The Shadows Of Another Life
Disclaimer: I don’t own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or any of its related characters or media, they belong to Joss Whedon and whoever else owns the rights. I also don’t own Cloud, Tifa or any of the other Final Fantasy 7 characters. They belong to Square Enix.Co and whoever else owns the rights to them. I also don’t own the Underworld series or any of the characters from the movies or books. They belong to whoever owns them. I also do not own the rights to anything else used in this story, they belong to whoever created them or owns the rights to them.
Pairing: Xander/Cordelia Cloud/Tifa
Notes: This takes place in an alternate season 3 of Buffy where the events of Halloween from season 2 have not happened yet, also the events of Xander cheating on Cordelia hasn’t happened at this point in time and neither is their relationship as progressed as it was in season 3 due to them getting together a little later in season 2. As for Final Fantasy, the events take place after the game and the animated film Advent Children.
Summary: Halloween changes everything for two members of the Scooby gang and forces the Mayor to try and deal with them, his solution however only makes the situation worse for him and he has to make even more dangerous choices to counter his mistake.
A big thank you to cloudleonsgurl for her fanart. You can find this one and other great ones here:
(Sunnydale High School Library)
Xander Harris sat with his feet on the table and was trying not to fall asleep as he waited for his girlfriend Cordelia Chase, and his friends Buffy Summers(the Slayer), Willow Rosenberg and Daniel Osbourne or as he was most often called Oz to finally to arrive. Rupert Giles, Buffy’s Watcher stood off to the side doing his best not to chastise Xander as he knew the gang had a rough late night during patrol. They had run into a rather dangerous Whikval Demon, a highly dangerous and rare Demon. That it had appeared in Sunnydale was disturbing to the Watcher. However his Slayer and her friends had managed to defeat it although with great difficulty. Oz and Xander had both been injured. Thankfully neither injury was serious. Buffy had also been injured, but already her greater healing, due to being the Slayer, had mostly dealt with it.
Finally ten minutes later the rest of the group entered in one go to find Xander completely passed out in his chair and Giles reading quietly off to the side. Cordelia smiled at the look of her sleeping boyfriend’s face before covering it up. She really didn’t like showing just how much she had fallen for Xander, especially not to the group she had befriended thanks to him. She was even more hesitant to show it to her supposed friends like Harmony Kendall and the others. Xander understood her hesitance, but it had begun to cause trouble in their relationship. She just couldn’t decide if he was worth giving up her standing within the school, a place she had spent a lot of time and effort keeping within the school status quo. The majority of the elite believed she was just playing with Xander, while she really looked for a real new boyfriend from the elite. She let that view stand she knew her relationship with Xander would remain shaky and could break if she didn’t make up her mind soon.
“How is it Xander has never gotten suspended for sleeping while in school?” Buffy inquired quietly as they all took their places at the table.
“Because I always help him catch up,” Willow answered with a small smile as she glanced at her sleeping friend. “Xander does try to pay attention in class, usually history is his favorite class with math been his worst,” she reminded her with a shrug. “He just finds it hard to keep his attention on something he considers boring,” she finished with another smile while Buffy just shook her head.
“I’m surprised Giles let him sleep, especially with his feet on the table,” Cordelia mused, turning to the Watcher with a raised eyebrow.
“After the rather rough night you all had, I did not have the heart to yell at him as he did look quite knackered,” Giles answered the girl’s unasked question. “It seems he had trouble falling asleep after your patrol and thus for once I let him sleep here as he had a free period, no real harm done,” he explained.
“I wonder why he had trouble sleeping,” Buffy mused and missed the uncomfortable looks that passed over Cordelia’s and Willow’s faces as both knew the truth of Xander’s home life.
Giles however didn’t miss the looks and he wondered yet again about the young man who had joined his Slayer in her duty. He had often seen troubling signs that may point to problems in Xander’s home life, but he’d never tried to really find out. Maybe it was time he did do some digging, he didn’t want to intrude but if Xander was abused it was his duty to do something about it.
