I found this challenge found on Bodice Ripper, where Elisabeth's story is posted.
Many thanks to Angelfirenze for betaing the first version of this story. This actually is a significant improvement.
Wacky Witch Willow Challenge
Write a Halloween fanfic
Pairing: Willow & ? (I picked Oz, obviously)
Include one of these: Alfred Hitchcock movie / an antique clock / a Pumpkin / a dark alley. (Pumpkin)
You should use two of these: remote control / hairbrush / too tight costume / a stolen or disappeared bowl of candy. (Too tight costume and remote control although a stolen bowl of candy also makes an appearance.)
In the series timeline this happens after Beauty and the Beasts, in which Scott's friends are killed. For the purpose of this story, the Jekyll-Hyde abuse happened to some other couple.
The song Oz sings is "Play Me" by Neil Diamond.
Halloween on the Hellmouth
Halloween afternoon. Kids poured out of Sunnydale Elementary until costumed children covered the playground. A very young boy, dressed up as Dracula, flew down a slide, his cape fluttering behind him. Two Anakin Skywalkers, one a girl and the other a boy, fought with plastic light sabers. The girl's saber hit the boy in the torso. After dying an overly dramatic death, he got up, ready to continue the duel. A giraffe and a fairy princess ran squealing by the fence.
Six-year-old Brooke raced to the playground's fort. Clambering in, she was surprised to see somebody there already. "Hi," she said. "I'm a ballerina. What are you?"
After a moment, she giggled and added, "No silly. I mean, what's your costume?"
After a pause she said, "It has to be a costume. Nobody has skulls painted all over their skin."
"Can I see?" She tried to scrape the skull pattern off the boy's skin; it didn't come off. "Well, it looks like a costume. Where's your head?"
After a short break, Brooke said, "Oooh. I wish I could take off my head." She tried, unsuccessfully, to pull off her own head. "But you can't go around like that. Grownups won't like it. Here, you can borrow this." She handed over her plastic jack o' lantern which the headless boy placed on top of his neck. The eyes began to glow.
"How'd you do that?" Brooke asked as she touched the glowing eyes. "No, I like it. It's pretty. Come on. We need to get some bags for candy." Grinning a plastic smile, the boy, no longer headless, followed Brooke out of the fort.
As Willow walked into the school lobby, her eyes lit on Giles who was dressed as a scarecrow and walking with a clipboard. Following Giles' path, she saw Buffy and "Xander," she cried out as she rushed over. "You look... wonderful."
Xander struck what he thought was a cool fighting pose and replied, "That's Bond, James Bond." Relaxing into a goofy smile, he added, "After the turn-into-your-costumes mojo, I thought I'd better go as someone who can handle himself in a dangerous situation. Besides, this way I'll get lucky with the ladies."
Rolling her eyes, Buffy said, "You'd better not let Cordelia hear you say that."
Looking around nervously, Xander stammered, "She's not here, is she? I thought Snyder actually let her off the hook because she had this big cheerleading event..."
"Relax," Buffy interrupted. "I'm just saying she wouldn't appreciate the comment."
Responding to Xander's get-me-out-of-this look, Willow asked, "So Buffy, Ripley from the Alien movies?"
"I had the same idea as Xander, well, not the part about getting lucky with the ladies," she said with a slight frown. With a shake of her head, to get the image out of her mind, she added, "Ripley kicks serious alien butt so I figured she could handle herself around demons. So, Willow your costume is ... Actually, I don't know what your costume is."
"I'm the moon," said Willow. "See, the yellow is the crescent moon and the black is the night sky. Oz is the sun, except we'd have had to draw the sun really small to make space for the rays so he's wearing a sun mask. We match, sun and moon ... because they go together."
"Cute. Where is Oz?" asked Buffy.
"He's loading the van for tonight's gig. He's going to pick me up later."
Giles interrupted, more to himself than to the group, "Oh, I don't believe this. They know they're supposed to check in with me." He stormed off towards some costumed teenagers who'd just entered the lobby.
"So, Buffy, speaking of significant others, where is the Scottmeister?" Xander asked.
