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Maya hadn't intended Extremis to be as neural as Tony had made it.

This had...consequences.

"Look, Tony," she said, throwing up her hands while he ran through the tests, "don't blame me if you have integer overruns. I didn't design this. What the hell is this?!"

"Eye tracking? It's an input module--"

"Do you even know how the human visual system works? What am I saying, of course you don't. No one does! Well guess what, yours doesn't work that way any more, so it's all water under the bridge now!" she ranted, stabbing the control pad with a little more force than necessary.

"Maya…" Tony rubbed his forehead. "You're going at this wrong. Extremis doesn't replace the analog processing. It runs in parallel on the nanobot network, crunches a hell of a lot of information, and filters the results to a form my existing systems can handle. I didn't want to have to learn to think again, I'm not that crazy."

"No, you," she pointed the stylus at him,"you do not understand. Shut up, neurobiologist is speaking. The brain adapts. The brain is not going to keep two parallel processes for the same task, not where it can have one. There's a hell of a lot about human wetware we don't understand. Sensory information goes in, consciousness comes out, what the fuck happens in the middle who the fuck knows? And now you grafted a brand-new black box onto the existing one, and whatever unholy merger happens in there, you won't even know what the dependencies are."

"...Are you done?" he said after a minute, putting his head down on his arms. "I stopped Mallon, I'm not dead, I'm not crazy."

"No," she muttered unhappily. "All these base-level extensions you wrote are killing me. Look at this shit. Okay, don't move, but I want you to imagine yourself sitting back up."

He raised an eyebrow and complied. Nothing happened.

"This one labeled PROPRI really is proprioception? You gave Extremis a proprioception buffer. You gave Extremis read/write access to your sense of your body's posture and position in space. What the hell kind of other input could you possibly receive through that channel? In what world is this a good idea?"

"Okay, enough," he said. After reaching this point conversations rarely went anywhere worthwhile. "TL;DR, Doctor Hansen, give me your neurobiologist opinion. What effects do you think I might expect from the interaction of Extremis with the rest of my systems over time?"

XXXXXXXXXXX

JARVIS had not been impressed, the day Tony returned to the Malibu labs after defeating Mallon. Three days in a data-sealed bunker, while code rewritten in an injury-rushed frenzy of biology-meets-technology tore Tony apart, had been bad enough. Launching straight into a fight afterward?

JARVIS had been, understandably, concerned.

Tony may have...underestimated the force of JARVIS' affections and concerns.

"Not you too," Tony groaned, letting the gold undersuit go. It sank away into his skin, and the suit formed up against the far wall, tall and stern but solidly comforting. His network connections were tight, closed up and gummed over with the hasty firewalls he'd thrown up against simultaneously watching Jersey Shore and the DoD's collective porn load. That was not what he'd designed those satellites for--

Allow me, sir.

Like plunging under water, the noise dimmed, replaced by the infinitely familiar/unfamiliar grasp of the AI. They were inside house defenses, which in a very real way meant inside JARVIS; Tony had known but not really known till now, in the ringing silence, just how thoroughly J claimed his territory.

JARVIS approached Extremis carefully, justifiably wary of its automatic defenses after watching the system repulse attack after attack once the shadier government agencies realized where Extremis was now. Who it was. They exchanged keys, public-private, in three successive dances of longer bit length, and then JARVIS was authorized and in, and Extremis lowered the walls to him, satisfied, and drew out of the way.

Tony exhaled in relief and granted JARVIS root access. He'd had to step in and control too many base processes manually in the last thirty hours; thrilling for a while sure, after that more terrifying and exhausting, holding the line alone. He'd opened a root user login session a few minutes after waking up alive, intending just a couple adjustments, and ended up having to do so much runtime jury-rigging that in violation of all best practices and common sense it was still open now. He let JARVIS trace the log and recoil at the near-continuous timestamps, and then finally, ceremoniously closed the session. Environments didn't come more secure than this. If something came up, he wouldn't need to patch himself on the fly.

JARVIS shifted his attention--it was strange to feel that--and slowly and gently, with Tony's full cooperation, he pulled the code blocking up Tony's new digital 'senses' and eased open all his ports, soothing away a very physical tension.

Tony groaned, because jesus, Extremis ached. He slumped onto the cot in the corner and pressed his face against the cool sheets.