“So anything you want us to look for specifically tonight, Giles?” Buffy asked, turning the conversation onto a more serious topic. “
“I want you to ensure the Whikval Demon was here alone. So I suggest you patrol around the area you found it in, but be very careful,” Giles answered with a tone that told them all he was dead serious about being careful. “I think after your encounter with one of these things you know how deadly they can be and know not to take any chances,” he added.
“Yeah we know,” Oz spoke up with a wince as he briefly touched his left shoulder which had been injured the night before, although not too badly that he couldn’t play with his band before their patrol.
Before any of them could say anything else the doors to the library opened abruptly, slamming into the wall behind them as they did so. This jarred Xander awake as the others all looked to find Principle Snyder storm into the place with an ugly frown marring his features. Not that this was any change for the man as he usually had a frown on his face, especially when dealing with them. Xander quickly shook himself awake and glared slightly at the man, who seemed to enjoy trying to make their lives miserable.
“Ah this is where you troublesome lot are hiding, is it?” he spat with a sneer as he glared at Buffy. “I’ve been looking for you all, good job in trying to keep them out of trouble Mr. Giles, but take my advice that it is a waste of time,” he continued glancing briefly at Giles, who did his best to look uninterested as it wouldn’t do for Snyder to realize his connection to the teenagers.
“So what do you want?” Xander finally spoke up unable to take any more of the man’s jibes at them. This turned Snyder’s glare onto him not that it fazed him in the least as he was used to it.
“That’s what do you want Sir, you slacker,” Snyder spat back instantly to which Xander snorted and just smiled at him making Snyder even more angry. “I would suggest Miss Chase you don’t get in any deeper with this lot if I was you, they will destroy your good reputation and perhaps even degrade you in the eyes of your peers,” he added with another sneer.
Xander almost jumped out of his seat at the last insinuation, but Cordelia having already been ready for it managed to stop him. She glared at Snyder for a moment or two until he backed down. He knew she had pull in the school due to her parents and she could make his life difficult if she so choose. He hated these rich brats even more than he hated the rest of them. Cordelia finally turned to her boyfriend and ensured he wouldn’t make another attempt to get at Snyder. His eyes locked on hers and she saw the true fury he had felt at the insult to her. That more than anything showed that Xander’s feelings for her were real, which made her indecision even worse.
The others watched the short exchange between the three with interest, it was funny to see Snyder being backed down by Cordelia, but they were all equally annoyed with the man for his careless and insulting comments. Cordelia’s brief connection with Xander made them all again wonder if her feelings for him were genuine or not. None of them could tell even now and for Willow that really annoyed her. She, Xander and Cordelia had known each other since they were kids and for most of that time they had been enemies. It was only after Jessie had been killed once Buffy had come into their lives that this fact had changed. At first she was sickened by the idea of the two of them together, but after beginning a relationship with Oz that feeling had faded. Now all she felt was unease because of the way Cordelia treated the relationship, always feeling so uneasy of what the majority of the school would think of it.
“Anyway as I was saying I was looking for the lot of you as I want you all to sign up for the Halloween guardianship program. There are a lot of children who need to be watched while they trick or treat,” Snyder told them, swiftly moving on to another topic. “And you lot are going to do it, each of you needs to learn some responsibility,” he added. “Some more than others,” he muttered with a dark look at Xander who just glared back, but quickly looked away as he felt Cordelia’s hand grasp his under the table in warning.
“But,” Buffy started to protest, but Snyder cut her off.
“No buts out of any of you,” he snapped, as he put the clip board with the sign-up sheet in front of her. “You are doing this and that is final, consider it credit for your final semester and if you want to get into a good university then you need all the credit you can get,” he told them bluntly. “The event starts at six p.m. till eight thirty on Friday, thus you have a whole day to get ready. Every guardian will be in charge of a group of ten kids each. You must all come in costume as well,” he explained as they slowly passed the sign-up sheet around and signed it.
