The Morning After the Night BeforeCharacters/Pairing:
Just a bit of mucking about in other people’s sandboxes. I don’t own them.Summary:
Guilt baking – meet your cousin, guilt cooking. Author’s Note:
Written for Antennapedia’s Rupertus Domesticus Ficathon
The challenge? Write something inspired by this:
I realize the pic has Giles in his
kitchen, mashing potatoes but the Muse said “Buffy’s kitchen” and “pancakes”. Work with me here.
And yes, this is a sequel to The Night Before
and not just me being even more obtuse and round about with my titles than usual. It makes more sense if you’ve read that one first, though you certainly don’t have to.
Willow was the first one into the kitchen. It was kinda hard to sleep when The Grand Plan rested on one’s phenomenal magic skills – and she was really hoping they did prove phenomenal. Really really hoping or today was going to be a very bad day.
She was surprised to find she wasn’t the first one up.
Giles was standing over a skillet, an apron tied around his waist and a spatula in hand.
“Morning. Been up long?” Willow yawned and shuffled towards the fresh pot of coffee calling her name.
Giles smiled and flipped the pancakes in the skillet. “I found it a little difficult to sleep – big day today.”
“That it is…” Willow frowned and decided any impending panic attacks could wait until after she had a few more cups of coffee.
She took a seat on one of the kitchen stools, content to watch Giles watch his pancakes cook, moving them one by one to the plate beside him, building an increasingly teetering stack.
She didn’t have long to enjoy the peace and quiet though, as Xander opened the swinging door with a hearty “Good morning”, a rather sleepy-looking Anya close behind.
“Oooh, breakfast!” Xander made a beeline for the stove and all but drooled on the pancakes.
He tried to snatch one from the stack, but Giles elbowed him away.
“There are plenty in the oven staying warm,” Giles offered, pointing with the spatula.
Xander clapped Giles on the shoulder. “You are a good man, Giles.”
Food didn’t seem like such a bad idea.
Willow slid off the stool and got a coffee cup out of the cabinet for Anya, who was searching sleepy-eyed and unsuccessfully three cabinets away.
“Here,” Willow handed her a few mugs to set out and fished a large stack of plates out as well.
It took her a few moments to find juice glasses. She dug the milk and juice out of the fridge, adding them to the collection on the kitchen island. Might as well set up for the latest round of feeding the ravenous hoard.
Xander grabbed for a plate right away, but Willow smacked his hand. “Could you get the forks out first?”
Xander rolled his eyes but grabbed forks and knives from the silverware drawer.
“Our kitchen smells yummy,” Dawn shuffled in, her fuzzy slippers making little scuffy sounds with each step.
“Giles is cooking. Pancakes are an excellent pre-battle breakfast. I really think Genghis Khan would have done better if he’d had pancakes,” Anya mused. “Well, pancakes, a well-crafted succession plan, and maybe a cure for syphilis.”
Xander winced and filled the mug Anya was holding out before filling his own. “Hon, could we not talk about syphilis this early in the morning?”
Anya shrugged. He was touchy about the oddest things.
Anya also noticed there was something a little odd about Giles this morning and the way he was so focused on those pancakes but she hadn’t had enough coffee to really contemplate it yet.
“Dawnie – you’re just in time!” Xander handed her a plate and took one for himself.
He grabbed a potholder, opened the oven door, and froze – awestruck.
“Holy Ginormous Mountain of Pancakey Goodness…”
Dawn blinked a few times. “That’s a LOT of pancakes.”
Willow turned and saw a cookie sheet filled with neat stacks of pancakes – stacks and stacks of them, so tall the oven rack had been moved as far down as it would go.
“Why didn’t anyone tell me we were hosting a pancake breakfast? I would have helped…” Andrew whined, having had wandered in at some point and was now paused in mid-action, coffee pot in one hand, mug in the other.
They might have all remained frozen, except for Giles, poking at the cooking pancakes in front of him, if Xander’s stomach hadn't growled loudly and the kitchen slowly came back to life.
“Enough admiring – PANCAKES!” He pulled the rack out, pausing to enjoy the smells wafting up from the golden rounds.
Dawn peered over his shoulder. “Are these chocolate chip?”
Giles nodded, adding the pancakes from the skillet to the plate next to him and carefully ladling more batter into the pan. “I wasn’t sure what everyone wanted so I did some chocolate chip, some apple cinnamon, a batch of plain and I am just finishing up the blueberry now.”
“I so totally love you,” Xander sighed happily, before amending, “In a hetero manly man sort of way.”
“Me too…In a ‘I-used-to-totally-have-a-crush-on-you-but-I-like-girls-now’ way.” Willow offered, with a sweet smile.
“Whatever.” Dawn shrugged. “I just love you in a way ‘gee-thanks-for-the-pancakes’ kind of way.”
“Um, thanks.” Giles rolled his eyes and returned to the task at hand.
Xander appointed himself Pancake Provider, standing guard at the oven and filling plates for the others.
