A Faire Welle To Arms
or We Damn Well Better Not Have Any More
Knight Rider Round Robins

by The Sunnydale Slayers
Copyright 1997

Part the First: "Merry We Meete"
havocthecat and Perri Smith

Setting: Buffy's bedroom, Friday, November 7th, 6:00 p.m.

"Man, I'm bored," Xander said, tapping his pencil against his book. "Can't Mr. Cox ever give a test on something *interesting*?"

"Tell me about it," said Buffy. "I mean, come on, like anyone actually cares whether some guy really wanted to eat babies or not."

Willow sighed. "It's satire, Buffy. Johnathan Swift was trying to shock people."

"Maybe he was a flesh-eating demon," Xander said. Willow shook her head at Xander, a smile on her face.

"Nah," said Buffy. "He wouldn't have written that if he was. It's, like, too much advertising. Besides, I already checked it out with Giles." Willow looked at her disbelievingly. "He was sounding suspicious! Besides, Giles said he died. The normal way. No fangs or anything."

Xander closed his book and lay back against the headboard of Buffy's bed. "That's it, I cannot study any more." He kicked the book onto the floor, where it lay, half-open, until Willow rescued it. "We've got an entire weekend before the test, and I am *not* going to stuff my head full of some guy not wanting to flaunt what he's got."

"It's called _A Modest Proposal_, Xander." Willow held up the page with the title. "I liked it; it was funny."

"Willow, you like *Shakespeare*," said Xander, a half-puzzled, half-disgusted expression on his face. "I don't know if I could trust your literary opinion."

"Hey, " Willow said, protesting. "What's wrong with Shakespeare?"

"Nothing, Willow," Buffy said, reaching over and grabbing Willow's book. "Ok, at least *you've* got a guaranteed A; time to stop studying. How can we procrastinate?"

"I don't know," said Buffy. "We could go rent a movie and order pizza. I feel like eating things Giles wouldn't approve of."

Xander pantomimed pushing glasses up his nose. "Buffy, such comestibles have no nutritional value, and indeed detract from your overall well being," he said in a half-passable Giles voice. "Therefore, you should eat them." Buffy had cracked up laughing, and was pounding weakly against the side of her bed.

Even Willow giggled, and Xander watched them both with a smug grin. "Anyway," he said as Buffy regained control, "it's not just tonight. We have to think of some way to avoid studying the whole weekend. Not easy in Sunnydale. Too many parents in too small an area."

"Well.." Willow offered tentatively, "there's the Renaissance Faire in Elmwood."

"Renaissance Faire?" Buffy wrinkled her nose. "I've heard of those. Aren't they just boring places with lots of cheap, tacky souvenirs and bad food?"

"Yeah, bad food," Xander said. "That's a major obstacle."

"Oh, it's fun," Willow said. "You can dress up in Renaissance clothing and there are places that sell really pretty jewelry and it's really neat. Xander, we went there when we were kids, remember?"

"Oh, yeah," Xander said. "How could I forget?" Buffy looked quizzically at Xander. "Our parents decided that we'd go with Harmony's parents, since they get along, and she dragged Cordelia and her family along. It was a day of utter hell." Willow shuddered.

"Yeah, but this'll be better!" Willow said. "No Harmony, no Cordelia, just a fun day at the Faire. I've been wanting to go, but Mom and Dad didn't want me to drive that far alone. Besides," she said, a grin on her face, "It wouldn't be much fun without my friends."

They looked at her, then each other, wavering. Willow moved in for the kill. "Oh, and since tomorrow is the last day, they're going to be open until really late, and have a bonfire and everything. Isn't that great?"

It worked. Between the thought of staying out late without vampires being involved, and the hopeful expectation on her face, the other two gave in.

"Sounds like fun," Buffy said. "Wanna go, then?"

"Sure," said Xander. "I can drive!" He jingled his keys at Willow.

"I don't think so, Xander," Buffy said. "I've seen you out working, and I don't think I want to be in a car when you're driving."

"If we could get Giles to come along," Willow said in her casually deliberate tone, "He could drive."

"Yeah," Buffy said. "Besides, Tweed Man needs to loosen up. He's been way tense lately."

Xander hopped up. "To the library, then, Slayer Girl?"

"Definitely," Buffy said, standing up and pulling Willow to her feet.


Setting: Spike and Drusilla's Lair, Friday, November 7th, 6:00 p.m.

"Spike, luv," Drusilla said. "Miss Edith must have an outing."

"Are you sure, Dru?" Spike wrapped his arms around her. "You think you're strong enough, pet?"

"Oh yes," she said. "And Miss Edith is so terribly lonely down here."

"Well, all right, then. Where shall we go?" He hunted in his jacket for his car keys. "A late-night blood feast outside the Bronze for my dear?"

"Oh, no, not tonight, Spike." Drusilla clutched Miss Edith's arm, letting the doll dangle.

"What do you mean, Drusilla?"

"Tomorrow will be pretty. All the girls playing dress up with their dolly selves. Miss Edith will be right at home." She looked Miss Edith in the eye. "Won't you dear?"

"And we'll be right at home ourselves, won't we, Princess?" Spike pulled Drusilla to him, and put his jacket over her shoulders. "You're looking cold, dear. Shouldn't you lay down if tomorrow's such a big night?"

"Yes," said Drusilla, nestling into Spike's arms and nuzzling his neck. "Miss Edith needs her rest too. She won't nap unless I lay down with her."

"Well, best to lay down, then," he said. "We want you both in tip-top shape tomorrow."

"Can I have my treat tomorrow, Spike?"

"Course, love," Spike said. "If it were up to me, you'd have a treat *every* night."


Setting: Sunnydale Library, Friday, November 7th, 6:30 p.m.

"Come on, Giles, it'll be fun," Buffy said

"I don't think so," Giles said, closing a book firmly and placing with a stack to shelve. "I would rather not make a fool of myself at a... child's amusement park."

"It's not an amusement park, it's a Renaissance Faire," Willow said. "You'd like it, Giles, it's got all sorts of historical stuff, and they have books there, and they do demonstrations of how things were back in the Renaissance."

"I think not," Giles said, gathering a pile of books which were quickly taken from him by Buffy. "Besides, Buffy has training tomorrow." He looked at Buffy, who was grinning from ear to ear. "Don't you?"

"Nope, you gave me the day off."

Giles shook his head. "I couldn't possibly have. It's the perfect day for training. The weather forecast is optimistic enough that we might find a nice, secluded area for gymnastics development."

"Giles, you did." Buffy was, at this point, in full Slayer-to-Watcher-gloat mode. "So, we're going to Faire. Come on, it'll be great! There won't be a thing related to Slaying."

"Bodices," Xander supplied helpfully. He appeared to be ignoring the dirty looks Willow and Buffy were giving him. "Girls in bodices. It's the way to go, man."

"No, no, that's quite all right," Giles said. "I'm sure I have some cataloging that I could work on. Besides, haven't you had enough of costuming recently? I would think you'd be quite unenraptured about period clothing after our latest adventure." "Hey, guys," said Ms. Calendar. "So, Rupert, you ready to get dinner?" Buffy and company collectively turned away from Watcher-torment as Jenny Calendar came into the room. "Or is something else on the agenda for tonight? Nothing apocalyptic, I hope."

"Just the Renaissance Faire," said Buffy with a pointed glace at Giles. "Something nice and peaceful for a change."

Ms. Calendar blinked, then aimed a similar glance at Giles. "Hey, great," she said. "What time are we meeting?"

"Ah...well..." said Giles, looking over at Xander, the only other male and possible ally in the room, for aid.

"Bodices," he mouthed at Giles, following the significant look trend and glancing casually at Ms. Calendar. A wide grin spread across his face as Giles flushed dark red.

"Nine o'clock ok with you guys?" Buffy looked around, doing a quick check.

"Nine o'clock. Yes. That's perfectly adequate." Giles practically fell over himself to make sure that everyone had the meeting time set. "Shall we meet at the library?"

"Sounds good," Buffy said, dragging Willow and Xander out with her.

"How did you do that?" Willow had apparently seen the looks exchanged between Giles and Xander.

"Aw, it's a guy thing," Xander said. "It worked, didn't it?"

"Yeah, it worked," Buffy said, grinning smugly. "A whole day of kid-tested, Watcher-approved make-believe, and real life need not apply. I can't wait."

Part the Second: "Hail & Faire Well"
Christina K

November 8
9:02 AM
Sunnydale High School Parking Lot

"How are we all going to fit into the Gilesmobile?" Buffy perched her sunglasses on top of her head and dubiously studied her Watcher's beyond-Volkswagon-bug of a car. Some day the thing was going to die in the middle of a crisis, to the surprise of no one but Giles, and then they'd be able to give it the proper burial it should've had a decade ago. "Without one of us imitating a hood ornament, I mean."

"Giles said that Ms. Calendar's meeting us there, so we lucked out." Willow grinned and refastened her sandals, drumming her heels on the curb as they waited for Xander to arrive and Giles to leave the library. "She had to get something for her costume at the last second."

"Costume? Like what you're wearing?" Buffy frowned at Willow's cream peasant blouse and long flowered skirt. "Is that, like, required? Am I going to have to get medieavel before they let me in the gate?"

"Uh-unh. I just thought it would be festive," her friend explained, getting to her feet as she saw Xander coming toward them down the sidewalk. "What you and Xander are wearing is fine. Most people won't be dressed up."

"Speaking of festive," Xander drawled, raising his eyebrows and glancing behind the two girls. "I'm astounded. Giles, I didn't know you had it in you! Really!"

"You're not wearing a tie," Buffy said in awestruck tones. "Who are you and what have you done with my Watcher?"

"Very amusing," the librarian said, his expression long-suffering. He was still wearing his usual tweed and Oxford shirts, so you couldn't really say he'd gone casual. Still, it was an improvement; and Buffy had to wonder if Ms. Calendar had talked him into leaving the tie at home. "I merely thought it would be more appropriate to this outing to forgo the usual level of formality. Are you ready to leave?"

"Yup. Did everybody bring sunblock?" Willow asked, getting into the back of the Deux Cheveaux. "It's going to be a long day, and most of the fairgrounds are pretty open."

"Are you kidding? After last time?" Xander got in behind Willow, leaning over the front seat to explain to Buffy, "Cordy's mom spent half the Faire having a nervous breakdown about the possibility of skin cancer. She stopped at every cosmetic and lotion counter there and bought a truckload of junk to protect her and Cordy's faces. Plus every natural herbalist stand for stuff to help her sleep, and give her energy, and---"

"And the fortune tellers, so they could explain what was wrong with her in the first place," Willow reminded him. "They were kind of fun. One of them told me I'd get married three times and have seven kids--after I left my career as an opera singer, of course," she giggled.

