Halloween and a HalfChapter 1
Disclaimer – I don't own and of the characters from Buffy or Ranma ½.
YAHF – Persuaded by Willow to try a different costume, Xander now has to deal with a gender-shifting curse, assassination attempts, crazy martial arts techniques and a chaos mage who decides to stick around to enjoy the fun.
I'm surprised by how few Ranma crossovers there are for Buffy and how few are actually good. This is my silly attempt (and first Buffy fic even though I've read them for a while), even though it has been done before. First chapter pretty much is just the Halloween episode with the required tweaks etc.
Version 2 : Fleshed out and fixed many tense errors.
Halloween, a night of trick-or-treating and spooky fun was just around the corner and for most of the students going to Sunnydale High school it was looked forward to, although a certain vampire slayer and her friends were feeling less than enthusiastic about the whole idea this year. Buffy, Willow and Xander wore gloomy expressions on their faces as they moped into the school lounge.
"I can't believe this. We have to dress up and the whole deal?" Xander complained at their being shanghaied by Principal Snyder into taking a bunch of kids trick-or-treating.
"Snyder said costumes were mandatory
," Willow grumbled as the group closed around a nearby table. Buffy pulled out a chair and dumped her bag on the tabletop. "Great. I was going to stay in and veg. It's the one night a year that things are supposed to be quiet for me," she complained.
"Halloween quiet? I figured it would be a big old vamp scare-a-palooza
," Xander looked at Buffy with a surprised and curious expression as he wondered why Halloween of all nights was supposed to be quiet.
"Not according to Giles. He swears that tomorrow night is, like, dead for the un-dead. They stay in," Buffy shrugged.
"Those wacky vampires. That's what I love about 'em. They just keep you guessing," Xander shook his head and headed over to the drinks machine while the girls seated themselves at the table. He shoved some change into the slot and poked one of the selection buttons at random. A few moments later and nothing had dropped into the collection slot. "Aww, come on!" Xander muttered and banged on the machine in frustration at it eating his change. When a heavy hand dropped onto his shoulder he whipped around to find Larry — one of his least favourite jocks — standing behind him, leering.
"Harris," Larry leaned in close and greeted Xander while making it sound vaguely threatening.
"Larry. Looking very cro-mag, as usual," Xander quipped to hide his sudden nervousness. "What can I do for you?"
Larry took a long measured glance over towards Buffy and Willow, who sat and chatted quietly at the table. "You and Buffy, you're just friends, right?"
"I like to think of it less as a friendship and more as a solid foundation for future bliss—"
"So she's not your girlfriend?" Larry interrupted Xander impatiently.
"You think she'd go out with me?"
"Well, Lar, that's a hard question to — nope! Not a chance!" Xander stated.
"Why not? I heard some guys say she was fast," Larry hinted with a lecherous smirk on his face.
"I hope you mean in the 'like the wind' sense," Xander growled at the insinuation.
"You know what I mean," Larry leered and leaned in closer.
"That's my friend you're talking about," Xander snapped in fury and without thinking grabbed ahold of Larry's shirt with both his hands. Larry glanced down at Xander's hands and back up with a mixture of excitement and amusement that the smaller teen would even try to threaten him.
"Oh yeah? What are you going to do about it?" Larry straightened to his full height.
"I'm going to do what any man would do about it. Something…damn manly!" Xander made an attempt at shoving Larry away and into the soda machine, but he barely budged. Larry took a fistful of Xander's shirt and drew back his other hand into a fist while Xander grimaced and braced himself for the inevitable. The blow never came as Buffy appeared behind Larry and pulled his arm away. She followed up by spinning the jock around and pinning his arm in a painful hold behind his back. Then with a quick shove she sent him slamming him into the soda machine, which rocked at the impact and released a drink.
"Get gone," Buffy told the bully who didn't wait around to be asked twice. He scurried away as Buffy took the can from the collection slot. "Ooh. Diet," she grinned while Xander just stood and gaped at her.
"Do you know what you just did?" he asked aghast.
"Saved a dollar?"
"Larry was about to pummel me."
"Oh, that. Forget about it," she waved off Xander's gratitude, glad to be of service.
"I will," Xander snapped as he fumed over what she had done. "Maybe in fifteen, twenty years from now. When my rep for being a sissy-man finally fades."
"Xander…" Buffy leaned back in surprise and wondered what she had done wrong. "A black eye heals, Buffy. But cowardice has a nearly unlimited shelf-life," Xander informed her. "…But thanks. Thanks for your help." He spun on his heels and stomped away from her, hands in his pockets and hunched over.
"I think I just violated the guy code. Big time," Buffy stated as Willow and her shared a knowing look.
Willow sighed, "Poor Xander. Boys are so fragile."
Later that day they found themselves at a recently opened costume shop by the name of Ethan's. It was a musty, run-down store, but seemed to be stocked with every kind of costume imaginable. The place was packed with kids searching for costumes to wear for the next night. Buffy moved through the store, occasionally poking a costume unenthusiastically as she searched for something to dress up as. She caught sight of Willow approaching from the corner of her eye and turned to the redhead. "What did you find?" Buffy wondered as Willow fell in beside her.
"A time honoured classic," Willow grinned and pulled out her costume from the brown paper bag she carried. Buffy looked down and studied the package Willow presented. It showed a person covered with a large white ghost sheet, complete with eyeholes, a ghostly smile and the word "BOO" stencilled onto it. "Willow. Can I give you a little friendly advice?" Buffy sighed with deep concern over her friend's taste in Halloween costume.
"It's not spooky enough?" Willow double-checked the packaging.
"It's just, you're never going to get noticed if you keep hiding. You're missing the whole point of Halloween."
"Free candy?" Willow attempted.
"It's come as you aren't night. The perfect chance for a girl to get sexy and wild with no repercussions."
"I don't get wild. Wild on me equals 'spaz'."
"You've got it in you, Will. You're just scared…"
Willow quickly looked for a way to change the subject when she spotted Xander coming their way. "Hey Xander! What did you get?" She called out. "Nothing yet," he replied with a sigh. "All the toy guns were sold."
"Toy guns? Why a gun? And anyway, that's not a costume," Buffy exclaimed in exasperation at both her friends choices.
"Guns are *manly* and I've got some fatigues from the Army surplus at home. Was going to go as an army guy…" At hearing the manly comment Buffy felt guilt bubble up over upsetting Xander earlier. She began to apologise, "Hey, Xander, about this morning. I'm really sorry…" Xander interrupted her. "Do you mind, Buffy? I'm trying to repress."
"I promise I'll let you get pummelled from now on," Buffy promised and then paused wondering if that sounded as stupid as she thought it did. Xander felt his resolve to stay angry with Buffy drain away at her thoughtful and worried expression which in his optioning made her look adorably cute. "Thank you. Okay. Actually, I think I could have…" He trailed off mid-sentence as Buffy's attention had wandered away from him. "Hello? That was our touching reconciliation you just left."
"Sorry…" Buffy turned back and apologised before she nodded towards the racks. "It's just, look at that."
The three teens turned their attention to see what Buffy was indicating. There was a beautiful eighteenth century gown draped over a mannequin in the store. It looked almost exactly like the one in the picture from the Watcher diaries she and Willow had looked through earlier. Buffy drifted over to the dress, mesmerised, followed closely by Willow and a bored looking Xander.
"It's…amazing," Willow agreed taking it all in.
"Too bulky. I prefer my women in spandex," Xander decided. Buffy paid no attention to his comment and reached out to touch the gown as if enthralled by it. Her finger's almost touched the fabric when a voice — with a hint of a British accent — interrupted the moment and broke the spell. The teens gave a start as none of them had heard Ethan Rayne, the owner of the store, approach.
"Please. Let me," Ethan said with a devilish glint in his eye, like that of a young boy about to do mischief.
"It's…" Buffy began to speak to which Ethan smoothly interrupts and finishes for her, "Magnificent. I know." He reached over and took the gown down from the mannequin. With a flourish he turned and held it up against Buffy. "My, meet the hidden princess." A perfectly placed mirror showed that indeed, with the dress held in front of her, Buffy looked completely different. "I think we've made a match, don't you?" Ethan grinned in anticipation. A moment later Buffy shook herself free from the spell, "I'm sorry. There's no way I can afford this," she explained, guessing that the gown would be expensive. Way more than she could afford to spend.
"Nonsense. I feel quite…moved…to make you a deal you can't refuse," Ethan purred. Buffy turned back to her image in the mirror and admired herself once more. It was too good to be true. Ethan smiled at the slayer. Perfect.
