Ares Rising
by Teri

~A Xanderzone Halloween Challenge Response~

Xander, Buffy, and Willow were searching for Halloween costumes at Sunnydale's latest trendy store - a costume shop called "Ethan's".

Xander had no plans to buy anything here except the toy gun he had already purchased. He had a set of fatigues at home that had belonged to his mother's late brother Charlie who had been killed recently in a training accident in Colorado, although why 'Special Forces' was training in Colorado he would never understand.

He was here mainly to be with his girls. Rather that was his plan until he laid eyes on the perfect costume. Oh, but there was no way he could ever afford it. He sighed .

Ethan noticed that there was a boy looking at one of his favorite costumes; even better, one of the slayer's friends. He walked over to Xander.

"It would look perfect on you."

Xander jumped as he heard the deep voice and turned around to see a grinning Ethan. "Oh, you think?"

Ethan nodded.

"Yeah, I'd love it, but I just don't think I could match your price." He gave a sad smile.

Ethan considered his options; if he unleashed *him* on Sunnydale it would be his crowing achievement on a night of chaos or he could hold out and hope for someone to pay full price. Well, was he a chaos mage or a store clerk? "My boy, I think we could come to an understanding."

Xander looked as though he was considering it despite the fact that the man felt like an oily snake and very untrustworthy. He began to give his answer, when he heard Willow.

"Hey, Xander!"

Xander smiled. "I guess it wasn't meant to be." He left Ethan standing there. Both men were disappointed for different reasons. Xander really wanted that costume and Ethan really wanted him to have it. Well, maybe their reasons weren't so different after all.

Xander walked over to join Willow and Buffy.

"What'd you get?" Willow asks as he joined them.

Xander pulls a toy gun out of his bag and holds it up for Willow to see.

"That's not a costume." Buffy crinkled her nose.

Xander glares at Buffy for a moment before explaining. "I have a set of fatigues at home. Call me the Two-Dollar Costume King, baby!" He finishes by trading smiles with Willow.

The three continue to talk for a few minutes before Buffy was distracted by one of the costumes.

Ethan noticed Buffy admiring the dress. He realized that he may have lost his chance with the boy, but maybe he could still win with the Slayer. He hurried over to her not willing to miss yet another opportunity.

"Please, let me." Ethan slips the dress off the mannequin.

"Oh, it-it's . . . "

"Magnificent. Yes, I know." He holds the dress up her so she can see it and herself in the mirror. "There. My. Meet the hidden princess. I think we found a match. Don't you?"

"Oh, uh, I-I'm sorry. There's no way I could ever afford this."

"Oh, nonsense." He can hardly resist smiling with glee as he continues to speak. "I feel quite moved to make you a deal you can't refuse."

Buffy agrees and purchases the dress at Ethan's remarkably reduced price. The three friends leave the shop, but Xander couldn't help thinking about the costume he left behind. After seeing the girls home, he went back to the shop.

* * * * *

Buffy answers the door at her house. She is stunned by the way he is dressed. Xander was HOT!

He was wearing a pair of skin-tight black leather pants with matching boots. He wore no shirt, but was covered by a black vest with silver suds. His hair was short, with a light curl to the top. It was obvious that he was better built that she had previously realized.

Buffy just continued to stare at him

"Buff?" He stepped forward and waives a hand in front of her. "Hello?"

"Huh?" She blinked up at him surprised to find him so close to her. "What? She managed to smile.

"Nothing." He grinned.

"So, ah, who are you suppose to be?" She asked before quickly adding. "Not that I don't love the costume."

"You don't know? We are going to have to do something about your education." He smiled at her offering her his arm. "Who I am is of no matter, when beside me I see a vision to behold and it will be my honor to escort you this evening."

Buffy curtsies, "Thank you, kind sir." Xander bows gracefully in reply.

* * * * *

Buffy, Willow, and Xander were out with the younger children they were escorting; they had stayed in the same block, but had broken into small groups when all of Sunnydale seemed to spark with power from an, as yet, unknown source.

Each looked like they were hit with an unknown energy. Willow began to cough and choke, unable to breathe she collapsed. Buffy looked around afraid, before fainting. Xander looked like he had been struck, before he broke out into a feral grin.

"I'm back!" Xander smiled as he began to sparkle with blue light. His image suddenly replaced by that of the actual Ares, god of war. He began to laugh as the power flowed through him before he disappeared.

Willow awoke and found that she had stepped out of her own body and was seemingly a ghost. She turned to find the others and had just managed to reach Xander in time to see the whole thing. Her voice small and filled with worry wasn't heard by another soul as she whispered, "Xander?"

* * * * *

Ares looked around, now invisible to mortals. It was obvious that he was not in Greece or even Kansas, for that matter.

He concentrated a moment to see where his family was. He was shocked to find that he, himself, was actually in Hollywood annoying his little brother Hercules whom had delusions of an acting career.

He paused a moment. It hit him, then like a ton of bricks, his own energy signature was tainted by Janus' own energy. Rome had few true gods of their own, most were members of his own family under different guises, but Janus was one of the few truly Roman gods. He was known in this time and place as the god of chaos, but his primary duty was as the god of beginnings and ends. What a beginning he had here.

Ares frowned for a moment and increased his concentration. What he learned shocked him further. He wasn't really Ares, well, to start with anyway. He had actually been a mortal boy called Alexander Harris and he had been imbued with the memories and powers of the real Ares by a chaos mage using borrowed power from Janus.

Well, Ares or not, there was no way some little, mortal, chaos worshipper was going to hold any power over him. He almost growled as he flashed away.

* * * * *

Ethan stood at the window of his shop peering out at the utter confusion he had caused.

"Oh, you think that is fun do you?"

Ethan turned to see a very angry looking god of war before him.

Ares walked over and looked out the window himself. It was amusing to say the least, not that he would admit it, but he had a strong mischievous streak that could rival any in the family, not that most ever knew it. However, the current situation could not remain unpunished.

"You knew I would come when you sold those clothes to the boy, did you not?" He said as he walked in to Ethan's personal space.

"I-I-I did. I thought you would enjoy my work?" Ethan responded trying to sound confident and unafraid. He failed miserably. How had everything gone so wrong? He hadn't considered that Ares would be angered with him. He expected him to join in the chaos.

A very twisted version of Xander's grin appeared on the war god's face as he read Ethan's thoughts. "I think you are confusing me with my sister Discord or her son Strife."

He looked down into Ethan's eyes, his own ablaze with blue flames. "You think I can allow you to summon me at will? If you think that, you're wrong!"

A moment later a pile of dust remained where Ethan once stood.

Ares turned and looked at the statue of Janus that was the key to the spell. "Well, we can't have that around can we?" With a snap of his fingers, the bust was destroyed.

* * * * *

The next morning in the Library the others were discussing what had gone on the night before. They still didn't know what had caused the transformations or why they had stopped almost as quickly as they began.

Giles noticed that Xander was staying strangely quiet and out of the general conversation. "Xander, do you remember anything from your time as Ares?"

"Nah," he frowned for a moment before pasting on his, by now, well-trademarked lopsided grin, "shame really, it could have been fun if I had."

Of course no one noticed, that he held his left hand behind his back and his fingers were crossed. Just as certainly, no one noticed the blue sparks that danced around those same fingers. No, no one noticed. . . this was still Sunnydale after all.

* * * * *

Hope someone enjoyed this.

Happy Halloween!!!!

Disclaimer: As always not mine