Mutated Halloween

Author: Lucinda <lucindasiverling[at]>

Rating: pg13

Main characters: Xander, some appearances by Willow, Buffy and Giles

Disclaimer: I own nobody from BtVS or X-Men comics.

Distribution: Twisting, IneedAParrot, XanderZone, Paula, anyone else please ask.

Note: AU season 2 Halloween - different costumes which lead to things being utterly different.

Chapter 1

Halloween was almost here, and Xander couldn't help feeling a bit excited. Granted, he wouldn't be one of the people out angling for candy, but... it was almost as good to be 'drafted' into leading a group of kids around to get the candy. It even gave him an excuse to dress up in a costume, which had always been him and Jesse's favorite part of the whole year. They'd even managed to coordinate things and hit two or even three different towns trick-or-treating nights on most years, thus multiplying their candy. It was great.

It would never be the same again. Jesse would never join him for a night of costumes and laughter again. Halloween would never be the same again.

But at least... costumes, even if his was on a budget. A rather small, tight budget. Opening the doors of the new shop that had opened just in time for the Halloween costume rush, Xander sauntered inside. Buffy and Willow were two of the many people inside. Buffy held Willow's arm with one hand, and the other was lifting a bit of sleek dark leather. A moment's puzzlement added one more detail and the realization that the leather was a little tiny black miniskirt. And Willow looked petrified. Obviously, Buffy was trying to talk his best friend into something frightfully unWillowy, and she looked horrified.

This was something he could fix. He tried for his best worried puppy eyes expression, and beckoned her over to him, safe from Buffy and the little bit of leathery embarrassment waiting to happen. "Hey, Wills. Come here for a moment?"

Her expression as she shook off Buffy's hand and darted over to him was one of releif and gratitude. "Xander!" A quick hug later, she stood beside him, edging around so that he stood between her and Buffy. "What is it?"

Xander gave a little sad smile. "Remember the deal we had with Jessee? About Halloween? I know we couldn't last year, but... I think we could this time. I think I could bear it, without him, you know? Not that it would be a good thing, just... you know... like we haven't entirely forgotten. BUt it was supposed to be all three of us, so you'd have to go along."

"Which means that costume, and not..." She glanced quickly back at Buffy, who was still holding the little skirt, and swallowed nervously. "Sounds good. I even found most of the stuff, although the wig's vanished, and so did a couple other pieces. The uniform's still there except for the gloves..."

"We can go look and see if there's a good wig, after all, Kitty's not a redhead like you." Xander smiled, feeling better already. They'd made a deal to dress as the X-Men that they felt most closely matched their personalities - Xander as Bobby Drake the prankster, Jesse as Warren Worthington the suave playboy that he hoped to be, and Willow as Kitty Pryde, the sort of shy computer genius. They'd spent hours helping Jesse work on a set of wings...

Willow smiled, a bit sadly. "Yeah. It's too bad... but it'll sort of be a memorial thing. And a lot better than Buffy's come as you aren't thing. And we need to look for yellow gloves."

Buffy made her way over as they were looking over rows of styrofoam heads, about half of which still had wigs in varieties of golden and dark, some with curls, some with wild spikes, and others that just fell in straight cascades. Others were glittery, or metallic, or bright anime colors. "What's going on? Willow, I thought you were going to go as you aren't?"

"No, there's been a small change in plan. Xander Jesse and I... we had this deal about what we were going to wear for Halloween... it was supposed to be for last year, but... and it would have hurt to much then. But this year, we think... it's sort of in honor of Jesse. And still going as... not me." Willow glanced at Buffy. "And weren't you planning to find... oh..." Her eyes had moved, now staring at something behind Buffy.

"What? ohhh what?" Buffy looked curious.

One hand rose, pointing at one of the row of mannequins along the back of the shop, each of which were displaying some more complicated costumes. "That dress... it looks a lot like the one in that book."

Buffy turned, looking at the mannequin, garbed in a long gown in deep rose. There was lace, and ruffles. It looked elegant, incredibly expensive, and like something out of a nauseatingly historical chick flick. Buffy moved towards it, an expression nearing rapture on her face. "Oh, wow. This is just... perfect. Wouldn't he just flip to see me in this?"

