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Umbra.

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Judas's Life.". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: A short story on what happens when someone dresses an an adult on Halloween. Sorta.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anita Blake > Xander-CenteredMagnusXXNFR1314,9530154,25725 May 1225 May 12Yes
Author: MagnusXXN.
Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Anita Blake. I'm also not
making any money from this act of fiction. So just don't sue me.
Rating: PG-13
Warning: Spoilers from Btvs S2 and up, as well Guilty Pleasures and up.
Classification: Btvs/Anita Blake, AU.




Umbra.

All things change....

~~~~~~



We're all hiding something aren't we? From the moment we wake, look in that mirror all we do is spin our little lies. Suck in that gut, color that hair, twist off that wedding ring. And why not? Whats the penailty? What are the consequences, really? I'm only human, you say. And all is forgiven. But what if some cruel twist of fate makes you something else? Something other. Who forgives you then?

~~Aidan: Being Human.

I'm going deeper underground,
Theres too much panic in this town,
I'm going deeper underground,
Theres too much panic in this town....

"Deeper Underground", Jamiroquai


~~~~~~



The shop keeper looked at the toy gun, then at the young man who was beginning to look embarrassed about his choice of purchase. Ethan ran the possible costume ideas through his mind, police officer, criminal, soldier, western gunslinger.

While one or two of those ideas peeked the chaos factor in his wheel case they all seemed to lack....oomph. Not to mention the clean cut kid in front of him seemed unlikely to have any of the more fun costume choices in mind.

So the reluctant chaos mage decided to make a choice, he wanted to keep this for someone a little more special....but there was no need to waste a perfect chance like this. After all, the kid looked gloomy enough to not make such a fuss anyway.

"Well, as you saw earlier with your blond friend I'm willing to give away some of my top shelf costumes. That is, if your willing to point out to those who comment on said costume just where is was you bought it....." Ethan dropped the bait.

And smiled when it was obvious that the young man was willing to take a bite.

"Sure, of course!"

He'd already given away a great number of basic monsters outfits, ghosts, pirates, and almost a dozen of his special furry choices. Not to mention all the common Dracula capes and fangs.... now for a real vampires. He lead the teenager in back of his shop, past the handful of the left over tailor made outfits, the boxes full of superhero items that he'd purposely left out, and straight to the failed movie outfits he'd picked up for cheap and since....enhanced.

"How does this strike your fancy?"

Xander looked away from the trademark S and cape in one of the boxes & what looked like a brown trenchboat and black/red contacts, and gazed at what the shopkeeper was willing to let go. Much like Buffy's outfit, it looked expensive and more real then the plastic and neon that was everywhere else. Frowning, he took the whole thing in.

"This isn't from one of those over the counter romance books is it? Where they've got a half naked guy being fawned over by a vapid girl on the cover?" The shirt was white, and lacy, antique to be kind. It also looked like it would hang open. Not to mention the....how would Giles put it, breeches? The dark breeches and leather shoes, which gave the whole thing a vaguely 17th century
feel to it.

Ethan chuckled, "No. Nothing so low rent. But this character is from a New York best selling series, and there was even talk of a TV movie or television series....sadly this fell through. But I was able to pick this up from the closed set for a steal." And a few other things, but Ethan wanted to keep that for later.

"Wait, this is a real costume for a TV series? Neat. What was it called?" Xander asked, willing to ignore the cheap romance feel to it if it was from a real life set.

Ethan contained his smirk as best he could, "Well he first showed up in the book series first installment called 'Guilty Pleasures', but I think the producers were kicking around the title 'Anita the vampire executioner.' Oh, here's the rest of the costume."

He reached over behind the outfit, where a number of shelves were keeping any pieces that couldn't simply be hung up, and opened up a green plastic case where a pair of porcelain fangs were resting.

Xander stop rubbing his thumb and forefinger against the material of the lacy white shirt, it had looked soft but seemed kind of scratchy under closer inspection. And now he was frowning again, "Wait, is this guy a villain? I mean, you said this Anita chick executed vampires and hes a vampire...." He trailed off, not being a personal fan of vampires in real life or general.

