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BLEACHed - See Me in Shadow

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Summary: During "Halloween" Xander puts on a slightly different costume than he originally intended, and gets possessed by Kuchiki Byakua; everything changes from there.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anime > BleachTDMasterFR18349,33344820,83130 Dec 0711 Jul 09No

Part 1

Title: BLEACHed – See Me in Shadow – 1/?
Authors: 3D Master and Joshua the Evil Guy
Feedback: tdmasterjg@hotmail.com, joshua@grandt.com
Website: http://members.chello.nl/~jg.temolder1/
Rating: 17+WV
Keywords: X-Over Bleach / Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Action, Drama, YAHF, AU.
Summary: YAHF. Bleach this time, after a challenge made on the XanderZone Yahoo group a couple of months ago. It kept plaguing me, and this is the result. Hope you like it.
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its characters do not belong to me, but to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions. Bleach belongs to Tite Kubo.

3D Master’s notes: A little surprise me and Joshua have been working on, just in time for newyears. So have fun reading, and…

Happy newyear!


BLEACHed

See Me in Shadow

by 3D Master (tdmasterjg@hotmail.com) and Joshua the Evil Guy (Joshua@grandt.com)
website: http://members.chello.nl/~jg.temolder1


It was but a short a while ago, that Xander and his two friends had no intention of going trick or treating this year – they were 16-year-olds after all. Halloween parties and dances were a whole other matter of course. Then, the obnoxious troll – as most Sunnydale High students thought of him – Principal Snyder had changed that, making them volunteer for chaperoning duties for a bunch of grade-schoolers. Somehow, Xander figured, Snyder should really get a dictionary and look up the word ‘volunteer’.

As such, Xander, Buffy, and Willow were now – as planned ironically – looking for costumes for the big night. They found a small new costume shop called “Ethan’s” and were now looking through it. Having found his costume – a plastic gun – Xander walked over to Buffy and Willow who were looking at some type of gown.

“. . . I just want to remind Angel I can be every bit as classy as the ladies of his time, and never screw up a date, be poised, and feminine and sweet. I can be sweet,” Xander heard Buffy say. He rolled his eyes. Dead Boy again. He never had actually said the name to the vampire’s face – yet – but in his mind the walking corpse was someone that should go.

“What you guys looking at?” Xander butted in, and took in the gown. He scrunched his face up, and said, “Frills, frills and more frills – I don’t see it. I’m a spandex man myself.”

“Hmm, I wouldn’t mind seeing you in spandex,” Buffy returned teasing, looking over her shoulder at Xander playfully. Willow next to her frowned – she really wished she could come up with something like that and say it, and do it – hey, Buffy wasn’t flirting with the guy of her dreams, now was she?

“Har-de-har-har,” Xander said, not without humor.

“So, did you g-get something?” Willow quickly interjected, not being able to come up with something better.

Xander pulled up the plastic gun still wrapped in its plastic covering, stapled together via a colored cartoon depicting marketing sound images of cool soldiers awesomely killing people. “I’ve got some old, army fatigues at home, and you can call me the two-dollar-costume-king,” Xander said with a grin. Willow and Buffy smiled at joke. “So what did you get, Will?”

“Old trustee,” Willow said and raised her costume up – an old-fashioned ghost sheet.

“That’s great, Will,” Xander said, somehow managing to sound both enthusiastic and not about it. “I’ll see you guys later, okay?”

“Later,” Buffy greeted back, and Willow nodded, giving a nervous smile as Xander turned around and walked off.

He turned left at the first cross opening to go toward the cash register, and his eyes drifted to his right. There, at the end of a lane of costume racks, was a round bin, in it stood all matter of accessories. One being a katana – one that actually looked real at first glance. When Xander pulled it out it was not so – it was just a really good finish. A black plastic sheath, a colored handle and a golden, circular, metallic-looking guard, but once pulled closer it was obviously also plastic. Xander blinked for a moment and looked at his yellow and pink gun, and then back at the much better-looking fake sword. He tested it, and it freed itself from the sheath, the blade was equally plastic – a dull gray. The shiny, metallic looking guard was made of a much harder plastic. The blade was of a dull grey, soft material for safety reasons no doubt – and as a result it couldn’t look as good. It still looked a thousand times better than the yellow and pink gun though.

Before Xander could stop himself, or think of something to go with the sword, he checked the price: fifteen bucks. He grimaced. He should really get a part time job somewhere. How Buffy could even think of a gown when she had none either, was beyond him.

“Ah, young man, found something to your fancy?” a British voice suddenly sounded. Xander jumped – for a moment there he envisioned Giles, berating him for partaking in such a inane and obviously American tradition. Them British didn’t do such non-stiff-upper-lip things. “I am Ethan Rayne, proprietor of this humble establishment,” the very English, brown and silver-haired man introduced himself.

“Yeah, gun,” Xander said with a smile, and went to put the plastic sword back.

“I think you like the Samurai better,” Ethan said, tapping the sword and halting Xander’s downward motion with it.

Xander smiled ruefully, and answered, “Can’t afford it – not if I want something to drink later.”

“Ah, a man who can’t do without a lager, is a man after my own heart,” Ethan answered with a bright smile, as Xander frowned. What had he just said? Ethan took the gun from Xander and as he dropped into the bin with plastic bladed weapons – where it obviously didn’t belong – he said, “Plastic is plastic, don’t see a reason it should cost more.”

Meanwhile Xander was rushing through options of a costume that could work with a katana. He had nothing at home that could look Japanese enough . . . unless . . . if he spray-painted the fatigues black, and put something over it to camouflage the most blatant parts that said – ‘I am fatigues’ – he might just be able to work it. Xander deflated – where the hell did he get the money for black spray paint?

“Is something wrong, young man?” Ethan asked him, as he gestured toward the register.

“Don’t have a costume to go with it,” Xander muttered disappointed. “Unless . . .” his traitorous mouth had spoken the word without his consent!

“Unless what?” Ethan prompted.

Xander gave him a pathetic look, and said, “Can I borrow a can of black spray paint?”

Ethan grinned. He didn’t know what the boy had planned, but it could work out. Plenty of kids had already bought guns – no one had gotten a katana though. Best to mix things up for maximum chaos, after all. “I can’t give it for free of course, but I think I let the whole package go for four dollars,” he prompted.

“You got a deal!” Xander all but exclaimed with a grin, and followed Ethan to the cash register, the English owner taking a can of spray paint off a rack along the way.

*****

Meanwhile, back at the gown, Buffy had decided to intervene. “Will, you gotta lose the ghost,” Buffy said with authority.

“But it’s a classic,” Willow protested feebly, and felt Buffy take a hold of her shoulders, and turn her around.

“Willow, it’s a sheet, you’ll be gone from the world,” Buffy said as she gently guided Willow to some more appropriate clothing in her mind – most notably exotic, and short skirts, tops, and more of those things. “If you want to dazzle Xander, you gotta stop hiding. You gotta step boldly up to the world,” Buffy frowned at her words, and corrected, “or at least Xander, and shake him through, and say, ‘Here I am, I’m a hottie, you’re a hottie, I like you, let’s go out on a date.’ And the best way to do that is being half-naked and smoking hot.”

“Half-naked?” Willow asked insecurely, turning her upper body around to look at her friend with an uncertain and fearful look.

“Mini-skirts, leather mini-skirts,” Buffy announced and Willow seemed even less convinced. “Trust me, Willow. It’s Halloween, it’s the one time in the world you can be anything you want to be, anything you normally are not, without having to fear any repercussions. It’s just a costume, after all. So stop hiding, and show yourself.”

Not long after they had found Willow a costume, and the two friends slowly walked back toward the gown, Willow still uncertain about the daring costume she held in her hands. Buffy looked once more wistfully at the gown. “Do you think I should do it? It’s awfully expensive,” Buffy asked, fishing for the ‘yes’ that would finally push her over her doubt.

“Uh, no,” Willow answered and Buffy turned around surprised, and a little hurt.

“No?” Buffy asked her.

“You want to impress, Angel, right?” Willow asked and Buffy nodded. “Angel doesn’t seem to have been noble born, you know. Back then, maybe even now, he wouldn’t be allowed in a mile radius of a noble girl. Besides, he spent a lot more time as . . . ‘grr’ . . . in those times, than as a human. Don’t you think something like that, would remind him of all the women in those dresses his demon spent torturing and killing? Not very romantic.”

Buffy’s eyes went a little wide, and turned back to the gown. It was beautiful, still . . . “You’re right,” Buffy said softly and a little disappointed. She would probably look amazing in that dress – and prove Xander wrong with his ‘spandex’.

“Have the ladies made a choice?” It was Ethan, the shop keeper, and Willow and Buffy turned lightly towards him at his approach. “Oh, my,” Ethan said, looking at the 18th century gown, “that would look stunning on you, my dear. Very good choice.”

“Ah, no,” Buffy said, feeling a little embarrassed, “I just realized I need something else.” Willow nodded shyly at the Englishman.

“Take all the time you need, my dears,” Ethan said and took the right hand of both girls, gallantly placing a kiss on the back of their hands – first Buffy, and then Willow, making both girls blush, but especially Willow. He smiled, and as he left he said, “If you need any assistance, do call – I’ll be at the cash register, waiting patiently.”

“Thank you,” Buffy said, and slowly felt the heat from her cheeks recede, annoyed with herself for the reaction. “So what do /you/ think I should wear?”

“Well . . .” Willow guiltily suggested, “why not go with what Xander said? Something in spandex?”

“Ugh,” the blonde frowned at her friend, “and give hard-ons to every perverted freak out on the streets, not to mention at our school? Pass. Hey, what was Xander looking at over there anyway?” she pointed towards the swords bin, “Maybe I’ll go as G.I. Jane or something.”

“Yeah,” Willow tried to laugh along with the perceived joke, but it trailed off before it could even begin and Buffy didn’t even notice as she was already walking away.

“Hey, cool! Swords. Giles tried to teach me fencing, but when I kept slapping him on the butt with the flat of the blade he cut the lessons short,” she shared with her red-haired friend.

“Yeah . . .” Willow trailed off as an idea suddenly struck her. “Hey! Hey, hey, hey, HEY!” she excitedly started tapping Buffy’s arm to get her attention.

“Willow!” the Slayer snapped, “No more mochas for you if you don’t cut that out. Now what is it? Geez, I think I’m going to bruise . . .”

“You could go as the Highlander!”

“Huh?” Buffy was lost all of a sudden.

“Well, maybe not /the/ Highlander, but as somebody from the TV show . . . like . . . Oh! Amanda, you could go as Amanda!” Willow was really excited now.

“And again with the, huh?” the blonde repeated.

“It’s a show on TV, based off a few movies from the 80’s, called “Highlander”. It’s about this one warrior that is over 400 years old, he’s Immortal, except when another Immortal cuts off his head and then the power of the defeated Immortal is given to the winner by something called the Quickening, which is really cool special effects that make it look like lightning and explosions and whatnot. Anyway, one of the characters they introduced on the TV show was Amanda, an Immortal who’s over 1000 years old but she still looks like she’s twenty-something, oh! And she’s a professional thief!”

“And I would want to dress up as an immortal thief . . . why?” Buffy’s confused expression remained.

“You said it yourself Buffy, Halloween is about coming as who you aren’t!” Willow turned the Slayer’s own words against her. “You being a superhero normally, and being an immortal thief, a woman with very few morals, for a night is as opposite as you can get without going completely evil! Not to mention you’d get to pretend for a night that you and Angel really could live together forever for the rest of eternity.”

That was what cinched it for Buffy, though Willow continued her arguments for several more minutes, all it really took was mentioning fantasy material with Angel and she was hooked, lined, and sunk. They wound up buying a slim hard-plastic short sword and a black short trench coat from the Noir movie section.

After they left the costume shop, with their loot, Willow told Buffy, “We should stop along at my place first.”

“Why?”

“To get a tape of an episode with Amanda in it, then you have an idea how she behaves, moves, and talks, you know, so you can act like her now and then? She can wrap men around her finger just as easily as we walk, might wanna try it out on Angel,” Willow told Buffy conspiratorially, and Buffy eagerly nodded.

Buffy then frowned, and asked, “You got the show taped?”

“Uh, well,” Willow stammered lightly, and then said, “It’s good, and it’s kinda like our life, with all the supernatural, and uhm . . .”

“Spill, Will,” Buffy demanded.

Willow grinned cheekily as the two friends walked down the sidewalk. Blushing, she admitted, “The main character is really hot.”

“Ooh, wanna see that,” Buffy said, then the two giggled together.

*****

Meanwhile, Xander was making his own preparations for Halloween. He had taken the fatigues and placed them on an old cardboard plate in the garage. Thus having made sure he wouldn’t ruin anything, he spray painted the fatigues totally black. Then he left it to dry and went back into the house. He walked through the hallway and reached the stairs up to his room. He could see through a door into the living room, where his mother had fallen asleep at the table. He ignored her and walked up the stairs. His father wasn’t home yet from work – which was good, not getting on the bad side of one drunk was a full time job, he really wasn’t in the mood to manage that with two, and with the fatigues he’d left back in the garage, it was going to be even more difficult.

Swiftly but silently he went up the stairs. He had to find something to cover the most obvious features of the fatigues . . .

*****

The keys unlocked the door smoothly, and it opened. “Your mom and dad not home?” Buffy asked, as she and Willow entered Willow’s home.

“Nah,” Willow replied as she closed the door behind them. “They went to some convention, each a different one.”

“Oh,” Buffy answered and took the time to really look around. She had been here a few times now and Buffy didn’t want to seem like she was snooping around, but either Willow’s parents were gone, or it was late at night, and it was either straight up to Willow’s room – or to Willow’s room through the French door windows. The walls of the wide hallway were painted green, and a coat hanger was mounted left on the wall. Stairs going up were to the right. Two doors were in the hallway, one straight at the end, and one just before on the end on the right. The right side of the hallway, in front of the stairs was open and showed the living room. It was reasonably big, and had a mixture of light green and blue hues, among some brown wood. A TV was in the far right front corner, with next to it lining the wall cupboard that held books, some closed compartments and video tapes. Two couches and a table were in front of the TV.

“Come on,” Willow said, beckoning Buffy over and they entered the living room, revealing the rest of it, which stretched to the other side of the house. A high table with chairs was in the back, as well as two more cupboards. An ironing table with iron and a completed set of laundry in a big basket stood in the middle of the living room, one piece of garment lying on it, but the girls didn’t pay attention to that.

With the curtains closed, the two teens maneuvered around the furniture, and Willow went all the way to the cupboard. “You can sit,” Willow suggested to Buffy and the blonde found herself a position on the couch. Meanwhile Willow started pulling out video tapes to check on them. With every wrong tape, Willow would say, ‘no’, until she finally said, slightly triumphantly, “Yes.” Willow turned around and presented the tape to Buffy, having some stuff written on the stickers which had helped Willow identify the right tape. “This has an episode with Amanda on it,” Willow said, and quickly went to the TV and its stand. She turned on the TV and VCR and then put the tape in.

