Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Character/Pairing: Faith/Buffy, Spike/Dawn, Willow/Kennedy, Giles, Ensemble
Challenge/Prompt: faerie_wish13: Thanksgiving Challenge and femslashbb: Second Chances
Word Count: 1,875
Date Written: 29 November 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Whedon, not the author, and are used without permission.
“Really, F?” Buffy asks sarcastically, looking over her girlfriend’s shoulder. “I was planning on asking you to do the honors this year, but that’s so totally not what I had in mind.”
“Chill, B,” Faith returns with a satisfied smirk. “Just because we’re gonna eat him doesn’t mean he can’t go out in style.”
“And you people think I’m bad about my meals,” Spike says dryly, casting a dark glance at the poor, cooked turkey who now sported Buffy’s and Faith’s initials in his roasted hide. “‘Least I never carved my initials in anybody.” For once, he lets the opportunity to remind Buffy that Angelus did many things worse than Spike ever dared slide by. She doesn’t need to be reminded today of all days of her past mistakes. He wonders if she feels that he’s one of them but knows she probably does. “Guess I oughta be thankful you people at least let me drink from the bag.”
“We do, but it’s Thanksgiving. Use a cup.”
“I can think of a lot of other things I could use a cup for,” Spike growls, but then he feels a tender hand on his shoulder and settles down. Dawn fetches his mug for him and takes the bag out of his hands without flinching or asking permission to squeeze its remains into his mug. He watches her, knowing that, of all the things he might be thankful for, she is certainly at the top of that small list.
“Besides, I figured G-man would carve the turkey.”
“Please do not call me that,” Giles mutters, pushing his spectacles back up on his nose. “Xander seems to have finally tired of saying it, and I do need a reminder of that ridiculous nickname.”
Faith just grins. She had known he would hear her and be annoyed by her comment. She and Xander no longer had much in common, but their appreciation of aggravating Giles was definitely one of the few things they shared. “Seriously, though,” she says, handing him the blade, “you’re like the father figure of most everybody here. You should totally cut it.”
Giles smiles as he accepts the knife. “Thank you, Faith, I think.”
She just grins and takes her seat, for once not flipping the chair backwards. She thinks back to the last Thanksgiving she shared with Buffy and her family. She’d be so certain she would get a second chance at life then, but she’d screwed up everything. The thing about second chances, however, was that somehow Buffy seemed to make certain they were available, over time, for everybody, and nobody really knew when the second chance they were finally going to get right was going to come. It’s taken Faith many tries and many years, but she thinks she might finally be getting there.
Buffy touches her shoulder, and without either of them speaking another word, Faith knows that she knows she’s thinking about the past. Buffy kisses the back of her head in a sweet, tender moment that almost makes Faith blush. She can throw down with the best of them, rather it’s sex or fighting, but being reassured so gently, so tenderly is something that still, after all this time with Buffy actually, finally being her girlfriend, feels rather new and embarrasses her way too easily.
Buffy stands behind Faith as the others of their current crew file into the room. There’s Xander with his new girlfriend, Willow and Kennedy, and Andrew. A couple of the younger Slayers, who lack homes and families of their own to which to return this holiday season, finish out their own “family” gathering. The last three aren’t exactly family yet, but Buffy refuses to turn them away. Clem almost came this year, and although explaining why a Demon would be sitting at their table instead of fighting them was not exactly something she’d looked forward to explaining to the three new ones, she had been happy to have him until he’d politely declined at the last moment and went to a different gathering instead. Buffy hopes he’ll be welcome there, but if he’s not, he can always come spend Christmas with them still.
Instead of taking her seat by Spike, Dawn speaks, “I, hum, I asked Willow last night if she thought it might be okay to resume that tradition Mom had when we little -- or at least, that tradition I think I remember.” She looks across the table at her sister. “Is that cool, Buffy?” she asks hopefully.
“Cooler than cool,” Buffy assures her with a grin. “Mom would like for us to do that. She kept trying to get us to do it even when we were teens and we’d thought we’d outgrown it.”
“I get it now, though. Don’t you?” Dawn asks.
“Totally.” Buffy beams. “Mom had a tradition, you guys, of having everybody have a turn at saying what they were thankful for every Thanksgiving before we could start eating. It kind of aggravated Dawn and me, ‘cause we were kids and you know how kids are. You don’t want to say grace. You don’t want to ‘waste time’ saying what you’re thankful for. You just want to eat and go play or watch Thanksgiving specials.”
“I still don’t get that stupid Charlie Brown bloke and his beagle,” Spike mutters, referring to the holiday program Dawn had persuaded him to watch with her the night before. “Dog has more sense than his master.”
