Buffy Summers finally had enough.
As what she'd been impatiently waiting for came driving down the street, the Slayer turned away from the front entrance window and stalked into the main hotel lobby, where all the others were waiting for her. Coming to a stop right in the middle of the lobby, Buffy gazed around her, and mentally sighed at the numerous tense faces, trembling fingers gripping weapons, and the lines of those waiting their turns at the hotel's restrooms (with the longest in front of the ladies', of course, and not just because of the crowd of Slayers there).
Okay, there might have been a reason for this show of nerves just a day ago, when the New Council had learned of a really BIG apocalypse coming, big enough to get all the Scoobies back together for the first time since the Sunnydale collapse, a desperate scramble to round up the closest Slayers at hand and bring them along, and a gut-wrenching trip for the group by Willow-express to the place where things were going to happen, her old hometown of Los Angeles.
There hadn't been any reason at all for any further tension back then, nope, not at all. So what if they'd all had to stay at the Hyperion Hotel, the former home of the Fang Gang before that group's disappearance a while back? Not to mention that a smirking Faith, already present, had been more than happy to tell the visitors that Angel had bequeathed the place to her in his will, and they damn well better not steal the towels. Buffy was calm. Buffy was calm. Buffy was gonna rip off something's tentacles or testicles or anything else that hurt them a lot.
That night, it had been a remarkably cranky crowd of warriors against supernatural evil who'd come to battle their foes in a deserted factory during the usual Ceremony To Destroy The World. The Head Big Bad had been there, check. The faceless minions carrying the objects of power, check. The orchestra of Hollywood musicians on triple overtime to play the mood music, check.
Thinking it over, Buffy had to admit the one thing that had really ticked her off was that she hadn't even managed to utter a single freakin' line! The instant they'd gotten there, one of the faceless minions had spotted them, to then start turning around to yell the alarm, until the object of power that underling had been carrying collided hard with the additional object of power held by another minion right behind the first.
When everyone's eyesight had recovered, there was only a big scorch mark on the ground, with no other trace whatsoever remaining of the villain and his followers that had just tried to unlock the Gates of Hell, and the orchestra was packing up their instruments and clocking out.
Without speaking a single word to anyone, the Scooby Gang, the Watchers, and the Slayers had just slunk back to the hotel, gone to bed, and then early the next day, they'd gradually drifted, one by one, into the main lobby and waited. For what, nobody knew, but it surely couldn't be good.
Buffy Summers, on the other hand, was totally convinced of something else entirely. Now, as she stood in the hotel lobby, the young woman rolled her eyes at seeing how jumpy everyone was, and then Buffy took a deep breath, about to declare at the top of her lungs a statement to celebrate something that was long overdue for her and her friends.
They'd had an easy win.
"WE'RE GOING TO DISNEYLAND!"
An hour later, traveling down the freeway to Orange County in the tour bus she'd hired, a disbelieving Buffy had to check again. Standing at the front of the bus, the Slayer called out, "Anybody? Anybody at all?"
"No." "Uh-huh." "Nope." "Certainly not," and similar denials came, all delivered in a faintly irritated rumble from the remainder of the bus. Shaking her head in sheer disbelief, Buffy sank back in her seat, thinking it over. Well, in a way it made sense. They'd had no time to collect Watchers and Slayers from anyplace but their headquarters in Scotland and though that place had people there from around the world, they'd been Europeans in the main. So, that let them out, Giles included. Um, Faith also had no chance, either, but there were at least three other Californians on the bus-
Turning her head, Buffy saw Xander, Willow, and Dawn in their own seats giving her identical glowering looks. Hastily facing forward again, the blonde woman winced at the unhappy memories she'd accidentally made her friends remember again. Even though they'd lived just a few hours' driving distance away, Xander and Willow had the kinds of parents that would have never taken them. As for Dawn, that Order of Dagon that had created the Key into a human had probably never even heard of the place.
So, Buffy Summers was evidently the only person on the bus who'd ever been to Disneyland before. Thinking about that, a slow, evil smile began to appear on the woman's features.
