Xander Childhood-Challenge
Sunday, June 29, 2008 4:04 PM
From: "Simone Scorpio"


When Xander Harris was deaged back into babyhood by Willow's latest mess, he fell back under Halfrek's domain. When Dawn wished Xander to have other parents this time around she could grant it. But despite everything, Halfrek is a demon and her wishes have catches. She can't give him a perfect family or even a perfect dad, it doesn't work that way. But she can give him a parent that has the resources and the need to become a good parent.

When Tony Stark got home after being abducted in Afghanistan Pepper has a unexpected surprise for him. A rouge government project has attempted to breed their own genius and had taken/stolen his sperm. The project got busted and Pepper and Jarvis have been taken care of his little boy. Now Tony is not exactly a model citizen, but unfortunately he's everything Xander has left and so he has to be his dad.

            Must Have:
            - Xander has an aversion against alcohol... every time he smells it, he cries
            - Xander loves his daddys nightlight
            - Dummy-mishaps

Just a Really Very Intelligent System


A Mini Iron

Tony Stark got off the plane, looking at the people waiting on him.  It was a good homecoming.  Pepper, his assistant, was trying hard not to cry so he gave her a hug.  After their usual banter she still looked upset.  "It's all right."

"We need to talk later," she whispered.  He just looked at her.  She smiled.  "We can take you to the hospital."

"No.  I want a cheeseburger."  He got into the car with her and headed for his burger and the press conference she had called.  Afterward, and after his godfather had complained, he made it home finally.  He flopped down.  "Can I have a beer?"

"No.  Not with your medicines.  The doctor said so."  She sat down across from him.  "Jarvis, please make sure no one can overhear us?" she asked the AI system that ruled the house.  Tony gave her an odd look.  "It's a private matter and I doubt you want anyone else to hear right now."

"Okay.  Should I have a beer and a shot?"  He started to get up but she pushed him back down.  "I'm a big boy."

"The doctor said no and if you do it'll only go worse."  She stared at him then sat down again, looking at her hands then at him.

"This looks suspiciously like you're going to tell me the bunny died but I know we haven't slept together," he said, trying to joke it off.

"Well, yes and no."

"One did?" he demanded, hopping back up again.  "I'm *always* safe, Pepper.  There's no way!"

"While you were gone, an intern at the Pentagon came up to me.  She found evidence that there was a scientist breeding geniuses."  He waved for her to go on.  This was not sounding good.  "Using part of the Stark Enterprises grant."  He scowled at that.  "To do that, they took some ...seed from some people who were already very intelligent."  She looked at him.  "She got me some information and I went looking.  What I found made me mad enough that I nearly called a feminist group down to storm their compound."

"This sounds really bad."

"It is."  She smiled slightly.  "I went to Rhodey."  He nodded at that.  "He found more that he could not tell me due to the security rating.  We went to a General to get them stopped.  He was more than happy to after he quit swearing.  Arranged all the paperwork for us."

"You adopted?" he asked with a grin.  "That's great."  He was mentally sighing in relief.  That was *very* good news.  It meant he wasn't going to be a father.

"He's your son, Tony."  He gaped.  Then he shook his head.  She nodded.  "He's in the next room taking a nap.  Since you were gone, the General had it shut down.  They only had your son.  Rhodey talked to him and he let me adopt little Alex.  They were shut down with prejudice and the records are classified and sealed here in the safe room."  Tony shifted.  "There's another thing."  He looked at her.  "Rhodey found that at least one report went to Obadiah."

He scowled so she went on quickly before he threw a fit like he had when he was younger.  "I wasn't going to take any chances with Alex so I haven't let anyone in the inner circle but you, Rhodey, and Jarvis see him."  She leaned back.  "He's definitely your son.  He has that same look of gleeful hellraising you get now and then.  He got Jarvis to get one of the dummies to change his diaper the other day.  He ended up hanging upside down and squealing for a half-hour before Rhodey realized it."  He groaned, holding his face.  "There's a few things you should know.  I formally adopted him, Tony."  He looked at her.  "So he's legally my son at the moment.  If you can handle it, we'll rearrange that whenever you're ready."

"That works for me.  You're a more stable environment than I could ever be."  Because his life was *so* screwed!  No more fun times for him, even if he was inclined toward it at the moment.

"Secondly, he can not stand the smell of alcohol in any form.  I had a glass of wine with dinner while I was working on the yearly reports that had to get done.  He set up an unholy racket for a half-hour.  Set off all the security alarms in the office.  They all know I adopted Alex but not that he's your son."

"That's good for him.  It means the press can't pounce."

"It does."  She smiled.  "He's such a little bastard some day.  Just like you."

"How old is he?"

"Three.  He's kind of shy.  It took him two days to talk to me but only a day to talk to Rhodey.  He was there when they busted in to get them out of the business of making genius children."

"Okay."  He looked at the clock.  "He's napping this late?"

"He likes to stay up all night to play with his blocks and leggos," she said with a small smile.  "Alex, are you awake?" she called.  A dark-haired blur ran out and pounced her, smiling at her.  "Hi, dear.  This is Tony.  Can you say Tony?" she asked, picking him up to hold him.

"Hey, Alex," he said, moving to the coffee table to sit closer.  "How was your nap?"  Alex stared at him then shrugged.  "Can you talk?"  The boy nodded.  "It's okay if you're quiet."  He stroked over his hair.  The boy tipped his head, earning a smile.  "You like to be petted like a puppy?"

"Not," he said quietly.  "I'm a horsie."

"Okay, you can be a horsie."  He grinned at Pepper.  "He's adorable."

"He still has that wild streak from you," she said dryly.  She looked down the back of his pants.  "Need changed?"

"Jarvis, diaper?" he called, sounding plaintive.  The AI sighed but a robot trundled in to help him.  He cheered and waved his hands.

"I think we can handle this one," Tony said.  The boy scowled at him.  "Damn you look just like my dad when you do that."  Pepper laughed.  "He does!"  He took him to hold.  "How about I work on that diaper thing for you?"  He pouted, pointing at the robot with a small sniffle.  "Pepper?"

"He thinks it's a great treat.  Let him."

"Fine.  Go ahead."  The boy wiggled down and let the robot change his diaper for him, giggling at the cleaning it got.  The two hands and water nozzle robot was a great toy.  He smiled at her.  "He's really mine?"

"I had our lab run the tests quietly six different times.  I told them it was a member of the board's possible child, not whose Alex is."


"Alexander.  He prefers Alex."

Tony smiled at his son.  Mentally he was freaking out.  His mental voice was doing its version of the panic/potty dance and screaming in multiple keys like he had more than one of them singing opera at the moment.  Him a father?  He was going to screw this up big time.  He looked at her.  "How're we doing this?"

"I'm staying with you as a security precaution for the next few weeks anyway.  That way you can figure out if you can handle it."

"I'm so going to screw this up," he muttered.

She nodded.  "All parents do according to my mother."

"You told your mother?"

"Of course.  If I hadn't, she'd have stormed the office to kill me and take him."  She gave him a dry look, getting a smile back.  "Alex, enough playing, let the robot go back to it's normal duties."  The boy pouted but quit getting cleaned by the robot.  "He's just like you," she said dryly.

He smiled.  "That does look like fun."  The boy ran back to let Pepper help him into his pants.  "Has Rhodey seen him a lot?"

"About once a week.  I was checking on his progress.  He nearly swore at me for interrupting it to talk to him the first time but once he found out why, he went to hide his swearing in a closet.  I thought that was very polite of him."

"Probably kept him off KP," Tony joked.  He took the boy to hold.  "So, Alex the horse.  What are we going to do tonight?"  He pointed at the robot.  "We can check out the lab."

"Oh no he can't.  There's tools out down there.  He'll wiggle free and get hurt," Pepper said.  He gave her a look.  "He can look at the lesser lab, not the one with the tools.  Or you can take him to show him the cars.  No tools, no weapons, nothing sharp and pointy."


Alex pouted at her.  "Be good."

