"How do I look?" Buffy asked nervously for the umpteenths time since her mom had come home from work. Buffy, on the other hand, had taken the whole day off afraid of using too much force on one of her patients due to her nervousness. "I'm not huge, am I?"
"No you're not," Lisa said like she had so many times today already. In person and over the phone. "In fact, you look stunning."
Buffy continued to walk up and down her mom's living room. "Do you think they'll be mad I'm not meeting them at the airport? Or that we meet here, not in my apartment?"
"Somehow I've got the feeling they'll forget about it as soon as they see you," Lisa said with a smile, pointing at Buffy's belly.
"Oh. Oh! Right."
"Calm down." Chuckling, Lisa led Buffy to her couch. "Sit down and relax. Everything will be fine." Lisa picked up Ante, who chose that very moment to stumble over Lisa's feet, and put her on Buffy's lap where the little cat immediately curled up against the baby bump and fell asleep.
Smiling, Buffy gently stroke Ante's head. "Thanks for letting her stay here until I move house."
"She's just too cute to resist," Lisa said with a smile. "Besides, we can't have her getting lost between all your boxes."
Buffy grinned. Then she looked at her watch again and sighed. They should be here any minute now.
"Faith!" Dawn was the first to see her. Quickening her pace, she made her way to the dark Slayer and hugged her. "How's Buffy holding up?"
"Nervous. Funny to watch," Faith replied just as quietly as Dawn's question had been. "And it gets even better!"
However, before Dawn could ask what Faith had meant, Xander, Willow and Giles had caught up with her and put their bags down as well. Several handshakes and awkward questions regarding Robin later, Faith picked up Dawn's bag and let them to her car. Well, Buffy's car really as she only had her motorcycle with her.
"Wow, nice neighbourhood," Xander said as they drove into Princeton.
"Yeah. So … un-Sunnydale-ish. I've barely seen any cemeteries since we left the airport," Willow added, leaning over to look out of Xander's window. She had been the slowest in claiming a seat in the car, so she had ended up between Xander and Dawn on the backseat.
"Yup, it's a nice retirement spot for B." Glancing at her watch, she did a quick calculation in her head. "Hotel first or do you wanna dive straight into dinner?"
Laughing out loud, Faith looked into the rear-view mirror, meeting Willow's eyes. "Red? Coin toss or direct route to Buffy?"
Willow leaned forward and patted Giles' shoulder. "Sorry, Giles." Turning towards Faith, she added, "Buffy, please."
Lisa grabbed Buffy's hand and stopped her from leaving the room. "Oh no. Front door's that way. And I might not have Slayer-hearing, but I'm pretty sure that's where the knock came from."
"I just wanted some fresh air," Buffy said with a pout.
"Sit." Lisa pointed at the couch before going to the front door. Because, if she didn't, Lisa might just join her and leave via the back door too. She hadn't seen Mr Giles in over 20 years and, even though they had recently spoken over the phone, was nervous about his reaction to seeing her again.
Taking a deep breath, she opened the door – and was immediately engulfed in a hug from her other daughter.
Smirking, Faith stood back and watched the interactions unfold in front of her. She was pretty sure Buffy was hiding somewhere inside, probably ready to skip the whole meet-and-greet. She even remembered to bring her camera, Buffy's really, to hopefully get some blackmail-worthy pictures.
Smiling at Dawn's enthusiasm, Lisa eagerly returned the hug. She also successfully ignored the first two polite coughs coming from behind Dawn. They were so unmistakable Mr Giles that she couldn't stop herself and she started giggling. Dawn whispering, "Think he's taken off his glasses yet?" didn't exactly help either. Laughing out loud, Lisa pulled back from Dawn and, for the first time, saw the other people waiting at her front door.
"Sorry," she said sheepishly when she realised she and Dawn had been blocking the door. Pulling Dawn with her, it never hurt to have a human shield after all, Lisa stepped to the side and let everyone enter. As Faith closed the door behind her, Lisa took a closer look at her daughters' friends – and Mr Giles.
