Disclaimer: I own the rights to more or less my own ngernails.

Notes: Unfortunately, due to a -very- long week (in my line of work, things like a full moon or jumped-up tension over the Sox really do seem to make a purgatory of difference), I am in no way done with this sucker. Its being unfinished also means it's still in draft, so this is a good time to let me know if I'm not making sense, or something, (especially if you are a shamefully neglected person whose name starts with V.) Other kinds of reviews of course will also be recieved ecstatically.

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Halloween

(companionfic to October)

by Nightfall

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Even though the shop had been overrun with teenagers looking for last-minute costume material (which meant a profit margin that almost made up for the mess they left), Joe was in a rotten mood by closing. By the time he got home, he was about ready to kick puppies. He snarled at Jean, muttered under his breath at Guy, and avoided Lillian altogether.

It took him until dinner to figure out what the hell was wrong with him. Even when Guy, who'd been in LA on a business trip, turned to Lillian and asked how school had been on Friday, Joe still didn't twig.

He nearly smacked himself in the head right there at the table when Lillian complained, "Mr. August is a huge worrywart."

"How come?" Jean asked, eyeing Joe and his choking fit warily.

"He made us all swear not to take any apples or homemade stuff tonight---and- he made us promise to take a parent trick-or-treating with us," she griped.

Guy and Jean exchanged an unhappy look. They'd planned on staying in while Lillian went begging and Joe was out partying.

Joe, though, was feeling something release in him, a pulse at the heart of the world. That sneaky bastard. "Stop looking like a wet week, you two," he drawled, leaning back in his chair as his headache lifted. "I'll go out with the brat."

"I'm not a brat," she scowled, but since that was all she had to say about it she was probably thrilled. Joe grinned. "You have to have a costume."

"How 'bout I go as Lillian's crazy uncle?" he asked, ruffling her hair.

"Then you can wear the clown nose from last year," she retorted.

"Dream on, kid," he scoffed, and set himself to the suddenly doable task of enjoying his dinner. Two days. Fooey.

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He wasn't wearing a costume, exactly, nothing that would have been out of place at, say, a Zeppelin concert. He did let Lillian draw him whiskers and a nose with one of her markers, though, so when they left the house it was as a set. She kept the basket to tote her candy in (a conniving touch, he thought), but she made him carry the flowers.

Most of the houses went uneventfully, but there were one or two where Joe had to yank her pigtails to keep her from throwing eggs she'd nicked from the kitchen. At least she was old enough now that she didn't need him to come up to the doors with her anymore.

They moved at a good clip, joined in a mutual desire to hit as many houses as possible. Lili kept stopping to chat up goblins, miniature baseball players, tiny rock stars, and one defiant looking youkai boy in a Superman shirt.

"He's in my class," she scowled at Joe. "Mr. August doesn't care," she added accusingly.

Mr. August, Joe thought with a private smirk, wouldn't. "Well, what are you glaring at me for?" he asked indifferently, keeping his shoulders low in don't-give-a-damn position until she stopped bristling. "That guy your buddy?"

"Maybe," she grudged suspiciously.

"Can't have too many friends," he said complacently. Then, since Guy would probably disagree with him on the advisability of Lili's making friends with youkai, he added in an aggrieved tone, "Or Mars Bars. And I don't have -any.-"

Lili, never slow on the uptake where food was concerned, shrieked outrage and started running.

Joe loped after her, shouting, "Who do you think you are, the gingerbread man? Get back here and be eaten, dammit!"

"He-e-e-e-e-elp!" she screeched. A handful of parents turned in instinctive alarm, but she kept bulling down the street, screaming, "No big dumb poodle-head's getting my candy!"

"Who you calling a poodle?" he yelled, chasing her all the way to the Hammond's. "That's it, Little Red, you're wolf chow!"

"Help!" she wailed, right in Tara Hammond's face. "He's gonna eat me!"

"Joseph Sand," the woman scolded, smiling. "How could you even think of eating such a sweet little girl?"

"Don't be fooled, Miz Hammond," he grinned, slowing to a proper wolfish saunter once he got through the gate. "She's my accomplice; this is a stickup."

"Yeah!" Lillian cheered, brightening into unholy glee. "Hand over all your suckers!"

