IMPORTANT!: The chapters with actual new content are 3, 4, and 5, though all have been rewritten/corrected, some extensively so. The reason for this is that I realised that some scenes which I should have covered from JARVIS's POV were missing, and I wanted to keep in chronological order.
1)Sincere thanks for reviews and all the encouragement goes to: CookieGirlLOL, LightNote16, Wolfy, Zuzanny, cm, Life's a dream, Avrice the Demigod, Daldi, Gaaraxluvr, TheGoldenTrioLivesOn, Katherine, ShadowDragonPhoenix, and MaraudingSnitch1314. As usual, I'll respond via PM to anyone I can.
Also, thanks for all the faves, alerts, etc, it is most encouraging.
2) Anyone who loves Tony/JARVIS interaction might want to check out my fic "Too Late", which has quite a bit of that.
I know it's a bit of shameless self-promotion here, but "Too Late" is one of my favorite two fics that I ever wrote (the other being "Stark Realizations") though to be fair it is also the single most miserably depressing thing I've ever written (which paradoxically also makes me sometimes hate myself for ever writing it in the first place).
3) I made the mistake of showing my collected writings to my family... and erm, well, lets just synposize by saying that my muse (and my ego) was thoroughly trampled underfoot... though its possible that a major problem was the fandom not my writing itself... I think... I hope. Either way...Youch!
Anyway, thanks a milion for all your support, dear readers... you certainly have a way of brightening crappy days and without you all this would not be possible.
4) Wolfy and Daldi (since I can't PM you), thank you for the suggestions... I'm working on them (whether or not I can find a way to fit them into this particular fic is another story) but you're right, both would be scenes worth writing, so check back on occasion if you'd like, sooner or later I'll come up with something!
This is it, JARVIS thinks. The inbuilt arc-reactor of the Mark VII has already been exhausted, and the one imbedded in his creator's chest – the only thing that keeps Tony's heart beating – soon will be too.
Meanwhile the assault does not let up, and JARVIS cringes inside as he cannot help but register the damage that befalls the human beneath the armor as the aliens attack relentlessly…. because this situation is the worst that Tony has ever walked into – in fact it probably cannot get any worse than it is already.
Somehow it does get worse – not on account of the invaders from another world but the inhabitants of this one – and in the end it's always Tony who chooses to sacrifice to fix the mistakes of others and protect the people that others have endangered.
It was that way with the Stark munitions that had fallen into the hands of murderers when all this started and it is the case now…. but this time is worse because at least then, when his creator was only tracking down and destroying his weapons, Tony had some slim chance of actually surviving.
This time, JARVIS knows his creator will die – knows that the arc-reactor will barely have enough power to let Tony divert the nuclear missile and fly it into the portal. He knows that Tony will go all the way, as far as he can…. that his creator will not simply fly to the opening and get himself to safety because he will not take the risk of the missile's guidance system bringing it back to Earth…. because Tony will risk himself without a thought but never anyone else….
"Stark, you know that's a one way trip."
Of course Tony knows, they both do – yet JARVIS finds no solace in words that are ironically for once entirely true, because the truth is too bitter, and the only thing worse than the inevitability staring him in the face is the fact that he knows only too well that no-one and nothing can stop his creator from going through with this suicidal mission.
"Save the rest for the turn, J."
JARVIS does as Tony has asked without further comment – and without any protest. He used to try to keep his creator safe. It might have been selfish, but he knows he can survive loosing anyone except his creator and that had been enough for him….. except that Tony always would override him anyway, and he does not want these last few seconds to be spent arguing pointlessly. Instead he tries to give his creator one last moment of happiness, one last reminder that at least in some ways he's not alone:
"Sir, shall I try Miss Potts?"
He knows that his creator wants this…. needs to hear her voice for one last time…. but he also dreads making the call to tell her that this once he's not coming back – and when Tony finally speaks, his subdued tone is even more raw than JARVIS's had been.
"Might as well."
The call rings endlessly without connecting and as even that last bleak hope flickers out, all JARVIS can do is silently watch the dwindling power level of the overtaxed arc-reactor, until his ability to multitask proves to be more of a curse than anything else, because over the data and calculations that torment him, and over the countdown on the arc-reactor's power and his creator's life….. a conversation that he's passively picked up on while lurking in the systems of the SHIELD helicarrier comes to mind in all its cruel detail:
"I know guys with none of that worth ten of you…. the only thing you really fight for is yourself. You're not the guy to make the sacrifice play, to lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you….. you may not be a threat but you better stop pretending to be a hero…."
This time the pain those words bring him is unbearable…. and shockingly raw. Maybe it's because if they were even remotely true, Tony would not be flying to his death right now…. maybe it's just because they are coming from a man that Tony knows had always ranked higher in his father's esteem and affections than he ever would.
JARVIS does not know if a computer is capable of hate, but if one is, he just might hate Steve Rogers for what are undeniably the cruelest lies he's ever heard about his creator…. and lies spoken at the worst time, because Tony is flying to his death believing that sacrificing everything will never be enough…. that his life and ultimately his death will never matter.
They pass the portal's opening and through fading sensors JARVIS knows that they are not even in known space anymore. It should interest him, but he barely notices the never-ending stream of data flowing though him….. because all he can feel is his creator's heart stuttering to a halt. All he can hear is Tony's pained dying breaths as beneath the armor, the fragile human life that JARVIS and the Mark VII can do nothing to protect slips away.
It is perhaps a small mercy that JARVIS is shutting down from lack of power and he'll never hear Tony's last breath….. he'll never feel his creator's body resting cold and dead within the near-impenetrable shell that could not save him from his own choices and sacrifices, from his own heroism… but everything in the computer's consciousness has become raw ….. pain, and the last thing he thinks as everything fades to black …. is that of all the lies he's ever heard about his creator this is the furthest from the truth, and the most cruel….. yet he's never wished for a lie to be true as much as he does this one.