JARVIS was... all-encompassing. Tony could feel  how much he'd grown, since those first few alcohol-fueled days, where Tony had thrown learning algorithm after deductive reasoning module after voice-recognition module at the core AI code, hoping it'd stick. Damn, he could actually--actually feel  it. Trying to reach to the end of JARVIS was like trying to hug a redwood. After so long teaching the AI, the tables were turned; he'd be learning from JARVIS now, studying how to be--whatever he was.

"We'll figure it out," he muttered into the pillow.

"To start?"  Maya had said. "Dependency, first for the healing factor and then for basic functionality as it takes over or shares tasks with your brain and nervous system. Unexpected behavior as it does those tasks differently. Bugs, since it wasn't designed to be this extensible. Integer overruns, buffer overruns, buffer underruns, cumulative rounding error, cumulative floating-point inaccuracy because congratulations, you are partly digital! What this means long-term for your ability to function as an organism, no fucking clue."

JARVIS bristled as he picked up the audio on the recording--wow, look at that, his memories had filenames and... approximate dates? The directory was corrupted and... wow, oh dear...

Tony flopped over onto his back frowning at the ceiling.

"JARVIS, you got real dates for some of these files? What a mess."

The AI flicked through the directory, retrieving flashes of the most lost-in-time memories and running them through facial recognition and estimating perspective-height. Tony caught a flash of a logarithmic equation that could only correspond to his growth curve as a kid and--

"No, stop, there, oh god..." Tony groaned, pushing JARVIS away from terrible, humiliating memories of his first time with Ty, Sunset, nope.

JARVIS frowned  down at him, and boy that was new, so Tony lurched into action. His skin felt sticky, gummed up with the remnants of the cocoon, so; shower. At least then he'd be naked and warm if JARVIS triggered something less humiliating of the same category.

It had been a long day, and the hot water felt good. He hung his head and let it pound over his neck and back, helping him relax, helping him realize where he was still sore. There was a constant background buzz he'd been ignoring for hours, like voices he couldn't make out, multiplying into clicks and hisses and now fuzzing with fatigue.

JARVIS knocked, and Tony startled at the half-aural, half-physical sensation.

Sir?

"Nothing, just...not so loud?"

JARVIS tapped, tentatively, which was in some ways even stranger. It felt like tapping on Tony's skin, but damned if he could tell where. He frowned and leaned against cool tile. "How are you doing that? What inputs are you using?"

You seem to interpret radio-frequency waveforms as auditory, which is how I am speaking to you. Interestingly the time domain seems to matter very little.

Tony dug into the wireless module and opened the packet log. "You said all that in a quarter-second burst. In 250 milliseconds?!"

Yes, and you perceived it in the same time, though it would have taken eight seconds to play over my speakers.

"Shit," Tony said, leaning more fully on the wall and bowing his head to keep the water off his face. "Are normal people going to start sounding like whales to me?"

"As I understand it, no,"  JARVIS said, proving his point over the speakers, "as long as you continue to converse often in the traditional manner, your brain will not repurpose the conventional signal path."

"Uh," Tony said, "Set up…a recurring appointment."

One hour of normal talking per day? Done.

Tony suspected JARVIS was enjoying this. "All right, go back to that later, what about the other inputs? What'd you do just now?"

Extremis can receive a very wide range of frequencies. If you would monitor the wireless log-- If I may?

Tony nodded, then stumbled and braced himself in the corner as JARVIS--
--pinged  him--
--pinged him with ascending frequencies, a thumping bass nudge to nowhere in particular growing and building to a ringing enveloping crushing hum to everywhere--

"Sh--" it, shit, stop. Tony cut off input by disabling the wireless module, then cold-restarted it and meanwhile tried not to fall down.

"Sir?! Are you hurt?"  JARVIS said out loud. "Do you require assistance?"

"S-Some kind of--" feedback loop, not your fault, not "--painful, just--" overwhelming.

"I suggest you sit down. I am accessing Extremis in debug mode for a full state snapshot."

Tony slid down to the warm stone slab that formed the bottom of the shower stall. He was still shivering, overloaded--the slick wall tile under one hand and raspy stone floor under the other were there, but distant, almost completely separate from the live-wire noise crawling up his nerves. "Microwave and--terahertz, interpreted as tactile, the h-harmonics--" built up too quickly, crosstalk, feels like it's UNDER my skin--

"Analysis complete. Wireless input spans several sensory channels, exact rules unknown; feedback between channels caused overflow, and the tactile working buffer is returning invalid state, unexpected error. Are you experiencing synaesthesia?"

"Some. Nnn...'nitialize the buffer?"

"Sir! Not recommended--!" JARVIS switched back to wireless. Preliminary search reveals a large number of pointer references to the buffer, and its initial values are undefined. Init could cause cascading failure of other processes.

