Joke's On YouAuthor:
DC comics and all the related characters belong to… well, DC? WB? Someone in that corporate mess. Never quite figured out who owns the Buffyverse, but I know for a fact that it's not me...Summary:
Xander makes a bet with Cordelia. Willow makes a bet with Xander. Xander wins. Willow and Harmony… win?Joe's Note:
I don't know where I come up with this shit, but you know you love me for it.
Staring mournfully down at her red and black costume, Harmony Kendall let out a noisy sigh. "How did I end up wearing this stupid outfit again?"
Xander grinned widely as he looked Harmony up and down. While the blonde Cordette was a thoroughly unpleasant person with the IQ of a watermelon and a face that had definitely been hit with the ugly stick a few times, even he couldn't deny that she had a nice body. Besides, the character he'd picked for her to dress up as for the night had a mask and plenty of makeup; she'd be a lot better looking in a few minutes when she was in full costume. "Because you're friends with someone who gambles you away like you're a piece of property?"
"And, uh, would you like to remind us all how I ended up wearing THIS costume, Xander?" Willow actually looked annoyed with him for the first time in recent memory, alternating between glaring at him and tugging at the green bathing suit she was wearing. "Because if I remember right, you bet me just like how Cordy bet Harmony. Which means you're just as bad."
Holding up one finger, Xander stopped her. "Uh uh uh. No I'm not. And do you know why?" Willow raised an eyebrow. "Unlike Cordelia, I won. And the reason you're wearing that costume is because you made your own bet with me about me beating Cordelia. So really, it's your own fault for betting, Willow."
Willow's brow furrowed as she tried to process that one. "Is it? Because you bet me, but you won, so I wouldn't have had to go through with things like I would have if you lost… but I had to do it anyways because I made my own bet with you. Huh. I guess it is."
Further conversation was interrupted when the doorbell rang and despite the fact that it wasn't his house, Xander went to open the front door. After all, Mrs. Summers wasn't home, Buffy was upstairs, and great googily moogily, Cordelia looked hot in that outfit. "Oh, stop drooling you loser. God." Cordelia huffed before pushing past him, Xander's head turned so he could watch her retreating, PVC-clad backside. "Never should have told you I was planning to go as a cat for Halloween."
"I don't know, Cordy, I think you make a purrfect Catwoman." All three girls turned to glare at him for what had to be the worst pun in history and Xander gave a nervous smile. Even if he was dressed up as Batman (and boy did his secret stash of savings hate him right now), he knew he was dead meat if the trio teamed up against him. Pretty much like in the comics, come to think of it. "Shutting up now. Although I think Harmony needs help with the last of her costume, Cordy. Bathroom is that way. Hint hint."
Cordelia eyed him for a moment before grabbing Harmony by the arm and hauling the blonde away. That left him with Willow, who was still looking pretty unhappy with him. "Aww c'mon, Wills. It could be worse. You could be wearing that outfit."
After glancing down at her own outfit and then looking down the hall at where they could hear Cordelia and Harmony chatting in the bathroom, Willow nodded her assent. The redhead's costume of a green bathing suit, tights, and gloves showed a bit more skin than Cordelia's costume, but was still more conservative in the long run than being poured into a shiny black PVC catsuit. "True. But… how come I'm not the one you're all matching with? I could have been Batgirl or something with you, instead of you and Cordelia being Batman and Catwoman…"
"Because Ethan's didn't have a Batgirl costume, and the only way I could get him to put even the Harley costume on hold in case I won the bet was to promise I could find people for Harley, Ivy, AND Catwoman? And you have to admit, forcing the two most popular girls in our school to dress up as comic book characters for the night is worth a little sacrifice… right?" Willow nodded slowly and Xander stepped forward, putting his hands on her shoulders. "I promise, next year for Halloween, not only will we go as a pair but I'll let you pick out the costumes, okay?"
Willow pondered that for a moment before grinning widely. "Okay. Ooh, maybe we can go as Han and Leia. Or Luke and Mara; she's a redhead. Maybe Peter and MJ?" She trailed off, mind busy, and Xander sighed in relief. He'd anticipated having to reassure Willow that she looked pretty, or that her costume wasn't too revealing, or something along those lines. The whole paired costume thing had come totally out of left field. But he'd handled it, Willow seemed happy, and now if Buffy and Harmony would just finish getting made up, they could leave.
After a few minutes, the stairs creaked and Xander looked up. Buffy was descending in this red puffball monstrosity of a dress, her blonde locks tucked away under a brown wig that… well, if her roots were anything to go by, it was pretty much just her natural hair color. He tried to come up with a compliment, but really couldn't and decided to settle with just greeting her. "Hey, Buff."
"Hey." She waited a moment before pouting when nobody commented on her appearance. "So, where are the gruesome twosome? I heard them when I was upstairs."
Pointing down the hall, Xander tried not to react to the nickname. He and Cordelia were actually getting along slightly better these days, and fighting tonight while they were staying together as a group would just make things more unpleasant than they had to be. "Bathroom. Harmony needed some last minute makeup help and so Cordelia's touching her up."