Xander sighed, certain that Buffy was talking about Angel again. That walking corpse that she seemed to find so fascinating. "Is that supposed to be a good thing?"

Willow elbowed him in the ribs, and whispered fiercely at him. "Don't. Just let her worry about that dress. If she's busy with that, then she won't be trying to worry about what we're going to wear."

The light of understanding dawned, and Xander made a soft 'ahhhh. Smiling at Willow, he nodded. "Good point. But I don't see any good wigs that would look right. Maybe you'll just have to suck it up and go as Jean instead? I mean, she's a redhead, you're a redhead... and if there's a mask, nobody has to know it's really you."

Shifting nervously, Willow considered it. "I suppose so... but I need a mask, and the gloves, and we can look and see if there's better belts. After all, Jean's mask is entirely different than Kitty's."

"Hey, this means we'll be part of the original team, but.. well, better costumes." Xander teased her just a little as they stated sorting through the bin filled with packages of gloves of all sorts. There were 'velvet' evening gloves in all colors, lace gloves, rubber gloves with claws, and finally, they managed to find each of them a set of suitable yellow gloves. Moving on to the smaller bin filled with belts - leather, chain, 'gypsy coin belts' and sword belts, they sorted, occasionally mocking various rejected items. Finally, they found a pair that would do, all they'd need would be a marker to paint on a large X over the buckle, and it would be perfect.

Willow giggled just a little. "So, maybe we're the original team after they've learned a few things, then? Are we still meeting at Buffy's before we go collect our groups to take trick or treating?"

"Sounds good to me." Xander smiled, pointing her towards the masks as he moved towards the checkout. "I'm just glad we've finally got you out of the ghost-sheets."

Tonight, he wouldn't be Xander Harris, he would be Bobby Drake, the Iceman of the X-Men. Tonight, he'd be a hero.

Chapter 2

The costume, purchased last year, fit a bit differently than he remembered. A bit snugger. It wasn't so tight that it was constricting, but it showed a bit more of him that he'd planned, and he felt nervous as he pulled the last touches on. Then, he turned, looking in the mirror with a bit of nervous dread. 'Please God don't let me look like a dork... please...'

He looked surprisingly good. The costume seemed to draw attention to muscles that he hadn't realized that he had, or maybe it was creating them. It wasn't embarrassingly tight, and the blue and yellow didn't look as silly as he'd worried. Grabbing the fake snowball that he'd made the year before, he smiled as he started over towards the Summers house. He made a pretty good Iceman, if he said so himself.

Xander wasn't quite expecting the vision of Buffy that opened the door. The long dress that he'd thought looked so silly on the mannequin looked... wow. Shed even added a dark wig, making the look even better, somehow. "Wow, Buff... Duchess of Buffonia... I swear off spandex forever..."

She smiled, dipping into a bit of a curtsey. Why thank you, kind sir. But that might be a bit hard for you, considering your costume. And wait until you see Willow... the two of you practically match!"

Xander grinned, stepping into the house. "Well, we're both supposed to be X-Men."

That was when another person made their way down the staircase. Green spandex hugged long legs, with yellow boots and gloves, the yellow X across her chest, and the belt draped over her hips. The green mask obscured her face, but a wild mane of red hair fells down to the middle of her back. Jean Grey stood at the bottom of the stairs. Her arms spread out just a little, and in a surprisingly unconfident voice, a single word emerged. "Well?"

"Jean Grey... you look marvelous." The words slipped out, leaving him smiling.

She just laughed, relaxing as she did. "Thanks, Xander. But the pun... bad pun. I guess we're all ready to go."

"So, you're going as a pair of comic book characters? Was that Xander's idea?" Buffy asked on the way tot eh school.

"Jesse's, actually. I didn't think we'd be able to pull it off, and Xander almost couldn't decide who he wanted to be?" Willow sighed. "They're actually pretty good comics, or at least, they used to be. I haven't read any in a long time."

At the school, they were each assigned a group of children, with careful warnings to be certain the kids were safe, and didn't run out in front of any cars. Surveying the pair of goblins, the small werewolf, a ghost, a vampire, and a football player, Xander grinned. "Alright, here's the plan. We're going to go towards the business district. I've got a few tips for maximizing you candy hauls?."

Tonight would definitely be a night to remember.