"Well. As much as I love gushing over dresses," Xander sarcastically butted in. "I'll be over…here," he pointed randomly, "looking for something…a little more manly." Buffy and Willow exchanged a knowing glance.
"He's still mad about this morning," Buffy stated.
"Yup," Willow agreed, watching her best friend stomp off to the other side of the store. "Hey, I know. Why don't we try and find a costume for him?"
"Shall we bag this for you now?" Ethan asked Buffy.
"Oh! Sure," Buffy startled for a moment before she turned to Willow. "I'll just sort this out."
"Kay, I'll start looking," Willow nodded and turned back to the racks as Buffy was led away by Ethan. She began to poke through the various costumes, sliding them aside on their hangers. "No. No. No. Maybe…um no," she mumbled to herself as costume after costume was checked and discarded. "Oh my gosh!" she paused and double-checked her find. The red silk, sleeveless Chinese styled shirt, complete with wooden ties. Black silk kung-fu pants and slippers. There was even a pair of leather wrist braces and a pigtailed wig. Having more than a slight passing of anime knowledge, Willow easily knew who wore this costume. She grinned and glanced over towards Xander, who stood with Buffy now. They were looking at the racks nearer to the counter. She could easily imagine Xander in it and giggled at the thought. Could she get him to wear it though?
"No offence Buffy," Willow overheard Xander say, "I'm a guy! I don't do tights."
"It's Robin Hood. He was manly," Buffy responded, lifting the offensively bright green leggings. The "I'm a guy!" comment cinched it for Willow. It would be perfect. She grabbed the costume from the rack. "Xander! You've so got to try this one," Willow beamed as she presented the costume to him. Xander examined the costume clearly unimpressed.
"Is that real silk?" Buffy asked getting a feel of the material.
"Silk? That's like only one-step up from tights. I'm not wearing that," Xander grumbled. Why did his friends all want to get him into less than manly costumes? It was a conspiracy he was certain of it. Willow's face fell and he soon felt like a tool at upsetting her while she was trying to help.
"But…it's worn by one of the greatest martial artists ever," Willow explained, trying to persuade her friend to wear it.
"Martial artist? Like in Bruce Lee?" Xander asked feeling his resolve began to crumble.
"Better than Bruce Lee," Willow promised with a growing grin. Xander's resolve began cracking.
"I…don't know…" Xander leaned in closer. The wrist braces were somewhat cool he thought. "But silk? It's kinda Elton John concert isn't it?"
"Xander, this guy is a master of over ten styles of martial arts, including his own family's style. He has girls throwing themselves at him. Guys trying to beat him cause they're jealous. And he's like the avatar of chaos!" Ethan's head rose up from the counter at Willow's attempted salesman spiel. A curious expression crossed his face, followed shortly by a wicked grin of amusement as Willow continued. "Everywhere he goes these crazy things and battles happen. Of course he always wins too, cause he's just that damned awesome," Willow explained enthusiastically. Of course, she wasn't going to mention he was cursed to turn into a girl at the application of cold water, Xander didn't need to know that.
"What's his name?" Xander pondered taking the costume from Willow.
"Ranma. It means Wild Horse."
"Wild eh?" Xander was sold as his resolve collapsed into little bitty pieces. "Although, this might cost way more than two dollars."
"I'll help you out," Willow promised.
"Me too," Buffy agreed. "I've got a little money left. My dress was a bargain."
"How much for this?" Xander asked crossing over to the counter.
"Well now," Ethan pretended to ponder. "Make me an offer." He grinned devilishly. Who was he to deny a potential avatar of chaos?
"Here it comes…" Spike muttered to himself as he and another vampire watched the row of televisions. On one screen ran the video of Buffy's fight from the night before. The light from the televisions cast dancing shadows around the darkened lair as the master vampire watched them with a single-minded concentration. On the screen, Buffy fell onto a pumpkin, crushing it. Then she gets up, grabs a baby pumpkin and throws it with precision to hit her opponent in the face, stunning the vampire momentarily.
"Rewind that. I want to see it again," Spike began to pace, "she's tricky. Baby likes to play." The video played again. This time Spike pointed to the part where Buffy breaks off the sign and stakes the vampire with it. "See that? Where she stakes him with that thing? That's what you call resourceful," he exclaimed. "Rewind again."
"Miss Edith needs her tea," Drusilla's dreamy voice drifted across the room. Spike turned his head to see Drusilla sweep lightly into the room holding one of her dolls.
"Come here, poodle," Spike waved her over in welcoming but his attention soon return to the video of Buffy. Drusilla closed the distance between them and proceeded to flit around him in a dreamy fashion. Spike gently catches her on one pass and drew her in close to hold her. He rested his chin on her shoulder.
"Do you love my insides? The parts you can't see?" Drusilla leaned back into Spike. "Eyeballs to entrails, my sweet. That's why I have to study this slayer. Once I know her, I can kill her. And once I kill her, you can have your run of Sunnyhell and get strong again."
"Everything's switching. Outside to inside. It makes her weak."
"Really. Did my pet have a vision?" Spike asked, his attention now fully fixed upon Drusilla. "Do you know what I want? A pony," she switched tracks without answering his question.
"Talk to daddy. This thing that makes the slayer weak. When is it?"
"Tomorrow," Drusilla breathed a dreamy reply.
"But tomorrow is Halloween. Nothing happens on Halloween," Spike exclaimed and looked confused.
"Someone's come to change it all with something new."
Buffy admired herself before the mirror, fully decked out in the gown from Ethan's costume shop and a brown wig in an elegantly piled hairstyle. She grinned, knowing she looked stunning. Angel wouldn't know what hit him she decided.
"Where are you meeting Angel?" Willow called out from the bathroom.
"Here. After trick-or-treating. Mom's gonna be out," Buffy called back.
"Does he know about your costume?"
"Nope. Call it a blast from his past. I'll show him I can coif with the best of 'em," Buffy remarked with a happy grin. She waited for a moment before rolling her eyes. "Come on out, Will. You can't stay in there all night."
"Okay. But don't laugh," Willow's voice wavered.
"I won't—" Buffy promised as she turned around and stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Willow emerge from the bathroom. She was dressed in the costume Buffy had picked out and forced her to wear instead of the silly ghost sheet. A total rocker babe, black halter-top, leather mini-skirt, boots, the works. She looked drop-dead gorgeous, and very, very uncomfortable. "Wow," Buffy exclaimed.
Buffy's exclamation did nothing to reassure the other girl. As her nerves got the better of her, Willow grabbed her ghost sheet and immediately turned to head back into the bathroom. Buffy stopped her by taking her a light hold of her arm and led Willow back over to the mirror.
"Will. You're a dish! I mean, really!" Buffy reassured the nervous redhead.
"But this just isn't me," Willow whined and indicated down at herself.
"That's the point! Halloween is the night that's not you, is you, but not you, you know?" While Willow struggled to decipher the meaning of, and find a way of responding to Buffy's strange logic, the doorbell rang.
"That's Xander. You ready?" Buffy asked.
"Yeah. Okay," Willow gave a timid smile, despite her deer caught in the headlights look that was on her face.
"Cool! I can't wait to watch the boys go non-verbal when they see you," Buffy remarked as she left the room and headed down the stairs to the front door to open it. It was Xander and he stepped inside, dressed in the Chinese style silks and leather wrist braces. He adjusted the pigtailed wig feeling apprehensive about wearing it. When he saw Buffy he forgot all about the wig.
"Buffy. My Lady of Buffdom. The duchess of Buffonia. I am in awe. I completely renounce spandex."
"Thank you, kind sir," Buffy gave a curtsy, "But wait till you see—"
"Hi," Willow greeted, her voice slightly muffled as she walked down the stairs covered in her ghost sheet with a little sign that stated "Boo!" hanging from a string.
"…Casper," Buffy finished lamely as Willow had ruined the chance at seeing Xander's reaction to Willow's sexy look.
"Hey, Will. That's a fine 'Boo' you have there," Xander stated as he missed the disappointed look Buffy sent Willow. Willow hung her head in shame.
Xander stood off to one side in main entranceway to Sunnydale High School as he waited around for the troll of a Principal to bring him his group of sugar high munchkins. He watched the other various kids and teens in costumes go past. There was an abundance of demons, goblins, ghosts, witches and of course plenty of little vampires. He had also seen a couple of super-heroes and a fairy, all of which were running around with trick-or-treat bags. As he waited he noticed Larry heading his way, dressed as a very unimaginative pirate. A white t-shirt, a pair of baggy shorts and an eye patch. Xander hoped the other boy wouldn't recognise him in his costume but no such luck as Larry wandered over with a swagger.
