DISCLAIMER: I own Jenny Harris. All others are property of Joss Whedon et al.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a one shot piece (my first... I'm more of a series girl), that stars a minor OC from one of my other fics. You don't need to have read Come the Spring to understand this fic. Just know that ten years into a future in which Chosen didn't happen, Anya and Xander are married and have a three year old daughter.
I may or may not be writing additional Halloween fics for characters from other fics (Throwback, Small Packages, The Hopie Chronicles, Her Mother's Daughter, etc), and I may or may not be writing more ficlets starring Jenny. Please let me know if you have a preference for either.
Enjoy, and happy October, from me to you.
MOMMY'S LITTLE CAPITALIST AND THE PERFECT COSTUME
"This one?" Xander asked patiently, holding up a pumpkin costume. "Look, it has a little orange fez." Xander grinned, his thoughts wandering to those little organ grinder monkeys that wore little fezzes on their heads.
The little brown-haired girl shook her head, her expression remarkably candid, even though her eyes were set. "Nope-nope, Daddy," she said, dimples showing in her cheeks with her grin.
Xander sighed. That was the fourteenth costume that his three year old daughter had cheerfully nope-noped in the past half hour.
"What about this one?" Anya asked, picking up a clown costume. "It's brightly colored, and strangely sexual, what with the pinstripes and…"
Xander looked around the shop. If Anya noticed the other small children looking up at her with interest and their mothers' accompanying glares, she said nothing.
"Anya," Xander whispered, his voice still carrying down the aisle. "It's a clown costume. Creepy? Yes. Cheerful? Yes, in a creepy kind of way. Chainsaw murder-y? Possibly, but how…?" Xander trailed off, thinking. Something about Anya always got him to thinking in ways he had no business thinking in, especially in a costume store.
Anya pointed to the shoes that accompanied the costume, wide eyed, as she explained the obvious to Xander. "Disproportionately large shoes," she said loudly. "According to urban legend-"
Xander, noticing mothers ushering their children away from his family and the pile of costumes that lay at their feet, leaned forward and cut Anya off with a soft kiss. Standing beside them on the floor, three-year-old Jenny continued grinning, completely undisturbed. She was quite used to her parents' kissing. In fact, unbeknownst to her parents, Jenny was quickly becoming the kissing queen during playtime at her preschool.
She'd already kissed Bobby Martin, who tasted like chocolate, and Cory James, who tasted like socks.
Xander and Anya were so involved in their kiss that they barely heard the store manager clearing his throat behind them.
Jenny walked over to the man.
"Hi-hi, Skinny Stranger," she said brightly, her voice loud.
The thin man looked down at her and smiled a fake smile.
"Well, hello there," he said, hoping the child's parents would hear him and break away from the kiss. He was trying to run a respectable business here.
Reluctantly, Xander lifted his lips off of Anya's, noticing that her tender eyes were sparkling with mischief. She always managed to do this to him, and she loved that she could.
"Can I help you?" the manager asked Xander.
"Nope-nope. Daddy no need help, Skinny Man," Jenny said cheerfully, addressing the man bluntly, even in her baby talk.
Anya narrowed her eyes at the man. She turned to look at Xander. "Is he evil?" she asked, not quite mastering the whisper.
The man looked at her, confused.
"Halloween costume shop owners are often evil," Anya explained, "not that I don't appreciate the capitalistic gains involved in running an evil commercial empire. Believe me, I do. I…"
"She used to work for Microsoft," Xander broke in, with a goofy Xander smile.
"Costume," Jenny reminded them all, a bit loudly, the grin never leaving her cherubic face. She tugged on Anya's sleeve and lifted her arms up. "Costume, Mommy," she said again, insistently. Anya lifted the girl easily into her arms, and Jenny squirmed for a moment, getting comfortable, before laying her hand gently on the side of Anya's face.
The store manager looked at the cozy family scene before him: the man and the woman standing close together, the angelic-looking girl touching the mother's face with gentleness uncharacteristic of such a young child.
Despite himself and the complaints he'd received from some of the other costumers, the man grinned.
"Why happy, Skinny Man?" Jenny asked. She didn't wait for an answer, before plowing into the task at hand. "Costume," she said, not bothering to wait for a reply. "Jenny costume."
The salesman nodded and disappeared into the back to retrieve the costume he had in mind for the child. He kept his fingers crossed, hoping that he had one in storage. With her rosy cheeks and the gentleness he saw in her, Skinny Man, as Jenny had so elegantly called him, knew that this costume would be perfect for the small girl.
Trying to keep Jenny entertained while the manager searched for the costume, Xander started explaining Trick or Treating to his daughter, even though he'd been doing the same thing ever since Halloween paraphernalia had appeared in stores in mid-August. Like her father, Jenny didn't have the world's biggest attention span.
"And Mommy and Daddy will take you door to door, and you'll wear your costume, and when people answer the door you say…" Xander trailed off, waiting for her to pipe up.
"TRICK OR TREAT!" Jenny bellowed, giggling.
