Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy: The Vampire Slayer or Mass Effect that I am about to play around with for this story, they remain the property of their respective creators.
Xander Harris resisted the impulse to swear as he made his way down the bustling Sunnydale high street towards the new costume shop, Ethan's that he had heard some of the other students at Sunnydale High gossiping about. While at any other time he would have been thrilled to go and explore a new costume or comic book shop – the geek in him hadn’t yet completely given way to the demon/vampire hunter that he’d been ever since he’d been forced to stake Jesse last year – right now it was something that was downright irritating due to the urgency with which he was having to do it.
Tonight was Halloween – one of the few times of the year when vampires and all the other things that went ‘grr’ in the night stayed quiet for some strange, probably mystical reason – and like the rest of the Scoobies he had been planning to attend the fancy dress disco that the Bronze ran every year on this night. Unfortunately for them that troll Principle Snyder had had other ideas and hadn’t hesitated to ‘volunteer’ the whole lot of them into escorting kindergarteners around town on their annual quest for Halloween candy. Snyder – with his irrational hatred of them – had decided that he, Buffy and Willow were the perfect ones to spend a few hours escorting a bunch of snot-nosed, sugar high runts around town instead of enjoying themselves at the Halloween dance.
And to make matters worse he couldn’t wear the costume he’d originally planned to wear, though for once the troll had nothing to do with it. No this culprit this time had been the drunken lout that happened to be his father. When he’d gotten home from school today he’d discovered that Anthony Harris – in one of his usual drunken rages – had been throwing empty or half empty bottles of spirits at his mother before storming out of the house to the local pub where he’d spent the rest of the day and evening. One of those half empty bottles had smashed and drenched the army fatigues he’d been planning to wear tonight. Having no desire to walk around town smelling of tequila he’d been forced to chuck them in the washing machine and raid his savings to go and get a new costume a.s.a.p.
Hence his hurry to get to Ethan’s and hope the new shop still had some decent costumes left for sale or hire that were within his admittedly limited price range. As the only other place he could get a costume was Party Town and they were always way to expensive not to mention Cordelia and her posse of minions would be all over him if he went there. While Cordelia herself wasn’t really that bad – hell he’d found himself increasingly flirting with her over recent months – he would rather have to fight a whole nest of vamps by himself than deal with that hassle. It would be a lot less painful.
Arriving outside Ethan’s – and noticing through the windows that the shop seemed to be packed with teenagers looking for costumes – he took a moment to pause, take a deep breath before pushing open the door and stepping inside. He was immediately assaulted by a hubbub of conversation as teenagers asked each other how he or she would look in a given costume and barely audible over the noise a radio was playing some song whose words he couldn’t make out.
Ignoring the noise the best he could he slipped through the crowds and began browsing some of the costumes that were still available. Most of the really cool stuff seemed to be gone already from the superhero area, which was a pity as it would have been major cool to dress up say as Superman or Green Lantern. Most of the stuff that was left seemed to be more traditional costumes – their was at least one werewolf costume he could see along with a classic Dracula costume – that made him wrinkle his nose slightly in distaste. Once he might have considered wearing them but knowing what he knew now about vampires and demons being real made sure that he wouldn’t touch those costumes with a ten foot barge pole.Damn it nothing here,
he thought before something out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. Looking over he gaped at what appeared to be a set of armour from a video game that he’d played several times in the last few weeks. Moving over he carefully examined it noting the dull grey panelling on top of a black under suit, the distinctive red stripe running down the left arm from the shoulder guard down to the gauntlet and the N7 symbol over the right chest. Whoa,
he thought examining the replication of Commander Shepard’s armour from Mass Effect in awe. It looked to be extremely high quality almost like it was made for a movie or something. Yet strangely he couldn’t see any sign of a price tag.
“I see you like it,” a British accented voice said from behind him making him jump and spin around. To see a tall, relatively slim guy who looked to be around the same age as Giles standing behind him with a friendly smile on his face. “Ethan Rayne this is my shop,” he said in greeting offering his hand.
