Things had, as things were want to do, settled down, even for Xander and Kennedy (though both were still a bit on edge for a while). After the entire debacle in France, after the meetings with the judges and such were over, they’d been officially called back to England ‘for their protection’, which Xander translated to ‘to keep you two out of trouble and from muddying the waters’ while Kennedy translated it to mean ‘so we can keep an eye on you two’. This had suited them just fine, though if asked they would admit that a) they were doing so under duress and b) they didn’t have to like it.
As such, Xander had gone back to his job in the command center, or ‘Slayer Central’ as he liked to call it, while Kennedy went back on her general rotation. There had, naturally, been bumps in the road due to just why they had left, meaning the whole ‘Willow/Rosa’ thing, but they had been few and not nearly as severe as everyone had feared. Rosa had been dismissed and sent back to the wanded witches and wizards camp with their police, the ‘Aurors’, and a complaint made as to what had happened. From what everyone understood, screwing with someone’s mind via magic was indeed a bad crime but the method of which one did so often dictated how severe the punishment was.
There had been a few questions and some concerns over how Kennedy had reacted and, due to such concerns, there had been a request that she seek counseling to see just how far things had gone and if she needed further help. Kennedy had balked initially, saying that she was fit as a fiddle and, yes, maybe she had overreacted a bit at first, but it was what Slayers _did_, reacting. When the issue was pressed, though, she had started to become more and more stubborn about it, to the point that it had raised a few red flags with Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles. Giles had gone to her in good faith and had asked her what it would hurt to just sit down with the woman and talk, that it was not an accusation of mental instability, just concern. Kennedy had taken this slightly better and had agreed to sit down but not without some reservations. As such, she had gone to her best friend to ask him for help. Xander, being Xander, had told her that they were all a little nuts and that it didn’t hurt to talk to someone who knew what they were doing instead of them doing it the half-assed way and winging it.
“Trust me, Ken, it never ends well if you don’t do things right on occasion. Hell, I’ll even go with you to protect you from the big, mean headshrinker if that’s what it takes.”
“Sure,” he’d assured her. “But if she’s a bottle blonde and named after a motorcycle and has a thing for clowns, you’re on your own.”
As such, Kennedy and Xander had walked into the counseling session. Well, Kennedy walked. Xander limped. The woman, a professional of many years, had never dyed her hair blonde, had come to terms with her irrational hatred of clowns decades before and rode a Harley rather than having been named after one. She’d sat the pair down in her office and talked genially with them for the better part of three hours, talking about a range of topics that ran the proverbial gamut of personal history, professional history, looking at pictures, word association and generally got a quick glimpse into their minds. Naturally it was the word association that had gotten Xander into trouble, given how his brain worked in a lateral, circular and often silly ways while it had been Kennedy’s family life, structure and possible issues with non-conformity that had drawn the doctor’s attention. She’d pressed on several subjects until she got the wanted reactions out of both and had scribbled down a few things before ending the session with a smile and telling them both that she would be speaking with Mister Giles in a few days after reviewing the session about where their therapy sessions would go from there.
A few days turned into a week until Giles had called them both into his office, sitting them down in plush but sturdy chairs across his desk, a desk that, of late, had been mostly devoid of paperwork, something that was quite rare. There were jokes, of course, that he was delegating said paperwork off onto Buffy, whom had been put into a more Administrative role of late and whose desk seemed to always overflow with files, requests and other things, but nobody ever made these jokes in the presence of either Giles or Buffy, namely because they were afraid of what the senior Slayer would do if it was ever confirmed.
After an offer of tea, coffee, some biscuits (cookies), scones or a few other things to nosh on, he’d finally beaten a track around the bush enough to get to the point. “Doctor Ellis would like to see you both for a little while.”
“Hey, wait a second, I just went there to help Kennedy out, Giles.”
“I don’t need to see a shrink, Giles. I mean, come on, we’re all nuts here.”
Xander looked at Kennedy and almost pouted/whined, “That’s my line.”
“And it fits, too.” Kennedy was far too smug for her own good.
