A Yahf idea, feel free to get a gun. I think this is one of my few pure Yahf stories, you know where it's just the costume that makes a difference instead of reawakening something. Though I can't take credit for the idea, there's a challenge out there that has this exact idea and I fell in love with it.
And like most of my other shots I pray for the day that I have the skill/time/muse to write this as a full story.
Summary: Bad luck, common sense and face paint. That's all it took to change three friends lives forever.
Title: Just Face Paint
"Yeeeah, I'm not buying it."
"What?" Buffy asked as she closed her locker, Xander leaning next to it and Willow just behind her as they waited for her to collect her things so they could head to lunch. She had just finished her mini-rant about how unfair Snyder was being and how the troll of a principle had ruined the one day the night life would give her a day off.
"I'm just saying I don't think things are going to be as quiet as you think tonight." Xander said with a shrug as the herded themselves to the lounge.
"Well, according to Giles tomorrow's 'stay in and watch a movie' night for the undead. And he tends to be right about these things, what with being a Watcher and all." Buffy snipped out, her ruined mood lashing out towards her friend just a bit as he seemed to poke more holes in her possible relaxation time.
"And when has anything like that worked for us before?" He asked rhetorically, deciding to take a seat with the girls instead of getting a drink like he planned. "I mean, think about it! Every time we try to do something that should be safe something spooky pops its head out to ruin our day!"
"Xander, I think you're exaggerating again." Willow said, trying to take charge of the situation and maybe cheer up her only girl friend with any silver lining she could find.
"Oh come on Wills, you know I'm right" He raised a hand and started to hold one up for every example he could think of, "Cheerleading tryout, a substitute teach, a trip to the zoo, an new internet buddy, a talent show, parent teacher night, a foreign exchange student." He stopped giving examples when he realized he was running out of fingers, "All things that were supposed to be nice, safe and normal that blew up in our faces. And since Halloween is an excuse for humans to act like morons I don't even want to know what those wacky vampires are going to be up to."
Buffy's shoulders slumped as she realized her friend was probably right. Giles may know book smarts and demon traditions but Xander could usually point out the obvious thing that they, sometime purposely, overlooked. Damn him and his pessimism.
"Well, at least we can still have fun picking out our costumes." Willow offered, nudging Buffy slight as once again she tried to cheer up the Slayer up.
"I say something with a big sword. Just in case." Noticing Willow's glare for the first time all Xander could say was, "What?"
Apparently Xander had said something wrong earlier. He didn't know what, as he was trying to be serious for once, but he was used to eating his foot. He'd give them a few hours to cool down and then apologize, until then though he was stuck searching through the new costume store for something he could follow his own advice with.
While just going as a soldier and packing a few stakes in his belt was an option it didn't have the umph he really wanted. Besides, it was Halloween. Probably the one day of the year where they wouldn't have to hide their weapons in over stuffed backpacks and duffle bags.
Unfortunately, he was unlikely to afford anything more than twenty dollars, twenty two at most, and that'd mean no lunch or Bronze for him for a few days, maybe even a week.
Turning down the medieval section he began to wince just by glancing at the price for some of the knight armors. Seriously? Forty dollars just for a fancy chest plate and helmet? What kind of idiot would buy that?
… Okay, he would if he had the money but that was beside the point. The point was he didn't have the money to get anything fancy, having to settle for bottom shelf items and hoping for the best.
Hunching over he started to shift through the cheaper costumes his eyes eventually fell onto a Robin Hood costume. It wasn't even one of those classic green tights with a funny hat version that he could convert into a Green Arrow costume, but one of the those more 'realistic' ones with dark greens and deep brown cloth with a hood.
It wasn't even that good. Just a cloth costume that didn't bother with fake leather, plastic armor. Or even fake arrows. But it was cheap, barely more than twelve dollars.
It would do though.
Plus, he was going to raid the library for weapons anyway so the lack of fake bow and arrows was really just a bonus. And he could use those work boots he uses when he helps his uncle Rory at the shop to make look more like was trying to be pragmatic version of the costume instead of just being poor.
Plan and course of action set in mind Xander paid for his costume and made to leave the store but something in the corner of his eye stopped him. A pair of familiar looking girls skimming through the isles, searching for something to wear for the following night. Coincidences seemed to be a rather common thing in his hometown, then again they probably just ran there after school like he did so there shouldn't have been any real surprise.
Swallowing down a bit of nervousness he started to approach them, intending to apologize for whatever mess his mouth got him into earlier.
"Uh, hey guys."