Xander and Willow spent the rest of the hour-long trip to Elmwood regaling Buffy and Giles with stories of Cordelia and Harmony's exploits at the last Faire, including the dragonswing ride that Willow got sick on and the Birds of Prey exhibition that they'd had to leave early ("Cordy freaked when the falcon buzzed the audience"). By the time they reached the Faire grounds, Buffy was looking forward to the day's events with more optimism than she'd previously had; it sounded like a cross between a huge flea market and an all-day concert festival, rather than the tacky New-Age craft fair she'd been imagining.

There was a huge line outside the gates when they got there, and another one forming up at the ticket windows. "I'll get our tickets, if the three of you will hold our places in line," Giles said, digging for his wallet and taking their proffered ten dollar bills and Willow's coupons. He glanced around the entrance area with concern. "I don't see Ms. Calendar anywhere."

"She'll be here, the gates don't even open for another fifteen minutes. Relax, we're just spending the day in a time period you like better than this one," Buffy ordered him.

"Fun. Yes." Giles studied their surroundings warily, eyebrows trying to climb up his forehead. "I would hope it would be that, although what time period this would allegedly be..." He shook his head as a unicyclist went by, then strode off toward the ticket counter.

Buffy rolled her eyes at Willow as Xander got programmes from a passing festival barker. "Yeeeesh. Maybe this wasn't such a hot idea. Giles's going to turn this into a history lesson if we let him."

"Then we've definitely got to make sure he doesn't have a prayer of finding one historically accurate thing," Xander said determinedly, opening up his newspaper. "Let's see. The Singing Executioners. Cool. Zonduro the Escape Artist: Death-Defying Fire Escapes Fifty Feet Above the Stage."

"Dead Bob and his Dummy, Smudge," Willow read aloud.

"Eeeeeeeeee." Buffy shuddered. "I think really not, okay?"

"Awww, you have to get over the thing with dummies, Buffy... Ooo, music. Aislyn and Siobhan, Celtic Blues. That sounds nice. And there's a--- Drumjam? Later. More music."

"Hey, this is what I wanna see: Dirk and Guido, Swordsmen Extraordinaire." Xander adopted a Spanish accent and pantomimed a sword slash at Willow. "My name is Xander Montoya. You keeled my fatherrrr. Prepare to die!!"

"How many times *have* you seen 'Princess Bride', Xander?" Ms Calendar asked from behind Buffy.

"Whoa. Ms. Calendar... very cool costume. Very authentic." Willow shoved an elbow into Xander's side and he managed to yank his eyes away from the computer teacher's neckline with only minimal effort. Ms. Calendar really did look good, Buffy had to admit. She was wearing a bright green and red costume --- emerald underdress, pale green blouse, silver-grey overskirt, with a viridian, cream, and silver bodice. All of it went well with her dark hair and pale coloring; sort of a mature Snow White kind of look. The decolletage wasn't as daring as some of the Faire women were showing, but it was a pretty good bet that Giles wasn't going to be able to ignore it. Not with that crystal hanging in the center of her chest, anyway.

"Thanks. Where's Rupert?" Ms. Calendar took off her straw hat and fanned herself with it, squinting at the line into the Gate. "They're going to open the Gates any second."

"He went off to buy the tickets. What's in here?" Buffy asked, tweaking the picnic basket the teacher had in the crook of her arm.

"Ohh, stuff. Sunblock. Some extra goodies," Ms. Calendar said evasively. "What have you guys picked out to see today?"

"Nothing definite yet," Willow answered, scanning the programme again and frowning. "What's the Reign of Terror?"

"It's usually the French Revolution," Giles said in mild irritation, rejoining them as the line began to move into the Faire grounds. "Although I simply can't believe they'd allow their presentations to become *that* historically inaccurate... Oh." He cleared his throat, blinking at Jenny, who smiled widely back. "Hello, Ms. Calendar. What a charming costume. Quite... authentic." Giles glanced down at the ankle bells fastened around one sandal, up to the crystal, then quickly jerked his gaze back to her face, blushing as Willow and Buffy stifled giggles.

"That's what I said. Authentic," Xander repeated approvingly.

Jenny quirked a grin at the librarian and said, "I don't think this Reign of Terror has anything to do with the Bastille; the program says it's occurring 'intermittently, throughout the day'. Probably one of the role playing games. I guess we'll find out soon enough."

"How about this, Giles? Puke & Snot: Shakespeare for Transients," Willow suggested mischievously, her eyes sparkling. "Your native tongue!"

"No one here is coming close to approximating my native tongue." Giles's face was pained. "The absurdity of the accents is only matched by the lack in their vocabulary skills---"

"Chill, Henry Higgins. If we wanted accuracy, we'd visit Oxford and make you play tour guide. " Buffy skipped forward and gave her ticket to the gatekeeper.

"Welcome to the new Renaissance!" shouted one of the guards to the gathered crowd. "In the name of King Henry the Eighth, enter the Kingdom of Elmwood and be welcome!" The Slayerettes followed the crowd into the enclosed Faire area. Permanent wooden stands, made to look like vaguely medieavel houses and buildings, lined the perimeter of the grounds, with small kiosks dotting the wide avenues. Signs pointing to various stages (the Swan Stage, the Rose Stage, the Golden Cup Stage) were posted at the crossroads, and flags and pennants flew from the tops of the stands.

"Food," Xander said in heartfelt tones, sniffing the air. "Gyros. Turkey legs. Corn on the cob. Ice cream. MmmMmmmmMMMmmm goodddd...."

"Not yet, Xander. Soon." Willow dragged him away from his zombie-like progress toward the food stands. "Parade now. Food later."

"Ooooooo," Buffy gushed, her eyes going round as she started to bounce toward one of the stands. "Swords. Knives. Maces!"

"Actually, we really could use some new supplies for the weapons cabinet," Giles observed, beginning to follow the Slayer.

"Um, why don't you guys wait a few minutes, until after the crowd goes by?" Ms. Calendar suggested, rolling her eyes at a ruefully grinning Willow, then steering the Watcher out of the path of a passing juggler. "Especially the elephants."

"Oh, dear." Giles let Jenny pull him out of the thoroughfare, and Buffy swerved back to rejoin Willow and Xander as the first performers came down the street. "It is rather impressive...."

The drummers and other musicians were first, playing a march, followed by jugglers, fire-eaters, and gymnasts doing cartwheels. A contingent of gypsies and cutthroats followed, waving and smiling at the crowd. One of the Scotsman tipped Willow a wink as he passed, and she giggled and blushed. "Xander, you know," Buffy said thoughtfully, studying the kilted men going by, "You might have been right about the costume thing. Oooo, look at *him*. Nice boots. I think that one's watching you, Will."

"Hey," Xander protested. "Waitaminit..."

Whatever he was going to say was lost in a flourish of trumpets as the Court began to ride by on horseback.

Part the Third: "The Clothes Make the... um... Slayerette?"
Dianne DeSha (a.k.a. la Mercenaire). Notes.

November 8
10:15 AM
Elmwood Renaissance Faire Grounds

By the time the court had passed, the bulk of the noise had died down, and it was possible to hear your own thoughts, Xander's thoughts had apparently wandered....

"You know, staring at 'Xena' there until your eyes bug out is not going to give you x-ray vision, Xander."

Not even looking up at Buffy's comment, the teen continued to watch the very-scantily-clad woman of dubious historical accuracy walk by. "X-ray vision is way over-rated. I don't need to see her skeleton, I'd settle for some nice panoramic 3-D vision."

"Uh, Xander?" Giles followed his gaze with a quizzical, disapproving frown that lingered longer than strictly necessary. "Baring some ocular disability I am unaware of, you already have that."

Xander's appreciative stare had not wavered. "And for that we are forever grateful!"

A small choked sound of laughter, disgust, or some other similar emotion broke the spell as 'Xena' disappeared into the crowd again. Turning back to find the three females watching them with matching expressions of long-suffering amusement, Giles blushed and began to busily polish his glasses. Xander, however, just grinned unrepentantly.

Buffy sighed, laid one hand on Willow's arm, and turned to Jenny. "We need clothes." Before Willow could protest (or Xander's jaw could drop), she clarified: "Not like Xena, Warrior Slut, there, but like... like...," she gestured at Jenny's outfit.

"Garb," Jenny offered. "I agree." She smiled mischievously, "And I know just the place."

"But... but... but...." With Jenny and Buffy each on an arm, Willow was led away to join the fun, her protests ignored.

Giles and Xander trailed along behind.


Although the tent-like booth seemed to sell faire clothes for both genders, Willow noted with amusement how the guys stopped dead outside, as though refusing to enter a women's locker room for fear of what they might find. Guys could be so, well, *guy* sometimes.

Jenny turned to them as they entered. "O.K., guys, garb can be pretty expensive. But I know a few people..." She looked about inside the dimly-lit tent, hampered by hanging racks of shirts and skirts and who-knows-what-else. "So, are you willing to be peasant wenches?"

"Sure," Buffy agreed readily. "I'm kinda sick of the whole 'dress up like a fine lady' gig anyway. Being a wench could be cool."

"And it's more historically accurate, and all," Willow agreed cautiously, feeling the fabric of a few skirts on the rack to her left.

"True, but if you worry too much about history, faire will drive you nuts," Jenny cautioned, working her way through rows of clothing and other patrons towards the back of the large tent.

"Yeah, Will," Buffy agreed. "This isn't about being in history class; it's about having fun being who you're not."

"Oh great," Willow muttered. "Last time you told me that I ended up *dead*."

"Fine." Buffy stopped, put her hands on her hips, and loudly addressed the tent at large, "O.K., are there any demons, evil spirits, or creepy British guys named Ethan in here? Because if there are, I want to know about it _now_!"

"*Buffy*!" Willow hissed in embarrassment.

"Nay, good my lady!" an oddly-accented voice came from the back of the shop. "I' truth, we've nothing of that kind here!" The shadowy source of the voice resolved into a ruddy-faced, middle- aged, abundantly-endowed woman showing a rather large amount of cleavage. She was wearing an outfit that looked like Ms. Calendar's might... if you made it out of burlap and rolled it in the dirt a bit. "Here at the Wench's Corner, we've naught but the best-made clothes in the kingdom!"

The woman spotted Jenny and her face broke into a big smile. "My Lady Nicole! I had not thought you'd be free to come to faire! Hath your noble father not married you off yet?"

Willow and Buffy exchanged looks.

