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Fic: Conversations

Title: Conversations
Author: Wyndewalker
Xover Fandom: Iron Man
Series: 5 More Relatives Xander Never Met
Challenge: twistedshorts August-Fic-A-Day - Day 5, 2013 Trope Bingo Round 2 - AU: Supernatural
Rating: PG
Warning: None
Word Count: 2,982 according to Word
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to Iron Man or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  All rights belong to their owners and I merely borrow the characters for your amusement.
Authors note: 1)this is *not* part of the Al'ek'sander series, 2) due to my current utter loathing of the ambiguity of the ending of Iron Man 3 and what it sort of implies I'm pretending the movie never happened.
Summary: Xander rescues a certain billionaire genius superhero from vampires one night.

 
"Yeah. See. No. That's just... It's... Just no."

Xander leaned back in the diner booth, stifling a smile, as the guy across from him continued to try and deny the existence of the vampires who'd attacked him twenty minutes earlier. Who knew Iron Man, of all people, would be so close-minded? Thankfully the staff of the all-night diner they were in were familiar with Stark. When they'd settled at a booth in the back the waitress had immediately appeared with a mug and full carafe of coffee. Both of which she'd put in front of Stark before asking if Xander wanted anything. He'd ordered an iced tea and a plate of gravy bacon cheese fries. God, he'd missed American food while traveling.

For now the staff were ignoring them as Stark worked himself up to a full on freak out. Finally Xander huffed out a soft laugh stopping him mid-rant.

"You think this is funny?" Stark demanded.

"Dude, you fly around in a metal suit. You work with a guy who spent 70 years trapped in ice, a guy who turns into an angry green giant, and a Norse God. You've *fought* a Norse God and aliens. You're freaking out about the things that go bump in the night being real? Seriously?"

"They're not Gods. They're aliens. All of which can be explained by science," Stark hissed. "And I still have nightmares about all of it."

Xander sobered instantly. "I'm sorry. I know what it's like to have the foundation of your world rocked to its’ core."

"Right," Stark drawled. "You were probably some Van Helsing wannabe who wet himself in fanboy excitement when you found out vampires were real. Urk."

Xander grabbed Stark's shirt and dragged him halfway across the table to get in his face. "You don't know jackshit about me, robot boy. I was 15 when I found out vampires were real. Twenty-four hours later I killed my first vampire who just happened to be my best friend since the literal cradle. I have watched more friends and loved ones die than your average soldier. I have been tortured and possessed. I have to live with the knowledge that I have hurt my friends and they've hurt me. So, yes, I know what you're going through and it sucks and it will probably get worse before it gets better but if you stick it out, if you let someone help you, it does get better."

Xander released a wide-eyed Stark, sliding out of the booth. He tossed a twenty and a business card on the table. "If you ever want to talk give me a call. I might not understand everything but I'll listen."

Before Stark could say anything else Xander walked out of the diner. Despite leaving his card he figured that would be the last he spoke to the billionaire genius superhero.

********

Tony pulled into the garage portion of his workshop a little after 2 am.

"Wake up, Jarvis. We've got work to do," he called, heading straight to his computers.

"Of course, sir. Shall I inform Miss Potts that you're home?"

Tony winced. "Is she awake?"

"She fell asleep 63 minutes ago."

“Then don't wake her. Scan this business card," he held up the one Xander had left. "I want to know absolutely everything there is to know about this guy. His current employer. Military records. The works. Then," Tony grimaced knowing this wasn't going to go over well. "Then I want you to do a search on all myths and legends concerning vampires and demons. Ignore all the romance novel crap."

"Pardon me, sir, but did you just say..."

"Vampires and demons? Yeah, you heard me."

"Perhaps I should wake Miss Potts, sir."

"Don't. Are there any cameras in the vicinity of Wilton and 9th with a good angle on the alleyway between the diner and the laundromat?"

"Sir, I really think..."

"Just check for me, Jarvis. I have something to show you and if you still think I've lost it afterwards you can wake up Pepper. Deal?"

