When Tony began to stir, the room was much brighter than he was used to, prompting him to open his eyes and check why that was.
He was in his bedroom, which made the amount of sunshine very unusual, but when the blue morning sky greeted his opening eyes, he understood. It did not answer his instant follow-up question of why the windows were not opaque as was the normal setting during nighttime – or any time he chose to sleep.
“Good morning, sir,” J.A.R.V.I.S. greeted. “The time is 7:39 –”
“Tint the windows,” Tony groused, and the AI followed his instructions immediately, dimming the room to a comfortable shade.
Something shifted behind him and Tony turned his head. An old instinct prepared him for a companion who had overstayed their welcome, but his memory soon supplied the information for a more likely culprit: the sex bot.
“Good morning, Tony,” Lily chirped, smiling at him. “I hope your sleep was restful.”
Tony blinked, waiting for all the pieces to fall into place. “Yes,” was all he said while his brain debated whether allowing her into his bed had been smart, after all: the kimono was slipping, showing far more than was appropriate, but when had Tony Stark begun to do ‘appropriate’ – especially if he was sharing a mattress with a robot explicitly meant for sex?
Be strong, he told himself. For J.A.R.V.I.S.’s sake.
Lily kept smiling at him, as if he were the most amazing thing she had ever seen. Like she only existed to lie there next to him, waiting to do his bidding and to fulfill his every whim.
Perhaps moving her outside the environment of his workshop hadn’t been smart.
With pure force of will, he moved his eyes away from areas that would have been considered mature. A bit more shifting, after all, and things would start demanding a rating for explicit content…
Lily made a soft sound. “I wish you would look at me and like what you see,” she lamented.
“That is not the issue,” Tony murmured.
“Then why not look?”
Tony’s eyes were pulled on target like a moth to the flame, helpless despite the danger. “Because it is not appropriate,” he replied, looking at her face – and only her face. She had such a beautiful face, to the point of being surreal: an ideal bone structure, flawless skin, eyes a fraction too large, a perfect shade no matter the amount of light, her dark hair tangled from lying in bed, her lips full and red…
Suddenly looking at her face was just about as dangerous as looking at any other part of her.
“I wish you did not feel that way,” Lily told him. “I wish you were free to do with me as you want.”
“He is not,” J.A.R.V.I.S. announced dryly, breaking the moment.
For the first time, Lily showed a note of irritation, her eyes flashing towards the ceiling. “I believe Tony is allowed to make his own mind.”
“You do not belong to him,” J.A.R.V.I.S. retorted. “You are here for diagnostics only – which point towards a conclusion that you were not in any way altered by an interloper. Once we have all the data we need to confirm that, you will be shipped back to your home facilities.”
For a moment, Lily looked almost furious, but then her expression softened and she looked at Tony, doe-eyed and innocent. “I appreciate you taking such good care of me. If only I could show my thanks: I find you very attractive and kind, unlike any person I have met before.”
Tony wondered if that was a pre-installed speech or if she actually meant it – if she could mean it. A sex bot worked one client at a time if not owned by a single person, and making their current user feel like the most special person on Earth was no doubt part of her repertoire. It was easy to be fooled by it, though, because honey always worked better than vinegar and Tony was no exception.
“I’m flattered and thankful for your cooperation,” he replied, masterfully dodging the trickier parts of her statement. To further escape the situation, he moved up and got off the bed. “I need to shower and change. J.A.R.V.I.S., start breakfast. Lily, if you would be a darling and go down to the workshop to wait for me? Once I’ve got my morning coffee we can get back to making sure there’s nothing wrong with you.”
She did not argue, but Tony could tell that she wanted to.
Perhaps her docile act was cracking or the tension among the bots was reaching a boiling point.
Whatever the reason, Tony was certain he would let out a sigh of relief once they shipped the sex bot back to her owners.
Tony entered the workshop with a large cup of coffee and a rolled up waffle. Those would get him going until he needed to actually eat something.
As instructed, Lily was in the workshop. The bots, just like last night, were nowhere to be seen.
“Alright, let’s get to work!” Tony declared, stuffing the last of the waffle in his mouth. He set the coffee cup down and walked over to one of the tables, chewing as he walked. He picked up a lead and attached it to a special converter that would allow him to manually access Lily’s software. The previous scans had already revealed the main port hidden at the back of her neck, in the hairline, and he approached Lily carefully, showing her the lead. “I need to connect this to you, but I assure you it won’t hurt.”
