Settling A Debt

Author: Mark Wilson <fanfic[at]>

Rating: Not sure, call it R to be safe.

Summary: YAHF (Yet another Halloween fic.).

Disclaimer: [insert obligatory denial of all character ownership here]


A/N: Actually this story started with a 'what if?' from the end of 'Some Assembly Required'. So. What if Xander hadn't completely blown Cordelia off when she was trying to thank him for saving her life? How would that have affected future episodes?

Chapter 1

'Oh, Good Lord!' the middle aged Englishman thought, looking up wearily as the ringing of the bell above the door signalled the arrival of yet more customers to his already packed shop. 'Why did I think opening a shop would be a good idea? I just hope dealing with all these bloody Americans is worth it in the end.'

He watched the group of teenagers who'd just entered head straight for one of the display racks, and relaxed a little. Deciding to let them browse for a while before seeing if they wanted any assistance. 'Thank God tomorrow's Halloween. I'm not sure I could take much more of this.


He tried to force his thoughts back to going over the details of his plans, checking for anything he might have missed, but the loud voice of the tall brunette girl from the newest group kept intruding.

"... don't know how you talked me into this dweeb-boy, but this is positively the final favour I'm doing you. �We're even - got it!"

"Sure Cordy," the sole boy in the group said with a big grin. "Until the next time I save you."

"Huh, as if! That was a fluke. Strictly once in a lifetime."


"Whatever," she huffed. "Point is - no more favours."

"Oh come on, it's going to be fun. Where's your holiday spirit?"

"Holiday spirit? Hah! You're only doing this 'cause Snyder shanghaied you all into it."

"Well OK, I didn't want to do this to begin with either, but when I had the chance to think about it I could see the potential to have some fun. How often do we get to relax and act like kids any longer?"

"I'm a woman, you dork. Some of us have grown up even if you haven't."

"Oh, you know what I mean, Cordy. This is the first night in months that we *know* we aren't going to have to deal with any Sunnydale weirdness."

She snorted and fixed him with a disbelieving stare. After a few moments he looked away awkwardly. "Yeah, not sure I believe that myself, but Giles promised Buffy a night off."

The shopkeeper's ears pricked up at the sound of those names, and he began to study the group much more intently. 'So, Ripper's in town, is he? This could be more fun than I thought.'

"Yeah, yeah, I heard the spiel." She huffed, before continuing in a very bad fake English accent, "Little chance of supernatural activity - blah, blah, blah - too crassly commercial - blah, blah - forces of evil stay home all night." She sighs heavily, ignoring the angry glares she's getting from the other two girls in the group. "Okay, I see why tonight's a big deal and I know Snyder's forcing this whole dressing up thing, but do we really have to all dress the same, and how come you get to pick."

"We're not all dressing the same," the redheaded girl said defensively. Entering the conversation for the first time. "We're just picking costumes that follow the same theme."

"And Xander gets to pick because nobody else could come up with anything sensible," the blonde contributed.

"My idea was sensible," the brunette complained.

"No - movie stars at a gala premiere *so* wouldn't work. The dresses would have gotten ruined traipsing round town with a bunch of sugar hyped little runts." The blonde pointed out with a slight edge to her tone. "And anyway, it wasn't really in the spirit of the holiday.

Halloween is about goblins and ghoulies and heroes and villains. Not stuck up actors and actresses wearing clothes that cost more than my mum earns in a month."

"Why not? It's still come as you aren't. Isn't that the whole point. Dressing as somebody else for the night?"

"Yes, but movie stars are just too... too..." the blonde trailed off weakly as she couldn't think of a suitable word.

"Prosaic?" the redhead offered. Seeing the blank stares the others sent her way she rushed to explain. "Banal, mundane, pedestrian, ordinary..."

"Thank you Miss Dictionary," the brunette interrupted, ignoring the muttered 'that's Miss Thesaurus' from the redhead, "we get the point, but I still think this is a bad idea. I mean, why *this* tacky TV show?"

"Well, since you all vetoed my Baywatch idea..."

"Yeah, like I'm going to let you ogle me in one of those swimsuits. 'Sides it's gonna be night dimwit, much too cold to be wandering about half naked."

"Alright, alright," he said holding his hands up defensively, "I wasn't really serious about it anyway." That statement earned him snorts from all three girls. "Well, maybe a little hopeful. But that's not the point. We picked this show because it's the only one anyone could think of with enough strong recognizable women characters in it, that wasn't a cartoon or Star Trek and you all insisted you weren't doing either of those."

"Much too geeky," the blonde confirmed with a decisive nod.

"And this isn't?" Cordelia asked, holding up a costume she'd picked off the rack.

"Ooo, mine!" the blonde squealed, reaching for the leather outfit.

"Ah, ah, ah." The brunette said, quickly putting the costume behind her back out of reach. "It's come as you aren't night remember. No way you're getting to be the hero. Besides, it's not your size."

"But I'd look so good in that," the blonde whined.

"Why not go as a goddess," the boy suggested picking another costume off the rack. "You'd look great in this."

"It's awfully skimpy," she said uncertainly.

"But just think how Angel will react if he sees you in that," the redhead encouraged her friend. Both of them ignoring the disgusted look that briefly passed over the boy's face.

"Ooo, you're right he'll love it!" the blonde enthused. "And this will be perfect for you."

The redhead frowned uncertainly at the costume she'd just been handed. "But I'm sort of the sidekick already. Shouldn't I be dressing as something different?"

"But you're not a princess or a bard."

"Hmm, okay I guess. Now we just need to get Xander a costume." She looked at the boy expectantly. "So who are you going as?"

The boy pulled a dark green costume from the rack. "A rogue with a heart of gold."

"Hmm," the brunette cocked her head to one side, studying him for a moment. "Yes," she drew the word out as she considered the costume. "I guess that's the best option. After all no one would believe you as a god, and the klutz who keeps tripping over his own sword would be too close to home, so there's not much left."

"Hey!" the boy complained, "I resemble that remark."

The shopkeeper could hardly keep from grinning as he rung up the sale for their costumes. He could just imagine the potential for chaos inherent in their choices. 'Maybe all this effort really will be worth it,' he mused.