madimpossibledreamer: Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and Ace (Sophie Aldred) (seven)
[personal profile] madimpossibledreamer
Main Points:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Iron Man Crossover and more than just your average fic in this 'verse (Self-Made Hero)
Summary: Most people run away from their lives on a vacation.  Mr. Knight just happens to go to parallel universes.
Word Count: 1685
Rating: Teen


         “How are you feeling, Miss Potts?” Jarvis eventually asks hesitantly.
         She dries off her face and looks up in the mirror.  “This is crazy,” she says, but the more she’s thought about it the more she knows that Tony’s probably telling the truth.  It explains all the little nuances of their guest that remind her of Tony, and her boyfriend definitely wasn’t kidding.  Not at a time where he was so worried about their guest.  Stark might joke around a lot, but he does actually have a sense of time and place, despite what some might think.  It’s rare, but generally when he’s panicking he doesn’t tend to be in the mood.  He would’ve hated the idea to begin with, thoroughly investigated as a scientist, and both he and Jarvis would’ve needed a lot of evidence to be convinced it was real, let alone that Mr. Knight was trustworthy.
         “Truth is often stranger than fiction,” the AI responds, which earns a hiccupping laugh.
         After the Avengers, she should’ve been ready to believe in anything.  Maybe it was better that he’d waited to tell her, anyway.  Before—well, probably mostly Thor—it would’ve been even more ludicrous.
         “Xander didn’t—take it personally, did he?” she asks quietly, because she is worried about him, and now that she knows he’s not crazy and not a threat, it’s even more important.
         “No, ma’am,” Jarvis replies in the negative.  “He’s aware that his situation is…a little difficult to believe.”
         She sniffs, but even if he’s not hurting because of that, he is hurting, and she’s not willing to just stand by while someone’s in pain.  She’s just as determined to fix problems as Tony is, which is perhaps one of the reasons they get along so well.  The whole thing about them—what, having the same memories?—would be a little stranger, given that she’s dating Tony, but if she thinks about Xander as a much younger brother to Tony, it really does help. 
         The two are talking quietly when she rejoins them.  It’s a surprise, since Stark’s not usually one for being quiet—or subtle—but she sees Xander smile, and it’s a good sign.  Maybe him being here will actually help.  The armor is gone, and the newcomer looks a lot smaller and sadder without it.
         The sudden silence is painful, so she fills it.  “How long were you planning on keeping this a secret, Tony?”
         He’s about to answer, but the sudden bout of laughter interrupts them both.  He tries a few more times, but eventually just gives up, a smile on his face contrasted with the raised eyebrow.
         “Sorry,” Xander manages eventually, tears in his eyes.  “That wasn’t funny.”
         Pepper shrugs.  “It was maybe a little funny.”
         Xander glances at Tony then, suddenly all business again.  “Are you sure you want her to hear this?  She’ll see this as a call to crusade again.”
         “We both will.  Deal with it,” Stark says firmly, harsh tone belied by his hand reaching over and taking Knight’s to comfort.  He really is a tactile person, and if they share the same memories or whatever, it only makes sense that the “brother” is, too.
         “I’m not going anywhere,” she insists, and comes over to perch on the side of the couch, taking his other hand.
         They sit in silence for about a minute before he blurts into the silence, “Anya’s dead.”  His voice is dead.  Breaking.
         “God, Xander,” Tony responds with the right amount of sympathy and shock and leans in, pulls him into a hug, and in response Xander leans in, tears soaking through Tony’s designer t-shirt. 
         He doesn’t even blink, just rubs the man’s back comfortingly.
         “So’s Spike,” he mutters, and Tony’s face twists in the way that says he’s hurt by this, too, but he doesn’t say anything else, just makes soothing noises that she would have never thought he was capable of before this moment.
         “Who’s Anya?” she asks, deciding on one of the two options, and instantaneously a broken half-whine emerges from Xander’s throat.  “Ex-fiancée.”  He takes a shaky breath, and then it all starts pouring out.  Muffled in Tony’s shirt, but she’s still close enough to understand.  “I had a vision I was going to turn into Dad and hurt her, and I left her at the altar, and we were just finally becoming friends again, and…”  He sniffles, grip tightening on hers so much it hurts, but it’s a price worth paying to comfort him.  He deserves so much more.  Both of them do.  And she can’t have prevented it from happening, but she can damn well make it better now, supporting them however she can.  “…and I heard she was dead and I didn’t even—I didn’t know what to say.  I said something stupid, but.  I still don’t—”
         “We all grieve differently.  Don’t let anyone make you feel wrong for how you feel,” she says softly, glancing at the two of them, which earns a knowing smile from Tony as he kisses the younger man’s hair.