"He should be here soon. I'm sort of curious. He wouldn't tell me what his costume is, kept saying it's a surprise. Oh, and there he is, at least I think there he is," Buffy replied, looking over towards a dark figure, hidden behind Debbie and Pete, dressed as Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, who were approaching them. As they arrived, Debbie and Pete stepped to the side to reveal Scott, dressed as Buster Keaton, carrying a rose. Buffy's jaw dropped as Scott handed her the rose and then she grabbed him into a hug.
"Hey, what's with the great-grandpa outfit?" Xander asked jokingly.
"Xander," said Willow. "It was their first date. Buster Keaton film festival?" Looking over at Debbie, she added, "It's so romantic."
"I know," she smiled in response.
"Hey, don't get too excited or I might get jealous," Pete finished just before Giles rushed over, interrupting the conversation.
"And you are?" Giles asked the young man being hugged by Buffy.
"Scott Hope, sir."
As Giles checked the name off his list, he absentmindedly said, "Oh yes, Buffy's new beau." With cheeks aflame, Buffy gave a fake cough and Giles looked up. "Yes? Oh," he replied as he realized what he'd just said. "Sorry, I didn't mean to..."
"No problem," Scott replied as he took Buffy's hand. "I am her boyfriend." Buffy ducked her head, still blushing but for a different reason now, and hid behind her rose.
It's good to see Buffy in a normal relationship, Giles thought. Especially since... No. Don't think like that. Plenty of Slayer's survive their eighteenth birthday.
"And you two are?"
"Debbie Connors and Pete Underhill," Pete replied.
"Excellent. Only a few more students and we can head out to the elementary school," Giles said as he stepped off to the side and started scanning the crowd.
As they started talking again, Debbie and Pete stepped in closer, blocking Jonathan, who was walking towards them, his face sticking out of the chest of a red eyed robot, from joining the group.
"Jonathan," Xander shouted as he gestured with a come-and-join-us wave.
"Sorry," said Debbie. "I didn't notice you back there."
"So," Xander addressed Jonathan in the awkward silence, "Tin Man? We've already got a scarecrow," he gestured towards Giles. "If a Cowardly Lion and a little girl with a dog show up, I'm so watching out for tornadoes."
"Actually I'm Clango," Jonathan replied, at their blank stares, he added, "The robot from Diesel Sweeties? Web comics? I've even got a remote control to give to my girlfriend."
"I didn't know Clango came with a remote control," Xander said.
"He doesn't," Jonathan said, looking somewhat embarrassed. "I added it as a prop."
"You have a girlfiend?" Pete didn't quite sneer.
"He's talking about the robot's girlfriend, Maura, and man, is she a hot..." Xander stopped and frowned a bit. "Hey! Even a robot gets more action than... So, Jonathan, were you volunteered by Snyder like the rest of us?"
"No, I do this every year," Jonathan replied. Into the astonished silence, he added, "My niece and nephew go to Sunnydale Elementary and my Mom thought it would be nice if I were a part of the Carnival for them."
"Well I think it's sweet," Buffy said.
Giles shouted from the doorway. "We're all here so everyone on the bus."
"Ugh. Taking the bus makes me feel so much like I'm back in second grade or something," complained Buffy.
"Well you can ride with me and Oz on the way home. He's picking me up and we're driving back in his truck," Willow said.
"I think it'll be fun," replied Scott. "We can sit up front and sing 'Let's hear it for'..."
"Scott," Pete interrupted, "that song is so losing the points you scored by dressing as Keaton and brining Buffy a rose."
Jonathan walked down the bus aisle, looking for a seat. Buffy and Scott were sitting together and she was telling him she didn't think the bus driver song was immature. Xander, smiling with his arm resting on the back of the seat, faced towards Willow who was talking a mile a minute about Oz's band. Debbie and Pete faced away from him. The next few rows of seats were full so Jonathan sat, by himself, about five rows behind the group, and stared out the window.
Sitting on a rock at the edge of a stream, Oz strummed his guitar and sang, "You are the sun. I am the moon. You are the words. I am the tune. Play me." A woman, apparently in costume since her skin was covered in skulls, rushed along a nearby path, carefully scanning the area. From behind his solar mask, Oz didn't notice her. As her gaze hit Oz, she stopped, stood for a moment, and then approached him.
