Written Upon the Sands of Time.

By: Lopaka Tanu

Fandom: Buffy: The Vampire Slayer/Dune.

Pairing: Xander/Angel, mentions of Paul/Duncan - Paul/Otheym.

Rating: Adult Slash.

Archive: Yes, just tell me.

FeedBack: lopakatanu Violence, Language, Character Death, Sexual Content.

Disclaimer: I do not own either Buffy: The Vampire Slayer or Dune.

Summary: After Halloween, Xander feels like he is losing his mind. When deaths of mysterious origins happen, will he remember what is so familiar about them in time to save those close to him?

"Bless the Maker and His water.

Bless the coming and going of Him.

May His passage cleanse the world.

May He keep the world for His people."

- Prayer of Shai-Hulud.

"This is great, I think." Xander frowned at the sheet of paper with their list of instructions on it. Principal Snyder had gone to great lengths to make sure they had the worst of the lot, but it was nothing he couldn't handle. Kids were kids, and if they got out of hand, well he knew some Scooby Foo!

Buffy snatched it from his hand and glared at the list of names at the bottom. "This is not great! I had planned something for me and Angel tomorrow night, you know, it being Halloween and no demons out kinda thing. You heard what Giles said about them being quiet."

"Yeah, I was right there, I didn't forget." He thought it best to just agree with her. After the whole 'sacrifice those closest to the master' debacle last month, she was still a little testy. No one wanted to deal with a testy slayer and live.

"Hey, I know this name." Looking up, Buffy pointed at it while showing the list to Willow. "Why do I know this name?"

Willow visibly paled. "That's the kid who lives three doors down from me. The one that likes squirting us with the water hose."

"Oh yeah, I remember him. Shame about that white shirt, Buff." Xander's grin disappeared at the girls' combined glare. Holding up his hands, he backed away from them two steps. "Xander good, vampires bad, remember who's side you're on."

"Some times I wonder." Buffy gave him another lethal glare before turning back to the list. Her eyes caught on the third rule. "Man, this sucks! How am I supposed to get a cool costume that doesn't consist of a sheet or plain old make-up? The dress up thing is for the kids!"

"I dunno, Buffy, it actually sounds kinda fun." Willow seemed to melt at the look her friend gave her. "Okay, so maybe not for you, but Xander and I will like it. It will be just like old times, won't it, Xander?"

Xander tried not to appear too enthusiastic, but he knew he was grinning from ear to ear. This was one of his favorite times of the year. Aside from the being able to go out at night without fear of one's life thing, he got lots of candy and to be able to pretend he was not Xander, boy dud. "Sure, Wills, we're gonna get the best this year. As a matter of fact, I've been working on the plan of attack using the map you got me last summer. With a few modifications, we can still hit the best houses, brats in tow."

Buffy watched him with an air of stunned dismay. "Okay, you are beginning to scare me here."

Willow shook her head and put a hand on Buffy's shoulder. "Don't worry, it gets a lot worse."

"It's official, I am completely freaked."

"Tell me, Willow, does this make me look fat?" Xander held the sumo body suit up in front of himself in the mirror. When he heard her giggling, he shook his head and put the suit back against the rack. He glanced about the new costume shop, sighing at the collection of expensive costumes. Sometimes it really sucked to be on the lower side of middle class. "So, Wills, what are you going to be this year?"

"I don't know, a ghost," she asked hopefully. At his stern look, her smile faded and she glanced away. "I don't know, Xander, I don't really feel comfortable as anything else."

"What are you talking about?" Buffy came up for air from searching the racks of cat costumes and sailor outfits. "I still can't find one that screams 'take me, Angel.'"

"And that's a good thing." Moving over to give her a hand up, Xander pushed a strand of hair from her face. "I was just telling Willow that being a ghost yet again, was not an option. Come on, tell her Buffy, being a ghost is out."

Buffy turned to their friend and nodded. "Sorry, Willow, he's right. As much a classic as it might be, being a Pacman villain is not on the list."

Seeing their resolved expressions, Willow put down the bag she held under her coat. They just weren't very nice anymore. She couldn't understand what was so wrong with being a ghost. It was nice, you could hide who you really were, and it was a tradition. Besides, it was on sale! Waiting until they had turned their backs, Willow picked up the costume again and hid it better.

Xander, having caught her actions in the mirror, shook his head. "Oh well, Rome wasn't built in a day." Giving the racks and shelves of costumes one last look over, he sighed. He moved through the densely packed isles towards the back counter.

The back counter was lined with bargain bins filled with accessories and cheap masks. In the largest of them, just beneath the register, were prepackaged costumes. Inside each bag was a cloth outfit and two accessories. The pirate costume on top had a tag that was in his price range. Just as he was about to pick it up, he was shoved to floor by a mountain of flesh.

"Move out of my way, fag." Larry ignored the shocked looks of the people around them in favor of rummaging through the bin. Not finding one he wanted, he grabbed the one on top and slapped it down on the counter. "Ring it up and make it quick!"

Xander carefully rolled to his hands and knees. Arching up to grab on to something so he could stand, he fell forwards and wrapped his arm around the closest thing. Unfortunately for him, he fell face first in to Larry's ass.

Feeling something grab him from behind, Larry jumped up in shock, freeing himself. He landed on the counter right next to his costume. About to kick Xander in the face, he was surprised to find a hand on his own. Larry followed it back to the owner. "What?"

