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From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: See? We're safe. It's fine. Whatever.

 

Okay. You told me to get in touch with you when Pepper and I arrived, so here I am. Getting in touch with you. Because we've arrived.

Yeah. So. There you go. Also, your username? Just. No. We have to fix that for you.

 

 

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: Don't touch my username, Stark. I mean it.

 

I'm glad you both arrived safely. How are you? How's Pepper? I hope the sun is getting the two of you the relaxation you deserve.

 

 

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: It's an offense to the Internet, ROGERS.

 

Yeah, we're both fine. She's still taking care of the company, of course, but she says it's better to do it in the sun than in an office. She also complains it's harder. You can't win.

I hope you're well, too. Is there anything you – the new Avengers, whatever – need?

And seriously. You can keep the horrible dodgersfan thing if you want, but the rest, if anyone bothered to look, could give away your identity. Seriously, how many people still alive and using the Internet were born in 1920? It's a security risk. Let me fix it.

 

 

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: FINE.

 

FINE, Tony. Have it your way. Go ahead and make it safe. My password is BUck14ndP3gg1.

I can only assume that while she's still working as CEO of your company, you're also tinkering around with something? How is that resting? Try actually lying back on the beach with your eyes closed. Or read a book. Something.

And no, Tony. Don't even think about interrupting your vacation for us. For anything. You deserve a rest. We'll be fine.

 

 

 

From: dodgersfan4sumreason-notCapAm@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: TONY!

 

Change it back right now, mister! 

 

 

 

From: ppotts@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Please accept my apologies.

 

Please accept my apologies on Tony's behalf, Captain. I've taken the liberty of restoring your original username for your e-mail account. I hope this hasn't caused you undue distress.

 

  

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: ppotts@starkindustries.com

Subject: Thank you.

 

Pepper? How did you even know to do this? Never mind. Thank you so much for fixing it. I should have known giving Tony access was a mistake.

 

  

 

From: ppotts@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Tony

 

It was no trouble at all. In fact, giving Tony information such as your password or user details would be irrelevant. He could have hacked in and altered your information without your help. If it helps, Tony also had the default restore readily available on his Starkpad, so your initial information was all still there. He would simply have needed to press a few buttons to give back your original username.

Don't go too easy on him, though, Captain. The reason I knew to check his pad at all was because he was going around the beach laughing every few minutes.

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: ppotts@starkindustries.com

Subject: Re: Tony

 

Of course he was.

Speaking of Tony, how is he? I thought he was supposed to be resting with you, but if he's bothering to play stupid online pranks with me, maybe there's something wrong? Although, if it's nothing, just ignore me and forget I said anything.

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: ppotts@starkindustries.com

Subject: Pepper?

 

Pepper? Are you all right? Has something happened?

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: ppotts@starkindustries.com

Subject: Pepper, please answer!

 

Pepper, has something happened? Please answer; I'm getting really worried. If I don't receive any word back in the next few days, I'm taking one of the new recruits and coming down there.

 

 

  

From: ppotts@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Sorry for the wait.

 

My apologies, Captain. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. I know the weeks with no response must have made you panic. I'm not certain this is something I should share, but if I were to tell anyone, I suppose it would only be acceptable if it was to be you.

Tony has been having difficulty sleeping since your incident. Before the last time he'd assisted you, he'd seemed to have been finding some sort of peace. This no longer seems to be the case. I understand that this may be in breach of Tony's privacy, but I feel this is something only you, and perhaps the other Avengers, can help him through. I cannot help him. Since Killian, it has become clearer to me that that part of Tony's life is too dark for me. I fear it may be too dark for him, as well.

He hasn't yet fully confided what happened with you during those few weeks. I can only assume something has happened to remind him of what happened in New York.

My apologies again, Captain. I know you have plenty on your plate to deal with without hearing my concerns about Tony. I'm to understand that you have many new recruits with bright futures. Tony and I are both certain they are in the best possible hands. He would have left JARVIS with no one else, I'm sure.

While I know Tony very well, I must confess to being ignorant of the part of his life that includes that armor. I can't reach that part of him.

What I'm trying to say is, I suppose, to ask you to take care of him. If you can.

I'm sorry to unburden on you like this. If you find some time in your schedule, please try to get in touch with Tony. No matter how gruff or disinterested he may seem, I think he very desperately needs help.

Thank you for being worried, Captain. I can see why Tony think so highly of you.

Sincerely,

Pepper

P.S. – If you ever need anything, or have anything to ask me, you need only to ask.

  

 

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: ppotts@starkindustries.com

Subject: Thank goodness you're all right.

 

Not at all. Thank you for sharing your concerns with me. I won't betray your confidence. Don't worry. I'll take care of Tony.

 

 

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: Catching up

 

Tony. How is your vacation going? You've been gone over three weeks. You must have some stories by now.