"Oh no, actually he was Anita Blake's first real love interest in the book series. Vampires, after a Supreme Court case being given the status of living in America. He'd helped Anita before the series started in a number of vampire cases and was the main cause for her involvement in the first installment."

"....Good vampires?" He took the plastic case into his left hand and with his right picked up one of the fangs. It wasn't the 5$ plastic kind, being able to attach it to your teeth and simply walk around with fangs. As much as the vampire thing turned him off, the fangs did look cool. And as far as Halloween costumes went this might actually turn out pretty good.

"....Well, good is such a subjective term, isn't it?"


~~~~~~


"Willow, I thought we talked about this." Buffy said with a tired sigh having taken in her friend's basic ghost costume with 'boo' written in black print across the chest.

"Yeah, sorry." Willow said before pulling the white sheet off to revleal a short mini skirt and low cut red shirt that showed off both cleavage and a bare mid-drift. "But don't you think this is just a little too...sexy? I mean, this just isn't me."

"But that's the point of Halloween!" Buffy exclaimed.

"Its the one chance a year where a girl can go outside her house dressed as a naughty nurse, frisky kitty cat, or sexy sailor and her parents can't object."

Buffy said with a smile while walking over and turning her friend to look at her full length mirror in the corner, "There's no way Xander could miss the hottie standing in front of him if you dressed like this. Its totally 100% spank bank material."

"Buffy!" Willow exclaimed while blushing a red almost as deep as her hair.

"Come on Wills, its been my opinion that sometimes you've got to lead the guy to whats right in front of him. Otherwise they get distracted by anything shiny that catches their attention." The Slayer said with a smile. "Its really for their own good, after all what would boys do without us?"

"De-evolve back to the days of growling at the moon and poking things with sticks?" Willow said with a laugh, a little more comfortable.

Buffy nodded, "Exactly. 10 year olds."

"I was actually thinking cavemen."

"And what exactly is the difference between a 10 year old boy and a caveman?" Buffy questioned.

...."Good point."


~~~~~~


In the store room in back of his shop, Ethan Rayne knelt down before the bust of his God Janus, the two faced one, lord of chaos and mayhem. Grinning in the candlelight, he pressed his palms together against the sharp blade within his hands. Grunting against the pain, the chaos mage used his own blood to smear a line of power across his cheekbones and forehead thus he was anointed.

"Janus, evoco vestram animan. Exaudi meam causam."

He could feel the magic in his plea, the words and the meaning reaching out to all those costumes he'd sold earlier. But more then just his own personal magic, or the borrowed power of the night, it was Halloween. The one night of the year when the veil between worlds was the weakest. When the very belief of children world wide was focused on this one night, anything could happen. And would.

"Carpe noctem pro consilio vestro. Veni, appare et nobis monstra quod est infinita potestas."

The bust's eyes were glowing a sickly green hue now, the power was taking shape. Sweat was beginning to get into his eyes as it rolls down his forehead, Ethan could feel the power drumming through in into the room, into the night its self.

"Persona se corpum et sanguium commutandum est. Vestra sancta praesentia concrescet viscera." His voice was coming out harsh now, the words choking as they spilled.

Ethan could hear his God laughing in his mind now, feel his need bursting within him.

"Janus! Sume noctem!"

He all but collapsed before the bust, the spell had sapped him of all but the barest of his inner magics. But it was done, from the face of Janus wave after wave of shifting magic poured forth. Anyone wearing a costume under his spell would transform, become something new. Children would become monsters, men would become demons, the living would become dead, chaos in the world. Was there anything more beautiful? Ethan though not.

