Good for the soul

Author: Kevin Matsumoto <matsumotk010[at]>

Summary: Another Halloween challenge story. This is obviously a crossover but I'm not going to say with what. I'm just curious how many people read the story I'm crossing with. :) Actually I think I've given enough clues in the story to tell anyone who's read the series I'm talking about to guess who Xander is dressed as.

Disclaimer: Don't own anything just borrowing.

Chapter 1

Xander Harris barely suppressed a sigh as Buffy tried out a fancy dress in front of the mirror at Ethan's, it didn't take any imagination on his part to figure out who she was trying to impress with a costume like that. Finally managing to ignore the owner's discussion with Buffy, he turned his attention back to finding a costume for himself.

"So young man," The owner of the store interrupted Xander's thoughts, "Have you found what you're looking for?"

"Yeah," Xander held up a small plastic rifle, "Just this."

'That is not a Costume!" the Shop Owner shook his head, "You need to find something a with a bit more pizazz, is that the word you Americans use now?."

"Yeah, well it's all I can afford right now." Xander shrugged, not bothering to correct the Owner. "I got a set of camo's from the surplus store and I figure with this, I'll be good."

"No, no, no." The shop owner shook his head, "Imaginative as that is, I refuse to allow anyone to leave my shop with such a tawdry costume."

Xander tried not to fidget as the shop owner walked around him once. The owner stopped right in front of Xander and stood pondering, then his eyes lit up.

"I have it!" Xander watched as the owner headed into the back room. and came back with a box. "Someone with enough imagination to make-do with a surplus army uniform and a toy gun should appreciate this."

Xander took the box from the owner's hands and opened it. Inside was a black costume with some kind of silver emblem on the front. Taking the costume out to get a good look, he shook his head, "I don't know, this doesn't lo..."

Xander's voice trailed off in shock as the costume unfolded, jet black with a silver cross emblazoned on the chest. A matching mask and cloak still rested inside the box. "Oh man. Is this really what I think it is?"

"I believe so," The owner nodded, "Another gentleman special ordered the costume when I first opened and then changed his mind. Something about his girlfriend wanting them to wear matching costumes."

Xander eyed the costume hungrily for several seconds then shook his head, "I can't afford it. Sorry;"

"That's the best part." The Owner grinned, "The costume was a special order, I can't return it and the deposit covered the cost. So I'm willing to make you a deal for free advertising."

"What do you mean?"

"How much do you have on you right now?" Xander checked his wallet, "Around ten dollars."

"All right." The Owner helped Xander put the costume back into the box. "For ten dollars and your word that you'll tell everyone you know that I've got the best bargains in town, I'll let you have this costume."

"That's the only catch?" Xander looked skeptical.

"My word of honor." The owner actually crossed himself. "That's the only catch."

One ten dollar transaction later, Xander left the shop a happy teenager. "Oh man I really lucked out."

This being the Hellmouth, Xander Harris really should have thought twice about that last remark. Because inside the now closed shop, Ethan Rayne's smile turned downright sinister. "My word of honor. Of course, that only helps if I've got any honor at all."


That night, Ethan completed his plan by casting his spell to Janus. Then he waited for the chaos to begin. Across town, Xander Harris, doubled over in pain as something fundamental changed inside of him. When he straightened up, he wasn't Xander Harris, hell he wasn't even technically human anymore.

"Where in the name of God am I?" The Vampire that now inhabited Xander's body looked around. "This isn't home. I can't..."

His voice trailed off, "This insane, this entire place feels like Shadow Hill. I don't understand."

As the vampire pondered, a cry for help caught his attention. A young girl, dressed in a stylized Japanese schoolgirl's uniform was leaning against a house, a young man in a tuxedo and top hat was picking himself of the ground.

Moving faster than humanly possible the Vampire closed the distance between himself and the man. Before the young man could even react, he was in the air, held in place by a arm seemingly made of steel. "What did you do to that girl?"

"Nothing!" The young man struggled to free himself. "I just shoved her away when she tried to knife me that's... LOOK OUT!"