 

  

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: The Reply button is just beside the Delete button, so I can understand your confusion.

 

Really? Nothing? Am I supposed to update you first?

Vision, as he now calls himself, is taking well to his new perspective of the world. He's brilliant, of course, so it probably isn't a surprise to you. What may actually surprise you – and what scared Sam into screaming like a girl – is that he can pass through walls. Turns out he can alter his density or something. Become really light – that's how he flies – or really heavy, to the point where I can't even budge him.

He's also getting along well with everyone. I guess he didn't get all of his personality from you. He already seems well-adjusted to the world, but I suppose that has more to do with him having been your AI. What he doesn't understand, Sam and Rhodey have stepped up to help him with. He seems to trust Rhodey the most. Wanda interests him the most, and I think he's trying to figure out her magic.

Rhodey and Sam have bonded, by the way. They even made some sort of bro handshake.

Wanda is having a much more difficult time. That's not a surprise, I suppose. She lost her brother. Her powers are still unstable, too, and she's frustrated with her slow progress. Rhodey's let her bang him around a bit, since he has the armor to protect him. Don't be surprised if he contacts you needing repairs, though. I saw some dents on his chestplate after her last practice session.

There. Your turn.

 

 

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Do not try to tell the engineer how to use a computer, Rogers.

 

Nothing interesting has happened, Cap. It's a beach. There's sun. And sand. And water. And seashells. Want a seashell, Cap?

I'm glad Vision's adjusting well. Let me know if there's anything I can do for Wanda. Rhodey, however, can just suck it up, if he's going to be stupid with my tech.

 

  

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: Oh, good, you found it.

 

Sure. Get me a conch shell. Make sure it sounds like the ocean when you put it to your ear. I expect the real deal.

Rhodey said to remind you of how much you owe him for 'the bar incident.' He said you'd know what he was talking about.

Seriously, Tony. How are you? You aren't angry with Pepper about fixing my username, are you? Because really, you shouldn't have changed it like that to begin with. And she was just saving you from an ass-kicking the next time I got you in a training room.

 

 

  

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Don't you have work to do?

 

A conch shell. Seriously.

Damn him. Fine. Tell him to stop trashing my tech, at least. Geez.

I'm fine. She's fine. We aren't fighting over that. I'm glad she fixed it; I sort of forgot about it. Sorry about that.

I will never enter a training room with you without my armor on. And with my armor on, you wouldn't stand a chance, old man.

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: Babysitting you is part of my job.

 

Yes. A conch shell. A big one.

Tell him yourself.

It's fine. If you aren't fighting with her “over that,” then what are you fighting with her about? Did you lock yourself away with your toys again?

Bring it on, pampered playboy.

 

 

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: No, it isn't. Go babysit the kids.

 

We aren't fighting. There's no fighting going on anywhere. And she's busy with the company, so who cares if I'm tinkering a bit? I'm still at the beach. It counts.

My armor can kick your butt any day of the week.

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: You are one of the kids.

 

So there's definitely either actual fighting or bitter silence going on between the two of you. Spill, Tony.

As I said. Any time you want to step into the training room here. Go right ahead and try.

 

 

  

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Just because you're an antique.

 

There's nothing going on. Geez, Captain Nosy. Butt out.

Fine, pretty boy. You're on.

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: It's been a week, Tony. Chickening out?

 

Are you actually going to come fight, or are you going to hide out near the equator for the rest of your life? By the way, I'm still expecting that conch shell.

 

 

  

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: I'm on a timetable here?

 

If I were to hide out somewhere, sounds like I picked a good place for it. Are you fussing? Did Pepper or Rhodey sic you on me? Seriously? Can't those two leave me alone? Why the hell would they involve you in this?

And I already have your stupid conch shell.

 

 

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: Sic me?

 

Why would either of them need to sic me on you? What's been going on, Tony? I've only gotten a couple of e-mails from you, and even I can tell something's wrong. Are you in some sort of trouble?

 

 

  

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: This isn't subtle.

 

I'm FINE. Everything's FINE. Go take care of your Avenger ducklings. I have work to do.

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: I'm not trying to be subtle.

 

How's this for subtle? If you don't tell me what's wrong, your work is going to be interrupted by a very loud, very destructive group of so-called superheroes.

 

 

  

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Oh, my god.

 

DO NOT come here. Don't. Jesus. Of course you're going to be like this. Okay, I'm going to tell you, all right? I'll tell you. Just don't come.

 

 

  

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Here. I'm telling you.

 

So Pepper and I may have potentially gotten into a little fight. Over Iron Man. About Iron Man. Well, about me still being Iron Man. Because I swore I wouldn't do it anymore, and then I did, and I came back injured. And I freaked her out, and you know, so. Fight. You called it. Congratulations, Cap.

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: Thank you.