Rolling his eye, Xander gently pushed Giles forward, so anything but embracing Buffy's mom in a hug would make him look stupid. It looked awkward at first, but then Giles and Lisa relaxed.
Xander turned to Willow, grinning smugly. Willow just shook her head and slapped his arm. "Behave!"
"What? Look! Hug-age!" Turning to Faith, he asked, "Now, where's our Buff-ster?"
"Eating your dinner?" Faith said with a shrug, chuckling at the shock on Xander's face.
"Hiding," Lisa said with a smile. Winking at Dawn, she added, "And eating your dinner."
"Hey!" Buffy shouted from her newest hiding place. "I heard that, you know!"
Chuckling, Lisa pointed in the direction her daughter's pouty voice had come from. "Dining room."
Xander looked at them in worry. Then he grabbed Willow's arm and dragged her towards Buffy. "Hands off my food!"
Giles released a long-suffering sigh and shook his head. "Sometimes I wonder if they'll ever grow up." Lisa and Dawn patted one of his shoulders each before following Xander and Willow at a more sedate pace.
Willow barely had time to take a closer look at Lisa Cuddy before Xander dragged her away to save his dinner. And, sure enough, when they entered the dining room, they found Buffy sitting at the far end of the dining table, a large plate with a very small piece of pie in front of her.
Looking over at Xander, she couldn't help but giggle as he stared open-mouthed at what once had to have been a very large piece of pie. Judging by the size of the plate and number of crumbs on it, anyway.
Seeing Xander's look, Buffy frowned and looked at the plate in front of her. Eyes opening up comically wide, she looked back at Xander and Willow. "Oops? I was just gonna do a bit of pie taste-age! Honestly!"
"Huh?" Xander blinked rapidly, stopping on his way around the table.
Willow watched Buffy look into her lap – she couldn't see it as the table was in her way – and seconds later the small head of a tabby kitten appeared over the edge of the table. And two small front paws quickly followed. "Mee-ow!"
"A kitten!" Dawn squealed from the door and rushed over to Buffy. She picked up the little tabby and cuddled her close. "Where did you get her?"
Buffy looked fondly at the small cat that was enjoying the thorough belly-scratch Dawn was giving her. "Faith found her a few weeks ago."
Meanwhile, Xander was still making an impressive fish-face. Chuckling, Lisa nodded towards her kitchen. "Don't worry. There are plenty more where that came from. Plus a few Twinkies someone insisted I stock up on."
"There are? And Twinkies?" Xander's one eye lit up in joy. "I think I'm really
gonna like you."
"Like her later, we haven't seen Buffy in ages!" Willow grabbed him and then dragged him around the table, pulling Buffy into a hug as soon as she reached her. Xander, feeling left out a teeny tiny bit, joined in only moments later.
"She looks good," Giles said quietly. Lisa nodded, giving him a small smile. "She's getting there."
Nodding knowingly, Giles squeezed Lisa's arm. Looking over to his young friends, Giles gave Lisa another long-suffering look before walking towards them, though he opted to stick with Dawn and the kitten and wait his turn to hug Buffy.
Faith, of course, didn't hold back and pushed passed them to get the best view – camera ready. Predictably, she didn't have to wait long for the action to start.
"Whoa!" Willow said when she realised just why the hug had felt so different. Pushing back slightly, she looked down towards Buffy's belly.
Xander turned to Willow but didn't let go of Buffy. "Whoa what?"
Instead of answering, Willow just stared in shock at Buffy. Then she squealed, "Oh my goddess!"
Still being clueless of what had caught Willow's attention, Xander followed his friend's examples and looked at Buffy's belly. "Whoa!" Xander jumped back as his voice went up several octaves. "That's gotta
be more than one pie in there!"
Buffy crossed her arms in front of her, looking darkly at Xander. "I'm not
"Dear Lord!" Giles, finally having caught sight of Buffy's midriff when Xander jumped back, took off his glasses and started cleaning them furiously. "You're pregnant!"
"Pregnant?" Xander looked around the room in confusion. "You're having a baby
"No, of course not," Buffy said as if this was the most absurd idea ever. "I was more thinking of a puppy, myself."
