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Manhattan, N. Y.
"...and don't let the door hit you in the ass...," Tony put his hand on Phil's shoulder, he whispered in a fake loud voice, "You can stay Phil. We like you..." Phil gave him a Xander look, it made Tony add, "okay, Pepper likes you, I just tolerate you."
"At least the last part was honest." Phil smirked.
“You know what Phil, lately you’ve grown on me. A lot like a fungus realyy. I’m moving you up to acquaintance level.” Tony’s mock seriousness made Phil smile. Truth to tell Tony had been warming up more often to the super agent lately. Ever since he merged with Xander back on the Helicarrier, during the thing with ‘Bad Loki’ Tony had upgraded Phil’s status to that of a friend worthy of quipping with, and it didn’t hurt that Phil had that straight man humor that worked so well with his, “Did he? Yes he did. He just gave me the finger. The bastard, and in my own home too.”
“Thank you Mr. Stark. I believe he did, but you don’t have to put yourself out on my account. Tolerable is just fine.” The new ever present smirk was there.
“Nah. I’m afraid I couldn’t invite someone to my wedding if I had to tolerate him, acquaintance it is. See my secretary on the way out.” Tony gave him a pat on the back to send him on his way.
Phil didn’t budge. Fury may not have been welcomed here, but he was, by most of the guys and gals that made up the roster of the Avengers, “Isn’t JARVIS doubling as your P.A. these days, the last I heard from Ms. Pots was that no one human would take on the job anymore. Why the suicide rate alone...”
“I’m ignoring you...” Tony put his fingers in his ears and, “ La la la la...” he left Phil and went to find Pepper. Being with someone he loved was a lot better than being with someone he barely tolerated. ‘Yep. He’s demoted to tolerate again. Where's Pepper when I really need her? I sure could use some of that Pepper lovin' time.'
Meanwhile across the room a different kind of conversation was taking place. A conversation between two people, that was quickly escalating to into an argument. Scott Summers was not in a reasonable mood to compromise. Xander had tried to reason with the man, but he was rapidly losing patience.
“I demand that you and your...” he waved his hand at the Avengers.
“Oh my god Scott. Would you just stop with the demands?” Alex grabbed Scott by the elbow, to get him away from Xander and cousin Buffy, before either Buffy or Xander buried sharp pointy things in Scott’s ass. He wanted to go out there and rescue his dad too, but from what he saw, his dad was doing fine on his own and was trying to make his way back to earth, with Dawn and her daughter Joyce.
Scott shrugged his brother’s hand off his elbow.
Xander saw that not even the jerk’s brother was able to get through. He was trying to keep it together, but the jackass had pushing and pushing and he didn’t care anymore that he was Buffy’s cousin. That had bought the X-Men’s field leader a lot of leeway, but not, no more, “You, demand? Who the fuck do you think you are to demand? I know that’s your father out there, but we are also talking about my wife, my daughter and her husband. I raised that child alongside the rest of my children. They are just as important to me and to her...” he pointed at Buffy, “as your father is to you. That’s it. I’m not talking to you until you take stick out of your ass, and if you come at me with that kind of attitude again I’m removing that ass-stick through your mouth...” Xander was about to get more graphic with his threats; Clint who had been content watching the shouting match until now saw that it was about to get nasty, and with Xander’s current state, that meant lethal.
“Come with me...” he didn’t give his friend a choice. He dragged him by the elbow away from Summers.
Across the room Logan had been drinking his breakfast beer. He was also eavesdropping on the conversation. The X-Men were family too, and he was hoping not to have to chose sides when it came to blows. When Xander finally lost it and began with the threats he was in the middle of taking a swig from the bottle, when Harris laid the gem. He would pay good money to see that he thought. He also chocked on his beer and spewed snot and beer through his nose when he began laughing, and coughing.
Peter who was eating his breakfast getting caught up on the family history, reacted on instinct. First his danger sense went off and the next thing he knew his hyper senses and speed had him hanging upside twenty feet from the ceiling.
The snot and beer missed him and hit Steve and Sharon, who were passing by. Steve could have avoided the mess, but chose not to; he shielded Sharon with his body and took the brunt of the disgusting mess.
“Ewww. You disgusting pig.” Sharon ran to the sink, to get cleaned up as quickly as possible. While she was splashing water and using the anti-bacterial gel to wash up Steve went to Logan.
Peter landed quietly behind his gramps and began to pound his back, while he was coughing.
“Jimmie are you alright?” Steve was concerned. Jimmie was one of three people that could relate to him that was still alive.
“Cough, cough, cough. Enough kid. You’re making it worse.” Logan knew what his great grandson was doing and he’d thank him later, “I’m fine now Steve. My healing factor’s not that great when it comes to chocking and drowning; after no problem, but not much help while it’s happening.” He took a paper towel and cleaned up his own mess, “Sorry about the mess...” he waved at the mix of beer and snot all over Steve.
“It’ll wash up. What brought that on all of a sudden? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you choke like that before.”
“My fault really. I was keeping an eye out o make sure slim over there doesn’t get his sorry ass handed to him. You know how Harrises get when you get them all riled up.”