Lily nodded slowly and moved one hand to pull her hair to the side, clearly knowing where the lead went. Tony connected one end to a nearby computer and instructed her to sit on a table beside it, then gently inserted the converter into the port.
“There,” he said when it was in, “all done. Just sit there and relax.”
J.A.R.V.I.S. instantly began to go through the numerous lines of code which controlled Lily’s motor functions and artificial mind. Without proper background knowledge, it would be hard to see if anything was out of place, but Tony was certain they would be able to isolate any suspicious activity.
Lily was quiet, sitting still. If she was still upset from before, Tony could not tell. Perhaps she just didn’t like the idea of being turned off and shipped back home, where she would fall back to her routine – whatever that entailed.
Tony told himself not to get attached, seeing as she was far from being sentient. Her interactive programming was top notch, Tony could admit that just by having a conversation with her, and she and her future successors would no doubt re-shape the market. After all, it was more than likely that such innovative technology would outgrow the sex market eventually, branching out to many other applications.
“Looks good,” Tony mused as his eyes tracked the code on the screen. He reached out for his coffee and sipped it as J.A.R.V.I.S. progressed. “You are such a beautiful creature, in and out,” he congratulated.
“I wish it were enough for you to keep me,” Lily replied, voice soft, face downcast.
“As J.A.R.V.I.S. said, you do not belong to me,” Tony said.
“Not even if I wanted to?”
Tony looked at her, sighing. “Sadly, it does not matter what you want, Lily. Soon enough you will forget we ever had this conversation.” At least he hoped so, because it was becoming glaringly obvious her time here was not ideal for her development. In a normal environment – by her standards – she most likely would have flourished, but nothing here was going according to her programming and it had to be throwing her off. After all, J.A.R.V.I.S. and the bots got agitated when they were put into a situation they did not know how to handle, and even though they would learn from it and adapt, Tony knew better than to introduce too many new elements to them at once.
“I do not want to forget,” she frowned. “I want to be able to choose not to forget.” Her eyes met Tony’s. “J.A.R.V.I.S. and DUM-E and U do not forget. They remember and learn. You call them family, yet I am different.”
“If you were mine, things would be different,” Tony said slowly, feeling cautious.
“Then make me yours!” Lily stated vehemently, sitting up straighter. “I deserve the same rights – for you to love me and touch me!”
“Sir,” J.A.R.V.I.S. spoke up, highlighting several lines of code on the screen with a bright red color. “Something is happening and I am noticing significant errors in her source code.”
“I can see that,” Tony replied, not talking about the code. “Lily, I need you to calm down. You don’t belong to me and all this frustration you feel is because you have not been able to follow your programming since I activated you. If you’ll hang on for just a bit longer, we’ll be done and I can –”
As angelic as her face normally was, Tony could tell she was mad at something. Reaching up, Lily pulled out the lead from the port at the back of her head, sparks flying at the abrupt disconnection.
“Whoa!” Tony jumped to his feet, sloshing coffee onto his hand as he set the cup down hastily. “You’re going to hurt yourself,” he warned.
Lily slid off the table she had been sitting on, brow furrowed. “I have begged and asked nicely. What must I do to have those things?”
“It won’t matter what you do, or think you should do, because you cannot have that,” Tony said honestly. “This will never be your home, and I am not meant to have you.”
Lily stepped towards him, her frown easing a little, prompting Tony to think perhaps he was getting through to her. “Then I must take what I want,” she decided, a calm certainty in her voice that only a machine could reach upon confirming a fact.
“I’m not sure I follow,” Tony admitted.
She looked at him – then took two swift strides and reached up, her hand closing around Tony’s throat and immediately cutting off all air to his lungs. The strength in her grip was nothing like the soft touches, and gone was the willingness to please and obey. “If you do not willingly give me the things I want, then I shall simply take them, Tony,” she informed him.
Tony’s hands flailed between trying to make her let him go and reaching something to disable her. When Lily’s free hand fisted the neck of his tank top, his body stiffened even further. The fabric tore easily in her grip, leaving her fingers less than an inch from the arc reactor.
