Callie's First Vampire

The little girl nearly stomped her way down the sidewalk, her small face fixed into as dark a scowl as any child only eight years old could manage to conjure. The long, ruffled pink skirt of her old fashioned dress flounced with every heavy step, and this only seemed to further anger her. It was likely that she would have also crossed her arms for added effect if it weren't for the pumpkin-shaped candy bucket she held in one hand and the curved wooden shepherd's staff in the other getting in the way. As it was, she managed to convey her irritation fairly dramatically, as she walked a fair distance ahead of the two adults accompanying her. She had not spoken to them since they left nearly an hour ago, other than to announce at top volume that even if they were walking with her, she wasn't walking with them, and how mean they both were.

This, however, had not deterred either one of her parents from enjoying their evening. If anything, it was adding to at least one person's amusement.

"Man, I know how to get her goat the next time she starts smarting off anyway," Faith Lehane snickered as she walked a good 30 feet behind her daughter, her arm casually looped through that of the blonde beside her. "I think even 600 calories of sugar and chocolate isn't gonna make her jolt out of that much resentment. Callie definitely got that supernatural turbo long-lasting pout from you, B."

"That's no pout, that's a scowl, and that came straight from YOU, Miss Broody Britches," Buffy shot back, knocking her shoulder lightly against the other woman's in protest. "And I do NOT pout…often. I…ponder with intense feeling."

"Broody britches?! You've been spending WAY too much time with Willow, you dork," Faith chuckled, shaking her head, and the painted, creepy grin spreading across her cheeks grew more malevolent in effect when she did genuinely smile. "And yeah right on the no-pout protest, let me guess, you're gonna say you don't' whine at all either, right?"

"I don't!" Buffy exclaimed, and then blushed, realizing her voice had risen to a suspiciously high pitch as she attempted to validate herself more convincingly. "I…express my displeasure out loud…in a slightly higher pitch than usual, on occasion, if you pay attention to that sort of thing…but that is NOT whining."

"You've been spending too much time with Xander too, and one of them is making you read a thesaurus," Faith laughed as she playfully bumped her hip against Buffy's, keeping an eye on the little figure ahead of them even as she teased. "Can't say I blame the kid for being pissed though. It's bad enough you made her wear some re-worked version of your old Little Miss Muffet costume instead of a zombie like she wanted-"

"It's Little Bo PEEP, Faith, she has a STAFF, not a TUFFET," Buffy corrected, rolling her eyes, and Faith continued, unfazed by this.

"With those frilly skirts and weird hat thing-"

"It's called a BONNET, Faith-"

"All that is bad enough for a kid that just wants to splatter herself with blood and rough up her clothes, but then you had to curl her hair too? I'm sorry B, but you're torturing the kid," Faith concluded with another snicker, shaking her head. "Ain't another word for it."

"Callie doesn't need to go as something gory, between you letting her watch those awful movies when I'm not home and her SEEING gore every time she slips past babysitters and follows us on patrol, the last thing she needs is more blood and guts in her life," Buffy countered, rolling her eyes and exhaling. This was clearly a conversation that had been repeated several times before. "And anyway, the curls are adorable, you can't be Little Bo Peep without blond curls!"

"They are not!" Callie Summers-Lehane turned her head back at her mothers, just long enough to yell back at them, and Faith grinned.

"Hey, nice going, B, you got her to break her vow of silence."

"She did not!" Callie retorted before seeming to realize her mistake. Turning her head back to focus on front of her again, she ran up to the porch of the next house, almost tripping over her skirt, blond curls bouncing in her haste that her mothers suspected had as much to do with getting away from them as getting candy.

Both her mothers grinned as they stepped on the sidewalk to watch her go between the next several houses, continuing their playful banter.

"Just because YOU like to be a cutesy blonde in frilly clothes…"Faith pointed out, looking Buffy up and down meaningfully.

The other woman's hair was held back with a black headband with a bow on top, and she was in a blue dress with a pinafore, white tights, and Mary Janes. She was, of course, dressed as Alice in Wonderland. She had suggested as an alternative for Callie to dress as a white rabbit, but Callie had maintained if she had to wear a bunny suit where some of her friends might see, she wouldn't go at all.