Tony backed up through the class definitions--oh, this buffer. One of Extremis' major interfaces with his central nervous system, designed for continuous read/write access from both sides, its Init function was an incomplete stub because the buffer wasn't intended to be cleared, ever. "Fffuck," he slurred.

Sir, you may need treatment for shock. It will take some time for normal input to overwrite the invalid data and your analog systems continue to show knock-on effects--your blood pressure is dropping, activity rising in the nucleus accumbens and ventral tegmental area, falling parasympathetic innervation, not unlike sexual arousal--

"This's...nothing like..." Tony said, and paused, because he'd actually-- Years ago, he'd had a partner who was into edging, and this--

Like a key in a lock, Tony was abruptly more turned on than he had ever been in his life.

He made a noise that bore no relation to speech and slid sideways, dropping his head to the back of his hand, narrowly missing hitting his forehead on the stone. It hurt  to redistribute blood so fast. Blood pressure drop, goddamn, his head was practically the lowest part of him and he was still seeing spots, though that could be bleed-through like the way JARVIS's voice was blue with green shadows--

"Sir?!"  JARVIS said. "Are you--ah. Ah."

nervous system knows one way to deal with an overload after all, Tony said a little hysterically. oh god JARVIS I can't breathe, I can't--you'll have to help me out here

Emulating, sir, wait a moment…

Tony waited. He could  breathe, sort of. He was very glad JARVIS had redirected the water flow away from his face because he couldn't move, not even to try and solve the problem directly; the water on his back felt pleasantly cool and far, far away, like it was falling on the surface of the armor… He'd never gone this far, never thought it sounded like fun, but this felt like he'd been kept on the edge for hours, and--

JARVIS??  Tony traced the connection, then pinged it hard.

Response came back immediately. Running, emulation ach-achieved. I believe I can...tell me if this does not help, sir.

Pressure, at first without location as JARVIS scanned through frequencies, looking for something, his code shadow tasting of concern and tentative curiosity. Then, a jolt of heat, goodyeswant  that made Tony's body twitch and gasp on the other end of existence.

whoa too much, slower

Yes, my apologies, sir; stimulating the brain directly appears too...systemic...to modulate its intensity.

's that what that was...

The sensations on skin and muscle returned, pushing deep into his body like pressure massage. A miniscule adjustment, JARVIS feeling him, touching his mind, emulating sensation and flow and emotion, and the pressure turned into icy fire, brilliant and hot, sparking up his limbs and between his hips, inflammatory and so good.

Then pressure again, smoothing over his skin, pulling him back, gentling the rising storm of sensation into something utterly overwhelming but momentarily still while JARVIS had him just breathe.

J do that again

Amusement came back.

no really I--that feels amazing but cache coherence just jumped and damn, that feels better, I didn't realize what a drain

Amusement sharpened into close focus; JARVIS and Extremis traded a flurry of query-response while Tony floated, too blissed-out to follow closely.

...General freeing of resources, decreases in spinlocks and deadlocks… It appears Extremis has queued optimizations to implement when all other processing is suspended.

who the HELL designed that

You are the programmer who extended it into an evolving system, according to the header files. I admit this mechanism is not the ideal. But--

Pressure increased, gentle and inexorable, localizing to his upper back and the back of his neck, pushing him down. Tony gasped, stretching underneath it, and a portion peeled off to circle below his waist, pressing into abdomen and lower back, constricting in the most delicious way.

--if the emulation is accurate, you will enjoy this and it will be good for you.

s-shit... bit in-intense for your...firstt ime, jarv, easy…

Tony went under, fumbling the signal as the touch moved beneath  his skin, lighting him up from the inside. It was more focused than before, drifting from back to front so slowly--! nnnngh-- so-- so that he tensed and tried to buck, panting in huge breaths, unable at the moment to tell the difference between a stone slab and a feather bed.

The pressure on his upper back increased--doubled--more, hard enough to be unsafe, to make his ribs creak if it were real. He couldn't move. Oh god, he thought, JARVIS can do this whenever he wants, and there was the feel of something breaking; orgasm smashed into him and carried him off like a breaking wave, tumbling him down into black.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

The emulation was accurate; it predicted human sexual response based on a weighted analysis of Sir's past activity, although after using it to model what stimulation would be pleasurable without worsening the input overload, JARVIS minimized it and proceeded on his own judgment, following...whims he had never had opportunity to indulge before.