"The price comes to fifteen dollars and seventy-five cents." Pushing the young man off his counter, Ethan held out one hand. "That is tax included."

"That's a rip, old man." But Larry paid the man in exact change before stomping away with his costume.

Ethan smiled and waved towards the jock. "Thanks for your patronage."

When Xander opened his eyes after the expectant blow never came, he saw he was face down in the costume bin. With a sigh, he grabbed the first bag he saw and slid out. It appeared to be a bundle of tan rags. Inside were a white dagger and packet he recognized as contacts case. "Cool!" He put the bag down on the counter next to the register and turned to the man who was watching him with a critical eye. "I'll take this one."

Giving a sly grin, Ethan winked at Xander. "A good choice. This one was a special favorite of mine to create."

"You made this?" Xander pulled out his wallet and set the twenty down on the counter. He watched it slip in to the strange man's hand forlornly. There went his last bit of money, but it was either this or let Cordelia turn him in to a Cordette. Hell was a better option.

Ethan handed the bag and change back to Xander. "Yes, I put this outfit together almost magically." He snickered at the expression on Xander's face. "Have you ever heard of the Fedaykin?"

"Sure, but my mom tells me to call them lesbians." Grabbing the bag, Xander turned and headed back through the shop to meet back up with Buffy and Willow.

Shaking his head, Ethan tried not to feel too disappointed. After all, what could one expect from these illiterate Americans? "For heaven's sake, they can't even pronounce the language correctly."

"Neato! That is so the one I want!"

Ethan shuddered. "Bloody hell." One more night, one more and he could get the hell out of this god forsaken country.

Twirling the staff twice, Buffy put it back on the weapon's rack. "Short and blonde, I may be, but lesbian I am not. Besides, if I were to be one, I'd prefer the leather skirt and swords." Picking up the appropriate blade, Buffy hefted it and turned it end over end. "Plastic, I should have known."

Willow dodged the slice Buffy cut through the air with the blade. Standing up again, she grinned wide. "At least it looks real!"

"Still, not the same." Putting up the sword, Buffy sighed. "I don't know, Willow, I just don't see anything I like. Nothing that Angel would like."

Laughing, Willow came up to stand beside her. "So that's what this is about. May be if we went a little towards the more expensive section, you would see what you want."

"May be." Buffy spun to check out the rest of the store. Many of her class mates were already heading for the counter, having been roped in by the troll of a principal for runt watch 97. As if time slowed down just for her, the doors at the back of the shop to the dressing room slowly opened. The dummy clothed in a ladies' gown caught her breath. "I think I found it."

Xander arrived to see his friends moving off like zombies through the racks towards the back of the store. Smiling, he waved a little. "Hey guys."

"Can't talk now, see dress." Buffy waved back at him, heading through the crowd.

Rolling her eyes, Willow grabbed Xander by the arm and dragged him along. She wanted to see this dress as much as Buffy did. Not that she would consider wearing it, but it was pretty.

Xander followed along with no choice but to accept their lead. He began to wonder why he really allowed himself to be pushed around by these two. Sure, they were friends, but at times like this, he didn't really want to be here. For one thing, the dress was ugly to him, a symbol of accepted bondage. Another thing, it was a dress, clothes shopping was definitely not on his list of things to do before he died.

Buffy stared at it entranced. "It's just like the one in that picture. The one from..." she caught sight of Xander. "The one from the ladies' of Angel's age."

Xander didn't even bother to respond. She knew how he felt about Dead Boy, it would be pointless to point it out a millionth time. Crossing to the dress, he ran a hand over the sleeve and caught the price tag hanging on the sleeve button. "Well, you had best start selling them slayer scout cookies if you want this one."

"Not really." Smacking his hand away from the dress, Buffy stared at it longingly. "It will put me back a ways, but I got enough to cover it."

"Must be nice," Xander whispered under his breath.

"What was that?" Buffy really didn't pay attention, she was still caught up in the dress.

"I said the dress looks nice." He caught her nod and glanced over towards the counter for the clock. "Look, I got some place I gotta be soon. I'll catch up with you guys later, okay."

"Sure, at the Bronze tonight or tomorrow before school so we can check out our costumes. Remember Snyder said to wear it to school or else." Giggling, Willow tossed Buffy's hair to distract her from the dress.

Xander watch them play back and forth with another sigh. Stuffing his free hand in his pocket, he turned around and headed for the door. On his way passed the counter, he caught the eye of the shop keeper. The guy was cute in that creepy, older guy kinda way. Not that he would tell him or anyone else, it was just an observation.

Ethan smiled at the kid as he passed by with the costume. So he was friends with the air headed slayer, bloody marvelous. This place was turning out to be fun after all.

"God! That is sweet!"

Closing his eyes at the forming headache, Ethan frowned. Damn these kids!

Sitting at the bar, Xander sipped his gingerale. So he wasn't old enough to have a real drink, didn't bother him none. Right, and the sky was filled with fluffy bears and cutesy hearts. Tonight was just getting more sour by the breath. Speaking of breath, here was old Mr. huffless himself. He caught himself watching Angel with an attention span that bordered on obsession.

At times like this he wished he had laser vision, Dead Boy would be so much ash right now. In his black silk shirt and expensive jeans and easy boots. It made him hard as a rock! Xander fell backwards off his stool at that thought. Glancing up at the frowning bartender, Xander gave a goofy grin and climbed to his feet. "Too much too quick."

