Guys and Dolls

Disclaimer: I own neither BtVS nor Rozen Maiden or any of their associated properties.

"Thanks for doing this for me," Dawn told Xander, "Mom was going to make me go to a boring work party until you volunteered to let me come with you."

"And miss trick or treating?!" Xander said melodramatically. "Never!"

The proprietor made his appearance while the two teens were laughing. "Can I help you find anything?"

"Do you have any paired costumes?" Dawn asked, her eyes drifting over to where Buffy was still messing about with the princess costume she'd just purchased, glad she'd managed to distract Xander from moping about her sister's casual dismissal of his feelings once more.

Ethan saw where her eyes had gone and looked the pair over. "I believe I have the perfect pair of costumes for you. If you'll follow me," he said, leading them down the aisle.

"Are you thinking spandex?" Xander asked. "Cause I could rock spandex."

Ethan laughed. "I'm thinking about something a bit more… stylish." He waved them towards a pair of mannequins.

"Ancient Armani?" Xander guessed as he looked over the dark green, medieval suit.

"Whoa," Dawn said, clearly impressed with the long green Victorian dress with its black corset and white bonnet.

"Before there was Alice in Wonderland, there were the Rozen Maidens," Ethan said with a smirk. "Rozen was a doll maker whose daughter passed away when she was just a little girl, so he threw himself into his work, pouring his heart and soul into his creations. In the end he'd created seven dolls of such exquisite workmanship… that they come to life."

"How does that connect to Alice in Wonderland?" Xander asked.

"The seven maidens each possessed a glowing jewel called a rosa mystica that gave them their life and powers. They fought with one another to claim them as whoever united all seven would become Alice, the perfect girl," Ethan said dramatically.

"How'd the story end?" Xander asked.

"They grew tired of fighting, not truly wanting to hurt each other, and learned to appreciate one another," Ethan replied. "They decided being perfect wasn't worth hurting their sisters and swore to find another way to become The Alice. Rozen meanwhile sleeps the centuries away, waiting for one to awaken him inside his workshop in the Dreamlands, which can only be reached by stepping through a mirror."

"Good moral, kinda like Highlander crossed with Snow White, by way of Wonderland," Xander decided.

"You have a unique and possibly insane view of the world," Ethan said, amusement in his tone.

"You are not remotely the first person to tell me that," Xander replied with a grin. "Great costume, not sure I can afford it though."

"It's a two for one deal, thirty bucks to rent them for a night or two hundred to buy," he offered.

"Sold!" Dawn exclaimed. "Or rather rented," she added with a grin.

"You sure?" Xander asked Dawn, having planned on making a much cheaper costume himself.

"Mom gave me fifty for a costume, I'll still have nearly twenty left and it looks much better than Buffy's costume," Dawn said smugly.

Ethan smirked. "I'll just ring them up, shall I?"

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

"I'm not sure I'm the bowtie type," Xander said as he examined himself in the mirror. "Thankfully it is not as poofy as expected, just a touch of lace at the wrists and neck. If it came with a tricorn hat I could have dressed as a pirate."

Dawn rolled her eyes. "No one is the Bowtie type, but it looks good with that suit, which probably didn't come with a bowtie and was added later to complete the look." She adjusted her bonnet and opened the case that came with her costume. "He really went all out with the realism."

Xander turned to see what Dawn was looking at and peered over her shoulder into the case. "A case for the doll you dressed as, complete with a windup key and a pair of rings?"

Dawn grinned and put on the smaller ring while passing the larger one to him. "The dolls need a contractor to use their power, otherwise they are pretty limited in what they can do, the rings are a symbol of their contract."

"How'd you find that out?" Xander asked as he put on the rose themed ring.

"There was a brochure in the pocket of the dress," she replied. "Didn't you get one?" She adjusted her corset to give herself a little more cleavage, but not so much that her mom would complain, mentally scoring herself a point as Xander turned away to avoid looking.