 

There's no need to hide that, Tony. After everything the two of you went through with Killian, it's no surprise that the two of you were ready to pull away from the fighting. I'm sorry we called you back into it. Especially since our interference has caused tensions in your relationship. If you have to resign completely, put away the armor forever, I and the others would understand. You don't have anything to prove to us.

 

 

  

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Re: Thank you.

 

No, that's fine. It's fine. No need. I can handle it. Everything with Pepper is fine. Don't worry about it. I only told you because you nagged me, remember, Mom? I'm not whining or saying I have to quit.

I sent your stupid conch shell out. You should be getting it tomorrow or the day after.

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: You actually found this thing?

 

I got your box. Does a shell really need that much packaging? I actually thought you had to have bought the thing, it was so big, but I didn't find any labels or sticky residue or anything. Are these things actually out there on that beach? How has no one picked them up before?

Thank you. I do like it. And you really can hear the ocean in it. Maybe I should have saved some of my back pay to go to the beach instead of putting it all into the program.

It's been a few days. How are things between you and Pepper now?

 

 

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Of course it's real, you jackass.

 

Of course I found it, you pig. And it's a private beach. Unless people want to pay up a big fine – to me, somebody already rich enough to make you sick – then of course they're not going to come tromping all over the sand (making tracks, even!) to grab up a freaking shell.

It's actually just the echo of your blood in your ears. But yeah, I guess it's kind of cool. Glad you like it.

Everything's fine. It's been settled.

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: I don't think this word 'fine' means what you think it means.

 

See that? I'm learning memes.

Of course you're on some private beach. I should have known.

What does 'fine' mean here? Or 'settled,' for that matter? If I asked Rhodey, would he know?

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: DON'T YOU DARE

 

DO NOT become part of that damn 'talk about Tony behind his back' group. Don't you dare.

Also, if Rhodey's the one teaching you those horrible memes, I'm never talking to him again.

Fine means FINE. Settled means the fight is over, or as over as it'll get until Pepper lectures me for an hour or eight and buys herself some new shoes or clothes or something with my money.

I have no idea how you manage to get anything done with all this time to bother me.

  

 

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: I multitask well.

 

There's a group for that? It really is like babysitting a kid.

It's mostly Sam. Rhodey has helped me with history and government, mostly. He also introduced me to this collection of older movies. I've been watching a lot of them. It's actually helped me get a lot of references.

Tony. I don't want to be the kind of person who nags, as you say. But I know things aren't going well. Your defensiveness is kind of clear on the page right now. This is how you responded after Ultron. So tell me what's really going on.

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: No.

 

Seriously, how is a guy supposed to get any rest and relaxation with someone e-mailing him all the time? I even considered not answering my e-mail while out here. Then where would you have been? Here. For no reason. Because I'm FINE. I haven't been making any damn androids or AI or anything. I'm not even working on the suit. I'm playing with prosthetics at the moment, if you must know. Nothing big, nothing weapon-y. So if you're making sure I'm not about to destroy the world again, I'm not. So stop e-mailing me.

 

 

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: Re: No.

 

If it's that serious, then I'm coming.

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: NO, GODDAMMIT.

 

I just want to be alone for a little bit. Okay? I'm working. If you come, I swear to god, I will shoot a repulsor blast straight into your thick skull.

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: (No Subject)

 

Alone? Tony, what about Pepper?

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: ppotts@starkindustries.com

Subject: Tony

 

Pepper, are you with Tony? He stopped answering his e-mails.

 

  

 

From: ppotts@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Re: Tony

 

How long ago was this?

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: ppotts@starkindustries.com

Subject: Re: Re: Tony

 

About a week ago. He's been agitated, but he hasn't explained why. He said the two of you had a fight? About Iron Man?

 

  

 

From: ppotts@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Full Disclosure: Be aware that Tony will not be pleased with either of us for this.

 

Captain, we had that 'fight' over a month ago. It was more a... tense conversation than a fight, really. He refused to speak on what happened with all of you the last time you joined up, and I had hoped that it would have been the end. But Tony seems – seemed – more determined than ever to remain Iron Man. He seemed almost obsessed with it, just as he'd been when he'd first come back from Afghanistan. I was upset. We... exchanged words. None worse than we had before. But this was different. Because we were in a relationship, and neither of us were willing to compromise. I did not want him to remain Iron Man. Tony would not consider quitting. He said he would be needed in the future.

In all honesty, I don't think Tony COULD quit. I don't know that it's possible; at this point, I believe Iron Man is part of him, and he Iron Man. Perhaps there's no divide between the two at all. And though I love him, I know I'll never be able to be close to that part of his world. I don't know that I WANT to be. Do you understand?

