Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Character/Pairing: Spike/Buffy, Dawn, Willow/Tara, Xander/Anya, Ensemble
Challenge/Prompt: seasonal_spuffy: Under the Influence of... Thanksgiving
Word Count: 3,014
Date Written: 15 November 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
"I think you should do it," Xander wheedles, waving away the blade being offered to him.
"Don't argue with her, sweetheart," Anya says from just slightly behind him, always eager to give her two cents. "It's the man's place to do it, and with Giles gone, you're the man."
"That isn't sexist at all," Willow murmurs loudly enough to be heard on the other side of the room.
Spike slouches slightly in his seat, wondering again why he let Buffy talk him into this. He's let the Slayer talk him into many, hair-brained schemes in their time together, but this has got to take the cake or, rather, the turkey. He has no place being here!
"It's her house, honey," Xander pointedly reminds Anya out of the corner of his mouth.
"Precisely," Buffy jumps back in, waving the blade at Xander, "and I want you to do it."
Willow and Anya both hush as a long look passes between Buffy and Xander. "Are you sure, Buff?" Xander whispers just as Willow starts to grin. She nods, knowing her best friend is certain and understanding why she's doing this.
"Yeah, I'm sure. Carve it." At last, Buffy successfully places the blade's wooden handle into Xander's hand. She hopes nobody else notices that her eyes are a bit teary even as Xander gulps and bobs his head in agreement. She looks quickly away as Xander prepares to cut into the turkey.
They say this is her house now, and she supposes it is. But it was her mother's before it became hers, just as the knife sliding into the turkey was her mother's favorite carving knife and is now being passed to her best male friend. Just as the majority of the recipes that have been placed into use today were her mother's and her grandmother's before her and her great grandmother's before her and her great great grandmother's before her . . . Buffy swallows hard, wets her lips, and tries to push the thoughts from her mind.
She grew accustomed years ago to thinking of her heritage as a Slayer, that she is, or rather had been, the most recent one in a very long line of brave women with a destiny they didn't want thrust upon them, but it wasn't until her mother's death that she began to think of her ancestry as a Summers. Or again, rather, her mother's daughter, because God knows the woman she's become has been shaped a great deal more by her mother than her father who didn't even have the decency to show for her mother's funeral. He moved on with his life without them a long time ago, just as Buffy and her friends must continue with their lives after all the losses they've experienced.
Buffy feels a hand grasp hers suddenly and looks down, through her tears, at the unfamiliar touch. She smiles sadly at Willow. She can tell the redhead wants to say something to reassure her but hasn't been able to find the words yet. Her touch, however, is reassuring, and Buffy grips her hand, squeezes her back, and begins to mouth, "I'm okay, Wills."
Before she can speak or even mouth the words, Tara, sitting beside her girlfriend, speaks up, "I, hum, I think it may be nice to start a new tradition this year." She blushes, realizing that what she is about to suggest may not be new for some and definitely isn't for at least one, and quickly adds, "Or, at least, new for us."
Willow's still smiling at Buffy as Tara sneaks a small and shy smile down at one of the potentials sitting further down the table from them. Buffy tries to remember the girl's name but fails. She does, however, recognize her as being the shyest of their young charges. The head Slayer thinks she may have heard her actually speak two sentences the whole time she's been living with them underneath her mother's roof. Underneath her roof, Buffy amends in thought as Willow looks back to Tara.
"I think," Tara continues bashfully, looking back down at the empty plate before her, "that we each should say at least one thing for which we're thankful. I, for example, am thankful for Willow -- " She smiles and squeezes Willow back as Willow takes her hand in her empty one. Then Tara dares to encompass their gathered group with her shy gaze. " -- and I'm thankful," she concludes, "to actually be spending this Thanksgiving with a real family."
"With our real family," Willow whispers, squeezing her hand again, and Tara nods.
"Oh! This is easy," Anya speaks eagerly, jumping onto the bandwagon, "and fun! I'm thankful for Xander, good sex, and Xander and good sex."
An assortment of groans, giggles, and blushes skirts around the table. Xander almost loses his grip, sending a small piece of turkey flying through the air. Tara and Willow's new kitten jumps on the piece of the bird the very second it hits the floor and gobbles it down quickly. "Honey," Xander says, trying to sound more understanding than embarrassed, "that's not exactly what she means."
"Well, I am thankful for you and the good sex we have every night."
"I am too," Xander agrees, his face now as red as her shirt, "but that's not what they're talking about."
"Then what do they want us to say? Oh!" she exclaims as realization dawns. "I'm thankful that I got to give up being a Demon in order to be with you, my honey buns, and I'm thankful for the Magic Box. We've really been raking it in since a couple of weeks before Halloween, and I'm totally thankful for the money -- "
More groans surround the table. "I'm thankful for friends and family," Willow speaks up, trying to hush Anya before she completely makes Xander lose whatever face he may otherwise manage to maintain, "who love and forgive you no matter how big you mess up."
