Xander was not a happy bunny. He'd had it all worked out. He didn't have a whole lot of money to spend on a Halloween costume but he did have some old army fatigues he'd picked up at a second hand store for a very low price and combine that with a nice, cheap toy gun and voila! One Halloween costume at bargain basement prices. Easy. Wonderful. Cheap. And then all his plans had been foiled when some little blond haired brat had got to the last toy gun just a few moments before he'd bravely battled his way through the crowds of ravening kids all fighting over the cool costumes.
It was times like this that he really, really hated children.
So now he was reduced to rummaging through the costume racks looking for something that didn't look utterly retarded or like it belonged on one of those anime characters that no-one was quite sure if they were male of female. Bloody kids. So he went through. Ghost, demon, sailor scout, Alucard - too expensive but it would have been a kick-ass costume, Seras Victoria, female Ranma, stereotypical Dracula - no thanks, what looked vaguely like the sort of clothes that Angel wore . . . were there any decent costumes he could afford here?
And then he saw something that made him pause. The black and red robes with weird designs didn't really catch his eye that much, nor did the intimidating looking mask, but the lightsabre certainly did.
"I wonder what this is a costume of," mused Xander. "Not that it matters - I doubt I can afford it."
"I believe it's a villain from some sort of computer game," said an English sounding voice from a few inches behind and to his left, making Xander almost need a change of underwear. "And I'm sure we could work something out. I'm rather committed to getting people the right costumes and I'm sure this would be perfect for you."
"You really shouldn't sneak up on people like that in this town," gasped Xander. "And there really is no way I could afford a costume this nice."
"Come now, it's obviously not worth the current price if it's still on the rack so late in the day. I'll just take whatever you can afford for it," said the man.
Xander blinked. "Not that I'm complaining but how can you possibly be making any money like that?"
"I'm not in this game for the money," he said in reply to that. "I'm more interested in making my customers happy. That's all the reward I need."
Yeah, right. And if he believed that he'd be buying a nice statue in New York from the next street dealer he ran into. Still, he wasn't going to complain. This was way better than his original plan for a costume.
Xander squinted as he waited for someone to answer the door to Buffy's house. This mask was about as practical as wearing spandex in a fight, he couldn't see a damn thing out of it no matter how cool it looked once he'd put it on. Thankfully he didn't have to wait long for someone to answer the door and when they did, he had to admit that Buffy did look damn good in that old-fashioned dress she'd picked out as her costume.
"Lord Darth Revan here for . . . Buffy! Lady of Buffdom, Duchess of Buffonia, I am in awe! I completely renounce spandex!"
"Is that you Xander?" asked Buffy - slightly thrown off by the concealing and slightly intimidating looking costume, who continued to speak after Xander nodded in confirmation. "That's a pretty impressive costume you've got yourself even if I have no idea what it is but wait till you see . . . "
"Boo," said a Willow that was dressed in her traditional ghost costume. God only knows what Buffy had tried to get her to wear in an effort to draw Willow out, as if Willow wasn't fine the way she was!
". . . Willow," said a visibly disappointed Buffy.
"That's a mighty fine boo you got there, Willow," said Xander.
"What's that costume, Xander?" asked his oldest friend as she walked down the stairs, carefully watching her footing so she didn't tread on her costume and go flying.
"According to the leaflet it's a Sith Lord from a computer game that's coming out soon," he said. "Pretty vague on the details aside from that, didn't even say if they were male or female, or who they were before they went Dark. Just said that Revan was once a great Jedi who'd saved the Republic from invaders before disappearing and returning a Sith with a huge fleet and attacking the Republic."
"Cool," said Willow. "It looks good, nice and intimidating."
After a quick conversation with Buffy's mother and some photos being taken, they were off to enjoy Halloween.
Xander tore the mask off his face as the spell ended and gasped for air as he tried to make sense of what had just happened in the few short hours that his body had been under the control of one of the greatest Sith the galaxy had ever seen. To say Revan had been displeased at suddenly finding herself on a primitive backwater of a planet - by her standards anyway - would be the understatement of the eon. It didn't help that the last thing she remembered was Malak's betrayal and the feeling of death claiming her. If Willow had been corporeal when she'd told Revan what she thought was going on they'd be scraping her off the walls. As it was Revan had blasted her with enough Force power that Willow had been forced to make a break for it or risk having her ghost-form destroyed.
The only good thing about it all was that Xander's hatred of the demons had carried over to Revan. Actually it seemed to be many times greater for Revan. She'd taken one look at the first demonic vampire she'd ran into and promptly been utterly disgusted by the sheer unnaturalness of it all and went on a vampire massacre that would probably still be legend in demonic communities when the sun burnt out and humanity became extinct.
