Prologue: The Picks
Title: All Hallow’s Eve and All Different Costumes
Author: DarkGoddess (aka Empress of the Azure Skies)
Summary: YAHF. A change in Ethan’s supplier and a mysterious fire at Partytown leads to Xander becoming a very different kind of soldier, Willow becoming a very different kind of ghost, Buffy becoming a very different kind of noblewoman, Cordelia becoming a very kind of cat, and several citizens of Sunnydale getting taken along for the ride.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It is property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. I do not own Naruto. It is property of Masashi Kishimoto. I do not own Bleach. It is property of Tite Kubo. I do not own Tales of Symphonia. It is property of Namco. I do not own Digimon. It is property of Bandai. I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist. It is property of Hiromu Arakawa. I do not own Inuyasha. It is property of Rumiko Takahashi. I do not own Harry Potter. It is property of J.K. Rowling. I do not own Claymore. It is property of Norihiro Yagi. I do not own Dragon Ball Z. It is property of Akira Toriyama I do not own Superman. He is property of DC comics.
This story is on both my fanfiction.net account Empress of the Azure Skies and my Twisting the Hellmouth account DarkGoddess.
Author’s Note: This story is AU in that (other than the obvious different costumes thing) Dawn already exists. In this ‘verse the monks created Dawn shortly after Buffy was called as the Slayer because they had heard whispers in the underground about Glory being after the Key. There may also be an AU factor for Jonathan and Andrew being friends already, but I guess we’ll never really be sure.
Xander wasn’t sure what he was angrier about: being forced to take a bunch of kids trick or treating, having to be saved by Buffy from Larry, or the fact that he can’t even afford a really nice costume to make up for it. Boy did this place have some nice costumes, too. Sure there were the cheap rubber masks and sheet ghosts, but many of them looked to be high quality and fairly realistic.
One in particular had caught his eye. It was on a mannequin near the bin of cheap plastic guns. It consisted of a black longcoat, black pants, black sandals, a red wig, sea-green contacts, a red temporary tattoo of a Japanese character, black eye make up, and a huge tan gourd. Below the mannequin was a picture of the character along with some facts about him.
“Now that is a cool costume,” Xander commented.
“Oh, do you like it?”
Xander jumped at the voice behind him. The British accent reminded him a bit of Giles and the man himself looked to be about Giles’s age. Xander knew it must be the owner, Ethan.
“Yeah, but I think Hell would freeze over, thaw out, and freeze over again before I could afford something like that.”
A wry smile crossed the shopkeeper’s face.
“I think you would be surprised. You see, this costume was sent to me as a mistake, as were several of the other cosplay costumes. I had ordered more conventional costumes, which were much cheaper, but they accidentally sent me these for the same price. I decided to just sell them, as unethical as that may seem. In fact, if you really have your heart set on it, I can give it to you for even less than I paid for it. After all, I place the satisfaction of my customers above all else.”
Xander’s jaw literally dropped at this. There was no way someone could be so generous. Maybe things really were turning around for him.
“I’ll let you mull it over while I help your friend over there,” he said, indicating Willow, who was also looking at a cosplay costume.
Willow stared in awe at the costume on the mannequin before her. There was nothing particularly spectacular about it, but it seemed to really stand out for her. It consisted of a white top with black lines and matching pants, a sword with a green grip in a green sheath on a black belt, a long green wig with a horned animal skull, and a red temporary tattoo of a red stripe. The most eye-catching part of the costume was the enormous breasts. Willow definitely didn’t think any human woman could be so well endowed and still be able to function.
As Willow admired the costume, Ethan came over to help her.
“I see you have your eye on something,” he commented.
“Maybe,” she said noncommittally, “I like it, but I’m not sure if it’s what I want. I was thinking just a good old fashioned ghost.”
“Well, this is a ghost of sorts. She’s something called an arrancar, from the Spanish infinitive meaning to remove, rip off or tear away. They are created from humans who have become masked beings known as hollows and then removed their masks. This one was the third most powerful of all arrancars.”
“How much is it?”
“I believe we can haggle a bit. Even if I lose a bit of money on this particular sale, a loyal customer is an invaluable thing and I’m sure you’ll tell all your friends about my establishment.”
It certainly was a nice costume. The breasts might’ve been a bit much, then again Willow did want Xander to notice her and it wasn’t like she’d be showing off any of her own skin. She’d have to buy some makeup to do the line across her face though.
“Name your price,” she finally said.
