Title: Grinning Like Mad
Disclaimer: Not mine. Buffy and co. belong to Whedon. Check the end of the story for the owner of the crossover.
BtVS – AU – Second season Halloween Episode
Summary: During the Halloween spell, what if the Scooby Gang weren't the only ones to figure out what was going on? What if someone got to Ethan first?
* * * *
Grinning Like Mad
“Take a look at these. They're perfect.”
“Wonderful. How about this brand? Think it will be easy to apply?”
Ethan Rayne's pleased grin wavered a touch as the two teens in the back of the store exclaimed over the selection of novelties that had come with the shop. He hoped they picked a costume item – how else would they be able to enjoy the upcoming holiday? Gliding up behind them he cleared his throat. “Greetings, welcome. My name is Ethan. Is there any way I may be of assistance, Mr.___?”
The boy looked up, a grin on his face. “Hey. I'm Chester. This is Allison. We're just trying to find a few final touches for our costumes. A couple of odds and ends.”
Ethan's smile grew, perhaps he'd be lucky after all. “I'm sure, with a bit of my expertise, we can find what you're looking for. What did you have in mind?”
The two exchanged glances and Allison nodded, indicating Chester should voice their desires. “A short white apron, preferably with two pockets, though not necessary. A cat tail, gray and black or solid colored, gold hoop earrings, and a plastic butcher's knife.”
Ethan blinked, but held his smile. “We may have to do a bit of digging, but I'm pretty sure I can accommodate you. What do you plan to go as?”
“It's a surprise,” the girl grinned, her voice rich with silent laughter.
Ethan smiled back, a bit more genuinely that before and led the two over to the remnant shelves. After several minutes, he'd helped them locate several items. He agreed to sell the apron from a French Maid's outfit that had been damaged. Allison looked it over critically, “Humn, with a few modifications it should be quite adequate.” A black cat tail was located, but it came as a pre-packaged set with whiskers and ears. “It'll do,” Chester assured.
“It appears I only have one gold hoop,” Ethan said, apologetically. “It came from a Pirate costume and was left behind.”
“Actually, that's perfect. I only need the one. Most places will only sell a set,” Chester grinned.
The trio dug through the bargain bins and Ethan despaired at finding the last item. Ninjas and Pirates were popular this year and many of his knives had been bought earlier in the week. Allison caught her friend's attention, her eyes glittering in triumph, “Oh, look. Here's the one, we need to buy this one.” She pulled out a large plastic butcher's knife. Ethan frowned at the odd color, a pale green-tinged white. It looked utterly fake, unlike some of the knives he used to have in stock. He was curious as to why she was so ecstatic.
Chester's grin widened as he took the knife and slashed at the air a few times. “It's glow-in-the-dark. Perfect.” He turned to Ethan. “This is everything.”
Ethan led them to the counter to tally their purchases. He'd been unable to convince them to tell him their costumes; they only mentioned that it was a “namesake thing”. Cryptic. Though they had offered to swing by on Halloween to show off their costumes. With a wave, a smile, and not a small amount of curiosity, the Chaos Mage saw the couple to the door.
With a small grin, Ethan dismissed the two teens from his mind as he spotted the Slayer enter his shop with a few friends. “Ah, welcome to my humble shop. My name is Ethan. How may I be of service?”
* * * *
Chester Gatt knocked on his friend's door – a quick four, two, two beat staccato that let her know it was him before walking in. “Allison?”
“I'm upstairs. Come help me out, please?”
The teen grinned and bounded up the stairs, getting used to the tail hanging from the back of his waistband. He entered her room with a smooth, rolling gait – reminiscent of the panthers he'd seen in the zoo.
Allison's eyes widened as Chester stalked in. He wore gray slacks and a silvery gray long sleeved tee that he'd painted black stripes on. He'd duplicated the effect in his hair, the gold hoop proudly hanging from the top of one ear. “Meee Yow!”
Chester grinned, teeth white against his tanned skin, “Hey, isn't that my line?”
“You look wonderful!” she enthused. “Zip me up, please?” she turned, presenting her back. The black dress only hung to the knees, but the collar style, lace, and buttons gave it a Victorian air, especially once she added the remade pinafore.
He did so with a grin, “So, where's the fam?”
