A Night at the Museum
Author – D. M. Evans
Disclaimer – nothing's changed over the years, still not mine. All rights belong to Mr. Whedon et al.
Pairing – None, gen fic (with implied Buffy/Angel)
Time line – post series
Rating – FRT
Summary – The Scoobies and Fang Gang have taken to working together when Giles learns of a disturbance at a very unique museum.
Authors Note – This was written for the summerofgiles. Thanks to SJ Smith for the beta and being very excited about the setting. I have literally been wanting to use this setting for years. I had no idea Neil Gaiman had used it until I started doing the research – This is set inside a series of mine. There's no need to read those to enjoy this since that wouldn't be fair. You can get all the background from the first page of this story. But if you want to read the first story Tearing Away the Veil
Giles wondered how he had become the appointed babysitter. So many times in Sunnydale, he had felt like a glorified nanny instead of a Watcher but now here in Madison, he was watching a seven month old stack soft multicolored pillowy rings on a padded spike with obvious glee. Giles had never really thought about having children. He hadn't wanted to do the whole 'duty to his lineage and the Watchers' thing when he was younger then he blinked and suddenly he was in his fifties. In spite of diapers scarier than any demon, Giles actually liked his added duty. Stephan gazed up at him with dark, Greek eyes as if to say, 'did I do good?' Giles pointed to the last ring. Stephan grabbed it with his chubby fingers and placed it on the top of the tower, giggling wildly as he clapped. "Very good." Giles grinned, wondering how a Watcher like himself ended up watching the grandson of two vampires.
Sometimes his place in Watcher history went to his head, just a little. He helped to rebuild the Watchers' Council, making it less hidebound not to mention being Watcher to one of the longest-lived and undoubtedly best Slayers even. He topped that off with Faith and the other Slayers, some powerful mages and a laundry list of other sundries. His father would have been proud. Their temporary duty assignment in Wisconsin had led to Giles getting to indulge his love of writing. What a story it was; Angel and Darla's very bizarre history, the birth of their son, Connor's own tragic history, culminating with Eve bringing Darla back from the dead again and killing Connor's wife, cutting little Stephan from her body. Once he started documenting everything that had happened since he came to the States, Giles realized just how exciting, terrifying and important their lives had been.
Of course, at the moment, life was a little less exciting and a lot calmer, not that Giles was complaining. Having made Madison their temporary home base because Angel wanted to be close to his new grandson, the whole team had settled in for a few months, maybe more. Faith, Spike and Illyria were in Milwaukee, supposedly after a demon. Giles figured they were actually at Summerfest, lucky plonkers. Willow and Xander were in Barcelona documenting a cache of freshly uncovered mystical items. Buffy and Angel were somewhere patrolling the town. Connor was at the fire house on duty leaving Giles alone with the baby and Giles wasn't exactly what Darla had planned but she wasn't around to baby-sit. He almost wanted something exciting to happen.
As if something had heard him, Dawn came home. Grinning, she scooped Stephan up. "Oh good, he's still awake."
"I was just about to go put him down for the night," Giles replied.
"I'll do it." Dawn headed for the stairs. "And then I'll tell you about a new job for us."
Giles smiled at that. He couldn't wait. He very much liked the idea of having something to do and wondered what that said about him. He poured himself a Scotch while he waited for Dawn to get Stephan to sleep.
Dawn came back and flopped on the couch. "Ever hear of the House on the Rock?"
Giles' brow furrowed. "Wasn't that in that Gaiman book Xander wouldn't stop going on about?"
"Yeah. It's not all that far from Madison," Dawn replied. "Apparently a house built by an eccentric that's now a very big museum." She paused for effect. "They've been having disturbances."
"What kind?" Giles' curiosity had been captured by the word 'museum.'
"Exhibits being rearranged, minor stuff with one major exception. There have been a lot of little animals left gutted outside on the grounds, squirrels birds, the sort of thing that a cat would do until today." Dawn shuddered. "When they found a dog."
