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JARVIS suspected that his latest… pursuit was the result of Mr. Odinson watching a large number of reality shows within JARVIS' purview. While Mr. Odinson kept reiterating that he was simply interested in learning about this realm's sources of entertainment, JARVIS had very quickly come to the conclusion that the man enjoyed them.

When he had asked Sir about this, quizzical and not understanding the appeal of watching humans compete for another's affection, Sir had started laughing, almost burning his fingers on the blowtorch he'd been working with. DUM-E had been forced to intervene, and even that had not stopped the laughter completely.

Still unable to understand, JARVIS did not hesitate to tell Sir so, secure in the knowledge that it would be explained to him in a way he would be able to make sense of.

Sir then proceeded to explain to him the illogic of The Bachelor.

It was both highly illuminating and deeply baffling, all at once.

 


 

"You okay, J?"

There was a note of amusement in Sir's tone that JARVIS could not understand the source of. Because of this, his answer was utterly sincere when he replied.

"I am assimilating knowledge, Sir."

Sir snorted, a sound of suppressed laughter. "Is this still about The Bachelor?"

 "It is," JARVIS said, not seeing a reason to lie. "I find myself confused at the lengths the people in the show go to, to secure a one-on-one meeting."

"It's probably more about screen time than anything else," Sir said thoughtfully, throwing a ball for DUM-E (an act that was thoroughly ill-thought-out) and flinching when a mug was subsequently shoved to the floor as DUM-E drove past. "On the other hand, love has been known to make people do stupid things."

"I have not been able to find evidence of love in the show so far, Sir," JARVIS informed helpfully, searching through the footage once more to make sure he had not missed something crucial in it.

Sir laughed once more.

"It would've surprised me if you had, buddy," he said. Then he became more quiet, looking at the table but seemingly far away in that way humans sometimes were, so utterly incomprehensible to JARVIS. "Would've surprised me if you had."

 


 

JARVIS kept running through the episodes of The Bachelor, even when Mr. Odinson had long moved on to period dramas. He felt the odd compulsion to find an example of love to show Sir, more and more convinced that it would make something right that he had not been aware was broken.

Sir seemed to have forgotten the conversation already, but JARVIS had replayed the moments often enough to conclude that Sir had sounded tired and possibly a bit sad.

That would not do.

 


 

JARVIS quickly decided that the premise of making people compete for another's affection was not a very practical one, seeing as it would most likely lead to discord and tension. Instead, he started paying closer attention to those that Sir interacted with most often.

Miss Potts was the obvious possibility. She and Sir had split up in the past, however, amicable though it had been. In fact, JARVIS was reasonably certain that Sir looked favorably upon the tentative courtship that had started to develop between Miss Potts and Mr. Hogan.

In short, Miss Potts' happiness made Sir happy, and Miss Potts' happiness increased when she was with Mr. Hogan. Additionally, Miss Potts had found Sir's self-sacrificing ways difficult to navigate while they had been in a relationship -- something that JARVIS could fully understand, though he could do nothing about.

JARVIS shifted his focus.

Colonel Rhodes was often away because of his service to the military, even more so since he had been given the War Machine armor. Sir expressed enjoyment whenever they got to, as he would say, 'catch up' -- which JARVIS had come to understand could mean anything from going out and trying some small, little-known restaurant together, to staying in and dissecting movies that fell short of their expectations -- but neither Sir nor Colonel Rhodes had ever seemed to wish to turn their relationship into something romantic. Their friendship made Sir happy, even more so than any of Sir's romantical entanglements, bar the one with Miss Potts, that JARVIS had ever observed.

JARVIS turned his attention to the Avengers.

He did not need to linger for long. He had categorized them according to their relationships with Sir when they had first moved into the tower and periodically updated their status whenever there seemed to be a shift.

Because of this, JARVIS was well aware that Sir appreciated Dr. Banner's thought processes, but that Dr. Banner was still very firmly enamored with Dr. Ross, though they hadn't spoken since Dr. Banner moved into the tower, at least.

JARVIS made a note of that, marking it as something he might return to at a later date, and continued on.

Agent Romanoff tended to keep to herself and seemed utterly disinterested in romantic relations of any kind.

JARVIS moved on.

Agent Barton was a worthy opponent for Sir's quips, but their interactions seemed largely fraternal.

JARVIS moved on.

