Disclaimer: Btvs characters are owned by J. Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Damon Lathe and ‘Blackcollar’ are owned by Timothy Zahn and Baen publishing. I own nothing but ideas caused by sleep deprivation and overdosing on caffeine and nicotine.
Xander Harris moped through the new costume store. Buffy and Willow were looking at a ball gown from the 18th century while Buffy babbled about how impressed Angel would be when he saw her in it. Turning from the now empty bargain bin and glaring at the kid who had grabbed the last toy rifle he walked back to the two best friends he had in the world.
Just before he reached Buffy and Willow he noticed a costume hanging on the rack. The costume consisted of a black jumpsuit, a black balaclava helmet, non reflective goggles and an equipment belt holding a set of replica nunchakus and several pouches and sheathed knives. The tag attached to the costume identified it as the uniform of a Blackcollar
“Can I help you young man?” An English accented voice behind him said.
“Jeez dude you almost gave me a heart attack.” Xander said with a start as he turned.
“My apologies” said the man who looked to be around Giles’s age. “Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Ethan Rayne, I own this store, I noticed you looking for a costume, do you see anything you like?”
“Maybe” Xander said, turning towards the man. “This costume here, it seems kind of familiar for some reason, what’s it of?”
“Ah” Ethan said peering at the tag, “I remember this one. It was made for a science fiction convention a few years back to help promote a writer’s new book, after the convention the costume was sold and eventually it ended up in my hands. I can’t recall the author’s name but I think the book was called ‘Blackcollar’.
The name of the novel triggered a memory in the teenage boy’s mind. Xander had actually read the book a few years ago, he was pretty sure he still had a copy somewhere in the mess he called a bedroom. Turning his attention back to the shop owner, who now had a ledger book in his hand as he talked.
“Yes here it is the uniform of Comsquare Damon Lathe, whatever that means. Twenty dollars to hire, fifty dollars to buy.” Ethan looked up and saw the disappointment in the teen’s eye. “Or I could accept as little as five dollars on the understanding that it comes back in the same condition it left here. That means no missing props, no stains and no tears.”
Xander grinned happily and reached for his wallet. “Mister you’ve got yourself a deal.”
Ten minutes later the three friends walked out of the store with their purchases. Buffy was now the proud owner of the ornate 18th century ball gown the girls had been cooing over earlier, Xander was carrying his costume under his arm and Willow had her own costume hidden in a bag.
“Well ladies what’s the plan for the night before Halloween?” Xander said as the trio made their way down the street.
Buffy replied first. “Hopefully nothing, Giles said that the demon community tends to lay low over Halloween. He says that most demons find the holiday a bit tacky and stay in their lairs. So I’m looking forward to getting more than six hours sleep for a couple of nights, maybe spend a bit of time with Angel without worrying about having to start slaying and spoil the mood.” Buffy missed the slight grimace on her best guy friend’s face at the mention of the vampire with a soul. “What about you Willow, any plans?”
The red-haired hacker/aspiring witch paused before replying. “Not much Buffy, I have a couple of assignments that I need to finish and mom and dad are getting ready for another conference out of town next week and they haven’t decided whether or not I go with them. Would your mom mind if I asked to stay with you while they’re away?”
Buffy replied without hesitation. “Sure Willow, I’ll ask mom tonight but I don’t think it’ll be a problem. What about you Xander any special plans for the next few days?”
“Apart from going trick or treating with a bunch of kids thanks to that troll Snyder and maybe hooking up with my two best buds at The Bronze after my big plan is a sugar rush that’ll last three days thanks to all the candy we score.” The young man said with his habitual goofy grin then his face turned slightly more serious. “Well Bufster, if you’re not planning on any patrols tonight I think I’ll head home. See you both at school tomorrow.” With that he waved goodbye and started down the street towards the house that wasn’t really a home
As he walked away Buffy watched him go with a slightly sad look in her eye. Willow had told her about Xander’s family life. A father who liked the bottle too much and thought nothing of hitting his son for any reason or no reason at all and a mother who at best was apathetic about her only child’s welfare. Buffy decided that this evening she would give her mother a big hug and a kiss just because she was her mother.
Willow and Buffy continued on their way for a few more minutes before Willow piped up. “Buffy have you noticed there’s something different about Xander these days?”
“What do you mean Wills? He’s still our Xander shaped friend, goofy grin, lame jokes and an addiction to Twinkies, Saturday morning cartoons and comics. Why do you ask?”
“I’m not sure, it’s just every now and again he gets a serious look in his eye, especially when he’s helping Giles with research and he’s recently pulled his grades up from a C+ average to a B – average, plus he seems a bit more muscular these days.”
Buffy gave a mock gasp of surprise. “Willow Rosenberg, are you telling me you have been ogling the body of your best bud since kindergarten? I’m shocked.”
Willow blushed almost as red as her hair. “It’s not that, it’s just since Jessie died he sometimes seems more driven somehow. I think.”