"Nay, Goodwife Margaret, not yet! Prithee lend me aid? For I have come with these two young wenches, who have neither proper attire, nor, I fear, much coin in their purse."

"Say no more, my lady!" the woman tsked as she eyed the two teens. "This one's already got a proper chemise and I've a few things in the back that may indeed suit them right well."

As the woman bustled back behind a bit of curtain, Jenny turned to see both girls looking at her, wide-eyed.

"Uh, Ms. Calendar...?" Willow asked in a small voice, as though afraid of the answer.

"You *are* still Ms. Calendar, right?" Buffy demanded, more directly. "You haven't gone mental on us?"

Jenny shook her head, "Sorry, guys, I forget the group I'm dealing with." All traces of strange accent and manner were reassuringly gone. "I've worked here at faire the past couple of years. Lady Nicole is my faire persona. She's the daughter of minor English nobility, but her mother was French, which makes it hard for her father to marry her off properly-- which is how I get away with not having a husband at my age."

Willow was nodding, getting into the spirit of the story. " 'Cuz with the French and the English hating each other and all."

"And people married young back then," Jenny agreed. "The Elizabethans would be expecting you two to be getting married and having kids any day now, let alone me."

"Weird," Buffy announced, a slightly disgusted look on her face. "I'm glad _I_ don't live now! ...Then... I mean."

"Yeah," Willow agreed as the woman came back with an armful of cloth.

"I keep a few things in the back, for friends and emergencies and such. Not new, you understand, but I think these might suit the young wenches right well, my lady." Parceling out the items to each teen, she led them towards the dressing curtains in the back of the shop.

"Have you two ever heard of the Three Stages of Bodice?" Jenny asked casually as they prepared for a Renaissance makeover.


In front, the guys were hanging out, Xander openly admiring the passing views, and Giles pretending not to.

"Man, this century _rocks_!" The teen muttered as he spotted yet another daring décolletage.

"This century had death, disease, institutionalized social oppression...," Giles corrected, removing his glasses and polishing dust off the lenses.

"And cleavage...," Xander added. "Lots and lots of...."

Motion from the entrance to the tent behind them caught their attention. Buffy came out first, dressed in a loose cream chemise under a tight, dark green bodice. A tin cup dangled from the waist of her rust skirt, which was tucked up to reveal an oatmeal- colored underskirt, and a form-fitting white cap covered her head-- but it was pretty clear from his gaping expression that Xander at least was still pretty much stuck back on the bodice part. Giles took his glasses off and polished them once again.

This action probably saved him a minor coronary when Willow appeared next, dressed in a similar outfit, with cream and green skirts, and a blue bodice that Jenny had reassured her was not-quite 'Stage Two'.

Xander had been non-verbal before, now he was closer to non-mental, if the way his eyes nearly popped was any indication. Only Jenny's friendly hand placed firmly on her back kept Willow from retreating quickly back the way she had come. Giles replaced his glasses, took one look, and apparently decided they still weren't quite clean enough.

"Will!" Xander choked out, having apparently recovered at least his verbal skills. "You've got... got...," he made vague gestures towards her with both hands, "I mean, they're... uh... yeah... uh...."

"See? Prithee I told thou you looketh great, Lady Willow," Buffy gloated, with an enthusiastic-- if questionable-- attempt at Elizabethan accent. Motioning with her head she pointed out a young man passing by who was taking note of the shy teen's new look. By the time Xander realized what was happening, he was directing deadly glares to the guy's back.

Giles, for his part, looked to be in actual pain. "I really don't know where to begin: with your highly-creative attempts at Elizabethan grammar or," and he winced visibly, "With what I presume you meant to be some sort of period accent...."

"Fie, Lord Giles!" The sound came nearly in his ear and he found himself too busy being startled to wince. "Do not bother us with your sermons, lest all think you a joyless Puritan!" Jenny smiled broadly at him, and with a shy, involuntary grin, the librarian apparently lost any and all attempt to restore historical accuracy to the situation. "Pray come hither with me a while, for I have something I would show thee...."

One hand on his arm, Jenny led him back into the tent. Xander had, in the meantime, managed to regain enough equilibrium to throw a possessive arm over each of the girls' shoulders. "So, ladies! What do you say we do this faire?"

In tandem, they shrugged him off, Buffy dropping down onto a handy bale of hay in a whoosh of skirts and Willow still trying not to fuss with her neckline. "Nay, fool, we must needs wait for Lady Nicole and Sir Giles."

"*Sir Giles*?" Xander blinked. "And who's this 'Nicole'... Wait...," He moved in front of them, studying them with a slightly-freaked expression.

"No, Xander, we're fine," Buffy reassured him before he could ask. "Just getting into, like, the mood. Lady Nicole is just Ms. Calendar."

Xander frowned, "I thought her name was Jenny?"

"Nicole's her faire name," Willow explained. "It's really cool, she's got like this whole persona where she's a noble lady but she can't get married because her mother was French and all."

"French," Xander repeated, obviously lost.

Buffy replied, ignoring his confusion, "So now I think we should have faire names, since we're all dressed." She frowned. "You can be Lady Willow, that sounds really cool and old-fashioned and all." The redhead grinned. "But somehow I don't think 'Lady Buffy' fits."

"So you need a new name," Willow agreed.

Xander objected, "Hey, there's nothing wrong with being 'Lady Busty...!'" His voice choked off as he heard what he'd said. Both girls looked at him. "I mean.... I didn't mean... I didn't say that...." They exchanged long-suffering looks. Xander sighed and gave in, "I'll shut up now."

Buffy resumed the conversation, "So what name should I pick?"

"Well there are lots of names.... Ooooh!" Willow's eyes went wide as inspiration hit. "You should ask Giles! There must have been a Slayer in this time, right? He's got all the histories, maybe he knows what her name was."

"Now there's a weird thought," Buffy frowned, kicking at the hem of her skirts. "Can you imagine trying to fight off the Forces of Evil in all this _stuff_?"

"But," Willow pointed out, "More places to hide stakes."


"Hey, I thought we were giving up on demons and ghouls and walking stiffs for the day," Xander protested. "Speaking of which, where did Giles get to?"

Buffy and Willow exchanged conspiratorial looks that threatened to dissolve into giggles. Xander, immediately on the alert to a threat to the forces of masculinity amongst the group, went on the offensive. "Whaaaat?"

The girls, as had long ago become habit, didn't bother to answer him. "Do you think he'll really, you know, _do_ it?" Willow asked in a hushed voice.

"With 'Lady Nicole' batting her eyelashes and saying 'pretty please'?" Buffy asked incredulously. "He'll cave like a marshmallow."

"*What*?" Xander once again demanded, once again receiving no response.

"Well, I mean after she went to all the trouble to borrow it from her friend...."

"And since she's already totally dolled up medieval-style...."



"*What* do you femmes have planned for the G-man?"

Any remote chance of a response was cut off by the appearance of the gentleman in question himself. With Jenny firmly at his back, refusing to allow him to back down, Giles emerged, decked out properly for a day at the faire with a lady.

Both the girls' eyebrows raised in reluctant appreciation (Xander's were most likely moving due to pure shock) as they admired a nobleman's outfit consisting of a blue velvet jerkin, with sleeve ties hanging loosely from the shoulder, buttoned up over a white linen shirt. Matching blue velvet pants-- little more than puffy-looking shorts, really-- ended mid-thigh, revealing dark gray hose running all the way down to black buckle shoes.

(Had they managed to get past the sight of their favorite librarian in _hose_, they might also have noticed a jaunty hat adorned with a single long white feather which was affixed with a small silver pin that picked up the silver thread embroidery trimming the rest of the outfit. Given that they hadn't, however, that observation would have to wait until later.)

"Whoa, bitchin outfit, Lord Giles!" Buffy admired with a grin.

"Love the tights, man," Xander offered with a smirk, earning himself a small kick from Willow.

Just then some of the Guild of St. Brigid passed them. Jenny knew this, of course; Buffy and Willow simply knew they had found cute guys in kilts. This clearly made them happy.

As Xander once again threw a possessive arm around each, earning him synchronized elbows in the ribs, Jenny raised one eyebrow at him. "Last chance to get into garb, Xander. I'm sure Goodwife Margaret has something you could wear."

The teen looked after the retreating Scotsmen, then back at his computer teacher in disbelief. "I am *not* wearing a skirt!"

Jenny shrugged, "Your choice. But you don't have to...."

She was interrupted by a call from across the road, "Mi'lady Nikki! I had not thought to find you at our humble faire again!"

The good-looking, if rather scruffily-garbed, guy approaching them was probably in his early twenties, wearing a loose, open- necked peasant shirt and rust britches just past the knee over dark blue hose. From his belt hung a large wooden mug, a short sword, and some dubious-looking pouches. His head was covered in a loose, floppy hat with a long feather that had seen better days.

"Fie, sirrah! That is no way to address a lady!" Jenny protested, glancing at Giles to see if he would join in.

"Uh... no. No, indeed," Giles offered, in a rather stilted version of his normal speaking voice, which was, at least, already accented.

Buffy and Willow barely had time to exchange amused looks with Ms. Calendar when they found the young man bending his knee and swooping off his hat in a grand dramatic gesture to them. "Hail, most fair and comely wenches! Might thou not be persuaded to join me in a cup of ale?"

Buffy returned the admiring look and even Willow managed a smile through the blush rising in her cheek. But Xander was not as pleased.

"Hey!" he protested with a scowl. "_What_ did you call them?"

The man turned to him, looked him up and down, and then sneered openly. "I did not address you, sirrah. My invitation was to the good wenches here." He bowed once again in an even more exaggerated fashion in their direction.

This time Xander caught the guy by the shoulder, ignoring Willow's attempt at a protest. "_Don't_ call them that!" He faced down the guy eye-to-eye, sparing only a second to aim a glare at Buffy that suggested that _this_ time she keep her judo moves to herself.

"Xander!" Willow finally managed to say, "That's what peasant women are called. He's just being in character."

Xander looked at Willow, then at Ms. Calendar for confirmation. Letting go of the guy's shoulder, he backed off reluctantly. "O.K. Hey man, I didn't know."

The young man, however, would have none of it. Adopting a highly-insulted pose, he scowled at the teen. "By St. Dymphna, the boy has gall! Fie upon you, sirrah, for a mewling, fly-bitten varlet! I demand satisfaction!"

After staring blankly for a moment, Xander turned to Ms. C for a translation.

"You've offered him an insult, and he wants a duel to satisfy his honor."

"You're kidding. Right?"

Ms. Calendar shook her head, grinning. "Nope. He wants a duel. He's a Seadog -- one of the sailors," she explained, "And they're always out making trouble like this, just looking for a fight." She winked at the young man, then adopted a purposely haughty air. "Of course, a lady like myself simply does not deal with such commoners!"