“You cannot be serious,” Cordelia protested not liking the idea of having to dress up for this.
“Look at the look on my face Miss Chase and I think you can tell how serious I am,” Snyder shot back with a glare at her as Oz handed the clip board back and he nodded in satisfaction as he saw they had all signed them. “Excellent, I’m sure you will have a fun night,” he said sarcastically before turning and leaving the library.
“I really hate that guy,” Buffy grumbled as she crossed her arms over her chest and glared at the doors where Snyder had just left.
“Yes he is a rather unpleasant fellow isn’t he?” Giles agreed with a nod of his head. “Luckily however Halloween should be a quiet night as it was last year. Nothing ever happens so you and your charges should be relatively safe,” he told them all. “Just don’t drop your guard, just in case,” he advised.
“I can’t believe the nerve of that bastard saying what he said to Cordelia,” Xander snapped, finally giving into his urge to vent his frustration.
“Easy Xander,” Cordelia said with a sigh. She was pleased by his anger at the insult to her, but she didn’t want him to get into trouble any more than he usually did with Snyder. “He was just trying to provoke you so he could have a reason to give you a detention. Don’t worry about it, I can deal with him,” she assured him with a confident smile.
Xander just frowned, but nodded his head as he knew his girlfriend wasn’t someone easily messed with. Running a hand through his hair he turned his mind to what Snyder had roped them all into. Halloween used to be one of his favorite times when he was a child. However that had changed when he learnt the truth about vampires and the like. He, Willow and Jessie had always used to go trick or treating together. That was until Jessie had been killed by that bitch Darla two years ago. That event had changed them both, they could no longer joke about things like magic and demons as they were all too real to them now that they knew the truth. Now they had no choice but to go out there again and act as if everything was a joke. They had to ensure these kids had a good time and came back safe and sound. He guessed they should be lucky Halloween was classed as a demonic holiday in a sense. Still he had learnt on the Hellmouth to never let your guard down, just as Giles had warned them.
Ethan Rayne stood in the backroom of his newly acquired store and smirked as he looked over the costumes he had brought for his new plan. Halloween this year was truly going to be fun. He had originally planned to come to Sunnydale the year before, however he’d had to put that idea off when an old enemy had tracked him down and tried to kill him. It had taken most of the last couple of months to get that particular enemy off his back. In the end he had to do a few spells for him to help his business interests before he would consider letting him live. Now he was free to do what he did best, and that was spread some chaos. The fact his old friend Ripper was now here would make it all the more fun, he smiled as he imagined the chaos that he would ensue.
“Chaos will reign supreme old friend and you will remember who you owe your loyalty too,” he murmured absently as he recalled the day Ripper had turned his back on him and the rest of their old friends.
(Sunnydale, next day)
Xander walked with the rest of the group through the town once school had finished. They were all discussing Halloween as they knew none of them would be getting out of it thanks to Snyder. Last night’s patrol had turned up no more signs of any more Whikval demons in town. They only found four vampires and a chaos demon. All had gone down easy, so they had retired early and each had gotten a good night’s sleep. During school they had all agreed to come into town to find something to wear for Halloween. Snyder had again insisted they find decent costumes for the event to fit in with the children they would be chaperoning.
They were looking for a shop they could get their costumes from. They all knew the regular clothes shops, but what they needed was a costume shop and sadly there was none except for Party Town these days and maybe one or two small time shops they didn’t know about. The problem with Party Town was that it was designed more for the rich members of the town. Cordelia could afford the sort of prices, but the rest of them couldn’t.
“Bloody Snyder always having to make our lives even more hellish than they already are,” Buffy spat as they looked around for any smaller costume shops.
“He’ll get his one day I’m sure,” Willow assured her as Buffy had ranted off and on about Snyder since yesterday afternoon. Xander was the one who worried her though, when he remained quiet on a subject you knew his anger was close to the surface.
