Xander was at the top of the stairs on the second floor, attempting to pry a stuffed monkey away from his neck and failing miserably. He didn’t look up when Buffy rushed into him.
“What’s wrong? Is it Dawn’s arm guy?” She took a good look at Xander and then said in confusion, "Dawn's arm guy is a stuffed monkey?"
“Toy…” At the strangled word, Buffy snorted and leaned over to pull it away.
When she couldn’t get it loose immediately, she swore under her breath before asking, “Do I want to know what you did to Miss Priss to make her attack you like this?”
Willow cried out, “Buffy! Dawn needs help in the bathroom.”
“Unless she’s getting strangled, Xander needs…” The toy suddenly let go of Xander’s neck, and Buffy fell backward. Instinctively, she hung onto it when it began to twist and turn, struggling to get out of her grasp. She pushed it into the floor with her full weight. “Stay, dammit!”
The toy squirmed away and headed toward the bathroom. She followed hard on its fake fur tail.
“What’s going on?”
Breathing heavily as he massaged his neck, Xander looked up at Giles. “Tonight on Fox: When Stuffed Animals Go Bad!”
“Please tell me you’re…” Giles looked up at the various shrieks coming from the bathroom, wincing hard when he heard Buffy’s voice over the others. “I had no idea she even knew that phrase, let alone what it meant.”
“Trust me, Giles, Buffy can make a sailor blush when she’s unhappy.” Xander pushed himself up with the aid of a steadying hand from Giles. “Shall we?”
“We shall,” Giles bit out.
Unnoticed in a corner, Fergus chuckled at the mayhem.
Buffy stood in the middle of the melee, kicking the toys against the wall whenever they got too close to Dawn. “I am not happy about this.”
"Ow!" Dawn screeched as a stuffed crocodile latched onto her ankle. “And you think I am?”
“She didn’t mean it like that, Dawn," Willow yelled from her position by the bathtub where she was trying to drown the toys in a heavy stream of water from the tub’s faucet. "Damn it, why won’t these things die?”
Kicking the crocodile away, Dawn said, “Maybe because they aren’t actually alive.”
“I’m going to rip the arms off whoever did this, and beat him over the head with them,” Buffy said, reaching down to grab a particularly persistent toy kitten and pull the stuffing out of it.
“Now that wasn’t very nice, was it? I’m thinkin’ you’re one who needs a lesson as much as the other,” said Fergus. He sketched a pattern into the air and muttered an incantation.
The toys stopped moving. In the hallway, Giles and Xander nudged them cautiously. When they remained still, Giles said, “Go get some trash bags. We’ll put these in storage until we’re sure they’re safe again.”
Buffy stood still in the bathroom, alert for any motion from the now-quiet toys. “I think it’s over.”
Willow looked up, and her eyes grew wide. “Buffy. Your hair!”
Xander and Giles both jumped when they heard Buffy’s outraged, “This isn’t happening!”
Giles recovered more quickly and rushed into the bathroom before Xander did. “What’s wrong? Who’s injured?”
Buffy turned to him. Her mouth was moving, but only inarticulate noise emerged.
“I don’t understand,” Giles said, looking at her. “Why did you scream?”
When all she did was point at her hair, Dawn spoke up. “If you hadn’t noticed, the style isn’t exactly how Buffy usually wears her hair.”
Giles continued to stare in confusion.
Pointing at Buffy’s head, Xander said, “Nice pony tails. They kind of remind me of Cindy Brady’s hair.”
Buffy stared at Xander, a look of dawning comprehension on her face. “I know this hair style.”
“You know it?” asked Xander. “What did you do, invite it home one day?”
Absently touching her hair, she said, “Banana curls.”
Willow said, “Buffy, you look like you know something. Do you?”
“My dream,” Buffy said in a whisper. “That’s when I woke up.”
Giles looked at her sharply. “Your dream? The one you had last night?”
“I woke up when I saw myself in banana curls,” Buffy said, trying to pull the curl straight. “I just thought it was the anchovies Xander put on the pizza last night.”
Dawn asked hesitantly, “You think it was a Slayer dream?”
Xander asked quickly, “What else do you remember?”
“It could be important, Buffy,” said Willow. “Think!”
“Stop it, every one of you! You’re only confusing the issue. Buffy, come along. We’ll talk in your bedroom,” Giles said, holding out his hand to her. When the others started to move with them, he added, “I will speak with my Slayer alone. The rest of you can make yourself useful by cleaning up this mess.”
Fergus sketched a staircase in the air with his finger, then went up into the attic. “They’re still in one piece, Miss Hedwig, so don’t worry yourself none, ye hear?”
Giles sat Buffy on her bed and joined her. “Tell me more about your dream.”