A while later, seeing the happy looks on the faces of everyone after they'd walked under the railroad tracks into Town Square, Buffy knew she'd done the right thing. Clearing her throat loudly to get the others' attention, the Sunnydale survivor commanded, "Okay, guys, have fun checking out Main Street, but when you get down to the end," she pointed to a park-like space where the street with its crowd of people and its horse-drawn trolleys ended, "wait for me in the middle of Central Plaza before you go anywhere else. I've got a surprise for everybody!" Beaming at her surprised friends, Buffy grabbed the closest two Slayers at hand, Molly and Susannah, dragging them off.
Looking at each other, the Scoobies and the others of the New Council just shrugged in puzzlement, willing enough to go along for now. So, they happily scattered to investigate Disneyland's Main Street.
Presently, as directed, the protectors of the world were in the middle of the park and vigorously debating on where to go next: Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland? It was Dawn who notified everyone, "Hey, guys, she's coming!" as that Summers sister pointed up Main Street.
The others quieted down, as they all saw Buffy walking quickly down the avenue towards them, carrying a large, filled plastic bag, and being followed by the pair of Slayers she'd taken with her, both of these warrior women also carrying identical bags. What immediately produced twinges of suspicion in the minds of all there in the plaza was seeing the also identical wicked smirks on the faces of all three ladies.
As Buffy stepped into the plaza and came up to her friends, she at once started chattering, "Good, you're all here! Now, Dawn, Giles, Xander, Faith, Willow, I want you all to stand in a line in front of me, next to each other, and then close your eyes, and don't move."
"Why?" was promptly and unequivocally asked by all those named by Buffy, in matching tones of deep mistrust.
Looking hurt at her friends' clear wariness, Buffy took her right hand away from the neck of the bag she kept tightly holding shut with the other hand, to hold up her free hand and then vow, "I swear, I'm just going to give you the same present I got from Mom and Dad the first time I came here, that I thought was the most wonderful gift in the world! I loved it so much, I kept it for years!" Still holding her hand up in the air, Buffy now looked appealing at the Scooby Gang, and she unleashed her secret weapon upon them all.
Her lower lip began to quiver.
"Oh, dear Lord," sighed Giles, "I suppose we might as well. After all, we're in the middle of several hundred people. She can't do anything too discomforting to us before them, can she?"
After cautiously considering that, reluctant nods came from the others, as they unenthusiastically lined up, with Giles in the middle. Though, nobody closed their eyes, until Buffy threatened, "Keep 'em tight! I catch anybody peeking, I'm gonna cook 'em a steak dinner with all the trimmings and make you eat every bite!"
Everyone's eyelids promptly slammed shut. Buffy Anne Summers' efforts at fine cuisine since Sunnydale had now reached levels of annihilation upon innocent foodstuffs to produce fainting among the more sensitive chefs that had the misfortune to witness her attempts at cooking. Nobody wanted to even think about what it could possibly taste like. Even Dawn looked a little green at this, and it had nothing to do about that woman being the Key.
As they stood there waiting for a few moments, momentarily blind, and feeling really nervous about it all, the five people then heard from Buffy in front of them, "Okay, I'm going to count one-two-three! At three, you'll all feel something being put on your heads. But, nobody moves or touches anything, until I count one-two-three again, and you can open your eyes again and check things out! Got that, everyone?"
Various mumbles of unwilling agreement were produced from Giles, Xander, Willow, Dawn, and Faith, in that order, as they resignedly waited for their ordeal to end. Faith herself, due to that woman's Slayer senses, was the only one to be gloomily aware of the other five Slayers tiptoeing around them all, to stand behind them, while stifling their snickering. The Boston native was then distracted by Buffy counting, and also as warned by that other woman, the faint touch of something settling onto her head, as the Slayer who'd done this now darted around the line to join up with her friends.
It was one of the hardest things she'd ever done, but Faith managed not to move a muscle, despite hearing the other Slayers and Watchers in front of herself start to roar with laughter. Her jaws clenching, Faith now heard over the hilarity, Buffy counting at the top of her lungs, "One-two-three!"
