Halloween, part 1
AN: Yes, there will be time skips between the chapters. I’m not doing the total rewrite because… well, I’m lazy.
(Sunnydale High, October 31)
“Are you sure that he isn’t a troll?”
“I’m sure, Kennedy.”
“I mean, it’d just take one little hit…”
“The only way to kill a troll is to burn it, remember?”
“Don’t remind me. Andrew was more annoying than usual for weeks after that.”
“Hey, it’s not every day that the Monster Manual saves your bacon,” Xander opined before he noticed that Buffy was walking towards them. “Hey, Buff. Did Herr Snyder get you, too?”
“Are you sure he’s human and not Slay-worthy?” Buffy griped.
Kennedy smiled and smacked Xander on the arm with the back of her hand, “See? I was right.”
“No, you’re not right, you’re just both of faulty opinions as to his humanity,” Xander retorted. “Oh, and ow.”
Buffy rolled her eyes at the byplay between the pair. Sure, Kennedy said that she liked girls and all, but she’d bet her bottom dollar and last stake that there was something between the pair… ‘And speaking of which…’ “Hey, Kennedy? Can I talk to you for a second? Alone?”
“Ah, I get it,” Xander said with a nod, holding his finger in the air. “You’ve come to profess your undying love and lust for her. Don’t let me stop-“ Both girls punched him in the shoulder. “…Okay… ow!”
“Pervert. Can you get your mind out of the gutter for two seconds?”
“I’m a sixteen year old boy of healthy constitution and with an active imagination, Buffy, but I can’t get out of the gutter or Jesse would be left all alone. Do you really want that to happen?” Her answering glare sent him away with his hands in the air, “Alright, alright. Geez.”
“I honestly don’t see how you can stand him sometimes, Kennedy.”
“It helps when I know that I get him in a padded suit every day to beat on, Buffy. Besides he’s not always this bad. In fact, he only acts like this when he knows he can get a rise out of you,” Kennedy told Buffy with a smile. “So, was he right and you’re coming to ask me to have my wicked way with you?”
“Pity,” Kennedy said with a sigh. “So, what is it?”
“Um… remember a few weeks back when you said that Xander needed a girlfriend? Well, I have the perfect choice.”
Kennedy looked up and stroked her chin with her fingers, “Yes, yes, I vaguely recall something like that. I also recall you running off that girl that was interested in him.”
“She was evil!” Buffy protested.
“And you can’t prove it, either,” Kennedy pointed out. “So, who is this ideal candidate you have come up with?”
Kennedy’s heart stopped for a second. “W… Willow?”
“Yeah,” Buffy smiled, her eyes bright and enthusiasm pouring out of her pores. “I mean, they’ve known each other forever, they’re really good with one another and she’s, like, been pining after him for years now.”
“Then why hasn’t she done anything about it?” Kennedy asked, her mind whirling a little. ‘Okay, girl, stay calm. This was bound to happen and you both knew it…’
“Well, she’s shy, in case you haven’t noticed, and Xander’s a little dense.”
“’Little’? There are neutron stars out there with less mass.”
“Never mind,” Kennedy waved her off. “Still… you know he sees her like family, right? Like a sister? It’d be practically incest to him.”
“Well, I think that’s just him being him. I mean, can’t you see how perfect they are for one another?”
She could, yes, but Kennedy’s mind and heart reminded her that _SHE_ was perfect for Willow, too. “Still, Buffy, don’t you think you should let them work this out for themselves? I mean, what if it goes bad? What will that do to their friendship?”
This made Buffy pause for a second as, indeed, the thought had occurred to her more than a few times. She looked strangely constipated for a few seconds before she sighed and shook her head, “I know. It’s just… I want them to be together and have a normal relationship.”
“’Normal’? Xander? I think that might be asking a lot.”
“How can you say that?”
“Because it’s true and it’s something he admits to himself? Besides, Xander has his eyes on another girl.”