She gave him a peck on the cheek in thanks, fastened a horseshoe charm about her neck, and began brushing her hair. “Mum and Dad had a party to attend. Work related, I think.” She grimaced as she hit a snarl, readily relinquishing the hairbrush to Chester. She picked up her powder as he carefully worked out the knots. “Mitchell decided to go trick-or-treating with Sam. They joined up with the groups being escorted from the high school.” She finished applying the minimal makeup just as Chester finished brushing her hair and she slid a black hairband on.
“Glad we got out of that duty. I'd much rather run around town without having to watch out for a bunch of ankle biters.” He stepped back as Allison hunted for and put on her shoes. Spotting the butcher knife, he picked it up, swinging it easily. “One, two! One, two! And through and through / The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!”
“Look what I found up in the attic. It was my Grand-dad's. Mum said I could have it.” She pulled out a beautiful gold pocket watch and fob from the pocket of her pinafore.
“Gorgeous. It's perfect for your costume.”
She nodded, firmly attaching the watch chain to her dress so she wouldn't lose it. “I think that's everything.”
“Shall we go, my dear Alice?” he held an arm out to her.
She curtsied, laying her hand lightly upon his elbow. “We shall, my dear Cheshire Cat.”
* * * *
Walking the streets, Allison spotted her little brother. Mitchell, who had dressed as the Green Power Ranger, gave her a wave. She could imagine the cheeky grin he had plastered on his face seeing her walking with her “boyfriend.” Sam, the Red Power Ranger, waved also and she had to roll her eyes in feigned annoyance.
Their group leader, a tall, dark haired boy in a soldier's uniform, was laying out the rules, though Allison had to grin at what she heard. “The key to sleazing extra candy is manipulation. Tug at their heart strings - tears are good for that. The biggest puppy dog eyes are also useful. If all else fails, you can try the 'you missed me' routine, but that's risky. You might have someone who pays attention to details like that. Only try it if there's something worth it, like chocolate. Understand?”
“Hope Snyder doesn't get wind of that,” Chester commented, a grin on his face. “Though he certainly got their attention.”
“And loyalty, if Mitchell and Sam are any indication. They'll do just about anything if it means more candy.” They giggled at the thought, waving as the group of kids moved off, the soldier boy giving a lopsided smile and a wink as he passed.
* * * *
“Okay, now that's either Selene from Underworld or Trinity from Matrix.”
Allison stared hard at the girl in the black leather outfit as she walked by. “Trinity,” she said decisively.
“How you figure?” Chester asked, taking another sip of coffee. The two were sitting outside the 'Espresso Pump' watching the costumed people walk by.
“She has a pair of wraparound sunglasses hanging from her neck and a gun on her hip. And you can tell she tried to slick back her hair.”
He nodded in acknowledgment.
A tall, dark haired man dressed completely in black – slacks, shoes, silk shirt – with a pale, haunted visage glided past, smoothly bypassing pedestrians with studied grace.
Allison and Chester grinned, speaking in unison, “Vampire.”
* * * *
They were halfway down the street, heading toward the Bronze, when the spell took effect. Both swayed on their feet, closing their eyes to stave off the dizziness.
* * * *
Cheshire Cat opened his green gold eyes warily. He and Alice had been about to confront the Jabberwocky when he'd been blinded by a bright light. The room they had been in had disappeared and he now found himself outside in the middle of a town. A portion of his mind wanted to start gibbering in fear – the reaction was so different from what he normally felt, that Cheshire Cat paid attention to the sensation. He realized he was not who he thought he was, that a change had occurred that should not have. As an inhabitant of Wonderland, and mad to boot, Cheshire Cat accepted this with the usual aplomb in which he dealt with everything. The part of him that was 'Chester' calmed and the feline gained quite a bit of valuable information from the acquiesced part of himself. He turned to look at his companion. Alice stared at him – expression blank and unreadable for several long moments before she relaxed and grinned at him.
* * * *
Alice had closed her eyes in preparation for dealing with the Jabberwocky. A being who, she admitted, scared her some. However, when she opened them, her surroundings were completely different. A portion of her mind gave a startled shout. Turning, she glanced over to her companion, and for a moment froze in unfamiliar shock. 'What happened to Chester?' sounded in her mind and a mental image of her Cheshire Cat as a human superimposed itself over what she was seeing.