"I know you'll try but you'll get excited and wander off."  She tweaked his ear.  "You should probably eat first."

"Ma'roni?" he asked hopefully.

"I'll see if there's any."

"There was some instant mac'n'cheese in the pantry," Tony offered, looking at the boy.  "Why are you a horse, Alex?"

He held up his hair.  "Too much."

Tony smiled.  "It's because you have so much hair?"  Alex nodded.  "We can get it trimmed if you want."  The boy beamed and hugged him.  "Thanks, kiddo."  The boy frowned and patted something then tried to get into his shirt.  "No, I don't think you need to see that."  The boy scowled and looked then 'ooohed'.  "That's not something you need to see."

"Nightlight?" he asked him, looking interested.

Tony looked at Pepper, who gave him a hopeful look.  "Sure, Alex, it's a nightlight so I don't get scared in the dark."  The boy beamed at him for that and patted it then gave him another hug.  "You're adorable."

He shook his head.  "Me bad."  He gave him a wicked grin then cleared it up when Pepper came back with the bowl of food.  "Ooh, Ma'roni," he said, taking the bowl and sitting down on the rug beside them to eat.  "Fank you."

"You're welcome," she said, stroking over his hair.  "You're right, you need a trim."  Alex grinned at her.  "Not the same lady as last time, Alex."  She looked at Tony.  "He picks up bad girls like you do too.  That one tried to smother him by hugging him."

"I'm sure she wasn't doing it intentionally."  He stole a bite of the dinner, getting smacked with the fork.  "Ow," he joked with a grin.

"Pepper say manners!" he said firmly.  "Bad boy!"

"Okay, I'll ask next time."  Alex smiled and held up a bite for him.  He took it.  "Thanks, Alex."  The boy wiggled and went back to eating.  "He seems pretty bright."

"He tested at one-seventy while there," she told him.  Tony nodded at that.  "He does like to play dumb."  That got a small smirk.  "He's so your clone," she muttered.  Tony burst out laughing, giving her a hug.  "We'll be in our room.  He has a small cot in there."

"Of course.  I want him closer.  I know I'm going to screw up somehow but we'll see how this works out.  This isn't what I expected to come home to but it's not horrible news."

"No, that society reporter having him would be a bad thing," she shot back.  "Or any of the other trashy little bimbos you've dated, Tony."

He smirked. "They were fun."

"Uh-huh.  Too much more fun and it'll rot and fall off."

He shrugged a bit.  "I don't think I'm going to be doing that for a while.  I need time to think."

She smiled.  "Take all the time you want.  We'll be around somewhere."

He nodded, going back to the couch to watch the boy eat.  "Does he like tv?"

"He likes the radio.  He dances around to it.  I don't let him watch tv yet.  It's bad for him."

"Not even PBS?  They're shows for kids."

"That we'll see about," she told him, rolling her eyes.  "I can't see you sitting down to watch Teletubbies."

"Me either," he decided.  "Maybe some anime."  Alex gave him an awed look. "You know anime?"  The boy said something in Japanese then cackled.  Tony cracked up too.  "Good to know you like to hunt the ghosts, Alex."  He patted him again, making Pepper moan and shake her head.  "It's very advanced."

"With some naked, semi-naked, or violent women.  I want him to date good girls in the future."

"Fine."  He smiled.  "You do make a pretty good mom."

She nodded.  "Someone has to stop him before I pull him out of a bed full of sorority sisters."

"Oooh," he said, gripping his chest.  "But it was fun," he said with a shiteating grin.

"Of course it was.  It's bad for you."

Alex cackled.  "Bad for you is happy."

"You, quit," she ordered with a smile.  The boy pouted at her, batting his big eyes.  "You're horrible, Alex," she sighed.  "You can't have any chocolate unless Tony takes you on that tour."  That would get him back for worrying her.

"Sure."  He got Alex some of the stash he found in the refrigerator then they went to look at the cars.  He came back two hours later carrying the boy.  "You never said he was hyper on it," he complained.

She took him back.  "You deserved it."

"I probably did," he sighed, sitting down.  "He's good at machines.  Is he my clone?"

"No.  Just your son," she said quietly.  Jarvis turned on some music and opened the curtains so they could see the sunset.  She propped Alex up on the pillows next to her then went back to reading.  "What did you plan on doing tonight?"

"I was going to rest and work on a better generator."

She smiled at him.  "Can I help?"

"I'll let you know when you can help.  How soon before he gets back up?"

"It depends on if he has nightmares tonight.  He's had some horrible ones.  Vampires and monsters from the anime apparently."  He nodded at that.  "Try not to warp him?"

He kissed her on the head.  "You're better than my dad was at that," he said quietly, making her smile.  "We'll handle it."  He walked off to go to the lab.

She picked up Alex to cuddle for a bit.  Eventually Tony would want full custody and she'd fall back to being an aunt.  She'd have to spend a lot of time with him now.


Alex woke up and looked around, making himself look calmer than he was.  Bad things were going to get him from the dark.  He knew they were coming.  They always came.  He slid out of bed, checking on Pepper, who was asleep.  He snuck out, looking around the living room.  It was huge and still dark.  He frowned, looking around again.  There was a slim bit of light under another door so he snuck that way, going to peek in.  Tony had fallen asleep while reading.  He snuck in and looked around.  It was bright in here but there were still shadows.  He climbed up beside him, having to stop when Tony shifted and mumbled.  The lights went off and he nearly cried at the sudden darkness.  Then he saw the faint glow of the nightlight.  He looked at Tony, wondering if he could get it in the open without him knowing.  He was wearing a tanktop.  He reached for him but Tony shifted again.  He frowned and moved closer, cuddling him.  Tony relaxed after patting him a few times.  Then he moved his shirt to let the nightlight shine.  That was better.  He curled up with a hand next to the nightlight.  If anyone came to put out the light, he'd feel them and get up to beat them up.  He yawned, falling asleep right there.


Pepper woke up and looked at her son's bed.  "Jarvis, where's Alex?"

"Cuddled up to Master Tony," the Artificial Intelligence unit said.  "He went searching for him at two-fifteen and six seconds.  He uncovered his generator and curled up next to it.  I would assume he was having another nightmare."

"Thank you, Jarvis."  She went to shower and get dressed for the day, coming out with an outfit for Alex.  She walked over, tapping gently on the door before opening it.  Tony flinched.  "Just me.  Be careful.  You have a visitor."  Tony looked down then at her, mouth slightly open.  "Jarvis said he came in about two after some nightmares."

Tony smiled.  "That explains why my chest was cold."  The boy shifted.  "Hey, Alex?  Are you ready to get up?"

"Sun bad," the boy mumbled, shifting closer to his armpit.  "Eww, nasty hair!"  He pulled back with a frown.  "Should shave like Pepper."

"I'll take that under consideration," he said dryly.

She sat on the edge of the bed.  "Why did you sneak in here instead of crawling in with me?"

"Nightlight make the bad dark things go away," he said like it should be obvious.  "They not attack the nightlight."

Tony blinked.  "You think I fight monsters?"  Alex gave him a very solemn look but nodded.  "Then I don't mind.  We'll make you one of your own so you can fight off any monsters that come for you too."  Alex hugged him as hard as he could, making Tony groan.  "Too strong this early in the morning."  He patted him with a smile at Pepper.  "Looks like Pepper wants us both to take a shower."

"Can Uncle Rhodey come over today?" Alex asked her.

"That's up to him, not up to me," she said patiently.  "Let's go shower."  The boy ran for their room.  She stood up.  "Thanks, Tony."

"Welcome."  He watched her, smiling some.  He went to shower and change, then came out to the great breakfast debate.  "He's getting chocolate cereal?"

"I'll be good," Alex said with a pout.

"I'm more worried you'll bounce around and fall off the balcony," he teased with a smile.

Alex pointed at the robot trundling his way.  "Play him today."

Pepper looked then shook her head.  "No, I think it's time we worked on potty training, Alex."

