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All Good Things

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1. Star Wars

Steve was reading a book in the study when Tony entered. “What’re you reading?”

“Nothing special. I'm just catching up with the world.”

Tony said, his expression serious, "Then you have to watch Star Wars. Definitely one of the best our age provides."

Steve couldn't help but be intrigued by Tony's tone. In the few days Steve had known Tony, Tony talked a lot, but was rarely serious. Steve wondered what was so special about this.

Tony led Steve to the living room, switched on his TV (Steve was still getting used to seeing movies in colour; it was one of the things about the future that he loved), and then started doing something to the remote.

The film started with a woman in far too revealing clothing, captured by a man with a mask. Then Steve was drawn into Luke's epic journey, the war between good and evil. When the film ended, Steve felt an emptiness in his heart. "Is it finished?"

"No. There're two other films. It's a trilogy."

Like Lord of the Rings, Steve thought. It was a memorable experience to watch the three movies in one go. Thor had insisted on it, saying that it was what Tolkien intended, which had persuaded him.

Tony seemed to be reading Steve’s mind. “Don’t worry. It won’t be as long, and you’ll forget the time soon.”

Steve wasn't sure how he'd been roped into watching three films in a row again. But as he kept watching, he found he didn't mind.



2. Portal

“Another computer game? Again?” Steve asked when he was pulled into Tony’s computer room.

Tony had introduced Steve to Space Invaders; Steve had fun shooting the spiders, but it was a bit too close to real life with the thing that the Avengers agreed not to talk about. He wondered what Tony had up his sleeve this time.

“Yeah. You’ll love it.”

“What’s the game about?”

“Ripping a hole in the space time continuum, and then walking or jumping through it.”

“It sounds like the kind of thing supervillains like Dr. Doom do.”

“No. Great fun instead. You have to try it.”

Soon after the game started, Steve was totally immersed, forgetting the unfortunate implication of the game's premise. The puzzles were simple at first, became more difficult later. He needed to stop to plan. Tony was an enthusiastic (if somewhat overbearing) partner in working out the next steps, hovering behind Steve's chair and leaning forward to point at the screen. “No, you should do this. Yes, it’s the right thing to do... Success!” Tony cheered like a child. Steve couldn’t help but be caught up in his joy.

It was nice, working and planning together with Tony outside a battle context. Steve told himself it was good training, but he suspected there was more to it.



3. Star Trek: The Original Series

“I’m a doctor. I’m not a bricklayer,” the man on the TV screen said.

“"You're a healer, there's a patient. That's an order," another man replied.

Steve had been passing by, but now he walked into the living room to see Tony sticking to the TV, a dark-haired burr of geeky energy. “What’re you watching, Tony?”

“The classics. Come sit with me.”

That was how Steve found himself watching what Tony called a “Star Trek marathon.” Steve wasn’t sure that the use of the term “marathon” was correct. He didn’t sweat a drop. But Tony seemed to be very involved in the TV show. He held Steve’s arm, excitedly spouting commentary on the episode, and was generally entertaining to watch. Sometimes funnier than the show; by now Steve was caught up enough on modern cinema to know it was pretty cheesy in places.

Kirk impressed Steve. He admired his leadership and the willingness to go where nobody else had. Spock reminded him a bit of Tony, with the constant technobabble, and it was easy to see that Spock was Tony’s favourite character as he kept up his running commentary. But the most remarkable thing of all was how easy conversation with Tony was while they passed popcorn between them.

“You should watch the Wrath of Khan… no, let’s watch the whale movie later.”

Steve wondered about the deliberately neutral expression on Tony’s face. But he said yes anyway.



4. Tabletop Roleplaying

Steve had never seen Tony so cheerful, holding dice, pens and book. He wasn't used to seeing such tools in Tony’s hands. It seemed too low tech, compared to the more usual lab equipment.

“What are you doing with this?”

“Role playing.”

“Why do I need to try?” Steve was increasingly resigned to the way Tony's enthusiasm dragged him into things; at least with pop culture there was no immediate danger. Except possibly to his sanity.

“Cooperative storytelling. You can hang out with people and make stories.”

It sounded great, actually. Cooperative story telling reminded Steve of the days that he exchanged letters with fellow pulp fans, making up stories together as they waited for the next issue.

“But why the dice?”

“Well. I want to ease you into it. I know you’re not used to the Stark Pad yet.”

“Thank you.” Steve wasn’t surprised that Tony had noticed. He was a considerate guy, about some things.

Tony put everything down on the table. “I learned role playing through V:tM LARP, but I think Lord of the Rings RPG’ll be more up your alley.”

“What’s VTM?”

“A fad. Don’t need to bother with it.”

Steve decided to google V:tM and LARP later.

The following hour was spent rolling up a character and starting the adventure. Steve fought trolls, teamed up with an elf archer, and foiled a conspiracy of the evil. When Tony said the session was over, Steve was a bit sad. Was that all?

Reading his expression, Tony said, “We'll have our next session next week, same time.”

“I’ll hold you to it,” said Steve.



5. Princess Bride

When the film started with the little sick boy being told a story, Steve was immediately drawn in by the reminder of his childhood. At first the romance was mushy, but Steve liked it. He thought it was going to be a romantic comedy, but then Westley was murdered by pirates. Steve turned to Tony as it hit a bit too close to home, and caught Tony frowning. Steve wondered why. But it was a story told to a kid, right? It should have a happy ending, so he kept watching rather than ask the half-formed question. The duel and action scenes hooked him back into the movie, and he was relieved to see Westley survive and reconcile with Buttercup. When he thought they'd reached the end, the lovers were separated yet again. He felt that he was on an emotional roller coaster watching the characters struggle. When the happy ending finally came, Steve smiled at Tony, and found that Tony was smiling back.

“We should do more things together.”

“As you wish,” Tony said.