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The Patrician

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Summary: YAHF, where Xander picks a different costume. But it's not *just* Xander that dresses as something different... (Seuqel to 'Walking With Skeletons' and 'More Strange Visitors')

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > Sir Terry PratchettSmegheadFR1815,6750133,7342 Sep 042 Sep 04No
Title: The Patrician

Author: Robert Cox (smeghead_76@dodo.com.au)

Rating: R, for the usual reasons

Summary: YAHF, where Xander picks a different costume. But it's not just Xander that dresses as something different...

Category: Crossover - Discworld

Disclaimer: I don't own any of this, all right? Buffy is owned by the usual suspects, and the Discworld is the property of Terry Pratchett.

Continuity: 'Walking With Skeletons' and 'More Strange Visitors'

AN: See? I'm doing it. Happy, Alan?

AN2: Thanks to Paradigm Shifter for beta-ing this.

****

Xander casually sauntered through the halls of Sunnydale High School, feeling pretty cheerful. He was headed towards the library, but it wasn't anything 'work-related' - in his bag was an Advance Review Copy of 'Carpe Jugulum' which Giles had managed to get his hands on somehow, and which Xander had borrowed a few days ago.

If anyone had suggested a month ago that Xander would voluntarily sit down with a novel he didn't have to read in order to do a book report on, he would probably have laughed at them. But ever since becoming addicted to the Discworld, he had been borrowing Giles' copies - he wasn't keen enough to buy his own... yet. Interestingly, he'd also seen Buffy and Willow reading other books in the series.

His train of thought was interrupted when he spotted Cordelia and the sheep - also known as the Cordettes. This was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Cordelia got the first shot in, however. "Oh, look - it's Loser-boy Harris," she sneered. "Where's the rest of your loser gang?"

"Morning, Cordy," he replied cheerfully. "How's the flock doing?" Without waiting to see if Cordy made a reply to that, he walked straight past them.

While Cordelia was simmering, both over the shot and the fact that she'd been unable to make any sort of effective reply, Harmony turned to Aura and asked, "Did Harris just insult us?" to which Aura could only shrug.

"I think so," she replied.

Cordelia sighed. As much as being the centre of attention for her little group was pleasing to the ego, she sometimes - such as now - thought that if they could come up with two hundred uncontested IQ points between the lot of them, it would astonish her.

She'd be much happier if she could associate with people who were even a little smarter, but the trouble with that idea was that the smarter people were also the outcasts, and she wasn't that eager to find intelligent conversation. Apart from that, she also suspected that she wouldn't be too welcome, not after all the insults she'd sent their way.

She sighed again. Sometimes, being Queen of the school was more trouble than it was worth.

****

"Morning, Giles," Xander said cheerfully as he entered the library.

"Good morning, Xander," Giles replied, looking up from behind the counter, where he was taking the chance to do some of the never-ending paperwork that went with running a school library.

"Here's your book back," Xander continued, removing it from his bag and tossing it casually on the table.

"Thank you, Xander," Giles said. "I trust you enjoyed it?"

"You betch'um, Giles. I'm just thankful that the vampires we run into are a lot dumber than the ones on the Disc."

"I wouldn't be so sure about that - according to some of the reports I've read, there have been vampires throughout history that have been quite cunning in their own way," Giles pointed out. "Though if they could overcome their weaknesses in the way the Magpyrs did, we'd be in real trouble." He paused for a moment to think. "Although there is the case of Angel to consider," he added.

"Yeah, Angel," Xander replied slowly. At Giles' curious look, he continued. "There's just something about him that sets off a tiny voice at the back of my mind. The really irritating thing is that I'm pretty sure it's important, but I don't know what it is."

"If you do work it out, you will let me know, correct?" Giles asked.

"Huh? Yeah, sure," Xander replied.

"Morning, Giles," Buffy said cheerfully, as she and Willow entered the library.

"Good morning Buffy, Willow," Giles replied.

Willow spotted the book on the table. "Giles," she complained. "How come Xander got to read... 'Carpe Jugulum' before I did?"

"Because he asked first," Giles replied, hiding a small smile.