Giles held up a hand, forestalling any more complaints or questions, “Yes, I know and understand both of your concerns but she’s come to me and laid out a rather convincing case that the both of you, while functional and as sane as anyone could possibly be given our jobs and situations, could do with a… release valve of sorts. Bottling things up inside rarely ends well as I’m sure Xander can attest to.”
This had given Xander pause for a second and had allowed Giles to go on, stating that it would only be for a month or so, no more than six weeks, and it would be only a few times a week with Doctor Ellis making the trip to the base as opposed to them going to her office. Kennedy said no, that there was ‘no way in hell’ she was going to lay on the couch and talk about her parents or some inner damage to a woman who didn’t know her, and that was that. Giles had countered that if that was the position that she was going to take, she would be removed from her field duties until such point in time that she _did_ go see the woman, an act that stunned Kennedy.
“Are you blackmailing me into seeing a shrink?”
“I thought Freud’s whole catharsis thing was debunked years ago, Giles. Has that changed?” Both Giles and Kennedy both paused and looked at Xander, who shrugged and leaned back in his chair, nibbling on his scone, “What? I had a lot of time to read in Africa once things got settled down.”
After a lot of back and forth between all three parties, some negotiating and a few threats all the way around, Kennedy had agreed to go and see the shrink. Xander would go with her as part of a ‘couples’ session that would keep the cost down a little, something Giles had not thought of. There was an unintended side-effect of this tactic, though: someone had heard that they were going to ‘couples counseling’ and, when that had been heard, the rumors had kicked off full bore. Those that knew the pair knew that they were not a ‘couple’ in the romantic sense and wrote the entire thing off as the rumor mill and gossip mongers doing what they were supposed to be doing. Those that did not know them at all or very well, though, were starting to place bets on various things, like when the relationship would self-destruct and how many it would take with them.
Weeks came and weeks went, as did sessions with the shrink, and the pair got things off of their chests that had been there for a while, so long so that both had been surprised with how good it’d felt to do it. It didn’t cure them, of course, as nobody was ever really ‘cured’, but it had helped enough that Xander, after arguing with his computer, a thesaurus and two different word processing programs for the better part of six hours, had typed up a memo that all field personnel were to seek a shrink on a semi-regular basis, the apocalypse and general ‘world-endangering’ things allowing for it, of course. Of course this had gone over as well as putting a Whoopie Cushion under the Queen at a Royal function or asking the Pope ‘How’s it hanging’ but Xander had simply sat back and been quite smug about it, saying how well it had worked for him and Kennedy and positive effects were positive effects. As such, when it went before the Council and was unanimously approved, Xander was eating lunch by himself a lot for the next month when Willow and Kennedy were not around.
This, too, passed with time and things got back to what passed for normal between Xander and everyone else. That was not to say that everything was smooth, though. Kennedy had not given up on her self-imposed mission of getting him laid on a regular basis, a fact that had caused Xander to lose no small amount of sleep as she set him up with several friends and a large number of blind dates, ninety percent of which all ended poorly. When the jokes about the similarities between his and Buffy’s dating records started flying around and how maybe _they_ needed to go out, Xander rolled his eye and had made a retreat to his room with all due haste. Bad idea. This had fueled the inquest into trying to get them together, the baby Slayers and various Watchers working on Buffy while Xander’s own cadre of Slayers and Willow’s minions working on him. Things took a further trip down the tubes when someone brought up Christmas and the floating mistletoe footage was brought up, which led to Faith being brought into the entire mix.
While Buffy was willing to humor the others about this entire idea with her and Xander possibly getting together, Faith had gotten a little defensive about it. Why? She wouldn’t say and, when asked, people tended to get growled at. This attitude seemed to rub off onto Xander and he started mimicking the growls until finally, one day, Doctor Ellis asked if they wanted to talk about it.
“You know what? Fuck it. Faith, you wanna go get a beer with me or something?”
Thankfully she’d said yes to that in good faith and, after the session, they’d had a grand old time… right up until the bar brawl.
“Okay, seriously, can you at least _attempt_ to stay out of trouble?”
“This was so not my fault!” Xander defended himself while holding the ice pack against his cheek.
Kennedy’s look clearly told him she didn’t believe him.
