Hey, whaddya know? Apparently, the House fic woke Tony up a little. Enjoy! -:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-
"Yes." Xander nodded.
"Really real vampires." Tony took a long, long drink from his flask.
"Have another 'yes'."
Before him was the most elaborate hallucination that Tony had ever had, drunk, sober or otherwise. Six girls who individually weighed about as much as the foot of the Iron Man armor and collectively about as much as one of the legs, were in a knock-down, drag-out brawl with fanged beasties in the middle of a graveyard. Xander and that Giles fellow seemed to be directing traffic, while Buffy and Willow chatted idly on the sidelines.
"So, there used to be only the one Slayer. But basic CPR was enough to bring her back." Tony pointed at Buffy with his flask. "Then there was another one, but she died, no CPR. Then the other girl Faith that's now out in Cleveland came along. That stuck for about four or so years. And then
it seemed like a great idea to flip the switch to the 'on' position for everyone that had even the slightest chance of becoming a Slayer. Have I got that all straight?"
"In essence, yes Mr. Stark." Giles agreed.
"Whatever you people have on tap back at the castle, I'll pay double for five kegs," Tony figured that whatever the Scots were feeding them, it was better than the scotch he regularly drank.
"You've decided this is all a rather impressive delusion, haven't you?" Giles arched an eyebrow.
Tony nodded. "One of my better ones."
"Heads up!" Called one of the girls, a local named Rowena.
Giles and Xander obligingly scattered as a vampire was launched out of the supernatural scrum that had been taking place for a bit now. Tony watched as the creature bounced to a stop about five feet away.
"This one's out of bounds. Yellow card." Tony noted mildly.
The vampire glared up at him with malevolent yellow eyes. "Tony Stark. I wonder if billionaires taste more expensive?"
"Dear God, I certainly hope so. What with all the pricey wine, vodka an- urk!" Tony was suddenly convinced of the reality in his situation, as the vampire sprang at him and knocked him down to try and have a bite of expensive American cuisine. Tony and the vampire tussled a bit until he managed to curl his legs in front of him and kick the vampire back, scrambling to his feet once again.
Tony pulled his flask from his jacket pocket and unscrewed the cap. "The power of Christ compels you!" he shouted, flinging the liquid at the nightmare creature.
The vampire covered his head and screamed for a second, then stopped. He touched one of the areas the liquid had splashed and sniffed it. "This is scotch!" he complained petulantly.
"Made you look. Also, sidebar - that Buffy girl is right behind you."
"Yeah, like I'm going to fall fo-" The vampire looked almost childishly put out as the stake was planted in his back. "Oh for fu-" was all he managed to get out before he crumbled to dust, the possessing demon evicted with a fading wail.
Buffy peered down at Tony with a sympathetic expression. "Believe us now?" She offered Tony a hand.
"I'm slowly becoming convinced." He accepted Buffy's hand and got himself set to rights again. "Glad you guys talked me out of wearing my three piece suit." He was dressed in simple slacks and a t-shirt, with a jacket covering the ARC reactor embedded in his chest.
"No problem. And zip up, your chest is glowing a little."
Tony blinked down and re-covered his power source. "My ARC is showing. How embarrassing." He waggled his eyebrows subtly. "Fair exchange, you show me yours?"
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Mine are two outies, not one innie."
"That's got to be so weird feeling, having something like that installed." Xander commented.
"When the alternative is death, you tend to get over squeamishness pretty quick." Tony noted dryly.
"Oh, believe me, I'd throw my squeam out the window in a heartbeat, if that were the case." Xander returned his attention to the scrap that was winding down, shouting words of caution to the recently minted Slayers.
Willow passed Tony a handkerchief. "Your neck is bleeding."
Tony blinked and felt around until he found two small punctures. "I can't decide if it's adrenaline or scotch that kept me from noticing that. I'm going with adrenaline." He accepted the cloth from Willow and covered his fang-induced injury.
"First time encounter with a vampire." Willow smiled sheepishly. "No big. Everyone gets their complementary freak-out."
"If by 'freak-out' you mean 'three day bender', I'm completely on board." After the obligatory swig from the flask to get the ball rolling, Tony began walking with the small group. "So you're going to set up centers for this all over the world, and you want 'em to be vampire-resistant, is that it?"
"Pretty much." Buffy nodded. "Also, demon-resistant would be a nice bonus."
"There's demons too? You people should hand out programs or jacket blurbs or something." Tony began to regret that he only had one flask. "So what's the difference?"
"Bigger, generally stronger, more on their mind than just blood drinking. Sometimes it's sacrifices, sometimes it's dimensional portals, you never know with them." Buffy ticked a few items off on her fingers.
Xander held up his hand for a pause in the conversation, his headset chattering anxiously at him. "Looks like you get to find out. Group Three has a bunch of demons holed up in a mausoleum and they can't get in because of a warding circle around the crypt."