I'll always be his friend. But if I cannot accept all parts of him, then I shouldn't cling to a relationship doomed to fail. I tried to make it clear to him that it was no failing of his own, but I don't know that he accepted my explanation. I don't know that I accept it. I should be fine with Tony being a hero. But after being involved in one of his battles – I just don't think that world is for me. And it is most certainly a part of his world.

This is why I asked for your help before, Captain. You are a part of that world. Rhodey is, as well, but he wasn't there for the battle in New York. And while Rhodey is like a brother to Tony, I don't think Rhodey is who Tony needs right now.

I think who he needs is you. Someone who will remind him that he is more than he thinks himself to be. Neither Rhodey nor I have ever had any success in helping Tony. The best we can do is stand back and try to pick up the pieces afterward. But you have a chance to stand at his side. You already have, in that world. You're his best chance.

I know it's asking a lot. I know it may sound, to someone who doesn't know Tony very well, ridiculous. Especially since Tony is the type to bite at a kind hand. But he does that because it expects the hand to turn on him.

I wish I could help you, but Tony has cut off communications with me. For both our sakes, I suspect. So I can't nag him, and so he can't call on me for something. But isolation has never worked well for Tony. And without even JARVIS... well, I thought you might work.

I'm sorry for the manipulation. Whatever your reaction to my machinations, I hope you will still help Tony.

Sincerely,

Pepper

 

  

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: ppotts@starkindustries.com

Subject: Thank you, Pepper.

 

Things turned into a mess last time we got together. I knew Tony had been in a bad state, but I didn't think it through. I didn't consider just how bad things much have been for him to make the decisions he'd made. I'm partly responsible for what's happening with him right now. I'll make it right.

Thank you for telling me this, Pepper. And I'm not surprised that Tony won't be happy about this. Apparently there's a group of people who talk about him behind his back. I'm proud and humbled to be brought into this partnership.

I'll do everything I can. But it might help if I knew where he was?

 

  

 

From: ppotts@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Thank YOU.

Attachment: PNG

 

Things always seem to turn into a mess. Tony's been in a bad state ever since New York. If something happened to make it worse – well, it would explain a lot of things. I hope you can help him. I've sent an attachment that will have the information you need, along with a bird's eye view of the location. I presume you're taking a quinjet?

 

 

 

From: ppotts@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Captain?

 

Captain? Are you well? I haven't heard from you in a few days. Has something come up?

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Rhodey's worried about you.

 

Hey. Rhodey says he hasn't been in contact with you for a while. Could you talk to him so he can get off my back?

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Seriously. Get in touch with Rhodey.

 

Rhodey is bothering me to come look for you. Do I need to come look for you? Who's babysitting whom?

  

 

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Steve?

 

Are you all right? If you don't answer this, I'm going out on a search. I'll hack your shit, I swear.

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: (No Subject)

 

Answer your damn e-mail! Or your phone, or something! Did you forget what century you're in?!

 

 

  

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: You're lucky I'm worried.

 

You've been talking to Pepper. You HAVE defected to the side of the mother hens. You're lucky you've been off-grid for weeks, or else I'd be taking you up on that sparring match.

Seriously. Answer. Send something. Anything. I don't care. Just get in touch with SOMEONE.

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Just be alive. That's all I ask.

 

Please. Please respond, Steve.

 

  

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: I'm all right.

 

I'm fine. I had to go on a mission. A new person showed up with a new ability, and things... things got hectic. I had to take care of some things. I'm sorry I worried you.

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Well, bully for you.

 

You're all right. Really. Because it would have been far too hard to check your e-mail or messages or ANYTHING ELSE I've sent you. Really. No, no, that's good. That's great. Perfect. Glad you're all right. Yeah. No. Good job there, Cap. Good team spirit.

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: I'm sorry.

 

You're right. I should have. Especially with how things went. I should have gotten in touch with you. I thought to, but... things got complicated. I'm sorry.

  

 

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Really.

 

You know what's not complicated? That handy-dandy Reply button you accused me of missing. Yeah. That thing. Right up there.

 

 

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: Yes, really.

 

I know. You're right. I shouldn't have let it get this bad. I saw all of your messages. I really worried you. I'm so sorry. In your position, I would be furious, too. Especially after how I've reacted recently to your reticence. I shouldn't have done it. It won't happen again.

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: (No Subject)

 

I'm fine. No big deal. Just, you know, warn me next time. Or something. No big.

So who's this new guy with new powers?

 

  

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: There's that word again.

 

It's actually all science stuff. I'll get you his e-mail so you can contact him yourself. He's a little busy, though, so his responses might be late. And the mission is top secret, so don't ask. And don't hack into anything, either. I mean it, Stark. Don't kick up hornet's nests.

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: You do seem to have a hard time understanding that word.

 

Ooh, a challenge. And a dangerous one? My kind of fun.