He pouted.  "But he fun!"

"You can have fun with him after you're potty trained," she said patiently.  "For now, eat the toast."  She pulled it out to feed him.  She looked at Tony.  "I'm not your cook too," she joked.

He smiled.  "I know."  He got his own breakfast and sat down again.  "What were we going to do today?  I need to finish the new generator."

"I have some paperwork and he has a daytime nanny."  Alex pouted.  "Who'll be at the office in about thirty minutes so eat."  Alex huffed but ate. "Thank you."  She sipped her coffee and nibbled on her muffin.  "We'll bring him down to the lab later so you can get some work done."

"Please.  Is this nanny willing to stay on?"

"She is.  All she knows is that I adopted Alex because the government had him and he's a miniature genius."

Tony nodded.  "That'll work.  Are we looking at schools?"  Alex spit at that.  "School is important, Alex."

"So?  Boring!" he shouted.  "Boring, boring, boring!"

He patted him on the head.  "Maybe we'll find you one that's more fun and has some pretty girls to pick on."  Alex pouted, shaking his head.  "It's not that bad.  I went to school.  Pepper went to school."

"Boring!" he said louder.

She sighed.  "We'll find one that's not that boring, Alex.  One that has recess and stuff."  He scowled at her but went back to eating.

"Don't look at me, I liked school," Tony said with a small shrug.  "I'll get some information from the one I went to?"

"Sure.  That's one of my projects this week."  She finished up her muffin and coffee.  Alex stuffed his mouth.  "Chew before you choke," she said patiently.  He chewed as best as he could.  He finally swallowed and didn't choke.  "I would've waited, Alex.  I don't have to rush off right now."  He shrugged and finished the milk off his cereal then gave Tony a hug and said bye to the nightlight, making the adults smile at that bit of silliness.  She took him off to the office.

Tony went to the lab to finish his new generator.  Being a dad was kind of freaking him out.  Alex was very odd.  He went up to the safe room to get that information to look over.  Someone had clearly started to train the boy in some strange ways.  Why did he have nightmares like that and why did he hate the smell of liquor?


A few weeks later, Tony was watching Alex all by himself because of the function tonight that Pepper had went to.  Tony was watching the news in the lab with Alex helping him.  The reporter mentioned that they thought he was having a worse reaction than they thought to his kidnaping.  He scowled at it, looking at the boy, who was also scowling.  "That's not right of them," he told the boy, who looked at him.  "We should show them, huh?"

"Pepper be mad," he warned.

He grinned.  "No she won't.  You have very good manners, Alex."  The boy beamed.  "We'll figure it out.  Do you have a suit?"  He nodded, beaming.  "Good.  Let's go get ready to knock their socks off."  He walked the boy up to his room to get him ready and into his suit while Tony picked out which tux he was wearing tonight.  He got him into the car.  He had a modified-to-be-cooler carseat for the boy so he didn't look like a dork trying to compensate while he drove the sportscar with the boy in it.  "Three rules, Alex."

"Oooh, bad?"

"No, not bad ones.  You cannot cry at the alcohol people are drinking."  He had experienced that one first hand.  The boy had nearly been hysterical because he drank a beer in the lab.  The boy gave him a serious look but nodded.  "I know you don't like it," he said as they drove out of the garage.  "I know it stinks and it's bad for you.  Just don't cry about it.  You can scowl all you want at them for it, okay?"  The boy nodded, looking happier.  "Okay, second rule, don't pinch the girls I'm hitting on, okay?"


"Because I'm supposed to flirt," he told him with a grin and a wink then he paid more attention to the road.  "They expect me to flirt and if you pinch them like you did the girl on the beach, she'll run off crying.  That's not a good thing."

"Okay.  I won't pinch.  Can I look?"

"Sure, look all you want.  It'll only give you an appreciation for beauty."  He glanced down at him.  "The third thing is that you tell me if you have to potty.  I didn't bring any spare diapers.  Can you do that?"

"Sure," he sighed.  "No more diaper robot?"

"You can play with him later.  I'll reprogram it to play fetch with you."  Alex cheered.  "I know you've been doing very good with it, Alex.  I'm very proud."

"Is the nightlight proud?"

Tony had to smile at that question.  "Yes, the nightlight's proud too," he promised with a grin.  He smoothed down his hair before he pulled into the parking area.  "Stay with me.  Got it?"

"Okay.  We can look at the pretty women together."  That got a shared smirk and they got out.  Tony adjusted his tux and Alex walked over to walk beside him. The reporters all stared.  Alex stared at one.  "You're going to get cold," he told her.  "I do when I'm naked."

"Pepper adopted him," he said with a smile.  The reporters all started to call out questions so he answered them on his way up to the door.  The guard gave Alex an odd look.

Alex pointed at the gun outline.  "Uncle Rhodey hides his better."  The guard groaned but let them inside.  He looked around, making himself not react to all the people drinking the stinky, stupid making stuff.  He looked up.  "Stupid making stuff?" he asked with a pout.

"No, we don't have to drink the stuff that makes you stupid."  The boy beamed at him.  "Let me get us something to drink that's not alcoholic."  He walked the boy to the bar and got him a bottle of water and himself a glass of sparkling juice.  It was close enough for the moment.  He looked down at the fidgeting.  "What's wrong?"

"Diaper," he said quietly.  Tony took him to the bathroom.  He showed him how it was done in the bathroom then let him handle it.  Alex came out to get cleaned up then have his pull up put back on correctly.  He made sure the boy was retucked and presentable then they walked out again.  "Thank you," he said quietly.

"Not a problem.  Remember to keep telling me."

"Yes, Tony."  He walked them off, going to leer at more pretty girls.  Tony smiled at him for pointing some out to him.  Though he had to gape when he pointed at Pepper.  "I like that."

"You got it for me for my birthday," she teased.

"I have very good taste," he said, looking her over.  He looked down.  "He decided they were mean to me to say I was hiding."

"I can see that.  You look adorable, Alex."  She gave him a kiss.  He beamed and pointed.  "Yes, I know she's drunk.  Thank you for not crying," she whispered.  He beamed and patted her hand.  "Stay with us," she ordered when he started to move.


"Because you don't know who won't see you and try to sit on you," Tony told him.  "Remember, none of these people look down."

"Poo."  He walked off because he recognized someone, tapping her arm until she looked down then he smiled.  "Hi."

"Alexander," she said, staring at him.  "Why are you here?"  He pointed back at Tony and Pepper.  "I see.  How did you get with them, dear?"


She blinked.  "Oh, dear."  She sighed.  "That makes so much sense.  You should probably stay with them."

"No.  Boring.  Making gooey eyes."  He scowled at someone coming near her.  "Shoo.  Idiot."

She gave him a look.  "Don't say such things to my date, Alexander."

He grinned.  "Is."  He walked her off, taking her back to Tony.  "Know her."

"You do?  How do you know her?"

"The person who got him to Pepper is a mutual acquaintance," she said with a smile.  Pepper smiled back.  "Alexander is a very good little boy.  Even if he did try to drive my date off."  Alex beamed and nodded.

"Why?" Pepper asked.


"Don't call people names."

"He is."

"I don't care," she ordered.  "No calling people names, Alex.  It's not polite."

"Yes, Pepper," he sighed.  He looked up at her.  "How is Hallie?"

"Last time I saw her she was okay."  She patted him on the head.  "I should get back."

"I'd like to know more about this project," Tony said, walking her off.  Alex followed.  "What is going on?  How would the boy know who turned him in to Pepper?"

She sighed and led him up to the roof, turning to look at him.  "You're not ready for the truth."   He glared.

Alex poked her on the side.  "Might as well.  There's bad things watching him at the house."

She frowned at him.  "You shouldn't have any of those memories."

He shrugged.  "Don't, still bad things."

She huffed and change her face to its demon guise.  Tony took a step back.  She changed it back.  "I'm sure you know what vengeance demons are?"

"I've heard of the concept," he admitted quietly, glancing around.  "What does that have to do with him?"

