Disclaimer: Joss Whedon and Mutant Entertainment own the intellectual property. Not mine.
A/N: I've tried to write this story as close as to canon as presented in the Halloween episode while bending a few rules. Spoilers up through Serenity for Firefly and The Dark Age for Btvs. Words in Chinese are italicized. Translations for the Chinese are at the end of the story provided by browncoatsdotcom.
Thanks to Mindless for proofing this beast. Reviews as always are appreciated.
He was too old to be looking for a costume to go trick-or-treating.
Browsing through the weapon's bin at Ethan's, Xander Harris sighed as he failed to find a suitable firearm. All they had left were a couple space-man pistols and a rifle, neither suitable for his costume. There went his idea of going as a soldier.
Now he would have to find a whole new costume. Frowning he patted the wallet in his pocket. None of these costumes would break the bank, but he didn't have much spare cash. Stupid Snyder. Making him spend money on an unnecessary costume and chaperoning a group of little brats just because he was friends with Buffy.
At the thought of Buffy Xander gave a quick glance over to her and Willow. Buffy was holding up an old colonial style dress to herself, gabbing to Willow in an excited tone about how much this would impress Angel. Buffy's continuous dismissals of him in favor of Angel smarted. It wasn't new for a girl of Buffy's beauty to dismiss him, but to pass over him for a two hundred year old corpse? That hurt.
Wait! He was moping right now. And moping lead to brooding, which he refused to do on principle. He was a striking young teenager, not some pedophiliac of a vampire who preyed upon naïve teenagers.
Perusing the aisles for an actual costume was more tedious than he thought. The vast majority were sized for a child half his size. A flash of bright yellow grabbed his attention. Amid cowboy costumes there was a bright yellow Hawaiian shirt his size on top of a woolen brown long-sleeved shirt. Interesting combination. This was not only a costume, but clothing that he could wear to school. It certainly helped to justify the 20 price tag.
"Young man, may I be of assistance?" a man asked from behind Xander in a British accent.
Startled, Xander spun around to a see a gaunt looking man of average height. "Uhh, I think I found the costume I want. I'm just a little curious as to how this Hawaiian goes with the brown."
A small frown appeared on the man's face. "I'm afraid that I lack the knowledge to answer your query. There are quite a few costumes here," he stated in a wry tone. "If you would give me a moment I could consult the notes I have behind the register."
Xander followed the man up to the register counter carrying his costume, where Buffy and Willow were waiting.
"Xander, it's not a costume if you dress as if you're going to school," Buffy said with an amused look on her face. "Is everyone in this town incapable of choosing a costume?" For some reason Willow's face flushed at that comment.
"Buffy my fashion-impaired friend, you are sadly mistaken. I have no shirts in this shade in yellow," Xander said prompting an eye-roll from Buffy.
The sound of a throat clearing brought Xander's attention back to the employee. "I'm afraid I don't have much information to provide you. Those shirts were created for a TV pilot that was never filmed. All that I have here written down is that the character is a blond pilot who is a jokester."
"That sounds just like you Xander!" Willow chirped. "Well … except for the pilot part. And the blond part. But you are a jokester! Oooh! Buffy has the hair dye to make you blond!"
"Willow!" Buffy hissed as she glared daggers at her friend.
Ignoring Buffy, Willow gently patted Xander on the arm. "Come with us to Buffy's after school tomorrow and I'll do your hair for you."
"Works for me," Xander replied before facing back towards the store owner. "So, do you accept the U.S. dollar at this fine establishment?"
Cordelia Chase schooled her face into a neutral expression as the students in the hall parted to allow her quick passage upon entering the school building. She truly was queen of the campus. With her book bag placed casually on one shoulder as if it were an oversized purse and the bag with her cat costume grasped in her right hand, she strode down the hallway towards her locker.
Spying Harmony up ahead she decided to take the long route. It was strange, but as of late she had been able to stand her followers less and less. Perhaps it was her knowledge of the incredibly high fatality rate for citizens of Sunnydale. Cordelia assumed that being acutely aware of one's mortality made hanging out with complete idiots less tolerable, no matter how pretty or influential they were.
Turning the corner, she spied Devon talking to his band mate, Oz. She refused to meet his eyes while she passed him. Unless something radical happened by the end of the weekend they were over. Ugh, speaking of losers. Up ahead she could see the flannel clad form of Xander as he stood talking to his bodyguard. To insult or not to insult? He actually had some teeth, which was a pro. It was fun that on occasion he could almost verbally spar at her level. He did save her life recently though from those freaks who wanted to turn her into a corpse bride, which meant she should probably not pick on him. Somehow though she could probably trace her acquaintance to his clique for putting her in danger in the first place. Insult it was.
"Ms Chase! Ms Chase! Will you please stop for a moment," Principal Snyder implored from behind as he scurried to catch up to her. Cordelia snorted as she saw Xander and Buffy flee in the opposite direction upon hearing Principal Snyder.
Counting to ten mentally Cordelia composed her face before turning around. "Principal Snyder, how can I help you today?"
Pausing to catch his breath Principal Snyder glanced down to her bag. "I just wanted to thank you for volunteering with the trick-or-treating tonight. You do set an excellent example for the school." Cordelia preened under the praise. Hello letters of recommendation! Get the brats back by six and then it would be time to head over to Aura's party for the rest of the night. "Out of curiosity, what are you going as?"
