A series of one shots, just because I've never done a BTVS fiction (or a BTVS Halloween fiction) and I feel left out.
Seriously? Okay, I do not own BTVS or Forgotten Realms. I'd like to but, alas, Joss Whedon and a bunch of folks working first for TSR (and, of late, Wizards of the Coast) got there before me.
This should only appear on fanfiction dot net, AO3 and TtH.
How It Begins
Xander was furious. He'd gone all the way to the costume shop and picked up his toy gun, only to find out that his mother had trashed his planned fatigues last month. He stared in dejection at the gun sitting in his hands and turned to head out the door. Maybe he'd get lucky and that Ethan guy would let him trade it for something else.
He was more than lucky. Not only was he willing to let Xander trade the gun, but Ethan was closing down for the year and let him have the pick of the remaining costumes. The only question was what to go as? Xander was puttering back and forth, wracked by indecision, when he heard the store owner's voice behind him. "Perhaps you might like this one..."*
The morning after Halloween, no one could remember seeing Xander after the spell ended the night before. That wasn't so abnormal. If they were honest with themselves, there were times that they failed to notice he was there even when they were talking to him. High school girls could be extremely self-centered, super powered or not.
Still, they let out a sigh of relief when Xander finally wandered in. "Guys... I think I have a problem..."Reality 137
Artemis Entreri wasn't sure how he'd gotten here, but he damn well knew that this is not where he was fifteen minutes ago. He'd never been in a town where assorted monsters and denizens of the Nine Hells were allowed to rampage like this. Usually the so-called heroes would have stepped in by now. A quick sidestep placed him in the relative safety of a shadow and he blended into it easily, watching the chaos. Jarlaxle would have loved this...
He gave himself a mental shake. Jarlaxle loved a lot of things. Artemis was well rid of the meddling drow elf and – if he was lucky – would never have to see him or
that damned flute again. He sighed and noticed a red haired human female running towards him. "Xander! Xander!"
His lips quirked downwards into a frown. She shouldn't have been able to see me. She...
A small demon ran straight through her and Artemis blinked. A ghost or shade of some sort?
He was sure they supposed to be more... gray.
She stopped in front of him, gasping in a vain attempt to catch her breath. "Xander..."
Artemis cut her off. "I have no idea who this Xander you're looking for is. Go away."
She blinked at him. "OK... I'm Willow. I dressed as a ghost and now I am. Xander dressed as..." She wrapped her arms around herself. "Oh, what was the name?... Entreaty? Entropy?"
He felt more than a little annoyance, but had already noticed that there were some things off about the body he was wearing. She hadn't offered much of an explanation, but she might have more information that he could use. "Artemis Entreri?"
She nodded. "That was it! Weird... I thought Artemis was a girl's name." He growled and she continued hurriedly. "Um... Okay, so I'm not really sure how it happened, but we seem to have become our costumes..."
"A wizard, no doubt." He shook his head and his eyes narrowed. Artemis hated anyone using magic on him at all, much less using it to rip him out of his body and into another one. Though why anyone would wear a costume of me to a masquerade...
"And you have no idea who it was?"
Willow shook her head. "Giles might know, but..." Her eyes landed on a noblewoman not far away. "Oh my god, Buffy?"
Artemis wasn't sure why he followed the ghost. Perhaps it was because she was the only one who had the slightest clue what had happened. Perhaps it was because there was a little voice in the back of his mind begging him to please protect them and not kill them. It was insisting that his 'host' called them friends. Either way, he followed Willow and the protesting noblewoman to this 'Buffy's House.' He used Charon's Claw to summon walls of ash and darkness to block the paths of approaching creatures and get there safely.
After they arrived, a quick glance in a reflective surface revealed what he already knew to be true. This wasn't his original body. Though, Xander's skin had his own slightly gray pallor. Artemis had to wonder if it would leave the boy when he – hopefully – went home. The one portrait he found seemed to show that the discoloration was his fault – not the host's.
Shortly thereafter, Willow departed to try to seek help from the minor mage and scholar she called 'Giles.' Her exit left Artemis alone with the brainless noblewoman – Buffy – and the scandalously dressed brunette that Willow referred to as Cordelia. Neither seemed particularly happy to have him there, and he'd have preferred not to be there. He supposed that made it even.
Still, Willow was going to try to get the spell ended and all she had asked in return was that he keep the other two females safe. It wasn't much by way of payment, but he supposed that it would suffice. If he didn't kill them himself. Buffy was more annoying than Do'Urden, and he hadn't thought that that was even possible
Of course, it didn't take long for things to get worse.Who was the idiot that invited a vampire into the house?
Whoever it was, the first vampire was quickly followed by a second. Buffy ran out screaming, while Artemis dealt with the threat. He gave a quick slash with Charon's Claw. Both the wrestling vampires – including the one Cordelia referred to as 'Angel' – were dispatched.
He was quickly out the door and chasing Buffy. Cordelia was following closely behind him. She was making enough noise to wake any dead that hadn't
already gotten up and started walking. He had to wonder if he'd been infected with whatever chaos was inherent in Jarlaxle. It would explain a lot about tonight.