"He got screwed.  Hallie's one of us.  That's how she found Pepper."

He nodded slowly.  "Why was he screwed?"  She touched his forehead and the knowledge hit him then erased itself.  "Why me?"

"Because he might as well be you the next generation.  He is yours now.  We made sure of it.  You needed him as much as he needed you.  Plus someone to make him actually use his mind this time.  Too many want the boy."  She sipped her drink and Alex poked her.  "Yes, I know you don't like people drinking around you."

He grinned.  "Put something in it."

"Who did?" Tony asked.

"Bad guy idiot."  He smirked at her.  "Fizzy plop."

She sniffed.  "He did try to poison me.  Well, he had already earned me coming down on him, this'll just make it more fun."  She smiled at Tony.  "He's still yours."

"This isn't right."

She sighed and moved closer.  "It is right.  It's right because he was just like you only no one gave enough of a damn to make him come into his gifts," she said quietly.  "He was a minor clone of you without the taught skills.  We didn't show him how to manipulate the robots, Tony Stark."  Tony swallowed.  "We only made him your son because he was just like you and you needed someone to care about again.  You have a good destiny.  You'll be doing great things and you can't have heirs the normal way."

"I knew that."

"Now you have one.  By blood and by binding."  She removed the knowledge again.  "Yes, we took it from Pepper too but it didn't fully work.  You both needed each other.  It's for the best for the world."

He looked at the boy then at her.  "He is my blood?"

"Now.  I'll make sure you get a dossier on his former life."  She curtseyed.  "With that, I've got someone to punish."  She left.

Tony looked down at the scared little boy.  He sighed.  "It doesn't matter, Alex."  He looked up at him.  "It doesn't."  The boy shifted closer so he patted him on the head.  "C'mon, let's find Pepper and talk to her?"

"Okay.  She's watching.  She very pretty tonight."

"She is," he agreed with a smile.  She smirked back.  "You knew?"

"I keep having odd dreams about it.  That's why I had the test done six times."

He nodded.  "But it comes up?"  She nodded.  "Then he's my son," he agreed quietly, glancing around.  He looked down at the steps.  "Excuse me."  He walked off.  He didn't realize the boy was following him until he stopped his godfather.  "Obadiah."

"Tony."  He smiled at him.  "You look well."

"Stupid head," Alex said, staring at him.

"You shouldn't call people names, young man.  Now, go find your mother."

Alex moved closer.  "I know you.  You saw me."  The man looked stunned.  Tony looked down at him.  "Bad.  Very, very bad."  He looked at Tony.  "He'll taint nightlight.  We should talk to more pretty ones."

"In a minute."  He looked at him.  "You knew?"

"I found out before Pepper did.  I was watching them to see what they were doing."

Alex snorted.  Then he smiled at the bodyguard.  "Are you bad too?"  He shook his head.  "Then why do you work for him?"

"He pays well, kid."

"Alex," Tony said, giving him a look.  Alex sighed but leaned against his leg.  "We'll be talking about this and the board."

"Who do you think started the motion, Tony?  I can't let you destroy everything I've built."

"Badbad," Alex said.  "Meany, puss sucker."

"Alex!" Tony said, glaring at him.  "Behave."

He grinned.  "He'll taint nightlight."  He glared at the older man.  "Sister too?"

"No, you don't have a sister."

"Pity."  The man gaped.  Alex moved closer.  "I told Uncle Rhodey."  The older man backed up and nearly fell down a stair.  "They know now about you being bad."  He walked off, going to find a pretty girl.  "Can you go talk to Tony please?  He's talking to a bad guy who does stupid things like drink."

"Sure, little guy."  He pointed.  She smiled and went to talk to Tony with him following.  "I'm returning him since he wanted me to come talk to you."

He smiled at her.  "He's very fond of pretty things."  Obadiah walked off.  He walked her back inside with Alex.  He couldn't find Pepper so he stayed for a bit then took him home.


Tony took the boy to a therapist he knew the next morning.  He had the dossier that had appeared on his bed.  The guy was good at hypnotism.  He let him see it and the guy apparently recognized him because he nearly fled.  "She said he's not supposed to remember."

"I can do that," he decided, going to get the boy from the waiting room.


Tony walked him back into the house, letting him go curl up on a couch.  Pepper was waiting on him.  "I took him to have some of those bad dreams repressed," he said quietly, staring at her.  "You could have warned me."

"You wouldn't believe me.  I don't believe it."  He let her read it.  She sighed, looking at him.  "He's a lot like you."

"He is," he agreed with a smile.  "What's with his thing against Obadiah?"

"He said he saw him.  I can't be sure, there's no records, but I had a bad feeling even before I found that they did make one report to him about spending.  I've kept them apart."

"Last night he said Obadiah had seen him and called him bad.  He went to pick me up a woman to I'd talk to her instead."

She smiled.  "He's so much like you."

"Yes he is," he said dryly.  "He told one of the reporters she had to be cold because she was nearly naked."  She giggled.  "Anyway, he's got a small headache from the ice cream we had on the way home.  It appears it worked.  I'm going to the lab."

"Okay.  We can head home tonight."

"No you're not."  He walked off.

She smirked at his back.  "Are you announcing it?"

"Not yet.  Did you get anything on schools?"

"A bit.  Including the one you went to."  He smirked at that before disappearing down the stairs.  She went to cuddle her boy.  She loved the little brat.  Even if he had pinched her last night.  He had clearly had an accident so she took him to get him cleaned up then laid him down in his bed for a nap.  Cleaning up the cushion was already being done by the diaper changing robot.  "Thanks, Jarvis."

"You're welcome."  The AI went quiet and she turned on some music to get some work done.


Alex snuck down the lab late one night, going to play with the robots.  They were still set up for the flying boots test he had peeked on earlier.  He checked then ran out to talk to them. "You can play with me," he told the sprayer robot.  It didn't move.  He scowled.  "Play with me," he demanded.  It didn't.  He huffed and got something then turned it on, making it look around then go into ready mode.  "Play with me."

"It's not that smart," Jarvis said from the intercom.  "What did you want it to do?"

"Spray me?  It looked like fun."  The robot sprayed him, making him giggle.  "Cool!"  He shifted and played with the tracking robots, ducking the spraying.  "Can't catch me."  The sprayer moved to follow him, but didn't always succeed.  Alex was covered in foam by the time the main lights came on.  "Oops?" he asked at Tony's amused look.

"That's not an opps, Alex.  That's playing around.  Which I don't mind as long as I'm not doing something serious."  He picked him up.  "That stuff's dangerous for you.  I'll change out a line to give you a water jet tomorrow."  The boy beamed and hugged him.  "You should be in bed."

"Nope," he said happily.

"Why not?  It's late."

Alex pointed outside.  "Pretty night."

"It is a pretty night."  They went onto the balcony to look at the stars, settling into a chair out there.  It was a beautiful, clear night.  Alex settled in against his shoulder, watching the stars, one hand covering the nightlight.  Tony looked down at the first snore, settling himself in for a bit more star watching.  It was very calming.


Pepper found them the next morning in the same place but Alex had had his usual nighttime accident.  She took a few pictures, then plucked her son up.  "Let's get you cleaned up."

Tony looked at his shirt then at the boy.  "They happen I guess?"

"Until he's fully trained.  We're working on it.  Usually he would've gotten up."

"Nightlight comfy," Alex muttered, falling asleep on her shoulder.  "Liked stars."

"I'm sure it did."  She walked him back to their bathroom to clean him up.

Tony looked at his shirt then took it off to put into the washer on his way to shower and change.  As promised he did change out the tube for the boy, letting him have a chasing, water squirting toy to play with for the day while he modified something on his newest project.  Pepper was giggling at what he was doing.  Tony looked up, smiling at how the boy was washing the cars with it.  "I thought you were going to play like last night."

"Last night?" she asked.  She frowned at the boy.  "Did you come down here to play?"  He beamed and nodded.  "How did you get in?"

