"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley."
—Robert Burns

The Balance was disrupted. And now events were unfolding in a new and distorted pattern that they could not interpret.

It was not supposed to be like this.

The Powers That Be were close to panicking for the first time in nearly ten thousand millennia. No, this was not the Shaping of Things. This was not as it was meant to be. Not what they had planned. The Tapestry of their Design was tangled. Knots and kinks and other snarls were interfering with their ability to manipulate and alter the course of events.

Of course, the lynchpin of this massive deformation lay squarely at the feet of Buffy Summers.

Before she was just another Slayer. One of their tools to maintain the Balance. One that was easily disposed of.

Or at least she was.

She was supposed to die at the hands of the Master, a necessary sacrifice to maintain the Balance. Her Line, her Destiny snuffed out and ended.

Only she didn't.

She was not supposed to be resurrected. Nor was the Slayer Line supposed to be split in twain.

Now Buffy Summers was a Living Anomaly. She had died. Only now she lived. And thus, she stood outside of Fate and now the Powers had a difficult time simply watching her. Never mind trying to control her activities.

What was even worse was the crux of the situation was that all of her actions were unpredictable. Every decision she made altered the Fates of countless of others. And those others changed more and more and more, distorting and warping the weave that the Powers had meticulously laid out centuries ago to their frustration.

Who was she to alter fate and destiny? Who was SHE, a mere tool to challenge their uncontested purview of the world?

Even before as a mere Slayer, Buffy had a tendency to be drawn to certain events that required her attention. But it was even worse since her resurrection. Now, it seemed that these events were being drawn to her as easily as she breathed. No, it was more like she created them simply by existing.

And now this! Events were spiraling out of their comprehension. Humans were supposed to remain limited. It was easier to control them that way.

Otherwise, humans would gleefully tilt the scales without thought or comprehension or care about the larger scale of the greater good of the universe which was maintaining the status quo.

The Power That Be had to get things back under their control.

Unfortunately humans had Free Will and the damnedest ability to defy Fate.

That tended to be most annoying. They absolutely refused to be controlled even when it was for the good of the Universe and for themselves of course.

The Balance shifted again to their dismay.

Very annoying, the Powers of Be grumbled. It was all Buffy's fault. And they would have to do something about the wretched girl and soon.

The Balance tilted again.

Very, very soon.

Anime Halloween

Chapter 2: The Change

Sunnydale, California

She still wasn't sure about this but the fact that her character was some sort of Princess—albeit some sort of Ninja Princess finally decided her. Tsundere was a kind of really strong butt kicker was a plus, sort of like her Slayer deal. And she was absolutely not wearing that Frankenstein-like fright wig of that Roto chick.

Buffy glanced again at the small picture that had been affixed to the costume like a tag. She studied the female ninja's picture and frowned again at the sizeable bust she was sporting before glancing downward at her … not quite as large endowments.

But she was definitely not stuffing her bra or wearing some sort of falsies as Xander had suggested brightly—and gotten a punch in reply—with some Slayer strength added in.

She grimaced as she once again studied the picture to get the look right. Good thing her hair was long and thick enough to pull off that twin-ponytails look. She did wonder why the heck did her character get that weird tattoo on her forehead. Still, it shouldn't be that hard to do that bit, she thought to herself as she rifled through her collection of eyeliners and makeup for something that she could improvise.

It was his own damn fault, Xander reminded himself. He had chosen this costume as it was one of the more complex and therefore expensive ones. He yanked open his collar with one hand and tried waving his other around the opening to try and get some air circulation going. It didn't really work. He tugged around to loosen the grip that the clothes had on his sweaty back instead.

He really should have thought this thing through. If he had, he might have realized that dressing up as a character who covered himself up practically head to toe in heavy clothing was going to be as hot as hell. He really hoped that this makeup that he was wearing didn't run.

