"Are you finished, yet?" Xander paced in Willow’s bedroom, stopping occasionally to rock back and forth on his toes. "Don’t want Buffy to eat all my Twinkies!"
There was a snort before the bathroom door opened and Willow poked her head out. "The more you ask, the longer it will take. Besides, Buffy doesn’t like Twinkies."
"Hey, you're done!" Grinning, Xander opened the bathroom door and engulfed Willow in a big brotherly hug. "Or not."
Giggling, Willow watched Xander blush furiously when he realised that she was only wearing one towel. And that one was wrapped around her head.
Stumbling out of the bathroom with his good eye closed, Xander apologised sheepishly before he resumed his pacing and went back to their previous topic. "I know she doesn't like Twinkies that much - but she's pregnant! Pregnant women have cravings. Twinkie-cravings! So we have to hurry and save the poor things from pregnant-Buffy."
Sticking her head out again - though she was wearing some clothes this time as well - Willow asked innocently, "What about Dawn?"
That stopped Xander short and had him frantically running over to Willow's bed. Picking up the skirt and blouse she'd put out already, he literally pushed them into Willow's arms. "Dress! Quickly! I'll go and start the car!" Thinking of something even better, he picked up the phone and dialled a short number. "Giles? Hurry, get the car. Dawn's eating all my Twinkies. And Buffy is pregnant and might crave them too!"
Giles looked at the phone in confusion. Xander's voice had long been silent by the time his jag-lagged brain had caught up with the young man's babbling. Shaking his head at Xander's obsession with the sweets, Giles grabbed his stuff and the keys to their rental car and slowly made his way to the hotel car park.
Meanwhile, in Willow's room, Xander was still pacing. She knew it was mean, but Willow couldn't help herself and be particularly thorough as she got ready. "You're really looking forward to Buffy's baby, aren't you?"
"Yup. A little mind to shape just the way I like it..."
Willow laughed out loud. "Keep dreaming!"
"Yup!" Grinning, Xander poked his head into the bathroom again, checking if Willow was finally done. At least she was fully dressed now. Meeting her eyes in the mirror, he winked at her.
Brushing her hair a final time, there was only that much she could do to prolong the whole process after all, Willow sighed and left the bathroom. Sitting down on her bed, she tilted her head as she studied
Xander. "She looked happy, didn't she?"
"Yeah. And hungry."
Willow slapped his arm. Hard. "Stop it. I'm trying to be serious, okay?"
Sighing, Xander held up is hands in surrender. "Okay, okay. I'm listening."
"You're not mad she hasn't said anything before now? I mean, if we hadn't come here, we might not have learned of the baby for quite a while."
Xander sighed and sat down next to his oldest friend. Taking her hands in his, he shrugged his shoulders. "Of course I'm a bit disappointed. I mean, we are supposed to be best friends, right?"
"But the thing is we've all hidden stuff from each other now and then. Maybe we had good reasons; maybe we just thought we had. But we never did it to hurt each other, even if that's how it ended up. And Buffy, well, we all know how hard Mark's death had hit her so I'm more than willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Besides, it's Thanksgiving! All that food waiting to be eaten, fat belly's to be scratched and parades to be watched on the telly - there's no time for misgivings."
"But once all that is done we're going to sit down and have a long chat," Xander finished.
"Wow." Willow pulled him into a hug before kissing him on the cheek. "You're all grown-up now."
"I know." Xander grinned and pulled something he'd saved from Lisa's house from his pocket. A pretty squashed Twinkie. "It's a scary thought, isn't it?"
Xander barely acknowledged Faith when she opened the front door of Lisa's house and went straight to the kitchen. Willow giggled while Giles just shook his head as they followed him at a more sedate pace. And this didn't change when they arrived either.
Xander was standing in front of an open cupboard and looked at its contents in shock. "But ... Where ... my... "
Dawn and Buffy were laughing so hard they had tears running down their faces and Lisa wasn't far behind. Waving at the newcomers, she patted Xander's shoulder. "Try three doors down."
When he did just that and revealed several packs of Twinkies, Willow joined into the laughter. Xander pouted but was quickly consoled by biting into one.
"You're gonna spoil your appetite," Willow pointed out between giggles before she told everyone of their earlier Twinkie-conversation.
