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Title: Teenage Trojan Horse of Chaos
Author: jedibuttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not
Rating: T; gen
Prompt/Prompter: jilltanith, who asked for "the next part of Dawn-is-a-Stark".
Spoilers: B:tVS post-"Chosen"; pre-"Iron Man" in the MCU timeline
Notes: You can't have imagined this conversation would go smoothly? :)

Summary: Everything about Dawn Summers' appearance, even the fact of her existence, was all backwards. It was the most interesting puzzle Tony had been presented with in quite some time. 2100w.



JARVIS being JARVIS, there was no question of farming the paternity test necessitated by the presence of the nervous teenager on Tony Stark's doorstep off to an outside lab for analysis. J could do the job in a snap; and he even had the equipment on hand to run it.

Tony being Tony, he'd faced enough spurious paternity challenges over the years to make damn sure he had his own PCR machine in the odd event that he actually remembered having sex in the applicable time frame with the woman claiming he'd knocked her up. Contrary to popular report-- not to mention certain old sticks in the mud who'd known him since he was a kid in footie pajamas and were always after him about his media image-- Tony never got drunk enough to actually fuck with his memory. The brain in his skull was the only one he had, and nothing good ever came of making himself that vulnerable. And even if by some happenstance he had managed to forget, there had always been Jarvis, and then JARVIS, to remind him.

Not a single one of those paternity tests had ever turned up positive. He had a gut feeling, though, that this one would be different. He didn't exactly have a sample of Howard Stark's DNA on hand to test Miss Summers' against, and had little to no desire to go digging through any boxes of his father's things that might be kicking around the basement to find one, but he figured a half-sibling's sample should be good enough for conclusive results. It would match in the neighborhood of 25% rather than 50%, as any child who'd ever drawn a Mendel pea plant chart would have been able to figure out before she ever thought about walking up to his door, but that would still be more than enough to be sure.

"Last chance to take the blue pill and walk away," he said, gesturing toward the capped collection swab he'd dropped on the coffee table. Normally he'd assume anyone behaving that nervously was worried about getting caught in a lie, particularly in combination with the big blue eyes of appeal currently being aimed in his direction, but from the cues she'd dropped so far, she seemed more worried about his reaction to being proved right than being proved wrong.

Everything about Dawn Summers' appearance there, even the fact of her existence, was all backwards. It was the most interesting puzzle he'd been presented with in quite some time, if he didn't count the Jericho project-- which he didn't, because all of the technology for the missile had already been invented, it was just down to linking it all together to create the desired effects.

She reached out to pick up the swab, then clenched it tight in one shaky fist, swallowing hard.

"What if... what if it doesn't show I'm your sister?" she asked nervously, tucking a lock of her shiny waterfall of brown hair back behind one ear. She was still staring at him as though the secrets of unified field theory were written in the shape of his goatee; and as though that thought unnerved her as much as it energized her.

Tony snorted. Did she really think something that simple would trip him up? "Of course it won't; it'll show you're my half sister. You wouldn't be here, clutching that swab in a death grip, if the test wouldn't show anything; you'd already be out the door, fuming that I'd called your bluff and calling whoever convinced you to come here. And as we already established, you're too old to be my daughter. Anything further out, and it wouldn't be worth all this trouble to establish the relation; ergo, half sister. You know, I am curious what's got you so wound, but not enough to wait around while you satisfy your sense of teenage drama. So do the thing," he gestured with one hand as though working a toothbrush, "then follow along to the lab, and we'll figure out how much of our dear dead daddy's estate you're owed."

Dawn gaped at that, mouth falling open as though she hadn't even thought about how much Tony might pay her to keep her quiet, even if Howard's will turned out not to have an 'other heirs of the body' clause. Which it had; one of the reasons Tony wasn't terribly surprised that one had finally crawled out of the woodwork. "What? You think I came here for money?"

"Wow." He blinked, working a fingertip into one ear as the shrill register of her voice climbed beyond tolerable range, then turned and strode over to the sideboard where the good scotch hid. "Was that high C? Sounds like you definitely inherited the Stark showmanship gene; full marks. How much practice does it take to master that degree of innocent indignation?"

Her jaw was set and her face flushed red by the time he turned back to her; much more expected, but no less intriguing, given the genuine wobble of hurt Tony could see at the corner of her mouth and in the fists now clenched at her sides. The verbal jab had been as much a test as a genuine question; people who ingratiated themselves into his life who weren't there for the money or power he could give them were so vanishingly rare that he could count them on one hand. He'd realized long before he was legally of age to drink that you could find as much veritas in indignation as any bottle of vino, and he could definitely use a little more insight here.

"Look, I've had a pretty terrible month already," she replied, her tone clipped with anger. "My whole town fell into a sinkhole, a bunch of my friends were killed by a religious nutcase, and the guy I thought was my dad replied to my 'we're still alive' letter with a fucking DNA test and a slur about Mom. I don't need this crap from you, too. I'm living in my sister's ex-boyfriend's hotel in LA, and he works for Wolfram and Hart; if I was after your money, don't you think I'd have gone through him first?

"I just... you know what? Forget it. I can see this was a mistake." She tossed the collection swab down on the table and turned toward the door.

Strangely enough, the mention of Wolfram and Hart weighed for her truthfulness, rather than against it, more because of than despite all Tony had heard from his own lawyers about that extremely shady firm. She was right; if she was out to gouge him, going through them first would make more sense. But the gist of her statement seemed to imply that she thought the test would show that she was his daughter, rather than Howard's... and barring time travel or sneaky mad scientist intervention, that just wasn't possible.