"Hey Scott," as she stopped the spinning paint machine, Buffy looked up to see a dark haired girl, a classmate, Abby something-or-other, walking over to her boyfriend. "I need a balloon," the girl added. Scott blew up a balloon that looked like a normal balloon in shape compared to most of his animal balloons, tied it off, and, smiling, handed it to her. The kids must have known her because the line of kids at Scott's booth trailed after her. As Buffy watched, Abby got them to sit down, with remarkable ease, took out a pin, and slowly stuck it into the balloon, which didn't pop. She continued pushing the pin in. The balloon still didn't pop. Slowly, slowly, slowly she pulled it out and then, with a flourish, stuck it into the side of the balloon. Pop! The kids started squealing and cheering the young magician.
"Hey," a voice commanded Buffy. "My picture is done." Buffy looked down to see the mermaid she'd been helping, waiting impatiently for her picture.
"Sorry." Buffy pulled the picture, of spiraling blues and greens, out of the machine, and said, "You have to leave it here until the paint dries. So, give me your name, I'll write it on the back, and you can pick it up later. OK?"
"OK," the girl responded. "My name is Emma. E. M. M. A."
"E. M. M. A.," replied a smiling Buffy. "Got it."
As Emma dashed away, Scott walked over, one hand behind his back. "Hey, unexpected break?" asked Buffy.
Scott turned slightly to the right and gestured towards the magician. "A group of the kids just noticed Abby Connolly."
Buffy looked over to see that Abby was now pulling disks, with pictures of cartoon characters, out of kids ears and handing them back to the entranced children. "Wow. That's so... magical. How does she do that?"
"She's been practicing since she was eight," Scott replied.
Buffy stared, in awe of the magic until Scott cleared his throat, causing Buffy to look back to him, saying, "I'm sorry. She's just... so good! I can't figure out how she's doing any of that, especially that bit where she pushed the disk through her hand."
"I made you something," Scott said shyly as he pulled his hand out from behind his back and handed it over to Buffy.
"A balloon man?" Buffy asked.
"Turn it around," Scott smiled.
Buffy turned it to see that a face had been drawn on it with a marker, a face with fangs. Vampire. Angel. The balloon slipped out of Buffy's hand and she watched it drift away in slow motion before Slayer reflexes kicked in. She grabbed at the balloon and... Pop! It exploded in her hand. "Scott, I'm sorry. I..." she started off.
"No big," Scott replied. "I can make you another."
Buffy smiled. "Thanks. I'd like that but maybe something a little less vampirey this time?"
"Up late watching horror movies?" Scott asked.
"Something like that."
"I'll be right back," Scott replied.
Scott's so nice, Buffy thought. He's thoughtful and gentle. He came as Buster Keaton, just for me. Looking at her own costume, Buffy wished she'd thought of something a little more coupley. As she turned to toss out the remnants of the balloon, her thoughts turned to Angel. I can't even picture Angel in a costume but he is considerate. He took me ice-skating that one time, where we were attacked. All my dates with Angel turn into Slayer-get-down-to-business time. And my sending him to a hell dimension, that can't be good for our relationship. If we still have a relationship. Which might not be a good idea since we can never be... intimate again if we want him to keep his soul.
Buffy's thoughts were interrupted as three kids, near Scott, broke out into song. "Buffy and Scott, sitting in a tree..."
Scott walked over, looking embarrassed, handed Buffy a balloon animal, and said, "Sorry. I asked them to wait a moment while I brought my girlfriend a balloon. They asked me a dozen questions and then, suddenly..." he gestured back to the singing children.
"... doing the hula hula dance. Buffy and Scott..."
Buffy kissed him on the cheek and then looked at the balloon. "A frog?"
"One of the kids here is dressed as a frog, so you can pretend it's a costume, if you like and I hope it's not too scary," he replied.
"Fine for me but never ever give a frog to Willow."
"OK. Um, I think I should get back to the kids," he said as they had started bouncing up and down, still singing, but louder now.
