2 / ?
“Nice place,” Xander said quietly as the SUV that had been sent to pick them up pulled into the estate.
“Yeah, it is. Before they got divorced, mom liked this place for a summer home because dad couldn’t stand it.”
“Then how did he get it in the divorce agreement?”
“Because mom liked the house in the Hamptons even more,” Kennedy said drily. “I think the lawyers were in collusion the entire time. So did dad’s.
“You know, that brings up something. You’ve never actually told me what their names are.”
Kennedy’s cheeks tinged a bit as she shrugged. “Well, it’s never really come up, has it?”
“Stop stalling, Ken Doll.”
Kennedy elbowed him as she noticed the driver look up in the rearview mirror almost suspiciously.
“Alright, ow,” Xander grumbled. “You’re not too powerful or old for me to take over my knee right here and now, little missy.”
Kennedy snorted, knowing that he would take her over his knee. He’d done it before to other unruly Slayers, either in private or in public, and he wouldn’t give ‘nice’ spankings, either. He tended to not do it anymore, though, not after that one Slayer _really_ started liking it and had tried to goad him into doing it all of the time… “Their names are Louise and Michael, Xander. She’s my step-mother and he’s… he’s dad.”
“Cool. Anyone else I need to be aware of? Insanely over-protective brothers? Cute-as-a-button sisters that are waiting to sink knives or other sharp objects into me? That crazy black sheep of an uncle that nobody talks about at the dinner table?”
Kennedy was fighting off smiles as Xander tried to put her at ease and shook her head, “No to the brothers, yes to the sister but she’s only my half-sister and isn’t always that bad. As for my uncles… well, they _do_ sometimes show up but I’d hardly call them ‘black sheep’ or anything.”
The SUV continued its way through the estate, passing by a horse barn, a pool, a tennis court, what looked to be a fair-sized hedge maze and then they approached the house. In times past, Xander would have been intimidated by the glitz and glamour of the house, of how it screamed ‘WE/I HAVE MONEY! BOW, PLEBEIANS’, but after a few trips to the White House, having stayed in the Slayer HQ, set up his own place in Africa and been gods only knew how many other places around the world, to Xander it was just another place. Nicer than some, yes, but just another place. To Kennedy, though, it was home. As such, he’d behave himself and not cannonball into the pool like a six year-old and chase her around with a squirt gun.
Kennedy squeezed his hand a bit and he could feel the tremble in her grip. He squeezed back and she calmed down almost instantly. He was there. She was there. They were going to confront her parents about a very mistaken assumption they’d made and it was all going to be fine. What could possibly go wrong?
“What do you _MEAN_ I can’t leave yet?!”
“I take it the shiver I just felt was a bad thing?”
“I have felt a disturbance in the Force, Xander.”
“And you have the gall to call _me_ a geek?” She elbowed him and he grunted at the sharpness of her elbows. “Ow. Alright, alright, jeez, I get it. What’s wrong?”
“I just had one of those feelings, you know? The ones you say we shouldn’t ignore? Like when someone’s doing the Hustle on your grave?”
Xander grimaced. THAT feeling never ended well for anyone. “Are you sure it was the Hustle and not the Funky Chicken or the Electric Slide?” Kennedy glared at him and Xander groaned before he looked in the back of the SUV. Their weapons were still there and within arm’s reach. Good.
They pulled around to the front of the main house and the driver got out and opened Kennedy’s door for her. Xander shrugged and got out behind her as the door opened and two figures walked out. The elder one was a man with salt and pepper hair, a slightly weathered face and generally a business casual appearance but his eyes were what caught Xander’s attention. They held humor, intelligence, cunning and more than a little happiness as he approached Kennedy and enveloped her into a hug, saying something to her in a language that Xander didn’t quite catch. The woman who joined the hug was about Kennedy’s height, had dark hair and an almost olive complexion. She was a little less athletic than Kennedy but Xander could tell she was one of those types that tried to take care of herself. Xander could tell by the embrace that all three were close, regardless of the fact that the females were not blood relatives to one another and, in a way, he was a little sad and bitter because of it. They were a happy family, though, and he wasn’t going to become mister grumpy because his hadn’t been.
“So, Kennedy, this must be the ‘soul mate’ you were talking about,” the man said after letting Kennedy go and turning to Xander. In an instant Xander felt that he had been scanned, categorized, assessed and otherwise filleted by someone who was used to doing such a thing. Arching an eyebrow, he gave the man the exact same look, an act which brought a smile to his lips and his hand out in greeting, “Greetings, young man. I’m Kennedy’s father, Michael.”
“Mister Ford,” Xander said in return, gripping the man’s hand and squeezing it in the middle of a pump.
Michael’s eyes widened a bit at the strength behind the grip but he nodded. “A strong grip. I like that. It tells me you’re a man who likes to work with his hands, that you’re an honest man. Just what my little girl needs.”
Xander smirked a little at Kennedy’s squeal of outrage and mortification at her father’s words. Oh, he could use this… but not right now.
“Yes, Pumpkin? Is something wrong?”
