Disclaimer: I own nothing. All characters presented in this story are the property of their original owners.
Inside the Scottish castle that was the home of the International Watchers' Council Administrative Center, the sheet of paper rested innocently enough on the top of the office desk. There was no sign this document was imbued with so much magic, bindings, spells, geasa, and enchantments that, frankly, nobody occupying the chairs and couches beyond the table would have been the least bit surprised if that object had levitated itself to head height and started speaking in tongues.
An extremely unhappy Rupert Giles, sitting at his desk where he directed the efforts of the IWC and its Watchers and Slayers worldwide fighting against the dark, now bestowed on the paper an expression of pure loathing.
An amused voice came from where Buffy Summers lounged in an armchair. "Giles, if you glare any harder at that, it's gonna burst into flame."
In a very chilly tone, the man who had been her Watcher and always would be, said grimly, "Please stop trying to raise my hopes, Buffy."
This only produced loud laughter from everyone there: Xander, Dawn, Willow, Faith, and Buffy herself. Wiping tears of mirth from the corners of her eyes, the Slayer crowed, "We have his weakness! He can't handle the totally ridiculous!"
"Well, that's exactly what this is!" snapped the Englishman, an irate index finger pointing at the single paper on his otherwise spotless desk. He went on in utter disbelief, "A document signed by virtually all of our known enemies, and several others who revealed themselves just to put their mark on this, the most vicious demons, monsters, ungodly creatures in existence whose sole purpose in life is to bring doom to this world -- and they're asking for a permanent one-day truce?!"
"Hey, even Evil Overlords like the occasional day off," snarked Xander Harris, scratching his forehead over the eye-patch covering his left eye. He brought down his hand to rest his elbow on the left armrest of the couch he was occupying, and perched his chin on top of his fist, so that when he continued, his head bobbed up and down. "Besides, you've been told over and over that it's totally above-board, courtesy of Big Bad Mama here."
Being referred to by her current nickname caused Willow Rosenberg to lift her head a few inches and then relax, causing that part of her body to drop sharply into a squashy landing, producing a choking whimper from Xander.
This was due to the witch comfortably lying flat on her back on the couch, with her head resting in the now-aching lap of the man, her interlocked fingers on the large bulge of her pregnancy, and her bare feet propped up onto the right armrest of the long seat, these being given an expert massage by Faith.
"Yo, Red," chided that woman. "Don't break boytoy. I'm gonna have somethin' special for him tonight, so he's gonna haveta be at the top of his game. Or else."
"Right, right, anything you say. Just keep doing what you're doing with your knuckles. Ooooooooo," moaned Willow, as the other young people snickered and Giles raised his eyes to the heavens.
He'd done his best to stay out of the love lives of his children ever since Sunnydale, but they kept enthusiastically dragging him into their relationships, continually asking him for advice and reassurance, and coming to him for a shoulder to cry on. Like….like a father. Of course, the usual father didn't have to deal with a really strange love triangle consisting of Xander, Willow, and Faith.
It had been a reasonable idea in the first place for the young man to provide the sperm donation when the lesbian redhead had wanted a child, but things had become really peculiar when Faith had swaggered back into the Scoobies' lives after a half-year road trip. Willow confided to Giles that when the dark Slayer had again met the witch when she was beginning to show, she'd resignedly waited for Faith to say something completely crude.
Instead, to Willow's total astonishment, Faith had just stared at the former Sunnydale native's stomach for a long minute, and then the brunette had shyly asked what it was like. Pregnancy, that is. Willow's apprehension that Faith was putting her on in some way had vanished when the Slayer reluctantly revealed she'd never spent any time in her entire life with an expectant woman.
Even the rest of the Scooby Gang , who were more than used to encountering six impossible things before breakfast, were dumbfounded when Willow announced who her new pregnancy buddy was. Faith's fierce face prevented anybody from joking about it as that woman began spending most of her day at Willow's side, helping her through Lamaze classes, getting her pickles and other strange foods for her new cravings, and showing an absolute willingness to murder the entire universe if it dared in any way to possibly harm Willow Rosenberg.
The only time Faith could be lured away from her self-appointed bodyguard duties was when Xander came near, causing that male to be grabbed by the neck and dragged into the nearest private room, with Faith hungrily snarling, "You're gonna be doin' it for real, and you're gonna do it right. Ya hear me, ya missin'-parrot pirate?!"
Since Xander had shown up intact after that, if with impressive bruising and a truly strange half-haunted, half-smug expression, it was assumed that he had successfully completed his duties. Nobody really wanted to come out and ask. Especially Giles.