"Oh. That's all right, then. So," she continued, turning to Xander, "what's it like?"

"Well -" Xander started, only to be interrupted by the ringing of the bell to announce the start of the next period. "I'll tell you on the way to our next class. See ya, Giles."

"Bye, Giles," Buffy and Willow added.

As they made their way through the halls, Xander asked Buffy, "So, got any plans for tonight?"

"Yep," Buffy replied. "I'm staying in and watching videos." At Xander and Willow's confused expressions, she explained, "According to Giles, Halloween is pretty quiet, nasty-wise."

"Really?" Xander asked. "I'd have thought that it'd be the one night of the year when they'd be on the prowl for sure."

"Nope." Buffy shook her head. "All of the nasties stay in, and I'm planning on doing the same."

"Sounds like a good idea to me," Xander admitted. "What do you think, Will? Video and junk food at Buff's place?"

Willow smiled, and was about to agree, when...

"Summers!"

All three turned at the sound of the hatefully familiar voice, to find the bane of their lives bearing down on them. "Crap, it's Snyder," Xander muttered, causing said troll to glare balefully at him, more on general principles than any possibility that he'd overheard - if he had, he'd have done more than simply glare.

"I don't know what you've got planned for tonight, but I'm sure it involves one act of petty vandalism after another, which would fit in well with your troublemaker record," Snyder sneered, not giving Buffy a chance to protest that all she really had planned was a quiet night in front of the television. "So I'm nipping that plan in the bud; you're going to escort a group of younger children instead. Maybe it'll convince you to mend your ways before it's too late."

While Snyder was haranguing Buffy, Xander and Willow were taking the opportunity to try to sneak away quietly, lest they draw Snyder's wrath as well. It wasn't so much a case of them abandoning Buffy to her fate, as a healthy desire to avoid the same fate themselves.

It just looked like they were throwing Buffy to the wolves - or in this case, the troll.

"As for your troublemaker friends," Snyder continued, whirling around to face them. "This will be a good opportunity for them to mend their ways - well, for Harris, anyway. Rosenberg, you can consider this a chance to remove yourself from their influence before they drag you down to their level. He shoved his ever-present clipboard and a pen in their direction. "Sign!" he ordered. Resigning themselves to their fate, the three teens signed the form.

As the smirking principal left in search of other students in order to make their lives miserable as well, Xander sighed. "I really, really hate him," he said mournfully.

"He's lucky he's human," Buffy agreed. "Otherwise I'd introduce him to the sharp end of one of my stakes."

"It'd certainly be a service to the general public," Xander agreed. "Besides, are you sure he's really human?"

"Let's get to class before we get into more trouble," Willow pointed out. "I guess we'll have to pick out costumes after school."

****

The things we do for some amusement.

Ethan Rayne was not a happy Chaos Mage. If it wasn't for the expected results of this little jaunt, he wouldn't have done it in the first place. That, and he had to admit that he really hadn't thought through the things he'd have to do in order for the fun things to happen.

To put it bluntly, he hated having to deal with children. Especially the spoiled brats he'd been dealing with all day. It was only the thought of what would be happening that night that had prevented him from running everyone out of the store, and slamming and locking the door behind them. It was an urge he'd had to resist on several occasions.

Just as he was about to close up for the day in order to start preparations, the bell above the door tinkled as three teenagers entered. Hoping that they'd prove to be more mature than the majority of his vict - customers - he came out from behind he counter and approached. As he neared the trio, he overheard their conversation.

"So, why this store?" a blonde young woman was asking.

"Didn't you see the sign, Buffy?" a brown-haired young man answered. "You know, the one that said, 'Grand Opening Sale - Everything Half Price'?"

"I thought you said that we should do this properly, Xander," another young woman - a redhead - pointed out.

"Sure," the young man - Xander - replied. "But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't take advantage of a sale. Back me up here, Buff."

"That's right, Willow," the blonde - Buffy - said. "Sales are always good things to check out."

"If you say so," the redhead - Willow - said, but she still sounded somewhat dubious. "Any ideas regarding costumes?"

"I was thinking something a long the lines of a theme," Xander replied. "Discworld, perhaps?"