Captain Rogers was not interested in romantic entanglements while he was still working on finding his footing in the future. JARVIS had helped him fend off the potential partners that Agent Romanoff had tried to suggest. He did not intend to leave Captain Rogers without a so-called 'partner in crime'.

JARVIS moved on.

Mr. Odinson was in what the internet would call an 'on-and-off' relationship with Dr. Foster. He also routinely short circuited anything that ran on electricity. Since JARVIS was aware that DUM-E and U would not be safe from the interference, nor would the sensitive machinery in Sir's workshop, he quickly moved on once more.

This left him with the newest addition to the household though, if Sir was to be believed, he may as well not be there at all, for how little his presence was noticed.

JARVIS certainly noticed his presence. However, he could see why Sir would say differently, seeing as Sergeant Barnes tended to flee the room whenever Sir entered it. He did not believe that Sergeant Barnes had ever managed to see the disappointment on Sir's face on those occasions. JARVIS, of course, was aware of everything that took place in the tower.

Sergeant Barnes, while no doubt impressive in his field of competence, was not.

It was his belief - the result of a large number of analyses that he had run and rerun to reaffirm the outcome - that Sergeant Barnes felt guilt for his hand in the Starks' deaths, and had thus chosen to keep his distance to Sir, in hopes that this would make his presence easier to bear.

JARVIS also believed that Sergeant Barnes did not know how Sir's thought processes worked.

 


 

JARVIS had observed enough to know that small spaces could be fear-inducing to some humans. Sergeant Barnes seemed unbothered by them up until now, though JARVIS would not make assumptions that might end up hurting someone, be it physically or mentally.

To ensure that his hypothesis was correct, JARVIS questioned Sergeant Barnes on the subject. Sir had taught him that humans needed care, after all, even if Sir himself tended to view himself as the exception to that rule, to JARVIS' everlasting despair.

"Do you find small spaces stress-inducing?" he asked, taking care to keep his voice quiet to base-level humans. They had already found out that both the Sergeant's and the Captain's hearing was more sensitive. The Sergeant, especially, was prone to startling when JARVIS started speaking without warning.

In response, JARVIS had adapted, something he had been thanked for effusively, startlingly enough.

Sergeant Barnes smirked at a camera. It was not the main camera JARVIS had focused on before, though he switched quickly. "Not that I've noticed, no. Why, you planning on shoving me into a closet or something?"

JARVIS sniffed, a sound that never failed to make Sir smile and had a similar effect on the Sergeant, though the reaction mostly presented itself in a slight softening of the lines around his eyes. "I would never."

Silence followed, as if Sergeant Barnes were waiting for a longer explanation that JARVIS did not intend to give. If there was anything JARVIS had learned in his long time of caring for Sir, it was that sometimes staying silent was the best action to make someone else give in.

As was the case with Sergeant Barnes, though there was an exasperated sigh that told him the man was very aware that he had just lost that particular match of wills.

"Please don't shove me in a closet?" he asked instead, warily.

JARVIS silently amended his plans. Out loud, he sniffed once more, earning the same softening of Sergeant Barnes' features as before.

"I would not have the hands to do so, in any case."

 


 

The timing required patience. Sir worked irregular hours, while Sergeant Barnes tended to spend most of his time alone in various secluded places in the tower -- not quite hiding but not quite seeking other people out, either.

He tended to speak with JARVIS, but even as an AI, JARVIS knew that this was not the optimal situation. As such, he predicted that his actions would have a positive effect on both Sergeant Barnes and Sir, as long as it did not end up taking a turn for the worse, which he doubted.

Both men felt more guilt than anything else towards each other. JARVIS had read about the human concept of having closure, and he expected that if nothing else, his interference would give them that.

It was early morning, eight days after he had first devised his plan, that JARVIS was presented with the perfect opportunity. Sergeant Barnes was in the team kitchen, baking more of the brownies that Sir had marveled over last time they had been left on the table for general consumption. While tired, the Sergeant did not seem to be in a particularly negative mood -- a promising sign, JARVIS decided.

Sir was still in his workshop, working on some optimizations of a Stark phone that were not due for one more week. He had almost finished his coffee and would most likely work for another two or three hours if the coffee machine in the workshop continued to do its work.

JARVIS asked DUM-E to unplug it.

And indeed, Sir, still mumbling calculations to himself that JARVIS, ever-present, noted down, went to get more coffee only fifteen minutes later.