"Hey Xander." The girls coursed out in near harmony, showing none of the irritation from earlier that day. So maybe whatever he said didn't dig him as big of a grave as he thought.
"Got yourself a costume already? Buffy asked after it became obvious Xander wasn't going to say anything.
"Uh, yeah. Robin Hood." He said a bit weakly as he waved the bag in front of him. That brief question seemed to be enough for him to push out his apology, so with a breath he made his attempt. "Look, I don't know exactly what I said earlier to upset you guys but whatever it was I'm sorry. You know how my mouth is, it just keeps on yapping and yapping until it says something that earns me a slap on the back of the head. So, yeah, wanted to apologize for the latest one of those."
Both girls gave him amused smiles as he fumbled through his apology. It was cute in an awkwardly endearing way. Besides, neither of them were really mad at him, just at the point he made. Or Buffy was, Willow was upset over how he presented it with little care or notice on how it was effecting Buffy.
But he was male and such stupidity should be expected.
A sentiment Buffy shared and easily forgave as she waved her hand in front of her, "Don't worry about it Xander. You didn't really do anything wrong, just pointing out how much our lives suck."
Xander scratched the back of his head in both confusion and sheepishness, as he still had little clue what they were talking about. He said crap about that all the time so pin pointing exactly what he said was probably impossible. It could have been the Halloween thing he guessed, but at the same time it was just as likely his comment about not being able to trust the man holes caused the brief cold shoulders.
"So, what are you guys thinking of picking out?" He asked, trying to delay and detain the awkward silence that would have descended.
"The classics!" Willow all but cheered as she held up a prepackaged ghost sheet, something that made Buffy cringe.
"Willow, are you sure you don't want to try something a little more… well, better?" The blonde said trying to subtly convince her friend to try something different, something that might drag Xander's eyes towards the red head and show him that she's dating material.
"Hey, now I remember this!" Xander said, slamming his fist into his hand in fake realization. "Didn't you go as that last year, and the year before that… and the year before that." He was all for a costume change for the girl himself, she has gone as the same thing since they were ten.
It got boring, even if she could hide a small arsenal under that sheet.
Willow for her part just pouted as her friends seemed to tag team her for their amusement. She liked the ghost costume; it was nice, traditional, and safe. There was nothing wrong with that and they didn't need to poke fun at it.
"Oh, come on Willow. Don't be like that, I'm sorry, just drop the puppy glare." Xander whined as he tried to shield himself from the kick puppy pout his childhood friend had on, hiding behind an amused Buffy to lessen the effects of the stare.
"Children behave." Buffy said with a false authority while trying to restrain her giggles. She enjoyed the normal moments like that, a refreshing breath of air that let her momentarily forget what she was and what her responsibilities were.
Like a man trapped in a desert taking sips from a canteen and pretending to be at the beach.
Still, she needed to get the conversation back onto the 'Willow gets a different costume' conversation especially since she now had Xander backing her. But how could she play this? She wanted Willow to try something a little more adventurous but she wasn't sure how to do so with Xander standing right next to her.
He was as much of a hindrance as he was helpful in this situation.
'Then again', she thought as she took a glance at Xander's costume choice, 'Maybe there were some options'
Tugging at the bag in Xander's hand Buffy made her idea known, "Oooh, we could do a group thing. Like a dark ages thing. Like Dungeon and Dragons or whatever!" She said excitedly. She seen some of the things those characters wear and if it didn't get the girls the desired reaction from the men they like little else will.
Releasing Xander and grabbing Willow she rushed them over to medieval section with a bare, "See you later Xander!"
All said teen could do was wave in confusion, "Bye… girls are so weird."
In the end Buffy took Xander's advice, deciding to go with a Joan of Arc look to go with her favorite sword from Giles' weapon stash. As much as she hated to admit it her friend was probably right and even if he wasn't it didn't hurt to be prepared.
Luckily the costume she got at Ethan's was one of those tight fitting fantasy armor deals that showed a bit of boob and hugged her curves instead of hiding them. So if she did see Angel he'd be seeing just what he was missing by letting his interest wander to that bimbo Cordelia. Admittedly she didn't have as much to work with as the brunette but she knew how to work with what she did have, and she knew how to work it well.
Then there was the added bonus of her costume choice, along with Xander picking out some Robin Hood like costume, allowed her to convince Willow to try something a little more… daring. Getting the shy girl to go with the idea of a group theme.
Noting much, just a sexy sorceress outfit… Okay it took a bit of convincing and a fair amount of trickery along with the matching costumes idea but she got the red head to agree.