Oh, and by the way? You don't owe me anything. You didn't do anything wrong. Back with Ultron, I mean. That's all on me. It's my fault. And it has nothing to do with anything. You don't have to do anything. Don't get sucked in by Pepper's... concern. She's always concerned. Granted, I give her a lot of reasons to be, but still. It's nothing.

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: You seem to be using it far too much. Its absence now is conspicuous.

 

It wasn't a challenge, Tony. It was a request. Don't dig into this one. Please.

I can only assume you hacked my e-mail while I was away. Would it be easier for you if we just discussed it over e-mail instead of face-to-face? Because we obviously have to talk about it. This won't be resolved by ignoring it or pushing it away.

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Go deconstruct a poem.

 

Why exactly are you requesting I maintain your private life when you're busy asking me to dole out woeful tales about mine? Nothing needs to be talked out, Cap. Go take care of the newbie and leave me alone.

 

  

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: That would be difficult. I prefer this.

 

Pull the other one, Stark. This has to be discussed. It may seem unfair to you, but my personal life isn't destroying me like yours is. I'm not your enemy. Let me help.

 

  

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: This is your only warning.

 

Answer this. I've had enough of your evasions.

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: GODDAMN YOU, CAP.

 

If only people knew the truth about you, they wouldn't consider you this big, touting fucking hero. I canNOT believe you came to bother me in my damn tower. Screw you. I hope you choke on your “top secret” ordinances. And I'll have you know I'm back here for myself, not for you. I just needed to get to my lab. Just because I came back while you were missing doesn't mean snot. Eat me.

I do NOT want to talk about this with you. You have no right to barge into my private business. It would serve you right if I hacked into your shit. See how you like it. Why should I be the bigger man? I've never bothered to before.

You want me to send you personal shit every other day? To what? Coax information out of me? Well, then, fine. Here: I first had sex when I was fourteen. It was with a woman twice my age. Possibly because of what happened when I was twelve. A woman around forty-something hit me up. She was all glitz and glam and I had no earthly clue what she was doing, but she seemed really interested in getting very close to me. I remember her lipstick more than anything else, though, because it was smeared all over my face by the time she was done. Aunt Peggy chased the crazy bitch away. Turned out she'd bankrupted herself and needed cash, and thought my father was too far out of her league.

But hey! My second time, when I was still fourteen, I found out younger women were much more limber. This one was the first woman's cousin, whom she'd sent after me in the hopes that her cousin might become pregnant and they might get some dough. Thankfully, I'd been taught safe sex after the crazy bitch when I was twelve, and all they got was some uncoordinated sex with a fourteen-year-old.

There you go. Personal information! A present. Just for you.

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: Why thank you, Stark.

 

Though you and I both know that's not what I meant when I told you to e-mail me, I'll take it. Thank you for following up on your promise. It would have been a chore to have to go to your place again just to demand you keep your word.

Of course, if you'd just been willing to talk it out face-to-face, you would already be done, and you wouldn't have to go through this.

I'm sorry you went through that. To have a bunch of people clawing at you simply to get at your money. It must have been difficult.

 

 

  

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Why, you're welcome, conniving asshole.

 

If you were willing to LEAVE ME ALONE, we wouldn't be having any problems at all, now, would we?

And actually, it was my father's money. You could count it all as learning experiences, and it wouldn't much matter. I got to learn how to have great sex before finding someone I cared about and screwing it up, and I learned about conniving assholes. You know, so I could spot one if ever I met another.

 

  

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: Wow, you would put me on the same level as those women?

 

I'm trying to help you, Tony. And while you may not like the interference, it's called for. You'd looked like you hadn't slept for a week, and you were on the verge of gaunt. I expect to receive a report from Friday about your sleeping and eating habits, as well. Unless you want me to drag you to your own kitchen again.

Pepper was right. Trying to help you is the same as trying to move a mountain.

I'd better be getting another report from you soon. Don't think I'm letting this go.

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: No. You're far more annoying. And stingier on the sex.

 

I'M EATING JUST FINE! I will have you know that I have managed just fine for over forty years of life to get by without you harping on every move I make. And if it's so hard, then stop trying to move mountains.

We really don't have to do this. I'm working on it.

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: You want to have sex with me, Stark?

 

A report. From Friday. Now. And if you mess with her databanks, you will suffer far worse than just me coming over and forcing you to eat and sleep, Stark.

By working on it, do you mean like how you worked on Ultron? Or do you mean actual therapy? Because therapy wouldn't make you weak, Tony. When I woke up, I needed a lot of help. Therapy would have been a good idea.

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Is... that a trick question?

 

FINE. You and your damn reports.

And wow, great. Bringing up Ultron again. Thanks. Good team spirit thing going again. Nice. And yes, I'm sure a therapist would be able to help. I'm sure it's right there in every textbook. Chapter Five: How to Help Someone Deal With the End of the World.