Willow nodded, and Buffy shrugged. "Sounds like as good an idea as anything else," she said, before being distracted by an elaborate dress. "Ooo, pretty," she continued, before seeing the price tag. "On second thought, maybe not." Even with the discount, it was still pretty pricey.

Ethan was more than willing to reduce the price even more if she'd been determined to have it, since having a helpless eighteenth-century noblewoman running around for the night in this town would have been quite amusing, but since she shrugged and moved on, he decided to abandon that plan. Besides, there were plenty of alternatives that should prove to be almost as amusing.

"Can I help you?" he asked.

"Have you got any Discworld-related costumes?" Xander asked.

"I'm almost certain that I do," Ethan replied, leading them to the almost-untouched 'books' section of costumes - almost-untouched because the majority of the previous customers had selected costumes based on television and movies. "Might I ask how you came to be familiar with the works of Terry Pratchett?"

"You can blame Giles for that," Buffy replied with a grin.

"Giles?" Ethan asked with some surprise. "Would this be a Rupert Giles, by any chance?"

"Yeah, that's him," Xander replied. "Do you know him?"

"It was some time ago," Ethan said. "I doubt that he would remember me," he added, somehow managing to keep a straight face. Oh, he was sure that Ripper hadn't forgotten about him, not after their escapades. And now three people who knew good ol' Rupert were buying his 'special' costumes?

It was times like this that made putting up with the not-so-enjoyable times worth it.

"Do you have any preferences?" he asked, moving the conversation forward so as not to give the teenagers time to reflect on the possible nature of the relationship between Rupert and himself.

"No, not really," Xander replied. "But I'm sure something will occur to us."

"By all means, feel free to browse," Ethan said. "If you require assistance, I would be more than happy to help."

****

As the sales attendant moved back to the counter, Xander asked, "Is it just me, or did that guy seem just a little creepy?"

"It wasn't just you, Xander," Buffy replied. "He gave me the wiggins."

"Maybe we should go to another costume shop?" Willow suggested.

"Nah," Xander replied. "I don't think we can get into too much trouble buying costumes for Halloween," he added.

"Even here?" Buffy asked, raising an eyebrow.

"I know that Sunnydale is home of the weird," Xander pointed out. "But there's gotta be limits. Right?" he added, just a little less certainly.

"And where does meeting Death - not once, but twice - along with two of the Endless fit into that?"

"Way off the top of the scale," Xander replied. "Which means that we've met our weirdness quota for the year already." Any further conversation was interrupted as Xander caught sight of a mannequin. "Woah - nifty."

Black figured prominently in the costume the mannequin was wearing, and a nearby display case contained a selection of knives. For a moment, Xander thought the costume was that of a member of Ankh-Morpork's Guild of Assassins, but he changed his mind when he realised that the clothes were too loose-fitting - meaning that they would get hung up on things too easily - and, more importantly, there weren't nearly enough weapons. Then he looked at the small piece of cardboard that the name of the character was written on. "Oh, yeah," he said. "This is good."

"You sure about this, Xander?" Willow asked.

"You bet," Xander replied, not taking his eyes off the costume. "I'm going with this."

Willow shrugged. It wasn't often that Xander decided to be stubborn, but when he was, it was near-on impossible to change his mind. "Well, if you're happy with it, then Buffy and I still need to find costumes."

Xander finally managed to take his eyes off the costume. "Yeah," he agreed as they started to move along the aisle.

A little further on, there was another costume in which black was the only real colour. Unlike the first one, however, it was a black dress, and a black pointy hat was on a stand next to it. Leaning against the mannequin was a somewhat battered-looking broomstick. "What d'you say, Willow? Think this suits you?"

"A witch, Xander?" Willow said dubiously. "I'm not sure that's me."

"Not just any witch, Willow," Xander replied, pointing at the name of the character.

"Besides," Buffy pointed out. "It's Halloween - 'come as you aren't night'. I think it suits you."

"You sure?" Willow asked, somewhat nervously. When both Buffy and Xander nodded, she sighed. "All right, I'll take this one. That just leaves Buffy."

