Disclaimer: I own nothing. All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters are the property of their original owners.
Author’s Note: This got away a little from me. I began writing it with the idea of ‘what’ in my mind with some potential crossovers, only to get more interested into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ stuff. Just to let you know in advance and not be disappointed, okay?
It’d started right away one morning, when Xander Harris strolled into the Cleveland Slayers House cafeteria. All he’d been thinking about then was breakfast, only to have his casual deliberations broken into while standing in line. Trying to decide between pancakes and waffles (with bacon, of course -- mmm, bacon), the man just past his thirtieth birthday was interrupted by a cheery greeting from the first server behind the counter, “Happy Piñata Day, sir!”
Startled by those unexpected words, a taken-aback Xander could only mutter in return, “What? Oh, yeah, thanks.”
Pushing his tray along the counter, the one-eyed man glanced around the crowded cafeteria filled with Slayers, Watchers, and the house staff. These other people were eating, drinking, and talking with their compatriots sharing the room’s dining tables. All of them seemed to be in the same pleased mood, too. Which was genuinely odd, considering it was Monday and the rest of the workweek stretched discouragingly ahead. By the time Xander got to the end of the counter and picked up his tray now filled with his first meal of the day, he’d overhead again at least a couple more times the same greeting among the rest of the New Council personnel in the room.
Retreating to his private table in the west corner, which was one of the perks of being Head of the House, Xander ate his breakfast. During this, he marveled at how quickly an absurd, long-ago drunken attempt at revenge had turned into a cherished weird tradition for the Cleveland residents of the New Council’s Midwest branch. Between sips of his coffee, Xander cast a jaundiced eye around the entire cafeteria crowd. He was more than willing to bet they’d wouldn’t miss for the world what was going to happen at high noon in the back yard.
Sure enough, several hours later, Xander leaned against the trunk of a mature tree. This large maple was shading the rear garden of a converted hotel now the headquarters of a secret supernatural group devoted to protecting the Earth from demons and other unholy monsters. Or, at least this was what most of the people here were supposed
to be doing, instead of skipping out on their usual responsibilities and jobs to gather here today. Cynically shaking his head in sheer exasperation, the former Sunnydale resident looked around the vicinity again.
Things were exactly the same as they’d been for the last couple of years during this observance, with only the faces of the crowd having changed. A chattering mob of his presumed hard-working subordinates were excitedly congregated along the edges of the main lawn directly behind the hotel. Otherwise, this grassy area was completely deserted, with the expectant crowd staying in place while either staring at the unassuming lawn, or checking their watches. Xander was also about to do the latter, until two things occurred simultaneously.
First, the large clock set in the front of the main central tower of the hotel began to chime, with the double hands of this timepiece hidden from the crowd surely pointing at 12:00. At the same moment, there was a blinding flash of light throughout the back lawn.
You could tell who were the newbies right away. They’d been the ones caught gazing directly into that dazzling magical illumination, and were now blinking and rubbing at their eyes in reaction to this. Another clue was these peoples’ jaws instantly dropping at finally seeing what they’d been told about but hadn’t really believed. Until now, that is.
Two rows of six metal poles had just materialized from out of nowhere on the lawn, with these being planted upright there like some very strange additional trees. A trio of these poles, about as thick and tall as more prosaic wooden telephone poles, were the exact copies of another three poles twenty feet across the lawn, down to the horizontal strips of metal attached to the top of every pole. At the tips of these ‘T’ shapes, heavy-duty steel cables were fastened which had their other ends dangling almost down to the ground. Rather than terminating in a simple cut-off piece just above the grass, those dozen cable ends instead spread out into a spherical net of thick wires looking capable of holding securely fast within themselves just about anything. Or at least they seemed so, given how all those nets were currently empty.
Xander just rolled upwards his remaining eye in weary resignation, waiting for the rest.
Again, almost like before, another but slightly weaker burst of magical light discharged. After the illumination faded, this revealed a six-foot long metal staff hovering in mid-air at a position in front of every single cable net. Continuing to float without any discernable means of support, each of the twelve staffs had a bulbous end of some soft, foam-like white material. However, on the opposite side the staffs, this other end flared outwards into an oval, flat paddle consisting of the hard metal making up the remainder of the staff.
Over the eager murmur of the crowd, a loud voice from one of the Cleveland House’s support personnel being the master of ceremonies for today now announced, “Okay, people, those of you who won the draw, come on up and pick your place!”
In response, a dozen individuals immediately stepped forward from the crowd around the lawn. The ensuing jockeying for position finished with each of those participants standing in front of the staffs, which chosen tools were then snatched up from their floating positions.
Naturally, the Slayers in this small group handled the staffs with superhuman expertise. The girls imbued with Sineya’s spirit and powers, ranging in age from fourteen to a decade older, now spun, twirled and thrust these imitation weapons in mock attacks against imaginary enemies. The other normals were far less skillful, but even the most awkward Watcher-in-training essayed an enthusiastic swing or two in the manner of using a baseball bat.
Mentally sighing, Xander also made an internal note to himself to stiffen up the House self-defense courses. Some of those guys out there on the lawn were clearly slacking off, which couldn’t be allowed. In his grumpy mood, Xander then snarled under his breath to nobody in particular, “Why the hell don’t we just call today what it’s really about, our own gonzo version of Happy Human