Willow turned the VCR on as she walked over and sat down as well. The Highlander show was visible a moment later. Willow fast forwarded past the teaser and the opening credits and put it on normal speed; one Duncan MacLeod was doing exercises in his dojo – wearing nothing but a pair of white gi pants – his chest bare for all to see, and girls to drool over. His long wavy hair done in a pony tail smoothly falling down over his back.

“Wow,” Buffy muttered, taking in the sight.

“Yeah, Duncan MacLeod, just say that name, Buffy, Duncan,” Willow said with a grin, “A body to drool over, and a name that sends shivers down your spine.”

“He’s . . . he might be hotter than Angel,” Buffy exclaimed in a breathless voice that showed her heart had starting beating a little faster.

Willow turned her head to Buffy, and baffled, asked, “Might be? Face it, Buffy, Duncan MacLeod, aka Adrian Paul, leaves Angel in the dust! Uh . . . no pun intended. He’s a thousand times hotter than Angel!”

Buffy nodded lightly, and then said, “Why didn’t I know about this show!?”

“Anti-geek prejudice?” Willow offered slyly. Buffy turned her head to face Willow annoyed. “Hey, you said you were a Cordelia-clone back in LA . . . Uh, I can lend you my collection, starting with season one?”

“Great!” Buffy said with a smile.

Willow nodded and quickly stopped the tape, then pushed the fast forward button to speed the tape along to find the episode with Amanda in it. Buffy quickly grew bored with Willow stopping the tape, checking where it was for a moment, and then stopping playback and going back to fast forward again. So the Slayer laid her arm on the couch back rest and casually looked around some. Soon she was looking behind her, and focusing on the ironing table holding the last finished garment. Buffy looked again, was she really seeing what she was seeing? Buffy still couldn’t believe it, but grinned.

“Willow!” Buffy exclaimed with mock outrage, as she grasped for the garment. It and the ironing table it was laying on, was just about out of reach, so she had to try twice more before she managed to grab it and pull it over between her and Willow. “You’ve been holding out on me!”

Willow was looking over, and looking directly at the piece of clothing her best friend was holding up by the collar and shoulder pieces – being sleeveless. She knew it well, oh, how she knew it well, and wished she had never seen it, and never knew about it. The clothing, a half-body leotard type, was a darker color gray. The bathing suit not made for bathing closed around the neck in a tight embrace leaving the arms bare, but that was hardly the bad thing. The crotch area was quite high cut, narrowing down between where the legs would be, until it finally would be nothing but a thong going back up between the buttocks. Suffice to say, Willow was beet red instantly, and stammered out, “Th-that’s not mine.” Willow felt no need to clarify beyond that, and focused all her attention back on the TV, determined not to look back at the flimsy piece of clothing again, until well after Buffy had returned it, they had left the house, and she’d returned much, much later.

“You certain?” Buffy frowned, not quite able to keep the grin off her face as she did so.

“I-it’s my mom’s,” Willow answered, continuing her search for the Amanda episode, with her gaze fixed on the TV. Buffy studied the article of clothing. The body was awfully small- . . . wait a minute! No one would wear this underneath their normal clothing, would day? A less naked version perhaps, but most certainly not Willow’s mother! She had met her once – not exactly the “Let’s make every man in a one-mile radius stare with my sexed-up look”-type. In fact she had seemed more like an icicle – utterly cool, if not cold.

“Oh, my god! You walked in on your mom and dad . . .” Buffy trailed off, leaving the horror of horrors unsaid. It was enough to break Willow out of her concentration though, and snapped her head back at Buffy – then immediately back at the TV, as the bane of her existence, actually one of several banes of her existence, was still held up between her and Buffy. “Oh, you poor girl,” Buffy said, and immediately went over to hug Willow.

“Buffy!” Willow whined, and Buffy quickly backed off, realizing she was still holding Willow’s mother sex-clothes.

“Sorry,” Buffy said, putting the body back up in the air again. “Are you certain? It’s small.” Very small in fact. Buffy’s critical eye tested the body, and figured it was about right to fit her skin tightly. Willow’s mom was taller than Willow, and Willow was taller than her, than a body this small would . . .

“They like k-k-kinky,” Willow muttered ashamed, her head fiery again, still looking for the episode.

. . . hurt and chafe like hell, Buffy finished her thought, and swallowed. Kinky indeed!

.

.

.

“You walked in on your mom and dad having kinky sex!” Buffy blurted out as the sudden realization hit her!

“Don’t say it! It’s bad enough as it is!” Willow exclaimed back, then pointed at the TV. “I found the episode anyway!”

Buffy crumpled the body downward, and looked at the TV. On it, visibly and audibly, a brunette walked like she was sex personified. Put her finger on the chest of a young man with red hair in curls. He practically started hyperventilating as Amanda played with him like a cat did with a mouse – having him excited, aroused, and confused in no time, while she fired off a barrage of questions while he was completely distracted by nothing but a finger, and an undulating body.

“That’s Amanda?” Buffy asked, lightly jealous as the young man obviously answered a question he shouldn’t have, Amanda turned around and walked off like it didn’t matter and she had just flipped a switch. “Whoa!”

“Yeah, I wish I could do that too,” Willow agreed wistfully, envisioning herself seducing Xander like that. Maybe this costume Buffy helped pick for her wasn’t such a bad idea.

“Rewind,” Buffy said, and got up, leaving the body carelessly on the couch. Willow did her duty, and ran the tape once again, Buffy started mimicking Amanda’s motions. Willow watched Buffy go through the moves. “I could do this for a night. One more time,” Buffy said again, and looked at the TV, ready to rehearse one more time. Willow again rewound the tape, and as Buffy was half-way imitating the seduction scene, she suddenly stopped and looked better at Amanda and what she was wearing. Buffy quickly stepped to the couch and took the body, holding it up. On the screen Amanda was wearing about the same thing above her pants – it was completely black, instead of almost-black gray, and probably was a shirt, not a body – probably – but other than that it was an equally tight top that strained around the Immortal woman’s ample chest. Then it went off screen as Amanda turned around and sashayed with swaying hips and backside off the screen.

Buffy looked at the body, and then thought of her sashaying up to Angel in it and the rest of the outfit. A little fake sword to the neck kink – appropriate – while she rode her body up against his . . . Cordelia’d be /soo/ out of the picture. Buffy gave Willow a smiling look, holding up the body. “What?” Willow asked confused, and then the color started draining from her face. “Buffy? What are you thinking? You can’t be thinking what I think your thinking? Because that’d be just . . . wrong thinking?”

“Why not? It’s pretty much what Amanda is wearing,” Buffy grinned evilly at Willow.

“Buffy! I’d be scarred for life! My best friend wearing my mom’s kinky sex clothes that I was a witness too! I’d have three therapy sessions a week instead of one!” Willow said half-joking.

“Hey, if you’re going to therapy already . . .” Buffy nonchalantly mock shrugged.

“Buffy Summers,” Willow said solemnly, apprehension, horror – a lot less than she thought there’d be – and thus hope she wouldn’t be scarred for life after all, coursing through her body, “you are an /evil/ woman.”

Buffy’s grin widened, and grew more evil. “Hey, maybe your mom’s kinkiness can rub off on me for a night, so I can /really/ show Angel,” she teased.

“AARGH!” Willow screamed, grabbing her head as she jumped up from the couch. She started running around, holding her head, yelling, “It burns! Give some metal wire so I can yank my brain out through my nose! It burns! It burns!” Buffy was in a full on giggle fit by now, and let herself fall in the second couch. “Yeah, you can laugh! This is not funny, Buffy.” Buffy just smirked at that, before going back to giggling. “You are truly evil!”

Buffy forced herself out of her laughter, and said, “Ah, come on, Will. It’s washed and ironed.”

“Xander’s right, Angel is bad for you. Some of his demonic evil must be seeping out and settling in you,” Willow said sagely.

“Now, who’s evil,” Buffy said, but still smiling. She got up, and said, “Come on, turn off the TV. We still gotta get to my house and get ready. And we need a bag for this.”

“You really going to do it?” Willow said with a sad, disbelieving face.

“Well, yeah, unless you say I can’t of course. I promise your mom will never find out. I can borrow this, right?” Buffy said, finishing with puppy-dog eyes. Willow started to think she knew how Xander felt whenever she, Buffy, or other girls, had turned those on him.

*****

Xander was rummaging through his small room, and had yet to find something for his final dilemma to his costume. How to cover up . . .

Ooh! Idea! He walked out of his room, and turned right along the bare minimum upper hallway. He entered a door to the left, and looked inside. It was his mother’s sewing room, filled with pieces of cloth, old sheets, a sewing machine, other things like that. And the best of all, he hadn’t seen his mom go in here in ages. Which meant that if he took anything she’d probably never miss it. He looked around, and finally settled on a white sheet hanging from a hook in a corner. It wasn’t perfectly clean, somewhat dirty, and was a broken white, possibly due to accumulated dirt. Inspiration hit, big dirty sheets were just perfect! Xander took the sheet down. Then he grabbed a pair of scissors, and cut two holes in the sheet. He put his arms through, and bent down. Finding the right length he made a cut, and then did the same on the side of him. Then he pulled the sheet out of the room, and laying it down he cut a reasonably straight line from one cut to the other. Then he cut off a side strip that was too long.

Satisfied he put the sheet back on, and it worked pretty well, apart from two things. The first were the points now flopping about half in front of his chin. The scissors came back into play and he cut the points off in a large curve. That left the final thing – the sheet was falling open, which meant not much covering up. He took one of the pieces he had cut off, and from that, cut a narrow belt. Now he could pull the sheet closed and tie it off with the belt. He checked his makeshift covering out, and was sure it would cover up the key-parts of fatigues well enough. All he had to do now, was put the scissors and the leftover pieces of sheet back in the sowing room, get his hopefully dry, black-painted fatigues, and put them and his plastic katana on. Then he could go to Buffy dressed as a traveling samurai – a ronin.

*****

Buffy’s bedroom

“You look hot!” Buffy said with a grin, peering over Willow’s shoulder into the mirror. The redhead gulped as she looked at herself in the mirror.

“I-I’m not sure,” Willow said weakly. This couldn’t be looking good on her – this had to look ridiculous. She wasn’t ‘hot’ material – she was a geek, a nerd – and they weren’t hot.

“Trust me, after today, you’ll need to beat guys off of you with a stick,” Buffy enthused with a big grin, herself already in costume, minus a wig and the short coat. A short leather skirt she had found she was wearing over the body. A pair of short boots with high heels on her feet. The body was riding up the cleft up her ass, as small at it was, but today it made her feel sexy and powerful instead of uncomfortable. At Willow’s pout, Buffy amended, “Actually, you won’t have to, because Xander will be the one doing it for you, not using a stick. He’ll be drooling all over you, and just a little wink with your finger will make him yours.”

“Now you’re just being mean,” Willow muttered still uncertain.

“Nope, I’m telling the truth. Girl scout’s honor,” Buffy said, raising her right index- and middle finger to show her honor.

“You were a girl scout?” Willow asked a little surprised.

Buffy blinked, her hand slowly came down again, and she answered, “Well, no, but it’s still the truth.”

Willow looked back at herself in the mirror. Black latex boots with high heels went all the way up to her thighs, a gold band at the top. The latex gloves on hands had the same golden band trim at top. The coup de gras was a black latex body, that had the same golden trim around the edges that ran around her hips and ass, another golden band in the middle of her upper arms, and a strip that ran up from that over the shoulders to the collar, which was also golden. A zipper ran from that to in the middle of her breasts, which were pushed up by the latex body, the support strips underneath them also made of the golden color. The body was all but a corset around her middle, accentuating her own curves, additionally accentuated by a silver belt. The body wasn’t completely even, having several lanes of latex popping out – some part of the corset function, but all accentuating feminine curves. Underneath it, she wore a cloth, broken-white, somewhat skin-tone full body suit, which kept the latex off of her skin – thus not needing powder – as well as allowing the skin to breath for more comfort. Her red hair, which Buffy had put upward to give more volume and still hung low enough to hang around her face and to her shoulders, gave a magnificent contrast with the black and gold. It made her look both strong and capable, as well as young, playful and sexy.

In short, she looked like a female Star Trek captain from the original series – if the female uniform was a latex fetish wet dream that made the original mini-skirt uniform look like something a nun would wear.

Willow swallowed, wondering how Buffy had managed to convince her of this, remembering the event in the costume shop.

~~O~~

“Mini-skirts, leather mini-skirts,” Buffy announced and Willow seemed even less convinced. “Trust me, Willow. It’s Halloween, it’s the one time in the world you can be anything you want to be, anything you normally are not, without having to fear any repercussions. It’s just a costume, after all. So stop hiding, and show yourself off.” Buffy gently pushed Willow in front of her into the direction of the type of costumes she had in mind. The two stopped and looked around the new section of the costume shop. It was filled with super heroine costumes, and similar attire – all tight, all revealing, and all somewhat leather, latex, or spandex. A little onward, the costumes changed from the tight and sexy back to more frilly stuff, but this is where they had to be.

Both girls’ eyes widened, Willow’s with apprehension, and Buffy’s with excitement, especially when she saw what she had envisioned. She reached for what her eyes had seen, and pulled the clothes hanger with the costume on it off of the rack. “Look,” Buffy said, and presented it to Willow. It was a short blue tank top, and an even shorter, equally blue, leather miniskirt. A pair of thigh high blue boots were standing underneath where the costume had been hanging.

“I’m not dressing up as a hooker!” Willow exclaimed, and then quickly hushed down, looking around if someone had heard her outburst, blushing.

“It’ll be fun, it’s a costume!” Buffy exclaimed, examining the costume from all sides. Damn, these were some good, and realistic looking costumes.

“I am /not/ dressing up as a hooker,” Willow repeated, this time quieter and with clear finality.

Buffy sighed and as she went to hang the costume, and said, “Okay, fine, no hooker.” The blonde Slayer continued. “So what else do we have to work with? What would Xander really notice? Besides just ‘spandex’?”

“I’m not dressing up as an Orion slave girl either!” Willow said hurriedly – having had visions of the things Xander might like ever since Buffy dragged her into this, and a little perturbed she was starting to feel good about this – just not certain things.

“A what? What the heck is an Orion slave girl?” Buffy asked her friend.

“Oh,” Willow squeaked, now thoroughly embarrassed. “Uh, it’s something from the Original Star Trek series, and I’m not telling you any more.”

“Star Trek, huh?” Buffy got a mischievous and evil look in her eyes. Willow swallowed nervously, as she watched Buffy’s keen fashion eyes look across the different costumes. Willow couldn’t see much beyond a row of meaningless side sections of clothes, only able to distinguish clothes from each other and what they were by going up close and concentrate. Buffy seemed to have no such trouble. The gleam in Buffy’s eyes intensified and Willow felt herself getting pulled toward whatever Buffy had seen.