Cordelia reached into her bag to withdraw the cat suit. "I'm going as a cat Principal Snyder. Nothing fancy, but a nice classic." Uh-oh. She did not like the look of disapproval that edged itself on to Snyder's face.
"I'm afraid Miss Chase that costume may be too adult for tonight," Snyder said nasally. Cordelia resisted the urge to throttle the man. Perhaps Xander was on to something with his frequent diatribes against the troll. "I suggest you go find a costume that would be more appropriate. I suggest you tie it into California history."
"Thank you for your advice Principal Snyder. If you can excuse me from practice this afternoon I'll be glad to find a more suitable costume," Cordelia said sweetly. To her relief the man muttered an assurance that he would comply with her request before hastily heading off. The less of him the better.
She should dress as one of those showgirls from the Gold Rush. That would show the prude. At least this meant more shopping. She'd have to check out that new shop Ethan's she'd be hearing rave reviews about.
"Dweeb! Haven't seventeen years of cultural immersion taught you that you're supposed to dress up in a costume on Halloween?"
Emerging from the men's room, Xander turned to face the harpy of his life. Damn, she was wearing a modest cowgirl outfit. A long-sleeved red shirt with a brown leather vest … there were simply no easy quips that came to mind.
"Damn, you finally broke," Cordelia said in a bored voice as she mimed filing her nails. "I knew your warranty was due to expire one of these days. So, how's the Hawaiian hobo look working for you?"
"Quite well, thank you," Xander said irritably. Willow had put in an admirable effort into dying his hair blonde, but she lacked experience. Dawn had poked her head in briefly before leaving to attend a party with her mom, only to cackle at the clash of black roots and Buffy blonde hair. "And I'm not broken. I was simply shocked at your costume. I recall from the last two years you could stuff your costumes into a floss container and still have room for the floss. Finally decided to join a Coventry early to repent for your many sins?"
It freaked him out a bit when Cordelia smiled briefly at hearing his response. "Good, glad to see your brain is still capable of functioning on minimal power. It would be hard to find another person with so many faults if something happened to you," Cordelia said in a saccharine tone. "Seriously though, where is your costume?"
He scowled before plastering a grin on his face. "You're looking at it," Xander said while spreading his arms out in a flourishing manner. "This was actually designed for a television pilot that didn't get picked up. You do have to admit it's rather efficient to buy a costume that I will be glad to wear more than once."
Cordelia scoffed. "Hah, the goal of the costume is to go as something you're not. Still, points for working with what you have I guess." He saw her glance at her watch quickly before she started to head towards the front entrance of the school. As she passed by him he could see the rifle from the store strapped to her back. "C'mon dweeb, we got little kids to escort. I need to get them back in time so I can get to Aura's party. We'll just have to finish this conversation later at the party - oh wait - you weren't invited."
Xander wanted to give her a one-finger salute but unfortunately Cordelia had pulled ahead of him in the hallway. "Whatever you say Calamity Jane," he said before the two of them joined up with the rest of the high schoolers waiting for their assignments.
He would have to make sure his kids stayed as far as away from Cordelia's as possible.
"…soar!" Hoban 'Wash' Washburn exclaimed as he went to unbuckle himself from the cockpit. Wait a sec. He was standing by himself … in the middle of a very strange border planet. Where was everyone? He had just completed the craziest successful landing of his career. "Mal? Zoë? Sweetie, where are you?"
He gaped as he saw a pack of small monsters run past him, thankfully ignoring him. Did Reavers have kids? His surroundings were completely foreign as he took a closer look. While he had seen outposts on the border planets that had dwellings more basic, the street lightening and vehicles were…antiquated. It looked like a set from Earth-That-Was. Tzao-gao.
One simply didn't go from being in a fight for his life to the middle of an alien environment. He was dead. Hooray! There was an afterlife. Wait a sec, demonic monsters running around? "Am I in Hell? Gao yang jong duh goo yang! Zoë told me I'd go here for growing that mustache."
Well, it didn't seem prudent to simply stand in the middle of a road in Hell. He looked at the sky, thankful to see the stars. None of the constellations were familiar. Ooh, that star was shiny. It was probably a spacecraft or satellite, but without a map or a clue where to go, he had no other beacon to follow.
"Xander! Xander!" a redheaded woman called out as she approached him. Wow, someone had failed out of Companion school.
Was this how people greeted each other here? "Xander?" Wash replied back hesitantly. Please don't let Jayne have sent him another whore.
The woman's face scrunched up in frustration. "It's me, Willow! You're Xander. Now quit messing around. This is no time for jokes."
"Ma'am, I hate to tell you but I think you're the victim of a joke at my expense," Wash said as he tried to make sense of this ludicrous situation. Where was everyone? "My name is Wash and I'm not interested in your services. I don't want to wear a chastity belt, so can you go look for Jayne before my wife hears about this? Jayne will at least pay."
He could almost laugh as he saw the mental gears turn in her head. "Hey! I am not a hooker meanie!" Willow scowled, before she swung her fist at him. To his shock, her fist swung through him as if she was a hologram.
"Gwai-gwai long duh dong! What are you?"