"How about this one?" Xander called back from where he'd moved further along. Catching up to him, they saw that he was standing in front of a female mannequin, which was dressed in some sort of uniform. There was a... a - let's face it; a breastplate - under which was chain-mail and a leather tunic. There seemed to be some sort of undershirt as well, along with a helmet, leather pants that ended just above the knee, and a short sword in a scabbard on a belt around the waist.

Buffy rolled her eyes. "You just want to see me dress up in leather, don't you?"

"No," Xander protested half-heartedly. "Well, not just that," he conceded under the disbelieving stares of Buffy and Willow. "Check the name of the character."

Buffy did so, and a thoughtful expression appeared on her face. "I don't know," she said uncertainly, casting a wistful look back at the fancy dress. "I kinda had my heart set on that dress," she added.

"You wanted to dress up?" Willow asked, slightly confused. "Oh! For Angel, right?" she added in realisation.

Buffy nodded. "Yeah, it's the sort of thing that women in his time would have worn, and I kinda wanted to impress him."

Xander buried a scowl. It wasn't that he was jealous of Angel - well, not entirely, he had to admit if he was going to be honest with himself. It was just that he found it hard to understand why Buffy would be attracted to a vampire in the first place. Wasn't it her job to kill them? Sure, Angel had been helpful on a few occasions, but still...

With a mental shrug, he buried that line of thought. "Buffy," he said, "he's going to think you look good in this."

"You sure, Xander?" Buffy asked, looking at the costume again.

"Positive," Xander replied with certainty. In fact, a happy mental picture of Buffy in that costume had appeared somewhere behind his eyelids.

"Well, if you say so..." Buffy said hesitantly.

"So, we're decided, then?" Xander asked quickly, not allowing Buffy to have second thoughts, as he led them back to the counter to tell the sales assistant that they'd made their choices.

****

Xander knocked on the door to Buffy's house, and as he waited, made a couple of minor adjustments to the costume, particularly to the fake knives strapped to his forearms, adjusting them so they rested more comfortably.

They'd agreed to meet at Buffy's place before heading off to the school to pick up the little monsters they had been coerced into escorting around town for the night. He also checked to make sure that the stakes, cross and vials of holy water were secure in the inside pockets. While he might have been told that tonight would be a quiet one - vampire-wise, at least; he doubted that it would be truly quiet - there was no point in taking chances, right?

Mrs. Summers opened the door, smiling when she saw who it was. "Hello, Xander."

"Hi, Mrs. S," Xander replied with a smile of his own. "The girls ready yet?"

"Come on in," Joyce said. "And, no, they're not ready, although they should be soon."

As Xander followed her into the lounge room, he was trying to work out how to hint to her that she shouldn't invite anyone into her house in this town - especially after dark. His train of thought was interrupted, though, when Joyce said, "That costume looks vaguely familiar, Xander. Who is it supposed to be?"

"Havelock Vetinari, Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, at your service, madam," he replied with a bow and a smile.

"Ah, I thought the costume looked familiar."

Before Xander could do more than blink in surprise that Joyce was also apparently familiar with the Discworld novels, Willow and Buffy appeared on the upstairs landing.

****

In Buffy's bedroom, Willow was fiddling with her costume, using the mirror to make sure that the hatpins holding her hat in place were inserted correctly. "Nervous, Willow?" Buffy asked as she finished strapping the breastplate in place.

"Just a little", Willow conceded. "I know you said that this is 'come as you aren't' night, but still..."

"Too late to back out now, Willow," Buffy said as she joined Willow at the mirror to check that her own costume was on correctly. "If it helps, try to get into character. Do you think Granny Weatherwax would ever look nervous?"

"Of course not!" Willow replied with a small laugh. "Especially if she actually was nervous."

"There you go, then," Buffy said with a smile, and tilted her head slightly to the side as her enhanced hearing picked up voices from downstairs. "I think Xander's here, anyway." At that, Willow paled slightly. "Character, remember?" Buffy added, and Willow nodded before drawing in a deep breath.

"Right," she said firmly, heading towards the door, not noticing the smile on Buffy's face.

