn't she be the heroine just once. "At least we can skip the beauty contest through which the king chose his queen."
"They had beauty contests way back in ancient, ancient days?" Xander was astonished. "Here she comes, Miss Ameri ah, Miss Persia."
"Somewhat Xander," Giles felt compelled to explain. "This was after beauty contests, but before theme songs."
"Besides, I won't let Riley look at other girls in bathing suits, so the beauty contest idea is definitely off. Okay, what happens after the King picks his queen?"
"Let's see." Willow fingered the pages. "Esther's uncle Mordechai saves the life of the king. Mordechai refuses to bow down before Haman (since we Jews don't bow down before idols or kings or anyone but God), so Haman decides to kill all the Jews including Mordechai. Then Mordechai tells Esther she has to reveal her identity and save the Jews. She invites the king and Haman to picnic." She paused. "Yes, Xander, they had picnics back then." She went back to the book, "Mordechai is rewarded for saving the king's life in a way that completely embarrasses Haman. Esther has another picnic and reveals that Haman is plotting to kill her and her entire people. The king finds out what Haman has done and kills Haman on the gallows built for Mordechai."
Xander raised his hand, questioningly. "That means he was hung. You know, like hangman." Anya told him. Buffy pretended she already knew that.
"Oh, that's simple then," Buffy said with a smile of relief. "I just have to get Riley and this Haman guy to a picnic, tell Riley that Haman thinks I'm tainted by magic and wants to kill me, and then Riley will hang Haman up and happy ending time."
"Somehow, Buffy, I don't think the most hated evil will be defeated so simply..." but Buffy was already at the telephone.
"Hey Riley, you know, I was thinking" Willow and Giles exchanged a glance. Whatever Buffy was doing, it certainly was not thinking. At least not with her head. "It's a nice day. The sun's out. Yes, I know we live in California. Anyway, I thought, why don't we have picnic? You could bring that fellow you told me about. That Haman guy. I haven't met him yet. Okay, it's a date." She hung up the phone. "See, problem solved." She skipped out off the apartment happily. She had a picnic to prepare.
Giles groaned and put his head in his hands on the table. "Somebody, please say something to make my day complete."
Willow pulled out the Book of Esther
and flipped through the pages again, stopping near the end, past the book itself, into the service. She jumped up, "Back up plan!" she said sprightly and ran out herself.
"Wonderful," Giles said. "Simply wonderful."
"So, what now G-man?" Xander asked.
"Well, as the sole normal person in our little tea party, you can do as you please. You're safe. Anya, I suggest you do what I plan to do."
"What's that?" Anya was pleased that someone sensible had a plan.
Well, maybe not, Anya thought again.