I don't own Buffy or any of the characters from that series. Nor do I own the Wheel of Time or any of the characters from that series. I don't really own much of anything.
“Behold the inner princess,” Ethan Rayne smiled. Buffy modeled the dress with growing excitement. Angel would love it. She turned to Willow.
“Are you ready Will?” she asked. Willow held up her ghost costume. “How about Xander?”
Willow pointed to a corner of the store where Xander and Dawn stood. Dawn was holding up clothes against him, as he looked increasingly unhappy. “It looks like Dawn’s in mid torture. I almost feel sorry for him.”
“Hey,” Buffy said, “he agreed to go double with Dawn and her costume. He deserves everything he gets, letting the little monster talk him into something stupid like that.”
“I guess,” Willow said. She gave a sympathetic wave to the harried looking Xander, as she and Buffy left the store.
Later, Buffy opened the door with a flourish. Xander looked at her and blinked. “Buffy, Lady Buffy, Duchess Buffy of Buffonia, I completely swear off spandex.”
“Why thank you kind sir,” Buffy said with a curtsey. “You look…interesting.” Xander was dressed in dark clothing with a sort of medieval look. He had a big sword, actually a wooden stick with a cross piece nailed on. He also wore a cape, which had been spray painted different colors in stripes, sort of like a rainbow.
“Aah,” Buffy said, “she’s got you dressed as a prince from one of her stories, doesn’t she?” she smiled. “That’s so sweet.”
Dawn arrived from the kitchen. She was dressed in a plain blue dress and had a blue stone hanging over her forehead. Willow came down the stairs in her ghost costume. “Here comes your princess, and…Casper,” Buffy sighed.
“That’s a mighty fine boo you’ve got there Will,” Xander said. He smiled at Dawn. “And my princess for the night. At your service my lady.” Dawn inspected him closely, clucking over the wooden sword. She grabbed the striped cape.
“This didn’t come out right,” she said. “It supposed to look like it changes colors.”
“Okay, they don’t actually have cloaks like that,” Xander said. “This is the best I could come up with.”
“Maybe if you swish the cloak when you walk,” Dawn said.
“Alright, not swishing when I walk here, not going to happen,” Xander said.
“Dawnie,” Buffy said, “Xander’s being really sweet and playing along with you. You should thank him and stop complaining.” Dawn frowned.
“Oh Dawnie, you look so cute,” Willow said. “All princessy and everything.” She leaned over to Xander. “Letting the squirt play dress up with you? Getting a little icky.” Xander nodded. They gathered together and went out.
Later, Ethan Rayne completed a complex chant, bowing before a twofaced figure. “Showtime,” he said.
The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Sixth Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose above the Pacific Ocean. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.
East the wind blew above the warm green waves, towards California, towards the harbor town of Sunnydale, and where the wind blew, everyone changed.
“Oh my gosh, I’m a real ghost!” cried Willow. “What’s happening?” All about the street small monsters swarmed, attacking people and trying to force their way into houses.
Moiraine Sedai stood on a porch, watching a group of small monsters attack an elderly woman. “By the Light…” she whispered in astonishment. She collected her self and reached out for Saidar. The small monsters were snatched up in the air and thrown onto the lawn. The old woman cringed in terror, bleeding in several places. Moiraine Sedai helped her to her feet, while working a minor healing on her.
“Dear Lord,” the woman gasped. “What terrible thing is happening now?”
“Calm yourself good wife,” Moiraine said. “Get to your home and bar well the door. There is danger abroad this night.” The old woman took her advice and ran back into the house.
Moiraine Sedai stepped off the porch and onto the street. It was a scene of madness. Monsters ran everywhere, chasing people and attacking everything that moved. But small monsters? The Dark One always created large minions to inspire fear. This made no sense. *Lan, I need you* she thought. Her warder was close, she could sense. She reached out with Saidar and flung away the monsters that were forcing their way into a house.
“Dawn? Dawn!” shrieked a young red headed girl who came running up.
“Do I know you child?” Moiraine Sedai asked.
“Oh no. You’ve turned into your costume too.” Lan appeared suddenly, seeming to materialize out of the darkness. “Xander,” the redhead squeaked at him. “It’s me, Willow. Don’t you recognize me?”
“I’m sorry miss, you’ve mistaken me for another,” he said gently and turned to Moiraine. “It’s a raid. Shadow spawn have swarmed the town. And there’s no resistance to them. No guards of any kind. Which is strange, we’re close to the Blight, I can smell it. But these people don’t act like Borderlanders.”