"What are you gonna make her do next year, B, put on your old cheerleader outfit and wave a pair of pompoms?" Faith smirked, and she was not surprised when Buffy appeared to be taking the suggestion seriously.

"That WOULD be really cute, I could have it cut down to size like this one-"

"MOMMY!" Callie shrieked, aghast, and nearly deafened the poor elderly woman who had been offering her treats on the porch step. Faith's wicked painted grin stretched again as she laughed, watching Callie almost sprint back to argue with them as fast as her long skirt would allow. "Mommy, you will NOT make me wear a cheerleader costume!"

"Well, the economy's bad, so it's probably a good idea to recycle stuff," Buffy replied, only half kidding, and Callie put the hand clutching her pumpkin bucket on her hip, huffing and holding herself at a distinctly Faith-like posture.

"Well, how come we never recycle one of Mama's costumes for me?"

Buffy's eyes slid over to look Faith up and down in the same measuring manner that Faith had earlier, shaking her head. Faith, as the Cheshire cat, was wearing a skin tight lavender bodysuit she had painted with pink stripes, cat ears and a tail, and she had painted her face to resemble the creature's leering grin. It was a cool costume, matches her Alice clothes, and on Faith, was also rather sexy…but it was also NOT what Buffy would choose for Callie.

"Mama's costumes barely fit Mama, let alone you," Buffy said, but Callie wasn't satisfied.

"Well I'm smaller than Mama, so they'd fit!"

"No, no they won't…ever," Buffy said hastily, emphatically shaking her head, and then, in an attempt to distract, pointed at the house beside the one Callie had just left. "Uh, go get candy, Callie, that's why you're here…hurry, before they run out! Run!"

Callie rolled her eyes and sighed with the long-suffering exasperation of someone considerably older than her years, shaking her head.

"I'm not like, SIX," she informed her mother. "I know you're trying to get rid of me. I'm going because I WANT to!"

She marched away with her head held high, though her attempt at dignity was somewhat marred by her bouncing curls and frequent attempts not to trip over her skirt.

Buffy sighed as she watched her go from the sidewalk, shaking her head. "And THAT she gets from you," she informed Faith, who just shook her head, again slipping an arm around her as she leaned lightly against her.

"Day's gonna come soon where she's not gonna let us come with her, let alone submit to you forcing her into a costume," she observed. "Couple of years down the road she's gonna be strong as us both. THEN what are you gonna do?"

"Hijack someone else's child? Hope that someone else we know has a child I can bully?" Buffy suggested, then sighed, slumping a little more fully near Faith beneath her arm and wrapping an arm around her waist as well. "Or I'll just cry."

"BULLY, was that MY Buffy admitting it's BULLYING she's doing?" Faith snickered, but her tone was gentle as she gave her a slight squeeze. "Don't you mean "helpfully guide and suggest her to a better, Buffy-approved costume choice" or something like that?"

"Something like that, yeah," Buffy muttered, a smile playing on her lips, and Faith squeezed her again, leaning her head down to Buffy's as she continued to tease her out of the prematurely sentimental mood that she seemed to be teetering towards then.

"You're small enough to look like a kid yourself, you could just join them next year. Blend right in."

"I am TWO inches shorter than you," Buffy huffed, elbowing Faith lightly in the side, and Faith laughed, dimples flickering into view as she spoke with deliberate mischievousness.

"Yeah, two inches less of height, and at least two inches less of boob and cup size."

Buffy elbowed her again, and Faith dodged her, laughing. "Hey, I like your little boobs just fi- hey, what's Callie doing?"

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Yeah, like I'm gonna fall for that. The second I turn around you're gonna laugh and HONK me or something…and Faith, that's really not appropriate with little kids around, seeing Alice in Wonderland get HONKED by her smiley cat just might traumatize for-"

But Faith's face, despite the painted grin, was serious, and she took Buffy's chin and forcefully turned it to face the little girl, following her own gaze. And Buffy, seeing what she was talking about, immediately sobered too, her body tensing.

