"How's our patient?" Charlotte asked Ezra as she entered Tony's Shanghai hospital room—though room didn't quite cover it. It was more like a penthouse suite in some five star hotel.
"He's hungry and he wants to go home," Tony answered for himself, sitting up in bed. "With the accelerated healing from my modified Extremis, I'm already days ahead recovery wise in just the last few hours. So Tony's all better now," he finished with a bit of a whine.
Charlotte and Ezra looked at each other and grinned. "And Tony's already whinging, so he must be better," she replied dryly, before leaning down to lightly kiss Tony's cheek. "I've never been happier to hear you bitch and moan in my life." She caught sight of the pale, new skin, stark against the tanned expanse of his chest, peeking out from between the V opening of his hospital top. It was a perfect circle, where the Arc Reactor had once been implanted. Fascinated, her fingers hovered over it.
"Go on, touch me, sweetheart, you know you want to," Tony said with a waggle of his eyebrows.
Laughing, she glanced up at him. "True, you are irresistible, after all." Then she rested her hand against the spot, studying it. "There's no scarring, nothing. It's as if it were never there."
"Except in my nightmares," he said simply, eyes dark with remembered pain.
"Yes, except in those," she whispered, this time kissing him gently on the lips, as if he were a child to be comforted.
"You two just can't keep your hands off of each other," Pepper said as she came into the room, humour in her voice.
Tony and Charlotte smiled at each other, the heavy mood of just a moment before dissipating. Straightening, she ruffled Tony's hair.
As Pepper walked around to the other side of the bed, Tony said, "Hey, it's not really Birdie's fault, it's my animal magnetism; women can't resist it."
Ezra flashed a grin. "It is indeed a terrible burden to bear," he drawled.
"See?" Tony said, reaching up and pulling Pepper's head down for a real kiss.
Breaking the kiss, Pepper caressed his face. "I'd never noticed, but if you say so."
"Hey!" he protested.
Pepper and Charlotte looked at each other, rolling their eyes, before each kissing a cheek.
"Better?" Charlotte asked.
Tony's eyes went back and forth, looking mischievous. "I should be in the hospital more often, because fantasy fulfillment for the win! Threesome!"
Pepper pressed her lips together, trying not to laugh. "Charlotte is pretty hot."
Tilting her head to the side, Charlotte said, "And I've always had a thing for strawberry blondes."
"You guys, you're killing me here, you know that, right?"
Behind Charlotte, Methos cleared his throat. "As Mr. Stark's physician, I must insist this behaviour stop—"
"Doc, come on—" Tony began.
"At least until he's released from the hospital," Methos finished with a smirk. "And it better be a foursome." He leaned in, kissing the side of Charlotte's throat.
Tony pointed an emphatic finger at Methos. "See, this is why you're my doctor," he said approvingly.
Charlotte leaned into Methos' kiss as he put his arms around her. But she was distracted by the container he held in his right hand, a delightful aroma wafting from it. "Is that—" she snatched the box from his hand "—Jin Dui?" Methos seemingly forgotten, she opened it, ecstatic upon discovering what was inside. "It is!"
"You and I need to have a serious talk about priorities," Methos said, sounding a bit miffed.
Looking back at him, she batted her eyelashes. "Sorry, darling."
"Not really, you're not," Methos replied good-naturedly. The others laughed as she shrugged. "Well go on, eat one. I did bring them for you."
"But you are going to share," Tony said as Charlotte popped one of the red bean dumplings into her mouth.
"I wouldn't count on it," Methos said. "They're her favourite, couldn't get enough of them the last time we were here."
"And when was that?" Pepper asked curiously.
"1767." Pepper mouthed an 'oh' at his answer.
Finishing her treat, a blissful look on her face, she defended herself. "It was all Jack's fault!" she said of her late husband. "I'd remembered them as a child, during a voyage with my father, and Jack hunted down the exact stall I'd had them from when we made port here." She walked around, handing a dumpling to each of them. "I do too share," she said with a sniff, giving Tony an extra one. "He's convalescing."
"Loves me best," Tony said cheekily under his breath. Charlotte squeezed his hand.
Coming back 'round to Methos, she held up a dumpling, feeding it to him, and then kissing him thoroughly. "Thank you, my love."
"You are most welcome, dearest Charlotte," he replied, kissing her in return.
Using the distraction, Tony reached over, snagging another Jin Dui from the container. At Pepper's look, he said, "I'm hungry!"
Methos chuckled. "I've consulted with your surgeon, Stark, and we agree you can be released in the morning—but only as far as your yacht. Give it a few days, and then you can fly home to the States."
Tony leaned back against the pillows. "About that; Pepper and I have been talking. What about the slow boat from China?"
"What did you have in mind?" Ezra asked.
"We take the yacht, go home the long way, by sea. I think the world can get by without us for a few weeks. Rhodey's in, he's going to take some leave and join us." He held up a hand before Charlotte could say anything. "I know, Birdie, no sails, floating penthouse, but still, you've told me how much you miss the ocean lately. Come on, you know you want to. I'll even send my captain on vacation and let you be in command."
She smiled crookedly. "The idea does have a certain allure," she allowed. "And the sea air would be good for you. Methos? Ezra?"
"I think it's a fine notion—as long as you don't mind Amanda tagging along?" Ezra said.
"We wouldn't do it without her," Pepper replied warmly. "We've all been through so much the last few years that we, Tony and me, thought we could all use some time together, as a family, because that's what all of you are to us."
"And Birdie, Ez, Rhodey, we've been together from the beginning; from Afghanistan to now." Tony pressed his hand against the place where the Arc Reactor had been. "The whole damn world has changed since then, not just for us. I've learned my lesson—you need to appreciate the time you're given, and those that spend that time with you."
"Sounds kinda familiar," Charlotte said, punching him lightly on the shoulder.
"Some old lady…"
"Ok, well preserved lady?"
"Better," Charlotte said with a grin.
"I still think you stole it from Gandalf." Tony put up his hands, warding off another punch. "What about you, Doc? I've heard you aren't a fan of boats."
Methos put his arm around Charlotte. "I think I can handle it, considering the company."
"So we're doing this?" Tony asked, eyes bright with anticipation.
Ezra, Charlotte, and Methos looked at each other, nodding, then at Tony and Pepper.
Grinning, Methos said, "I believe we have an accord."