The Vampire shoved himself backwards, the force of his action throwing the young man away from him. Between them, a switch blade stabbed forward, just missing both of them.

"What the?" the Vampire turned and saw the young girl giggling insanely as she whipped around and attacked again.

"No, no, no." The Vampire mock chided as he sidestepped the blade, caught the girl's arm and yanked her into easy reach of his arms. "It's not that easy."

The girl responded to his remarks, with a vicious spinning kick to the head. A kick that never landed. In the space of a heart-beat, the crazed girl found her kicked blocked with a move that send her head over heels, then she was trapped as her opponent wrapped a nearby hose around her, pinning her arms to her body.

"Okay," The Vampire leaned forward to stare into his prisoners eyes. "Now why don't you tell me what's going on?"

"I'm going to gut you like a fish!" The girl replied in perfect Japanese.

"Not in this lifetime, little girl." The Vampire replied. He unleashed his will against the girl and was stunned by what he felt. <Two minds? In one body?>

The vampire turned his will against the slumbering mind and was rewarded with the sudden return of sanity to his prisoner's eyes.

"What, oh no, How's Tony?" The girl looked around and noticed her date lying on the ground unconscious. "Oh my god what did I do?"

"You tried to kill us both." The Vampire replied.

"No," The girl shook her head hysterically, "It wasn't me, I could see what was going on but I couldn't do anything about it."

"Do have psychotic episodes like this often."

"I DIDN'T HAVE A..." The girl's voice calmed down. "I don't know what's happening, I wanted to dress as something cool for Halloween, so I dressed as Takako Chigusa from the Battle Royale movie. Then next thing I know, I'm her and she's a raving loony."

"Dressed as...?" The Vampire frowned, his heightened senses could make out other screams now. <I have to ignore that for now, concentrate on this. Something is wrong here, see the pattern, find out how the pieces fit together.>

"So what about Tony?" He turned his attention back to the girl. "What did he dress as?"

"Tuxedo Mask," The girl's lips curled up in disgust. "He thought I was going as Sailor Moon."

"I see." The Vampire frowned under his mask, <Where is the pattern here?>

"Aren't you Xander Harris?" The girl asked, then nodded, "Yeah you're Willow's friend right?"

"What?" The Vampire was stunned by that remark. "I'm afraid you've got me mixed up with someone else."

"No," the Girl shook her head, "I'm know you, I mean I've heard you do your 'I'm Batman' voice before."

Even as she said that, the vampire could feel something, like a itch at the back of his mind. As, he opened his mind to the feeling a sudden surge of anger hit him.


<Who?> The Vampire got a quick mental image of a teenage boy with brown hair. <Who are you?>

<My name is Xander Harris, you body stealing blood sucking escapee from a comic book and this is my body! I want it back.>

<I didn't have anything to do with this.> The vampire responded, <How in the hell did I get in your body in the first place?>

<How should I know?> Xander replied angrily, <All I know is that I bought... I bought the costume from a place called Ethan's.>

<One moment.> The Vampire turned his attention back to the outside world and the young girl, "Just where did you get your costume from?"

"A new place, Ethan's."

"And your friend over there?"

"Uhm... Partytown I think."

<And we have a winner!> Xander mental shout rang out. <Let's go get him!.>

<Good idea,> The Vampire replied, <And maybe you can explain the comic book escapee line.>

The vampire released the girl and watched as she rushed over the still stunned young man. "I really suggest you two get inside and lock the door."

"You don't have to tell me twice," The guy grabbed the girl's hand and ran for it.

<Okay,> The vampire split his attention between talking with Xander and moving through town. <Now about that 'escapee from a comic book' line?>

<It's like this...> Xander started calmly then suddenly panicked again. <Willow and Buffy!>

The Vampire wasn't surprised by the non-sequiter <Friends of yours>

<Yeah,> Xander replied gratefully. <They both got their costumes from Ethan's too. Will was dressed like a ghost, so I think she should be pretty much immune to attack right now, but the Buffster was dressed like a rich girl from the 1800's.>

<Then she's in a lot of trouble.> The vampire replied. <We'd better find her.>

<And fast.> Xander agreed.