“Xander Harris,” Xander replied shaking the man’s hand. “And yeah I love it.”
“There is more with it than what you see,” Ethan answered, “I do have a visor piece and a couple of models of the weapons to go with it.”
“Cool,” Xander said grinning he loved mass effect firearms, not for the first time wishing he could have a real life version of one. Inferno rounds would make short work of vampires and most of the other demonic creatures that frequented Sunnydale’s shadows to say nothing of what the other ammo types would do to those nasties that weren’t as flammable as vampires. “Though I’m sure it’s out of my price range.”
“That depends how much do you have?”
“Twenty-five dollars,” Xander admitted sheepishly. He would have had more but he’d needed to replace quite a few shirts recently as vampire dust and dead demon goo didn’t tend to come out that well in the wash.
“Well it is a bit then,” Ethan replied before frowning thoughtfully and looking at the young man in front of him. He recognised him of course as one of the Slayers friends and thus quite beloved of dear old Ripper or the soft cushy Watcher the other man had for some inexplicable reason allowed himself to become. If he could get the young man to take a costume from his shop – just like he’d gotten the Slayer to take that 18th century noblewoman dress she’d been admiring – then the chaos he’d create tonight would be truly amusing. It might even get old Ripper out of the cuddly Uncle Rupert shell to enjoy it with him just as like he would have in the old days.
“Tell you what,” he said grinning. “I’ll let you borrow the costume and some of the weapons to go with it for one night for twenty dollars. All I ask in return is you tell everyone about it, after all word of mouth is the best advertisement for a little shop like mine.”
“Deal,” Xander replied grinning back unable to believe the deal that he’d just been offered. At the back of his thoughts something warned him to be wary, that the deal might be too good to be true, but he ignored it. The guy in front of him seemed honest enough and what he was asking for in return wasn’t really that much, just a little free marketing which he was quite happy to provide.
“Excellent. I’ll bag it up for you.”
Xander smiled turning back to look at the costume as Ethan began to slowly take it off the mannequin. He couldn’t wait to see what Buffy and Willow thought when they saw him dressed up in it. Despite the fact that they’d been ‘volunteered’ by Snyder he had a feeling that Halloween wasn’t going to be so bad after all.
In fact it was going to be awesome.
Dru’s wailing drew Spike out of his contemplation of the recordings of the current Slayer doing her thing on one of his minions. Immediately the master vampire moved into the other room to see what was upsetting his insane sire/girlfriend, to see Dru rocking back and forth on the bed wailing loudly.
“Dru?” he asked. “What is it, poppet?”
“He’s coming Spiky, the commander he’s coming,” Dru replied rocking back and forth, “coming to change things in flashes of grey, red and blue.”
“Grey, red and blue,” Spike repeated confused. “Who’s the commander? When does he arrive?”
“Tonight but tonight’s Halloween nothing ever happens on Halloween.”
Drusilla smiled. “Someone new has come to town, someone that will change it all.”
“Who my pudding who?”
Dru didn’t answer just started staring into space, seemingly slipping into a catatonic state. Spike sighed and gently laid Dru down upon the bed knowing he wouldn’t get anything more out of the insane vampire seer for a few hours at least. He couldn’t help but wonder what she meant by someone coming to town to change it all and who could this ‘commander’ be? And what did Dru mean by things changing in flashes of grey, red and blue?
After a few moments he shrugged and returned to the main room to resume his study of the Slayer. Whatever it was Dru was on about he would keep an eye out for it and deal with it as necessary.
Ethan Rayne allowed a small malicious smile to appear on his lips as the last of the teenagers left his shop and he flipped the sign to closed before locking the door. There were still a few hours to go before show time but he had a few preparations to complete if the magic to invoke the power of Janus was to flow properly. One part had already been completed and that had taken him hours and hours of tedious work, putting the correct potion on all the costumes he had given out without it staining, smelling or giving any indication that it was there.