Xander just shrugged his shoulders before having a closer look around the kitchen. His one eye lit up with excitement and he looked in every pot and pan he could find, enjoying the different smells of all the food cooking left, right and centre. He even whooped - in a manly way, of course - when he caught sight of the large turkey in the oven. There was no way he was going to go hungry today! Lisa smiled when he told her just that - and put him in charge of the mashed potatoes. He grumbled good-naturedly at having to work for his food but quickly gave up on it in favour of commenting on Giles' salad washing skills. And the nice apron he was wearing.
Dawn was put in charge of the deviled eggs and promptly had her hands full with preventing Buffy and Xander from stealing them while Willow was put in charge of the corn cobs. Once Lisa had delegated all the work, she shooed Buffy and Faith out of the kitchen as there was simply no more space left. Besides, they had been helping since early morning and Lisa knew Buffy was looking forward to putting her feet up for a while. And Faith, well, she had cut up all the vegetables for Lisa's veggie casserole with the biggest knife she could find. Not that Lisa had felt threatened by it, but with so many more people in her kitchen, Lisa thought it better than to have Faith play with her big knives.
One look at Buffy and Ante - who'd been thrown out of the kitchen as well - had Faith chuckling. Buffy had made herself comfortable on the couch and the way Ante cuddled up against her belly was just too cute. Shaking her head, Faith grinned and started to set the table. Not that she'd minded helping in the kitchen earlier or the impromptu cooking lesson Lisa had given them, but she still had problems showing that softer side to Willow and Xander. Besides, how were they going to eat if nobody set the table?
Eventually all food had been cooked and had found its place into the dining room. For the first time Lisa was glad to have bought such a sturdy and large dinner table. They stood as one at the entrance to the dining room and stared in awe at the sheer amount of food in front of them. Even the last bit of the table was covered with food filled platters and bowls.
"Yep, that might just be enough," Xander said wistfully, taking everything in as his mouth started to water already. "Ow!" he protested as everyone slapped him at once. "What? That was a compliment!"
"Uh huh," Buffy said, glaring at him.
Xander, putting on his best grin, pulled her into a hug. "Come on Buffster, when have I ever said there's enough food around?"
The corner of his mouth twitching slightly, Giles looked at Lisa. "He has a point. And translated into proper English it means there's far too much for all of us."
Blushing slightly, Lisa shrugged her shoulders. "I guess I went a bit overboard."
Dawn was quick to agree. Hugging her mom, she added, "And that's the best kind of Thanksgiving there is. Thanks."
Fighting with tears, Lisa sniffed once then pointed at the table. "I guess there's only one thing left to say - let's eat!" Standing back, she watched everyone - but Giles - rush to the table and fight for the best places. Stepping closer, Giles put an arm around her shoulder. "Dawn is right, you know. This is the best kind of Thanksgiving."
House parked his motorcycle and glanced at the cars in the driveway. Shrugging his shoulders, he grabbed his backpack and walked to the front door. He knocked a couple of times then leaned on his cane in front of him while he waited for the door to open.
Nothing happened. He could hear faint laughter coming from the inside of the house, so he knew the house wasn't empty. When nothing happened even after he knocked again, louder this time, he turned left and right, considering his options. Well, it wasn't really his fault nobody heard the door. Going for the easy options first, he checked all possible hiding places for the spare key within easy reach. He had almost run out of places to look when he found it.
Holding up the small key in triumph, he went back to the door and let himself in. House followed the voices and, once he reached their origin, took a long look around the room. Noticing all the various food on the table - from the traditional turkey to more than enough vegetarian options for Lisa - he smirked.
Xander saw him first. Or, rather, was the first to decide to do something about it. "Uh, Lisa? There's a guy standing in your doorway. He's grinning but somehow looks grumpy at the same time."
Eyes widening in alarm, Lisa was about to turn around to see for herself, when she caught sight of both her daughter's rolling their eyes. That were all the hints she needed. "House."
"Damn, you're good!" he said.
"There's only one grumpy guy in her life," Dawn pointed out helpfully while waving at him in greeting.
"Yep," Buffy continued without batting an eyelash. "All the other guys are much nicer."
Gasping in mock-shock, House covered his heart with his free hand. "Ouch!" Bending down, he grabbed his backpack again and pulled something out. Dropping it in Lisa's lap as he passed her, he went for the one place at the table where they could fit another chair in. Tapping his cane on the floor once, he pulled up a chair from the wall, "Move, oh mean and scary pirate you."
House raised an eyebrow when his target grinned at him rather than be offended. "The ladies like it just fine." Xander pointed at House's cane and added, "No need for extra toys."
Dawn, having checked with her mom first, quickly got another plate and cutlery for House. Standing behind House who was sitting directly opposite her mom, Dawn winked at her after she handed everything over. Then she leaned down and kissed House's cheek. "I've missed you."
