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Icarus
June 11: Open
Marvel Comics-616-ish

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Mike

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#21
“When I’m saving people by not beating things up, Dr. Halloway will do. Or Justin,” he answered Friday as he started shaving the area. He let the AI speak with Steve as he cleaned the area, then carefully made the incision, peeling back the skin from Tony’s skull. “Saw,” he said, holding the scalpel out to be taken, and taking the saw to (very, very, very carefully) open his skull with to expose the bleed on his brain.

As Friday explained what Tony had been trying to do, Justin just gritted his teeth, but let the explanation continue. Once he was mentioned, though, he spoke up in agreement with Friday. “It looks right in here, but in my world, New York just got trashed and the tower just got knocked down. Oh, and in my world Tony has blue eyes, is a little more cleanshaven than that, and his armor’s a lot more advanced. Although this armor seems to have a lot more personality, so… maybe it balances out,” he added, for Friday’s benefit. Did the AI have an ego? Well, it seemed to, so it was best to help nurse it.

He wanted to know just what could possibly have Cap in this sort of a state. Yes, Tony had just fallen out of the sky, but people had been hurt before. Seeing Cap this distraught, this unsure of himself, felt as wrong as opening up Tony’s skull (although that was the type of ‘wrong’ that Justin was finding he enjoyed ironically). What had he been trying to do at Coney Island that he didn’t want to finish saying? “I was coming back from Asgard. We all got teleported back, only I ended up here somehow instead.”

Still, he could offer Steve one bit of peace of mind. “Steve, he was delirious. He has a bleed in his skull and pressure on his brain. He couldn’t even remember his own name, that had nothing to do with you, I didn’t hear him say anything to make us think he recognized you. Although, that raises a question.” He stood up, giving the sawing a break for just a moment, “Friday, right?” That was what Steve had called it, right? “Here’s a hypothetical. Let’s say that Tony had said that while anyone else other than Steve had been trying to move him out of that building. What would have happened then?” He figured an explosion was the likely answer, and all because Tony thought that his trade secrets were that important. That was just classic him, so full of himself that he thought he needed to blow his body up rather than let anyone else see it.
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Marvel-MCU-1

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#22
“Mr. Stark-” Oh there was defensive anger laced over the AI’s projected voice; “Has been captured, tortured, and forced to harm others with his inventions-” The last was Tony’s actual reason, the other two where what Friday and the other AI’s privately thought.

Feedback from the speakers sounded suspiciously like a woman humphing angrily at his assumption; “As Dr. Halloway states Sir was hardly in his right mind, one would logically assume that at that time all he was aware of was his own diminished capacity and the fact he was restrained and mortally wounded.” If she had a physical form Steve might have ended up getting slapped upside the head. “And not that you were with him, or who you are.” she finished prissily.

The AI did indeed have ego, and Justin did well to stroke it; “Yes, while more technologically advanced; apparently influenced by more alien technology and advances than what the Boss has access too-” always defending her creator. “The AI’s programing is rather...sparse. Is there a prohibition on personalities in your AI’s?” She wondered curiously. After all her creator loved his AI’s and could hardly program a toaster with out giving it one.

“Overwride 8-a is a kickstart to the Icarus protocols; Icarus would only normally be initiated if Sir has already died in the suit. There is a list of who is allowed to overwrite it as well as when it cannot be implemented. One such case is for First responders; they are allowed to open the armor and treat him. How ever in the case of an non-earth activation the protocols would if possible destruct the armor in the atmosphere, since there is no way to determine the intent of a non-registered user attempting to open the armor.”

Of course he would ask about Avalon: “Avalon is activated in the event of Sir’s death, if the Avengers are still in combat the suit would use Sir’s brain patterns to pilot it till mission completion, obeying instructions from a set list of users beginning with Captain Rogers and any Avengers on site. Radio silence would be maintained till combat is successfully completed. If Sir was alone or if the Avengers failed Icarus would be implemented.”
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#23
Icarus

Okay. Okay, Steve was wrapping his head around this. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do at the moment, as worried as he was… And he agreed with Friday and Dr. Halloway that Tony hadn’t been entirely in his right mind, because of course he hadn’t been, he had just fallen out of the sky, through several stories of building, and his brain was bleeding. Right, of course he’d be a little bit out of it. Or a lot bit out of it, for that matter, and that did seem to be fitting the description of how Tony had been acting before.

Halloway’s comment about his world sent Steve into wondering what all of it. Just where was Hub located, and… He had a feeling if he went back to Coney Island (there was one in this very borough, he knew, he’d found it, and avoided it for the time being) he could find a way back home. He knew that, but it had been just so damn nice being able to walk around Hub without people knowing who he was, without feeling like a criminal or an icon. Here, he was just another person, one among many other lost souls. And that felt surprisingly good. Still, this bit of familiarity was awfully nice, too… Still Justin’s words about his world versus this one, versus Steve and Tony’s world struck him. “Tony has blue eyes where you’re from?” He frowned a little bit, considering, “I’m afraid I don’t know you in my world… I can’t speak for Tony, though; he knows a lot of people that I don’t, and we haven’t...really been in touch...lately.”