When the coffee machine refused to turn on, he did not even attempt to figure out what the problem was, as JARVIS had assumed. Instead, he moved towards the elevator, only three steps away, and made a vague motion with his hand, mumbling something that only someone well-versed in Sir's behavior would understand to mean, "Coffee."

Jarvis brought him to the team's common floor, depositing him there wordlessly.

It was only after having stepped out of the elevator, after the doors had closed behind him even, that Sir noticed he was not on his private floor as he had most likely expected.

"Not where I wanted to go, but okay," he mumbled, a sentence JARVIS chose to leave uncommented, as he already walked towards the kitchen to get his coffee to be able to return to the workshop.

A small part of JARVIS reran the calculations for the likelihood that this was going to end badly, finding them just as low as they had been when he had run them the first time. And still, he focused a larger part of his processing power on analyzing everything he could about the situation, possibly more intently than was necessary.

Sergeant Barnes appeared not to have heard the elevator open and close, a fact that surprised JARVIS, in so far as he was capable of being surprised. He did, however, hear the slouching steps that were gradually coming closer, and slowly set down the mixing bowl whose content he'd slowly been pouring into a deep baking form.

Analyzing quickly, JARVIS decided that it may be beneficial to give some sort of warning, especially since Sergeant Barnes seemed to tense all over as he watched the doorway warily.

"This is the closet," JARVIS mentioned helpfully if quietly, not doubting that Sergeant Barnes would remember their conversation. Truly, the Sergeant had so far displayed an impressive ability of recall, as far as it concerned his experiences after his time as a captive of HYDRA.

Sergeant Barnes sighed and looked at his half-finished brownies mournfully. "Well," he muttered, "at least you didn't shove me in here. I went all on my own."

There was a dry sort of humor in his tone that Sir was very fond of, but that still managed to bemuse JARVIS for its oddity. Sergeant Barnes did not, thankfully, immediately try to flee the kitchen, which JARVIS chose to see as a positive sign. There was still time, however, seeing as he was not yet aware of the fact that the approaching person was Sir.

Sergeant Barnes watched the doorway for a few seconds longer, then visibly made himself turn back around to the in-progress brownies. Apparently, he had decided that he was staying.

JARVIS could not deny that he felt a curious amount of relief at Sergeant Barnes' easy relenting.

When Sir stumbled through the doorway, it was with a single-minded focus on the coffee machine. He did not appear to even realize another person was present in the room. The calculations he had been muttering to himself before had now been replaced with half-formed thoughts of how to make the workshop-bound coffee machine more reliable. None of the plans would be necessary, of course. Once Sir was less sleep-deprived, he would think to check whether the machine was even plugged in and find it not to be the case.

In contrast to Sir's lack of awareness, Sergeant Barnes tensed immediately upon glancing towards the entryway and shot a half-hearted glare at one of JARVIS' cameras when he realized who had joined him in the kitchen.

He did not, however, simply leave his brownies behind unfinished and attempt to escape the room. Maybe this was because he hoped that Sir would simply get his coffee and depart without noticing him. If that was the case, it did not come to pass.

Sir stopped halfway back to the door, his coffee already half-empty once more, to frown at empty air for a few seconds. Then, startlingly not just for Sergeant Barnes but also for JARVIS, Sir turned in a movement so forceful, it threatened to send the coffee spilling over the walls of his mug.

"Those brownies two weeks ago were from you," he said, almost accusatory.

Even JARVIS could tell that Sergeant Barnes was taken aback by the tone. He would have intervened, had his analyses not indicated that it was very likely the two of them would be able to figure this out by themselves.

As it was, Sergeant Barnes seemed more confused than aggressive when he responded with a hesitating, "Yes?"

Sir approached the table where the still half-filled baking pan stood. It was a movement that had been called "prowling" by others, though JARVIS could only see miniscule similarities to how an animal would approach prey.

It was possible that Sergeant Barnes did not agree with that assessment. He took a step back, away from Sir, and turned his body towards the doorway, as if he was about to flee, instead.

When Sir looked over at him, he froze completely until the eyes moved back to the unfinished brownies.

"Are you making more, then?"

To someone -- possibly anyone -- else, the words might have seemed unkind and demanding. They must have meant something else entirely to Sergeant Barnes, however, JARVIS mused, since the man started relaxing by inches afterward, even choosing to return to his previous position in front of the counter. He didn't seem to mind how close this brought him to Sir, which JARVIS considered as progress.