The girl looked as startled as he felt as she stared at herself. "Wash, that's your name, right? Listen to me. Something crazy is happening. You're in the body of my best friend, Xander Harris. I was dressed as a ghost for Halloween, a-and now I am a ghost. You dressed up as a blonde pilot who was a jokester … and now you are one named Wash I guess. "
Preposterous. Somebody dressed up like him … and turned into him? Yet one glance at the scantily clad redhead gave him proof that impossible things were happening. Maybe he was wounded, and this was some type of quest in his mind he had to accomplish to overcome his injury. Granted this didn't happen when he was shot down during the war, but who knew what drugs they had pumped into him. "I'll take your word for now. Which planet are we on?"
Willow did a double take at the question, scrutinizing him. "Please do not tell me Hawaiian fashion survived into the future," Willow muttered under her breath. "We're on Earth Xander err Wash."
Earth!? Well, this incredibly lucid hallucination at least placed him in the exciting past. If he remembered this upon awakening Zoë would be incredibly amused with this story. "Huh, I'm on Earth-That-Was. Now all I need is my unicorn to take me to the castle in the sky. Lead on my spirit guide."
"Earth that was? Huh?" Willow said as she gave him a baffled look. A sharp wail pierced the air drawing their attention. "Oh my god, Buffy! She's a friend of ours. Well, not you, but the body you're in. She dressed as an eighteenth century noblewoman! We have to go help her!"
He ran after Willow as she tore down the street, disconcerted at the way she ran through solid objects. He had to go save a noblewoman? Was a noblewoman the same thing as a princess? This really was one wacky hallucination. Oh geez, princesses were always guarded by dragons. It would have been a lot easier if he had Zoë at his back. Or Mal. Or Jayne. Hell, even River could wipe the floor with him and he wasn't sure if she was an adult yet. Wait! If this was a symbolic journey in his mind, then the lady would be Zoë. He was long overdue to rescue her.
Willow quickly cut across an intersection as he nearly ran into the side of one of a parked, antiquated vehicle. They should give warnings to not directly follow incorporeal beings. Jogging around the rear of the vehicle, he saw Willow approach a black-haired lady crouched on the ground wearing one of those frilly dresses that would send Inara and Kaylee into a flutter.
Approaching the pair, he watched as Willow tried to convince the lady her name was Buffy. Were there group discounts for near-death spirit quests?
"And now a jester? Do you honestly take me for a fool? I demand you return me to familial estates now you harridan!" the lady screeched while glaring at him. Definitely not his Zoë.
Wash held in a chuckle as ghost lady visibly reddened in anger at another attack on her character.
"When we fix you you're going to pay for that Buffy," Willow growled out.
"That is Lady Elizabeth you trollop." the noble said in a haughty tone. "It appears that your poor stock has addled your fragile mind if you can't recall such basic information. I demand you escort me back to my estates."
Now he couldn't help but laugh. "Oh spirit guide, any idea on where to go now?" Wash asked in a mirthful tone.
A wistful look greeted him. "I almost can't tell any difference between you and Xander. Sure, follow me. We'll head to Lady Elizabeth's estate." Willow bit out while sending Lady Elizabeth a glare.
The trio formed a strange procession as they moved to what Wash presumed was this Buffy's house. Willow led since she was the spirit guide who knew the way. He stayed in the rear, so he could guard their backsides as manly as possible. Lady Elizabeth ping-ponged back and forth between himself and the ghost as if she were a doe-eyed calf surrounded by wolves. Twice they had to stop to take cover as those miniature-Reavers swarmed past. To Wash's amusement the crazy lady freaked out the first time a car drove past them. It would be hilarious to have her in the cockpit as Serenity dropped out of orbit onto a planet. Well, as long as he brought earplugs.
After a little over five minutes of traversing, the ghost made a sharp turn to the left and led them into a backyard. Just looking into the windows was … shiny. If he could somehow take the objects from this dream back with him when he woke up …Serenity would never go wanting of parts again. Or fresh fruit.
Entering the house through the unlocked back door, Wash stared in shock as he saw himself reflected in the hallway mirror. This was not his body. First, he was far too young. Second, he was spry, almost like Mal. Third, he dyed his roots black? Who the hell would dye their roots black? It made him look not nearly as suave as he usually was.
"This … this could be me," Lady Elizabeth said as she stared at a picture on a table.
"It is you. Buffy can't you remember at all?" Willow implored as she flailed her arms about. It really was disturbing the way she went straight through the walls.
The ensuing discussion of whether or not Lady Elizabeth was someone named Buffy was quickly tuned out by him as he continued to look at the antiquities surrounding him. It was obvious that Willow didn't know why he was in her friend's body, or if she was real at all.
"Is that gunfire?" Willow asked as she approached one of the windows.
Breaking free from his musings, Wash tried to listen to his surroundings. Times like this he wished he had more experience with that messy business of robbing and killing. Unless it was Vera or his wife's custom rifle, he couldn't tell gunfire from well … any other innocuous event that made noise.
Wait. A very distinctive sharp crack resonated through the air followed by a cry of pain. That sounded like …
"I know that gun anywhere!" Wash exclaimed as he started for the door. Before he reached the door he remembered that with miniature-Reavers outside it would be prudent to grab a weapon. Spying a vase on a stand near the door, he grabbed it with one hand as fiddled with the archaic locks on the door with the other.
Stepping out into the cool air he desperately looked for Zoë, ignoring the cries from Willow for him to come back inside. Peering to his left, he saw the backside of a female holding a rifle over the inanimate form of a very large carpet-like critter. A grin broke out over his face as he saw the distinctive rip on the shirt Zoë had picked up on Beaumonde. "Zoë!" Wash yelled once he was within thirty paces of her.
