Description: Giles plans a date with Jenny that’s not entirely to her liking. But who’s really getting the last laugh? Silly, fluffy, shippery, slightly odd fun. Takes place in that all-too-short time between ‘Ted’ and ‘Innocence’
“This is revenge, isn’t it? For the monster truck thing.”
Jenny was sitting on the library table, swinging her legs idly as Giles stacked returned books to go back on the shelves. First period was well under way and the rest of the school were closeted in their classrooms. The morning sun filtered softly through the windows, and aside from the occasional car horn in the distance, it was utterly silent. A picture of peace and tranquility.
Giles thumped a pile of books down onto the table rather more forcefully than was necessary.
“I do not stoop to petty revenge”, he said with as much dignity as he could muster. “I’m sure you’ll enjoy it if you give it a chance.”
“Sure, like you did.”
“I didn’t hate…the monster trucks were an…interesting experience.” Jenny looked at him sceptically. “Besides which, this is an entirely different situation,” he added. “You didn’t tell me where we were going, and I’ve given you ample warning.”
“Only because there’s a dress code”, she pouted. A thought seemed to occur to her, and she pointed dramatically at him.
“Then it’s revenge for the crossbow thing!”
Giles sighed. “Jenny, a pleasant evening at the opera is hardly comparable to being shot in the back.”
“Maybe not for you”, she muttered under her breath. Giles carefully decided not to hear. He picked a couple of textbooks off the top of the pile on the table and took them over to the shelves, talking over his shoulder as he went.
“Aida is a classic tragedy and one of the greatest operas ever written,” he said, slotting the books into their correct spot and heading back to the table for more. “It’s one of the most beautiful, romantic…” he caught her eye and went slightly pink. “Well. You’ll see for yours—
He was cut off by the library doors swinging wildly open and Buffy clattering in.
“Giles, there is definitely something funky going on with those garden gnomes. I swear to god, one followed me home last night, and…Oh, hey Ms Calendar.”
“Hey Buffy”. Jenny raised her eyebrows. “Gnomes?”
“It’s a long story.”
“It always is.”
Giles moved a pile of books off one of the chairs to give Buffy a place. “Well I have to admit I was sceptical, but after the events of yesterday, I think it’s safe to say there’s something very strange going on,” he said, as she sat down. “Tell me what happened, exactly?” he asked, secretly rather thankful for an excuse to change the subject. He caught Jenny’s expression out the corner of his eye and sighed, turning back to her.
“Look, if it turns out you hate it that much, we can always leave.”
“It’s not that I hate them exactly,” said Jenny, contritely. “They just go on for far too long. Plus, they’re always kinda depressing. People are betrayed, people die…people spend half an hour singing about how they’ve been betrayed and are going to die…”
“Well, it would rather defeat the object if they didn’t.”
“Um…what are you guys talking about?” asked Buffy, looking from one to the other with a slightly bemused expression.
“We’re going to the opera” Jenny said, without much enthusiasm.
“Cool. Hey, is this revenge for the whole monster truck thing?”
Giles glared at her. “Why does everyone assume—”
He was interrupted again as Xander burst into the library, with a frantic Cordelia in tow.
“Ok, we have a serious problem” he announced to the room at large. “Mrs Heather is dead.”
Giles wrinkled his forehead in confusion. “Mrs…Heather?”
“Oh…yes, of course.”
“Yeah, well she was found in her back garden this morning with a tiny fishing rod—y’know, the details don’t really matter. It’s pretty clear what happened to her.”
“Is it?” said Jenny to no-one in particular. “Because I’m still trying to fill in the blanks over here.”
“Oh, and that’s not all!” continued Xander. “Cordy found a gnome in her locker.”
Cordelia glared at him. “What am I, an afterthought now? And I didn’t just find it, it attacked me!”
“It fell on her foot.”
