**Part Ten**

Thanksgiving weekend 1997

"So, when does the man get here?"

"The man?"

"Yeah, your man, the man. Do you have more than one?"

"Well, no, you just come up with the oddest names for him sometimes."

"It's easier on me than saying Lindsey."

"Hey, whatever works for you."

"So, when does he get here?"

"Should be anytime. He said he'd meet me here."

"And he's ready to meet the mom?"

"So he says. He could always back out I imagine, but he said he hasn't had a real Thanksgiving since he was a kid. I think he's kind of looking forward to it."

"Since he was a kid?"

"Yeah, he left home right after high school, and from what he's told me his home life could give yours some competition for dysfunctional family awards."

"Oh. See, I knew there was something about him I identified with."

"So, he's looking forward to some family time I guess."

"And who but the Buffster to give it to him?"


"You know, I have to admit, I thought for sure it'd be over by now."

Buffy paused in taking a drink from her cup at Xander's comment. It unsettled her a little. Giles had said something sort of similar. "Why?"

"Well, you and Angel had this thing going last spring. I just assumed you'd come back, see him again and this guy would become a memory."

"I like Angel, if he was human you might have been right. I came to the realization this summer, though, that I can't do it. Slayers and vampires aren't supposed to have relationships. So, he's my friend and that's it."

"I'm not complaining. Not in the least. My opinion of vampires was pretty much solidified when they got Jesse."

"I know, Xander."

"Speak of the devil."

"Lindsey's here?"

"No, the other devil we were talking about."


"Yup, he just walked in."

Buffy turned in his direction and smiled with a wave.

"You don't need to encourage him over here. I was kind of hoping he'd hang out with Cordelia some more after Halloween and bite her."

"Xander, he doesn't feed on humans."

"A few hours with Cordelia and he'd change his opinion."

Buffy laughed, she couldn't help it. He was probably right.

"Hey," Angel said as he arrived at their table.

"Hi. Something going on?"

"No, I just came to tell you I'll be at Giles' tonight. And to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving."

"Thanks. You, too. You probably don't celebrate it."

"Not really, no. It's just another day to me."

"Were you around for the first Thanksgiving?"


"What? It's a logical question."

"I'm not quite that old, Xander."

"Oh. Well, it was a logical question. Right?"

"Yes, it was."

"Wow, Dead Boy's agreeing with me."

"And the world hasn't ended."

"Bite your tongue you two."

"What's tonight? Are there pre-Thanksgiving festivities going on that I don't know about?"

"No, it's slaying stuff."

"Oh, well, I can bring donuts."

"I don't think anyone will need donuts before eating turkey dinner tomorrow."

"That's assuming we all get turkey dinners. You, Lindsey, and Willow get turkey dinners. What do Angel and I get?"

"Mm, Angel will probably get what he normally does every day of the year. You? I don't know."

"Meatloaf probably. If Mom remembers to put it in the oven."

"Oh, Xander, you know you can come to my house."


"Of course, Mom and I would be happy to have you. You just can't say anything that will embarrass me in front of Lindsey."

"That's a tall order to fill, but for good food and even better company I'll do it."


"Now," he said, rubbing his hands together. "What's with tonight?"

"Nothing. Giles, Angel, Lindsey and I are going to talk about some things."

"Why is Lindsey included?"

"Because the things have to do with him."

"Oh, I see." He frowned, glanced from Buffy to Angel and shook his head. "No, I don't see. Why is Angel going to be there then?"

"Xander," Buffy said, placing her hand over his and patting it. "Just trust us."

"I'll do my best. Hey, do you think Spike will show up tonight?"

"I hope not! I'd really like to have the night off."

"You just want to dance with your man. Speaking of, I think I see him at the door."

"On that note, I'll be going. See you later."

"Bye, Angel."

"Boy, if I had known mentioning another guy would get rid of him that quick I would have started doing that months ago."

"Xander. Be nice. You at least have a mom and dad. Angel has nobody. Imagine how he must feel at times like this."

"Yeah, I suppose. Having some family is better than none. And hundreds of years of nothing."


She felt hands on her shoulders and leaned back into the hug and for the kiss to the top of her head.

"Hi," she said before tilting her head back for a somewhat awkward kiss.

"Hi yourself. You look nice."

"Thanks, so do you."

"I kind of dressed down, I didn't realize you wouldn't."