Zoë spun around and quickly leveled her rifle at him. Wait - that wasn't Zoë, it was some Caucasian girl.
"Who are you?" Zoë-imposter asked with a slight tremble in her voice. "Where did you get those clothes? I swear -"
"Excuse me," Wash interrupted as he stared down the barrel of the rifle. "These are my clothes and I believe that is my wife's rifle. I'm fairly certain because she would wax on and on and on and on about how unique it was and what-not. I came bearing only a vase to defend Zoë's virtue. It would be best if you accept this in exchange for the rifle before she finds you and inflict unspeakable pain upon you."
The Zoë-imposter lowered her rifle slightly and gave him a queer look. "I don't know who you are mister, but this is my rifle and you're wearing one of the few outfits I have left of my husband." Left of her husband? Wash felt as if the damn port thruster gave out as Serenity tried to break atmo. "Now strip before I decide to take a headshot and dedicate the next few hours to cleaning the bloodstains out."
The sheer coolness in the imposter's tone indicated that maybe this was Zoë-in-the-wrong-body. Like how he was stuck in the wrong body. The rules of this place made no sense at all. "Zoë?" Wash asked softly as he stared at the woman. "You can't be Zoë, you're the wrong ethnicity for one. And you're a little young. I think you're too young for me to have husband thoughts to your wifey body. And do you have any clue what is going on here? Last thing I remember is just finishing the most awesome landing ever at Mr. Universe's hangar."
Zoë-in-the-wrong-body stared numbly at him as her rifle grew slack in her grip. "Baby? Wash? Is that you?" Zoë asked in a haltering tone.
Wash nodded his head as he stared at his wife. The rifle was quickly slung to her back as she pitched forward and embraced him. Was it cheating if you made out with your wife when she was in a different body?
"Xander - I mean Wash! Get back inside where it's safe!" Willow shouted from the doorway.
A soft growl emitted from Zoë as she saw Willow step out from the house to wave them over before stepping back inside. "Husband, who is this jien huo calling your name?"
Wash smiled slightly as he hooked an arm around Zoë's waist and led her towards the house. "That's Willow, my spirit guide. She's a ghost," Wash said to a skeptical look from Zoë. "Seriously, we're on Earth-That-Was. I'm pretty sure that I'm on pain medication and this is a mythical quest in my mind that I must overcome to regain my health. I'm just glad you showed up - I was a little concerned there."
The expression on Zoë's face had gone from skeptical to mournful so quickly he wasn't sure he liked it. "Wash baby, the Reavers killed you after that landing," Zoë said softly. "It's been a little over two years now."
"Huh." Wash wasn't sure how to interpret his apparent death.
"Wash who - Cordelia!" Willow yelped when the two of them entered the house. "Okay, your name is Cordelia, you're not a cowgirl, you're in high school, and we're your friends. Well, sort of."
A cool gaze was Zoë's only reaction. "If it helps lamby-toes, she's been calling me Xander all evening and the crazy lady over there Buffy," Wash offered in the hopes that Zoë wouldn't try to shoot the nice spirit guide.
"Why does this woman have a musket? And is dressed like a man?" Lady Elizabeth complained at the new arrival.
Ignoring Buffy's question, Willow stared at Wash and Cordelia's closeness pole-axed. "Woah! Why are the two of you so near one another. This doesn't happen. You two hate one another. Xan - Wash, you're treasurer of the We Hate Cordelia club."
Zoë coolly arched a single eyebrow while Wash grinned and pulled her in tighter. "All I see hear is my wife, who still owes me wife-soup," Wash stated smugly.
Gaping, Willow stared in shock as Zoë nipped at Wash's ear. Ooh, his wife was much more amorous than she usually was during a moment of peril. He should go under this medication more often.
"Wha-what are you doing?" Willow moaned before she blushed and turned around. "Oh goddess, this isn't natural. You three, stay here while I go get some help."
Wash could feel Zoë's mouth drop when she saw Willow pivot and run straight through the walls. "Told you she was my spirit guide."
With a shrug Zoë quickly scanned their surroundings. "We should simply keep the lights off and stick away from the windows. As long as we don't attract attention, nothing should harass us." Zoë commented before turning towards Lady Elizabeth. "Buffy or whatever you're calling yourself, just stay down here and out of sight. You should be fine."
Feeling a tug on his arm, Wash let himself be dragged towards a stairwell by Zoë. "Zoë, not that I mind being taken by you, but where are we going?"
"We're in a house, right?" Zoë asked flatly.
Wash spread his arms to emphasize the photographs lining the wall. "I would make an educated guess, but yes."
"Good, there should be beds here," Zoë noted as she began to climb the stairs.
With a quizzical look, Wash tugged her to a halt. "Are you sure this is the appropriate time?" Wash asked. "We're in strange bodies with strange creatures running amok. Everything is strange right now."
He almost quivered at the flat look Zoë gave him. "It's been over two years if you catch my drift," Zoë stated with a slight tremor to her voice. "Tell you what. I'll even do the whole 'obey' part tonight. I've missed you baby."
How could he say no to that? With a slight shrug and a small smile he let himself be dragged into the first room to their left.
It was nearly midnight when Joyce Summers pulled into the garage of her house with a sleeping Dawn in the passenger seat. It was nice to visit the Friedmans down in Calabasas. One of the biggest difficulties in moving up to Sunnydale was the distance from all of her friends down there. At least their daughter Tiffany was only a year younger than Dawn to keep her company while she visited.