She handed over one lollipop. "Are you coming by Luanne's later?" she asked Joe.

"Maybe," he said lazily, walking -slowly- to the gate despite the hooded little brat trying to haul him along by the belt. "If Little Red here doesn't wear me out. Hey, Tara, you know where August lives? I gotta chew him out for making Lili promise to drag me along."

"And Freddy O'Connell says last year you had to get his candy from the bottom of a bowl full of eyeballs," Lili said excitedly.

Before Joe got a handle on himself, he thought, -Psychos always look friendly. --No, grapes. --Peeling grapes takes a lot of patience. And a delicate touch. --Down, boy.-

"Can we go?" Lili was begging.

"Yeah, yeah," he said disgustedly, keeping a tight hold on himself. "If Miz Hammond'll tell us where it is."

"He's on Tremont Street, isn't he?" she asked. "I think that's right. Off of Main."

"Well, thank you kindly, Miz Hammond, ma'am," he said in his best cocky drawl. "Hey, you sure you're still married?"

"Yes, Joe, I'm sure," she sighed at him in a long-suffering voice.

"Sure you still care?" he winked.

"Get out," she laughed, and threw a lollipop at his head, which he caught. "Go bother Mr. August or someone."

"You know you'll miss me," he cooed, but this time he let Lili haul him away.

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Tremont Street was a good length and Lili wanted to hit as much of it as they could, but Joe had no trouble finding the right place. The house itself was unassuming, just sedate brown wood behind a bland lawn distinguished only by a flagstone path lined with some kind of shrub. The mailbox, though, was painted a dark teal, and it had a picture of a pale green snake curled into the shape of an apple.

Joe grinned so hard his ribs ached, and steered Lili down the other side of the street first.

When they did arrive at his door, Joe joined Lili in walking past the mild-faced jack o'lantern to ring the bell. He wanted to beat her to this trick-or-treat.

No one answered, although Joe thought he heard a thump from inside. The lights were on, but at the third ring there was still no answer. There was something in the air, too, a kind of warning vibe that had nothing to do with the thunderstorm which had been threatening all afternoon.

"I guess he's not in," Lili said nervously.

"He's in," Joe stated. The house didn't have a driveway, and there was a bicycle chained to the porch. Besides, there was a cheerful pumpkin sign on the door, hand-markered, that read 'Trick or treaters welcome, eggers bedevilled' in long, even letters, and he was ninety percent sure he'd been invited.

He pounded on the door and yelled, "August! Hey, -Teach!- It's Joe Sand--I wanna talk to you about Julia!"

That should get the man to open up, if anything would, Joe figured. When Joe had mentioned that he was reading up on August's imperial namesake, he'd thought for a second that he was going to wind up with an armful of swooning schoolteacher.

"Come on, Uncle Joe, let's just go," Lili pleaded.

"Forget that," Joe said firmly, and tried the knob. "There, see?" he asked, relieved. "It's open. He's probably doing a haunted house or something."

-"Cool!"- Lili squealed, and darted inside.

Joe chuckled as he ambled after her, but he didn't get very far before a red capeful of distraught eight-year-old collided with his knees. "Whoa! What's the matter?"

"It's Mr. August," she gasped, lifting wide grey eyes to him out of a blotchy face. "He's dead."

"No he's not," he said--remarkably calmly, considering that that lowering vibe was still raising the hair on the back of his neck and his heart had skipped a couple of beats. "It's just a Halloween trick, kiddo. What's he doing, hanging? Rubber knife in the chest?"

-"No,"- she wailed. "He fell down the stairs--he must have been coming to answer the door, there's candy -everywhere!"-

"No, no," he said, failing to convince himself. The world had gone a blinding, hostile white. "No, I'm sure he's, uh, he's..." Her eyes were not reassured, and something huge was pounding on his chest. "Tavy? -Tavy?"-

He moved in, fast, pulse hammering in his throat.

"Ogod," he breathed, even that cruel brilliance failing him.

Tavy had worn the russet vest, worn it over a burnt-pumpkin shirt that brought out the auburn in his hair, and a close-fitting pair of dark blue jeans. He would have been devastating, except for the blood pooled under his forehead and smearing his fallen glasses, the sickening angles of his neck and arm, his untied shoelace, the grotesque spray of gaily wrapped saltwater taffy on the floor.