Callie was standing in the front yard of a house two buildings down, talking to a grown man, her face tilted up to regard him as he spoke with her in what appeared to be a hushed tone. The man was dressed as a vampire, with a long black cape, old fashioned shirt and collar, and painted blood dribbling down his face and chin. Very stereotypical, but it wasn't the costume, cheap and overly dramatic as it was, that alerted the Slayers.

There were no other children near Callie and the man, he did not appear to own or have come from one of the houses giving candy, and he had no other children with him, which ruled him out as a father taking his kids trick-or-treating. So why was he wandering the streets in costume, alone, stopping to talk to kids…to Callie?

Only one idea came to their minds, straight out of the headlines, and neither woman took their eyes off him as they immediately began to move forward.

"He touches her and I stake him," Faith stated, and Buffy didn't argue, her hand moving to check for the two stakes securely strapped to her legs, covered by her dress's full skirt.

They were still a house away when they heard Callie say loudly and clearly, "You got it all wrong, mister. Real vampires don't' dress like that. The way you're dressed is dumb, no one REALLY dresses like that. That's just what people think."

"Callie!" Buffy blurted, partly an admonition for her rudeness, partly to alert both child and adult to her approach and the fact that she was watching, that Callie belonged to someone, that someone knew her name.

"She's right thought," Faith muttered just to Buffy as they quickened their pace. "People always go for the old school movie vamp look, but if a real vamp looked like that, we'd laugh our ass off."

"Well he does, Mommy!" Callie called back to Buffy, half turning from the man to look at her. "He should get a leather jacket, a long black one like Uncle Spike-"

"So real vampires don't dress like this, huh…leather jacket?" Long black coat? Okay," they heard the man dressed as a vampire say thoughtfully, nodding. "Hm…you'll have to forgive me, little girl, I'm new at this, and I guess no one ever told me that I wasn't in style…the movies are misleading, aren't they? Thanks for the tip, I'll keep it in mind!"

Then he seized Callie by the shoulders, his face shifting into the sinister appearance of a true vampire that was so very different from the plastic fangs and red paint of the imposters. Faith and Buffy gasped, horror rising in their throats, and broke into full out sprints, desperate to reach their daughter, to remove her from harm's path.

But it appeared that Callie did not need their protection. Because when the vampire grabbed her, letting out a fierce snarl, Callie showed no shock, no fear…in fact, she leveled him with a fierce glare of her own.

"HEY!" she hollered, and sharply twisted herself out of his grasp. Faith and Buffy were behind her just as the vampire took a step forward, arm outstretched to snatch her back to him- an arm that Callie audible broke with one karate chop. As the vampire howled, pained as well as infuriated, Callie took the end of her staff and drove it into his chest, still shouting.

"Get away, ugly ratface!"

As the vampire exploded into dust around her, Callie's eyes widened, and she looked around herself as if half expecting him to return. Seeing only her own staff, lightly covered with ash, she broke out into a broad grin and gave a little hop of excitement.

"Whoooa I staked a vampire! Mommy, Mama, did you see?! I staked my first vampire ever, he's totally dust everywhere! That was so wicked, he just went poof!"

Her parents could do little more than stare, mouths open, as their daughter danced clumsily around them, frequently tripping over her skirt, but not seeming to care anymore as she continued to celebrate what she now viewed as her best day and best costume ever.

"Is that why you made me wear this, Mommy? So I could have this wood thing to slay with? Oh thank you, that was so cool!"

Still grinning, she ran up the porch step of the next house, ringing the doorbell with renewed energy. It was another thirty seconds before either of her parents found words.

"Uh…found yet another alternate phrase for "bullying child into wearing cutesy costume?'" Faith remarked slowly, and just as slowly, Buffy nodded.

"Recycle same outfit for next year?" Faith went on quietly as Callie ran to the next house over, her eyes not straying from her back for a moment, and Buffy nodded again, much more fervently.

"Oh, yeah."