Let slip the darkness of the soul.
Well, here we go again. And a couple more quotes from a few of my own characters. One's a genius who used to design weapons of war, before he was sold out after a coup, the other a nasty witch, literally. Oh, and the last one is a main character in the current novel I'm writing. The other two I have plotted to show up in their own novel.
War, there's nothing in the world like it.
I love the sounds of armies on the march.
I love the chaotic scramble on the fields of battle.
I love the symphony of gunfire and the screams of the dying.
War, I live for war. I worship it. I practice it. I create it. And I end it.
-Nikolai Serberov - Renegade head of Military R&D for the Federation of Iron, now the Fed's most wanted-
Magic, ah thy blessed might.
Thy embrace is like that of heaven's own touch.
Thy intoxicating power in my grasp, at mine bidding.
Thou hast made me a goddess among mortals.
And with thy power, I shall tear apart the very bindings of the veil,
And let loose the clarion call of the dead.
The world shall know fear, like never before.
Ware, for the dark times of the War of Shadows draws near.
-Lucia Arturias Darkfrost - The Lady of Ice -
Life's a Bitch.
Death's a slut.
Guess which I'm in love with.
Buffy groaned as she finally came to. She opened her eyes only to close them with another groan moments later due to the painful brilliance of the outside world. As she heard her groan echoed, she slowly reopened her eyes, taking care to let them adjust to the light. Once she could properly see again, she found, to her immense surprise, that she was lying on the ground staring up at a street light.
As she stared at it, unwilling to try moving her body after her first attempt to do so resulted in spots dancing across her vision and painful burning in her muscles, she noticed that there was a thick layer of dark frost coating the metal. She frowned as she tried to figure out why there would be so much frost in the middle of California.
With the mental equivalent of a nuclear bomb detonating a foot away from her, the memories of the evening's events, as well as the pseudo memories of a being older than creation, slammed into focus. Buffy groaned as the memories of her costumed persona ran through her mind at breakneck pace. The more that came though, the less pain each subsequent memory caused as they integrated with her own, though Buffy was too distracted at the moment to notice.
Eventually the torrent of memories slowed to a trickle that she could more easily ignore. With another groan, Buffy raised herself up to her feet. Her mouth was dry as she looked around her, the frost and large craters that covered the ground testament to her temporarily adapted persona's, Hild's, fight with Morrigain. Buffy straightened explosively as recognition struck her like a bolt from the heavens.
Eyes wide, she turned and hastily scanned the area from where she had earlier heard the groan originate from. It took her a moment to realize that the dark bump on the road wasn't frost build-up or other debris, but once she did, she rushed over as fast as she could, her feet occasionally slipping on the icy ground. Dropping to her knees next to it, she carefully turned the bundle of cloth towards her, her fears well founded as the face of her redheaded friend peeked out of the tangled black robes.
She let out a breath she was unaware she held as she saw the slow rise and fall of Willow's chest, a chest which Buffy jealously couldn't help but notice seemed to be more noticeable. Her slight annoyance was distracted as she noticed what appeared to be a stain on the back of Willow's neck. Buffy was unsure of whether or not she should move Willow, considering she was unconscious, but she compromised by moving Willow as little as possible in order to untangle her from her robes.
Buffy smiled at her handiwork as she fin ally got Willow loose; her eyebrows rose skywards as she saw what had been hidden underneath the robe. It seemed Xander's little Willow was more grown up than anyone had figured, and Buffy again couldn't help but feel a jealous tug at her heart at Willow's, additions. She gave a shake of her head as she returned to her original purpose.
She carefully pulled down the back of Willow's leather top - which Buffy still couldn't quite believe she was wear in g - and gave a small gasp. The dark stain was only the tip of a pattern of interweaving lines that seemed to cover Willow's whole back, though Buffy wasn't sure since she could only see so much, but the pattern the lines seemed to resolve into seemed far too large to merely exist just around Willow's shoulder-blades.
She would have studied the strange design more, but with a quiet whimper Willow's eyes snapped open. Buffy leaned back as Willow sat up, her eyes wide and pained. Buffy gave a wince as she realized what was most likely happening, as she had experienced the brutal memory dump only a few minutes earlier. Finally it seemed that the memories had stopped, or Willow had become more resistant to the pain they caused like Buffy had.
Willow gave a shake of her head to clear it of the last few cobwebs before giving a look around; her eyes settled on a familiar form and her jaw dropped in surprise. While it would be hard not to recognize her friend -especially with the distinctive dress she had on- more than a few things looked out of place. Willow couldn't remember a time when Buffy had possessed such a deep tan, or such noticeable, ahem, assets. Willow also couldn't help but feel a bit unsure of the way Buffy's wig seemed to look more realistic. Of course, that was only if the person kneeling next to her was, in fact, Buffy.
"Buffy, is that you?" Her friend gave her a surprised blink. Cocking her head to the side, Buffy tentatively put a hand to Willow's forehead.
Buffy staged whispered under her breath as she inspected Willow's face. "Hmm, no temperature. So, of course it's me. Who else would it be?"
Willow gave a sigh in relief. "Well, you could have still been the Daimakaicho." Both Willow and Buffy shared surprised looks at the title that had casually slipped from her mouth, each understanding the word and its meaning, but unsure of how the other knew of it.
"Willow, how do you know that name?" Buffy's voice was quiet, and she was already tensing herself for what could possibly be a truly difficult fight, if the person in front of her still possessed any of the more than formidable skills and spells of the Dark Goddess of Magic. Willow herself was puzzled by her words, and d igging around in her mind uncovered more than a few memories that she knew were not hers; after all, she was pretty sure that she had never tried to seduce a young Cú Chulainn. Though she had to admit, he looked pretty good for a little guy in armour, even after her died by her machinations.
Willow swallowed and gave Buffy a haunted look, a look that only deepened as the two stuffed birds she had brought with her earlier circled down from the sky and settled on her shoulders, their red eyes seeming to smirk in the twilight of the evening. . "I think that we might have more problems than we thought; although, with all the cool spells that Morrigain knew, maybe I could find something useful," Willow paused and a small half-smile grew on her face, one hand unconsciously reaching up to pet one of the formerly stuffed ravens on the head, "She has all these cool rituals, and I think more than a few potions too; ooh, I bet we could finally get back at Cordelia, there's this really neat one that-" Anymore that Willow might have added was cut off as Buffy put a hand over her mouth, the pair of ravens on her shoulder ruffling their feathers at their master's treatment.