Kennedy gave her father a light glare but nothing more as she knew that it would only serve to goad the man on. He loved to embarrass her in front of her friends, as he always had, if he didn’t care if she played right into his hands. It was a game they played and, sadly, she was far behind in the score. Very far behind. “Nothing, dad. Xander, I’d like to introduce to you my step-mother, Louise Ford.”
Xander bowed to the woman and took her hand, kissing it on the back, “Enchanted, Madame.”
Louise smiled, her eyes glittering with amusement. “Mmmm, I like him, Kennedy. I might even trade up for the younger model if he’s already this well-trained.”
Kennedy rolled her eyes and hissed, “Mother. Please. And you, Xander, stop flirting with her. She’s _happily_ married.”
“Oh, alright, Ken Doll. If you insist,” Xander grumbled good-naturedly as Louise laughed and leaned into Michael’s hug. He looked around at the place and nodded appreciatively, “Nice place. Very nicely constructed, too.”
“We like it,” Louise said with a smile while Michael shook his head and mouthed ‘I don’t’. “Kennedy tells me that you were a construction foreman.”
“I was. Still am, technically, but these days I do things that only require me to stare at pieces of paper or a computer screen and have no peripheral vision,” he said with a shrug.
“Do you miss it?”
“Sometimes,” Xander allowed. “Sometimes not. I do important work now, so those days are pretty much behind me now.”
“Maybe, maybe not,” Michael said with a smile. “There are always things being destroyed and new things needing to be built and finding a good man who can keep a project on time and near the budget is very difficult.”
“Believe me, I know. I remember the first day on the job as a foreman. We were three weeks behind and nearly a million dollars over budget and I was told that if we didn’t trim the fat and get back on time, it’d be my ba… um… certain parts of my anatomy on the block,” Xander said, blushing a bit as he caught himself from saying something very coarse in front of Louise.
“I’ve heard worse in my years, Xander,” the woman said with a kind smile. “So, before we all get burnt out here, why don’t we go inside? We can talk about how it is that you swept our daughter off of her feet and just when the wedding is.”
Xander’s smile was a little forced and Kennedy’s face went pale.
A half-hour later the quartet were out on the sundeck of the house, sitting around a table that was laden with snacks, drinks, and freshly cut flowers. Xander had, naturally, taken their bags to their rooms, an act which had surprised the staff. He noticed that his room was adjoined to Kennedy’s and wasn’t exactly small; four bay windows, a fireplace, a four-poster bed, an armoire and a nice rug filled the room, as did the scent of cedar. It made him feel at peace for a few minutes before he put the weapons case on his bed and opened, pulling Kennedy’s kit out and leaving it on her side of the door. She’d packed light with just a standard vampire kit, her pistols (a pair of H&K USP target pistols that could be converted from their normal .22LR to a heftier .40 S&W with only a few minutes of work), and her ‘favorite’ axe. He’d brought his own standard kit along, one bolstered by a pump-action 12 gauge shotgun (currently disassembled), an old Webley service revolver (.455 Webley) he’d picked up somewhere on his African sojourn, and an assortment of daggers. At the bottom of his case, though, he found a ‘surprise’; his whip. More precisely, the whip he’d worn with his costume. With it was a note from Willow, ‘Don’t forget your fedora, Doctor!’.
He hadn’t forgotten his fedora, of course, and he had worn it down to the sundeck. Both Michael and Louise blinked at his arrival but Kennedy had groaned and told them that it was an inside joke that Willow had continued to keep going long past the point of being funny.
They’d made polite conversation for the next twenty minutes or so, chatting about this and that, what Kennedy had been doing, what the family had been doing, what Xander had been doing, but finally it was Louise who broke first. “So, Xander, what was it that first attracted you to our daughter? She’s told us a great deal about you in her letters, naturally, but never once did she mention you were her soul mate.”
Louise, it appeared, had the Devil’s own timing as Xander had been enjoying a sip of his tea when she had asked her question. He was shocked, very shocked, and had then tried to breathe the tea. The human body, after birth, was not geared to take oxygen from liquids and, as such, he began to gag. Worse, the tea was hot, so it _really_ hurt.
Kennedy grabbed the tea cup before it hit the ground, thankfully, and began to smack Xander on his back to help him clear his lungs. “Xander? Are you alright?”
“Peachy,” he wheezed a few minutes later, his lungs aching, his throat sore and his eye water. “Not quite… keen yet.”
Michael looked at Louise and asked, quite mildly, “Are you trying to kill him, dear? If so, there are easier ways to accomplish that goal.”
Louise rolled her eyes and shook her head, “Not at all, Michael. Besides, I wouldn’t do that to Kennedy.”
“Look, this has all been one big misunder-“ Kennedy started to say when the French doors to the sundeck swung open in a rather dramatic fashion and a woman in traditional jumping clothing walked in.
“You know, I had heard a rather nasty rumor that my dear half-sister had come to visit and had _somehow_ forgotten to come by a visit her sister. I know that this is just a slanderous rumor, though.”