“Chill, K. We were just shooting some stick, you know, mind our own business when these two no-neck types came up and told us our game was over. I told them to shove off, they gave me an’ X lip and then started shoving.”
“Hey, don’t be like that. They threw the first punch and both of them were on parole. We are totally guilt-free here.”
“Tell that to the bar owner that’s threatening to sue us. Jesus, Xander, you _broke_ a pool table! Do you know how hard that is?”
“Very,” he deadpanned. “Besides, it was shoddy construction work to begin with.”
This had not helped his cause any, not with the girls in regard to him being able to ditch the psychological exams and not with the judge when his involvement in Paris came to light. Xander offered to build the bar owner a new pool table when the lawsuit from that came in but everyone involved thought it best that the less he had to do with the situation, the better. As such, he was effectively grounded, him and Faith both.
“I haven’t been grounded since I was _ten_,” Faith bitched a few days later in his room, her feet up on a coffee table he’d picked up at a swap meet while her fingers flew over the controller buttons in her hand.
“Thirteen,” Xander countered as he did his best to keep his car on the road. Faith, though, was kicking his ass. Again.
On the other side of Xander, Kennedy growled something under her breath as Xander’s car clipped her rear wheel and spun her out, sending her into and then over the barricade. “Damn it, Xander!”
“What? You did the same to me.”
“Jesus, will you two get a room and fuck already?” Faith complained with a shake of her head.
“We’re already _in_ my room, remember?”
“Then what’s stopping you from taking her over to your bed, X?”
“Um, how about Willow, she’s a Slayer, she’s my best friend, her parents would choose precisely that point to show up, probably with her sister in tow…” Xander rattled off as Faith pulled ahead of him.
Kennedy rolled her eyes and shook her head, “Faith, I’ve been trying to get him laid for _months_ now. I mean, I know it’s not healthy but he’s just so damned _stubborn_ about it. Or he’s a prude.”
Faith laughed as Xander sputtered, “I am not a prude!”
“Yes, yes you are.”
“I think he’s got you on this one, Ken Doll. I mean, if half of the stories I hear from D about what Anya used to say about him are true, he’s no prude.”
“Stories?” Kennedy asked as Xander continued to sputter.
“Yeah. A real ‘Viking in the sack’, that’s what he was called,” Faith said with a grin as Xander’s cheeks, neck and ears grew red, his sputterings becoming mutterings of death threats to Dawn about telling tales that were supposed to be private. “Thousand years old from what I heard, that one, so I guess she’d know.”
Kennedy gave Xander a _look_ as he continued to mutter about punishments for Dawn, shaking her head and sighing, “Christ, Xander. This is pathetic. Are you _that_ scared of commitment or something?”
“Just who am I supposed to date, Ken Doll? Buffy? Dawn? Faith? Sorry, but I kind of like breathing. No offense, Faith."
"No big, X. I did try to strangle you, after all."
"Who does that leave? The Watcher crowd? The Slayers? Willow? You?"
“I could call Jackie. She seemed interested.” Kennedy offered with an air of nonchalance.
“Yeah, great, just what I need. Your mother asking me why I’m trying to seduce and marry _both_ of her daughters,” he grumbled.
“I’ve seen her, Xan. I wouldn’t kick her out of bed,” Faith said with a smirk. She then looked Kennedy up and down and purred, “Either of them.”
Kennedy shook her head, waving Faith off with a sigh, “Sorry, Faith, but I’m a one-woman woman. I do, though, have a prime example of manliness here that you can buy or rent from me for the princely sum of one dollar.” She made a show of showing Xander off, “He’s good with his hands, he’s a half-decent cook and, yes, he’s got a little mileage on him but you know what they say about experience.”
Xander blinked, his mind focusing on one item in particular. One dollar? “One lousy dollar? Is that all I’m worth to you?”
“Well, you do have a lot of bad habits that I haven’t been able to break so that brings down the price,” Kennedy said, shrugging.
Faith looked at Kennedy for a long second before she reached into her pants and produced a single dollar, passing it over, “Thirty days to return him, Ken Doll?”
