Rupert Giles furtively tugged at his purple cravat.
"Giles, stop that. It's fine the way it is." That rebuke came with a friendly smile and feminine fingers reaching out to adjust the Englishman's ornate neckband back into its original position.
Deep in the mind of the California high-school librarian, a sleepy eye came half-open, as a personality that had been dormant for decades momentarily roused from its slumber. Giles firmly told that part of his mind to go back to its rest, and clearing his throat, he murmured, "I'm afraid that this costume is a bit more formal than my usual apparel." His tone became a bit drier as he continued, "Though, I have a suspicion that your daughter and the rest of the young people think it's what I and the entire population of my birth country wear while taking a dip in the waters off Blackpool."
Joyce Summers giggled, as she took a step back and admired Rupert Giles. Despite his protestations, the man stood easily in his tailcoat, waistcoat, and striped trousers over gleaming black dress shoes. He even pulled off with panache his slightly absurd Regency-era neckcloth tied into a bow that showed off its brilliant plum shade.
Looking at the hotel entrance further down the sidewalk they were standing on, Joyce exclaimed, "Oh, good! The party's starting!" At that, she reached out to gather up her broom leaning against the building front, and holding this in her right hand, Joyce slipped her left arm through Giles' open right elbow extended in unthinking courtesy, and peering at him from under the brim of her black, pointy hat, she smilingly said, "Shall we dazzle the populace with our attire, sir?"
Impassively, Giles intoned, "We certainly shall, madam." Both began walking towards the hotel entrance together, the man in formal morning dress and the woman dressed all in black in the garb of a classic storybook witch.
At this exact moment, Rupert Giles was a happy man. Puzzled, but happy. He was having a very good time, even though he wasn't quite sure exactly how this had happened. Oh, the individual events themselves were easy enough to bring to mind, but the Englishman still found it a bit bewildering on how they had all combined to instigate this experience of him and his Slayer's mother going out on an Halloween date.
Just last morning, Giles had been peacefully working in the Sunnydale High library, replacing some of his books back in their shelves, until he'd looked up to see a visitor he hadn't expected, but welcomed anyway. Joyce Summers had stopped off on her way to Los Angeles for a business meeting about her art shop, to drop off a list for her daughter of things that needed to be done in their home during her absence. While the pair had been casually chatting, Joyce had received a sudden call on her cell phone, telling her the business meeting had been unavoidably cancelled. A clearly irked Joyce had snappishly hung up, and Giles had offered his sympathy.
After that, somehow, it had all wound up with Joyce determined to do something on Halloween to take her mind off her mood. Such as attending a costume party in town for adults she'd been invited to previously but had to decline due to her now-cancelled business trip. And, of course, she needed a date….
Giles was used enough to Buffy's stubbornness when the Slayer got an idea in her head and became determined to accomplish something, no matter what. He had no idea that it was hereditary.
Swept up by another Summers woman's enthusiasm, Giles had somewhat dazedly agreed to accompany her to the party, and even to dress up in costume. As a now-energized Joyce had bustled on her way out of the library, eager to acquire their costumes at the same place where she'd heard her daughter mention the young girl was going for her own outfit while escorting younger trick-or-treaters, a desperate Giles had rallied enough to despairingly call after her an anxious request for a costume that could be worn without a total loss of dignity.
"Oh, don't worry!" Joyce had cheerfully said over her shoulder as the woman momentarily paused at the library doors. "I'll look for something that'll match what you do. A…a….let me see -- I know! I'll find you a literary character costume!" After that, a very happy woman had left the room, leaving behind herself an extremely worried man, contemplating with horror about such literary characters as Quasimodo, Humpty Dumpty, and Captain Ahab.
*Well, at least this is much better than I expected*, thought Giles later, looking down at his formal outfit while walking arm-in-arm with Joyce Summers, who had firmly told him to use her first name tonight. Distracted by a thought, the man in morning dress faintly frowned, and glancing out of the corner of his eye at the pretty woman he was escorting, Giles decided to cautiously work his way around to finding out the answer to the question that had just struck him.
"Ah, Joyce…." Giles was fleetingly distracted by the quick flash of her smile sent his way over his actually managing to say that. Inside the Englishman's mind, another's personality came fully awake at this and showed signs of truly manifesting itself. Giles pictured in his head the long arm of the law firmly clutching the scruff of someone's neck and shoving this miscreant back into durance vile. He ignored the mutters and the banging of the jail cell bars from deep within his subconscious over this, carrying on with his remarks without indicating anything untoward had just occurred.