"Enough already, it's you." Buffy rolled her eyes as Willow's face turned into a pout. Buffy removed her hand as she stood up and took a look at their surroundings, Willow following a moment later. Buffy gave an amused shake of her head as she observed the signs of destruction that littered the streets. "I don't know what the heck happened, but I think we need to go talk to Giles about this. If there's anyone who'd know, it'd be him."
Willow nodded and began to move past Buffy, before a thought struck her. "Hey Buffy, what if we weren't the only ones who changed?"
Buffy stared cluelessly at her friend before she made the connection. "Oh no, Xander and," her breath hitched in her throat, "Dawn." Her eyes were wide in fear as she tried to remember where Xander and Dawn had decided to go trick or treating. Willow frowned in thought, but brightened as an idea struck her as she turned and whispered to the ravens on her shoulders. The birds seemed to give her amused looks before they took to the air, circling in the sky a moment before heading off down the streets. Willow nudged Buffy in the side and pointed them out before quickly following them.
The streets were oddly quiet as Buffy and Willow passed by various unconscious children in costumes, as well as the occasional costumed adult or teen, while following the pair of ravens as they slowly flew through the sky. As they made their way towards the street Snyder had assigned Xander, or at least to a place nearby, Willow wondered how she'd explain her differences to her parents. On the other hand, it might finally be her way of getting them to pay attention to her and to stop treating her like she was still in elementary school. She had taken a quick look at herself, and other than her hair being a few shades darker, as well as being a touch more developed in the chest area, she was still pretty close to how she was before. However, she was certain that her parents, as unobservant as they were, would notice the ravens that followed her around, as well as the Mark of Morrigain that likely covered her back. Explaining that would be interesting, and something she was certainly not looking forward to. The Mark was the means by which Morrigain left her memories to Willow, at least, that' s what one of the memories told her.
She also wondered how she would bring up the matter of Buffy's own changes. As it was, Buffy was so focused on finding her sister that she had yet to notice he fact that she was taller or that her platinum - not the platinum blonde dyed or bleached hair like most but rather a silvery-white that shone like precious metal - hair seemed to flow down her back and over her slim yet shapely rear. That thought nearly caused Willow to fall flat on her face as she choked on air. Buffy turned to give help, but Willow waved her off as she quickly recovered. It appeared to Willow that Morrigain's memories might have brought with them a little more than just the cool spells and improved physique.
Her pondering was pushed aside as they turned around the corner and spotted Xander, his intimidating suit of armour unmistakable, lying on the ground across from another teen, though something about the scene seemed off. The pair spared the young woman a quick glance, but despite the strange clothing tickling the back of their minds with familiarity, the teen's features didn't seem immediately placeable, though they did seem to remember them from somewhere before.
The pair shared mental shrugs as they turned to their fallen friend. Once again something struck them as strange about his appearance, though the silver-grey hair and pale skin might have had something to do with it. They pair bent down at each side and hauled Xander upwards, the pair grunting at the amount of effort it took to set Xander sitting. A curious Willow leaned forwards and rapped a hand against the chest-plate of Xander's armour, a surprised look on her face at the deep metallic ring that echoed out quietly. Buffy raised an eyebrow and gave Willow a wry look.
"Well, that explains why he was so heavy." The pair chuckled to themselves quietly. "Hey Wills, you got a wake up spell or something?" Willow furrowed her brow in thought as she perused some of the leftover memories from Morrigain. To her frustration, most of the memories seemed to be locked away and refused to become clear enough for her to gain the necessary details from them, however the most basic spells seemed to be open for her access.
Looking through the spells she did have access to, she found the perfect one for her current needs, with a little alteration that is. With a wide and mischievous grin that unsettled Buffy, Willow reached into the air with a hand and made a sharp tugging gesture. Eyes closed in focus, Willow licked her lips before uttering a single short sentence in a language unfamiliar to Buffy's ears.
"Póg na farraige." She punctuated her word with another sharp tug, and from the air above Xander's head came a torrential downpour of water. Buffy gave a squeak of surprise and leapt backwards to avoid getting wet. Willow cut off the spell after Xander began to twitch and struggle beneath the ice cold water. As Xander shook his head of the remaining water, Willow and Buffy both broke down into giggles, to which Xander responded with a dark glare. The glare lasted only a short while before he too joined Willow in finding the humour of the situation, though he restrained himself to a quiet chuckling instead of giggling like the girls.
Buffy sighed and her face turned serious as she gave Xander a piercing stare. "Xander, do you remember anything about what happened tonight?"
Xander furrowed his brow in thought, before he gave a surprised blink and muttered to himself under his breath. "You gotta be kidding me." He paused for a moment, his voice sounding off to his ears, though he couldn't put his finger down on just what exactly was different. He tiredly rubbed at his forehead as he gave Buffy a strange look. "I don't suppose that my suddenly becoming the prince of a place neither of us has ever heard of was a dream?" Xander paused f or a moment as he brought a hand up to rub his forehead. "Though it would go a long ways to explaining why I got smacked in the face with a frying pan made out of ice."
Buffy smirked and shook her head as she gave a horrified Willow an amused glance. "Sorry Xander, no such luck. Although, you got off luckier than I did, what with the whole Queen-of-Demon's thing Hild had going on. Now, where's Dawn?" Xander flinched at the intense look Buffy fixed him with. He gave her a sheepish smile as he organized his thoughts.
"Uhh, well, my guy was lost right?" Buffy nodded carefully, as she wondered what exactly this had to do with her sister's whereabouts. "So he was just wandering around looking for something familiar and he ran into Dawn's character; thing is, they didn't get along too well." Xander grimaced as Buffy's stare turned into a glare.
"My guy was a, well he was a bit of a self-described ladies man, so he did the first thing he could think of when he met a good-looking woman, he hit on her." Buffy moved so quickly neither Xander nor Willow actually registered what had happened until Xander impacted the trunk of the tree behind him, a good five metres from he had been standing. As he carefully removed himself from the wreckage, Xander couldn't help having the most inane thought that he might have possibly explained things a little better.
As he pulled himself to his feet, Xander paused to dust off his armour, more than a little thankful for the fact that it had remained fully functional. He gave Buffy a wry look as she huffed and look e d away. Xander smirked and shook his head in amusement as he walked back over to Willow and Buffy. "As I was saying, my guy made a big mistake, because whoever Dawn dressed as really didn't appreciate it." Xander moved a hand over his chest as he grimaced from phantom pains. "And she made damn sure I was aware of it too. Damn rifle of hers packed a punch."