For a brief moment, Alice thought to lock away the unfamiliar thoughts, but at the twinge of fear, changed her mind, 'Everything's fine. Please relax.' She felt 'Allison' subside uncertainly, afraid of being cut off, afraid of loosing 'self'. Alice kept that portion of her mind open, reassuring the frightened girl. A feeling of gratitude washed over her and Alice learned quite a bit from the now acquiesced part of herself. Cheshire Cat again looked like the lean feline that he was and she grinned at him.
* * * *
The town had gone mad. Both Alice and Cheshire Cat knew, thanks to the knowledge from 'Allison' and 'Chester' that this was not normal. Not in the slightest. Small demons ran about terrorizing people – normally dressed or costumed, it seemed to make no difference. Alice pulled her throwing cards, running a finger over the edges thoughtfully. She didn't want to kill these small beings. They weren't evil, not like the card soldiers, she could tell.
“To incapacitate is the key. No more than one to keep from serious injury. Use the cards.”
The soothing tones of her friend reassured her. His advice had never been wrong before. She could help with knocking out the small demons. Quickly, she threw the cards at a small pack that had a young woman in a noble woman's gown cornered against a tree. The demons fell to the ground, unconscious. The noble woman took one look at her 'saviors', especially Cheshire Cat's large grin, shrieked, and took off down the street. She was quickly joined by a young woman who shimmered transparently.
Seeing her in good hands, the two companions turned the corner to see if anyone else needed help while they tried to figure out the current goings ons.
* * * *
*~Costumes. They've/we've been turned into their/our costumes,~* 'Allison' supplied as two beings, one dressed in a green suit, another in red, battled a huge robotic thing. *~Mitchell. Sam.~*
Alice exchanged glances with Cheshire Cat. “A trip back to the costume shop would be prudent.”
Alice agreed. “It's across town. Do you think mirror travel would be safe?”
Green gold eyes were inscrutable. “If it's even possible. Though there's no telling what else has woke.”
Alice grinned, a glint of madness shining through. “Terrific motivation for stopping all this, don't you agree?”
Cheshire Cat grinned back. “There's a mirror in the store across the way – though we'll have to break in.”
Before they reached the doors, they found themselves surrounded by a half-dozen vampires. Innately, they recognized that these were the real thing. Evil radiated off them in waves, though not nearly as powerfully as the two were used to feeling.
“Look, boys. A snack before the main event.”
Another chimed in. “She doesn't look like she'd be much more than a mouthful, but I bet it'd be awfully sweet.”
All six vamped out, anticipating the scent of fear they knew she'd give off – flavoring the blood like ambrosia.
The fear never came.
“I've not time for this.” Alice reached into her pocket and tossed out a pair of dice.
The vampires were still laughing when the Demon Die tore through them like tissue paper, returning to the dice before the last speck of dust had settled.
Alice pocketed the dice, then let herself into the shop. Standing before the mirror, she glanced at the feline. “See you there.”
Cheshire Cat grinned, “See you on the Other Side.”
Alice nodded an stepped into the mirror.
Beginning at his tail, Cheshire Cat disappeared until all that remained was a grin hanging in midair before it too dissipated.
* * * *
Shop locked tight and curtains drawn, Ethan sat relaxing in his chair, gleefully studying the small scrying mirror before him. The spell had been cast and Ethan relished the chaos he could sense – the panic and fright that spread across Sunnydale as the transformed reacted according to their characters. He snickered at the helpless Slayer and her friends, as well as chortling over some of the other shenanigans occurring through the small town. Spotting Spike with a group of vampires stalking down the alley brought another smile to his face, oh how he loved his work!
A glimmer of white claimed his attention. Ethan felt his jaw drop as a half moon smile appeared near the door. His eyes bugged as a large feline slowly appeared around the grin. The cat was gray and black striped, lean with wiry muscles. Green gold eyes stared at him. A gold hoop earring winked in it's left ear. “I like a bit of madness as much as the next bloke, but it's time to stop.”
Shocked, Ethan stared down at the cat, blinking with a touch of nervousness. The cat's head was level to his waist and it grinned at him through a mouthful of razor sharp teeth. He swallowed, regaining some of his nerve when it made no move toward him. “Why should I? Especially as everything has gone exactly as I planned.”
“Oh, has it? Really?”
Ethan spun about as a young girl in a black Victorian-style frock stepped out of the full length mirror that hung up against the far wall. Symbols of Jupiter and Neptune adorned the pockets of her pinafore, the very edge of it was smeared with what looked suspiciously like fresh blood. She stood with her hands behind her back, rocking slightly upon her heels, staring through him with dark penetrating eyes.