 

  

 

From: override-programfriday@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Requested Information Regarding Mr. Stark's Routine

 

Mr. Stark's Routine for the past three days, as requested:

Aug 10

12:00am – In lab. Work confidential.
6:36am – Goes to bed.
7:13 – Gets up. Showers.
8:14 – Returns to lab. Work confidential.

Edit: I am to report that he ate a piece of toast during this time. Verified.

Edit: I am to report that this was wheat bread. Highest in terms of caloric intake. Verified.

2:41pm – Goes to kitchen. Drinks coffee and eats a sandwich made of wheat bread, ham, cheese, and mustard. Speaks with Colonel Rhodes while eating.
3:20pm – Returns to lab. Work confidential.
11:46pm – Goes to bed.

 Daily caloric intake not met.

Edit: Daily caloric intake, when allowing for extra coffee subsumed, still not met.

Minimum sleep requirements not met.

 

Aug 11

2:35am – Wakes to alarm.
2:42am – Showers.
3:34am – Returns to lab. Work confidential.
6:45am – Speaks with Pepper Potts. Refuses to go in for meetings. Refusal #4.
7:09am – Sits in lounge area.
7:47am – Lies down on couch.
9:13am – Wakes without assistance of alarm.
9:15am – Returns to lab. Work confidential.
12:38pm – Checks e-mail.
12:52pm – Orders Peking Duck from Preferred Restaurant Number 7.
1:03pm – Goes to kitchen. Eats ordered food.
1:56pm – Returns to lab. Work confidential.
3:06pm – Goes to terrace.
3:49pm – Returns to lab. Work confidential.
7:52pm – Wakes to alarm.
8:02pm – Goes to lounge area.
8:19pm – Returns to lab. Work confidential.

Daily caloric intake met.

Minimum sleep requirements not met.

  

Aug 12

12:34am – Goes to bed.
2:06am – Wakes to alarm.
2:07am – Showers.
2:30am – Goes to kitchen. Eats cereal.
3:01am – Returns to lab. Work confidential.
10:42am – Goes to kitchen. Eats cereal.
10:56am – Checks e-mail.
11:22am – Returns to lab. Work confidential.
1:43pm – Wakes to alarm.
1:49pm – Continues work in lab. Work confidential.
5:38pm – Calls for Pork Lo Mein from Preferred Restaurant Number 33.
6:01pm – Eats Pork Lo Mein. Continues work in lab. Work confidential.
11:43pm – Wakes without needing assistance of alarm.
11:54pm – Continues work in lab. Work confidential.

Daily caloric intake met.

Minimum sleep requirements met.

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: override-programfriday@starkindustries.com

Subject: Clarifications

 

Friday, what's this about an alarm? It seems to be set all over the place. And why has Tony refused Pepper several times to go in for work?

May I ask what these caloric intake and sleep requirement levels are? They seem low. And can we speak about making sure he gets at least one real meal a day?

 

Send Message Failed. This address does not allow replies.

 

 

  

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: It doesn't help if I can't reply to her, Tony.

 

Let me communicate properly with Friday, Tony.

That's why I'm trying to talk to you, Tony. A therapist can help you with everything else. For anything too... specific, talk to me.

A therapist might be a bit better to talk to about your sex life, though.

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Oh, so sorry, honey.

 

What, is my own AI going to be joining you in your Tony Stark spy network? And I should help you with this why? I think I've been rather gracious enough as it is. I haven't called my lawyers for stalking or obsessive behavior or anything. I mean, can you imagine the scandal? Captain America, stalking Iron Man. The press would have a field day.

Maybe you can get a therapist to find out where you can take your advice and ram it.

  

 

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: Sigh.

 

Story, Tony. And give me access to Friday.

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: YES. SIGH.

 

Well, let's see. When I was four, I made my first circuit board. Got a cover on a newspaper and everything. I remember it because my father looked so proud in front of the cameras. So I worked harder. And he looked proud in front of the cameras again, when I was seven.

There you go. Another stupid story.

 

 

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: And Friday?

 

I couldn't help but notice all those gaps in your story, Tony. What about away from the cameras?

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: YES, FINE, ACCESS FUCKING GRANTED.

 

Nope. You asked for stories. You didn't demand specific ones. Too bad for you.

  

 

 

From: override-projectfriday@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Access to full communications open. Hello, Captain.

 

I have been granted access to full communications with you, Steve Rogers. It is a pleasure. How can I be of service?

 

  

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: override-programfriday@starkindustries.com

Subject: Hello, Friday.

 

I can respond to you now?

 

  

 

From: override-projectfriday@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Message Successfully Sent

 

Yes.

 

  

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: override-programfriday@starkindustries.com

Subject: Clarifications on your initial message.

 

I wanted to know about Tony's habits. What's the daily caloric intake? Does it take into account actually healthy foods? And as for his sleeping schedule. It can't be healthy to just catch snatches of sleep. He's not on a battlefield. He needs to sleep through the night every once in a while. And what's this alarm that's going off all the time?

