"What do you guys think?"
Willow started unfolding pieces of paper that she had stuck together. She pushed the piece at the end towards Xander. He took it, his other hand refusing to release his spoonful of cornflakes.
"What’s this?" Dawn mumbled through a mouthful of bagel.
Buffy gave her an admonishing look, but didn’t say anything.
Willow had finally unfolded the rest of the pieces, so all could admire a poster praising "Super Slug Soup Specials," complete with all the "S’s" designed in slug form.
Xander dropped his spoon. "Well, there goes my appetite."
"Last night Elspeth asked if I could do the banner for the Coven booth and this is what I came up with."
"Looks great," Buffy said. "Oh! Maybe you could add a slime trail. Make it go under the words as a sort of underlining."
"That’s a great idea! And maybe add another line: 'They’ll just slide down your throat’ with a cute little slug in ‘slide’," Willow said, cheerfully ignoring Xander's slightly green complexion.
Giles couldn’t hide his grin. "Willow, maybe we should tell Xander what these, er, cute little slugs are made of."
Willow rolled her eyes at Xander. "They’re only made out of dough. Like pasta, only a lot thicker. And sorta reddish."
"Well I guess that’s ok then." Xander picked up his spoon again.
"But Buffy’s selling real slug soup," Dawn piped up.
"You are?" Giles looked at her in surprise.
"Not personally. Pershing Daisies is going to have a booth with various slug fighting substances and tools. That and something I find only slightly less creepy than gnomes these days, these little porcelain slugs for garden decorations. I guess it’s kill the real and bring in the fake." After a brief pause, she added, "There’s probably a deep metaphor somewhere in there but personally I just think it’s kinda weird. Of course, with my life, who am I to judge?"
"Will you have to work all day?" Giles asked.
"No, I’m totally free. I mean, I’ll go say hello and all, see how the little slug killers are going, but other than that I’m all yours." She smiled at him, and then her eyes shifted to the others who didn’t even try to hide their grins. "All of *yours*," she corrected. "As in Family Buffy."
"Come on, Buffy, you know we won’t mind. *We* were the ones who told you to go out with Giles and do datey stuff," Willow said with a mock frown.
"I could have sworn you vowed not to interfere," Giles said mildly. "And if memory serves, you performed a special ceremony just last week to assure us of that."
"Totally irrelevant," Willow answered airily, "especially since neither you nor Buffy seem to be in a hurry to do the first move. I think maybe we should do it for you."
"Yeah, Buffy. Sister bonding's great and all, but so is time for yourself. I mean what’s left to talk about when we spend all our time together? Willow will help at the Coven booth. And I’m going with Mark."
"And I’ve scheduled more groveling in hopes of slugging it out with Carrie." Xander frowned. "I mean Slug Fest-slugging. Not fighting-slugging. Been there, done that."
"See! Even Xander has plans," Dawn pointed out. "So you two kids should really go on your own."
"Dawn..." Buffy began, unsure of how to continue. Giles put his hand over hers.
"What Buffy is trying to say, I think, is that we would like to decide ourselves when and where we will go for a date."
She smiled at him before adding, "And just for the record: I am looking forward to spending some quality time with Giles. But this is supposed to be a great family fest, so I thought we could at least pretend that this is a family outing before everyone scatters."
"So we’ll go there together, make with the ’ooohs’ and ’aaahs’ and then split up and leave you two love birds alone," Willow said decisively.
Buffy thought for a moment and then, turning her hand under Giles’ to interweave hers with his, she said "Sounds like a plan."
He smiled at her and said, "We’re all set then for Saturday, I believe."
They all looked at Dawn.
"What? I’m just trying to get into the spirit."