****

"It looks like Willow's really getting into it," Xander remarked as Willow paused at the top of the stairs, turning a Granny Weatherwax-like piercing sapphire stare his way. And quite a good one, too, he thought. But two can play at that game. In turn, he made his expression go completely blank, in much the same way that Vetinari was described as doing in the books, and turned an absolutely expressionless gaze Willow's way.

The stare-off lasted about ten seconds before Willow's stern expression cracked and she began giggling in a most un-Granny Weatherwax-like way. The way Xander was crossing and uncrossing his eyes was probably a contributing factor.

"S-stop that," she giggled, coming down the stairs to give him a light swat on the arm. "Cheater," she added.

"If it works, then it's not cheating," he replied solemnly, before grinning himself. "The costume suits you, Willow."

"Really?" she asked, her expression brightening.

"Sure. In fact..." he started, but then Buffy appeared. "Woah," he semi-whispered. He'd been right - Buffy did look good in that costume. Not that she didn't before, but the Ankh-Morpork City Watch uniform seemed to suit her in ways he hadn't thought of when he'd convinced her to pick it over the dress. Schooling his features back into blankness, he said, "Corporal," in what he hoped was a suitably solemn tone.

If Buffy's grin was anything to go by, it wasn't. She managed to play along, though. "My Lord Patrician."

Standing to the side and slightly behind Xander, Joyce's face was set in an expression of concentration as she tried to work out who her daughter had dressed as. "Corporal Delphine Angua von Uberwald, Ankh-Morpork City Watch," Xander said in explanation, causing Joyce to nod.

"Before you go," she said as she brandished a camera, "I want to take some pictures for posterity."

****

Spike slouched comfortably in the stuffed chair that he'd acquired from somewhere-or-other that he couldn't quite remember at the moment, intently watching the equally-stolen television. Sending someone out to record the Slayer as she fought was probably one of the better ideas that he'd ever had - everyone else who'd gone up against the bint had just charged straight in... and lost. He didn't want to lose, so he studied up on her, her moves, her strengths and her weaknesses.

Besides, it gave him something productive to do tonight.

The bleach-blonde vampire snarled silently. He hated Halloween - hated the way people dressed up; it was too bloody hard to pick out meals from any real demons that might be taking advantage of the opportunity to be able to walk the streets in peace. He also knew for a fact that some of the kiddie-demons actually went as far as to take part, passing their natural appearance off as particularly inspired costumes.

A 'sorry, I thought you were someone else' wasn't good enough if he accidentally tried to feed off one of those - a point which had been made abundantly clear to him. Normally Spike took threats about as well as a cat took to acts of selflessness, but since the demon delivering the message had been about three times his size, he'd decided that discretion was the better part of valour. Apart from anything else, the little runts tasted awful.

At that moment, Drusilla entered the room, cradling Miss Edith in one arm. "Miss Edith needs her tea," she said in her rambling way.

"C'mere poodle," Spike said, holding out his hand for her.

Dru stepped up to him and took his hand. "Do you love my insides?" she asked suddenly. "The parts you can't see?"

"Eyeballs to entrails, my sweet," Spike replied, not at all fazed by the question. During the time they'd been together, he'd had more than long enough to get used to her... eccentricities. "That's why I've got to study this Slayer. Once I know her, I can kill her. And once I kill her, you can have your run of Sunnyhell. Get strong again."

"Everything's changing," Dru continued as she wrapped her arms around Spike's neck. "Outside to inside. The Slayer's going to be away. She'll be here, and not here."

"Really?" Spike asked, his interest captured. "Did my pet have a vision?"

"Do you know what I miss?" Dru said suddenly. "Leeches."

"Come on, talk to Daddy," Spike insisted, trying to drag her off the tangent she'd wandered off to. "This thing that makes the Slayer go away? When is it?"

"Tonight," Dru replied with an enigmatic smile. "It all happens tonight."

"Tonight?" Spike repeated, slightly disbelieving. Dru's visions had yet to lead him wrong, but still...

"Tonight's Halloween," he continued. "Nothing happens on Halloween."

"Someone's come to change it all. Someone new, who doesn't know the rules."

****

Ethan Rayne closed the door and locked it, before lowering all of the blinds and curtains.