Chapter 2

Inside their hidey-hole, Spike's attention was diverted from going out for cigarettes by Drusilla's terrified cry.

"Ducks?" Spike entered their room to find the female vampire curled into a fetal position. "Something the matter, love?"

"He's here." The insane vampire replied in a whimpering voice. "The Dark Priest has come to hear our confessions and give us last rites."

Spike froze for second at Drucilla's remark. Last Rites were usually reserved for the dying. "Who the bloody hell is the Dark Priest?"

"He's a black sheep that's strayed to the light," Dru shivered, "The servant of Chaos has summoned him here and now he's hunting. If kitten goes out tonight, the Dark Priest will find him."

Spike very nearly echoed Dru's shiver as he contemplated her words. Whoever this 'Dark Priest' was, he had his princess scared nearly sane and that couldn't be good. Then something else stirred in the back of his mind, anyone that could put that much fear into Dru had to be one hell of a fighter. His hands twitched in eager anticipation of the dust-up they could have. "I wouldn't worry about him, Dru."

Spike could hear the screams of terror coming from outside their lair and gave in to his curiosity. "I'll be back in a while, ducks."

He left so quickly that he didn't hear Drusilla's final words. "Miss Edith says that if my Spikey leaves tonight, he might not come back."


<Let me get this straight.> The Confessor's tone was incredulous, <I'm a comic book character and the only reason I'm here is because you dressed as me?>

<I know that sounds weird but...>

<Not any weirder than any of the other things that I've seen over the decades.> The Confessor replied, <Besides, I'm not sure I don't really exist somewhere.>

<The whole alternate universes thing?>

<You're a lot quicker on the uptake than your story makes you out to be.>

<No, just about comic book stuff.>

<Don't sell yourself short, Alexander.> The Confessor's 'voice' was actually softer than Xander had grown used to. <Your mind is a lot sharper than you realize.>


The Confessor could 'feel' Xander discomfort, after several 'moments' of silence he asked, <Alexander?>

<It's Xander. My friends call me Xander.>

<Are we friends then?> The Confessor sounded amused.

<Yeah, yeah I'd think so.>

The Confessor could hear the amusement and disbelief in Xander's voice.

<Something funny?> He asked.

<I just never though I'd be friends with a ... a..."

<An undead bloodsucking fiend?> The Confessor said with no rancor in his 'voice'.

<Something like that.> Xander replied.

The Confessor shook his head, <Let's go find your friends.>


Finding Buffy turned out to be easier than the Confessor thought. All he had to do was follow the loudest most pathetic cries for help and there she was.

<That's her!> Xander 'shouted' in the Confessor's mind.

"Why am I not surprised," The Confessor said outloud as he threw a pair of very small demons off the frightened girl. "Typical useless rich girl."

<Hey,> Xander quickly came to Buffy's defense, <Under normal circumstances, the Buffster could kick your undead butt.>

<Buffster?> The Confessor sighed, <I'm sorry to see the English has slid as far as it has on my world.>


<Just one moment.>

Remembering his discussion with Xander, The Confessor decided it was smarter to remove his mask and not frighten the girl. "Are you all right, miss?"

"I believe so," Buffy looked up and smiled, "Thank you for you timely intervention, Father."

<She thinks I'm her dad?> Xander asked in shock.

<No,> The Confessor sighed, <She thinks I'm a Priest.>

The a slight twinge of amusement from Xander and realized, <Do you do that often?>


<Try to defuse situations by pretending to be dumber than you are.>

<You caught that, huh?> The Confessor could actually feel Xander's embarrassment.

<Yeah,> The Confessor replied, <So where does she live? So long as we lock the doors, she should be safe enough there.>

<Just down the road, one street over.>

"Xander!" The Confessor turned to see a scantily dressed red-head running towards him.

<I take it this is Willow?>

<Yep,> Xander replied, <I wonder why she still remembers who she is?>

<Hmm.> The Confessor thought about it, and came up with an idea.