"Lili," Joe choked, "go wait in the living room."

"But--"

"Lillian, go." Something in his voice must have convinced her, because a moment later she had abandoned him to the cold company of his crumpled infatuation.

He had barely steeled himself to feel for a pulse, though, barely touched the cold, finely-hinged wrist, barely had a chance to notice the sudden, sharp cry of Anomaly from the policeman who still lounged behind his eyes when Lillian shrieked and barreled back in.

"Uncle Joe, he's a ghost, -he's a ghost!"-

Something was definitely not right. That chilly wrist just felt -wrong---too rough under skin too tight and smooth, and no give at the pulse point. "The hell?" he muttered.

-"UNCLE JOE HE'S A GHOST!"- Lili screamed in his ear, and started dragging him.

"Lili, you didn't touch anything, did you?" he asked, frowning, as she carted him backwards. It was a long shot, but--

"See?" she demanded, pointing with the hand that wasn't clinging to his leg.

He looked, and for one horrible, superstitious moment there was a ghost in the armchair. Tavy's ghost, snoozing in the blue velvet armchair with a clear plastic bowl of white-wrapped taffy.

Tavy, in a white shirt and a white vest and slippers and even, dear god have mercy, white jeans. Octavian August, with blue-white polish on his nails and blue-grey powder sinking his eyes, with a clown's pancake makeup icing every exposed inch of his skin, even his lips and slippered feet, with about a pound of cornstarch in his hair. No glasses.

Even Joe might have believed it, at least for another heartbeat, if the evil man hadn't cracked open his green, green eyes.

"Oh. My. God," Joe managed, and then he flopped himself right down on the thick rug--crimson, by god--and howled until he cried.

"Joe," Tavy reproached him mildly, shutting his eyes again, "you've ruined my diabolical scheme."

"You--you," he spluttered, and collapsed into laughter again. Behind him, he could feel Lili starting to get annoyed.

"Lillian, he hasn't disturbed my tableau, has he?"

"Your what?" she asked crossly.

"Never mind," Tavy soothed her, rising from the armchair. His hair left chalky marks on its royal blue plush. "I'll look."

And even with the single most graceful human being Joe had ever seen willowing away from him in tight white jeans, all Joe could do was sputter and snort and scrub at his tearing eyes.

"Joe, I'm impressed!" Tavy said cheerfully when he returned.

He stopped in the doorway to lift the needle on a record player Joe hadn't realized was on. This didn't have any audible effect, but the feeling of impending doom lifted. Joe was going to have to ask about that later.

"You didn't even step on anything." He extended a long white hand to pull Joe to his feet.

That implacable touch and its attendant flashback to hungering lips in a cool alley steadied him. Not much, but enough to meet the myopic gaze of he-who-wouldn't-say-which-branch-of-the-service-he'd-quit and giggle, "You came as a spook!"

He'd seen smiles that could light a room long before August had reeled into his store with a goose-egg, but none that lit -him.- "I thought you'd pick up on that," Tavy said warmly, pleased.

"Well, yeah," he shrugged, smiling too deep to keep laughing. He -had- been invited, then.

Then Tavy's expression went quizzical. "Joe? Your nose, um. It's--Joe, why is your nose brown?"

Fastening on a topic she understood, Lili said proudly, "Cause I'm Red Riding Hood!"

"I can see that, Lillian," August said. He wasn't being patient, as Guy, say, would have been. He seemed to be filling the role of an expected voice, giving her the cue to go on. "What does it have to do with your uncle's nose?"

"He's the big, bad wolf," she explained happily.

"-Is- he now," Tavy mulled, dark fascination in his eyes.

"Well," Joe drawled, shoving his hands in his pockets and rolling back on his heels. "If your corpse wasn't bleeding all over your glasses back there, you could see for yourself."

"Easily remedied," Tavy chuckled, his eyes saying Tempt Me. "But there may be more trick-or-treaters. Lillian."

"Yeah?"

"I need your cooperation in school on Monday."

"Like a monitor? Can I have some taffy?"

"Like an accomplice. What do you say?"

"This is a stickup?"

"Try again."

"Please?"

"What day is it, Lillian?" Now he was being patient. A little mocking, too.