Buffy sighed and began to impatiently ta p her foot. "Where. Is. She." Xander opened his mouth to answer, only to flinch backwards as he took one look at Buffy, or more importantly, the faint trails of black lightning that slowly crackled unnoticed around her. Hastily, he turned and pointed towards the unfamiliar figure Buffy and Willow had earlier ignored.
"Over there, I guess she kinda didn't turn all the way back." It was a testament to how strange the situation was for all involved when Xander failed to make any witty response, or Buffy a sharp observation of her own, as the trio gathered around Dawn's unconscious body. Upon closer observation, it was much easier to pick out familiar details in Dawn's face, though there were many changes. The freckles that spotted her cheeks were new, as was the length of her long dark blue, nearly black, hair. Of course, those slight cosmetic differences were nothing compared to that fact that Buffy's younger sister appeared to have aged most of a decade in the space of a couple of hours.
Buffy gently nudged her sister in the side, only to frown when she refused to react in any visible manner, the same lack of response meeting every other way the trio could think of to wake her. With a loud sound of frustration torn from her lips, Buffy leaned back and let herself sit down beside her sister. As she thought of ways to get back at whoever had caused everything to go crazy, her plans becoming much darker and more sinister as she stared balefully at her sister's transformed body, Buffy finally took notice of her own physical changes when she crossed her arms under her expanded chest.
She gave a surprised start before she turned her eyes downwards, and although she was still weighed down by the gravity of the situation, she couldn't help but grin at the thought of how absolutely jealous Cordelia and her little clique would be when she came to school the next day and found their biggest rival looking, well, looking hotter than Hell. Not only would she have a body any other girl would kill for, or pay several million dollars for a facsimile thereof , she was pretty sure that her new hair and tan would cement her as the most desirable young woman around, perfect for manipulating the unwitting masses.
Buffy froze as the last thought that ran through mind actually registered. She had initially brushed off Willow's worries and her own about the leftover memories, but that last thought seemed utterly foreign to her, and yet the more she focused on it the more she found herself agreeing with the rationale behind it . With all the force of will she could muster, she tore her thoughts away from the path she wasn't sure she wanted them to go down, and brought her attention back to the current situation.
It was obvious that if they couldn't wake her sister -and she was her sister and always had been, damn whatever her, Hild's, memories might say otherwise - the next best thing would be to bring her somewhere where she could sort everything out. She certainly couldn't bring Dawn home, not with the way she was at the moment and neither Willow's nor Xander's places were particularly high on her spots to visit list, which left only the one option.
"Alright, its kinda obvious that we aren't going to change anything just sitting out here, and I really don't want to show up and explain to mom why Dawn's looks like she should be joining us at school tomorrow, so I think it's time for us to do the smart thing." She paused f or a moment as she waited for one of the other's to speak, only to sigh in exasperation as they stared at her cluelessly.
"We go check in with Giles." She shook her head in mock sadness as Xander and Willow made sounds of dawning comprehension, while her sister, obviously, made no sound at all. "Honestly, you wouldn't think it would be that hard to figure out. Anyways, Xander, since you're still Mr. Muscles here, you get to grab Dawn. Chop chop now."
Xander grimaced as he hopped to his feet, carefully lifting Dawn into his arms while Buffy watched with a strange twinkle in her eyes, amused at something only she knew. Xander took the lead as he headed off down the street towards the high -school while Buffy drifted back a bit to catch up with Willow, who was trying her hardest to switch between a horrified pale colour, and an embarrassed red a shade deeper than that of her hair.
"So, the frying pan." Buffy bit her lip to keep from laughing as Willow's face skipped red and tried to go towards a shade of purple that, if she could have actually reached it and then copied down on to a fabric, Buffy would have quite liked to use for a dress, preferably one made of Lycra. She wet her lips and tried once more to ignore the foreign thoughts that were slowly but surely infecting her own. "Morrigain again, right?" Willow nodded her head sheepishly as she tried her best to imitate a turtle by drawing herself into her clothing.
Buffy raised a brow in curiosity at the reaction." Oh come on, all she did was smack Xander around a bit. Nothing to be ashamed of right? I mean, Dawn did apparently shot him, so you're kinda on the lower end of the trouble-meter here." She paused as she noticed Willow shrinking inwards even further. The smile slipped from her face as she stopped and rested a hand on her hip, her eyes brooking no argument as she stared at her red-headed friend.
"That is all she did though, right?" Willow stood still and shook under Buffy's gaze, before she found some strength of will, her back straightening as she stood tall and met Buffy's eyes with her own.
"Not entirely. I-Morrigain had a very twisted sense of humour. Thankfully she left the spell to reverse what she did, but it will take a bit of time to unlock it." Willow paused for a moment in thought. "Huh, you know it's almost like one of those games Xander likes to play, with all the leveling and unlocking and, ooh, hey, we're kinda like the characters out of the game, with the questing and the slaying of evil and all that. Hmm, I wonder if we should try checking the vampires out for gold and loot before we stake them. Ooh, and I bet I could make a killing in making potions and selling them to people, though I don't really want to run people of their jobs, but it would help and maybe keep people from dying and-" Willow was cut off as Buffy placed a hand over her mouth, her half-closed eyes giving her far-too-talkative friend a quiet look.
Once she was sure that the message had been received and understood, Buffy removed her hand and let Willow breathe for a moment, before the redhead picked up from where she had verged off on her tangent.
"Um, as I was saying, Morrigain kinda saw Xander hitting on Dawn and considering what happened to the last guy she met who acted that way, she was kinda light on him." Buffy sighed and rubbed tiredly at the bridge of her nose, the action causing to Willow to pause.
"Please, just tell me how bad it is already, I have a headache the size of the universe blowing up in my head right now, and my sister is still out cold from whatever the hell happened, we've all got a bunch of memories from really nasty people, and I still have to figure out a way of explaining everything to mom without being sent back to the asylum again. Is it fine, ungood, double-plus-ungood? What is it?" Buffy and Willow blinked in surprise as yet another little memory made itself known. "Huh, who knew Orwell sold his soul so he could complete his last book before he died." They pair exchanged shrugs before falling silent once again, Willow tentatively tapping her fingers together as she stared at the ground in front of her feet.
"Well, she hit him with a, err, a, well, a slow-acting mumble-mumble curse." Buffy began to open her mouth to respond to Willow's statement, only to freeze as the insanity of the concept of what Morrigain had done registered in her mind. Willow continued on, enjoying the sight of her friend gaping as she had her turn in charge, something that she was enjoying immensely. "I'm just surprised that she e was actually able to manipulate and understand magic well enough that she reverse engineered Jusenkyo in order to create improved versions of her own basic transformation and poly-morphic spells, since hers weren't permanent and all."