<What? Just because she didn't dress as a specific character, she's still Willow? Only she's a ghost Willow?>

<I didn't...> The Confessor started, then suddenly 'knew' what was going on. The spell obviously had been meant to supplant the original not have two active minds sharing the same consciousness and their minds were merging.

<Damn,> The Confessor told Xander, <We have to end this spell...>

<before this merger becomes permanent.> Xander finished, <Oh this is not good.>

"Xander?" Willow's voice interrupted their 'conversation.'

"Sorry," The Confessor replied, "I'm not Xander. Not really."

"What?" Willow shook her head, "Listen, I don't know what's going on but this isn't funny..."

"DEMON!!!" Buffy's voice caused The Confessor to whirl around, ready for battle. What he saw approaching almost caused him to laugh.

"Buffy." Willow said exasperated, that's a *car*.

"What does it want?" Buffy whimpered.

"What's the matter with her?" Willow asked.

"I'll explain on the way." The Confessor held his hand out to Buffy. "Miss, if you'll come with me, I'll see you to safety."

"Thank you kind..." Buffy's voice trailed off as she noticed Willow's clothes for the first time. "I will not be seen with a harlot like that!"

"Remember your Christian Charity, child." The Confessor said in his best Priest voice.

"Forgive me, Father." To Xander's shock, Buffy actually crossed herself.

<It's all about understanding the mind-set.> The Confessor answered Xander's unspoken question.

They were just a couple of houses away from Buffy's home when Mr. Murphy and his law decided to intervene once again.

"Well, this is just neat." Willow gasped as Spike, followed by several demons stepped out of the shadows.

Chapter 3

"Is he another friend?" The Confessor asked Willow.

"No," Willow actually tried to grab Buffy and pull her to safety, "He's not a friend and he's not in a costume."

<He's a vamp from our world.> Xander added. <A real pain in ass one too.>

"That's good." The Confessor grinned.

"That's good!?" Willow and Spike reacted in simultaneous shock.

Ignoring them, The Confessor turned to cowering Buffy. "When I scatter them, you run for that house there. Do you understand, child?"

Buffy turned her frightened eyes to 'her' house and just barely managed a nod.


"Excuse me," Spike sounded a bit miffed at being ignored. "I was in the middle of terrorizing you three?"

"Xander," Willow said at the same time, "How can Spike showing up now be good. This a bad..."

The Confessor's feral grin cut Willow's babble short. It wasn't the grin that made Spike's group pause, it was the silver gleam that filled the Confessor's pupil's that unnerved them.

"I've been in a bad mood since I was brought here." The Confessor told Spike, "And normally, I wouldn't let my feelings interfere but in your case..."

The next thing Spike knew something that looked vaguely like a human arm and felt more like a wrecking ball, was sending him flying into one of the larger demons. As he clambered painfully to his feet, he could see the smaller demons running for the hills while the larger demons were out cold on the ground.

"Bloody hell!" Spike swore as he finally caught sight of his opponent hurriedly ushering three females into the Slayer's house. "Where the hell did the brunette in the catsuit come from?"

Inside the house, The Confessor quickly went room to room making sure the house was secure, then headed back to the front hail where the others were still waiting for him. Turning to the 'ghost', he said, "Willow right?"

"Yes," Willow answered still a bit shocked at the ease at which Xander had knocked Spike down. "How did you do that?"

"I don't have time to explain, I need you and Cat-girl here..."

"HEY! I have a name you know."

"to keep an eye on things until I get back." The Confessor finished ignoring Cordelia's annoyed responce.

"You can't leave me here alone!" Buffy pleaded with The Confessor. "Not with these... these lowborn..."

"Who're you calling lowborn? You..."

Cordelia's tirade was cutoff by someone pounding on the door. As a familiar voice asked to be let in, Willow shouted. "That's Angel. He's a friend."

The Confessor opened the door and Angel tried to enter the house. It took the Confessor a split second to notice that the newcomer was a vampire. Too bad for Angel, his response was pretty much what anyone would expect.


Spike was still dusting himself off when he noticed Angel running up to the door of the Summer's house. "Well, if it isn't Slayer's little lap..."