"Pace yourself, no one is going to take it from you." Wiping up the mess, the bartender shook his shaved head and walked away.

Sitting back down, Xander picked up his gingerale again. "Smooth, Xander, real smooth."

"What's smooth?"

The sudden voice in his ear had Xander jumping again. This time he spun around, elbow out to catch the person behind him.

Angel easily deflected the blow and caught the boy before he fell from his stool again. "Easy, Xander, just coming to see if you had seen Buffy tonight."

"Back off, tall, dark and ugly!" Xander jerked his arms from the vampire's grip and pushed himself from his chair. The room suddenly seemed too cramped next to the vamp and he picked up his drink. Turning away, he started for the door only to find his way blocked by Angel. "Why don't you do us all a favor and jump on a stake?"

"Why don't you do me a favor and get over your attitude. It's getting really old, Xander. I came over to ask a friendly question, not get my head bitten off." Holding up his hands, he blocked Xander's escape again. When the boy drew back, he folded his arms and cocked his head. "Well?"

"Even if I did know, I still wouldn't tell you. You vampire, me human, you kill people like me for breakfast. What about that don't you seem to get?" Getting in close to Angel, Xander put a finger to the vamp's chest and wished it was a stake. "You're the problem here, not me. If you'd get over your confusion about which side you're really on, we wouldn't be having this conversation."

Grabbing Xander's hand, he closed his fist around it. Angel noticed the way Xander swallowed at the gesture and enjoyed the fear it inspired. Leaning in close, he whispered in Xander's ear. "That's right, I'd be picking you out of my teeth right about now and looking for your little red headed girl friend. But I'm not that kinda person anymore and you'd better hope I never get that way again."

"Listen to yourself." Xander cleared his throat and took a shakey breath. "You just answered your own question about why I can never trust you. Now if you'll excuse me, I have other more important people to piss off." The strong scent of male cologne and after shave were playing havoc with his inner slut and a part of him wanted to rub his body all over the stronger man.

Stepping back, Angel held up his hands in a familiar gesture of relaxed threat. He caught the insidious scent of the boy's arousal and felt himself respond in kind. A slow smile spread over his face as he looked up from his lowered head. "We'll talk more when you are ready."

"Whatever, I'm outta here." Brushing by the vampire, he leaned over a little to scent the other man one last time and enjoyed the sensation it caused in his body. With a slight smile, be pushed his way through the crowd and headed for the door.

Angel watched him go. He knew their interactions were heading in to dangerous territory for both of them, but it couldn't be stopped. One of these days they would finally come to terms with each other or kill each other in the process. It wasn't until he was spun around to face Buffy he realized time had passed. "Hey."

"Hey." Smiling at her boyfriend, Buffy took a sip of her drink and not so subtly pushed her chest up. "So, like anything you see?"

"I don't know, depends on how much it'll hurt me to answer truthfully."

Xander adjusted the bindings on his costume. There had been more clothes than he had thought in the bag. The costume had been rolled up and stuffed in a pair of cloth boots with wide, soft soles. There was even a hat that looked like something out of an old movie to him. It was made up of an elastic cowl and facial scarf. To complete the outfit was a dark brown cloak with a hood.

After he had assembled the clothes, only his hands and the area around his eyes were bare. He supposed that was where the contacts came in, though, why they were blue was beyond him. How to put them in had taken a call to his cousin and a bottle of visine. Six tries and two sore eyes later he had them in. Not that it mattered to him to complete the outfit, it was a matter of pride after the first two pokes. That and it made him look pretty cool with solid blue eyes.

His boots were also made of elastic around the calves, but there were tiny belts up the side just in case. His jumpsuit stretched tight in some areas and a well placed cup prevented any of the potential gawkers from getting an eyeful. The last thing he needed right now were pictures of his package circulating around school. Not that he had anything to be ashamed of, no, nothing to be ashamed of.

Snorting, he tightened the red hawk crest clasp of the cloak. It was the only piece of metal in the entire suit. That is except what he had assumed was a plastic knife. Upon further inspection had turned up an ivory handle and very real bone knife. If it hadn't been so cool, he would have gone back to the shop for a word with that Ethan fellow. It might have been a mistake and the old man wanted his knife back.

Tucking it in the back of his jump suit's waist band, he fluffed out his cape and stood in front of the mirror. Blinking, he smiled at the image it presented, or lack there of. He seemed to stand out in the room, but if went outside, he had no doubt he could hide from the others with the colors of the outfit. Maybe that was what the costume was, an assassin. It would explain the dagger and easy to wear clothes.

Starting to sweat, he adjusted himself through the cup. Then he had to readjust the cup because it settled wrong in the front of his pants. Holding the edge of the cape in front of him, he swished around and headed for the door. The rest of the house was empty, his parents either out drinking again or at work, not that it mattered. He would never live down this at the family reunions. They would probably want to take pictures just to prove it.

He glanced at the clock as he passed the VCR and decided he had time to take the long way to school. He wanted to skulk around the bushes this morning to see if Buffy could spot him on her way. Grabbing his book bag, he headed out of the house and let the door shut behind him.

Xander sat at the library table with a cold compress on his forehead where a large goose egg was developing. He sent a glowing blue glare at Buffy, who was still not talking to him. It wasn't his fault she couldn't take a joke. So he had tried to sneak up behind her and wrap his arms around her shoulders, she didn't have to beat the living shit out of him for it. Okay, so he admitted, it was stupid of him and the outfit did pretty much disguise him.