Buffy and Dawn passed by several costumes looking for their own and one for their
mother to wear to her gallery’s Halloween Party. Dawn had tried to convince their mother that at twelve she was too old for trick-or-treating. However, since Buffy had to take kids trick-or-treating, Dawn was forced to go along as well.
The problem was that none of the costumes really caught their attention. There were some that were really cool and a few that looked like the noblewoman thing that Buffy was going for. It was very sudden that Buffy did spot a costume she liked.
It was a light purple coat that opened around the chest with a white top underneath, a huge pink bow around the waist, black pants, fingerless light purple gloves that came up to almost the mannequin’s armpits, a purple wig that tied up in the back, and a set of odd cards.
“Buffy,” Dawn said, “I want this one.”
She was pointing at a costume on display right next to Buffy’s. It was an orange and black jacket, an orange skirt, a headband with a swirl pattern, a blonde wig with two long pigtails, whisker-like facial tattoos, and blue contacts.
“Sorry Dawnie, there’s no way we can afford these,” Buffy replied, “Besides you’d never be able to put those contacts in.”
“If I may,” a British accented voice came from behind them.
Both of the startled sisters turned to see Ethan suddenly behind them.
“I’ve already given discounts on costumes to your friends, so I’m sure I can make arrangements for the two of you,” he continued, “especially if you’d be willing to take a third costume off my hands. There’s a small defect on it and I didn’t want to set it out, but it’s really barely noticeable. And I believe this young lady would be quite capable of putting in contact lenses”
“Let’s get ‘em, Buffy,” Dawn pleaded, still beaming from Ethan’s comment “This one’s so cool!”
“I dunno,” Buffy said, “This costume’s nice, but I wanted more of the traditional princess.”
“Oh, so you’d rather be a piece of air-headed arm candy that is just supposed to look pretty and pop out babies than a mighty ninja clan leader that has the very spirits of the elements at her beck and call?”
As if there was even a choice.
Cordelia Chase was not happy and when Queen C isn’t happy, no one is. The awesome cat costume she had already paid for at Partytown had been ruined in a fire. Now she had to settle for some cheap cat outfit from this second rate shop. To make matters worse, Aura, Gwen, and Aphrodesia had gotten their costumes before the fire, leaving only Cordelia and Harmony to get costumes from Ethan’s.
She spotted the proprietor standing behind the register and headed straight for him.
“How may I help you?” he asked cheerfully.
“I need a cat costume,” she said, “the most expensive one you’ve got.”
“That’s a nice sentiment,” he mused, “I have to offer most of my customers discounts.”
“Yeah, well I’m not most customers. Now can we make this snappy? I’ve got places to be.”
A sly smile crept across his face.
“Of course, if you’ll excuse me I believe I know just the costume for you.”
As he walked off, Cordy sighed and tapped her foot impatiently. She wasn’t really in that much of hurry, but she had an image as a stuck up bitch to maintain. If she showed any weakness she’d end up with a knife in her back courtesy of Harmony Kendall. Harmony was her best friend and her worst enemy. The blonde knew how to play the game and was a little too envious of Cordelia’s position as royalty of the school. Cordelia had two advantages: she was a better player and she was much smarter (even if she had to hide it), but could show no weakness when anyone was watching.
It didn’t take long for Ethan to return with the cat costume. It consisted of a white unitard with a long upright tail of white and periwinkle bands with a periwinkle tuft, white boots, yellow gloves with black claws, a headband with large white ears that were pink on the inside and had periwinkle tufts of the ends, whisker temporary tattoos, black eye makeup, and blue contacts.
“Does this suit your needs?” he asked.
“It’s the most expensive one you’ve got?”
Her question was really unnecessary as she had decided she had to have that costume no matter what.
“By quite a bit.”
“Then I’ll take it” she said a bit hastily as she pulled Daddy’s credit card out.
Oz looked disinterestedly at the costumes before him. At first he thought it was cool that they were going to be doing their Halloween Concert at the Bronze in costume. Then he found out the theme was wild animals. He supposed it was appropriate considering they were called ‘Dingoes Ate My Baby,’ but even he felt a bit ridiculous about the whole thing.
“Going as a furry this year are we?” asked a man walking up to him who Oz guessed to be Ethan, the owner of the shop.
“Furry?” Oz inquired.
“It’s a subculture of…” he began, “well, that really isn’t important. Do you see one that seems like it would be a good fit?”