Xander’s vision had cleared enough for him to take in the new arrival and, quite honestly, he was stunned. It was… uncanny, really. “Um, Ken? Are your parents involved in some kind of secret, illegal cloning project or something?”
Kennedy’s swat to his arm was the only reply she needed to give.
The young woman smirked a little and walked towards them, pausing to hug her mother and father, before she came to a halt in front of him. Like her father, the look she gave him was a quick assessment and categorization, but it lacked the… refined nature of Michael’s. She then nodded and looked at Kennedy, her mask breaking a bit as she grinned, “He’s cute, sister mine. Have you learned to share yet?”
Kennedy’s face exploded into a blush. “Jackie!”
“Yes?” The now-named ‘Jackie’ asked quite innocently.
“Alexander, may I introduce to you my daughter and Kennedy’s half-sister, Jacqueline Ford,” Michael said with a sigh, as if the antics were not anything new. “Jackie, I’d like to introduce you to Alexander Harris.”
“Charmed, Alexander,” she said quite airily as Xander stood up and took her hand. Her grip was strong, surprisingly so, he noted. She then looked him up and down again and smirked, “I see the fedora and the rest of the outfit, but not the whip. Does Kennedy still keep her toys locked up when they are not in use?”
“Xander, please, and as to the outfit… well, it was someone’s idea of a bad joke,” he said somewhat lamely as she squeezed his hand a bit. He squeezed back and she hissed a little, so he let off, “As for Kennedy’s toys… that depends. I can remember a few times I’ve nearly broken my neck because she didn’t remember to clean up after herself when I had to go fix something.”
This comment raised a few eyebrows. “Fix something?”
“Yeah. Headboards, drawers, doors, you know, general handyman stuff. She can be a little hard on things if she’s not careful.” He grunted when Kennedy swatted him on the shoulder. “Like me, for example.”
“Oh, that isn’t anything new,” Jackie said with a smile as she removed her gloves and sat with them at Louise’s insistence. “Why, I remember when she was thirteen and she got this new toy. She broke it within hours.”
Xander was sure that he was missing something when Kennedy’s cheeks again lit up. When he looked at her for an explanation, though, she gave him a shake of her head and said ‘later’. “Al…righty, um, look, I think that there’s been a very big misunderstanding here about something. Kennedy and I, we’re-“
“Yes, yes, we know,” Michael said, waving it off as if it was nothing. “There’s no need to try and explain yourself to us. You love whom you love.”
Kennedy sighed and shook her head, pinching the bridge of her nose, “Daddy, please, let us explain.”
“What is there to explain? I mean, yes, he is a little older than you are, but I was nearly ten years your mother’s senior when we married,” Michael said with a shrug.
“And he’s nearly twenty mine,” Louise pointed out. “So what are a few years between lovers and soul mates?”
“Could we not use that term? Please?” Xander asked, trying not to sound plaintive.
“What’s the matter with it?”
“The last time someone used that around me, he went off the deep end and nearly ended up killing us all. He somehow got a reprieve, twice, and he keeps his distance from me at all costs now.”
“Who wouldn’t? The last time you two were in the same room with one another, you shot him. Twice,” Kennedy pointed out.
“Only a little. They were… flesh wounds,” Xander defended himself. Alright on a human they would have been mortal, but Angel was already dead and, thus, they were flesh wounds. Besides, it wasn’t as if he’d NEEDED those lungs.
Anything else that was going to be said was interrupted when a flash of light and a crack of thunder filled the sundeck. Regardless of the fact that they knew who it was, Xander and Kennedy stood and went for their weapons, putting themselves between the trio and the source of the sound and light. Michael and Louise, stunned, sat there as a two pairs of daggers seemingly appeared out of nowhere while Jackie stepped around Xander’s side and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him.
Willow blinked as she saw the four daggers and nine eyes locked on her. Smiling, she waved a little, “Um… hi?”
“Willow? What are you…” Kennedy stopped herself and shook her head. That was right. She’d said she was going to show up. “Good, you’re here and we can clear all of this up right now.”
“Um, actually, we can’t. Big, big problems in Chicago. We’ve got to be there, like _now_. Bye!” Reaching out, she grabbed Xander and Kennedy by their shirts and, with another flash of light and a crack of thunder, they were gone.
Silence reigned for several seconds before Michael shook his head and reached for his tea again. “She certainly knows how to make an entrance and an exit.”
“Indeed,” Louise allowed. “I wonder how much longer Alexander is going to try and keep acting like we should know nothing about the supernatural, husband.”
“I’m not sure, dear, but it will be fun to watch. I mean, really, with our daughter as a _found_ Potential, you’d think he’d know better than to try that with us.”
AN: Michael Ford, played by Andrew J. Robinson (Garak from DS9) and Louise Ford, played by Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi from TNG and Demona from Gargoyles). Yes, Trekkies abound and I’m lazy. Deal with it. And yes, the Slayer that likes spankings might be named 'Janice'. If you've read Nighthawk Chron's, she's known to you and used with permission. Reviews, please.