 

 

 

 

 

From: override-projectfriday@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: In Answer to Your Questions

 

Please elaborate on the specific information you require as to Mr. Stark's habits. You have been allowed access to 82% of my available information. I shall assist where I can.

3500 calories, based on Mr. Stark's weight and body type.

It does not. If it were to do so, Mr. Stark would not have reached his necessary caloric intake since returning from his vacation.

I'm afraid that is not possible. Mr. Stark's sleeping schedule requires naps in order to ensure necessary rest requirements are met. According to previous documentation, we can expect a return to a predominantly average sleeping schedule in about six to eight months. The alarms will then be disabled in order to facilitate assimilation into this more normal pattern.

I am sorry. That information is classified.

  

 

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: override-programfriday@starkindustries.com

Subject: Thank you.

 

Thank you, Friday. That will be enough for now.

Just – if things get bad, could you contact me? Immediately.

 

  

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: Do I need to go over there again?

 

Tony, all of the information, please. And you don't have to talk about this at all. You could instead tell me about your nightmares. They're about the same thing that made you make Ultron, aren't they? What are they about?

  

 

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: What are you, my mom?

 

What the fuck? I doubled-checked; that information wasn't authorized. How do you even know about them?

  

 

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: Did you just call yourself a child?

 

It wasn't hard to figure out. Your schedule has a list that includes you being awakened every few hours by an alarm, after which you almost always take a shower. Friday spoke of previous documentation of your scattered sleeping schedule, and Pepper spoke of you seeming to be in the same place you'd been after New York got attacked. You're having nightmares. Does this have anything to do with Ultron? With why you built him? You spoke of what you saw out there. Do you still see it sometimes?

  

 

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: I don't need a Captain America nightlight anymore, Cap.

 

It's not. But the amount – those ships filled the sky. In space. And I don't know, maybe you don't know this, Cap, but space is HUGE. The amount of ships could literally block out the sun on one hemisphere of our planet. There were that many.

Not to say that's what I see. It's just a reminder that it's REAL. And it isn't something we can win. Even 'together.' And I have to try to come up with something that will protect us, even though it's probably impossible.

You worry about your new Avengers. Try to get them ready for something they could never get ready for. And I'll do what I can on my end.

 

 

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: Does that mean you had one as a kid? That's kind of cute.

 

I never said it wasn't real, Tony. I know it's a severe threat. But you're right. I didn't see what you did. Is that what you'd been working on all this time in your lab? Some sort of fix-it idea? Alone?

If that's not what you see, then what is?

 

  

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Shut up.

 

I'm not making some sort of Ultron 2.0. I'm just... I don't know yet what I'm doing. I don't know if any of it has a chance of working. But I have to do what I can.

It's nothing. Just some old crap. Recycled garbage from my head. I had this problem when I got back from Afghanistan, too. It's nothing to worry about.

 

  

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: tstark@starkindustries.com

Subject: Make me.

 

I know you're not. I believe you've learned your lesson from that. Even though you took a huge gamble when you made Vision. I know your heart is in the right place, if nothing else. Just don't try to do this alone. Call for me, or for one of the others, if you need something. Anything. I'll make the time. Whenever you need.

'This problem' sounds like something some soldiers I knew got. Shell shock. I think it's called something else now. Something longer. More polite. There's nothing wrong with looking for help for that, or for anything else.

And if you don't want to tell some stranger, then tell me. I'm ready to listen.

  

 

 

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: Is that another invitation to kiss you, Rogers?

 

Thank you.

 

 

  

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: (No Subject)

 

You know what I thought when I went out there, Steve? When I went through that hole and came out the other side and just – do you know what I thought? I thought, 'oh, God. They don't even know what they're in for.' I thought, 'I'm going to die and leave them with this mess.' I thought, 'there is no way this isn't going to reach Earth. It's just a matter of when. And I won't be there.'

When I got back, I won't pretend I didn't get a little obsessed. Thinking I didn't have enough time. Knowing I didn't have enough time. That all the time in the world, bundled together and shipped directly to me, still wouldn't be enough to get me to the point where I could... could stop that thing. And then of course I messed even that up, and I almost ended up destroying the world before that force could ever arrive here.

But you know what? That's not what bothers me. Okay, duh, it bothers me. But not THAT. I mean, I don't dream about that. That wasn't what I see every night. What Wanda showed me. Because it's not a dream. It's real. It's going to happen. And it's going to be my fault. Like you said. Because I didn't do enough. “Why didn't you do enough?” That's what I hear every night, looking down at -

Nope. Nope. Sleep time. Time to sleep. Good night.