The kitchen was quiet except for the sound of chewing and a brief hunt for the butter.
“Where’s the syrup?” Dawn rummaged around in the fridge.
Giles added his finished pancakes to one of the stacks in the oven. “Sorry – you were out.”
They were really fantastic pancakes, Willow thought as she worked on a large apple cinnamon pancake. The cinnamon was obvious but there was something else, something subtle. Perhaps the slightest touch of nutmeg?
She took another bite, chewing thoughtfully, and watched Giles set the skillet aside and started mixing a new batch of pancake batter.
All of a sudden it hit her.
“Mmph?” Dawn and Andrew both asked through a mouthful of pancake.
Willow's fork clattered on her now-empty plate. “These pancakes – they taste like apples and cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg – and guilt!”
Giles’ eyes widened for a moment before he quickly turned back to the newest batch of pancakes bubbling in the skillet.
She noticed he said nothing. “Giles...why do we have enough pancakes to feed an army and a half?”
“Because we have an army?” Anya asked.
Willow didn’t seem happy with that answer and Anya shrugged, shoveing a large bite of chocolate chip pancake into her mouth, smearing melted chocolate across her bottom lip.
“I thought you told me that’s what I’m supposed to call the cannon fodder – an army,” she asked Xander.
He looked at Willow, confused. “She has a point. We are
housing a small army...”
Willow shook her head. “No...I know guilt baking – remember “Eat a cookie, ease my pain?” This is pure, fluffy guilt-fueled goodness. Well?”
She stared at Giles’ back waiting for a response.
Giles still said nothing, but the others had plenty to say.
Andrew frowned and considered this. “I can’t really picture Giles doing the whole atonement thing. He's a white hat. A crusader against the forces of evil.”
“Will, I think the guilt baking might be all you,” Xander offered.
Dawn headed to the oven and added a few more pancakes to her plate. She sat back down and went to work on the steaming pancakes with a shrug. “Besides, be serious - what would Giles
have done to feel guilty about?”
At just that moment the side door swung open.
“So does it count as a five-finger discount when the store owner is half-way to Boise by now?” Faith asked, kicking the door closed since her hands were full of plastic shopping bags.
Giles whipped around, skillet and spatula still in hand, the pancake he was in he midst of turning falling to the floor with a soft splat.
Willow looked from Faith, to Giles, and back to Faith. “GILES! You didn’t!”
Xander and Dawn weren’t thinking quite that fast. “Wha?”
Anya studied Willow, then Giles and Faith for a minute before smiling and returning to her coffee with a shrug. Well, that was interesting.
Giles cleared his throat and sat the skillet back on the range top. He said nothing, concentrating very hard on tearing off a few paper towels to clean the half-cooked pancake off the floor.
“I’m guessing I missed something,” Faith mused with a disinterested shrug. She plopped the bags down on the counter.
She fished a few plastic bottles out of one of the bags. “I come bearing syrup?”
“My hero!” Dawn jumped up to grab one of the bottles and proceeded to upend one over her plate.
Faith reached over after a few moments and took the bottle from her. “Easy on the sugar there...We aren't planning to fight the First Evil by letting you pounce it to death.”
Faith pulled a few more things out of the bags and walked over to Giles. “Hey – I couldn’t find any pecans. Will walnuts work? The store was kind of picked over.”
He took the bag of nuts from her. “They’ll be just fine. I think there are a few chocolate chip banana pancakes in the oven they didn’t find.”
“There were chocolate chip banana in there?” Dawn asked through a mouthful.
Faith smiled and nudged Giles’ arm. “Thanks.”
The wheels were turning almost visibly as Xander put the pieces together. “Oh my GOD!”
He dropped his fork. “I can’t eat these now. They’re tainted with all sorts of mental images and – Ewww!!” He broke off with a shudder.
Faith, deliberately oblivious at this point, was wandering past with her plate. “You sure?”
Xander nodded and pushed the plate towards her, torn between horror and fascination at the whole situation.
“Cool.” Faith speared the remaining pancakes and added them to her stack.
Andrew had caught up by now and waited until Faith had taken a seat before asking, really quietly so Dawn couldn’t hear, “You...and...really...well, you know?”
“Now what did Faith do?” Buffy asked, stepping into the kitchen with Spike two steps behind her.
Giles shot Willow a concerned look and she quickly made the decision for them all.
There was too much at stake today and Buffy would have kittens if she knew. It wasn’t worth it. She didn't need to know.
“Faith was helping Giles make pancakes – lot of pancakes. There’s plenty in the oven.”
Buffy grinned, “Oooh, pancakes!”
Spike made an odd face as he brushed past Faith and paused, sniffing. She looked at him like "what?", but he just shrugged and fished a bottle of pig's blood out of the fridge.
If no one was going to say anything, why bring it up. Besides, Buffy would have a fit.
As Buffy fixed her plate, the rest of the gang exchanged looks that said if anyone spoke of this, it would be a LONG, long time from now and preferably over the phone from the safe distance of, say, Japan. END.