"How do I look, Mommy?"
As she bent down to make a few last-minute adjustments to her daughter's costume, Buffy felt a flicker of wistful regret. All too soon, she'd never be called that anymore. Instead, it would be "Mom", which was nice enough, but in the fullness of time, an adolescent would then exasperatedly deliver a drawn-out "Moooommm!" accompanied by the rolling of this young girl's eyes by someone convinced that her ancient parent had absolutely no idea what it was like to be a teenager!
Feeling a wry smile appear on her lips, Buffy now lovingly assured the anxious eight-year-old before her, "You look wonderful, honey! Everybody will be totally impressed, I bet!"
The miracle of a child's gap-toothed smile warmed the Slayer's heart as it had done numerous times before, and while Buffy savored the moment, this enjoyable experience was promptly ended by Joy (called this by everyone, even her mother, who only used 'Joyce!' when immediate obedience was necessary) declaring at the top of her lungs, "I'M GONNA WATCH FOR AUNTIE WILS AND THE REST!" Spinning around, Joy then dashed off towards the front sitting room of their house, where she would undoubtedly peer out through the window there into the gathering dusk, tiny nose pressed against the glass pane.
Chuckling, Buffy stood in the hallway while wearing a pair of low boots, khaki pants, a leather jacket over a safari shirt, and a rumpled brown fedora hat covering her blonde hair. This woman's superhuman hearing was more than adequate to detect the person quietly approaching herself from behind, so Buffy wasn't the least bit surprised by being suddenly embraced in a strong hug. As she shifted slightly to keep the whip coiled around her left shoulder in place, the Slayer heard an amused voice whisper proudly in her ear, "Told ya it was gonna work."
"Yes, and you're going to brag about it the rest of your life, aren't you?" snickered Buffy, as she was let go by her husband, turning to look up into Xander's beaming face.
Holding up a digital camera in one hand, Xander enthusiastically agreed, "Damn right! With lots of pictures, too!"
Fondly regarding the man she'd finally realized nearly a decade before was the best person in the world for her, Buffy still couldn't resist adding, "Just make sure when you bully someone into taking your picture tonight, you at least tell them who you are, because otherwise nobody's ever going to get it!"
With a rather hurt air, Xander glanced down at his outfit of a cardigan zipper sweater, a good shirt with a tie, dark slacks, and plain blue sneakers. As his head came back up, a devilish gleam abruptly appeared in the man's single eye, as Xander then gleefully proposed, "You want to make a bet of it? If anyone tonight guesses correctly right away, without any hints, I win!"
Buffy thought about that for a moment, to start nodding her acceptance, while also warning, "Fair enough, but if you have to actually sing the song, that means I win!"
Xander promptly stuck out his free hand, with the married couple now shaking hands to seal their bet. As he let go, the one-eyed man cast a cautious glance down the hallway to make sure their daughter was out of earshot. Satisfied that this was correct, Xander then lecherously gazed at his wife, purring in a truly atrocious French accent, "Once I win our wager tonight, California Jones, again we see there is nothing you can possess which I cannot take away."
Tugging down her fedora, Buffy calmly looked back from under the brim of her hat, as she transferred her hand to slowly stroke the whip she was carrying. In a perfect deadpan, Buffy recited, "As for me when I win, in our bedroom tonight, I think I'll make it up as I go."
As they both smirked at each other, Buffy and Xander were brought out of their playful moods by Joy happily whooping from the sitting room, "They're coming!" Next came the child herself rushing out into the hallway to zoom past her parents deeper into the house, while calling over her shoulder, "I'm going to the bathroom before we leave!"
Buffy called out a motherly admonishment, "Wash your hands after, honey!" just before the doorbell rang. Xander was closer, so he stepped over and pulled open the door, an expectant smile upon his face.
Right through the doorway, a six-year-old girl with her dark hair put up in a formal coiffure and wearing a dazzling white gown with a magnificent pearl necklace glided into the house, every step a queenly stride. Pausing to stand in front of an astonished Xander, the little girl placed her hands on her hips, and gazing up into her adopted uncle's features, Tara Jenny Rosenberg-Kennedy imperiously declared, "You took your time, doofus!"
Right after that, as every adult there roared with laughter, the child conceived through artificial insemination broke down from her haughty attitude into a more usual gleeful reaction, as she excitedly jumped up and down while giggling, "I said it! I said it!"
"Yes, you did, muffin," loudly congratulated Willow standing on the threshold in her Wicked Witch of the West costume. A second later, unheard by her daughter, the most powerful magic-user in the entire world muttered under her breath, her mouth with the green lipstick on this barely opening, "Thank Gaia, it's over! If I'd heard that word one more time…"
At her wife's side, Kennedy snickered, having heard perfectly with her Slayer senses what Willow had just said. In her flawless 1960's formal gown with the elbow-length gloves a perfect match to what a president's wife had dazzled France during a state visit there, the amused warrior woman needled, "You're the one who told Tara about Cordelia Chase, so it's all your fault she practiced saying that for the whole week!"