Xander, ignored her last comment as if he hadn’t heard it – which he really hadn't – and started to grin. Only a little bit at first, but it quickly grew until his eye was twinkling with happiness. Pulling her into a hug again, he lifted her off her feet and spun her around in a circle. "You're having a baby! Boy or girl? Did ya know Xander is a great name? Suppose you could go with Xandra if it's a girl. Want more pie?" With Buffy's feet still a couple of inches off the floor, he turned towards Lisa. "Pie? Where? Baby-Xander needs more food! Quick!"
needs more space," Buffy said as she gently pushed against his shoulders.
Grinning sheepishly, Xander put Buffy back onto the floor – before staring at her in shock again. "Hey! He kicked me!"
Smiling, Buffy stroke her belly. "Told you so. Baby needs more space."
"You're happy?" Willow asked carefully.
Buffy smiled. Taking Willow's hand, she put it to where she felt her baby move last. "We're getting there."
The rest of the late afternoon, and evening, for that matter, went by quickly. Most conversation involved Buffy's baby and more than once could Buffy be seen to remove a tear or two from her eyes. Of course, whenever the conversation wasn't about the newest addition to their extended family, it was about Lisa Cuddy – and a very young Giles. One story from Lisa and the, albeit small amount of, awkwardness present at the beginning vanished amid fits of giggles and a very clean pair of glasses.
Then it was Giles' turn – and he told them a story about young Lisa. Considering they've all lived through something very similar – only with Buffy as the main character – the giggles kept coming. This time a pair of almost identical looking mother and daughter pouts accompanied them. Upon which Giles just shook his head and wondered out loud why he'd never ever made the connection before.
Seeing the guilt in his eyes, Buffy and Lisa sat on either side of him and hugged him. Ante, who happened to rest at the couch's armrest, scampered over and snuggled into Giles' lap. Smirking, Dawn pointed out even the little kitten knew it wasn't Giles' fault.
Reading the signs correctly, Faith just about managed to snap a picture of sandwiched Giles plus Ante before she saved the kitten from being crushed by the newly invented 'Mother-Daughter Giles' sandwich with a filling of Xander and Willow'. Chuckling, she made some more pictures, laughing at Ante's outright protests of being removed from her newly found comfy spot.
"You okay?" Faith shot Buffy a worried glanced while she drove them home a little while later. They had just dropped off Giles, Xander and Willow at their hotel while Dawn had decided to stay at her mom's place for some extra catching up. And more cuddling time with Ante.
Buffy blinked a couple of times, then she nodded.
"Afraid they'd turn around and leave again, huh?" Faith probed.
"Maybe. It isn't exactly something I could have easily forgotten to mention."
Faith parked the car and turned to her friend. "Don't worry. I can sense some serious talk-time coming up."
Buffy snorted. "You're not
"Well … can't have you thinking I'm getting soft or something," Faith said with a grin. Patting Buffy's shoulder patronisingly, she continued, "Bedtime for mommy and baby. Fun-time for me. Want me to bring Baby a souvenir?"
"Like what? A demon tooth on a string?" Buffy asked as she opened her apartment door.
"Yup. Maybe a couple of claws too." Weaving around several already packed boxes, Faith picked up a couple of stakes and hid several knives on her body.
Buffy yawned widely. But that didn't stop her from showing Faith exactly what she though of her idea. Or, rather, her finger did.
With her friend's chuckles filling her ears, Buffy headed straight for her bed. Tomorrow was going to be a big day, after all.
--A/N: Uhm. Sorry for the delay? But it's so not my fault! Honestly! The thing is, I was recently at a wedding reception and
I swear She-Muse and He-Muse were so much in awe of everything they saw, they went on a little vacation themselves! I haven't quite figured out if it actually was a honeymoon, but there was certainly lots of romance involved. They even forced me to read lots of books (only six, really) to them! … I don't think they had much time for eating either – They've mainly write me about food and eating since they came back… Oh well, hope you enjoyed this chapter! Next one is already in the making too.