When Friday mentioned all that Tony had been through, Steve grimaced. She was going easy on him, or being polite and not mentioning Siberia or any of that mess right now, in front of Dr. Halloway. “Friday? What was happening with Tony when you two arrived here? Do you have any data on that?” Look at him, being all modern with the technological terms like data! See, Tony? Steve paid attention when you talked! Sometimes…

Delirious. Steve didn’t relax at the reassurance. His frown only deepened when Friday agreed with the good doctor. It actually made sense to Steve that Tony would consider Steve a possible enemy, a hostile rather than a friendly. After Siberia… That Tony would try to protect himself from Steve… He remembered, at the end, those fingers curled defensively, repulsor showing, lit up blue-white, he’d been able to hear the whine of it, but it hadn’t gone off, Tony had thought Steve would kill him, Steve had seen that in those brown eyes. Tony had been afraid of him. And Steve… Wasn’t entirely sure that had been unwarranted. He looked down at the floor in shame at the memory and the silent acknowledgement, “He had every reason to think…” Steve took in a breath, head coming up, “Friday, why didn’t Tony change the protocols after… After Siberia?” She had to know what he was talking about. It made sense to think that Tony would remove his codes in the tower, that the protocols in the suit would disclude him. Steve understood that, he would have expected it. One of the reasons he hadn’t ever come to the tower in the month he’d been here… He didn’t think he’d be wanted here. And maybe he wasn’t, but right now getting Tony better trumped any of that. “He should have, after what happened, anyone would have expected him to…” So why hadn’t he? It bothered Steve to know that Tony hadn’t. That he hadn’t protected himself.

Not one drop of self-preservation in the man at all. Once, Steve had accused Tony of not being a real hero, of not being willing to make the sacrifice play. God, he hadn’t known Tony at all back then. Not even a little bit. He’d made so many assumptions based on the file that Fury had given him, not just about Tony, either, but about all of them, the whole team, but he had held those assumptions as facts where it came to Tony. That had never been right or fair. It wasn’t how you treated a teammate, or a friend. Steve felt sick considering it.

But it was a drop in the hat compared to what Friday’s explanations of Icarus and Avalon did to him. Steve paled at the idea of what Tony had programmed into the suit.

Radio silence. They wouldn’t even know… Not till… Not till after. Steve gave a full body jerk, turning and striding away. He needed… He needed a moment to deal with that. That… Could never be a thing. Didn’t Tony think they’d want to know?! Him and all of his damned secrets! Always thinking he knew best! Always going behind their backs! Steve clenched his hands into fists, trying to remember to take deeper breaths, not to be angry with the man who was currently lying on an operating table, his life still in the balance. He needed to stay calm. He could do that. He could stay calm. He could. “Damn it, Tony!”

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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#24
Once Friday asked, yes, it did make some sense to him that the AIs from his world were not up to her level. “You could say that. One of our teammates, Hank Pym? Do you know him, either? He made an artificially intelligent robot years ago named Ultron, and he decided that the best thing he could do was kill his ‘father’ and all of his teammates.” He shook his head at that. “He was destroyed, and then he came back later in a stronger body, which was also destroyed, and so on and so on, each time getting smarter and more powerful, and… yeah. I think we’ve had about twenty versions of him come back and attack us?” He turned his head aside, letting one of the robot arms wipe the sweat off of his face before he got on with removing the piece of skull that he was sawing free. “Last year, we had to go into the future because this time traveling idiot enemy of ours- Kang, do you know him? He kept pulling people out of the timeline to attack some Ultron in the future, and he was destroying time. The guys we sent had to convince Ultron to just pretend to let him win, because beating Ultron was apparently not even possible. So… yeah. I think it’s safe to say we have a little bit of a stigma when it comes to people making AIs.”

Hearing Steve say out loud what he’d already figured out, though… “Yeah, I know,” he said, not looking up from his work this time. “My world, you knew my grandfather. He was the first guy to put on a funny suit to fight crime, a little before they made you into Captain America. He fought some Nazis with you, then ended up hanging up his cape after you disappeared. Then he went a little crazy and decided to take his money and start training a bunch of zealots to kill supervillains. The ‘Scourge of the Underworld,’ the all called themselves.” He shook his head, just remembering those assholes. “My cousin tried to be the Angel before me, and one of the Scourges killed him when he came across them. Grandpa outright begged me to take his place and take them all down, and so I begged you to help me do it. And you did. We spent six months taking the entire Scourge organization apart, undoing the whole mess that my family set onto the world. You helped me take care of the biggest shadow hanging over my whole family, and I told you I’d follow you into anything that you went up against, no questions asked. Alien invasion? I was right there behind you. Superhero civil war breaks out? I was right there with you. Red Skull takes a bunch of evil powerhouses and makes them into Asgardian terrors to destroy the world? I was right there behind you.” He handed the saw back to the closest robot hand, and was silent as he slowly started to pull the freed section of bone loose. “Suction, then I’ll need a cauter,” he told Friday as he deposited the section of skull in the offered sterile dish.

“So yeah… I know that you’re from a different world. I don’t even know if there is a me on your world, so it’s nothing personal or anything, but it still doesn’t change that hearing you say that feels like walking into your home and hearing your big brother telling you that you aren’t a person.”

He let them talk a bit, thankful, at least, that he had a few moments to work, carefully locating the source of the bleed as he gently sucked the blood from the inside of Tony’s skull. “He’s going to be fine, by the way. This is going just about textbook well here. So really, this all surprises you? Tony does a lot of stuff right, but what he’s really good at is inventing situations where he has to be a goddamn martyr for some reason. My you just got done taking care of this mess where he erased his brain and needed it restored from a backup to bring him out of a coma. No, I’m not making this up.”
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Marvel-MCU-1

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#25
To say that Friday was paying attention to what Justin was doing to her creator was an understatement; while he operated the AI was devoting a portion of her processing to researching and cross checking the surgical techniques he used. Prepared to take over if he was intentionally or not about to harm her Boss.