"No, this is normal Buffy-wear. Don't worry."

"Okay. I did bring something nice for tomorrow. I didn't think to ask and wasn't sure if you and your mom do the formal thing."

"No, we're pretty casual. It's just the two of us."

"And me!"

"And Xander. Giles might come. He's invited, but I think he kind of likes being alone."

"Great. Someone I know. Power in numbers or something, right?"

"Oh, that's right, you haven't met Buffy's mom. Just to warn you ahead of time, don't look at the third eye or the horn on the back of her head. There's also this mole, right here," Xander said pointing at his chin.

Lindsey chuckled, gathering Buffy closer against him. "I'll try not to. You didn't tell me about the extra eye or the horn? And a mole?"

"Well, that's because I didn't want you to think to look for mine."

"Babe, I'd love to look. Anytime. Anyplace," he whispered as he nuzzled against her ear.

Buffy's face grew hot in a flash. It was the most forward thing he'd ever said to her.

"Wow, did it just get hot in here? Whatever you said, Lindsey, it had to be good. I don't think I've ever seen Buffy's face turn that shade of red before."

She turned on her stool to face Lindsey, all but ignoring Xander. She kissed him, sliding her arms around his neck to bring him down to her level. She was tempted to tell him to name the time and place, but not yet. Not until they'd met at Giles' house later and she heard what he had to say.

"I don't know, they're pretty hard to find," she whispered against his ear, nipping his earlobe. "Not as obvious as my mom's."

"I'd be very thorough."

She laughed softly, seductively. "I just bet you would be."


"You know it."

"Hello? Guys? Remember me? The third wheel?"

"Oh look, it's Xander," Lindsey said, giving Buffy one last kiss before sliding onto the stool next to Buffy's. Their hands joined, Lindsey looked at Xander. "When did you get here?"

"Very funny. Ha ha. You know, I take back all the nice things I said about you before you got here."

"Well, if I wasn't here to hear them, you can't take them back."

"Hey," Xander said, looking a little perplexed by Lindsey's logic. Actually, Buffy was, too. "Huh?"

Lindsey chuckled. "Never mind." He released Buffy's hand briefly, extended his hand to Xander. "How you doing, Xander?"

"Good, particularly now that I've been included in the Summers' household Thanksgiving festivities. I'm feeling a little slighted to be left out of tonight's, though."

"Just some dull conversation, you won't be missing anything." He brought Buffy's hand to his mouth and kissed the back of it before resting it, joined with his, against his knee.

"You say that now. It's always the dull conversation moments that turn into something bigger. And then where will you be when you have no jelly donuts to give yourself a sugar high?"

"I don't know. That's something to think about."

"Don't you know it!"

"Where's Willow?"

"You know, I'm honestly not sure. She said she was going to be here. She probably got sidetracked."

"So, are we dancing or just chilling for a while before heading to Mr. Giles'?"

"We can do whatever you want."

"Wow, that's pretty open ended."

He leaned in to kiss her and missed. She wasn't sure if it was intentional or not until he found her ear.

"I like this side of you. I'm not sure I've ever seen you this flirtatious."

She blushed again. She did feel flirty tonight. She was a little more confident in their relationship now. She imagined that helped. Buffy hadn't been sure what would happen after summer and she was back down here. Him coming not just to meet her mom but for Thanksgiving was a pretty big deal.

"I'm glad and I'll try and remember that for the future."


"You two, quit whispering sweet nothings to one another. It's annoying to those of us that are dateless."

"Sorry, Xander."

"It's okay. I get it. You haven't seen each other in weeks. I can let it slide, just try not to get too mushy."

Buffy rolled her eyes, turning her attention back to Lindsey.

"How was your day?"

"It was good. Had a couple of things to take care of, people not wanting to spend the long weekend in jail. Bond. The usual."


"Yeah, it's pretty dull really."

"Well, if you're doing it I'm sure it's not so dull."

"Not as exciting as what you do, but a man has to make a living."


"So, is your mom okay with my coming?"

"Yup. She's anxious to meet you. Dad told her about you when he brought me back in August. I figured he would. She hasn't asked me about you, I guess assuming I'd tell her when I was ready. Just be ready for the third degree."

"I've got my body armor ready to go."

"I'm not sure you'll need that. Just be prepared for lots of stories about me as a child and whatever else she'll pull out of her hat to try and embarrass me."