Pulling the keys out of the ignition, she gently shook Dawn awake. "Dawn honey, go up to your bed. We're home now." She didn't bother to hide her smile as she saw Dawn open her eyes blearily before stumbling out of the car. At least she didn't have to worry about Dawn getting hurt sleepwalking. The poor girl had been going through a growth spurt for nearly two years now and was well used to tripping over thin air.
Stepping into the house, she noticed that the interior was cool, as if a window had been left open. Lord, what did Buffy do now? Ever since burning down her old high school's gym, she had been so…not her daughter. Her grades had plummeted while she kept sneaking in and out of the house at odd hours. Joyce could recall her own teenage rebellious years, but nothing to the extent of what her daughter did. Well, she did suppose it was the prerogative of the offspring to outshine their parents. It was just unfortunate that Buffy so excelled in being a menace to society.
What on earth happened? Her front door had gaping holes in it, as if someone had tried to punch their way through the door to get into the house.
"Mom?" a sleepy voice called out from behind her.
Turning around she saw Buffy sitting up on the couch, still clad in her eighteenth century dress. At least Buffy had dressed modestly. "Buffy, why are you down here? You should have changed out of your costume before sleeping. Head up to bed sweetie."
Buffy's face paled before she grimaced. "Uhhh … did you hear about the gas leak in town tonight mom?"
"No. Why?" It was so nice that the town went out of its way to inform the citizens of all the mishaps. Before moving to Sunnydale Joyce would have never imagined that there could be this many incidents that went on right under her nose. There were definite advantages to living in a smaller community.
"Bear with me for a second Mom," Buffy said while she rolled her shoulders to work out the kinks she developed from sleeping on the couch. "So … do you know who Cordelia Chase is?" Joyce nodded. From what she had gleamed from Buffy's rants about her behavior this Chase girl was the personification of a bitch. "Well she and Xander hate each other. Nothing but insults between the two of them. We're not talking flirty insults either like Maria and Tom on Passions. It's along of the lines of 'you're so dumb you'll never amount to anything' and 'you're such a bitch you'll just seduce some innocent rich man then milk him dry.'"
Joyce was utterly confused. "Buffy, what does this have to do with a gas leak?"
"Mom! I told you to bear with me," Buffy huffed. "So we've established that they hate each other? Well, the gas leak made nearly everyone in town go kind of crazy. I don't remember much, except accusing cars of being demons." Joyce suppressed the urge to cringe. She was going to have to double-check the news tomorrow about a gas leak. So far it sounded like Buffy was describing one of her experiences from college when she was experimenting with illegal substances. "So Willow was one of the ones that were able to resists the effects of the gas. She corralled me and Xander back here to try to keep us err … under her eye."
"It sounds like you should be thankful to have a friend like Willow."
Buffy smiled wanly for a moment. "Yeah, I am. Anyways, according to Willow for some reason Xander heard Cordelia and brought her in here. Willow then left to go try to find an adult for help. Then I freaked out because I assume someone was trying to break through the front door and ran away from the house. Uhm, I got back home a little after nine and uh … "
"You can tell me," Joyce said in a kind voice. She was eager to hear the end of the explanation as to why Buffy was down here after she leaving Xander and … oh. Oh dear.
"I came upstairs to find Xander and Cordelia in my bed with their clothing all over my room!" Buffy gasped out in a near-babble. Joyce's mouth dropped at the confirmation of her theory as Buffy shuddered at the concept of it. "This is bad Mom! The gas seriously made nearly everyone crazy. Willow told me how little kids were running around attacking adults!" Oh thank god maybe her daughter wasn't using drugs. "Xander would never ever ever ever do anything with Cordelia, especially that! There's going to be a lot … and I mean a lot of screaming when one of them wakes up. I didn't mean to fall asleep down here. When the screaming starts I figure I'm going to have to tackle Cordelia off Xander before she kills him or does some creative surgery."
What a headache. She would just have to call Thomas Shipping first thing in the morning to reschedule the delivery for Monday. She should have known better than to arrange a weekend shipment. "I'll just have to make breakfast for five tomorrow morning. Shouldn't we contact their parents?"
Buffy cringed at the suggestion. "I … wouldn't call Xander's house at this time of night. And Cordelia's parents? If they're anything like her, I say lets grab Dawn and start heading out of state. No, let me handle this in the morning."
It was nice to see her daughter taking on more responsibility. Joyce nodded her approval as she began to head upstairs. She had driven over five hours today after working a full day and needed sleep for tomorrow's excitement. Hopefully neither Xander nor Cordelia would wake up in the middle of the night.
"Oh Mom? Can I please get a new bed?"
Thank god she stocked up on Tylenol at Costco earlier this week.
It was bright. Which was odd, because after complaining to Daddy her room had been moved to face the beach three years ago.
Cordelia went to roll over and face away from the light to discover that she was pinned against her pillow. Against her pillow that gently rose up and down to a steady rhythm. Her pillow that grunted softly when she wiggled against what she assumed now was an arm. Oh god what happened last night? The last thing she remembered…
Her eyes sprang open as memories from the previous night flickered through her head. Lao-tyen, boo. Losing control of her body as that women, took over. The alien emotions that she had trouble distinguishing from her own as Zoë found herself in Sunnydale pissed off and confused. The sheer ecstasy at finding Wash. Going upstairs with Wash and - oh god Wash was Xander!
