A couple of years later, Xander Harris still
hadn’t gotten over it. That roast beef sandwich had been absolutely perfect, dammit!
However, after being frantically summoned in the middle of his first bite at the news of something very strange appearing in the hotel backyard, there was nothing but disappointment in the making for him hours later. By the time he’d gotten back to his office, a very grumpy Xander was left with a tasteless, room-temperature sandwich plus a large stain on his desk where all the horseradish leaked off the meat and bread onto the furniture. Adding even more insult to injury, the pickle had loathsomely transformed from its proper crunchiness into a mushy bit of cucumber.
He didn’t even feel like eating any of the potato chips.
His grouchy mood probably commenced at the exact moment when Xander got outside to the rear lawn, only to find the Slayers, Watchers, and others eating their own lunches or otherwise relaxing there had already figured out what to do with their newest toys. Giving an appalled look at the ludicrous scene laid out before him, Xander despairingly groaned, “Willow!
“OW! You didn’t have to do that so hard!”
“Oh, stop being such a big baby! I didn’t, anyway.”
“Yeah? My butt says different!”
After saying the last, Xander turned around to glare at the person across from him, all while rubbing at his sore rear. Willow ignored this to instead thoughtfully give the staff she was holding another experimental swing. The witch hastily recalled back from Scotland then announced, “No, what I meant was, the safety measures put on the clubs won’t allow anyone to hit harder with them than I just did to you. Even Slayers with their muscles won’t be able to overcome this, no matter how hard they try.”
In their position under the small glade of trees in the hotel’s rear garden, Xander glanced past Willow at the main lawn further on. There, he saw two superhuman girls had teamed up to energetically bat back and forth between themselves one of the captives currently confined inside a wire net at the end of the steel lines. Swaying to and fro from the dangling cable, this trapped person seemed to be approaching frothing insanity. This was probably due to being unerringly targeted upon a certain part of his anatomy hidden under the black robe this stranger was wearing.
Every time he came near one of the warrior women, that girl easily corrected for any attempts of the mature man to dodge. Instead, she gave him a brisk wallop on his backside with the paddle end of her club.
Even more impressive was how both Slayers followed up on these blows with a measure of billiards-style english, which caused the net and its hapless contents to twirl around and then present the proper end while sweeping towards the other young lady waiting with her club to inflict yet another painful clout.
Judging from the way this pasty-faced man’s mouth was rapidly opening and closing, he was definitely yelling threats and demands in between the loud howls of agony after again receiving an enthusiastic spank from either of the girls. Or at least that’s what Xander figured, seeing how no sound whatsoever came from there or elsewhere on the lawn to disturb the former Sunnydale residents in their own private magical bubble which blocked any kind of outside noise.
Following Xander’s gaze, Willow snickered, “Looks like Angela and Julie picked the ‘creep’ setting on the clubs right away for that guy.”
The one-eyed man shot his friend a truly exasperated look, while grumbling, “So, which one of you had fun thinking up all this last night? Nothing points right to you or Dawn, but I’ve got my suspicions. What you named the other end of the club a moment ago, it just happens to be the word me and Jesse got called by you almost every day in junior high!”
A sweetly-sad smile flitted over Willow’s mouth at the mention of their long-gone friend, but she next lifted a scathing eyebrow. “Hey, both of you were horrible boys back then! I had good reason to get into your faces whenever Jesse and you did something really stupid or otherwise acted like a big jerk!”
The woman flipped over the club she was still gripping, vigorously shaking the bulbous end now held high at chest level into Xander’s direction. Willow seemed to just be getting warmed up, as shown by the aggravated gleam in her eyes when she continued, “Believe me, I would’ve constantly poked you two with this ‘jerk’ end here to make you behave!”
Xander merely smirked at Willow’s tirade, until his attention was caught by something else on the lawn. Nodding at there, the man asked, “Wils, can you let me hear what Matt’s yelling at the kid? Though, I think I already know.”
“What?” frowned Willow.
She suspiciously eyed the spot on the lawn which Xander was staring at, wondering if he was trying to distract her from a justified harangue. However, across from the pair in the trees, a trainee Watcher for the Cleveland House was now standing in front of another captive inside a different wire net. This young man learning how to mentor and guide a Slayer was in the middle of energetically prodding with the blunt end of his staff the flinching body of the teenage boy held hostage inside the net. During this uncomfortable process, Matt Westcliffe was also evidently giving a good piece of his mind at full volume to the bewildered prisoner.
Feeling curious herself, Willow nodded once in the direction of this pair. She and Xander then clearly heard, as if they were just a few feet away from the other two guys, “--you never thought of bringing your family photo album to the breakfast table, going through it, and comparing any pictures there of your mom with your best friend’s sister? That’s just sick,
dude! Besides, you already had a really fine potential girlfriend hanging around for the last couple of years, right by your seat on the bench--”
Chuckling, Willow nodded again, and the tirade cut off just as abruptly as it’d begun. She dryly asked Xander in their regained bubble of silence, “So what’s he a fan of, the actress or her character?”
“Both,” a very fed up Head of House replied through his gritted teeth. Xander further groused, “Matt managed to get her autograph at the New York premiere of one of the films near the end of the series. He keeps that in what can’t be described as anything else but a really disturbing shrine to her in the corner of his bedroom.”
Giving a little all-over shudder, the former Sunnydale carpenter then glumly stared at the large crowd clustered around the last person of the very familiar trio who’d recently been magically abducted from their previous existence in their home dimension. There were too many people there in the circle of Watchers and Slayers surrounding the net containing this elderly man to see him in there now. Although, the incensed mood of this mob was quite unmistakable, given away by the angry brandishing of their staffs accompanied by the occasional thrusting motion with these towards the hidden individual being shouted at by all around him. However he might’ve been portrayed in other media, nobody at the Cleveland House was in the least bit any kind of admirer of this scheming old coot passing himself off as a grandfatherly character in charge of a certain private Scottish school.