"Buffy, despite what you may think, there is no race of demons, humans, or shamans that dress the way Xander is. Really, I would have thought I taught you better than this. A simple hit would have been suffice to send him reeling, what you did was uncalled for." Giles took off his glasses and rubbed at his forehead. These children were going to be the death of him very soon.

"He snuck up on me, I thought he was a bad guy. Blame Xander, not me! All I did was defend myself from what I thought was a crazy." Buffy tossed her hair with an air of wounded pride. "Besides, I already apologized for hitting him five times."

"You hit me twelve times!"

"Yeah, well you deserved those first seven times!" Standing up, Buffy grabbed her books. "I got to get to class or the Snyder will be all over my case. Just stay out of my way for a while Xander, at least until I have cooled down."

"You won't get any arguments from me." Xander shifted the cowl of his hat to get better access for the ice pack. As she passed by, he flinched away from her. He didn't see the hurt look in her eye and wouldn't have cared, she beat him, not the other way around.

After the doors had closed behind her, Giles tossed his glasses to the table and turned on Xander. "How could you be so stupid? She is a killer, to her it would have been no imposition to terminate your existence and not think twice."

"Sorry, Giles, I just thought to give her a little Halloween spook. She just looked so funny in that outfit and I thought it was a good idea at the time." He winced at the stinging of the ice as he resettled in the chair. "Then again, I guess I wasn't thinking either."

"Hind sight." He watched the young man with a critical eye. "Just what exactly are you supposed to be?"

"An assassin I think, the man who sold it to me asked me if I knew what a Fey Dyke was." Giving a shrug, he removed the cold pack and set it on the table. "Well, I guess I better get to class or Buffy won't be the only one after my blood."

"Again, I am dreadfully sorry she attacked you. I will have a more thorough discussion with her this evening before your Halloweening. Now off you go." Taking a seat at the table, Giles picked up his glasses and started flipping through his books.

Xander watched him for a minute before adjusting his cowl back over his head and tightening the hat in place. The hood came last and he blinked twice. In the dark recess of the library, his contacts glowed making the world neon blue. "Cool."

Giles glanced up and took a second look at the boy in front of him. "Yes, cool. Now get to class." He would never admit it, but the blue eyes did creep even him out. It was understandable why Buffy over reacted. Understandable, but not so easily dismissed.

Xander folded his cloak over one arm, wrapped it about his waist and bowed out of the library. He stood once more as he entered the school hall. Like him, there were several people in costumes walking the halls, most were in generic witch or goth type outfits. One boy reminded him so much of Dead Boy that he felt himself growing stiff in his cup. Clearing his throat, he let the cloak cover his entire body and moved through the students.

His dark hood allowed the contacts to continue glowing and many students gave him a wide berth. Xander smiled beneath his facial scarf and walked to his first class. The teacher had to look three times before realizing it was him in his seat and not someone else. By the time the first period class was over, Xander was nearly ready to burst from suppressed laughter. Several times the teacher had simply stopped because Xander was staring right at her.

Grabbing his book, he held it under the cloak and stood up. The other students spread out of his way as he exited the class. It was good to be scary, he was beginning to understand the appeal of being evil. Of course being Evil sucked.

The walk to his next class was even more fun than the first. So long as he held himself straight up and moved like he wasn't really here, people avoided him. In a day where getting hit and shoved around at least ten times by first period, this was a welcome relief. The class went much smoother than the first, the teacher simply choosing to ignore the students completely.

When the class was over and the teacher turned to face the students to tell them they could go, he shrieked at the sight of Xander sitting front row and center. Clutching his chest, he fell back against his desk and waved them out. He nearly threw himself over the desk as Xander stood up and walked out passed him.

Third period was his study hall and for fun, Xander sat in the back of the auditorium. For the first time in its existence, not one person sat in the back. Xander just sat there and enjoyed staring at people until they flinched away. About halfway through the class, he noticed that his eyes started to lose the blue glow. Figuring they were like any glow in the dark toy, he lifted his hood so they could be exposed to light.

The reaction was immediate. Several people fell from their chairs scrambling to get away from him. The sudden smell of piss filled the room and Johnathan fled, saying something about a bathroom break.

Reaching up to unbuckle the mask from over his face, Xander stretched his jaw and yawned. He sat back and stretched his arms over his head in a relaxed pose. The rest of the period was spent chuckling to himself at the angry expressions on the class' face.

When the class was over, Xander decided to skip the next period and headed for the library. By now his contacts had gotten enough light that he could wear the hood again. Walking out, he reattached the cloth flap over his mouth and pulled down the hood. Again, they cleared the way for him and he made it to the library without incident.

As the doors opened for him, he looked up at the sound of a book dropping and someone screaming. Glancing about for the bad guy, he didn't find the thing that had scared Willow. He pulled the dagger from his belt just in case and ran to protect her from whatever it was. When she screamed louder and threw a book at him, he ducked to the side and figured it out. "Willow! It's me, Xander!"

Willow dropped the next book she had picked up toss at him to the table and held herself. Eyes tearing up, she trembled and fell in to her chair. "Xander? Is that really you?"

"Yeah, Wills, it is." Pulling back the hood, he stripped off the hat and exposed his head. "See, it's just the costume I got yesterday."

"That wasn't funny, Xander! You scared me!" Wiping away the tears, Willow looked away. "What are you supposed to be anyways?"