“I wouldn’t’t worry too much Wills, it probably means that Xander is starting to grow up a bit that’s all. Anyway are you sure you don’t want to change your costume for tomorrow, I’m sure I’ve got something we can work with.” The two teenage girls kept talking as they walked down the street.
The next day Xander knocked on the front door of the Summers’ residence. Buffy and Willow had left school early to get changed for their Halloween duties. Xander had changed at school. Now he was attired in his Black collar costume including the ring that signified the rank of his character which he had found in one of the pouches on the belt. The door was opened by Buffy’s mom Joyce who gave him a big smile and said.
“Xander how nice to see you again, the girls will be down in a minute. I thought Buffy said you were going as a soldier tonight?”
“Hey Mrs Summers, I’m still a soldier tonight but now I’m a soldier from the future.” He then drew himself to attention and saluted Joyce with his right fist to his left breast.
“Ma’am, I am Comsquare Damon Lathe of the Terran Democratic Empire and I am here to escort your daughter and her friends this fine night.” He said with a grin.
Joyce Summers was about to reply that Xander made a very handsome soldier when Buffy appeared at the top of the stairs dressed in the ball gown she had purchased and her blonde hair covered with an elaborately styled brunette wig.
“Wow, Lady Buffy of Buffstonia, I now completely renounce spandex.” Xander said as Buffy made her way down the stairs.
“Why thank you kind sir” Buffy said as she sketched a careful curtsy, not wanting to trip on her bulky skirts. Buffy looked at her only ’guy’ friend and remembered Willow’s comment yesterday. Yes Xander did seem a bit more buff and his costume, while not skin tight, was snug enough to show that, a tiny part of her brain thought ~me like~. She gave herself a mental shake “and may I present…. Oh Willow.”
“And a mighty fine boo to you too Willow” Xander smirked as she appeared dressed in a ghost sheet.
“I’m sorry Buffy b but it just wasn’t me…. Maybe after we’ve finished trick or treating I’ll wear it but not just yet.”
Buffy harrumphed and muttered “spoilsport” under her breath as Willow came down the stairs. Joyce then produced a camera and asked them to stand together as she wanted some pictures of her daughter and her friends dressed up for Halloween.
Half an hour later the three friends left Sunnydale Elementary School each with a gaggle of children in tow. On the other side of town Ethan Rayne closed and locked the door of his store and went into the back room. The prayer of supplication to Janus, the Roman god of duality was difficult and time consuming but if successful there would be chaos in the streets. Grinning in anticipation he began to chant in an ancient dialect of Latin.
FIVE HOURS LATER
Xander sat in the library of the high school, replaying the events of the evening in his mind. Nearby Giles, the school librarian and Buffy’s watcher was trying to convince Cordelia Chase that what had happened wasn’t real but he wasn’t getting far.
“Oh please.” Queen C said in a superior tone. “I’m not one of those idiots who refuse to see what goes on in this town after dark. I know Buffy walks through the graveyards at night fighting vampires and those two losers” pointing to Xander and Willow, “try and help her while tall, dark and brooding,” indicating Angel as he sat in the shadows, “is never seen during the day. Don’t worry I have no intention of exposing your little secrets just keep me out of them. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll call a cab, go home and relax in a hot bath.”
With that Cordelia practically strutted out of the library. Despite being a founding member of the ‘We hate Cordelia Club’ Xander couldn’t’t help admiring the lithe form of the cheerleader in her skin tight cat suit. A moment later a mental picture formed in his mind. Cordelia naked in her bathtub, lots of steam and foam. His eyes glazed over for a moment till someone slapped the back of his head.
“Hey stop leering at Cordelia Mister” Willow said.
“Sorry Wills” trying to sound contrite, “teenage hormones. What can I say?”
Willow harrumphed and went back to studying the book in front of her. Nearby Buffy was pacing up and down occasionally muttering about finding that bastard Ethan Rayne and sticking his wand ‘where the sun don’t shine’ while glaring at the gown she had been wearing. She was still pacing and muttering when Giles returned to the library after making sure that Cordelia caught her cab.
“Well,” the watcher said as he absently rubbed the knuckles of his right hand. “I don’t think there will be any long term side effects from Ethan’s spell. At most you might have some vague memories for a few days but they should fade soon enough.”
“That’s good to hear Giles,” Buffy said as she finally stopped pacing. “Willow, you ready to go home or would you rather hang out in the library all night?”
“Yeah I’m ready to go,” she mumbled as she stifled a yawn and stood up, for once not trying to adjust her mini-skirt and midriff bearing blouse to cover more skin. “It’s a good thing tomorrow’s Saturday, no school.” Willow blushed and squeaked “I can’t believe I said that. I must be tired. Night everyone.”
With that the two girls headed out the door followed by Angel. Xander then got up with a groan.
“Well I won’t say the night hasn’t been interesting and it was way cool to be able to go head to head against vampires and actually win but right now it feels as though every muscle in my body is bruised. Giles can I borrow a crucifix and a bottle of holy water just in case a fang face decides on a Xander sized snack on my way home?”
