“You killed my parents,” Tony says, standing in front of James.
James blinks. “I’m sorry,” he says. “You may punish me as you see fit.” His face is perfectly composed.
“Oh, no, no, no, Terminator, we’re not doing that. We’re not. I’m gonna be paying for your shit, so if you want to kill me too, that’s gonna be an issue. Are you gonna kill me?”
Now Barnes just looks confused. “I do not have any orders to kill you. And you are not HYDRA. I don’t -” something changes in his tone. “I don’t want to kill people anymore. I said I was done. I don’t want to kill people anymore.”
Tony looks concerned, like he can tell that James might be on a knife’s edge of a breakdown. “That’s okay, James,” he says, in a gentler voice. “No one is going to make you kill anyone here. I’m gonna make you a better arm.”
James still looks confused, but he looks almost worried when Tony mentions the arm thing. That’s probably understandable, given all the pages and pages of horror written on the device. Still, James seems to take in stride, in some sense of the word. “That is not what people usually do. Why?” He looks like he’s expecting to be hit.
“Human nature’s a weird thing, Terminator.” Tony shrugs. “You’re right - I should hate you or avoid you for what you did. And I’m gonna be honest with you, I’m a little freaked out about letting you stay in my home. There’s reasons for that. Ask Steve, he’ll give you the cliff notes. So maybe I’m not gonna be singing campfire songs with you, but you were tortured for years. I think you’ve paid for everything you’ve done. And I told myself that I was going to be a better man. So this is me trying to be a better man.”
“Okay,” Barnes replies. When he next speaks, his voice is soft and uncertain. “If you make me a new arm can you - can you make it all one color. Without - without the star?”
“Dude, whatever you want. No star, fun stripes? I can do that for you. I’m getting that hunk of medical malpractice out of your body as soon as I can. It’s going to mean that I’m gonna have to get scans of it from you. I read what the freakshow cabal did to you, but I need to know how it really works.”
James looks a little overwhelmed at that. “I will submit to testing.”
Sam steps in at that. “I think, what Tony hasn’t said yet, is that we’re not going to do anything without your consent.” Difficult, because no one’s really sure what Barnes knows about consent, but Tony had looked a little green at the gills when he, Natasha, and Sam had had their talk about Barnes’ acceptance of everything thrown at him. Steve had looked like the guilt was going to swallow him up when Natasha had explained the situation to him. “We’re also not gonna do it right away. We all just fought a battle. We all need rest.”
“Birdbrain mark two is right. I need my beauty sleep and you need to have a place to stay as well. You’re getting your own room and all that. Because, you know, privacy is a right, no matter what the big tech companies say.” Tony pauses. “But I’m going to warn you about something. I’ve got an AI in the building. His name’s JARVIS and he’ll talk to you if you talk to him. He’s got cameras and mics everywhere, because that’s how I do things. That being said, the cameras on your floor are deactivated except in case of emergency. And no one but JARVIS has access to all recordings.”
“Jarvis is a name,” James remarks. There’s a little bit of an edge to his voice.
Tony seems to pick up on whatever question that came unasked. “He’s one hundred percent code. I call the program a ‘he’ because that’s what humans do - humanize their tech. Massive problem, but that’s for future generations. I promise you, James, he’s nothing like you.”
James nods, seeming more relaxed at that.
“All right, cool, let’s get you settled.”