"Saw you do the pushy button thing," he said with a bright, happy grin.  He finished up with the car and went to play some chase with the sprayer.  It tried to squirt him but he dodged, only getting a bit wet.  "That's cold!" he complained.  He dodged that way again.  This time it got him fully.  He had to dodge back.  He had no idea that Tony had the remote so he could spray the boy if he got too close to something sensitive.  It seemed to be working though.  He was having fun and not realizing he was being herded away from the work areas.  The diaper changing robot came down to help him too, snagging him by a foot and holding him upside down while the sprayer wet him down.  "No fair!  You're ganging up on me!"

Both adults looked over and giggled but Tony went to get him down.  "Did you make it do that?"

"No," he said with a pout.  He scowled at the robot.  "Just for that I should give you tentacles."  It tried to grab him so he stripped off and ran off.  It picked up the clothes to hang upside down.  "Ha!  Uncle Rhodey tagged me again!  That's what it was."

Pepper held her forehead, shaking it.  "How did he do that?"

"He got the shirt the last time," he complained.  He ran back, hugging her.  "It's all right to be naked."

"Only if you're in the bathtub or the shower," she told him.

"Shoot."  He ran off to play with the sprayer and the other one.  Now he had two grabby things trying to get him.

Tony took off his t-shirt and dropped it on top of Alex's head the next time he ran past.  "Put it on before you make Pepper blush."  Alex pouted at him.  "If I can't run around naked neither can you."  He sighed but put it on for him and went back to it. Though he did get sneaky and managed to maneuver in a way that meant Tony got sprayed by the sprayer bot.  Tony yelped.  "Damn it!  That's cold!"

Alex cackled.  "Told you so!"

"Play by the cars, Alex," Pepper said.  "We don't want to wreck what Tony's playing with."  He went back that way.  The boy stripped off the wet t-shirt the next time he got tangled in it and went back to playing.  The grabby robot managed to pick him up again and tried to get the shirt back on him.  She pointed with a giggle.  Tony laughed too.  "I think it hates naked butts too."

"It never did it to me, but I don't usually run around the lab without clothes on," he said dryly.  "Put it on, Alex."

"Like being upside down," he said.

"So?  You're still naked," Pepper said, walking over to put the t-shirt back on her son even if he didn't like it.  Then she walked him and his pile of clothes off.  "C'mon, lunch time."

"Nah-uh!  If it was, Tony would eat."

"He can eat later."  She picked him up to carry him off, taking her old pass back from him.  She had no idea how he had found the old thing but it was not a good picture of her.  She hid it again and made him some lunch before he tried to run around naked up there too.


Ten days after the incident where Tony had to beat Obadiah and came out as Ironman, Pepper stormed into the office.  Tony looked up at her.  Alex looked over from the couch.  "Problem?"

"Three.  Gossip columnists have gotten hold of Obadiah's will.  He left everything to his beloved nephews Tony and Alex."  He nodded slowly at that.  "Secondly," she said, starting to pace.  "Miss Potts, I know that your son tests exceptionally and I know that you have the backing of Mr. Stark personally, but that does not make him a good candidate for our school.  Our school is only for the *best* children," she mimicked.

"So the second may be taken care of by the first?"

"No, because on the way here, the school called up and said that it's nice he was your son but you still do things that aren't acceptable to the other members of the school.  Doing such lowly things as protecting people is apparently not good enough for where you went to school."

He nodded at that.  "I talked to a few of the other ones.  They have waiting lists miles long."

"School boring," Alex said, going back to his coloring.

"We might have to start our own," Tony joked.

She looked at him.  "Then you're hiring someone to oversee it," she said firmly.

"Of course.  You're not an education major," he joked with a grin.  She rolled her eyes.  "What about that one in Hollywood?"

"Crap," she told him.  "Absolutely crappy."  She sat down, looking at her son.  Then at her son's father.  "I'm out of options."

"Home schooling is one," he said.  "We've still got to do some traveling for work.  The guys at SHIELD wanted to see him too."

Alex spit.  "Bugger off."

"Where did you learn that?" Pepper demanded.

"No swearing, son," Tony ordered at the same time.  They looked at each other.  "Where did you learn that?"

He grinned.  "Agent."

Tony shook his head.  "No more learning bad words from the agents."   He looked at Pepper, who was scowling.  "Or saying them, son."

"Yes, Tony."

Pepper calmed herself down.  Tony got a call and went down to the lab.  "Alex, what do you want to go as this Halloween?"

"Nightlight!" he said happily, beaming at her.

She stared at him.  "You want to go as Ironman?" she asked, starting to smile.  He beamed and nodded.  "I'll see if Tony will mind."  He came back reading something.  "Tell him, Alex."

"I wanna go as Nightlight for Halloween!" he said with a big, cheezy grin.

Tony beamed back.  "You want to go as me for Halloween?"  Alex nodded.  Tony hugged him.  "We'll make you your own mini suit."


"With the nightlight," he promised.  The boy beamed at his mother.  Who could only smile back but shake her head slightly.  "No weapons of course," he added with a grin for Pepper.

"I'd hope not."  She looked around then at him.  "Let me get to work researching home schooling options."  She went to her office.  Alex watched her go then decided to go back to his coloring book.

Tony looked at what he was doing.  "Why are you putting horns on the horses?"

"They have them."

"Normal horses don't."

"The one on the beach does."  He grinned.  "I told agent and he was scared.  I'm so proud."  He went back to coloring.

"Don't scare the agents, Alex.  You might need them some day."  He patted him on the head, calling up his office computer to connect to Jarvis.  "Jarvis, I need the suit's specs sent to the office.  I'm making Alex one for Halloween."

"With the nightlight," Alex reminded him.

"With the generator."

"Of course, sir.  To that terminal?"

"Please."  It popped up and he made modifications so it was Alex-sized and had no weapons, but had a built-in generator.  Rhodey walked in and scowled at him.  "Don't do that in front of the son."

"That's the headline in tomorrow's paper."

"Poopie heads can whine," Alex said blandly.

"Quit calling people names," Pepper called from her office.

"What she said," Tony ordered, staring at his son.  "Or no trick-or-treating."  His son pouted but nodded.  "Thank you."  He looked at the amused Air Force captain.  "How was your week?"

"Less interesting than yours.  How's the sprout doing?"

"My old school doesn't like me anymore.  That means I don't have to give anything to them so it balances it out.  Alex wants to go as Ironman for Halloween."  Rhodey grinned at that.

"With nightlight," Alex told him.

"Of course.  Can't be Ironman without the light.  Should've named him headlight," he teased.  Alex snorted, shaking his head. "No?"

"Bad guys wouldn't be scared."  He went back to coloring.  Pepper came in to get him.  "Do I have to?"

"Yes, son.  Let them talk about weapons and things.  We can have a snack in my office."  She shut both doors so it was harder for her son to escape.

Tony smiled.  "Some days he's such a little me."

"He is.  He leered at the women like you do too."  He sat down, looking at the picture.  "Why does the horse have horns?"

"He said he saw one on the beach."

"Ah."  He closed it, looking at his friend.  "Now what?"

"Now, we have some serious upgrades to work on and test."  They shared a look.  "Are the agents still freaking out?"


"Wonderful.  Alex said he scared one."

"Not that Fury guy.  He just patted the boy on the head and told him to be good before he spanked him."

"He'd be missing a hand," Tony said dryly.  Rhodey smirked at that.  "If he needs it, we can."

"Of course you can.  Think he'll be the playboy you are?"

"He still hates the smell of alcohol.  He threw an unholy fit the other night when I had a beer."

"It's probably better for your liver anyway, Tony."  Tony scowled so he grinned.  "Think of it like being in training."

"Yeah, right," he snorted.  "Did we find anything else on that dossier I gave you?"

"Very little.  Official records."  He pulled it out of his pocket and tossed it over.  "Who is that kid?"