He looked back at the costumes: a wolf, a bear, a fox, a tiger, and a lion. They were all really high quality, looking like they had been made of the actual skins of the animals they portrayed. Ultimately he decided to go for the obvious one: the lion. His nickname was Oz after all. The costume was a bit odd however as it also had black pants, a sword, and an odd red necklace.
“Guess it’s the Cowardly Lion for me,” he said as he reached for it.
“Ah, a fine choice,” Ethan complimented, with a grin “Though that particular lion is far from cowardly.”
Oz regarded him for a moment.
“Dude, Superman could so beat Goku,” Jonathan said as he and Andrew entered the costume shop, “He’s invincible.”
“Uh, hello, Superman is vulnerable to magic,” Andrew retorted.
“Goku doesn’t use magic.”
“He uses ki attacks and those are pretty much the same thing. Besides Goku would totally be stronger, he’s trained at gravity levels that would flatten Superman.”
“While I would love to help you gentlemen out with this argument,” someone interrupted, “I seem to be fresh out of costumes of those two.”
Both of them jumped, not used to people paying attention to their existence. To their right was Ethan standing between two costumed mannequins.
“But the moment I saw the two of you walk in I suspected these two might be perfect for the two of you.”
On his right hand side the mannequin was wearing a black kimono with a white jacket over it. On the mannequin’s head was a spiky white wig. There was a large sword slung over its back. The feet had white socks and straw sandals. There was a pack of blue-green contacts at its feet.
The left mannequin was wearing a black jacket, black shirt, black pants, black boots, white gloves and a long red coat. On its head was a blond wig with a long ponytail. It also came with a pack of contacts, though these were yellow.
The two friends looked at each other and shrugged.
Harmony strode purposefully down the sidewalk. She needed a new costume and she had decided that if Ethan’s was good enough for Cordelia Chase, it was good enough for her, too.
She was forced to pause, however, as she passed the storefront window. On a mannequin there was a green jacket with a white shirt underneath and a very short brown skirt. There was also a black collar with a silver cross hanging from two chain links. It also had a long pink wig on its head and plastic vampire fangs sitting near it.
The outfit would obviously show off a lot of cleavage and a lot of leg, but she did want a costume that would get her noticed. She quickly went to the door and hurried inside and toward the register.
“How may I…” Ethan started to ask her.
“I totally have to have the costume you have out front,” Harmony interrupted, “I’ll pay, like, whatever you want.”
“That’s the attitude I like in my customers,” he said, “Now why don’t I ring you up?”
Jenny looked disappointedly at the closed sign hanging. She had hoped to pick up costumes for herself and Giles for the school faculty Halloween party. Apparently she had put it off for too long. She just sighed and began to walk off.
“Wait!” came voice from behind her.
Standing in the doorway was a man smiling apologetically.
“I’m terribly sorry, but I didn’t think I would be getting any more patronage today,” he said.
“It’s okay,” she replied, returning the smile “I won’t take up much of your time. I just need to find some costumes for myself and a friend.”
“Take as much time as you need,” he said, extending his hand in greeting, “Ethan Rayne, proprietor of this humble establishment.”
She shook his hand.
“Jenny Calendar,” she replied.
He led her into the darkened store and began turning on lights. She gave the shop a cursory glance. Much of his stock appeared to have been sold already, leaving only a few of the cheaper costumes and quite a few of the higher end costumes.
“Looks like business has been good,” she commented.
“Yes, opening a costume shop apparently was a good idea, despite my misgivings about going along with this crazy plan I dreamt up,” he replied.
“So what do you recommend for me?”
“Let’s see,” he said.
He studied her critically for a second then nodded. He pointed to a costume in a far corner of the shop. It was an outfit of red pants, a white top, socks and wooden sandals which Jenny recognized immediately as the attire of a miko. It also had a long black wig that was tied in the back, a bow and a quiver of arrows.
“Okay, works for me,” she said, “I was kind of thinking a wizard or something for my friend.”
Ethan thought for a minute, then smiled.
“I know just the one. I’ll go get it from the back.”
Ethan fell into his favorite chair. It had been a hard day sowing the seeds of chaos. It would be well worth it when those seeds sprouted. He could hardly wait until Halloween night.
The fire at his main competition had been a stroke of genius, despite the risk it posed. Besides, he’d be long gone before anyone even realized it hadn’t been caused by faulty wiring, if they even realized it at all.
His decision to use a clairvoyant demonic seamstress for some of costumes had also been pure genius. The enchantments woven into the fabric of those costumes insured that the right people would end up with the exactly the right one. They also gave him the ability to sense what costume belonged to whom and near encyclopedic knowledge the characters.