"Trick-or-treat," she droned. "I'm Uncle Joe's accomplice," she added, troubled and challenging.

"I'm sure he won't mind sharing," Tavy assured her, handing over a few pieces of candy, and glanced at Joe with a conspiratorial smile.

"Can -I- have some Tavy?" he asked innocently.

If his friend flushed, it was hidden under the makeup. "Joe," he rebuked instead, quietly. Not the most encouraging of responses, but Lili -was- right there. Besides, the face he made was less scandalized than annoyed, his eyes communicating that yes, that particular pun had been intentional, but couldn't Joe have resisted the temptation of -voicing- it? In the name of good taste?

Joe shot him a big, sunny, open grin.

It was the makeup. Joe had made enough girls blush in his time to recognize the rising cheekbones of embarrassment, even when he couldn't see the color change.

"Yeah, Uncle -Joe, you're- not doing anything, Lili said at her obnoxious best. With some of the most transparent sweetness Joe had ever seen, she turned to her teacher and asked, "What do you want me to do on Monday, Mr. August?"

"Nothing strenuous," he assured her. "Just don't mention that you saw me today."

"Lili isn't exactly Subterfuge Center,"' Joe drawled, prodding to see if he could figure out what Tavy was trying to do.

"Oh, well, if you don't think you can manage it, Lillian," Tavy said in the single most provoking accommodating tone Joe had ever heard, "I'll give you the homework and classwork tonight, and ask the substitute to excuse you from classes."

Lili looked tempted, but Joe's eyes narrowed. August was still smiling the smile of the inoffensive out of that white specter's face.

"'Scuse me," he said, and went to the telephone at Tavy's elbow to dial a number. The voice that answered announced itself loudly enough that Tavy definitely knew who had been called, but he just turned an interested face.

"Joe Sand here," he said in his best unhurried voice, "at 810 Tremont. What would you boys say if I told you I'd seen the owner crumpled cold at the bottom of the stairs?"

He coupled this with an accusing look at Tavy, who had the grace to look a little abashed. If his friend had an excuse for putting him through that, well, he was ready to hear it.

"I'd ask you to describe the scene," the officer said, and Joe noticed that he sounded as though this was the hundredth time that night he'd had to ask it. He asked all the right questions, but he showed too much interest in what the corpse had been wearing--even asked about the colors.

"My niece was pretty shook up," Joe added, twisting the needle in a little more. "She's in August's class."

"Thank you, Mr. Sand, you've been very helpful," the man said, sounding tired and a little annoyed. "You and your niece go on home; we'll be in contact in the next couple of days."

After Monday, then. Right. "Thanks a lot, officer," Joe drawled, and hung up. He fixed cool, curious green eyes with his own and accused, "You dirty, rotten stinker."

Tavy smiled brilliantly, as though Joe had given him the best of compliments. Happily, he spoke, because if Joe had had to say something he would probably have stuttered out of a dry mouth. "This weekend's homework isn't terribly important, Joe, but the project I'll be assigning over Christmas break is. I intend that the students should apply themselves to it, and I never curve."

"Cause if death doesn't stop you from grading, why should a little thing like Christmas," he rolled his eyes.

"I learn from experience," Tavy said, a little sourly. "Hopefully the children will, as well."

"I agree with Uncle Joe," Lili scowled. "You're a big -square- rotten stinker."

"My stench is as the stench of thousands because my cause is just," Tavy said cheerfully. He sounded so pleased about it that Joe had to smile. "You can't change the world before you understand it, Lillian."

"You can only do this once, ya know," Joe commented.

"Once will be enough," Tavy assured him. If his serene confidence hadn't been so annoying, it would have been pretty damn cute.

"How did you make the body, Mr. August?"

"A good magician never reveals his secrets," Tavy said sententiously, and Lili stuck her tongue out at him. "Well. I don't wish to be an ungracious host, but there are probably other trick-or-treaters on the way..."

"I guess," Joe said reluctantly. "So, uh, how come you're skipping class Monday? Just for the trick?"

"Oh, no," he said, unsmiling in a way that made Joe remember shocked wells of eyes in the dimness, the long twist of strong fingers pulling his shirt tight against his back. "It's my sister's wedding. She wanted to be married on All Saint's Day."