Panic, attraction, revulsion, and love fought each other for dominance as her eyes focused upwards to see the sleeping face of Xander. She didn't know whether she should slap and yell "rapist" or embrace him and never let go. The memories weren't hers, but she couldn't help but associate Wash with Xander. It didn't help that both of them were so similar in their mentalities as the clowns of the group.
Cordelia fought the urge to laugh at the ludicrousness of the situation. Thanks to the costume she wore - she remembered Willow's rambling explanation - she had lost her virginity with Xander Harris of all people. And in Buffy's room of all places! If she were being honest with herself, she would confess to having a mild affection for the doofus. Alright, he was attractive in his own way and it helped that he had a clue on what really happened in Sunnydale. Plus, for a first time, at least Wash and Zoë had experience with one another. Still, how dare Xander sleep with her without her consent!
No, Xander was as much as a victim as she was. If she couldn't regain control over her body, nothing Xander could have done would have worked either. Dweeb boy was many things, but she didn't see him taking advantage of her body while she wasn't behind the driver's wheel. She didn't have to worry about this getting out at school. Only Xander's groups of losers were aware of what happened and none of them would dare to cross her path. They knew that she would make their lives an utter hell for at least the next two years if they squealed.
After pushing once more against the arm pinning her against Xander's naked body, Cordelia discovered to her dismay there was no way to extract herself without waking Xander up. This was going to be ugly; Xander lacked the fine control she had and would probably wake up screaming letting the whole neighborhood know. She promptly covered his mouth with her left hand while flicking his nose sharply with her right.
Xander's eyes sprung open and she had to squelch a smile at his unfocused gaze as he tried to start his brain up. She could see him focus on her as his eyebrows furrowed in confusion. 3…2…1. Panic! His eyes shot open and the arm around her flew off as his memories from the previous night began to kick in.
"Harris, hear me out then I want you to close your eyes and roll over to let me get dressed," Cordelia stated in a soft tone that hinted at violence if he didn't comply. Xander's head gently bobbed up and down as he focused on maintaining eye contact with her. She was damn impressed that he didn't try to sneak a peek. "If I of all people couldn't control what I did last night, you wouldn't have had a shot in hell. I won't say anything about this and you don't say anything about this. Just keep your Buffy and Willow quiet. If I hear a peep about this in school and I trace it back to the three of you I'll be visiting your anatomy with a sharp knife. Understand?"
Xander nodded his head again.
"Good. You should feel lucky that I still have faint memories of Zoë in my head and associate you with Wash. Though it does help that you both are complete dweebs," Cordelia said in a dry tone. "Now shut your eyes and roll over. I recommend that after I leave the room you get dressed as well. I'm pretty sure we're in Buffy's room, and something tells me that she'll be less than thrilled with either of us staying here."
A low groan could be heard as Xander made the connection of where exactly they were as he complied with her demands. Suppressing the impulse to comfort him, stupid Hellmouth, Cordelia rolled off the bed and swiftly got dressed back into her costume. Thank god today was a Saturday.
She paused to look at him as she approached the door. Should she say something? No, her mind was far too confused to try to say anything more. Stealing one of Buffy's scrunchies off of her dresser to put her hair in a ponytail, Cordelia steeled herself to deal with Buffy. Assured of looking as presentable as possible after a quick inspection in the mirror, she quietly opened the door and slipped out into the hallway.
Wow. There was a really nice piece of art in front of her. She wouldn't suspect a house of Buffy's class to have a painting of this quality. The bright colors reminded her of one of those Bonnard pieces she had seen at the Phillips Collection last spring break when she went back to D.C. with her dad. Ooh, she had just heard there would be an exhibit of his work at the MoMA in New York next summer. She would have to make one of her parents take her there.
"An old classmate of mine did that. She loved the works of the French from the beginning of the century," a soft voice came from Cordelia's right. She squeaked and spun around to see what she presumed was Buffy's mom. "Are you alright Cordelia?"
"I'm fine Mrs. Summers," Cordelia said with a steady voice. Damn her for being so jumpy this morning. "I'm sorry for getting you up."
The gentle smile on Mrs. Summer's face did nothing to ease the roiling of her stomach. "Don't worry, I was downstairs in the kitchen. It's right below Buffy's room so I could hear you moving around. Could I get you anything to eat or drink?"
This morning was surreal. Now Buffy's mom was offering her refreshments after having sex with one of her daughter's friends in her daughter's bed. She had to go home and…oh god! Protection. Neither of them had used protection. Alright, time to go to the doctor and see if she could do that Yuzpe regimen thing Harmony's younger sister had used. Another thing that must never get out to her friends.
"No thanks Mrs. Summers," Cordelia said shakily as the potential consequences began to dawn on her. "I think I need to head home now."
The sympathy on the face of Mrs. Summers simply made her stomach drop as she realized she couldn't let her parents know of this. Thank god her doctor was discrete. Her parents would go ballistic if they learned that she had sexual relations with Xander, no matter the circumstances.
"Alright dear," Mrs. Summers said softly as she led Cordelia down the stairs towards the garage. "Do you need a ride to your car or should I contact your parents?"
"No!" Cordelia said at the thought of Mrs. Summers contacting her parents. "I'll handle talking to my parents." She had to think quickly to remember where she was in relative to the school where her car was parked. "It's only a fifteen minute walk from here to where my car is parked and I would like to be by myself. I appreciate the offer though."