Dawn just grins and, taking her seat at last, reaches over and squeezes his hand.
“I’ll start,” Buffy offers, “and then Giles can have a go, and while he’s carving the turkey, we can keep it going this way.” Faith notices, from Buffy’s indication, that she’ll be the next to speak and swallows hard. She knows what she’s thankful for, but she isn’t so sure about sharing her feelings with everybody.
“B,” she mutters, but Buffy just squeezes her shoulder and keeps going like she hasn’t heard her protest.
“I’m thankful,” she says, “for everybody at this table, for friends and for friends who are more than friends. You guys,” she says, looking at Willow, Xander, Giles, Dawn, and even Spike, “really are my family. I miss Mom so much. We both do.” She inclines her head toward Dawn, who is her kid sister even if she did come from monks instead of their mother’s womb. “It’s especially hard around this time of the year. Mom was such a great cook, and I know I can’t cook half as good as she did.”
“Hey, you cook great!” Xander exclaims. “In fact, that’s what I’m thankful for: that you did inherit your mom’s cooking skills and recipes! She didn’t cook often, but when she did, it was great!”
“I almost forgot,” Dawn murmurs as the oven pings. She walks over to it and brings out a loaded tray that immediately has Spike sniffing the air and looking curiously in her direction. “Xander helped me on this,” she comments truthfully as she sets the tray down in front of Spike.
His stomach growls, and his eyes widen as he looked at the freshly fried onion blossoms. His mouth hangs open for a moment, completely flabbergasted, until finally he whispers in disbelief, “Bloody!” Not even thinking about Buffy or the others, he reaches out, pinches off a piece, and sucks it from his finger. He closes his eyes in relish.
“Good?” Dawn asks with a hopeful grin.
“Better than good!” Spike declares, reaching for another piece while grinning widely back at Dawn. “This is the best!”
“But it will wait,” Buffy demands, swatting Spike’s pale hand. “Just like the rest of the food. We don’t eat until you all share what you’re thankful for.”
Standing, Giles pushes his spectacles back up onto the bridge of his nose once more before picking up the knife. “I would like to second Buffy’s acknowledgement. When I went back to England, I truly believed that was what I wanted and where I was meant to be at this stage in my life. I was wrong,” he admits, glancing at the smiling faces of those gathered around him while slicing the turkey, “completely wrong. I was never meant to return to England. I was meant to be here all along, with you all, with my true family. Faith?” he asks as he hits a piece of meat that’s a little harder to cut.
Faith nods. “I totally get what you’re saying,” she admits, finding the words coming easier than she’d thought they were, “and I agree. I was just thinking earlier how when I first sat at this table with you guys, I thought my second chance at having a good life was finally here. I thought maybe this time I could have a family and friends. Maybe I could have what I’d always wanted.”
She swallows hard again, and Buffy squeezes her shoulder once more, refraining from kissing her head again only because she knows Faith still equates tenderness to weakness too often and is too easily embarrassed by such displays. “But I fucked it up,” Faith declares, never one to mince words. “I fucked it up big time. And when I came back again, I was too focused on revenge. You people kept giving me chances, and I kept fucking them up -- until, finally, I didn’t. It’s taken a long time, but I think, maybe, I’m finally where I’m meant to be. I’m thankful for that and for forgiveness and for Buffy and, yeah, even the rest of you. God, I sound so corny!”
“No,” Willow tells her sweetly, “you don’t.” She surprises her by reaching over, taking her free hand, and squeezing it. “I think we all completely understand where you’re coming from. I tried to take over the world. I almost succeeded, too, and would have if Xander hadn’t been there for me. They didn’t stop me,” she explains to those who don’t know and were not yet in their lives at that time, “with force. Buffy didn’t stop me. She couldn’t stop me, although she was trying her best and finally had a plan that might have worked.”
“Thank God we never had to find out,” Buffy whispers above their heads.
“God and Xander,” Willow amends. “Xander was there for me. He gave me a second chance. He loved me enough to be there for me and to just let me do whatever I thought I needed to do. He was willing to let me end the world, but realizing that ending the world meant ending him, too, . . . “ She looks across the table at her dearest and oldest friend with tears shining in her green eyes. “I couldn’t do it.”
Xander grins at her. “Hey, that’s what friends are for.”
“No,” Willow says gently, shaking her head, “that’s what family’s for, and that’s what we have gathered here today, and that, I think, is what we are all most grateful for.”
Nodding and agreeing murmurs pass around the table. The family smiles at each other, and Faith silently pulls Buffy down to sit beside her. She does have her second chance after all, and she does have her family, and she’s never been happier or more thankful in her life.