Buffy grimaced at that. “He’s asked me out and I told him no. Can’t he take the hint?”
“…The ego has landed.” Kennedy deadpanned. “He’s over you, Buffy, has been for a while.” This was true, too. Oh, sure, he’d thought about it for a while, especially since Angel wasn’t around to screw with things, but then he took notice of how Jesse was acting around Buffy. Sure, he was still ‘being Jesse’, which Kennedy took to mean ‘acting like a pervert’, but he appeared to be doing it only with Buffy and not the female population at large. He’d been acting… like a suitor, really. It made Xander laugh and her chuckle when he explained it to her.
“Oh.” Buffy said, apparently taken aback by that. “Well… good. So, who is she?”
“Why? So you can run her off, too?” Kennedy asked before she grimaced. Okay, that’d been a little bitchy, even for her. “Just leave it alone, okay? Let him score or crash and burn on his own merits.”
“I’ll think about it.” Buffy said a little petulantly as footsteps approached and, soon, they were joined by Willow, Jesse and Xander, though Xander was behind the pair.
“And the rest of the chain gang has arrived,” Jesse snarked. “Are we sure that Buffy can’t, you know, do her thing on Snyder?”
“Hail, Warrior Princess.”
Kennedy smiled at Xander and posed, turning around in place to show off her exact replica of Xena’s leather armor. It made her feel even more powerful, more warrior-like, but it was entirely impractical for patrols… or so she’d been told (repeatedly) in the past. That didn’t stop her from trying, though. “Hey yourself, Xan. Army?”
“Bite your tongue, Xena lite. Marines, for when absolutely, positively have to have shit blown up overnight.”
“Sergeant Thoms might have a few choice words for that.”
“It’s a good thing he’s not here, then, isn’t it?” Xander said as he continued to apply his grease paint. His costume was a fairly standard set of jungle cammies, jump boots, a load-bearing harness and a boonie hat, but he’d opted to add on a butt pack and had a plastic rifle. _THIS_ was what he should have done the last time around…
Kennedy paused when she heard his harness rattle a bit, a very wooden rattle, “I thought you said tonight was, you know, supposed to be dead as opposed to undead.”
“That’s what we thought last time.”
Kennedy paused, her mind bringing up memories of half-heard stories about ‘that night’ and she looked around before whispering, “Oh. Um… there’s not a chaos mage running around here, is there?”
“Not that I’ve found. Trust me, I’ve looked.” Xander reached down to his side and felt the heavy weight of the very real KA-BAR at his side, fingering the hilt slightly before he growled, “If I find the son of a bitch, if anything happens, I’m going to have a very short and pointed conversation with him that he might not survive.”
Kennedy kept quiet on that front, knowing full well that he had already once made sure that ‘certain elements’ would not become a factor in the future. Warren Meers had been found dead already in an attack that the police had deemed to be of the ‘wild animal’ variety, though she personally had never seen any wild animal that crushed knee caps to make sure that their prey did not run off. When she had confronted him about this, Xander had just given her a blank ‘huh?’ look and, when she put the newspaper in front of him that detailed the murder (a whole two and a half columns, if you counted the picture of Warren from the year book and the by-line), he had simply grunted as if in surprised and had shrugged, telling her that maybe karma had a sense of humor before he went back to carving stakes.
It hadn’t shocked her, and that is what had actually shocked her when she thought about it. She knew full well that Xander was perfectly capable of killing someone if he thought that they were a danger to his family, his ‘pack’, and that he took such actions very seriously. What should have stunned her was that he had gotten away with it, even with the infamous ‘Sunnydale Syndrome’, but somehow it did not. Luck, she knew, ran out and karma had a very long memory, so she was starting to become concerned as she knew of at least two other names on his ‘hit list’, two high-ranking officials in Sunnydale itself.
“Okay, away from bloodletting and potential homicides for a few minutes. What about us being pressganged into service tonight to frog march the rug rats around for candy?”