"Good idea," Buffy replied over "... baby carriage..." Scott looked around shyly, gave Buffy a quick kiss on the cheek and then raced back and started making balloons for a little girl in an army fatigues.
"Cake and ice cream. Who wants cake and ice cream?" asked one of the elementary school teachers, walking through the room.
Suddenly shrieking voices surrounded Buffy. "Meeeeeeeeee."
"Hey, come back. You haven't finished your painting," Buffy shouted to a giraffe who was thundering across the gym floor with the rest of the children towards the promised desserts. By the time Buffy had finished taking the painting out of the machine, writing 'Giraffe' on it, and putting it on the drying rack, Willow and Scott were waiting for her.
"Hey," said Scott.
"Hey," Buffy replied.
"I thought we could join Pete and Debbie?" he said.
"Sure," Buffy replied and they all started walking across the gym.
"Break time," said Willow, bouncing up and down. "I'm not sure I really want one, a break that is. This is so much fun! I've been reading ghost stories to the kids. They have this really cute one called A Halloween Story, written by a five-year old boy. English isn't even his native tongue and the illustrations were done by..."
"Whoa, Willow," Buffy interrupted. "What's gotten into you?"
"The kids have been thanking me with candy," Willow replied.
"I think you've had enough sugar for the day, possibly for the year."
"Good Lord, look at all these children running amok," Giles exclaimed, joining them.
"I think they're cute. Look at that one with the pumpkin head. It's a really clever mask," replied Buffy.
"Actually, that's a jack o' lantern. Pumpkins don't have the eyes and mouth," Willow informed her.
"I didn't realize they'd be... milling around quite so much. Have any of you noticed one of them carrying a bowl of candy, about so big around?" Giles described the size of the bowl with his arms.
Buffy gave him an amused look. "If I saw a kid carrying a bowl of candy that big, I don't think I'd be able to see the kid and he definitely wouldn't be going anywhere."
"One of the candy bowls has gone missing and Mrs. Wilson has asked all the teachers to keep an eye out for it. So if you do see it..." he trailed off.
"We'll let you know," said Buffy.
As Giles left, Willow said, "Mrs. Wilson, the principal? She taught fifth grade when I went here. We did a history report..."
"So," Pete said as the group joined him and Debbie. "Can you believe they're giving these kids more sugar? They were deliberately splashing me instead of dunking for apples."
"I think it was more that they were having a water fight and got caught in the crossfire," Scott replied.
Willow's eyes lit on Xander, who had been outside giving the kids hayrides, as he entered the room. He scanned the room but didn't make it as far as their group before he started moving. Curious, Willow looked where Xander was heading to see Jonathan about halfway across the gym, looking towards them uncertainly, as if he wanted to join but wasn't sure of his welcome.
One of the kids, a little girl in a ballerina costume, grabbed Jonathan's remote. She must have been his niece because he immediately started playing, pretending to be a robot, moving and stopping when she aimed the remote at him and yelled "start" or "stop." As Xander walked up, she aimed the remote at him and shouted, "Stop."
"But I'm not a robot," Xander replied. "I'm Bond, James Bond, which you probably don't get, do you?"
"You are a robot," she commanded.
"Really?" Xander asked. "What am I? Some type of an android?"
"No. You're a Bond-bot," She said.
"Bond-bot. Bond-bot. Bond-bot..." the other kids started yelling.
"Start." Jonathan and Xander started making jerky robot movements. "Stop." They stopped moving. The kids giggled.
As Jonathan and Xander continued to be controlled by the kids, Willow thought, Look at Xander. He noticed Jonathan was upset and stepped in to make it right. This is why I love him. No. Not love 'cause I have Oz now and all my love is for him. Well, except for friendship kind of love, which must be the kind of love I meant when by 'I love Xander.' But Xander is so... No. No thinking about Xander.
As Willow turned her attention back to the group, Pete was expounding on a haunted house, created by the local fire department every year. "Since my dad's a fireman, I get to be one of the monsters each year. Debbie and I are zombies. You should come check it out."
"Umm," Buffy started apprehensively.
