Title: Confounding Expectations
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.
Summary: Faith would never have believed it if anyone had told her that the other Slayer, raised to pay attention to things like wealth and station, would treat a billionaire superhero as if he were her little sister. 1500 words.
Spoilers: Post-series for Buffy; no comics; post-Avengers for the Marvel Movie Universe
Notes: Part 5 of the challengefic series. Faith joins the party!
Watching Buffy manage Tony Stark is hilarious. Faith would never have believed it if anyone had told her that the other Slayer, raised to pay attention to things like wealth and station, would treat a billionaire superhero as if he were her little sister- but she definitely learned what executive skills she has trying to mother Dawnie. And the kicker is, Stark takes it. He's almost twice B's age, he's richer and more powerful than the Mayor ever was, he runs around privatizing world peace in a flying tin can because he can, and he grins when his PA gives him that purse-lipped disapproving look and all but threatens to ground him for showing up five minutes late.
And B's enjoying it all just as much; Faith can tell by the sparkle in her eye. She remembers that look from the bad old days, back when she was new in the 'Dale and intent on showing her forerunner how to have fun with their calling. B had been fighting it then, but she'd been just as susceptible to the lure of adrenaline and hormones as any red-blooded woman, and before they'd split over the Deputy Mayor's death they'd had some good times together. It's nice to see B enjoying life again- even if it isn't her boss she's enjoying.
Ah, well; her loss. Faith shifts her stance a little as Stark enters the room, making sure her assets are on best display in her leather pants and clingy top. He might be a little long in the tooth for her, and she has no doubt the boss lady in the crisp suit and Queen C heels didn't win that sparkly ring she's wearing by being a pushover, but that doesn't mean Faith can't flirt a little. He's taken, not dead- and clearly knows he's got the looks and presence to match his bank account. She can see by the smirk as he extends his hand to shake that he feels much the same way, and that just makes it even better.
"Coming back for more?" he gets the first jab in, as they settle into chairs for their pre-meeting meeting. "Heard you were the one and done type."
Faith would call it a briefing, but she already made that joke two days ago, when she detoured through the Vampires are Real speech on her way to explaining just how she's acquainted with the unsavory business practices of Wolfram and Hart. Today's more like arming themselves for battle- especially given who'll be on the negotiating team.
"Could say the same about you, tin man," she replies. From anyone else, Faith might've taken that as a slam, but what she's seen of him so far, it's more like looking in a mirror. God knows why B told him, but from his attitude, she doesn't think he's aiming to use it against her; it's more like he saved it up to lighten the mood before they get down to the nitty gritty. "You ought to know better than to believe everything you hear," she throws back at him with a grin.
"Especially coming from such a prejudiced source," Stark sniffs, throwing a bland look up at B as she plunks a coffee cup down in front of him. "A less straight-shooting person might dismiss those sorts of comments as rank jealousy."
B's lips thin a little, but there's a light flush on her cheeks- whatever that's about. The Chosen Two have barely had time to so much as exchange a hug since Faith flew in three days ago, what with both their busy schedules; she'll have to make time to grill B before she's gotta leave again.
"And a less controlled person might suggest someone conduct a quality inspection of her boss' eardrums," B replies tartly, placing an extra coffee and a pastry in front of Faith. "Since he seems to have conveniently forgotten the context of what he was told."
Stark raises his eyebrows, adopting a ruffled expression that reminds Faith of nothing so much as an affronted cat. No guy his age, rocking an Evil Spock goatee and a suit that probably cost more than any house she's ever lived in, should be able to pull off that look, but on him? Well, like the man says, he's Tony Fucking Stark. "What? She knows I didn't mean anything negative by it. Right?" He glances at Faith, double-checking her expression then nods. "She knows that. And she should know you didn't mean anything by telling me either- I thought you guys were BFFs?"
The look B shoots her at that is- complicated; a little defensive, a little apologetic, who the hell knows what else. Faith's feeling a little- complicated herself; it's one thing for Buffy to say the hatchet is well and truly buried, another entirely to find out she's been giving heroic third parties the impression they're two peas in a white hat pod. "It comes and goes," she shrugs nonchalantly, with a nod to B; let Stark make of that what he will.
"That, too?" he replies lightly, glancing curiously between them. Then he claps his hands together. "Context, then, just to clarify: not that I was bothered by it or anything, but Miz Summers felt the need to inform me that Christine Everhart's article about Pepper and I was full of shit, because she had in fact seen someone successfully transition from, shall we call it extremely short-term serial monogamy? To a more committed, long-term sort of relationship and make it stick."
"Not that you were bothered," Faith smirks at him.
"No, not at all," he tips his chin up. "And can I just say that I find it absolutely hysterical, knowing what I know now, that a bona fide superheroess is dating a man named after the Boy Wonder? Is he your sidekick? Please tell me he's your sidekick."
Faith is startled into a laugh as he gives her a wide-eyed look of appeal. "Don't ever tell him I said so- but I told you about Watchers, right? So, yeah, he's my Watcher."
"That is fantastic," he says, grinning at her in unfeigned delight.
B makes a stifled, choking noise; her eyes are sparkling again when Faith looks up to raise her eyebrows at her. "Uh, don't mind me. Remember, Natasha and the Stark legal team will be here in twenty; the Wolfram and Hart group is supposed to arrive in an hour fifty, but I'd bet on them being early. Try not to let anyone sign their souls away while they're here, okay?"
"You mean that's not just a cliché?" Stark acts all disbelieving, but he's still grinning as Buffy rolls her eyes at him and stalks away.
Faith waits until the door shuts behind her, then leans forward, propping her elbows on the table. She'll finish going over what she knows about Lilah Morgan and her team in a minute, the odds of getting Vanko's arc reactor designs away from Hammer Industries (slim) without Wolfram and Hart making their own copies to sell to other-dimensional powers (slimmer), and the secondary objective she hopes to get a bead on in the meeting: Wes' contract. But she has a more important question to ask, first.
"So I hear she took you out on the town, last night. Popped your Slayage cherry. How'd it go?" she asks, waggling her eyebrows. "Was it everything you expected?"
"Was it everything I...?" Stark straightens in his chair, expression all over the place, like he can't decide whether to be more outraged or gleeful. "You know, I was a one man nuclear deterrent before aliens decided to crash our party," he continues, in a marveling tone. "And less than a year later I've been reduced to the status of vaulting horse while my not so mild mannered assistant defies the laws of physics right in front of me."
"Now that's fantastic," Faith replies, laughing at him. "Tell me you got a picture."
"God, I hope not; Pepper would kill me if the paparazzi found us," Stark shakes his head. "Figuring out the rules of this are going to give me headaches for weeks, you realize. Are there any manuals I can read? Informative pamphlets? Something I wouldn't find in the fantasy section of a Barnes and Noble?"
If he thinks vampires are bad, he ain't seen nothin' yet. "Talk to Little D, when she gets here. She'll be keeping Buffy's library, and if she doesn't have the reference you want, Red will- Willow Rosenberg," she adds for clarification.
Stark narrows his eyes at her. "This Willow had better live up to her billing," he says. "You're not the first person to recommend her as a resource."
"Trust me, she will," Faith shakes her head. That meeting... is something she'd love to be a fly on the wall for. "In the meantime, though. Before your guys get here. There's something you should know about Lilah, and the guy who was my Watcher before Robin..."