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This electric heart

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Everyone, ever, seems to think it's okay to fuck with Tony's robots. He would like to just get up on his soapbox here and say, no. No, it's fucking not.

“Hey,” he says, because Dumm-E is flailing like Tony is the problem here, which is decidedly not the case, “easy, buddy, come on. I wasn't the one who decided mummifying you in tinsel was all part of the holiday spirit.” He isn't sure, exactly, who was, but he's absolutely going to have strong words with them when he finds out. And he is going to find out. Jarvis is always watching, which is a small fact people who aren't Tony tend to forget, and between Tony and Jarvis it won't take more than a minute or so to comb back through the surveillance feeds. Jarvis, like Tony, is fairly protective of the robots.

Dumm-E makes a small, sad sound, which really shouldn't be within his capabilities but is, and then falls still. Tony carefully unwraps him, making sure to get every last shiny strand out of his joints. Dumm-E has enough problems without becoming a walking ornament—or, well, rolling ornament, but the sentiment is much the same.

“There, you big baby, it's all gone,” Tony says, and he means to sound gruff and instead sounds fond. “Better?”

Dumm-E raises his mechanical arm and bumps it up against Tony's cheek. A whirring, almost purring sound somehow makes its way into the air—which, okay, Tony understands each and every component part used to make that noise, he did build Dumm-E, he just doesn't understand why the robot chooses to use that sound now—and the arm moves away and bumps back, like some sort of unnecessarily heavy affectionate pat. “That's enough,” Tony says, and catches the arm in his hand, “not all of us have faces made out of metal. Careful or the rest of the Avengers will think I'm being abused by my robots again.”

Jarvis, never one to take an insult laying down, chimes in. “If I might remind you, sir, that first incident was entirely your own fault. Had you simply remained still while I was removing the suit—”

Tony grins and waves his hand dismissively. “Yeah yeah, but who has time to stand around while Natasha is actually piledriving Barton into the floor in the living room, am I right? That was a once in a lifetime sight. I wasn't going to miss that.”

“As you say, sir,” Jarvis says, in the tone that manages to simultaneously be perfectly proper and slightly bitchy. Tony's grin widens. He's kind of proud of that tone. Actually, he's kind of proud of Jarvis, full stop.

“Hey, Jarv,” he says, and pats Dumm-E's arm one more time before he stands, “look out for Dumm-E for a while, will you? I have to go yell at the rest of the Avengers for fucking with my kids.” It took Tony a while to realize that that's what they are—but, well, when you make something, and then you teach it how to act, and then you trust it enough to do that acting on its own, that's basically what parenthood is, isn't it? The funny thing is, not one of the other Avengers seems to have caught on yet.

“Yes, sir,” Jarvis says, something a little satisfied in his tone. “Shall I record that argument for posterity?”

Tony smiles. “Yeah. Please do.”

Tony didn't mean to be a father at seventeen, but there you go, that's life. And if he's going to be a father, he's going to be a good one.