"Don't worry about it.  I'm checking him out for someone else."  That got a nod.  "That's interesting."  He put it aside.  It did explain why the boy hated school.  He picked up the coloring book, staring at it.  "I think we need to have his eyes checked."

"Could.  He's mostly inside the lines on the left side."

"That's what I was thinking."  He went to talk to Pepper.  He held up the page.

"He did good staying inside the lines on the left side," she said with a smile for her son in the bathroom.

"I think we need to have his eyes checked and make sure he's not a bit LD," he said quietly since Alex was washing his hands.  She nodded at that, moving to look up someone good.  "Thanks."  He handed it over to the boy.  "Good job staying inside the lines for the most part."  He patted him on the head.  "Let me get back to those plans."  The boy beamed so he went back to them.  Rhodey grinned at him.  "He wants to go as me for Halloween.  Without weapons because Pepper said so."

"I think that's going to be the hottest costume this year.  It'll probably will stay that way unless you screw up."  Tony nodded at that.  "Any other cheery news?"

"The gossip columnists got hold of Obadiah's will somehow."

"Wonderful.  So he's out of hiding?"  Tony nodded, grimacing some.  "There's always military school."

"I think he'd hate that.  I would have."  He got back to work on the miniature design.  Pepper came in with an email then left.  "Let him go tour the lab," he called after her.  "He was looking bored and they're putting up a new power generator today."

"He called it a huge nightlight and we've seen it," she said with a smile.  "We're going to oversee the fixing of the landscape next."  She took her son to do that.

Tony looked at the email.  "Someone wanted me to design the official halloween outfit."  He put it aside.  Then he twitched the design for Xander's costume.  "There.  How's that look?"

"How are you doing the generator?"

"It'll have a battery operated light."  He let him see that part.  It got a nod.  "Okay.  Now what was I going to do?"

"Call Fury at SHIELD."

"Yay," he muttered, calling them.  "Agent Fury wanted to talk to me.  Tony Stark.  Sure, you can put me on hold while you get him antacids."  Rhodey snickered at that, shaking his head.  "Mr. Fury, what can I do for you today?  I was thinking about that but I've already got one picked.  Yes, him.  That's fine.  No, Alex wants to go as me this year.  They can snap pictures of him being adorable."  He leaned back, holding his head.  "That's also fine.  I heard about there being some who did things in New York. I had no idea if it was real or not.  No, I'm in the office and I'm staying here to avoid slugging someone in the press since they just found out about Alex.  He's off with Pepper overseeing the landscaping."  His computer put up a message.  "Hold on, incoming call from security."  He put him on hold and answered it.  "This is Stark."  He listened.  "Who is he?"  He frowned.

"No, but you can put him in an office and I'll think about talking to him later.  What did Alex do?"  He smirked.  "That's fine.  Please do and take his credentials for me."  He hung up and went back.  "Did you send a new agent out here?  Patterson.  Just showed up at the gate demanding to see me.  Alex kicked him and walked off getting yelled at for calling him an idiot.  Please do.  I'll have them in a few minutes.  Rhodey can do that.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "He didn't send him."  They went to get the guy's credentials to run back through to see who he was.  Tony stared.  "Go get my son and guard him and Pepper please."  Rhodey jogged off to do that while he pulled out the information he had.  He walked into the room, closing the door behind him.  "You're with who and you want to do what with my son?" he asked calmly.

"Your son is not your son. I have proof he's not."

"We have six DNA tests saying he is."

"There are forces you don't understand at work, Mr. Stark."

"I know that."  The man gaped.  "I had that researched too.  I don't care," he admitted.  Then he smirked evilly.  "You were pretending to be a Federal agent."

"I am."

"You're not and there's someone from SHIELD coming to see you."  The man swallowed.  "You're going to stay in here."

"You have no idea how dangerous that boy is!" he said, standing up.  "The ones that did this to him are dangerous and can hurt everyone if they're not stopped."

Tony tossed down the information.  "Really?"  The man saw what it was and went pale.  "Like I said, I had it researched.  He had no choice in the matter.  It was done without his consent.  They were right to do this as far as I can tell.  It gives me a good reason to give a damn and not die from alcohol poisoning or sleeping with the wrong woman.  It gives him the life he would've had if he someone supportive before.  As for his friends, yes, I do know about them and their jobs as well.  It's amazing what you can find on the internet."  Someone knocked then came in with one of the agents tailing them around.  "I do believe they're here for you."

"That boy is going to destroy us all!" he shouted as he was dragged off.

"Not if he's raised right," Tony said, waving after him.  The agent came back to look at him.  "Did you know about demons?"

"A bit, sir.  We don't usually have to deal with them."


"What is he talking about?"

"A wish demon."

"Oh.  Oh, no.  Your son?"  He let him see the dossier.  They got a slow nod.  "He sounds a lot like you."

"Which was the reason.  We do know.  We agree.  It's fine."  That got a nod and he left.  "Make sure his special project is shut down if you can," he called after him.  "It's in the system as being still active."  That got a shudder and the agent took him back to headquarters to deal with him.  Tony went back up to his office to think.  How did these people find out these things?

Pepper walked in.  "Rhodey's looking into it but he said it looked like they had some captives that spilled information."

"About Alex?"

"About his past.  They're scared of civilians doing their job, Tony."

"There's a time and a place for that stuff," he agreed.  "I see nothing wrong with what he was doing before."  He shrugged.  "Where is he?"

"Climbing all over his uncle," she said with a smile.  "He's nagging him about finding a good woman so he has kids to play with."  Tony smiled at that.  "Beyond that, he has an eye appointment in two weeks and we'll take it from there if the glasses don't fix the problems."  He let her see the papers.  She scowled.  "He said he didn't like school."

"That system is horrible," he said.  "It ranks lowest in the country every single year."  She shuddered.  "I'm guessing they weren't that supportive."  She handed it back with a slightly evil smirk.  "Yes, we'll figure that out."  She nodded.  "Nick Fury said he wanted me to talk to a few others who do similar things in New York."

"Are we coming?"

"Probably not.  I'm not sure it'd be safe."

"Then you're taking Rhodey?"

"I am."

"Good."  She smiled.  "The landscaping is going all right but he hates the smell of the fertilizer.  Not that I blame him."  She went back to her office.  Alex and his snack was dropped off by his uncle and he went back to making plans with Tony while she made some of her own.  She had to handle the duties of the company while Tony was playing Nightlight.  Plus make sure her son quit being so demented and pushy.


Four Years Later


Alex looked around before swiping his mother's ID card.  He had a use for it later.  One of the guards caught him and took it from him, handing it back to her before walking off.  She looked down at him.  "You don't need to be anywhere that you'd need an ID for, son."

"Yes I do."

"No, you don't.  And if you try again, you're grounded and going to visit your grandmother for two weeks of bran muffins and nasty cheese with tofu omelets."  Alex shuddered, he hated how his grandmother cooked.  She got back to work.  "Don't you have homework to do?"

"Nope."  He looked around, watching the people around him.  They were announcing something new soon so everyone was busy doing ...something.  Mostly typing it seemed.  He went to check on Tony, knowing Pepper was watching his every move, even if she was reading something on her monitor.  He walked in and leaned over his arm to see.  "New suit?"

"Nope.  New guided system for military use."  He looked down at him.  "Homework?"


"Is that the same nope that got the letter sent home because you're not doing homework?"

"Maybe," he offered with a grin.  "I'm being bored stupid."

"It's not making you stupid."  He gave him a hug.  "What were you supposed to do tonight?"

"A major project on Africa.  I've got a paper done."  He grinned.  "The teacher hates it."


"I pointed out some of the things we saw on tour last summer.  She hates it and me."

"Ah."  He gave him a hug.  "We'll look over it later."

"Yes, Dad."  Tony smirked at that.  "Can't I go have some fun?"

"What did Pepper say?"

"She'd make me eat Grandma's cooking again."

Tony snickered.  "That is a fate worse than boredom."  He gave him another squeeze then pulled a comic book out of his desk drawer.  "There.  Give me three good ideas for the suit by the holidays?"