She held his hand. “It was flaky. There wasn’t any blood or guts or threatening demons, and there was a total lack of anything apocalypsy, which is why I didn’t say anything before now.”
“It’s alright,” he said, rubbing her back in a circular motion. “Just tell me what you remember of it.”
“Not much, other than the hair thing… we were in the library and you kept polishing the scythe.” She frowned. “In fact, you broke it out of its case.”
“Out of its case?”
“There was something about breaking glass in the case of an emergency or something.” She looked up. “Personally, I think this hair can be considered an emergency.”
Giles shook his head in frustration. “Please, just concentrate on the dream. Think back and try to recall what happened in it.”
“Paper dolls,” she said, her eyes focused on the far wall. “I was making paper dolls out of red construction paper.”
“Was there any particular significance to the color?” he asked gently.
“Maybe. There must have been. I had a whole stack of paper, and it was all red. And you were there with me.”
“What did I do?”
“You kept warning me about Indians.” Buffy paused, then said, “No. That isn’t right. You told me in the dream that 'Indian' was politically incorrect and inaccurate. You used words like Native American and aboriginal.”
Giles frowned. “It sounds as if I was skirting around the true name. You’ll have to help me out here, Buffy. What other synonyms are in use for Native Americans?”
“Red man,” she said promptly and with assurance. “That’s what you were trying to tell me, and it fits, because of the red paper dolls. And you folded one of them up to make it into Mr. Pointy, and then told me it wouldn’t work.” When he remained silent, she looked at him. “Giles?”
“Red man… This is so very familiar." He looked frustrated. "Was there anything else?”
She bit her lip as she thought. “A phrase. You said something to me in a language I didn’t recognize. Maybe it was a name. Nadine Maggie something or other.”
His eyes lit up. “Was it, ‘Na dean maggadh fum?’”
“Yeah. How did you…”
Giles stood and went to the door. “Xander, Willow, Dawn! Get in here now. I know what we’re facing.”
“Bloody Watcher,” Fergus muttered. “And English to boot.”
Hedwig thumped the attic wall.
“Alright, yes, ye tried to warn me. Just thought I might be able to have a bit more fun and get the whisky before they figured it out,” he said, sounding morose.
The five stood in Buffy’s room, with Giles as the center of attention. “Dawn, your arm belongs to a creature called a fir darrig.”
“No, Xander, fir darrig. They’re fey and a close relation to leprechauns.” To Buffy, he said, “A fir darrig is also called a red man, for the bright red clothing he wears.”
“Okay, that explains the construction paper." Buffy nodded. "Wait! You told me before there weren’t leprechauns.”
Giles faced Buffy. “At the time, you had greater things to worry about than creatures who never leave Ireland.”
“Yes, Dawn, I lied.” He stared the others down in an unspoken dare for any of them to say a thing. When no other commentary was forthcoming, he said, “We need to find the one who’s in the house… and make no mistake about it… he is in the house. If you spot him, say, ‘Na dean maggadh fum.’”
Willow raised her hand. “What language is that? I have trouble enough pronouncing Latin.”
“You can be sure I’ll screw that up,” added Xander.
“It’s Gaelic," Giles said impatiently. "Just try is all I’m asking.”
Buffy practiced the phrase a few times before asking, “Giles, what does it mean? Is it some kind of banishment spell?”
“No,” he said with a long-suffering sigh. “It means, ‘Do not mock me.’”
“Huh?” Dawn looked at the others. “Did he just say what I think he just said?”
“Fir darrig are the practical jokers of fairy,” said Giles. “Once you utter the correct Gaelic phrase, it protects you from further sport. They aren’t dangerous as a rule, but they can be fairly irritating.”
Fergus looked thoughtfully at the wall. “Ye know, you’re a comely lass for all that you’re dead. Tell me somethin’… were ye alive, would ye find me courtship welcome?”
Willow, Xander and Dawn searched the second floor for their uninvited guest. “I still think we should check out the attic,” grumbled Dawn. “I’m the one who’s suffered the most. I’ll bet he’s up there right now, laughing at me.”
“I’m sure he’s not…” Willow’s voice trailed off as she caught sight of Dawn’s hair. “Well maybe, just a little.”
Grabbing a jacket from the coat rack and shrugging it on, Giles went to the door. He walked outside, leaving the front door open and calling for Margaret. Hearing an answering shout, he started around the house, stopping when she approached. “Thank you for not storming the house when all the shouting was going on.”
Alarmed, she said, “What shouting?”
“You didn’t hear…? Of course not. The bloody bastard probably put a silencing spell in effect.” At the look on Margaret’s face, Giles added quickly, “Don’t worry about it. There was nothing you could have done against this particular foe.”