Having reached the destination, Willow looked and saw several black costumes with different colors on it – purple, dark green, and gold. Buffy instantly took the color that would fit Willow’s red hair best – dark green – and yanked it out. It was a body, latex from what Willow could make out, a skin-tone broken white body suit from a more manageable material folded out from within it. “Does this look Star-Trek-uniformy enough?” Buffy asked, smiling broadly. The green trimming, under the breasts, middle of the arms and up it into the collar and finally around the edge that would go around the hips and buttocks, along with several patches made it look quite a bit like a uniform.

Willow gave a short squeak and peeped out, “A fetish, porn version of Star Trek perhaps.” To Willow’s shock, Buffy’s smile and the evil gleam only grew as she nodded. “You can’t be serious!”

“Come on, Will, think about it. It’s like super heroine spandex, but it’s a space, sci-fi babe uniform, and on top of that, it will make you look strong, competent, and in charge – like a . . . captain, or commander, or whatever the big boss is called – like; me, a little . . .” Buffy gave Willow a pointed look – after all, it was no secret that Xander had the hots for her, “. . . and on top of that, you get to look blisteringly hot! Perfect for any girl wanting to seduce one Xander Harris!”

“I-I don’t wanna-” Willow started to protest nervously. Seducing? No. Getting swept of her feet by him? Hell, yes.

Buffy interrupted her though, and said somewhat disappointed, “Willow, of course you do. You’ve only been obsessing about him forever, not to mention fenced him off from me, the day I arrived.”

Willow hesitated, and internal battle raging inside her. On the one hand: EEP! On the other: Xander. Suddenly she said, “Star Trek doesn’t have dark green and purple. Gold is the original series captain’s color though.”

Buffy’s grin was back full burn instantly, while Willow wondered why the hell she had said that. Buffy hung the dark green back, and pulled out a gold version, saying, “Gold it is! Now we’ve got to do a big linky!”

“Linky?” Willow asked confused, and a pair of boots was thrust in her hands, and then she was yanked along.

“Link the porn to the real deal,” Buffy muttered, as she and Willow walked onward, making the latter swallow. A moment later Buffy had found the gun department, and quickly identified more expansive looking ones than simple even-colored plastic, and one tray in particular was easily identified as the wrapping contained the words ‘Star Trek’. Buffy pulled the more dangerous looking of the weapon variants – the original series pistol out of one tray – and then found a tray next to it with something called tricorders. Correctly deducing they were some type of scanning and recording devices she examined the variants there for a moment, and then pulled a smooth silver one out.

“They’re from different centuries,” Willow protested a little at the miss match.

As Buffy pulled Willow back towards the costumes – she still need her own one, and that dress kept looking better by the minute – Buffy said, “Doesn’t matter. We’re not going to diminish your sexiness by having you carry around something that looks like a stuffy, old lady’s handbag.”

~~O~~

And so, Space Babe Captain Willow Rosenberg had come to be. She still looked at herself, growing more nervous by the moment. This was ridiculous. She couldn’t possibly look good right now, not to mention this was embarrassing. There was knocking at the door down below.

“That’s got to be Xander,” Buffy said, and turned to her bed to grab the short coat off of it, along with the sword. As she put the coat on, she said, “Go get the props, and then you’re ready to go.” Buffy slowly walked out of her room, putting the sword on her at the same time.

When Buffy was gone, Willow swallowed and turned around to the bed. She grabbed the phaser and the tricorder and put them in the holders hanging from the silver belt. Then her eye caught the ghost costume – still in its plastic – lying on the floor next to the belt, sticking out of the plastic bag that the shop owner had put all her purchases in. She had completely forgotten to put it back in the shop in all the excitement of her new costume and convincing Buffy to go with something less girly, and so had bought it along with her new costume.

Willow turned around and looked back at her reflection, then back down at the ghost sheet.

*****

Xander grinned as he walked up to the Summers front door, feeling oddly confident in his black and white over robe samurai costume. Quite frankly he thought it was inspired in what he managed to cobble together along with the sword and the black paint he’d bought from the store. It was actually an old sheet from his mother’s sewing room with some strategic holes cut in it. On a whim he’d used the paint to put a black number nine on the back, only to discover when he actually put it on that it wound up being a six instead.

He had wanted to reference the movie “The Nine Ronin”, a really cool Japanese Samurai flick he’d seen a while back, and that way he could also be the last of the nine, who was the strongest. It had been too late to do anything about it though, and he didn’t want to risk stealing another white sheet from his mother’s sewing room.

Catching his reflection in the window as he stepped up to the door, he had to admit he looked good. The black samurai robe cinched tight, the white over robe hanging open and loose, and his samurai sword tied at his waist, making him look even more real than any of the other parts. Still, he couldn’t help but wonder if something was missing.

He shrugged it off and knocked on the door to announce his arrival. A few seconds later, when he detected nobody coming to answer the door, he rang the doorbell instead. Moments later, he could hear somebody coming down the stairs, but it was impossible to see who through the door-windows.

He got his answer very shortly as the door was very slowly, and in hindsight, sexily opened to reveal a wet dream come true.

Buffy Summers in nothing but an overcoat. A very short overcoat, showcasing a /lot/ of leg. At least it looked like she was wearing nothing but an overcoat, a pair of high heels that made her taller than normal and then the way she draped herself in the door way like the frame of a masterpiece portrait.

“If I’m dreaming, I /so/ do not want to wake up,” he muttered under his breath.

“Darling,” Buffy drawled in a faux-European accent, “So glad you could make it, and so ravishing as well that one could eat you right up. /Entre Vous mon Chevalier/.”

She then stepped back and opened the door further, while at the same time undoing the overcoat and allowing it to slip open, revealing a skin-tight gray-black top and a dangerously small mini-skirt that sat low on the hips and was cut even with the bottom of her waist. The ankle-high four-inch black pumps arched her legs, making them more defined in their stance and added to her height enough that she could actually pass for Amanda’s height from the show. He wasn’t sure whether to be disappointed, relieved, or twice as turned on as before that she wasn’t naked under the black overcoat. She /was/ still showcasing a /lot/ of leg . . .

After stepping in and having the door closed, seductively he might add, behind him Xander weakly asked to clarify, “Is... is that spandex?”

“Better: leather,” Buffy just grinned at him and then, as he watched, pulled on a brunette wig and strapped the costume sword to the inside of the coat, not to where it could be easily noticed, but where it was still in easy reach. Without saying a word, she walked back over to him like a model on a runway, or a seductress on the prowl, or . . .

“You’re Amanda, from the Highlander TV series,” it finally clicked for him.

“A pleasure, darling,” she drawled out in that fake accent again.

“You don’t have to ham it up that much, Buff,” he assured her.

“Oh but it’s so much fun,” she immediately switched back to a 16-year-old blonde Californian. “And did you see the look on your face? I wish I had a camera.”

“Sorry, I missed it,” he sarcastically retorted.

“Looking good, Xander. Samurai right?”

“What was your first guess?” he remarked with a grin.

“There’s something missing though. I mean you do look good and all, but for the most part you look like Xander in robes carrying a sword. There must be something . . .” she tapped her finger on her chin as she stared at him, then held up her finger as the proverbial light bulb went off over her head, “Oh! I know.”

She quickly went into the kitchen and came back with a glass of water. “Here we go.”

“Huh?” he wondered what she was up to.

Rather than answer, she went ahead and dipped her hand into the glass and then raised it dripping onto his head. She did this a few more times until his hair was completely soaked. Once that was to her satisfaction, Buffy reached up and began to slick back his hair, little by little until it was almost pasted to his head, the locks of black hair flowing back to give him a more distinguished, cultured appearance, and it did make him look more like a samurai rather than just himself wearing robes.

“What happened to impressing Dead Boy by dressing up as a noblewoman?” he asked while she did this. She stopped long enough to answer and he took another look in the mirror as he listened to her.

“Willow talked me around to something better. Plus,” she added with an evil grin as she noticed a flicker of movement at the top of the stairs, “I needed something to compete with her costume. You’ll see what I mean when you see her . . .” Buffy trailed off her explanation when she looked up and saw a full-body, to-the-floor, white sheet stepping down the stairs, which incidentally had a printed ‘BOO!’ on the front of it, “. . . Boo.”

“Oh. Yeah,” Xander acknowledged but was at a complete loss for what Buffy meant and was kinda disappointed himself, seeing Willow like this once more, especially after /Buffy/!

The three stood there in the foyer for a few moments, the two original-costume wearers staring at their generic ghost companion with disappointed stares. The tension in the room skyrocketed, almost to the point where Willow thought of tearing her outer costume off as some kind of dramatic unveiling before her schoolgirl crush. /Almost/.

As it was, they just stood there for another few seconds before Xander exclaimed, “OK then, shall we go?” And they left.

*****

Sunnydale High

The way over from school had been rather uneventful, but Xander didn’t have enough luck that it remained that way. Just as the three of them reached Sunnydale High, one particular student, dressed as a pirate, came barreling out of the school with some of his minions in tow. The pirate collided with Xander, and as Xander still reeled from the impact, the pirate said, “Harris, watch where you’re going!”

“Me!? Larry . . .” Xander tried to protest, but Larry was already moving past the three friends, pushing Xander aside forcing him to walk backward into Buffy, who easily steadied him.

Larry faltered a moment, and looked to Xander being steadied by Buffy to his right and back, and turned around. Walking backward he looked to the ghost on his previous left, and said, “Yo, Rosenberg, nice ‘boo’ you got there. Don’t let it scare you.” The jock laughed and turned back around, and he and his friends left the three behind.

Willow had her head down, as the three reunited, and Xander and Buffy looked after the jocks. “One of these days,” Xander whispered with some anger, still hating the fact that Buffy had saved him from the jock the day before.

“Yeah, karma will have a field day with him. Just let it go, okay, Xand?” Buffy said, looking over at Willow, and gave an internal sigh. If Willow hadn’t hidden beneath the sheet, Larry and his cronies would have been flat on their backs in amazement, worship and drool instead of teasing her more. She had to try and convince Willow to get rid of the sheet; but if she didn’t want to embarrass her more, she would need to get rid of Xander temporarily first. How to go about doing that?

The three turned around and walked in the doors of the school. Buffy was surprised that there were still so many students around. They seemed to have made the school the place to gather, even if they weren’t forced into volunteering to chaperone some kids for trick-or-treating. Back in LA, the school had been the last place to gather, but she supposed there weren’t much places in Sunnydale to join up. Several more dressed up students walked past them, leaving them behind. Others were heading toward the student lounge as well – no doubt more ‘volunteers’. All of them were dressed up in various outfits, apart from one guy who Xander’s eye locked onto. The short-statured guy with dark hair was at his locker and was seemingly wearing his regular clothes. That was until he locked the locker and turned around, showing he was wearing a tag on his shirt that read ‘God’. Xander groaned inwardly – that was so cool, he wished he had thought of that.

While Buffy was furiously thinking of a way to be alone with Willow, and was about to resort to the cliché and classic, and in her mind far too obvious ‘I need to go to the girl’s room, could you come with me’, Willow was looking around nervously. She was hoping the thin sheet wasn’t as see-through as it felt. The only thing worse than to be seen in that outfit, would be to be seen in that outfit while wearing a sheet that told everyone she’d chickened out.

“Hey, loser! Watch where you’re going!” the shrill voice unmistakably from Cordelia came from up ahead. She was wearing a slutty cat costume. With her Cordettes around her, she pushed the ‘loser’ aside and walked onward toward Xander, Buffy and Willow, with the destination being the exit. “God,” she said out loud for all to hear, “I’m surrounded by fashion idiots! It’s Halloween, and they still can’t come up with anything that looks even remotely good.” The head cheerleader slowed down as she just passed the Scoobies, looked at the guy’s tag, rolled her eyes, and steamed past everyone to the exit.

Unseen by Xander, Willow shrank down a little at Cordelia’s comment – even if it wasn’t directed at her. Buffy looked concerned at Willow and became even more determined to get Willow out of her closet. What was underneath that sheet would change her friend instantly – for the better. She was about to go with old trustee after all, when Xander had made up his mind. If Cordelia hated it, it was too good to pass up. “Hey, guys, I forgot something. You guys go on to the kids, I’ll be right there, okay?” Xander said, and quickly left his two friends behind him.

*Great!* Buffy thought, as she watched Xander disappear around a corner. She went closer to a forlorn Willow and put her arm around her friend’s ghostly waist, pulling her along. “Will, you gotta lose the sheet. You can’t keep hiding all your life.”

Willow, underneath the sheet, felt annoyed. Part of her wished she hadn’t put on the sheet, but a much larger part of her couldn’t think of doing anything else. “Buffy,” Willow started softly, “I’m not like you. I can’t wear that; I’d look ridiculous.”

The two walked onward, and Buffy tried again, “You don’t, Will. Trust me, you’d look amazing.”

“I’m not as courageous as you, okay? Could you please drop it? I just want to get this over with,” Willow muttered under her breath, the two of them walking onward to the gray halls.

Buffy sighed, racking her brain for another angle, and having found one, tried, “You can’t hide all your life, Willow. You gotta step out into the world.”

Buffy saw Willow sheet-covered head look down, and then Willow said, “Just not today, okay?”

Buffy gave a little groan, and looked at Willow with disappointment, finally accepting defeat. “Okay.”

*****

Meanwhile Xander had managed to get inside a classroom. There, it didn’t take long to find a piece of paper, some sticky tape, some scissors and a pen. He was about to write down the word ‘God’, when he hesitated. First, people would to easily see it as a rip-off, and second he wasn’t exactly dressed as God. Besides, Xander reasoned, God was all nice and all, it should be possible to come up with something even cooler. He thought for a moment more, and then grinned. He brought the pen down, and wrote, ‘Death God.’ Yep, add ‘death’, and it just got cooler. He cut off the words from the rest of the paper using the scissors, so he had a sign. Then he used the tape to stick the note to the left side of his chest.

He had just promoted himself from ronin to Death God.

*****

Xander soon reached the auditorium where the kids were waiting for their chaperone’s and found his friends as well. He smiled and Buffy smiled as well. What Willow was doing except standing there he couldn’t say as she was still covered head to toe by the ghost sheet. Buffy then frowned as she noticed his addition and he grinned wider. He reached them, and when Buffy was finished reading the sign, she said, “You went from samurai to Death God?”

“You know what they say, clothes make the man,” Xander returned with a grin.

Buffy looked at him, smirked for a moment, suppressed it as best she could, and said, “Maybe we should change that to ‘Clothes go to a man’s head.’ What do you think, Willow?”

“I’m pretty sure I can see his head swelling,” Willow joined Buffy in the rimming.

“Live with it, I’m a Death God now, and if you don’t,” Xander shrugged, and then said menacingly, “I’ll carry your souls off into the afterlife and find you a not so nice spot.”