Buffy looks up at the telltale sounds of a chair's legs scraping backwards across the floor. "I'll be back," she mutters and slips out after Spike.
"Where are you going?" she demands, following him to the living room and questioning him just as he starts to shrug into his black duster.
"Out," he mutters. "Look, pet," he says, finally meeting her eyes, "I appreciate the invite and all, but this isn't my scene."
"It could be your scene," she argues, closing in on him but moving in such an angle that he'll have to walk right by her in order to get out the door. "It should be your scene, if you love me."
"Don't play that card," the Vampire almost snarls, flipping his collar up. "You saw what love makes those idiots look like."
"They're sweet," she says, her nose crinkling, "in their own way."
"Yeah, and Xander's wishing that turkey would come alive and eat him right now."
Buffy laughs. Spike's dark eyes narrow, but then a bark of laughter escapes him as well. "Well, maybe not eat him," he relents, "but he'd rather be anywhere else right now."
"And you?" Buffy asks. "Where are you going to go today? To some pub and find a fight?"
"That sounds better than being here."
"Really? It sounds better than being with me?"
"You know that's not what I mean."
She folds her arms across her chest, now standing directly in front of the door. "Then what do you mean, Spike?"
"Look. It isn't like this is a meet and greet your family deal. They already know me. They already hate me. And what am I supposed to do, any way? You know I don't eat food like you guys do."
"You can if you want to."
"Let's say there's something actually on that table I might want to eat. Let's say I go back in there. What do you expect me to do with that sodding game they're playing now?"
Buffy's eyes narrow. "What game?"
"You know what game, luv. That 'Oh, I'm so thankful for this and this and this' crap. Pretty much every bloody one of them is going to say the same thing. They're thankful to be here for another year. They're thankful for their sweetheart. They're thankful for this little family unit of yours."
"Aren't you?" Buffy counters.
"I'm thankful for you," Spike agrees, waving a hand back at the kitchen, "but I'm not a part of that."
"You can be if you want to be."
"No, I can't. They're never going to accept me. They're never going to not hate me or judge me or even bloody fear me because of what I am -- "
"What you are is a friend just as much as any of them. I'd rather have you back me in a fight than any one of them."
"Yeah, 'cause you know you're more likely to win with me backing you."
"No. Because we're a team. You know me, Spike, more than any of them do. You know what I'm going to do, what I'm going to say without me ever having to actually tell you ahead of time. Haven't you ever noticed that in a fight we move like we're one?"
"Sometimes," he admits begrudgingly. "When we're not arguing."
"And sometimes even when we are arguing. Xander has Anya. Willow has Tara. Anya's a former Demon for crying out loud, and we all know Will's dabbled in black magic. We've all done things we shouldn't have. We've all done things we regret. You're not any different, and you're my . . . my plus one, my other half, whatever you want to call it. You have every right to be here, and because I want you here, so do they."
"Ha!" he scoffs openly. "Shows what you know, pet. They don't want me here. They don't want me with you. They're just waiting on you to wake up and realize you're better off without me -- "
Buffy suddenly grasps his face in her hands and kisses him hard.
"What was that for?" Spike asks when she finally lets up. "Not that I didn't like it," he adds with an impish grin, "but -- "
"It was to shut you up, dummy. You belong here. You belong with me, and I am not better off without you."
"She's right, you know."
Spike whips around toward the voices. His eyes widen in surprise as he watches Dawn and Willow, neither of whose approach he'd heard, walk out of the shadows toward them.
"We do want you here," Dawn continues. "We see what you do for my sister. You make her happier than any one else ever has." She holds up a plate of steaming fried onion blossoms, which makes Spike's stomach growl even though it's impossible for him to be hungry for human food. "Why do you think I bought these?"
"Those . . . weren't on the table," he protests rather lamely.
"That's because I was saving them to surprise you, dummy."
Spike's mouth works, but no sound comes out. He glances between the sisters, wondering if they realize just how uncannily alike they are, especially as no real blood flows between them.
Dawn continues obliviously, "When we had our plates made and you thought there was nothing there you liked, I was going to go in the kitchen and get them. So, see?" she demands, gesturing with the heaped plate of fried onion blossoms with a stern expression upon her youthful face. "I want you to be there!"
"And as much as it disgusted me to make this," Willow adds, lifting the covered bowl she holds, "this is blood pudding made from real human blood."
"They were willing donors, Buffy," Willow tells her with a roll of her eyes. "You know I wouldn't support him hurting people, but there's this kind of underground market for human blood with the black magic community. Some Witches donate their blood in exchange for . . . other . . . favors," she explains, glancing at Dawn and clearly not wanting to go into any more detail. "But they were willing. It was bagged blood."