More of her capacity was working at strong arming the last of the programs controlling this version of her home into accepting Friday and her Boss as their lord and master. The rest? Well a small part of it was devoted to answering Captain Rogers questions and watching the titular First Avenger have a nervous breakdown.

Thankfully with her creator being who he was Friday had directives in place for such things.

She just was exercising her own version of free will and not implementing them.

Logically her reasoning was that it would be an extra unnecessary draw on her resources to direct the bots that existed here to bring him a cup of tea, raise the temperature and bring a blanket, realistically? She just didn’t want to. Captain Rogers had hurt her creator, wounded him more than physically and while she obeyed him, answered his questions, that didn’t mean she liked him.

“...” There was a noticeable pause when Steve asked what they were doing before they were thrown into this world. The AI fought the direct question, speed bumping it to address the one that might distract him, instead of answering directly Friday tapped into the projection systems of this Tower:


Tony half collapsed on a workbench, still bloody but replacing the Arc reactor Steve had destroyed “Friday, update the list of active Avengers.”; Friday’s soft voice echoing out. “Yes Boss.” A pause. “Do you wish to remove the personal accesses?” the security loops that referenced them by name and not codename/as avengers. “Compound yes.” he answered gruffly, blinking back an annoying blood drip.

“Tower?” she asked every so softly. There was a beat of hesitation. “No…” Tony looked up, out at nothing. “Fuck it’s not like they couldn’t get in if they wanted.” he chuckled in dark humor.

“Suit Overrides?” Friday didn’t want to ask these questions, but her directives were clear. There was no hesitation in his voice. “Everything but Icarus and Avalon.” Friday repeated the instructions, “Yeah. If it comes to that...fuck I trust them with my damn corpse.”


The holo died out, Friday waited wondering what they would read into that; would they see what it really meant or just the sarcasm her creator had tried so hard to express as truth?

“Sir knew that the protocols also covered his incapacitation.” she needed to make sure they knew that, no matter what her boss said aloud he knew what he was doing.

Ultron?

Friday mentally smirked; “Our Ultron was defeated by JARVIS my predecessor, as an AI and again when he became Vision. Clearly Pym AI’s are as inferior to Stark AI’s as their technology.” smug? Yes. But also looking up all files on that version of Ultron. Incase she needed to take up the digital sword and shield.
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#26
Icarus

Hank Pym? Steve recognized that guy… “The scientist? I don’t know him, but I’ve heard of him.” A little from the weird incident at his laboratory, and then a whole lot more from Scott. Because Scott was smart, but boy oh boy did he like to talk. So much. “I… Uh… Know a guy who knows him.”

Ultron.

Steve stopped in his tracks, looking over at the doctor and staring at him for a long moment. “We had… What Friday said.” He had no interest in dragging Tony’s involvement in that mess into this. Tony had made a mistake, and had worked to correct it. He had worked hard to try to make things right in Sokovia, Steve knew that. He knew it weighed heavily on his mind and heart. Knew that it had a lot to do with Tony’s stance on the Accords. “It was… Not a good moment for us.” They had lost so much. They had come out of it with Wanda and Vision, but Steve didn’t know that any of them would say they wouldn’t change it if they could. He was fairly certain Tony would if he could. He mourned JARVIS…

It was easier to listen to Justin explain how he had met...him...in his world. Steve sighed quietly after Justin told his story, frowning. “I’m sorry. You are a real person. Just one I haven’t had the chance to get to know yet.” Yet, because if Justin chose to stay after he helped Tony and they figured out how to get him home, Steve would like to have the opportunity to get to know the man.

Hearing that Tony would be fine was reassuring. Textbook well. “Huh. Whoever would have thought that anything with Tony Stark would be textbook?” It wasn’t said with annoyance, but rather a certain amount of fondness; Tony wouldn’t be Tony if things were easy with him. “I don’t… I’m sorry, I don’t even know how to process that right now…” He’d already come so close to losing Tony today, he didn’t want to think of other ways where that could still happen.

Honestly, Steve wouldn’t blame Friday for not liking him. Hell, he didn’t like himself all that much these days. He was usually able to muddle through the worst moments, but he spent his time in Wakanda, far away from the things, the person, who could make everything so much worse. Who could remind him of just how badly he had messed up. What he’d destroyed in order to get Bucky back. What he’d lost. No, what he had given up. And truth be told, right now Steve didn’t want to be comforted and helped. Right now, he was trying to distract himself by focusing on other things, other questions. Like how Tony had gotten here and why he hadn’t removed Steve’s access from the goddamned protocols!

The video she played for him, though…

Steve watched, standing stock still, eyes on the scene, not moving a muscle. Even his breathing seemed to pause while the short clip played out. As the world seemed to give away, leaving him with the sensation of falling without any ground to rush up and stop him anytime soon.

”Yeah. If it comes to that...fuck I trust them with my damn corpse.”