"I'm supposed to _fight_ him?" Xander asked again, still not sure.

Jenny relented, dropping her voice to exclude the offended Seadog. "You don't have to, of course. It's part of the faire. Some people just like to watch, but it can be fun to play along, and Chris," she raised her voice for a few words, "Or should I say, James the Minnow?" -- earning a yelped protest from the man in question-- "Is really cool." She paused while Xander obviously considered for a moment, "And, seeing as this all started when he offered insult to your ladies over there...."

"Well, knave?" the Seadog demanded, "What will it be?"

"Look, I...," Buffy started, but Xander spun around with an evil grin, not giving her a chance to finish.

"Aye, scurvy knave! I'll fight thee!" Willow assumed the horrible, tortured way he said it was his attempt at a faire accent. Giles moaned quietly in apparent pain.

"And where's your sword, sirrah?" the young man demanded. At Xander's confused look, he smiled. "Away with thee then to the Seadog camp with me. We'll find you a proper sword, lad!" With a wink at Jenny, he threw his arm over Xander's shoulder like a best friend, and dragged him off into the crowd.

"But... but...," Willow stammered.

"He'll be fine," Jenny assured her. "And what do you want to bet the next time we see him he's dressed like a Seadog?"

"Oh," Willow said. Then her brain apparently processed the combination of Chris' costume and Xander's body. "*Oh*!" she smiled happily as Buffy grinned at her.

"Well, my Lord," Jenny offered, taking an uncertain Giles by the arm, "Shall we go hence and mayhap enjoy ourselves at this good faire?"

"Yes," Giles agreed. "Uh, quite...."

Part the Four: "And the Mercs Thought They Had a Kangaroo Court...It's the Bobby and Eddie Show"
Amy L. Hull. Notes.

They walked past the rows of open-front shops glancing casually at the various wares.

A loud voice rang out, "Piiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-cccccckkkkkkkkkkk-llllllllllle!! Get your fresh pickles here! Nice and cold. Multiple uses for one low price!" The young, raggedly-dressed man wiggled his eyebrows suggestively as they passed.

As they approached a booth with a lovely cinnamon-scent, another vendor with the requisite Amazing Renaissance Pop-Up Breasts and a plate of candied almonds approached them, "Would you like a pair of nuts in your hand?" she asked sweetly.

"I think I'd like that very much," Jenny said, grinning wickedly at Giles, who immediately looked away and began adjusting his glasses.

Buffy and Willow exchanged a look and rolled their eyes, but also got samples of the nuts.

"Hey, these are really good," Buffy commented.

"Hold on, guys," Willow called ahead to Giles and Ms. Calendar. "I need to get some of these for Xander. He just loves them."

>From further down the dirt path, a voice rang out, "Heeeeeyyy, mister, wanna buy a pickle???"

Suddenly a woman dressed in bright, motley garments, and a three-pronged, stuffed jester's cap in similar hues pounced in front of them. She had red circles painted on her face, and her mouth was obscured by huge, red, plastic lips. She held up a staff adorned with a head wearing a replica of her own hat.

"Um, hi?" Willow said uncertainly.

"Jayne?" Jenny asked, "are you still here?"

"Prithee, wouldst thou and thy fair friends see His Majesty's Court of Common Pleas? It is slated to begin in but five minutes."

"Court of Common Pleas?" Buffy asked, turning questioningly to Giles.

"'Tis where the common folk of this town may bring matters before a judge of a noble stature. A most *un*common affair." The fool leaned toward Jenny. "Thou mightst know this as the "Bobby and Eddie Show". 'Tis certainly worth one's time, and there be yet many seats."

"You guys will love this," Jenny said, now grinning. "Come on, Rupert. Lead the way, Jayne."

Jayne took Willow by the hand and led her though the food court and to a shaded clearing with a ring of wooden benches--all of which seemed to be completely taken.

Jayne marched up to one of the benches, took her fool staff, and used it to sweep four garbed women off into the dust. "Make way for members of the public. Make way," Jayne announced gleefully. She smiled smugly and headed toward other passers-by on the nearby paths, already beginning her pitch. "You, good master! Wouldst see His Majesty's justice in action?"

Willow was gaping at the women who were dusting off their clothes and righting themselves at the foot of the bench. "I--I'm so sorry," she began haltingly. "Would you like your seats back?"

"Oh, nay," one replied. "'Tis the way of things; we be but mere peasants, and those of a higher station must first be allowed to sit."

Two of the women nodded in congenial agreement with the statement from their spots in the dust, but another glared at Jayne's already returning form.

"Oh." Willow still looked uncomfortable, and Buffy was also frowning at the fool with her newly drafted audience members.

"It's okay, guys," Jenny reassured. "The folks who work here pretty much have to play along."

They began settling their skirts around them on the rough benches, and looking at the various peasants and occasionally better-dressed individuals sitting and milling about. Two men in red-trimmed, decorative black robes seemed to be conferring across the clearing.

A loud voice right next to them suddenly boomed, "You! Wenches! Cover your chests and heads! For shame!"

They looked up to see two men, wearing black clothing and black hats with buckles standing over them and glowering. One was pointing at Jenny, Buffy, and Willow.

Willow put a hand on her head, eyes widening.

"Excuse me?" Buffy asked.

"Cover yourselves like decent women," the second man commanded, pointing at Buffy, Willow, and Jenny's chests. "Wouldst have thyselves mistaken for harlots, walking the streets in such disgraceful attire? What think you, Brother Brimfire?"

"Aye, Brother Hellstone, 'tis scandalous to see such wanton behaviour, and in ones so young, as well. Where are your husbands, you hussies? And you," he turned on Giles so quickly the bespectacled man started, "how is it that you have come to let your wife appear in public in so sordid a manner?"

"Giles, can I just kill them?" Buffy pleaded.

"Shall we cover ourselves thusly?" Ms. Calendar queried coquettishly, pulling up her skirts to cover her chest.

Giles gave up even attempting to stammer a response to Buffy, and tried to avoid staring at Jenny while the Puritans roared in horror and fled.

The mustached man in robes stepped forward and announced, "This is His Majesty's Court of Common Pleas! All having petition or plaint will come forward without fear of retribution or favour! God Save the King!"

"God Save the King!" the entire assembled group of costumed individuals replied in unison.

Giles, however, had to stop halfway through the word "Queen". A sheepish smile spread across his face as his companions and several of the surrounding participants turned to him questioningly. "Sorry," he said, adjusting his glasses slightly as the corner of his mouth quirked in his typically self- deprecating way. "Force of habit."

The man resumed, "I am Sir Edward Coke, His Majesty's Attorney General."

"He's a weasel!" chorused several voices from the audience.

An annoyed sneer crossed his face, and he took a deep breath before proceeding, "And this is Robert Cecil. Master Cecil, what does the clerk have first on our docket for this day?"

The shorter, bearded man turned to a bespectacled man at the nearby table, "Railton! What is our first case?"

The young man stood awkwardly, adjusting his spectacles, and checking the list before him. "Uh, Dangus O'Hennessey would bring suit against the Lord Mayor of this fair shire in the matter of the drains."

"The drains," Edward Coke repeated dubiously. Robert Cecil nodded. Edward shook his head, "Master O'Hennessey, come forth!"

"Dirty, filthy, stinkin', drunken, Irish poacher!" a voice rang out derisively.

"I am *no* a poacher! I am an honest huntsman of the King." The man who stepped forward, with long sleeves dangling, and his jerkin shoulders and boots fur-trimmed, objected defensively, then turned to Edward Coke. "The good people of this town do pay taxes so that the Lord Mayor will keep the drains clear of obstruction. However, we have been this threemonth without proper drainage. The stench was unbearable. Finally, we have ourselves, the townspeople, gone into the drain pipes and found this." He raised a rope to shoulder level, from which dangled a filthy, limp form. Half the court cringed away and held their noses.

"That's my dog, Splat," a man's voice called suddenly.

Robert Cecil stepped forward, "Edward, I think now would be a good time for--"

"Recess? Yes, I agree. This court is now in recess!" The two officiators moved back toward the clerk's table.

Jayne the Foole, joined by several other fools, suddenly ran into the middle of the proceedings. A girl with pastel blues and pinks on her jester's hat grabbed Giles' hands and pulled him along with her. The fools sang a loud, raucous, nonsense song while dancing in a circle around Dangus, who was still holding the creature with its matted fur dangling from its rope.

"Court is again in session," Coke boomed.

The fools moved back to their places. The pastel fool spun Giles back toward his seat, where he staggered and fell nearly into Jenny's lap. She was almost laughing too hard to catch him.

O'Hennessey continued, "We would petition the return of the taxes which we have paid for the upkeep of these drains."

"I think that's my dog Splat," the voice repeated as a man stepped forward wearing a brightly-colored, belled cockscomb.

Edward Coke and his cohort were standing to the side of the clearing, looking bemused. "Good master, who are you?" he was attempting not to laugh--and being successful almost solely by putting a hand over his mouth.

"I am Master Todd Sweeney, this town's barber-surgeon."

"Oh, dear God," Giles murmured.

"If this is Splat, he should be able to do six back flips." Sweeney retrieved the rope from O'Hennessey and gave it a circular flip. The creature did a perfect flip.

Buffy grimaced at the spectacle. "Ew! This is *really* gross!"

"Thank you, Master Sweeney," Edward Coke said, still smiling. "I do decree that Lord Mayor Bailey shall return to the townsfolk those taxes that were collected for the clearing of the drainage pipes. Good Master Sweeney, please do remove that offensive...creature from my Court." He looked around a moment, but no one stepped forward. "Bobby, I do believe it's time for everyone's favourite game."

"Is it really, Eddie?"

"I think it is. Your favourite game and mine, everyone," Coke paused and, in unison with a large number of the assembled people, chorused, "'Name That Crime'!"

At that moment, two girls wearing embroidered name tags wandered into the middle of Court, with a group of people wearing shorts, "And this," the strawberry blonde began, "is His Majesty's Court of Common Pleas. This is His Majesty's Attorney General, Sir Edward Coke."

"Ah, look, Bobby," Coke announced, rubbing his hands together as he advanced on the girl, "We have our contestant for the day."

"What, me?"

"Yes, you, Ollie the Tour Girl, you are our first contestant on Name That Crime!"

"Oh, goody!" The girl hopped up and down and clapped her hands.

"All right, you , the audience, will be the jury in this trial." Coke began, smiling a bit ferally. "Our first question is: Did Ollie the Tour Girl commit a misdemeanor crime or a felony crime?"