Evidently the old adage was true… speak of the devil and she shall appear. Harmony chose that moment to emerge from the bathroom, reaching up toward her face only to have Cordelia slap her hand. "I can't believe I let myself be talked into having all this white gunk on my face."
"I bet that's not the first time you've said that." Cordelia and Xander voiced that at the same time and then grinned at each other, before realizing who they were talking to and turning away. Harmony let out an indignant huff and elbowed Cordelia, and the two of them began to bicker back and forth quietly.
It was Buffy who broke things up, looking around at the assembled group and pouting. "You know, now I feel kind of left out. I mean, even Harmony's in on this group thing you have going and I'm… well, not."
Xander shrugged and looked down at his costume, then over at Willow, Cordelia, and Harmony. Batman, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and Harley Quinn, respectively. They did make a matched set that Buffy wouldn't be a part of, but… "I tried, Buffster. There was a Supergirl costume, or Batman had a girl Robin once who was blonde. You're the one who wanted to dress up as Lady Puffball for Angel tonight, remember?"
"Yeah, but…" Buffy trailed off and sighed, probably realizing he had nothing but 'I told you so's lined up if she continued to argue. Which he did. Lots of them. "Fine. C'mon, let's go. We don't want to be late, or I'm sure Snyder will find a way to punish us."
Nodding, Xander opened the door and held it for the girls. "Ladies first." Buffy gave him a little curtsy before passing and the other three trailed behind her. He grinned as he shut the door, bringing up the rear. He looked gallant and got prime butt-watching position all in one move. Sometimes he was so smart, he amazed himself.
Left… left… left, right, left…
The spell was cast, and a pulse of magic rocketed outward from the back room of Ethan's. All across the Hellmouth, the power of Janus fed upon the small bursts of magic that Ethan had imbued in all the costumes and accessories he had sold.
Soldiers. Criminals. Demons. Angels. Aliens. Janus was just as imaginative as those who had dressed up, seizing upon every opportunity to inflict as much chaos as possible. The residents of Sunnydale suddenly found themselves at ground zero for rematches of everything from the Revolutionary War to classic comic book battles to the supreme war between good and evil.
Ethan Rayne smiled. "Show time."
Pamela Isley, known far and wide as Poison Ivy, stumbled a bit and looked around. One moment she'd been in Gotham City, and now she was… well, not. Wherever she was, though, the very air stank of evil and darkness. She shuddered. Ugh. Who would want to live in a place like this?
"Uh, Red?" Ivy looked to her right and found her constant companion looking a bit nervous, eyes flicking from her to a spot behind her. "Did you know that Batman and Catwoman were kinda standing right behind us?"
Eyes widening, Ivy shook her head slowly. "I don't suppose you're joking, are you darling? Because that's really not funny." Harley shook her head and she sighed. "Crap." Looking back over her shoulder, she found that Batman was indeed standing right behind her, with an equally familiar catsuit-clad woman leaning against him. "Sweetie?"
"RUN!" The two bolted, not bothering to look back to see if they were being pursued, totally intent on putting as much space between themselves and the man who most often returned them to prison. Ivy allowed herself to be led by some internal sense of direction, navigating the streets of the strange town until they arrived at a goodly-sized house. Racing over to the back door, she bent down and retrieved a key from under a fake rock, using it to unlock the door. Still on autopilot, she held it open and ushered Harley inside before closing it behind herself and relocking it. "Holy crap. What are Batman and Catwoman doing here?"
"I think I have a better question."
"What are WE doing here? And where is here?"
Surprisingly enough, Harley did have a point. Two good ones, even. Ivy moved a bit deeper into the house, looking around. How had she known where to go and where the owners of this house hid a spare key? She passed a mirror and looked in it absently, only to freeze. She was… not herself. Turning, she leaned in to get a better look. Not only did she look like she had shed half her years, but it wasn't even the face she would have expected to see on her sixteen year-old self.
Come to think of it… Ivy looked over at Harley. She looked younger too, and her facial features were different. She hadn't noticed right away because of her partner's mask and make-up, but it was there now that she was looking for it. So not only were they in a strange place with two heroes, but they were in a strange place with two heroes and trapped in younger, not-quite-them versions of themselves. Something seriously, seriously odd was going on.
"Red?" Ivy was shook out of her thoughts to find that Harley had removed her jester cap, her blonde hair cascading down her back and half again as long as Ivy remembered. "Are you okay? I didn't mean to break your brain."
Chuckling, Ivy held out one arm and Harley immediately scampered closer, curling against her side. "You didn't. I'm just trying to figure out four puzzles at once, they all share pieces, and I don't think I have all the pieces for any of them."
Harley nodded sagely. "Like those sudoku books you keep giving me."
"Yes, sweetie, just like sudoku." Ivy paused and looked down at Harley. "Are you okay? You look kinda wiped out. Hungry? Tired?"