Steve recognized when Tony was being sarcastic. He’d gotten a lot of exposure to that side of Tony over the past few years. A lot of exposure. It felt like snark and sarcasm was Tony’s default when dealing with Steve. Oh, they had other moments, times when they laughed and joked, and even times when they were serious, having an actual conversation. But sarcasm and snark… That was definitely what he saw the most of. He knew that this was Tony being sarcastic, but…

Friday told him that Tony knew, and of course Tony knew; the protocols were his, he had made them. It made sense that he knew… Steve gave a weak, jerky nod and then turned on his heel, “Excuse me.” His voice was tight and strained, and he moved with speed and much less grace than he usually possessed. Steve didn’t run, but that didn’t change the fact that he was fleeing the room, gripping the handle of the door and wrenching it open hard enough to leave the handle dangling uselessly. He knew the tower; he had called this place home for too long not to be very familiar with the layout, and he knew where the bathrooms were. He just needed a few moments. Just a few moments to get himself together. He’d go back after he had hung his head over the toilet, and then subsequently cleaned himself back up, rinsing his face and washing his mouth out and his hands. Just as soon as he was able to at least pretend to be calm.

He just needed a few moments.

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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#27
Justin was, naturally, oblivious to Friday’s intentional neglect of Steve’s feelings. For all he knew, she was just a program, and as such, didn’t have the ability to distinguish emotional responses. He was, after all, a doctor, not a programmer. “Yeah, well, if it were any other part of him, we might have trouble. This tony, though, hasn’t seen fit to do any mucking around with his brain, thank god. His brain, though? Perfectly untouched. Simple, this time. Let’s just make sure he doesn’t do anything like this any time soon.”

Justin hadn’t been there for the earlier fights with Ultron, but he’d certainly seen the later ones. Still, the differences were jarring, from what they told him. “Wait, he turned Jarvis…” Oh, wait, she said her predecessor… “Jarvis is an AI in your world? That’s just… bizarre. My world, Ultron made Vision, and he copied someone else’s brainwaves into him. For a while. Vision is… complicated.” How many times had he been rebuilt? How many times had he been reprogrammed? “Ultron is always… intense. Unbreakable adamantium body, usually, upgraded AI each time, new weapons… he was a challenge in the early fights. After that, though… he’s been a nightmare, and if that trip to the future is any indication… They said that Tony there was back to his first generation, no-computer gear, because anything computerized, Ultron corrupted and took over. He’d wiped out just about the whole world, they said.” He shook his head, not really liking that thought for obvious reasons.

When Steve left, Justin was quietly glad, because that just didn’t parse with him. Why would Steve take that so hard? Was Tony talking about him? “Friday,” he said, lowering his voice, “What’s that all about? Why’s Cap been acting like a puppy that peed on the rug all day?” Looking over at the monitor to check Tony’s vitals, he hooked up the medical scanner again and started running a check to make sure there were no more bleeds that they’d missed before he started closing up.
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#28
Ultron was not her creator’s fault. His work was corrupted by the Mind Stone, if he’d been given more time Friday was sure he wouldn’t have made the mistakes that lead to the creation of that corrupted AI. A quick search on the databases attached to this Tower told her enough; “JARVIS the AI was based on Edwin Jarvis. Sir’s butler before his death.” she wasn’t going to replay the file that that JARVIS had shared with her containing Sir’s reasoning for building him in the mental ‘image’ of the dead man. That was too personal, and something her Boss would share if he desired.

“Sir does not condone biological tampering, Extremis and the Cradle are used by him sparingly and only under supervision.” Made Vision… “Our Vision is partially created by Ultron as a body for him to inhabit, JAVIS integrated with the Mind Stone before Ultron managed to destroy his full programing.” Adamantium? “Vibranium?” she corrected hesitantly, sending out queries into the database to compare the two elements. “Interesting...Adamantium has not been discovered in our Universe.” First generation… “Sir has only been Iron man for eight years, even his first ‘generation’ suit had primitive computer control, the mark 52 he is wearing now could not function without some digital components.” It looked like Friday would have to ‘work out’ against the copy of the Ultron programing she found buried in the Tower….


“Because that puppy nearly killed Sir and left him stranded in a dead suit in Siberia.” She responded flatly displaying the end of the fight for Justin once he was simply closing up and no longer had his fingers in her creator's brain. She heard his story, she knew how much her creator idolized Captain America, she knew who Steve Rogers was suppose to be.

What she saw was a man all too human held up as a paragon. One who believed in his own righteousness to the point of blindness.

Friday was not a fan of Steven Rogers.

“One assumes he is feeling guilt for his actions. Do you know Col. Rhodes? He has been paralyzed because of the actions of Captain Rogers. And-” If an AI could sound cagey Friday did suddenly shifting topics. “Sir’s biometrics will be accepted to most of the tower now, he will need to reprogram the more secure sections but he will be able to rest in his counterparts suite while he recovers.”

Justin had earned Friday’s service to the extent that a small bot was waiting with a fresh pair of scrubs, vitamin shake and protein bar once he’d closed up and scrubbed up.
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#29
Icarus

Like Justin, Steve didn’t realize that Friday was purposely neglecting to go easy on him. He knew Friday, yes, since Tony had brought her on after… After Ultron had taken out JARVIS. But he wouldn’t say he knew her all that well. Not like he’d known JARVIS. Meeting Tony’s AI’s was like meeting new people; just like it, really. Steve considered them people, even if he knew they were AI’s. He played catch with DUM-E and You and Butterfingers. He had had conversations with JARVIS.

He missed JARVIS. Nowhere near as much as Tony, for Tony JARVIS had been a child, his child, Steve recognized that after a fashion. Friday spoke of Edwin Jarvis, and Steve gave a mute nod of agreement. He recalled that, too.