The crowd cheered loudly as he mentioned the felony.

"All right, so, the next issue you must determine is, did Ollie the Tour Girl commit a felony crime against person, or a felony crime against property? Please bear in mind that the punishment for a crime against property need not be less than that for a crime against person, for the people of this time did consider crimes against one's property--such as his wife, his herds, his land, his home, or anything of the like--to be as great an offense as crimes committed against his actual person."

At that moment, a group of three frighteningly ragged men staggered in. Their clothes were tied together with bones and cooking utensils--one had a metal colander on his head as a hat.

"Dad! Look what we're baby-sitting for the Military Guilde!" They held up a round, black item with a sparkling fuse hanging from it.

"I told you not to call me that," Coke said under his breath.

"Edward," the pitch of Bobby Cecil's voice was rising nervously. "They've got a bomb. Aaand...it's lit."

A random voice called, "Who gave the pus-blotches a bomb?"

Buffy ran in and grabbed the bomb, then sprinted toward food court area. The assembled participants looked on, stunned expressions frozen on their faces.

Moments later, Buffy sprinted back into Court. "It's out," she declared. Then, pointing toward a ragged, waving man, "The pickle man helped."

"Ah, many thanks, young mistress." Coke stammered.

"*Pus-blotches*?" Buffy asked, as she seated herself again.

"I'll explain later," Ms. Calendar said under her breath.

Coke seemed to recover himself, and reached for Ollie's sleeve. "The question remains--did Ollie the Tour Girl commit a felony crime against property such as vandalism or theft?"

There was little crowd reaction

Ollie waved her arms with her hands withdrawn into the voluminous sleeves. "I could not steal; I have no hands!" she announced, grinning and nodding encouragingly.

"All right," Edward Coke continued, "*Did* Ollie the Tour Girl commit a felony crime against *person*?"

The crowd cheered wildly. A moment later, someone with a partial bovine costume wandered through.

Coke stopped the man, "And who are you?" He leaned closer. "You're Steve the Love Bison?" He pursed his lips, trying not to laugh. "Wait here, Steve the Love Bison." He nodded once. "All right. Next we must determine the *type* of felony crime against person of which Ollie the Tour Guide is guilty. Did Ollie the Tour Guide commit a deviant psychosexual act?"

The crowd cheered.

"And with whom did she commit this crime?"

Over half the audience pointed to the latest costumed arrival, who placed his hooves on his chest and stepped back as if to say, "Who, *me*?"

Edward Coke struggled again not to laugh. "All right. Now you must determine intent. Was this a crime of passion or one of unpremeditated accident?" He put an arm around each of the defendant's shoulders. "*Did* Ollie the Tour Girl and Steve the Love Bison consensually commit deviant psychosexual acts...or was it an accident?"

"I'm very clumsy," Ollie put in helpfully.

Ms. Calendar, Buffy, and Willow joined the general cheer of "Accident!"

"Your next task will be to determine a punishment for Ollie--"

Sir Edward was interrupted as a group of four men and one woman approached wearing black pants, boots, and gloves, with a red stripe up the seam of the pants, and red and white diagonal stripes on his jerkin and a hat to match. The woman's costume was in the same colors and design.

"Hey, boss, look what we found!" The large man in front with longish, curly hair called.

"Oh, no, not again," Ms. Calendar choked.

Coke and Cecil were nearly in unison as their heads dropped. "What is it this time, Bardolph?" Coke asked.

Bardolph shoved a well-dressed woman into the clearing. She almost tripped over her velvet- and tapestry-draped hoops, staggering somewhat as she struggled to keep her balance in spite of her corsets. Her box-shaped, velvet hat fortunately stayed in place above her carefully coifed hair.

"This...woman," Bardolph announced derisively, "Is going about the shire claiming to be the Countess of Lennox. She is claiming certain rights and privileges as the possible grandmother of future kings of Scotland. She is demanding respect as she says is her due, given her station. *Clearly*, this is a complete farce. Look at this woman! She cannot possibly be a Countess!"

"Oh, no," Willow squeaked.

"What?" Buffy demanded quietly.

"Um, the Countess of Lennox sort of *was* the grandmother of one of the kings England's going to have after Henry."

"Oh." Buffy looked back at the proceedings, not noticing the perplexed frown Giles was aiming at Willow.

"Um, Bardolph," Coke began, nervously, "who was it last time? Lord Burley the Treasurer? And before that wasn't it Percy, Duke of Northumberland? Who will it be next? The very King Himself?" He turned to the woman, whose jaw was set in a furious glower. "Milady, please forgive my man; he often does not think before he acts. I will have him punished."

"And will I be able to be privy to this punishment?" she asked haughtily.

"Indeed, madame. And you will have my own personal apology for the behaviour of my guard."

The Countess of Lennox regarded him for a moment. "That will be acceptable. But know that I will not tolerate any repetition of this treatment."

"Of course, milady," Coke knelt before her and gestured for Bardolph to do the same.

Bardolph frowned at him in confusion, then also knelt. "I offer my most sincere apologies, milady," he said, lowering his eyes.

"See that you act with more discretion in future," the Countess said severely, then took her fan and cuffed him sharply across the face. There were titters of laughter from the bystanders.

"We still must determine a punishment for Ollie," Coke reminded everyone, obviously relieved to change the subject.

Led by Ms. Calendar, a large number of the assembled audience began to chant, "Beat Railton. Beat Railton!"

Giles looked quite startled, and leaned slightly away from the woman next to him.

The young, bespectacled clerk began to sink under the table. "Oh, no, you don't," Bobby Cecil grabbed Railton's collar and dragged him to his feet. "At least be grateful it's not the body cavity search like last time." Railton cringed.

Cecil shoved the clerk toward Bardolph, who was looking leeringly delighted at being able to pick on someone after his run-in with the Countess. He dragged Railton into the nearby wooden structure, and Railton began to wail as the walls shook with impact against them.

The other Bad Guyes drew their swords and stood in menacing threat to deflect the gathered peasantry who looked nervously, like they might rise to the clerk's defence.

Willow elbowed Buffy, raising her eyebrows surreptitiously in the direction of the two costumed women and four men who were approaching on the sidelines. The men were wearing cream trousers with a bright blue stripe up the seam that matched the color of their jerkins. The women were dressed in creams and blues as well, and they, along with three of the men slowly drew their swords.

Suddenly Willow frowned. "Xander?" she said, in soft, incredulous tones.

"What, Will?" Buffy began, then her mouth dropped open in counterpoint to her own rising eyebrows. "Xander?" she echoed as her gaze fell on the member of the approaching group who was hanging back and not drawing his sword.

"Shh. Those are the Sea Dogs," Ms. Calendar explained softly. "They're the good guys. Just watch."

Bardolph opened the small, wooden door, and shoved Railton face-down onto the ground. He looked around and began to draw his sword. "Men!" he roared, and he and two of the Bad Guyes reached for a nearby peasant at the same time as Bardolph. In a flash, two young girls and Dangus O'Hennessey were standing with swords at their throats.

"You, Sea Dogs!" Bardolph roared. "Drop your weapons!"

"Buffy," Ms. Calendar said warningly, grabbing the girl's arm, "just stay here. This is part of the act."

The Sea Dog in the light-colored dress began to fight with the female member of Coke's Guard. When another of the Sea Dogs rushed Bardolph, he cast his hostage aside, as did the others, and all hell broke loose. The various assembled peasants scattered, hiding behind trees and pulling patrons with them.

Xander, clearly combining instructions from the other Sea Dogs with Slayerette instincts, was encouraging people to stand back from the blades.

"Drop your swords," Bardolph suddenly boomed.

Everyone turned to see Bardolph on his knees with a bearded man holding a sword to his throat. The other members of Coke's guard dropped their swords, looking as disgusted with the situation as Coke himself.

"Bardolph, leave the good people of this shire in peace."

"Jack Bottoms, you will pay for this!" Bardolph growled.

"Very like." The Sea Dog leader grinned through his goatee. "be gone with you!" He sheathed his sword as the Bad Guyes scattered.

"Court of Common Pleas is now over. God Save the King!" Edward Coke called, rapidly gathering his belongings and rushing to follow his guards.

Xander made his way around the dispersing crowd to the Slayerettes.

"Xander, you look sharp." Buffy called when he got close enough.

"That's Master Tumbles to you," he said. "She's my sister" He gestured to the petite Sea Dog in the cream dress, then turned around. "Those Sea Dogs are really cool!" Xander enthused. Did you see the *boots* they found me?" He pointed enthusiastically to the over-the-knee black leather that met the nicely-fitting cream trousers.

Willow nodded her agreement eagerly, smiling broadly.

"Very nice," Giles said quietly, still looking a bit shell-shocked.

"Whoa...Giles, are you stillwearing the puffy pants?" Xander demanded in the face of the obvious.

"They're pumpkin pants," Ms. Calendar supplied helpfully. "Looks nice, huh?"

"If you say so," Xander replied dubiously while Buffy and Willow nodded, smiling.

"So, are you guys having fun?" Ms. Calendar asked.

"Oh, yeah." Willow 's eyebrows raised expressively. "It was great; we got to see all kinds of stuff." She paused. "I don't think I could explain it, though."

"That's all right. When do we eat, anyway? I'm starved," Xander began looking around for options.

"Well, there are all the food booths, of course," Ms. Calendar suggested, "and this hut has food for the participants being served on the other side; I'll bet the Sea Dogs would invite us if we hinted."

Part the Fifth: "...And Then Lunch"
Abby Albrecht. Notes.

It took Xander and his teen-age-boy stomache two seconds to debate wheter he wanted to eat with the SeaDogs or at the food booths. "Why can't we do both? We'll have to pass by the food area anyway..."

"And I could go for some more of those nuts," Willow offered.

"Gyros... Corn Dogs... Cheesecake on a stick.... Hamburgers... Popcorn... Cotton candy... hmmm. Where to start?" Xander's eyes were as big as a little kid's on Christmas.

"What renaisance is this faire celebrating?" Giles asked everyone and no one. "Gyros??? Gyros aren't English. And they aren't pronounced with a 'G'..."

"Yeah, whatever G man." Xander said quickly, grabbing Buffy and Willow for a fast escape before Giles could do any more of a history lesson.

After making sure they had lost the Intrepid Fact Checker in the crowd the Slayerettes stopped to survey their choices. "Oh, anyone want a nice, thick pickle?" Xander asked after spotting the pickle man.

"Xander!" Willow warned.

"What? You know how much I love those briney cucumbers... How about a Hot Dog On a Stick?"