He began trotting and nearly tripped over the damn plastic sword belted to his waist. Just my luck, he thought to himself resentfully as he tugged it into place. How the hell did people walk around with these damn things strapped to them without falling over? Hmmm. I wonder if they ever accidentally fell and impaled themselves with one of these?

Los Angeles, California

Holland Manners, a Partner at the extradimensional and demonic legal firm Wolfram & Hart pursed his lips thoughtfully as he finished skimming the report. He looked up at his Junior Associate Lee Mercer, "You've confirmed this?" he asked intently.

Mercer nodded in his best sycophant manner, "Yes sir. There is a second active Slayer."

Manners flipped the folder closed and drummed his fingers on it for a moment. "Hmm. Odd. All of our files indicated that only one Slayer is ever active at any time."

"Research & Intelligence has a theory. Last year, the Master killed Buffy Summers but she was subsequently resuscitated via CPR. But her temporary death was enough to trigger the activation of the next Slayer," Mercer reported with a touch of pomposity as though it was only through his own genius to have come up with this idea.

Manners gave a sharp headshake of amusement. "A damn loophole. Huh!" The lawyer in him couldn't help but cackle at the irony. "I don't suppose it's too much to hope that the Watchers are sending her to Sunnydale too?"

"Her current mission seems to preclude that. They appear to have her as a roving Slayer."

This was going to have to go to the Senior Partners, Manners decided with a glum sigh. They were not going to be pleased. And when they were displeased, they started looking around for something to vent their displeasure on. Which was usually hard on the messenger, i.e. him.

The Senior Partners had been delighted when Summers had gone to Sunnydale. The biggest problem was that the Watchers only HAD one active Slayer and so many fires to piss on. Usually, they moved the Slayer from one hotspot to another; Buffy Summers was a rarity in that she had been given a permanent station but had managed to survive for so long without getting killed—or did the momentary death count for or against that record, Manners thought a bit whimsically.

But Summers being tied down to the Hellmouth meant it was unlikely that she would interfere with their other operations—and since they didn't really have any operations around the Sunnydale Hellmouth; it was a win-win situation as anything she did there would undoubtedly weaken or detract from Wilkins' power base—something that W&H wouldn't shed a tear over.

A second Slayer. And things were going so well for this quarter's earnings, Manners thought sadly. He considered briefly offering up Mercer up to the Partners as a sacrificial goat—it was his report after all. The little toady had ensured that in his pathetic attempt to present the information to him by backstabbing the others responsible for gathering and assembling this information and claiming it as his own work.

Hmmm … no. Not yet. I should save sacrificing Mercer for something a bit more important. The game had altered a bit with another wildcard but in the end, W&H just had too much of deck stacked in their favor, Manners decided. The Senior Partners would be a bit put out and crank up the pressure on him a bit, but Manners knew that he would survive this little bump in the road. Things wouldn't really change that much.

"Alright then, thank you Lee. I appreciate your dedication and hard work. I'll be sure to mention you to the Senior Partners when I brief them about this situation," Manners said grandly and saw the little brownnoser smirk at the thought of pulling the wool over Manners' eyes. Little shit, Manners thought to himself. "It's getting late, why don't you go home? It's going to be a quiet night—Halloween and all."

As Mercer left, Manners made a note to have a more thorough security check run on the little fucker. Mercer had an ego and his fear of W&H had kept him on the straight and narrow but Manners had a feeling that his success at 'fooling him' might cause him to—re-evaluate his loyalties.

That was the problem with running a firm of lawyers. There was always somebody so got too ambitious or too greedy or too stupid. W&H was a meatgrinder for them. Fortunately there was always a ready supply of replacements.

He smiled ghoulishly. "Nobody betrays Wolfram and Hart, Mercer. Nobody."

Sunnydale, California

Buffy gave Willow a wary look. "Can you even see in that thing?" she asked.

A slightly muffled voice exclaimed, "Of course I can!"

Buffy shook her head in disbelief. "Are you sure you're getting enough air?"