It was rather amusing to watch the girl try to cover up her partially exposed thigh as they made their way to the school and into the library. Where, much to Buffy's delight and Willow's mortification, Xander was waiting for them with Giles.
"Hey guys!" She said cheerfully as she watched Xander's gaze hit back and forth from each girl, letting out incomprehensible words in greeting as he did so.
"Yes, now if you're done breaking the poor boy's mind would one of you mind telling me why you feel the need to raid the Weapons Cabinet?" Giles asked, purposely and pointedly looking the girls in the face.
Buffy shrugged her plastic armored shoulders, "Xander pointed out that even if it's supposed to be quiet with our luck some super demon is going to pop out of the ground, so yeah, better safe than sorry. Besides, we picked out costumes that they'd blend in, see?" She did a little twirl.
Giles opened his mouth to give some sort of protest but it fell short on his lips as his mind wondered over the past year. He opened it again to say that they deserved a night to relax but closed it again as he realized on some level they were trying to be responsible, on some level.
"Fine." He said reluctantly, "But do try to keep them in the sheaths. I have a hard enough time hiding our supplies here without people wondering why you lot are walking around with actual weapons."
"Thanks Giles!" Buffy bubbled as she walked over to grab her sword with Xander hot on her trail.
"Dibs on the daggers!"
Willow for her part just sighed and followed after her pointy object obsessed friends.
The kids weren't due for another handful of minutes at least so the trio of friends were just hanging around the student lounge waiting, talking about mundane and random things. Something Willow enjoyed immensely.
Back when… back when Jesse was alive these conversations would have been filled with guy things like comic books, sport scores and girls. While she strangely didn't mind the last one, which she put off to just being numb to it, it was nice to have a more neutral conversation.
Both Xander and Buffy seemingly uncomfortable, or at least hesitant to say anything too relationshippy with the other around. Either because of Xander's dissipating crush, thank god for that by the way, or because of his hate for Buffy's current, or attempted, beau.
"Oooh, I almost forgot!" Buffy said, breaking away from their conversation as she dug through her bag. "I thought, since we're doing this whole Dungeon and Dragons dealie, that we should do it right." Finally finding what she was looking for and held it out proudly.
"What's that?" Xander asked rhetorically as he looked at the tube in her hand.
"Face paint!" Buffy gave a winning smile that started to wane as she saw her friends just weren't as excited as she was. In fact they looked rather confused.
"And why do we have face paint?"
"Because that's what Dn'D people do… right?" She actually seemed nervous about that, Willow mused. She was trying to fit in with them and be a little more geeky, something she did every so often and usually fell short.
Willow tried to come to her friends rescue and say that, yeah, she was right. But it came out in that usual stammer babble that she got when she didn't know what to really say. Eventually she did what she usually did in such situations, look at Xander and hope he'd save her.
So with a snort and a roll of his eyes Xander took the paint from Buffy, putting a dab of the red paint of his finger and swiping it across Willow's nose.
And then did the same thing to Buffy.
And then to himself.
"Now we are ready for war!" His unoccupied hand raised in some sort of call for victory, looking so silly that the girls forgot their indignation and giggled.
And with that the three teens with red stripes flicked across the bridges of their noses went to chaperon a bunch of screaming children.
When one invokes or thinks of Janus they think of only one of his titles and duties as a god.
Change. The most powerful and long lasting source of chaos, the type that was inevitable to happen. But they often forget his other power that comes with being the god of doorways.
Janus was a god of time.
Looking into the past and present as easily as a mortal looked from left to right.
Peering into the near infinite expanse at his leisure and entertainment.
Entertainment such as his jester of a disciple Ethan Ryane was giving him.
Ah, Ethan. One of his more devoted and entertaining of followers. Creating chaos through change for both their mutual entertainments.
Sure most of the changes he invokes do not last long but they are amusing none the less.
Like his latest project. To turn that bastardized American holiday into a night to remember. Shifting all the costume goers into their characters for a night.
Oh, just think of what the long term repercussions could be!
It was such an amusing idea that Janus decided to put a personal hand into a good deal of the transformations. Sure he was a bit lazy with some of the changes, such as just letting some old demon blood wake up in some children while in others he stuffed in some ancestors memories, but with others he would do the research.
Plucking the information from the mortals mind to find out what they were supposed to be and then shifting through mortal history to find the best match.
Like he was doing for the Slayer and her little friends.
A warrior, a mage and an archer with red face paint?
He was sure he had seen something like that in, what, a decade or so into the future as some mortal game?
Eh, he didn't know and he didn't care. It fit close enough.
