It's dark when they step out of the portal. Of course, it was dark when they had stepped
the portal in the first place, so it doesn't immediately occur to Bridge that something may have gone a bit wrong.
The location of the exit portal is, at least, convenient. Right on his parents' doorstep. He gives Xander what he *hopes* is a reassuring smile before knocking on the door.
There's a beep and a click from the electronic lock on the (maybe disappointingly not-futuristic) front door as it opens.
"Hello, son," says Stephen Carson once he catches sight of Bridge on the doorstep. He's smiling, but it's clearly an uneasy smile (one could almost call it pastede-on yay) as he pulls the door open all the way and steps back. His glance falls on Xander, and the smile gets a little more uneasy. "You, ah. You must be Xander."
Way to state the obvious, Mr. Carson.
'Were there other options? Why did no one tell me there were other options?' Xander rubs the back of his neck, then, manners he somehow inherited from Willow because they sure as hell didn't get passed down in his genes reasserting themselves, holds out his hand. "I guess I must be, yeah. Hi."
Stephen reaches out to shake Xander's hand, an act that isn't made any less awkward by the fact that he's got an oven mitt on the hand he's extending.
"Oh. Excuse me. Hello," he says as he fumbles the mitt off, his obvious state of flusteredness carrying over into the quite frankly lame handshake he ends up giving Xander. "We've heard a lot about you. Well, that is, not a whole lot, just what Bridge has told us, and that's not as much as I implied it was, so I suppose we've just heard a little bit."
And that makes it sound like Bridge hasn't talked about Xander at all, which won't get things off on the right foot (if there is in fact a right foot to get things off on here), so he quickly amends, "What I mean is, we've heard things about you."
This wording quite possibly doesn't exactly help.
"Nothing bad! Because while in the first place there's really not a lot of that when it comes to you, I'm not about to go telling my parents bad things about someone I l- like. A lot. You know." Bridge flails.
Xander blinks at that last bit -- and then at all the rest of it -- then forces a grin. "So you didn't tell them about my secret life as a Twinkie Ninja, is what you're saying."
. . .
"You have time for that?"
"Well, it's all part of the Slayer bribing... I mean training process."
Yeah, Stephen might be a little stuck on the bribing part. Plus he's a little thrown, because Xander somehow doesn't quite look the age he was expecting.
"You must lead an interesting life, then," he says lamely.
Xander considers the past week - among other weeks just as 'interesting.' He gives an achy little shrug of the shoulder carrying the weight of his bag, suddenly realizing just how tired the trip - or maybe the week - has left him. "I think there's a Chinese curse along those lines."
Oooooooops. "I didn't mean to imply that," Stephen protests weakly. He's about to say more, but a massive yawn cuts him off. When he finally gets the better of it, he says, "It's late. You must be tired. Are you tired? I can show you to your -- ah -- well, sleep is good. You should do that."
"Late?" Bridge frowns. "But it's only-" he then catches sight of the clock just inside the hallway. "...half past midnight. Right."
Xander peers at it, then looks at Bridge. "Buh?"
"It's kind of like jet-lag," Bridge says thoughtfully. "Only in reverse. Since we weren't actually travelling for very long, from our perspective, and it's later here than it was where we started, not earlier, even though we're in an earlier time zone. So instead of us being tired, everyone else is tired because it's very late. I never had this problem when we took the shuttle."
Xander stares at him for a second. "You remember what you said about me being fluent in you?"
"I might need a refresher course."
"Portals are dumb."
"See, now that I get." He'd actually had gathered the basic idea before, but he's feeling a little jetlagged himself, less from the travel or figuring out the time-difference and more from, well, everything.
Stephen wishes he could blame jetlag, because it's less embarrassing than admitting his own son just confused him that badly.
"Right, I think it's pretty much everybody's bedtime, now," he says, and he just made it sound like Bridge is five, which is not helping this whole uneasy introductions thing at all.
"Sleep, yay," Bridge says brightly, in an effort to keep himself from rolling his eyes at the 'bedtime' comment.
After an initial bit of confusion about who was supposed to take which room, eventually Bridge and Xander were settled in. In seperate rooms, much to Bridge's annoyance, though he wasn't going to *say* that out loud.