She has seen him angry many times, most recently during the return of Angel and Buffy’s refusal to tell them about him until Xander ran into him during the Glove of Myhnegon scare. Of course that caused a lot of trouble for the group, from Giles coming face to face with the killer of his girlfriend Jenny Calendar again and for them facing a man who had tortured them for months. Buffy had argued that wasn’t really Angel, but the soulless Angelus and should not be held accountable for those crimes.
Xander had disagreed heavily as he hated all vampires. He had even hated Angel before his turning back into Angelus. Some would have said it was due to his jealously over the souled vampire’s relationship with Buffy. Maybe for a small while that was true, but it was more down to the fact that Angel’s sire Darla had been the one to kill Jessie by turning him into a vampire. Buffy’s refusal to tell them about Angel’s return had almost led to him being staked by Faith the second Slayer, who had been told of Angel’s return by Xander who was still under the impression it was really Angelus.
Faith had only been stopped by the timely arrival of Buffy who had been told what she planned to do by Xander. She wondered what would have happened had Xander not stopped in the library to help Giles who had been injured by the insane Watcher Gwendolyn Post. Would Buffy have gotten there in time to save Angel? And had she not, would her friendships with Xander and Faith have ever recovered? Thankfully everything had been sorted out and Xander had reluctantly accepted Angel back into the group, not that he would ever really trust him though. Buffy accepted that as long as Xander did nothing to endanger Angel. Faith was a little more uneasy about Angel, but also seemed to have accepted having to work with him. They had learned one thing about the whole affair and that was not to leave any of the group on the outside. Faith had been fully integrated into the group and was now living in Giles’ spare bedroom after he discovered her true living conditions.
Hopefully Xander wouldn’t allow his temper to get the better of him in regards to Snyder. He didn’t need to get into any more trouble than he had previously gotten into school wise. Shaking her head she shook of the memories of recent events and returned to looking for a costume shop as she was supposed to be doing. At least Buffy had stopped venting as well, leaving them all in companionable silence.
“Hey look there,” Oz spoke up and pointed a few shops ahead of them. “Ethan’s Costumes” he added.
“Nicely spotted Oz,” Xander said with a nod of his head and forgetting for now his anger at Snyder for making them do this, as well as insulting Cordelia.
They all entered the store and broke up into two groups, Xander and Cordelia headed to the far back of the store unaware they were watched by Ethan. Ethan was watching everyone who came into his store and noted down who bought what, so far he had seen some very interesting costumes sold that would make tomorrow night entertaining.
“I think we should get matching costumes,” Xander suggested as he looked around for something at least interesting. “Something that goes together,” he added.
Cordelia turned to disagree before changing her mind. At first she was going to get a costume from Party Town, but now she decided she wasn’t going to pay top price for a costume, especially when she really didn’t want to go to this thing in the first place. She’d get something cheap here, and maybe getting something that went with whatever Xander chose would be fun. It might also help ease some of the tension between them. Time was running out for her to make a choice on where they stood.
“Ok Xander, but nothing too outrageous,” she finally responded with a pointed look to which he just smiled and nodded in agreement.
Xander looked carefully through the many costumes the owner seemed to have on offer. He was just about to turn to look near the front where Buffy, Willow and Oz were when he spotted something he recognized. He was surprised to find a full replica outfit worn by Cloud Strife from the game Final Fantasy 7. It came complete with replica Materia and a full replica of his sword from the animated movie he had seen only a year ago although he couldn’t remember the title. He ran his hand down the sword and noted it was real steel. Ethan quickly took note of his interest and moved to ensure he bought the outfit.
“I would say you have found something of interest my boy,” he said smoothly as Xander looked up at his approach. “I take it you are a fan of the franchise?” he inquired.
“You could say that, is there another outfit from the series in here?” Xander answered as his eyes strayed to where Cordelia stood.