"Catholic?" Joe asked warily, but Tavy just shrugged indifference. Grinning, partly in relief, he nudged Tavy's shoulder with his

--root of the world, heat reaching through cool white, all as it should be--

and accused him, "You're crazy about her, huh?"

"Oh... I might be," Tavy admitted with a soft, barely-there smile. "You'll like her, too, Joe. Everyone does."

"Everyone?" Joe teased as they ambled towards the door. "In this day and age?"

"Yes, even now. She has a," he groped, "a decorous way of loving everyone, a kind of a grace. It's unusual, I know."

"But not unique," he suggested, not-quite-leering over Lili's head.

"Oh," Tavy chuckled, his eyes widening modestly, "no. I'm the family scapegrace, I'm afraid."

Joe and Lili both goggled at him. Their eyes met in mutual terror. Lili ventured, "What's her name?"

"Connie. Well, Constance, really, but... Oh, dear."

"Oh, -no!-" wailed Lili.

It was pouring out. Joe nearly cheered. "Ah, hell," he said, making a disgusted face. "I can't go out there in these pants."

Even if he ended up having to walk home in the rain after all, it would be worth it for the sight of that smooth white face freezing around the thought of what pants that couldn't take the rain might be made of. The resultant struggle not to squint at Joe's legs made it easy for him to intercept those myopic eyes and silently suggest an alliance against propriety.

For a long moment, as Tavy peered out at the rain, he wasn't sure whether or not his proposal had been approved. His shoulders sagged when Tavy said dubiously, "I do own an umbrella."

But he lifted his face when the teacher added, "Somewhere. I'm fairly sure. Although I'm not sure it would cover you both--certainly not in this."

"I have my riding hood," Lili suggested, still wrinkling her nose at the monsoon outside.

"Guy won't let your stinky wet wool in the house," Joe said hastily. "Have a heart, Teach. Can't you give us a ride?"

"I'm afraid all I have is the bicycle," Tavy apologized. "I suppose I could lend you a pair of jeans, Joe, but--do you think they'd fit?"

Oh, that sly bastard. Reveling in the opportunity to ogle legitimately, Joe forgot to answer.

"No way," Lili said dismally, but to everyone's annoyance kept talking. "Mr. August's way skinny, Uncle Joe. He shoulda been a skeleton instead."

"Perhaps next year," Tavy said, his nostrils flaring a little in distaste over his courteous smile. "I'm afraid you'll have to walk or stay."

"Well," Joe said with all the reluctance he could muster and another ostentatious look at the rain, "if it's not inconvenient."

"Oh, I think it can be managed. The couch can be made up for you, of course, Lillian. I'm sure I can find somewhere to put your uncle."

"I'm sure," Joe smirked.

Tavy flicked him a glanced that, while not displeased, counselled restraint. Well, okay. He wasn't going to argue with Lili's teacher about how smart she was. It was tempting to say -something,- though, just to shut her up about the big bad poodle having to sleep on the porch, on the kitchen floor, in the doghouse...

"Have you eaten?" Tavy interrupted her just before Joe could lunge for her ribs.

Caught between truth and greed, she hesitated. "Lili can always eat," Joe teased. "It isn't 'have you eaten' with her, it's 'is your mouth full.' And if she opens it to answer you, you put something in."

"Well, then," Tavy said hastily, smoothly moving between them before Lili's kick could land. "Why don't you call your brother, so he doesn't worry. And I--" he stopped and looked ruefully down at his long, porcelained hands. "Will, um, tell you where things are so you can fix something."

"Her brother or mine?" Joe asked.

"Oh-- I think it would be better coming form you," Tavy answered him, but his eyes slid uneasily sidewise.

Joe followed his gaze, expecting to see a curio cabinet or some other breakable kind of thing Lili shouldn't have been left alone with. All he saw was a closed door, though. When he turned his attention back, Tavy was looking as though he wasn't sure -Joe- should be left alone, so Joe grinned disarmingly and said, "Okay,"

"Come into the kitchen when you're done," Tavy said, now deeply suspicious. "I'll leave the door open so you don't get lost."

"Don't worry, I'll come right in," he drawled, shooting reproachful how-could-you-think-it-of-me eyes at his host, who wasn't buying. So he looked him right in the eyes (no hardship there), curled his lips up, and said, "You can show me later."

