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That's New

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Dawn smiles at the lovely little dinner table. They haven't been together like this since the Sunnydale aftermath. It's slightly easier now that at least four of them are on the same continent: Dawn in Rome with her art history scholarship, Giles as the new Head of Council, Buffy teaching in Bath, and Xander, who let the sisters convince him that Rome is just as good a holiday destination as Bali. It's like old times: Giles modestly showing off his cooking talents and cracking the occasional dry joke, Xander citing all the right kinds of movies, Buffy rambling on about fashion, and herself, more or less quietly observing the picture. It feels like home, the way it did in Sunnydale when everybody used to spend most of their time at Revello Drive. Even the banter is the same, and Dawn can't help giggling exactly the way she did as a fifteen-year-old, until she sees Giles and Buffy briefly locking eyes over a successful joke of Xander's. It's not exactly different from the way she's known things to be between them, but this tiny moment seems to carry some meaning - even though the two are behaving exactly the way they're supposed to. Maybe that's it. Unfortunately, Xander is already delivering the next punchline and ignoring Dawn's attempts at silently getting his attention. It isn't until she disappears into the kitchen with a heap of dishes that she discovers Giles' hand on Buffy's knee. That's new, she smiles to herself, deliberately clinking a few plates.