The corndog salesman, having listened in to their conversation in the hopes of pushing his product finally found his opportunity. "Nay good man. We sell not those products here." Sensing their disbelief, he continued. "For that product is a favorite of the King's and a specialty of his royal chef. It is therefore highly taxed. Nay, we do not sell that here."

"Then what do you sell, honest businessman?" Willow asked, trying to get into the part.

"I sell only breaded pork products stuck upon a shaft of wood!" He said with a gleam in his eyes.

Trying to repess a laugh, and not succeeding very well, Buffy replied, "then we shall have three such breaded pork products... with mustard."

Nodding with acceptance the business man took three items, which looked a lot like hot dogs on sticks, but weren't, out of his oven. "Aye, that be seven dollars."

"You mean the food wasn't covered with the admission?" Xander asked shyly.

With a resigned sigh that said she had heard that line many times before, Willow pulled out her wallet from somewhere within the folds of her skirt and paid for the lunch.

Quickly finishing their breaded pork products, they headed on to see what other nontrademarked food products they could try. Stopping here and there to try the tarts and cakes, Willow wouldn't let them stop and rest until they found the booth she had smelled all morning. The booth that had the food she had been craving for weeks. Suddenly it was there. In front of the trio in all of its glory. The souvlaki booth!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the food circle, Jenny was trying to make Giles forget that the food wasn't "authentic". And the way she was bending over products to frame them with her vast tracts of land was starting to work. She started to lead him towards a kettle of chicken stew, which was half-way authentic Giles had to admit, when a stubby hand grabbed his hand.

He turned in surprise only to see a dwarf grabbing his hand. *No, musn't call him a dwarf...* Giles reminded himself. *He's a little person, or a person of short stature.* But he sure did look like a dwarf out of legend.

The dwarf (for that was really what he was, well that and part gnome from his mother's side) said nothing, but pulled him to a small shack just off the main food area.

It took Giles a moment to adjust his eyes inside the dark shack. Once he did, he saw what he least expected... A tall, white-haired woman, with the whitest skin Giles had seen since moving to California. She was wearing the most authentic Renaisance clothing Giles had seen all day.

"I have heard you lamenting the fact that this Faire does not have authentic food. It is terrible, I agree." She said in the most soothing voice Giles had ever heard.

All Giles could do was mumble in agreement.

"Fortunately, some of us believe in tradition... Don't we, Lankershim?" The lady asked her dwarf. Still not speaking, the gleam in his eye told enough. "That's why I'm offering traditional English food. Please take a seat and enjoy."

Not knowing exactly why, except that it felt right, Giles sat down. In front of him the dwarf set down a steaming plate of bangers and mash.

Moments later Giles was digging in. They tasted just like his mum once made, which caused him to virtually inhale the dish.

The white woman watched with appreciation. "So you liked my humble fare? Then you should come back tonight for dinner. We'll be serving mutton!"

Before Giles could comment, Jenny came into the shack. "Goodday Mistress Aldanna. Are you still living this life? Come on Rupert, we must be going..."

With that, she grabbed Giles and dragged him out to the faire again. "I forgot to mention our local psycho, Dianne. She thinks we're in a place called Narnia... Let's go find the kids."

Part the Sixth: "A Wishy-Washy Interlude"
Valerie Meachum


Giles jumped at the chorus of bellowing female voices some yards off to their left, near the front gates of the site.

A smile that could only be described as deviously amused spread across Jenny's face. "If the Sea Dogs are doing their job properly," she informed the startled librarian, leading him to the source of the call, "that's where we need to be."

Sure enough, Buffy, Willow and Xander had been ensconced on a bench front and center, with several Sea Dogs seated at their feet. They faced a small pond, spanned by a plank bridge and marked with a crudely lettered sign identifying it as the "Wily Washing Wenches' Well." Seven particularly dishevelled wenches and one ragged and nervous-looking young man milled around the well with baskets of unidentifiable laundry, dunking and wringing it in the greenish water. The less-than-pristine state of the water made the whole enterprise seem rather pointless, but the washwenches' efforts were no less earnest for that, and they sang cheerfully as they worked.

Jenny waited for Giles' reaction to registering what was being sung--it didn't take long, he was a bright boy--then leaned over and whispered, "This authentic enough for you?"

He was definitely getting acclimated to this; he pulled his eyes back into their sockets and his jaw back into joint, and replied tartly, "Not bad. Though they actually get *much* worse, you know. I suppose there's only so far they can go, this being a family event and all that."

As he made this judgment, the harried washboy took center stage, standing on the large bench behind the well, shifting his weight back and forth and singing out a solo in a cracking but passable tenor:

This earned applause from the audience and a hail of wet rags from the wenches; the boy shielded his head with his hands and ducked behind the hanging laundry behind him for shelter.

At this point Willow spotted Jenny and Giles, and the kids shifted to make room and waved them over just as one wench sneaked up behind another and snapped a wet cloth at her.

The snappee, a tiny girl with a waist-length clump of snarled honey blonde hair, whirled with an indignant shriek, bringing the song to an abrupt halt; but there was no one there.

Her attacker--a redhead with a green crocheted cap and a flawless porcelain complexion peeking out from between smudges of grime--had retreated with impressive speed to the center of the bridge, where she seemed perfectly innocently hard at work. Except that she couldn't seem to stop snickering.

"Oh, Mistress Aislyn," the blonde called out, voice dripping saccharine and eyes flashing murder, "prithee, what be so funny?"

"Funny, Mistress Rosemund?" Aislyn managed somehow to match her accuser's tone around the persistent snickers. "Whatever dost thou mean?"

The fury in Rosemund's face cranked up several notches, and her colleagues huddled nervously together at the other end of the bridge. "Thou knowest right well what I do mean!" she snapped, stalking toward Aislyn on the creaking bridge. Turning her fierce gaze on the other wenches and on the audience, she demanded, "Doth she not? Didst not see her vicious and unwarranted attack upon my person?"

The little knot stared blankly at her out of a dozen eyes, then one timid hand went up. "Her what?" asked a wench in a bodice that had to be at least Stage 2.7, with enough curly dark hair for three girls.

Rosemund's smile was truly terrifying. "Your pardon, Mistress Elinor. I did forget with what rabble I do keep company..."

"Here it comes, " Aislyn tossed aside to the audience.

Barely sparing her a glare for this, Rosemund continued, "I did but mean, did not this peasant goose strike me?"

"Oohhhhhhh," the other wenches chorused in sudden comprehension, then launched into emphatic, wide-eyed head-shaking.

"Nay, Rosemund!"

"No one struck thee!"

Rosemund turned to the assembled patrons for a second opinion, but the Sea Dogs and a few other performers scattered through the crowd encouraged them to back up the denial.

"Mayhaps thou art too long in the sun, wench!" called out one of the Sea Dogs.

"Too long in something," Aislyn snorted. "Be you any less peasant than I, Rosemund? Certainly no less goose!"

That did it. "I will have no more from thee, varlet!" Rosemund cried, hauling the other to her feet and brandishing a long wet rag as if it were a sword. "En garde!"

"Very well," sighed Aislyn, "if that's the way thou dost want it..."

The plank bridge bounced ominously as the two combatants advanced and retreated along it, weapons whipping around them in a manner that seemed like it could become truly dangerous and sprinkling water on the nearest audience members.

Finally Rosemund seemed to gain the upper hand, disarming Aislyn and twisting both rags around the redhead's wrists. "Cry thee uncle, wench!"

Aislyn stood proud, eyes flashing in ludicrous counterpoint to her humble attire. "Never!"

"Then, to my sorrow, thou leavest me no choice." There was little enough sorrow in the statement, and a second later Aislyn was dumped unceremoniously over the side of the bridge.

Rosemund clasped her hands over her head in a victory salute, then strutted the length of the bridge and back, hands on her hips. "Doth any other here dare to face my wrath?" she demanded loudly.

The other wenches cowered on cue, and most of the audience held up their hands in chuckling surrender. A wicked little smile crossed Buffy's face, though, and she started to rise from her seat.

She sat abruptly back down, though, when a pair of hands snaked up from behind the bridge, twining soggy rags around Rosemund's ankles and giving her a push. "Tim-berrrrrrrr!" Aislyn crowed triumphantly as the other hit the water with a prodigious scream and a splash that was truly amazing for someone her size.

"And there be a proper day's work," declared Aislyn as she pulled herself up onto the bridge. "Art thou enjoying thy swim, fine lady Rosemund?"

For her part, Rosemund bobbed up and down, spluttering one word of her answer on each 'up': "Dost... not... know... ladies... cannot... swim?" All the wenches stared blankly at her again, until she hollered an earsplitting "HEEEELLLLLPPPP!!"

Her expression suddenly panicked, Aislyn flung one end of a bit of laundry toward the apparently-drowning wench, joined by Elinor and the boy. Rosemund managed to get hold of all three lifelines and, with a single jerk, pulled them in with her. This was apparently the signal for all hell to break loose, and the next several minutes were filled with shouted curses, hair-pulling, rag-snapping and plenteous splashes.

Finally, the melee ran its course, and the dripping wenches gathered on and around the large bench, arms around each other and apparently the best of friends as they serenaded the patrons with a mildly bawdy rendition of "Barley Mow."

When this was done, Elinor again raised her hand. "Jinglebang?" she asked uncertainly.

"Jinglebang!" the others agreed in chorus, instantly scattering among the patrons and leading several confused male "volunteers" to the bench.

Catching Rosemund's attention with a piercing whistle, Jenny raised a hand over Giles' head from behind and pointed down at him. Buffy and Willow quickly followed suit with Xander, who tried unsuccessfully to blend in with the Sea Dogs. In moments, Rosemund had successfully kidnapped the bewildered Giles, and Aislyn was towing Xander, who couldn't seem to decide whether he should be nervous or in heaven.

The other three gentlemen on the bench reflected the boy's expression to varying degrees, turning a fascinating spectrum of reds as the wenches gathered close around them, the bells hanging from their belts jingling as they bumped hips against their prisoners in time to the choruses of the newest song:

When the song was done, the wenches joined hands in a circle round their hostages, pulling in close with a wild whoop before breaking off amid riotous laughter and applause. Each gentleman was awarded a little bell on a ribbon round his wrist before being released to return to his companions.

"Do thou spread the word," Rosemund called loudly, "and return for our next show at three-of-the-clock!" With that, the wenches returned to their standard scrubbing and name-calling.

Giles was struggling to maintain something resembling composure, but he stuttered quite noticeably as he sank to his seat next to Jenny, inquiring, "And do you consider *that* to be, um...authentic?"

"Who cares?" Xander asked, sitting dazedly between Buffy and Willow with a goofy smile that only an adolescent boy could achieve without heavy drugs. "That was...I didn't expect...that was new."