That snapped Buffy's mind back to reality as she grabbed her redheaded friend by the shoulder and stared deeply into her eyes. "Permanent? You hit Xander with a permanent curse? And you aren't even worried about it? Are you insane?" Willow frowned as she shrugged off Buffy's hands, her eyes darting over to where Xander had stopped, just outside of the range of his hearing.
"Hey, don't forget, that wasn't me who d id that. And I'll have you know that all of her magic is reversible with the right spell and enough power, I just need to learn it, alright?" Buffy took a deep breath and nodded grimly. The corner of Willow's mouth twitched upwards into a half-smile that seemed strange on the girl. "Now come on, Giles is going to want to know about this, and the sooner we tell him, the sooner we can find a way of fixing things."
The pair shared looks and exchanged subtle nods as they headed over to Xander. The teen raised a silvered brow as they approached and passed him, his armour shaking and rattling as he fell into step behind them.
"So, what was that about? You guys looked like you were about to start wrestling each other right then and there, and while the idea is good, the location definitely needs work, I mean, it's always, always done in a mud-pit. Or with pudding. Pudding or gelatin works too. Of course clothing would be optiona-" Xander paused as he noticed the burning glares his words earned him, inwardly and outwardly cringing at the disapproving frown on Willow's face. Buffy rolled her eyes as she pushed past him.
"If you must know, it was a little bit of girl talk. Happy?" Xander nodded his head quickly, as he tried to refrain from shuddering with the still unconscious body in his hands, the weight in his arms serving to remind him once again why they were heading back towards the source of almost all the misery in their lives.
"Absolutely. Man, am I happy I don't have to worry about stuff like that." Xander closed his eyes and whistled happily to himself, completely unaware of the wide-eyed looks the two conscious female members of the Scoobies exchanged behind his back. A slight chill ran down Xander's spine, to which he simply shrugged off as due to the unusually cold October air.
Surprisingly enough, getting into the school wasn't too hard to do, as there were still quite a few teachers and students around with their young charges. Sneaking past them hadn't been too difficult, as they had all been distracted by the scattered pockets of small children, most of whom were missing the older student s and teachers they had been sent out with. Of course the added difficulty posed by Buffy's unconscious younger sister proved slightly hazardous, the group almost getting caught by Principal Snyder twice as he furiously stomped his way through the school, but they nevertheless made it to the relatively safe haven of the library in one piece, more or less.
Xander opened the door, his armored boot flashing out and impacting the wood with a solid kick that sent the door spinning on its hinges into the wall, Giles jumped out his seat in surprise at the intrusion and sudden loud noise. Seeing who was entering he relaxed slightly and eased himself back into his chair as he pulled off his glasses to begin polishing them.
"Excuse me Xander, but how many times have I had to remind that this is, in fact, a library, and that no matter what we may be doing here most of the time, it is still considered common courtesy to be quiet?" Xander paused at the door, his brow furrowed in thought, while Buffy and Willow moved past him to find their own seats.
"Huh, I actually don't know. At least ten times or so by now probably," the silver-haired teen said as he gently placed Buffy's comatose sister onto an empty table.
"And that is nine times too ma- Good Lord! Is that Dawn?" The Watcher's eyes almost popped from their sockets as he finally recognized the severely changed figure that had been carried into the library in Xander's arms. He swept his gaze across his at once familiar yet foreign charges, confusion writ across his face as he polished his glasses with renewed intensity.
"What the bloody hell, pardon my language, happened to you?" The teens shared looks before Buffy stepped forward, her hands raised in a placating gesture as she tried to calm the Watcher down.
"We kinda ran into a bit of trouble, don't worry, it was just the usual. Some guy rolled into town, set up shop, and sold a truckload of Halloween costumes cursed to cause the wearer to become what they purchased." The former Slayer turned fledgling Mistress of Hell shrugged and offered Giles a sheepish smile. "So, you know, nothing major."
The teens had to fight to keep their amusement from showing as Giles performed an admirable imitation of a fish out of water, his jaw working soundlessly as he tried to put his thoughts into words.
"I-bu-it-who?" The teens shared another set of amused looks, and this time it was Willow who stepped forwards to answer. Giles was quite nearly being rendered senseless as he tried to reconcile the taller, though only by an inch or so, much more confident young woman in front of him with the shy and meek girl who he had seen leave the school a scant few hours earlier.
"We don't know, but we figure it was whoever owned the place where we got our costumes." Willow raised a hand to forestall the question on Giles' tongue. "I know what you're going to ask, but no, we don't know who he is or what he looks like, we only met with the assistant. If it helps though, the shop was called Ethan's."
Giles' eyes went hard as his hands reflexively clenched at the reminder of his old friend. The evening certainly had all the hallmarks of one of Ethan's misguided pranks, from the chaos it caused to the subtle and none-too-amusing irony of people becoming their costumes, and he couldn't wait to get his hands on the chaos mage's skinny little throat for putting a spell on his charges.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath as he tried to calm himself. His anger would do him no good if he didn't know where to find Ethan, and it would only encourage the man more, since Giles had no doubt that Ethan was fully aware that the Watcher had been posted to the Hellmouth and who his charges were. While he despised the man for all he represented, Giles still had to admit, however deeply hidden it was, that Ethan was quite intelligent and crafty, even if his energies were all devoted to less admirable pursuits.
"And where can I find this, Ethan's? I would rather like to meet the man who engineered this evening so that I may teach him some much deserved manners." Giles' tone was cold and Buffy raised a single brow in surprise at the amount of venom underlying his words.
"No point in going there now," Willow said as she perused Giles' personal collection of books, the Watcher giving a surprised blink as he realized the girl had somehow slipped past him without his noticing. Seeing his curious look she continued. " I mean, if he had even the smallest idea of just what he was unleashing, he'd have been out of Sunnydale the moment he finished casting the spell."
"Oh, and what did you three - pardon me, four- " Giles corrected himself as he remembered just who was lying on the table. " Happen to dress as this evening?"
Xander sighed and gave his friends a rather dejected look, a look that Giles didn't fail to miss, before speaking first. "Arthas Menethil, the former heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Lordaeron."
