the pearl

That Certain Female

She found the shop in London, off of one of the side streets of a side street, hiding in a darkened alleyway with a faded sign reading "Costumes and Curios". She gently stepped over the doorway and into the shop, blinking at the faint wisps of incense floating through the air. "H-Hello?" she said, looking around.

She delicately lifted the skirt of one of the dresses hanging nearby, studying its color and style against her skin.

"That's entirely the wrong colour for you," a voice purred into her ear.

She whirled around, dropping the dress and blushing. "Oh! Gosh, you startled me..." she said, looking at the shopkeeper.

The man smiled faintly and gestured towards the dress. "It's not a good colour for you, my dear. Especially for any festivities you might be attending...say, a Halloween party?"

She smiled at him. "Yeah, I've got this party in New York, and it's a big deal, except not..." She looked around. "You've got an awful lot of costumes in here," she said, moving further into the shop.

"Of course," he said, still smiling faintly. "It is a costume shop." He smoothed the dress back down and watched her, carefully, noting her moves. "So what fashion of party are you attending?"

She looked up from a delicately beaded Egyptian outfit. "Huh?"

"If I know what kind of party it is, I can help you decide which costume would be best."

"Oh! Yeah. It's just your typical Halloween party, I guess. My friend Wade's settin' it up and..." She paused, looking blankly down at the costume in her hands, not even noticing how she was rubbing the cloth. "Well, I guess it's a normal party. We have 'em all the time, y'know? But...I don't know... It'll be different this time."

The shopkeeper tilted his head slightly, looking at her. "Things have changed since the last party?" he asked softly, his voice soothingly calm.

She nodded, looking up at him. "I guess. I was seeing this guy, and things were really good, and then they weren't, and we've managed to avoid each other really well, but this party... It'll be the first time we'll be, like, near each other, y'know? Sure, we've seen each other around, and God knows everyone around us can't stop talkin' about us, but something like this?" She sighed. "I don't know. Can you help?"

He frowned slightly, then smiled, reaching past the lace, sequins, and other excesses to pull out a unadorned yellow jumpsuit, the kind that was currently on posters all over London. He held it up to the girl and nodded approvingly. "The standard cliché is that Hell has no fury like a woman scorned. But I always believed that a woman on a mission of revenge was much more terrifying..."

She took the costume and studied it, frowning slightly. "I don't know..." she said quietly. "I mean, a million girls are gonna be wearin' something like this..."

"True," he replied, walking back behind his shop counter and opening a cupboard. "But how many of them will be carrying something like this?" He pulled out a sword, the black lacquer scabbard gleaming in the dim light of the shop.

She walked forward, drawn to it. "Is it real?" she asked.

He slowly unsheathed the sword, the light shining off of it reflecting onto her face. "It's as real as it can be — dull, of course, but actual steel and shaped by a professional sword maker. Even if other women have the same costume, this will put their plastic and wooden imitations to shame."

She looked at the sword again, bit her lower lip for a few seconds, then nodded. "Okay. I'll buy it." She reached into her purse and pulled out a slim silver credit card.

He took the card, barely registering a reaction to the name on it, and quickly performed the transaction. "There you go, Ms. Spears," he said as he handed back her card. He quickly packaged up the costume and the sword, and handed the bag to her. "I'm certain that the costume will...cause quite a stir," he said, smiling.

She smiled in return, and walked out of the shop, the bag in her hand declaring "Ethan's Costumes" in bright bold gold letters.

This Angel/Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Kill Bill/Real Person story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at