Disclaimer: I own nothing. All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters are the property of their original owners.
“Uh, Giles...” Buffy Summers began to whisper at her Watcher, only to pause while she glanced around in sheer incredulity at the packed crowd which was filling tonight virtually all of Sunnydale’s main recreational area known as Cushinglee Park.
Rupert Giles lowered his hand from ear level in a supremely guilty manner. This Englishman thought he’d at last had a chance to stealthily take off and discard in the nearest rubbish bin the ridiculous paper stars-and-stripes top hat reluctantly worn for the last hour, the result of a lost bet with Xander. Ever since then, this little sod had rubbed it in, boasting about Lexington and Concord and other battles lost by the redcoats in what those bloody colonials referred to as their Revolutionary War. Even a snapped rejoinder from Giles that back in those times, the British had won two-thirds
of the combined battles from 1775 to 1783 hadn’t shut Xander up.
“Yes, Buffy?” sighed Giles.
The Slayer kept on looking from side to side, a nervous expression beginning to appear on her pretty face, before continuing in her low tone, “I think you better see for yourself. Check out the crowd.”
Frowning below his absurd headgear, the high-school librarian did as Buffy had just suggested, only to have his mild displeasure turn into actual alarm. Incredible as it might seem, the throng around them included a great many demons of all kinds, shapes, and appearances…and not a single human also here were showing any kind of awareness or concern about this!
Ever since coming to the California city last year to take up his position as Watcher to the newest Slayer, Giles had seen quite a few examples of Sunnydale Syndrome, the denial or mental blindness by the town’s inhabitants to what preyed on people in the dark. Tonight, though, was evidently something special. Giles worriedly nodded towards the anxious young woman waiting for his advice on how to handle this troublesome turn of events.
“Let’s work our way out of here, Buffy. Then, once we’re away from the crowd, we can discuss how to best deal--”
“Hey, relax, G-man. Nothing bad’s gonna happen.” A jovial voice unexpectedly coming from behind the pair startled both Giles and Buffy, making them hastily turn around to see Xander beaming at his friends. His arm laid casually around the shoulders of Willow also smiling at the newcomers to Sunnydale, Xander went on to snicker, “Nice hat, Giles. Did I forget to mention that?”
“Only for the last two minutes!” grumbled Giles. He cast his best baleful glower at someone who just cheerfully smirked back at him. Sensing it was a hopeless cause, Giles peered around at the crowd once more, to then jerk his head towards a misshapen figure standing several yards away and unconcernedly looking up at the night sky. For some reason, this evident demon wasn’t in the least bothered by being in the presence of the latest example of a superhuman girl duty-bound to eradicate every unholy creature she came across in the course of her all-too-short life.
“What the devil’s going on?” Giles demanded, glancing away from that oddly-acting demon to note how the rest of the other demons around, plus also the regular humans, were now simultaneously staring upwards, looks of expectation on their faces (both normal and deformed).
Xander and Willow turned their heads to giggle at each other, before they both returned their amused gazes at where Giles and Buffy were impatiently waiting for them to explain. It was the son of Tony and Jessica Harris who spoke first. “It’s like this, guys. Neither of us really thought about it, until you showed us our hometown’s actually chock-full of vampires and other nasties. But there’s one thing those all those demons enjoy, which caused the Fourth of July after dark for every year that we can remember being the safest night for ordinary folks. What I just said, it’s true, honest! About an hour from now, the whole crowd will be home, safe and sound, even if tomorrow night it’s chow time again for the vamps and the rest of the monsters.”
Buffy and Giles traded truly bewildered stares, until a loud Whoosh!
sound came from the far end of the park, followed by an excited murmur from the entire crowd. All the Scoobies lifted their heads to watch, right at the moment the first mid-air explosion occurred with an enormous burst of white and red sparkles from a large skyrocket.
“See, Giles,” Xander shouted into Giles’s ear past the beginning of tonight’s free pyrotechnics display, courtesy of the Wilkins family continuing their decades-long traditional hosting of the once-yearly show. The Sunnydale native had an ear-to-ear grin while explaining, “Everybody