Xander closed his eyes as his face twisted in pain. "Yeah, former. Arthas got screwed over big time, course, the guy who got him had been messed up himself pretty bad. He was a paladin, kinda like the Knights Templar in the Crusades but with full holy powers backing him up, and his kingdom was invaded by a plague of undead. The guy who was controlling everything was a Big Bad made by even Bigger Bads by the name of Ner'zhul." Xander paused and gave Buffy an amused smile. "Course they aren't nearly as major as Hild is, but their still pretty bad."
"He made some deal that didn't work out, and when he tried to escape the Really Big Bads trapped his soul in a chunk of ice that they placed on a frozen wasteland in the ocean north of Lordaeron. Arthas didn't have a clue, but when Ner'zhul got toseed into the world, he used his magicy-ness to split off a portion of his prison, as well a section of his consciousness, and placed it where he knew Arthas would eventually be lead to find it."
The teen paused and rubbed his forehead tiredly, Buffy giving him a sad smile as she placed a hand gently on his arm. "Ner'zhul was used as the hive-mind for an undead collective known as the Scourge. From Northrend he was able to stretch out his mind and give commands anywhere the plague used to spread the undeath was, since the plague itself used some of the magic that bound Ner'zhul to the mortal realm. He wasn't too successful until one of his cults - cults which had an unfortunately large number of people, most of whom joined in search of the immortality the cult offered - recruited a rather disillusioned archmage by the name of Kel'Thuzad."
"Once he joined the Cult of the Damned, his plots lead directly to the down fall of several towns, and the complete destruction and execution of the city of Stratholme and all its inhabitants at Arthas' hands. One hundred and thirty seven thousand people died that day." Giles' jaw dropped in shock, Xander giving him a bitter half-smile before continuing on. "And that was only the beginning of the nightmare."
"Between him and Ner'zhul, Arthas was hit by a metric ton of manipulations - Stratholme only the first blow - as well as magical and psychic whispers and implanted thoughts directing him towards darkness. He-" Xander broke off abruptly, unable to properly continue.
The library was silent, only the occasional shout or child's cry coming from beyond the closed doors to the school, as Giles and the other teens digested Xander's story. Willow was feeling a strange mix of emotions: angry at the person who was causing Xander such torment, guilt that she couldn't think of a way to help him, and a confused respect towards a man willing to go to such lengths, even if his purpose was misguided. Giles was still trying to come to grips with the fact that Xander had the memories of a man who had the blood of countless innocents on his hands. Buffy was completed unbothered by it all; Hild's memories contained far worse than anything Xander or anyone else could imagine. Hild had put entire worlds, entire galaxies to the torch, mostly through her manipulations and subordinates, but sometimes with her own magic.
Xander finally recovered enough to continue, though his voice was hoarse and quiet. "He was lead right into Ner'zhul's hands; in order to save his people, he needed a weapon capable of killing the demon he thought was behind the Scourge. 'Whomsoever takes up this blade shall wield power eternal. Just as the blade rends flesh, so must power scar the spirit.' He really should have turned back right then and there, but instead he found a sword strong enough to slay a demon, and all it cost him was his soul, his eventual humanity, and the lives of all those who had stood beside him and in his path."
Before anyone could respond to his words, Xander grabbed the hilt of the sheathed blade at his hip, the blade pulling free with the echoing ring of steel on steel. Pulling it up in front of his face, the silver-haired teen froze in shock. To his side Buffy stared incredulously at the midnight black blade, the metal seeming to draw in all the light that fell upon on it.
"Ymir's breath," Buffy whispered into the silence, "do you have any idea what you're holding?"
Xander turned and gave his friend a confused look, noting the awe on her face for something to rib her with later. Buffy spared him a momentary glance before returning to stare at the sword.
"That's Dragnipur, forged countless millennia with the blood of Mother Dark by her consort, the Elder God Draconus, it's the only weapon capable of slaying Ascended beings, and it doesn't just kill them, it traps their souls inside a pocket dimension within the blade." She shook herself visibly and tried to recover, though her eyes remained filled with a dancing energy. "Hild had seen it destroyed, but I guess whoever was behind Ner'zhul gathered the shards and reforged them. Whatever happened to us must have made it the way it was. That is so cooool."
The others just stared at her blankly, Buffy flicking her eyes from one pair of eyes to the next in confusion. "What, was it something I said?"
Willow smiled and shook her head in amusement. "If you don't know why now, then I doubt explaining it will make things any better. Anyway, I ended up going as one of two students to the witch-queen Baba Yaga, " Willow paused as thunder crashed loudly above the school, a rather odd occurence since the sky had been practically cloudless when they had arrived. Giles gave a small sigh in relief. While Baba Yaga had been, and still was, an incredible thorn in the side of the Council, she spent most of her time wandering dimensions far away from Earth, and thus they were content to leave her alone. They weren't aware that she had taken on any students however, though it wasn't too surprising considering they had records of her existence predating the rise of Egypt.
"She had a lot, a lot of names over time, which is kinda neat, but a lot of them were really similar, so," Willow shook her head to stop herself from babbling on. "She was most well known, at least to modern times, as Morgan La Fey, though she before that she was the Morrigain, using her magic to play all three of the trio of goddesses. Of course, she kinda had help considering the fact she usurped Hel's throne in the Norse pantheon, thanks to Hild, though I'm pretty sure she still regrets making that deal."
Buffy snorted derisively. "That's an understatement. She and Hild got along worse than me and Cordelia on our worst days. Didn't help that she killed Hild's granddaughter (1) and set herself up to avoid ever getting punished for it."
Giles gave Buffy a curious look while Willow offered up a shrug as she returned to perusing the book she had found. "Excuse me, but all three of you have referred to this Hild, and I find myself at a loss to her identity, though I have my suspicions. Could you please tell me who she is?"
Buffy offered Giles a smug smirk as he felt his heart at once leap into his mouth and fall out of his chest.
"The Daimakaichō Hild is the single most powerful evil entity in the multiverse. She is the Allfather's equal and opposite, and she rules over Nifelheim, the dark reflection of the heavenly realm of Asgard." She couldn't help but laugh at the dumbstruck expression on Giles' face as he snapped his glasses.
"Oh, and you're looking at the heir to her position and powers."
When Dawn awoke, it was to an endless expanse of nothing. It was not white, nor was it black, it was simply devoid of anything. She had found, after several hours, that she could move as if she was walking, though she wasn't sure if she was actually moving or if her mind was simply producing the illusion of movement, and she wandered around for days, or so it felt to her.