“I can sense it too,” Moiraine said. “But small monsters? It makes no sense.”
“They aren’t monsters, they’re children,” Willow said. “We’ve got to find Buffy; she’ll know what to do.”
“Children?” Moiraine said with slow horror. She reached out with spirit and touched one of the little monster’s minds. “Oh, no. This is monstrous.” She turned to her warder. “Lan, they are children. They’ve been corrupted by shadow.”
“Buffy,” Willow called out. She ran to a young woman who was walking down the street. Moiraine followed them over. The young woman, a noble woman by her dress and manner was shaking her head at Willow’s words. She brightened when she saw Lan. She ran to him and grabbed his arm.
“Good sir,” she began, “I am a defenseless maid beset by monsters. I place myself under your protection.”
“Of course, milady,” Lan said automatically. Moiraine thought *poke*. “Ah,” Lan said. “I am in service to Moiraine Sedai,” He indicated Moiraine with a nod. “But I’m certain she’ll see to your safety.”
“Oh lady, please,” this Buffy turned a sweet beseeching face towards Moiraine. She seemed simple and somewhat empty headed.
Moiraine nodded distractedly. “Stay close to us child, and you’ll be safe enough.” She turned to the redhead. “Willow isn’t it? You seem to know what is going on. Can you explain?”
“Uh, maybe we should get to someplace safe first,” Willow said. She looked around. “This is Buffy’s house here. Let’s all go inside.” She began leading them towards the house.
A scream came from across the street. A large ape like thing was chasing a woman dressed as a cat? Lan was already moving, sword out. He slammed into the creature and knocked it sprawling. He put the cat girl behind him and faced down the ape creature with his sword. A few strokes with the flat of his blade sent the ape thing from charging rage to fleeing in fear. Lan and the cat girl rejoined them.
“Oh God, oh God,” the cat girl cried. “The whole town has gone crazy.”
“Cordelia,” Willow said. “Everyone has turned into their costumes. You’re Cordy, and this is Xander and Buffy and Dawn.”
“Willow, what are you talking about?” the cat girl, Cordelia exclaimed. “Have you gone mental too?”
A surge of monsters rushed them. Moiraine stepped forward and waved her hand, sending the little creatures flying across the street. “Inside now,” she snapped. The girls, children really, looked at her for a moment and then hurried to obey her. Lan fell in beside her as they walked into the house.
“I’ll stay out here,” he said. “This town is wide open. There must be some people trying to organize a defense. I’ll join them and—.”
“No,” Moiraine said firmly. “We need information first. This Willow seems to know something. We’ll learn what is happening and then deal with it together.” Lan shifted uneasily, but sheathed his sword and followed her.
In the house, the young women wandered looking dazed. Buffy picked up a small drawing. “This might be me,” she said wondering.
“It is you,” Willow said. “Can’t you remember?”
“No!” Buffy exclaimed. “I would never wear such low apparel. I hate this place, these awful people! I want to go—.”
“Child,” Moiraine interrupted. “I require some refreshment. Tea perhaps. See to it.”
“Of course milady,” Buffy said, curtseying deeply. She hurried off.
Willow studied Moiraine for a moment. “How do you do that?” she asked. “Make people obey like that?”
“Habit,” Moiraine said simply. “Outside you seemed to have some knowledge of what is happening. Tell me what you know, and quickly.”
“Dawn,” Willow said, “I don’t think…” she stopped, staring at Moraine’s eyes for a long moment. She swallowed. “Okay, everyone has turned into their costumes. I don’t know why, but we’re on a hellmouth so it’s probably magic. I need to get to Giles to find out more. He’s our…expert on magic. You’re really a girl in junior high, about 12 years old. Xander, Lan I guess you call him, is a 16 year old high school student.” Willow paused, taking a breath. “I guess that’s it.”
“How did you become spirit?” Moiraine asked.
“I was dressed as a ghost,” Willow said. “How did you notice that? Well, I became a real ghost.”
Moiraine turned to Cordelia, “And yet you are unaffected.” She paused suddenly, sensing a shadow creature, a strong one approaching from the rear of the house. “Get behind me,” she snapped at the girls as she moved towards the kitchen.
Lan was already moving through the kitchen door. Buffy was pushed back through it a moment later, holding a tea service. “Milady, the tea is cold, there was neither hearth nor fire,” she cried, blinking back tears. Moiraine brushed past her. A crash came from the kitchen.
Within, Lan was wrestling with a shadow spawn creature. A strong one from the way he was grappling with it, but made as a mockery of human shape. Lan struggled to bring his sword into play, but the shadow spawn, sensing perhaps the danger in the power-forged steel, was desperately wrestling with him.
