"Fucking--" Dirk cut off the shout with a growl. He winced as he pressed down on the new burn on his left hand. His soldering iron rested where he'd dropped it, barely balancing on the edge of his workbench. The blaring k-pop automatically turned itself down a few degrees.
"Do you requre aid, Sir?" JARVIS asked conversationally.
"Always the gentleman, aren't you?" Dirk ground out. Fuck, that hurt.
"I wouldn't dream of imitating my creator's manners, if that's what you're implying," JARVIS deflected. Dirk grinned thinly.
The glass doors wooshed open. "You okay, Strider?" Dirk tensed at the sound of the human voice, but continued nursing his wound. "Doesn't look like it, dude." He chanced a glance over his shoulder and watched Roxy perch beside his armour on a long table, nursing a massive blue slushie. "I can always kiss it better, if you want...!" She winked and slurped on the straw.
"I'm sure I'll manage somehow." Dirk released his hand experimentally, and reached right for the first aid kit. "I lived this long without a babysitter." Barely, to be fair, but he did make it.
"Other than JARVIS, right, buddy?"
"But of course. We all know Sir survives only by my kind whim." She grinned in the vague direction of the ceiling.
Dirk ripped open a box of bandaids and pulled out the largest one. "Can you help me with this? My third arm's in the shop. Another shop. Not this one."
"I can't actually tell if you're joking." Roxy stood and ambled toward him, hands in the pockets of her loose hoodie.
"Bet a hot pink sweater helps a lot when you're hiding out in a ditch," he muttered as she reached out to help him.
"They're called civvies for a reason--oh my fuck, you have Iron Man bandaids?!" Her hands stayed sure and confident despite her sudden shout. The violet polish on her nails was chipped. "Where the fuck is my Hawkeye merch? I swear to god, I'm never going to medical again unless they use Hawkeye shit."
"Rogers will have your guts for garters if she hears you say that. My stars and garters, there's a pun in there somewhere..." Dirk trailed off as he flexed his hand a few times. "My thanks, dear lady."
"No need to bow, this one's on the house. Plus John isn't here, so courtly manners get jettisoned." She wandered off around the workshop. Dummy rolled toward her curiously. Roxy stopped when he got close and raised a hand. She let him stop and do the robot equivalent of sniffing around before Dummy hi fived her. "See, this guy, this guy's got class."
"Fuck if I know how he learned that, with this rude-ass motherfucker down here all the time." Roxy made a face at him. "No, by rude-ass motherfucker, I definitely meant me. Probably." She stuck out her tongue at him. "Hey, I know Squarewave definitely didn't teach him manners, anyway." He picked up the soldering iron and checked it over.
Roxy snorted at that. "I still can't believe you built a robot to rap with you."
Dirk leveled a wrench in her direction with narrowed eyes. "He met Jay-Z once."
"Yeah, at a charity gala. That you held."
"Eh, semantics." He went back to tinkering as Roxy chuckled.
It was quiet for a while, other than Dummy's excited whirring, until she asked, "Hey, what's this?" He looked up and saw her messing around with his computer, opening up the--shit.
"No, fuck, just--" He jerked to his feet, headed toward the screen.
"Are you tracking someone?!" Roxy sounded like he'd kicked her kitten-goldfish-puppy, or something equally asinine. Shit.
He collapsed back into his seat. "Um, maybe, just a little bit--"
"Isn't that a high school? You're tracking a teenager?" Now she sounded scandalized. Fuck.
"No! I mean, yeah, I guess," Dirk pinched the bridge of his nose, hard, "but not intentionally!"
"How the heck do you accidentally stick a tracker to a teenager? That, that is so not cool, like, those bellbottoms you wore on New Years were really awful, but this is about twenty times worse than that fiasco--"
"No, just listen to me--those bellbottoms are retro, and ironic, don't fuck with my bellbottoms--but you don't understand--"
"And why is the symbol on the program thingy a spi--oh, my god, you're tracking Spidey?"
