Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Iron Man Crossover (Self-Made Hero)
Summary: Andrew is caught by one of his heroes.
Word Count: 933
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Dru’s distressed, swaying around. “Promise you’ll be careful, Spike. Dorothy’s coming to town with all her little friends and they’re not as you remember them. For all the Tin Man’s brains he is the Heart. The little dog Toto’s got fangs. Oz is really the Cowardly Lion. Glinda and the Lion have history and the man behind the curtain puts on a puppet show. The Scarecrow’s blue and she stole an improved brain by sacrificing her heart.”
Spike kisses her forehead. “I’ll be careful, pet.”
Oz doesn’t realize there’s anything wrong with his world. Why would he? He doesn’t have anything to compare it to.
Fiction, the news, the internet, the government controls it all. If all copies of a book 1984 hadn’t been burned, he would’ve seen that this future had, at least partly, been predicted. But without the knowledge, he didn’t have anything to show what a normal life should be like.
He’d wondered, once, what awful thing he’d done in a former life to be born in this one as a mutant. He had to have been a serial killer, or something. Like every child, he had seen what out of control mutants did. Ones that didn’t follow the rules endangered the lives of everyone, so of course they had to be controlled. They’d all watched the tapes. Of the damage they’ve done. Of terrified men, women, children huddled up, begging for mercy from uncaring mutants. He didn’t feel particularly like a serial killer. In fact, he was often more quiet and kind than his human classmates, but if he didn’t watch his natural instincts it was only a matter of time. Maybe he’d worked out most of his aggression in his past life, but still had to be punished for it in this one.
He kept his head down, followed every instruction. Until one fateful day.
He sees the girl phase into existence. Sees the lack of the mutant tattoo marking them as being registered with the government under the Mutant Registration Act before the shouting policemen do.
They’re pointing guns at a terrified little girl. Guns. They’re screaming at her, about to shoot her. And something just snaps.
He’s never wolfed out in anger before. Always under order, always obedient. He’s not obedient now, as he changes and grabs the kid and runs.
He’s never told whether he killed the policemen. The newspapers say so, but the girl—Marcie Ross, as she introduces herself—says that the newspapers don’t always tell the truth. It’s a foreign concept for him, but she finally manages to convince him that people lie. He still doesn’t fully understand the reasoning behind it, but then, according to her, he doesn’t have to. He doesn’t have to attempt to lie—ever—because he can just be silent instead.
She explains that her parents were killed before they could register her. That because of the rules, she couldn’t register herself. An adult had to do that. That there were plenty of other orphans like her who faced firing squads just because their parents had died as peaceful protestors or pamphlet-writers or even for listening to the wrong music.
There’s a near call, but then he hears a voice in his head, and sees a red-head with a shy smile, and they’re led to what turns out to be a safe haven hidden in the world. The leader, a Miss Grey, is apparently not all there, but she seems coherent enough as she banishes the red-head and another, an older man. They’re not mutants, despite the fact that they can twist the world and hide two fugitives with one gesture of their hands.
Marcie will be safe, and he has the feeling these two might need him, and Miss Grey isn’t happy about him leading others here in the first place. So he offers to go with the two, and they say yes.
“Hey, you’re my age!” The next one is a teen, pumping his hand enthusiastically. It’s interesting that they’ve actually sort-of-physically appeared. It probably means that it’s actually working and they’re stitching themselves together and becoming more substantial and stuff.
“Careful, I’m still a little fragile,” Xander jokes, and instantly Tony’s sitting them down, looking worried. And, hey, it’s already working, because he feels less like he’s dying and more like it’s your average ‘I wanna die’ migraine, and he’s already absorbing stuff. Like, the second he says ‘fragile’, that translates to ‘brittle’, and suddenly his mind is adjusting to all the ways to strengthen brittle materials like metals and plastics. It hurts and it’s a lot of information but he’s actually slowly processing it now.
“This is kind of fascinating,” Tony admits. “So…there’s a version of me with magic. And he’s stabilizing this so we don’t go boom.”
Xander shrugs. Carefully, so as not to upset the headache and make it seek revenge again. (Like Maggia. Like Mandarin. Like Obi—Stane, I mean.) “That, or I’m insane, ish, and you’re all figments of my imagination and I’m the one actually doing the magic and talking to myself.”