"This is why I love Great Britain. The demons know how to properly live." Giles sighed in satisfaction.
Tony quirked an eyebrow. "Bad news?"
Willow nodded. "If they have a warding circle up, it'll take everything I have to knock it down, especially if more than one of them are trying to maintain it."
"What're the GPS coordinates?" Tony asked Xander, memorizing them as he heard them and began typing a text message out on his phone.
"Let's see if we can't do something about that." After all, he'd just had enough liquid courage not to care. And Fury had
told him to bring the suit, just in case. Besides, he was tired of being a supernatural spectator.-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-
"How nice to see you, sir.
" JARVIS droned as the helmet came online.
"Nag, nag, nag. If you play your cards right, I might be able to extend your network through all of the places they want me to do the security for. Then you'll have more than just me to talk to." Tony absently ran system checks while he chided his AI assistant.
"And I shall be regaled with an assortment of woes from teenaged girls. My delight knows no bounds, sir.
" JARVIS wasn't buying it, apparently.
Tony had the S.H.I.E.L.D driver meet them at the crypt and told his new prospective security clients to hold their attack until he came out of the trailer. Approximately two minutes later, he lowered the back ramp and stepped purposefully down the ramp. Tony Stark was temporarily unavailable at this time. Iron Man was taking his messages.
There was a slight murmuring among the assembled baby Slayers. Not all of them had been informed that Tony Stark was afoot until a few minutes before. Tony paid it no mind as he began to scan the exterior of the crypt.
As he sorted through the tactical data that JARVIS was beginning to amass, he turned to Giles and Xander. "I'm going to tap into your comms for the duration
," he informed them. It was difficult to sound courteous when your voice was being synthetically modulated.
"Communications established with the group, sir.
" JARVIS stated.
Once JARVIS' scan was complete, Iron Man turned his visor towards the crypt and the slightly hazy glowing shield surrounding it. "Scan that energy, send analysis back to the private server." After all, if he could figure out how to make something similar, it'd be handy for keeping people from getting hurt.
Giles turned away from his consultation with Willow, who had stepped to the forefront of the Slayer mob and was beginning to chant. "Mister, er, Iron Man." Giles looked perplexed. British courtesy did not include rules for the super-heroic. "The primary difficulty we're encountering is that while Willow can make a hole in their barrier, she can't maintain it because it's already in place. And, we'd rather not send in a small squad of Slayers to be cut off from the shield if we can help it. I wonder if you'd be kind enough to knock that door in when we give you the signal?"
Iron Man's helmet jerked sharply in a nod. "On your signal
," he agreed.
Giles signalled silently to Willow, who began to chant in what Iron Man recognized to be Latin. He stepped gently over to where the girl was and raised one arm, fingers splayed so that the repulsor was aimed directly at the crypt's door. A few moments later, there was a shimmering in the area he was aiming and Giles murmured softly, to avoid spoiling Willow's concentration. "Now, Mr. Stark." Giles had decided that trying to call someone 'Mr. Iron Man' was a bit silly.
Iron Man's fingers flexed slightly and the slight high pitched whine signifying the buildup of energy was audible before the repulsor burst forth with a stream of condensed energy, displacing the air in a rush as it impacted onto the stone doors and promptly blew them inward. The faint sound of screams not-of-this-earth could be heard as the stone fragments collided with the demons within.
Willow's eyes widened. "Interdico
!" she cried, causing a sudden flare of magic to surround the demons' protective circle before the two magics cancelled each other out in a swirl of light.
"Well that's rather anti-climactic." Xander groused. He'd been hoping for something more flashy than regular sorcery. Later, he would examine that thought and have a drink or two in consideration of just how bizarre his life had become over the last eight years.
Meanwhile, the Slayer squads took up the charge under Buffy's order, whooping a bit over how their new friend and tech consultant had taken some of the ugly from this particular fight. Wrestling demons in close quarters like that, was not an enviable job. Demon bodies of an unspecific type began to get lobbed out the freshly opened door.
Over the comm lines set up among the group's leadership, Tony sounded faintly disappointed. "That's all I need to do? I almost could've phoned that one in.
"Rule number one: Never say something was too easy
." Buffy scolded, invoking the 'jinx' rule and giving him a glare over her shoulder, an effect somewhat spoiled by the impassive metal faceplate.
As if on cue, two Slayers dove out of the crypt followed by one other that was flung bodily, impacting on a tombstone and crumpling in a heap, followed by a roar that echoed around the area much louder than it had a right to.
"This is gonna suck." Xander observed.
The roof of the mausoleum exploded upward as a much
larger version of the demons the girls had been fighting, came up through the ceiling. The monstrosity threw its triple-horned head back and roared its displeasure for what seemed like all of Scotland to hear.