"That would have be one big cat," Giles quipped. "So, they want us to come check it out. Are they sure it's not a coyote?"
"Wouldn't a coyote eat more than just the guts?" Dawn asked.
"I suppose so."
"And it's been happening most nights for weeks so that rules out Werewolves," Dawn added.
"Interesting," Giles said, not entirely sure that it was but it was a diversion at any rate. "When do they want us there?"
"Tomorrow at close. I'm not sure we need to get Buffy involved just yet," Dawn said.
Giles considered that for a moment. "Probably not. You and I can do the research end of it first, maybe get Darla involved."
"Sounds like a plan."
Yes, it did at that, Giles decided happily.
X X X
Giles wondered if Madison was too boring for Buffy since he and Dawn didn't escape to the House on the Rock alone. Being evening, Angel could come as well. Giles had a belated thought that perhaps they should have left Darla behind. While Buffy accepted that the woman was alive and well and that Angel had no interest in Darla, it was best the two petite blondes didn't mix much.
"This is just odd," Buffy said, looking around the grounds in front of the museum. Huge 'bronze' planters adorned a low wall, each covered with lizards, a few winged, and plants growing out of the shells protruding from the pots. The pots made Giles feel rather small and he had to wonder if a crane had been needed to place them. Merlin oversaw everything from his corner.
"From what I could gather on the net, which there wasn't all that much, this is something P.T. Barnum would have loved. A lot of the exhibits are real but others are a bit of humbug." Dawn grinned.
"Two miles of exhibits," Giles added excitedly. He was intrigued and more than a little excited about a museum that was not only that large but much of it tunneling into rock. At least with Angel and Dawn, he did have companions who might actually find a museum something other than dull.
"That leaves a lot of area to cover," Buffy remarked, visibly not thrilled with that possibility. "At least museums are pretty big and roomy. You can see the monster coming for you."
Ten minutes later they learned just how wrong Buffy was. Diane, one of the managers who met them grinned as she led them into the house portion of the museum. "Impressive, isn't it?"
"This is amazing," Giles said, looking around at the room. Beige stone bricks held together with thick sloppy gray mortar, every cranny crammed with something, much of it, Asian inspired along with Tiffanyesque glass and statues and stained glass better suited for churches.
"The ceiling is rather low in here." Angel eyed it uneasily. Giles had to agree.
" It's really dark," Darla muttered, glancing at the fireplace crammed with cauldrons.
Buffy stared at the saggy-pillowed bench-like couch. "Fred Flintstone lived here," she remarked and Diane's widely painted smile faltered a bit.
"Mr. Jordan was eccentric," Diane offered diplomatically beckoning them to follow. "Blair is waiting for us in the Infinity room." She led the way.
"Why do you think that there is supernatural involvement?" Giles asked.
Diane's look was more pitying than one of belief. "I don't. Blair does and since he's the boss…" She shrugged. "I think it's more likely a pack of wild dogs. People just abandoned their pets willy-nilly any more. This way." She picked up the pace. "Blair!"
An older man with a graying ponytail waved at them. "Sorry I couldn't meet you. I had something to tie up. I'm Blair Anders, pleased to meet you all." He shook hands with everyone enthusiastically to the point of fanaticism as Diane introduced them all. "I didn't expect quite so many of you but this is great."
"We all have different roles," Giles said. "I was just asking Ms. Fuchsteiner why you think there's something supernatural happening."
"If it were just the small animals…and now the large animal," Blair made a face. "I wouldn't but things keep happening inside the museum. Stuff gets moved around."
"How can you tell?" Buffy muttered.
Blair laughed. "It's not easy but some times it's pretty obvious, like when all the cars were in different places."
"Cars?" Angel perked up.
"They're in another part of the museum. We'll give it a walk through the whole complex." Blair pointed down a hallway. "Nothing has happened here but it's a full moon tonight so I thought you'd appreciate this."