If everyone was quite honest with themselves, it was probably the quietest and more productive month they’d had in a long time. Anything that happened between him and Faith was between them, the rumor mill had no fodder to work from and this was beginning to irritate the gossip mongers. Willow and Buffy had pressed him for information on a regular basis but were both skunked, a fact which had led them to Faith for the juicy details. Faith, though, told them and the others that their private lives were just that, private, and to kindly fuck off.
If both of them were honest with themselves, they’d have said it was one of the more successful relationships that they’d had that was not based on sex or violence.
This had led to Faith hanging around for a while and one night, with nothing happening and boredom having set in hours before, she had pulled out a deck of cards. At first it had been a friendly game of poker, nothing serious, but that had gone to penny ante stuff and, by the next time they had a semi-regular game, stakes had been put up. Xander, Kennedy and Faith were the only three constant players, others coming and going as they had time off, but they were having fun. One night, though, Kennedy was running a bit short and had scrawled an IOU onto a slip of paper. This act gave Faith an idea.
“Yeah. You win the slip and you get to cash it in any time you want as long as the world isn’t ending.” Faith explained with a smirk.
“I think there should be limits on this, Faith. If the person says no, it’s no and you have to live with it.”
“What’s the matter, Xan? Afraid I’m gonna make you dress up in a French Maid’s outfit or something?”
“It’s the ‘or something’ that worries me.” Xander deadpanned.
“Don’t worry, Xander. I’ll make sure that your honor and virtue are protected.” Kennedy told him, patting him on the arm. “So, one IOU… a day as a servant. Nothing icky, no costumes, but for twenty four hours the one that cashes in this IOU has someone to wait on them hand and foot.”
“Alright, bet accepted. Faith?”
“Deal. I hope you like calling me ‘Mistress’, Xan.”
“You make it sound like you’ve already won, Faith. What have you got?”
“Three kings and a great pair,” Faith said, laying her cards down and then bouncing her chest at them. “Kay?”
“Two pair,” Kennedy grumbled, showing a pair of eights and threes.
Xander smirked and simply laid down a full house, Jacks over fours.
“Aw, don’t be like that, Ken Doll. I’ll make sure to not give you too much bad stuff to do.”
Kennedy glared at Xander. Clearly the challenge was accepted as their time was up.
The IOU made the rounds over the next four games, rarely staying in one person’s possession for too long. Kennedy had won it back the very next game and kept it for a whole week before losing it to Faith, who had paraded it around for two weeks before it went to Xander, who lost it back to Faith nearly as quickly as he’d gotten it, only to get it back by the end of the session. Finally, though, it ended back up in Kennedy’s possession as the ‘Apocalypse season’ began, putting the kibosh on their regular games.
(Four months later. Breakfast)
Her plan had been flawless. The ‘apocalypse season’ had ended, the world was still spinning and, for once, she wasn’t on the mend. As such, she was back at the castle, ready to enjoy a perfect breakfast made by one of the Slayers they had picked up (an older one from France named Jeanne, a culinary aficionado that had quickly worked her way into the good graces of everyone). Xander had stumbled down from the command center in search of coffee like Willow would only he was slightly less with it.
Phase one of her plan… initiated.
She smiled at him and handed him a slip of paper. Everyone around suddenly quieted.
Xander looked at the paper blearily for a long second before he looked up at her and narrowed his eye a bit, squinting.
This was where her ‘flawless plan’ went off the rails.
“Are you sure about this, Kennedy? I’ve been up for almost two days now and I’m not in the mood to do much of anything, let alone _this_.”
Kennedy’s smile faltered a little. This was true; he _had_ been running Ops for two days straight now… “Well, you can get something to eat and go get some sleep, then. After that… your ass is _mine_ for twenty four hours.”
“Sixteen,” he corrected her instantly.
“You turned it in already, so it starts now. If I get my full eight, you’ll get only sixteen hours of unending servitude from me.”
Kennedy growled to herself and didn’t pick up on the sudden flurry of whispers around her. Damn it! This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. “Alright, fine. You get some chow and hit the sack. I’ll get you up later on, okay?”