"Show him what?" Lili asked Tavy as he lifted an eyebrow at Joe and turned with dignity to steer her into the kitchen.

Joe could still see them from the living room, and he forgot to stop watching until Tavy called politely over his shoulder, "The phone is still on the table, Joe."

"Oh, right," he said, shaking himself, and picked it up to dial. "Jean?"

"No," Guy answered shortly,

"Oh, Guy. It's Joe."

"Yes."

Guy, Joe noted for the thousandth time, could give Sourpuss Dorado a run for his money when he got in a snit. "Well, jeez, sorry if I interrupted something. But if you look out the window--"

"I fully expect this to be an emergency," Guy said flatly.

"Well, yeah, actually. We're kinda stranded. 'Cause of the rain."

There was moment of silence, and then a tone of dull, rising fury. "Joseph."

"Yeah, so--"

"Your brother," Guy said in his infamous clipped monotone, somewhat muffled because he was talking off the receiver, -"Wants to be picked up.- Speak with him."

"Joe?" Jean asked in a voice fraying with patience. "You need a ride?"

"Hey, keep your shorts on. ...If possible."

"I will reach -right across this phone line- to smack you."

Joe grinned. Guy was probably steaming out the ears by now, not having heard the no, and Jean, instead of relieving his mind, was letting him stew. "Kinky. Listen, I just called to let you know we were at Lili's teacher's place when the storm hit. He's gonna put us up."

"Lili's teacher," Jean repeated dryly. "Lili's teacher you were mooning across the table at for two solid hours with your tongue hanging out? Good timing, little bro."

"I didn't -moon- him," Joe protested, wounded, and Jean laughed outright. "And hey, I would've lived if the storm had held off. I was gonna take Lili home and drag him off to Luanne's party." Suddenly enthused, he grinned, "Jean, you're not gonna believe this guy. He--nah, I'll tell you later. You're gonna love this. I'll see you tomorrow."

He hung up and sauntered into the kitchen, where Tavy was staring in blank, bewildered horror as Lili tore his kitchen apart to make sandwiches. It had probably been a tidy kitchen once.

Joe was well versed in the arcane sport of Getting Lili Into Bed Before She Finishes Digesting,, so he whisked her up to Tavy's bathroom while their host was putting blankets on the couch, and dumped her into his tub. Tavy had taken fabric paint and turned his rubber duck a terrifyingly scaly silver-white with scarlet and yellow eyes, and it kept Lili entertained long enough to get her cleaned.

He wasn't going to ask. He didn't want to know. -Really.-

"That was quick," Tavy said when they came down, raising an impressed eyebrow. He'd given Joe a shirt of his sister's to put Lili in, blue and yellow tie-dye with a big black peace sign on the front. It looked ridiculous on carrot-top, but hey, it came down to her knees.

"Loooooong practice," he said, propelling his yawning niece onto the couch with an easy shove between the shoulderblades. Hot baths always made her sleepy.

"I want a story," she said stubbornly. Typical. No one had even said no to her yet.

Joe was opening his mouth to demand a please out of her when the doorbell rang.

Tavy shot a finger up with a sudden maniacal look and said, "Both of you please be very quiet."

He darted to the record player and then swarmed up the stairs, on quiet knees and one supple hand like a white tiger, taking the bowl of white taffy with him.

Joe ducked back behind the wall when the door opened--Lili was pressed into the couch, hiding her bright hair with blankets, her eyes wide with sadistic fascination--so he couldn't see what Tavy did up there. But he heard the distraught moan from upstairs, soft with astonished realization, and had just enough time to decide that tight leather wasn't the best option for an evening in when the three little kids at the door screamed piercingly and ran away.

Tavy came downstairs again, and said sadly, "They didn't take any candy!"

Lili snickered, "Timmy and Sarah are in third grade, Mr. August."

Tavy smiled seraphically. "Ah, good. Then they'll have some idea what to expect next year."

Lili laughed so hard she had to hide under the blankets.

"Okay, that's enough," Joe said, smiling but kind of exasperated. "Lili's not going to get any sleep if you keep that up. Come on, Casper, let's autopsy. I am -not- spoiling all your fun; leash those puppy-eyes."