“Well,” Buffy drawled out, taking a step forward and swaying her hips seductively, “it’s a good thing then, I don’t have to worry about that, do I, Mister Powerless Before Me God? Being rather Immortal, and soul going to whoever does manage to kill me, all your threats slide down my spectacular body like so much old news.” She let her right hand move down from her shoulders to the bottom of her right leg, sticking it out to accentuate its athletic beauty – not to mention the short, black, shiny skirt that was barely coming halfway her upper legs. Xander’s heart skipped a beat, then another one when Buffy gave him a look of a cat that just ate a very tasty canary.

Willow’s heart was skipping a lot more than two beats. Oh, why oh why, did she have to give Buffy the idea for Amanda? What if all this flirting will allow her to see something in Xander she’d been seeing for the past years, at last? Next thing you know . . . Ugh, why couldn’t she have the guts to not put on this sheet – or rip it off?

“Oh, don’t worry, I can do many more things than send you to an afterlife – the ghost, though, is screwed,” Xander said with a grin, making Willow jerk out of her reverie.

“Let’s get the kids,” Willow said quickly, and started walking to what would be her group, hoping her friends would follow her lead and they’d stop this evil business.

Buffy looked after her for a moment with a sad pout – if only she hadn’t been wearing that sheet. When she turned back to Xander he was looking at her questioningly – to no doubt see if she knew something of Willow’s not so fun behavior all of a sudden. Buffy shrugged, and in her usual self, she said a little down, “She’s right, gotta get the kids.”

Xander watched his friend give him a wistful smile, before turning around and finding the group of children she was assigned to. Xander sighed, and went to do the same. A little later he was with his group, and squatted down. “All right, a little expert advice on getting extra candy. Tears are always a winner, women fall for it easy, and most of the time men as well, especially if you’re a girl. There’s always the ‘you missed me’-routine, but it’s risky. Only go there for chocolate.” Xander’s group nodded dutifully, eagerly filing the information away.

Xander stood back up and was ready to move his group, when one of the boys, asked, “Hey, mister, what’s a Death God?”

Xander smiled at him, organizing what he was gonna say, before saying it, “A Death God is a being that exists to punish the unjust, to send all the nasty spirits to hell, destroy demons, and take the good souls up to heaven. Those who can’t find the way there on their own.” His group of children nodded at that information, “All right then, squad – are we ready to destroy all those nasty things out there, and get the most candy in the process.” All the children cheered, and Xander drew his katana dramatically, pointed to the exit and said, “Then squad, move out!” He and his group promptly went to do exactly that, Xander sheathing his sword in the process.

A little bit off, Buffy paused her talk with her group, and took the time to watch Xander for a moment. He’d make a great father some day, she realized, if only he could see the girl that would love to be a great mother to his children. She turned around and looked as ghost Willow got her group moving. Idiots – both of them. She quickly turned back to her group, and said, “Are we gonna let the guy who thinks he’s so much and his little group get the best of us, or are we going to get the most candy?”

The kids turned to look at each other for a moment, and then turned back to Buffy. “Most candy!” they exclaimed happily, and Buffy smiled.

“Then pay attention,” Buffy said and stood up, “I know a few more tricks then he does, I’m the master of trick or treating. First, look cute before you even reach the door; they’ll be looking through the windows to see what’s coming.” She gestured to the exit and she and her group started moving, while she started explaining and showing a few tricks.

*****

In the back of Ethan’s shop, Ethan was kneeling in front of a small statue, a circle of candles around him. He looks up at the ceiling, chanting a spell, and finishing up with, “Persona se corpum et sanguium commutandum est. Vestra sancta praesentia concrescet viscera. Janus! Sume noctem!” With a pulse of energy and light, the spell finishes – the eyes of the statuette glowing orange momentarily.

*****

“Aren’t you cute . . .” the older woman started with a smile, bending over closer to the child dressed as a demon to take him in better. Willow’s little group was doing well, and she was waiting patiently. Suddenly some energy flickered over the boy, then he morphed into something, the mask ceasing to be a mask, the rim of human skin between it and the rest of the costume changing to become demon skin. A moment later the little demon grabbed the woman by her throat, growling inhumanly.

“Hey! What are you doing!” Willow exclaimed in surprise, stepping forward as the rest of the children transformed as well. Willow grabbed the mini demon’s arm and was surprised when it didn’t immediately give. Children shouldn’t be this strong. With effort she managed to get the little arm free, and the old woman staggered back, her throat producing a sound that was a combination of screaming in fear, gurgling, and coughing for air. The door slammed closed a moment later, at which time Willow suddenly felt dizzy. She staggered back and collapsed to the floor. The newly formed demons, looked at her, debating for a moment if she could be eaten. Then with a moan Willow rose from the floor, the ghost costume gone, only the fetish, Space Babe Captain costume remaining – and she was vaguely see-through. The mini demons looked up at her, then down at the sheet, and body still lying there. Too freaky for even demons, they ran off.

“Ugh,” Willow muttered, shaking her head, and then noticed her sheet lying on the floor. She looked down at herself, too panicked to notice the see-through effect disappearing for her to become fully visible, the body underneath the sheet was another matter though. She quickly reached down, and her hand moved cleanly through the sheet and her body, which she noticed then. “Oh, my god,” Willow muttered, looked at the door, and tentatively moved her hand to it – then through it. Willow gulped, remaining rooted on the spot for a moment, until her brain kicked in again. “I’m a ghost!” she said softly with shock. “Buffy! Xander!” Then she ran off, not having enough time and wits to wonder why she wasn’t sinking through the ground.

*****

Buffy grabbed her head as she staggered under an onslaught . . . of what she couldn’t say, she groaned and then her awareness was gone. Her body slowly morphed to match the character of her costume, her body adjusted to a new height, her bust grew to the type that was the envy of women everywhere: big, but not too big, and eternally defying gravity. Her legs lengthened becoming more athletic and well-defined – something the short skirt showed off quite nicely. At the same time, the heels shortened, becoming more practical in a fight. Buffy Summers, bleached blonde, wearing a brunette wig, petite girl was gone, and a magnificent, tall brunette stood in her place.

“Ugh,” Amanda Derrieux, also going by Montrose and several other aliases, muttered as she staggered under a sudden assault of nausea. Her head cleared quickly, as always, and she looked around. “What the hell!?” How had she gotten to this quaint USA little town? Amanda Derrieux did not dwell in places like this. Sometimes she visited a town like this for a short time when something valuable was to be – acquired – from a very rich resident; but remain in these things she never did. And there was not a hint of knowledge inside her mind about a rich resident having something valuable, and even if she did, she still didn’t remember coming here.

But that was the least of her worries. With undisguised disbelief she watched as little creatures – either demons from some horror movie, or aliens from some . . . horror movie SF style – were around her, and snarled at her. She was about to reach for her sword, when across the street, another one of them attacked a sweet old lady. She was about to fight her way through the demons surrounding her to go help – Amanda wasn’t the type to help anyone, but a demon attacking an old lady assaulted even her limited sense of right and wrong – except that the old lady easily caught the demon by the neck with her left hand, which then was struggling to get out of the steel grip . . . of the sweet old lady? Her right hand rose to the air, and she said, “This is a job for Super Granny!”

“Super Granny!?” Amanda said in disbelief as the old lady rapidly hogtied the demon. The result of which was that the demons around her didn’t stick around, and scattered in all directions. With a burst of speed that made an audible sonic boom super granny came over.

“Are you alright, sweety?” the sweet, old, super lady asked sweetly.

“Uh, yes?” Amanda answered uncertain.

“Good, be safe!” the lady told her, and then with another audible burst of speed the super grandma zipped away and around a corner two houses down the road – after one of the fleeing demons.

“Super Granny?” Amanda asked dumbfounded for the second time. Something in her mind thought of something, and she said, “Isn’t that a TV show?”

After a moment of letting her mind catch up to reality, or whatever this place was, Amanda turned around and walked in the other direction, telling herself, “I have to stop after the twelfth cocktail, Immortal immune system or not – cause this is nuts.” This became more evident when a horse appeared from a side street, whinnied loudly as it reared up, and the cowgirl on top yelled, “Yeeehaaw!” while shooting a six shouter in the air, before galloping off to wherever her destination was. “Maybe the ninth is good place to stop,” Amanda muttered and walked onward.

*****

Xander was just about to direct his group of kids onto another porch for the next heist – uh, trick or treating – when it hit him. He didn’t really know what hit him, just that it hurt, he doubled over . . .

And all awareness was gone. His white, sheet-ribbon belt had just sunk through his sheet, while the sheet formed an actual over-robe, not fluttering open. The number six on his back had changed to the Japanese symbol for six, encapsulated in a diamond border, all black. At the bottom in the middle of the robe, a split had formed, while next to it on either side, alternating symbols had formed, a vertical stripe, a large dot, a vertical strip, a large dot, and so onward. The painted black fatigues had changed to actual robes. Finally, a long white scarf had formed around his neck. Three long, triangular hair ornaments had formed on the front of his head, through which long locks of hair fell in front of his face, two more of the same ornaments had formed on his right side of his head, through which hair was pulled back. His face itself, had changed completely as well. The pain that Xander had felt, had come from the light shimmering around the plastic sword, a light that extended into his chest, and then settled down.

The new figure staggered to his full height, just a little shorter than Xander himself had been. He steadied himself, himself being Kuchiki Byakuya, Death God Captain of the Sixth Division of the Thirteen Imperial Guard Divisions of Soul Society, a realm of the dead, where souls await reincarnation. Disoriented he looked around and allowed his senses to notice the demons, the evil spirits that were behind him, and had started to circle. Last thing he remembered was going to sleep in his home, now he was here. Briefly he noticed this had to be some little town in America, but he refocused on the greater problem at hand. The little demons, as well as a little cowboy and ballerina – the last two running off once they saw the demons that were focusing on him, no doubt because his far greater spirit force which probably looked like a nice snack to the demons.

These demons were strange though, all wrong. Apart from Hollow, which were not demons per se, demons were rarely encountered, and many a Death God lived out their lives without ever encountering one at all. In fact, up until today, he hadn’t seen even one demon either, but here were four of them just like that. They were small, very small, but that wasn’t really what was off about these demons. Kuchiki Byakuya was one of the most powerful, and most experienced Death Gods around, and his senses as a result were sharp. These demons didn’t seem to be demons; it was as if he could see people – children – inside of them. There were demons and evil spirits, sometimes even Hollow, that possessed the living – but then he’d be seeing it the other way around: humans, with demons inside of them.

“Xander!” a voice screamed.

Kuchiki Byakuya had but moments to decide, as the voice and the unfamiliar name attracted some of the demons’ attention – they would either attack the owner of the voice, or himself soon, but he was not yet ready to slay these monsters; he needed more information.

“Demon path, art of binding 16: Soul Cage,” Byakuya calmly intoned, and placed his right hand on the ground. Four red energy crackles shout out from his hand to underneath each of the demons, and then they formed a red disc, bars of red light shot up from the edge, and then a another red disc served as a roof. The demons snarled, attempted to grab or otherwise breach the cage, and staggered back as they got shocked by the energy.

To the Death God’s right, ghost Willow skidded to a halt, saying softly, “Holy shit.” She became beat red the moment she realized what had slipped out of her mouth, but Xander, her very normal Xander, had just performed an incredible, high level of magic – energy cages to keep some of the little demons contained. The Death God turned to face her, and Willow’s eyes widened. This was not Xander, not at all. He was dressed very similarly, and from the back he had looked rather the same, but he most definitely was not Xander. In fact, this man, most definitely a man, a very handsome, not to mention cool and in control looking man, seemed even a little shorter than Xander. The man’s face was also less rounded than Xander’s, more angular, with a much sharper nose that suited his face just fine.

Kuchiki Byakuya regarded the girl in the strange and titillating outfit in front of him. It was obvious she was a spirit, a soul. However, there was no chain linked to her heart, nor was there a hole where her heart should be. Normally, a deceased person that did not cross over, had a chain linked to its heart that chained it to whatever place that held the unfinished business that kept them stuck here. Less often, but still possible, there was the chain, but it was broken allowing the soul to move about. In time, the pain of the unfinished business, and watching people move about, would get to the soul, it would grow angry and resentful, losing its humanity, and the chain – and heart – would disappear, leaving an empty hole. Then is when it becomes a Hollow, a monster without conscience, and often without consciousness, a rabid beast that would instinctively seek out and devour other souls and often humans with high spirit power – to try and fill the empty hole in its chest. This soul, however, had no chain, nor a hole, not even the tell tale signs of a soul beginning to lose its heart. Things were getting stranger by the second.

Willow in the meantime had recovered somewhat. Her hand moving through a door, and seeing her own body lying on the ground had freaked her out, and she had just instinctively run to seek out her friends for help. With this approximation of Xander, demons safely contained in a cage, she had calmed down a bit, and her great intelligence had rapidly put the pieces together. Kids dressed as demons were demons, she was dressed as a ghost, and she was now a ghost, and Xander dressed as this – Death God – almost certainly was now this Death God. They had become their costumes! That meant . . .

“Don’t hurt the demons, they’re really just children wearing a costume!” Willow blurted out quickly, not quite sure if this Death God – which sounded ominous she had to say – would deal out some death.

“Indeed,” Byakuya said calmly, not a hint of surprise or being out of control on his face, as he casually turned around to look at the children to take them in again, and Willow noticed the six on his back no longer being a six, but being some Asian symbol. Kuchiki examined the little monsters again, seeing the children inside, and with some more scanning of more than just his eyes, it was indeed obvious they were touched by magic – it did seem to fit, but how would this spirit know? He turned back to Willow, and decided to see what her reaction was, when he said – as gently as he ever allowed himself to be, “I am Byakuya Kuchiki. You are a lost soul, someone who did not pass on. As a Death God, it is my duty to send you on your way to the realm of the dead, with a method called the Soul Burial . . .”

He had been planning to say more, but the strangely dressed girl soul interrupted him with a rapid fire several sentence that normally would have been difficult to follow, but for some reason he could understand her just fine. With her hands up, shaking left to right in a warding off gesture, Willow rapidly burst out, “No, no, no! I’m not really dead you see! My name’s Willow Rosenberg by the way, and I’m just like them. I was dressed as a ghost, we all turned into our costumes!”

Byakuya’s eyes quickly shot up and down Willow’s scantily clad body, and he said calmly, with just a hint of questioning, “Interesting concept for a ghost.”

Willow looked down at that statement and took herself in. Her eyes widened, she had all but forgotten what she’d been wearing. She instinctively crossed her arms in front of her, bending down a little to cover as much as possible and blushing. She quickly blabbed out, “I wore this underneath the ghost sheet.” She looked embarrassed at the newly minted Death God and whimpered, blushing a deeper shade of red, “I chickened out.”