"As you wish, sir. There are two cameras that cover that area. What timeframe would you like me to pull up?"

"Should be sometime between midnight and one. Look for me entering the alleyway and continue from there."

"Yes," Jarvis suddenly broke off and was silent for several seconds. "Sir?" he finally queried.

Tony couldn't help a slight smirk. That was the closest he'd ever heard his AI sound to being truly freaked out. "Yeah, it's real. I watched them turn to dust myself and they were definitely stronger and faster than me. Maybe on par or possibly better than Rogers' level."

"Sir, those are vampires but vampires are not real."

"Not so much anymore. And this guy Harris kills them for a living. I'd have been dead if not for him."

"Yes, I saw that, sir. Shall I arrange some kind of thank you gift? It seems the least we should do."

"I totally agree which is why I'm thinking more along the lines of armor."

"You're making him a suit, sir?"

"Not a chance. More like SWAT or military type body armor," he said bringing up the latest SI designs. "Just lighter, more flexible and definitely neck protection."

"An admirable idea, sir."

"I thought so," Tony muttered continuing to rework the body armor design. It had to be strong but flexible. Not an easy combination.

"Sir, I've not finished compiling all the data you requested but I did find something I think you should know."

"What's that? Is Santa Claus real too?" Tony didn't look up from the schematics.

"No, sir. At least not that I've found. Sir, Mr. Harris was born on April 4th, 1981 in Sunnydale General Hospital of Sunnydale, California. He was born within minutes of your brother."

Tony froze at the implications. When he was 14 his mother had been pregnant with a second son. They'd been returning to LA from San Francisco by car when a storm and then his mother going into labor had forced them to stop in a rinky-dink little town called Sunnydale. Just days before Tony's own birthday Howard Stark Jr had been born stillborn; never once drawing breath. Six months later his parents were dead in a plane crash.

He shook his head. "Just coincidence. Tell me when you have something real."

"Sir. This is a picture of Mr. Harris before he lost his eye. These are pictures of Anthony and Jessica Harris before alcohol and drug abuse aged them prematurely."

Tony looked at the pictures on the screen. The Harrises looked nothing like their son.

"These are your parents' photos." The images were put next to Harris and there wasn't a doubt in Tony's mind.

"Well, shit," he muttered. "Keep looking, Jarvis. I need to put this together and then I have a brother to talk to."


Three Days Later

Xander lounged on a park bench watching some of the younger Slayers playing tag with each other. Four early teen Slayers were sitting on the grass a short distance away, fiddling with their phones and giggling over a group of boys in the skate park area. Things didn't get much better than this.

Of course that's when his phone rang. Sighing, he fished it out of his pocket. "Harris."

"Where are you? Never mind. Jarvis is triangulating your... Cleveland? You're in Cleveland? Why are you in Cleveland?"

"Hello to you too, Stark," Xander grinned.

"Seriously. What are you doing there? I need you here."

"I wasn't aware that saving your life put me at your beck and call."

"You said to call if I needed to talk. I need to talk to you so I'm calling."

"So talk. I'm listening." Xander probably shouldn't enjoy annoying him so much.

"I need to talk to you in person. It's important."

"Look, Stark," Xander sighed, "I'm more than happy to be a listening board for you but I'm visiting friends and I'd really rather not cut my visit short. Okay?"

There was an annoyed huff followed by, "How long are you going to be in Cleveland?"

"My flight to Cairo leaves next Friday."

The muffled sound of outrage had Xander grinning like a loon.

"So what did you want to talk about?"

"Hold on a second. Jarvis."

Xander's eyebrows quirked up as one of his favorite songs began to play. He wasn't sure if he was impressed or annoyed that Stark had researched him enough to personalize his hold music. Just as it ended Stark came back on the line.

"When Pepper calls to yell at me it's all your fault."

"How is your girlfriend yelling at you my fault?" Xander laughed.

"Because you insist on regularly turning my world on it's head."