Suddenly seeing his sire hurtling straight at him, Spike dropped to the ground and felt the other vampire fly over to land across the Street with a large thud. "What the...?" "Xander," Willow shouted at what she still assumed was Xander. "Angel's a friend." <Depend's on how you look at it.> Xander told the Confessor, <But...>

Again the growing link between Xander and The Confessor allowed him to filled in the gaps fast. <So, this Deadboy is on our side.>

"I've got to say it, mate." Spike advanced on The Confessor. "You're not bad. Let's see how you do against someone ready for you."

"I don't have time for you." The Confessor told Spike.

"Well, I suggest you make it." Spike said as he closed with his opponent.

Spike got in one good kick that rocked the Confessor back slightly. The follow-up punch never landed as the Confessor retaliated with a series of powerful punches. The first, a blow to ribcage that shattered bone, made Spike realize the seriousness of his mistake in taking this particular opponent on. The second punch caused Spike to fold over as his belly button nearly met his spine. The final punch, a jaw breaking blow that flipped the blond vampire head over heels, had Spike seriously wondering how much longer he had to live.

As the Confessor closed with Spike, intent on finishing the fight for good, he heard. "Xander! Look out!"

The Confessor spun around, just in time to catch the flat of a shovel across his face. "You leave my Spikey alone!"

Drusilla dropped the shovel and ran over to help Spike stagger to his feet. They stumbled over to an open manhole and Spike unceremoniously tumbled into the sewer.

The Confessor recovered quickly from the blow and got to his feet in time to see Spike fall through the manhole. Seeing the shovel lying on the ground near him; he kicked it into the air, caught and snapped the wooden handle and threw it as hard as he could at the female vampire still standing in front of the hole.

"Spikey?" Spike turned over in time to see Drusilla fall to dust above him.

"Dru?" Spike coughed up blood as he tried to climb back out of the sewer. Finally the pain overwhelmed him and he fell back down into the slow moving water and drifted away.


The Confessor watched the female vampire dust, then started for the manhole.

<He's not our target remember?> Xander interrupted The Confessor's hunt. <We need to get to...>

<Ethan's,> The Confessor agreed, <Thanks for reminding me, I forgot how overwhelming the feel for the kill was.>

<Yes, that was fun you sharing that. Thank you very much.>

<You need to work on your sarcasm more,> The Confessor told Xander, <It lacks bite.>

<Was that a joke?>

<hmm,> The Confessor, <Kid, you're a bad influence.>

The Confessor turned to Angel, who was still staring in shock at what 'Xander' had done to Spike and Druscilla. "You're the one the kid calls 'Deadboy' right?"

"Don't call..." Angel stopped suddenly realizing that this wasn't really Xander he was talking to. "Who are you?"

"None of your concern." The Confessor replied, "What should concern you is that if you allow any of the women in that house to be injured, I'll tie you up, hang you from the highest building in town and leave you for the sun. Do you believe me?"

Angel looked the other vampire in the eyes and slowly nodded. "Yeah, I believe you.

"Good," The Confessor turned and headed off to Ethan's shop.


Ethan Rayne smiled as the door to his shop opened, he stepped out of the shadows and the smile vanished from his face at the sight of The Confessor standing there.


<Interesting.> The Confessor 'said' to Xander.

<Yeah," Xander agreed, <He was expecting someone, just not us... me... you? Whatever.>

"All right, Ethan." The Confessor glared at the Chaos Mage, "That is your name right?"

"Yes." Ethan started slowly backing up. "What can I do for you?"

"Don't try to lie to me." The Confessor closed with Ethan in one fast move. Steel fingers wrapped around the Chaos Mage's throat. "We both know you did something to your costumes. That's why I'm here now. I want to know how do I undo this?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

The Confessor shook his head sadly, "What did I say about lying to me?"

"I'm not..." Ethan voice choked off as The Confessor squeezed hard. Silver pupiled eyes bored into his and filled him with dread.

"I'm only going to ask you one more time. How do I stop this?"

"Why... why should I tell you?" Ethan managed to stammer out.