“It fell on my five hundred dollar Prada boots, which, by the way, I had to order in special from Europe because—”
“Yes, yes, all right,” cut in Giles hastily, before she could reach full flow. “clearly this is more serious than we thought.”
“I’ll say,” said Buffy, shuddering, as Xander and Cordelia dumped their bags and sat down at the table, Jenny edging over to make room. “I’ve been freaking out at people’s front lawns all morning. Just when I thought this town couldn’t any weirder.”
“Well I’m afraid I’ve never come across anything quite like this before,” said Giles. He frowned slightly. “Which…isn’t all that surprising, now I come to think of it. But there are some instances of inanimate objects taking on a life of their own…or perhaps they’re some kind of shape-shifting creature simply assuming this form as a kind of infiltration…if Mrs Heather is dead, we can assume she either didn’t know what was going on, or she lost whatever control she had over them. Either way we need to know more. ”
Xander groaned. “Oh man. I can smell a research party coming on. And here I thought this day couldn’t get any worse.”
“Meet here after school?” said Buffy glumly.
“I’ll bring the doughnuts,” said Xander.
“Well, bizarre though this has been, I’ve got to get to class,” said Jenny, jumping up from the table. “And Cordelia, since you’re in that class, it’d be nice if you came with me?”
“Oh that explains where Willow is,” said Xander, as Cordelia groaned and got up from her chair. “Cordy, could you tell her to meet us here after school?”
“Yeah, sure, whatever.”
Cordelia picked up her bag and followed Jenny toward the door. Jenny opened it, paused briefly and turned back to Giles. “So…research, huh? Probably have to cancel our plans for this evening then?” she said, obviously making an effort not to sound too hopeful.
“Not at all,” he replied. “I’m sure we’ll have ample time to do both. Perhaps we could meet here? At half past six, say?”
“Oooh, bailing on the research early, G-man?” grinned Xander. “You guys have a hot date?”
“They’re going to the opera,” said Buffy.
Xander slumped into a chair.
“Finally getting revenge for the monster trucks, huh?”
Giles threw up his hands in defeat and went to make some tea.
Giles always preferred the library in the evening when the school had broken up for the day. It was never exactly busy at the best of times, but there was something undeniably comforting in knowing that a wayward student couldn’t suddenly wander in at any moment.
Books were spread out over the table, alongside a tellingly empty doughnut box. Buffy was flipping idly through one of the older volumes, looking bored. Xander had been gazing at the same page for the last fifteen minutes – either he had completely zoned out, or there was a particularly interesting woodcut in that specific tome. Cordelia was painting her nails, her attitude to research being much the same as anything else in her life: wear a short skirt and hope someone else offered to do the work for her. He wondered vaguely why she had even bothered to turn up. Perhaps she had taken the assault on her new shoes personally.
Giles looked at his watch and sighed. Willow at least was rather more scrupulous than the others with these things, but she had been busy finishing up a project for one of her classes, and had promised to come by when she was done. Sometimes he forgot that Buffy and her friends were still students, after all. At this point, it looked as though she wasn’t coming, and it was getting late. Nearly 6:30, and they were no closer to finding out any more information – perhaps Jenny was in luck after all. He chose another likely looking book from the pile, opening it glumly. Just once it would be nice to have one pleasant, uninterrupted evening with her. The evil in this town seemed to take great pleasure in curtailing his love life.
He was just settling into this gloomy train of thought (and, admittedly, not paying a great deal of attention to the book in his hands) when a brief reprieve arrived in the form of Willow, who walked in and did a double take.
“Giles, do you usually wear a tux outside school hours?” she said.
“He’s going to the opera with Ms Calendar,” Buffy explained, not looking up from her book.
“Oh, okay. Oh wait, are we interrupting your evening?” Willow said. “Because I mean, we can probably do…whatever it is we’re doing by ourselves. I mean, I can do computer stuff and Xander’s getting pretty good at…um…knowing where all the books are by now.”