"There was a small one in the suit's shirt pocket, I glanced at it," Xander replied, as he tugged at his cuffs, "but it didn't have a whole lotta info and was kinda contradictory."

"Mine was pretty straightforward, what was contradictory about yours?" she asked, rubbing a finger against her ring which was the feminine counterpart for Xander's. 'They're almost like wedding bands!'

"The dolls have been fighting for centuries, but Rozen was from the mid 1700's," he replied. "I guess technically two centuries counts, but it'd be more accurate to say a little over two hundred years."

"They lived for drama back then," Dawn replied. "Why do you think Buffy jumped at the chance to dress like a princess from that era?"

"She's not that bad," Xander defended the blonde slayer.

"She's sneaking around with a guy in his late twenties and she's not even eighteen," Dawn said with a snort, referring to Angel. "She lives for drama!"

"I'd argue, but I agree on that point," Xander admitted. "Ready?"

"Ready," Dawn replied, grabbing her candy bag.

The pair passed by Buffy's room on the way to the stairs, hearing Buffy argue with Willow who seemed positive her costume was too revealing.

"She'll toss a ghost costume over it," Xander told Dawn, "just like she does every year."

"You try and convince her to wear something revealing every year?" Dawn asked with a frown.

"Yes," Xander agreed with a grin, "which is usually something really tame, like a mummy or gunslinger."

"The sexy version?" Dawn guessed as they climbed down the stairs.

"No, the regular version," Xander said, "which she always argues is much too revealing."

"The normal mummy costume is full body," Dawn pointed out.

"Yes, but not as baggy as her normal clothes, thus too revealing," Xander explained with a grin.

"Wow, she really is shy," Dawn said.

"Oh my, you two look wonderful," Joyce said as she saw them. "Let me get my camera."

"Mom," Dawn groaned.

"Yes?" Joyce asked.

"Nothing," Dawn replied, "I actually want photos of us in these outfits, I just thought moaning about it was mandatory as a teenager."

Joyce laughed as she went to retrieve her camera.

"So, what do you think?" Buffy asked, posing at the head of the stairs in her light blue 'princess' dress, with a wide neckline that extended almost to her shoulders while covering nearly everything else right down to her feet.

"That's not dramatic at all," Dawn muttered just loud enough for Xander to hear.

Xander smothered a laugh with a cough. "You look very nice," he said, his chest actually hurting from the effort required to keep from bursting out laughing.

"That's it?" Buffy asked, surprised. "Just nice?"

"I did say very," Xander pointed out, the urge to laugh fading as he became annoyed.

"Yeah," Buffy agreed, a bit embarrassed, but having expected a completely different response from the young man who had a thing for her seeing her dressed up as an honest to god princess. "Well, wait till you see Willow," she said quickly, eager to change the subject.

"Hi," Willow said, as she stepped up beside Buffy dressed in a simple ghost outfit, one worn by children the world over who lacked the money or imagination for something better or as in Willow's case were simply cripplingly shy. The white sheet rippled as she waved from under it.

Buffy sighed, visibly saddened by Willow's failure to overcome her insecurities even with her help.

"Hey Casper," Xander said, "that's a mighty nice Boo you got there."

"Some would even say two of them," Dawn added. Making Xander grin at the blush Willow was no doubt sporting.

"Everyone line up for pictures," Joyce announced as she returned with her camera.

"Who are you guys dressed as?" Willow asked curiously as they lined up for Joyce.

"I am Rozen, a doll maker," Xander said with a fairly good approximation of a German accent.

"And I am Suiseiseki," Dawn said with a smile as she grabbed his hand, "his greatest creation!"

"Like Geppetto and Pinocchio?" Buffy guessed.

"Similar," Xander agreed, "except Rozen made seven dolls and they all came to life due to his skill rather than a fairy."

"Not a fable I'm aware of, but the outfits are beautiful," Joyce said.