"Do I get to see pictures of you as a child naked on a bearskin rug?"

"Uh no."

"Then I don't think she's going to do anything to embarrass you."

"Put like that," she nodded. "I'd have to agree."

"So are we dancing?"

"I think we'd better get to Giles', Xander. I'm sorry. I'm sure Wil will be here soon."

"No problem. I'll just hang out. You coming back?"

"I doubt it."

"All right. See you tomorrow then. Unless you change your mind and want donuts after all?"

"Not tonight. Thanks. See you tomorrow."

"Oh, do I need to bring anything?"

"What would you bring?"

"I don't know. A plate, fork, bib?"

"No, just yourself, please."

"All right."

She and Lindsey made their way out of The Bronze. She was looking for his car, so when he walked toward a real old looking pickup truck she was a little perplexed. At first, she thought he was just admiring it. Guys and their cars. But he opened the door for her.

"You have a truck?"

"Yeah. You never noticed that tarp with a large shaped thing under it in my garage?"

"Well, yeah, I didn't know what was under it."

"Well, this is it. My baby."


"You don't like it?"

"No, I didn't say that. I'm just trying to picture you in it."

"Well, I figured it was about time you saw the real me. Without the fancy suits, nice house and job I'm just an average guy who likes his pickup truck." He leaned in and kissed her, nudging her nose with his. "Is that all right?"

"More than all right."

"Your mom's not going to forbid you to see me or anything?"

"Because of a pickup truck?"

"Just making sure."

"There's not much you could do about it now anyway."

"Leave it here and walk."

"There is that option, but no, she'll be fine."

He got in on his side and she directed him to Giles' house. She had to admit now that they were there she was nervous. There was no reason he'd have asked to talk to Giles unless something about her being the slayer and him working for Wolfram & Hart bothered him. The fact he wanted to see Giles and didn't just break up with her was the only thing keeping her from breaking down and crying.

Lindsey stopped walking in the courtyard outside Giles' place. He tugged on her hand, prompting her to stop, too. "Buffy."


"There's something I need to say before we go in there."


"Whatever happens, whatever we decide, because I don't know what it's going to be, and I don't know how anything's going to play out."

"Lindsey, you're scaring me. I've averted apocalypses, I think we can handle this."

He chuckled softly and drew her to him in almost a bear hug. He kissed the top of her head, clutched her face in his hands and kissed her almost bruisingly on the lips.

"I love you, Buffy."

She blinked rapidly several times, sure she hadn't heard him actually say that.

"You? Huh?"

He smiled then with a light laugh. "Yes, I really said it."

"Oh, well, in that case, since you confirmed I'm not dreaming. I love you, too."

"You do?"

"Yes! You think I'd pine away down here for you if I didn't?"

"I don't think you're pining."

"Well, okay, it sounded good. Didn't it?"

"It did."

He kissed her again, not so intense this time. He gathered her into his arms, picked her up off her feet. "God, I can't believe how lucky I am to have found you. I just wish I'd found you a couple of years ago."

"Well, that would have just kind of been, eww. Even for me."

"Age aside, I just meant, where my life was then."

"You probably wouldn't have looked twice at me anyway, from what you've said. Mr. Had His Nose In the Books."

"You might be right. I envisioned how I said it a little nicer than this, but I had to say it."

"I understand, and I'm glad you did. It makes me feel better."

"Me, too," he said kissing her again.

"Hmm. We should probably go inside now. The sooner we go in, the sooner we're done."

"Yes." He ran the back of his hand along her cheek before dropping his hand into hers. "It's time."


"Do you really think this will work?"

"Why not?"

"It seems like you're skirting the line."

"I may be, but as long as I go into work each day with the knowledge that I'm doing what I can for Wolfram & Hart's clients, there's nothing the mind readers will pick up on. I have no control over someone, anyone, accessing court dockets for my cases and dispensing justice on their own."

"That seems like a fine line to tread."

"But they're not going to be looking for a vampire. That's the beauty of it. I'm not even sure they know a vampire with a soul exists. If they do, we don't know about it and I'm pretty certain they wouldn't expect me to tip him off."

"Why are you doing this?"

"You guys, this isn't the inquisition."

Lindsey placed his hand over Buffy's and squeezed. He offered her a smile, one meant only for her.

"It's okay, babe. We all need to be sure."

