(BtVS/Iron Man ) A Family Forged
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Notes: A follow-up to 'Son of Iron' that also makes the timeline a bit more
(BtVS/Iron Man )
A Family Forged
Things had changed a great deal at the Stark mansion in the year that Xander had been living there. It was for the better as far as Pepper was concerned.
For one thing, she wasn’t ‘taking out the trash’ more mornings than not anymore. At least Tony was swift enough to realize that a seemingly never-ending stream of women was not appropriate with a traumatized and impressionable boy in the house. And, if nothing else, it brought his dry cleaning bill down drastically.
For another, before now Tony had been, if not an alcoholic, than three drinks shy of being one. Day one of Xander living at the mansion Tony poured himself a glass of his favourite scotch after dinner, as he usually did on the rare occasions he actually had a sit down meal. Xander’s nearly imperceptible wince at the action had worried her and, at the time, Pepper hadn’t been sure if Tony had noticed or not. When she came in the next morning Pepper found the waste bin overflowing with bottles and suspicious rings staining the sink.
Giving up his two favourite vices did more to tell her how seriously he was taking his newfound fatherhood than any words on Tony’s part ever could have.
That’s not to say things have been easy. Back in those first days the young boy barely spoke. The most he probably said at one time was when Tony had called him Alexander and he hand informed them, in no uncertain terms, that his name was Xander. It was hard to imagine that the smiling and jovial teen they had now was the same person as the quiet and brooding preteen Tony had first taken in.
Doctor Samson, the child psychologist Tony found, did wonders in bringing Xander out of his shell, but that’s not where Pepper would put most of the credit.
Tony was absolutely amazing with Xander. Which made sense really; Pepper had often thought Tony was a child trapped in a thirty-something’s body. It certainly helped form an easy rapport with Xander.
Not that it was always a good thing, as the prank war that broke out between them a few months back proved. Pepper had put an end to that real fast when her brand new Jimmy Choo’s were caught in the crossfire, thank you very much! Both had been suitably cowed, though Tony looked far too impressed at Pepper out-pranking them for her liking.
Of course, the two had the Pepper approved bonding time as well. It seemed a tradition of sorts had formed with the Stark men. Back when Tony was a boy he and his father would spend hours on end restoring one classic car or another. When his father had died they had been working on a 1932 Ford Flathead Roadster. Even after all these years Tony had never finished it, always finding some tweak that was needed. By the end of the first week he had Xander down in the workshop helping him with it.
In fact, the two spent a great deal of time together in the workshop, not just with the cars either. Tony loved showing off his latest and greatest to an awed Xander and then showing the boy how it worked. Granted many of the ‘latest and greatest’ were actually fairly simple things he knew would peak Xander’s interest, but Xander ate it up just the same.
One thing both Pepper and Tony had noticed early on was that, despite the fact that he was a bright boy, Xander was convinced he was stupid. As such, he didn’t even try in his schoolwork since most of it didn’t even catch his interest anyways. It was slow going, but they were slowly getting him to try harder and to realize that just because someone told him he was stupid didn’t actually make him stupid.
This made the workshop sessions a good thing. The poor boy didn’t even realize he was learning, let alone learning science and engineering far beyond his grade level.
Of course, Rhodey helped too. Xander loved to hear the stories the Air Force Lieutenant Colonel had to tell, especially about anything that flew and how it worked. Things the MIT graduate was only too happy to share. In fact, Pepper had noticed that Rhodey was around a lot more since Xander arrived. It wouldn’t be strange for her to find him down in the workshop with the boys at least a couple days a week.
Everyone seemed to take to Xander quickly. Obadiah doted on him with a grandfatherly affection, though it seemed to take Xander longer to warm up to the man than others. Then there was Stark Industries; well, the boy pretty much had all the assistants wrapped around his finger after the first visit.
And yes, Pepper was willing to admit that Xander had managed to worm his way into her heart as well. It hadn’t taken much. That first day she saw him in the hospital hooked up to all those machines and tubes all she had wanted to do was take his pain away and protect him. If there was still any doubt in her mind, the moment she looked into his brown orbs she knew she was lost.
She wouldn’t have it any other way.
It was still strange to find herself in this maternal role, partly by default though mostly by her own choice, but Pepper knew she loved Xander and that was all there was to it. God help anyone who tried to hurt him because she certainly wouldn’t.
As the press quickly learned.
Tony had grown up with the eyes of the world on him. He didn’t want that for Xander. He wanted him to have at least some semblance of a normal life mixed in with the fantastic. It was only natural then, when the press had latched on to the story of the illegitimate son of the great Tony Stark that he became fiercely protective.
Fortunately Pepper had managed to get the assault charges dropped.
She, herself, had a much more subtle way of dealing with the press. A few quick phone calls made it clear to everyone that anyone who crossed the line between reporting news and blatant disregard for privacy would be, along with their network, permanently blacklisted from all Stark Industries press functions.
Those who didn’t back off, well, reputations were blackened everyday; she didn’t necessarily have anything to do with it. Really.
After a year things on that front had died off a fair bit. It was old news now and, possibly more importantly, any threats that may or may not have been made are firmly understood to not be idle ones.
These days, while not completely healed, Xander was a happy and fun loving thirteen years old boy strongly attached to those around him. Tony and herself in particular. It’s made for some separation anxiety over Tony’s trip to Afghanistan in a few days. Xander convinced himself that something bad will happen if Tony goes and nothing they say can convince him otherwise.
In the end Pepper did the only thing she could think of to ease his fears a little. She moved in. She rarely went to her apartment anymore and most of her stuff was in one of the guest rooms now anyways.
For his part, Tony spent virtually every minute with Xander and planned to right up until he had to leave for his flight. These days they rarely left the workshop except to venture out for food and sleep.
Between the two of them they managed to get a smile on Xander’s face again.
Pepper didn’t know what the future had in store for this strange family she seemed to have found herself a part of, but she figure it was a bright one. Yesterday the boys announced the roadster was finished with identical grins on their faces.