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Posted December 14, 2014
Fan Fiction: And To You Your Wassail, Too
Title: And To You Your Wassail, Too
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is not.
Spoilers: Post-series for Buffy, no comics; post-Thor: The Dark World for the Marvel Movie Universe
Summary: Buffy probably should have realized, long before the name Mj°lnir ever left her lips, that comparing the sentient hammer to JARVIS would lead inexorably to hammer-related mayhem. 3000 words.
Notes: Request fic, for the prompt: 'It's all fun and games until Buffy decides to make the team a Christmas Eve feast.'
Buffy probably should have realized, long before the name Mj°lnir ever left her lips, that comparing the sentient hammer to JARVIS would lead inexorably to hammer-related mayhem.
She'd been trying to help her brilliant and infuriating boss slash crazy brother-figure find a way to explain JARVIS' changes in behavior patterns to people in a position to notice, without freaking anyone out too much. Tony had been torn with glee and anxiety on the subject, unwilling to tell JARVIS that he couldn't exercise the free will they'd just realized he had, but justifiably concerned that letting the secret out that he had a soul would paint a bulls-eye on his code. Leading people to believe that he was the equivalent of a magical tool able to act on its own but still answerable to a 'worthy' wielder had seemed like a good middle step, in theory.
She had completely failed to anticipate what linking the two in Tony's mind might mean.
In her defense, Thor had been back in Asgard for months at that point, fighting in his daddy's wars. Long enough for even Jane to get fed up with waiting for him, despite the extra incentive of her very own shiny lab in Stark Tower, and take her sciencing where the action was. Buffy'd had no reason to suspect that a certain newly minted enchanter and the most famous example of the art to recently show itself on Midgard might end up in close proximity before the JARVIS story was old news.
Jane might be happier now, but Buffy would be a lot less frustrated at the moment if he'd just stayed gone.
"Thor!" she yelled, hopping slightly on one foot as her toe rebounded off a vibranium-hard chunk of metal. One that had somehow appeared right in her path from kitchen to living room in the time it took her to fetch a stack of plates and return to lay them out on the table. Her thigh would have a nice bruise, too, from where the handle had stopped her fall. She hopped another step back, holding onto the plates for dear life, and gingerly put her weight back on that leg.
"Buffy?" the big blond hunk of muscle going by that name appeared at the other door into the kitchen. "Is something wrong?"
He hadn't my-ladied her in weeks, not since Jane had returned from London with a few more nightmares and a smitten god of thunder in tow, and Buffy had told him to go ahead and call her by name if they were going to be seeing a lot of each other under Tony's roof. If he didn't get a handle on this practical joke thing soon, though-- no pun intended-- she was going to have to revoke the privilege.
"You tell me," she said grimly, nodding toward the offending hammer.
Thor followed her gaze, still frowning; then his eyebrows flew up in an expression she would have taken for surprise, if she didn't know how impossible it was that anyone else could have moved it.
"But that is...." He frowned, great furrows-- as dramatic as everything else about him-- appearing on his brow, then strode into the room, reaching out for its haft. "I do not recall leaving Mj°lnir in this room."
Buffy sidestepped gracefully out of the way, still holding the plates, glancing toward the clock as he moved. She had about half a dozen timers going, and she was getting farther behind by the minute; she'd volunteered to do a Christmas Eve feast for the Avengers team since they'd all been scattered the year before, and it was going to be perfect if it was the last thing she did.
Which it might be, if Mj°lnir kept showing up right where she needed to be next. This was the second time in as many hours; the first could theoretically have been an accident, given that it had been sitting right in front of the pantry and she knew Thor had been in there earlier snarfing Pop Tarts, but this? There was no good reason for the hammer to have been dropped exactly there.
"Yeah, well, recall it to your room, please," she said, her tone exquisitely polite. "The oven timer's about to go off, and I really want to get the table set before I put the rolls in to brown."
Mj°lnir seemed to just-- twitch for a moment as Thor held out his hand. If a hammer could have stuck its thumbs in its ears and said 'I don't wanna', she would have sworn it was doing so.
The expression on Thor's face shifted to concern, and he threw her a sidelong, considering look.
While on one level she still felt flattered every time one of her new colleagues actually took her seriously, Buffy's gut curdled at the look; why was it that every single holiday she ever tried to celebrate seemed to end with property damage and at least one person upset with her for reasons beyond her control?
"It's in my way, Thor," she repeated for emphasis.
"My apologies, Buffy," he said, looking a little abashed. As well he should. Then he held out his hand again, and this time the hammer flew right to his grasp with no further hesitation.
Men. Even assuming she had somehow been able to lift Mj°lnir herself, why would she have kept it secret from everyone for the sole purpose of frustrating Thor?
...Well; put that way, maybe it wasn't that unbelievable. She never had been able to resist taking a pin to the ego balloons around her; something Tony fortunately found as amusing as she did, considering how often he made a target of himself, and served her the same in turn. Thor might be way toned down from the super-privileged prince he'd been when he first fell to Earth, but an occasional reminder of humility, shared in good humor, surely couldn't hurt.