"I couldn't *believe* they could get away with that song!" Willow giggled.

"I don't know," Buffy mused. "I think we should learn it. What do you think, Xander?"

He just blinked at them. "Song? What song?"

In the wake of the renewed giggles this produced, Jenny told the girls, "They only teach it to the Washwench guild, but you don't have to spend much time near the Well to pick it up. I'll teach it to you if you promise not to do it near them; they get a little sensitive about people stealing their act."

Buffy looked delighted, Willow looked uncertain but intrigued, Giles looked terrified, and Xander was still somewhere about three dimensions to the left. All in all, the afternoon was going well.

Part the Seventh: "In the Lists"
Amy L. Hull. Notes.

"Oooh! It's the joust!" Willow looked up excitedly from peering over Xander's arm at the schedule he was holding.

"We're so there!"

"That was enthusiastic, Xander," Jenny said in surprise.

"Are you kidding?" Xander said. "Violence, weapons, crowd interaction--"

"And horses. And cute guy butts," Willow said, nodding eagerly, then began an intensive study of her feet and the structure of the dust patterns there and on the while as her cheeks turned bright red.

"Well, I'm sold," Buffy said cheerily. "Which way?"

"I would expect toward the sound of the crowd...and the smell of the manure. That's part of the problem here, you know," Giles contributed in his own endearingly pedantic way.

"What is that, Rupert?" Jenny surreptitiously led them all down the tree-lined path.

"Not enough manure. And blood, and garbage." He looked around for a moment, obviously grasping for an example. "And mostly in trenches down the center of the streets.

"There's a pleasant thought for you," Xander said, eyeing one of the bodiced women tending a nearby booth in a way that made it less than clear if his statement referred to her or Giles's pronouncement.

"Well, it would make it, um, less pleasant to visit," Willow pointed out gently.

"But that's exactly my point!" Giles frowned, his left hand gesturing in a circular motion, as though that would crank the words and ideas out of wherever they had snagged in their path out into the world. "The Renaissance *wasn't* at all pleasant. Certainly, there were great advances in science and art, but the day-to-day lives of most people were still quite dismal and arduous."

"Rupert?" Jenny said, slipping a hand around Giles's arm. "Lighten up. It's like a theme park. This is no more a literal representation of the Renaissance than DisneyWorld is a representation of the tales of the Brothers Grimm." She patted his arm, then interrupted him as his mouth began to open. "Don't even start on the Disney bit, okay?"

"Qu-quite," Giles stammered slightly, just before his lips twitched in a familiarly befuddled way, ending in a slightly goofy smile that seemed to only occur when aimed at Jenny.

Buffy grinned at Giles for a minute before resuming her perusal of the available shopfronts.

They all stopped cold as a large, red-and-black garbed man they recognized as Bardolph, stalked in front of them, dragging a green-skirted peasant girl by her red hair. Her hands flailed futilely at his wrist. "I'll teach you to laugh at me, wench," he growled.

"I'll not be laughing, good sir!" she shrieked in her lilting brogue. "And that won't have been me earlier today, though you'd have deserved every moment of it, you brute."

Looking up, he declared, "This little Irish hussy tried to steal from the Queen's very court!"

The woman managed to stand almost straight, "I'm a right married woman, I am--and no kind of thief! You'll not be saying such things about me!" She brought her knee up between his legs, and slipped from his grasp while he was howling. Bardolph fell to his knees and a well-placed kick to his head from the Irishwoman, knocked him sideways onto the ground. She dusted her hands off, a self-satisfied smile forming. As she began to saunter away, Bardolph grabbed her ankle, and she fell to the ground, kicking out at him again. A crowd began to gather as they fought.

"We should keep going if we're going to get seats for the joust," Jenny reminded them quietly.

"Get your cold, fresh pickles here!" a voice rang out. "Come on, you *know* you want one! Great for hunger *and* dehydration!"

"You know, Xander, you'd be good at that," Buffy pointed to the latest pickle guy.

Xander seemed to consider. "Naw. They don't get weapons...just those pickle-tongs. Not quite the manly appeal."

"Lady Neecole!" a voice rang out, "Wie schon Sie wieder zu sehen!!! Und who ees thees ahtrahcteev mahn weeth you?" A woman with red circles on her cheeks, yellow skirts, a bodice liberally decorated with bright red, clay, lip pins, and a lipstick in her hand ambled up to them, smiling broadly.

"Guten Tag, Schatzie!" Jenny hugged the woman warmly. "This is Rupert Giles. He's the librarian at the school where I teach."

"Very cute, thees one. Shall I...?" Schatzie paused.

Jenny winked and nodded, reaching for her pouch.

"Nein, nein, mein Liebchen. Fur you, thees one ees free." She reapplied her red lipstick, then dramatically kissed Giles on each cheek.

Jenny mostly won her battle not to laugh at the look of helpless, blank horror contrasting with the bright red lipprints.

"G-man," Xander gloated, not noticing Buffy pressing two dollars into Schatzie's hand...and Willow following suit, "It's *you*!"

"Young man, you are also quite ahtrahcteev." Schatzie grinned and reapplied her lipstick. Soon Xander's face, neck, and a couple of spots on his arms sported Schatzie's distinctive calling card. The giddy grin that seemed to be Xander's only Faire expression was going to certainly leave his facial muscles sore by the end of the day. "I'll see you later, Neecole, okay? Eenjoy the Faire, everyone." She waved and headed away.

"Later, Schatzie," Jenny called, leading the others down a hill.

"Oooh, there it is!" Willow pointed. "Just across the footbridge over that stream. Let's go get good seats!"

Giles and Jenny followed the teenagers at a more sedate pace to a group of bleacher-like benches only a bit to their left of dead-on center, and three rows back from the white-painted fence surrounding the long dirt field. They seemed to have gotten there just in time, as a steady stream of patrons seemed to be absorbing all the remaining seats.

Soon a number of somewhat shabbily-dressed young people entered the field, carrying weapons and standards. Four of them took equipment and standards of different colors to the four corners of the field, while others checked random areas, including the wooden structure opposite the bleachers. The grassy rises to either side of the box-seat affair were even filling with patrons who were sprawling comfortably in the grass.

"This is quite the popular event, it seems," Giles said.

"It's one of the five main things people come to Faire for," Jenny smiled. "Right up there with the beer, the mud show, and Dirk and Guido."

A thin man with an almost Beatles-like swatch of gray hair and a crooked, but pleasant smile walked past, carrying a rack of pretzels above his head.

"Oooh...pretzels," Xander noted, his eyes suddenly glued to the breadstuffs.

"Pretzel guy!" Buffy called, then waved, smiling.

The man traced the sound, came up the aisle, and, within ten seconds, had somehow sold them six pretzels--one each plus one per hand for Xander.

As the pretzel man continued peddilng, a young woman with unruly, shoulder length, red hair poking out from under a somewhat askew muffin cap in a light shade of brown approached.. Her fitted teal leggings disappeared into boots and her large beige shirt billowed in the wind, held in place only by a swordbelt. The sword didn't seem to impede her at all as she climbed over the fence. She scanned the crowd for a moment, then said to the nearest patrons, "We must give favors for beautiful young women to bestow upon the knights to bring them luck in this dangerous battle. Who would honor the knights in such a way?"

Xander half shoved, half lifted Willow to her feet, and put her arm in the air.

"Xander!" Willow squeaked, "what are you *doing*? Let go of me!" She squirmed from his grasp and plunked herself back onto the bench, looking very tiny. It was too late; she'd been noticed.

"Ah, a *lovely* young lady to defend the King's favored knight!" The woman brought a metal button attached to ribbons on a ring, and handed it to Willow, who accepted the proffered favor shakily. "Do bring this forth when the knight rides to the fence.

The red haired woman returned to the fence and hopped onto the top of it. The narrow rail didn't seem to affect her balance at all and she announced in a clear, high voice, "Welcome to Wickham Field and the King's Joust. I am Squire Brigid and I bid you fair welcome! Soon the King will arrive and the knights will enter the field for this Tournament. We cheer for Sir Matthew Verdelet, the King's man. When he arrives, we must greet him properly with a cheer. When I give the word, you all must cheer." She paused, then called, "Cheer!" as she raised on hand.

The crowd cheered.

Brigid raised a disapproving eyebrow. "We'll try that again. When I say cheer.....*cheer*!" She added a flourish to her hand movement, with similarly dismal results. "Perhaps it would be easier with *words*," she said patiently. "Let's try this. Repeat after me: Hip-hip-huzzah!" She listened, "A great many of you may feel an impulse to shout 'hooray' after the 'hip-hip'. Let's try the 'huzzah' alone."

This met with much better results. The four squires all seemed to be instructing their quarter of the audience in various cheering methods. Brigid was beginning to lead them in a practice of "God save the King", when the quarter diagonally across yelled in unison, "Hey, Squire Brigid!" When she turned, the assembled audience shouted, "You stink!"

"Well, that's accurate for the time, at least," Giles said as a lull suddenly fell.

Brigid turned to look directly at Giles for a moment, whose face colored slightly. She then turned to the other squire and called, "I'll have you know I bathe quite regularly. And *I* don't sleep with the horses!"

"Hey, Squire Brigid!" When the woman turned, the squire brought his right fist up swiftly in front of his left arm.

Brigid put her hands on her hips, glared, tapped her foot, then hopped back up on the fence and turned to her group. "All right, everyone, when I signal, all of you yell, 'Squire Thomas likes sheep!' Ready?"

Xander shouted it enthusiastically, but stopped halfway through the word sheep, and began to turn slightly red.

"Oh, dear Lord," Giles murmured, taking his glasses off, looked lost for a moment, then pulled his handkerchief out of his right sleeve and began polishing them.

Brigid led them in a few (more successful) attempts at, "Hip, hip, huzzah." They then moved on to proper greetings for the arriving monarchs.

Suddenly nobles began to climb into the box opposite them, and a trumpet sounded. A courtier annoyed, "His Majesty, King Henry, Eighth King of England to bear that name."

Brigid gestured the audience to stand, and they watched the King walk regally to the box, escorting his Queen.

Brigid and the squire to her left checked with each other, make a 1-2-3 signal to the crowd, then led a rousing, "God save the King!" The king smiled and waved.

Brigid nodded again, said, "Ready?" then cued the audience.

"God save His Queen; she's *so* *damned* *beautiful*!" they shouted.

Queen Anne seemed to start slightly, but put a hand to her breast then reverenced the flatterers.

A passel of about half a dozen bespectacled women to their right, all wearing blue-green t-shirts with Latin inscribed on the back, shouted in unison, "God save the Queen, cause nobody else will!"