Slipping into the backroom of the shop he began the process of readying the shrine and idol that he would later use to invoke Janus. It was complex work that required his utmost attention but work that he enjoyed as just thinking about the fun that was to come tonight made him want to laugh. He pushed the impulse down though he still allowed himself a small malicious smile before beginning to softly whistle tunelessly as he went about his work.
A Short Time Later
“So where are you meeting Angel,” Willow asked from the bathroom as gazed uncomfortably at her reflection and wondering how on Earth she’d allowed Buffy to talk her into wearing it instead of her traditional ghost look. Instead of wearing a ghost sheet with BOO written on it in big black letters like she usually did Buffy had convinced her to wear a pair of knee high boots, a black leather short skirt and a v-necked burgundy, mid-riff bearing top, personally she thought it looked utterly hideous.
“Back here after trick-or-treating,” Buffy answered from her bedroom as she fumbled to put the last of her earrings in to complete the 18th century noblewoman look that she’d chosen to surprise Angel with tonight. “Mom’s going to be out at a party with some friends we can go to the Bronze from here.”
“Does he know about your costume?”
“No,” Buffy replied grinning as she hadn’t seen her boyfriend all day – which wasn’t surprising as being a vampire-with-a-soul Angel could hardly walk about in daylight without being literally burnt to dust. “It’s going to be a surprise when I show him, call it a blast from his past.” Finishing with the awkward earring she looked back at the bathroom door. “Okay Willow you can’t hide in there all night, come out.”
“Promise your not going to laugh?”
“I promise now come on,” Buffy answered rolling her eyes for a moment before the bathroom door opened and Willow – looking somewhat uncomfortable – came out wearing a get up that really showed the attractive and fit young woman she was. It was perfect for getting Xander and all the other boys in Sunnydale High, to really notice her instead of the redhead fading into the background like she usually did. “Wow look at you, you look a dish.”
“I don’t know,” Willow replied reaching for where her ghost costume was, only for Buffy to get there first and take it off her, “this isn’t me.”
“That’s the point of Halloween. Look, Halloween is the night that not you is you, but not
you, you know? Trust me Xander is really going to notice you dressed as you are.”
“If you say so,” Willow replied timidly before the doorbell rang.
“That must be, Xander,” Buffy said, “Are you ready?”
“Yeah I guess so.”
“Good I can’t wait to see all the guys gawp when they see you,” Buffy replied with an encouraging grip before turning her back on Willow and beginning to head downstairs to let her best male friend into the house. Willow for her part watched her go then looked at herself in Buffy’s long mirror before deciding that she wasn’t going to wear this in public, she just couldn’t. Sorry Buffy,
she thought reaching for the discarded ghost costume.
Buffy smiled slightly as she strode up to the front door to let Xander in. She couldn’t wait to see his reaction to what she’d managed to get Willow to wear, he should at last notice Willow as the young woman she was turning into and the fact that she had a major crush on him. Maybe then he would stop his damned flirtations with Cordelia Chase of all people. Calmly she unlocked the door and pulled it open allowing Xander to come in…
…and Buffy blinked when she saw what he was wearing. When they’d spoken earlier Xander had indicated to her that he was going to wear some second hand army fatigues that he’d gotten from a charity shop but it was obvious that he’d changed his mind. Instead he was wearing grey and black armour that looked like it had come right out of sci-fi show or computer game and which hugged his body quite tightly revealing that Xander was surprisingly muscular when he wasn’t wearing those flamboyant loose Hawaiian shirts he seemed to love so much. Completing the armour he was wearing a headpiece that wrapped around the back of his head and had a clear blue plastic visor over his eyes. What looked to be very sci-fi weapons were clipped to his back and the sides of his belt.
“Whoa Xander what are you wearing,” she exclaimed examining him. “I thought you were going to wear some army fatigues?”
“You can blame my dad and a bottle of tequila for that,” Xander replied grinning at the way Buffy was clearly checking him out with her eyes. Man I wish I could wear stuff like this more often, maybe then she’d break up with Deadboy,
he thought, “as for this. This is a genuine replica of an N7 combat hardsuit as worn by Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect games.”