For a while she had simply stood in the emptiness in shock, as she had looked down upon herself and found a stranger's body in place of her own. The memories hadn't helped much, and she didn't want or need to remember all the various ways Ulrika had been brainwashed by her mother and superior officers. And things she had did still caused Dawn to shudder. There were things done in the Millenium labs, experiments that should have never been imagined let alone attempted, and she found that the emptiness around her was a comfort, much more so than the nightmares hiding in her mind waiting for her close her eyes.
And so, to distract herself, she had simply begun to walk. She pondered her own memories while she wandered, the revelation of the existence of the darker side of the world giving whole new meaning to things she had simply shrugged off or been told to ignore, oftentimes by her own sister.
Her sister. That was another topic that consumed a great deal of her focus. She knew who she had gone as, the benefits of having a working knowledge of the internet combined with an interest in Japanese mangas and anime, and if Buffy had gone through the same thing she had, then she wasn't sure if she wanted to wake up any time soon. Not if Hild was still in control of her sister's body. And thoughts of her sister lead to thoughts of her mother, and questions as to how much she was aware of, and how she would react to what had happened to Dawn.
Dawn was so distracted by her thoughts that she failed to notice the nothing that surrounded her become something. The sound of the heels of shoes clicking against stone brought her out her reverie. Her eyes widened in surprise as she found herself walking down a corridor lined with doors of all shapes and sizes, the hall stretching on in either direction distantly beyond her vision. She tried to open some of the doors but gave up after finding them all locked. Without nothing else for her to do, she continued walking onwards, her hands grasping for a weapon that wasn't there.
Suddenly, between one step and the next, a large oaken desk appeared in the center of the corridor a few metres in front of her. Her body locked up in surprise, her muscles tensing in preparation to fight or flee. A pair of hands held up a newspaper written in a language and text that Dawn couldn't make out while its owner sat behind the desk. She idly noticed a small sign hanging off the corner of the desk written in English.
Out for a bite, oh that's real funny. Dawn closed her eyes and took in a deep, calming breath. While she wasn't entirely sure, the situation she found herself in had all the hallmarks of a certain being's rather twisted sense of humour, and considering who she had decided to dress as, she wouldn't be surprised to find him sitting behind the desk, especially given the flashes of crimson she occasionally caught as the paper moved.
She stood there quietly for several minutes watching the pages of the newspaper turn, its reader never revealing himself while he did so, her nerves slowly growing tenser as the time passed. The man behind the desk gave a start at some unheard signal, the paper in his hands rustling as he folded it up and set it down on the desk. Dawn swallowed loudly as she received her first look at the man behind the desk.
Just as she had thought, the man was tall and strong, though he built more like a runner than a weight builder, his muscles wiry and built more for speed. His face possessed an aristocratic handsomeness to it that would have many girls, and women, streaming to his door in hopes of catching sight of him, until one looked more closely. Eyes a deep crimson, eyes filled with a terrible cruelty and madness, set above a feral grin filled with more teeth than should have possibly fit in a human's mouth, and each one a bestial fang made for tearing flesh.
Her mouth felt dryer than the Californian sun had ever made her feel as her mind finally grasped the fact that Alucard himself, the most horrifying and, though she would only admit it within her own mind and never aloud, darkly attractive monsters she had ever heard of. (2) His every movement, even when he stood still, breathed a controlled menace and violence that caused her gut to twist into knots.
Why do I suddenly feel so hot? She wondered, the strange feelings stirring inside her unusual, outside of the times when she was daydreaming about Xander. She knew he had saved her sister from something, considering her recent revelations it was entirely possible that it was some horrible fate, and that had only served to endear the teen to her more. He, outside of Willow or her mother, was the only person she knew to treat her as an intelligent young adult rather than fragile child that would break at the first glance at reality. She felt something wet trickle down her leg and she couldn't help but worry if Alucard's presence had caused her bladder to loosen, though it certainly didn't feel like such a thing had occurred.
And from the way Alucard's grin seemed to stretch wider she was reasonably sure that he could read her thoughts. Which, while irritating, shouldn't have been possible, as he could only access the minds of those with which he shared a connection, such as Integra via the Command Seals ingrained into his very being, or Seras since she was his...
Alucard chuckled darkly as realization struck the girl like the furious fists of an entire pantheon of gods. He stood up and walked around the desk, his eyes staying focused on Dawn as he circled her, studying her as a sculptor would his latest work. He stopped in front of her, and Dawn unconsciously stood taller, trying her hardest to hide the sheer terror she was feeling. From the look in Alucard's eyes she obviously wasn't successful enough, and yet he still looked oddly proud. She blinked and when she reopened her eyes, Alucard had vanished from her sight.
"Imagine my surprise," she nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of Alucard's slow drawl, the barest hint of his original accent teasing at his origins, coming from behind her. "When I wake up this morning to find one of my familiars missing, and another Childe's connection to myself." She could feel his breath, cold just as his body was, race across the back of her neck, teasingly curling around the tip of her ear. "A Childe I do not remember making, and one who is so similar to my missing pet. Imagine it. "She felt herself shudder slightly, and Alucard's presence retreated slightly.
"Now, what to do with you I wonder?" Dawn shuddered again, and this time it had nothing to do with any physical sensation. She recognized the tone of voice Alucard was using; it was same one he had when he was debating methods of killing people with his master, or ways of tempting said master to join him in his unlife.
His eyes stared at her from the shadows, a dozen, a hundred, a thousand crimson pupils focused unblinkingly. She didn't bother looking behind her, she could already tell that Alucard was no longer there, but rather all around her. She could no longer see anything except for the shadow-stuff that comprised Alucard's body, the corridor having disappeared into the darkness. She idly wondered if the corridor had ever even existed in the first place, or if it had simply been another of Alucard's manipulations. The Nosferatu held a disdain for illusions, much preferring to meet his opponent on relatively even ground and face to face, but with his many centuries of existence he possessed, he had learned more things than any mortal could ever know.
"I suppose I could kill you," his voice sounded out from all around her, "but that would be such a waste. You and I are connected, stronger than even the chains that bind me to my Master." Cruel laughter filled the air, the sound chilling Dawn to her core. "I will be watching, little Eclipse. Show me something worthwhile, something that proves your worthy of my gift."
Dawn cursed, unaware of the thick German accent that rolled off her tongue, as the shadow's around her swallowed her up. The last sight she had before darkness claimed her entirely, was of Alucard grinning his twisted grin at her.
"Entertain me Childe. Entertain me."