Nodding again, Harley gave a jaw-cracking yawn and snuggled closer. "Hungry, too, but more sleepy than hungry. Although if we're going to bed…" She trailed off and licked her lips before winking up at Ivy. "I suppose I'm not THAT tired."
Ivy sighed and tried not to grin, failing miserably. "You're incorrigible."
"That too." Ivy took stock of her own body; she actually felt better than she had in a long while. More energy than she normally would at this time of night, although she was a bit hungry as well. Still, when it came down to feeding one of her two appetites… one was always the winner.
Scooping Harley up into her arms, Ivy smiled as the blonde squealed, heading for the staircase. Just like she knew where the house and the key was, she knew where a bedroom was, and… well, what better way to wait out the weirdness and hide from Batman?
Toying with one of the razor-sharp batarangs that had survived from the previous night's spell, Xander looked over at the girl giving him a ride to school. Cordelia had already gone through two stop signs and one questionable intersection she claimed was still yellow in an effort to get to school as quickly as possible. "I'm sure they're fine, Delia. Just relax."
"First of all, call me anything other than Cordelia in public and I'll kick your ass, Xander." Cordelia glared at him and Xander raised his hands in surrender, mostly because he wanted her eyes back on the road. "Second of all, I woke up this morning with you in my bed and memories of both a cat burglar and a crime fighting heroine. Harmony dressed up last night too. I'm not going to believe she's fine until I know she's fine. I've put too much work into civilizing that girl; I'm not going to start all over again with a new second-in-command now."
Xander flicked the batarang into the air, catching it on its descent before tossing it upward again. "You're not the only one missing someone, Delia. I haven't seen Willow since before the spell either. But she said she was fine when I called her last night, and promised to meet me this morning. Just like Harmony told you when you called her cell. So why don't we just trust our friends and calm down, okay?"
Sighing, Cordelia reached up to tuck an errant strand of hair back behind her ear. "You're right." They pulled into the school's parking lot and she slid her car into a spot near the front doors. "Just… when did you turn into the logical one here?"
"Probably around when I learned how to do that thing that makes your toes curl."
Cordelia huffed and tried to swat him across the back of his head. "Pig."
Catching the hand easily, Xander pulled Cordelia in and pressed a quick kiss to her lips. "You asked. I answered." She stuck her tongue out and he nipped playfully at it, making her squeal and pull back out of his grip. They sat in silence for a moment before he disturbed it. "Hey, Delia?" The brunette made a vaguely inquisitive noise. "You going to keep that catsuit?"
"Maybe." Cordelia thought about it for a moment before shrugging. "If you're good."
Mental images of Cordelia in Catwoman's black PVC catsuit flitted through his mind and Xander grinned. Yowza. "What about if I'm bad?"
A grin as naughty as his mental images graced Cordelia's lips. "In that case… definitely. Someone will have to remind you of your place."
Suddenly, the Cordelia in his images gained Catwoman's bullwhip, and yet… "…not really giving me an incentive to behave here, you know."
"Oh, I know." After giving him another quick kiss, Cordelia opened her door and hopped out of the car. "So, do you still want me to give you a ride to your place after school?"
Mind filled with images of Cordy and her whip, it took a minute for that to sink in and then Xander nodded. "Yeah, I want to get the last of my savings. I have a few ideas for investing I want to try before I forget them. I mean, I won't be living on your block by the end of the week or anything, but if I can pull this off, it'll be a start."
The two walked down the hall together, not feeling the need to hold hands but obviously closer than they had been a day ago. There weren't many students in the hallway, but Cordelia still looked back and forth nervously. "So, how do you think people are going to take us?"
Xander shrugged, eyes flicking back and forth as he tried to locate Willow. They came to one of the courtyards and he tugged Cordelia out the door. He'd be able to hear the students better as they moved around and that would make it easier to hear Willow herself or if anyone was talking about her. "I don't know, really. Depends how big of a deal WE make of it. If we're just quietly dating like adults, it won't really matter. If you want to hold my hand and make out against lockers and stuff, obviously people are going to talk."
Coming to an abrupt stop, Cordelia's eyes went wide as she stared off to his right. "Actually… at this point, I think we could have sex against a locker and we still wouldn't be the juiciest piece of gossip in the school."
Wondering what could possibly be so interesting (and shoving THAT mental image out of his head as well), Xander looked to his right. He blinked. Then he blinked again. Willow was sitting with her back against one of the few trees in the courtyard, Harmony's head in her lap as she ran her fingers through the blonde's wavy hair. Neither one was dressed as he would have expected; Harmony more casual than usual in a pair of black jeans and a red t-shirt, and Willow a bit more… well, sexy in a green skirt and tank top that hugged a body Xander hadn't been aware she possessed. And given that the two would have been at each other's throat as recently as the day before, they looked surprisingly comfortable and content with their current positions.
"Huh. Well, that's just…" Even with Bruce Wayne rolling around in his head, eloquence failed Xander. "Huh."