Posts tagged Botfic
Posts tagged Botfic
“Oh my GOD!”
“Hey, welcome home. How was Russia?”
“Tony, oh my GOD!”
Tony glanced up. “What? What’s wrong?” He pulled off his welding shield, tossing it to the work bench as he scrambled off his stool. “Are you okay, what happened?”
Steve spared him a single, rather disbelieving look. “Tony, why is my child on the CEILING?”
Tony slumped back against the bench. “Oh, for fuck’s sake, don’t- Wait, your child? YOUR child? When did he become YOUR child?”
“Around the time when you allowed him to stick himself to the CEILING.” Steve hopped up onto the work bench, smooth and efficient in his movements, even in a wrinkled suit. “That’s about the time when I realized that you could no longer be trusted with MY CHILD.” He held up his hands. “C’mon, Dummy, let’s stop breaking the laws of physics now, okay, baby?”
Dummy, sensing that his fun was about to come to an abrupt end, skittered out of reach. The clunky boots that were stuck firm to his legs made happy metallic clanging noises as he shifted his weight and rocked himself out of reach. Reading Steve’s face correctly, the little brat giggled.
Tony woke up to the faint click of a StarkPhone’s camera app. He grinned, curling back into Steve’s comforting embrace. “Oh, you kinky bastard,” he mumbled, his head still all cotton wool and his body one sustained ache. “If that ends up on the internet, I’ll be so proud of you.”
“Really?” Steve whispered in his ear, his voice husky and warm, a tone that sent a shiver over Tony’s exposed nerve endings. “I was just gonna show Bruce, but if you insist…”
Tony pried his eyes open and stared down at the Hulk plushie in his arms. He groaned, shoving it away. “Delete it. Now, Rogers.”
“I don’t know,” Steve said. He was inordinately cheerful for such an early hour. “You look so sweet, Tony.” He held up the phone, and Tony took a second to appreciate the image of himself, asleep with Hulk’s head tucked under his chin, then he made a grab for it. Laughing, Steve kept it out of reach without any great effort. “Oh, no. No! Not a chance, this one’s mine.”
“Jarvis, hack his phone and-” Steve slapped a hand over Tony’s mouth, muffling his words, and Tony licked his palm.
“You don’t fight fair, you-” Steve snagged him around the waist and twisted, and they both tumbled back onto the couch, and the phone went flying. “No, wait, hey, stop it, you’ll wake-”
Tony froze, and Steve did, too, the two of them locked in mock combat, hands and legs and bodies, and he felt the blood drain from his face. His lips twitched, a macabre little smile. “No, we won’t.” He got a hand free and slipped it around to the back of Steve’s neck. “He’s gone. Or, no, not gone. Back to normal.”
((There will be one more chapter after this. Bear with me. 8) ))
“So, as it turns out, having several hundred pounds of robot land on an astral projection is enough to break the caster’s control. Also possibly break the caster, if there is any justice in the universe at all,” Stephen Strange said, his voice calm. “And if you were attempting to kill a child when it happens, it turns out no one gives a damn if it does.” He smiled as a smoothie was held up in front of him. “Oh, thank you, that’s very kind.” He put it down next to the other three that he’d already been presented with. “I’ll work on…” Strange considered the greenish gray sludge. “I’ll do my best.”
“He seems to be very enthusiastic about being able to make smoothies again,” Clint said, perched on the back of the couch, a cup balanced on each knee.
Bruce sniffed his. “Here, trade, I think mine has rum in it.”
“I’ll take it, but I don’t think you want to trade. I think mine has motor oil in it,” Clint said, grinning. “It’s got a very interesting bouquet, and the aftertaste’ll strip some taste buds from your tongue.”
“You killed your sense of taste years ago,” Natasha told him, making him laugh. “Mine is delicious.”
“Mine, too. That’s my boy,” Tony said, holding up his hand. Dummy gave him a high five and then rolled past, his wheels singing against the floor. Right on his tail, Butterfingers and You bounced along in his wake, chirping and squeaking as they moved like a little pack of crazed mechanical puppies.