A slow, slightly evil smile started to play across Xander’s lips and Kennedy was instantly on guard. What was he planning? Had she walked into a trap of some kind? He bowed to her semi-stiffly and replied, “As you wish.”
Kennedy blinked at the response. Why did it sound so familiar? …And why were the Slayers whispering around her?
Xander smiled at Jeanne as she handed him a plate of ‘barbarian food’, ham, eggs, bacon, biscuits, toast, hash browns and, as a concession to the girls about needing to eat something a little more healthy and stuff, grilled mushrooms, thanking her before he went for his coffee. The entire situation was still working around in his exhausted mind but, somewhere, the line had come up instantly and his sleep-deprived mind-to-mouth filter hadn’t caught up with it until it was out of his mouth.
‘Still, it has merit,’ he mused as he sat next to Kennedy and began to eat. So, he was essentially Kennedy’s manservant for the day (after he got some sleep, otherwise he wouldn’t be of any use to anyone, let alone her). If she wanted to play… he could play. In fact, he could play by her rules and _still_ win.
His fork intercepted hers as she went for a mushroom, “Don’t start something you can’t finish, Ken Doll.”
“The sun hasn’t risen on the day that that’ll happen, Xan. If I want something, I get it. Now gimme the mushroom,” she said with a little bit too much grouchiness in her tone.
‘Well, let’s fix that, shall we?’ “As you wish,” he said and then fed her the mushroom. She gave him a very weird look while the other Slayers around them snickered and giggled and whispered. ‘Xander 2, Kennedy 0,’ he thought with a smirk before he went back to eating. Oddly enough, Kennedy didn’t try for his mushrooms again.
(Exercise room, nine hours later)
‘Xander 12, Kennedy -2,’ Faith thought with a chuckle as Ken Doll played into X’s hands _again_. After breakfast, a show that she’d missed because she’d been sacked out but had heard several versions of, X had gone off to sleep and Kennedy had basically done this, that and the other to amuse herself until it was time to get him up out of bed. Several Slayers, herself included, had gone to see this spectacle because X, more often than not, didn’t wake up well at all, especially when a bucket of water like the one in Kennedy’s hand was used.
Xander, though, had already been awake by the time that she’d gotten through the last lock on his door, thus ruining the fun for everyone that had come to watch.
It had started out with a general spar, something to get them both loose. Kennedy used what had been termed the ‘Slayer style’, which was a mishmash of different things. Xander, though, was using what had been called the ‘Jackie Chan Style’, meaning that he did whatever he could to save his ass and, to those whom were watching, it looked like Chan at his best.
After a bit, though, Kennedy had started to get a little cocky and had charged Xander. Xander, though, wasn’t going to play her game and had spun out of the way once, twice and then three times. On the fourth time, though, he had added something a little special.
This had caught everyone’s attention and had caught on to the point that the baby Slayers were chanting it with him, which had the proportional effect of pissing Kennedy off.
"Damn it, stand still!"
Xander winced. "As you wish." His head rocked back, and Kennedy's jaw dropped with him.
"What the hell did you do that for, you jackass?!"
"You told him to, Ken Doll. Yo, X, you alright? How many fingers am I holding up?"
Faith sighed and shook her head, muttering, "Hell of a way to score a point, X."
Xander, though, seemed to snap back into it a few seconds later and replied, "A deal's a deal, Faith. Ow."
Kennedy sighed herself and sat next to them, relieved that he was alright, but then frowned and looked at Faith, “Point? What point?”
“Scoring system, Ken. Since you two came in here, he’s up twelve to negative two.”
“…Do what? How come I have negative numbers?!”
“Well, the first time was when you went to dump him on his ass with that leg sweep and he reversed it and put you on your face,” Faith told her, ticking one finger off. “The second time was when he did the ‘ole’’ thing and swatted you on the ass so hard his hand stung and you howled.”
Kennedy glared alternately at her and him for a second before she growled, “I didn’t howl. It was a yelp.”
“Sure, sure, keep tellin’ yerself that,” Faith said, flipping her hand at Kennedy.
“How did he get twelve, anyway?”
"You really don't know? Eh, I'll let you figure it out."
"Xander, tell me what she's talking about."