"Once. I did it once and you could just ignore it. A lot of people do." The silence was pointed. "Right. Forgot who I was talking to. Dude, please tell me you're not going to try and get into demon hunting? The only thing worse than telling Giles I rescued the world's richest guy from vampires would be telling him that guy now wants to hunt them," Xander whined.

"I would be an awesome vampire hunter."

"You fly around in a metal suit. They'd see you coming a mile away."

"Hey! I can be stealthy."

"I swear to God I'll tell your girlfriend you have the hots for Captain America's star spangled undies if I even think you're serious about taking up vamp hunting as a hobby."

"What makes you think she doesn't already know?"

Xander gaped for several seconds before he grimaced. "Oh God, I think I'm scarred for life. I hate you."

Stark's rich laughter was almost enough to make up for the mental scarring. Almost.

"You started it."

He opened his mouth to respond but thought better of it. Instead, "Why did you call, Stark?"

The silence on the other end wasn't reassuring. "Tony?"

"How do you do it? How do you deal with this shit and not go insane?"

"Who says I'm sane?" Xander quipped then sighed. "I'll be honest everyone deals with it differently. My reasons for doing this, my ways of coping are going to be different from yours." He paused, watching the Minis play, trying to figure out the right words to say to a man who seemed to embody all the best and worst traits of the Scoobies in one snarky angst-ridden package. "Why did you become Iron Man?"

"To stop the people Stane was illegally selling Stark weapons to," was the prompt reply.

"Why did you build weapons in the first place?"

"Because it's what Dad did. It's what Obie wanted me to do. Because I deluded myself into thinking I was protecting our soldiers. Because I'm good at it."

"You want to protect people, Tony," Xander said softly. "You try to hide it but you have a big heart and you want to protect the people around you whether it's from the world or even yourself.

"The key for me is to remember that I'm not alone. That I have friends standing beside me whose strength I can rely on when I need it; who will listen when I need to vent; who have stared into the same abyss as me and not fallen over the edge."

"I don't have that," Stark muttered.

"Right. I'm not going to pretend that I know a whole lot about your life. But the guy you gave a suit to, the Air Force guy, he's a good friend, right?"

"Rhodey? Yeah. Probably my best friend next to Bruce and Pepper."

"Bruce as in Bruce Banner, the guy who turns into the Hulk?"

"He calls him The Other Guy."

Xander could practically hear the eye roll that accompanied that. "Uh-huh. And, joking aside, you're at least teammates with Captain America, even if you're not bestest buds forever, right?"

"Where are you going with this?"

"Any one of the people we just mentioned will understand where you're coming from. Maybe they haven't seen the exact same things you've seen but I can guarantee they'll have some frame of reference."

"I flew a nuclear weapon into an alien portal. I died. Name one person who has that frame of reference."

"Captain America."

"What?"

"I was a big fan as a kid, still kind of am, but the point is I know his story. Before the end of WWII he crash landed a plane carrying Hydra weapons in the Arctic circle to save the world. He had to have thought he was going to die. For all intents and purposes he did. He just came back to life 70 years later rather than a couple minutes later. So I'd say he has a pretty good idea what you're going through."

"He's such a Dudley Doright though," Stark whined making Xander laugh.

"Which is why he'll be more inclined to shut up and actually listen to you if he thinks you're being sincere."

"I suppose," Stark sighed, then, "I can still call and talk to you though, right?"

"Yeah, Stark, you can still call me. I don't always get the best reception in Africa so you may need to leave a message."

"Why are you going to Africa?"

"Because that's where I'm stationed essentially. I'm just in the States on vacation."

"Fine. If you need help call me."

"Thanks, Stark." Xander closed his phone. He hoped the man found someone who was close to him to talk to because it sounded like he had more issues than just freaking over the supernatural. Xander didn't mind helping but he doubted he was the right person for the job.

************

"Where have you been?" Pepper demanded as soon as Tony landed and began removing the suit.

"Halfway to Cleveland," Tony replied with a roguish grin.