They had just finished the south side of Mulberry Street when it happened. There was something, not precisely a chill, but like... like a shiver moving through the air, and it almost seemed to get stuck along his spine. For a moment, he felt dizzy, as if the world was spinning, and he was afraid that he was going to throw up. Everything went dark.

Chapter 3

Bobby Drake blinked, trying to figure out how he'd ended up on the ground. Something was growling, and he jumped to his feet, trying to figure out what was going on right now. He was a bit fuzzy about where he was, or why he was here? Kids in Halloween costumes were everywhere. Only? the goblin wasn't a costume. A small green figure was stuffing candy into his mouth, growling at the football player who was staring at him.

Okay, mutants for trick-or-treating. He could work with that. Shaking his head, Bobby tried to remember where the rest of the team was. Warren had probably chosen to stay out of this, and Scott? where was everybody anyhow?

Smiling, Bobby tried to prevent any panic or fighting while he wracked his memory for some clue just how he'd ended up here. "Alright, nobody's going to take your candy. Let's just stay calm, and?"

There was a deep growl from a short distance down the street. Standing there was what he could only describe as a monster ? tufts of gray hair, a long muzzle full of sharp and crooked fangs, beedy dark eyes? It looked dangerous, and hungry. It took a step closer to the kids, still growling.

Screaming, the kids scattered, a couple trying to hide behind Bobby, while others just darted off down the street. The creature lunged, dark claws outstretched.

Bobby concentrated, and the thing was suddenly encased in ice, falling to the ground with a thud. "That is not good. Kids! We'd best get you to somewhere safe, just in case there's any more of those things around here?"

Pressing his team communicator, Bobby whispered "Where are you? Come on, this isn't funny! Scott? Hank? Jean? Can someone help figure out what's going on here?"

"Bobby! Thank goodness that you're alright." Jean's voice sounded just a little tinny from the communicator, but it was the most welcome thing he'd heard all night.

"Jean, you sound a bit flustered." Bobby didn't like that idea. Jean was one of the most confident of them, having been the Professor's first student. If she was sounding flustered, then? Maybe that thing had friends. "Did you get attacked by a hairy gray thing with sharp teeth?"

"Worse. There's so much confusion and panic here? Bobby, there's something seriously wrong with this town. We? the groups of trick or treaters that I'm with, we were attacked by a vampire. I don't think that everybody here could possibly be mutants. And I can't find anybody else! I can't find them? it's like they're all completely out of range, which doesn't make sense. Even if they were, the Professor would hear me, and let me know what's going on, and I haven't had any contact with him either!" She sounded partway between flustered and panicked.

Bobby tried to remember if he'd ever heard Jean babbling like that before. "We'll figure it out, Jean. I promise. Then, once we know who's behind it? we'll remind him why people don't mess with the X-men."

"First, we have to minimize the amount of people hurt tonight. Vampires? monsters? I'm just glad there's been no sign of Magneto." Jean's voice sounded worried. "This is going to be a long night, Bobby."

Looking around the street, Bobby noticed that there were frightened kids and little monsters everywhere. With a sinking feeling, he realized that Jean was right. This was going to be a very, very long night indeed.

Chapter 4

Waking up, everything hurt. Xander groaned, reaching up to touch his aching head. He felt like he had bruises everywhere, his ice and snow armor having been insufficient to stop everything? Eyes popping open, Xander froze. Ice and snow armor? Frantically, he tried to remember last night, and a noise that sounded remarkably like a whimper emerged as he remembered BEING Bobby Drake. Being confused as hell about the demons and vampires, spending the whole night working frantically with Jean trying to keep the kids from being eaten, fighting vampires and things that he had no name for. Things that Bobby had no name for anyhow, Xander could name some of those demons.

He'd turned into his costume. So had Willow, making an excellent Jean. Did that mean that Buffy?? Panicked, Xander staggered to his feet, blinking as he realized that he was in the Bronze, still dressed in his X-Men uniform, which didn't look quite the same as it had yesterday afternoon. The communicator was still pinned to his shoulder, the gloves still felt like supple leather?