"Poodle-head," Lili muttered as Tavy looked down and sighed in sad resignation.

"Aw, come on, Tavy," he coaxed, pulling his friend back into the hall by the elbow. "Don't make me be the grownup. You can show me how you did it, how's that?"

"Oh--all right," Tavy sighed, letting himself be dragged. He was staring at Joe's arm on his elbow with a dazed, swimmy look that made Joe want to run hands up his sides and fall in again. "Um--you'd better turn off the record. Lillian shouldn't sleep with it playing. We wouldn't want anyone to get nightmares."

"I'm hoping for pretty good dreams myself," Joe said, keeping the leer off his face with great effort, and went to turn it off.

(tbc)

Regarding October:

POINTS to Silvermuse (although it's Octavian, not Octavius) Sora-kun (yes, yes I did. n.n), Autore (eight limitations; it's Japanese), and permetaform. Serious points to solaas (that's exactly it!), history points to honmyo SeaGull, and KaKa gets so many points she falls over trying to carry them home.

But so as to not be so egotistical as to make people read my reviews, I'll recap:

Octavian, adopted by Julius and the Caesar following him, was known as Augustus during his reign. He added two months to the calander: July after his father and August for himself. October, previously the eight month, was pushed back and became the tenth. That's 10 as in Tenpou (I'll get that guy in the number system if I have to borrow a bullhorn and billboard to write 10K on).

Gojyo's character in Journey West was usually referred to as the Sand monk.

Since I took French instead of Spanish in high school I'm not sure whether Santos means saint or sacred, but Dorado is definitely golden. So Sanzo is the Golden Saint. Twitch, bouzo, twitch!

As for Guy Madder, Kougaiji is another carryover from Journey West, and his name is Red Child. Madder, as a couple of people knew, is a plant from which red dye is made.

The rest are all fairly straightforward. Smile if Nightfall is overexsposed to crosswords.

By the way, I'm told Zeppelin isn't quite right, so if anyone knows what kind of scene the big bad wolf look really would have been right for in this period, please, let me know!

APPRECIATION to

Silvermuse: Nope, not our world. We don't have youkai and they do, so I thought I should fit 'em in. As for the clothing stores, I thought Gojyo might like a crack at the fitting rooms. (winks) Sanzo can always stick Goku at the register and do the paperwork.

Sora-kun: Hey, if you want to squee, I'll join right in (still unable to get over Naoki). Grinning a lot over here. Actually, I tried to put it earlier, but Gojyo started mocking the heck out of all the songs I like. I had no choice; I wake up the the Oldies station! Now I'm curious about why earlier would have been better, though.

Fruitbat and Jamaica: thanks! There may be more era-appropriate stuff later; we'll see.

KaKa: (waves. Evilly) I can't wait to see what you've got!

Sf: I know, misguided, right? The thing is, I'm no good at other peoples' grammer. I pick up Japanese in fandom ways, but... (shrugs). If Hazel is as polite as all that, I want someone who knows them both to write a head-to-head between him and Hakkai. Someone who can handle subtle, who won't shortchange either of them. It's enough to make you want to role-play, isn't it? (Ahem.) Yes. Much fluff. No hidden daggers. I'm going to go work on the Qiballs DJ, I think. That one has daggers... (wanders off, grinning maniacally)

Honmyo SeaGull: (eyes widen in glee) Another Romans groupie! Have -you- read 'I, Clavdivs'? Or seen it? It's pretty much straight out of Suetonius, and it has Derek Jacobi!

Sorchafyre: So basically what you're saying is, you doubted me again? (falls over laughing) Sorry, sorry. Actually, both this review and that one were really touching, and sent me creeling all around the room. And I will take pride in that. Thank you. And believe me, that 'intelligance of the readers' thing is a hard line to dance; my natural inclination is to respect everyone so much no one knows what I'm talking about! Thanks for letting me know I'm doing okay with it.

Solaas: Oh, lord, fluff? The Fluff Returns. Revenge of the Fluff. Day of the Dawn of the Night of the Son of the Mother of the Bride of the Living Fluff. (grins) I figure poor Hakkai deserves it, after all the abuse I put him through in Style. I never studied Latin either; I'm just a Caesars fan. (Waves Tiberius/Drusus flag)

Permetaform: SMOOSH. (snickers)