"No, Xander," Willow smiled at her old friend as he walked into the kitchen.
"Just the same as the last time you asked, oh about three minutes ago!" Buffy laughed, rolling her eyes as she emptied the can of peas into the waiting pan. She turned on the burner and let them start heating before turning to help Anya with the dressing.
"Sorry, but it just smells so good," Xander practically drooled as he inhaled the scents of the meal that the girls were preparing.
"Don't believe him," Dawn warned as she entered the kitchen, leaning against the cabinet as she smiled wickedly, "He's just upset because I was beating him on every single video game we played."
"I still think you were cheating," Xander grumbled as he reached over to grab a piece of cheese off the snack tray that Willow was working on. She smacked his hand away, not letting him have even a small piece.
"Niblet doesn't cheat," Spike defended, winking at the girl as he said, "she's just better than you are, Chubs."
"Can I help?" Dawn asked after giving Spike a grateful smile.
"Sure, Dawny. Why don't you finish up with this?" Willow suggested, showing the teen the remaining items that needed to go on the tray. She wiped her hands on a rag, knowing they still smelled like pickles and cheese, not a very great combination.
"Dawn, sweet child," Xander began to say as he neared the tray of snacks.
"You're not getting any food yet," Dawn said sweetly, "but please continue to flatter me if you wish. I'm thinking that Goddess of Video Games should be my new title."
"Xander, quit trying to eat and come help," Anya told her fiance, indicating the large pan of dressing that she had made and the small bowl that needed to contain said dressing. She frowned, "I think I made too much."
"I think you've all got enough food to feed an army," Spike muttered as he looked around the kitchen, not believing the many different items that the group had prepared for their meal. He'd woken up early this morning when he'd smelled the pies cooking, getting dressed and heading upstairs to find Willow in the kitchen working on the desserts. He'd sat down and watched her cook, talking with her and just enjoying being around the redhead. When the slayer had woken up, the cooking had been put on hold as they had joined the blond and Dawn in the living room to watch the parades. It was a tradition, it seemed, and he hadn't even bothered making his usual protests of not wanting to participate. Instead, he'd sat on the sofa and been thankful when Willow sat beside him.
He'd been half in love with the redhead for a few months. Okay, four months and sixteen days if you wanted to get technical. It was a day in July when he realized that he was falling for the witch. Buffy had been dead a little over a month at that time, and he'd realized over that time that he'd never really been in love with her. He'd cared about her, still did, but it hadn't really been love. Love was what he felt when Willow smiled at him, when she included him in the gangs' activity, when she'd snuggle against him and talk for hours about every subject imaginable. Spike had moved into the basement after Buffy died, remaining there after the slayer was brought back. He and Buffy were friends now, strangely enough, and the blonde was aware of his feelings for her best friend. She'd been encouraging him for the last month to just ask Willow out, claiming that the redhead felt the same way. He didn't see it, not believing that he was good enough for the beautiful witch that deserved only the best. She'd only broken up with that Tara girl a few months before, right after Buffy's death, and he didn't know if she was ready for another relationship, especially with a man. He could come up with numerous excuses as to why he shouldn't ask her out, knowing the true reason was fear. Fear that she wouldn't return his feelings, fear that he would lose his best friend. Hell, even fear that Buffy was right and Willow did want him because he was scared to death that he'd get her only to lose her because he was a vampire and had no idea what to do in a normal relationship, especially one with a beautiful human.
"Spike? Are you in there?" Willow finally asked, giving the gorgeous vampire a soft smile as waited for his response.
"Hmm?" Spike drew himself from his thoughts, blue eyes looking into green as he smiled sheepishly, "Sorry, luv. I was just thinking."
"'bout what?" she asked as she sat down beside him, deciding that she was ready for a break after spending most the day cooking.
"Just wondering if any of you will get to eat or if Chubs will eat everything himself," Spike said with a smirk, not wanting her to know that he'd been thinking about her.
"I think there is more than enough for everyone," Willow laughed, "and don't call him Chubs!"
"As you wish," Spike smiled softly as he looked into her eyes before reluctantly looking away.
"Is it turkey time yet?" Xander asked again as he moved towards the table, taking a seat beside Willow. He'd helped Anya with the dressing, managing to snack on some it, even more hungry now that he'd had a taste of the meal.
"No!" several voices called out, Buffy pausing to glare at her friend. She threatened, "If you ask me that again, I swear, you won't get any turkey at all!"