On a down side, Deadboy had shown some survival instincts and stayed well clear of that one. Spike had managed avoid death by the narrowest of margins too, running for his life and taking cover in the sewers as Revan sliced through his minions like a hot knife through butter. Lightsabres definitely had pointy sticks beaten hands down as vampire killing tools.
And then to top it all she'd ran into Alucard! After they'd fought each other to a standstill - and Xander would still be having nightmares about that battle on his deathbed - they'd decided to team up and teach the demon community a lesson in true dark power before getting their hands on Ethan Rayne and claiming their pound of flesh as punishment for toying with them with his chaos magic.
Not that Xander had any sympathy for someone stupid enough to summon such powerful and amoral creatures with magic. You might as well walk around Sunnydale at night with a banner saying, "free meal here," for all the survival instincts that showed! Honestly, even the biggest moron knew that Sith Lords were not people to be messed with. Ever. And Alucard wasn't exactly someone to play around with either though Ethan probably had no idea on that front, Hellsing was kinda cult after all. Either way, he wouldn't be troubling anyone ever again with the way he was missing both hands and feet, suffering from severe electrical burns, and was impaled on a rather large wooden spike in the middle of the high street. And that didn't take into account the mental tortures Revan had visited upon the man before tiring of him.
Considering that his stupid idea of fun would have likely gotten Buffy in her noble-woman guise killed if Revan hadn't sent the vampires running for cover, Xander felt approximately no sympathy for the idiot man-child, but it really hadn't been any thing to watch as his body had tortured someone to the verge of insanity again and again before finally leaving him for dead.
But all of this paled next to the rather large physical changes Xander had suffered thanks to Revan not really wanting to leave once she'd discovered that she was a fictional character. Even the most powerful of Sith could not match the power of a God - even a minor one like Janus - but she'd managed to hold on long enough to make some rather major changes in Xander.
Like the two on his chest. Those were rather major from the way he felt. His body felt . . . weird in general really. And the lack of a familiar weight between his legs wasn't promising either. If he wasn't completely in shock, he'd probably be screaming his head off about now in sheer panic. That was if he was even a he anymore. Complete panic was looking like a real good option about now in all honesty.
"G-man, you gotta fix me," said Xander as he charged into the library. It came out rather more high-pitched sounding than Xander was even vaguely comfortable with.
"Do I know you, young lady?" said a rather puzzled looking Giles without a hint of recognition on his face as he looked up from the rather thick looking old fashioned book he'd been reading before Xander had interrupted him.
"Do you know me?" said Xander, almost screaming by this point as his emotions reached boiling point. "I'm Xander! Or at least I was . . . "
"Good Lord! What on Earth has happened to you, Xander? I've never seen anything like this before," said Giles.
"Um, don't you know what happened tonight? You know, people turning into their Halloween costumes? I'd have thought it would have been kinda hard to miss with all the battles going on . . . "
"I . . . I had no idea. I'd felt something strange but I didn't think it was anything like that," said Giles, beginning to rub away at his glasses with a cloth. "How did it happen? Is anyone injured?"
"It was some British guy called Ethan Rayne working some chaos mojo," said a distracted looking Xander. At the enraged and rather lethal look that flashed over Giles features he elaborated - that look would have been downright intimidating to him before he'd seen what he'd seen tonight. "Not that you need to ever worry about that guy showing up again. He's either dead or very close to it and wishing he was already there by now."
Giles blinked and pinched the bridge of his nose. "What happened to him?"
"Uh . . . let's just say that pissing off a Sith Lord and a True Nosferatu was not the cleverest thing he's ever done. But that isn't important! Giles, I want my testicles back! I don't wanna be female! I liked being, you know, Xander-shaped."
"I'm sorry, Xander, but this goes far beyond my realm of expertise. If Ethan was calling upon a Chaos God as he usually did for such things, I really don't think you'll be able to find a way to change back without having some other horrible effect placed upon you."
"He used Janus. Wonderful. Goodbye masculinity and hello to sitting down to pee," said Xander with an edge of hysteria to his voice as he collapsed into a chair near Giles. "This officially sucks. And here's me feeling emasculated before just because Buffy stopped some stupid jock from beating me up."
Giles coughed. "Well, look on the bright side, Xander. You have at least been transformed into a rather fetching young woman who will no doubt be quite a beauty in years to come."
A loud thud from behind them made Xander leap out of his seat with the combat reflexes that Revan's possession had ingrained in him. What he saw made him gawk more than a little. It was Willow. A very hot looking Willow dressed in clothes that she would never wear normally, not in a million years. Not that it mattered anymore if he thought Willow or any other female was attractive. With those wonderfully happy thoughts running through his head, he slumped into a chair and pouted as Giles propped Willow up in a chair and they waited for her to come around. It only took a couple of minutes before he felt her start to stir.