He turned his attentions back to Giles and Angel.

"As far as why," he shrugged. "I had one thing in mind when I put myself through college. I wanted to be the most successful lawyer I could be. Whatever the cost. I had nothing to worry about losing. I had nothing to care about. I didn't mind working double-digit hours at the office every day, even weekends. I didn't care that my clients didn't really deserve my representation. All I cared about was how many billable hours I was able to put in, and my cut of those hours. I wanted things. I have those things, but they don't mean so much now."

"What changed?"

All three men looked at her as if she was crazy. Lindsey felt somewhat bad for her. She really didn't understand how deep his feelings for her ran.

"What? What did I say?"

He leaned forward and planted a kiss on her lips. He had tried to avoid doing that in front of Angel. He wasn't sure what her feelings were toward the vampire, but Lindsey had seen enough to know that the vampire's feelings for her might run as deep as Lindsey's.

"Nothing. You changed. I have something worth living for, and I want it. You opened my eyes to a lot of things this summer. Just sitting in those seats at the last ball game we went to. I've lived in LA for a while now, and I've never done that. I didn't want to do it. The box seats were impressive, they made a statement. Image was everything. And while I still have to adhere to that in my office and in the courtroom, I don't want to so much in my personal life."

"Is that why you drove your pickup here this weekend?"

"Part of it, but really, what I told you was the truth. I haven't driven her in a while and needed to. She's my baby. I feel guilty when I neglect her for too long."

"I'm not sure where Buffy and I come into this."

"Well, you don't really, Mr. Giles. I want you both in the loop, at least at this stage. I don't expect Angel will fill you in on every detail, and I won't be able to obviously."

"I think Lindsey's right," Angel said. "I'm not really needed here anymore, and LA isn't that far. If I was, all you'd have to do is call me. Spike will go away eventually once he realizes he can't beat Buffy."

"Spike's a vampire?"

"Yeah. One of Angel's."

"He's not one of mine. He's one of Dru's who is one of mine. I haven't seen him in close to one hundred years. And believe me when I say it wasn't long enough."

"He's taken out two slayers," Mr. Giles offered.

Lindsey sensed it wasn't easy for Buffy's watcher to divulge that information to him. He appreciated it, though.

"So, Buffy's in danger? Maybe this isn't a good time to do this."

"No, I really don't think he'll stick around. If I leave, I think Spike will, too. He's stayed in part to harass me. We've always had a thing. Rivalry. Whatever you want to call it."


"So, how is Angel going to know which of your clients are human and which aren't?"

"I'll know."

"And they're all guilty?"

Lindsey nodded, squeezing her hand again. She was asking the right questions. Good.

"Yes. There's not an innocent one in the bunch. If they're innocent of the particular crime they've been charged with they're guilty of something else. Probably worse, they just haven't been caught yet."

"Which of you will be in the most danger?"

"I will, I guess. There's always the chance the mind readers will catch something, but it's a chance I'm willing to take. Angel, as long as he remains discreet and in the shadows, I don't think they'll catch on to who's doing it. But it will piss the Senior Partners off to know that their clients are getting picked off. It's risky for both of us, I won't deny that."

He watched as Buffy worried her lower lip. He wanted to lean in and kiss it, take it between his teeth and nip it for her. He wanted to do a number of things that didn't involve the audience they currently had. He'd taken a huge step by telling her he loved her. He'd never said that to anyone before. Now that he knew she felt the same way he found it more difficult to keep his thoughts from straying to places they were probably better kept out of.

"And Angel has to move to LA?"

"Is that a problem?"

"Well, no." Her eyes darted around the room, resting briefly on Mr. Giles. "I guess I'm just used to having him here, helping me."

"I'd just be a phone call away."

"I know. And, really, who am I to stop you from doing this?"

"I am here to help you, Buffy. If you don't think you're ready."

"No, no, I'm ready. You need to do this. You need to do more with yourself than help the Slayer. I know that. You're made for more than that."

"You have more faith in me than I do."

"Probably because I don't have a hundred plus years of your bad deeds floating through my mind."


"I think you should do it, Angel. I really do."

"You're willing to risk your boyfriend?"

"It's his choice. He can't be my boyfriend if we keep things as they are."

"Does he know that?"

"Yes. He came up with the idea, that should be your answer. I didn't ask him to do this."

"Buffy, Angel, please," Mr. Giles interrupted.