"Just call me Silent Xander," Xander said, eyes wide with fear that the slayer would be true to her word and refuse him the yummy smelling turkey.
Buffy smiled as she looked at Willow and Spike, both of them sneaking looks at each other when the other wasn't looking, sighing as she realized that they were still both too darn scared to admit their feelings. It was weird to admit that she thought Spike was good for her best friend. She'd been annoyed with his crush on her, not believing for an instant that he loved her as he liked to proclaim, but she did believe that Spike had the capacity to love, even without a soul. After she'd been brought back, she'd seen the way he was with Willow, recognized it as real love, called him on it a few weeks ago during patrol.
She'd been surprised that he'd not denied it, instead simply acknowledging that he had feelings for Willow that went beyond anything he'd ever felt before declaring that he wasn't good enough for the redhead. Buffy knew that he was wrong, but she also knew he'd been told that he wasn't good enough for so long that the stupid moron had finally started to believe it. She'd done her best to persuade him into asking Willow out, declaring his feelings, anything that would end up with her two friends together and happy, but he'd still not made a move. She'd given him over a month without interfering, working what little patience she possessed, and she was sick of waiting. They all knew that he had a thing for Willow and Willow returned his feelings, even Xander was cool with it, which was really saying something. Today was the day, she decided as she turned away from them, moving towards the stove to check the turkey.
"Hey, Willow, would you and Spike run to the store for me?" Buffy asked as she finished emptying the carton of cream into the sink. She held up the empty container and said, "We're out of cream and we need it for the mashed potatoes."
"I just bought a full container when we got groceries last week," Willow said with a frown. "Did you use it all?"
"I don't know what happened, but it's all gone now," Buffy shrugged, "if you don't want to go, I guess I can just stop cooking and go get it myself."
"Don't be silly," Willow smiled as she stood up, "I'm done with my portion so I can go. Spike, would you mind driving me to the store?"
"Course not, pet," Spike said as he stood and asked Buffy, "Keys?"
"On the table in the living room," Buffy said, waiting for them to leave. When she heard the front door close, she turned to the other three occupants in the room and said, "Our mission, should you choose to accept is, is to have those two admit their feelings before the end of tonight!"
"Oh!" Dawn bounced excitedly, "No more of that 'don't meddle, Dawn. They'll figure out their in love without us interfering' huh?"
"I told you that two months ago!" Buffy rolled her eyes, "Those two would test the patience of a saint! It's Thanksgiving and I want to thank Willow for bringing me back and that means getting Spike to admit he cares for her."
"If I help, can I have leftovers?" Xander asked with a smile, "I mean, I'd help anyway cause I love Willow and for some silly reason she cares about Spike and, okay, so Spike isn't that bad for a vampire, but leftovers will give me that extra push into really helping."
"You'll help or I won't let you eat anything," Anya said, watching Xander sigh dramatically.
"Fine, but, c'mon guys, leftovers?" Xander whined.
"I'll make you a deal," Buffy smiled, "if Spike and Willow are at least going out on a date by the end of dinner, you can have first choice of leftovers."
"Just a date?" Xander arched a brow, "No sneaky slayer subterfuge of wanting smoochies or declarations of love, too?"
"Just a date," Buffy nodded, "it's a start and I think it's too early for the declarations of love and all that since they won't even realize they're so involved already!"
"Hey, why does Xander get bribery to help?" Dawn asked suddenly.
"Because, the promise of food will help him think better. We don't need motivation to think," Anya said sweetly.
Dawn giggled, "Okay, I'll buy that. So, what's the plan, guys?"
Twenty-four minutes later, Spike and Willow arrived back at the house. They were laughing as they entered the kitchen, talking about some of the strange people that were out buying last minute items for their meals. When they walked into the kitchen, Willow handed Buffy the cream and sat back down. She looked between her friends suspiciously, wondering what was going on. They were all smiling and looked smug, as if they knew a joke that she hadn't heard. She asked, "So, did we miss anything?"
"They still won't let me eat," Xander said, his mind trying to figure out a way to insure that Spike asked Willow out for a date.
"And Xander won't quit whining about being hungry, but the veggies are about finished and the turkey looks good," Dawn said as she got the plates from the cabinet.
"You say that as if it is surprising that I cooked something well," Buffy grumbled, "I cook very well, thank you very much."