"I must compliment you on your costume tonight. It's clearly a classic example of the stereotypical witch."
Joyce could have taken that statement the wrong way, but she sensed it was indeed an admiring comment, so she just smiled again (a serious jailbreak, with maps, digging, and distracting the guards was begun), and chuckled, "I wore this when I was a girl as a Halloween costume, just before I became a teenager."
"You liked witches?" asked Giles, an eyebrow raised in inquiry.
Joyce grinned, and corrected him, "Just one. A very special witch, one on a television show that I watched faithfully every week."
At that polite response, Joyce looked over at Giles' blank expression, and giggled. As the pair now joined the line of costumed revelers waiting to enter the hotel, the woman said thoughtfully, "I don't know if that program was ever shown in England, but if it was…. Well, here's some hints: the character had a very interfering mother named Endora, and her husband Darrin sometimes seemed to act as if he was two different people."
Giles' puzzlement over Joyce's clues only grew when he looked around and saw that others nearby who'd clearly heard this had sudden smiles of obvious recognition appearing on their faces.
"Still not enough?" said a happy Joyce, bringing back Giles' attention to her. "Well, I said I watched the show when it started, never missing a single episode. What I didn't say was that I was such a total fan, that I actually managed to learn how to do what she did. It's been a while, but I think I remember…." Trailing off, Joyce set in her face in a calm expression unlike Giles' currently bewildered features, with the man watching her about to ask just what the devil she was talking about, until something happened that left the Englishman dumbstruck.
Joyce Summers' nose now twitched, the very tip of this part of her body wiggling back and forth for a few seconds, with the rest of her face held totally immobile.
Giles's stunned attention at this was abruptly broken by the sudden cheers and applause from the crowd now surrounding them and watching, with the man looking around in utter astonishment at the wide grins of all there and listening with absolute incomprehension to the happy unanimous declaration by many there of the name, "Samantha!"
The Englishman's awareness was brought back to Joyce cheerfully waving at the admiring crowd, and then tugging at Giles' arm, to get him to come along, as they entered the hotel. In the foyer, among the other costumed revelers, Joyce chattered away, "Yes, Samantha Stephens, as played by Elizabeth Montgomery, in the television show Bewitched. What's the weird part, what I learned years later, was that she -- Montgomery -- never actually twitched her nose. She just wiggled her upper lip, and her nose moved along with it. But I can really do it, even though I've never been able to explain just how. I've never met anyone else who can do it."
"That, ah, motion was important in the show?" uncertainly asked Giles, still bemused over what Joyce had done.
"I guess you've really never seen it," chuckled Joyce. "She did the nose-twitch every time she cast a magic spell -- causing things to appear or disappear out of thin air, floating or moving a chair or something without touching it. All done by special effects on the tv show, of course."
"Of course," nodded Giles, thinking to himself that all the real witches he'd met in the course of his life as a Watcher had never, ever twitched their noses to accomplish their magical feats. He shivered slightly, as he contemplated their specific reactions to being asked to perform something so ludicrous. Though, it had been rather endearing when Joyce had done it….
(Somewhere in a man's mind, a head popped out of a newly-created hole in the ground far from a prison, smirked a satisfied grin at the world at large, and the head then went back down into the hole. A moment later, a spray of dirt erupted from the hole, as it was widened.)
Now that the ice had been broken, as Giles and Joyce went into the hotel banquet room that was the location for the costume party, the man gathered up his courage, and tentatively said, "Ah, Joyce, I'm glad to know the identify of your costume. Because, er, I have no idea who I'm supposed to be."
"What?" Stopping short, Joyce pulled her arm out of Giles' grip, to then turn around to look him full in the face, a startled expression on the woman's own features. "I thought you knew!"
Glancing down at his costume, Giles murmured, "Well, this is clearly a morning dress -- though the cravat is a bit, er, unusual -- and as such, is worn at weddings and other extremely formal ceremonies. It was also the daily dress of diplomats well before the Second World War. Beyond that, no specific fictional character really comes to mind."
"What about Jeeves the butler? I thought that was who you were."
