Title: Goblin Talk
Disclaimer: Buffy belongs to Joss Whedon, Toby belongs to Jim Henson
Universes: BtVS and Labyrinth
Rating: a bit of the maudlin
Spoilers: BtVS7 (all), the Labyrinth movie
Notes: Answer to the Buffy 20 min challenge
Summary: Buffy visits a museum in Rome and meets an interesting young man
~~~Goblin Talk 4:00~~~
It was all Dawn’s fault, Buffy grumbled to herself. She wasn’t the museum type these days, too much to do, but when Dawn came home from a school trip so excited and bubbly about this great new exhibit that Buffy absolutely had to see, she gave in and agreed to go.
Pushing past the swarms of people clogging the passageways, the blonde slayer squeaked as someone trod on her sandal clad toes. Buffy wondered if Dawn was doing this to get back at her for the curfew she imposed after the incident with the latest suitor for Dawn’s entirely too precocious attentions. Heaving crowds of tourists just weren’t her thing, especially the ones she battled daily in Rome’s tourist season. After a brief stint shuffling along behind a stinky, loud American, she finally passed the sign she was looking for.
The museum was housed in converted catacombs, hosting rotating exhibits that toured Europe and the world. Buffy peered at the directions her sister had given her, squinting in the increasing gloom. Turning left, she found herself in a room full of grotesque figures. From floor to ceiling, modeled replicas of creatures that would put gargoyles to shame leered at her from the shadows. Involuntarily, Buffy shuddered. This was obviously why Dawn wanted her to come.
She turned to the plaque describing the creatures, goblins, grateful that it was translated to English for the tourists. Seemed that these were recreations of the phantasms that haunted western European folklore, the beasts that stole children from beds, horrifying nursery rhyme nightmares.
Tilting her head to examine one of the larger specimens, Buffy wrinkled her nose. “You’re not so scary, really. Bet you just go poof.”
A soft, “No, not poof,” behind her caught her attention. A young man was standing there and for a brief moment, Buffy thought she saw Riley- blond, broad shouldered, bright blue eyes that seemed a bit too knowledgeable for someone that young. He seemed almost her age, within a few years anyway, and he blushed at the attention. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you.”
“Nah, it’s fine. Was wondering if anyone else came to look at this exhibit besides me and my sister.” Buffy took another look, noticing just how attractive he was, in bashful way. It was no good letting Dawn have all the fun in Rome, she mused to herself. She stuck out her hand. “I’m Buffy.”
He smiled shyly, “Toby.”
They moved to the next set of creatures. “That’s just gross. Look at that thing, a chicken hat? What’s up with that?”
He chuckled, “A fashion statement perhaps?”
Buffy cut her eyes at him, for a moment wondering why his voice sounded so strained. “So what brought you to this exhibit? Not exactly the usual tourist stop.”
He blinked then, stepping back slightly. “It’s my exhibit. I built it.”
She gaped. “Yours? You’re not a student then?”
“Oh no, I am. Medieval studies, particularly of mythological beasts and monsters. Folk lore really. I was lucky enough to find a sponsor for my artwork; the owner of the museum does work with my academic advisor. He saw some of the models and thought it would make an interesting companion to my thesis.” He reached out a hand, gently stroking the side of the goblin’s hat.
“That’s some imagination,” Buffy muttered, looking around her again. They were all so realistic, she thought, so lifelike and detailed. A growing suspicion shivered up her spine. “So, Toby, why goblins?”
He looked down at her, towering well above her diminutive frame. “Seemed like good therapy. After all, when you’re abducted by goblins as a child, you’re bound to have issues.” He said it jokingly, but Buffy saw the fleeting haunt in his eyes.
She laid her hand on his arm, “I understand.”
He blinked, wary, but didn’t back away. Encouraged, she continued. “If I were to do this sort of thing, I mean- I so wouldn’t, I haven’t got an artistic bone in my body, but if I did, I’d have monsters too.” He was still watching her. She gave a wavering smile. “Except mine would have pointy teeth and be trying to kill my friends.”
He smiled with her, a sad smile full of too many thoughts. Buffy took a deep breath before continuing. “So, Toby, what do you say about some coffee? I hear there’s a great place not too far away.”
He looked around the room, the shadowed, hunched forms that crept through the silent spaces. The young man looked down at her again and Buffy watched him consider her, the aching desire to talk shining behind blue eyes. He seemed to come to a decision and nodded. “Yes, I think that sounds lovely.”
~~~End Goblin Talk 4:20~~~