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"The Aretha Factor"

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Buffy walks in the door, pleased to see flowers on the table for her mom. She taunts her, "hey flower gettin lady!" but, feeling generous and all world-loving, she also offers to pick up Dawn from school. "Mom? Mom?" she calls out, wondering what on earth has gotten into her mother, who would usually, in a sad but lovable grown up type of way, be reading and re-reading the sweet card that came with the flowers. "Oh Buffy, I'm here," she called from the couch, "I'm just taking a nap. I'm not feeling great today, and I think I need some new medicine."
"Medicine? Medicine, of course, medicine. Pharmacy. Now."
"No, not the pharmacy," Joyce smiled. "But I do need you to go pick up Dawn from school. Tell her tonight's family night."
"You are hiding something, and I'm not sure I like it. I'll go get Dawn, but tell me, why have you not poured over your love note?"
"Oh Buffy, I'm not going to explain myself until Dawn's home."

Dawn was just as miffed. "Mom has a secret? What kind of crazy person keeps a secret at a time like this? And she's talking about some weird medicine? Buffy, is she okay?"
"I don't know, Dawnie. All I know is that it involves the two of us, and she seemed excited."
"Okay. It's not like I had plans tonight anyway. Except that maybe I was gonna call Tara and tell her about how they're teaching history totally wrong at my school, and how I said I know someone who seriously knows, like, everything, and she could come in as a guest speaker.
"I'm sure you'll have time to call Tara. Let's just get home."

When the girls got home, they heard unfamiliar sounds. Something they'd never heard on Ravelo drive…something different from anything they were prepared to deal with. It was Aretha. Buffy's eyes widened. Dawn squealed and ran into the kitchen. "Mom! Is this going to be like the Felicity episode? Can we all go to a bar and talk about how we don't need men? Can I invite Tara? I'm going to invite Tara to my school!" Joyce looked confused, "what Felicity episode? Dawn, what are you talking about? We're just having family night, because I have decided that we have all been through a lot these past few months, and we deserve a night to celebrate each other. Aretha is just the ticket." Buffy hugged her mom, but then added, "I'm all for the night of family bonding, but Dawn kind of has a point. Should we call Tara and Willow, and Xander and Anya? I mean, if we're talking about people who need a break, I think they all count. And Dawn was planning on hanging with Tara tonight anyway, if only on her creepy internet phone…"
"Hey!"
"You know what, that sounds nice. Call the gang. Just one rule: no monsters."
"I hear ya." Buffy called Tara, who said she and Willow would be over soon, although she sounded quite nervous at the prospect of talking to a classroom full of 13 year olds in the abstract future. Dawn called Xander, but got Anya. "Little lady, I have to tell you. What you're talking about sounds like a ladies' night. I've seen them on TV. On Felicity, in fact, as well as many other various lady-centered show. And so I think Xander is the wrong person for the job. I, however, will be there with cocktail recipes, and…well, price tag stickers for you to play with. See you soon!"

"All things considered, it was a pretty great night," Dawn wrote in her journal when everyone had gone home. "Except for that part where Anya tried to teach us all the 'ladies' night' dance. I wonder if that's what she meant when she joked about having a tendency to make bad decisions when drunk…"