"Where's your bodyguard, Harris? Curling her hair?" Larry grinned and leaned over Xander. He gave Larry his best 'get lost' glare, to which Larry made a sudden lunge at Xander, causing him to flinch back. Larry laughed at Xander's reaction before he decided to hassle someone else. Xander glared at Larry's back as the larger teen wandered away with a smug expression on his face.
"So much for feeling like a manly martial artist," Xander muttered under his breath. He scratched again at the itchy wig and went back to waiting for Snyder to bring him his group. He didn't have to wait long.
"Okay Mr. Harris. These are yours. Bring them back before six thirty," Snyder commanded and then left. Xander studied his group for a moment before he dished out his advice.
"Okay. On sleazing extra candy. Tears are key. Tears'll usually get you a double-bagger. You can also try the old 'you missed me' routine…but it's risky. Only go there for chocolate. Understood?" The kids all nodded. "Good. Let's go."
Shortly after Dark and one spell later, Xander glanced up as the first screams rent the air followed closely by car alarms and other sounds of chaos. He spun around trying to see what was going on, when something hit him. A wave of dizziness washed over him and he stumbled over his own feet sending him face-first to the ground. A moment later, he groaned, sat up and rubbed at his head.
"Damn tomboys," Xander grumbled to himself before looking around in surprise at the unfamiliar street. He climbed gingerly to his feet, all the while taking in the sights of your everyday American suburb. An everyday suburb that had been taken over by mini-demons. He scratched the back of his head, confused by what his eyes where showing him. "Wow…I really must have pissed her off to get hammered all the way to America," he sighed at the prospect of the long swim ahead of him. "Gonna be loooong swim back…"
While he pondered his situation, a shaggy brown haired sasqatch paused in its rampage down the street and turned towards him. Its yellow eyes twinkled in excitement and hunger as it lurched towards its next meal.
Xander noticed its approach and dismissed it as no real threat to himself. The hairy beast roared as it reared back and launched itself forward to grab the seemingly unsuspecting human. It came to a complete standstill as Xander lifted his foot into its face halting its lunge. The monster's arms windmilled around comically as Xander held it off at a distance.
"Hmm, I can't remember upsetting Akane recently," Xander muttered as the monster backed off. It sneezed and snorted and rubbed at its sensitive nose that had just been full of foot. "Weird," Xander lowered his foot and turned away. He crossed his arms and rested his chin in one hand deep in thought. The monster re-accessed the meal before it and took a downward swipe at Xander's head with its clawed hand. Xander spun on the spot and avoided the blow completely as he began pacing, ignoring the monster. "So, if I didn't upset Akane, cause my head don't hurt enough to have been malletted this far, how'd I get here?" The monster stared dumbfounded at its empty hand. "Think Saotome, what's the last thing you remember?" Xander avoided another swipe of monster claws by ducking under them. With a roar of frustration that its meal wasn't being cooperative, the monster made another grab for the pigtailed teen.
"Do you mind?" Xander growled as he caught the monster's wrist in an iron grip. "I'm trying to think here!" he slammed an open palm into the monster's chest, knocking the air from its lungs in a whoosh and let go of its wrist. The hairy creature launched across the street until it crashed into a parked car. The car rocked on its wheels and its alarm began shrieking from the impact.
The monster sat up wide-eyed and gasped for air. It blinked rapidly in confusion at the pigtailed youth before re-accessing its chances of an easy meal. It decided to go chase easier prey and lurched off into the night with a whimper. Xander snorted as the distraction ran off down the street, when his finely honed senses picked out something supernatural approaching. It felt like a ghost. Oh great, not another one
, he mentally sighed and whipped around into a ready stance.
Willow drew up short as Xander rounded on her with a fist raised. "Xander, it's me. Willow!"
Seeing her, Xander cautiously lowered his guard. "Err…what did my Pop's do this time?" Xander sighed in annoyance, but was still wary. "Desecrated your grave? Promised to get us married? Or sold me for food?"
Willow blinked before responding. "Quit messing around, Xander. This is no time for jokes!"
"So…none of the above?"
"Phew!" Xander sighed dramatically. "Usually a cute girl…err, ghost…girl-ghost like you is out to marry or kill me." He paused a moment and then remarked on the way she spoke his name. "My name's Ran-ma not Xand-er. Heh, crazy American ghosts can't even pronounce my name right."
"Oh my gosh! You actually think you're Ranma?" Willow realised.
"Think?" Xander gave her a look that said she was crazy.
"Xander. Listen to me. I'm on your side, I swear. Something crazy is happening. I was dressed as a ghost for Halloween and now I am a ghost. You were dressed as Ranma, and now, I guess you are Ranma…"
"Okay, I believe you."
"…so…wait what?" Willow boggled.
"This ain't the weirdest thing to ever happen to me," Xander snorted. A sudden growl from nearby distracted them and as one they turned their eyes over to the side. A little vampire had emerged from the bushes and was hissing evilly at them.
"I'll take care of this," Xander made a fist and took a step towards the short vampire.
"No! Don't hurt it! That's still a little kid in there!"
"A kid? You sure?" Xander looked over his shoulder at Willow. She nodded in confirmation and Xander sighed before brightening. "Feh, don't worry. Watch this!" he smirked before drawing his fist back and then slammed it into the road. The road cratered from the impact as Xander buried his fist right up to his wrist into the concrete. The little vampire's eyes widen in surprise from the display of superior strength and it flees.
"Wow…Xander…just…wow," Willow gaped at the show of strength. Even Buffy couldn't do that.
"Heh, nothing to…hmm?" Xander glanced down at the first signs of rumbling. Moments later a water geyser erupted up around his fist in the impact zone right into his face. "Gah!" Xander spluttered and leaped away as he was soaked to the bone. "Typical," Xander muttered and proceeded to wring out his, now her pigtail in annoyance as water rained all over the road. "Just my luck to hit a water main."
Willow's eyes went wide and she stared dumbfounded. Xander had just changed into a girl. A short girl with red hair, who looked just like Ranma's cursed form. Xander muttered something about pandas and automatically tightened her pants drawstring. She then noticed Willow was still staring in the way people usually did when they first saw the curse in action. She sighed, guessing she'd have to explain about the curse.
"It's—" Xander began to say but Willow cut her off. "A Jusenkyo curse…yeah, I know." Willow took a moment to blink away her surprise and sudden urge to prod Xander's chest to confirm what she was seeing. She realised she wasn't as surprised as she should be after seeing what was going on. She would have said something else but caught sight of Buffy wandering around the street with a look of confusion and mild terror on her face.
"Buffy!" Willow called out as she raced over to the slayer. Xander not having anything better to do followed the ghost and dripped water as she walked. "Buffy, are you okay?"
Buffy looked at the pair of strangers in confusion. As the pair of redheads approached, a demonic roar startled her and the strange girls. All three turn and see that the little vampire from earlier had found backup with a full-sized demon. Willow and Xander stared at the approaching demons, Willow in worry and Xander in bored annoyance, while Buffy went ramrod straight into shock. Her eyes rolled up in her head and she falls way in a dead faint behind them.
"Looks like Shorty has found backup," Xander pointed out.
"Buffy, what do we do?" Willow asked unaware that Buffy had just fainted.
"I'll handle this," Xander stepped forward and focused as the two demons charged. "Double Moko Takabisha!" She called out as a bluish ball of chi burst from each palm and knocked the demon and vampire off their feet. She frowned at her hands as the stunned demons sat up and looked at each other. They decided they needed even more backup to take on whatever this girl was and scampered off. "That was…a little too hard…and too weak," Xander muttered as Willow's earlier words and the whole situation with monsters running around began to make sense.
"Ohmygosh! Those were real chi blasts!" Willow exclaimed.
"Huh? Oh yeah. Easy-peasy when you're the best!" Xander replied as she snapped out of her reverie. She noticed the collapsed Buffy and pointed. "Is she okay?"
Willow's eyes followed Xander's finger and saw that Buffy was out cold on the ground. She kneeled down and made to shake Buffy awake, but found her hands just passed through the other girl's shoulder. She tried again with the same results and stared at her hands in realisation. Xander meanwhile held her hands behind the small of her back and began to bob up and down on her toes in boredom as she waiting to see what ghost girl was going to do next. Buffy let out a groan and began to pull around. She opened her eyes and slowly sat up. Her eyes focus on Willow.
