"Of course." Spike held out his mug and watched her drop a handful into his hot chocolate. He took a sip and smiled. "Almost as good," he said.
"Nobody's is as good." Dawn sipped the creamy liquid, leaving a foamy mustache on her upper lip. Spike wiped her mouth with a napkin. Dawn giggled. "Mom used to do that."
"She was always ready for a cuppa, or a good long talk. Miss that."
"She liked you." She smiled as Spike raised his eyebrow. "No, really. She said she'd wished you were human, because she liked you better than any of Buffy's boyfriends. You talked to her, treated her like she mattered to you. She never got over the vampire thing, though."
"You wouldn't know it," he replied, "the way she treated me. Always like a man. Always like a friend. She was a good woman."
"She was the best mom. I wish I'd let her know it more." She fought the tears stinging the back of her eyelids. She'd sworn she wouldn't cry.
"She knew how you loved her, Bit." He placed his hand on hers. "Never doubt it." He raised his mug in the air. "Here's to Joyce."
"Here's to Mom." They sipped their chocolate in unison.
The kitchen door swung open, and Buffy stepped inside. "Hey guys," she asked, "whatca doing?" She reached her arms over Spike's shoulders and hugged him from behind. He caught her hand in his and brought it to his lips.
"Raisin' a cup to your Mom, love," he answered.
"It's a year today," Dawn added.
"I know," Buffy said. "I was at the cemetery. Left her some roses. She loved roses." She went to the cupboard and picked out a mug, filled it with hot chocolate from the stove, and sat between the two at the kitchen table. "Who would have thought, even a month ago, that we'd be together here today? She'd be happy. For all of us."
"She wasn't too happy with me. Not after what I did." Spike stirred his chocolate with his spoon. "She never forgave me."
"She would have," Buffy replied tenderly. "In time. And she would have understood, the way we are now."
"You sure, pet?"
"Mom said something to me once, when she and dad split up, and I was so afraid. She said, 'Don't worry, Buffy. There are all kinds of families.'" Buffy grasped Dawn's hand with her right, and Spike's with her left. "All kinds of families."