Summary: No one ever lingered around after Stark Industries speeches. But this bespectacled kid, wearing a crisply ironed shirt with pressed plaid lapels, sheltering deep-set hazel eyes, and hiding underneath an up kept bob of curly hair, stood at the door like a statue. The kid looked an awful lot like he once did, and perhaps that's why he spoke, and that's perhaps why they kept speaking.

A/N: At the bottom of the page.

We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.

~Fyodor Dostoevsky

[Audio pulled from the Caltec auditorium security footage on December 2nd, 1995, 11:43 AM]

"Stringbean. You seemed to get a kick out of the speech. Hell, you've been waiting out her for what, and hour now? Just to see me?"

"Excuse me? Are you talking to—"

"Yeah, you. Are you actually in college? You look like you're thirteen."

"Twelve, actually."


"Yes, sir."


"Why are you talking to me?"

"You were waiting around for me. Why are you responding? Didn't your mom tell you not to talk to strange men?"

"She specifically told me not to talk to any sort of government personal, actually. No gender specified."

"Your mother is one paranoid bit—God, kid, you don't need to snarl at me—your mother's one paranoid woman. Sorry. Look, I'm not government. It's a private interest, you know? Private interest with a famous name to it. Not government, but pretty damn close to it."

"Nor a stranger."

"See? Answer to your question, then. I'm talking to you because I'm not a stranger."

"I'm a stranger to you; you're not a stranger to me. Stark Industries holds a fifty-three percent market share in the weaponry industry alone. Naturally, as the CEO, the press is enamored with you and plasters your face across America as a result, 24/7 omnipresence for you with minimal effort from yourself. Instantaneous notoriety. Sir. Mr. Stark. May I call you that?"

"Cute. Oh, don't huff at me. You were so respectful and docile—"

"No straight, non-pedophiliac man over the age of twenty uses 'cute' to describe a twelve year old."

"You're eleven. It's acceptable."

"Not eleven but— so acceptable by whom?"

"Myself, and that's all who really matters. So suck it up, cutie pie."

"That's even worse."

"Kid, then."

"I'm a high functioning sociopath with a lack of parental figures in my life. Therefore, I don't believe that I'm a kid. Perhaps physically, but mentally? Well past that."

"Unneeded information dump. You want to give me a backstory with that? Still, kid or cute. Your choice."

"Backstory? Not really. So how about my name?"

"Cough it up then."

"I'm not telling my name to a stranger."

"I thought that you were the stranger, not me. Omnipresent famous man, remember? When was I demoted?"

"Five seconds ago. You're getting old and forgetful."

"Whatever you say, kid."

"I'm not a kid."

"And I'm not listening."

"Actually, you are. Sound waves are still reaching your ears; as sound is a longitudinal wave, the compressions of molecules in the air eventually reach the tympanic membrane between your middle and outer ear, and the ossicles there carry the vibrations caused by the compressions of air to your inner ear, in which—"

"I do understand advanced wave theory and biology. Still, smart for a twelve year. Are you a genius or something?"

"I—I don't believe that intelligence can be accurately—"

"Save it for the psych major. Kid, look, it's been great talking to you and all, but aren't your parents going to meander down and pick you up at some point? Believe me, I know that parents can get as neglectful and forgetful as two badgers building a nuclear bomb—fuck, those badgers don't even know what they're doing in the first place—but it's been what, an hour since the end of the speech? Fifteen minutes since we started talking? I need to hustle out of here soon, but if you need someone to walk you to the main office and call security, or if you're smart enough to do it alone…"

"It's fine. I'll wait here. It's going to be a while."

"You sure?"

"I'm fine."


"I am."

"Really? Come'on kid. Speak up. I thought you had some fire in you, back talking me, but no, you shut down like a freight train."

"Your analogies don't make sense."

"Kid, look, I'm not trying to pry—"

"And failing—"

"—but if you ever need someone to rant about the harsh reality of the cafeteria or a crash pad or some shit, here's my card. Number's on the back. Just don't go slipping it to the paparazzo pompadours. Pep would have my hide."

"As long as your girlfriend isn't attempting to immortalize Buffalo Bill, you should be fine."

"Oh, there's the smile I was going for. Good job kiddo. Are you going to take the card?"

"I'm fine by myself."

"Take it, kid. I know how hard it gets."

"It isn't—"

"I know. Look, take it. You're not alone."

"I'm not—"

"What time are your parents coming?"


"Does anyone even know you're here?"


"And know to pick you up? And when to pick you up? And not to leave you sitting here, talking to an old man like myself?"

"Maybe I—just— I— I'll take the card. Thank you."

"No problem, kiddo. You fine out here by yourself, kid?"

"I think I will be."

"And I've got a plane to catch, my philanthropy quota for the day has been fulfilled, and you seem functional enough to entertain yourself for a while. But something goes wrong, and you call your new friend in a high place, got it? Smart guys with family issues gotta stick together. Or something like that."

"I will."

"Catch you around then, stringbean. Talk to someone else if you get lonely, okay? Can't let a cute faced kid like yourself suffer, genius or not."

"Reid. It's Spencer Reid. Not kid; not stringbean."

"You just love to brighten up my day, don't you? Wonderful chatting to you, Reid. Spencer. Call sometimes. Line's always open for an angst-filled preteen like yourself."

"Thank you, Mr. Stark."

"My friends just get to call me Tony."

"Thank you, Tony."

[Recording ended December 2nd, 1995, 12:06 PM]

A/N: And so they meet.

This story is going to be a dialogue-centric fic focusing around Tony and Spencer, hopefully all sequential. If you can leave any feedback, that would be lovely. I'm trying to get used to writing realistic dialogue and, as this story is dialogue-based, every bit of input helps.

Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed!

Edit 8/13/16: Changed the source of the audio from MIT to Caltec for the sake of continuity.