He would just close his eyes for a little while. Let himself regain some strength. A nap was all he needed. Then later he'd peek outside and watch the fun.


~~~~~~


"Oh my," Jean-Claude spoke out loud. The night before another vampire had been murdered, head removed and body hollowed out like an old log. Before these murders he'd been the fifth most powerful Master vampire in St. Louis. Now he was the third. But to the point, the night before he'd went to his sleeping death during the day underneath the Circus of the Damned. And expected to awaken there.

Now on the street in some unknown city. What could have happened? And why did he feel so....strange?

A memory appeared in his mind, wispy and half formed, he was before a slight young blond girl asking her to a ....dance? She'd declined and left him their with his heart on his sleeve and wounded, and then it began to rain stones. He shook himself free from this memory. Not knowing from where it could have come or its meaning. Stones? Falling from the sky?

For a moment he pondered if this could be some trick of Nikolaos, then dismissed it. After all, what exactly would be the point? Her sadism was more akin to waking up in a cross guarded coffin to starve for the next few weeks. Not waking up in a strange place with thoughts of little blond and falling rocks. It was simply to obscure and odd for her tastes. Disconcerting all the same however.

That's when he felt it. The dark pulsating power of the Hellmouth. No city Jean-Claude had visited in the last four hundred years had such power beneath it, nothing was drenched in a sickly dark aura of violence and sex. Nothing had felt so obviously....evil. And alluring.

Not to mention he still felt...off. As if he'd be forced to wear another man's clothing, or ride another man's horse. The cloths fit his body, but weren't his, the saddle on which he rode kept him secure but wasn't worn in by him. And he just couldn't put his finger on the reason for it.

"Xander! Oh god, you've got to help me!"

Jean-Claude turned quickly towards the of a young girl's frightened exclamation, only to find that the young girl was in fact addressing him. Curiouser and curiouser. He also prepared himself for the possibility of battle, maybe the vampire murderer had set this all up as some twisted game? He vowed not to end up gutted and decapitated. Not after the centuries of struggle and pain to come this far.

"Xander! Xander, its me Willow!"

"Qui?" Jean Claude asked, bewildered as to why she was addressing him by another man's name. Maybe it was some strange role-playing game? She was obviously dressed as a working girl, too short skirt, revealing low cut top, far to much make-up for a girl her age. Had he been abducted by Narcissus in one of his little games?

"Pardon me, but I don't think we've met."

"What? Xander, now is so not the time to be messing around. And was that french?" Willow told him firmly, having woken up a few feet from her own body and seeing the anarchy raining down on the streets this was no time for stupid jokes. And if she remembered correctly he hadn't passed french class with enough knowledge to be a smart ass in another language.

"I like a game as much as the next fellow, but this is just to bizarre." Jean-Claude told her perplexed and getting tired of this strangeness. "I'm having a very strange night, petite bebe. And I've had enough."

"What? No, you can't leave! Stop!" Willow exclaimed, before trying to make a grab for him.

Neither was fully prepared when she simply stumbled through his back and came to a stop standing just ahead of him. The feeling of a cold intense gush of wind is how he'd explain the feeling she made passing through him. "Sont vous a espirit?"

"Wha....huh?" Willow looked at him with wide shocked eyes, having taken into account two very important things in a very short time. One, at least one of those words she knew from class to mean 'ghost', which in a weird way explained what had happened to her and the kids she'd been escorting. And two, the sharp gleaming fangs that peaked through at his question. Vampire equals bad.

"I'm not a ghost." At his raised eyebrow she said looked contrite, "Honest! I was dressed as a ghost for Halloween but I'm alive. Um, but also it seems a ghost. Oh, and you were dressed as some nightclub owner from a book series? The Anita Blake series! Your Jean-Claude!"

The Anita Blake series?

".....Sont vous a insene personne?"

"Hey! I'm not crazy!" Willow huffed. But at least she was catching on to what was going on. People were being turned into the costumes they'd worn. She'd been dressed as a ghost, and now was a ghost, Xander had been dressed as a overly smart assed vampire and now was that as well, which meant.....

"Oh god, we have to find Buffy!"

Jean Claude stood there and...blinked. Maybe crazy was catching. That might explain....a lot of the night so far. But first, "Whats a Buffy? Did you misplace your....poodle?"