"If that's what you prefer. If you do need…anyone not involved to talk to you, feel free to stop by my gallery. It's off of Gage across from the In'N'Out," Joyce offered as she clicked the garage door open.
"Thank you," Cordelia said with a wan smile. As she began to walk out, Cordelia paused to turn around and look at Mrs. Summers one last time. "Don't be hard on Xander. He had no say in what happened last night."
Not knowing what else to say, she turned around and began the walk to school.
It had been a humiliating, frustrating and confusing five days for Xander as he walked down from Ms. Calendar's classroom down towards the school's entrance. Waking up with Cordelia - a nightmarish prospect alone despite how beautiful she was - was made even more horrible as he saw her struggle to be polite with him, nothing she had ever done previously. For the life of him though he couldn't tell if her… civility in dealing with him was due to the memories or some surprising quirk to her personality. It was unnatural to see her being anything but vile in regards to him.
On Saturday morning he couldn't get out of Buffy's house as soon as possible. While Mrs. Summers had been kind as always, the looks Buffy sent his way made him queasy. It was clear that the incident between himself and Cordelia brought back memories of his actions when he was possessed by the Hyena spirit.
Thankfully Willow had no clue as to what happened. She had definitely picked up on the strange undercurrents between himself and Buffy, his refusal to go to her house last night even after Buffy offered had to have given her a clue that something was wrong. Still, judging by the way she acted today at school Buffy and Mrs. Summers had yet to spill.
The worst was seeing Cordelia in the halls. Thankfully he could no longer recall Wash's memories on command by Monday, so he no longer saw his wife when seeing Cordelia. The memories from Halloween night itself though - the sheer joy of finding her and the incredible sex in Buffy's bedroom was ingrained in his mind. Well, he at least assumed it was incredible. He had nothing else to compare it to. Still, every time he passed her in the hallways, she looked simply miserable.
He supposed that he also looked miserable. So far the only upside to having sex with her was that he would no longer be prey for virgin-seeking demons. It just felt…morally wrong. There was no pride or sense of accomplishment, just an uneasy feeling in his gut. He wasn't a complete idiot. They used no protection, which could lead to very unwanted consequences. He needed to talk to her, to at least demonstrate that he would support her no matter what happened, but it had been impossible to contact her in a discreet manner.
The few times he had passed near Cordelia in the hallway she had visibly withdrawn into herself. Oddly enough he missed the insults. Sparring with Cordelia had become such an integral part of his life, that he felt neglected when she ignored him. That itself was a disturbing revelation.
A faint string of curses could be heard as he reached the bottom of the stairs. Peering around the edge he could see Cordelia at her locker trying to open her jammed locker. It scared him a little to see her on edge as she glared at her locker that refused to open.
"Do you need any help?" Xander asked as approached carefully. He assumed she had just gotten off from cheerleading practice for her to be here by herself after four.
A baleful glare greeted him. "I can open a locker on my own," she said in a sharp tone. "I'm not in the mood for any witty comments, so move along."
"Do you have time to talk now?" he asked with a false calmness.
"I'm not sure if we should talk," Cordelia said as she finally pried her locker open. "I honestly can't predict what would happen. I am literally debating between kissing or killing you and I'm not sure if you want to stick around to find the answer."
Xander sighed as he looked down the hallway. After the row of lockers, was an open door for a classroom which looked empty. "Come on, let's talk in that room. Less of a chance of someone overhearing us."
Cordelia stared at him for about thirty seconds. It was more than disconcerting that she seemed uncharacteristically vulnerable before sharply nodding her head and headed into the classroom. Xander followed her and closed the door, only to see Cordelia with her arms tucked beneath her breasts.
"Well, what do you want?" Cordelia asked in an impatient tone.
"I… wanted to see how you were," Xander said coolly under Cordelia's glare. "Listen, there could be consequences…"
"It took you only five days to realize what happens when two people have unprotected sex," Cordelia said as she rolled her eyes. "Congratulations, I guess you paid attention to sex ed."
Xander suppressed the impulse to snap back. "Actually it took me about a minute after you left the room but I didn't want to make a scene at the Summers," he said. "I've been trying to talk with you since then, but I figured showing up at your house would be a bad idea and you haven't exactly been alone this week at school. So all that I want to say is that regardless of what happens, I was a participant and I'll support you."
"You don't have to worry Xander," Cordelia said after several moments. "I got an emergency contraception on Saturday. It wasn't pleasant, but I felt fine for class on Monday. You know, if you were that concerned you could have just called me on my cell phone. Everyone has my number…" Cordelia trailed off at the look Xander gave her. "Well, almost everyone."
Taking a seat in an empty desk, Xander rolled his eyes. "Good. Well, good that you handled it. Bad that it made you sick," he said, as Cordelia snorted while taking a seat of her own with a desk in-between them. She had visibly deflated at least. "You don't have to worry about this getting out on my part by the way. As far as I know even Willow doesn't know what happened."
An awkward silence fell as Xander ducked his head and picked at imaginary lint on his jeans. "You know, it's a little freaky how you don't insult me in the hallways anymore."
With an amused look Cordelia snorted. "Not my fault you're so confusing these days. If it assures your simple mind, I was actually considering treating you like a human being before everything went crazy."