It only took House a second to conceal it, but it was long enough for Lisa to see the honest surprise in his eyes. Smiling, she looked at the plastic bag in her lap. Opening it, she curiously looked inside - and was just as shocked as House had been only moments ago. Taking out the moderate sized box of chocolates, she looked at House. "Wow."
House being House just shrugged his shoulders dismissively. "Figured a couple of chocolates in exchange for a full-sized Thanksgiving dinner were fair enough."
Giles, who was sitting next to Lisa, leaned over and had a closer look himself. "Then why is the box open?"
Lisa opened the box, looked inside and sighed in resignation. This was much more like House. "And some of the chocolates are missing."
"What?" House asked innocently as he helped himself to a huge chunk of turkey. "There was a traffic jam on the way here and I figured you wouldn't want me fall off the bike from hunger."
Snorting, Xander shook his head as he shoved another spoonful of stuffing into his mouth. House, taking the snort as a challenge, snatched a piece of turkey from Xander's plate. Or tried to, anyway. But, just as he came close enough to actually snatch it, Xander's hand darted out and stopped him. Then, without even glancing at House, he moved House's hand out of the way and ate that particular piece of turkey himself.
House tilted his head as he watched his neighbour. He shouldn't have seen him, not with the eye-patch on this side. Unless ... well, he'd have to watch a little longer. But first there was food begging him to eat it. So, grinning at the task at hand, House dug in and just listened to the conversations going on around him. None of them seemed to mind his presence but rather accepted it with nothing more than a shrug. Even when he started to make comments - some more rude than others - did nobody seem to care about it. If anything, they just returned his comments with just as much bite behind it.
He really enjoyed it.
Not that he'd ever admit to it. Or admit that this was one of the best - if not the best - Thanksgiving meal he ever had. Putting yet another dumpling on his plate, he looked over at Willow. Only in his functions as Wilson's friend of course. After all, she'd been his friend's little cousin's girlfriend. So it was only fair he learned a bit more about her - simply to protect Wilson's interests as he was bound to wanting to meet her at some point. Smirking at his reasoning, House asked, "So, Red, whatcha do for a living?"
He might have looked forward to seeing some shock or disgruntlement at the nickname, but giggling all around the table certainly wasn't the answer he'd expected. Looking at Faith, he raised his eyebrows questioningly.
Grinning, she said, "I've been calling her Red for years."
"Damn," House said in disappointment. "Well then, Red, whatcha doing for a living?"
"I'm working for the IWC," Willow replied sweetly, curiously waiting for his reaction. As did everyone else.
"The IWC? What..." House stopped mid-sentence and turned to Dawn. "How's the studying going?"
Frowning, House wondered why everyone was giggling again. He hadn't said anything funny, had he? Nudging Xander, he stage-whispered, "Are they on drugs or something?"
Xander shrugged his shoulders. "Nope." Then he went back to the food on his plate, leaving House just as clueless as before. Of course, that didn't go down well with House so he tried to steal food from Xander's plate again. Only to have his hand stopped by him just like all the other times.
Taking pity on him - after all, House didn't know about the spell put on him so he'd forget anything meaningful involving the IWC - Dawn answered his earlier question. "School is going great. Giles even had me translate some very explicit Sumerian texts last week."
"What!?" Buffy narrowed her eyes and glared at Giles immediately.
Sighing, Giles just about resisted the urge to remove his glasses as he glared at Dawn. "I thought it was an important report and, well, apparently I was wrong."
Patting Giles' shoulder, Willow added, "I thought their descriptions were rather interesting."
"And graphic," Dawn added, winking at House. "Very detailed too."
Grumbling, Buffy threw her wadded napkin at Giles. "Stop corrupting my little sister!"
It was all too much for Dawn and she broke out laughing. Moments later, the other women at the table joined in. Even Lisa.
Sighing theatrically, Xander offered House another beer. "Just go with the flow. I've known them for years and still don't get 'em sometimes. It's nothing personal." Pointing towards Giles, he added, "See G-man over there? He's finally given in and started cleaning his glasses. This means he's just as confused as us."
"I'm not confused." House protested immediately.
"You just don't know what they're talking about, I know." Xander grinned again before having a long look around the table, making sure he hadn't missed any of the dishes. "Though, if I had to guess I'd say they've all read Dawn's translation."
House's head shot up and he looked straight at Lisa. Giving him a coy smile, she said, "Very explicit indeed."