Lan suddenly reversed himself and flipped the shadow spawn over his shoulder and onto the floor behind him. Moiraine reached out with weaves of air and wrapped the monster up, slamming it against the wall. Lan swung up his sword to behead the vile creature.
Willow screamed, “That’s Angel! You can’t kill Angel. He’s with us.”
Cordelia pushed in, wailing, “Don’t hurt Angel. He’s one of the only hotties in town.”
Moiraine checked Lan with a thought and turned to Willow. “You are confused child. This creature is lost to darkness. Observe its face.” The thing had lost its human aspect, its eyes glowed yellow and its fangs shown in the light.
Amazingly, it spoke, “Willow, what’s going on? That sword…burned me. Where’s Buffy?”
“That sword is proof against all servants of darkness,” Moiraine said coldly. She looked at Willow’s pleading face and against her better judgment, sent a tendril of spirit towards the shadow spawn. She gasped at the horror it revealed. An innocent spirit bound to dead flesh, and a creature of shadow? But it was…good. At least the spirit currently governed the form was of a goodly nature. It suffered though, bound to darkness.
She released the weaves of air. “Lan, he’s not a danger,” she called out. Her warder looked at her in disbelief, then shrugged and sheathed his sword.
Angel fell to the floor gasping. “Well,” he said after a moment, “I’m glad we’re clear on that. Now what the hell is going on?" Willow stepped forward and began explaining about the costumes. Moiraine continued to study Angel curiously. He looked at her after a moment. “Is something wrong?” he said.
“I’m sorry,” Moiraine said. He stared at her blankly. “I need you as an ally,” she explained. “Otherwise I would have Lan strike your head from your shoulders and end your misery. I don’t know how you came to be bound to dead flesh, but I sense your suffering and am sorry that I can not free you.”
“Well, I’ve sort of gotten used to it,” Angel said.
Moiraine nodded. “Help Lan secure the house,” she said.
“Uh, okay,” Angel said, giving her a short bow. He moved off with Lan.
“Why are you in charge?” Cordelia demanded. She stepped up and looked down at the small Aes Sedai. Moiraine stared back at her for a moment. Cordelia’s face went pale and she swallowed, stepping back. “Just asking,” she muttered.
Moiraine swept past her and into the living room. Buffy was there, clutching the tea service. “It’s cold milady,” she said wretchedly. She sniffled.
Moiraine briefly channeled fire. “Nonsense child,” she smiled. “You may serve now.”
Buffy gave a cry of relief at the now hot tea and quickly went around serving everyone.
Cordelia shook her head. “This is just surreal,” she said, looking down at her tea.
Lan and Angel returned. “The house is secure,” Lan reported. Moiraine nodded.
“You,” she pointed at Angel, “will stay here and guard this place. These children,” she nodded to Buffy and Cordelia, “I place under your protection.” Angel nodded. Buffy served him and Lan some tea.
“Willow, as you seem to be spirit and immune from harm, you may seek out your Mr. Giles, and see if he can help.” Willow nodded, and started to curtsy, but caught herself.
“Oh good, Buffy’s baby sister is in charge,” Cordelia muttered. “That’s a load off my mind.” Everyone ignored her.
“Lan and I will return to the street and do what we can to help. If any of you are in danger, call my name out loudly. I will hear and come. But do not do this unless you are in danger.” Moiraine Sedai looked at them. “Do you understand?”
They all nodded. Angel made a leg and bowed, looking rather out of practice. “An honor to serve, milady,” he said with an odd lilt in his voice. Moiraine nodded. He wasn’t completely ill bred.
“The Light keep and preserve you,” she told them. And then she and Lan slipped out the front door and vanished into the night.
“Well,” Cordelia said. “Well,” she said again. “No Buffy, I don’t want any more tea!” she snapped at the girl. Buffy cringed and ran back to Angel, serving him some more tea.
“’Kay, I’m off to see Giles,” Willow said. “Because Dawn said I could. And I can’t drink the tea, and Dawn said it was okay, so I’m off.” She walked out through the wall.
Cordelia wheeled on Angel. “You bowed to her. You were bowing to her. What was that all about?”
Angel grinned. “Old habit. You don’t see her kind much anymore.”
“Her kind of what?” Cordy asked.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” Angel said.
Xander woke with a start, staring up at the ceiling of his room. For a moment, he wasn’t sure where he was, strange memories of last night’s Halloween madness, and other older memories of fighting and monsters. Oddly familiar but with horses and castles. But he was here, himself. All that was past.