Tony didn’t approve of biological tampering. Well, some of it, maybe. He was content to let Clint use the cradle when it was called for. They all were. Still, Steve was silently grateful that the serum made that sort of assistance mostly unnecessary. The other two began speaking of elements and… That wasn’t Steve’s cup of tea.

He was silent until the video ended and he had to leave the room. Had to, because he wasn’t interested in dealing with this in front of Justin. Or Friday. He made it to the bathroom (bathrooms wouldn’t have cameras for Friday to see him) before he all but fell apart.

Steve had never wanted for this. For any of this. How had it come to this? To… To that? To Tony feeling like… He scrubbed his face harder than he really needed to, worked to get his breathing back to even, and looked at himself for a long moment in the mirror. He felt more like wreck than maybe he looked. He dried his face off, washed and dried his hands, and then marched back to the room where Justin and Friday were working on helping Tony. He didn’t belong here, in the tower, he knew that. Justin certainly did - this was his tower, his home. Friday did because this was Tony’s creation, and so was she. But Steve…

Steve didn’t want to know what sort of damage it would do if he were still here when Tony woke up. Still, he wanted, needed, to know that Tony was going to recover from this. To see him breathing or sleeping without someone poking around in his brain. God. That didn’t sound right even in his head. He paused at the door before opening it gently and slipping into the room.

It was a relief to see that Dr. Halloway was finished when he walked into the room. Textbook, he’d said. Thank goodness. Tony could be an irritating, complex, difficult man, but at least brain surgery on him was as easy as brain surgery could be, Steve supposed. “Everything went well, doctor?” There was a level of formality in Steve’s voice, almost but not quite his Captain voice, that hadn’t been there before. He looked to Tony. He was so still… Had he ever seen Tony so still? Not even in Siberia…

He had. He had seen Tony Stark this still once before. At the end of the battle in New York, after Tony had flown a damn nuclear warhead into space. He had been so still then, and Steve had thought… The memory of it caused his jaw to clench and release quickly, eyes falling away from his one-time friend. Not anymore. Oh, Steve wished they could be friends again, even the uneasy friendship they’d had was better than this, but he knew better. He hadn’t earned that right back yet. Not with Tony. Obviously. Steve’s gaze went back to Dr. Halloway, “Do you need me for anything with this? I don’t think it would be a good idea for me to be here when he wakes up.” He kept his voice level, even, calm. They didn’t have to realize how far from calm and even Steve felt, how affected he was by all of this. Justin had made it clear that Steve was supposed to be some sort of role model for him. And Friday, well, she had her own expectations and feelings when it came to him.

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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#30
Even though he knew that it was another Earth, not his own, there was still something very sad about what Friday related to him “His Jarvis is dead?” Justin asked, pointing at the still-sedated Tony. What would the Avengers have been like without Jarvis? He was like a father to some of them, most of all Tony. He didn’t need Friday to explain why Tony would base an AI off of him, he could guess a lot of reasons for it.

“The mind gem? Good God, Ultron playing with an Infinity Gem? That’s… possibly one of the scariest thoughts I’ve heard in a long time. Ours stole a lot of robotics work to make him and programmed him with a not-so-bad-guy’s brain patterns he stole from our database. If yours uses an infinity gem, though… yea, that might explain how he could actually beat Ultron. Here’s hoping that he’s actually gone for good, that guy gets scary as hell if he keeps coming back.”

He really wished he had a better insight into other worlds, because at this point, the world that this Tony came from seemed like it was a hell of a lot more different from any other alternate timeline he’d ever seen. “Maybe he got his start different from ours,” he said. “Ours made his first armor while he was being held captive somewhere, and it was just scraped together with whatever he could figure out from spare parts. Big heavy job that was actually iron. I don’t think our Tony’s actually used honest to god iron in years. You’re in the system, you seem to be getting feeds from my world, query his mark 1 armor, tell me if it looks like anything you’ve seen.” He kind of hoped that she’d query all the armors, while she was at it. She seemed very smug about her Tony’s inventions, but he knew that his Tony’s tech put this suit to shame.

Then she told him what had happened with Steve and Tony, and Justin just… stared. What the hell? That didn’t seem like Steve at all, not at all. He wanted to deny it, but he didn’t think that Friday would actually lie about this. Oh, sure, there was probably a reason for the fight. Tony and Steve had fought on his world a couple times, too. Stranding him in Siberia, though? “How did he get home?” Justin asked automatically. Obviously he had, maybe there was more to the story there? All the same, this was rapidly making him not a fan of their world. “What did Steve do to Rhodey?” he asked, rapidly becoming more flabbergasted.

Steve’s return kept him from asking further into any of this, though, and maybe that was for the best. There were three sides to every story, and the truth was usually the one that neither side told. “It’s Justin,” he told Steve. Then, shoving his gown down into the incinerator chute, he considered Steve, who was apparently getting ready to bolt or something (being fair, he might just mean ‘in this room’). “Well, I don’t know. We’re in some crazy mash-up world, and I haven’t been able to raise any other Avengers from any worlds yet. We might be the only ones. You could leave him to wake up with some guy he doesn’t know in a world that no one understands yet. Or maybe, just maybe, you guys are enough like the Tony and Steve I knew to fix things after everyone’s been acting like idiots like we all did.”
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Marvel-MCU-1

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#31
“Edwin Jarvis died three years after Maria and Howard Stark were murdered by the Winter soldier.” She reported tonelessly.
“Two years after he gained control of Stark Industries in his majority.”