Once he was certain that no-one would wander into the store and interrupt his preparations, he went into the back area of the store, drawing the curtain shut behind him. On a small pedestal in the centre of the room was a bust of the Roman god Janus.

Kneeling before it, he pressed his hands together and winced. When he pulled them apart again, there were freely-bleeding wounds in the palms. He sighed silently. Sometimes, being a follower of Chaos could get messy.

Dabbing some of the blood from his left palm with his right middle finger, he smeared it over his right eyelid, while chanting softly, "The world that denies thee, thou inhabit."

He repeated the process with his left hand, smearing the blood over his left eyelid. "The peace that ignores thee, thou corrupt."

Right middle finger again, and this time he smeared a cross-shape on his forehead. "Chaos. I remain, as ever, thy faithful, degenerate son."

Reaching for the first-aid kit that he'd thoughtfully had ready for just this occasion, he pulled out some bandages and started wrapping his hands. In an hour, he'd complete the ritual, and that was when things would become interesting...

****

They arrived at the school with plenty of time to spare - Snyder seemed out to get them as it was; no reason to help him along with that - and picked up the clipboards with the names of the children they were supposed to escort for the night.

"Is it me," Willow wondered aloud as she scanned the list, "or do some of these names look awfully familiar?"

"Sunnydale Elementary," Xander replied absently. "You won't find a worse den of scum and villainy. We must be careful." He looked up to see both Buffy and Willow staring at him in confusion. "If I had to guess, I'd say that the familiar names are the little brothers and sisters of Sunnyhell High's bullies. Anyone want to offer bets that they're not following in the same footsteps?"

"No way," Willow replied.

Buffy was about to say something, but just then Snyder arrived with a group of young children trailing him. "This is your group, Summers," he said. "No need to speak to them; the last thing they need is your influence. Just bring them back in one piece and I won't expel you." With his threat delivered, he turned to leave.

Buffy squatted down so that she wouldn't tower over them. "Hi!" she said brightly.

Moving faster than anyone had thought possible, Snyder spun around and held up a finger. "Ah, ah! What did I tell you?"

Buffy stood back up and rolled her eyes. Luckily, Snyder didn't see that, and he stalked off to the next group. Standing nearby, Xander shook his head. Snyder was running true to form, that was for sure. "Hey, Harris," a voice came from behind him. Startled, he spun around to see Larry, dressed as a pirate, smirking unpleasantly. "You look like a girl, dressed like that, you know."

Xander shook his head. "You know, Larry," he replied. "I'd be worried by the fact that you know so much about how girls dress."

Scowling, Larry took a step forward. Xander flinched, but held his ground. From where she was standing, Buffy looked over at the developing confrontation and took a step towards it, but stopped when Willow put a hand on her arm. Looking at her in surprise, Buffy saw Willow shake her head slightly, and she realised that Xander wanted to do this by himself, especially after the way she had rescued him earlier that day.

She stayed where she was, but if things looked like they were getting out of hand, she was ready to back Xander up.

As it turned out, she needn't have worried. Confused by Xander's lack of reaction, Larry had to settle for laughing in his face before leaving. "One day, he's going to grow up," he remarked.

"I wouldn't bet on it, though," Willow said, stepping up beside him. "You handled that well," she added.

"Eh," Xander shrugged. "It wasn't that hard - the trick is not to react; it takes away their fun."

"I'll keep that in mind," Buffy said as she joined them.

"Ah, it's not like you're ever going to be pestered by brainless bullies, Buff," Xander said with a grin. "And speaking of pests, my very own group of runts in search of their sugar fix is waiting for me. Video night afterwards?"

"Sure," Buffy agreed, and Willow nodded.

Xander turned to the group of kids he was supposed to lead around. "Okay, guys, I bet you want to know how to get extra candy, right?" When the children nodded enthusiastically, he continued, "The key to sleazing extra candy is manipulation. Tug at their heart-strings - tears are good for that. The biggest puppy-dog eyes are also useful. If all else fails, you can try the 'you missed me' routine, but that's risky. You might have someone who pays attention to details like that. Only try it if there's something worth it, like chocolate. Understood?"