"Giles, I had this really weird dream were I came into the library and Xander was here but he was female . . . and it wasn't a dream was it? Oh, Xander, what happened?" said Willow at a hundred miles an hour blending it all into one breath somehow before jumping out of her seat and giving Xander a bone-crushing hug. He couldn't reply till she let go and sat back down in her chair.
"Halloween happened. That sodding bastard Ethan Rayne and his spell has made me completely change gender. And now I'm starting to sound English when I speak. It just keeps getting better! What's next? Lightning shooting out of my hands? The only way this could be any worse would be if I'd dressed up as a vampire!"
"Oh, Xander, I'm so sorry," said Willow," but we'll all try and help you get used to this."
"Of course," said Giles. "If there's anything I can do, you just need to ask."
Xander leaned forward on the table and dropped his head into his hands. "What am I going to do? I can't go home like this! My parents would never in a million years believe that I'm their son and it's bad enough dealing with them when I'm male. Force only knows what my Dad would be like now! My entire life is gone!"
Giles coughed politely to catch Xander's attention before speaking, "if you're comfortable with it, you could stay in my spare room, Xander. And I'm sure I'll be able to arrange a new identity for you. If the council won't help you, then I know some people in England who'll be able to help. It also seems likely that if the spell has transformed you so thoroughly that you'll have been left with some skills that will help you make a new life for yourself."
"I'll help too," said Willow. "I'll help you with getting used to uh female stuff and I'm sure Buffy will too."
Xander looked up, his eyes full of gratitude even though there was a part of him that was snorting in disgust at showing such weakness in front of others and needing such aid, "thank you, Giles, Willow. You're life-savers."
Before they could talk further the library doors burst open and the wonder duo of Deadboy and Buffy came charging in. Buffy immediately began to speak to Giles without looking at anyone else in the room but Angel saw Xander and immediately paled and backed away a step. "Giles, we need to talk! There are rumours all over the place about some mad hunters that have been tearing demons and vampires apart all night. And what they did to that shop owner was disgusting! What do we do?"
Xander spoke before Giles could say anything. "Nothing, Buffy. Those hunters were just people who'd been transformed by Ethan's spell and they're gone now. No more Sith Lords or Nosferatu running around Sunnydale."
"And who are you?" demanded a distrustful Buffy. "I've never seen you around before."
Xander stood up. "Recognise the costume? I'm just your Xander-shaped friend, except I'm not so Xander-shaped anymore, or male shaped for that matter."
"It was you," said Angel quietly as Buffy assimilated the fact that her best male friend was now not so male. "You were the one ripping through the vampires and demons like they were made of tissue paper with that guy in the red coat."
"It was Revan, yes. And if you saw us, I'm surprised you're still alive. Neither Revan or Alucard would have let you escape with your hide intact if they could help it, soul or no soul."
Buffy blinked and then changed direction abruptly. "So it was you who killed that shop guy?"
"The whole impaling thing was Alucard - his speciality, supposedly. Revan roughed him up a bit but Alucard finished the job. Neither I nor the person who was Alucard's host were in control, remember that. And Rayne did cause everything that happened in this town tonight."
Giles interjected at that point. "Buffy, there's nothing to be gained from pursuing this. Xander is no more responsible for what happened than he was last year with the Hyena. He's as much a victim in this as everyone else." After a moment more he spoke again. Alucard. Dracula inverted . . . Xander, just who was roaming the town last night?"
"Alucard and Dracula are the same person in the Hellsing manga. Dracula was somehow captured and bound to the Hellsing family at the turn of the century. At that point they renamed him and used him as a weapon against the undead enemies who threatened the British Empire. He's extremely powerful and could probably break the bindings and escape but for some reason he doesn't. He's not like our vampires, there's no demon involved and he's orders of magnitude stronger. He could kick the Master around like a football and probably would just for existing and not being True Nosferatu."
"My word," said Giles. "It's a good thing he wasn't inclined to picking up where he left off as Dracula."
"So can we fix Xander?" said Buffy, interrupting what she probably saw as a very boring conversation.
"I don't believe so, Buffy," said Giles. "I'll have to do some research into the matter but it does seem somewhat unlikely."
Buffy slumped into a nearby chair. "This is all my fault. I should have known something bad would happen if I let other people get involved with the slaying."
Xander snorted. "Utter nonsense. This had nothing to do with slaying and everything to do with an idiot mage playing games with peoples lives. Your presence in my life had absolutely nothing to do with my choice of costume and I would have worn a costume for Halloween with or without you in my life."
"Yeah," said Willow with full resolve-face. "This isn't your fault, Buffy."
"Well said, the pair of you," said Giles. "No-one could possibly blame you for this, Buffy, so there's no reason for you to feel any guilt."
"Okay, okay, I get the picture, but what are we going to do?" said Buffy. "I think people are going to notice. Even Sunnydale blindness won't hide this"
"For now, Xander will be staying with me and I will arrange some way for him to continue his life in his new guise if it becomes necessary."