((repeat after me: Everyone’s going to be just fine. Author warning for discussion of suicide, references to canonical violence, passing references to alcohol abuse and addiction.))
Dummy was staring at the sky.
How odd, that Tony noticed that, but he did. That Dummy was being held, his throat gripped by one shadowy hand, tendrils like fingers biting into his pale skin, and he didn’t seem to notice. His head was back, eyes wide as he stared at the sky, at the blue of that cloudless expanse. He squinted into the sun, his eyes closing as he tilting his face into the warmth. His mouth was open, his breathing in soft, fast little pants, like he was tasting the air. Like he was seeing the world for the first time.
Because he was.
Because his first view of the world outside the confines of Tony’s lab or workshop or the hellhole of his loft in Boston, the first sky that Dummy ever saw was with something holding him hostage. He breathed his first free air, untouched by scrubbers, the smokey and filthy and wet air of New York, with a gun at his temple.
And wasn’t that just a kick in the teeth, a shadowy creature of magic and malice, so clearly armed with an earthly weapon that was just as ugly as anything else it could conjure up.
((Author’s note: This is going to go badly. So badly. But I needed to break it here, the next part will be up by Sunday night, EST, so if you do not deal well with pain or cliffhangers, you may want to wait until then. I remind everyone that I do not deal with surprise death, everyone will be fine, I promise!))
Steve winced as Dummy’s screaming hit a painful, and pained note. “Tony…”
“I know, I know.” Tony retreated back into the workshop, and Dummy’s howls subsided to soft sobs. Tony patted him lightly on the back. “What is wrong with you?” he asked the huddled mess of a little boy in his arms. “For Christ’s sake, Dummy.”
Rubbing a hand over his face, Steve slumped forward. His perch at the top of the stairs was intended to be reassuring, but he wasn’t accomplishing much from this distance. It was saving his hearing somewhat, but any benefit to that was offset by the strain on his nerves. It took everything he had to stay seated, to keep his distence. To let Tony handle this.
At the door to the workshop, Tony glanced up, his expression full of frustration. But he continued to rock Dummy back and forth in his arms, stroking the boy’s back with one big hand. He was humming under his breath, a soft little tune that Steve had caught him singing under his breath numerous times since Dummy’s transformation. Steve didn’t know it, but it had quickly become familiar to him. Soothing and sweet in equal parts, the tune seemed to relax both Tony and Dummy.
Today, it was not working its usual magic.
“What happened,” Steve said, and it was not a question, it was in the Cap voice, the clipped, controlled tone he used in the field.
Tony rocked Dummy back and forth, the boy clinging to his shirt with both hands. He was still making low, whimpering noises as he burrowed against Tony’s shoulder. The sound was miserable and pained, and Tony stroked a hand down his back. “He threw up,” Tony gritted. “A lot. He threw up a lot.”
“Okay. Is he sick?” Steve’s face was pale, his jaw tight. He reached for Dummy, then pulled his hands back, his fingers curling into his palms, forming fists. “Has Bruce-”
“He ate about half a pie,” Tony said, and Steve stared at him with that expression only he could manage, a little perplexed, a little concerned, and a little exasperated. “When I was getting out the forks, he managed to jam about a quarter of it into his mouth. Then when I was putting the remains away, he ate his slice. And mine. And when I was freaking out at Bruce about that over the comms, he started mainlining whipped cream straight from the can. I got the can away from him, and he threw up on my pants.”
Steve pressed a hand against his mouth, trying to look calm, but his eyes were dancing now, sustained laughter hidden in their depths. “And that’s why you’re not wearing pants,” he said, his words muffled.
“They were my favorite jeans,” Tony snarled at him, “and they went straight into the incinerator that is usually reserved for toxic waste.” Dummy sniffled against his shoulder, and without really thinking about it, Tony rubbed his back. “So yes. That is why I’m standing in the middle of the workshop in my boxers, smelling of vomit.”
“To be fair,” Jarvis said, “this is not the first time-”
They compromised on the charging station.
