Tony Stark rubbed his eyes blearily as he trudged down one of the little-used hallways in Avengers Tower. He'd been avoiding Pepper's worrying earlier by pretending to nap, but at some point that nap became reality. Now it was some ungodly hour in the morning and he was half-heartedly exploring whatever floor he'd fallen asleep on as he attempted to locate the bathroom. Calling on JARVIS's assistance just didn't seem right at the moment; there was an unusually still silence that Tony couldn't bring himself to break.
Turning another corner, he was startled to see a faint light shining out from a partially open door. As far as he knew, the other Avengers mostly stuck to their own floors when they stayed here, and JARVIS definitely would have woken him up if an intruder tried to sneak in. Much more awake now than he was a minute ago, Tony straightened up and made an effort to quiet his footsteps on the cold granite floor. Due to his unexpected nap earlier, he was still wearing his Mark Seven bracelets and didn't doubt JARVIS's efficiency in getting his suit to him if need be. Pushing open the door without a sound, he found that the room was a library of sorts. Tony vaguely remembered telling the moving company to put his dad's old books wherever the hell they wanted; Pepper must have given them a bit of further instruction. No wonder he hadn't visited this room yet. Books were quickly becoming a thing of the past for him with the number of tablets he owned.
The light didn't seem to be artificial. Instead, it was more like the rays of an afternoon sun, minus the warmth. Another oddity was its brightness- it was no dimmer or brighter now than it was in the hallway, and its reach extended only to him. The bookshelves around him were still draped in shadow, but the path ahead was clear. While it definitely was not human, Tony relaxed a bit at the lack of obvious malevolence it exuded. Padding past one last shelf of dusty, leather-bound books, he nearly jumped at the sudden presence of another person.
"Hello, Mister Stark," said the girl currently making herself comfortable on an old loveseat. A pale hand tucked a lock of jaw-length corn silk hair behind an orange hood while the other closed the thick tome she'd been reading and set it on the table beside her. Not a single lamp was in sight, but the gentle light from before almost seemed to envelop the small space she lounged in. Her clothing reminded Tony of both pajamas and something more exotic; a short-sleeved golden dress was slit on each side to reveal orange leggings to match the pointed orange hood that covered her eyes. On her chest was sewn a yellow sun with wavy tendrils, and dainty blue ballet flats covered her feet. Overall, she couldn't have been older than sixteen, but she was unusually radiant in her self-confidence for her age. "I offer my apologies for the unexpected visit, but I am afraid that this is something that is required to happen sooner rather than later."
"As pretty as you are, babe, you're a bit young for me," Tony shot back, smiling broadly to hide his confusion. Why hadn't JARVIS picked up on her?
Her dark lips twitched up into a half-smile. "In another timeline, perhaps. Presently, though, I wish to discuss a few subjects with you. I understand that you are well-known as one of the most brilliant people of this age, and are not all that unfamiliar with the unfamiliar?"
"You mean the alien invasion a few months back?" Tony asked as he sunk himself onto the small couch to the girl's left, still fingering his bracelets worriedly. This girl certainly didn't seem evil, but at the same time, she was definitely not what someone might define as normal. Momentarily giving up his usual talkativeness, he settled down to listen to what she had to say.
"Precisely. Congratulations on your victory, by the way. We've all seen the footage."
"Thanks, I think." Who was 'we,' exactly? 'We' was very rarely a good thing coming from mysterious aliens in Tony's book.
"Actually, this could serve as a wonderful beginning topic, now that I think of it…" The mischievous smirk on the girl's face faded into something more neutral. "Your suicide mission is what drew us here."
"Okay, okay, let's back up a bit here," Tony said hurriedly. "This is very nice and cryptic and all, but you've got to see that even by my standards, this is a little weird. Can we start with a little more explaining on your part before you launch into something long and detailed that I won't understand a word of? Not because I'm not a genius, mind you, I'm just going off the general 'intergalactic foreigner' vibe I'm getting here."
The girl froze for a moment during which Tony feared he might have said something wrong like he usually did before unexpectedly laughing. "You are definitely not the first person to ever request that particular boon, I'm afraid," she said as her giggling died down a bit. "Apparently heroes of light such as myself are known for their sesquipedalian loquaciousness." Noticing Tony's intake of breath, she swiftly interrupted his oncoming questioning with, "If I explained every detail to you now, we would be sitting here until dawn. I will spare you the story behind it all in favor of the details that apply to you. Would that suit you, Mister Stark?"
"Tony. And yeah, let's go with that. In fact, let's start with who are you and how the hell did you get past JARVIS?"