"Uh huh."

"Well be sure to tell us if you're feeling dizzy or getting heat stroke or something. That outfit looks awfully stuffy," Buffy suggested.

"OK Mom."

"You're a riot Wills," Buffy mock-growled.

Willow had to admit that she had grabbed this outfit because it was probably the least embarrassing one available that didn't put herself on gratuitous display.

Unfortunately Buffy was right in that she was already feeling awfully warm as Sylia Stingray's Knight Saber Armor was essentially a molded plastic suit that covered her from head to toe and acted like a gigantic heat sink. In addition, it weighed a lot more than she first thought.

She suspected that Mister Ethan simply didn't carry the others because Sylia's suit was the only one in stock. Otherwise, she would have gone for Nene Romanova's Armor out of sheer loyalty. We're both red-headed computer hackers after all, she thought proudly.

She adjusted the fit of her chestplate a bit and considered how to carry her bag. She fiddled with the strap and was forced to redo the length and push it to the maximum extension before fitting it over her shoulder.


"Ooh! Xander's here!" Willow blurted out excitedly, eager to see him in his Halloween outfit.

"Yeah, great," Buffy said sourly as she studied herself in the mirror. She had to admit that she did look hot. Unfortunately it was going to be entirely wasted on a bunch of prepubescent adolescents (and she was including Xander in that category) and not Angel.

"I wouldn't mind dressing up for Halloween. I wouldn't mind going out tonight—after all Halloween is one of my few nights off as the Slayer when I could have just stayed at home and relaxed. What I do mind is that little troll making us babysit a bunch of snot nosed brats," she whined once again.

"It's just for a few hours Buffy. And then you and Angel can go out afterwards."

"Ugh. I suppose," Buffy said wishing again that she hadn't been distracted that she had missed picking up that noblewoman's fancy dress. She was so sure that Angel's eyes would have popped out seeing her gussied up all fancy and ruffles and lace and stuff. Tsundere's outfit was a bit on the plain side, she inwardly winced.

Ah … well, she thought with a sigh. At least it'll be a quiet Halloween.

Ethan Rayne grinned devilishly as he raised his hands up in supplication.

"IT'S SHOWTIME!" he caroled out as the Chaos Spell reached out, tapping the latent powers of the Hellmouth and the weakening progression of the dimensional walls that tended to naturally ebb on All Hollow's Eve.

The Powers That Be watched silently and grim misgivings as the Chaos Mage summoned up Janus, spreading his influence over Sunnydale.

They disliked this relinquishing of their control and allowing the Old God to ascend to this position of temporary power—but it would only be temporary, they reminded themselves.

And this was too good of a chance to miss. To deliberately weaken the Slayer and with a few nudges to the Master Vampire Spike, making this the best opportunity to end her life once and for all. And once she was gone, her influence would wane, and the Powers That Be could get things back on track. Like they were supposed to.

They almost sighed in relief as everything went according to plan.

Unfortunately, it just wasn't the Powers That Be's plan…

A/N: I have decided! Buffy will be Tsunade from Masashi Kishimoto's Naruto series and Willow is ever cool Sylia Stingray from the cyberpunk, dystopian future of the Bubblegum Crisis which belongs to Animego … I think and I'm using the classic version rather the 2040 remake that came out. Xander's costume will be revealed in the next chapter.

Buffy has a habit of mangling names that I noticed in the BtVS series so I extended that her calling Tsunade as "Tsundere" and Ryoko of Tenchi Muyo! as "Roto". It was sort of a joke as tsundere is a japanese slang term that refers to a stereotypical running arc in which the female character is cold, harsh, and is easily angry—usually towards the male character—and slowly over the course of storyline, warms up to him showing that beneath that frigid exterior lurks a nice, gentle, and caring nature.

The Robert Burns quote, "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley," from the top of the chapter is from his poem, "To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough" and translates into "The best laid schemes of mice and men, Go often awry."