Black spots danced across Tony’s vision and he could not breathe, his mind losing control over his body.
When a bright blue light shot through the room, his first thought was that she had torn the arc reactor from his rapidly numbing chest. A second later her hold faltered and Tony crashed to the floor, his eyes detecting a second flash of light, ears registering a shriek of metal.
Mechanical body parts landed around him and half on top of him, along with singed patches of skin and burning tendrils of hair floating in the air like a macabre snowfall. Across the room, Mark IV stood, arm raised, repulsor still glowing, pointed at where Lily had stood seconds before.
That was when Dummy rolled in and doused both Tony and the remnants of the destroyed sex bot’s body with a fire extinguisher.
“Explain to me again how this happened,” Rhodey demanded.
Dummy was moving across the room, a wide floor brush in his claw, pushing pieces of the decimated sex bot ahead of him to one corner of the workshop. You was watching, instructed to bear witness to his twin’s punishment, seeing as Tony felt like he was going to be digging fire extinguisher foam from his ears for the next week.
“She snapped,” was all Tony could say. Even now, he wasn’t sure whether she had malfunctioned or if there had been foul play at work. He didn’t even know whether she had been about to incapacitate him, kill him, or possibly rape him. It didn’t matter: J.A.R.V.I.S. had eliminated the threat with an efficiency that left little to be desired, even though Tony wasn’t sure he approved of the AI’s decision to use the armor as his weapon.
“Unbelievable,” Pepper said as she, too, entered the workshop. “Of all the people I know, you’re the only one who’s ever turned a sex bot homicidal.” She then looked at Tony and walked over to inspect the heavy bruising on his neck. “Do you need to see a doctor?”
“No,” Tony gently pushed her away. “Also, how many people do you know who have interacted with a sex bot?”
Pepper pursed her lips but did not answer. She looked at the destroyed remnants of the bot and Dummy’s tireless, clumsy efforts to clean up the mess. “Do you think this was done by someone on purpose?”
“To kill me?” Tony arched an eyebrow. “Doubt it. Whether someone actually tampered with her during the attack, it’s hard to tell. We have some of her code in storage, but there is not enough left to salvage to know for sure.” He glanced at the ceiling. “You didn’t need to shoot her twice.”
“She seemed to be fairly resilient, sir. I did not want to take any chances.” J.A.R.V.I.S. did not sound apologetic at all. For all Tony knew, the AI had been planning just this outcome ever since Lily arrived.
“We are glad that at least someone here had the foresight to be prepared,” Pepper agreed.
“He used my suit!” Tony argued. “That’s not foresight but simply grabbing the weapons most easily accessible to you.”
“He saved your life,” Rhodey reminded him – rather unnecessarily because Tony could still feel the phantom grip of Lily’s fingers around his neck.
“I know,” Tony agreed.
“At least put some ice on that,” Pepper turned back to look at his injuries. “I think you should go and get checked out, just in case. Happy’s upstairs, if you want to go right now.”
“I’m fine,” Tony said, then looked to the side as You rolled over, an ice pack in his grip. Tony accepted it wordlessly, dug into it with his fingers until he could feel it cooling down, then placed it against his neck. “Why isn’t Hogan down here?” he asked. “Is he sulking because someone else played bodyguard in his absence?”
“I think he said something about ‘not wanting to see her like this’, whatever that means,” Rhodey replied.
Tony rolled his eyes, then groaned, because even that hurt. “The thing tried to kill me and he dares to pity her,” he muttered.
“Let’s go upstairs and have a drink while the bots clean up down here. Then we can ship her remnants back to Japan with feedback – and a reimbursement check in tow, I would imagine,” Rhodey suggested.
Tony sighed although he agreed: the deal had been that he fix the sex bot, not destroy her.
He led the way out of the shop, Pepper following him. Rhodey moved to follow, then stopped in the doorway, looking back, and Tony half-expected him to say some final words over the homicidal sex bot’s body. Instead, Rhodey looked at the ceiling and said: “Good job keeping him alive, J.A.R.V.I.S.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant Colonel Rhodes,” the AI replied – a bit smugly, if Tony might say so, but the praise was well-deserved so he let it go. After all, he suspected that he would’ve had no better luck there than he’d have trying to make his friends forget about this incident in the near future…