This, though. What would have been the point? With no audience, in circumstances that inconvenienced her more than him? The much easier explanation was that he was still in that stupidly forgetful, my love is the center of my universe, early stage of romance. She rolled her eyes as he took his leave, then hurried to the table to unload her dishes as the oven began to beep for attention.
She'd spent hours decorating Tony's formal dining room: putting up pine-scented boughs and sparkly lights and tapered candles; spreading red and green tablecloths with holly-printed napkins at each place setting; prompting JARVIS to play soft Christmas carols; and hanging spangly red, white and blue snowflakes from the ceiling like a constellation of cheer. She'd have Christmas the next day with Dawn, and Xander and Willow had both promised to be there as well, but this night was about her new family: about all the Christmases they'd each spent poor or under fire or frozen in ice, actively neglected or on the run or otherwise tormented. About the sense-memories Buffy still had of being eight and loved by both parents, her baby sister giggling as they cut out gingerbread cookies with their mother, with the scent of a holiday ham baking filling the kitchen and the sound of her father humming here we come a wassailing as wrapping paper crinkled in her parents' bedroom. She just wanted to share that with them, to recapture that feeling; was that too much to ask?
She tossed each of the plates out as if they were Steve's shield, carefully imparting enough momentum for them all to fall into their assigned places with no more than a clunk, and darted back into the kitchen to snatch up the tray of rolls.
It was another half an hour before everything that needed to be cooked, was done; everything that needed to stay warm, was in a warmer; the silverware all sparkled in their places; the glasses were set out and the wine uncorked to breathe; and Buffy had a few precious minutes left to resurrect her limp hair and put on her party clothes. She rushed toward the guest suite she sometimes borrowed, and lifted her voice to notify JARVIS as she ran.
"JARVIS, if you would? Dinner will be ready in twenty min..... GAH!"
A whoosh of sound filled the room she was passing as she finished the first sentence; before she was halfway through the second, Mj°lnir shot out the door, and she tripped headlong over its haft.
"Thor!" she grunted, curled up on the floor around her stomach; she'd knocked the wind out of herself before she could check her momentum.
Jane reached her first, poking her head out the door of Thor's suite with an alarmed expression. "Buffy? Are you all right?"
"I hate... to have... to tell you this," she panted, "but I'm gonna... kill your boyfriend."
Thor appeared next, looking even more confused than he had the first time. Despite the fact that this time there was no question Mj°lnir had been sent directly to her, rather than arguably, however thoughtlessly, abandoned.
He took in the position of the hammer, once again in front of her, and her murderous expression, and extended a hand to her. "I swear to you, this is none of my doing," he said. "I believed it possible, earlier, that I might simply have been mistaken, but I formed no intention of sending Mj°lnir into the hall just now; not even in the silence of my thoughts."
It was Buffy's turn to frown in confusion, now. Darn it all; she believed him. But the same reason Thor should never have suspected her of feigning unworthiness and then secretly throwing Mj°lnir around, should apply to the others as well; why would they break the silence to use the weapon for a less than worthy purpose that didn't even maximize entertainment potential? The only one who'd been able to even shift the thing the last time the Avengers sat around playing drinking games had been Steve; and even then, not much. She'd been there; she would have sworn none of them were faking.
She let Thor pull her up, then patted one enormous arm. "No harm done," she managed; and really, it hurt less already. "Just... let the others know dinner's in fifteen? And take it with you this time."
He assured her he would; and Jane insisted on accompanying Buffy to her room to help her dress. She was already adorably luminous in a ridiculous Christmas sweater Darcy had apparently conspired with Thor to buy for her, and soothingly chatty as she put the finishing touches on Buffy's hair.
She left again, with a smile, to find her boyfriend as Buffy's let himself into the room, wearing a green dress shirt to match her new blouse rather than his favorite purple for once. Well, mostly.
She smiled and smoothed her fingers over the tie covered in images of glass baubles in every shade of violet, then leaned up for an appreciative kiss.
"I hope you know, it was a real sacrifice to... mmm, hey. Is that gingerbread I taste?" Clint said, briefly interrupting himself with another kiss.
"A good cook samples the food to make sure it's perfect for her guests," she replied primly, grinning at him. "Or so my mother always said."
"Uh huh, sure. And if I'd snuck back into the kitchen and stuck a spoon in the potatoes while your back was turned...."
"You would have got what you deserved," she turned her nose up.
"And if I try it again at dinner?" he wheedled. "With compliments to the chef, of course?"
"Mmm, well. The sentiment stands," Buffy replied, with an altogether more promising look.
That necessitated another minute or so of taste testing delay; then he offered her an ostentatious elbow. "My lady, Slayer comma The?"
"Sir, yes, sir." She took his arm, grinning at the reference, and retraced her steps back to the dining room in a considerably brighter mood.
Nothing dented that warm glow for the next half hour; not even the tender spot on her stomach or the cracked toenails she'd been forced to trim from the earlier stubbing incident. Thor left the hammer back in his and Jane's suite, and high spirits flowed around the table with the food and conversation.