“Xander!” his mother shrieked from downstairs. “Get your lazy butt down here now!” He sighed, yep, safe in the bosom of his family again. He climbed out of bed and got dressed, heading downstairs as he pulled on a shirt. Dawn was still asleep. She’d better hurry if she was going to get to school on time.
“Hi Mom,” he said cheerfully. She glared at him.
“Don’t you ‘hi mom’ me,” she snapped. “Out late last night, getting drunk with your friends. I’m not driving your sorry butt to school. Don’t even think that’s happening.”
“Loving you to Mom,” Xander grinned. He grabbed a bowl and some cereal. She snorted and stalked off to the living room. A moment later, the TV was switched on.
She’s set for the day, he thought. Dawn was up and eating pancakes with her mom and Buffy. The pancakes were delicious and some of the flavor leaked through to Xander’s cereal. He dug in enthusiastically. He was halfway done when he realized what was wrong.
At the Summers residence Dawn froze, in the middle of eating a forkful of pancake. She turned pale and put the fork down. Buffy looked up.
“Dawn. Are you okay?”
Dawn looked at her and smiled shyly. “I’m fine,” she said. “Xander’s the one who’s freaking out.”
An hour later Buffy dragged her sister through the doors of the Sunnydale High Library. Giles looked up from where he and Xander were sitting.
“Okay, I’ve got the squirt and the books,” Buffy said. “Now what have you guys come up with?”
“Hi warder,” Dawn waved at Xander. Xander smiled and waved back.
“It doesn’t appear to be any kind of a conventional spell,” Giles began. “I believe our best approach would be to study the source material and learn what we can. Jenny is working on the Internet to locate any experts on the series. We may have to contact the author himself, although that will take some time. But if Dawn has the books, that would be the best place to start.”
Buffy prodded Dawn who brought out her book bag and dumped it out on the table. Seven very thick books fell out into a large pile. Giles picked one up.
“This is it? The complete series?” he asked.
“Oh no,” Dawn said. “It’s only about halfway done. But this is all that’s been published so far.”
“What?” Giles exclaimed. “I thought it was derivative of Tolkein, he only took three books to finish his epic.” He began thumbing through the books. “Good Lord, what is this? Any two of these books would be larger than the Bible.”
“People who complain about how long it is just don’t get it.” Dawn said determinedly. “The length of the series just proves out how deep and complex a story it is. We’re lucky it’s so long.” This seemed to be a sore point with Dawn. There was a fiery glint in her eyes.
“’I’ll box your ears.’” Giles read slowly. “’Wool head. She sniffed and tugged her braid.’” He flipped the pages. “It just goes on like that, for chapter after chapter.”
“It’s probably too deep for you,” Dawn snapped.
“Hey,” Xander said. “I like the books too. Giles is just trying to help. They’re not his kind of books. But he’s helping us anyway.”
Dawn sighed. “Sorry Giles.”
“Of course Dawn,” Giles said. “You’re under a strain.”
“Actually no,” Dawn said, sitting next to Xander. “I don’t see the problem. I mean this is sort of neat isn’t it?” She smiled at Xander. “Now we’re extra special friends.”
“Unh uh,” Buffy said. “I know what you’re up to, Miss-super-crushing-on-Xander and it’s not going to fly.”
“How could you say that in front of him!” Dawn cried, glaring at Buffy. She looked at Xander. “You knew?”
“Everyone sort of knew, Dawn,” Buffy said sympathetically.
“I don’t care!” Dawn shouted. “You’re just jealous. You don’t know what real love is. You with your monster movie boyfriend.”
“Hey, leave Angel out of this,” Buffy said.
“I am not being immature,” Dawn shouted at Xander. “You take that back!” Xander hung his head in his hands and sighed. “Wait till my breasts get here mister, then we’ll see who’s immature,” Dawn said.
“That’s assuming they haven’t come already,” Buffy muttered. Dawn glared at Buffy.
“Hi everybody,” Willow said brightly from the entrance. “We’re meeting kind of early today, hunh?”
“Ah, Willow, excellent,” Giles said. “We have a situation here; your help should be invaluable.”
“Dawn and Xander did like a mind meld last night,” Buffy explained, “and it stuck.”
The others took turns filling Willow in. Her expression grew increasingly dark. “This is awful,” she said, after they’d finished. She hugged Xander. “Don’t worry, Xan, we’ll fix this.”
“Thanks Willow,” Xander said. Dawn sat in her chair, looking glum. “Hey,” Xander said to her. “We’ll always be friends. Do you really want me living inside your head all the time?”