         For several long minutes the only sound is Xander’s sobbing, but eventually he pulls away and bites his lip.  “She died a hero, though.  They both did.”
         “What happened?” Tony asks, quiet and gentle.
         “The first.”  The two exchange glances. 
         Eventually, Pepper prompts, “The first what?”
         He turns to look at her and blinks.  As if surprised she doesn’t know, before answering flippantly, “Evil.”
         That earns both raised eyebrows.  “Satan?”
         And a frown, from Xander.  “What, I didn’t tell you about this?  I could’ve sworn…”  He trails off and shakes his head, looking lost.  “Nah, more like…the concept itself?  Couldn’t do anything by itself, but it had an army, and it could take the form of dead people.”
         Stark hugs the younger one again, who looks confused as to why that’s any more important than anything else.  “Come on, it’s evil.  You’re trying to tell me it didn’t take the form of dead people to mess with your head?”
         Xander shivers, and Pepper gets up to retrieve a blanket.  He’s probably not actually cold, but comfort is also a factor.  Tony smiles thankfully at her and carefully settles it around the kid’s shoulders.
         He bites his lips again, staring fixedly at the table and not daring to look up.  “Yinsin.  Jesse.  Buffy.  Larry.  Jenny.  Obie.  Howard.  Cordy.”
         “Cordy’s dead too?” Tony swallows and looks vaguely ill.  In any other circumstances, Tony keeping up with what is essentially the gossip of an alternate dimensional ‘brother’ would be funny.  It’s not now.
         “Yeah, and lemme tell you, Angel’s going to get his ass handed to him for not telling us about that,” Xander snarls, sorrow lost for a moment.  “I mean, she’d missed a few of our little standing phone dates, so that got me poking around, but he’d actually covered it up.  I told you about his dumb plan to turn around Wolfram & Hart, right?”
         “Vaguely,” he responds, and then glances over to Pepper.  “Evil demon lawyers.  I wi—I mean, it’d be nice if I was making this up.”
         “I’d say the whole chaos mage thing was the turning point, but no, my life was weird even by comic book standards for a while,” the younger brother complains.  Then he stills, anger draining.  “I don’t wanna talk about what they said.  Feels like it’ll make it, y’know.  Real.”
         “And it wasn’t really them,” Tony continues, understanding, earning a thankful nod.  That reminder seems like it’s the only thing grounding him at the moment.
         “Okay,” he adds, when Xander’s silent for a while, “I should probably add that I had Jarvis lock up all the booze.”  This probably has something to do with Xander’s reaction earlier.  ‘We’ll talk later,’ he mouths at Pepper over the shaggy head of hair, and she nods, grateful that he’s actually planning on discussing things with her for once.
         “Thanks,” he replies, and lets out a deep, deep breath.  “The eye.  Serial killer priest working for the First.  Just…”  He gulps, closing the remaining eye.  He raises his hand, points a thumb at the eyepatch, face twisting in the wry parody of a smile.  “…poked it out.  It’s so easy to bleed out, an injury like that, if you don’t get help quick.  My depth perception’s all shot.  I was hoping,” he continues, voice softer, “…you’d help me design a new one.”
         Even through the horror, that pulls a grin onto Tony’s face.  “Sounds fun.”
         “Yeah.”  Xander, strangely enough, seems to be doing better.  “Kinda…made everyone turn on Buffy.  Which…that’s what happens when you’re the leader.  You make the best choice with the info you’ve got at the time.  You can’t hope to be right all the time, you can’t hope that it’ll never have unintended consequences, but…not everyone got that.”
         Tony flinches, but continues rubbing Xander’s arms, keeping him calm.  “We won, but Sunnydale’s a collapsed sinkhole, now.  Don’t know who made it out, not sure I want to—I’ll do some sort of charity thing, Survivors of Sunnydale, but I don’t know that I could handle trying to look at that right now.”  He pauses and continues quicker, “Went to find Slayers in Canada—yeah, we woke up all of them—and I ran out of juice and nearly froze to death.”  He extracts his hands from theirs, clasps them in front of himself.  “So, story time over, then?”
         “We will do what we can to help,” Pepper promises, earning an honest Tony smile from Xander, and her boyfriend adds, “…Starting with that new eye.  We could add lasers.”
         Xander squeezes her hand before standing.
         “As cool as that sounds, somehow I don’t think having weapons in my eyesocket that could explode if they’re damaged is a good idea,” Xander replies dryly, and they head downstairs to the lab, still arguing.
         “What, you’re planning on getting it damaged?” Stark pokes.
         “These things happen!  You don’t plan for everything…”
         And all of a sudden, it’s back to as close to normal as it gets, with this new revelation.  She smiles and stands.  She’s got work to do.


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