That older man brought himself back from his thoughts to see his family expectantly staring at him. Hastily marshaling his arguments, the Englishman nodded at the seemingly innocuous sheet of paper on his desk, and murmured, "Can we be sure this isn't some sort of potential deception or ruse, to get us to lower our guard?"
"It's the real deal, Giles," said Willow in a serious tone. "That paper's from the Book of Fates itself, a manuscript made from solid White Magick. Anybody who signs it and then breaks the compact is going to receive three-fold retribution, more than enough to destroy them, no matter how powerful they are."
Through clenched teeth, Rupert Giles gritted, "That isn't exactly an incentive to get me to sign that thing!"
Buffy's eyebrows rose. "Are you actually going to break your word? That isn't like you, Giles."
A glower from the former Watcher to his Slayer caused the man to receive in turn a cheerful smirk from Buffy, who became more serious when Giles suddenly looked thoughtful, blurting out, "Apocalypses!"
"Well, he does know the plural," commented Xander, absently twirling a strand of Willow's hair. "But what's that got--"
"What happens if the end of the world occurs during that specific time?" asked Giles triumphantly. "Under the terms of this idiotic document, we would be unable to stand against the forces of evil, unless you really want to be blasted into dust by retributive magics?"
The Englishman felt a glow of elation as the others became somber, until a voice that hadn't been heard before spoke. Dawn Summers, who throughout all the discussion had been absorbed in examining her own sheet of unfolded paper and making notes on it, this possibly being one of her researches for the IWC, now looked up, saying, "Er, Giles, that just isn't going to happen."
At the others' bewildered expressions, the younger Summers sisters went on, "The possibility of destruction, catastrophes, end of the world, blah, blah, blah -- yeah, they might happen. But when us people in the research division found about the offer by the bad guys, we really looked, and we came up with something that's just flat-out weird." Dawn hesitated, and went on.
"As far as we could foresee, through prophecies, divination, foretelling, whatever -- absolutely nothing bad will happen to the world on that day. A whole bunch of prophecies basically tied themselves into knots to work out things that way, and I don't even want to think who -- or what -- has that kind of power to nudge events like that. Or why."
The entire room stared at the young woman, until Xander developed a slow grin on his features. Jauntily aiming his next statement at Giles, the one-eyed man cheerfully said, "Hey, G-man, can you think of any clearer notice from up on high that it's perfectly okay to sign that paper? So, JUST DO IT!"
The Director of the International Watchers' Council opened his mouth, and then closed it again when he couldn't think of anything to say. Instead, the man pulled off his glasses, took a handkerchief from his shirt pocket, and began polishing the lenses on his eyewear, perhaps hoping that for once this would cause his audience to be hypnotized into behaving like the mature adults his family could appear as, if pushed. Really, really pushed.
Finally, Rupert Giles caved in. Replacing his glasses back on his face, the man with a sour expression on his features pulled out a pen from his suit pocket, and waving this writing instrument at the room, he muttered, "If anything goes wrong -- from the least to the absolute worst -- I'm going to blame you all!"
"Now that's the tweedy Giles we all know and love!" beamed Buffy, supported by a chorus of approval from the others, who were not intimidated the slightest by the most ferocious Ripper glare possible.
Giles pulled the sheet of paper to himself, and put the tip of his pen on it while he thought about what exactly he should say. A few moments later, the man dashed off a few lines, and as he finished the last word, a sudden burst of pure white light shone throughout the entire room, as the magic completed the binding and sent word to all who needed to know what had been written.
Looking up as he put away his pen, Giles resignedly waited for his family to act with exactly the decorum and restraint he expected. He was not disappointed.
Xander threw back his head and bayed like a hyena at the ceiling, while Willow shrieked with glee as she received a fierce tickling of her feet by a whooping Faith.
Buffy and Dawn shot up from their chairs, with the younger woman's gridded paper that had numbers on the edges and blocks filled in with initials being exuberantly tossed into the air. The sisters grabbed each others' hands and began a boisterous dance together, all the time chanting a one-word phrase that the other trio happily joined in.
"PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY! PARTY!"
After the dozenth repetition of this, a disregarded Giles slowly leaned forward in his chair to rest his head face-down on the top of his desk. The pressure on his features helped alleviate the sudden tic that had appeared under his right eye, and his left eye absently gazed at the sheet of paper next to his face, with the short message that had gone out worldwide clearly evident:
From: Rupert Giles
To: All Watchers and Slayers
Stand down on Superbowl Sunday.