Summary: An interlude during ‘Tabula Avatar’, as the group try to pass through another town in this strange new world.
Author's Notes: Dedicated to speakr2customrs who has filled the air across the globe with groans many, many times. Congratulations on yours and curiouswombat's 20th wedding anniversary!
This ficlet makes a great deal more sense if you are a follower of speakr2customrs’s lovely epic ‘Tabula Avatar’ where the crystal that sealed the Scoobies’s memories away in ‘Tabula Rasa’ was never broken but grabbed by the Nerd Trio and plugged into a copy of Balder’s Gate II. Go read it.
“Cobblers!” swore Spike.
Giles sighed and pushed his glasses higher up his nose. “Really Spike, you don’t have to moderate your language for the sake of the ladies present. It is certainly not as though they haven’t heard you swear before.”
Buffy rolled her eyes at this, Xander grinned broadly and Sorkatani just passed it off as being of no importance. Spike turned and frowned at the rest of the party. “No, I mean those damn shoe-makers you pissed off in the last town.”
Giles swore loudly himself, then shot a quick apologetic look around at everyone. Really, ending up in this strange world was having an odd almost bonding effect on them all. He was swearing much more often, Spike was getting to be nearly tolerable, and for a number of individuals that appeared to be going their separate ways, the Scoobies were now (along with their new companions) becoming quite the team.
And that was without even considering their new abilities in this realm. Giles touched his guitar almost reassuringly (probably the most important thing he now had to assist his new spell singing abilities) and looked back at the vampire. “Are you sure, Spike? Where are they?”
Spike smiled grimly and pointed directly ahead of them. “You see that busy town square up ahead? Guess which particular pair of gits are urging the crowd to stone this group of evil adventurers?”
Willow looked slightly annoyed. “Sheesh, you break up one slaving ring and they suddenly start to bear grudges?”
Minsc tilted his head somewhat and listened to his hamster squeak. “Boo says this does not sound very good for us,” he announced.
Buffy, as ever the warrior, hefted her sword and smiled in a fairly threatening way. “I think we should persuade them not to spead any more rumours. They never did make me my boots!” Somehow Giles suspected the boots was the real reason here.
A voice from the back sounding suspiciously like Anya’s muttered something about how if they’d only killed them when certain people had suggested it, perhaps they wouldn’t be in this spot right now.
Dawn suddenly popped her head up from underneath Minsc’s shield. “Are you crazy?” she yelped, “Do you know just how many people are in there listening to them?”
“Yow!” exclaimed Xander, almost jumping. “Where the hell did you come from – and how the heck do you know what it’s like in there?”
“Oh please,” said Dawn, rolling her eyes. “I’m a thief, dummy. Sneaking through a crowd is easy compared to picking pockets – not that I would ever do such a thing in a town we’d just entered for the first time,” she added quickly, feeling Buffy’s gaze on the back of her neck.
“Regardless,” observed Sorkatani, “This is not helping us in our efforts to determine a way to deal with these… these… annoyances.”
“Actually,” observed Giles in a faintly far away voice, “I suspect that I might have the inklings of an idea.” Taking his guitar into one hand, he played a few notes experimentally.
Staring at the wall in front of him as his brain raced, Giles started to smirk. “Oh yes, a definite idea – depending on whether my memory of this area’s recent history is correct.”
Everyone’s head swung to look at the image scrawled across the wall, but it was Buffy who voiced what all the Sunnydale contingent were thinking. “They worship garden gnomes?!?!”
"Not quite, Buffy..."
~ + ~
Twenty minutes later, the plan was ready.
Dawn and Anya both slipped off into the crowd ahead of them, primed with their lines. Giles strummed a last few practise chords on his guitar, and nodded to the group. Together they all moved off towards the square.
Arriving there, Giles and the others stood there, and waited to be noticed. As soon as the cobblers paused for breath in their exhortation, the group started talking loudly to everyone around them. “Hey, isn’t that the guys who were thrown out of Athkatla for helping that gnome lover?”
A slight ripple of discontent ran through the people standing close to the group. This particular town existed very close to the closest gnome home, and tensions between the two areas had existed for generations at this point. Certainly none of the more normal half-breeds seemed to be around.
The chief cobbler spotted them, and his jaw fell open in anger. Perfectly on cue, Dawn and Anya’s voices (augmented by a slight touch of Willow’s magic) drifted across the square from different sides. “Yeah, they’re right! Those are the accomplices!”
As Giles quietly sang away at the back of the group, Buffy stepped forward, pointed dramatically with her sword at them, and shouted “Stop those men! They helped a known pervert and his gnome mistress get away!”
There was a moment of stillness across the square as the crowd struggled with this new information, comparing it to the last batch they’d been given. The second phase of Anya and Dawn’s instructions came at precisely the right moment, as their rotten tomatoes launched across the square in a perfect arc, both landing on target.
With a great roar, the crowd erupted and went for the cobblers. Standing back and admiring the mayhem now evident before them, Xander nodded in satisfaction. “Nice one Giles. So, what exactly was that song you were playing?”
“A little Jim Diamond classic,” smirked Giles. "I Shoed A Gnome Bedder."
Tha-tha-that’s all, folks!