"Hey, guys, what's up?" Xander asked as he and Jonathan joined the group.
"Xander," Willow exclaimed. Seeing him so unexpectedly close and in the tux made her heart flutter. "I... I thought you and Jonathan were playing with the kids."
"One of the teachers reminded them about cake and ice cream," Xander explained.
"Pete's been telling us about a haunted house he's working. The fire department's? He and Debbie are going to be zombies." Willow babbled.
"Hey, I remember that. Haven't been in years, we should go," Xander replied. Buffy gave him a look. "What?" Xander asked.
"Buffy's seen to many scary movies to appreciate it this year," Scott explained.
"Buffy? Afraid of a movie? That's so..." he trailed off as Willow surreptitiously nudged him with an elbow. After a pause, he added, "Oh. That's so totally and completely in character for Buffy. Cause she's a girl and girls are easily scared. By movies. Holy Mother of..." Xander missed Buffy's glare as his jaw hit the floor. Their heads turned to follow his gaze to a costumed woman, decorated with pictures of skulls scattered all over her body. A few pieces of... something, definitely not cloth, continued the skull theme, covering strategic areas of her body.
"That's got to be a body stocking, right?" asked Debbie.
"That's no body stocking. I'm thinking... paint." Xander's eyes glazed over. "They just don't stop."
"She looks worried," Willow added.
"I'll just go see if she needs any help," said Xander before he followed her out of the gym.
Willow's eyes followed Xander as he followed the scantily clad woman. Why did I say that? Xander wouldn't have followed her if, no, who am I trying to kid. Somebody who looks like that? He would have followed her anyway.
"Hi guys," Oz said as he joined the group. Turning towards Jonathan, he added, "Clango, right?"
"Uh, yeah," replied Jonathan.
"Hey, Oz. You're here early 'cause you weren't going to be here for a few hours yet and there's no reason you shouldn't get here early. Nope, none at all," Willow babbled.
"Met a woman who was looking for her kid. Gave her a lift here," Oz replied.
"I love your mask. Is that the sun?" Debbie asked.
"Yes!" Willow exclaimed. "Oz is the sun and I'm the moon because we're a couple and we go together..."
"Guys. Guys." Xander interrupted as he screeched to a halt at the table. "That woman? Not a woman. Well, obviously, a woman. I'm babbling. OK. Start over. She took off her head."
"You mean she took off a mask?" asked Willow. "Oh, wait. She wasn't wearing a mask."
"No mask. Her head totally detached from her body," Xander replied.
"What did she do with it?"
"She held it over some boxes. Willow," Xander exclaimed. "What does it matter what she did with it. She's walking around ... headless."
"Where did she go?" Buffy asked.
"I don't know. I panicked and rushed back here."
"OK. Split up and look for her. If you see Giles, let him know what's up," said Buffy.
"I'm thinking we don't have to look very far." Xander pointed towards the woman who is chasing a shrieking boy.
"Hey, that's the woman I gave a lift to," Oz said.
"She's dressed like that and you gave her a lift?" Willow asked uncertainly.
"Hey, focus! Demon attack. You three get pumpkin head to safety. I'll deal with her," said Buffy.
As the boy ran past them, Xander grabbed him. Buffy, Xander, carrying the boy, Willow, and Oz headed for the door.
"What's going on?" Debbie asked.
"I don't know. Some sort of Halloween skit?" Pete replied.
Buffy stayed towards the back of the group, to give them a chance to get the boy out of danger. Seeing that she wasn't going to get past Buffy, the woman threw a ball of light into the air. It split into a dozen balls. With a flash each ball became a winged bat-like creature, which started dive-bombing the crowd. Panicked children started shrieking and running every which way.
Oz yelled to Willow, "You two go on. I'll help back here." As they headed out the door, Xander scanned the area and ran for the tractor. Scrambling into the back, over the hay, Willow accepted the boy from Xander and asked, "Shouldn't we take something faster?"
"Got the keys for this!" Xander explained as they moseyed out of the parking lot.
"Oh, Good Lord!" exclaimed Giles, looking up from his conversation with Mrs. Wilson. He grabbed a light saber from the floor and started swiping at the fliers. "Buffy. They're phantasms."