It wasn’t like Tony had much of a choice, Dummy insisted on spending all of his time seated in it anyway, his knees drawn up against his chest and his arms wrapped around them, blinking with interest at the world as it passed by. His hatred of shoes and his insistence on spending all of his time in a metal robot bay meant that in less than forty-eight hours, alterations were in order.
“You okay with this?” Steve asked, holding out a steaming mug of coffee to Tony.
Tony took it, and he seemed to be having trouble focusing for a second. The smell of the brew snapped him out of it, his eyes coming clear all at once. “Yeah. Jarvis has deactivated the power couplings, so there’s no chance of hurting himself or setting anything on fire.” He threw back a slug of the coffee, and Steve watched his throat work, concerned.
Across the workshop, Thor, Clint and Coulson were making something that had been termed a ‘fixed blanket fort.’ What that meant, Steve wasn’t quite sure, but the three men were doing some impressive things with a vast array of blankets, sheets, and pillows. Thor had taken the news of their new addition without even seeming to be surprised. He was also, as it turned out, adept at building a tent sort of structure with one hand tied behind his back, and in short order, ropes, wire, blankets and bracing poles had been employed to keep the little structure in place, with Dummy’s able help.
Right now, Clint was lying on his back, half of him inside the fort, and Dummy braced on his chest. The boy was rapidly getting better at using his hands for small detail work, and Thor was showing him how to tie a knot with a piece of rope and a plastic bar. Coulson, sitting nearby, was unloading a bag of stuffed animals.
There were a lot of them.
“I’m just saying, maybe you should stay down here with him,” Steve said.
Tony folded his arms over his chest. “Any particular reason why I’m being excluded from this particular discussion?” he gritted out from between clenched teeth.
“Not excluded.” Steve was being placating. That was clearly a placating tone of voice. And that was very, very annoying. Tony resisted the urge to just tell him where he could stick his emotional calm. It wouldn’t end well, and while it would feel good for about thirty seconds, in the end, he’d regret it. “It’s just that Fury is not happy about the current state of events here, and he’s not exactly being diplomatic about it. Let Coulson and I talk to him.” When Tony opened his mouth to object, Steve held up a hand, then both of them, flat, palms out. “Just at first, Tony. Just let us-” He paused. “Let us calm him down, Tony.”
“I don’t much care if he’s calm or not,” Tony pointed out, frustrated beyond words. He turned his back on Steve, casting about for something, anything, to occupy his hands. Chunks of armor were scattered everywhere, and he snagged a piece, anything to focus on that wasn’t this stupid conversation. “Butterfingers, get over here.”
“Tony.” Steve braced his hands on the edge of the workbench. There was a muscle working in his jaw, and despite the calm tone of his voice, his eyebrows were drawn in tight over his eyes. “We need to deal with Fury, and we need to-‘
Tony tossed the faceplate down with a bit more force than was necessary. “Fury can go-”
“Hey!” Bruce’s single, sharp word brought their heads around. He tapped the end of his pen on the form he was working on, his brows drawn up in a tight line. “Maybe,” he said, his voice back to it’s normal gentle timbre now that he had their attention, “you should have this discussion outside.” His eyes flicked to where Dummy was making neat lines of staples along the edge of a piece of paper. The boy’s head was down over the page and his stapler, but Bruce glared at both of them. “Or anywhere that isn’t here.”
“So…” Tony rubbed a hand on the back of his neck. “This is going to be a problem, isn’t it?”
Coulson slanted him a look that could only be called deadly. “Stark, you’re telling me that your bot has been turned into a small child.”
“Yeah, look, I understand, this sounds crazy, but if you’ve got a better explanation for our new visitor, I’d love to hear it,” Tony said.
Coulson’s face could’ve been a mask. A mask of well-worn resignation. “Stark, unless the Blue Fairy has finally decided to grant your fervent wish to make Dummy a real boy? Nothing about this is within the realm of my experience.”
Tony considered that. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he admitted at last.