"Don't worry. I refrained from tampering with your AI for the time being. In fact, I could not have gotten through your multitudes of security measures just yet even had I wanted to. I've yet to arrive here, after all."
"That… answered nothing," Tony replied, slightly annoyed but still intrigued. "Fine. Be mysterious. But can I at least know who I'm talking to here? Before I say something to screw this up or you suddenly reveal you're here to kill me?"
Shrugging off the orange hood, the girl's mischievous smile returned in full force. "I am a child of prophecy. A Seer of Light. A Derse Dreamer. A savior of the dreaming dead. A dark wizard. One of the sole survivors of the Pre-Scratch universe. A player of the game. A sister. A friend. A New Yorker. But my given name will always be Rose Lalonde." Light violet eyes scrutinized him, waiting for a reaction of any kind.
"Well, damn," Tony sighed melodramatically, relaxing back into the couch, "looks like I've finally been outdone in the title game. And, going on the fact that you've entered the most prolific tower in New York and you've already called me by name twice, along with the fact that I've made it my personal mission to make sure there isn't a single person on Earth who doesn't know who I am, you already know all mine?"
Rose didn't miss a beat. "Tony Stark. Genius. Billionaire. Playboy. Philanthropist. Inventor. Ex-weapons manufacturer. And, more recently, Iron Man. Avenger. Hero."
"Anyone ever tell you you're a bit of a know-it-all?"
"Often. Has this served as a satisfactory introduction? I only have until the sun rises to explain the purpose in my artificial presence in your current plane of existence, and my companion informs me your sun will show its face in… Of course. In forty-one minutes and thirty-four point thirteen seconds. Would I not be wrong in stating that it is six-twelve am at the moment?"
A quick glance at the phone Tony had thought to bring with him confirmed it, but he couldn't understand why Rose found it so funny. No, he took that back- this laugh, unlike the last, was certainly not happy. It was a little bitter and almost nostalgic.
Rose took a moment to compose herself before continuing. "Excuse me. Those numbers in particular have just been a more than a little redundant in past years. Moving on- your suicide mission. In order to save newly-acquired friends and teammates, you diverted a bomb aimed to destroy the battlefield and instead directed it to the enemy's main power source. Correct me if my information bears any falsities. Rumors are easily distorted."
"You're good," Tony found himself saying. He really wanted to see where this was going now, and why this maybe-alien chick was so drawn to his almost offing himself for what was probably the millionth time since he'd become Iron Man. The girl's lips pursed as she considered what she was going to say next.
"I… That is to say, my brother and I… we attempted something similar, once. Three years ago, actually. We were thirteen. I thought I understood what I was doing. I had been contacting someone who I thought… He wasn't our main enemy, but he presided over a vital power source that gave the one hunting us the unfortunate trait of omnipotence. The one I'd been talking with was omniscient, but back then I was confident that I could get the upper hand on anybody given a thorough psychoanalysis. We had already been provided with a bomb, and if it didn't destroy this, than it would have destroyed all of us anyway. We would kill two birds with one stone, I believe the saying is. Just like you did. There are many parallels, and though they are what drew my sight to this version of Earth in the first place, it's the differences that interest me. Our actions only served to create the very Green Sun we set out to extinguish, while you were able to complete your mission successfully. It's a sign, I'm sure of it. This place is different.
"However, none of this would have been of any consequence at all to you if the timeline hadn't split again. I'm not entirely sure what caused it, but we are no longer in the Alpha timeline. Normally, at this point we would consider the timeline doomed and settle down to await our imminent deaths and the timeline's deconstruction by the Horrorterrors, but for some reason… rather than entering an inferior timeline, it feels as though we have accidentally split off into an entirely parallel universe. Nothing is being deconstructed- it's as if we are now in this world's Alpha timeline. It's very… liberating." Rose smiled expectantly and crossed her hands in her lap.
A year ago, Tony would have called bullshit and politely escorted her through the front door before going down to his bar to grab a Scotch. But then again, a year ago Tony had not yet fought an army of lizard aliens alongside a recently defrosted World War Two legend, a green radiation beast, and the Norse god of thunder, among others. So instead of laughing at this girl's farfetched speech, he took a moment to consider it.
"So what you're saying," he began, "is that you and your brother have somehow exited your own universe and hopped through a rift into ours."
"We're not here yet," Rose reminded him. "We're in between at the moment. At the speed we're travelling, we will arrive in less than a week."
"Then why are you talking to me now? And why me, by the way? I'm an inventor, not really a space-time guy. Also, I still don't get how you're here but not really and why JARVIS didn't pick up on you. JARVIS is all-knowing, I swear, and I think he's starting to develop a bit of an attitude, but that's not important right now."