"Buffy! Are you all right?" Willow quickly asked the confused looking slayer.
"You're not hurt?" Xander asks.
"Buffy, are you hurt?" Willow tries again.
"Buffy?" Buffy asks as she looks between the two strange girls in confusion.
"She's not Buffy," Willow stated in realisation as she turned to look at Xander in worry.
"Who's Buffy?" Xander queried.
"Oh, this is fun," Willow mumbled. She turned back to Buffy. "What year is this?"
"Seventeen seventy-five…I believe…I don't understand. Who are you?" Buffy answered. Xander offered a hand and hauled the confused girl to her feet.
"We're friends," Willow tired to explain.
"Friends of whom? Your dress is…everything is strange…" Buffy's voice rose as she began to panic once more at all the strange objects lining the strange looking street she had no idea how she had ended up in. "How did I come to be here?"
"Okay, breathe, okay? You're gonna faint again," Willow suggested. She then looked over at Xander and asked, "How are we supposed to get through this without the Slayer…" She trailed off as she suddenly realised who she was talking too. Xander cocked her head to one side and looked on with a curious expression on her face that made her look surprisingly innocent. "…never mind. I don't think that'll matter much, actually."
"What's a Slayer?" Xander asked. Willow doesn't get a chance to answer as Buffy screams when another demon appeared from nowhere and jump her, grabbing at her hair, which comes undone from the carefully styled hairdo. She batted ineffectively at the demon holding onto her hair with her hands. Xander came to her aid by stepping forward and punching the demon across the jaw, hard enough to make it spin around twice before collapsing in a groaning pile on the sidewalk.
"I think we should get off the street and then figure this all out," Xander cracked her knuckles as Buffy looked at her in awe. She went to ask how the short girl did that when she saw another monster with two massive glowing eyes roaring towards them. She pointed at the monster and screamed, "Demon! A demon!"
Willow and Xander glance over to see a car driving towards them. Buffy cowers behind Xander, who began to look uncomfortable over having the other girl clutching onto her. She half expected that at any moment Akane would come out of nowhere and brain her for letting a girl hang over her.
"It's not a demon. It's a car," Willow explained, trying to calm the scared girl down.
"What does it want?"
"Is this normal?" Xander asked Willow.
"She's never seen a car."
"She's never seen a car?"
"She's from the past."
"Okay. And you're a ghost."
"Yes. Now let's get inside."
"Well, cool I guess. So, where to?"
"Where's the closest?" Willow muttered to herself as she thought. "Uh, we can go to…a friend's house."
Willow led the group back to Buffy's house. They snuck around the back where Xander opened the back door and let the girls enter first. With a quick check over her shoulder she to slipped inside and closed the door behind them. Xander then waited quietly while watching the way Buffy wandered around and looked at all the kitchen utensils and appliances as if she had never seen them before. She soon looked completely bewildered by everything she saw.
"Now what Ghost-girl?" Xander asked and leaned casually against the back door.
"Hello! Mrs. Summers?" Willow called out. There is no response from the dark house and she turned back to the other two. "Good. She's gone."
"Where are we?" Buffy asks nervously.
"Your place. Now we just need to—" A violent pounding on the front door interrupted her reply and startled the three of them. Xander recovered first to rush past Willow out of the kitchen and down the hallway towards the front door. Willow followed closely behind and Buffy trailed after the other girls unwilling to be left alone with all the demons outside.
"Don't open it!" Willow hissed as Xander reached for the handle.
"What are you afraid of? You're a ghost right? S'not like anything can hurt you?"
"…" Willow had no good reply to that. The pounding ceased as abruptly as it had begun. They waited a moment in silence before Xander got up on her tiptoes to peer out the small window in the door. She couldn't see anything odd from the angle she was at.
Buffy, who had hung back and headed into the living-room, glanced about the strange room. A picture above the mantle caught her attention and she approached it slowly. She carefully picked up the framed photograph. Her face furrowed into a frown as she looked on at the puzzling find. Willow spotted Buffy looking at something and wanders over to the other girl.
"This…this could be me…" Buffy stated as she sensed Willow drawing near.
"It is you," Willow explained to the other girl. "Buffy, can't you remember at all?"
"No, I…I don't understand any of this, and I…" Buffy pointed at the picture, her mind unable to comprehend what she was looking at. "This is some other girl, I would never wear this…this low apparel and I don't like this place and I don't like you and I just want to go home!" Buffy began to blubber.
"You are home!" Willow began to feel frustrated at being unable to make her friend remember even with the proof before her eyes. The loud pounding on the front door resumed again which had the effect of sending Buffy shrieking and cowering in fear. "You couldn't have dressed up like Xena," Willow grumbled.
Xander once again climbed onto her tiptoes to peers out the window. A demonic hand shatters through the glass and made a grab at the redhead, who stepped back out of range. She snapped out a hand to grab the exposed wrist, braces a foot against the door and then with a grunt gives it a hard tug. Something heavy slammed against the door. She released her grip on the hand, which quickly retreats.
"Be right back," Xander informed the other girls and without giving anyone a chance to say anything slipped outside. The two girls hear a roar, then the sounds of a vicious smack down. There is a thud against the wall followed by a demonic pained yelp and then Xander's voice shouted out, "That'll teach ya to keep your hands to yourself!"
The door opened again and Xander re-entered the house. She shut the door behind herself with one foot and claps her hands together, getting rid of imaginary dust. "There. I doubt tall, dark and ugly will bother us again."
"H-how can you fight off those demons?" Buffy asked nervously while she cowered behind Willow. "Are you a witch?"
"I'm a martial artist," Xander explained and puffed up her chest with pride. Another loud scream from down the street drew their attention. Xander once again looked out the window and saw people running for their lives. "Duty calls. Be right back," Xander stated with a sigh and exited the building once more. Buffy came abreast of Willow, eyes nervously upon the door. "Surely she'll not desert us?"
"Whatever," Willow snorted as even her patience reached its limits.
Outside Xander stared over the street. It was in complete chaos as people ran about screaming and being attacked by various ghosts and goblins. A car sat diagonally in the middle of the road, the driver's side door open and the driver long gone. She spotted a dark haired girl running for her life with a familiar hairy monster loping along a few yards behind her. There was something vaguely familiar about her and Xander decided to intercept.
Cordelia had the unfortunate luck of tripping on an uneven paving slab. Her stumble gave the shaggy monster enough time to slam into her sending her to the ground. She screamed and scrabbled away from the monster. That was when Xander landed on the back of the monster's head and drove its ugly face into the cement.
"You okay?" Xander asked Cordelia as she squatted down with her hands on her knees and balanced lightly on the back of the monster's head.
"Oops. One sec!" Xander replied as the monster flung its head back with a roar and climbed back to its feet, furious that it had been hurt. Xander was launched high into the air and at the apex of her flight, went into a casual acrobat flip and landed lightly in-between sasqatch and Cordelia. The monster roared a challenge and lunged for the short redhead, who calmly lifted her foot and for the second time that night planted it in the monster's face.
"You don't learn do ya pal?" Xander stated with folded arms as she held the monster back with one foot, and made it look easy while she did it. The monster stumbled back and rubbed at its sore face. Xander burst into motion, rushing forward to plant an elbow deep into the monster's belly, doubling it over. Then in one swift movement, she grabbed two handfuls of its chest hair and tossed it over her shoulder in a judo style throw. The monster bounced off the concrete and laid where it landed stunned.
"Buffy?" Cordelia asked carefully as she climbed back to her feet, thinking there's only one girl who could do that.
"Buffy's inside," Xander replied, guessing this girl knew Buffy somehow. Although how she mistook her for the whimpering noblewoman, she didn't know. "Come on," Xander took Cordelia's arm and quickly led the girl back to the house. She pushed the dark haired girl inside and with a final glance at the now deserted street slammed the door behind them.
"Cordelia!" Willow exclaimed at recognising the cat-suited girl.
"What's going on?" Cordelia looked over to Willow.
"Okay, your name is Cordelia, you're not a cat," Xander shuddered in the background, "you're in high school, we're your friends…well, sort of…"
"That's nice, Willow, and you went mental when?" Cordelia snarked back.
"You know us?" Willow blinked in surprise.
"Yeah, lucky me," Cordelia replied sarcastically before she glanced back over at her rescuer. "Aside from her. Who're you anyway?"
"Ranma," Xander answered.
"That's nice," Cordelia said in a tone that said 'I don't care'. "So what's going on?"