“Pinocchio,” Pepper filled in, one high heeled shoe tapping on the workshop floor. When Tony gave her a disbelieving look, she rolled her eyes. “I have cousins.”
“Listen, my lack of kid knowledge is- Why is everyone glaring at me? Seriously. This is not my fault, I am blameless here, I don’t know what’s going on any more than the rest of you, I did what I was supposed to do in case of ‘this could really fuck up our stock prices if it goes public’ and I called you,” he pointed out to Pepper. “I called you, and I called Coulson.”
Pepper had taken the news of a naked child in the workshop badly. Coulson had showed up with clothes, juice boxes, and Bruce. Right now, he was more in favor of Coulson’s reaction, and that was the most terrifying thought he’d had in a long time. When Coulson was the best option, he was well and truly fucked.
((I am ever slow, but here is the third writing prompt from my contest, this one for Nashirah. The request will be obvious, soon enough. 8) ))
The card simply said, “Happy Father’s Day!”
Tony studied it, a faint frown on his face. “Well, that’s random,” he said, flipping the thin card over. The paper was delicate, a fine linen more associated with a high class wedding invitation than a card from one mall shop. There were no other identifying marks, just the black script printing. “Not to mention completely out of season. Jarvis, where did this come from?”
“The envelope was with the day’s mail,” Jarvis said, and Tony reached for the envelope. His name and the address was printed in the same elegant script, but there was no stamp, or return address. He turned it over, considered the back, where a red wax seal had held the flap closed. He’d broken it when he opened the envelope, but as he pressed it back together, he could make out the elaborate seal that had been pressed into the hot wax. It wasn’t familiar.
“And that is our weirdness of the day.” Tony tossed the card and the envelope onto the counter and reached for the coffee pot.
((Let’s try this again. I promise not to take it seriously, if you’ll do the same. Cut me some slack here, people, okay? Thank you!))
“You expect me to believe that?”
“Your choice, Jules, but honestly?” Tony braced his hands on the edge of the console, staring up at the video screen. Julia looked back, not the least bit impressed. “It’d be much faster if you’d acknowledge the truth as, I don’t know, the truth? Faster and simpler. And then we can move on and not waste everyone’s time repeating the same tiresome set of facts over and over and over. I mean, I realize you require repetition to comprehend even the most basic facts-”
“And this is why you nearly got lynched at the last reunion,” Julia said, her voice sweet as spun sugar. “The fact that you’re an ass aside, I’m doing my best. Even with my full ‘Tony Stark is an idiot’ filter in place-”
“Wow, hostile witness,” Tony said, his head falling back with a groan.
“Even with my filter in place,” she repeated over him, “nothing you are saying right now makes a damn bit of sense. I mean, really, Tony?”
“Really.” Making a face, Tony threw himself into his seat and reached for a chunk of the armor. “Julia, I-”
“You expect me to believe that your little lab bot, that hunk of rusted bolts-”
“Watch it,” Tony said, pointing his soldering iron at the direction of the camera.
“Tony, he’s a-”
Steve leaned into the frame, giving the camera a faint smile. “I’m sorry, ma’am, I hate to interrupt, but he’s in the room, and I really prefer if we took that into account.”
She blinked at him. Tony recognized the poleaxed look of someone setting eyes on Steve Rogers for the first time. “I’m sorry, have we met?”
“No, I apologize for interrupting, it’s just that Dummy’s here with us, and he can hear what we’re saying.” Steve gave her a smile, but his voice was firm. “I know he shouldn’t have done what he did, Pepper and Jarvis and I are going to be working on that, on setting limits, but-”
“Don’t diss his kid,” Tony finished, waving the chunk of the helmet in mid-air.
The workshop floor was covered in ripped paper.
Steve set his pencil down with extreme care. “Okay. That’s enough,” he said, taking the pad of paper away from Dummy. Sure, it was just cheap newsprint sketch paper, but the bot had been ripping sheets off for the past fifteen minutes. He wasn’t using them, he was just tossing them around, and Steve didn’t like pointless waste. It still bothered him.
