Title: Hand It to Me
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: Iron Man (MCU)
Genre: Hurt/comfort, fluff
Rating: K+ / FRC
Characters: Tony Stark, Tony’s bots (DUM-E and U). Mentioned: J.A.R.V.I.S., Pepper Potts, James “Rhodey” Rhodes.
Summary: Tony had a history of accepting things from people and regretting it almost instantly. That was mostly before he built the bots, though, yet it seems his world is not without perils even after they go online.
Complete. Part of “Genius, AI & Bots” series.
Written for: My card on Cotton Candy Bingo’s round 2 (square: “towel”)
Warnings: Briefly mentioned injuries.
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.
Beta: Mythra (mythras_fire)
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.
Hand It to Me
Tony was three years old when a stranger at his parents’ charity event handed him an electronic device. It was mesmerizing to look at, fascinating him with its blinking lights.
It was just in time that one of his father’s security guards took it from him before the device exploded.
The guard spent two weeks in a hospital and received a huge bonus afterwards.
Tony got minor burns on his hands which were nothing compared to the smarting hurt of distrust.
He was eight years old when someone laced his gym towel with an acidic substance at Phillips Academy. Tony should have suspected something was up when one of the older boys handed his towel to him, but seeing as he wasn’t overly popular, being the Stark heir and all, he wanted to believe the simple gesture of kindness was genuine and didn’t harbor an ulterior motive.
The acid gave him burns and some kind of intense allergic reaction, leaving him crying and choking on the bathroom floor until one of the teachers came by.
His parents were called and his father managed to look supremely annoyed the whole seven hours he spent on campus the next day.
In the end, Tony gave up the identity of the boy who had handed him the towel, leading to the other being expelled from the school.
There were no further incidents like that – mostly because Tony began to cultivate a habit of not directly accepting items from another person.
By the time Tony entered MIT, he was in a place where people didn’t look at him funny after his quirk was revealed. It wasn’t normally an issue, but while working, Tony found that his inability to accept things from other people was a bit of an inconvenience.
While that was never the primary reason for his most ambitious project to date, he could admit that building the bots was sort of a work-around to his problem.
The scientific world hailed DUM-E and U as the dawn of a new era in the robotics industry – and treated Tony’s AI development as a somewhat queer approach to the world’s needs, seeing as sentiency had never before been a requirement for any task conducted by machines.
Tony didn’t build the bots for the world, though: he built them for himself. The way he wanted them to learn was not aimed at factory labor, but something far more sophisticated and far-reaching; an extension of his own hands.
“You,” Tony called out. “Bring me a towel.”
The bot circled around a table and after a short while returned with a cloth in his grasp. Tony gave it a brief glance – then another, frowning.
“Where did you find that, the hazardous waste container? I meant the one hanging on the wall. If I didn’t know better, I would think you’re trying to poison me.”
You turned around, dropped the dirty cloth and returned with the towel Tony had asked for.
“There we go,” Tony grumbled and plucked the towel from the bot’s claw. “Not so hard, was it?” He wiped off most of the oil and dust on his skin, then stood up from his kneeling position. His knees protested loudly and Tony carefully arched his back and shoulders, popping sounds following his progress.
You looked at him, let out a soft bleep – then reached to the side and returned with a canister from a table beside them, offering the container to Tony.
It looked familiar and Tony grabbed it, turning it around to see the label. The canister contained some of the special oil blend he used to maintain the bots. “Do you feel like you need some of this?” Tony asked the bot.
You moved, signaling a negative response, then pointed his claw at Tony.
A smile spread on Tony’s lips. “You think I need some of this?” he asked, lightly shaking the canister.
You let out a positive chirp.
Tony laughed. “If only it would do the trick,” he mused.
You appeared confused, clearly wondering why not.
Dummy rolled by just then, pulling a four-wheeled cart resembling a toddler’s push wagon.
“What’s that?” Tony asked and intercepted the bot before he could get stuck and upend the cart. He noted that rather than pulling it himself, the thin rope attached to the front of the cart had been tied to Dummy’s arm. The bot seemed confused by this, stopping and turning to look at the offending thing that kept lightly banging against Dummy’s chassis every time he stopped or slowed down.
Tony untied the rope and looked suspiciously at the cart. Something that looked like a picnic basket sat inside it, and Tony picked up a wrench and used it to open the basket’s lid, finding food and a bottle of fresh squeezed apple juice inside. There was also a note, telling him to eat and to remember his appointment later that day, or else – and the note actually did say ‘or else’.
“This new PA chick is getting bossy,” Tony mused and picked through the basket’s contents, finding the food acceptable. There were even pancakes in there, and fresh berries.
Pepper Potts had learned the hard way not to hand him things, but using Dummy as a delivery bot was taking it a little far.
A few weeks ago, J.A.R.V.I.S. had informed Tony that he had offended her; Pepper had seemed particularly insulted when she had witnessed that Rhodey was fully capable of handing Tony stuff, which made it personal. Tony had never claimed it was anything but personal, but women had a habit of over-thinking things before Tony got around to explaining the mechanics behind his quirk, and besides, they barely knew each other yet so she wasn’t entitled to all his secrets.
Apparently she knew some of Tony’s favorite things to eat, though, so he might have to reconsider her status in his life eventually.
That didn’t mean he wouldn’t make her work for it, like he had with all his other trusted people before her, too.
He looked at the bots as he unwrapped a sandwich from his favorite deli. It helped that some of his trusted ‘people’ had been built by him, which meant he could trust them by default. Not that the bots never failed to hand him things he most definitely didn’t want to put his hands on, like the towel heading for incineration, but at least he knew the bots never meant to hurt him, and they got better at it with every mistake.
If only the same could be said for the people he had to deal with…