"A lot's going on," Willow answered flatly.
"No kidding. I was just attacked by Jo-Jo the dog-faced boy. Look at my costume! Think Party-Town's gonna give me my deposit back? Not on the likely," Cordelia pointed out the tears and noticed a particularly big rip up the side.
"Okay," Willow decided she had had enough for one night, "you three, stay here while I get help. If something tries to get in, just fight it off."
"It's not our place to fight. Surely some men will come and protect us?" Buffy exclaimed. She sounded scandalised.
"What's that riff?" Cordelia wondered what was wrong with Buffy and if it would cause her problems.
"Its like amnesia, okay? They don't know who they are. Just sit tight," Willow explained and took off at a run.
"Who died and made her the boss?" Cordelia remarks to the others just as Willow passes through the wall behind her.
"I think she did," Xander remarks as she moves past Cordelia and heads back towards the kitchen. The other two girls, not wanting to be left alone follow the short redhead into the kitchen. Xander searched around until she found a kettle which she proceeded to fill at the sink. Once filled she puts it back on its base and flicks the switch to set it off boiling.
"Surely there's somewhere we can go? Some safe haven?" Buffy decided to speak up.
"Ghost girl said to stay here," Xander stated as she rocked energetically on her heels as she waited impatiently for the kettle to boil. The back door opened, startling all three girls when Angel stepped inside. He spotted Cordelia, Buffy and a redhead he didn't recognise. At first glance, he thought it was Willow, but she smelt more like…Xander. Weird. I didn't know Xander had a girlfriend,
"Oh, good. You guys are all right," Angel spoke with relief tingeing his voice as he shut the door behind himself. "It's total chaos out there."
"Who are you?" both Buffy and Xander ask.
Giles worked busily away on cataloguing the various books in the library. He reached for the pile of library cards on the desk and picked them up. He was about to begin checking them over when he heard what could have been a faint growl from outside the building.Was that a growl?
He asked himself as he glanced up from his work in time to see Willow phase through the wall right in front of him.
"GNYEHAHH!" Giles jumped in fright, the cards he held went flying as Willow stopped before him. Giles fumbled and knocked a couple of books to the floor trying to recover his composure and dignity as he recognised her. He leaned against the desk as she raised a hand in greeting.
"Okay, does somebody want to fill me in?" Angel asked, looking over the three teens in various costumes before him in confusion. Buffy and Xander both stared back at him as if they had never seen him before.
"Do you live here?" Xander answered with her own question. Her body language was casual but ready to attack or defend at the slightest hint of aggression from the newcomer.
"No!" Angel snapped back at Xander and then asked in confusion, "Who are you anyway?" Xander just eyed him cautiously as she knew he wasn't human. Angel then tried getting sense out of Buffy. "Buffy…I'm lost here. You…" Angel paused as he noticed Buffy's hair. It was not the usual length or colour. "What's up with your hair?"
"They don't know who they are, everyone's become a monster, it's a whole big thing. How are you?" Cordelia butted in and explained in her own way. Angel blinked, taking all that in while Xander relaxed, but still kept an eye on the vampire. She clicked off the kettle after feeling the side with one hand then picked it up and poured the hot — but not boiling contents over her head — instantly gaining a good foot and a half in height, and shifted back to Xander form.
"Ahhh…back to normal," Xander sighed in relief at being male once again. He sensed something was wrong at the unnatural silence that had fell in the kitchen and turned to face the others. Three identical expressions of shock greet him.
"Xander?" Angel recovered first. "What the hell?"
"That's it," Cordelia muttered. "I'm waaay past my weirdness quota for tonight. Don't you feel sorry for me?"
"She…a witch…" Buffy backed away, inching towards the kitchen door.
Xander sighed and explained the curse, "It's a water based shape shifting curse. Okay?"
Angel slowly crossed the kitchen towards Xander, looking the boy up and down. He stopped by the sink and stared. "Water based curse? When? How?"
"Look, cold water. Girl. Hot water. Guy. Can we talk about something else?"
"Cold water?" Angel eyed Xander curiously before he turned on the cold-water tap.
"W…what are you doing?" Xander backed up.
"Just seeing for myself," Angel replied and splashed a handful of water in Xander's face. The red headed girl instantly replaced Xander once more. "Wow…just…wow."
"What did you do that for?" Xander shouted after wiping her face with her hand that wasn't holding the kettle. She glowered and stood on tiptoes trying to get in Angel's face and look intimating towards the tall vampire that towered over her. "Jerk, now I need to boil more water," Xander grumbled under her breathe.
"Hey. Calm down okay," Angel held his hands up, trying to placate the female Xander. "I just wanted to check if it was true. No need to get your panties bunched up…" Angel's face changed into an amused smirk as he looked down at Xander. He could not resist the opportunity for a little payback for the deadboy comments. "…femboy."
"What. Did. You. Call. Me?" Xander growled as the temperature around her dropped suddenly.
"Calm down," Angel chuckled and was cut off as the sound of something, or somethings, began pounding on the house walls. Seconds later the lights went out, plunging them into darkness. Buffy shrieked once more and clutched onto Cordelia. "Do you mind?" Cordelia snapped irritably at the Slayer.
Before anyone else can say something the back door slams open and a full sized vampire stands glaring in at them, yellow eyes filled with hate. Buffy shrieked again in the background as the vampire braces itself to lunge inside when a kettle, thrown by Xander, hits it in square between the eyes. The vampire stumbles back from the blow. Angel reacts only slightly slower than Xander and shoulder barges into the vampire throwing it outside. He quickly slams the door shut.
"Get me a chair!" he demanded as he braced the door shut. Xander quickly grabbed one from the dining table and handed it to Angel who slid it under the door handle just as the vampire thumped against the door. The vampire tried the handle to no success as the chair stopped it opening.
"Will that keep it out?" Xander asked.
"Not for long," Angel answered. He thought for a moment as something odd registered. "How did he get in? A vampire can't just enter a home unless invited."
"Probably cause it's not a real vampire. Ghost-girl said everybody turned into their costumes," Xander reasoned.
"She said her name was Willow," Xander clarified.
"Willow's a ghost?"
"Yeah, she said she'd get help."
Angel rubbed his jaw at this information. "How? Never mind. We need to find some place more secure."
Three quick knocks at the glass in the door made them look out. "Little piggy, little piggy, let me in," Spike leered through the glass.
Back at the library, Giles and Willow had surrounded themselves by books as they sought for something, anything that could solve the puzzle over why everyone had become their costumes. Willow looked up in frustration as she realised she was practically useless. "I don't even know what to look for. Plus I can't turn the page," she growled.
Giles glanced up from his book at Willows statement. He took off his glasses and began pacing. "Right. Okay, then, let's review. At sundown, everyone became whatever they were masquerading as…"
"Right. Xander was Ranma and Buffy was an eighteenth century girl."
Giles turned replaced his glasses and stared at Willow with a blank expression as he tried to figure out how what Willow was dressed as counted as a ghost. "And…your costume?"
"I'm a ghost."
"Yes, but a ghost of what, exactly?"
"This is nothing. You should have seen what Cordelia was wearing. A unitard. And these little cat things. Ears and stuff," Willow rattled off to move to subject away from the way she was dressed.
"Good heavens. Cordelia became an actual feline?" Giles asked with shock clearly wrote on his features.
"No. She was still just the same old Cordelia, just in a cat costume," Willow blinked as she realised Cordelia had been unchanged.
"She didn't change?"
"No. Hold on…Party Town. She told us she got her outfit from Party Town—"
"And everybody who changed, where did they acquire their costumes?" Giles pressed.
"We all got ours at this new place. Ethan's."
Giles' face suddenly darkened.
"Spike," Angel intoned darkly at seeing the other vampire outside.
"Angelus," Spike greeted as he peered through the glass. "What brings you out this Halloween?"
"I could ask you the same."
"Me? Dru told me something interesting and lo-and-behold it was true. So I decided I'd bag myself another Slayer."
"You know him?" Xander asked as she wondered what the deal was between the two of them.
"Unfortunately," Angel muttered.
"Oh you wound me," Spike grinned and turned his attention to the short redhead beside Angel. "Who's the new bint?" Spike squinted through the glass.
"None of your business Spike," Angel snarled back.
"You're not fooling around behind your Slayer's back now are we Peaches?" Spike smirked. "She's not too bad, a little young and on the short side, but hey, when has that ever stopped me sinking my teeth into them. Remember that orphanage?"