“You say that like there isn’t the possibility for bloodshed and death _because_ of it.” Xander mused with a slight grin. He then winced as Kennedy kicked him in the shin, right where a large bruise was, “Ow! You know, Kennedy, if this kind of abuse keeps up, I might not make it to our first anniversary, let alone our wedding night.”
Kennedy would deny it to her last day and to THE last day, but her cheeks did color just a little and her pulse picked up just a tick at the thought of her and Xander and a wedding night. It was something that was happening with annoying regularity since Buffy’s chat with her at the Bronze about her and Xander. Sure, he was nice enough to look at but she didn’t like boys that way. She didn’t.
‘Then why did you try and scare Harmony off from him?’
She was also getting very sick and tired of that little voice in the back of her mind sounding so much like her mother. Okay, so maybe she had gone a little overboard when she had noticed how… chummy… Xander and Harmony had been getting in Chemistry class. This Harmony, according to Xander, wasn’t nearly as annoying as the last version; both were quite easy on the eyes but this one actually knew how to use her brain (a little), but Kennedy had found herself imposing herself between the pair on a regular basis until Harmony had taken the hint.
‘And you called Buffy on this… why?’
‘Oh, shut up.’ “Hey, Xan, didn’t you say you needed to go check on something?”
“Yes indeedily I did, Kennedy. I’ll catch you at the school with the others, m’kay?”
“Sure. Don’t get lost this time,” Kennedy teased him.
“I wasn’t lost! I was just… temporarily misguided. It can happen to anyone,” he grumped at her as he nabbed his sack and started for the door.
“And it just happens to you on a more regular basis?” Kennedy asked with a smirk. Her only response was a firmly closed door and she laughed. She so loved getting in the last word…
‘Ha! Not lost.’ Xander thought as he made his way up to a rather unsuspecting apartment building and buzzed a call button.
A few seconds passed before a familiar voice replied, “Yes?”
Xander rolled his eyes. Okay, if she wanted to play this game, so could he… “I have your order of anti-aging creams and wrapping papers.”
“I ordered no such things! I am certainly _not_ old enough to need either.”
“I just need you to sign a few things, then.” The door buzzed and Xander let himself in, quickly making his way to the third floor. As had happened a few times prior, it was so very strange to see a once-dead person among the living… especially one with legs like hers. “Miss Calendar.”
“Xander. Are you quite finished annoying me?” the techno-pagan-cum-computer science teacher asked him with no small annoyance in her voice.
“Oh, don’t be like that. You’re going to get wrinkles if you keep making that face at me.”
Her eyes narrowed a bit and Xander felt a thrill of danger flit through his system. Oh, how fun it was to annoy magic users… “You’re here to complete our transaction, then?”
“That depends on if you’ve held up your end of the bargain.”
“You question my honor?”
“Considering my past run-ins with your family, I don’t give anything until services are rendered.’’ Xander said rather blandly, not giving her any hints as to what run ins had happened… or when.
Janna Kalderash sniffed at this and opened the door to her apartment and stood aside. He arched an eyebrow at her and stepped through the portal carefully, his eyes looking around for anything that was obviously wrong. Nodding, he followed her further into her living room, making sure to keep his eyes on the back of her head instead of places lower. “I like what you’ve done with the place. Very late Victorian mad scientist lab meets Silicon Valley.”
She snorted at him and crossed her arms over her chest, her hip cocked slightly and her expression a flat mask, “Thank you. Now, do you have the payment?”
“That depends. Do you have the information I want?”
She smiled a little at him and picked up a sheaf of papers, waving them a bit as she did, “I do. My family wants me to ask you why you want this information, though.”
“Because I don’t mind playing a game as long as it’s on a level playing field, Miss C,” Xander said as he slowly reached behind himself and into his butt pack. “Your family has a way of leaving loopholes in their curses and I’d rather know what they were _now_ before it comes up to bite me in the ass or somewhere just as sensitive.”
The dark-haired woman snorted at this, nodding despite herself, “I understand. I would have liked to have known that our operations were as compromised as they were.”