“Of course Xander help yourself.” Giles said as he started putting the various reference books they had been using away. “Before I head home I think I should write a report of tonight’s events for The Watchers Council, especially in regards to Ethan Rayne. A Chaos Mage such as him should not be allowed to roam around unchecked.”
“Thanks G-Man, I’ll see you Monday” Xander called as he left for home.
As Giles sat at his desk he reached for a sheet of paper to write his report on. The reappearance of Ethan Rayne brought back too many memories of his youth and his own descent into darkness. Frowning at the memory of ’The Eygphon’ affair he decided that as well as his official report to the council he would write a letter to one of his mentors from his training with the council. Mrs Isobel Horricks knew all about his ‘Ripper’ days at university and she could do some discrete checking on the other members of that little group. It just might avert a minor crisis in the future. With that Giles picked up a pen and began to write.
Spike staggered back to his lair. he thought. At first the night had been great, all those mini-demons running around and the Slayer becoming a screaming useless aristocrat. Spike and his new friends had finally tracked the Slayer down to a warehouse where he was about to complete his hat trick.
Then the ‘Whelp’ of all people stepped in. Spike shuddered at the memory of how Harris had fought. One second he was held by some of the mini-demons and the next he was free and moving. Spike had faced a lot of good fighters in his time but Harris fought like nothing he’d ever seen before. Next thing he knew Spike had a knife embedded in his back and Harris was beating on him with a set of Nunchuckas.
Spike knew that he would have ended up as a pile of dust if the spell that had been affecting them hadn’t broken returning Harris to the useless teenager he normally was. Spike was about to snap the kid’s neck when the slayer intervened and he had to make a ‘strategic withdrawal’ to save his own hide.
“Next time Slayer you won’t be so lucky.” Spike promised himself as he approached the abandoned factory that was his and Dru’s lair. Entering the building Spike saw his Sire and lover sitting at a table dealing Tarot cards. Without looking up she said “I warned you Spike that what was outside would be inside tonight but you didn’t’t listen.”
Growling at the insane seer Spike crossed the room and settled into his chair. Bloody Chaos Mage, they should all be killed on sight. He thought before accepting a goblet of blood from Dru. If it wasn’t for the fact that they needed to be here to cure his sire they would have left as soon as he’d found out that a Slayer was in town.
Walking the dark streets of Sunnydale Xander thought back on the events of the night. So far no one had asked the simple question. Why had the Lathe possessed Xander willingly helped a group of teenagers he had never met before? No one else who had been affected by the spell remembered who they were except for Willow. Maybe Giles would ask that question once he was sure the Slayer was alright. But somehow Xander doubted it.
The truth was that while Damon Lathe had been in control of Xander’s body Xander had not been completely out of the command loop. He had been able to influence and advise the Blackcollar. Telling him that Willow was a friend and she could be trusted and that Buffy had to be protected at all costs. Though he did hesitate a bit when ’Dead boy’ appeared. As a result the vampire with a soul was now sporting a wicked black eye and was missing a couple of teeth. That memory was one he would smile at for a long time.
Finally making it home Xander entered as quietly as possible. Both of his parents would be less than amused if he woke them. Not being in the mood to dodge a couple of empty bottles or listen to another diatribe of the many faults of their worthless son. After ensuring that both adults were passed out on the couch Xander made his way to his room. After stripping off his costume Xander collapsed on his bed and fell asleep immediately.
What the teenager hadn’t noticed was that while the weapons he had wielded that night had reverted to the plastic props they had originally been the clothing was still an exotic blend of high tech fabrics and carbon nano-tubes known as ‘Flexarmour’ and the bat wing ring still on his finger was no longer cheap plastic but an alloy called Grade A hull metal with a dragon face now sporting ruby chips for eyes. As the boy slept the Chaos magic began its work.
First the RNA derived drug that enhanced memory started to spread through his brain. Secondly the anti-geriatric drug, Idunine, began working on his joints and ligaments, repairing the damage caused by eighteen months of fighting. Backlash flooded his nervous system, increasing the speed that the neurons travelled. At the same time the experiences and skills of a fictional warrior settled into Xander’s sub-conscious.
Janus pulled back from the mortal realm well pleased with his work. When Ethan Rayne’s spell had called him forth Janus had taken a moment to look over the town situated on a hell mouth. One aura immediately caught his eye. It was a soul of power, one that would move Heaven and Earth to protect those that he loved. A true agent of chaos, not concerned with destiny or fate, only doing what it thought was right.
The gifts that Janus had left Alexander Harris would really sow some long term chaos in the world. Janus expected to see many of the plans and plots of the ‘Powers That be’ and ‘The Senior Partners’ come unraveled when Xander really hit his stride. Chuckling at the thought of both sides of the balance scrambling around trying to shore up prophecy Janus finally withdrew.
In his bed, Alexander Harris twitched in his sleep as he dreamt of alien worlds and war.
End Chapter One
Author's Note: Just a story that I've had sitting on my computer for a while. I may continue it, it just depends on how I do with
"Threshkeen Harris". Besides, who doesn't enjoy a 'Halloween' fic?