Steve knew. He was familiar with the exploits of the elder Harris and on a few occasions had caught one or two of his colorful explosions. “I think it’s best if I go clean up and get changed.” He waved at the mess.
“Yeah sure, sure Steve. Sorry about the mess.” Logan apologized again.
“It couldn’t be helped. No real harm done.” Steve left to get cleaned up and Sharon joined him. She had her own ideas about how to get clean. In the shower, together. Steve was sure to object, but she would get her way, she always did with Steve, and that was the only real opinion that counted in her world.
“Thanks for the save kid.” Logan told Peter.
“No problem gramps. Good thing I have this handy dandy dander sense. It’s not just for fighting baddies after all.” He laughed and gave Logan a final pat on the back.
“Would you quit it already? It’s like getting hit with a sledge hammer.” Logan complained. Peter shrugged, but stopped and went back to clean up his breakfast. Snot and nose beer in his cereal was not his idea of a well balanced meal. ‘Yuck!’
On the second floor where the argument was taking place, Buffy filled in for Xander. She started on Scott where Xander left off.
“What’s wrong with you?” Clint asked Xander. He had his suspicions.
Faith had left Bobbi and the kids and walked over to see what was up with her Boytoy.
“Nothing. He was getting to me.”
“That was 'not' nothing. I’ve seen you handle much scarier and certainly more disagreeable characters than that schmuck." Clint finally had his suspicions confirmed. This close Xander couldn't hide it from him anymore. "When was the last time you got some sleep?"
“That was so not my question. When was the last time you got some real sleep?” he quickly added, “...and the thing that you and Faith did with that Amora chick and her shadow, so don’t count.”
“Hey lay off Skurge. He was wicked cool, and Amora was just delicious. They were just what the doctor ordered at the time.”
“That’s just my point Faith. The debauchery the two of you partook of would have put a platoon of SHIELD marines to shame. But collapsing from exhaustion three days later for only six hours, does not real sleep make.”
Faith narrowed her eyes and looked at her Boytoy. ‘He wouldn’t do that would he?’ she thought, and after giving the matter some careful thought, ‘Yes he god-damned would.’ She suddenly and furiously pushed Xander against the wall, “What the fuck is wrong with you?!” she shouted. “You haven’t slept in five fucking days? What were you thinking? Are you even thinking?”
“Faith it’s not like that...”
“Then what the fuck is it like?” she asked as she drove her index finger into his chest.
“I just couldn’t sleep. I’ve been thinking, and making plans to get Dawney and the kids’ home.”
“You could have taken a fuckin’ break to nap. An hour here an hour there, but to not fuckin’ sleep is not healthy. I don’t care how fuckin’ super you’ve gotten. Not sleepin’ is just fuckin’ insane.” Faith had enough. “If you’re going to act like one of the kids then I’m going to fuckin’ treat you like one of the fuckin’ kids...” she grabbed him by the ear and dragged him to the nearest bedroom.
Logan and Peter were laughing their collective asses off.
“God that chick is a firecracker. She reminds me of my fourth wife.”
“How many times were you married gramps?” Peter asked.
“Not sure?” Logan shrugged. Not really important. Most of them were dead, and the ones from this century would kill him as soon as they saw him.
“Aw c’mon Kennedy. Please don’t do this again.” Willow and Kennedy were having another ‘You love Buffy more than me’ fight. Willow was getting tired of this crap.
“No. Willow if you are not going to commit to this relationship, and I mean for real then it over. I mean it this time.” Kennedy told her.
Willow glanced at where Buffy and was still waving her finger at her cousin Scott and yelling. When she looked back to Kennedy to continue the pleading her case, she noticed that Kennedy had disappeared.
“...” sigh. ‘She did it again. Why am I always the man in this relationship? She sat heavily and put her head in her hands and started to cry.
Buffy saw that Willow was crying from across the room and stopped yelling at her cowering cousin. She had been channeling her inner slayer at that point and decided to give the poor sap a break. “Alex take him out of my sight before I do something I know I’m going to regret, that he may not survive.”
Her sane cousin nodded his head and grabbed his quaking brother and pulled him away from the tiny, but oh so intimidating blonde.
“I told you to stop with the demands, but no...”
Buffy put the brothers out of her mind and went to her oldest and most cherished friend. She sat down on the couch, and put her arm around her shoulders and gave her a hug, “Kennedy left again?” she asked gently.
“...yes...” Willow replied between sniffles.
“This is more serious than I thought. C’mon...”
“Wh, where are we going?” Willow let Buffy drag her out of the Tower.
“Therapy shopping. We’re starting with shoes and working our way up. This is no time to weep in coffee. If you’re good, I might be talked into letting you have a triple chocolate mocha supreme...decaf of course.”
“Of course.” Willow smiled as her best friend dragged her to the nearest mall. ‘If I’m supposed to be the man in all these relationships. I think I might as well make my move. Got nothing to lose and a Buffy to gain.’ She smiled for the first time since Kennedy kicked her in the metaphysical stomach.