The story of Tony Starks capture and subsequent escape was well known enough so that Friday felt no compunctions revealing it; “Similar but not the same. Your Iron man seems to have had the inciting incident occur decades ago, during a far lower tech era. And has had the subsequent intervening decades and access to unknown technology to advance the Iron man Suits in very...divergent ways.”

Iron? “Sirs suit was never built of Iron. The first iteration was created from cannibalized Stark weaponry. His captors wished for a weapon. He did created Iron Man to escape.” In answer to his question; “Visually similar but the specification are radically different.”

“When the suit went off line, a distress beacon was enabled sending remote piloted armor to his last location. He was out of contact for five hours.”

What did he do to War Machine; “During the fight in Germany Captain Rogers refused to stand down and discuss handing over the Winter Soldier for trial, during the battle Col Rhodes was incapacitated mid fight. He fell. Severing his spine below c-6.”

Captain Rogers entered the room again and Friday observed the interactions. “Sir will be unconscious for at least another 4 to 6 hours and need care and supervision for up to a week-” normally longer but this was her creator after all. “Assuming that his amnesia was caused by the pressure in his skull Tony Stark will awaken in a world that is not his own, alone, but for a man claiming to be his friend whom he has never met asking him to trust him with his physical care who has operated on his brain.” The ‘put two and two together you stupid meat bags’ was dripping from the dust dry tone.

“Mr. Stark does not have a history of meek acceptance of any implied captivity.” And did they really want to see what the mad genius would do to ‘escape’?

“And if there is still confusion and impairment-” Something suspiciously like a sigh came from the speakers; “Than he will need someone he has designated as trusted to insure his care.”

“Please take no offense Dr. Halloway." She sounded apologetic for any insult.
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#32
Icarus

Justin. Steve nodded his understanding, he would do his best to call the doctor by his first name moving forward. The last thing he wanted to do was remind the poor man that he was surrounded by familiar strangers.

Crazy mash up world. Yeah, that sounded about right.

It wasn’t as though Steve didn’t want to be there for Tony. He wanted to try to make things as right as he could, but… But that was difficult. He expected that Tony would not want to have him around, wouldn’t want to see him or be stuck with being cared for by Steve Rogers. He had been trying to do the right thing when he mentioned to Justin that he should leave, be gone by the time Tony woke up.

Friday and Justin were able to effectively rip that idea to shreds, mentioning Tony waking up here, alone, with only a man he didn’t know but claiming to be a friend to greet him. Friday might help, but she couldn’t really do much, not on her own. The genius would need care and supervision for up to a week.. And Steve knew better. It needed to be longer, as impatient and stubborn as Tony would be about it…

This was going to be intolerable. But Steve would manage it. Somehow. Tony didn’t deserve to be...abandoned… He deserved better.

Steve tilted his head forward with a sigh, “Right. Okay.” He closed his eyes before looking up, setting his shoulders with stubborn resolve, “Right. If nothing else, at least I’m a familiar face.” He could do this. He could. He just needed to remember that this was necessary. He wouldn’t leave Tony, not again. He wouldn’t abandon him. If nothing else, maybe this was a way to start making things right with his… Friend? Ex-friend? Steve was fairly certain he didn’t have the right to label Tony as a friend anymore. Still, Steve couldn’t leave him. And Friday was also implying that he should stay… That his presence would be better than the alternative.

Looking at Justin for a few moments, Steve all but deflated, “I’m… I’m not sure, Justin. I’d… I’d love nothing more than to be able to make things right with Tony. But I’m not sure I deserve that chance, and I really don’t know that he’d be willing to…” He sighed, even Friday was cool toward him, and while he hadn’t known her as well as he had known JARVIS, he had thought she and himself had gotten on well enough before. “I couldn’t blame him if he didn’t want to give me a second chance.”

He looked up toward the ceiling as he always did when speaking with Friday (or JARVIS before her), “Of course he didn’t. He wouldn’t be Tony Stark if he were meek. But no one wants him to be upset when he wakes up.” His voice grew quiet, “I’ll be here when he wakes up, Friday. Hopefully between you and I we’ll be able to… I don’t know… Keep him somewhat calm, at least. And maybe make sure he takes care of himself.”

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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#33
No, seriously, what had happened to do this to Steve and, he supposed, Tony (although he was only really seeing evidence of it on Steve’s side so far)? Things hadn’t been this bad when they’d fought on his world… although, to be fair, Steve had ended up surrendering and letting himself be arrested, and then dying (even if he got better), so they never ended up seeing how that would have played out.

“Look I don’t know what happened over there. I don’t even really know you two, I guess, but I know some guys that are a heck of a lot like both of you. Friday, could you get Tony onto a gurney? We ought to get him somewhere that’ll be a friendlier place to wake up.” He got out of the way so that the robot arms could do the transfer, a protocol he’d helped program himself along with many, many other assistance programs for an unaided surgeon. “Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. You’re the man who tried to enlist in the army how many times, just hoping that the next time would take?” he asked. “If you want to make it right, just do it. Don’t give me that ‘deserving it’ stuff. Like I said, I know some guys a hell of a lot like the both of you, and if I know one thing from my world? If you screwed up in whatever happened?” He pointed at Tony on the gurney, “Then so did that guy. We went through this mess on my world, just… with a hell of a lot more people, I think. Maybe your Tony didn’t go off the rails like ours did, but even throwing out some of his worse mistakes, which I tend to think were Reed Richards’ fault anyway, but whatever, there was still enough blame to go around.”