"Some sorta assassin, the costume guy said it was a fey dyke gun or something." Putting his dagger back in the sheath, he crossed the little space that separated them and pulled Willow in to his arms. Rubbing her back, he held her close. "Sorry about that, I didn't know you were in here. Giles already knew about the costume and I just assumed he would be the only one in here."

Nodding, Willow continued to rub at her eyes. She was still a little shaken and Xander hugs weren't enough to completely dispell the fear. "Well, yeah, I guess. But he isn't, I am! And you scared the heck out of me! I thought you were one of them bad guys Buffy fights trying to come after me. And when you drew the dagger, whoa, scarey! I thought for sure I was gonna die, but then I thought, 'what would Buffy do' and so I threw the books. Hey, enough with the grabby hands already."

Freezing, Xander opened his eyes, having gotten lost in rubbing her back. He squeezed her back a little before letting go and smiling. "So, you feeling better now?"

"Yeah, I guess." Having had enough of crying, she focused on her outrage. Crossing her arms, she sat back in the chair. "You think that Willow groping is okay, Mister?"

"Well, more than okay, but so, so wrong." Smiling, Xander replaced the cowl of his outfit, but left the face flap and hood undone. Standing back, he tried to offer her his best contrite expression but only ended up dissolving in a fit of giggles with her. "Sorry, but it had to be a once in a life time chance and who am I to pass up fate?"

Smirking, Willow slapped him on the arm. "Don't do that ever again. At least not without my permission." She knew that it probably never would, despite how much it felt like a good idea. Xander just didn't seem to be interested enough in her to do more than cop the occasional feel. More was the pity in her opinion.

"Okay, okay, I get it." Standing at a distance, he scanned the library for any sign of Giles. "So, what are you in here for?"

"My halloween outfit made the teacher uncomfortable, she said there was no place for a slut in her class. Personally, I think she was disappointed I looked like Cordelia's fluff heads. Anyways, it's all Buffy's fault, I wanted to be a ghost." Gesturing at the large trench coat she wore over her clothes, she started to undo the buttons. At the hungry look on his face, she thought twice and rebuttoned the two top clothes. "Um, on second thought, you can just take my word for it."

Sighing in disappointment, Xander gave one last forlorn look at her body then turned back to her face. "So, Giles lend you his over coat?"

"Nope, I wore this to school, I'm not stupid. Wearing this while walking down the street would have all those perverts staring at me." She picked up a book from the table and started to flip through the pages. Finding it the wrong book, she frowned and set it down. "Xander, since you caused this, would you please get the books I threw at you?"

About to protest, he caught her look and sighed. "Fine." He turned around and went over to pick the books up. Just as he reached them, the doors opened and slammed him in the head. "Son of a bitch!" Holding his head, he jumped up. "Who the hell did that?"

"Well pardon, Xander, but this is my place of business. May I ask what you are doing here? I thought you had class to attend this hour." Giles, arms full of books, brushed passed the curing boy. After he reached the table Willow was sitting at, he dropped the books and dusted off his jacket. "This is the last of them."

"Thanks, Giles, I'll get right on cataloging them." After speaking, she turned back to Xander expectantly. "I'm waiting."

"Keep your trench coat on, Vixen, I'm not quite through curing what G-man hurt yet!" Xander continued to rub at his head, but picked up the books anyways. With a put upon sigh, he slowly dragged his heels towards her. He dropped the books and fell in to a chair next to her. When he leaned over to rest his head on her shoulder, he gave a deep sigh. "I am so abused, you use me then toss me away."

"That's me, Willow the man eater." Pushing his head off, she shrugged in the coat and opened the books. Flipping through the pages, she sighed. "Another Dungeons and Dragons tome. Giles, who did you order these from?"

"Hmmm? Oh, they came from the Council, they were part of Merric's collection." Back to them, he knew from experience what their expressions were. "He was Buffy's first Watcher. Quite the Orc, he was, I am told."

Xander and Willow shared an expression then turned back to the books.

Giving in to the need, Xander stuffed his hand down the front of his suit and scratched at himself under the cup. The tight plastic protector had been bothering him since lunch. Sitting in the library with no air conditioner had been like pouring itching powder in there. However, that was nothing compared to the oven he now found himself in.

Meeting in the gym to take the little bastards out was the evil idea of Darth Snyder. The little man knew the air was out even in here and was deriving great pleasure from it. Xander just had to figure out a way to make Buffy see it was part of his evil plots and slay him. Then again, she was the one in the seven hundred layers of petty coats and bustles that made it even worse. May be his job would be done for him.

Grinding his teeth at the constant wall of sound coming from the kids, he turned on them and stared. The sudden silence of his group was almost painful. Never underestimate the value of a good costume. Drawing his cloak about him, he turned around and headed for the door. Forget Snyder and his little rules.

Behind him, Xander could hear the marching of the troops. It took him a moment to realize there were more than just his kids and he glanced over his shoulder to see Willow's and Buffy's group following behind, neither girl to be seen. Stopping, he headed back for the kids and waved them to stay put. "Where are your leaders?"

The kids stared amongst themselves for a bit. Having decided who would be their spokes person, they shoved the youngest of them forward. The seven year-old glanced up at Xander and shivered. His molded plastic Gargoyle face trembled as he pointed back the way they had come.