"Come in here and try it pal," Xander challenged, giving Spike a glare that promised pain. Spike's eyes went wide for a moment before his face split into a very nasty grin. "Don't mind if I do."
Angel grabbed Xander by the shirt and pulled her close. "You idiot! You've just given him free rein to enter as he wants!" Angel snarled angry enough his eyes went yellow.
"Um, oops?" Xander shrugged, not really concerned. Spike tried the door, distracting Angel, who quickly made sure the chair stopped the door opening.
"Come on old man, she said I could come in," Spike whined with a chuckle as he tried the door again.
"You're not getting in Spike. I'll see to that!" Angel growled.
"Have it your way," Spike sighed dramatically. "You know, I was going to end it quickly. But now you've gone and upset my feelings and all." Spike acted as if he had been emotionally hurt. "Now, we can do this the hard way, or the easy way." He reached into his leather duster and pulled out a cigarette. He lit it with his lighter and took a drag. "The hard way is you let me in and we do the whole epic battle crap. Or…"
"Or what?" Angel snarled.
"Or I huff and I puff and I burn the house down," Spike smirked waving his lighter about. "By the way, we've got all the exits covered. Personally, I like the easy way!"
Giles drove to Ethan's like a manic driving an old banger. Willow ran along behind him, finding that she had no trouble running along at full speed now that she was a ghost. Giles braked hard and stopped outside the costume shop. He killed the engine and got out just as Willow came to a stop beside him.
"Is this the place?" he asked Willow.
"Yeah," she nodded and followed Giles as he headed towards the darkened store. Giles tried the handle and the door opened smoothly. He pushed it fully open and stepped carefully inside the darkened interior. He looked around slowly, seeking anything that would indicate the source of the disturbance.
"Hello? Is anyone in?" he called out, but received no reply. He motioned for Willow to follow and they moved through the store, heading towards the back. They stepped into the back room where Willow noticed the altar and the statue.
"Giles," she indicated the altar to the Watcher.
"That's Janus, a Roman mystical God," Giles stated as he recognised the depiction. He crossed over to examine the statue more closely.
"What does it mean?"
"Primarily, it represents the division of self. Male and female. Light and dark—"
"Chunky and creamy style. No, sorry. That's peanut butter," Ethan's smooth tone interrupts them as he stepped out from the shadows he had been waiting in. He smiled a smarmy smirk towards Giles who looked back in surprise and then quickly placed himself unnecessarily between Ethan and Willow, never taking his eyes from the storeowner.
"Willow. Get out of here. Now," Giles commanded in a no nonsense tone of voice.
"NOW, Willow!" Giles snapped more firmly than he meant, startling the girl. Willow backed away in surprise at his tone, having never heard Giles sound so scary before. Whatever this meant it could only be bad. She fled the store as Giles faced off with Ethan.
Angel dragged Xander roughly over to the other girls by her arm and stood them with their backs to Spike. "Watch it jerk!" Xander yanked her arm free.
"If we survive this, you and me'll be having words boyo!" Angel stated coldly. Xander folded her arms and looked unimpressed. Something about this Angel guy rubbed her the wrong way.
"So, Angel. You'll save us right?" Cordelia asked hopefully. "You must have a plan."
Angel looked at her and sighed, "Not a good one. I'll take Spike. You lot run like hell. Head to the school and find Giles."
"You call that a plan?" Xander snorted.
"We wouldn't be in this situation if you hadn't invited him in!"
"Really?" Xander leaned in close and poked Angel in the chest with a finger. "Why does not getting in prevent him burning the house down? Hmm? Hmm?"
"That's…that's beside the point!"
"Feh. Whatever," Xander waved him off. Angel bristled at her casual dismissal. "Anyway, I got a better idea," Xander continued. "I'll handle fangboy and you look after the girls."
"Don't be stupid! He'll kill – Urk!" Angel's protest was cut short as he found himself dragged down to Xander's face level as the tiny girl yanked him down by his shirt, and held him there despite his attempt at pulling away.
"I've fought a dragon prince and a phoenix godling. One vampire is nothing to me," Xander bragged holding Angel down much to the souled vampire's surprise. Angel stared into Xander's eyes and absently realised as a girl they were blue. No
, he corrected himself, this wasn't Xander at the moment he realised. Just like Buffy wasn't herself.
"Can you really take him?" Angel asked.
"Not a problem," Xander confirmed as she released Angel who straightened back up slowly. "I'll get rid of him. You protect them."
"You'll need a stake," Angel stated and looked around for something suitable to break and make one out of.
"Why? Is he hungry?" Xander asked while scratching her head.
"Not a steak! A stake! To stab him in the heart!"
"You want me to kill him?" Xander blinked.
"He wants to kill us all."
"I was only going to beat him up," Xander explained.
"I'm getting bored people!" Spike shouted through the door and gave it a kick. The wood splintered.
"Coming! Coming!" Xander bellowed back as she turned and hopped crossed the kitchen. "Keep your hair on ya bleached wonder!"
"I hope you know what you're doing," Angel said under his breath as Xander stood before the door. Xander stared through the glass at Spike and took a deep breath before drawing upon her chi.
Spike was about to make another snide comment when he paused as the girl behind the glass began to glow. Her body became outlined in a slowly writhing, blue flame like energy. Spike didn't know what was going on but he hadn't lived as long as he had without knowing when to be cautious. He took a step back to re-evaluate the situation. Then the door exploded off its hinges and headed right at him. "Oh bollocks…"
"What, no hug? Aren't you happy to see your old mate?" Ethan Rayne smirked at the stunned expression on his old friend's face.
"I'm surprised I didn't guess it was you. This Halloween stunt stinks of Ethan Rayne," Giles admitted while not taking his eyes off Ethan for a second.
"It does, doesn't it? Not to blow my own horn, but…it's genius. The very embodiment of be careful what you wish for
," Ethan's voice and face filled with pride as he spoke.
"It's sick. And brutal. It harms the innocent…"
"Oh, and we all know that you are the champion of innocence and all things pure and good, Rupert," Ethan caught himself as he almost rolled his eyes. "This is quite an act you've got going here, old man."
"It's no act. It's who I am."
"It's who you are? The Watcher? Snivelling tweed-clad guardian of the Slayer and her kin? I think not. I know who you are. And I know what you're capable of," Ethan mocked. He paused at a sudden realisation. "But they don't do they? They have no idea where you come from."
"Break the spell, Ethan. Then leave this place and never come back," Giles demanded angrily, his eyes burning with cold fury behind his glasses.
"Why should I? What do I get in the bargain?"
Giles waited a moment before responding coldly, "You, get to live."
"Ooh. You're scaring—" Ethan began to speak as Giles lashed out with a vicious punch, catching the chaos mage unaware on the jaw. Ethan dropped like the proverbial sack of bricks.
Angel was more confused than earlier on when he had first heard the chaos outside his home, which was heading towards a record for the nearly three hundred year old vampire. Monsters and mini-demons roamed the streets unchecked. Xander was a girl. Buffy was a whimpering noble cowering behind Cordelia. And now Xander had done something that looked like magic.
It had happened so fast he was still unsure if he had really seen it happen. Xander had stood before the door, cupped her hands to her stomach and began to glow. Then she said something that sounded like "Moko Takabisha" and the next thing he knew the door had blown outwards, along with the chair in a blast of power. He had heard Spike cussing out in surprise as there was a meaty thwack of wood meeting flesh.
Xander calmly stepped out through the ruined doorframe and watched on as Spike struggled out from under the remains of the door. The blonde vampire shoved it off with a grunt and sat up. "What the bloody hell was that?" Spike muttered as he shook his head to clear the ringing in his ears.
The fake vampire that had been with Spike lunged at Xander the moment he had recovered from his surprise. Xander ducked the clawing fingers and jabbed the vampire in the gut. He doubled up for a moment and backed out of range. Xander didn't follow and the vampire looked between her and Spike as if asking what he should do.
"Get her moron!" Spike shouted getting to his feet. He was pissed at being surprised by the redhead. The fake vampire threw another punch towards Xander's face, which the short girl blocked with her forearm and before the vampire could react, she grabbed it by his shirt and with a casual yank she slammed him into the house wall. The vampire bounced off the wall and wobbled around before falling onto his back.
The noise had attracted the mini-demons, who came running around the corner of the house. Xander spotted them and reached down, took hold of the fake vampire's shirt again and without looking tossed him into the approaching group. They went down in a tangle of limbs.