Ethan turned and glanced at the female who was clearly with his potential customer and smiled. ‘Oh this is just too easy,’ he thought as he did indeed have the perfect outfit to go with this one. “Indeed I do, in point of fact it is the ideal outfit to be bought with this one,” he stated with his most charming smile. “I believe you will recognize it,” he added as he led them to the next shelf behind the one they were out and pointed at the intended outfit.
Xander recognized the outfit as the one worn by Tifa Lockhart in the animated movie. He wondered how the shop owner had managed to get both of the outfits from such a recent movie release. Hell it had only come out on DVD at the beginning of this year, still these outfits would do perfectly. Cordelia did have quite a few things in common with Tifa after all, the thought made him smile as he glanced at his girlfriend who was looking the outfit over.
“What do you think?” he inquired hoping she would go for it. “Both are full replicas of the characters costumes complete with their chosen weapons,” he pointed out.
“I don’t see any weapons with this costume,” Cordelia pointed out as she continued to examine the costume. She did actually like the look of it. She always had a thing for leather outfits, mostly skirts.
“Tifa uses knuckle gloves and is an expert fighter, the gloves are also where her Materia is stored,” Xander responded as he pointed to the attached gloves.
Cordelia smiled as she liked the idea of being an expert fighter, hell if only she could really be one then she would show Buffy some moves. The blond haired Slayer may be a friend sort of, but she still got on her nerves far too much. At least she no longer had to do worry about her getting between her and Xander. Xander had sworn he was over his crush on Buffy.
“How much are they both?” Cordelia inquired.
“$35 dollars each,” Ethan answered easily knowing he had both of them interested.
Xander’s face fell a little as he didn’t have enough for both costumes. Cordelia noted the look and quickly decided to buy them both. $35 dollars each was basically pocket money for her, she liked the costume enough to wear it at least once. Both of them missed the smirk Ethan briefly gave them as he picked up both costumes so he could put them through the scanner. Cordelia handed over one of her credit cards when asked and waited only a second or two before she was handed it back.
“Thanks Cordy,” Xander whispered as he moved closer to her. “I’ll pay you back when I have the money,” he assured her with a soft smile he reserved only for her.
“Oh you’ll pay me back Xander, but it will not be money I request,” Cordelia responded with her own reserved soft smile for him. “You know I prefer having you do me favors,” she reminded him as Ethan handed over the bags containing their costumes.
“As you wish,” Xander responded. Cordelia smiled as she heard the line knowing what he really meant by it, just like in the movie the princess bride. She leaned forward gave him a small brief kiss before pulling away.
Xander just smiled as he looked to see Buffy rushing over with a rather obvious looking dress, he could already tell why she was intent on buying it. It would seem nothing would shake Buffy’s feelings for Angel, not even his brief return as Angelus. Still he had sworn to keep out of it to Buffy and Cordelia. He had a girlfriend now and thus what Buffy did was of no business of his. He worried that it would again lead to disaster, but he wouldn’t stick his nose in after what had happened last time. He was lucky Buffy had forgiven him for almost getting Angel killed at the hands of Faith. She couldn’t blame his response to Angel’s sudden return as she had failed to trust the entire group with the truth. It was natural they would still believe him to be Angelus. Lessons had been learned by them all during that event. Willow and Oz soon joined them at the counter. He noted they also had matching costumes. If he was remembering correctly the costumes were that of Selene and Michael from the Underworld series, Willow’s favorite film of recent times. He could understand her attraction to the costumes considering Oz’s status as a Werewolf, but he was a little uneasy with Willow dressing as a vampire for any reason, but it was only for one night.
‘What could go wrong?’ he asked himself before he winced as he realized the stupidity of asking that particular question on the Hellmouth of all places. He just hoped nothing happened now to make him pay for asking it. Shaking off the rather depressing thought he waited until they had all bought their costumes and then turned and left the shop with the others.
Ethan smirked full on as he watched the group leave, four of that particular group would ensure tomorrow night would be full of excitement and more importantly Chaos which is what he lived for. Chuckling he turned away as more people entered the store, he could hardly wait for Halloween.