“I see,” Byakuya simply said and started going over things. He still didn’t understand how he got here without him knowing – obviously a Death God was needed here, but why a Captain? And why was the last thing he remembered going to sleep? Did something happen to his short term memory when he passed through the gateway from Soul Society to make him forget why and how he came here? He dismissed it as something to find out later. He had a job to do first, deal with this mess and blatant abuse of magics. Whoever was responsible for this, was going to find himself in a lot of trouble – to put it mildly.

Willow in the meantime had been worried the Death God her best friend had turned into, was deciding whether or not he should perform this ‘Soul Burial’, so she told him, “So don’t send me to afterlife, okay? When whatever is happening is over, I’m going back into my body and . . .” Willow hadn’t thought of it before, but now that she voiced the words, it dawned on her. What if? Trying to keep her modesty was instantly forgotten, and she straightened up ramrod straight with panic. “Oh, god, I /hope/ I go back into my body! What if . . . what if it really killed me to turn me into a ghost? What . . .”

“Calm yourself, Miss Rosenberg,” Byakuya said with his now obviously trade mark collected manner, and its assuring tone did actually calm Willow down a bit. “We’ll deal with that when the time comes. We must take this one step at a time, and . . .”

“No, you won’t!” Willow exclaimed somewhat frightened, “When this is over, you’re going to turn back into my best friend Xander. He dressed as you, well, not specifically you, but he had a name tag with ‘Death God’ on it. You see, you’re like me and them too!”

The whole concept was idiotic. He was not a creation of some piece of magic. Yet at the same time, it would explain how he got here – if he was not created, but parts of him, yanked out of his bed and placed here. And since he had as of yet no chance to examine himself in this strange situation, he did just that. It was only a moment later that he realized he was inside a body, yet he had his powers and his . . . His eyes widened in abject shock and horror, an extremely rare occurrence when Kuchiki Byakuya would lose his control, and only to the extreme of circumstances, and that was this indeed. It was now finally that he became fully aware of the light throbbing in his mind that he had subconsciously ignored to deal with the situation at hand, a throbbing that came from /the/ Zanpakut?, /the/ Soul Slayer, /the/ sword – not /his/. With a rapid movement, he grabbed the hilt, and violently yanked the katana from its sheath, holding the gleaming blade up. Willow jerked back at the sudden movement, the sudden emotion on the previously calm face, and all with a deadly weapon – perhaps even to her, considering what this man was. “This . . . is /not/ Senbonsakura!” Byakuya said almost violently, and looked at the sword with wide eyes, emotions ranging from shock, a little fear, and confusion.

It was indeed a Soul Slayer alright. A gleaming blade from which, to anyone sensitive enough, energy was positively bursting forth, while at the same time to those, it would seem like the blade was bound in this spirit energy. A simple circular guard, a simple hilt bound in leather, and two ribbons circling in opposite directions like a double helix on top of that - one ribbon orange-red, the other a cool, light blue. To anyone experienced enough, they would also instinctively know, that there was more than met the eye about this seemingly simple katana.

It was absolutely shocking, that was what it was. It was bad enough that Kuchiki Byakuya found himself here without his Soul Slayer, without a very piece of his soul, worse that somehow a different Soul Slayer had replaced it, even worse that this Soul Slayer was completely unfamiliar to him; but none of that, could prepare for the sense he got from his blade itself. It felt . . . wrong, somehow, and it wasn’t whatever magic had taken him here – he was certain of that now – and no doubt given this blade to him. No, it was the blade itself. It felt like . . . it felt like it was trying to tear itself apart, that was what it felt like. As if a rabid dog and a rabid cat were stuffed inside a far too small space – namely this Soul Slayer – and were waging a war with each other.

“Uhm . . . Senbonsakura?” Willow finally prompted, wondering if she was insane to potentially antagonize an obviously freaked out, very powerful man – Death /God/ – holding an deadly weapon.

“My Soul Slayer, and this is not it,” Byakuya stated somewhat harshly. He realized this quickly and started taking slow, calming breaths, and worked to get himself back under control. He had to figure out this mystery, and get his own weapon back quickly – maybe he should find the nearest gateway to Soul Society and see if Senbonsakura was still there.

“You name your swords?” Willow asked a little perturbed, it seemed rather creepy.

Byakuya trained his gaze back upon Willow, lecturing on the essence of his blade an easy way to get himself back under control, “A Soul Slayer is no mere blade, Miss Rosenberg. It is alive, it is the form of a spirit, in fact, it is an aspect of myself, of my soul. It’s a piece of me, and it is not named, it has a name, one it teaches the bearer.”

Willow’s eyes blinked, her mind going back into over drive. Still fearing a little for her life - this guy was so unreadable, despite that moment of shock there, there was no way she could tell whether he was still planning on sending her onward, so she felt she still had to find a way to convince him. The key was here, and she was already starting to figure out – maybe she should ask the expert for a little confirmation. “A little magic can’t simply destroy a soul, right?” Willow asked the Death God hopeful.

“Magic can destroy a soul, but it takes a lot of power – a soul isn’t so easily destroyed – nor can it be done with these . . . random parlor tricks. The magic must be focused totally on destroying spirit or soul that is its target,” Byakuya explained with a light hint of intrigue.

“Then I understand what’s going on,” Willow said a little excitedly, “and it proves what I said. You’re not really here. Xander’s body was changed to reflect yours, and your mind got control over it, but the magic couldn’t change, and in the process destroy Xander’s soul. So when it tried to create your Soul Slayer-”

“It couldn’t do it,” Kuchiki Byakuya interrupted her, unnoticed admiring the sharpness of this girl. “But it could create the Soul Slayer that belonged to the soul that /was/ here. This is the Soul Slayer that your friend would have, if he were a Death God.”

“Exactly,” Willow said exactly, this guy wasn’t stupid – like that wasn’t already clear.

The sword in Byakuya’s hand vibrated – it did not like to be in the hands of someone it did not belong to . . . but at the same time, the soul it belonged to, was still here. The sword itself was probably as confused and anxious as he was. He gripped the hilt a little more tightly, and closed his eyes, allowing his awareness, his spirit to focus inward. Now that he knew what he was looking for, and no shock of an unexpected weapon was in the way, he could find it easily. Just like with the children, he could sense the real person that belonged here easily – trapped beneath a changed body and mind. From that soul, it was easy to connect with the Soul Slayer, to bridge and meld the more limited connection that was already there. It was easy for him to do – he had done it a long time ago with his own. He got glimpses of the Soul Slayer’s avatar, and was not surprised that he was not allowed to see it fully. He got a word, perhaps even its name, that slipped from his memory the moment he heard it – again, not surprisingly, this blade belonged to someone else. He then gently sent, while allowing insight in his own mind and spirit, even if his soul was not present, *My name is Kuchiki Byakuya, magic has placed me in control of your bearer’s body, and separated me from my own Zanpakut?. I am no more pleased with this situation as you are. Allow me your allegiance, and together we shall find the one responsible, and rectify this situation.*

After a moment, agreement in the sense of an idea, not words, returned, and the blade settled down quite a bit – it still kept the feel of trying to rip itself to pieces though. What kind of Soul Slayer was this? And what kind of person would generate such a blade?

Willow waited expectantly, and then Byakuya moved – fast, faster than Buffy, Willow was certain. All she had time for was to scream, “NO!!” in horror. The Death God had casually, in no more than two seconds, if it hadn’t been faster, cut down the children in cold blood. A slice through a heart, a diagonal cut from shoulder to side, a decapitation strike, and another cut through the heart was all it took, the energy cages shattering under the might of the mystical weapon.

Willow looked in shock at the event, nailed to the floor, and looked as the demon-children screamed in pain and agony, sinking to the floor, one head flying through the air . . . leaving an intact child’s head behind, with a demon body underneath. The demon bodies – and one decapitated head - evaporated and dissolved, the screams dying away, leaving behind four completely unharmed, without even a scratch on them, very alive children. Very loud children, because the shock of the event made them all burst out crying, most asking either for their mother or father. “Not just a sword, definitely,” Willow said with wide eyes.

Byakuya had already sheathed the Soul Slayer, and took a deep breath, looking around the town, and Willow, still shocked into silence, got the distinct impressions he was looking with more than his eyes and much further than just the immediate street. “I cannot pinpoint the origin of the magic, too much magical and spiritual energy is around,” Byakuya said calmly.

“The Hellmouth,” Willow said with a wry smile and a shrug.

Byakuya gave her a look for a moment, and then down at the children. “Removing all the transformations like this one by one will take too long, and with some,” Byakuya turned his head to pointedly look at Willow, “I may not be able to do it like this at all. We’ll have to go to the source directly, and we’ll have to find it the mundane way.”

“Uh, yeah, I’m with you,” Willow answered him, and then looked at the sobbing children.

“Children, may I have your attention please,” Byakuya said, and Willow was surprised. The tone was his cool self, with enough command to make all the children look up and forget their crying, but at the same time sound gentle, almost sweet, that reassured the children. “Do you know who I am?”

Why would he ask that? Willow wondered.

One boy, the bravest, managed to say with dying sobs, “You’re . . . dressed like the guy . . . that’s supposed to take us trick or treating . . . and keep us safe?”

“I am ‘the guy’ in question, just changed by the same magic that changed you,” Byakuya said with a cool, but gentle smile, and squatted down to get to the children’s level – his intimidating height having done it’s job, now it was time to look less frightening. He calmly put the finger tips of his hands together, once again looking completely in control. “I’m the one that changed you back, and I know the guy still trapped inside me, it means that I have to keep you safe, like he had to.” The Death God paused his cool but gentle words, surprising Willow, how he could talk with such frank, almost adult words, remain as utterly cool and collected as he had been minus one moment, yet sound simple and gentle enough to reach children. It was a skill she wouldn’t mind having. “But I must protect the boy inside me, and all the other people changed by this magic spell as well, and I can only protect both you and everyone else, if you go with me on my search, and do exactly as I say, no matter how harsh urgency might make me tell you things to do. So, are you four ready to dry your tears, be big boys and girls, and go on an exciting adventure to defeat an evil wizard with me?”

There was a momentary silence, and then the children nodded, before there was a smile, and they gave varying shouts of excitement. “Get up then,” Byakuya said and rose back to his feet. He turned halfway to face both Willow and the children with no more than a head turn, and moved his right hand casually through Willow’s form. Willow jumped a little with shock, looking with large eyes at the odd occurrence, trying to wrap her mind around the sensation. The children looked with wide eyes at her and the hand moving through it. “Same spell, she was dressed as a ghost over what she’s wearing now. First, we’ll see about putting her back in her body, then we go looking for the wizard, okay?”

“Yeah,” the boy said, and the other three agreed.

“Stay close,” he told them gently, and the Death God than turned fully to Willow, and said, a little less gentle, “Lead the way.”

Willow looked at him, then quickly nodded and turned around. She walked back up the pavement and to the steps leading to the porch that held her body, and she asked, “Can you really do that?”

Byakuya told her, as they walked on, with the children right behind him, “Yes. There are souls, ghosts, who after remaining on Earth long, lose their sense of self, of their compassion and feelings. They lose their hearts, and become Hollows. They eat other lost souls to try and fill the hole, and sometimes go after humans with much spirit power. In order to do so, they pull the souls out of the body. Should we be there before the Hollow finishes, we’ve learned to place the souls back inside.”

Willow nodded, and said, “Here.” Pointing down at the sheet covered body. Byakuya squatted down and removed the sheet. He reached out toward her, and to Willow’s surprise this time Byakuya took hold of her ghostly form as if it was solid. His other hand was placed upon her body’s chest, and then he was silent for a few moments. He rose to his feet again, like a nobleman or king, Willow felt a brief pressure, and then he let go of her. Willow looked at him with trepidation. He explained calmly, “The magic is resisting my efforts. I could force my way through, but I’d risk harming your soul or body. Rest assured, you are not dead. Your body is merely in a magically induced stasis. When this is over, you’ll wake up in your body.”

“Oh, thank god,” Willow sighed out with relief, more relief than she had expected to feel. It felt like the whole world fell off her shoulders with the realization that the spell had not killed her to turn her into a ghost.

“Well, then, children, Miss Rosenberg, let us find a nasty wizard to defeat,” Byakuya said, and turned to his right, and started walking, without even looking back to make sure his little party followed him.

“Can we find Buffy first?” she asked quietly.

*****

Spike and a few of his minions walked through the Chaos of Sunnydale – smiling. He looked left and right, saw a few people getting beat up, one “demon” snack on a middle-aged woman. “I can work with this. A Slayer without her strength, and the town gone to hell,” he said with a drawl, his leather duster fluttering about. “Now, we just have to take one of our like-minded new brethren, then find the Slayer, and kill her.”

“Uhm, how, sir?” one vampire asked.

Spike whirled around angrily and looked directly at the glass-wearing offender. “What kind of question is that, Dalton? We search. I thought you were supposed to be a bloody brainiac?”

Dalton skittered back a little, afraid for his unlife and added nervously, “What I mean is; the kids turned into demons – bodily. Depending on what costume she wore, she could look like anyone or anything. She could be that flower for all we know.” Dalton pointed down at a yellow-pedaled flower in the grass next to the road and before the pavement to his right.

Spike turned his head to the flower. “Bloody hell,” Spike said annoyed. The brainiac had a point – one that had the other four vampires, including himself, hadn’t thought of yet. He supposed that was why he was a brainiac. “We’ll just search and hope she, or at least one of the bloody pups practically sewed to her hips, is still recognizable.” Spike turned back around, preparing to move forward gather up some reinforcements from the magically formed crowd of miniature and not so miniature demons, when he looked back at the flower. A moment later he flattened it with his food, grimacing from the looks he knew his fellow vampires were giving him. “Just to be sure,” he said, and started walking forward.

*****

Amanda blew out a huff of frustration. And it wasn’t easy to get her frustrated in the first place. And yet Cordelia Chase had managed to do that inside of the fifteen minutes since Amanda had met her. After rescuing the cat-costumed cheerleader from something resembling a Yeti, a werewolf, and a smelly old Viking that looked like one Amanda had once met, the SoCal princess had latched onto Amanda. And Amanda, at first, had liked the company of the kindred spirit.

“Gawd, what the hell am I going to do now? Party Town is never going to return my deposit now!” Cordelia screeched, picking at a tear in her costume.

“Cordelia, my dear, if you don’t stop screaming like that, I’m afraid that you are going to attract a great deal of unwanted attention towards us,” Amanda softly warned the girl, “As fun as that normally would be, let me assure you, that if we get outnumbered and outgunned, as the saying goes, you are on your own, my dear.”

The teen brunette might have screeched again, until she saw the cold and uncaring look on the Immortal brunette’s face, not to mention the fact that she looked completely serious. “What’s your problem anyway? We were getting along great a moment ago,” Cordelia finally asked her, but much quieter.