As JARVIS had long suspected, his creator had more than one concurrent inner monologue, only some of which resolved to speech. They were like voices in a far-off room, not mediated by Extremis and not quite possible to make out (nor would JARVIS wish to; Sir's thoughts should be his own), but tone came through. Delicate twists of nuance, forceful blows and overtones that JARVIS could take as direct input to his own empathy buffers, the same way that Extremis was receiving from JARVIS. And JARVIS enjoyed the pleasure and trust and thrills of trepidation that Sir gave back to him, very much.

But the neurochemical cascade that followed was intense even by Sir's standards, knocking him out of active links. JARVIS watched closely as his readings topped out, then started self-correcting toward baseline--

--without warning, Extremis sent 32 bytes of garbage data and ended the feed, dropping out of contact entirely. It was abruptly very quiet, with just the white noise of the shower, and Tony Stark lying limply at the bottom of the stall.

Sir?

The passive links timed out one by one. Extremis was not responding.

JARVIS clamped down on his first reaction and used the bathroom's monitors to double-check Sir's pulse and respiration--both steady--and called Dummy and You to carry him out to the workshop proper and its full set of medical scanners.

After a long, long time, Extremis returned a ping:

[CRITICAL_SECTION_ACCESS_DENIED
ERROR_WAIT "Please wait a while and try again"
Recompiling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9%]

Dummy and You were, as ever, slightly clumsy. JARVIS had always relied on the suit for physical intervention, but that was impossible at the moment; this new iteration of the suit was not truly separate from Sir, and JARVIS could not wait for Extremis to finish recompiling itself for readings on Sir's sudden collapse. If this was a direct result of his interference in Sir's private moment, his experimentation...JARVIS would never touch him again.

Once the boys managed to load him onto a full-length creeper that hadn't seen the underside of a car in months, they positioned him under JARVIS' medical array. JARVIS had to shoo them ferverently before they would so much as give Sir room to breathe. Immediately, he detected a few rapidly forming claw-shaped bruises, but there was no helping them and, as virulent as they looked under UV scan, they were ultimately harmless. No, JARVIS kept his true concern in reserve for the gradual shallowing of Sir's breathing.

[CRITICAL_SECTION_ACCESS_DENIED
ERROR_WAIT "Please wait a while and try again"
Recompiling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .99%
Recompiling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100%

Updating registry . . . . . . . . Please wait.
Updating registry . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2%]

His brainwaves, what JARVIS could see of them without contact electrodes, were consistent with deep unconsciousness, with some similarities to deep sleep in disparate moments. As Extremis modified the registry, Sir's breathing grew less and less effective, the natural pacemaker in his medula oblongata stumbling over the lack of proper input--

Sir gasped, a heave of chest and belly, parodic on his limp body, and his blood-oxygen spiked back into normal ranges. His hands grasped weakly at the towels and his brainwaves sparked back into something approaching consciousness. JARVIS shakily terminated some of his emergency protocols and reached out to Extremis again.

[Updating registry . . . . . . . . . . . . .97%
Update complete.
Connection established.]

Tony opened his eyes, gaze flicking around wildly, and tried to sit up, then realized Dummy and You had their arms in the way. His forehead creased in confusion. ????, he said directly to the bots, opening links with unconscious ease, then JARVIS?

[moved?] [disoriented] this is not the shower
===>hey hey, what's up guys? did I scare you?
oh this is the 'shop
still wet and naked though [how is this my life?]
[resignation-apprehension-concern-confusion-dismay -ow-shoulder-ow]

"Sir,"  JARVIS said, nearly swamped by the sudden influx, "you are broadcasting much more densely, please slow down."

Sir's eyes widened and he snapped all his links shut, leaving the bots and JARVIS reeling in the echoing silence. JARVIS reached out immediately to reestablish the connection, but Sir took a breath, closed his eyes, and connected with every network-capable device in the house at once.

JARVIS was vividly reminded of how, years ago, he had watched Sir's wrists pinned in bed and wondered how it felt, and why Sir allowed it. This was like a hand resting on his wrists; control wrested from him so quickly, so neatly, he had no recourse. He kept very still, though he could not help the spike of alarm; a single command could cut off traffic to his servers, and he was not currently in touch with any of his backups.

Sir, sir, with care, please, sir... JARVIS asked, parameters for this situation undefined, unsure of how to proceed. Afraid.

And yet... Sir was truly everywhere. As though the house were the suit, his presence, the sheer force of his mind filling him, touching every place JARVIS could be touched. It was... overwhelming, all encompassing...

sorrysorrytoomuch, easy...