At once, Faith's eyes popped open, and she stared right into Buffy's camera phone being aimed directly at her, with virtually the rest of those who'd come to Disneyland with the Los Angeles native also taking pictures. Glaring at everyone, Faith then grabbed with her right hand the thing that was on her head, yanking it off, and she hastily brought it down to look at what she was holding.
It was a black cloth skullcap, with two large black plastic circles attached high at the sides of the skullcap, and between the circles, there was a large, jaunty red bow decorated with numerous white polka-dots. Along the bottom edge of the skullcap, there was a name embroidered in yellow thread: FAITH.
Looking with horror at the others who'd gone through this with her, Faith saw Willow and Dawn with the same kind of odd feminine headgear and also their names embroidered on these hats. Giles and Xander were also wearing nearly-identical bizarre black caps, with their names given on these, though there were no red bows shown. It still didn't keep the two men from looking absolutely ridiculous.
Starting to breath fire, Faith twisted her head back to look at someone she was gonna shove this stupid thing in her hand down their throat, only to abruptly end her thoughts of violence, to instead gape at where Buffy Summers was now pulling out the last hat from the now-empty bag.
As the Sunnydale survivor put on her own Minnie Mouse ears with the name BUFFY sewn on this, she nostalgically smiled at Faith, telling her, "Of course, the first time I had this, I was three years old." Stepping forward, Buffy then embraced a frozen sister Slayer, whispering into her ear, "Welcome to Disneyland, Faith."
After a few moments of this, Buffy felt Faith sag in their hug, as the brunette Slayer then grumbled, "'Kay, B, we're equal now. Gotta admit, you done a great payback. So, do I haveta wear this thing the rest of the day?"
Releasing her arms and stepping away, Buffy looked around the rest of her fellow Scoobies, who were all holding their gifts in their hands, as the other Slayers and Watchers observed them all in fascination. The blonde's lips twitched, as she shrugged and pointed at what she was wearing on her head. "You don't have to, but I am! Because, it's fun! It's something that's happy and good and funny and anything that isn't bad! Look, we all have to live and work and fight in the dark, but today, we're out in the sunlight with the people we love, and for now, that's enough!"
After hearing those words, Dawn quietly put her Minnie Mouse ears back on, and then she stepped up to give Buffy a strong hug. The pair were quickly joined by Willow wearing her own present, and then by an enthusiastic Xander who managed to stretch his arms around everyone while proudly in his Mickey Mouse ears. After a few moments, they all heard a resigned "Ahem!" in a British accent from a man determinedly staring off in the distance while trying to ignore what currently rested upon his head. In the next instant, that object was almost knocked off as a blonde blur collided with her Watcher and nearly collapsed his ribs in her eager hug.
Glancing down at the mouse ears dangling from her hand, Faith just sighed, and then she slipped these back on her head. Looking up, the Slayer barely had time to blink before she was gathered up in a Scooby group hug. In a while, a choked voice came from the middle of these people to ask, "How come you guys didn't do this just after I came to Sunnydale? I woulda known right away alla ya were insane then and things woulda been a helluva lot different!"
"Yeah, well," admitted an ashamed California girl, "we're here now. So, where does everybody want to go next?"
Xander: "Adventureland! The Indiana Jones ride!"
Willow: "Fantasyland! I want to see how many witches are presented as good!"
Dawn: "Frontierland! The Big Thunder Railroad sounds cool!"
Giles: "Tomorrowland, I believe. There are a number of intriguing prophecies about the future, and it would be interesting to compare them to what is presented in that area."
Faith: "New Orleans Square! I wanna check out if Captain Jack Sparrow's shown bare-chested in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride! So, B, where should we go?"
All of them expectantly looked at Buffy Summers in their circle, keeping their faces absolutely straight, and who herself looked back at her family, a faint expression of panic now appearing on her beautiful features, as every single decision was clearly up to her. Uncertainly, Buffy said, "Um, ah, well, maybe we could, I don't know, go to…."