And so attaching the three costumes to a game that has yet to even be more than a passing idea Janus moved onto the next costume with little care.
She/he/they felt off.
Like there were pieces of their self further down the black paved road even if they were complete and uninjured where they stood. Walking down the street he/she/they noticed that the source of the feeling was moving towards them too.
Eventually he/she/they would meet, two earlier than the third but ignoring each other till the set was complete, and stood in a circle to examine those in front of them.
The first of them was a short blonde woman with hazel eyes and decorated armor, a long sword sheathed on her back.
Next was a red headed woman with green eyes wearing tight fitting robes that showed off a good deal of her legs, she leaned casually against the staff in her hand as she looked at the other two intently.
And last was the only male of the group, his dark hair and eyes hidden in the shadow of the hood he dawned. He was also the most obviously armed of the three, with two daggers equipped to his belt and a quiver of arrows on his back to accompany the bow in his hand.
Each one of them had to wonder how could three people look so different, and obviously be so different, and yet feel so much alike. The only visible thing they had in common was a line of red paint over their noses.
And they felt, no they knew, that they knew each other but they couldn't place their finger on how or where.
"So," The sole male said breaking the silence jovially, "Where do I know you two lovely ladies from? The Rose perhaps? Hmmm, no? Fellow freelancers?"
The armored woman seemed to snort while the one in robes gave him an amused smile and answered, "More along the lines of a Freelancer myself but I can't say I can place your face. Perhaps a name would help serah?"
"Ah, I bet it would!" The man said before giving an overly exaggerative bow, "Garratt Hawke, Champion of Kirkwall, at your service."
"Okay, you have to be the worst knock off I have ever seen." The blonde said harshly as she glared at the introduced man, "You look nothing like me, and seriously, anyone who though I was a man is going to get a serious talking to by my good friend here." She gripped the handle of her blade for emphasis.
"And now I feel offended." The man said easily but taking the threat with care, shifting his stance ever so slightly to prepare for the attack.
"Don't you two think it's probably better to focus on why three people claiming to be Hawke and more on where we are?" The red head said trying to prevent a confrontation.
"Oh, now you're saying your Hawke too?"
She nodded and even gave a curtsy, "Marian Hawke."
"At least she got the name right." The blonde mumbled, trapped in random thoughts on the situation. Both on how she got there and why she couldn't put up more of a protest that these were obvious imposters. It was like she knew they weren't lying.
A familiar twang of an arrow being released ripped her out of thoughts. Snapping her head to where the sound came from she saw the male Hawke already nocking another arrow and looking intently in the distance.
Glancing over to see what he was staring at made her instantly unsheathe her sword, in the corner of her eye she could see the last of their makeshift group flaring with arcane powers.
Demons, dozens of them, in more shapes and sizes than she had ever seen. They ran about randomly causing chaos, destruction and injury in their wake. But it seemed a small part of the swarm deemed them interesting enough to target.
"For the record I blame this weird dream on the Enchantment Soup I had before going to bed." The man's comment went somewhat ignored as the flock of Hawkes dove into the enemy with abandon.
They'd figure out what was going after everything was dead.
Just like usual.
So in case it wasn't obvious, or for those not in the know, this is a crossover with Dragon Age 2 with each of the Scoobies dressing as a different version of Hawke. Don't own any of it.
Anyway, there are going to be longer term effects of 'sharing the same soul' even if it was only for a little while. One of them is probably going to be keeping a chunk of the skills and memory given, and another is going to a forced perception change of each other.
Not going to lie, if I do continue this idea it'll probably end up in a B/W/X relationship. I enjoy them and there aren't enough of them.
Another thing I'm going to do if this idea does continue is a chapter or two of prep work for the story. Showing how things are a bit different then cannon in this story. Ex: Earlier magic lessons for Willow with Ms. Calendar, Xander working out so he never had to rely on Angel to watch his back again, Buffy ptsd still in effect in varying doses, ect.
The Hawkes roughly (May need DA2 experience to understand), Xander Hawke is a rouge who hit the charming/joking button far too often and is romanced to Isabella. Willow Hawke is a mage Hawke who hit diplomacy as often as she could and slammed on the angry responses when situations deemed it, romanced to Merrill and was a dabbling blood mage till the loss of her mother. Buffy was a warrior who alternated freely between the angry and joking responses, she's romanced to Anders. All of them tried to help the mages. Each one also paired with the Love Interest the best appealed to them. Basically how things would have gone if they played the games.
Anyway,this was rough as hell as usual but I hoped you enjoyed it enough to tell me what you think.