Of course, he understood that there was some danger of altering the future by selling costumes from series that didn’t even exist yet and he wasn’t entirely sure what would happen when the two magical forces met, but if it created a little chaos then that was just icing on the cake.
On Halloween night, Sunnydale High was a flurry of activity.
Buffy, Willow, and Xander were getting their groups of kids for the night. Dawn was no longer whining about having to go trick-or-treating, though she almost threw a fit when Buffy told her she couldn’t go with Xander.
The members of Dingoes Ate My Baby were rounding up their instruments for the concert. Oz and Devon were the only ones in costume at that time. Devon’s costume was actually a fox, but he vehemently argued that it was actually a dingo.
The Cordettes had gathered to meet up before heading out to the Bronze. They were all very jealous of Cordelia and Harmony’s costumes.
Giles and Jenny were in the library waiting for the start of the faculty party. Jenny was also trying to convince Giles of the usefulness of computers, an unsuccessful endeavor.
Jonathan and Andrew, however, were not at school. They had holed up in Jonathan’s basement to watch horror movies and eat candy corn while wearing their costumes.
Joyce’s gallery Halloween party was going fabulously. She had received many compliments on her costume, even though it was really very simple, and everyone present was having a good time.
The real attraction, albeit one that no one would see, was at Ethan’s shop. The Chaos worshipper had donned his robes and had finished his preparations. He was kneeling before the bust of Janus.
“Janus, evoco vestram animam,” he incanted in Latin, “Exaudi meam causam. Carpe noctem pro consilio vestro. Veni, appare et nobis monstra quod est infinita potestas.”
[Janus, I invoke your spirit. Hear my plea. Seize the night for your own reason. Come, appear and show to us that which is infinite power.]
“Persona se corpum et sanguium commutandum est. Vestra sancta praesentia concrescet viscera. Janus! Sume noctem!
[The mask transforms itself into flesh and blood. Your holy presence curdles the heart. Janus! Take the night!]
He raised his head.
Buffy shivered as breeze blew over her. Suddenly her chill was gone and she began to feel extremely odd. Something was calling out to her. Several somethings in fact. She paused mid step.
“Buffy, what’s wrong?” Dawn asked.
Buffy tried to speak, but the only thing to come out was some gibberish she couldn’t even understand. A complex circle radiated out from her as she began to lose herself.
“Buffy!” Dawn exclaimed, “What’s happening?! What…”
Buffy dimly noted the red aura appearing around her little sister as the other kids ran away.
A few houses away, Willow watched helplessly as her former charges turned demon ran off. She was more concerned though by the fact that she couldn’t breathe. With each passing second it became more and more apparent that she was going to suffocate in the air. She managed to make it out into the yard, only to fall face first into the grass. A last short exhalation came out of her mouth as her heart finally stopped.
Down the street sand was encasing Xander in some kind of horrendous cocoon. He frantically tried to get it off of himself as he ran around trying to escape it. However, it simply pulled him into the air. He continued shouting for help as he was entirely entombed in sand.
In Jonathan’s basement, Jonathan was shivering violently and his lips, ears and fingers had turned blue and his skin paled. He attempted to get a blanket or something to keep him warm, but as his body temperature plummeted it became impossible to walk. He finally just gave up and died.
Andrew would be more concerned about his friend, but he was dealing with his own issues. Specifically, his right arm and left leg were being converted from flesh and blood to metal. The process was excruciating, but had it not been happening to him he would have found it fascinating.
Back in the school, Giles and Jenny found themselves surging with great power. Jenny unwittingly released a wave of spiritual power that drove away all the monsters within a block of the school while Giles accidentally used magic to convert all the food there into various kinds of fantastic sweets.
At the gallery, Joyce suddenly felt sick as if she had eaten something bad and got the odd sensation that her clothes were fusing to her skin.
At the Bronze people who had simple costumes had already transformed and were running amok, terrorizing those not wearing costumes or whose costumes had not come from Ethan’s.
Cordelia’s and Oz’s transformations were the most spectacular. They rose above the crowd, shining like twin stars come down to earth. Inside those glowing spheres, their bodies were being broken apart at the subatomic level and rebuilt out of something entirely different.
A/N: Okay, this chapter was supposed to be much longer and cover all of Halloween night, but I wanted to submit it today on Halloween, but it wasn’t going to be done in time so I just cut it off here. The next chapter is about half way done, so I’ll try to get it done as my schedule allows. And yes, please chastise me for doing this when I should work on my other stories.