"I'm flattered," Xander said dryly sharing a quick grin with Cordelia. "Speaking of the crazy, is there anything I can do to help you cope?"
Tension flared back into Cordelia as she glared at him. "What do you mean cope? You better not be referring to a certain unmentionable activity-"
"No!" Xander interjected. "I know I'm hardly the most articulate person, but what we did? Never again. Not like that."
Cordelia relaxed back into her seat as Xander's words sunk in. "Dammit," she said after a few moments. "You're making it real hard for me to stay mad at you. It's…confusing. I know you're still a dweeb."
"That's good to know."
Frowning, Cordelia gave him an assessing look. "I really really want to be mad at you. I've had nightmares for years about what happened Friday night." Seeing Xander withdraw into himself, Cordelia rolled her eyes. "I know you had no say in it either doofus. That's one reason your testicles are still attached. It also helps that you're not bragging about it like nearly every other male in this school."
"Why would I?" Xander asked dryly. "What good would it be for me to say 'hey, I scored with Cordelia, but we were both possessed by our Halloween costumes'? I am seriously not proud of what happened."
A wan smile was the only response. An awkward silence fell upon the pair as Xander tried to figure out how to treat Cordelia.
"Tzao-gao!" Cordelia muttered after a few minutes.
"You retained some Chinese as well?" Xander asked with an amused look on his face.
Cordelia shrugged and smiled softly. "I've also picked up my marksmanship as well. Daddy is thrilled that I'm now shooting at a high enough level to try out for the Sydney Olympics."
Shifting in his chair, Xander chuckled. "As if you weren't deadly enough already with your mouth, now I'm going to have to worry about you shooting me."
"Not for a few days at least," Cordelia said slyly. "Daddy is using his connections to get me a permit to carry concealed weapons and he's close enough to Mayor Wilkins to extend that permit to cover me while I'm in class. No more crazy invisible people or vampires will get the drop on me."
Now Xander shuddered for real. Cordy carrying a firearm in school with the random chance of another possession? That was going to be a nightmare. "You know, it's too bad there are no spaceships in existence. Something tells me I'd be a great pilot if I could just practice."
"It would be your luck that you retain an incredible skill of absolute no practical value," Cordelia noted in a smug tone.
"Bizui," Xander snarked back at her.
Rising out of her seat, Cordelia gave Xander an appraising look. "You know, we should practice our Mandarin so we can retain our proficiency. China is a growing market these days."
Sensing that Cordelia was getting ready to leave, Xander rose up as well. "Yeah, that would make sense. Meet up in the library sometime?"
"No way," Cordelia said as she began walking towards the door. "I spend time there and I'll find myself knee deep in the insanity of your life. We could actually head over to my place right now if you wanted to. "
Xander paused at the offer. Him at Cordelia's? "You're not uh… still channeling Zoë are you? Because you do realize this is me you're offering to have over."
Shaking her head in exasperation Cordelia turned around to face him. "No dweeb, her memories have been purged. Annoyingly enough all she did was demonstrate … that it could be tolerable to interact with you," Cordelia before she gestured for him to follow.
Dazed and more than a tad confused, Xander followed Cordelia out to the parking lot.
"Flyboy, you have your license?" Cordelia asked as they approached her BMW Z3. Nodding, Xander deftly caught the keys tossed towards him. "Just don't break the car. Or I'll break you."
Grinning Xander slid into the driver's seat as Cordelia entered into the passenger seat. Weird, he and Cordy were going to try the friends thing.
"Now mister, what exactly is the We Hate Cordelia club?"
Two weeks later Buffy was more than a little perturbed as she entered the computer classroom. It was bad enough that she had caught Giles drinking by himself the previous night. The sight of Xander and Cordelia hunched together at neighboring computer terminals was downright… unnatural.
Poor Willow. She had not taken the news that the two of them had slept together well in the slightest. The reaming she gave Xander for violating their club charter of hating Cordelia, while amusing, only served to push Xander further towards Cordelia. While Cordelia was still vicious to Willow and Xander during school hours, now Cordelia and Xander were virtually inseparable while out of class.
Buffy wasn't sure which was more Hellmouthy: the fact that Cordelia and Xander now spoke to one another in a mix of English and Chinese or that there were now plastic dinosaurs prominently on display on top of the dashboard of Cordelia's car. The car that now Xander apparently was free to drive whenever. Xander and dinosaurs and Cordelia's car were three things that seemed very non-mixy. Well, maybe she could imagine Xander with dinosaurs, but he never spoke of them before Halloween.
Taking a seat next to Willow, she quickly grabbed Ms. Calendar's attention to highlight her concerns about Giles. "Uh, he didn't show up when he was supposed to last night, and then, when I went over to his place, he was acting … well, very anti-Giles. He wouldn't let me in, and he looked really bad. I-I think he might've been… I think he was drinking."
"The G-man drinking as if he was of age?" Xander chimed in. "Yes, that clearly says 'oh god oh god, we're all going to die.'"
Rolling her eyes, she went back to trying to make the rest of them see that something was wrong with Giles. Trust Xander to be completely irrelevant during a time of seriousness. Perhaps she was simply overreacting; Xander had not changed that much.
Chinese translated in order of appearance:
Tzao-gao: Damn it
Gao yang jong duh goo yang.: Motherless goats of all motherless goats.
Gwai-gwai long duh dong!: What the hell!
Jien huo: Cheap floozy
Lao-tyen, boo.: Oh, god, no.