“I never said that they were compromised.”
“Xander, you’re too observant for someone your age,” she pointed out. “That tells me that someone knows something they shouldn’t.”
“Maybe I just see things that other people miss?” he offered with a half-smile even as he felt his left eye twinge a little. “Point is I haven’t told anyone anything that they didn’t already know.” Pulling his hand out of his butt pack, he sighed at the rather squicky nature of the objects in the jar, “Two hearts, both from a Torvon demon that had just been hatched, less than five minutes old. As asked.”
She looked at them for a second and the nodded, holding out the papers. It was a quick trade, neither had suspected anything less, but once that point of business was done, Xander sighed, feeling a weight transfer from one shoulder to another.
“Why so great of a sigh from someone so young?”
Xander looked at the ceiling for a second before he looked over at the woman and her breath hitched for a second before he shook his head, “Nothing, just… stuff. You know?”
“Indeed. As to our other bit of business, I have taken a look through the local tax records and nobody named ‘Ethan Rayne’ has been in Sunnydale in well over a decade.”
Xander nodded at this but it didn’t make him any less at ease. Until that bastard was in the ground, dead by his own blade, he wouldn’t feel safe. “I see. Thanks,” he said, tossing her the secondary payment.
She caught the little silver dagger buckle and smiled a little, “Thank you. Now off with you. I have to get changed.”
Xander nodded and turned around, pausing for a second as he caught sight of a _very_ familiar black dress with a plunging neckline and very high cut on the thighs, a fake plush chest and a black wig. While she was not Elvira physically, he didn’t doubt that she could pull it off with some acting. “Be careful out tonight, Oh Mistress of the Dark. Not all of the dangerous things out tonight are demonic or undead in nature.”
As she watched the young man leave, Jennifer Calendar, or Janna Kalderash, depending on whom you asked, couldn’t help but shake her head, looking down at the buckle in her hands. Where Xander had gotten the actual prop item, she had no clue and, quite honestly, she wasn’t sure that she wanted to know. Still, she’d wanted to go as Elvira for _years_ now and nothing would stop her.
(1630 Revello Drive, Summers Home)
“My thanks, sir knight,” Buffy said with a slight smile and a curtsey to Sir Jesse of the house McNally as he helped her down. “I have no idea how we could have continued on without the services of such a brave and hearty warrior of your standing.”
“Such a vile rodent was no match for one such as I, m’lady,” he said with a little bit of a puffed up chest and a bow. “’Tis the duty of any man of honor to render aid when a fair maiden screams ‘Kill it! Kill it!’.”
Willow and Kennedy giggled and laughed respectively at Jesse’s dead-on impersonation of Buffy when she had seen the mouse and then seemingly had levitated to the tabletop. Buffy was, quite obviously, less than amused. “I didn’t scream.”
“Yes you did, honey,” Joyce said with a light laugh as she disposed of said vermin.
“Did not,” Buffy grumbled.
“While Mrs. Summers and Jesse help Lady Screams-a-lot over there, Willow, can you help me with my costume a bit?” Kennedy asked, drawing Buffy’s attention. Willow nodded and followed the Warrior Princess up the stairs, as did Jesse’s eyes.
“Ow!” Buffy hissed as she rubbed her stinging knuckles.
This seemed to break Jeese out of whatever daze he was in and he looked over at her, blinking, “Buffy? What was that for?”
Buffy glared at him a bit before she shook her head, “Nothing. Pervert.”
Jesse blinked as Buffy walked off to the kitchen and he knew he wanted to ask something but he wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to ask. ‘Girls. So very strange.’
“Get used to it.”
Jesse yelped and jumped, spinning in place to see who had snuck up on him but his feet got caught up in his scabbard and he hit the ground with a loud noise and no small amount of pain.
Xander winced a little at Jesse’s clatter and fall. “You dead, bro?”
“Xan, don’t sneak up on me like that. Uncool, man. And help me up.”