Xander’s head jerked up. “Huh? Did someone say my name? Oh hey, Will. Come to join the party? Cause I’m telling ya, it’s just a crazy whirlwind of fun here tonight.”
Giles smiled at Willow. “Don’t worry about it. I’ve asked Jenny to meet me here, but if we can’t find a solution before then we can always reschedule.”
Willow smiled back and headed over to the table, where she sat down and picked up the nearest book. She frowned at the page for a moment. “Giles, I think this book is printed wrong.”
“Well unless there really is a demon that feeds only on Brians…”
Xander leaned back in his chair and groaned. “This is insane. How likely is it that we’re gonna find a past account of evil garden gnomes coming to life? I’m having a hard enough time believing it this time around.”
“I think I’ve found it!” Buffy cried. They all stared at her. “Well not exactly…but look! I got bored of research so I started looking through the old Watcher’s diaries. This one describes the statues in a garden all coming to life, and tell me this sketch doesn’t look exactly like the ring Mrs Heather was wearing?”
She held up the picture and Xander nodded. Willow grinned broadly. “See, Xander, you guys can get stuff done when I’m not here!”
“Will, you are here.”
“Buffy,” said Giles, rubbing his temples wearily, “Does it say how they stopped it?”
Buffy peered at the book. “They…took the ring and smashed it, and the statues too.”
There was a pause.
“That’s it?” said Willow. “All we have to do is get a big ol’ sledgehammer and smash the gnomes? Huh, I kinda thought it would be more complicated.”
“Well that’s just great” grumbled Xander. “We could have done that hours ago and gone to see a movie or something. All that research down the…”
He trailed off and stared at something behind Giles, his mouth falling open slightly.
Willow followed his line of sight. “Oh hey Ms Calendar! We’re just finishing. You look pretty!”
Giles turned around, smiling. “We can leave in just a moment, Buffy believes she’s found the solution.”
In fact that was what he had intended to say. What came out was slightly closer to “Wshfgah.”
Jenny had taken the dress code seriously – she was wearing a dress. It was a good dress. It was a very dark blue silk and clung to the curves of her body in an extremely distracting way. It was also rather low cut. Giles stared, unable to think of anything coherent to say, and Jenny’s face split into a grin.
“Hey. I take it you like the dress then?” she said.
Cordelia raised an eyebrow. “There’s not a whole lot of it there to like.”
Jenny threw her an exasperated look, tempered somewhat by the fact that she was clearly trying not to laugh.
“I like it!” said Willow brightly.
“Thank you Willow,” said Jenny pointedly, and turned back to Giles. “Are you ready to go?”
“What? Oh yes, of…of course. Just as soon as…”
“Just as soon as we’ve gone”, Buffy finished, leaping up from her chair and swinging her bag onto her back. “Which we’ll do now. The sooner this is over, the better. I don’t want to have to change my name to ‘Buffy the Gnome Slayer’.”
She made a face. “God, this job is embarrassing sometimes. You two crazy kids have fun now. I’m off to work.” With that she strode briskly towards the doors, with Cordelia in tow, who was half dragging a red faced Xander and muttering under her breath, “Oh we are gonna have words about this later mister, you can count on it…”
Willow stared after them, looking rather perplexed, and then followed. She stopped briefly to wave goodbye at the door. “Night! Have…um, a good opera!”
The door swung shut behind Willow and left the two of them alone, standing facing each other across the room.
Giles smiled a shade awkwardly. “You look beautiful.”
“Mmm, you’re not so bad yourself,” she said, eyeing his tux appreciatively.
A smile crept across her face, and she strolled over to him, closing the distance between them until she was standing just a little too close. He was acutely aware of the soft scent of her perfume, and the warmth of her body next to his as she leaned up until her lips were close to his ear.
“Of course,” she murmured, “the only problem with this dress is that it’s very tight and kind of difficult to get into. You may have to help me take it off when the evening is over.”
She was right, the opera went on for far too long.
Current Mood: silly