“A moment ago I still thought you weren’t an airhead who can’t think past her own clothes. Clothes are magnificent, sweety, but they’re useless if you’re dead, and all your loud complaining will draw attention,” Amanda answered her, calm still, but with a hint of irritation and nervousness. She finished, “Attention from the things that want to maul us, and I’m trying to keep us unmauled.” Taking this, at first, kindred spirit along seemed less and less like a good idea. This place was utterly ridiculous. Demons and characters from fiction everywhere – demons, and they seemed to be real – no different from the fictional characters of course. Then she froze, her posture stiffening as she felt something, but not the something she expected. Cordelia stepped up beside her and saw that she was starring at a tall guy in robes carrying a sword and surrounded by a bunch of kids.

Before she even knew it, Amanda reached reflexively into her coat and seemingly out of nowhere, pulled her sword and held it defensively before her. “I am Amanda Derrieux, and I have no wish to fight you at this time, but I will defend myself!”

The man in the robes tilted his head slightly, as though confused, and replied with an equally formal tone, “I am Byakuya Kuchiki, Captain of the Sixth Squad of the 13 Imperial Court Guard Divisions of Death Gods of Soul Society. I defend the innocent souls from Hollows and all evil. Unless you attack an innocent under my charge or in my presence, I will not fight you either.”

Amanda took a step back at that introduction, more than just a little stunned. She suppressed the urge to curse up a storm and instead switched to her classic defense mechanism. Putting forth a sly smirk and a seductive pose with one hand on her hips and putting her sword at her side, she purred, “Oh my, that is an impressive resume.”

Amanda frowned for a moment, it was rare indeed that any man did not react to her charms – even gay men usually had a reaction, even if it was close to the opposite she was going for. But this Byakuya’s reaction was unreadable, perhaps a flicker of annoyance in his eyes was the best she could come up with. She still didn’t quite trust the self-proclaimed ‘Death God’ who felt more powerful and far older than Methos, the oldest of their kind at 5000, ever did. But different too. It wasn’t a “buzz” like with other Immortals. In fact, if she had to put a description to the feeling, it felt like being at the epicenter of an earthquake while simultaneously being in the eye of a hurricane, at the center of a tornado, and on the bottom of the ocean all at the same time.

Then everything got flipped on its axis when the redheaded ghost stepped out from behind the ‘Death God’ and stepped forward. Not that Amanda knew immediately that the hot little red haired tart was a ghost at the time, but you know what they say about hindsight.

“Oh. My. God! Buffy?!” Willow exclaimed when she stepped forward after hearing a familiar voice, even if it was speaking things that were not at all familiar.

“I thought you said your name was Cordelia?” Amanda turned to the cat-costumed mortal at her side.

“It is!” the girl insisted, “She’s talking to you! Wait! /She’s/ Buffy!? How did that happen!?” This last the brunette cat-girl directed at Willow before turning back to Amanda and take her in. There was not a hint that this was Buffy – for one thing, Amanda was as tall as Cordelia was.

Arching an elegant eyebrow at that, she turned to face the young woman that looked like she’d just stepped off the set of a porn parody of the original Star Trek series, and questioned with almost regal disdain, “I’m sorry, but have we met?”

“I don’t believe it!” Willow exclaimed out loud. “You actually look like Amanda!” Willow then turned at looked at “Xander” and realized she probably could have expected this.

Frowning at the mention of her name, and idly wondering why anybody would pretend to be her . . . aside from the obvious that is . . . she stepped back from the redheaded porn star and turned to face the Death God once more.

Before she could say anything though, he said to her, “You have a unique and very powerful /reiatsu/. Both powerful and almost . . . electric, but solid and strong like the earth itself. And normally one who can see spirits is rather unique in their own way, I have since discovered that this spirit in particular is able to be seen by even those with hardly any power at all.”

/Spirit Force/ Amanda translated the unfamiliar term. Amanda had been to Japan several times in her long life, and knew the language as such. It didn’t take long for her to put the dots together; he felt it – like she felt it, specifically his – along with electric and powerful – he was talking about her Quickening. The power that made her Immortal. This man could sense it. Amanda considered for a moment, but he could sense it, there were demons, super grannies and what not around, what did it really matter? “I was born immortal,” Amanda offered as explanation, a light tremor of nervousness about saying out loud in the presence of mortals. “What’s a Death God?”

“I send the spirits of the deceased when they can’t find their way onward to the realm of the dead, and destroy those spirits that have turned evil,” Kuchiki simply answered, thinking about the woman’s comment. Humans born immortal? This was new to him, and interesting. He wondered if this costume, like the one the boy wore, had pulled forth a real being like him, or whether this Immortal woman was simply a creation from an imaginative mind. “We need to keep moving; many have transformed into the costume they were wearing, to set things right, we must find the source and end the spell,” Byakuya said calmly, while the little children looked from behind him at the two new women.

“What!?” Cordelia exclaimed in disbelief, looking at Amanda and then at Byakuya, while Amanda went over his words.

“He’s Xander,” Willow clarified for Cordelia, who’s eyes bugged out at the transformed dork.

Amanda finished processing the information and said, “That would explain Super Granny, and how I got here.”

Byakuya was used to leading, so he lead, and continued on his trek. The children following immediately, and Willow and the other two soon following, he looked at Cordelia as their little entourage moved through the streets of Sunnydale, ignoring the chaos around them. Above Spider-man swung by, screaming as he was chased by Ranma and Ryoga, wondering why ordinary humans could now kick super heroes’ asses – behind them, several females were in hot pursuit. Off to the left a pirate started to dig for a treasure in a garden that his map indicated – not knowing the person who had made the map was the same person locked inside of him, and there was no treasure, just a joke to complete the costume. And to the right a demon decided to eat a tasty looking bunny – the demon never stood a chance, as evidenced by the stiletto the bunny opened before it charged the demon.

“The effects of the spell are very arbitrary,” Captain Kuchiki mused out loud. “For instance, it put Miss Rosenberg’s body in stasis while it released her soul in the clothes she wore underneath her ghost costume to wander freely, yet it gave me control over a body, while retaining my spirit powers. Normally, a Death God is every bit as much a spirit as Miss Rosenberg is, and inside a body I should have no spirit powers. One would think it would have put this body into stasis the same way. And Miss Cordelia . . .”

“Chase,” Cordelia supplied as she and the others paid close attention to Death God’s observation.

“. . . Miss Chase is not transformed at all,” Byakuya finished.

“That’s right! Cordelia didn’t change at all, I didn’t even notice! Why didn’t she?” Willow exclaimed and started thinking.

Cordelia wouldn’t be Cordelia if she didn’t have an answer ready, “Because I have enough money to go to a reputable business, and pay for the best quality at Party Town.”

As Byakuya pondered Cordelia’s answer, Amanda asked sweetly from beside him, “What about the children?” She had gotten ahead of the others to walk right next to Death God. She smiled a seductive smile at him.

The only reaction as they continued onward was the answer, “I broke the spell’s hold on them earlier. And Miss Chase, I find it hard to believe that a franchise chain would provide costumes with protections against magic. However, you may have a point.”

Amanda didn’t let up. She had pretty much accepted that the Death God was no threat to her, and all of this was indeed real. However, Kuchiki’s reactions to her flirtations, namely no reaction at all, had hit on her own personal sense of pride. She was going to get a positive reaction out of him before all this was over. “Japanese, and knowing Party Town, the breadth of knowledge you have astounds me,” she said, taking a step closer to his personal space.

Byakuya simply answered her, “There is nothing astounding about it, Miss Derrieux. I’m a Death God, we serve the whole world. As such, during our education, which is kept up to date, we are taught a variety of languages, cultures and facts about the different regions in the living world, for we must make contact with the spirits of the deceased in all regions, and sometimes even contact is necessary with the living.”

“Oh,” Amanda said with a smile, and spoke a sentence which sounded suspiciously like Russian to Willow, even though she could understand not a word of it. Much worse the obvious look in Amanda’s face, the way she had been behaving around ‘her’ “Xander”.

The Death God returned a sentence with an obvious dismissive tone in Russian, and continued in English, “More importantly, we may have gotten a lead. Miss Rosenberg, where have ‘we’ bought our costumes? Miss Rosenberg?”

Willow was busy glowering at “Buffy”, and was jerked out of her reverie by the second more forceful prompt. “Oh, uh, a shop called Ethan’s,” she answered quickly.

She saw Amanda take the useful prompt by bending over – at the waist, to show off her ass – to talk to the children, asking them gently, “And where did you buy your costumes?” She was obviously trying to impress ‘her’ “Xander” with her body, as well as score brownie points by being helpful.

As the children answered they didn’t know, they’re mothers had taken them along, Willow muttered to herself, “Why couldn’t I have convinced her to go as Xena? But no, I had to be helpful and pick a man-eating costume.” Willow shook her head to clear, reminding her that neither Buffy nor Xander were really here, not even in the flesh, and “Xander” didn’t even seem to be impressed anyway. She bent herself, lightly, nothing as excessive as Amanda and asked the children, “Did you see the salesman? Older man, sandy, curly hair?”

“Yeah, that’s what he looked like,” the girl of the four said quickly.

Willow straightened up, and said, “Same shop.”

“Then the most likely conclusion is that we can find the source of this chaos at that shop, please lead the way, Miss Rosenberg,” Byakuya said with certainty, and then suddenly his face showed he had a revelation. “I should have noticed this earlier – not arbitrary: chaotic. Chaos magic, I may have been able to find the source based on that earlier, despite the interference of all the ambient mystical energy.”

“Ambient . . . ?” Amanda said with some surprise, as Willow pointed in the right direction of Ethan’s and started going in that direction. “I knew I felt something wrong despite the obvious.”

*****

Spike grinned. Around him were several of his men, and even more, some 15, demons and monsters he gathered about. A masked monster that looked like a cross between a mime and a giant lizard – one that could shoot red orbs of destruction out of its mouth and had a massive and pitch-dark hole in its chest, and impressive for Spike’s group – more so on how he convinced what was essentially a mindless monster to follow him. The demons, in contrast, were a piece of cake. They easily deferred to the bigger, and implied stronger demons. The monsters, though, had taken a little bit more convincing. But more importantly, with them hidden behind a house, their prey was in sight – three women, a male and a bunch of kids they were obviously protecting – out of costume for some reason, actually wearing simple jeans and t-shirts.

One of the women Spike had recognized immediately: the mousy, shy redhead that was never far away from the Slayer. The man, although definitely not actually like the whelp always hovering about the Slayer, did have enough similarities with him to make it obvious. A second female, some vapid cheerleader if her remembered correctly, he had recognized a little later. Which only left the last woman. She looked nothing like the Slayer – she was taller, a much more athletic frame, breasts that would make most women weep with jealousy, and finally had short, dark brown hair. But, it had to be the Slayer, the redhead just made it undeniable.

“Alright – here’s the plan,” Spike said with a grin. The Slayer, his Drusilla had prophesied, would be weak, but he had seen enough things with power around – not in the least of which was that freaky mime-lizard – he wasn’t about to go see what the boy had up his sleeve right now. “We set up an ambush up ahead, kill the Slayer with surprise before anyone of them can do anything, and get out.”

“/If/ that is the Slayer,” Dalton said again.

Spike whirled around, took a step forward, grabbed Dalton by the neck and put a stake on his heart. “You’re really starting to piss me off, Dalton,” Spike hissed at him angrily, while Dalton choked. Vampires didn’t need to breathe, and as such wouldn’t kill him, but it was powerful enough to hurt, and he was trying to talk. “Trust me, I know that redhead. That’s the Slayer. One more word, and it’s poof.”

“What I meant was . . .” Dalton wheezed and choked out, clawing at Spike’s hand around his throat, “. . . the man could be the Slayer.”

Spike let go with a frustrated grunt, making Dalton grab his painful throat and coughed and gargled to get it functioning properly again. Damn that Dalton! He was right. Spike hated when other people were right – even if it didn’t strictly mean that he was wrong. Dalton was most definitely not ever coming out with him again. “Fine, we’ll kill them all. Mask-face, demons, and monsters focus on the man, take him out first, the spell might have given him power, so don’t give him the chance to use it. /We’ll/ take out the Slayer,” Spike said with a grin – even though Dalton was right, the Slayer /could/ be the boy, he still felt it was much more likely the woman. Spike grinned in anticipation. He would kill himself another Slayer, drink some of her blood, take more of it to Dru, who would most certainly be restored to full strength by the mystically enhanced blood, and then – with Dru back to her old self, and no Slayer – this town would burn, and then they could finally get out of this hell hole.

*****

Their little troop was moving along at a brisk pace, all eager to end this nightmare. Even Cordelia was uncharacteristically quiet and focused on keeping up. Amanda though was a whole other matter. She wasn’t just walking, she was positively oozing sex, and talking happily about swords, complimenting Byakuya’s katana, and comparing it to her sword, and to a katana of a good friend she knew. Byakuya was politely, but distantly, answering. It wasn’t like the woman’s casually sexy demeanor didn’t touch him at all, he was a man after all, but the memory of his dead wife was far too important to him to let even a bit of it get to him. It was difficult though, the woman, some 1200 years old according to her, wasn’t simply sexy like any two-bit hussy could be; she was charming, intelligent, natural, and oh, so knowledgeable – he supposed being 3 times his age would help with the latter a lot. Willow, at the same time, was simply glowering at the two in front of her, how she was positively certain that “Xander” was falling for it. “Xena, Gabrielle, Tweety bird, /anything/,” she whispered pissed off. What was worse, was that even with the fetish outfit she was wearing, Buffy, or rather Amanda, was still stealing the show.

Kuchiki Byakuya stopped, and Amanda did a moment later. The others behind her did so just in time to avoid bumping into them. “Ambush, get ready,” the Death God simply stated. He had his senses open – enough mystical auras around, so he hadn’t been particularly worried, at first, but one group of among others demonic spirit force had gone from a systematic method to their movements, to a much quicker circular path. A path that led them to just a bit in front of them, behind the houses of either side of a crossroads. And it was made worse as one in particular of those demonic reiatsus just so happened to be a /Hollow/ of all things.

Amanda grabbed for her sword at the announcement, her charming and sexy demeanor gone while Cordelia protested, confused. The moment it was obvious the ambushers were made, they rushed out from behind their hiding spot, and came straight for the group.

“Spike,” Willow whispered unheard as she recognized the bleach blonde vampire.

“Oh, no, I’m too young and too beautiful to die!” Cordelia exclaimed at the horrible sight of what looked like a stampede of monsters coming for them.

“Stay behind me,” Byakuya said, calmly awaited the attack, having spread his legs to widen himself into a more effective obstacle in front of the children and two females. Twin beams of energy shot forth from a sizable lizard with a mask on its face and a hole in its chest, and the demons beside it seemed to look on with glee. To their surprise the robed man maneuvered his sword and caught both beams on blade. Byakuya grunted, straining to hold the hilt of the sword – this hollow was powerful. But a moment later the attack dissipated, and there was no damage. Two red-skinned demons, man-sized as well, shot forward with amazing speed – but Byakuya’s sword skills were even faster and the unarmed attacks were deflected. Not that the rock-solid hides on the spiked arms were much less than an armed attack – especially seeing as the arms only got several cuts, instead of being cleanly cut off. These things were quite powerful, and heavily armored. A smaller demon behind the first two was less fortunate though, the Soul Slayer cleanly sliced through its heart, and it reverted back to its human boy real alter ego.