He concentrated, and a snowball formed in his hand. For just a moment, he grinned, amazed and delighted. The first time that he'd ever done that, he'd thrown it at Scott for being so uptight all the time? Except that he wasn't Bobby Drake, he was Xander Harris. But he could remember both lives. And had just made a snowball form in his hand.

He had to talk to Giles, had to find out what had happened to everybody. Was Buffy alright? Was Willow okay? He remembered that once upon a time, the character of Jean had been put in a mental institute for hearing voices? Xander burst into a run, making his way towards the High School. He pulled the mask off, feeling a bit constricted by it, tucking it into his belt. It didn't matter if someone figured out he'd dressed as a comic book character?

He burst into the library, his worry almost suffocating when he got a look at what was happening. Buffy was there, her dress town, a bruise around one eye, her arms covered in bruises and small cuts. Giles was dabbing at them with what was probably disinfectant.

"Well, I'm guessing that you already know last night was just to weird for words. Are you? mostly okay, Buffy?" Xander hoped that she was, hoped that nothing terrible had happened to the ennobled Lady Buffy. "Maybe you should have gone as Xena or something."

"Very funny. I got assaulted by a pirate? I think it was Larry, and imagine my surprise when I actually didn't just push him away, but he ended up slammed into a wall? I spent the whole night freaking out because the world had gone crazy, nobody was dressed normally, and there were monsters everywhere. Then Angel showed up, and I wigged out on him, and he? he knocked me out. Remind me to get him for that later, but then he brought me here, and Giles was trying to keep me from hysterics and trying to figure out what happened?" Buffy shuddered.

"People got turned into their costumes. Not everyone, just? some people. I think some of the monsters were people that turned into their costumes as well? umm? hope that guy gets his teeth back?" Xander shook his head. "Was that a hellmouthy Halloween trick, or was someone making with big spooky magic?"

"I think it was most likely some sort of spell, but I can't figure out who or why without knowing more than the fact that people were becoming their costumes." Giles sighed, looking exhausted and frustrated.

"I know that Buffy got her dress at that new place. It was called.. umm? what was the name again?" Xander frowned, trying to remember one tiny detail that had seemed so insignificant from a few days back.

"He was British. He even talked sort of like you do, Giles. He gave me a really good price on the dress, said something about how he really wanted it to be worn last night." Buffy sighed, looking dismayed.

"That's it, it was called Ethan's." Xander smiled, glad that those memory drills the Professor had given him? given Bobby were paying off. "But? I'm me today, so what happened? Did the spell just?wear off?"

"Magic can be extraordinarily complicated, Xander. I think we need a bit more information before I can answer that one. Perhaps if you and Buffy could look through a few books, I can go pay a visit to that shop. Ethan's, you said? If it's actually him?" Giles scowled, suddenly looking a lot less like a librarian and more like someone dangerous.

Buffy just watched as Giles stalked out of the library. "Wow? he's all cranky. I can still remember? hey, cool! Proper ladies could speak French, and I think I still remember it! I might pass that next test after all. And waltzing, that's something at least."

"You got attacked by Larry the Pirate, your dress is ruined, but now you can speak French, so all is good?" Xander blinked, trying yet again to understand Buffy and the way her mind worked.

With a tiny smile, she looked at him, before speaking in cultured French. "A obtenu de trouver quelque chose de bon, droit ?"

"Okay, you speak French. Do you remember things? I mean, specific type things?" Xander slowly moved to one of the chairs, sitting down carefully. "And on memory, do you know where Giles keeps painkillers? I have bruises? lots of bruises."

"Not quite. It's pretty vague. Maybe it's because I wasn't someone specific, just a sort of generic noblewoman?" Buffy sighed. "So, what happened to Willow? Is she? did she get turned into her costume as well?"

For a moment, Xander smiled, remembering the careful coordination between the two of them as he and Jean ? no, him and Willow, had fought so many things. "Yeah. I hope that she's alright?"

Reaching over, he activated his communicator. "Je? Willow? Are you there? Talk to me, bestest bud."

A voice came through, tinny, and slightly muzzy. "I'm here? ohhh? my head's killing me? hopefully not literally. I'm Willowy again, just? What happened anyhow?"

"Giles thinks it was some sort of magic spell, by that guy at the costume shop. I'm trying to figure out why someone would do that. What would the benefit be?" Xander shook his head, still baffled. "Buffy's with me at the library, some bruises, scrapes, but mostly okay. How about you?"