Tony looks hurt, but then he doesn’t care for the thought, either.
He smiles. It looks like one of Tony’s smiles. “For the sake of sanity, I’m going with ‘you are all real’. Makes me feel less pathetic. I don’t need to be the idiot kid with the imaginary friends. Or the schizo. Take your pick.”
“You’d be a genius kid, but yeah. Because Mrs. Rhodes would yell at me about manners, let’s assume we both exist.” Tony’s patting his arm, and grins back at the hesitant smile he gets at his words.
Xander’s chipper when he appears, coffee in hand, for the research summons. The only time this is ever true is when he’s been up all night and isn’t even aware he probably should’ve slept, so Willow’s a little concerned. “I’ve been thinking,” he begins.
“Uh-oh,” Giles responds, sarcasm evident in both syllables, and Xander grins, unhurt.
“Har bloody har,” is his response, only the ghost of the accent is actually kind of accurate, and that’s weird and new. “Anyway,” he continues, now that Giles is quiet in what is probably shock, “…the whole idea with the scanning wasn’t a bad one. We just needed to be a little more careful. Star and I have determined that her reading things silently is like a human reading things silently because she hasn’t been able to cast any chanty spells like that, so if we have her read and store information, it won’t lead to any Moloch-shaped situations. Of course, we’ll use one of her forks, just so the original isn’t in any danger, but I was thinking,” he turns to Willow, “…we could maybe create a database. Include an intent option for access, so, say, if you have a close encounter of the ghostly kind, you can access the information about ghosts. Stuff pertinent to your unique unfortunate situation. If you don’t—say, if you’re, say, the government trolling for data—it’s like the database doesn’t even exist. We’d need to use a blend of magic and tech to pull it off, which, happy days, is just what I specialize in. Whaddya say, Wils? Sound like a good time?”
“We could save more lives, and it’s an interesting project…” she answers cautiously, able to follow the nonstop talking. “But let’s shelve it for now, okay? More immediate life-saving right now.”
He blinks like he’s completely forgotten why they’re even there, and then looks around. “Oh. Right. Yeah, okay.” He sits down and begins gulping down the coffee.
“This is unacceptable!” Kris glances up and her heart sinks. That’s her youtube channel on her boss’s Knightphone.
“But…I don’t really want to delete it,” she mutters. She really likes the job, but…
“Delete it? Whoever said anything about deleting it? That, my dear Miss Chase, would be a travesty. I’m wondering why you thought it was acceptable to conceal this. This is fun.” He’s beaming, but she can tell he’s been up longer than he should since he looks slightly manic.
“O-okay…” she responds, not sure what else to say.
Unfortunately, he’s picked now to stop being oblivious. “You’re freaking out,” he observes, frowning and leaning in slightly. “Why are you freaking out?” And then he just doesn’t move.
She tries to figure out how to say it, but then his gaze unexpectedly softens. “Are you worried about not having enough time for it? Because I can definitely—”
She sighs. “I’m great. Weekends and after I get done are just fine. It’s a hobby, not my source of income. I did leave a lot of my collection in the States, but—” she quickly raises a hand to forestall any of the offers for him to ship it or re-buy it, because her boss is weird and generous and she knows he would, “—but that’s just fine. With what you pay me even with a London apartment—”
“Flat,” he interrupts helpfully and smiles innocently when she glares. She’s not sure what’s up with him right now but she’d been doing work and after the initial shock she’s starting to get annoyed.
“Even with a London apartment, I can still afford what I need and what I want. So usually, this job is worth it.” She narrows her eyes even further. “Usually.”
He grins. Usually it’s also nice to see him smile, because he’s friendly and a nice boss, but she doesn’t particularly care for this one, because it’s the kind of smile that’s matching the rest of his annoying mood. “Don’t worry,” he pats her shoulder, “…I’ll add a bonus for today.” And then he wanders off, leaving her annoyed and restless and wondering how she’s going to be able to concentrate on her work for the rest of the day
“You clearly don’t think much of the study of thought, Mr. Harris,” Walsh states with bite, and Buffy glances over at Xander, who’s been fidgeting.
She loves him, but really, for once could he please not make a scene? She’s trying, for once, to not be labeled as the problem student, but a certain friend’s making that difficult, and it’s hard to tell whether Willow makes up for that.