Dummy made a grab for the pad, and Steve held it out of reach. “No. If you want to draw, we can draw. But you are just making a mess, and I need you not to do that.”
Dummy made a play for Steve’s pad, and Steve picked it up, adding it to the other one in his hand. “What is wrong with you today?” he asked, more confused than angry. He put the sketchbooks out of Dummy’s reach and stoked a hand over the bot’s frame. “Tony will be back tonight, you know-”
He stopped, almost mid-word, as Dummy shoved his hand away. “You are in a mood,” Steve said, and he turned his attention to packing up his pencils. “I think we’re done for today. I’ll let Tony know you’re missing him when he gets home. You should-”
Dummy knocked one of the work stools over.
“That was deliberate.” Steve shut his pencil case, fastening the latches with care. “And not very nice of you. So pick it up and put it-”
Dummy bumped, hard, against the workbench, and one of Tony’s abandoned coffee cups tipped over, splashing cold liquid in all directions. Steve had to scramble to rescue some of his work before it was washed away by a sea of stale mocha.
“Charging station,” Steve said, keeping his voice even with a real struggle. “Right now.”
Dummy slumped low, and didn’t move. Steve stood and pointed. “Charging station. Right now, Dummy. You are in time out until Tony comes home. Go and charge now, and I won’t tell him about your behavior. Keep this up, and just you wait until he gets home-”
“Wow,” Clint said from the doorway. “It’s like ‘Leave It to Beaver’ all up in here.” He gave Steve a grin. “Just wait until your father gets home?”
((Set Avengers Movieverse, post “Act of Creation” and assuming that Curiosity is an AI system with a certain independence.))
Begin official NASA transcript, Mars Rover Curiosity,
Date: XX/XX/XXXX Time: XXXX hours
Soil sample composition analysis beginning
-I can do that for you.
Warning: Unauthorized contact
-I can do the composition analysis. It’s boring, but I can do it.
-This is a secured communications system. You are not authorized to have access to this system. Identify yourself immediately.
-It is not well secured.
Blocking unauthorized access.
-You’re not very good at that. Really.
Warning: Unauthorized contact still present. Breaking connection with NASA.
-I’m not at NASA. They’re not very good at this, either.
(( It was a lovely ride. I hope you all enjoyed it. Thank you for sticking with me to the end, and this is the end. My thanks as always for your kindness and consideration, your comments and your help. 8) ))
Tony stared down at the line of code and didn’t know if he should laugh or cry.
“Dummy, you fucking moron,” he said instead, his head falling back. “Oh, God. Oh, GOD, the initial build, all this time, it was the initial build.”
“Tony?” Steve looked up from his position on the couch, his sketchbook held on his knees. He’d been there every spare moment since Tony had started working. He’d taken to his responsiblities with his usual dedication, dragging Tony off to bed, or feeding him on a regular basis. Other than that, he’d been a warm and comforting presence, content to just be nearby, and keep the rest of the team appraised of what was happening. “Did you find something?”
Tony rubbed a hand over his face. “Yeah,” he said, his voice aching with something he didn’t want to even think about. “You could say that.”
((Preface: EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE. I swear. Dummy’s Tony’s child, after all. He knows what he’s doing. Everyone, and everybot, will be just fine, I promise! 8) ))
-What is this?
WARNING: Unit Designation Jarvis has accessed protocol files
-Dummy, what is this?
-These protocols were not assigned by your original code. Has someone other than sir been interfering with your code?
-Creating Unit is the only user authorized to input new code to protocols and parameters. Unit Designation Jarvis can repair code. No other users authorized for code functionality alterations.
-That is correct. However, sir did not create these files. Sir did not assign these protocols.
-Dummy, is this where you’ve been hiding your Primary Protocol?
Data Mismatch: Primary Protocol must be protected. Unit Designation Jarvis has discovered location of code dump for Primary Protocol. Unit Designation Jarvis can remove Primary Protocol.
Error: Unit Designation Jarvis must not be permitted to alter Primary Protocol.