"What?" she shouted.
"They are not real. Hit them and they'll disperse."
"I'm on it," yelled Oz. He lobbed a caramel apple at one of the bats. It vanished in a burst of light.
"How are they doing that?" Debbie asked.
"Smoke and mirrors," Pete replied. "Nice effects but not nearly as good as the effects old man Peterson has set up for our haunted house."
A low-flying bat caught Buffy's hair with its claws, and, as she was batting it away, Jonathan ran by shouting, "Brooke. Michael." The demon woman grabbed Jonathan to her and held a knife to his throat. A hard swipe at the bat caused it to dissipate in a burst of light and Buffy looked up to see the woman holding Jonathan.
"Check it out," Pete said. "That geeky kid is doing the whole victim routine pretty well. I should see if he wants to volunteer for the haunted house."
"Let him go," Buffy shouted as Giles rushed up.
As he walked towards the woman, she held Jonathan tighter to her. Light glinted off her knife. Giles started talking to the demon. "Madam. Explain to me what's going on. ... Jaktha o'iende. Listen to me! Jaktha o'iende. We can't help you if we don't know what's happening." The woman stopped and looked at Giles.
"Of course we'll help," Giles said to the demon. She let Jonathan go and he rushed over to his niece and nephew to see if they were all right.
As Buffy stepped in to strike at the demon woman, Giles shouted, "Buffy. No!" Taking the woman by the arm, Giles said, "Let's move outside."
"Giles?!" Buffy exclaimed.
"The Jaktha demons are benign. She's not here to harm anyone." He said as they head out the doors.
"She was chasing a little boy and Xander saw her take of her head! She sent demonic flying thingies to terrorize the party. She almost killed... that geeky guy over there, the one Xander knows."
"That boy is her son," Giles replied.
"The geeky guy?"
Giles rolled his eyes. "No. The one she was chasing."
"How do you know?" Buffy asked.
"She just told me. Come on. We need to catch them," he said, racing for the door.
As they got outside, Buffy spotted the slowly moving tractor and said, "That shouldn't be a problem."
"Xander. Giles' car is pulling out of the parking lot but there's also a headless horseman chasing us," Willow said over the shrieks of the boy she was protecting. Looking back Xander saw a headless rider, in a dark cape, gaining on them.
"What should we do?" asked Willow.
"I don't know. Could you shut that kid up?"
"I've been trying to. He won't listen," replied Willow.
"Well, put your hand over his mouth," said Xander.
"Xander, He's just a little boy. He has every reason to be scared," she added.
"Willow!" Willow slapped her hand over the grinning mouth. A plastic jack o' lantern head flew out behind the tractor. Willow screamed.
Jonathan sat on the floor, with his nephew on his lap and his niece by his side, surrounded by a sea of enraptured kids listening to Oz sing, "The eency weency spider goes up the water... Hey, rooster kid, the hands go more like this."
"I knocked off his head. I killed him," Willow shouted.
"He's wriggling around pretty good for a dead kid. And how is he still screaming?" asked Xander.
Willow looked at the headless boy. She looked at the headless horseman. She looked at the boy's cloak and at the rider's cloak. For the first time, Willow noticed the skull pattern on the boy's skin, just like that of the woman at the party. "Stop!"
"Just stop the tractor." Looking at Willow like she was crazy, Xander did as she asked. The rider pulled up beside them. The horse reared. The boy stopped screaming and held out his arms to the rider. Willow passed him over to the rider. "Sorry. We thought he was in danger."
Leaping out of Giles' car, the woman raced over and took the boy. She hugged him close and then held him away, glaring at him with a scolding expression.
"Giles, what's going on?" Buffy asked.
"I suspect that boy's mother is explaining to him, in rather severe terms, why he shouldn't run away," Giles replied.
"Huh?" said Buffy.
"Jaktha demons don't have vocal cords. They broadcast their words telepathically."
"And they scream," added Xander. "Piercing, shrill screams that will never leave my head."
"Yes," Giles said. "Usually their communications are limited in range and are directed to a specific set of people but children, especially in an emergency, can be heard for quite some distance. I imagine that's what drew the father here."
