He shouldn't be thinking about her. Giles knew this but he couldn't stop his thoughts from going back to just a few days before, on Halloween.
He had been going over the index cards, looking through the cataloged books for a specific tome when she stepped through the wall. Not the door, but a bloody wall. His arms sprang apart, the cards flying everywhere at once when he jumped at her sudden appearance.
Willow was standing there in the library, in clothes he hadn't even dreamed of seeing her in. So much of her skin was exposed, even with that flimsy excuse for a shirt, and her skirt... it was short, revealing long legs she usually kept hidden with jeans. But it was her, standing there with a sheepish little smile. "Hi."
He just managed to get his composure back, still staring at her as he tried to greet her in return. His tongue wouldn't quite work though, he got a few sounds out that started with the letter h but wasn't able to get much further past that one letter. At that point he gave up and just stood there for a moment, rolling his tongue in his mouth, trying to get it to move properly again so he could actually speak. Giles sighed, shoulders finally lowering with the sound.
"I'm sorry." Willow said, though she didn't particularly look it. She looked about to burst out laughing at him. He could only thank her silently for not going through with her initial reaction. "I should have used the door..." Her brow furrowed. "Except I would have just gone through it anyway. Perhaps that would have been a better choice, cause, well, I would have. It's just the parents are out there in the halls and me being able to walk through them likely would have startled them more than it startled you."
"I wasn't-" he began to defend himself when that little smirk appeared again. "Fine." Giles turned away to head into the cage that held the books he had been working to index before she popped in on him. "So, how have you come to walk through walls?" he asked, looking down at his books so he wouldn't be gazing at her.
"It's a funny story actually. It would be more so if there weren't children-turned-demons running around in the streets terrorizing the trick-or-treaters."
"What?" he couldn't stop himself from asking the question at such an odd explanation.
"The trick-or-treaters all became what they were masquerading as for Halloween." Willow simplified, getting right to the point. That was something he liked about her. Her directness, when she wasn't rambling that is. Which was quite an endearing trait as well. Even so he found himself still confused. To keep his attention on the task at hand he picked up the pile of books, exiting the cage to see Willow had moved to the podium to look at the open book on top of it. "I wish I knew what to look for in this situation. Plus I can't turn the page. Have you ever heard of something like this happening before?"
"No. I haven't." He settled the books on the table, slowly as not to drop them as he found his gaze unwilling to move from Willow once more. "All right, let's review," he said, to get himself to focus again, just managing to move his gaze away until Willow was standing off to his left, quiet as a cat. Giles reached up to take his glasses off, so he couldn't see her quite as clearly. "So everybody became whatever they were masquerading as." He couldn't help but glance up as he spoke, still marginally confused.
"Right," She nodded her head, and his eyes trailed after her as she walked around him. Even without his glasses her legs looked enticing, wrapped in barely-there black pantyhose that did nothing but compliment her form and chosen outfit. "Xander was a soldier, and Buffy was an eighteenth-century girl." She stopped in front of him, loose strands of hair framing her face.
"And your..." His gaze dropped back to her legs and he blinked quickly, moving his head up before opening his eyes again. "Your costume?" he finally managed to ask the one piece of the puzzle he couldn't quite put together.
"I'm a ghost."
He couldn't help the chuckle that escaped him. "Yes. But, umm..." He trailed off as his gaze ran down her form, taking in the entirety of her outfit in one sweep. The fact that her shirt left her midriff bare, the tops of her breasts exposed. The only asset her outfit seemed to hide adequately was her arms and even then they looked... appealing covered in the dark red cloth. Giles looked up when her own gaze started to lower. "The ghost of what exactly?" he asked, hoping she didn't interpret his staring as just that - staring.
"Well, this is nothing." Willow said, arms raised to cross beneath her breasts. He rather thought she ought to know that that didn't do anything but push her bosom up for an even better view at her cleavage, but couldn't actually get the words out of his mouth, even if he wanted to. "You should see what Cordelia was wearing. A-a unitard with cat things, like ears and stuff."
His eyebrows rose at the image that popped into his mind. "Good heavens. Sh-she became an actual feline?"
Willow looked somewhat perplexed by his question. "No." Well, that was a small mercy. "She was the same old Cordelia. Just in a cat costume."
It took a moment for her words to sink in and the image of Cordelia covered in fur scratching at a sofa vanished from his mind. "She didn't change?"
"No," Willow repeated, a frown now on her face. "Hold on. Party Town. She told us she got her outfit from Party Town." Her voice rose as she spoke at her sudden revelation.
"And everybody who changed, they acquired their costumes where?" he asked, settling his glasses back on his face as he now had something more important to focus on then the alarming outfit Willow wore.
Though her lips were a dark inviting red, and that black choker on her neck made her pale skin stand out even more than it usually did. "We all got ours at a new place. Ethan's."
His gaze slid up from her lips, staring at her, unblinking.
That was the first time in a long while that he felt anger seep into every cell in his body. That he felt like that man again from so long ago when Ethan and his friends would call him Ripper. A name he used to take delight in.
Until that night, when Ethan mocked him and even dared to call him by that old nickname. He only hoped Willow left the store before she heard it. There was no way to tell if she had or not considering she would have walked straight through the door, there would have been no click of it opening and closing.
Just silence as she walked back out into the night, not feeling the cold.
That stunt Ethan had pulled still made his blood boil even now. He would have hurt those he cared about if he hadn't managed to break the spell.
Not just that, he reminded himself. Willow wouldn't have gotten hurt either way, it was quite difficult to harm a ghost when one couldn't touch them. The one thing he would have liked to do-
He sighed, resting his head in his hands.
No Rupert, you shouldn't be thinking about her in such a way. Not when you have Miss Calendar around-No, even with Miss Calendar around he shouldn't be thinking of Willow. He already had the interest of a pretty woman that was around his own age, someone he could actually be with.
He couldn't be with a child - okay, teenager. Still, it wasn't right.
Giles had to keep telling himself this, repeating it over and over in his head. Before Halloween it had worked just fine whenever his thoughts turned to her. After Ethan, after he let himself drop back into his old habits, as Ripper, he couldn't force them away like before.
He needed a distraction.