“Who are you?”
“Don't you recognize me? How curious.”
The cat glided closer, the wide grin never leaving it's face. “I wonder if he knows what he's done? Though, it's obvious he didn't think out all the consequences.”
Realizing he was facing two transformed, Ethan attempted to stall as he reached for the baseball bat next to the cash register. Normally, he just would have zapped him, but he was still drained from the rather large spell he'd cast. “I did it all for Janus. Chaos is the name of the game, after all, ducks.” He sidled closer to his goal. “It's interesting that you remember being here at all.”
“That's because we're mad,” the girl stated matter-of-factly. “Not such a bad quirk in the long run.”
“I certainly am enjoying this,” the cat purred.
“Well then,” Ethan concluded. “There's no reason to change things, now is there?” He was only a few inches from the bat.
The cat locked narrowed eyes upon the mage and hissed. “When you transformed us, you opened a mirror gate. Not everything that might come through the mirror is as nice as we are. Reverse the spell.”
Ethan's hand caught the rounded end of the bat. Swiftly raising it, he swung it at the girl's head with deadly force, only to scream out in agony as she brought her hands from behind her back in an impossibly fast maneuver. The bat clattered to the floor, along with his right hand.
Shrieking in pain, he grasped hold of the stump, desperately trying to stem the flow of blood. He stared up at the girl with horrified, pain-filled eyes. She held a blade nearly a foot in length, the edge giving off a faint green glow looking like it was sharp enough to slice a breeze into ribbons.
Ethan's head whipped around at the cat's chuckle. “I told you we were the nice ones.” It nodded toward the mirror which was beginning to cloud over. A large, lurching shadow moved within the heart. “We don't have much time before it enters your world, man.”
“How do we end the spell?” Dark eyes locked upon his own, grim and glinting.
For a moment, Ethan hesitated, not wanting his spell to end before causing more damage, especially to the Slayer. A shriek of rage echoed from the mirror, deciding him. “The bust, on the other side of the aisle. Destroy it and you'll destroy the spell.”
The girl dashed off just as a large, scaly, razor sharp taloned hand emerged from the mirror. “Better pray she's successful before that comes through,” the cat grinned crazily.
A loud crash and a flash of light that blinded him heralded the end of the spell as pulse waves rushed from the epicenter outwards throughout all of Sunnydale. Ethan Raynes passed out.
* * * *
He woke with a groan, the banging in his head almost an equal to the throb in his arm. Ethan gingerly sat up, noting that his wound had been bandaged using material from a left over costume. For long, long moments, Ethan stared at the reptilian-like claw that lay in a small pool of blood at the base of the mirror.
The Chaos Mage flinched at the rage he heard in a familiar voice.
Rupert Giles was not a happy man.
And there would be hell to pay.
* * * *
The blade still gave off a faint glow which was enough to light their way through the dark alley.
The spell had ended, but not all of the effects had gone away. The vorpal blade could cut through just about anything, and she had a feeling that the toys within her pockets would still work they way they were supposed to.
The memories and experiences of Alice Liddell shuffled and slipped their way into the memories and experiences of Allison Lindle. She knew her family would be home after an interesting Halloween, just as she knew that her family had died long ago in a fire. She felt fitter, more sure of her body's movements than she ever did before. She also noticed that her outlook had changed as well. Allison shook her head and sighed. Things were going to be so very different. She walked carefully arm in arm with her friend, trying to walk straight while her brain assimilated all the new information.
Chester Gatt was having similar difficulties. His hair had remained the odd gray and black striped that he'd applied when creating the look of the Cheshire Cat. His eyesight had improved dramatically as he was able to pick out, and avoid, all obstacles as they made their way through the alley. He felt lighter, and moved more gracefully, as well as knowing so much more than he used to.
At the end of the alley, the two paused before exiting out onto their street. They stared at one another, eyes wide with wonder, and just a glint of madness.
“Twas brillig, and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe,” Alice sang softly.
Cheshire Cat chimed in, “All mimsy were the borogoves, / And the mome raths outgrabe.”
On their faces were matching grins.
1/13/06 (Friday the 13th, doncha know.)
“The Jabberwocky” - Lewis Carrol
costume concept – American McGee's 'Alice' video game