“Hey, you’re the one that spent a year and a half making that thing,” Xander reminded him. “It’s not as bad as when you almost shaved your head three years ago to go as a Shaolin monk from Kung Fu but-“
“Hey, you were right there with me, Xan.” Jesse reminded him.
“Yeah, but you had a mother that threatened to ground you until you were thirty if you went through with it.”
“Willow stopped you,” Jesse reminded him.
“Not before I cut off nearly three inches of hair,” Xander countered.
Jesse shook his head as he looked at his armor, a half-plate made out of laminated aluminum plates and cloth, and the dent in it, “Oh, this is going to suck. Why’d she hit me?”
“Because you were staring at Kenendy’s ass when she and Willow were walking up the stairs?”
“Alright, so you were staring at Willow’s ass.” Xander deadpanned.
Jesse immediately began to sputter, “Xan, I wasn’t. It… it was just…”
“Hmmm?” Xander asked with a smirk on his grease-painted face.
Jesse groaned and shook his head. “Look, it’s nothing, alright?”
“Dude, you’re sixteen. Hormones do what they do. I’m guilty of looking, too. Granted, I’m not after Buffy myself but-“
Jesse froze, staring at Xander with wide eyes and a pale face. “I… you know?”
“It’s kinda obvious, man. You’re trying, I’ll give you that. She’s a step up from Cordelia, too.”
Jesse gave him a hard look but sighed, shaking his head, “What am I going to do, Xan?”
“Tell her and let the chips fall where they may?” Xander hazarded.
“And what if she shoots me down?”
‘Been there a few times,’ Xander thought with a nod. “Then you know and you can turn your sights on some other girl.”
“That’s easy for you to say.”
“Not really. Kennedy ran Harmony off and Buffy ran off Janice, the girl from the start of school. I’d tell one of them to take one for the team but Kennedy’s got her eyes set on someone else and I wouldn’t do that to you, bro, so I’m out of luck.”
“What about Willow?”
“What about her?”
“She’s a girl.”
“Really? I hadn’t noticed.”
Jesse made to pop Xander in the shoulder but his armored arm was caught and twisted up behind his back, causing him to hiss, “Uncle! Dude, you let them hit you all the time.”
“I don’t ‘let’ them do anything, Jesse. I’ve generally earned the physical abuse I get with my smart mouth.”
“Keep telling yourself that, kemosabe. You might believe it one day, too. Now can I have my arm back?”
“I don’t know, Xan. Can you keep it there?” Xander looked up at the stairs and smirked a little as Kennedy and Willow came down, the first with a self-satisfied smirk on her lips while the second was blushing such a bright red that he could see it through her sheet. “I mean, he was ogling the goods and thinking of doing naughty things to me.”
“Like I said, he’s a sixteen year old guy, Kennedy. Cut him some slack.”
“I haven’t seen you ogling me.”
“That’s because I’ve seen the goods before during our sparring, remember? No secrets there.” Jesse almost choked on his tongue while Willow’s blush under her sheet grew, but Kennedy glared at him and Xander could not resist, “Ah, there’s the Xena glare I’ve been missing. Well, almost Xena. You’re a ‘I’m going to wear your guts for armor straps’ bi- no, no, there it is. Good job, Warrior Princess.”
“Xander, stop antagonizing Kennedy.” Buffy told him as she walked back into the room, her face strangely neutral.
“Why? She started it.”
“Actually Jesse started it, but that’s something for a later time. We need to go, guys. Later, Mrs. S!” Kennedy called out before the troupe began to make their way out of the Summers home.
“Have fun, children!” Joyce Summers called out from the kitchen.
Another voice, a male one, joined her. “Yeah, and don’t eat too much candy before I get a chance to poach- OW! That hurt, Joyce!”
“It was supposed to, Hank.”
AN: *evil grin* And... another twist. No, I'm not just changing things willy nilly. There _is_ a method to my madness. What do you think? Reviews, please.