“Is it a sending from Mr. Rayne then?” Her face and voice were grim.
“Doubtful. It’s a fir darrig, and despite their chaotic nature, they tend to be free agents,” he said. “I came out to warn you that there might be more shouting, but it appears to be a useless precaution.” He turned and they began to walk back to the front door. Margaret made a complicated hand gesture at her partner and he nodded at her.
“I don’t want the front left unwatched,” she said, “so I’ll leave Harold in place. I’ll come in and help in the search.”
“You wouldn’t happen to have iron shackles on you, would you?”
“I’m afraid not. I take it you don’t either?”
“Not since they took Katako away. Percy never got around to replacing them, and neither did I,” he said ruefully as they reached the open door.
He turned toward the sound of Buffy’s voice, then said hurriedly to Margaret, “Watch the front door. Don't let anything in or out.”
Willow, Dawn and Xander stood staring up the steps leading up to the attic. None of them moved.
Xander sighed heavily. “So, I guess this where I show a little testosterone and go up first, isn’t it?”
“It’s violating the known laws of woman power,” said Willow, “but yeah. You go first.”
“Thanks,” he muttered, moving up cautiously.
Buffy stood halfway down the cellar steps. She looked up as Giles approached. “I thought I saw something run down here. It didn’t really seem like a good idea to check it out on my own.”
He stepped past her and continued down the stairs, saying, “Good thinking.”
“It headed toward the smaller storage room,” she said, following and pointing.
“Then we’ll start there.”
Giles opened the door and poked his head in as he groped for the light switch. When he found it and turned on the light, he moved in slowly, all the while looking around.
“Got your back, Giles,” she said from behind.
“Thank you.” He gave her a quick grin over his shoulder. “I thought you’d been finding my front more interesting all day, but I do believe in equal opportunity.”
“Look at you with the joking in a time of crisis,” she said admiringly. “We’re a bad influence on you after all.”
“I’ve been saying that for years.” Giles walked to the center of the area and looked around. “I don’t see anything.”
Stepping all the way into the room, Buffy said, “I’m sure there was something down here.”
The overhead light went out just as the door crashed shut behind Buffy.
Dawn looked at the wall that held her shelves of mementos and knick-knacks. “Why is my stuff rattling? Are we having an earthquake?”
In response, the rattling increased in intensity.
“I don’t think so, Dawnie,” said Willow. “If we were, everything else would be moving.”
Realization bloomed on Dawn’s face. “Hedwig? Is that you?”
Buffy rattled the door to the storage room. “It’s no use, Giles. We’re locked in.”
Standing behind her, Giles reached around to try the doorknob himself. After rattling it once, he let go of it to put his hand around her waist, pulling her in close. “It seems you’re right.” He started to nuzzle her neck and murmured, “I think we might be trapped in here together.”
"Alone. In the dark." Buffy shifted her hips to grind against him. “And if we’re locked in, there’s not a damn thing we can do if someone screams about some fairy’s practical joke, is there?”
He slipped his hand beneath her shirt and moved it up high enough to caress the bottom curve of her breast. “No.” He nibbled at the scar on her neck. “There’s really nothing at all we can do… We’re totally…” He bit down harder on the scar, grinning against her skin at the loud groan. “Completely helpless to help.”
She turned within his embrace and clasped her hands behind his neck. Her voice low, she agreed, “Completely.”
Giles bent his head to capture her mouth, his lips moving with a sensual desperation as his hand moved down to squeeze her butt.
Buffy moaned, then broke the kiss.
Upstairs, Margaret caught sight of the red man and managed to move quickly enough to tap him with the barrel of her gun.
Fergus screamed and curled up in a ball at her feet. “What did ye have to do that for?”
Margaret stared down at him. “It’s not as if I shot you. All I did was tap you!”
“With iron as cold as your black heart,” he said dramatically.
Xander was the first to react to the scream, and he rushed out of the attic, almost falling in his haste. Willow and Dawn were close behind.
Margaret moved her gun again so that it was just a hair’s breadth from his skin and said, “Stop being such a baby. Now stay put, or I’ll touch you again.”
The three rushed into the living room to find Margaret standing over a small man dressed in red. Dawn glared down at him. “Is that the guy responsible for my hair?”
Margaret blinked when she saw Dawn. “I’d heard about the color change, but I didn’t realize it was quite so extreme.
“Where’s Giles?” Willow looked behind her to see if he was bringing up the rear.
“He and the other Miss Summers went downstairs.”
“Wait,” he said, trying to capture her lips again. When he felt her moving down his body, he asked, “What are you doing?”
“Kneeling,” she said provocatively.
“You’re what… Oh my god, Buffy!” Giles groaned. He shifted to lean back against the wall for support as Buffy grabbed the waistband of his jeans.