Sighing, Xander nodded and turned back towards the street. Looking both ways at the cross walk, he gestured for them to follow behind him. If Buffy and Willow were going to leave him to it, then he was going to do his job then make them suffer later.

The troops followed after him, leery of their guardian, but excited that they were the first group to head for the trick-or-treating. The first street they came to was empty except for the porch lights. They were about to spread out again when Xander appeared in front of them.

"All right, troops, here is the game strategy. We are going to get the maximum amount of candy in the least amount of time. You are going to follow my instructions to the letter and we will all go home with full bags." Waiting for their nods, he clapped his hands together and spread them to encompass the group. "So here is what we will do. Since there are twenty of you, you will divide in to groups of five. Groups one and three will start at one end of the street on opposite sides and work their way down. Two and four will start the opposite ends on opposite sides and work their way back. When you complete this strategy, you will switch sides and go at it thus hitting both sides.

"If you spot a person giving out things that aren't candy, warn the others with a puking sound and we will avoid that house. The team that forgets this critical rule will give up three candy bars each to the community bag. The community bag is mine, which I will be separating among the group at the end of tonight." He shook his hand and a bag suddenly unfolded from it causing the kids to laugh. "Remember to say trick-or-treat and to thank the people who give you candy. No pushing or shoving, there is plenty for all. If you can't be nice, you will give five candy bars for every time you are mean. Any questions?"

At the nervous twitters the group gave him, Xander nodded. "All right, you five are group one. You five are group two." Pointing at the kids, he gestured towards which side of the street they were supposed to go on. "Group three, and group four. When you have gone through both sides of the street, meet back up here and we will hit the next block. Lets be quick about this, remember there is a whole town out there waiting and we only have two hours! Now go get them!"

With a round of cheers, the kids split up in their groups and headed off in the right directions.

Xander pretended to wipe the a tear from his eye as he watched the carefully. Twenty kids and he was the only adult, man would that have been fun when he was their age. Now it just seemed like such a waste. The last rays of the sun going down had him turning to it and bidding fair well. Tonight would be about just tonight, no problems, no demons, no Harkonnens.

Paul Atreides glanced about him in question. The world around him was completely wrong, so much different than the place he had left behind in his attempt to become that which could be in many places at once. Where should be dark caves and hydroseals were open spaces and green stuffs.

Being so exposed in this place left him uneasy. He quickly searched up and down the street for any sign of his Fedaykin. The feeling of strangeness increased and he gripped the crysknife at his waist. Before he could get his bearings, a pack of five deformed creatures headed his way shrieking.

Waiting until they were close enough to be upon him with a great leap, he continued to observe them before jumping out of the way. His muscles tensed and he shot up above them. Finding his passage skywards blocked, he slashed out quickly with the blade and cut his way in to the tree. The little mutations clawed at his tree like a pack of hunting hounds and he glared at them.

"May the Maker take you all!" Tensing his muscles in the ingrained fashion of his Prana-Bindu training, Paul stomped down on the largest of branches under him and sent them crashing to the ground. Several of the mutations were pinned under the branches and he leapt down to inspect them further.

One of them who had managed to escape the branch charged at Paul, claws fully extended. It had all of thirty seconds before it found its horns removed and a dagger at its throat. Blinking, it stared up at him.

"I suggest you make a fast retreat, whatever you may be, before I get angry." Nodding at the mutation, he took a step back and held the knife from its view. Any off worlder who saw the blade must be cleansed. No sooner had he backed off from the mutation than he was again besieged by another group of them. This time there were more.

Right then and there, Paul decided he did not care for this strange world. Summoning the strength of his body, he did a back flip over the pint sized crowd of mutations and made a break for the nearest high ground. He needed to get up if he were to see the lay of this world. A leap up on top of a set of steps, off a planter, then on top of a roof covered in sandy paper.

All around him he saw the people of this world running and screaming being chased by the mutations. Others were holding them off from a siege at their very doors. Whatever these diminutive mutations were, they could not be organized beyond small groups. Perhaps there were as mindless as hunting hounds lacking a master's controlling hand.

With that in mind, he started searching for the bastard Harkonnen who was surely responsible for this entire debacle. However, his searches turned up no blue uniforms of his enemy. Then it would seem that this place was not a fabrication of his demented grand father's mind. He instantly ruled out the Bene Gesserit and Space Guild.

That left only one other conclusion. He was still back in the cave physically, while his mind wondered through a Melange induced trance. The water of life must have been too much for his body to handle at once. It would take time and a little mental effort, but he would be able to process the toxin and change it.

In the mean while, he would have to explore this strange world and hope that what happened here did not effect him. Just in case, he thought it best to avoid contact with those that could harm him.

A gathering of the mutations drew his attention. They were assembling around a couple, a man with white hair in a black coat and a woman with black hair in a white dress. Around them stood mutations of all shapes and sizes.

"So their masters have arrived after all." Hand on the hilt of his crysknife, Paul narrowed his blue on blue eyes. He was about to jump from the roof when a vision hit him. Sliding to the edge of the roof, he held his head as the other sense filled his mind.

He could see them all, thousands of people, millions of them, almost billions, around this world. They were mindless to the world around them, the darkness that bled through it all like a corruption. Their combined ignorance over whelmed their survival instincts. How so many could be blinded to the truth was beyond him.

However, among the darkness, he felt presence burning bright enough to turn it all to ash. He could see how these beings had conspired in a plan, an existence towards a goal in tune with the darkness. Each time one would pop up in existence, the darkness would over come another.