Alex beamed.  "I can do that!"  He went to read in Pepper's office - she had the more comfortable couch.

"What's that?"

"Tony gave it to me.  He wants three good ideas by Christmas."

She frowned at it.  "A comic book?"

"Yes.  They're for boys you know."  He settled in to read.  She sighed but let it be.  He knew she wanted him to be reading some textbook or something boring like that but he liked comics and he did learn a lot off them.  "I wonder if he knows he's in here," he muttered, turning the page to go on.



"Oh."  She rolled her eyes and got back to work.  "You can email later, Alex."

"Yes, Mom.  Can we have spasghetti later?"

"Sure."  She smiled and made a note then went back to her proofreading the speech Tony needed to make.  Alex got done and got up to get some paper and a pencil to doodle his ideas on.  She never realized he had her ID card again.  The guards weren't watching this time either.  Alex smiled to himself as he thought out loud on the paper.  The suit definitely needed something to stop nosy people snooping in your head.  And something against magnets.  Because the metal in the suit could be trapped that way and it was painful from what he'd seen the last time.  Maybe some sort of spray on stuff like they kept putting on the couch he used because he dropped food on it?  He'd have to think about that later.  When he went to play in the lab.  He needed a practical model to test stuff against after all.  Didn't he?


Ten hours later, Tony wandered into his lab, drawn there by the noise and lights that shouldn't be on.  "How did you get in this time?" he asked quietly, making his son jump.

"ID card," he said with a bright, happy grin, stuffing it down his pants so Tony couldn't get it.

"That won't stop me from taking it back for Pepper."  He looked at the robot Alex was taking apart.  "What are you doing?"

"School project?"  He sounded a bit hopeful but maybe Tony would believe that.

"Uh-huh.  Is that a statement or a question?"

The boy sighed.  "I'm making something so I can test like you guys do."

"Need help?"

"Nope," he said with a happy grin.  "I need to get the small gear into the new arm and then reattach it.  It's easy squeezy mac'n cheese."

"Okay."  He sat down to watch.  The boy was blocking his view but he was smiling.  He remembered doing the same thing to his father.  More than once.  Yes, Alex was definitely a Stark.  The boy finally attached the last arm and moved to turn it back on, making Tony nearly laugh.  The robot now had four tentacles instead of helpful attachments and arms to hold things for him.  "What are you doing with that?"

"Sic 'im, diaper changing robot!"  The robot came over to attack Tony, making him shriek when it tickled him as he tried to get away from it.  Alex beamed and got to work on his real project.  That would keep nosy adults away from his toys.

"Jarvis, turn it off," Tony ordered.  The robot powered down but Alex hit a button in his hand and it was turned back on.  This time it tried to grab his ankles to flip him up into the air.  "Hey!  You're my robot, damn it!"

Alex beamed.  "See, testing."

"My patience," Tony noted impatiently.  The boy pouted but turned it off.  "Thank you.  That wasn't nice, Alex."

"I'm only polite at school because the teacher and shrink said that torturing was for the ones you love."

"Why are you supposed to torture the ones you like?"

"Because they're like that?" he said with a small shrug.  "The teacher thinks I come home to make things explode and try to blow up mom for some reason.  I don't know why."  He went back to his reading and working on ideas.  "Can chemicals make something not react to magnets?"  He looked up, seeing the stunned look.  "I saw that one on the plane trap you that time."

"I didn't think you saw that.  Yes, it can.  I think."

"Maybe we should shellac the suit?"

"That could be a good idea.  Any others of the three I wanted?"

"Something to keep snoopy telepaths out of your head?"

"That could help sometimes but sometimes it's a desperate plea for help."

"Something you can turn on in case the one guy goes bad or it's an attack by another one."

"I'm not sure how you'd build that."

"A jammer for like radio frequencies?"

"Maybe," he agreed, smiling at his very bright, but bored son.  "The third?"

"Tentacles to come out and attack something when they don't expect it?" he asked with a grin.  Tony barely managed to avoid them in time this time.  He had to jump over a stool and nearly tripped but he managed to avoid being grabbed by the tentacles.  Tony dodged to haul him up and carry him upstairs, using the remote to turn it off.  He grabbed the pass then put him into his room with a pat on the back.  "Night, Dad."

"Thanks, Alex."

"Can I have the new pet play with Uncle Rhodey?"

"He'd spank," he said dryly, going to slide Pepper's passcard into her purse then go to his own room.  The remote for the tentacle robot too.  Just in case his son decided to be more warped than usual.  He got these strange ideas when he got too bored.  It was probably bad for humanity but oh well.  It kept their son very happy with himself.

Alex waited until Jarvis told him everyone was asleep then went to get his copy of the passcard and his remote back.  He had watched the people in the card department work their machine and had copied his mom's for himself.  Not that hard.  It had been stored so he didn't have to trick her into posing for a new picture or anything.  Just push print and gather it.


Tony winced when he heard a scream outside, rolling his chair backward to look.  Rhodey was running from something... with tentacles.  "Pepper, he's bored again," he called.

She groaned as she came in.  "How bored?"  He pointed at the robot.  "He snuck down to put tentacles on one of your robots?"

"The one that used to change him."

"He did call it his pet."  She went to stop their demented son.  "Alex!" she bellowed.  "Stop it now!  It's not nice to chase your uncle around with a strange robot."

"It'd only tickle him," he called from his hiding spot.

"I don't care!  Stop it!"  The robot powered down and she stomped over to check on Rhodey then help him find her son.  He was *so* being spanked for this stunt.

Especially when the robot came over to protect him and got her, hanging her upside down by an ankle while the other three tentacles tickled her.  "Let her down!" Rhodey yelled.

"I'm not doing it," Alex called from his hiding spot.  They heard the beep of the remote but it was still going.  "Let her down, diaper changing robot!"

Tony walked out and fiddled with his universal remote.  It found the frequency after a  moment and turned the robot off, letting Rhodey help her down.  Pepper carefully smoothed out her clothes.  "Alex, corner of my office," Tony ordered calmly.

"I didn't have it attack Mom."

"I don't care.  You clearly got into her things since that's where I put that remote."  He found his hiding spot and took it from him.  "Pepper, do you have your passcard?"  She held it up.  He held up the one the son had.

"Really?" she asked, coming over to look at it.  "That is mine."

"He probably snuck down and printed you a new one," he said, handing it over.  With the remote.  "I put both of them into your purse last night after I saved the lab."

Rhodey pulled the boy up, swatting him before turning him toward the offices.  "Now.  Corner."

"Meany," he mumbled but he trudged that way.  "I didn't make it attack Mom."

"I don't care," Rhodey said with a wave and a smirk.  He looked at the parents.  "Let me guess, he was bored again?"  They nodded.  "You've got to get the boy some real friends who aren't robots and something to do after school, guys."  The robot woke up and they all fled from it until the remote found the frequency again and got turned off.  "Do all the robots around here protect him?"

"It's a security protocol if we're attacked," Tony complained.

"We need to redefine the meaning of attack," Pepper said calmly.  "I'm going to beat my son now.  Excuse me for a moment, gentlemen."  She went to 'talk' to her son, and no guard or robot was going to save his behind this time.

"I'll work on that definition in the lab," Tony said, fleeing that way.  Rhodey looked like he was going to blow.  He didn't want to hear Alex whining at his mother or listen to the ranting.  He wasn't *quite* that brave.  He'd stand in front of a meteor about to crash into a city but not get in the way of either of those fits.  He even locked himself in so none of it could reach him.  Someone working in there gave him a small grin.  "His playmate got a bit out of hand."

"We saw."

"She's going to kill us all if that got broadcast."

"I hope not.  The camera crew was on the other side of the lab for that talk in about two hours."  Tony groaned, going to get ready for that.  They'd deal with Alex later on.  He found all the office robots surrounding him and keeping Pepper from getting near him.  One would shoot staples at her bare legs whenever she tried.  He smacked that one on the head, making it choke and stop shooting.  "Press conferences is in two hours.  Alex, we'll spank you later.  Behave.  Do not touch a thing."