The Confessor smiled. Not a pleasant smile, there something almost sadistic about it. "Haven't you ever heard? Confession is good for the soul."

Ethan suddenly found himself lifted by the throat and held at arms length. As he made gurgling choking sounds, The Confessor finished, "And in your case it's good for the body as well."

Chapter 4

Sunnydale High school Library
The Day after Halloween.

Giles, Willow, Buffy, and of all people Cordelia sat in shock as Xander related the events that occurred in Ethan's costume shop.

"So when you smashed the statue everything reverted back to normal?" Giles asked, cleaning his glasses for the fifth time since Xander began speaking. "And this Ethan fellow, what happened to him?"

"I kinda left him tied to a tree near the Sunnydale memorial park." Xander shrugged, "I put a sign saying 'free lunch' on his chest before I left."

"Xander!" Willow and Buffy both started to scold him, when they noticed the goofy grin on his face.

"You are joking right?" Giles asked shocked.

"Sort of." Xander nodded, "That's what I wanted to do, but by the time I recovered from suddenly having control of my body again, Mr. Rayne was gone with the wind."

"I see," Giles looked a bit troubled by Xander's answer. "Uhm, I'm curious, what was it like? Being your costume I mean?"

"Don't ask," Buffy replied, "I mean, it was like I could see what was going on but I couldn't actually do anything. Now I've got all this useless information in my head."

"Such as?" Willow's interest was piqued by Buffy's comment.

"Like embroidery." Buffy sighed. "What am I gonna do with that? Doily the next Vampire to death?"

"Oh," Willow turned to Xander. "What about you? Any memories?"

"Quite a list actually," Xander shrugged. "Forensics, evidence gathering, some electronics skills, lock picking, the whole 'crime fighting' package.. Oh, and a lot of fighting skills, you know; tactics, weapons training, Jujitsu, Karate, Savate and a few other styles I'm not sure of the names for.."

"It looks like you picked up some fashion sense too." Cordelia added.

"What's wrong with the way I'm dressed?" Xander looked at his clothes. Dark brown slacks, a tan shirt and a brown windbreaker made up his ensemble.

"Nothing," Cordelia replied, "That's what I'm talking about."

"Hey," Xander looked up in mock affront. "There was nothing wrong with the way I used to dress."

"Whatever," Cordelia waved his comment off.

Xander shook his head, and turned back to Giles. "Say, G-man. I'm hoping you'll let me use training gear you've got in the storage?"

"Of course," Giles agreed, "Perhaps you can help Buffy's training by sparring with her."

"Uh, Giles." Bully interrupted, "No offense Xander, but he is a normal human. If I hit him too hard I might put him in the hospital."

"That's if you can hit me Buff." Xander replied evenly.

"Deluded much?" Cordelia commented at Xander's words. "I mean Buffy is ms Superhero."

"Okay," Xander stood up. "I tell you what Buffy. I'll give you three tries. If you can get in one good hit on me, we'll forget all about this."

"I don't know."

"What's the matter buff? Chicken."

"That's it." Buffy stood up, "You're on."

What happened next left Cordelia and Buffy gaping in shock, while Giles simply smiled in the background. Buffy and Xander squared off in the center of the library. Buffy tried a few tentative jabs at Xander, and then let loose with a half-hearted jab at Xander's jaw. Xander sidestepped the punch, caught Buffy's arm and pulled, hard, Buffy's own momemtum finished the job. She landed sprawling on the ground.

"How?" Willow looked a bit stunned.

"It's called Jujitsu, Will." Xander replied as Buffy climbed to her feet. "The basic idea is to use your opponents strength against them."

"I call it luck," Buffy said as she prepared for round two.

"Sure, Buffy." Xander readied himself. "Believe what you want."

"Argh!" Buffy launched herself at Xander, this time barely holding back. Rounds two and three were pretty much identical. Xander kept moving, always avoiding her strikes waiting until Buffy over extended herself and Buffy wound up on the ground again.

"Still think its luck?" Xander asked an embarrassed Buffy.

"No," Buffy admitted, "You're better than I am."