Fortunately, it didn't take long to find the girl. Unfortunately, they were pursued by the various creatures that the local children had turned into. Artemis could have easily handled them and the vampire directing them, but the voice in the back of his mind kept demanding that he not harm the innocent. As if innocence ever lent any protection to anyone.
Nonetheless, they ran.
They barricaded themselves in a warehouse. Buffy was being about as much help as Artemis had come to expect in their short time together. In short, she was no help at all. She stood back and squealed every time one of their pursuers growled or snarled.
At least Cordelia helped him move things in front of the entry. There wasn't much to move and what there was wasn't heavy. He didn't expect the makeshift obstacle to keep the creatures outside for very long. From the way they were moving the walls and doors, they were obnoxiously strong.
Artemis frowned and drew his blades. The voice in the back of his head protested, but he pointed out that he was not about to die just because these so-called children had no idea what was happening. They were
trying to kill him. The voice started to argue, but quieted quickly. Apparently his host didn't want to die either.
The barrier held longer than Artemis had expected. Still, it did fall. Cordelia didn't argue or try to talk him out of sinking his blades into the creatures. She kept herself and Buffy behind him, as he let himself settle into the rhythm of the fight. He approved of her sensible decision to stay out of his way.
A stab here. A slice there. The ring of steel as it reverberated from cutting through bone. This dance was one he knew well. It was death and life intertwined together. All that kept him alive was the stretching motion of muscle and the power of well-honed skills. Artemis reveled in the familiar comfort of battle.
More demons streamed in and Artemis was separated from the women. Buffy screamed and squealed, but a quick look told him that she wasn't injured as of yet. Cordelia was keeping her away from the monsters and searching for a weapon. He was reluctantly impressed at her ability to keep a cool head.
Artemis decapitated the last of the demonic foes in front of him and glanced around. The females had been cornered on the other side of the warehouse. Cordelia seemed to be holding them off with a thin steel pipe. It wasn't the most effective weapon, but she at least seemed to know the basics of how to use it. The voice in his mind seemed to think it was due to training as a cheerleader. Whatever that is...
He started towards them...
The world tilted sideways as his host became active and took back their body.
Xander righted himself and looked around him. There were a lot of dead children and a few that actually had
been demons. He looked at where Buffy and Cordelia were dealing with the still conscious and living ones. There was a lot of sniffling and crying coming from the remaining pint-sized humans. No doubt Snyder would find a way to blame the Scoobies for this.
He looked back to the thirty or so small corpses at his feet and he felt his chest tighten with remorse and inwardly-directed rage. The others weren't to blame, but Xander keenly felt the responsibility for their deaths. His vision blurred and he melted into the shadows. I can't... I have to... I need to be alone.
None of them noticed an irritated blonde vampire slipping away.The Morning After
Buffy, Giles and Willow blinked at the slightly slightly grayish pallor of Xander's skin and the blades he still wore. The only reason none of them were jumping for weapons, he knew, was that he had deliberately placed himself in a patch of sunlight. There was no mistaking him for a vampire. "I... I seem to have not reverted completely."
Willow blinked. "Reverted? Xander..."
"I know, Will." He slowly moved to a seat with a predator's prowling stride. In the back of his head, Artemis' instincts urged caution and to keep his blades in easy reach. "Entreri's knowledge, instincts and skills? They're all still here. Some of his mannerisms, too."
Giles frowned. "Who?"
He propped his feet up on the table with a sigh. Entreri's residual attitude wasn't happy with the idea, but Xander
needed to talk to someone. "Years ago, Artemis Entreri was born in Memnon. It's a medium sized city in the Calim desert..."
It didn't take long to tell the tale. The girls were actually interested in listening to the story of an abused child turned thief, then assassin. They frowned as he described the feud with Drizzt. They shuddered as he described Menzoberranzan and the empty mirror that had made Entreri begin to reassess his life. They made several nasty comments about Jarlaxle's manipulations. They cheered as the Crystal Shard was destroyed and commiserated with him over the unforeseen side effects of absorbing a Shade. In the back of his mind, the remnant of Entreri felt vindicated when they liberally cursed Calihye's betrayal and Jarlaxle's trick with the enchanted flute.
Finally, Xander finished and glanced at the Watcher. Giles had been polishing his glasses for over an hour at this point. "You know... You keep that up and you'll forcibly change the prescription."
"Huh? Oh. I sincerely doubt that." The older man put them back on. "So, you say that you have all of his skills and knowledge?"
Xander nodded. "With a heaping helping of most of his instincts and – strangely enough – his vocabulary."
"This is quite astounding. I wonder what would have happened if you had dressed as a Watcher."
The girls laughed and Xander couldn't hold back his grin. "No offense? Most boring costume ever. The spell would have probably ignored me on general principle."Waterdeep
Artemis woke from the strangest dream he had ever experienced. He looked around quickly to verify his location, then lay back on the lumpy mattress. I am not going to eat here again tonight, if that's what I can expect from this inn's cooking... What are Twinkies and why do I crave one?