“Cordelia!” Willow screamed, and with an annoyed growl the cheerleader quickly grabbed the child and pulled her with the others safely behind the Death God captain.

*****

The first attack of the five vampires had been spectacular – spectacularly bad, with the exception of one of them. They were strong, and fast, but to someone with 1200 years of experience and skill, they didn’t even amount to rank amateurs – they were pathetic. Amanda though, didn’t want to kill a few innocent people in costume, so she had merely cordoned off a circle, and had only given them nicks – the result being that their superior numbers, strength and speed had managed to get a few good hits in, and so she was separated from the others, and surrounded.

She grimaced as two vampires attacked simultaneously, growling and grinning with anticipation. She ducked, kicked the left charging vampire in the heel, while her sword sliced across the right vampire’s upper leg. Both staggered back with pain, but she could already see them right themselves - both with determination and their supernatural healing kicking in. She was used to that though, she just wasn’t used to facing off against four opponents at the same time while trying not to kill them – or permanently maim them.

The other two that were not the blonde leader attacked almost immediately afterward, while the blonde remained waiting with a grin, without the disfigured, yellow-eyed face the other vampires were sporting. The speed of the left vampire of the second set was impressive. He came over in a moment, grabbing her left, free arm. It made her move toward the vampire in a moment, turning away from the right vampire as well as moving away from. The sudden movement toward the vampire was an action it was not expecting, and a moment later she skewered the vampire through: it would heal, the person locked inside should not be hurt. She twisted around instantly and made a slice at the final lackey’s neck, which the vampire easily avoided – no wonder, since that was the intent. Amanda was quickly reaching the point of no return though – soon the people inside were just out of luck; after all, Amanda was not a murderer, but every Immortal was a killer. In self-defense, heads literally rolled – so leaving the people inside crippled to defend herself and the person’s life inside of her was just the way chops rolled.

“You’re good,” the leader said in a thick British accent and with an evil grin. Amanda focused warily on him, “Nowhere near what the Slayer can do though, it’s time for you to die.”

“Many have said the same, vampire,” Amanda answered, even smiling at him, “they all lost their heads.” The vampire attacked, his face changing at the same time. He was far faster and far stronger than the others. He knocked her sword aside and slammed a fist in her chest, and a headbut to her forehead. It felt almost like her rib cage broke inward with the punch, her head rang, but it and the dizziness was rapidly evaporating with her immortal healing. Faster and stronger indeed – of course, she had 1200 years of experience, she had faced Immortals every bit as fast as the vamp had been, and unlike the vampire, they had not left a hundred openings to cut him to pieces. The vampire had her by the throat, grinning victoriously, but the tip of her sword, which she was still very much holding, sliced into his knee, and Spike staggered back with a yell of pain. It wouldn’t last, Amanda knew, she hadn’t done anything drastic, so his vampire healing would solve the problem soon. Vampire healing . . . “If I ever tell MacLeod this, he’ll declare me insane,” she muttered to herself, as the last bit of her own pains were removed. But several more of those attacks and it would have been over for her, as these vampires were strong.

*****

Kuchiki Byakuya was frustrated, and it was not often he felt that way. The two red demons were fast – nothing like his true speed, or even his own now, but between the two of them, and having to fend off the lizard Hollow’s cero blasts, as well as keeping the children and teen girl safe from them and the rest of the demons, was taxing. He wished he could just cut them down, but the red demons were both fast enough and had a strong enough hide, he couldn’t easily make a killing blow, and after returning two more of the little demons to humans, those themselves had learned to keep their distance unless there was a huge opening, and knew how to retreat the moment he closed it.

This really was beneath him. This body was getting taxed. It may have gotten all his skills and a huge chunk of his power, but it was still a body; and a body inherently burned through its reserves faster than a spirit did. Since he didn’t have his own Soul Slayer, he couldn’t release it either and get the boost in power and speed. Hell, if he had Senbonsakura here, just releasing it would be enough to free all the enchanted people from their costumes and wipe out those demon-animated corpses – those vampires – that were attacking the temporarily Immortal human. And to think, none of these demons and monsters could hold a candle to the slightly above average Hollow – with the exception of the Hollow that was present of course – let alone a Menos Grande, and he was used to cutting them down like they were nothing. And here he was slowly being whittled down – he had to admit, it was an effective method – if none of these demons lost their patience or temper and gave him the opportunity to finish one of the more powerful ones off, they might actually succeed.

Willow was concerned, she was directing the children and Cordelia around from her own position, which was away from the others and walking around. As a ghost, she had no fear of the corporeal monsters, they couldn’t even touch her, which allowed her to move around and get a better view of the fight, and thus help direct the children and Cordelia to best help the Death God fight, and protect them as well as was possible. Sometimes it was moving backward so Byakuya could move backward himself to absorb a blow or blast better, sometimes it was moving left so a he could safely push a demon in that direction. They were quite a well-oiled machine, but Willow could tell the being inhabiting Xander was starting to get worn down, which was no surprise, really. Willow had always thought Buffy was fast – she had been surprised at the speed Kuchiki Byakuya possessed when he freed the children the first time around, but these demons were even faster than he was back then, and the Death God was even faster now, and what Willow’s analytical mind had already figured out, was that judging from Byakuya’s once in a while visible frustration, he considered this a snail’s pace. The implication of that was almost mind boggling, Willow just didn’t have the time to dwell on it. No, Willow, just like Byakuya, she figured, was busy thinking of a way out of this mess. If the little demons and fast demons couldn’t attack him and the children pretty much simultaneously, if Byakuya wasn’t forced to remain almost stationary.

“Look out!” Willow yellowed with a frightened shout, as she saw the lizard Hollow open its mouth to reveal the red-glow of another massive cero blast, while Byakuya’s back was turned.

She needn’t worry though, the changed Xander had turned in time, already having sensed it. A wide field of red fire burned forth from the mutated lizard Hollow’s mouth, and Willow felt an ice cold block form around her heart: it was too wide, the sword could never block it, it would pass Byakuya by on both sides, the children . . . okay, and Cordelia . . . would never be able to dodge. A moment later a wide plate of see-through white energy emerged in front of Byakuya, wide enough to deflect the blast of fire fully, and it did. It slammed audibly against the wall of energy and burst off along its length, almost incinerating a few of the smaller demons. It had to be another magic spell like the cages Byakuya had used earlier, except that he hadn’t spoken any spells. Wow! With all the supernatural and research into it with Buffy and Giles, Willow had found out by now, that performing a spell without invoking it, through a ritual, or words, and without any catalysts was something only the best, and most experienced could do.

The cages! That was it! “Mr Kuchiki, lock the children in a soul cage!” Willow shouted rapidly, without waiting for an acknowledgment; he was too busy deflecting new attacks from little demons on the children and Cordelia, while driving back one of the fast demons.

“Cage!? You can’t lock us up! You idiot nerd!” Cordelia screamed panicked, and hurled more insults at Willow.

Willow ignored them, and simply added as she noticed the Death God slowing down just minutely to assess her suggestion. “It should keep the demons out as much as they are kept safely inside, shouldn’t it?” Willow yelled.

The concept had never occurred to Kuchiki Byakuya. Death Gods never had to protect humans from hordes of demons or Hollow for that matter. Barely any demons present, and Hollow being just about all loners, meant that even when a human was attacked, it was simply a matter of killing the Hollow. On top of that, Hollow’s came for high levels of reiatsu, of spirit force, since there were but few and far between humans who had that, that meant that even if humans were attacked by groups of Hollows – it was but one human. Finally, the humans usually weren’t aware anything was going on around them, and a Death God was meant to keep it that way. Three compounding reasons that using the Soul Cage magic as protection was never used, and the few times some Death God might have thought of it, he or she would have summarily dismissed it as impossible. It was thus no wonder, even if he was a Captain, that Byakuya had never considered the option.

“Most unorthodox method, Ms Rosenberg,” Byakuya said, amazing how he managed to say it so calm, even as he carved another cut inside one red demon, driving it back. It had potential, most definitely. He had been forced to dismiss all uses of his magic, for the simple reason that with the constant attacks on both himself and the children meant he was forced to constantly flash around to get as close to being in two places at the same time as was possible. Without having access to his full power without releasing his soul slayer, let alone the power of releasing it, and spells being slower, it was all he could do to keep the children safe. He might be able to pull off a spell, but with all these monsters so spread out and two of them so fast, none of them would be able to take out a whole lot of them, requiring him to cast any spell multiple times, and leaving either him or the children open to a successful attack. Any use of magic, would have to make a decisive difference with just one cast – and the girl had just given him that use.

He tasked his body to the fullest to push out some extra speed, allowing him to push back both speedy demons, and block the new attacks from the Hollow, giving him enough of an opening to jump back, point his open hand down, and said, “Art of binding 16: Soul Cage.” This time around, the cage started forming from top down, and a few seconds later the frightened children and frightened Cordelia were encased in the pulsing bars of red energy. The moment it was finished, Byakuya sped off, straight for the lizard-like Hollow. It had to go first – it was the one being that could still hurt his charges – it’s ranged attacks could simply pass in between the bars of mystical energy and reach those inside.

Willow meanwhile, convinced and relieved the children were safe, and that Byakuya needed no more help in keeping them thus, focused on her best friend. She had been sure, that even though Buffy, or rather Amanda right now - despite not having the strength and speed of the Slayer - was more than a match for a couple of vamps. After all, chopping off heads was the very purpose of an Immortal’s life. It was thus with no small amount of shock to find Amanda not only not covered in dust of at least a few vamps, but that she was losing. She was just witness to how a new attack by Spike with the help of another vampire got through her defenses, and several nasty blows and kicks left her definitely hurt – her right arm, her sword arm, seemed to be hanging lifelessly and covered in blood next to her body. This couldn’t be. Amanda was never depicted as being the best of the best like MacLeod was, but 1200 years of surviving “The Game” should mean Amanda was no pushover. She couldn’t really be this bad, could she? Then she understood!

“BU- AMANDA! THEY’RE REAL VAMPIRES! NO COSTUMES! YOU CAN KILL THEM!” Willow screamed desperately.

The change was instant.

*****

Amanda gritted her teeth. She had obviously waited for too long with taking drastic measures. In that last attack the blonde’s nails – claws really – had cut into her right shoulder and made the arm useless for the next minute or so while it healed. The bleached-blonde Billy Idol wannabe had torn tendons and muscle and veins to shreds, and she felt them hanging down along her side. If the bastard had managed to get a hold of it, or cut a little higher, it wouldn’t even be attached anymore. She had already switched her sword to her left hand – and was pushing her conscience aside. No more miss nice Immortal-

“BU- AMANDA! THEY’RE REAL VAMPIRES! NO COSTUMES! YOU CAN KILL THEM!”

The vampires froze at the scream for a moment, and the feral grin that formed on Amanda couldn’t be seen long enough because she was already moving – she had been ready to inflict this on people, innocent bystander people – now that they were simply monsters, nothing was in the way anymore. With a smooth slice one head came loose, to turn to dust before it even hit the floor, the body following soon after. She twisted to the right and bent down, hacking off the left leg of the vamp there at the knee, and it went down screaming, “My leg! My leg!” The fight was over. The hurt sword arm, and multiple internal injuries still healing had slowed her down too much. Spike kicked the sword from her hand from behind, grabbed her by the throat tightly and pulled her up, sinking his teeth into her neck. As he drank from the nectar, he yanked, and her neck broke. Then he unceremoniously dropped the now limp bag of bones and flesh to the ground.

Spike shivered. It was amazing! Whatever this spell had turned the Slayer into, it was powerful – or maybe it was the spell itself. The blood of the woman tasted like sweet ambrosia, it was like drinking liquefied energy. Shivers went down his spine as the power infused him. Its taste and the sensation of it coursing through his veins was practically orgasmic. The rather deep cut on his knee, that he had simply ignored, was already healed. It would have taken another few hours to heal completely normally. Oh, this blood, corpse and all, was going to his Dru alright, she’d be restored to her full glory and power and more in no time at all. This hell hole would burn soon after, and then he and Dru would get out of this godforsaken place. He was tired of Slayers with family and friends to make his life miserable.

For the same amount of time that Spike was reveling in the blood of his enemy, the entire situation had changed completely. Willow stared, stunned into silence at the sight of the woman that was her best and first female friend be brutally killed, meanwhile her other best friend faced off against monsters from nightmares and worse. It all came spilling out at once.

“*/BUFFY!!!/*” she screamed, her terror and fear causing it to reach into high-screeching volumes towards the end. Unfortunately it also distracted Byakuya enough that he held off attacking, choosing to defend another volley of high-speed and long-range attacks from the other monsters. Glancing back over his shoulder, he frowned, pity and sorrow filling him, yet his cold and indifferent facade did not shift in the slightest.

He needed to end this. Now.

Pushing the body beyond its limits for a single moment, Byakuya forced himself to move at his true speed and as the world around him virtually froze, he landed in front of the Hollow and glared up into its soulless mask as he made the final strike. The Hollow, recognizing he was a Death God on some level attempted to give that distinctive roar that all Hollows let out. It was already too late, and it started to disintegrate, the young man inside, some 18 or 19 years old, was revealed in the process. Wearing half a Godzilla costume with a mime/opera mask over his face, he fell blissfully unconscious to the floor by the transition from Hollow to living human.

Byakuya wasted no time, and went after the red demons next. The Death God smoothly ducked under one swipe and then drove the sword straight into the demon’s chest. Deflecting a blow with an arm was one thing, but stopping a sword thrust with full power directly into its chest, was another. The point pressed inside, and slid further with some resistance. The moment the deed was done, the magic-induced demon started to dissolve into its true guise. With a sudden jump high over the cage, the Death God went after its other target. The demon reacted as Byakuya had intended it would: looking up at the high flying robed figure with some surprise. The Soul Slayer blade sliced cleanly down through the demon, from head to crotch.

Once that was done, he made sure to mop up the other demons – these being no challenge at all. When he was assured that all of his opponents were defeated and nothing else would be attacking him, as well the cage that was still around the children and cheerleader, Captain Kuchiki quickly turned to regard the other fight that was still ongoing, doing his best to ignore the fatigue that was threatening to make him fall to his knees in exhaustion.

Surprisingly, there was no need, he discovered, as in the same amount of time it took him to defeat all his opponents, Willow had run over and was screaming at the vampires. Greatly distracting them, and even terrifying one. It left Amanda untouched for the time being, time her body used to heal.