The children nodded again. Some even broke out the puppy-dog eyes and tried them on Xander. "Nice try, but a wasted effort. You're not trying to sleaze candy off me, but the people who stayed at home. Besides," he added with a grin, "I don't have any candy on me."

****

Nearly an hour later, Buffy was surprised by the way she had actually started to enjoy herself. The kids weren't too bad, and she'd be finished in plenty of time to still enjoy watching videos with Xander and Willow. Maybe she'd actually volunteer to do this next year.

No, she decided as her group came back from the house they'd just 'trick-or-treat'd. That was going just a little too far. "How'd you do?" she asked, although their dejected body language indicated that they hadn't exactly gotten what they wanted.

They proved it by producing toothbrushes. "Dental products? That's it, Mrs. Davis must be stopped. C'mon guys, let's head back, and on the way, we can stop by my house so I can replace those things with candy, all right?"

****

Ethan looked at the clock and set down the cup of tea he'd been sipping. It was time. Kneeling before the bust again, he started chanting in Latin. "Janus, evoco vestram animam. Exaudi meam causam. Carpe noctem pro consilio vestro. Veni, appare et nobis monstra quod est infinita potestas."

{translation: 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.}

****

Willow ushered her group to the front door of the house. "C'mon, guys. You know what to do."

The kids nodded as one of them knocked on the door. "Trick or treat!" they chorused when an old lady answered it. Standing behind them, Willow rolled her eyes. You'd think they'd practised or something, to do that all together like that.

Practised, or simply instinct, it worked as it was supposed to. "Oh, my goodness, aren't you adorable?" the old lady said.

****

"Persona se corpum et sanguium commutandum est," Ethan continued. "Vestra sancta praesentia concrescet viscera. Janus! Sume noctem!"

{translation: The mask transforms itself into flesh and blood. Your holy presence curdles the heart. Janus! Take the night!}

****

Buffy looked around as the wind picked up, sending leaves and small pieces of paper skittering along the street. Something was happening, and she didn't know what.

But it couldn't be good.

****

The old lady looked into her empty candy bucket, and back up at the children. "Oh, dear! Am I all out?"

****

The bust of Janus flashed white for a second as the spell activated. Ethan raised his head and grinned. "Showtime."

****

"I could have sworn I had more candy," the old woman continued, as the invisible wave of magic swept over the town. Bending down, she added, "Sorry Mister Monster. Maybe I -"

Suddenly a kid wearing a green monster costume grabbed the old lady by the neck and began to choke her as the other kids, apart from one in a red monster suit, screamed and fled.

"No!" Willow shouted. "Let her go!"

Just then the kid in the red monster suit attacked the other kid, causing him to let go in order to fight back against what was the more immediate threat.

"Stop! What're you doing?" Willow continued as the old lady staggered back inside and slammed the door. "Stop! Hey!"

The two monsters ignored her, though, and kept on fighting. Suddenly, Willow began to feel dizzy.

****

The spell had taken more out of him than he'd expected.

Ethan sat slumped in his chair, clutching his cup of tea with both hands, drawing what warmth he could from it. "Now, that shouldn't have happened," he muttered, thinking furiously. Maybe some of the costumes had taken more to activate?

He shrugged. If that was the case, it would simply make things more interesting.

****

Xander stood on the footpath, watching as Sunnydale descended into chaos. "Aaaand Hellmouthy weirdness strikes again," he muttered. "I really should have known better than to hope for a quiet night."

He stood there for a moment longer before coming to a decision. He'd get the kids back - up until now, it had been a successful night for them, since they'd taken his advice, resulting in full loads of candy for each of them - and then he'd find Buffy and help her track down what weirdness was causing this. "C'mon guys," he said, turning around. "I think it's time... to go back?" he trailed off weakly, seeing the absence of anyone behind him. "Oh, great," he muttered. "Snyder is so going to expel me for this. I suppose I'd better find the little monsters first."

He took a step forward, and then the magic hit. Stumbling slightly, he blinked...

...and Havelock Vetinari, head of the Vetinari merchant family and Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, opened his eyes and surveyed the scene around him.

The End?

You have reached the end of "The Patrician" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 2 Sep 04.

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