He decided that Sir and Sergeant Barnes seemed amendable enough in each other's presence for the time being, and continued to passively monitor the kitchen, as he turned the majority of his processing powers to other tasks.

Later, once Sir had slept, not even the mild reproach turned JARVIS and the bots' ways for letting the unplugged state of Sir's coffee machine pass by unnoticed was enough to quell the slight feeling of accomplishment that JARVIS felt.

 


 

It was with a sense of success that JARVIS watched Sir and Sergeant Barnes hesitatingly communicate in the course of the following week. He had long decided that he would not hesitate to get involved should it become necessary to get them to communicate further. However, it seemed that once they had managed to overcome the initial roadblock, they had no problem getting their relationship to a comfortable-if-stumbling kind of friendship with remarkable speed.

They were, however, also stalled at that point. JARVIS might have let them be, satisfied with his results, had it not been for Sir's influence in his development. Because of this, there was no way that JARVIS would not see something through to the end out of fear of failure.

Sir and Sergeant Barnes also had a habit of looking at each other with what people on the internet might call 'heart-eyes', which certainly cemented this decision.

For a brief moment, JARVIS considered including others into his plans. While observation was never a problem, not with the resources he had available, the fact that JARVIS had no physical body restricted his scope of action considerably. While DUM-E and U were able to do simple things as DUM-E had displayed when pulling the plug on the coffee machine, it was not easy as just letting them out of the workshop to be JARVIS' hands.

Unless…

JARVIS reviewed his databases and plotted.

 


 

On a Tuesday mid-morning, while Sir was on a lower floor, supervising some of Stark Industries' newer employees in R&D, DUM-E 'escaped' from Sir's workshop. Later, JARVIS would say that he could not imagine how it had bypassed his attention, though this was of course because he had been perfectly aware of what was happening and had encouraged it.

In fact, U had stayed put simply because they had not wanted to take part in the scheme, no doubt taking after Miss Potts' more even temperament, since U had long since chosen her as their role-model.

Because of this, Sergeant Barnes only found one robot driving circles around one of the couches in the common floor's living spaces. It was his ability to take things in stride, JARVIS decided when the man simply blinked and watched for approximately 5.8 seconds, that made Sergeant Barnes such a good match for Sir.

He finally stepped further into the room, justified in his wariness as he had never been down to Sir's workshop before and thus was not familiar with DUM-E. Looking at the closest camera, Sergeant Barnes pointed at DUM-E, who was still driving in excited circles around the couch, and pulled up an eyebrow in silent question.

"This is DUM-E, one of Sir's helper bots," JARVIS explained helpfully, pleased when Sergeant Barnes did not seem alarmed at all but rather engrossed as he turned his attention back on DUM-E. It seemed that his interest in the genre of Science Fiction did carry over into daily life as well, as JARVIS had theorized. "I am afraid he managed to escape Sir's workshop and has chosen to expend his energy doing… this."

It appeared that this was some sort of signal DUM-E had been waiting for, as he abruptly stopped his circling and instead started moving towards Sergeant Barnes. With not a small amount of pride, JARVIS noticed that DUM-E had made an effort to curb his enthusiasm and speed, and was giving the Sergeant time to come to terms with his approach, or possibly stop him if so wanted.

Sergeant Barnes did not seem inclined to do so.

Instead, it was with fascination that he took DUM-E's claw and shook it, seeming almost overwhelmed, if joyful, as he watched the little mannerisms DUM-E displayed.

"Hi DUM-E, I'm Bucky," he said, and flinched just the tiniest bit when DUM-E let go of his hand and drove in a tight circle in front of him in excitement. When DUM-E turned away from him, speeding away, he watched the movement with an expression of almost wistful regret, only for it to turn back into joy when DUM-E returned with a soft ball the size of a tennis ball.

"He wishes for you to throw it," JARVIS explained dryly when Sergeant Barnes took the ball but was obviously at a loss of what to do with it, while DUM-E wiggled as much as it was possible for a robot of his make to do so.

Sergeant Barnes laughed and threw.

 


 

Sir's work concluded for the day only a short while later, and JARVIS made a show of audibly clearing his metaphorical throat when Sir stepped onto the private elevator that would take him up to the private quarters.

Sir sighed deeply and closed his eyes. "What's happened now?"

