The alarm clock blared, ending Buffy's worst nightmare ever, one that inflicted actual physical pain — no, agony! She opened bleary eyes and rolled groggily out of bed. She plodded miserably to the bathroom.
And startled herself with her own scream.
Her unbelievably tight sweatpants were at her knees, revealing thick, hairy legs. She blinked to focus on them and shrieked alarm at this foreign reality. Lurching drunkenly to the sink, she gnashed out a deep gasp at the whiskered visage in the mirror.
She heard the bedroom door open. "Buffy," Joyce called.
Buffy peeked out the bathroom door. Mom saw her. She shrilled out in shock, spun and fled down the hall.
"Mom wait -"
She hitched up her pants with difficulty and hobbled after Joyce, who slammed the door behind her. Buffy wrenched it open and heard Dawn's bedroom door slam. As she followed she could hear her mother's alarmed voice shooting commands to her sister.
"Oh no," Buffy graveled. Her voice was deep, was distant and strange to hear. She tried the knob to Dawn's room and triggered a scream from Dawn. "You better get out now," she quavered. We have guns."
"Dawn - Mom, it's me, it's Buffy."
Joyce shouted, "I've got the police on the phone right now, mister.
"Yes," her voice snapped. "I have an intruder in my house – 1630 Revello Drive. Hurry, I think he has a gun."
Aw, Mom." Buffy ran back to her room, threw open her closet and picked up a pair of boots. Dropping onto the floor she tried to stick her foot in, snorting her frustration. The foot was huge. She found her flip flops and managed to jam her oversized dogs in. Her heels overlapped them. Tearing through her clothes she found her hooded sweat jacket and pulled it off the hanger. On the way out she snatched her purse from the bureau and thundered downstairs, four steps at a time. A distant siren was audible, growing louder as she vaulted through the door and sprinted down the street. So typical that the cops, usually several hours late to scenes of real trouble, would be Johnny-on-the-spot now. Cutting into old Mr. Camargo's side yard, she ducked behind a mulberry bush as two black-and-whites squealed past. .
"Giles," Buffy intoned, scowling at the still shocking deepness of her voice, "you'd better be home."
Ever the persevering Englishman, Giles kept a stiff upper lip as he weathered the hot spray of the shower. He assured himself that all would be well following a good scrubbing. The drunken illusion he must be undergoing would dissipate soon, then he could forget that he imagined himself a woman. Although he only recalled only one small brandy after supper, he must have tippled far more. Yes, he must simply have forgotten, and had overdone the nightcap. That would explain why he now imagined a pair of generous breasts festooning his front, and an even greater shock southward. Long, chestnut colored tresses trailed wetly down his shoulders. After dealing with a frustratingly thin and retreating head of hair his entire adult life, Giles took this as proof positive this was all illusory.
Eventually the hot water was depleted. "Could be hypnosis," Giles mused aloud as he toweled off. His high alto voice failed to lend credence to his surmise. He grittily resolved to confront the truth by checking the mirror. A nude woman stood regarding him in the reflection. "Er –" he began to beg her pardon, shaking his head at the insanity.
It took several fittings to select clothes that would drape reasonably on his diminished frame. He settled on a handmade shirt, too small for years, which he had kept because it was expensive. He buckled into his tightest slacks, a pair of beige jodhpurs from his riding days at Manchester. His riding boots bore ankle straps he could cinch tightly, so he put those on too.
The doorbell rang. Giles debated answering, but the desperate pounding that followed drove him to trot downstairs, marveling at the lightness of his steps, and throw open the front door.
A man stood there, tall and with delicate facial features.
"I need Giles," the man demanded. "Who are you?"
Giles drew himself up to his full height, about five-foot-six. "And who, may I ask, is inquiring?"
There was something in the man's expression.
In unison they spoke.
Spike was in demon mode. His snarl would frighten the strongest of men if they were unlucky enough to see it. But the sewer was devoid of any life beyond the rats that retreated from the clatter of his boot steps.
Waves of bleached-blonde hair cascaded down his shoulders. His clothes hung loosely, but Spike's always slender frame enabled an acceptable fit of his black t-shirt and jeans, blood-red button-down shirt, and black coat.
His eyes sought out telltale marks he navigated with. When he reached his destination, he climbed up a ladder to the street and lifted the manhole cover. Pulling his coat over his head, he climbed out into the sunlight and dropped the cover back in place. Smoke streamed diaphanously from his briefly exposed flesh.
He hurried into Xander's yard and got to the basement door. It was locked. He dug a credit card from his wallet - the name on it was Janet Asperian - and jimmied the lock.
As he entered, Xander jumped abruptly toward the bed, swooping a sheet up to his cover him.
"Who're you?" he demanded. "Get outta here." His voice piped high and girly from ruby red lips.
"I see you've got it too," Spike said and slammed the door. He dropped into the nearest chair, batting wisps of smoke from around his face.
"Is that you … Spike?"
"Well, it isn't Yma Sumac." His eyes narrowed. "What the deuce are you about?"
Xander's eyes shot to and fro under heavy lashes. "Nothing. Just … look, beat it! This is my place. Yeah, my place and I say you're not welcome." Realization struck his features, and he cursed.
"That's right, love. Invite me once, and it takes a spell to uninvite me."
Xander grabbed his robe from a hook. "Don't call me 'love.' I don't know what's going on, Spike -" He pulled the robe around his shoulders and, turning his back, dropped the sheet as he tied it in front.
"So take off."
"Nice trick," Spike smirked, "but not slick enough. I saw your pear-shaped bum."
Xander started to retort but the door flew open and Tara swept in, leading a man garbed in Willow's clothes.
"Sweet fancy Moses," Xander declared.
Willow sported a full beard, in fact was extremely hirsute with a head full of kinky, curly red hair that poofed out like an afro.
I didn't do this," she said preemptively. She tromped to the bed and threw herself face down on it.
"Well, well. I see the curse isn't just changing blokes into birds," Spike said slyly.
"Anyone see Buffy?" Willow asked, her voice muffled against Xander's bed.
"We tried calling her," Tara expanded, "but the line was busy."
Spike got up and walked to Xander's bureau. "'Ere now, what's this?" He picked up a camera, which had short tripod legs attached. The timer caused it to flash just then and capture a photo of Spike's face.
Xander sprung at him. "Gimme that!"
Spike laughed. "Bloody 'ell, nancy-boy was taking nude pix of his new body. How unbelievably grotty! Taking shots of your pear-shaped bum, were you?"
Xander yanked the camera from him. "Shut up, bitch."
Spike turned away, shaking his head. "At least one of us enjoys this curse."
Willow jumped off the bed. "Leave him alone, Spike."
"Yeah, we can't be fighting," Tara agreed. "We have to work together to figure this out."
"I don't think so." Spike walked to the door and hitched up his coat. "I just stopped by on my
way to Rupert's, anyway. He'll pull out his books and find a reversal spell, as always."
"Wait, Spike," Willow protested.
But Spike was gone.
"Did you try calling Giles?" Xander asked.
Willow shook her head. "Think he may be hit by this, too?"
"I guess we'll see." Xander touched his hair self-consciously. "So, what do you think of the new me, eh?" He raised his eyebrows a couple of times, looking from Willow to Tara.