The house was near bursting these days - and the hordes were hungry. Whenever Andrew baked, the food went in minutes if not seconds, with Molly and her followers becoming more and more cunning in their schemes to take cookies straight from the tray.
Andrew didn't mind, because he always there when they came out, but it was the Scoobies who suffered. Xander, mostly: Buffy and Spike had more important things to worry about, plus Willow nearly always made it in time (Kennedy was on the grapevine); Anya, Dawn and Mr. Giles had their respective Cheese of Death, Concoctions of Doom and peculiar British delights no one else would touch. It was Xander whose disappointed face broke Andrew's heart when he saw there was nothing left.
"I'm cutting back anyway," he'd say with a self-deprecating smile, patting his stomach like it mattered how big it was. "Only gonna get the demons, looking like this."
And so, one day, when he was trying a new muffin recipe, Andrew kept a little of the mix back, sneaking it in the oven ten minutes after the other muffins had started. The dinger dinged when the main batch was done and right on cue the potentials came running in from the outside, and from the living room, and even from the basement (though Andrew didn't know what Vi and Chao Ahn had been doing there). There were muffins for all, seconds for the greedy, and they'd all vanished (along with their eaters) by the time the second lot were done.
Right on time, Xander came in from the yard, tired from mending the fence. (Andrew had watched him from the kitchen - he'd been amazing and careful as ever.) "Oh, were there muffins?" he asked, then quirking a smile. "Guess I'm late for the Muffin Man, huh?"
"Actually, no!" As Xander's eyebrows rose Andrew turned to the oven, pulling out the extra tray with a flourish. It was a small thing he'd found down the store, with only four recesses, currently cradling four plump muffins, golden brown with blueberry blue, warm steam rising rich with that sweet, baked smell. Andrew's labour of love. "The ones in the yellow cases," Andrew explained, indicating the ones on the left, "they're regular. The ones in red cases," he indicated those on the right, "I made with low-fat ingredients, so they're totally healthy, though I'm not sure they'll taste as good."
Xander looked startled, and kind of speechless.
"I mean, if you're watching your weight," Andrew continued, putting the muffins on the counter as they grew too hot in his mitts. "I don't think you need to, but I wanted to offer you a choice in case that's what you've decided to do.
"I..." Xander began, then broke eye-contact. "Thank you," he said, as he took one of the low-fat muffins. "It's not really a weight thing," he confessed as he peeled back the case. "I have problems with food - controlling everything when the punches start rolling, you know?. If I keep to three square meals and healthy snacks then I know I'm doing something right."
Andrew nodded, taking one of the regular ones for himself. "I get that," he said. All he wanted was for Xander to be happy, even if that meant not having what Andrew would call the best muffin experience.
Xander smiled, mouth full of muffin, and they shared the silence as they ate. The kitchen, so often the scene of battle plans and imminent doom, was, for those few minutes, full of nothing but warmth and peace.