"Eh! Wrong." Xander shook his head. "I just know a fighting style that you don't. Once you've learned it, I probably won't be able to that to you again."

<Hmm,> Cordelia mused to herself. <Fashion sense, and now he's got coordination. Maybe Harris isn't such a loser after all.>

<What am I saying?> Cordelia almost slapped herself. Out loud she said, "I'm out of here before you losers infect me with your bad taste."

"What was that about?" Buffy asked as Cordelia fled the Library.

"Just Cordy being Cordy." Xander replied, "So, G-man anything else going down? Or can we call it a weekend?"

"Actually," Giles frowned, "No, nothing that requires the Slayer's attention." "Okay then bye!" Buffy headed out the door before Giles could add anything more.

"Go on Will," Xander nodded towards the door, "I just need to ask the G-man a couple of questions on the training equipment."

"All right," Willow followed Buffy out the door. As soon as the door closed Xander sighed and walked over to where Giles was buried in a book.

"Giles," Xander's voice startled the watcher. "Who's Ethan Rayne?"

"Wha... I... I don't know what you're talking about." Giles took off his glasses polishing them.

"Giles," Xander shook his head, "One of the things I got from the Confessor was a basic idea of how to solve a mystery. Look at the all of the pieces and try to find the pattern that fits them."


"Piece number one." Xander starting ticking off points on his fingers. "Ethan let most of the people that entered his shop pick their costumes. But he went out of his way to ensure that Buffy got a costume that made her totally useless and then he gave me a costume that turned me into a Vampire. It's like he already knew who we were."

"Piece number two." Xander continued before Giles could interrupt him. "Ethan was waiting for someone to show up that night. But it wasn't me. He was expecting someone he knew."

"Piece three, He was English."

"That's..." Giles started to counter that statement, when Xander held his hand up.

Piece four," Xander looked down at Giles' hands. "The minute someone mentions his name, you start polishing your glasses. Now, guess what just those four pieces tell me?"

Giles started to reply, then his shoulder slumped. Turning away slightly so he didn't have to face Xander, his head bowed, Giles finally said in a soft voice. "Once, not quite long enough ago, I considered Ethan Rayne to be a friend. That was before I discovered that his interest in the mystical arts had a dark bend to them."

"So, I guess you weren't always Tweed-man, huh?"

"No," Giles straightened up and put his glasses back on. "Shocking as it sounds, at one point I was quite the young rebel."

"So," Giles continued as Xander mulled over his new found knowledge. "What are you going to tell Buffy?"

"Nothing," Xander smiled ruefully, "It's always a hard thing when you find out your parents are just human like everyone else. Right now she needs you to be the guy in tweed, the stuffy perfect Watcher, far be it from me to take that away from her."

Giles stood in shock as Xander headed for the door. The implications of Xander's words sank in and he slumped into his chair. "Xander?"

"Yeah," Xander turned his body tensed as though he was expecting a blow.

"You are quite possibly the most infuriatingly American teenager I've ever known." Giles smiled softly, "and any reasonably intelligent human being would be proud to have you for a son."

"I..." Xander swallowed hard and nodded. "Thanks, G-man. That means a lot coming from you."

As Xander turned and headed out the door, Giles could see that he seemed a bit more sure of himself.


Outside the Bronze
Later that night

"So, Xander," Buffy asked as they walked down the street, "Any plans for the rest of the weekend?"

"I'm hoping for a nice quiet weekend with..."

"Don't jinx us!" Willow said quickly.

"Sorry," Xander shrugged, "Not much planned though."

"How about a video night tomorrow?" Willow suggested.

"Sounds good to me." Buffy smiled.

"Okay," Xander grinned, "Let's see, Friday the Thirteenth, Nightmare on Elm Street and..."

His voice trailed off as Buffy and Willow glared at him.

"Princess Bride?" he offered instead. "And Pretty woman?"

"Better," Buffy nodded.

The trio spent the rest of the journey home talking about nothing in particular. By unspoken agreement, they dropped Willow of first, waiting until she was safely inside before continuing on.

As they continued towards his house, Xander told Buffy. "Look, Buff. Why don't you go home? I'll be fine."