“I guess not,” Dawn said. “It’s kind of fun, but it’d get creepy after awhile.” She laughed. “That was funny, Xander. Dirty but funny.” She laughed again. “Stop. You’re being gross.”
Buffy watched this exchange closely, then leaned over and slugged Xander’s arm.
“Ouch,” Xander and Dawn said simultaneously, rubbing their arms.
Buffy smirked. “This could have advantages,” she said.
Jenny Calendar arrived. “I’ve got emails out to the author and to the leading fan clubs, and to a couple of Wiccan fans, but no responses yet. I guess we should hit the books ourselves.
The group settled into chairs around the table and dug in. There were more than enough books for everyone. After a while, Buffy made a donut and coffee run. The hours passed.
“Wow,” Willow said, nibbling on a donut. “This is worse than I remembered. Lets all talk to each other, okay guys? I mean, no lying for no reason. Right?”
“Yes,” Giles said slowly. “Trust is essential for a group like ours. This series could serve as a warning. Even a few minor lies can do irreparable damage.”
“Yeah, but these guys all hate each other,” Buffy said. “So that’s different from us.”
“No Buff, they’re all childhood friends, like us.” Xander said.
“But they’re awful to each other. And they lie all the time,” Buffy said. “How can they be friends?”
“Maybe we should focus on the warder bond,” Jenny said. “Let’s not get distracted.”
They continued studying. “Hey,” Willow said. “It says you can pass the ward bond on to another Aes Sedai. So Dawn could pass it to some one else.”
“Yeah,” Dawn said. “If I find an Aes Sedai I think is worthy.” She looked Willow up and down. “That doesn’t seem too likely.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Willow said.
“Wait a minute,” Jenny said. “Dawn, did you know this?”
Dawn hesitated and nodded slowly. “I remember some stuff. It’s fuzzy, but I knew that.”
“What else do you recall? Do you know how to break the ward bond?”
Dawn shook her head. “Nothing breaks it but death. And you need Saidar to pass it. I can’t really touch Saidar any more.”
“Can’t really touch it,” Giles said. “Meaning you can touch it some? Are you saying you have some of the mental powers in these books?”
“A little,” Dawn said. She reached out her hand. A book in the center of the table rose by itself and floated in the air. It started to move towards her, wobbled, and then fell. Dawn swayed and leaned forward. Xander put a steadying hand on her shoulder.
“Extraordinary,” Giles exclaimed. “We must research this. I’m not sure if it’s telekinesis, or magic or something new. We should begin testing immediately. What other abilities have you noticed?”
“Nothing,” Dawn said, looking tired and flushed. “I can barely touch Saidar, and all I can do is move stuff.”
“We can test your telekinetic abilities at least,” Giles said. “I have some equipment around here,” he looked at his office.
“I disagree,” Xander said. They all looked at him.
“What was that?” Giles said.
“We don’t know what’s happening here,” Xander said. “Experimenting on Dawn is the last thing we should do.”
“Hmm,” Giles said.
“Xander,” Buffy said. “Stop arguing with Giles. He knows best, that’s why he’s Giles. What’s gotten into you?”
“He’s wrong,” Xander said. “And I’m not going to let him do it.” Buffy stared at Xander. Xander stared back. Willow made a small squeaking noise.
“I’m okay with testing,” Dawn said. “Warders always worry too much. I’ll be fine.”
“Actually Xander’s point is well taken,” Giles said. “We must proceed with caution, especially where Dawn is concerned. He smiled at Xander. “We should also look for possible changes in personality.”
The book floated up again, and resumed moving towards Dawn. They all looked at her. She was red faced and sweating. “See,” she said. “I can…” Her eyelids fluttered and she fainted. Xander caught her before she hit the floor.
“She’s sick,” he said. “She’s running a fever.” They cleared a space on a couch and laid Dawn on it.
Buffy laid a hand on Dawn’s forehead and gasped. “She’s on fire. Giles, we’ve got to get her to a hospital.”
Xander looked at Dawn’s eyes and felt her wrist. “Threshold sickness,” he said.
“You’re familiar with this?” Giles asked.
“It’s when they get their powers,” Willow said. “Their bodies have to adapt. They’re feverish and delirious for a while. It passes,” Willow stopped for a moment. “Hey. They have to have a healer, an Aes Sedai or a Wisdom to help right? Otherwise they die?” She looked at Xander who nodded.
“Die?” Buffy shouted. “What do you mean they die? What are you talking about? It’s a stupid book! Giles, tell her she’s wrong.”
“Hospital,” Giles said.