Xander stands, looking unsure and hunched, a little. “Actually, it’s pretty important,” he corrects gently, voice quiet.
Everyone’s just staring at him, including the teacher, so he begins the babble, trying to fill in the awkward silence. “Well, nothing in this world gets done without your mind. It’s your thought, your determination, that allows anything to be accomplished, so there’s that. And…” He pauses, but he’s getting onto a roll, and his voice is getting louder, and he’s starting to gesture, too. “…And there’s quantum physics. There are some really weird parts about our world that we don’t understand yet. Take Schrödinger’s little thought experiment with the cat in the box. Quantum theory states that observation is everything. The example is putting a cat inside a box and closing the lid. Unless it moves or makes a sound you don’t know whether it’s alive or dead in there. The world exists in a series of mutually possible quantum possibilities. Dead? Alive? Both, until you open the lid and find out for sure. All the possibilities exist until you observe them, and then they solidify into one thing—what you see. It’s not practically different from the normal world that we’re all used to, except that the very act of observing something makes it what it is. Not that we’ve figured out how to make that act of observation work in our favor, or we’d all have a lot better grades than we do now with the same amount of work…” That earns a few chuckles, “…But the very fact that my classmates are all staring at me thinking ‘what a loon, what is he talking about, what’s wrong with him’ makes the reality of me being here, standing in front of everything and babbling about obscure science stuff the reality we’re all living in, rather than some other possible world where I’m being quiet in my seat or not even attending college. So, yeah, thinking and observing are important parts of life.” He abruptly sits down, looking really embarrassed and sheepish.
“Well, who knew you had a brain in that head, Mr. Knight?” Walsh asks snappishly but with a little admiration, and there’s chuckles at that, too. “I hope you continue to use it in my class, and maybe, just maybe, you might earn that A you’re trying to wish into existence.” Willow reaches over and pats Xander’s hand. He’s still looking a little in shock.
Xander didn’t think there was any way that Babylon 5 could get better, but he notices, the next time he watches it, that the physics is right. That the Starfuries actually work the way they would, moving around space, and that there’s no sound because there’s no atmosphere to carry it, and that the gravity in the station is generated in a way that actually makes realistic sense, and he nerds out and dissects a bunch of scenes and forgets to go to school entirely.
To be fair, he was still learning more Physics than they’d teach at Sunnydale High.
“Are you sure?” Xander asks, pulling up handfuls of grass listlessly. Over the summer of getting to know the eccentric genius Cho knows that if Xander’s not concealing whatever it is that’s bugging him? It’d bad.
“I’m not sure what we’re talking about,” he responds, and that earns a theatrical sigh.
“Marines. Don’t ask, don’t tell,” is the short, clipped response.
Cho sighs, too. He should’ve seen this coming. It’s kind of sweet that Knight’s worried, but him brooding like this is ruining hang out time. With the girls, too, not just the two of them.
“Look, I don’t feel ready for another serious relationship again. Not yet.” He sits up, staring into the distance. “Until then, way I see it, it’s none of their business. It hurts a lot of people, but it’s no issue for me.” He’s had practice dealing with guys commenting on the fact that he’s not willing to rate the girls or bet on what type of underwear they’re wearing—the fact that he’s a gentleman and has some manners, dammit.
“And if you’re worried that I won’t write, don’t worry. I’m not leaving you to your own devices, you self-destructive twat.”
He’s not sure if it’s the words or the one that sets Xander off but suddenly there’s a genius clutching onto his shirt for dear life and choking on the sobs tearing out of the throat. He pats the man’s back and tries not to feel awkward.
“She’s the futurist. I’m just her pet engineer. She just doesn’t want to get her hands dirty,” Xander says, smirking.
Kris rolls her eyes. “Especially when you’ve been working with toxic chemicals and forgot to wash your hands again? I’d say that was pretty accurate.”
He looks panicked again, kissing her on the cheek distractedly and fleeing the room. It takes all of five minutes before Buffy hears, “Hey, I was working with water today!”
“Still a toxic chemical with a high enough dose,” Kris calls back sweetly.
Kris is the only one who notices he redoes the HUD after playing Dead Space. The colors actually change with the suit’s integrity. It may be goofy but it’s user friendly and she appreciates it.