"Stay behind me," Angel told Buffy and Cordelia before he went and stood in the doorway. Partly to prevent anything getting in, and partly because he wanted to see what Xander did as the boy turned girl seemed quite capable of holding her own against the overwhelming odds.
Xander watched the minions fight each other as they tried to untangle themselves from the pile they had landed in. She turned her attention to Spike.
"Look you crazy bint, all I wanted was to kill one slayer. Is that too much to ask?" Spike glared and approached the strange redhead who suddenly vanished. "What the—" Spike almost jumped back when the girl seemed to appear right in front of his face. He controlled himself enough that he just leaned away from her with an eyebrow raised in surprise.
"Don't know what your problem is, but you're not killing nobody," Xander stated in the vampire's face and jabbed a finger in the vampire's chest with each word.
"Wanna a bet lug?" Spike lashed at her with all his strength. He hit thin air and spun, duster flaring as he overextended from the punch. "Huh?"
"You're pretty quick," Xander stated from behind the vampire. "If you'd been fighting a ten year old you might have hit them."
Spike rolled his eyes and made little shifting movements with his head as if mocking her, before spinning without warning in another punch with even more speed. Once again, he hit nothing as Xander leaned back just enough to avoid the blow. She held her arms behind her head. "You're telegraphing your moves a mile away Stick," Xander yawned skipping lightly out of range.
"That's it! Die bitch!" Spike snarled his face turning demonic. He kicked at her stomach and found his boot caught by a deceptively strong pair of small hands.
"See ya!" Xander grinned and flipped Spike into the air. The world began spinning for Spike as he was launched into air, spinning head over heels. "Christ on a bloody crucifix!" he exclaimed as one-second he saw stars, the next he was looking down at Buffy's house roof, then stars, then the roof getting closer, then stars and finally the ground.
"Ooof!" Spike hit the ground hard and lay on his back staring up at the stars as he waited for his stomach to catch up with his body. He blinked as the redhead appeared above him in leap and began descending upon him her fist held back ready. "Oh crap!" Spike muttered and closed his eyes expecting pain. Xander landed lightly on Spike's chest and held her fist less than an inch from the vampire's nose.
"And you said Rupert the Ripper
was long gone…" Ethan chuckled, despite lying on the ground with a bloody lip and aching jaw. Giles stood over the chaos mage and calmly cleaned his glasses.
"How do I stop the spell?" Giles asked in a deceptively gentle voice.
"Say pretty pleas—" Ethan didn't finish as Giles gave him a vicious kick to the ribs that had Ethan shouting out in pain from the blow.
"Janus," Ethan gasped between pained breaths. "Break the statue."
Giles wasted no time in rushing over to and grabbing the status. He hurled the bust of Janus against the wall. It shattered into pieces and rained plaster over the floor. He waited a moment before turning his attention back to Ethan and found the chaos mage had given him the slip and vanished from the shop. Giles glared daggers at the spot that Ethan had vacated.
Spike waited for a blow that never came. Cautiously he cracked open one eye and then the other. Xander's fist hovered just above his nose as she kneeled on his chest. Spike swallowed in nervousness and took a glance over to his minions to see if they were in any state to assist him. He saw they had suddenly reverted back into a bunch if kids and a couple of high school students who were all looking around in various states of confusion.
Xander also swallowed in nervousness. He was suddenly very aware that he was standing on top of Spike and had returned to normal. Xander did the only thing he could think of.
"Get gone," Xander stated and flicked the vampire's nose before quickly backing off. Spike decided to heed the advice. He scrambled to his feet and with a final scared look over his shoulder at Xander ran off into the night.
"Phew…" Xander sighed and wiped a hand across his forehead. Angel, Buffy and Cordelia exited the house and approached Xander carefully.
"Xander?" Buffy asked with a concerned tone as she pulled off the wig.
"Buffy? Are you back as well?" Xander asked as he turned to face the others. He blinked in confusion as he found himself looking slightly up at Buffy…and everyone else was looking down at him in concern. Well, Cordelia's expression was caught somewhere between grossed out and curious.
"What's…wrong…" Xander swallows as he begins to suspect why they were looking at him in such a way.
"Xander, don't panic, but…err…look down," Buffy points at his chest.
"I'm still a girl aren't I," Xander stated flatly as she looked down and saw the lumps that should not be there. She lifted a finger and poked experimentally at her chest to confirm what her eyes were seeing. Xander swallowed.
"He's taking this exceptionally well," Angel stated seconds before Xander's eyes rolled up and she fainted dead away. They watched her fall to the ground. "Or not."
Giles pushed the library doors open wearily and meandered inside. He flexed his tired and aching fingers in an attempt to regain his sense of feeling in them after gripping the steering wheel so tightly. He was still angry with Ethan, but it was no longer the fury it had been in the car, leaving him feeling drained, and the only thing he wanted to do now was make sure his Slayer and her friends were unharmed by Ethan's bloody stupid stunt. That and get a cup of tea then turn in for the night.
Giles slipped off his jacket and loosened his tie as he wandered into his office. He draped the jacket over the back of a chair and clicked the kettle on. He leaned his head back, took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. Gathering his composure, he replaced his glasses and checked the time. It was getting late.
"Giles!" Buffy's voice called out as the library doors banged open startling the watcher. He felt his stomach fall as he heard the urgency in Buffy's voice.
"I'm here," Giles informed the group as he stepped out his office quickly to see what was wrong. He took in the group. Buffy looked deeply concerned, still in her noblewoman dress. Behind her was Willow looking upset and worried. Next to her was Angel, who looked slightly uncomfortable as he carried another red-haired girl in his arms. The girl was unconscious or asleep. He didn't see Xander and his own concern grew.
"Judging by your faces something has gone terribly wrong," Giles said and prepared for the worst.
"That's an understatement," Buffy said. "This has been a weird night. On the scale of one to ten this is a hundred."
"You are all back to normal I take it?"
Buffy exchanges glances with Willow and Angel, and Giles braced himself for the obvious bad news. "Not all of us," Buffy admitted.
"Oh dear…Xander?" Giles guessed, as the boy is the only one of the group missing.
"GilesyougottafixXander! ThisisallmyfaultImadehimwearit," Willow babbled out, looking as if she was going to burst into rears at any second. Buffy hung her arm over Willow's shoulder to comfort the upset girl. "Hey, Will, it's not your fault."
"Buffy is correct Willow. Whatever has occurred it was not your fault," Giles explained, his voice keeping level. "It's Ethan bloody Rayne's fault." He spat surprising everyone with the nastiness in his voice. "Ahem," he coughed into his fist. "What, did happen to Xander?"
Willow and Buffy look over at Angel.
"This...is Xander," Angel says indicating the girl in his arms.
"Stupid freaking, freakishly strong freaking bint!" Spike kicked an innocent chair in anger, shattering it. "What the bloody hell was she?"
He sat down in another chair for all of a couple of seconds before slamming his fist down on the table. He stormed back to his feet and began to pace the floor.
"Did you have fun with my little pony?" Drusilla giggled from close by. Spike paused in his pacing and turned to her, his clenched jaw working. "You knew, didn't you?" he accused.
"Haaaa," she breathed with a knowing smile. "The stars are changing," she made a sweeping gesture with both her hands while looking up.
"Dru, luv. Tell me all about it," Spike slid into a chair by her side taking hold of her hands and leaned in close, his anger forgotten for the moment.
"Chaos rides a horse. He is a wild card and she'll change everything."
"Everything," Drusilla confirmed and giggled. "Will you get me a pony?"
"I'll get you anything you want luv. Now, about this pony."
Xander slowly began to wake up. His thoughts still sluggish as he shifted in his bed to get a bit more comfortable. Feels weird
, he thought snuggling in closer to try to keep warm as the bed felt cool to the touch, and what was that smell? It smelt nice, but reminded him of Angel. Not so nice.
"Good Lord…" a distant voice gasped.
Xander shifted again, recognising that voice. It was Giles. Why was Giles in his room? Xander wondered. He shifted his hand and felt the bed, his fingers roaming the lumps. It felt almost like a person…Xander's eyes snapped open and looked up at…Angel, who looked like he didn't know what to do with himself. Xander then realised he was resting his head and had his hand against Angel's chest.
"Gah!" Xander shrieked a definitely girlish shriek interrupting any conversation the gang were having. "Angel! What the…my voice…" she glanced downwards at herself. "Oh God…it wasn't a dream."
Angel quickly let Xander down who had gone as pale as a vampire and looked ready to faint again.
"Xander! Breath. Okay, calm down. You'll be okay," Buffy quickly took Xander's other arm and she and Angel held her steady.