"You had a board of...," Pepper blinked as his words sank in. "Why were you in Cleveland?"

"I wasn't. I flew halfway there before coming back."

"Why?" She asked in a long suffering voice.

Tony's hands ghosted over the body armor he'd been working on for Xander. "Did I ever tell you about Howard Jr?"

"I... No. I didn't know you had an older brother," she said surprised.

"Younger actually," Tony replied and proceeded to tell her the story. He left out the vampires and demons; figuring those wouldn't go over well. When he was done she sat back in her chair staring at the images on the screen.

"Have you told him your suspicions? He needs to know before it pops up in a gossip rag."

"The likelihood of anyone figuring it out at this point is pretty non-existent. As for telling him, not yet. He has a life and the world finding out he's my brother switched at birth would keep him from living that life. I can't take that away from him. I'll make sure he's taken care of but no one needs to know yet."

Pepper reluctantly agreed with his logic. "Alright. Just don't let it go too long, Tony. The longer you know him without saying anything the more likely he is to jump to the wrong conclusions when he does find out."

"I'll take care of it."

Pepper sighed but let it drop. She'd long ago learned to pick her battles with Tony.

*********

The day before his flight to Cairo Xander wasn't surprised when a courier showed up at the Cleveland House. Nor did he bother to ask who it was from, just telling the Minis it was from a friend. Taking the mid-sized package up to his room, he closed the door before opening it up. On top was a note.

This is a Stark 5 Satellite Phone. If you can't get reception I want to know where the hell you landed yourself. The armor is made of titanium mesh.

           Tony

PS. Pepper says you're coming to dinner the next time you're in the States.

Underneath the note was a high tech looking phone with a matte black case. That was sitting on top of what look like black metallic cloth. Pulling it out, he stared as it took the form of a shirt. The whole thing reminded him of a knight's chainmail except this looked like it had been knit or woven, the links so small he could barely distinguish them. And it was light as a feather. It was practically a work of art.

Xander stripped off his flannel then undid the of catches he found on the front. Slipping it on felt like what he imagined silk would feel like and it fit perfectly. He didn't even want to know how Stark had gotten his measurements. He was trying to figure out what the smaller second piece was for when the phone rang.

"Tony, this is," Xander shrugged helplessly as he answered the phone.

"It's the least I could do for you, kid."

"Dude, you made me a mithril shirt."

"A what now?"

Xander could hear a cultured British voice in the background explaining the reference.

"Who's that?"

"Jarvis, my house. The armor is puncture proof even against armor piercing rounds. Adamantium might go through but that stuff is almost as rare as vibranium. Watch it on blunt force though. I would've had to put plating in and I figured you'd prefer sacrificing that for lightweight, flexibility and puncture proof."

"Yeah. This is still too much though."

"Consider it field testing. I expect feedback on what did and didn’t work. What you do and don't like. That sort of stuff."

"Tony," Xander started then sighed. "Thank you. This will definitely come in handy."

"Good. I've gotta run, kid, but I'll talk to you later. Don't get eaten."

"I won't," Xander laughed and hung up, looking down at the mesh shirt. This was the last thing he'd ever expected when he walked into that alley that night.

The end.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
truthmaker
Aug. 6th, 2013 02:46 am (UTC)
I love it.
Please tell me there will be more of this?
avamclean
Aug. 6th, 2013 04:26 pm (UTC)
Day Five - Accepted!

Tony from flabergasted by the supernatural to attempting to figure out the best way to aid something in dealing with it. Sounds about right. :)
jakedaman
Aug. 7th, 2013 12:38 am (UTC)
Hmmm, Tony Starks younger brother.

I LIKE it. It fits. It works as a plot device and you didn't go all 'Family Reunion' on us. And the Mithrail shirt? Genius!

Bravo!
jakedaman
Aug. 14th, 2013 04:51 pm (UTC)
I... LIKE it! Especially the armor. Very nice touch. Too many times the story moves right to Xander getting an Iron Man Suit, this was a nice change of pace
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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