"I dunno, Xander." Buffy frowned, "I don't like the idea of letting you walk home alone."

"Relax," Xander nodded down his street. "It's only a couple of blocks down. I'll run if anything really bad shows up, I promise!"

"I don't..." Buffy sighed, "You promise?"

"I promise." Xander actually crossed his heart.

"All right." Buffy still hesitated for a second until Xander turned and started down the street. Then she turned for home and broke into a light jog, suddenly eager to be home.

Xander turned slightly so he could watch Buffy head off. Then headed down the street at a slow place, almost a shuffle really. He was in no hurry to get home and listen to his parents nightly row. As he walked his thoughts went back to last night and the part of the story he'd left out.


"Just break the bust of Janus and the spell will end." Ethan Rayne whimpered as the Confessor leaned over his prone body.

"And you're sure of that?" The Confessor asked in a too soft voice. "Yes," The bruised and battered Mage nodded emphatically.

"Very well." The Confessor turned his back contemptously on the mage and headed for the bust.

<What?> Xander asked as the Confessor paused before the bust.

<I have to say this.> The Confessor told Xander. <I want you to know, I believe you're one of the bravest men I've ever met.>

<Bull,> Xander replied, <Most of time I'm scared out of my mind.>

<Xander,> The Confessor sighed, <I want you to remember this. A brave man feels the fear but goes ahead and does what he needs to do. A Coward lets the fear rule him. Only a fool never feels the fear.>

<What's that supposed to mean?>

<You have no fighting skills of your own, you feel that you aren't the Slayer's equal in ability.>

<No kidding.> Xander interrupted The Confessor. <So what?>

<So,> The Confessor finished, <You still go to her aid whenever you can. Even at the risk of your own life. That's the real mark of courage.>

<I...> Xander couldn't figure out what to say. Then he felt something odd, almost like a third person whispering. When he tried to listen in, he felt the Confessor block him off.

<What's going on?> He asked as the Confessor picked up the bust.

<Not much,> The Confessor replied, <It just seems that whatever else is true, I've earned some grace.>

<I hope you know this modern term.> Xander said sarcastically, <HUH?>

The Confessor lifted the bust high in the air, preparing to smash it. With heave he threw the bust to the floor. At the same time he told Xander, <I've left you a gift, Xander Harris, don't let it go to waste.>

"What?" Xander said outloud as a dizzying lurch put him back in control of his body. Looking around wildly, Xander realized he couldn't 'feel' the Confessor's prescence anymore. He also realized that during their conversation, Ethan Rayne had made his getaway.

"I'll find that bastard later," Xander said to himself as he headed back towards Buffy's house.


Xander's attention returned to here and now as three vampires stepped out of the shadows in front of him.

"Hello, Dinner." The largest of the Vamps told Xander. "Spike wanted us to deliver his warmest regards."

"Is that the best you can do?" Xander asked. A small smile appeared on his face. "I mean, talk about lame. 'Hello dinner'? Sheesh."

The three vampires looked at each other in confusion. Something about their targets attitude was totally unnverving them, usually the victims screamed and tried to run, all this guy did was smile at them. It was almost like he considered them his prey. An apt analogy as either Buffy or Willow would have recognized the predatory look in Xander's eyes. They'd seen it before when the Hyena spirit had taken possesion of Xander, the look of the apex predator, the alpha.

"I need you guys to do me a favor," Xander said as he glanced down at his hands.

"Oh, good." The leader smiled at the other two, "He's going to beg."

"Nah," Xander replied still not looking up. "I just need you deliver a message for me."

"What?" The leader sneered, "you want us to tell your mommy and daddy what happened to you? or that you love them?"

Xander snorted, "Nothing like that. I just need you to give Drusilla a message for me."

"What?" The leader looked puzzled, the whole demon community had heard about Spike's crazy vampire girlfriend getting dusted last night. "What are you talking about?"

"When you get to Hell," Xander looked up, the silver gleam of his pupils set in inky black irises freaked his 'prey' out, "I want you tell Drusilla that I'll be sending Spike to keep her company soon enough."

The End