"Wow." She was quiet for a moment. "Just...wow. Are we recruiting him?" Dirk shrugged. "Didn't you--? You didn't run this by Janey. Shit."
"Pretty much exactly that." Silence. Dirk watched her pick at her cuticles for a moment before speaking again. "Well, are you going to sound the alarm? Mayday? SOS? Man down?"
"Nope." Roxy popped the P loudly. "Just let me know what he says. Oh, and gimme his netflix password. I wanna make some suggestions."
"Deal." Dirk walked over to her and proffered his uninjured hand. She held out a fist for a bump instead, and they sealed their arrangement with a hearty bonp.
"Sir Dirk!" A booming voice echoed through the workshop. "I am returned!"
"Oh kicking christ," Dirk muttered. "Hey man--I mean, John Odinson, son of Odin, heir apprent of Asgard," he said aloud.
John grinned his characteristic grin, unnaturally perfect teeth glittering in the artificial light. "Good day to thee, Dirk Strider, son of Howard, reigning master of the Industries of Strider! The world still turns, I trust?"
Dirk brought up his uninjured hand for a fist bump, and John obliged. "It does indeed."
John turned to Roxy. "Milady! Your garb befits a warrior of such skill and wit."
"Thanks, dude!" Roxy bypassed John's still raised fist and went in for a hug. "Glad to have you back, muscles!"
John grinned again and chuckled deep in his throat, "I am muscled indeed! And how fares my sister?"
"Jade is alive and kicking...or she was the last time I saw her," Dirk said. He started packing his tools back into their case. Not likely to be a productive day.
"Wanna go see her? I bet she's still in her lab," Roxy said.
"Only if you consent to accompany me, fair lady." Roxy punched him solidly in the arm. "I mean, fair warrior."
"That's better. Hey, have you seen Star Wars yet?"
"No, but I have fought in several!" Her laughter faded away as the doors shut behind them.
Dirk set down his toolbox and sighed. He slumped back into his rolling chair and let it roll to one side from the impact. "What a fuckin' day."
"Sir? Captain Rogers is approaching."
"Great," he muttered as he sat up a bit straighter. Something about the American icon still had a firm grip on his childhood manners.
The glass doors whirred open. "Hello? I hope I'm not interrupting." Her heels--yes, Captain America wears heels into a filthy workshop, and after a day of punching ill-mannered flagella, too--clicked on the concrete floor.
"No, of course not, John and Roxy effectively ended my productivity for the day anyway." Dirk tossed a small screwdriver into a box with more force than he expected.
"Ah, yes, about that--I was wondering if you would mind attending a team dinner to celebrate his return."
"Only if Roxy's not cooking," he stipulated as he turned around. Is that...she's wearing an apron. An honest to god apron. It took a significant amount of concentration to not say anything about surprisingly non-lacy piece of clothing she was currently sporting.
Jane snorted audibly, which kind of surprised him. "Don't you worry, Strider, I had Jarvis implement a Barton protocol after the last time."
"One which I was most happy to assist in drafting. It was quite inconvenient for the firefighters, let alone the bomb squad," Jarvis said.
A corner of Dirk's mouth turned up. "They has no sense of humour."
Jane laughed as she rounded one of his workbenches. "You'd think that they'd be able to cope better, having chosen such a high-stress field to work in."
Dirk actually laughed aloud. "You said it, Cap." He went back to packing away his tools, listening absentmindedly to her footsteps moving around the workshop. "Hey, are you making those brownies again? Because Barton ate mine right in front of me, see if she gets a new bow from me--Cap?" Her movement had stopped, and there was a quiet indrawn breath.
"You okay?" No answer. He frowned and turned all the way around, only to see her staring up at the program still open on his computer screen. Shit. "Shit."
"Yes, that about describes it," she said absently. "Spiderman?"
He let the silence hang in the air for a minute or two, and then, "Are you mad?" He could have smacked himself for that, it sounded like a ten-year-old afraid of his grandmother--
"No way, José." She turned to face him, eyes sparkling, and said, "We need to have a team discussion, then we need to confront him about his activities as a minor." Oh god. What have I done.