Momentarily giving Kennedy a glower that had in this unspoken warning ".and your little dog, too!", Willow's emerald features lightened as she turned her attention back to where Xander was dancing with Tara in the hallway after he'd taken several pictures of his niece in her Halloween costume and then put the camera upon a side table. The man in the eyepatch was bent over while carefully holding the petite fingers of her daughter as they twirled around, both clearly adoring each other.
Basking in the tender moment, Willow then heard from Kennedy, as that woman said in her own affectionate voice towards someone she'd grown to respect and love over the years, not to mention he knew how to give really good foot massages to pregnant Slayers, "Hey, Xander, you look nice, but who're you supposed to be anyway?"
Freezing in his tracks as Buffy suddenly leaned against the hallway wall to start shrieking with mirth, Xander dolefully examined the small girl confusedly gazing up at him, while thinking to himself in the privacy of his head, *One lousy minute, just one! If I didn't know better, I'd say they worked together in using their Slayer powers to make sure the Buffster won right off! Well, there's no choice. I have to spill the beans now.*
Letting go of Tara's hands, Xander resignedly straightened up, and as his own dearly beloved continued to provide her accompanying mirth, the New Council troubleshooter opened his mouth, and Xander now glumly sang, "It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood/A beautiful day for a neighbor/Would you be mine?/Could you be mine?"
Both Willow and Kennedy were clutching each other as they guffawed in shared hilarity throughout this, with Tara alone staring in utter bewilderment at all the strangely-acting older people. Catching sight of her bestest friend in the whole world coming down the hallway, Tara decided to forget them as she happily shouted, "Joy! Wow, that's great, what you've got on!"
The lesbian parents of the youngest child there finished wiping away the last of their tears of delight to then simultaneously observe the triumphant face of Joyce Aud Harris as she modeled her costume for everyone. Chattering animatedly, Joy informed all there, "I really really wanted to wear one or the other, but I couldn't make up my mind which one, until Daddy came up with a great idea, and Mommy worked really hard on it, and I sooooo love it!"
After managing to say this in one single breath, Joy did an exuberant twirl, to then receive the admiring attention of all there, as the child stood proudly in her costume created from two entirely different outfits. On the left side of the Harris girl, she was wearing a black catsuit with a thin leather glove and a knee-high boot of the same midnight color, and a gold utility belt stuffed full with stakes and holy water bottles. However, on the right side of Joy, she was wearing a purple thigh-high dress, with a pink stocking and a flat shoe of the same color on her right leg, finishing off with an olive-green silk scarf split in half around her neck. Tossing back her hair, which had been temporarily dyed from her normal brunette to blonde on the left and red on the right, Joy now assertively asked, "Auntie Wils, Ken, you know who I'm supposed to be, right?"
Without the slightest pause, Willow and Kennedy happily declared in unison, "Buffy, of course! You're her as the Slayer, and also Daphne Blake from the Scooby Doo cartoons!"
As the quartet of females now came together to coo over Joy's costume, they all ignored the masculine grumbling coming from elsewhere in hallway, as Xander complained sotto voce to himself, "Nobody gets me, but they recognized her right away? There ain't no justice!"
A few minutes later, Buffy and Xander stood in the doorway of their house, waving after Willow and Kennedy taking the younger children trick-or-treating along the quiet streets of the small, private college in upstate New York that had been purchased years earlier to become the North American headquarters of the New Council. As they stepped outside, on their way to chaperone the Halloween party for the older Slayers and Watchers in the main conference center, Xander turned to close the door behind himself, and then he faced forward again, about to catch up with Buffy who'd gone on before.
Instead, Xander halted in his tracks at seeing Buffy only a few feet ahead, who'd turned around on the front pathway to face him, a very strange look now upon her beautiful features. What was most worrying of all was that the Slayer had now taken off from her shoulder the whip she'd been carrying, with the hilt of this gripped in her hand and the rest of the leather lash trailing off onto the ground. In the very next instant, a quick flick of Buffy's hand made the whip to snap towards Xander, causing the end of this to painlessly loop several times around the man's neck.
Standing motionless in his shock, Xander was now impelled forward by Buffy impatiently tugging upon the whip. As she continued to haul in the braided leather, the Slayer watched her captive coming closer and closer, until he was now looking down into her face from only a foot away. The Sunnydale survivors stood there eyeing each other for a moment or so, before Buffy slowly smiled, and she then said in her sexiest voice, "It really doesn't matter what kind of day it is in the neighborhood, Mr. Xander, because you are mine. Now and forever."
Without replying, an enormous grin also developed upon Xander's face, as he bent down to kiss his wife, who returned this loving gesture just as devotedly as her husband.
Author's Note: This story came into existence after I recently saw a news item concerning Sarah Michelle Gellar's return to television after a break to have her child, a daughter. I couldn't help but wonder what that kid would dress up on Halloween, which produced this little tale. Hope you liked it!