"Not fresh," Spike mutters, earning a thundering glower from all three females in the room with him, "but it sounds good. You did that for me?"
"Of course we did."
"I told you," Buffy says proudly, grabbing his arm and pulling him to her in a partial hug. "You're one of us now. You're a member of our family."
Dawn and Willow nod as Spike watches them closely for any tells that they might be lying. "You belong here," Dawn adds, "with us."
Willow narrows her eyes at him. "As long as you keep making her happy."
Dawn nods again. "You better never hurt her again -- "
Buffy laughs and beams. "Relax, guys."
"It's okay," Spike tells her with a shake of his head. "They love you, and they only want to make sure you're safe." Which is exactly why they did hate him for so long, but he knows, looking into each set of large and trusting eyes before him, that that's no longer true for at least these two, Buffy's sister, blood or no blood, and her best friend.
"That's right," Willow agrees, "which is why if you ever do hurt her again, turning into a toad will be nothing compared to what I'll do to you. I've seen these spells about turning people inside out -- "
"Relax, Red," Spike cuts her off nonchalantly as he pulls Buffy closer to his side and hugs her. "If I ever hurt her again, you can cut out my fangs, and I won't even try to stop you."
Dawn grins while Willow studies him quietly a moment longer. Buffy tugs at his hand. "Can we go back in now?" she asks.
"In a moment," he agrees, releasing her hand. He shrugs out of his jacket, hangs it back up, and then turns to her again. "Okay," he says and lets her take his hand, entwine their fingers together, and lead him back to her table.
Her table in her house, in her home, Buffy thinks as she looks around the room again, surrounded by her family. The unshed tears that moisten her green eyes this time are happy ones as she takes in everybody's smiling faces. Xander's finally succeeded in not just cutting the turkey but also silencing his fiancee. They look up as they reenter the room, and Spike swears Harris actually smiles at him.
"We're not too late, are we?" Dawn asks, sitting back down.
"No." Tara smiles at Willow as her girlfriend sits beside her again. "We were waiting for you."
Willow leans over and kisses Tara's cheek as Spike and Buffy take their seats at the head of her table again.
"I'm thankful for my sister and for my family and friends," Dawn speaks.
Spike looks over at the Nibblet and grins. "So am I," he says quickly, gruffly, and quietly, but he says the words nonetheless.
Buffy grins and smiles. "I'm thankful for every one of you," she agrees, lifting her glass, "and that we've all made it here together today." Even if Giles and her mother are not here for this holiday, she's still grateful all her friends, all her extended family, especially including the man by her side, have survived to this point, and she knows, as long as she's got them, she's going to keep fighting not just for her own survival but for the survival of the world and everyone in it. She knows, too, as long as she's got them, no matter who else she loses, she will always have a family. Her father, she decides, doesn't know what he's missing. Nor does Giles, who could have been here but, for whatever reason, chose not to come.
"Let's eat!" It's Anya as usual who shatters the quiet having fallen around them, but this time, nobody protests what she has to say. Instead, a general murmur of agreement passes through their gathered body as plates are passed and food heaped upon them. Buffy can only hope the meal tastes half as good as her mother's Thanksgiving dinners always had, not that her mother had been the best of cooks, but she had been her mom.
Spike reaches and grabs a handful of onion blossoms. "Hey!" Xander protests. "Use a fork! I don't know where your fingers have been!"
Anya mutters something Buffy doesn't quite hear as she's not really focusing on her. She catches her name but lets it go as Spike grins across the table at them and boasts, "Nibblet bought these for me, didn't you?" He winks at her sister, and Dawn grins and nods back.
"But share," Dawnie tells him gently. "We always share around here."
"Okay," he says, "for you." But Buffy understands his deeper meaning as the side of his boot touches hers beneath the table. He'll share for Dawn, and she and Willow did influence his decision to come back, but most of all, he's doing this for her. Just as she and Wills accepted him for her. Just as every person at this table has helped her at one time or another in her life. She even has fond memories of the potentials and why each of them is important to her not just a group but as individuals. She catches the eye of the shy one who she knows had suggested the giving thanks tradition to Tara and smiles her own gratitude. Yes, she's thankful for every one of them, and they're all here for her.
"Happy Thanksgiving," she hears some one say, and Buffy's grin just gets bigger. Yes, despite everything, and especially those who are missing from this table, this holiday is indeed a happy one. It also certainly a day on which to give thanks, and she has so very much for which to be thankful. She picks a piece of onion blossom off of Spike's plate, and her grin widens again as he protests. Oh, yes, she thinks, very, very much to be thankful for, and she is.