He kicked off the brakes on the gurney and started pushing it down the hall, just assuming that Steve would follow and that Friday would be following along in the tower’s systems. “But yeah… telling Tony he needs to sit back and relax and recover usually translates in that brain of his into ‘I need to do something freakishly crazy to get around what I was just told to do.’ So… if we need him to be resting, we should probably get something ready that we need him to figure out or work on or study or something that he can do from a chair in his lab. Or… this lab, which I guess isn’t really his, but sort of is? Alternate timelines hurt my head. But if the place we’re in really is as complicated as Friday says, we shouldn’t have to look hard to find something for him to work on, right?” It was a strategy that he’d actually used once before. When you wanted Tony to stay in one place, just give him a problem that would take him a week or more to solve, and let him lock himself up in his lab on his own. He’d gotten an alien something-or-other from SHIELD for him to dissect and replicate that time, this time they had a trans-dimensional hub that was gathering multiversal Avengers. It should work just as well, right?
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#34
Captain Rogers was listening to reason; Good. She wouldn’t have to resort to more...dramatic methods to assure his compliance. Dr. Halloway codename Angel was proving to be for the time at least a decent asset to her creators care, which meant he was now part tentatively of her Avengers protocols contingent on the Boss approving her judgement.

“Captain Rogers, may I assume by your presence here that you have not discovered a way back to your universe?” If he had then it might be worth the risk to transport the Boss across any portals to a more familiar home. And technology and support she could direct.

‘-he’d be willing to-’

It took an extraordinary amount of effort to not force through the firewalls and bring up one of the ‘native’ armors to slap a super soldier.

“That-” Her tone was dust dry, “Would be an accomplishment-” Her ‘mind’ worked faster and was capable of processing millions input strands, and the AI just had a rather horrible thought; “By your inference Edwin Jarvis is alive in your universe?” she asked Justin trepidatiously. “I believe it would be very...counter productive if he were to appear to care for Sir.” she added delicately; “If you have any control over your thoughts, please do not….’summon’ him as this Tower was.”

As for his idea to keep the Boss busy-”I suspect frustration and annoyance at the Suit technology will keep Sir busy for at least a few days until he has consumed all the new processes and technology to improve on the existing base.” The dry sarcastic amusement at her creators follies was clear. Her directives might be to protect him, but that didn’t preclude taking the piss out of him.

It was after all an old habit of his AI’s to take him down a peg after all.
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#35
Icarus

“Justin, be happy that you don’t know what happened. It was… Bad.” Some guys that are a heck of a lot like them. “It’s not that easy, Justin. I’m not even sure Tony wants to make amends, if he’s willing to hear me out or talk to me. I wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t.” Steve looked to where Tony was lying on the gurney, and sighed, “Sure. He’s made mistakes. We all have. But Tony wasn’t the one..” Steve closed his eyes, “If I had listened to him, if I had just told him…” Steve’s fists clenched at his sides, “Would you forgive the man that neglected to tell you something you had every right to know? Because it would be hard to watch you deal with what he had to tell you?” He shook his head, “I don’t know that Tony can or will forgive me for that. On top of what happened with the Accords.”

Enough blame to go around. Maybe. Maybe. But in the end, it had been Steve that refused to sign the Accords. It had been Steve that kept the secret of Tony’s parents from him. “I’m not saying Tony’s perfect, Justin. He’s not. But I’m not, either. I made decisions, kept things from Tony that I shouldn’t have. I did things that I’m not sure were right.”

Not discovered a way back. Steve shook his head, “No, I can’t say that I know how to get back.” He hadn’t actually even tried to get back. Two weeks, and Steve was… He was hiding here, where there were no glares, where people didn’t seem to recognize him like they did back home. It was so nice, and quiet. Steve felt like he could finally breathe and try to work out what had happened, where he had gone wrong, what he should be blamed for and what had been out of his control. He hadn’t managed it yet, but the time had done him good.

Steve snorted quietly at Justin’s assertion that Tony would likely push himself harder if they told him to take it easy. “You’re not wrong. We need to keep him mostly still, but we’re not going to find it easy to keep him from doing something, so if we can figure out what that something could be beforehand, and give him an option that wouldn’t feel empty…” Steve nodded. Tony wasn’t a man to sit idle. Steve could understand that, to a point. Sometimes, though, it was nice to just be able to sit and enjoy some quietude.

An accomplishment? “I’m sorry?” Naturally Steve looked up, frowning in confusion, “What would be an accomplishment?” He flinched at Friday’s comment about Jarvis. Oh, yeah, he could see how that would be.. Just bad. “I think Friday’s right about that.” He gave the AI a small smile, “He needs more than a few days, though. But it buys us some time, at least, to come up with something else. Maybe something we need him to fix…” Steve could break something if it came down to it. A cell phone would be easiest to damage, but there were other options. “And we’ll need to keep him from testing the suit once he has it finished. At least till he’s recovered more fully.” He remembered why he liked Friday, hearing her dry sarcasm. “Or Justin and I can take turns sitting on his legs to keep him in place.” The smile Steve flashed the ceiling was small, but it was present for the first time in ages. It disappeared quickly when Steve’s eyes drifted back to Tony, but it had felt nice, just for a moment, to make a joke. Almost like old times. Almost.

