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Tony settled back in his very expensive lounger that had probably been made or designed or bedwet by someone famous or important or, at the very least, mildly scandalous. There was no point in having something so ugly and only mildly comfortable otherwise. He’d have to ask Pepper. She’d remember why he’d insisted on buying it.

The scotch in his hand was easier to figure out. It was old and smooth and had the useful ability to blur the edges of the world around him.

"Alright, JARVIS. Show me."

The massive plasma flatscreen bloomed into life.

"Start time's getting better, but let's work on shaving a few more seconds off, 'kay buddy?"

"Of course, Sir."

Tony sipped from his tumbler as familiar images flashed and moved, crawled and jumped, played and stared and made faces. Sometimes, when there was sound, Tony almost smiled. "The vocals are from your mother, but I am definitely the reason you have good taste in music," he murmured into his tumbler.

Occasionally documents floated onscreen, long enough for Tony to have read and memorized the old ones, long enough to pick out the particulars of the new ones. "Passes all his exams and fails all his classes. Most of his classes." Tony took a sip of scotch, eyes skipping over new docs with old information. “Dad would’ve had something to say about that,” he said, chuckling darkly as the display changed. “Lucky for you, you missed out kid.”

He watched until he’d drained his tumbler twice. When he started crunching on an ice cube, he decided he’d been sitting long enough.

Standing, Tony sucked another ice cube into his mouth and approached the screen. Rolling the slowly melting ice across the roof of his mouth, he touched the screen, touched what would have been a cheek, and felt the faint, slightly pliant warmth under his fingers. Under the pressure of his fingertips, the screen changed color, but it was nothing like flesh. It was nothing like skin. There were times, especially with the early pictures, when the itch he felt in his hands was the same one he got down in the shop. But he couldn’t hold a picture and feel its warmth. He couldn’t ruffle its hair. He couldn’t mock it’s t-shirt choices. Alright he could, but it wasn’t the same. He couldn’t rifle through his drawers and toss it a better one.

One of the new pictures flashed beneath his hand: him and the kid, last year at the school. Tony recognized the back of his own head. And there was his son’s pale, completely unimpressed face. This nearly adult version of him took after his mother. But the face that smiled and laughed and oh so seriously banged meaty fists against a poor, defenseless guitar – Tony had seen that face every day for years on his mother’s vanity.

“Goodnight, Danny.”

Tony turned away from the screen. “Hey JARVIS, gimme an update on the holographic displays. What’s the new projected timeline?”

Fin[ite]