"No! Buffy's our friend, Xander and I. She dressed as an 18th century noble women and now shes lost on the streets of Sunnydale with no idea whats going on. And we have to save her!" Willow looked around frantically, hoping to see her blond friend around.

With no idea whats going on? Jean-Claude knew the feeling truly. "Are you saying I'm....not me?"

"Yes! Exactly. Your my friend Xander, you dressed up in a vampire costume you got today. Your not really french." Willow nodded happily, glad that he was starting to see what was going on as well.

And Jean-Claude continued to look on....and blink. Maybe he'd woken up mad? After four hundred years it wasn't unheard of to fall into madness. But he hadn't expected insanity to be quite so....insane? But at the same time it would explain why he was feeling so out of sorts, why he simply didn't feel like himself. Magic?

"So, your friend dressed as me for Halloween?" He didn't know how he felt about the idea.

"Well, yeah. Xander hasn't read the book series like I have, but the owner of the costume shop just gave the outfit away. So...I guess beggars can't be choosers." Willow said, "But your like...in love with Anita. So your a good vampire like Angel!"

"Angel?" The Jean-Claude costume was just given away? He was perplexed and vaguely insulted at the idea. And who the hell was Angel?

"So this is all a magic...spell? We've been turned into our....costumes?"

Jean-Claude questioned this, and at the moment his sanity. "But why? Who would want to turn people into their costumes? Do things like this happen often?" As he looked around he saw small monsters growling and running down the street after screaming adults, a teenage boy dressed in a trench coat throwing what appeared to be glowing cards at said monsters which exploded on impact, and was that....Green Lantern?

"Well, I wouldn't say often. But we're living on a hellmouth, so badness just seems to be attracted to the place." Willow informed him, then tried to remember all she could about Jean-Claude from the books. She'd ready all the way up to 'Blue Moon', and the Master Vampire her friend had dressed as was the picture of a powerful, seductive, vaguely bad but in a good way kind of guy.

Though at the moment she found him more irritating then seductive. But seeing as how he'd woken up in the body of a teenage boy, she was willing to let it go. Anyone would be thrown.

"Enfer bouche?" Who in their right mind would live on a place with a....hellmouth? Though, that could explain the dark power washing over him in intense feelings of hunger and anger. So much untapped power, evil possibly, but powerful never the less.

"Are there vampires here? Werewolves? Etc?" Jean-Claude questioned, had he come to place in which he wasn't the fifth or third most powerful, but the top rung? The way the darn energy was trying to pour through him seemed to have no master....was almost willing him to take hold of the mantle of Master of the City.

"Well, yeah. But there not like you. They're more grr...and extra forehead and demons inside them." Willow rambled, while he wasn't a bad guy per-say he'd never struck her as a very good one either. Being in love with Anita, not withstanding. After all, he'd all but forced her to be in human servant and never passed up on a chance to make his standing in St. Louis stronger.

"So there is no master of this city? No one in charge?" Which was the gist of it, as far as he could tell without knowing exactly what grr meant. And how does one gain extra forehead? Well, he already had a city of his own. But it wouldn't hurt to tap into some of the power that was simply floating around here.

"Well, no. Not in the way your thinking. Its more people friendly during the day, and a evil free for all come nightfall. But we help Buffy keep the town safe." She really didn't like the interested look he kept getting when talking about Sunnydale, its hellmouth, or the fact that it had no master. Cause seriously, a Master Vampire as powerful as Jean-Claude taking charge of all the evil hellmouthy energy?

Not of the good.

"Buffy! We've got to save her. She isn't the slayer right now, shes a 18th century noble women." And waving over her shoulder, she took off down the street.

"Whats a Slayer?" And once again, who'd name their child Buffy? At any rate, he followed quickly behind her having to real undestanding on where he was and unwilling to let the only lead hes got to run away in search of a girl with a most unfortuate name.

It wasn't long before Willow caught sight of her friend, being chased by one of the mini demons and looking more frightened then she'd ever seen her friend before. That in its self told her she'd fallen victim to the same magic that had gotten them. Buffy before would have make a quip before punting the tiny demon across the street.

"Buffy, over here. Xander, stop the demon. But don't kill him, hes a little kid...most of the time." Willow said off-handed before catching up with her friend.