"As you wish," he said, a manic grin breaking through the slightly-concussed fugue on his face.
Kennedy waited for more, then narrowed her eyes and growled.
“What? I _did_ tell you what she was talking about.”
“No you didn’t! You just said ‘as you wish’. And why are you saying that, anyway?”
“Because I live to serve you, m’lady.”
Kennedy growled at him again and Faith laughed. God, this was too much… “Chill, Ken Doll. You know one of his favorite lines; if you’ve gotta explain the joke, there _IS_ no joke. Use your noodle.”
Kennedy sighed and helped Xander to his feet, steadying him as he wobbled dangerously. “What are you doing here, Faith? Aren’t you on medical leave?”
“Well, yeah, I am, but I came to find you because your folks are here."
"What?" Kennedy asked.
"Your folks are here. They've been watching from just over there the whole time."
Kennedy frowned, stifling a panic attack... then paused and wondered why Xander had suddenly gone pale. It wasn't like they hadn't cleared things up with her folks. It wasn't as if 'as you wish" meant... ‘Oh.’ “Um, can you tell me we’re… unavailable? Like, out of the country or something?”
“No can do, girly. They know you’re here, bribed Red to tell them when you wouldn’t be going anywhere, either of you.”
‘That traitorous bitch!’ Xander thought suddenly, all of the pieces falling into place. This had to be Willow’s way of getting even with the both of them for that practical joke they’d played on her with the chocolate frogs in her underwear drawer. “I suggest we run. Very, very, fast.”
“That won’t work, Xander.”
“Fine, then I’ll run and you go meet them.”
Kennedy grabbed him by the arm with a growl of, “Oh, no you don’t, buster. We’re in this together.”
“Do we have to be? Can’t you just say that you caught me in the middle of a compromising position with Faith or something? It wouldn’t actually be a lie, you know.”
“I asked her to join in, remember, X?” Faith chipped in with a smirk.
Kennedy’s cheeks heated up at the memory of that particular accident. She now knocked _every_ time she went to Xander’s door. “We’re going, Xander.”
“There is no need, honey.”
Xander briefly considered the option of grabbing Kennedy, throwing her at the voice and running for his life. He did not _need_ this! Being Kennedy’s man-servant for the day was bad enough…
“Hiya, sis!” Jackie walked up out of his blindside and hugged Kennedy. Damn it. That avenue of escape was out. Maybe if-
“Alexander,” Michael said as he walked up on Xander’s other flank, effectively boxing him in. “It’s good to see you again. Have you been treating my little girl well?”
“Actually, no I haven’t, Mister Ford. I’ve been horribly abusing her today, throwing her around like a ragdoll. I’m afraid that you cannot allow me near her again.” It was worth a shot…
“Oh, posh. Kennedy is a big girl and can take care of herself. If worse comes to worst, she can always slit your throat while you sleep.”
“With in-laws like that, X, are you sure you wanna marry in?” Faith asked slyly, her smirk as shit-eating as could possibly be without her breath smelling of it.
“I don’t know, Faith. Are you offering an alternative?” This seemed to put Faith on the spot and fluster her, bringing the same smirk to Xander’s lips. Good. While he could win very easily with Kennedy and the others, Faith always proved to be more of a challenge.
“Oh, none of that, Xander,” Louise admonished him gently as she came from behind him and stood with her husband. “Every relationship comes into rough patches. Why, just last week I was quite ready to cut Michael’s throat after he nearly forgot out anniversary.”
“I didn’t forget it, dear. If you’ll recall, I said that I had business to conduct and would not be able to have dinner with you,” Michael defended himself.
“Um, I thought your anniversary was, like, in July.”
“Our _wedding_ anniversary is,” Louise said pointedly. “There are more than one important dates in a relationship, after all. First meeting, first date, first kiss… many firsts,” she said with a smile and a wiggled eyebrow at him.
“Oh, ewwwww,” both Jackie and Kennedy whined as one.
Louise gave her girls a look that clearly said ‘grow up’ while Michael chuckled. “Xander, why don’t you and Kennedy go get dressed and join us for dinner. I’d love to talk with you about a few things, as I’m sure Michael would as well.”