Giles turned to Iron Man, intending to ask if he'd help distract the creature until the girls could whittle it down to size. But Giles found that he was talking to himself as the air displacement from Iron Man's takeoff blew his thinning hair askew.
The demon cocked an arm back to swat at one of the girls that had been jabbing it in the leg with a irksomely sharp object when a voice from above distracted it. "Watch the birdie
The demon looked up, bemused. Not many things were taller than it was. It saw a man floating along in red and gold armor and was inwardly amused. What did this flying knight think it was going to do to him at ten times his size or more?
This question was answered when Iron Man's chest glowed bright white for an instant and an immense burst of concussive force pushed the demon forcefully to the ground. Like a pack of wolves, pride of lions, swarm of minks or the analogy of your choice, the Slayers closed in with sharp objects in abundance and a desire to apply them vigorously to the demon.
Iron Man hovered for a few moments, watching impassively. Inside the suit, Tony was somewhat less impassive. "Oh! That's not right!" he exclaimed as Satsu planted her axe someplace that didn't look the least bit comfortable.
"You'd rather that being continued to swat small women, sir
?" JARVIS asked chidingly.
"I'm going to have to program you with a sense of fraternal empathy." Tony complained. -:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-
Once the excitement was done for the night, Tony sat on a bench in his sensor suit, the torso peeled down around his waist, his head leaning back against the wall of the trailer and his eyes closed. He wasn't tired or battle-fatigued or anything, no. It was just the idea of these children being in charge of stemming the tide of the demon populace of the world. Demons. And I thought guerrillas and corporate espionage were evil.
Tony wasn't precisely one to ascribe weakness to the female of the species anymore, given that Pepper pretty much ran his life for him. And had managed to summon the delaying squad until he could stop Obidiah from using his ARC reactor on his Iron Monger suit.
But Pepper was a grown woman, had been for many moons. She was more than adult enough to decide when to put herself in harms way. These were still girls
, some of them not even old enough to vote yet, (At least in the 'States). Who had put the fate of the world on their heads? How could they go about the business of nightly battle with unspeakable horrors when some of them had yet to experience things like their first serious relationship or their first crushing personal loss?
A delicate hand on his shoulder made him crack one eye open. Pepper, of course. Faithfully holding out his refilled flask. "It's their choice." She informed him solemnly, once again reading his mind as she often seemed to.
Tony shook his head. "It's not that. Well, it is, but it's not just that. They're still kids, some of them." He accepted his flask and drained a quarter of it in one long swallow.
"Why don't you go talk to them? Ms. Summers is the oldest, if you recall. Slayer for eight years and counting now, if what Mr. Giles said is accurate. If anyone could understand how they can choose this way of life, it'd be her, I should imagine." Pepper reached out to fetch his clothes from the locker. "Come on, get dressed. If you sit and stew, you'll eventually start yelling at them and that's not what General Fury sent you here for, right?"
"Who's working for who, here?" Tony pretended to complain as he accepted the clothes and ran himself through the shower for a quick wash and rinse. He was definitely going to have to improve the undersuit that he wore, maybe apply that fabric that let athletes wick the excess sweat from their bodies.
Feeling a little more refreshed, he returned to his shirt and slacks and coat, and went to join his new acquaintances in their command center, conference area, or whatever they were calling it at that particular moment. However, he was stopped in the courtyard by Xander leading a herd of girls that he hadn't recalled being part of the Slayer squads he'd been working with.
"Tony, you might want to move over here," Xander directed. "Normally, Willow would do this herself, but she had to go take care of a magical emergency, and wouldn't you know, we had another one crop up right after she left."
Tony obligingly moved to the stairs as directed and watched the girls form a mystical looking circle, a good thirty feet in diameter at least and begin chanting. Xander reached out to pass Tony a pair of protective welder's goggles.
"This is gonna be pretty bright." Xander warned.
Just as Tony got the goggles settled in place, the promised flash of light occurred. A very large flash of light, at that. When his vision readjusted, he wasn't entirely sure he wasn't seeing things, and took a moment to eye his flask dubiously.
Standing in front of him was the tallest girl he had ever, and likely would ever see. Clad in an orange sweatshirt, jeans and running shoes, and looking terrified out of her mind. Tony looked up, and up, and up and simply blinked.
As Xander ran into the circle so he could wait for the girl to pick him up and pull him into a careful hug, much as one might hug a small stuffed animal, Tony exhaled. "I've said a girl has miles of leg before, but this is the first time I figured that one would need hiking shoes to make the trip."
Fortunately for Tony, the girl was entirely too focused on holding Xander and trying to keep herself from crying to hear him. Tony settled down on the stairs and leaned back to watch this particular tableau play itself out.
And to stare at those acres and acres of leg. Because, well, they were there.