"I am afraid DUM-E has managed to escape the workshop and has found his way onto the Avengers' common floor," JARVIS said primly, taking a small measure of enjoyment, yes, amusement in the way Sir abruptly jerked his head around to stare at the camera in the corner of the elevator, speechless.

"What-- how?" he asked, blinking. Then, he shook his head, drawing his fingers through his hair in a way that made it stand on end and gave him a distinctly disheveled appearance. JARVIS had read it being labeled 'sex hair' in the past, though he personally thought the term was crude. "Nevermind, we'll talk about that later. Take me there before he manages to freak any of the others out and gets hurt."

JARVIS carefully stayed silent on the matter, not mentioning that the only person who had come across DUM-E on his little field trip through the tower could not be further from 'freaked out'.

 


 

Sir rushed out of the elevator before the doors had fully opened, already threatening to send DUM-E to a community college, when he took in the picture in front of him and abruptly came to a stop.

A strangled, "What--" managed to force its way out of his mouth, though that was ignored by both of the other occupants that could have heard him.

Sergeant Barnes had rolled up one arm of his shirt, showing his metal arm to DUM-E, who had been ecstatic when he had noticed that they matched. JARVIS had made sure to cut in and assure the Sergeant that it wasn't necessary to indulge DUM-E in everything, especially not if it was to the detriment of his own person, but Sergeant Barnes had only smiled a half-smile and shrugged.

"Something good might as well come out of having this thing on me," he'd said self-deprecatingly, knocking on the metal bicep.

How very Sir of him.

While this part hadn't been planned, it certainly seemed to be a fortunate turn of events, as Sir seemed thoroughly mesmerized by both the arm and the way Sergeant Barnes patiently interacted with DUM-E.

JARVIS sighed deeply, if only to himself.

When Sergeant Barnes glanced up, maybe feeling the weight of Sir's gaze on him, or just hearing something, he tensed at first, seemingly ready to jump away from DUM-E, should Sir say something. It was only a moment later that he seemed to notice just how Sir was watching him, that his eyes abruptly went dark and his heartbeat increased.

JARVIS very carefully kept quiet.

And then DUM-E beeped questioningly, poking Sergeant Barnes' shoulder, and the moment was broken.

This time, JARVIS did sigh out loud.

 


 

"J, what are you trying to do?"

Some part of JARVIS had expected this. After all, there was only so long he would be able to keep up his meddling and expect Sir not to catch on. Still, it took him half a second to decide what to say, trying to find a way to respond without divulging everything. It was only after a sharp look at one of his cameras that JARVIS gave in and explained himself.

"I believed it was prudent to help the two of you overcome your differences."

Sir snorted.

"By that you mean us going out of our ways to not speak with each other?" he asked, almost uncharacteristically aware of what their past interactions had been like, now that the issue had been resolved. Then a second later, as if he had only just managed to connect the pieces, Sir's eyes widened. "Wait, was the coffee machine part of that? That was you?"

"Not so much me, as it was DUM-E, but I'm afraid I was the instigator, yes," JARVIS confessed ruefully.

For two seconds, it seemed like Sir was going to get legitimately angry -- which would have been a true first, though admittedly, JARVIS had never before involved himself in his life without order to quite this extent.

In the end, Sir just slumped in on himself a bit and drew a hand down his face, giving a deep sigh.

"I should've expected this, you do take after me," he mumbled to himself, shaking his head. There was a low tone of what JARVIS suspected to be amusement in his tone, though he could not see what Sir would find funny about the situation.

JARVIS decided it might not be the right time to remind Sir that his sensors were even more sensitive than a super soldier's hearing, and thus very little went unheard by him, and did not ask. Instead, he allowed a tiny feeling of what he would almost call relief to flood his subroutines.

Until Sir sat up straighter once more, looking at a camera sternly. "But JARVIS, you can't do that. People are not playthings."

"I did not assume so," JARVIS replied immediately, affronted that this would be the motivation Sir would assume for his actions. "I simply believed Sergeant Barnes and you would fit together beautifully, and so far nothing has dissuaded me from thinking so."

Sir looked as if he was going to argue the point, and then just-- stopped, staring wide-eyed at nothing.

"Huh."

That boded well.

 


 

Later that night, JARVIS turned his attention away from Sir's bedroom. And his living area. And the bathroom. In fact, he just barely paid attention to Sir's entire floor at all, or as little as he could without compromising security.

At least it turned out that his hypothesis that Sir and Sergeant Barnes would prove to be a good match was correct.