"Demon?" Jean-Claude asked before jumping in front of the small angry looking creature and hissing at it, his fangs flashing brightly and letting some of his power seep out. The small creature made a odd squeak then promptly turned around and fled in the other direction.

"Buffy, are you ok? Your safe now." She said, before the now brunette young girl ran through her and then upon realising what she had done....fell unconscious.

"Petite esprit, my name is Jean-Claude. I may or may not be in my own body at the moment, but that is my name presently." He told her then chuckled at the sight of who he could only guess to be Buffy passing out in fright. "Well, now that you and your friend are...reunited, shall we go? I'd very much like to talk to an adult about all this."

"Would you stop calling me little ghost, okay? And here, carry Buffy as you can see, "Willow waved her hands through the other girls body, "I'm hardly in a position too. And Giles would know whats going on!"

"Bien. And I'm to assume that Giles is someone over the age of 18?" He easily scooped up the brunette into his arms and began to carry her bridle style after the annoying red head, whom he still thought dressed like a hooker.

"Yeah, hes pretty old...like 40. Hes also Buffy's watcher, so he'll know whats going on. He'll get us turned back into ourselves in no time." Jean-Claude lifted his brow at the old comment, after all he had centuries on Giles and he was old. It was all in the eye of the beholder.

"A watcher? He...watches Buffy? Doing what? Do many grown men watch teenage girls as a profession?"

"Hey, its not like that. He isn't...pervy, he watches her slay vampires and demons." Willow retorted, not liking the way he'd described the librarian. Though, watcher might not have been the best title they could have come up with when dealing with a slayer.

"Watches a teenage girl fighting vampires and demons? Are you trying to say that isn't worse? Where are the adults in this insense maison? Who lets bebes fight monsters?" Jean-Claude told her, exasperated. Kids fighting monsters, dealing with this constant insanity? He'd woken up in a world gone mad.

"Well, people don't general believe in vampires and demons. They ignore it and pretend they didn't see it. But someone has to fight the bad guys, so Xander and I help Buffy." Willow told him proudly, hoping that he'd just let the subject drop. It was a good four blocks before they reached the school and hopefully Giles was still in the library.

"Que? How do they ignore whats right in front of them," He said before nodding towards what looked like bigfoot chasing a car, "and how do a couple teenage girls and a single boy fight the monsters? And this man Giles watches on? Where are the police? The government?"

"Well, " Willow thought over what he'd said, "its like the hellmouth makes them forget. Even when its right in front of them. Vampires didn't attack anyone, just people with weird foreheads and PCP. No ones blood was drained, they just fell on a Bar-B-Q fork. Its like magic too."

"I think I prefer my world. At least there you know there's a monster there when its eating you, and not an overly accidental person falling on a....fork." Jean-Claude said sarcastically. This place was simply ridiculous.

"....Why are we walking towards this.....hellmouth?" He hadn't been sure, but after a few minutes of walking in this direction he'd become sure the dark energy was growing. He could feel its creeping darkness in the back of his mind, it was like something in his mouth....he hadn't realized until now that evil had a taste. Blood and chocolate, almost unbearably sweet and vile at the same time.

"Oh, well Giles works at the high school as a librarian and the hellmouth is underneath the school." Willow informs him while they walk, only to notice after a few moments that he isn't follow her any longer. Turning around, she sees him just staring at her.

"Your school....is built on top of this hellmouth." He says with a dark laugh, "Is there anything else in this town you want to tell me? Is the princiable a nazi by chance? Does your mayor worship Satan? Are the police uniforms yellow? What other....ridiculous, insane, bullshit is going on here?"

"There's no need to curse." Willow said sheepishly. When you pointed it out, it was kind of crazy around here. And vampire not withstanding, Jean-Claude didn't seem used to well...the way things went in Sunnydale. "Giles is in the library. All we need to do is get there, talk to him and see if he can fix this."

But the master vampire from another world just continued to stare at her, with the prown figure out Buffy Summers within his arms.

Finally coming to a decision, Jean-Claude asked, "Where is the school?"

"Its straight that way about two more blocks," She tells him before pointing. The sooner this night was over the better, "Now could we continue...." Her words were cut off when Jean-Claude simply held the brunette within his arms tighter and flew up into the night sky in the direction she'd pointed out.

"Hey, don't leave me here!" She shouted out after him.

"....I'd forgotten he could fly."


