Title: A Few Manly Tears
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: Iron Man (MCU)
Timeline: between ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Iron Man 2’
Genre: Drama, family
Rating: K+ / FRC
Characters: Happy Hogan, J.A.R.V.I.S., Pepper Potts, James “Rhodey” Rhodes, Tony Stark (Iron Man), Tony’s bots (DUM-E and U)
Summary: Busy people like to relax with their family. Tony Stark is a busy man, through and through, and tonight his ‘family’ consists of the bots – mainly because everyone else was unavailable. It’s also appropriate to pick a movie that pertains to the interests of the crowd, and Tony shouldn’t be blamed for getting invested in the story.
Complete. Part of “Genius, AI & Bots” series.
Warnings: Tear-jerker scene, abandonment issues and alcoholic beverages (plus relentlessly teasing friends).
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. Also, a few lines and references borrowed from Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick and Warner Bros./Paramount Pictures’ 2001 movie ‘A.I., Artificial Intelligence’.
Beta: Mythra (mythras_fire)
About A Few Manly Tears: I just re-watched the movie ‘A.I., Artificial Intelligence’. It had been years since I last saw it, and because that one scene broke my heart, I had to share the misery by writing this. Because of the bot feels.
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.
A Few Manly Tears
“Now… you won’t understand the reasons, but… I have… I have to leave you here.”
“Is it a game?”
“When will you come back for me?”
“I’m not, David. You’ll have to be here by yourself.”
He feels the pressure building behind his eyes, something tugging at an imaginary cord in his chest. It makes the scarring around the arc reactor ache, which feels even worse, but he keeps staring at the screen and simply tries to recall where he put that box of Kleenex he knows they keep lying around here somewhere.
“No, no! Please, no, Mommy!”
“They will destroy you.”
“No! No, Mommy! I’m sorry I broke myself. I’m so sorry I cut your hair off… and I’m sorry I hurt you and I hurt Martin.”
“Are you crying?” Rhodey’s voice amused asks from his right side, and Tony starts. He didn’t hear the door – of course not – and there was no announcement from J.A.R.V.I.S. that someone was approaching.
“No,” Tony says defensively and motions sharply at the screen, pausing the movie with the gesture.
Behind Rhodey, Pepper and Happy are looking at the screen. Neither of them seem familiar with the movie that is playing.
“Is she trying to abandon the kid in the woods?” Happy asks. “That’s rough.”
“You are crying,” Rhodey insists, leaning closer.
Tony squints his eyes and forces himself not to rub his eyes, because that would give it away. Clearly something has given it away already, though, and he just shrugs. “It happens to be a very emotional scene. I’m allowed to shed a few manly tears. Besides, the rest of the audience would be crying buckets if they could.”
The three of them glance towards the bots, who are hovering by the couch. You makes an unnecessary whir that almost passes for a sob while Dummy takes the time to roll away to either find the box of Kleenex or get Tony another drink.
“So this is an educational film for them?” Happy asks with a frown.
“Sure,” Tony claims. “It will teach them to behave or else I’ll take them for a ride in the woods and ditch them there.”
You raises his arm, looking towards him. Dummy drops something on the floor – it’s probably the box of Kleenex because nothing appears to be shattering to pieces.
“No, you won’t,” J.A.R.V.I.S. comments coolly.
Tony sighs a bit. He still feels the tension in his chest, and the paused film is still glaring at him from the screen. “No, I won’t,” he admits, and reaches out to tug on You’s claw, just enough for the bot to feel it. He gets a soft click in return. “Doesn’t mean you get to be idiots, though,” he reminds them, just in case that is unclear.
Dummy ends up bringing him a beer, which truly wins Tony over.
“You want us to watch this with you?” Rhodey asks, gesturing at the screen. “Cuddle up for the scary bits, maybe?” He can’t hide the grin – or stop the teasing.
“I’ve seen this before. No scary bits,” Tony rolls his eyes and twists open the cap of the beer.
“So why watch it again if it makes you…?” Pepper at least refrains from saying it, merely gesturing at Tony’s current state as if it is obvious to all. Maybe it is.
“Why do you keep watching those sappy romantic movies that make you red-eyed every time?” Tony challenges. “You’re no better, Hogan,” he adds. “I’ve seen your movie queue.”
Happy has the decency to blush.
“So this is your idea of a tear-jerker?” Rhodey points at the screen.
Tony shrugs again. “The kid is a robot,” he offers, because clearly all of his friends have failed to see this particular movie.
“Ah.” There is a collective round of realization going around.
“The bots actually want to watch this stuff?” Happy asks.
“Maybe it has a happy ending,” Pepper muses.
“It doesn’t, really,” Tony replies. “It’s not about that.”
“What, then?” Rhodey asks. His voice is softer, like he’s just realized Tony hasn’t turned into a total emotional wreck over a film – or he has, but it’s something he can really relate to, sort of.
Tony doesn’t say anything. He thought he would have an answer, but he doesn’t. Does there really need to be a reason to watch a movie like this with the bots? It has robots and humans in it, and while the content might be a bit gruesome in places, it has a message they can all appreciate.
“The story is both a reminder and a motivator,” J.A.R.V.I.S. speaks up.
“For what?” Rhodey questions.
“Love,” the AI responds, and Tony rolls his eyes.
“In the movie, maybe,” he begins his protest, but Dummy pushes his claw into his lap just then, almost upsetting his drink, and Tony is forced to loop his arm around the length of the robotic arm to keep the bottle from being knocked over.
“I guess we’ll leave you guys to it, then,” Pepper says, smiling a bit.
“See you in a couple hours,” Tony toasts awkwardly, seeing as Dummy is still crowding him.
The others disappear to the other end of the living room and J.A.R.V.I.S. adjusts some of the soundproofing walls to isolate the movie corner. “Shall I resume the movie?” the AI asks then.
Tony takes a deep breath, bracing himself. “Yeah.”
He knows it will get better – and then worse – throughout the film. Clearly the bots remember it too, staying close, and Tony doesn’t shoo them away. The way You lightly tugs on his hair is nice, and Dummy shifts a bit so as not to press directly against his bladder, remaining as a steady weight across his stomach.
As the credits start rolling a few hours later, You fetches the box of Kleenex from the floor behind the couch, and Tony makes sure there’s no evidence of tears left for Rhodey’s amusement.