Xander nodded. "That's my girl. What next?"
All around the store, other small children were echoing Jenny's words with yells of their own, and every mother in the store mentally cursed Xander.
"Candy," Jenny said, her eyes sparkling.
Xander nodded, and then he turned to Anya. "That reminds me," he said. "We'd better pick up some candy before tomorrow night."
Anya shook her head. "I'm giving out quarters to the cute children and nickels to the less aesthetically pleasing ones," she said.
"Money?" Jenny asked, her eyes shining with excitement.
Anya nodded. "It's more economically sound, given the price of candy and the fact that some kids will avoid houses that give out small monetary units, and it teaches the fair market value of small, metal currency in American society."
"Money," Jenny said again, practically wriggling with excitement. "Money and Candy." She grinned. "Down," the child commanded amiably. "Jenny dance."
Anya put Jenny down, and the child began to jump up and down, wriggling her little bottom back and forth as she did, and throwing her hands joyfully up into the air in a well-rehearsed and very odd-looking dance that Anya and Xander affectionately referred to as Jenny's Dance of Capitalistic Integrity.
As he approached the family, costume in hand, the manager had to laugh at the child's antics. Anticipating the little girl's delight at the bunny costume he held in his hand, the man stifled a grin.
"Here you go, little one," he told her.
Jenny looked up at the costume. "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!" she screamed, terrified and bursting into tears, burying herself instantly in Anya's pant leg.
The salesman looked at the child's parents, mystified and on the verge of panic.
"AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!" Anya screamed, sounding very much like her three year old daughter. She held up her fingers in an X in front of her face. "Back, evil fluffy, mass-produced symbol of destruction and doom!" she yelled at the costume.
Jenny hugged herself to her mommy's leg.
"They don't like b-u-n-n-i-e-s," Xander said told the man, picking Jenny up and putting an arm around Anya.
The salesman backed away slowly.
"I told you he was evil," Anya said.
"Evil Skinny Man," Jenny pronounced, echoing her mother's sentiments.
Xander looked at his girls and shrugged. "How bout we make your costume instead of buying it, Jen-Ben?" he asked, using his pet name for her.
Jenny, with one last sniff, quickly recovered from her fright in the way of small children, safe in their parents' arms.
"Okay," she said, hugging her daddy. Then she smiled. Jenny knew exactly what she wanted to be.
Giles looked at his watch. It was only five o 'clock, and the onslaught of sugar-driven children had already begun.
"Halloween," he muttered, sighing and grabbing the bowl of candy he'd prepared for the night's invasion of small be-costumed children. He opened the front door.
Anya and Xander stood there, both of them grinning proudly down at the little girl standing in front of them.
Giles broke into a grin at the sight of the familiar child. He knelt down to her level.
"Hello, Jenny," he said, thinking of the woman the child had been named after.
"Hi-Hi, Old Giles," Jenny said. She screwed up her forehead in thought for a moment, trying to remember exactly what it was she was supposed to say.
"TRIT OR TREAK!" she bellowed, holding out her plastic treat bag.
Giles grinned, despite himself. Trit or treak, indeed.
He gave her some candy, and she beamed up at him, saying nothing, but obviously waiting for something else.
"Costume," Jenny said finally.
Giles looked at her costume and stifled a laugh. "It's a beautiful costume," he said, and knowing exactly what the child was after, her dug into his pocket and handed her a quarter. He'd long since stopped trying to do magic tricks with situations involving Jenny and a quarter. The child was far too fond of money and had seen far too much actual magic to be impressed with such tricks.
"Thank you," Jenny said sweetly.
Giles looked at Anya and Xander. "Who made her costume?" he asked, taking in the green cardboard sandwich board that hung over the child's shoulder, fairly sure that they hadn't found this particular costume in any store.
"It was a family effort," Xander said. "I cut the cardboard." He sounded so proud of himself that Giles had to chuckle.
He was certain that Jenny was the only child he'd see all night dressed up as a dollar bill, from her green slippers up to the little green fez on the top of her head.
Saying nothing, Jenny leaned forward and pulled the door closed, slamming it and leaving Giles on the inside of the house.
Xander and Anya stared at her, not having the least idea what she was doing.
Deliberately, Jenny rang the doorbell. Giles opened the door.
Jenny grinned up at him with amazing candor.
"Trit or Treak," she said coyly, holding out her bag. Jenny Harris was pretty sure she had this trick or treating thing completely figured out.
Anya beamed down at Jenny as the child managed to wrangle some more candy and another quarter out of Giles.
"Who's Mommy's Little Capitalist?" Anya murmured proudly.
"ME!" Jenny bellowed, before reaching forward and pulling the door shut once again.
Giles sighed. Something told him it was going to be a very long night.
Special thanks to A., aka cloudofcalm, for giving me the inspiration for 'Jen-Ben,' her nickname for me. Please review and let me know what you thought and if you'd be interested in reading more about Jenny, in a Mommy's Little Capitalist series.
I'm not used to writing short fics. Let me know how I did, and if you have any Halloween requests this month, just email me.