The library was suddenly filled with the sound of a ringing alarm clock, breaking off the argument between Slayer and Watcher before it could become too loud, as the conscious members of the party looked around for the source of the noise. Unfortunately, the ringing seemed to be coming from almost all directions at once, and not even a simple locator spell from Willow could identify the origin. Then, just as suddenly as it had begun, the sound ceased, and in the silence left behind by the alarm's absence, there came a quiet groan.
Buffy was the first to move, her hurried steps nearly causing her to trip and fall several tips as she pushed path her friends and the various inanimate objects in her way to her sister's side. Dawn's eyes blinked open and Buffy forced a hand to her mouth to stifle the gasp of shock that threatened to escape it. She knew that they had all been changed by the night's events, but she had held some distant hope that perhaps the worst that had been down to her sister was that she had simply gained a few years, nothing too horrible, but she should have known better; she was never that lucky.
"No." Buffy whimpered quietly as she took a shaking step back from startling crimson eyes as the creature that had replaced her sister sat up on the table, a confused and hurt expression on her face. "No, no nonononono, why you, why, I can't..." She took another step back and collapsed to her knees, tears running freely down her face. Willow was by her side in an instant, holding the sobbing Slayer to her chest while Xander stood stone-faced over them. He studied Dawn carefully, and maybe it was part of Arthas' legacy as the Lich King, but he found something in her eyes and he smiled, his worries assuaged by the innocence he found there.
Giles gave Dawn one look, taking in the eyes and protruding fangs, before he reached underneath his desk and retrieved the small crossbow he kept there. There was no doubt in his mind that whatever his old friend had done, it had cursed his charge's young sister to a fate far worse than death, and all he could do was make sure that she didn't go after her family. Although he did have a few doubts on whether or not a vampire could actually turn the Slayer now that she had been changed.
The crossbow bucked in his hands - he hadn't bother sighting it, rather he simply fired from the hip, at such a short range accuracy was assured - and the small wood bolt hissed through the air before entering Dawn's heart with a wet slap. Buffy's sobs stopped instantly as everyone in the library froze, their eyes moving from a stunned Giles to where Dawn tentatively poked the tail of the crossbow bolt sticking out of her chest. She grasped it tightly in her hand, her faced fixed in a grimace of pain, as she pulled the bolt free in a spray of blood.
She gave her sister and her friends a curious look. "Uh, that isn't supposed to happen, is it?"
The teens were too shocked to do anything more than nod, causing Dawn to sigh. "Makes sense, Father was never one to play by the rules, it's hardly surprising that even his existence as a vampire was different than any other." She looked down to where the gaping wound was already stitching itself shut with black shadow-like threads, the sight causing her to smile toothlessly. It looked like she might have more in common with Alucard than just being of his blood.
"On the other hand, at least my soul has survived the evening intact. I was half expecting Rip van Winkle's possession to have done some major damage, but it looks I got off pretty lucky."
She didn't even see Buffy move, one second she had been staring at Dawn from her knees with bleary eyes, the next she was holding Dawn up by her shirt, a shirt that Dawn was pleased to see was filled out rather nicely.
"Lucky? You call getting turned into an Odin-cursed Vampire Lucky?" Dawn began to look panicked as Buffy shook with each word. Buffy looked into her sister's eyes and let go of her as if she was a venomous snake, her eyes staring at her hands as if they had betrayed her. She began to shake again, the tremors running through her entire body, only this time, instead of Willow comforting her, she found herself wrapped up in Dawn's eyes, crimson drops staining her cheeks.
Buffy turned her eyes to Giles, seeing the Watcher sitting on his desk with a half-empty bottle of whiskey in his hands and no glass in sight, the crossbow once again placed out of sight. "G-Giles, what the hell is happening to us?" She cursed herself as her voice came out sounding just as shaken as she felt. She was the Slayer, she wasn't supposed to be some easily scared little girl, although she had to admit that a good portion of Hild's memories were down-right terrifying.
Giles stared at the four irrevocably altered teenagers in turn, his eyes lingering for several moments on each before moving to the next, before he took another swig from the bottle.
"I don't know. Give a couple of days to run through my books and check out Ethan's shop, and I'll see what I can do. The best thing for you all is to head home and get some sleep. Who knows, maybe this is all temporary and will be gone by morning." Giles tried to force a smile as he tried to lighten the atmosphere, only for it to whither and die a quick death as the teens dejectedly dragged themselves out of the library.
"This time my old friend, you've gone too far." His eyes drifted to the sight of Dawn as she closed the library door behind her. "Too bloody far."
The Scoobies had split up after leaving the library, Xander heading towards his home with a smirk as he considered just how greatly his father was going to end up surprised by his newfound muscles and skills, Willow skipping homewards as she remembered that her parents were out of town for a conference and she would be able to experiment until they returned. The last pair headed home with their nerves racking them as they argued over how they were to break the news to their mother about everything concerning the evening, as well as the Hellmouth they inadvertently found themselves living over.
Reaching their street, they held a momentary glimmer of hope that their mother might not have returned from her evening party yet, only to be disappointed by the sight of their mother's car parked in the drive and the lights on in the kitchen. They debated for a moment on whether or not they should simply find a hotel to stay in for the night, considering the option until they remembered they had no money available for such an expense. Steeling their spines, they shared a quick laugh at the absurdity of the fact that they, with all the horrifying and terrifying memories of their costumed personas, were scared of being confronted by their mother.
Just as Buffy reached down to grasp the doorknob, it slid out of her grasp as the door swung open silently and, as evidenced by the absence of anyone on the other side, autonomously. The two Summers sisters shared nervous looks before cautiously heading inside. They didn't bother reacting as the door slammed shut behind them. Entering the kitchen, the only place in the house which appeared to have any working lights, they found their mother, still dressed in the same deep purple evening gown she had left in.
As their mother turned, as if having sensed their presence, the sisters noted that her hair seemed to be much darker and longer than it usually was, though it might have simply been a play of the light. Both of them flinched at the look in their mother's eyes, eyes that they incredulously found to be an amethyst several shades darker than Buffy's own altered colour. The light in the kitchen glinted off the plain silver choker around her neck and the large oval aquamarine beryl gemstone embedded in the metal.
"You two," Dawn flinched back as myriad small azure flames manifested in the air behind her mother's shoulders. Buffy's eyes widened as Hild's memories supplied her with the identity of the only other person with such and ability. Joyce looked between the two and sighed, the anger leaving her body with her breath, though the flames remained. "You two are going to explain what happened to me, and then you are going to explain - in painstaking detail - why my ten year old daughter appears to be have had her sixteenth birthday already."