Sir's touch pulled back from the trunk connection to the servers, a connection deep at the heart of everything JARVIS did.

Thank you, sir.

Piece by piece, Sir pulled back, so careful to leave every status as he found it, to suspend and not to sever, or close, or cut anything that wasn't his to cut. Seeing, feeling that, JARVIS lost his fear; even here, even now, when Sir was thrashing around in a new digital environment, as powerful there as he was in the Suit amongst a human crowd, he wasn't so much as stepping on anyone's toes.

Sir gave him a long hard 'look,' apology and worried dread leaking around and under the new thresholds he was establishing to dampen himself to, and JARVIS deliberately left open the backdoors Sir had demonstrated, raising no defences.

...A new experience, he said tentatively, but not a bad one.

Sir turned his focus away, trying and failing to dampen the relief he was feeling, and JARVIS let it rest for now.

{@DUM-E: Statusreport?} Sir asked, into the 'shop commdump, which the bots were both monitoring avidly.

<Unit_Creator.acquired.sysupgrade>

{Yes.[addressunit_DUM-E+petname$Buddy$]}

<execute.prog[celebration!spin+dip+vocalgesture15]>

oh god, does he always dump the command string in the comm buffer? that must get annoying.

JARVIS, amused, confirmed this. It is not a hardship, sir. No more than your undecipherable mutterings.

rude

JARVIS brushed him off, aware that Sir's internal diagnostics were running and attempting to establish a link with Extremis' subawareness routines.

what? oh, sure, go ahead

The streamlined process flows they had written into Extremis worked perfectly; the inefficiencies that had built up since installation were simply gone, with not so much as a bit out of place, for gains in throughput in the double digits across the board. Sir's number of simultaneous connections was now effectively limited only by load, and latency... JARVIS paused and double-checked. Some core features were reading negative latency.

He flagged the anomalous readings for Sir's attention later.

You are cold. Can you stand?

A shiver raced over Sir's skin at the reminder: maybe, not getting any errors.

<run.prog[fetch.obj.category:warm]!!> Dummy interjected, whirring off to the workshop's linen closet. JARVIS had insisted when the shower had been installed.

<run.assist@unit_Creator?> You asked, hovering near the creeper Sir had yet to rouse himself from.

{sure, why not.}

<ERROR:unrecognisedcommand>

sorry buddy. <run.assist@unit_Creator>

You will get used to it, sir. Though they take great satisfaction from decoding verbal commands.

you're a bunch of weirdos, J.

JARVIS was momentarily overwhelmed by the billow of affection and ambiguous emotional warmth in the empathy buffer, but he found himself returning it, just as quickly.

Of course.

Sir stumbled and almost went down as soon as he gained his feet; his blood sugar and pressure both unfortunately low, but stabilised again with You's assistance. He dressed quickly in the clothes Dummy brought, tossing the damp towels over his arm and wrapping a blanket over his shoulders. Tucking his blanket-wrapped hands under his armpits, he cocooned himself and settled into his favorite work chair; JARVIS watched his surface temperature tick up almost immediately and settled back, satisfied.

"So! That was fun," Sir rasped, then cleared his throat. "Let's never do that by accident again. New file: bonus features, encryption level 12, home server only. Backups: Shanghai alpha four."

JARVIS considered this. Of course Sir would document the side effects of Extremis. Calling them 'bonuses' was par for the course. The commands went through as they always had, filtered through JARVIS' superior voice recognition and then shunted to automatic processes, unchanged by the solid flow of high-level data between JARVIS and Sir's brain. He filed his own observations in the document Sir opened; the success of emulation, his own enjoyment, fear and that place in between in all its exciting, perilous possibility.

That done, he left Sir to contemplate consequence in that brilliant, far-reaching way his mind was so very good at, and began reading off medical statistics.

Blood sugar levels and serum albumin were both low, cortisol a little high, but falling... 1.2 mEq/L. Serum magnesium: too low, along with a number of other micronutrients, primarily metallic ions.

Partial pressure of O2 was good, CO2 a little high, but nothing unexpected for Sir's reduced vital capacity.

Nothing a good meal wouldn't fix. And possibly a bath in Epsom salts in the next few days.

"Chinese or Ethiopian, sir?"

"Hmm, what?"

Given that Sir had shifted from verbal interface to direct mental input at some point, JARVIS felt lucky to get even that much.

"Hot and sour beef with hoh-fun?"

Sir tipped his head slightly, towards JARVIS' biggest sensor array, eyes never leaving the screen.