Contrary to popular belief, Tony hadn't actually lost his virginity until he was 17; his genius had worked against him in school rather than for him, given how much younger and smarter he'd been than everyone else. Even at MIT, though at least there he'd had a friend in Rhodey to offset the worst of the bullying. He'd more than made up for it since, but that didn't change the facts.

"So which is it, then?" he blurted out without bothering to clarify first; another half-test, half-question. "Assuming you're not lying. You strike me as the responsible type; don't you think it might be relevant to my interests? At least to know whether I should be preparing for breakthroughs in temporal physics, or some kind of slow-burn mad scientist ploy."

The questions froze her in her tracks, and she turned back toward him, face pale and blue eyes wide with shock. "What...? How did you...? I mean, why would you even ask....?"

No objection, no wondering what the hell he was asking about? Damn. "Now I really need a drink," he muttered, tossing back the contents of his tumbler and pouring another few fingers of amber liquid.

Howard Stark was the one whose life had been full of demigods, monsters, and really questionable scientific advancements; Tony had been playing catchup since he was old enough to recognize the red, white and blue of Captain America's uniform. The arrival of a teenage Trojan horse of chaos was really making him wonder if he'd just been a little behind the curve in inheriting that larger-than-life heritage.

Dawn swallowed hard, staring at him, then tipped her chin up, nerving herself up for something. "It-- it's not time travel," she said, firmly. "That letter from Dad-- Hank-- he said had the test run because he had no idea I even existed until Mom asked him for child support out of the blue, several years after the divorce. He thought it was a joke; even tested my sister, too, to prove it. But he's not the only one who doesn't remember me who should; it turns out, I don't have any paperwork outside of Sunnydale, not even a birth certificate. It's made getting a new driver's license kind of a nightmare.

"There's secrets involved that aren't mine. And stuff you're never gonna believe, not even if I did have proof, which I don't, because the police in Sunnydale were mostly corrupt and all the town's records went down with the sinkhole anyway. But-- as far as we can tell, there isn't any physical evidence of me existing before three years ago. Except that everyone in Sunnydale, including me, does remember me always being there. So call it magic, or mad science, or whatever makes you happy. But you're the only one I know for sure that Mom slept with after Hank. I didn't exactly come here meaning to tell you any of that, though. I just... I don't know, I guess I didn't think it through."

"Now, that does sound like me," Tony snorted, taking another sip from his glass as he studied her expression.

He got the impression from the grim line of her mouth that she meant it about the secrets; fair enough, considering his reputation and the fact that they'd just met. There were a lot of unanswered questions there, though, starting with what the hell someone would want with a kid of his anyway, enough to either somehow obtain his genes seventeen years ago and mix them with a random woman in Los Angeles, raise the kid for fourteen years, and then dump her randomly back with her maternal genetic contributor as an experiment-- extremely unlikely, unless said mother was in on it, and he hadn't got that kind of impression from Joyce-- or somehow quick grow her and then mind control everyone to believe she'd always been a normal kid for some mysteriously nefarious reason.

Except that even Maya Hansen's experimental quick-growth therapy-- which he vaguely remembered being a little too explosive for actual application-- was aimed at quickly repairing adult tissue, not accelerating an entire life cycle. And mind control on the level either version of Dawn's story would require was heavily resource intensive, and rarely left no traces behind.

Although... starting her off at fourteen was actually genius, if whoever had been behind her creation had wanted to observe her in the wild awhile. Old enough to mostly take care of herself, but young enough not to require all the various complex layers of adult identification: drivers licenses, bank accounts, SAT scores, voter registrations, and the like. It sounded like there would have been proof at some point as well, if not for officious interference... and in the new computer-driven world, such things rarely disappeared entirely.

"And....?" she prompted him, crossing her arms over her chest.

He shrugged. "Well, as I said before our little side trip to the Twilight Zone-- now that you've got me even more curious, you're still not getting away that easily. Verification first; we'll run that test, and set JARVIS on your little records problem. Then I'll have to contact Pepper and Obie to get the ball rolling on PR, though I think I'll let them make the same assumption I did. A sudden half-sister will play a lot kinder with the stock market than the otherwise obvious conclusion."

"Just like that?" Dawn's eyebrows went back up; she was still pale, but the sassiness was coming back.

Good kid. Whatever else she was, this possible daughter of his was the furthest thing from boring.

"Just like that," Tony replied, the corner of his mouth tugging up in a smirk.

-x-

Comments

( 7 appreciated — appreciate )
(Deleted comment)
jedibuttercup
Oct. 27th, 2016 04:44 pm (UTC)
Ooo, I'll have to follow that link when I'm at home. I've heard that about him vs Tony Stark; I suppose that's why I have a lot of affection for his Sherlock Holmes as well, I grok him more than any other version except Jonny Lee Miller's.

And you're welcome! :)
ffutures
Oct. 27th, 2016 11:20 am (UTC)
I wonder how he'll take the whole dimensional key thing if she ever trusts him enough to tell him. Also, how Buffy will react to all this...
jedibuttercup
Oct. 27th, 2016 04:45 pm (UTC)
I think this may end up a 'verse, because I'm also picturing how Obadiah Stane will react, and what's going to happen down the road when the events of the first Iron Man movie happen....
jilltanith
Oct. 28th, 2016 08:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

(Eeeeeeeeee!)
jedibuttercup
Oct. 30th, 2016 06:31 am (UTC)
Yay! :)
kerravonsen
Nov. 9th, 2016 01:23 pm (UTC)
This is so cool. Sooooo very Stark, makes me want to re-watch Iron Man.
jedibuttercup
Nov. 11th, 2016 10:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the fic.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I rewatched Iron Man myself directly before writing it. :)
( 7 appreciated — appreciate )

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