“Nice,” Buffy admitted, “you look good in it Xander.”
“Thanks Buffy you look amazing yourself. Deadboy isn’t going to know what hit him.”
“I do wish you wouldn’t call him that,” Buffy said with a sigh feeling a familiar irritation at her boyfriend being referred to as Deadboy though she’d more or less given up trying to get Xander to stop. “I wanted to give him a blast from the past. Show him I can be just as pretty as the girls he used to know. Though wait till you see what Willow has on.”
Xander raised an eyebrow. “You mean you’ve actually gotten, Wills to wear something other than a ghost costume,” he asked at Buffy’s look he explained, “Buffy Willow has gone as a ghost to Halloween every year for at least the last five years I gave up trying to get her to wear anything else long ago.”
“Yeah well I imagined it,” Buffy replied looking pleased with herself before looking up the stairs, “come on, Willow. Come and show Xander what you’re wearing.”
Willow appeared at the top of the stairs in response and Buffy’s heart sank as it was obvious Willow had chickened out and put on the ghost costume with the big BOO on the front. “Willow,” she said petulantly.
“Sorry,” Willow replied, “I couldn’t wear that Buffy I just couldn’t. Whoa Xander that armour looks great, Commander Shepard?”
Xander smiled. “Right on the mark,” he replied, “come on we should head over to the school. The rug-rats will be arriving and we don’t want to give the troll an excuse to chuck us all in detention for a month.”
“Good point,” Buffy answered giving Willow another disappointed look before picking up her front door keys and leading the way out into the streets of Sunnydale as the sun sunk below the horizon and dusk began gathering. All hallows eve was beginning.
~~//~~Back of Ethan’s Shop
Ethan smiled as he observed dusk give way to the darkness of a moonless night. After all his preparation it was time to begin the complex incantations that would summon the power of Janus and allow chaos to reign over Sunnydale. Quickly he closed the curtains over the back window and began carefully lighting the black candles around the room and the idol of Janus.
Once that was accomplished he knelt before the shrine and produced a small knife, engraved with a variety of mystical symbols, from his pocket and held the blade between his hands. Calmly he pressed both palms against the blades razor-sharp edges, wincing lightly at the slight stab of pain it send shooting up his arms. Allowing the knife to fall to the floor he gazed at his bleeding palms, they were nothing a simple healing spell couldn’t cure later, before getting started on the first part of the incantation.
“The world that denies thee, thou inhabit,” he chanted dabbing the blood in his left hand with his right middle finger before drawing a line of blood over his right eyelid, “the peace that ignores thee, thou corrupt,” he repeated the process with his left middle finger, right hand and left eyelid before drawing a bloody cross on his forehead, “chaos I remain, as ever, thy faithful, degenerate son.”
In front of him the idol began to glow a soft green and the features on the side facing him changed into that of a monstrous male figure. He had caught the chaos god’s attention. Smiling he held his hands out wide and began weaving his spell.
“Janus, evoco vestram animam. Exaudi meam causam. Carpe noctem pro consilio vestro. Veni, appare et nobis monstra quod est infinita potestas. Persona se corpum et sanguium commutandum est. Vestra sancta praesentia concrescet viscera. Janus! Sume noctem!”
The soft glow of the idol brightened and pulsed, before bursting outwards in a rippling wave of energy that rapidly swept over Sunnydale. As it touched those wearing the tainted costumes they’re very existence changed and twisted. Paint became skin, plastic masks and horns became bone and memories and personalities usurped those of the body wearing the tainted costume transforming them into that which they had dressed as. It was the ultimate expression of the age old warning ‘Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it’.
Ethan smiled maliciously “Showtime.”
Authors Note: For anyone who is interested here’s the translation of Ethan’s spell:-
“Janus, I invoke your spirit. Hear my plea. Seize the night for your own reason. Come, appear and show to us that which is infinite power. The mask transforms itself into flesh and blood. Your holy presence curdles the heart. Janus! Take the night!”