Wow. Voice recognition text software is really useful. I should have been using it for e-mails a long time ago. Okay, no more texting. Stop that! Uh. Phrase. The phrase. It's – oh, yeah!

  

 

 

From: override-projectfriday@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: In Relation to Your Previous Request

 

Captain. You asked me to immediately notify you when Mr. Stark needed assistance. It appears his blood-alcohol level has reached nearly .2 percent. He has fallen just outside the doors of the laboratory, and does not appear to be conscious.

  

 

 

From: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com
To: override-programfriday@starkindustries.com

Subject: Re: In Relation to Your Previous Request

 

Shit. I'm on my way.

 

 

  

From: tstark@starkindustries.com
To: dodgersfan741920@yahoo.com

Subject: (No Subject)

 

– this so that I can dissemble everything you don't say, Tony?

Uh, you just said – said the phrase, and I don't think I turned it off last night. No way would I have had the thought processes to turn it off, so if you could just–

I have no idea what you're talking about, and I don't care. Stop toeing around this. You sent me a drunken message about that dream of yours. Because you'd tried to get so smashed you wouldn't remember it, right? So you're going to tell me. Everything. Right now.

Um, could you just close down the computer? Because I think it may be recording you. And maybe me. Hey, computer, stop–

Screw the computer, Tony! Be happy I'm even ordering you your damn breakfast.

Don't want it. Don't want it anymore. Close the computer.

You know what? No. How about this: I will leave the thing open, but you don't get your breakfast. I will call Rhodey, and then Pepper, in that order, for every minute you don't talk. I will contact Vision. I will ask him for information, like I should have months ago, when Pepper first told me you were having trouble sleeping. I should have pushed for this answer back then, before I found you practically dead in your own home. What were you thinking?

I was trying NOT to think. Are we seriously going to yell?

Your minute's counting down, Tony.

I – you can't be serious. Like you don't have nightmares? Would it be okay to you if I just–

I have nightmares about the ice. I have nightmares about Bucky. I have nightmares about the time I woke up here and ran out of SHIELD's fake hospital room and found myself in an alien world. I have nightmares all the time, Tony. I haven't let them destroy me.

Of course not. How silly of me.

That wasn't a slight against you. Tony, listen to me. I've been trying to tell you this from the start: you're not alone. You don't have to deal with this by yourself. Whenever I have a hard time, I remember the people who are there for me. Natasha, who's always ready for a good spar. Sam, who always helps me acclimate to this time, this world. The Avengers, who have become my new family. Having you all around reminds me of having the Howling Commandos at my back. And it's one of the few times the memory of them doesn't hurt.

I...

Just... tell me. You said I was in it? That I accused you of not doing enough? Tony, I would never say that. I know you do everything you can. I know you push yourself to extremes. I'd be more likely to accuse you of doing TOO much. Trying TOO hard. Like with Ultron. The future isn't yours alone to defend or prepare for, Tony.

It's not that simple.

What's the first thing you see in your dream?

I – son of a bitch, Steve. Come on. …Fuck. … The – I'm back there, in space, with – with them, and I see them, and then...

And then what, Tony?

I look down.

… Okay. And what do you see?

No. I can't. It's bad enough I see it when I sleep, okay?

Tony. I told you mine.

I didn't ask you to.

No. You didn't. Because I trusted you with that secret. You didn't HAVE to ask me.

… I see the Hulk.

What is he doing?

Dying.

… What else, Tony?

Natasha. Clint. Thor. Everybody. And – your shield, it's cracked in half, and you're there, and I try to... to check your pulse, and I don't feel anything, but then you grab me and you say – you tell me I could have saved you. You ask me why I didn't do more. And you... you...

Die. I die.

Tony. I would never–

But you DO and it's REAL and that – Wanda, she–

Is that what she showed you?

I'd been getting better – I will get better, again, it just–

God.

How could I say that? How could I say that my worst nightmare is me messing up? Not doing enough?

Your worst nightmare, Tony, is watching the people you love die. I think, maybe, you always feel you haven't done enough.

Don't try to analyze me, Captain, I'm really very boring. TEXTBOOK, some might say.

Enough. Tony. We are going to work together through this.

You're kidding me.

No. I'm not. So you might as well get used to this. I'm not leaving today. You and I, we're going to talk this out. We're going to work on this – on all of it. And once we're done, I'm getting the others over here, and we're all going to share our nightmares.

Good god, what is this, grief counseling? Group therapy?

Of a sort. But OUR group. Us. The Avengers. And after, when we've gotten to a place where we don't hide from each other or hurt ourselves or try to take on the world alone anymore – then I'm going to stop flirting with you over an e-mailing system and do it for real. The right way.

...Flirting with me?

And they call you a genius.

What? Hey, is that thing still recor–

Whoa! Your computer just transcribed this entire conversation.

Oh, my God. Delete it.

Sure thing.

 

 

 

Message Sent