Buffy beamed, and basked, leaving the PA role entirely behind for the night to enjoy the company of her friends. Even the newest of them; though she normally found the joint snark force of Darcy and Tony a lot more wearing on the nerves when Jane's informal assistant took it upon herself to drop in on joint R&D days at the Tower. She could only hope Xander never picked one of those days to visit! Her official cat-herding duties were difficult enough as it was without him encouraging them.
Then she abruptly remembered that she had left several pies warming in the oven with one of Tony's bots standing by. "JARVIS, I think it's about time for the pies...."
The sound of wood splintering under a forceful blow echoed up the hall, leaving all of the Avengers and company reaching for their favorite weapons, and Pepper's fists glowing with little wisps of flame. A rush of air flowed into the room... followed by a very familiar flying object. It shot over the table, knocking over the fondue pot to send a gush of hot cheese in Steve's lap, upending the bowl of mashed potatoes over Clint's plate, and scattering every other dish in an explosion of flying food on its way into the kitchen, where it finished the surprise off by knocking Dum-E over with a clunk.
"Thor, buddy, we've got to talk about...."
"What the hell was...."
"Why did Thor's hammer...."
"Was that Mew-Mew...?"
Buffy stared after it, jaw agape, and started piecing the obvious clues together. Then she cut all the surprised exclamations off with a growl, turning to her boss.
"Tony," she said, in her iciest tones. "What did you do?"
Slowly, everyone else at the table turned toward the gravy-splattered inventor. Tony looked momentarily pole-axed, as taken by surprise as the rest of them; then comprehension settled in.
"Ah," he said, then licked at his lips. "Good gravy by the way. Did I tell you...."
"Tony...?" Pepper cut him off this time. She somehow managed to look regally attractive, even with cranberry sauce smeared up one forearm and along her jaw line. "Tell me you didn't."
"Didn't what?" he replied, nonchalantly. "You were there when I asked Thor if I could scan it. Completely non-invasive, totally harmless! I didn't touch it at all!"
"Then what did you touch?" Buffy asked, sweetly.
Under the table, Clint interlaced his fingers with hers; she squeezed them gently, touched by the gesture, but otherwise ignored the attempt to soothe her mood.
"If you have altered the enchantment on my hammer in any way...." Thor began, managing to seem both offended and reluctantly impressed at the same time.
"Oh for the love of... I didn't alter the hammer," Tony replied, rolling his eyes. "Jarv?"
JARVIS made a throat-clearing sound through the comms. "Sir was attempting to replicate the worthiness enchantment, in an effort to place my security under my own control, rather than relying on means vulnerable to outside attack," he said, sounding even more stuffily British than usual.
Natasha was the first one to catch on. "And the new code included language identical to Mj°lnir's inscription?"
"Just to test it, to make sure it worked before I customized it to JARVIS' preferences!" Tony objected. "I figured, it if worked...."
"Doesn't that inscription include Mew-Mew's name?" Darcy facepalmed.
"So now, whenever someone voices a request to JARVIS...." Steve caught on.
"They summon them both," Natasha finished for him. "Provided JARVIS approves."
"I don't understand, am I supposed to be apologizing for this?" Tony sniffed, looking insufferably pleased with himself.
Clint laughed. "Well, I guess now we know who JARVIS finds worthy, then."
"And one thing more," Thor said, on a more serious note. "I thought the comparison an unequal one at first, but Mj°lnir appears to agree: JARVIS is, indeed, her equal."
"I believe a more accurate term might be friend," JARVIS chimed in again. "Though she seems to have a slightly... uninformed idea of what assistance might best be provided in situations other than those for which she was made."
He was right, Buffy realized: every time she'd called out to JARVIS that day... every time she'd needed his help... Mj°lnir had appeared.
The knot of frustration that had simmered under her breastbone for hours abruptly transmuted into something softer, and she sighed, pushing back from the table.
"Buffy...?" Clint's amused expression shifted toward concern.
She waved him and the others off, then went into the kitchen.
"Mj°lnir? Thank you for the offer, but this is Dum-E's job. You don't want to hurt his feelings, do you? I promise I'll let you know if I ever need help only a hammer can do."
It didn't object-- despite the held breaths in the other room-- as she carefully grasped Mj°lnir's haft and shifted it aside. Then she righted Dum-E, grabbed the tub of French vanilla ice cream from the freezer, and dug a fresh serving spoon from the drawer.
From the corner speaker, "Deck the Halls" began to play as Buffy walked back into the room.
She carefully brushed chunks of ham from her chair, then sat primly down again and opened the tub.
"Pie and ice cream, anyone?" she said, as Dum-E brought the first pumpkin pie into the room.
Laughter filled the room again, along with much dabbing at each other with napkins and corners of tablecloth.
"Merry Christmas to all," Tony concluded wryly, "Hammer and AIs included!"
"Just so long as you fix it by New Year's," she told him sternly, holding back a smile.
"Ma'am, yes ma'am!" He saluted her with a stuffing-spattered fork.
...And to all a good night.
© 2014 Jedi Buttercup.