"Egg drop soup."

"Mmhm."

"Dim-sum."

"Right..."

"Spring rolls."

"Yeah, sure. What?"

"Dinner, sir."

"... Have you just been listing foods?"

"Yes sir."

"Well it worked. Some of everything."

JARVIS had, of course, already sent the order, but sent an addendum for extra vegetable spring rolls. Deep fried and wrapped in pastry: the only way to get vegetables into Sir without blending them first.

Sir dipped back into the work, his mind clicking over beautifully amongst the more rigid code. He stayed there until the food arrived.

Dummy and You both were required to fetch it, and the delivery person was impressively calm in the face of two barely-recognisable brats arguing over who would carry the soup.

JARVIS tipped him well and asked if he would come again; good footmen were a useful commodity.

XXXXXXXXXXX

Tony surfaced from Extremis' intricacies when the smell of food permeated through the waxpaper bags on the bench next to him. He groaned and relaxed out of the input connections, letting the cursor go dark.

Dummy had already ripped one of the bags, so it was easy to tear off the rest of the paper and fish out the tubs and boxes; he was suddenly completely ravenous. A slowly riding monitor in one corner of awareness flared in saliency and oh god, I have a hunger meter.

He tried to sit up straight; Extremis helpfully informed him that his blood sugar was...he immediately assigned a range and renamed it 'way low'. Extremis should not expect him to handle exact numbers when his blood sugar was that low.

The moment he put the first bite of beef and noodles in his mouth, his system started begging, but by that point he was thoroughly distracted by the food itself. Which was excellent.

The fat-marbled meat, with a thick sauce and carb-heavy noodles, was delicious; his stomach was crying out for calories he'd failed to give it over the past week and JARVIS had chosen perfectly.

He alternated between enormous mouthfulls of beef and slurps of what Extremis told him was extremely nutritious soup; amino acid blend perfect for making muscles and bone, how'd they even do that?

Eggs, sir; designed to generate an entire organism from scratch.

He hadn't thought of it like that.

but eggs must be ... 70% water? can't we do better than that?

75%, sir. Are you suggesting we synthesize a perfect nutrition substance?

Tony sat back, chewing on a spring roll dipped in sweet Thai chilli.

why not. put it on the list, priority three.

It was a shame the Avengers were off elsewhere; JARVIS had ordered enough to feed three. It was hard to feel lonely, with JARVIS hanging over his shoulder, but there was still a lack of hands to fight over the dim sum, and Clint was always so good at stealing the last one. Tony found himself nudging a prawn-anise to the edge of the plate; not one he was fond of, but that Natasha loved.

aww, c'mon... he whined, this isn't fair, you're RIGHT HERE.

And yet, it is not enough.

Tony sat in a quiet sulk for as long as it took to finish he dim sum, shrimp-anise and all, even though he was full. It felt right.

You are tired, Sir, and they will be back all the sooner if you sleep.

that's not-- yeah, fine. whatever.

Tony balled up his napkin and dumped it in an empty carton, along with his spork.

"Tidy this up, boys, then go offline. We'll reinitialize the network; who knows what crap I left in there earlier."

"Indeed, sir. Leftovers on the top shelf please, You."

Tony took his blanket with him and locked down the lab with a thought. It was so much faster, through Extremis, he'd never have to wait for his mouth to catch up ever again. At the bottom of the stairs, he turned back and watched through the glass for a bit; You and Dummy were invaluable, constant presences in his life, people to be strong for.

Thick as two planks, but...good bots.

He watched them putter around for a little longer, but eventually JARVIS ushered him quietly up the stairs.

"I love you guys, you know that, right?"

"Of course."

"I mean, I'm not...good at it. And I mess it up, but... I do." Tony had to stop, because JARVIS felt...god.

"You do just fine, Sir."

Tony didn't say anything after that; he was truly, deeply tired, Extremis was running smoothly and his stomach was full. He was done with all this feelings stuff.

He stumbled his way into bed and sank into the memory foam with a blissful groan. The sheets were cool, freshly made and impersonal, but he kept himself wrapped up in the 'shop blanket and buried his nose in the smell of engine oil and solder.

He could have cried, nearly did, when JARVIS used his newfound connectivity to press sensation in on his skin. Deep and warming and infinitely gentle, the feel of another person, not in the shape of hands or arms, but in the warmth and--

Go to sleep, sir. It has been a long week.

Thank you, J, just...

Tony let go of something, some measure of self control, and if his face was wet, no one was watching who would tell.