The door to the storage room was flung open and light poured into the room. “Giles! Margaret caught the elf thing upstairs.” Willow paused and then continued in a confused tone, “Buffy? What are you doing down there?”
“Not a bloody thing, thank you.” Giles stormed through the door, past Willow. “Upstairs you say?”
As he stalked off, Willow looked at Buffy apologetically. “I interrupted something, didn’t I?”
Buffy stood up slowly, her lower lip quivering. “Yeah, you did. You really, really did.”
In the living room, Giles snarled, startling everyone but Fergus, who lay there looking miserable. “You! Na dean maggadh fum. And that goes for everyone in this household and on the grounds as well. Do I make myself clear?”
“Crystal clear,” he said sourly. “And if ye don’t mind, I’ll be on me way now.”
“Not so fast, little man,” Giles said threateningly. “You still haven’t explained why you came here in the first place.”
“Just wanted a drink is all,” he muttered.
“A drink? All this because you wanted a bloody drink?”
Buffy and Willow entered to stand behind Giles, both looking faintly astonished at the level of anger he was displaying.
“I ran out of me own.”
“You’re a fir darrig. Aren’t you supposed to have your own still?”
“Not really, though to be honest,” he said, “I do. But it’s back home, and I was thirsty this morning.”
When Giles reached down to grab the little man, Buffy intervened with a hand on his arm. “Why us? Why not some other family?”
Fergus scowled at Giles before answering Buffy. “I could smell the whisky. It’s not Irish, but it’s close enough to count.”
“You were going to steal all my whisky!?” Giles thundered.
Xander whispered to Willow, “I don’t think Giles was this pissed off when the Mayor said he was going to eat Buffy. Do you?”
“It’s close. Really, really close.”
“Not all of it, man. Just some of it. Enough to see me through another day of heartbreak.”
Giles stood perfectly still, disbelief etched on his face. “Heartbreak?”
“Me darlin’ Nell left me,” Fergus said mournfully. “I’ve been wanderin’ the world ever since.”
“Oh, for the love of…”
Margaret spoke up, then. “Would you like me to take care of him, sir?”
He cast a disgusted look at Fergus. “It won’t do any good, not without knowing his true name. Dawn, go get my wallet from atop the dresser in my room, please.” To Fergus, he said, “Reverse all the tricks.”
Muttering under his breath about stiff-arsed Englishmen, Fergus did as he was ordered, earning a, “Thank god!” from Buffy and a gleeful shout from Dawn upstairs in the process.
When Dawn returned with his wallet, Giles opened it up and frowned at the contents before pulling out several bills and handing them to Xander. “Take him to a bar, I don’t care which, and keep him occupied tonight. I don’t expect to see you before midnight. And be sure you take one of the CoWboys with you.”
Margaret flinched at the nickname.
“Giles, there’s like two hundred dollars here,” Xander said as he counted out the bills.
“Hm. You’re right. It won’t be enough. Here’s another hundred.” Giles turned to Fergus. “When the cash runs out, leave town.”
“I have gold,” he answered with a bright twinkle in his eye.
“Fairy gold, no doubt, and it will disappear tomorrow.” Fergus wilted under Giles’ stern glare. “When the cash runs out, you leave town. Understood?”
Sullen, Fergus said, “I suppose so.”
Giles turned to Willow and pulled out the remainder of his cash. “Take this and Dawn to the movies tonight.” He glanced to the side. “Take Margaret with you. She could use a bit of a break. Just… no horror movies, alright?”
“And take Mark,” said Buffy.
Looking back at her, Giles asked, “Mark?”
“Mark,” she said firmly, watching Dawn nod in agreement.
“Very well, Mark. And I want you all out of here within the next ten minutes,” Giles said firmly.
Xander raised his hand. “Won’t you and Buffy be gone most of the evening? I mean, is it really a good idea to leave the house empty for that long?”
Giles just stared at him.
Willow spoke up. “I’m thinking the house won’t actually be empty, especially since Giles just emptied his wallet for us.”
“Very perceptive of you, Willow.” Giles turned and took a deep breath before smiling gently at Buffy. “It’s not exactly how I planned, but I’ll do everything I can to make it special. You have ten minutes before we're alone here and I join you in your room.”
Buffy nodded, wide-eyed.
Giles waited for a moment, and when no one moved, he snapped, “The clock started one minute ago. Move!”
The rest of the house was quiet as Giles leaned against Buffy’s door, listening to her move rapidly around her room. He knocked softly and waited until the door slowly opened. “Buffy,” he whispered reverently, his voice husky as he stood blinking at the sight of her.
“I need you,” Buffy said clearly, as she pulled him inside. The door shut firmly behind him.