"Okay…Okay?!" Xander yelled. "I've got breasts!" She paused and looked further down. Xander quickly patted at her crotch much to everyone else's embarrassment. "I'm…really…a girl…" Xander finally muttered going limp.
"Xan…der…" Willow took a nervous step forward before Xander sent her a nasty glare.
"Eep!" Willow flinched as if hit and shrunk in on herself. Xander's face slowly softened, as she was unable to stay angry at Willow for long. It was too much like kicking a puppy.
"Sorry…" Xander apologised. "I'm just a little upset here that I'm on the wrong side of the gender devide!" her voice steadily rose towards panic.
"I—I believe we all need to calm down." Giles spoke up. "Let's…why don't we all sit down and try to figure this out."
"Can you fix this?" Xander asked the watcher with a lost and pleading look.
"I'll do everything in my power," Giles promised. "Take a seat. I'll get something to drink. I feel this may be a long night." The watcher wandered back into his office. Xander allowed Buffy and Angel to lead her by her arms to the table. Angel pulled a chair out for her.
"Don't you dare start," Xander growled at him.
"What?" Angel blinked, clearly confused.
"The whole gentleman thing. I'm not a girl!"
"Right…" Angel stared at Xander for a moment and wondered whether he should wind the boy turned girl up. He decided it would be a little immature, despite being amusing, and instead chose to wander over to the furthest chair and sat down.
Xander slowly lowered herself into the chair and shifted it forwards. Buffy and Willow pulled up chairs to either side of her. With a sigh, Xander propped her elbows on the table and leant forward to place her head in her hands. She suddenly flinched back.
"What's wrong?" Buffy asked.
"I just learned what it feels like to rest your breasts on a table…I'm a little freaked here, okay?" Xander explained and leant back in the chair. She folder her arms and flinched again as she made contact with her chest. Xander slapped her hands on the table to keep them out-of-the-way. "…this is too weird."
In his office, Giles clenched his fists again and promised to rip out Ethan's throat next time he saw the bastard. He relaxed after moment and rubbed at his jaw tiredly before filling the teapot with boiling water from the kettle and gathering enough cups for the lot of them. He grabbed a few biscuits from a nearby tin, put them with the cups and the teapot, and went back to the library.
"Here we are," Giles said as he placed the tray in the centre of the table. He poured himself a cup and took a seat. No one else moved, except Xander who fidgeted nervously. No one said anything either. After a moment's deliberation, Giles decided to begin the conversation.
"Right, then, first thing. Everyone who bought a costume from Ethan's was changed by the spell into who or what they wore," Giles reviewed. Everyone watched the Watcher closely. "We know this much. So my first question is…why did you go dressed as someone of the female persuasion?" He asked Xander as diplomatically as was possible.
"I didn't!" Xander quickly snapped. "I mean, Willow picked the costume."
All eyes turned to Willow who slowly sank deeper into her chair.
"Willow? Did you know it was a girl's costume?" Giles asked gently.
"I…sort of…I…mean…" Willow stuttered under the gazes.
"You made me dress as a girl," Xander's jaw clenched and his eyes shone with betrayal as he looked at her.
"No! Ranma is a guy…he just has a…" Willow shifted nervously in her chair.
"Has a what exactly?" Giles prompted.
"A curse," Willow squeaked in a small voice.
"Oh dear. A curse," Giles took off his glasses and massaged his temples with his fingers, "That most certainly complicates things."
"Thanks Wills, you've cursed me," Xander groaned hanging her head.
"Welcome to the club," Angel stated with a touch of sympathy.
"Thanks. Get a free soul or gender swap with each application," Xander snorted. "Is that why I didn't change back G-man?"
"That would be my first guess, although it may prove incorrect. However, the fact that the character you went as is cursed…to be a girl?" Giles glanced at Willow for confirmation. "Ch—changes into a girl," Willow muttered in confirmation. "Right. Changes. Without researching this deeper, my first guess is the spell created or replicated this curse."
"But shouldn't it vanish like everything else did?" Buffy pointed out.
"Yeah! Why didn't it vanish?" Xander echoed.
"Xander, the difference between a spell and a curse, despite both being magic in nature, is spells can be reversed or counter-spelled. Curses are designed to only end when the specific conditions for it to be broken are met," Giles lectured.
"So…all we need to know is the conditions to end it, right?" Xander sat up straighter as a ray of hope appeared.
"I believe so."
"Wills, how do I break this?" Xander turned to Willow, whose face fell further, which Xander noticed. "Now that, that's not a look I need to see."
"Well, err, in the manga he never really gets a cured…"
"Wait manga? You mean you made me dress as one of those bug-eyed, no nosed Japanese comic book characters that I don't care for?" Xander blinked before the more important bit of information sank in. "No cure?"
"Um, well, its speculated that if he re-cursed himself by jumping into the spring of drowned man, he'd be effectively cured," she offered.
"So, then we find this spring and I'm cured," Xander said looking around the table hopefully.
"It's…it's in China…" Willow mumbled.
"China?" Buffy and Xander echoed each other.
"China…China isn't too bad. I guess. I can save…" Xander deflated, "…maybe."
"Um…also it's a place in a comic…it might not even exist…" Willow pointed out. Xander stared at her for a moment before she dropped her head to the table with a thud. "…oooh, um, maybe I shouldn't have mentioned that."
"My life is over…" Xander mumbled.
"Perhaps not," Giles interrupted before Xander could sink further into negativity. "There is a chance, be it a small one, that these, comics," he stated with a slight distaste. "Were based on a real legend or place."
"See Xander, Giles knows stuff. He's got books, really, really old books," Buffy patted the depressed pseudo-girl on the back. "He'll find if this place is real."
"I can make a few inquires myself," Angel spoke up. "And if it does exist, I can probably arrange to get Xander there."
"There we go!" Buffy cheered, trying to lighten the mood. "We'll find if this place is real and then Xander goes get cured. No problem."
"If the place exists," Xander groaned. "Big if. And with my recent luck…don't think so."
The group fell silent; the only noise was when Giles picked his tea up and took a sip.
"Oh! Oh! Oh!" Willow suddenly sat up excitedly, surprising everyone, aside from Xander who slowly rolled her head to the side to look at the other redhead. "I know! Hot water!"
"Hot water?" Xander muttered, wondering what Willow was talking about.
"The curse is water based!" Willow excitedly pointed out.
"You're right. Xander said the same thing back in Buffy's kitchen," Angel stated leaning forward and kicked himself for not remembering.
"Water based? Please explain," Giles adjusted his glasses and waited curiously.
"Yeah. The curse is disabled by hot water!" Willow explained. "Ranma changes back to a boy with hot water!"
Xander's eyes widened.
"Hot water reverses it?" Giles asked and Willow nodded. "Does it have to be hot water or will any sufficiently warm liquid do?"
"Any hot liquid works." Willow bounced in her chair excitedly.
Xander blinked, and then in a surprisingly fast move she sat up, grabbed the teapot and dumped the contents over her head, teabags and all. A soggy Xander, who still sported the pigtailed hairstyle, replaced the short redhead. He put the teapot down and quickly patted his chest before jumping out of the chair with a "woohoo" which sent the used teabags flying and began dancing a jig while repeating "Never gonna be a girl again!"
Willow was out of her chair like a bullet and hugged Xander. "I'm really sorry. Glad you're back to being Xander-shaped."
"Not as much as me," Xander admitted. "And Wills," Willow glanced up at him. "No offence, but from now on. I'm never listening to you on fashion advice."
"Never ever. Ever."
"Well, I'm glad that's all over with," Giles sighed in relief. "It's been a very, eventful, Halloween."
"Craziest in centuries," Angel admitted standing up and crossing over to Buffy, who also stood.
"We should all get home then, if the remainder of the night is going to be quiet," Buffy said leaning into Angel.
"Yeah. I need to get home and read some comics and watch some gory action movies to reaffirm my manhood," Xander joked as the group turned to leave. He tugged at the pigtail his hair was still in and frowned. "I also need a haircut."
"I don't know, Xander." Willow smiled as she batted at the pigtail like a cat did to a dangling piece of string. "I quite like it."
"Hmm, it's definitely coming off then," Xander confirmed.
"Fashion advice, Willow. Fashion advice."
Giles smiled as the group left through the doors, chatting. He was glad everything had worked out. "That boy has the worst luck. You would almost believe chaos follows in his wake…" he trailed off and wondered why he felt a foreboding chill at that thought.