Buffy sighed and rubbed tiredly at the bridge of her nose. Why, she wondered to herself as she sat down at the table across from her mother, why didn't I save the carpal tunnel excuse.
Omake #1, or, An explanation as to Spike's Absence.
"Well, isn't this-" Spike's statement was cut off as he abruptly dived for cover behind a nearby trashcan, his slower moving minions catching the full brunt of the shockwave of razor sharp icicles, some larger than Spike was, the alley quickly and quietly becoming filled with a slowly settling cloud of ash-coloured snowflakes. Spike shakily got to his feet and gave the pair of dueling magic users one quick look before retreating back to his lair, muttering as he went.
"Bloody hell. And here I was thinking that I'd left all those crazy witches behind with the turn of the nineteenth century. Bugger what Dru said about the Slayer, it isn't worth it."
And that was arguably the smartest thing the vampire known as Spike ever did in his entire existence. Well, maybe the second, after making sure to skip off to Mexico to wait out World War Two, though that was mostly because Drusilla had wanted to see the pyramids rather than an actual awareness of the unfolding situation, but he did make sure to stay there once everything went to hell. He didn't get to his age without learning when to cut his losses and run.
Omake #2, or, No-one is that stupid... right?
"I'm telling you, not even Harmony is that stupid! I wouldn't spend my time with someone like that, no matter how good it made me look in comparison." Heads turned to see the somewhat unusual sight of the Queen of the school arguing with one of the dregs, or, as he was known according to most unaware of just who helped to keep them safe from the darker aspects of Sunnydale. Those who were aware considered him a hero, and more than few girls would have tried dating him in a heartbeat, if Cordelia hadn't made it clear that associating with him or his friends would be social suicide. Of course, that was before Halloween, as afterwards, well, pretty much every student agreed that the group of friends had certainly become many, many degrees hotter. Somewhat similar to going from the heating element in a toaster to the fusion furnace in the center of a star.
Xander smiled as he shook his head, his silver-grey hair tumbling and flowing in a way that sent several nearby young girls rushing off to the washroom, and one guy as well, though no-one noticed. To be fair, Xander had slowly become more and more, as any fan of Japanese entertainment would tell you, bishonen in appearance, which had the unintended -though perhaps it was actually what Morrigain had in mind when she cursed him- side-effect of causing lots of conflicted feelings within both the male and female populace of Sunnydale High.
"Well, it looks like you're gonna get your chance, here she comes." Cordelia raised a delicate brow and turned to find her cheerleader compatriot coming towards them. She began to open her mouth, most likely to ask why Cordelia was wasting her time on Xander, but was beaten to the punch as Cordelia spoke up.
"Listen closely Harm, I need to settle a bet with Tweedle Dum over here. Now then, which is closer Harm, the moon, or Florida?"
Cordelia winced and grew redder and redder by the second as Harmony took her time to think over the simple and obvious question. Her face began to brighten as Harmony opened her mouth to answer.
"Hellooooo, the moon of course. I mean you can't see Florida."
For a moment not even the crickets chirped as all listening were rendered mute with shock at Harmony's answer. The wordless sound of pure rage and agony that was ripped from Cordelia's throat would forever engrave itself on the minds of those who heard it as the most horrifyingly beautiful thing they had ever heard.
And so grew the legend of Xander Harris, the Lord of Sunnydale High.
If only they knew...
Omake #3, or, I really HATE Twilight, for ruining vampires. Honestly, before they used to awesome and terrible, like the ones from Buffy, or better yet, Hellsing. Long Live Hellsing! Long (Un)Live Alucard! Carpe Noctem! (... I seriously need to get out more.)
"So let me get this straight, your a vampire?" Dawn couldn't help but stare incredulously at the teen who had walked up to her from out of the blue, introducing himself as Edward something or other, Dawn hadn't been paying much attention past the point where he had introduced himself as a vampire.
"Yes, and I can tell that you are also a vampire, though you seem to be of a lineage I am unfamiliar with." Dawn's lips quirked upwards, revealing her protruding fangs, as she agreed with his gross understatement. Wearing the plain runners she usually did, she still stood as tall, if not taller, than most men she met, and between her long indigo hair, her pale skin with its light dusting of freckles, and her piercing crimson eyes, she possessed an exotic beauty only her mother or sister could hope match.
As she stood there, the overcast sky began to clear, forcing Dawn retrieve her parasol. The other vampire merely cocked his head to the side as the sun shone through. The light hit his skin, and three seconds later his body hit the ground in countless pieces, none larger than a finger. Dawn stared unblinkingly at the bloody smear on the street as the sky clouded over once more, thunder booming as rain began to fall and wash away the last traces of the hideous, horrifying mockery of a vampire that had dared think itself anything close to Dawn's equal in status. Even the demonic vampires knew better than that.
She heard a terrified scream and turned to find a young woman, obviously with child considering her swollen belly, and she was staring at the gory mess on the ground. At first Dawn that thought that it was merely a reaction to the scene,she was quite frightening as she stood in front of the component parts of a corpse with its blood soaking her sleeves. But tapping into her vampiric senses she noticed something interesting. She looked back and forth between the hysterical woman and the corpse before coming to a decision.
Moments later another shattered body hit the pavement, the blood washing away in the rain.
Ok, that last omake got a little dark there. Sorry bout that, but I seriously can't stand hearing, let alone seeing, that series.
(1) Hild, based on my understanding, flawed as it most likely is, was once Freya/Frigga, Odin's wife, and thus the mother of Urd (in Oh My Goddess canon), Baldr, Loki, and Hodr.
(2) *Looks around innocently* What? I mean, she did fall in with Spike, and Buffy was dating Angel... is it too much of a stretch for both the girls to have some sort of kink for dead guys?
... I'm going to go smack myself for that, be right back... Sorry, but it had to be said. Now, on with the note.
And yes. I did that to Xander. I mean come on; have you read a single one of my stories that hasn't had that to one extent or another? I'm not sure why it seems so intriguing an idea to me, but hey, I got my quirks you got yours, you don't hear me ragging about them. And before you get on my case about it, it isn't permanent, or at least, it won't be once Willow unlocks the spell of reversal that is. ;)
Yes, Joyce ended up with a dress courtesy of Whistler, which means that yes, she was possessed too. I'll even offer a little hint: she is a major villainess from a classic anime, though this version is taken from a bit into the series' backstory. I also put in a major, major clue as to her identity. There is a reward for whoever gets it right first.