Title: Building Blocks (of Love)
Author: Del Rion
Fandom: Iron Man (MCU)
Rating: K+ / FRC
Characters: J.A.R.V.I.S., Tony Stark (Iron Man), Tony's bots (DUM-E and U). Mentioned: Pepper Potts.
Pairing: implied/off-screen Pepper/Tony
Summary: Tony enters the workshop to find the bots have decorated it to celebrate Valentine's Day. There are also love lessons involved, although Tony won't admit it to anyone.
Complete. Part of the "Genius, AI & Bots" series.
Written for: My card on Love Bingo's Round 3 (square: "Finding love")
Disclaimer: Iron Man and Marvel Cinematic Universe, including characters and everything else, belong to Marvel, Marvel Studios, Jon Favreau and Paramount Pictures. In short: I own nothing; this is pure fiction, created to entertain likeminded fans, for no profit whatsoever.
Feedback: Very welcome.
About Building Blocks (of Love): Here, have some more bot!feels! (And Tony!feels, if you squint.)
I don't seem to be able to stop writing fluff for this little series.
Story and status: Below you see the writing process of the story. If there is no text after the title, then it is finished and checked. Possible updates shall be marked after the title.
Building Blocks (of Love)
. . .
Author's note: You may find a teeny tiny reference to another fic in the same series, called "Macaroni Art and Chlorophyll Cake", within this story.
Written for my card on Love Bingo's Round 3. Square: "Finding love".
Building Blocks (of Love)
It had been a long day – although seriously, when wasn't it? – when Tony descended the stairs to his workshop, only to find its usual appearance quite changed.
"What the hell happened here?" he asked, gaping at the walls, workstations, tables, tool racks, even the fucking ceiling – all of which were covered in wires, strangely cut pieces of metal and something Tony suspected might be curtains from upstairs.
"Sir," J.A.R.V.I.S. started with a hesitation that most certainly did not come from Tony's original programming.
"What," Tony started again, pointing at his workshop, "happened here?"
"The bots, sir." The AI still sounded exceptionally weird.
Tony stomped deeper into the shop, tugging at one cluster of wires hanging from the ceiling. It seemed someone had gone to the trouble of nailing them there quite firmly. "Dummy! You!" Tony snapped. "Get your asses out here, right now, or I swear I'll put on the suit and –"
He heard a beep and a whir from the side and turned to look. Two heads rose from behind one table. There was a mess of wires dangling from the robotic arms and You was holding something in his grip: another weirdly cut metal plate, which happened to be a familiar shade of bright red.
Tony's eyes bulged, just a little. "Is that from my armor?!"
"From a scrapped armor, sir," J.A.R.V.I.S. informed him before Tony could calculate the fastest route to the bot and strangle him – not that strangling You would have had an actual effect.
"Why…" A deep breath. "I'm giving you ten seconds to explain this mess or heads will start rolling!" Not that he would actually hurt the bots, or his AI, but goddammit he wanted to, so very much.
"The bots attempted to decorate the workshop to celebrate Valentine's Day."
Tony blinked and looked around again, at the hanging mess of colorful wires and the metal bits. If he squinted, the metal discs appeared to be cut into shapes that resembled a heart – or two hearts side by side when two pieces of metal had been fused together. Most of them were jagged, melted messes.
"Why?" Tony frowned. "And besides, shouldn't all this be a sickening mix of red, pink and glitter?" he teased, trying to see how this could be worse than it already was.
"The bots were about to detonate a paint bucket in the middle of the room, but I informed them not to bother just to impress you. They also considered dipping all the decorations into said paint, but it would have taken too long to dry."
Tony breathed a sigh of relief. "That's good. You would have cleaned up that mess," he pointed at the bots.
As he surveyed the damage once more – he refused to call it 'decorations' – his frown returned. "Even if the gesture is… nice… why Valentine's Day? Father's Day made sense, but this is just weird."
"The bots wished to convey their love for you. Also, seeing as it is still uncertain whether you and Miss Potts will be able to see each other on the actual Valentine's Day, it was an effort to cheer you up."
"I am decidedly not feeling cheery about this," Tony groused, then looked at the bots again: "Come on, you two; clean-up time."
Dummy and You got to work slowly. You offered Tony the red, heart-shaped piece of his armor, and the hopeful look in the bot's eyes made Tony set it down on his primary work table instead of throwing it away.
"You guys know Valentine's Day is celebrated by couples and not by whatever we are to each other, right?" he asked after a bit, to break the moment.
Dummy made a series of sounds that may have been a protest.
"As DUM-E attempted to point out – or so I think – you love the bots."
"That's stretching it a little thin," Tony warned, looking at the bot – who yet again let out a series of frantic beeps and accompanied them by equally frantic gestures, knocking over a cart full of tools in his excitement.
"Logically, DUM-E's statement isn't incorrect," J.A.R.V.I.S. argued. "You built them, nurtured them, taught them and allowed them to be near you even when you refused anyone else's presence."
"I still don't see how –"
"Sir, you know I have studied human behavior."
"Then there is an observation I would like to make: people often feel love towards inanimate objects, due to various psychological reasons. You built two bots, and even in their beginning stages you found reasons to love them. Whether that is because they are your creations, or because of some childhood trauma –"
"Okay, enough," Tony interrupted the AI. "I built all of you guys and… there is obviously an emotional rapport between us. It isn't love, though, because love takes two people, and you can't build something to love you back; that only happens in sappy family movies."
"But you can love something you built – whether it is on purpose or by discovery."
"I suppose, yeah."
You rolled over, looking at Tony with his camera eyes. Tony's mind decided the bot's expression was hopeful and filled with love, even though he had just argued the point his AI had tried to make. Just because his brain liked to embrace that childish notion didn't mean he had to believe it, or support it…
"I'm not going to kiss you," Tony told the bot – but he did settle a hand on You's head just the same.
Dummy rolled over as well, resting his hand on Tony's shoulder. Tony reached up to rest his free hand on top of the mechanical hand, only to have his fingers captured into a gentle hold. After the initial urge to pull away and put an end to this, Tony allowed himself to relax.
His eyes searched the disaster that was his workshop and he didn't feel all that angry anymore. Just a little humbled.
"I guess you can find love in the oddest of places," he mused.