"Was the store very busy?" Anya asked Willow as she sat down, thankful to have the food nearly finished. She was not fond of cooking, knowing many more pleasurable ways to cause sweat, but she was proud that her dressing tasted good.
"Packed," Spike said, "they close early today and I think most of Sunnydale was there shopping."
"We had to stand in line for fifteen minutes," Willow said, "but it wasn't that bad. We read some of the magazines around the counter. Did you know that they found aliens in Nevada that look like horses? They even had pictures, of horses."
"I preferred the story about the three-hundred pound cat," Spike remarked with a smile, "Clem would think he'd died and gone to heaven."
"Eeew," Dawn wrinkled her nose, "I thought Clem wasn't into the cat diet anymore."
"Yeah, right," Spike rolled his eyes, "What? Do you think he wins them so he can set them free?"
"Okay, we are *so* not discussing cats and food during our Thanksgiving meal!" Buffy interrupted before the conversation could any more disgusting.
"Besides, Clem likes turkey, too," Xander mentioned, "that's the reason he's coming over for dinner. By the way, I guess I should give him a call if the food is nearly done."
"I already called him," Anya said, "he's bringing soda and wine."
"So, guys, what's happening tonight after the meal?" Xander asked, leaning back as he smiled at Willow and Spike. "You two crazy kids going to a movie or something?"
"Why would we be going to a movie?" Willow asked, her eyes narrowing as she glared at Xander. She was going to kill him. He knew that she had a crush on Spike and was deliberately using that knowledge to pay her back for threatening to withhold the dessert.
"Well, why not?" Anya asked innocently, turning to wink at Dawn.
"Yeah, a movie sounds like a good idea. You two should really think about going," Dawn said as she counted out napkins.
"You want to see a movie tonight, Niblet?" Spike asked slowly, trying to figure out what they were up to. Oh, he knew they were up to something, having been alert the moment he and Willow got back from the store to find them all smiling those smug smiles.
"Not me! You and Willow should go," Dawn said quickly, "Buffy and I are busy. Yeah, we're um, we're doing stuff."
"Important stuff that prevents us from attending a movie," Buffy added as she finally pulled the turkey out of the oven, "but a movie would be a nice way to follow up dinner, dontcha think?"
"Okay, what's the deal?" Willow asked, "Why don't you want us home tonight?"
"Pet, I don't think that's what they're up to," Spike said quietly, putting two and two together and slowly smiling as he saw the look in their friends eyes.
"What do you mean?" Willow asked as she turned to face Spike, her pulse racing at the smile on his face and the look in his eyes. Oh my, the room was suddenly quite warm.
"I think they're trying to set us up," Spike whispered loudly, amusement and affection in his eyes as he looked at the beautiful witch that had stolen his heart.
"Set us up?" Willow was too busy thinking about how gorgeous he looked to really give the entire situation the proper amount of thought.
"You and me at the movies," Spike said with a smile, "Alone."
"You mean, like a date?" Willow suddenly understood, her face flushing as she renewed her vow to kill her friends. How embarrassing!
"Yeah, like a date," Spike nodded, deciding that he'd been scared long enough. "So, what do you say?" "What?" Willow squeaked, her eyes widening as she realized what he said. "Spike, you don't have to..."
"I want to," he said softly, raising his hand to push her hair behind her ear, his knuckles brushing against her cheek. "Willow, would you go out with me tonight?"
"Yes," she whispered as a slow smile crossed her face.
"Yes!" Dawn bounced, sighing as she said, "This is just so great!"
"We now have yet another reason to be thankful," Buffy said as she winked at Willow, receiving a dazzling smile from the redhead.
"Hello, everyone!" Clem greeted as he entered through the back door. He smiled as he saw his friends, "Happy Thanksgiving!"
"Very happy," Spike said with a smile as he held Willow's hand, deciding that he wouldn't even bother scolding Buffy for interfering, deciding that a date was a good place to start their relationship, Willow's smile making the entire day perfect.
"Everyone sit down," Anya instructed as she finished putting the last of the food on the table, "and eat lots of dressing and tell me how delicious it is!"
"Guess what, Xander?" Buffy said as she carried the turkey into the dining room.
"What?" Xander asked, a satisfied smile on his face as Anya sat beside him and he saw the happy look in Willow's eyes.
Buffy put the dish in the middle of the table and sat down, surveying the faces of the people she loved, a smile crossing her face as she said, "It's finally turkey time! Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I love you all!"