~~~~~~


"Mr. Giles, I presume?"

"Ah!" The British born watcher cried out, one minute hacing fixed himself a nice hot cup of tea to help him focus while going over the new additional books sitting infront of him on the library table and the next he turns around and sees Xander Harris floating through the double doors with his slayer unconscious in his arms.

Luckily, he didn't burn the new books when spilling his tea. The same couldn't be said for the front of his pants or the family jewels that where within.

"I was told by a annoying ghost by the name of Willow, that a Mr. Giles was the school librarian and his part time job was....watching a teenage girl fight monsters? In any case, apparently we've all been turned into the costumes we were wearing for Halloween. A ghost for the annoyance, a master vampire for myself, and Buffy dressed as a 18th century noble women. You'll forgive her, she was coming around but I think awaking 100ft in the air was just too stressful for her."

Now it was Giles turn to stand there and...blink. Turned into there costumes? It sounded preposterous, until you took in the fact that a boy he'd known for years had flown here and was now having what sounded like an actual intelligent conversation. It was too absurd to be false.

"Turned into there costumes, you say? But why? What reason could someone have casting such a foolish spell? What will there next act be, pulling a rabbit out of a hat?" Giles exclaimed in bewilderment. While Xander, or the person currently using Xander's body gently laid Buffy down on the center table Giles took the time to grab a handful of napkins from behind the front desk and try and dry his pants off.

"Thank you. This is what I wanted to hear, that amount of complete astonishment and the vague feeling of how do the kids these day say it...'what the fuck'? Who does this kind of thing to children?" Jean-Claude informed him, happy to no longer be forced into a conversation with a teen who walked through walls.

"Did you say Master Vampire?" The title finaly coming to the forefront of Giles mind. What exactly was a 'master' vampire? There was The Master, but hes long dead having been slain and his bones crushed to dust. He cursed himself for not having a cross on hand. He'd be out of luck if things turned ugly. And he really needed to get between this vampire and Buffy's unconscious body.

"There's no need to be afraid. I haven't hurt the young....Buffy. Nor do I have any intention of harming you. Apparently this Xander person dressed as a character from a fictional book series about Anita Blake. In my world shes a vampire executioner for those vampires unable or unwilling to follow the federal laws placed on my race. And how did petite espirit put it, I don't grow extra forehead or....grr."

"Well, that's good to know." Giles said after a few moments, taking into account that Buffy seemed alive if unconscious and had been in his presence for sometime now. Not to mention this vampire hadn't attacked him as of yet. So he walked over to Buffy's sleeping body and checked her pulse. Strong and steady.

"And where is Willow now? Is she also safe? You mentioned she'd turned into a ghost?" Upon further investigation, Giles could see that the brunette hair Buffy was currently sporting wasn't a wig. So unless she'd decided to dye her hair for the night he gave the vampires words further credence.

"She should be here in a few minutes. Shes safe, being a ghost its not like anyone can harm her or even slow her progress towards this destination. I just believed that it would be better if I arrived here promptly, and didn't walk the whole way." Jean-Claude says tiredly. This was becoming one of the longest nights of his long life. And having lived over four hundred years that was saying something.




): )

The End

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