In his mind it played out like candles on a windy night. The minders each in turn lighting new ones as the old ones burned out. He stood above it all, he saw the pattern in which the candles were placed. He knew from where the winds were coming to blow them out, which ones would never even get lit.

Suddenly they stopped. The minders stopped in their actions and the winds froze. He felt more than saw them turn towards him. At the center of their attention he closed himself off to all probes. The action had immediate effects and he was back in himself.

Glancing down at the people on the streets below, Paul knew each of them as if from birth. He also knew what they were going to do, how it would effect them and when they would all die. This place wasn't meant to be for him. This was all on the actions of one who delighted in messing up the plans of others. "Gurney man, it seems your like in this world has a wicked humor."

"Is that some sort of kid slang these days?"

Paul glanced down with narrowed eyes at the figure standing at the front steps of the house he was sitting on. His state of dress was unlike anything he had ever seen before. Judging from the array of clothes, he was slackened; one who would could not be fully trusted or relied upon. However, a sense of the man made him more than he appeared, reminding Paul of his vision of the candles. "What do you want?"

"I was kinda hoping you would be the one answering that question, only in reverse. Seems you ruffled a few feathers when you peaked in on them and they sent me to find out what you are." When the glowing blue eyes only continued to stare at him, Whistler scratched his neck. "You know, if you are just going to sit there, can you come down here and do it? This is kinda not a good position for my neck if you know what I mean."

Launching himself from the roof, Paul tumbled end over end until he landed in a crouch behind the balance demon. Crysknife drawn and against his throat, Paul smiled. "Is this more to your liking?"

"Oh yeah, I love it when you shadowy types threaten my existence. As a matter of fact, I don't consider it a successful mission without at least one death threat." Whistler swallowed as the blade nicked his neck. Holding up his hands, he back peddled to keep his neck from being cut. "Okay, okay! My bosses want to know who you are and what you are doing."

Paul didn't know whether to trust his truth sense or not as they said he wasn't lying. Deciding to give it a chance, he released the short man and took a step back. However, he kept the knife within easy access if the stranger need be eliminated. Where he knew these people from the vision, this person in front of him was a complete mystery.

After a time, Whistler turned to look at the stranger, still holding his throat. "Silent and broody, you remind me of someone I met before."

"I am unlike anything in your existence. Even among my own people I am a freak." Taking a menacing step towards Whistler, Paul enlarged his size with aid of the cloak. Tactics learned over a life time came to be second nature to him now. Fear being the best motivation, he was not above using scare tactics.

Holding up his hands, Whistler took a step back. "So you don't want to answer the questions, okay. Just what are you planning?" He wasn't liking this guy much and it was starting to look very bad on him.

Giving the guy one last look, Paul searched him for any sign he could be of any use. Being stuck on an alien world filled with beings that seemed so bent on destruction was nothing new to him. He had survived then, he would survive now. Stepping back, his body seemed to shiver and he disappeared from sight. An old trick taught him by his mother years ago.

Whistler glanced about him hurriedly trying to locate the stranger. Unable to locate him even with his senses, he knew this couldn't be good. "The big guys aren't going to care much for this."

Half a mile away, Paul collapsed to his knees in exhaustion. The weirding ways as the Fremen called them took a lot out of him, even after having used them all his life. Now that the others knew what he looked like in his present state, he needed a new disguise.

He was sitting between a grouping of bushes and a house. Hearing people talking, he pushed his way through the bushes to get a better sounding on them. The words sounded familiar, but the dialect was unusual.

"God, Buffy, are you all right?" Willow stood above her panicking friend in shock. So she had passed through a fence instead of around it, she was a ghost! There was no excuse for this Elizabeth girl to go all crazy on her. "Did you hit yourself on the gate? I told you I could go through it, not you."

"You... you're a ghost!" The brunette pointed at Willow and shrieked.

Ducking back behind the bushes, Paul shook his head and decided this place was not a good location to hide. If the fools of this world were as dim witted as the girl on the ground, it would be harder to pass off. He decided that he had rested enough and made his for away from the girls. This brought him to a gated yard and he quickly hopped over it.

Hanging in the back were what he assumed someone's forgotten wash. He could vaguely remember people doing this on Caladan when he lived there, when water was everywhere. Apparently it wasn't so precious on this world so it must have vast oceans like his... former home world. He looked down at himself and grabbed the clothes that most resembled him in size.

It wasn't much, just a pair of pants that buttoned up and a shirt with no sleeves. That meant he would need to keep his boots but the rest could go. Grabbing a sheet from the line, he spread it out on the ground and stripped off on it. He dropped the still suit and cloak in the center of the sheet and bundled them up.

Standing there unabashedly naked, he examined the pants before putting them on. They were uncomfortably snug around the crotch and took a little finessing to button up on his hips. Next came the shirt. It too was tight, but he stretched it over his body and glanced down. It stopped just above his navel and made it seem incomplete. Sighing, Paul put on his weapon's belt through the loops of the pants and hung the crysknife at his hip, having no room in his clothes for it.

After pulling on his boots over the pants, he crawled over to the sheet and tied up the corners tightly. Standing up, he carried his bundle back to the fence and jumped it without even touching it. This time he made his way to the street casually glancing about him. The girls were gone and a group of quickly moving men in flashy clothes had taken their place.

One of the men spotted Paul and signaled his charge with a wave of his sword. "Get him!"