"Sorry, Giles. My point is. I'm not sure I could have even dreamt up this plan. It does make sense. He's still doing his job."

Lindsey had to admit it was interesting watching them. They had feelings for one another, that much was clear. It didn't bother him that Angel was watching out for Buffy even if she didn't think she needed the help. It should have bothered him. There was an understanding between the two, a knowledge of a world that was theirs he wasn't sure he could compete with on some level.

"I've bought a cell phone. I'm not going to carry it on me, but any one of you can leave messages for me if you must. I'll check voicemail messages on it regularly outside of work hours. That's not specific because I keep strange hours. I can't alter that. Buffy, don't email me at work unless you have to and keep it short. Not that you email me very much there, I'm just trying to think of ways to fly under the radar any way I can. Other than that, I'm out of it. It's up to Angel to do the research."

"I think it's worth a try. Buffy's right, I'm really not needed here like I was last spring. She defeated the Master. She's pretty much ready for whatever else may come by my way of thinking. Buffy and I won't be working together directly, but on a different level we will be. Two of us, fighting evil, one in LA, one in Sunnydale."

"I suppose it does have merit. Buffy could probably give you some tips, too, based on her experiences in LA."

"And think about it, I might be able to decrease some of the flow into Sunnydale from the north. Head them off at the pass as they come through LA. Ease up some of Buffy's load so she only has to deal with what goes on here."

"Yes, you have a point. All of you." Mr. Giles removed his glasses and cleaned them with a handkerchief. He didn't know Mr. Giles well, but it was a gesture he was beginning to realize was fairly commonplace. He found it kind of nice, a fatherly thing. Not that he knew anything about fathers. "Let's think on it. We can discuss it at more length tomorrow after the festivities to be sure we're all on the same page and in agreement. I don't want anyone later to indicate they felt forced or emotionally weren't up to making a sound decision. No one's going to be rushing off to LA before the holiday weekend is over anyway. Unless, Lindsey, were you staying after tomorrow?"

"As long as Buffy wants me here."

Buffy leaned over and kissed him. "Silly thing to think I wouldn't. A man says he loves a girl, she's not going to rush him out the door."

"I suppose not. I'm not exactly up on the procedures," he murmured against her lips before kissing her.

"You're not, huh?"


"Hmm," she murmured and drew away. He missed her even if she was still holding his hand. "Giles are we done here then?"

"Yes, I suppose we are. We'll meet here before your patrol tomorrow evening then. Lindsey and Angel can hash out the details while you take care of your slayer duties."

"Sounds good."

She stood from the couch and tugged on his hand.

"I guess I'll see you tomorrow."

"Good night, Lindsey. Be careful, Buffy."

"Always, Giles. Night, Angel."

"Good night," he said.

Lindsey didn't have to be a brain surgeon to know his voice sounded a little strained. Good thing he was a vamp with a soul, otherwise Lindsey imagined he'd be on the menu for Angel's snack that evening.

"Where are we going?" he asked when they got out into the courtyard?

"I don't know. Anywhere but here." She leaned into him, wrapping her arms around him. "You told me something amazing. I don't want to sit there all night talking about that stuff."

"What did you have in mind?"

"Well, we could go back to The Bronze. Or you could come patrolling with me if you want." She kissed him, lingering just long enough to make him want more. "Maybe we'll luck out and it will be a slow night."

"I'll take door number two and the possibility of alone time with you."

"Me, too. Let's go."

"Mr. Giles won't mind?"

"Won't mind what?"

"My coming with you."

"No. Willow and Xander come with me. So does Angel." She paused at his pickup truck and regarded him so intently he wondered what she was thinking. "Have you ever staked a vampire?"


"I'm surprised."

"Most of my clients are well-behaved around me, despite their demon status."

"Well, I'll give you a stake just in case, but you shouldn't need it. Just aim for the heart."

"I knew that."

"And don't hesitate. It's a vamp, the person whose body it possesses is gone. No matter what they say."

"Buffy, I'm meeting your mom tomorrow. I think I can handle holding a stake and following your lead."

She laughed then, hopefully she realized he wasn't going to do anything stupid or careless. He just liked the idea of some time with her alone over the crowd at The Bronze.

"Let's go then," she said, planting a lingering kiss on his mouth before drawing away and hopping up into the cab of his pickup truck.

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