"Yes, dad," he muttered, holding his chin in his hands, looking miserable.

"Thank you," Pepper said, going to finish her job.

Tony got ready and changed clothes, considering his son's whereabouts.  Should he bring him to keep him out of trouble?  No, then the reporters sucked up to him.  He'd enjoy that.  He had a guard come in to watch over him while he jogged that way, fussing with his hair on the way.  It was a recipe for disaster but he'd pay the guy hush money if he had to.  He wouldn't be the first guard to get that special bonus in his check.

Halfway through the press conference, Tony heard screaming and turned to look out the windows.  Something was attacking the building.  The reporters gasped and moved to film it.  He groaned when he realized what was holding it off.  Alex was in *so* much trouble if he had arranged for that attack so he could play with the tentacle robot.  He went to get the suit and put it on.  By the time he got out there, the thing was down and begging for mercy.  Rhodey had his own suit on.

Alex peeked out of the building.  "Thank you, Tentacly!  Way to go!  Now hide, it's Dad."  He ran back inside.  The robot drove for cover too.  The two suited beings shared a look.  Rhodey went to stop that troublesome robot while Tony dealt with the creature.

"Did you come to attack the boy?" he asked it.  It nodded.  "Why?"

"He stole my tentacles.  I can't do things with them anymore."

"They're robotic."


Tony moaned, pulling the beast up and into better chains, then handed it to the agent stashed at the campus for such events.  "He said Alex stole his tentacles for his playmate."

The agent tried not to smile.  "Hell of a son you got there, Stark."  He walked off quickly.  He knew a repulsor beam hurt like hell when it hit you on the ass.  He didn't want it again. Or a super-strength kick either.

Pepper leaned out.  "Alex is barred behind all the robots in the lab again.  Rhodey's stuck on the magnet in there when one that hadn't been on turned itself on and attacked him.  What did that thing want?"

"His tentacles back from Alex's playmate."

"He's *so* grounded even if he is just like you, Tony."  She went to stop her son.  She walked in and all the robots slumped.  They knew they and Alex were in trouble.  "Alex, I've had enough," she snarled.  Her son tried to run but she caught him.  "Unmagnetize your uncle and report to your room, young man."  He did it and then ran for his room.  She needed to calm down then she'd go deal with him again.  "Sorry, Rhodey."

"It's not his fault.  The robots are all insane about him."

She smiled.  "He's a bit insane himself."

"Just like his dad," he agreed dryly.

"Definitely.  That thing wanted his tentacles back from Alex."  Rhodey groaned, walking off shaking his head to get out of his suit.  She looked at the massed robots.  "Go back to work before I spank you too."  They fled.  She went to get a glass of ice water before going to talk to her son.  Tony could handle undoing whatever unholy influence Alex had over the machines around the office.  She hoped.


Ten Years Later


Alex looked at his parents then sighed and looked at the gym.  "Does this have to do with why Dad has broken ribs?" he asked.

"No, this has more to do with the fact that you have my taste for dangerous, loose women, son," Tony said dryly.  "Ones who want to stab you and kill you after they love you."  Alex blushed at that, ducking his head some.  "I also want you to do some physical training in case you have to get away from some psycho like you did last year at school."

"I didn't date her."

"I know that," Pepper said, giving him a hug.

"Aww!" he complained, getting free.  "I'm too old for hugs."

"Bull."  She stared him down and he had to let her do it.  "Thank you."  She smiled and straightened out his hair.  "Yes, if you have to some year you might have to take over for Tony in the suit, Alex.  Right now, we want you in better shape so you pass gym class and so you can run away from the skanks you date."  She patted him on the head.  "Have fun."  She walked off.  "I'll make you a snack."

"Thanks, Mom."  He looked at Tony.  "How likely is it?"

"I'd have to reconfigure it to work without the generator since one doesn't work well on you.  We'd have to make you your own suit since mine was destroyed last month," he finished with a sigh.

"Your third one.  You worried mom sick."

"I know.  I didn't mean to.  The same as you didn't mean to sleep with the senator's daughter and her mother at that party."  He clapped him on the back.  "Besides, if you look hotter, then maybe you'll get a better class of woman, son."  He walked off.  "There's a trainer here to work with you.   We'll be safely out of sweating distance."

"Maybe if you worked out with me, you wouldn't get so banged up," he called after him.  His father stopped to stare at him.  "That is the next logical step."

"True, but I'll retire from wearing the suit when you start doing it for me," he said quietly.  His son beamed at that.  "I know you want to.  Now you have to prove you have the dedication and the desire to do it. Plus to modify the suit so it works for you.  I had to do mine.  You have to do yours."

"Yes, Dad.  I'll make you proud."

"Just quit sleeping around so much, son.  You have really bad taste.  Even with the skanks I used to date, you have really bad taste."

"If I get my own working, can you maybe snuggle mom a few times and knock her up so I have a little sister to fuss over?"

"I offered a few years back.  She said no.  Talk to her about it."  He walked off smiling.  Pepper had clearly been listening.  "He'd make a good big brother."  She swatted him hard. "Ow.  Watch the ribs, woman!"

She smirked at him.  "That's for even thinking about going with his plan."

"If he wants to take over some year, then he'll have to prove he can do the duty."

"I know," she sighed.  "I don't like it."

"Me either but I know I'm not immortal."  They shared a look then went to watch their son's first physical training session.  He wasn't in *bad* shape but nowhere near athletic.


Alex looked up from the floor of the lab with the groan.  His head thumped back down when he saw his father standing there.  "I so suck."

"You don't suck," he said, coming in.  "Or don't you remember seeing me flying into a car while testing the boots?"  He pulled the boy up, looking him over.  "Need more than an ice pack?"

Alex looked at the new bruises he had then shook his head.  "Hot bath later.  Get this working now."

"No, hot bath now.  You can work on it tomorrow."  He gave him a shove in the right direction and locked him out of the lab for the night.  Alex went up to his suite and found Jarvis had started his bath for him.  Tony smiled, going to his own room.  If Alex really wanted to work tonight, he'd sneak down and hack back in later.  He'd done it before when he was moping over a girl dumping him.  Though, he did need to show the boy what *good* girls looked like.  His son seemed to have that blind spot.  He went to check on his son an hour later, finding him bleeding in the water.  "What happened?"  He hit the drain switch and pulled the boy forward.  "You didn't say you got that hurt."

"It's not that bad," he complained.

"Yeah, right," he said dryly.  He got the medical kit and came back to pluck the small pieces of metal out of his son's back.  "Did you go through the table?"

"No.  Landed on top of it twice," he sighed.  "I'm fine."

"Shut up.  Before I tell Pepper."

"Please don't?" he begged.  He gave him the best begging look he could.  "I'll be so good and won't go out with the twins tomorrow night?  Please, Dad?"

"Twins?" he asked with a grin.  "Damn you are a chip off your old man."  He got him out of the tub and on the bench in there, getting down to the bandaging level of treating the injuries. "I won't tell Pepper if you be more careful."

"Yes, Dad."

"But tell me how the twins were," he said quietly.  His son giggled.  He gave his head a nudge and let him go back to his nighttime rituals.  Tony went back to his own room.  If his son wanted to talk to him or ask his opinion, he'd come talk to him.  He nearly grinned when he heard the knock.  "I'm still up."

Alex padded in and laid down beside him on the bed.  "How did I make a date with twins and what do I do with them now that I have them?"

Tony laughed.  "There's a lot you can do but you can never tell your mother this."

"Deal."  They shook hands and Tony went over what you did when you were lucky and stupid enough to end up with a set of twins.  He fell asleep that night with a hand over the light in Tony's chest.  Just like always, the nightlight would keep him safe and help him whenever he wanted.  The nightlight was a great thing for him to hold onto.  Home.  Safe.  Normal, kinda, but that was what a reborn Stark was like.

The End.