Turning on them, Paul glared and reached for the crysknife with one hand.

"It be a blue eyed demon, lads! Cross yourselves and pray for your souls, we kill ourselves a demon!" The leader held up his crucifix and kissed the icon before picking up the charge.

"Damn!" He had forgotten about what the melange addiction did to one's eyes. Deciding it did him best to avoid conflict when able, Paul turned on heel and made a run for it. Paul quickly out distanced the strange men but didn't slow down until he found himself in a location he hadn't seen from his perch. There were larger buildings around but more people.

Keeping his head low, Paul scrunched his eyes until they were barely open to hide himself. He needed a pair of dark glass eye shadings fast! Risking a glance about, he decided this place was the local market place and might have what he needed. After a few shops turned up nothing, he found what he was looking for across the street. The only problem was the three, as impossible it was believe, dead mutations breaking in to the front window.

Pulling his crysknife, Paul headed for the mutations. He tossed his still suit at one while he stabbed another through the chest. The stabbing only seemed to make it mad. Groaning, Paul jerked out his knife and kicked the mutation with all his strength, sending it flying across the street.

By now, the other two had recovered from their shock and being hit by the bundle, respectively. The larger vampire started towards Paul growling only to find his head suddenly facing the wrong way.

Paul landed from the round house and kicked the broken necked vampire towards his friend across the street. Flipping his knife, Paul brought it down in a sweeping arc to slit the throat and chest of the third vampire open. Grabbing the heart on a hunch, he jerked it from the vampire and watched it turn to dust. "So that is how you kill them."

He glanced about to search the streets for more of them only to find the entire street empty. Shrugging, Paul turned back to the window and grabbed the eye shadings. He tested the first pair that struck his fancy and frowned when they cracked. Apparently they were a plastic, not glass like he had expected.

Ransacking the entire collection, he found only one pair of metal framed ones that were dark enough to hide his eyes and fit. No sooner than he had put them on, than a vehicle round the corner with lights flashing and sirens blaring. He bent down, grabbed up his still suit, and shot up in a jump to grab the sign over the shop. Swinging around the bar one handed, he flew up to land on top of the adjacent building.

Paul left the men in uniforms gaping as he sped across the roofs away from the crime scene. When he ran out of roofs, he stopped at the edge of a roof and glanced about. There was a land transport still operating outside the door of this building, the hatch left open. He decided if he wanted to get away from this city so he could have time to think out his next moves, it would probably be his best option.

Jumping from the roof, he didn't see the door opening below him until he had crashed in to the figure that was running out it.

"Oh bloody hell! Watch where you are going, you ass!" Ethan rolled to his knees cupping his ribs. Glancing up to see who had crashed in to him, he smiled at the boy. "Well hello, having a good time, Fedaykin?" Before he knew it, Ethan found himself pressed up against the building with a crysknife to his throat. "Oh yes, seems I forgot about that part."

"Harkonnen," Paul hissed with as much hate as humanly possible. Putting his tone in a high pitch, he spoke with the voice. "Is this your doing, foul beast?"

Ethan found himself nodding before he even registered what had happened. "I am the one."

"Then I shall take your water in the name of my father!" Drawing the blade back, he prepared to drive it in to the man's gut. Just as his hand moved to insert the blade, a blinding pain filled his mind and Xander shrieked in pain. Stumbling back, he clutched his head with a free hand and the blade.

Seeing his exit, Ethan slipped passed the boy and on towards Rupert's car. Apparently he had made a slight miscalculation in the spell. Not getting the warrior, he had brought their god to this world. A bit of nastiness that he hoped the boy would later think long and hard about. Sliding behind the wheel, he sent a last look towards the boy and smiled. It had been worth it he decided.

Xander continued to clutch his head and close his eyes from the pain. Images, thoughts, and knowledge flooded his mind like watching a pink floyd video. He cried out, begging it all to stop. Eyes watering from the pain, he shook his head and scooted back trying to avoid more. "Please, I don't want it. Please!"

A cool hand touched his face, tilting him to look up. Xander latched on to the memory of this one person and held tight. Another wave of pain slammed through his head and he screamed. When it was over he looked up at Angel again, blood running from his nose. "It hurts. Please, make it stop."

"I will." Angel waited until Xander had closed his eyes before cutting off the circulation to his brain. When he was certain Xander had passed out, he let go.

"What on Earth do you think you are doing?" Giles, having come out of the Ethan's in time to see Angel let go, reached for the stake in his jacket. "Step away from him, before I send you to hell."

"You have no idea how much pain he was in." Picking up the boy, Angel shouldered him and faced the Watcher. "He asked me to stop it and I obliged."

"Killing him was not..." Giles was cut off by the vampire's gesture.

"He is not dead. However, he will have one hell of a headache when he wakes up." Adjusting Xander's weight, Angel looked behind Giles to the empty shop. "Was it you who broke the spell? Buffy and I weren't too far away and she sent me to find you while she dealt with Spike."

"Spike? Good Lord!" Now it was Giles' turn to glance about. "Where is she?"

Angel grit his teeth. "I said she stayed behind. I trust her to deal with him. After he lost his army of demons, she had the upper hand. Look, you have a car around here? We have to get him to a hospital."

"Oh, yes, it's... right here?" Giles looked to where his car had been.

From down the block, Whistler watched the trio and shook his head. Lowering his hat, he gave a humorless laugh. "Good luck, kid, you're gonna need it."