By some strange inspiration, Willow pulled out her phaser pistol, and hoped seemingly beyond hope that Buffy wasn’t dead and that the pistol actually worked. She pointed it at Spike’s head and pulled the trigger. Even the preternatural speed of the master vampire couldn’t save him from the surprising action of the mad redhead. It worked! The powerful beam of blue energy blasted forward, straight through Spike’s head . . . and left him completely unharmed, the beam slicing equally harmless through several buildings before dissipating.

“NO!” Willow screamed in horror, and smashed the pistol to pieces on the ground, it strangely still resisting a ghost’s pass-through. Willow didn’t dwell on it, returning to her previous strategy of loudly interfering with the vampires as best she could.

“Bugger off you crazy bloodless bint!” Spike growled, swiping his hands through Willow’s latex-covered body. It was damn annoying when he initially discovered that he couldn’t touch her, let alone kill her and now here she was screaming her head off at him. Now it was positively hell.

When she suddenly cut off mid-scream though, Spike allowed himself true relief for just a second, before the realization that she wouldn’t just stop screaming for no reason. Then that itch in the back of his neck started to tingle. The one that had saved his undead arse more times than he could count. Hadn’t he heard a snap, like a neck being broken, just before the redhead stopped screaming and crying?

Slowly, for a vampire, he turned around and saw an extremely pissed-looking costumed-slayer smoothly rolling, grabbing her sword, and then standing up, dried blood staining her clothes and skin, starting from the neck, but otherwise completely healthy. The sword now smoothly swinging, promising death.

“We,” she hissed at him in a tone that froze him to the spot in sheer terror, “are not done!”

“Bloody hell . . .” Spike cursed softly, the shock of what he’d just seen leaving him frozen.

Then Amanda started in on her retribution.

“Normally I’m lenient towards the ignorant, but every girl has her limits,” she remarked as she raised her sword. “And you just seriously crossed mine!” She lashed out, slashing her sword just above Spike’s wrist, the hand falling to the ground. In one smooth movement, the head of the vampire she made one-legged earlier came off a moment later. The final vampire, not counting Spike, went a moment later, the vamp might as well have lost his leg as well, frozen in shock and terror at a human rising from the dead.

“Aaarrghhhh!!” Spike screamed out loud, falling back, but was stopped by Amanda slashing off one of his legs, halfway through the thigh, forcing him to fall on his back, screaming even louder. Faster than thought, she cut off his other leg, both dropping to the floor after the cut was made.

“YOU CRAZY BINT!!” he screamed, looking down at his helpless form.

With an almost devil-may-care gesture, she cut off his remaining arm at the shoulder and then did the same to the one she’d cut his hand off of. Then she stepped over him, over his crotch, and grinned with an evil smirk. “What was your name again? Oh yes! Spike.” She lifted her heel and gave him another little smirk as his eyes went wide and he screamed out, “NOOOOOO!”

Then she ‘spiked’ her heel down. Over and over and over and over and over again.

*****

“How long is she going to keep doing that?” Byakuya asked the red-haired ghost quietly.

“I don’t know, but I hope it doesn’t become the way she usually kills vampires,” Willow helplessly whimpered. She and the Death God both winced as Spike let out a particularly high-pitched squeal as Amanda landed her high heel boots into his crotch for the 25th time.

Finally, after over thirty stomps, Amanda stopped, a wicked little grin settling on her face as she stared down at the pitiful whimpering mass of vampire. Then she switched to her other foot and continued as though she never intended to stop.

“Uh, Buffy . . . I mean, Amanda? Don’t you think he’s had enough?” Willow timidly asked.

“Not really, no,” the brash immortal replied.

“We kind of have to get going, to, you know stop the spell that’s affecting everybody?” she then reminded Amanda.

“Oh, all right, spoil my fun,” she acquiesced and with no fanfare or further torment, decapitated the master vampire Spike, the slayer of two Slayers, William the Bloody was destroyed forever.

“Well, that was fun,” Amanda said with a dark tone. “Where to next?” Amanda questioned then, turning her frown up into a sexy grin pointed at the Captain Kuchiki.

“It is Miss Rosenberg you should point that question at,” Kuchiki Byakuya said as he calmly sheathed his, or rather Xander’s, Soul Slayer. He walked over to the soul cages, while Amanda looked at Willow with a grin, this one not so sexy. The Death God Captain dispelled the cages, and questioned, “Is everyone alright?”

The children, looking with awe at Byakuya all nodded, while Cordelia folded her arms across her chest, and said tersely, “Yes, no thanks to you, Mr. Deathly. Locking us up in a damn cage!”

“I apologize, Miss Chase, it was forward of me, but necessary to protect your lives,” Kuchiki answered her with a slight bow, making Willow and Amanda look on in surprise and amusement.

Cordelia, out of fodder to complain, was stumped for a moment. It was hardly becoming to be nasty to the guy who humbly apologized as he should. “Yes, well, okay then. Thanks for saving our lives and stuff,” she said uncomfortably.

Her own arms folded across her chest, Amanda got closer to the surprised Willow, and told her, “You know, I’m still thinking whether humbling myself is worth shutting her up.” Willow blinked and turned her head with astonishment at Amanda, and then grinned.

Captain Kuchiki then turned to the newly freed children and one teen, and asked of them the same question. Tried, in the case of the teen, who after finally getting his wits back ran off in fright.

“Miss Rosenberg,” Byakuya said, coming up to Willow, with the awed, and excited kids and one cat woman following him. It pulled the redhead from her reverie, and the Death God finished, “the costume shop, if you would please lead us.”

“Uh, yes, of course, this way,” Willow answered and preceded them down the street.

*****

“This is it,” Willow pointed at the entrance of Ethan’s costume show. After finishing off Spike and the other vamps, and freeing more demons, any monsters and evil people stayed clear of them, so the trek to the costume shop had been uneventful.

“Miss Rosenberg, Miss Chase, if you will stay here with the children to keep an eye out, then Miss Derrieux and I shall enter and deal with the – man who unleashed this chaos,” Byakuya said calmly, and Willow nodded.

“Sure,” Cordelia managed. Normally it would have been a put upon ‘fine’, but somehow she felt like the Death God’s courteous behavior warranted that she be on, if not her best, at least better behavior.

Kuchiki and Amanda stepped through the door, and entered the costume shop. The place still had quite a few unsold costumes left hanging on the hooks. Kuchiki and Amanda paid them no mind as they entered the darkened store. It expanded to the left just behind the counter, revealing a room cleaned of costumes, holding a table with an idol on it. To both Death God and Immortal it was obvious it was the source of the spell, waves of magical energy pulsing from it.

“So we smash it, right?” Amanda said in a low tone.

“No, although that may end the spell, it may also make it more difficult to break,” Byakuya replied calmly, looking around the shop and spotting a door in the back, no doubt leading to some storage area. The Death God was about to walk to it when it opened, letting in the man that the children and Miss Rosenberg had described.

“Well, well, well, my esteemed creations come looking for me. How delightfully unexpected,” Ethan grinned walking still unafraid into his shop, his British accent thick. “I don’t think I recognize the costumes,” he added with a critical look.

“You sold us the swords,” Amanda said with a biting tone.

Ethan smiled as he said, “Ah, creative people. Rare. For what purpose have you entered my humble establishment?”

“How do we break the spell?” Kuchiki asked with a stone cold face.

“And what happens if I choose not to answer?” Ethan asked with a grin. He didn’t even have the chance to change the expression on his face before two swords were pointing at his neck only centimeters away from it. Ethan swallowed a moment, looking into the two angry faces, and said after some mustering of courage, “Kill me, and you can’t break the spell.”

“Of course I can, it will just take a little longer than if you tell us,” Byakuya told him with no uncertain terms.

Amanda’s face gave a sexy smile of a sudden, and then her sword went down, Ethan followed it as it reached his crotch. “I’ve already crunched the balls of one man . . .” Amanda paused a moment, long enough to give a quick sideways nod, and continued, “vampire tonight, so it might be a little less exciting for me to cut some off, but I’m eager to find out. You game?”

Ethan swallowed heavily, and managed to force out with a frightened face, “The bust – smash the bust.”

Death God and Immortal gave each other a look, and Kuchiki gave her a nod. Amanda backed off from Ethan and went over to the bust. “Can I . . .?” Ethan whined, pointing to the door he came from.

“No,” Kuchiki said, but that was all he had time for. With a loud crash, the bust was smashed to pieces and then the Death God staggered back, groaning at the sudden withdrawal of magical energy. Amanda too, staggered under the onslaught, her body shrinking back to Buffy’s height. Ethan, not surprisingly, wasted no time in taking advantage of the situation, and slipped out the back like the weasel he was.

Xander, now Xander again, was assaulted more greatly than Buffy and he had to grasp and hang onto one of the costume racks for support. The rack almost toppled over but he managed to steady it and himself. “Ugh,” Xander groaned, moving his left hand, holding his sheathed sword to his forehead and rubbed it with the back of his hand. Somewhere in his need to free his hands to find purchase, he had sheathed the sword, but he didn’t even know that.

“Oh, god, you can say that again,” a girl’s pained voice sounded. A voice that made Xander force himself to his feet and take a few steps toward it instantly. Buffy sounding exhausted and pained was one thing that could make Xander rise from the grave – a little exhaustion mattered not. “Buffy,” he questioned seeing the girl still in her costume staggering to stand straight.

“Xan? What happened?” Buffy asked confused, looking around, and vaguely recognizing the costume shop she’d bought her sword from, a plastic sword she was now holding. How had she gotten here? When she asked the mental question vague recollections from too high a place filtered into her mind.

“No clue, but I’m exhausted as hell. I feel like I ran non-stop around the country,” he said, sounding indeed completely wiped.

“And I feel like I could drink dry an ocean,” Buffy muttered, her voice sounding like sandpaper. She slowly walked over to her friend.

With a signal bell the shop door opened, and Cordelia stepped inside. “Of course, dork face and blondie are back and bumbling about as usual. Thought so when Willow disappeared,” Cordelia commented imperiously.

“Willow!?” Buffy and Xander exclaimed at the same time.

Cordelia sighed, “Great, now I’m stuck explaining everything, and probably have to help you losers get the kids you had to baby sit get home too.” Buffy and Xander just looked at each other.

*****

At Sunnydale High Xander, Buffy and Willow watched as the last of the kids were taken home by their parents. Three hours they’d spent, first Buffy getting a bottle of water and gulping it down like she’d been in the desert for a week, and then looking for all the kids they’d lost and been responsible for and bring them safely to the high school to be picked up by their parents – who, mercifully, were all thankful and not furious at them being late. Most likely because they had seen what had happened outside, maybe they were even a victim of it, and never mentioning it and being glad their kids were okay was the fastest way out of having to acknowledge something not natural had happened tonight. To illustrate just how tired he had been, let alone now was, when they’d met up with Willow, without her sheet this time, and in the hottest, spandex, porn-version of a Starfleet uniform, that had made his best friend drool worthy, he hadn’t even been able manage to comment on it. He’d simply got them all moving on to find the kids, and he’d had spent doing the rest of their night by sheer determination alone.

That was the most annoying of this whole situation. It should have been a night off. A night without the supernatural, as Giles had said. A night where they should have gone trick or treating with the kids, return them home, and then go out together to the Bronze and have fun. And maybe get a chance to flirt some more with super hot Amanda Buffy, and maybe even impress her with his Death God slash Samurai costume. But no, instead they got turned into their costumes, get their bodies put through such a mangler that the mere idea of going to the Bronze now made him eager to run screaming to his home.

“Buffy! Buffy!” a familiar voice screamed.

*Not him again,* Xander thought as he needed all his strength to turn to the new arrival. In contrast, Buffy – with her Slayer healing – and former ghost Willow had turned around like they always turned around, if perhaps a little less enthusiastic.

Angel, the souled vampire, arrived hurriedly, somewhat tired. “Buffy! I’ve been looking all over Sunnydale for you all night! Your house! The high school! You must come quick! The town’s gone haywire!”

Three sets of tired eyes looked at the vampire, then momentarily looked at each other, and returned back to the vampire. “We know, we saw, we solved. Like three hours ago,” Buffy told him emotionlessly; if this whole event hadn’t been so draining, she may have reacted more favorably. She pointed behind Angel, and the vampire turned around. Now that Buffy mentioned it and pointed it out, all did seem in order.

“Oh,” said Angel.

*****

Exhaustion. The type of exhaustion that Xander felt as he stepped into his bedroom did not have a word for it. It felt like he was about ready to keel over and just die right there from it alone. Every muscle, every bone hurt. Every movement, even just breathing, felt like he was doing it with a boulder the height of the Statue of Liberty strapped to his chest. With effort, he managed to unbuckle his makeshift scabbard and let it drop to the carpeted floor, where it landed with a loud thud and a clang.

Xander managed to stagger over to his bed, turn around, and let himself lie down in it with a sigh of relief. He’d been bone tired back when he’d first got released from that freaky spell; now it was horrendous. That idiot Angel, and then that idiot Larry returning and trying some more hadn’t helped. Xander had been this close to pounding Larry into the pavement until he was paste. There was a serious question whether he would have been even physically able to do so, but he would have given it an honest to god try. Xander’s pissed statement had actually backed the bully off, though. Now he just wanted to go to sleep, and forget this whole ordeal ever happened. Wake up, get some breakfast, and then go back to sleep for another solid day.

Clang. Xander’s eyes snapped open. The sound hadn’t actually been heard, his mind had simply finally caught up with when his ears had picked it up. The sword had clanged! A plastic sword did not clang. A hard plastic sword could make some clicking-like sounds, but it did not clang. Yet, as the sword had dropped to floor but moments ago, it had had landed with a heavy thud, and then clanged inside the scabbard.

Xander got up rapidly, his body protesting against the sudden movement by making him groan out. He took a step and looked down. The scabbard looked real, a smoothly polished wood, not plastic. The hilt sticking out of it, was the orange and blue wrapped hilt of his Soul Slayer he, or rather Kuchicki Byakuya, vaguely remembered wielding, not the plastic piece of junk he’d bought in that bastard’s store. Xander blinked. It couldn’t be. His mind practically refused to believe it. He took several steps and picked up the weapon with his left hand. Heavy, and definitely wood, not plastic. He hadn’t even noticed as he had dragged it around Sunnydale looking for the kids. He brought his right hand up, his mouth slightly ajar with the sudden shock. He grabbed the hilt just underneath the round guard, and swallowed. Leather, not plastic, as his eyes had already told him. Yet, for some reason he had had the irrational need to feel it. Would the sword inside it be metal as well? Of course it would be, he knew. And yet, for that same irrational reason, he just had to see it, he had to know beyond any shadow of a doubt. He pulled gently, hearing the now familiar click as the katana loosened form the scabbard. Xander swallowed, and pulled, then stopped after some fifteen centimeters was visible. A gleaming blade was revealed, a very real, metal blade – not plastic.

Slowly, carefully even, Xander locked the sword back into its scabbard. “Holy crap.”

To Be Continued . . .
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