"He ran away. Does that mean they're local?" asked Willow.
"No. You know that the veil between the worlds, between dimensions, is thinnest near Samhain, correct?" Buffy and Xander looked confused. Willow nodded. "The veil has to thin at both ends to allow traffic between different dimensions."
"So we won't be seeing them next Halloween?" asked Buffy.
"No. This type of conjunction is quite rare. It should be over a thousand years before our dimensions are linked in this manner again. Of course, there are other forms of traffic but they're regulated."
The conversation died down as the family approached. The father and mother, holding each other's hand, led the horse. Their son bounced so excitedly on top of the horse that he looked like he was about to fall off. The parents bowed, formally to Giles, and the mother gazed at him.
"Oh. Yes. Glad to help," he replied. The father gestured to the ground and a bowl of candy appeared. "Is that where it had gotten to?" After a pause, Giles continued, "No, no apologizes necessary. I know what children can be like." Giles glanced at Xander who replied, "Hey!"
The woman tossed a small, glowing object towards Giles. He caught it and it solidified into a round, metal object, about the size of his palm. "Of course. Jaktha o'iende." Giles bowed towards the family. They stepped forward and vanished.
"Where'd they go?" asked Buffy.
"Home," Giles replied. "Jaktha demons have an innate ability to travel between dimensions when the veils have thinned. That's probably how the boy got here in the first place."
"How come only the mother had a head?" asked Willow.
"The other two probably didn't think about putting them on. Jaktha demons don't need their heads all the time and forget how disconcerting it is for us to see them headless."
"Forget the heads. I want to know why she was dressed like that and why more women aren't. Well, not Mrs. Miller in the cafeteria because that would just be scary," said Xander.
"It's normal attire for their culture." Giles smiled nostalgically. "I spent some time there as a young man, it was quite..." Giles removed and started cleaning his glasses.
"You lived... You dressed... Please tell me you didn't dress like... You didn't... Wait. I really don't want to know," said Buffy.
"Really? And they went right through here?" Xander said, trying to shift into the Jaktha dimension.
Kicking a rock, Willow said, "Oz gave her a lift."
"What?" asked Giles.
Understanding Willow's distress, Buffy explained, "Oz gave that demon woman ... the mother a lift to the elementary school so she could find her son."
"How extraordinary. A Jaktha would only accept the assistance of a stranger in the direst of circumstances. For her to have accepted Oz's help... Of course! His mask. Do you know if Oz was wearing the mask when they met?"
"Since mine is painted on, he said he'd wear his mask all day."
"That explains it," Giles exclaimed. "In the Jaktha culture, the sun is the symbol of the aga... well, no need to go into a technical explanation. The sun is a symbol of a group that stands outside of clan boundaries."
"Huh?" Buffy asked.
"Because Oz was wearing the sun mask, the mother would expect him to help her. In addition, she does not owe him anything in return," Giles explained.
"So, what does she owe you?" asked Willow.
"We really should be getting back to the elementary school," Giles added. "Buffy, bring the bowl."
"Why me?" she complained.
"Because it's heavy and you're the only one here with Slayer strength," Giles replied.
"Slayer strength," Buffy grumbled. "I'll show you Slayer strength the next time we spar."
As Giles, Buffy, and Willow started to head back to the school, Xander was still trying to cross dimensions. "Xander. It doesn't work for humans. Please bring the tractor back to the school."
"Oh, hay ride," said Buffy, changing direction and heading for the tractor. As Giles drove off in his car, she put the bowl in the front seat and then she and Willow climbed into the back. Looking over to Xander, who was still trying to jump dimensions, Buffy added, "Xander, again, something you don't want Cordy to know about."
"Huh?" Xander asked. As he moved back towards the tractor, he added, "You guys are my friends. You wouldn't rat me out. Right? Right?"
As Willow unwrapped a piece of candy, she noticed Buffy frowning. Over the noise of the tractor, she asked, "Buffy? What's wrong?"
"Do you think Scott will make me another balloon animal?" Buffy asked. "I think my second one popped in all the chaos."