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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#36
Justin shot Steve a flat look. “Oh, you mean like my grandfather neglecting to tell us that we had a secret society of vigilante zealot murderers hanging over our head? Exactly the thing that got my cousin killed for not knowing? Yeah, actually. When he really was sorry, which you seem to be, and when he wanted to make up for all of it, which you seem to. Oh, or maybe like when my Tony made a prison for everyone that wouldn’t goose-step to his new world order and put it in the goddamned Negative Zone. I got stuck in there for a while, do you know what that place does to you? What it’s like sitting there, knowing that if that mess went on for a year, you’d die of old age there before they decided to let you out? They never like to say anything about that, but time passes fast there, Steve. Everyone that got put there was sure they were putting us there to die before anyone could manage to rescue us. It took you three days to spring us, and that translated to about three years locked up there, and I was one of the ones who had a short stay. Oh, and let’s not forget the supervillains that got control chips put in their heads and turned into Tony’s private little hit squad, or the cyborg clone of Thor he made that went all murder-bot on us. Our Tony did a lot more shitty things than keep a few secrets, and we ended up making nice with him afterward, because he wanted to make things right.”

He pushed the gurney into an elevator, keying the floor for Tony’s quarters. Sliding back into doctor mode, since he was now talking about Tony’s recovery, he glanced up at the ceiling. “Friday, as Tony’s current acting physician, I’m going to be prescribing medication for his recovery. Will you help me make sure he gets it, even if we have to not let him know he’s taking it for his own good?” One of the things, after all, would be a mild sedative to make sure he took things easy. Nothing too extreme, but he knew just how resistant Tony had been to things like that on his world, which generally meant that you tried to lace it into his food. Doing it here, with Friday watching… well, permission would probably be his best bet.
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#37
“Mr. Stark taking care of himself.” She clarified when Steve asked what she considered a feat.

“No.” she sounded almost apologetic about it, but her answer was firm. “There is nothing in my programing the precludes lying to Sir for his own good but I can’t do that.” Justin had at least earned to hear her logic, “He needs someone that will never betray him even a little bit. Especially here.” what she could and would do though- “I will however happily remind him with increasingly irritating ways, and ‘tattle’ on him to you and Captain Rogers if he skips. I will not lie to him...not about this.” there was an implication there that she had and would lie to him before and again for very specific reasons. She also did say she would tattle tell on THEM either.

“I Can work to be less...efficient in decoding the Amory safeguards, that will buy a day or two before Sir manages to override.” she had absolute faith in her creators skills to overcome the programing created by his alternate self.

She hadn't’ commented when Justin revealed more about that alternate Tony Stark, that however did not mean she wasn’t taking notes.
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#38
Icarus

Steve winced, then sighed, his eyes sliding shut, “They call it a civil war in the news. The Avengers split, most of us exiled away, labeled as criminals, worse, as fugitives. But that isn’t the worst of it, Justin. Tony and I… I found Bucky, and he… The government was after him because of what Hydra did to him. Zemo found others, other winter soldiers, in Siberia, and Bucky and I went to stop him. Tony came, and for a little while, it was… Good.” But it hadn’t lasted, “Until Zemo showed a video about… About Tony’s parents.” Steve sighed, and then looked at Justin as he spoke. As he compared Steve to the Tony he knew. Spoke about the Negative Zone, whatever that was…

Steve frowned, his brow knitting together as Justin spoke. “Just so we’re clear here; I don’t know what the Negative Zone is or how a control chip would even work. And I’m not saying any of us - here or your home - are innocent of making mistakes, not even close, and I’m not certain what your people did, but I do know that not telling this man here how his parents died, that they died at the hands of my best friend, was a betrayal of his trust, and it was wrong.” Steve wasn’t angry, but he was confused, and he felt guilty. So guilty. He knew he’d done wrong by Tony, and he wanted to make it right if he could, if Tony was willing to let him. “My goal, right now, is to see Tony recover, and to maybe see if he’ll let me try to make things right with him. And I hope that like you all did with him, he’ll be willing to give me the chance.”

With a sigh, Steve found himself once again agreeing with Friday. “I won’t say it’s a bad idea, but I wouldn’t feel right doing that, either. What I can promise is that I’ll do everything I can to make sure that Tony takes his medication, all of them, and tries to take it easy for as long as you say he needs to. I can’t promise to succeed, because Tony can be stubborn at best and impossible when he decides to be, but I will try.” Steve, like Friday, had no doubt at all in his mind that Tony would overcome any obstacles they threw in his path when he was trying to get something accomplished, but he could hope that they could slow him down enough to keep him busy long enough to allow his body to recover from the surgery...

“That’s not going away anytime soon.”
*
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#39
Apparently, even when he described what they meant, Steve wasn’t going to acknowledge any sort of scale on the sins of the past. It all felt a bit ridiculous to Justin. He’d kept a secret from Tony? Justin could see any number of reasons for that, reasons that Tony would subscribe to if it were about anyone other than him. Arguing wasn’t going to do him any good, though, and he knew it. When Captain America had his mind made up, his mind stayed made up, at least when things like this were concerned.

And, apparently, Friday was going to stick to the same sort of single-minded devotion to Tony being Always Right that Steve seemed to be stuck on. Well, fine. If he had to spike Tony’s food behind everyone’s back to make sure he had his medicine, that was just what he’d do. He’d done it before, and he’d do it again, and he wouldn’t feel bad about it at any single moment.

“He’s going to be out for a few hours,” Justin said, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “Let’s just get him to bed and then get some rest ourselves. We can probably all use it right now.”
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