"I've been better. You said Buffy was? wait, how many other people got hurt last night? Why don't I? I'll try to get some information, and then I'll get back to you. Let's just check the hospital and police records fro last night?" Her voice faded, as if she was already on her way to do something.

For a moment, Xander wondered if Willow remembered being Jean the way he remembered being Bobby. If his best friend was now a mutant telepath-telekinetic. Surely she'd let him know if she was, right? Time to look at the books?

Chapter 5

Giles came back at almost the same time as Willow arrived. She'd stopped at some at some point, changing into a pair of jeans and a fuzzy orange sweater, her hair still loose and looking? remarkably like the sort of perfect, voluminous hair from a comic book. She had a stack of paper in one hand, and a fierce scowl on her face. Giles had a similar unhappy expression.

"I'm going to guess that there was something not good?" Buffy looked at the two of them. "What did you find at the shop, Giles?"

"It was Ethan alright. Ethan bloody Rayne, up to his old tricks again. He invoked Janus, and there is? some chance of lingering effects." Giles sounded seriously annoyed.

"His spell did have serious effects." Willow sounded almost too calm. She made her way to the table, carefully placing the pares on it's surface. "There were almost a dozen bodies found, suffering blood loss and serious trauma, I'm guessing from people who included 'fake' wounds on their costumes. Three times the normal nightly count of exsanguinated bodies, and close to three dozen people who were hospitalized from being attacked by what got listed as wild animals. And that's without any idea of the possibility of lingering effects of say? someone dressing as a werewolf."

Xander looked at her, wondering if he dared ask about the aftereffects of someone dressing as a mutant. If she knew, if she could guess.

<There seem to be side effects. I just don't know how long they'll last, and it's freaky-weird-scary.> It was Willow's voice, but her lips weren't moving.

Xander blinked, looking at his friend. She'd answered him? without her lips moving. Guess she had the telepathy, just like he had the ice. Now what did they do about it?

<Good question. Maybe we should see if anyone else has weird new abilities?> Her words again, carrying the weight of worry.

"I guess we'll have to work on damage control. Life's just? full of surprises. I thought you said a quiet Halloween, Giles? Xander looked over, trying not to be angry or depressed.

"Indeed. Damage control? I shudder to think of some of the possibilities if there are after-effects." Giles shook his head, and went into his office.

Walking over to the still open first aid kit, Willow grabbed the pain-killers. "Anyone else want some?"

After a round of extra strength Tylenol for everyone, they began trying to figure out what all had happened, and how to fix it. They were all certain that this went beyond a question of people killed, or memories that could prove traumatic, as Buffy kept muttering she'd ended up with. Xander couldn't help but worry about the lingering, subtle effects. What about the kids who'd gone as werewolves? Would they grow fur and fangs at the next full moon? Would there be people who'd dressed as cops or firefighters or felons who became those things? Was that any harder to believe than the idea that dressing as a mutant had apparently turned him into one?

"This headache is going to spawn a lot more headaches later." Xander muttered, still trying to understand how a spell had caused such powerful changes.

"Indeed. The injuries, the upsetting memories? and the lingering question about the potential lycanthropes." Giles paused, and then turned towards Willow. "Were there any bodies? staked? Perhaps from people who became vampire hunters?"

"Well? I don't think there were any reports of it, but the coroner's computers weren't accessible, so I can't be certain. It's always possible that? that people who became vampires and were killed? sort of became dust, since they were vampires at the time. Buffy's injuries from when she was the Lady Buffy are still there, Xander and I still have bruises, so? wouldn't people killed still be dead?" Willow frowned, looking unhappy.

"Cheerful." Buffy's flat sarcasm didn't really help anyone's mood. She crossed her arms, sighing in her seat. "Do we have any solid answers?"

"Not enough." Giles sighed, rubbing his temple.

Willow passed the bottle of Tylenol over to Giles, flipping another page. "Might as well keep looking. Glaring at Giles or Ethan, if he were here, which he isn't, won't give us any answers."

Xander wasn't certain that they would be able to find the answers they needed in any books. He had the feeling that this would be a whole new mess, new problems. But they would be able to try to deal with it ? they had no other choice.