"And finally, we arrive at the point of this discussion."
"JARVIS's back-talking problem?" Tony quipped.
"Yes, Tony Stark, I have pinpointed this exact place and time to first give you a smidgen of exposition on our current dilemma and then to really get down to business and suggest parenting courses for inventors whose AIs are sassing them back as the robotic equivalent of puberty rears its ugly head. It was of utmost importance that I bear this news before the fragile atmosphere at home is ruined by a robot-hormone-fueled off-hand remark that leaves you questioning your ability as a good artificial father."
Tony laughed at her straight-faced sarcasm. "Y'know, with all your doomsday talk, I nearly forgot you were a teenager, punk."
Rose teasingly stuck her tongue out before returning to her more serious demeanor. "You wished to know why I chose now to confer with you?" Tony nodded and leaned forward a bit more in his seat. "Three years ago, during our escape, my friends and I had to split up into two different vessels. Myself, my twin, and four others are hurtling towards you on an asteroid. We'll slow it down, don't worry," she added as Tony's eyes widened in alarm. "But our other two friends, our leader and his twin sister, are due to arrive on a Prospitian battleship this morning. The reason I contacted you, specifically, is that while you may not consider yourself the leader of the Avengers, you are in a position to make things happen, you might say. That, and… I do believe the ship is plummeting straight towards the Atlantic Ocean. A mile or two off your coastline, actually. While I believe in my friends' abilities to prevent a tsunami that would destroy much of New York, they will have absolutely no idea what is going on and might attempt to abscond and only get themselves lost. I would politely request that you explain to them what I have explained to you and keep them in place until the rest of us arrive."
"Newly appointed alien ambassador, got it." Tony was entirely sure that his tired brain just wasn't processing all of this. He supposed that maybe he should have taken Fury a bit more seriously when he was going on about how Earth was about to become an intergalactic hotspot thanks to the Avengers. Although, to be fair, Rose Lalonde didn't seem too non-human; neither did Thor and Loki, he reminded himself, but at least they had the weird armor and archaic speech patterns that set them apart. Rose seemed almost every bit a too-smart-for-her-own-good sixteen-year-old girl going through a bit of a goth phase, if the lipstick was any indication. But then, at the same time, there was something more ethereal about her. She was human, but not the kind of human Tony was.
"As lovely as this chat has been, I should take my leave in a moment, as this talk is nearly complete. One last word, if I may?"
"Of course," Tony replied easily. Suddenly, Rose lost any trace of playfulness she had been sporting before. Tony suddenly wasn't so sure if maybe he had underestimated her un-humanness; waves of raw power were radiating off her, even though he was certain that this was only a projection of her real self.
"If you or anybody you associate with so much as harm a hair on either of their heads," she hissed, "there will be infinitely more than hell to pay when we arrive. They are two of the purest souls this cruel game we have been playing has left uncorrupted and they do not deserve a single death more than they have already suffered through." Oceans of something dark and dangerous and untouchable swirled in her unnaturally colored eyes and Tony was sharply reminded of his time in Afghanistan and eyes that had seen more than they ever should have and were changed by it.
"I would never dream of it," Tony said gravely. Rose nodded her head and there was a moment of silence before the lights flickered on and Rose's figure seemed to dissolve under their brightness.
"Tony?" Pepper called from the library's entrance. Tony turned around in his couch to see her round the corner and enter his line of vision. "What are you doing in here? It's almost seven in the morning. I could have sworn I heard you talking with somebody."
"Just catching up on some…" Tony leaned over to see the title of the thick novel Rose had been reading when he had entered. "Uh, Complacency of the Learned."
Pepper's nose wrinkled a bit as she came to stand behind the couch. "I had to read a bit of that monster in college. I was having nightmares for days. I think everybody in my course was kind of glad that it's the only book R. Lalonde ever wrote. Whoever they were, their mind was twisted, but they sure had a way with words. Tony, what are you doing?"
Tony had scrabbled for the book and held it up to his eyes disbelievingly. Sure enough, R. Lalonde was signed in small, elegant handwriting under the title. He had a feeling that things were going to get more than a little complicated very soon. Surely seven in the morning wasn't too early for a little pick-me-up?
So I noticed that there are absolutely no Avengers/Homestuck crossovers and felt that that really needed some fixing and I've kind of had this scene swirling around in my head for a while. I'll write more when I'm able to, but for now I can't give any promises about reliable updates because high school is doing a very good job at kicking my ass right now ;_;
But yeahhh I decided to stop being a lurker and actually post something even if it does need some major editing because I'm probably never going to get anything done otherwise.
Anyway, thanks for reading!