Before Xander could answer, Kennedy stepped in and shook her head, “I don’t think that’s a good idea, mom. Xander’s just pulled a two day stint in Ops and he’s exhausted.”
“Not too exhausted to goad you into an unthinking fury, Kennedy. What would First Sergeant Thomas say if he saw you being so easily manipulated and outmaneuvered?”
Kennedy growled at this under her breath and was considering matricide for a split second before it occurred to her that this would be the perfect time for her and Xander to set the record straight. Turning, she looked at Xander, grunting, “Go get cleaned up, okay? You stink.”
The look he sent back to her clearly said she was no bed of roses herself but he then bowed a little and said, “As you wish.”
‘You bastard,’ Kennedy thought as she saw her sister smirk and saw her father’s eyebrow hike up. He did it on purpose. He had to have.
“I have to say, sister, that you have him so very well-trained,” Jackie said smoothly. “And he appreciates the classics, too. He might just be the perfect man.”
“What are you talking about?”
Jackie blinked and looked at her for a second before she asked, “You mean to tell me that you _don’t_ recognize the line? It’s possibly the second or third most famous line of the movie.”
“Movie? What mov-“ Kennedy froze as it all finally clicked. ‘You _RAT_ _BASTARD_!’ She was going to kill him. Oh, yes, she was going to take her time and slowly torture him to death for this…
(The Gilded Crow)
In all honesty, things probably could have gone better; the dinner had started off nicely enough, polite conversation going back and forth between parents and children, Xander getting the occasional glare from Kennedy about what he’d been doing all day, Michael and Louise making the occasional small talk with Xander about this, that and the other, ‘getting to know him’ as they called it, and Jackie occasionally sniping at her sister’s obliviousness. It was during the main course, though, that Kennedy decided to drop the bomb.
“Mom, dad, Xander and I are best friends and we love each other very much… but we’re not getting married.”
The night took a very decided downturn then, like someone finding a turd in the punchbowl, when Kennedy went on to explain in great detail on just what had happened to start this entire sordid mess, finishing with, “This was all one colossal screw up, mom, dad.”
Louise and Michael looked at each other for a long second before Michael got up and went to the bar. Xander, after looking at the three women, decided to join him. Five feet away from it, the arguing started.
“I’m sorry. We’ve tried for the better part of six months to get you straight on this but… well, shit happens.” Xander said as the bartender worked on Michael’s drink.
“Oh, I know it does. It seems perfectly reasonable in retrospect but… you have to understand, Xander, that we have been looking forwards to this day for months now. Even the staff at the house has, ever since Consuela overheard you and Kennedy talking in the kitchen,” Michael said quietly.
Xander motioned the bartender for one of his own, sighing, “Like I said, I’m sorry.”
“Are you sure there isn’t any way that you and Kennedy could come to an agreement?” Michael asked hopefully. “Maybe not anything permanent but… something that lasts long enough so that Louise can get this wedding bug out of her system.”
“Considering that Willow and Kennedy are just really getting back on even keel terms, I’m not going to suggest or do anything that’ll fuck that up,” Xander said bluntly as he paid the bartender and took his drink. “Besides, she can do a hell of a lot better than me. I’ve got a few too many miles on me and enough problems to keep me on Doctor Phil’s couch for a long time.”
“Everyone deserves to be happy, Xander.”
“I was, once. I screwed it up and now she’s dead. Willow and Kennedy make each other happy, though, so good luck to them.”
“Indeed,” Michael said, holding his glass up. Xander tapped his to Michael’s and they both quaffed their drinks as Kennedy’s, Jackie’s and Louise’s voices all rose to a crescendo.
“No. _I_ _WISH_-“
“Gimme another,” Xander told the bartender quickly. This could not end well.
The End… ?
AN: Am I evil? Well, yes. I’m an author; it’s part of the job description (one of the parts I like the best, actually). What do you think? Reviews and constructive criticism, please. And before you ask, there is a _possible_ sequel to this in the works. Right now there are too many holes in the plot and developing idea to say if it is viable or not. Or I might just leave this here on its own. Keep that in mind.