"P.G. Wodehouse's character? He was actually a valet, not a butler, though in a few of the stories, he did perform some butlering duties. Anyway, as a valet, he would have dressed in black trousers, white linen, a high-buttoned black waistcoat and a plain black swallow-tailed coat or one cut with short rounded tails. He certainly would have worn a tie, not a cravat. And, if that same error was made, about Jeeves being a butler, this outfit would have been a complete butler's dress, with the long-tailed coat."
Joyce had been listening thoughtfully to Giles' erudite lecture, appreciating his knowledge and how it was delivered in a considerate manner of information being dispensed without the listener being regarded as some sort of uneducated person for not knowing this. Her enjoyment was interrupted by a question from her date. "Pardon me, but didn't the proprietor of the costume store say anything about what you acquired?"
Buffy's mother opened her mouth to answer this, but then she closed it, as Joyce now actually considered at what she'd shrugged off at the time. "Looking back, it was a bit odd. I went there and gave him your sizes and asked if he had anything suitable for a, um, proper Englishman who wanted to go as a literary character to a costume party. He just stood there, a funny look on his face, and then he started to laugh. He went into the back, still laughing, and after a minute or so, he came back with what you're wearing, with a wide grin on his face. In fact, he even charged me just half-price for the costume, saying it was always a pleasure for another Blighty native."
Giles looked a bit startled at the latter phrase. Before he could ask concerning that, Joyce had continued, "Giles, maybe there's something in the pockets about it? Something written down to identify your costume?"
Frowning, Giles started to pat his pockets. "That's an idea. I didn't look in all of these--" The Englishman was interrupted by Joyce doing something startling. The woman leaned her broom against her hip, placed both of her hands on the tops of the man's shoulders, and looking him full in the face, Joyce once again twitched her nose.
(Sirens blared from the prison, searchlights split the night sky, and a convict wearing stripes scampered o'er the moor, cackling at the accomplishment of a successful escape.)
Dazedly shaking his head, Giles managed to ask, "Um, what was that for?" into Joyce Summers' delighted face.
Taking her hands off his shoulders, the woman again gripped her broom, and coyly looked at him from under her witch's hat. "I cast a magic spell on you, of course. You'll successfully find what you're looking for in your pockets."
Looking bemused, Giles had to raise the objection, "What if there's nothing there?"
"It's magic, not reality. It doesn't mean it'll actually happen, though it was fun to do," smiled Joyce. Her brows rising in amusement, she urged, "Weren't you going to look?"
"Oh. Yes." A slightly red-faced Giles again commenced searching in his pockets. A moment later, a surprised "Hullo!" came from the man, as he pulled out a tiny lump of material from an inner coat pocket. He held it out in the palm of his hand for them both to look at a paper-wrapped L-shaped object half the size of a paper matchbox. As Giles' hands fumbled in unwrapping this object, Joyce moved to his left side, and watched as he finally took off the paper.
"What the devil…?" Giles' mouth fell open in utter bewilderment after that unfinished phrase, as he read the few words written on the underside of the wrapping paper he held in his left hand, to then stare at what was in his other hand.
A tiny, plastic, science-fiction-style raygun rested in his right palm, a colorful futuristic pistol with its blazing red casing showing something that would have been eagerly looked for as a prize in a breakfast cereal package.
An equally-mystified Joyce moved closer to Giles, pressing up against his left side, as she leaned to look more closely at the words on the paper the man was still holding. Her perfume tickled his nose, as he drew in a breath of bogglement. For a moment, the man felt nothing but a wave of dizziness, but this was enough.
He was lost.
(This time, it was the turn of serious, staid, Rupert Giles to be coshed, stripped down to his Y-fronts, blindfolded, gagged, a mile of rope wrapped around him, to finally then be dropped down the nearest oubliette. All before the Watcher could inform the rest of his brain that not only of the fact about the odd presence of another Englishman in Sunnydale, but also that the writing on the paper he was holding looked suspiciously familiar….
Ripper didn't give the slightest damn.
As he listened to the bewildered voice of the topping bird on his left pressing the side of her right breast against his arm speaking the words written on the slip of paper, Ripper delightedly looked into the future, when he could not only correct her French pronunciation, he could kiss the tip of her nose when she did that utterly charming twitch….)
"Giles, who on earth is 'Retief of the Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne?'"