Buffy led the way down the long hallway. Giles could feel the floor subtle shaking under their feet. The hallway was peculiar, narrow and getting more narrow as it went and with the exception of the floor it was all glass.
" This is the infinity room," Blair said proudly.
"Over 3000 windows and there is nothing below us," Diane added. "You can't really see that now but we're cantilevered 218 over the rock."
"It was designed to have an Asian feel," Blair picked up the tale, "But it's not part of the original house. It only dates back to 1985."
"What's happened out here?" Giles asked.
"Nothing. This is just one of the highlights. We like people to get a feel for the museum." Diane smiled that big smile again. "Follow us. We'll show you where some of the stuff has happened."
Giles could feel the tension in his companions, the annoyance. He felt only a little of it himself. They wanted to get to down to business, not play tourist. Still, he wished he could have seen the infinity room in the day light and noticed Darla lingering over a window even though she no longer had the vampiric senses to see well in the night.
"We would have liked a house like this," she murmured.
Angel looked back at her. "Nice and snug under ground and yet, there would have been the coveted view." If Angel saw Buffy's heated look, he ignored it expertly. Maybe they were making good – as best two jealous people could – their promise to be more flexible.
Their guides walked them a good way through exhibits too busy to even be comprehended. They went into the 'Heritage of the Sea.' A two hundred foot sea monster fought with an octopus while all around nautical themed exhibits reigned.
"The octopus wouldn't stop singing," Blair said, gesturing not to the painted sea battle but to a cartoony orange octopus surrounded by musical instruments. "At first we thought it was just a short in the system but then parts of the exhibits were found out of their cases after hours and stacked up."
"Sing?" Dawn asked for everyone.
Diane dropped tokens into the set up and the octopus started to make music. Giles' brow beetled. "Octopus Garden?"
"Huh?" Buffy shot him a quizzical look.
"The Beatles." Giles nodded to the singing octopus. "Where else have you had incidents?"
The curators beckoned them on and lead them deeper in, stopping in one room to point out the cars that had moved and in another crammed with memorabilia, including a glass-sided horse drawn hearse.
Angel leaned over to Darla and whispered, "Remember those?" She giggled in response. Giles suspected someone would be sleeping in the basement by himself before the night was over.
"There it is!" Dawn cried excitedly pushing ahead of her companions. "The carousel that was in American Gods."
Giles couldn't see her eyes in the dim light but he figured they were gleaming in delight. He couldn't blame her, the carousel was something to be seen especially once Blair hit a button and it became to whirl. Red and scarlet twirled, a myriad of lights dancing like little stars over a fantasy land of colorful animals.
"Two hundred and sixty-eight animals," he said. "And not one a horse. A lot of them were scavenged from European carousels that were defunct."
"Where are the horses?" Buffy asked.
Diane pointed up. Everyone looked. On the walls, row after row of wooden horses ran forever in line. Hanging from the ceiling, the four horsemen of the apocalypse rode on frozen in time, something none of them really wanted to be reminded of, and mannequins done up as angels flew in spirals like a fantasy version of a Calder mobile. Giles had never seen anything so surreal, not even back in his misspent youth dropping acid with Ethan.
"Three days ago we came in to find some of the angels molesting the horsemen and the rest were down on the carousel. That's when we decided we needed help," Blair said, his face taking on a serious demeanor in the gloom.
"Molesting?" Buffy's eyebrows reached for the ceiling. "No, I probably don't want to know."
"When did all this start?" Giles asked.
"Two weeks ago."
"Did anything unusual happen?" Giles thought over what could cause this sort of activity and the field needed to be narrowed.
"No," Diane said.
"Well, not weird," Blair corrected her. "But we did lose a piece of the exhibit, a Buddha from Thailand. It got broken. It was like an omen. Things went bad around then."
They talked some more about what needed to be done. Giles promised to come back tomorrow evening and arrangements were made for him and a team to spend the night. He couldn't wait.