Willow started laughing. Buffy looked quizzically at her, and Willow said quickly, "Oh I just wonder how long before Henry has Anne's head chopped off."

"Oh. He's the Black Widower King. Got it," Buffy replied with a grimace.

The trumpet sounded briefly again. "Under the red banner, riding for the King, Sir Matthew Verdelet!"

Brigid led them in a rousing cheer, "Matt-hew! Matt-hew! Matt-hew!" as Sir Matthew thundered past, armor gleaming, on a huge horse bedecked in armor and royal banners.

"Riding for Lord Percy of Northumberland, Sir James deCarnac!"

Brigid led them in placing an "L" made with the right hand on the forehead, moving it toward the knight as he rode past, and shouting, "Los-er!"

"Riding against the King's man--Sir William DeBracy!"

The blond knight stuck his tongue out as he rode past, moving it elaborately.

"No, thanks; we use toilet paper," a blond patron called clearly, almost knocking off her flower garland with the red fabric of her sleeve where it poked out from under her elaborately stamped bracers.

"Did you see what that knight did with his *tongue*?" Willow's face pulled in several different directions as her mind battled among instructions for expressions to reflect horror, disbelief, and amusement.

"And, riding against Northumberland's man, Sir Thomas deRainault!"

The group across the field, at the encouragement of their rabble-rousing squire, shouted, "Yer muzzer was a 'amstair!"

The knights were astride their mounts in the corner where they were supported by the audience, and Squire Brigid walked to Willow. "What is your name, milady?" she asked quietly.

"Um, Willow."

"Sir Matthew," Brigid announced, tugging Willow's sleeve to make her stand. Matthew's blue eyes turned on Willow, who smiled in spite of herself. "The Lady Willow does ask that you carry her favor with you this day, and wishes you courage, strength, and God's good grace."

"I am deeply honored," the knight replied, removing his helmet and shaking his dark curly hair briefly. He rode to the fence and extended his lance over the fence. Brigid prodded Willow forward. Willow looked uncertainly at the squire, then edged toward the lance, and gingerly placed the ring of the favor of the lance's point, snatching her fingers back quickly and retreating to her place on the bench.

Brigid thanked her quietly as they passed each other.

Sir Matthew raised the lance, balancing the favor so Brigid could retrieve it and affix it to his belt. She chose a sword, placed it in the scabbard, and buckled the belt onto Sir Matthew. "I pray I will not disgrace your trust, sweet Lady," he was booming, then bowed his head slightly in Willow's direction. He accepted his helmet from Brigid, kissed his fingers, touched them to the favor on his belt, and donned the helmet again. Brigid supplied Matthew with his sword and gauntlets, and checked his grip on the lance. She checked the bindings on the saddle, patted the horse's neck, and tended to the knight's equipment.

"So, Willow. In with the King's man, huh?" Xander teased. Willow tried to look smaller to conceal the bright red of her face while Jenny smiled at their antics.

The joust ensued, beginning with several passes with the lance. Sir Thomas was quickly injured and limped off the field. His squire retrieved his horse and weapons hurriedly.

The women in the teal t-shirts began chanting, "Cheat to win. Cheat to win!"

Suddenly, in a movement quicker than anyone but Buffy could catch, Sir William and Sir James dehorsed Sir Matthew and began to attack him in tandem. King Henry leapt to his feet, but stayed in the box.

Squires Thomas and Brigid jumped simultaneously down from their fences and tackled Sir James. As the three climbed to their feet, Sir James laughed, "A little girl and a dwarf would do battle with me? And neither with any armor?" Two blades were instantly pointed at him. Squire Thomas looked at Squire Brigid, offering her the chance to fight first, but Sir James roared, "I'll fight the both of you together! If you wish to die, I will gladly lend a hand!" and challenged them both.

The two battles raged for a few moments until Sir James and Sir William were lying at sword point and forced to drop their weapons.

"I hereby declare Sir Matthew the winner of this tournament!" the King pronounced. "Bring forth your patron to be crowned Queen of Love and Beauty!"

"Hey, cool, Will!" Buffy enthused, smiling and poking Willow, then watching the color drain out of her friend's face.

"Um, he means me?" Willow squeaked. "Oh. No. *You* go," she said desperately to Buffy. Buffy just shook her head, grinning. "Ms. Calendar?" Willow's face was almost pinched enough for her eyebrows to touch.

"Nope. This one's all yours." She pointed to the knight waiting on the field. "See?"

Buffy pushed Willow out into the aisle and prodded her forward over Willow's mournful, panicked look.

Sir Matthew knelt before Willow, "Milady, may I keep this most dear of treasures?" he asked, as he touched the favor pinned to a bit of chain mail at his neck.

Willow blinked, then stared. Finally, as spots of color appeared on her cheeks, she whispered, "Uh-huh," and nodded. The audience applauded and cheered, and Sir Matthew whisked her off her feet and set her on the horse Squire Brigid had brought to them. Swinging up behind her, he rode to the King's box.

King Henry adorned Willow with a flower garland, and kissed both of her cheeks, smiling. Queen Anne did the same. "All hail the Queen of the Tourney!" The audience cheered and whistled.

Sir Matthew rode back toward the others and dismounted to lift her off the horse and to the ground. He kissed her hand and said solemnly, "Thank you, dear lady, for the honor of your patronage."

After he released her hand, Willow stood frozen for a second, only startling into motion when he gestured gently toward her friends. Willow virtually fled to where Buffy was grinning.

"Good going, Will!" Buffy put an arm around her friend's shoulders as they joined the masses in heading away from the field. "I think it's about time to do some shopping, don't you?" Buffy looked expectantly at the others, then she and a still-shocky-looking Willow (who had a slight giddy smile spreading across her now crimson cheeks) made a beeline up the hill and toward the shops.

Part the Eighth: "Singing For His Supper"
Lizbet Lewis

Oz wandered through the Faire, his guitar strapped to his back and his eyes on a likely spot for some music making. It had to be the perfect spot; far enough away from any of the stages or other music groups that they weren't stepping on each other, close enough to large thoroughfares to attract attention, and large enough to allow a group to gather and listen.

He found the spot he wanted a few hundred feet away from the food booths. A few bales of hay were scattered around in lieu of benches, and a few people sat on them, devouring turkey legs or onions blossoms or pasties or sausages. He settled himself in the shade of a friendly tree, tossed his hat on the ground in front of him, tossed a few quarters in for seed (and for a gentle hint) and pulled his guitar into his arms.

He tunelessly strummed it for a few minutes, reacquainting his fingers with the feel of the strings. In this process of making music, there was always the shock of, "Oh, *now* we're supposed to be doing something, right?" that he had to get his brain past. When the song felt right in his fingertips, he delicately picked out a Dowland piece he'd learned years before.

The smattering of applause made him look up, startled, to notice for the first time that he had an audience. He smiled and nodded, acknowledging the applause. That was one of his favorites; he liked the pun in the final line about dying for the fair/Faire.

He did a few more, singing the melody of a French madrigal and playing the harmony, pulling "Sweet Kate" out of his memory and making his voice go up in falsetto for Kate's part, then dropping into low, sweet and mournful for a Welsh ballad about a lover mourning his beloved. He stopped again, squatting down and smiling as a towheaded girl wearing a burgundy velvet gown toddled carefully towards his begging-hat, a dollar clutched tightly in her hand. "Thank you, milady." For her, he quietly sung, "All Through the Night."

"Can we hire you?" the toddler's harried-looking mother laughed, cuddling her drowsing daughter against her shoulder after the lullaby.

"Alas, good mistress, I only exist here at Faire. Elseways..." Whatever witty comment he had been about to make stopped as he caught sight of a flash of red hair in the sunlight, the swing of a long length of green skirts and a light voice laughing with the breeze. Transfixed, Oz watched her turn to walk backwards, facing her friends and chattering happily.

Without thinking, he scooped up his hat from the ground and started to clap it on his head, ignoring the heavy weight of coins in it and the fragile lightness of the scant few dollar bills to dash after her. But a scream shattered the serenity of the scene around them as suddenly as a smashed window.

Barely visible through the crowd was a girl in a huddle on the ground, one hand to her cheek and fury in her eyes. She was small, with short silky dark hair and dark eyes, but only a fool thought her height and apparent frailty made her an easy target. Over her was one of the Bad Guyes who was, apparently, a fool. The girl on the ground seized his ankle and bit it, causing him to roar with fury. Oz'd seen this all before, and usually enjoyed the fights. But he had something better to do this time, and disregarded it all when Jack Bottoms, captain of the Sea Dogs, jumped to the wench's defense. Predictably, this caused chaos to ensue, and Oz found it even harder to fight his way through the crowd to where *she* stood.

The blonde in a green bodice was already turning on one heel, her skirts whirling to show her ankles, as she took off at a dead run for the sound of the cries. It was a kid, Oz saw, a little boy flinging his body in front of his father's, dressed in a Seadog's slubs. Even as the boy cried out, a loud pop shattered the silence again. The boy's body collapsed in a ruined heap, bringing his father's down on him

Oz knew the blonde girl slightly by reputation -- all of it bad. He couldn't fault her reflexes, though. She grabbed the collar of the man who had just shot the boy -- he was Bardolph, Oz saw -- and brought him around to swing in an arc towards her palm, held flatly out and looking like it would smash his nose through his face.

Just in time, though, Miss Calendar grabbed the girl's elbow and yanked her hand down. Mr. We-Love-The-NRA flew through the empty space to land on his face in the dust. This seemed to be a general signal for all hell to break loose again, and fights broke out all around them, as someone came in and carried the little boy's body away.

Oz wasn't close enough to hear what Miss Calendar was saying, but she looked both rueful and amused at the same time. The blonde girl (~What *is* her name? Bambi? Heather? Something like that...~) looked more than rueful, and turned to offer a hand up to the man she'd tried to knock out. Bardolph sprawled on his back for a moment longer before accepting her hand and letting her boost him to his feet, brushing himself off and staying in character by disdaining the apology she was obviously making.

"Cease this! Cease this abominable quarreling. You are all in the King's presence! Well, within a league of the King's presence. Unless all here would like to be drawn and quartered with their bowels drawn through their bellies, I command you to cease!" At the Lord Mayer's bellow, everyone froze in a sudden tableaux, and then rapidly found urgent business elsewhere. By the time the press of bodies faded, the girl Oz had been looking for was nowhere in sight.

Oz sighed, shook his head, and recovered his spot under the tree. "Who *is* that girl?" he marveled yet again.

Lightly strumming his guitar, he bent his head over it and murmured,