"You both look great," Willow agreed, looking over the pair and grateful her costume hid where she was looking at her best male friend while cursing her shyness.

Dawn smirked, knowing Willow wasn't as subtle as she thought… considering she tended to tilt her head in the direction of what she was looking at so even with her face covered with a white sheet it was easy to tell where her eyes were lingering. Naturally, being a male, Xander missed it completely.

"Does everyone have everything?" Joyce asked.

"Flashlight and bag," Xander replied. "That's all we really need for tonight."

"And spare change for a pay phone in case of emergencies, '' Willow reminded him.

"Mine is in case of a soda machine," Xander joked, "but i have that too."

"Good, if you need anything I'll be at the Hilton in LA, room 386," Joyce said.

"You go have fun, we'll be fine," Buffy assured her.

"Okay," Joyce said, "everyone who wants a ride to the highschool get in the car."

"Shotgun," Buffy called out, before trying to hurry out the front door, hampered by her poofy skirt.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o

"Time for the show to begin," Ethan said eagerly as he placed the bust of Janus on a pedestal in the center of a specially prepared pentagram.

"Charming," a voice said pleasantly, behind him making Ethan fumble and almost drop the bust.

"What?" Ethan asked, spinning around and finding himself facing a seven foot tall being with a white rabbit's head, wearing a three piece suit. "And you are?" the chaos mage asked while trying to get his pulse to slow down.

"I should think so," the rabbit headed being agreed.

After a few seconds had passed and it was apparent the being wasn't going to say anything else, Ethan spoke up, "I feel like there's a joke going right over my head."

The being looked down on the much shorter mage. "And there's your chance of being a mental giant gone as well. I'd preen over my superiority, but that wouldn't be very big of me, now would it?"

"I suppose not," Ethan said, equal parts confused and annoyed. "I don't suppose whatever business you have with me can wait until I finish up my... religious observances?"

"What a strange coincidence," the being said mockingly, "I'm simply here to observe them as well."

The clock struck eight and Ethan quickly leapt into action, placing the bust and cutting his palms before smearing the blood over the bust while he chanted.

The bust of Janus' eyes glowed gold and a wave of power surged through Sunnydale.

"What a quaint religious service," the being said with a buck toothed grin, "Subtle yet powerful, invoking what is within to match without… if it lies within to start with of course."

Ethan cleaned his wounds and wrapped his hands with bandages. "Janus should be pleased with the amount of chaos released on the streets tonight," he said smugly.

"Oh, but as order descends into chaos, chaos gives rise to order," the being said thoughtfully. "So, I have to wonder… Chaos or Order? Who is going to gain the most from tonight's festivities?"

"I don't suppose you'd care to give me your name?" Ethan asked.

"I'd never give another my name, it'd ill fit them as I find it suits me quite well," the rabbit headed being added, pulling a card from his shirt pocket and extending it.

Ethan accepted the cad. "LaPlace?"

"Az not Ace," Laplace corrected his pronunciation.

"Sounds slightly familiar, but I can't place where I've heard it," Ethan admitted with a frown.

"Where you hear something is nearly as important as what you hear I find," LaPlace said with a nod. "Well, I've seen what I've come to see and must now bid you adieu."

The strange being stepped into a giant ornate mirror and vanished.

Ethan stared for a second before scratching his head. "Where did that mirror come from?"

0o0o0o0o0o

"Xander, we have to find Buffy!" Willow exclaimed as she ran up to her oldest friend.

Rozen merely raised an eyebrow. "Xander?" he asked curiously.

"It's a strange name, but I think Buffy sounds stranger," came a voice from near his waist.

Willow looked down and stared in shock at the two-and-a-half-foot tall, animated doll wearing Dawn's face. "This isn't good, this isn't good at all," she said faintly as a familiar sounding scream broke out nearby.

Typing by: fyrewolf5

TN: ...going to be interesting to see how they try to explain to Joyce Dawn going from about 5 feet to 2.5 feet tall.